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05:21 pm: Wright’s Writing Corner: Website Joy

Website Joy

I remember the first time I saw a URL (is it an URL or a URL) on a motion picture poster. I laughed out loud. “What a good idea!” I thought, “Instead of cramming a million bits of info onto a poster, they can just put a website and put their info there.”

How right I was. Soon everyone had websites. Stores have websites. Plumbers have websites. Signs on the side of the road just display a URL, (though how anyone is supposed to copy them down…or to copy down a phone number…while they are driving by is a mystery to me.) Even books began to have websites.

Fast forward somewhere around a decade, and websites are no longer clever marketing tools. They are now part of life—an important part of life, if you believe my editor, who wrote me a few months ago to inform me that a presence on the web now really mattered in the bookselling business and that I should produce one lickity-split. (What exactly is a lickity-split, and does it involve lickity spit? Is it a gymnastic move? Or closer to a banana split? Inquiring minds want to know…but are too laze to Google it.)

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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From:annafirtree
Date:September 15th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
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Random thoughts:

1) While you probably don't have enough time to write down a website from a billboard, most websites that I see on billboards have pretty simple URLs that are not hard to remember if I try. And most billboards I see more than once, so if it catches my interest the first time, then the second time I can make a point of looking at and remembering the URL. Phone numbers, on the other hand, are impossible unless they've been turned into a letter-mnemonic.

2) Clarity... oh, yeah. Simplicity is vastly underrated by websites. Sometimes I think Google is the only one who gets it, and every now and then even they push the boundaries. Compare Google's homepage to Yahoo's homepage sometime.... Crazy. White space. People need white space. Even if it's blue or black or red. The clutter on websites is one of my biggest pet peeves. Now, if I could just do something about the clutter in my home. :)

3) When I go to author's websites, I am usually looking for a list to tell me what order to read their book series in (and which books belong to which universes). That is the single biggest use I have for author's sites.

4) I think werewolves or zombies would be more suited to meating people than vampires, what with vampires sticking to the blood and not the flesh.

5) Not that this has anything to do with your post, but I suddenly find myself wondering if anyone will ever write a romantic zombie figure, the way that Angel and Edward are romantic vampire figures.

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From:axiem
Date:September 15th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
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3) When I go to author's websites, I am usually looking for a list to tell me what order to read their book series in (and which books belong to which universes). That is the single biggest use I have for author's sites.

This this this eternally this. Tell me what you've written, tell me the best way to read them. Give me links to buy them. Always always always.

5) Not that this has anything to do with your post, but I suddenly find myself wondering if anyone will ever write a romantic zombie figure, the way that Angel and Edward are romantic vampire figures.

Wasn't there a movie a while back where a guy was dating a zombie...?
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 15th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
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I have both a list and links to buy...but not, currently, in the same place.
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From:annafirtree
Date:September 16th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
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Based on what I am looking for on author's sites, I would recommend setting it up this way:

On your home page, have your "Works" link go straight to a page that lists all the books and short stories you have published. (It irks me when things are categorized by alphabetical order or publishing date instead of by internal chronology within universes, although it is sometimes appropriate to include a note explaining when books in a universe have inconsistent or no logic to their inner chronology). And each title should link to a page where you can buy that title. So yours, from what I know, would look something like this:

PROSPERO'S UNIVERSE

Prospero's Daughter Trilogy

Prospero Lost
Prospero in Hell
Prospero Regained (coming 2011)

Other

Of Plunder and Souls: The Rescue of Mr. Spaghetti (short story appearing in Bad-Ass Faeries 2)


OTHER

On Oberon's Throne (short story appearing in Bad-Ass Faeries)
Not So Silent Night (short story appearing in Bad-Ass Faeries 3)
The Poppet (short story appearing in No Longer Dreams)
Never Again the Same (short story appearing in Don't Open This Book)
Feeding the Mouth that Bites Us (short story appearing in Best of Dreams of Decadence)


You *could* put in a short description and the first-chapter links under each title (italicized and in smaller font size to distinguish it from the titles), but it might start to look cluttered.

