Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IWSG: Ask PZM and "New" IWSG Contest!

It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, it's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which.
If you'd like to join us, click here. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.
Our hashtag is #IWSG
Alex's wonderful co-hosts for September 2 are: Julie FlandersMurees DupéDolorah at Book LoverChristine Rains, and Heather Gardner! 
Please stop by and thank them for their time and effort.
* * * * 



The IWSG Short Story Contest 2015


After the success of last year’s IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, we decided to create another book. This time it’s a short story competition with the top ten stories getting published in the anthology.

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 5000-6000

Theme: Alternate History/Parallel Universe. That’s right, we’ve decided to go the speculative route. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines, except erotica or graphic violence.

Story deadline: November 1st 2015

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to TheIWSG at gmail dot com before the deadline passes. Make sure to include your contact details.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges:

·    Laura Maisano - Senior editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian fiction

·    Russell Connor - Author and owner of Dark Filament Publishing Startup

·    Candace Havens - Editorial Director for the Covet, Select, Select Otherworld, Select Historical , Embrace, Indulgence for Entangled Publishing. She is also a nationally syndicated columnist and awarded-winning and best-selling author. 

·    Dawn FrederickLiterary agent and the founder of Red Sofa Literary

·    Alice Speilburg Founder of the Speilburg Literary Agency

·    Michelle JohnsonBookstore owner and founder of Inklings Literary Agency

·    Kendare Blake - Author

·    Lydia Moëd - Associate agent at The Rights Factory

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press in the IWSG anthology next year. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title. The winners will also receive an exclusive badge to display on their blog.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

The #IWSG short story anthology contest is open! For details - http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2015/09/iwsg-post-day-and-special-anniversary.html #contest #shortstory#anthology
* * * *


A s k   P Z M 

(repost from July 2010)


Q:  What are the most important elements for a book author website?


The most important element of all is the ability for you the author to make changes yourself at a moment’s notice.  If you have an unexpected book signing come up or a fabulous book review that you want to post ASAP, then you need to be able to do that.

(While you can do this on Facebook and other social media sites, you do not own your accounts on those sites.  If Facebook, for example, decides to take down your account, you’ve lost everything.)

I personally recommend using WordPress.org (known as just WordPress) for both a blog and a website that puts the power in your own hands. 

Once a WordPress self-hosted site is up, you can make changes as easily as you make changes in Word.  (Of course, there is a similar learning curve as there was with Word.)

First, a clarification.  I am NOT talking about WordPress.com, which is a hosted site the same way a blogger site is a hosted blog site.   (A hosted blog site rather than self-hosted has the same issue as in the Facebook example above.)

Second, it is important to understand that you really need a web person to set up your self-hosted WordPress blog/site.  And what’s more, just any WordPress website isn’t ideal. 

You need a site built by a person who understands search engine optimization, keyword pages, etc.  Otherwise your site will be way, way back in search engine results.

Once your site is set up, you are ready to take over (if you want).

Third, your website address (the URL or domain name of the site) is important.  When you use your website address on social media sites, you want it to reflect what your site is about.  If you have a book title that is not very specific, such as the imaginary “Having Fun,” you might want to get the URL “HavingFunTheBook.”  

FYI: All is not lost if you have a site now without an effective website address.  You can get a new URL and redirect that to your current site.  In the above example, you would get “HavingFunTheBook” and redirect it to “HavingFun.”  Then you would use “HavingFunTheBook” when you share the link to your author site.

Fourth, of course, you want to make it very clear where someone can buy your book – and make it very easy for people to do so. 


You do NOT want to give the link, for example, as amazon.com.  When people get to the home page of Amazon, they can get easily distracted and forget what book they are looking for or actually try unsuccessfully to find your book.


(Be very careful not to make the mistake I did on purpose in the above paragraph.  I recommend not putting a period after a URL if the URL ends a sentence.  This is because sometimes people who copy a URL pick up the period also and then can’t get the link to the site to work.  Either I just leave off the period or find a way to end the sentence with other than the URL.)

Make sure that the link to buying your book is very obvious – and have it near the top of the page and not where people have to scroll down to find it.

Fifth, make sure that people coming to your book author site know exactly what’s on offer.  Is the book fiction or nonfiction?  The first of a trilogy?  An award-winning book?  And the cover of your book should be featured prominently.

For an example of this, go to my site at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and see how I have put FICTION and NONFICTION as top nav buttons.  Then click on those buttons and note my book cover galley for each that allows site visitors to clearly choose which books to learn about.   

Also, you can include excerpts of your books on your own site or link to your excerpts on other sites such as Wattpad.  (I have utilized both of these options on my author site.)

Sixth, if at all possible, have a blog as part of your website (using WordPress for a site automatically includes the opportunity to have a blog as part of the site).  A blog is usually the best way to continually add fresh content to a website, and search engines love fresh content.  Thus fresh content on a blog can help your site rank higher in the search engine results.

(Note that at my author site I have chosen to put my blog on the home page, but this is not required.  You can have other info on your home page and have your blog elsewhere on your site.)

Also, have a sign-up on your site so that people can automatically get your new blog posts either through email notification or through an RSS feed.  This is what I have automatically at the end of each blog post:

Want to know when Phyllis writes a new blog post?

Sign up for email notification. 

(ENTER YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS)






Phyllis Zimbler Miller – the author of fiction and nonfiction books – blogs on book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and is active on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller

51 comments :

  1. My self-hosted Wordpress blog has been set up by a web guy who I run to with all my tech problems. At least I'm doing something right...
    Thanks Phyllis!