I would have a separate link, maybe titled "Delving Further" in which to put your timeline, poetry, and other bits where fans can look further into the books.
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)
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I like having the separate pages for those who want to go there, but there is no reason I could not put buying links on the first page, too. Links are, after all, extraordinaryly easy to add. (Once you've made them...making them, hard. Copying them, easy. ) ;-)

One thing that makes me sad is that booksellers apparently object if we have links to only one of them. So, my days of having a link to Amazon (that paid money to my brother-in-law if someone bought the book using it. I have no idea if this ever happened. I'm sure he has no way of telling if any of the books bought on Amazon though his account came from me) are over. The Webgoblin came up with a nice solution...the same one he uses for Mr. Gaiman...but I wonder if it is a bit overkill on my humble site.
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From:annafirtree
Date:September 17th, 2010 04:54 am (UTC)
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After I posted that, I discovered the page you get from clicking on "Works", which is more along the lines of what I described. I would add that page to the list that pops up when you hover the mouse over "Works", though, (perhaps with the name "Bibliography"?) because I generally assume that those pop-up lists are comprehensive lists of all pages under that category; I usually will only try clicking on the original word if I'm feeling like I've run out of normal avenues of trying to find what I'm looking for. (This applies to the pop-up lists within the pop-up lists, too.)

After thinking about it a bit, though, I think if I were going to design your webpage, I would still combine your "works" page with the three pages that appear on the mouse-over list. (Or rather, I would combine the three sub-pages into one page that takes the place of what you currently have on the "works" page.) The pictures of the books make a nice visual distinction, so that you can both include blurbs and links to sellers and whatnot while also making it easy to skim through titles and find everything in one place.
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
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Don't know if I'll combine them, but one thing that has become clear from your comments and another friends is that I should have more cross links. A "list of works" link should be on the other pages and the Prospero page should have links to the subpages available by menu.

From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 18th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
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It's hard to have too many cross links. :)
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From:annafirtree
Date:September 15th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
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I don't use the links to buy them so much, but that's because I'm usually planning to order them from the library. :)

I don't recall a movie about a guy dating a zombie, but that could be. Is there something about zombies that make them intrinsically less likely to become massive cultural icons like Edward, or does no one happen to have written a good enough zombie book yet?
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From:bojojoti
Date:September 16th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
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There's the whole decaying flesh part of a zombie that would be a turnoff in a dating relationship. I was going to say that dating someone who has the intellectual capacity of a fencepost would be off putting, but I can recall a number of couples who have made it work. Still, it's hard to maintain a loving feeling toward someone who wants to munch on your brains...
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From:annafirtree
Date:September 16th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
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You would *think* so, but then, you might also think that an intense desire to suck your blood out would also be a turn-off. The intellectual capacity of a fencepost might be a bit more difficult to work with in a romantic hero, though.
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
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I wonder if it has something to do with whether or not the person was a zombie before you started dating...and whether or not you were involved in the zombie making process.
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
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Vampires have been symbols of desire since some of the early stories centuries ago. Zombies appeal comes from their slovenly shuffling. Not naturally the stuff of romances...but good for comedies.
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 15th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
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>3) When I go to author's websites, I am usually looking for a list to tell me what order to read their book series in (and which books belong to which universes). That is the single biggest use I have for author's sites.

Got that! ;-)

Oh, and there is a zombie romance out there...but I don't recall the title.

Edited at 2010-09-15 11:02 pm (UTC)
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From:juliet_winters
Date:September 15th, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
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"an important part of life, if you believe my editor, who wrote me a few months ago to inform me that a presence on the web now really mattered in the bookselling business and that I should produce one lickity-split."

I just turned in a packet to a publisher and part of what they wanted was to know how you intended to use social media as promotion.

From:siana2
Date:September 15th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
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This is very helpful. I've been writing and editing nonfiction for years, but I'm finally getting my head around putting up a website, blog, etc, and a friend sent me the link to your post. Your site is working, because I've added your first book to my list of books to obtain and read.

About zombie romances: I know several zombies who have had romances. Some are still involved in those relationships. Is that unusual?
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
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First. Thank you so much! It is always nice to know that we are heading in the right direction with a project. Bless you.

>About zombie romances: I know several zombies who have had romances. Some are still involved in those relationships. Is that unusual?

Oh, that made me laugh out loud and for a long time. It so sounds like an Ask Anne Lander's style question. I suspect the answer has to do with what kind of person they were before they became a zombie. If they were faithful then, why not continue that way?

I guess I should ask...are both members of the couples zombies? Or just one?
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From:eleika
Date:September 16th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
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Congrats on the new website!

My website is down because I accidentally deleted it ... but putting it back together shouldn't be too hard. And I'm not published yet, so there's no pressure ... yet.

But I took some time to think about it. There are a lot of writer's blogs out there. All I have right now is my writer's blog and that's enough. I don't need to spend time writing about writing because there is enough being done right now (Magical Words, for example). But I can write about the issues important to me. (And then keep my private thoughts in this one.)
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
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I woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago and realized that a website could be delated or corrupted. So the next day, I made copies of all my pages, so that if it did happen, it would not be hard to put it up again...but whether or not I will remember to keep doing this every time I make a change...that remains to be seen.

Hope you can get yours up and running again without too much grief.

I definitely think there is no need for all writers to write about writing! (That would get kind of dull.) Magical Words is a really great site. Mine is a poser compared to them, but I enjoy doing it. (Mine was inspired by them, actually.)

I think there are many really good writers blogs out there. Both David B Coe and Misty Massey of Magical Words, for instance, have delightful blogs outside of Magical Words, where they write about their lives and other matters of interest to them. I love Misty's glimpses of events that happened in history on the particular days she's blogging.

Many writers bring some of their writing talkent to whatever they are blogging about and make it really interesting. I have also seen really good blogs by non writers. One does not need to be a professional to have a good blog!

I suspect if I went back to those same three writers (I think I remember who all three of them were) their blogs would be different now. I think blogging took a little time to hit its stride. That's not to say that some people don't still blog stream of consciousness, but one sees it less often than when blogs were younger. ;-)

For a long time, I thought that writers should not blog because "We get to speak through our works. Blogging should be left to those who don't have that chance." But one day I got a LJ account so I could comment on other people's blogs...and the great vortex of blogging sucked me in. After a while, I realized that blogging was a great way to stay in touch with people, to share the joys and sorrows of life, and just to say something one wants to say. And that can be open to everyone, writers and non writers alike.

Boy...that was long, sorr. I love your icon, by the way. I have no idea what it is, an inquisitive ferret? A dragon?--it's too dark to see properly, but it's adorable.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 16th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
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The icon: thanks! It's the dragon Toothless from the movie How to Train Your Dragon, and he's black-skinned. Yes, he's adorable! The director said he modeled the dragons' behaviour after kitty cats.

I read David's LJ and it's interesting to hear about American politics. I like your writing corner, and started reading after you linked it in the beta group. But I had to go through a process of realizing that there are so many writer's blogs out there, and that I can add my perspective on some things, but otherwise I try to adapt the blog to the realities of my life. In the Twitterverse there are a lot of unpublished writers who blog about writing ... and I don't know if it's entirely helpful.
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From:eleika
Date:September 16th, 2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
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That was me, sorry.
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
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Toothless! Of course! I'm amazed I didn't recognize him. We love Toothless here.

Blogging about the realities of your life is probably the best type of blogging anyone can do.

I've never Twittered...it's a mystery to me. ;-)

[User Picture]
From:johncwright
Date:September 16th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)

How to Train your Dragon

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"I love your icon, by the way. I have no idea what it is, an inquisitive ferret? A dragon?"

That is our old pal, the Night Fury. Obviously we need to see that movie again.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)

Re: How to Train your Dragon

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It would be a good movie to get the kids for Christmas.
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From:marycatelli
Date:September 16th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)

A URL

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Because the long-u sound begins with "yew" in which "y" is a semi-vowel. Like in "a unicorn".
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 11:55 am (UTC)

Re: A URL

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Great! That was what I thought...but sometimes these rules are tricky.

The 'sounds like the vowel y' really makes sense.
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From:cdenmier
Date:September 16th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)

Amazing

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It is amazing how quickly all this has changed--how, as you say, websites have gone from quirky, cool "extras" to necessary marketing tools (or so we're told...). Nowadays it's hard to imagine a product or movie or book coming out that didn't have, at very least, a website, let alone a twitter feed or the like.

I suppose then that author website are solely the prerogative of the author; that is, that publishing houses have nothing to do with creating them?
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)

Re: Amazing

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Yep...at least in all the case I am familiar with. I think that with some really big writers, the website might be supported by the publisher. I'm not sure about that.
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