    The IWSG contest has generated quite a buzz... exciting...
    Happy IWSG Day, Joylene!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you are, Michelle! Happy IWSG Day to you too.

      Delete
  2. The IWSG contest is an awesome opportunity! I'm prodding my muse to come up with an idea. Excellent advice for setting up a site. I'm lucky my husband is a web guy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have your own web guy! How nice, Christine. Your blog looks lovely.

      Delete
  3. Hi Joylene - the IWSG has certainly created a buzz. Phyllis always has some useful and interesting snippets of advice to give us .. and this one doesn't fail there ...

    Cheers and welcome back to over the pond .. Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Hilary. You are such a dear. Happy IWSG Day.

      Delete
  4. Great post. I found Simon Whistler's Author At Rocking Podcast's free course on setting up an author website very helpful, even though I already knew a lot of what he said. I also learned some things. My website is continual work in progress, until it fits.
    Happy IWSG day!.
    Juneta Writer's Gambit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Juneta, I was just there, and your blog is awesome. Your advice is spot on too. Thanks for dropping by.

      Delete
  5. Thanks to everyone who has already posted a comment. And re Juneta Key -- all websites should be works-in-progress. We need to remember to periodically update our content to reflect changes and new information.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to write that down where I can see it. I'm so caught up in the business of writing that I often forget about the foundation. Thanks, Phyllis.

      Delete
  6. I love the short story contest within IWSG. I haven't thought about any story other than the one I'm working on in such a long time I'm not sure I can mentally shift gears to participate. However, I'll allow the idea to simmer and see what happens.

    Thank you PZM for the web suggestions. It's my least favorite aspect of this whole writing gig.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand, Robin. It's hard enough to write the next great novel. Thanks for visiting. Happy IWSG.

      Delete
  7. Some good advice here. Once I've got the monies, I plan on buying the domain name I want and having my more techy than me brother help me with setting up the site. Though, I'm planning on also learning how to do all that stuff so I don't have to depend on him to help!

    - Madilyn Quinn @ NovelBrews

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like a plan, Madilyn. I know what you mean. I'm waiting for money too. I'm sure it'll be here any day. Grin! Thanks for visiting. Happy IWSG Day.

      Delete
    2. Madilyn - I recommend you get the domain name now rather than possibly losing it to someone else and then just have it until you are ready to have your site. And if at all possible, get a .com domain name.

      Delete
  8. Yeah, my website is on Blogger - dumb, I know. At least if I ever do set up my own site, I understand web design and can do it myself. I do need to look into a domain name though. Bet mine is already taken...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so funny, Alex. "Mine is already taken". haha, not likely. You are one of a kind.

      Delete
    2. Alex -- If you are talking about the domain name for your own name, consider adding the word "books" to the end of the domain name or "author" or something similar.

      Delete
  9. This is wonderful advice! Thank you to both of you ladies for sharing it :) Right now, I only have a blog but I do plan to get a website in the near future. I'm just enjoying the process of writing my book and getting back into the blogging world.

    Joylene, thank you for stopping by my blog this morning! And thank you for posting the details for the IWSG writing contest. This is very exciting!

    Cheers,
    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have my own hosted site and my husband helped set it up. The blog is separate, but after over ten years of blogging, I'm not moving it now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand your hesitation. If it works, why take the chance of messing it up. Hi Diane.

      Delete
  11. Thanks for all the info about Wordpress. I find when I go to author sites with their own .com address, I have a lot more trouble commenting than if it's a hosted site. Comments I write sometimes don't appear even if there's no moderation. If I email the author and suggest they look in their spam for my comments, they are confused and say they have no spam area in their site. But maybe their site is set up to block comments from certain areas of the world. That happened on one site. She blocked Indonesia, but it blocked Africa too. When she unblocked, all my comments started appearing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm often unable to leave a comment. Yet, I've signed on with a WP id, but it still bounces me out. I notified the authors, but they can't even figure out why. Some are even here in Canada. Thanks, Lexa.

      Delete
  12. I manage one Wordpress site as a volunteer, but I'm keeping Blogger for my writing. I've found it to be the simplest and believe me, I need simple.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most people say that. I used blogger too. WordPress even looks more complicated. I will check out dot org when money allows. Thanks. Lee.

      Delete
  13. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I have learnt so much here. WordPress has intimidated me in the past and was a little hard to set-up, which is why I went with Blogger. But you definitely gave me a few things to consider. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome, Murees. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  14. Good advice! Have a mental block against Wordpress. Blogger is so much easier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joy. Congratulations on your newest novel.

      Delete
  15. Don't have a web site but do have a domain. www.yolandarenee.com - it sends all traffic to blogspot and my blog because I don't want to pay for another site. Maybe I should reconsider how I'm doing things. Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sounds like a very cool contest! I'll have to see if I have any ideas along these guidelines. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yay to the contest!!
    And that article is definitely worth the repost. Great info and great reminders.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The contest sounds fun. Good luck to everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great tips, Joylene. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Some great helpful information in this post, thank you! Somehow, I missed the notification from IWSG about the short story anthology, so this was marvellous. Speculative fiction is my jam, so I'm definitely interested! Good luck with your entry!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looking forward to hearing what you write. Something about your dad, perhaps?

      Delete
  22. The IWSG contest sounds great. Appreciate the info, Joylene. Phyllis, also appreciate your insight and info. Thanks to both of you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Joylene!
    Thanks for the reminder about the contest. I'd forgotten! And thanks to PZM for sharing her knowledge about an author website. Great information!
    Jen

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please come in and sit for while. We will talk about writing. We will share our dreams. Then I will serve tea and cookies. Home made and Gluten Free.