“Building Your Website” by Stefan Vucak

svucak_website articleDoes your website look a little tired and clunky? It doesn’t dazzle you anymore? Staring at my website one day, I know that feeling. After some procrastination—there are always other things to do—I finally decided something needed to be done. Had I known what I faced, perhaps I should have procrastinated some more.

A good website always makes me pause and ponder. It is a combination of layout, colors, flashy ads, fancy backgrounds; lots of things. I just know what I like, wishing mine looked like that. Deciding to have a new website designed isn’t a simple matter of jumping into WordPress or using one of the free content management systems like Weebly or GoDaddy. There are lots of them out there to choose from, and I checked them out. However, I am not a graphics artist or web designer, and to get the best out of these tools, I found I needed to be pretty savvy using the behind the scenes coding, something I didn’t want to get into.

http://www.top10bestwebsitebuilders.com/ 

Having eliminated the do-it-yourself path, the only remaining choice was to engage a professional website designer. I immediately faced another decision point: a private at-home operator, or an established company. Making a wrong choice would drastically effect the end result, not to mention my pocket, and after some research, I decided to engage a local company. Before setting up the initial interview, I needed to establish what kind of website I wanted: theme, content, menu elements, functionality, look and feel—all the things that captured my attention when looking at someone else’s website, whether personal or professional.

To find out what goes into making an eye-catching website, I dug up several Internet articles that provided some pointers. What was particularly valuable, they included URL links to those websites, enabling me to decided for myself if they had that wow factor I was looking for. Finding a website that incorporated everything I wanted in mine, I fronted up for the initial interview with the company’s representative, confident I had everything he needed to build my website. Ouch!

One of the first questions he asked: what would be the purpose of my website? I knew that one would come, so I answered confidently: to sell me and my books. Duh! Okay, do I need a shopping cart? I had thought about that one, seeing how my books are distributed by Amazon and Smashwords; at least the e-book versions. Still, it couldn’t hurt to explore the possibility, and I told him to provide a separate quote for that. The web developer checked my existing website, noting what pages I had, content, and work required for data migration. There was a lot more, but you get the idea. He then asked something puzzling: what do I want the website to look like? I had already emailed him the URL link of the website I liked, and I assumed he would have looked at it. He did, but he wanted my input. As the alarm bells started clanging, I told him I expected input from him; he was the professional web designer. After more discussion, he told me he would put together some wireframes for me to look at. I left that place sobered and somewhat chastened.

You see my problem? I wasn’t prepared! I should have designed those wireframe pages beforehand to support my interview. It wasn’t enough to simply show him a website I liked and let him get on with it. However, the damage was repairable. I hunkered down, clicked the link to my sample website and went through each page in detail, noting all its elements, considering how they could be applied to my website. Opening a spreadsheet, I started creating my wireframe pages: home, blog, contact me page, and others. Did I want static banner images on each page, separate background designs, combination of color bars on some pages; I had to consider them all. For images, I downloaded them from Shutterstock.com and All-free-Download.com, to name two, and pasted them into my wireframe pages. Slowly, as each page evolved, I moved things around to achieve the rough look and feel I wanted. I still needed feedback from the web developer, but what I sent him reflected more closely what I wanted, something he appreciated. We’ll see how things go when I get his initial layout.

Okay, so what are these website elements I needed to look at? It is all subjective, and everyone needs to make a choice that suits him, but there are some basic guideline elements you need to consider.

Home Page The home page really is the most important page of a website. As the first page your visitors will see, it must give a positive impression, making the visitor want to browse further. It must sell you and your books, and is a page you cannot get wrong.

Books Page A books page for an author is a must, of course. Each book should have its own page, sample review blurbs, and a link to a reviews page. It must have links to sales pages like Amazon, Smashwords and others. It should also have a download button for a sample chapter, giving the reader a glimpse into your work, hopefully prompting him to buy.

Contact Me A vital page!

Reviews page This page should be a collection of your favorite book reviews, which gives readers an opportunity to see opinions of your books.

Interviews Page This is where you present a collection of interviews about you and your books, attaching links to host pages.

Blog Not much to explain why this one is needed.

Biography / About Me This page gives readers a glimpse into who you are, your background, and whatever details you choose to publish about yourself. Some Internet articles suggest having a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section here, but that is up to the individual.

Site Map A site map can be a useful navigational aid for a website. However, unless the website has lots of pages, menus and sub-menus, setting one up may not be worth it. Some people recommend having one as it helps Google spiders and bots during searches.

Other pages to consider:

News Page

Multimedia Content

Subscription Newsletter

Guestbook

Polls

Forum

Audio Books

Links Page

Video

Press Kit

Search Facility

Perhaps my experience will help you when deciding to create a website, or renovate an existing one.

~~~~~~Stefan Vucak is an award-winning author of the sci-fi Shadow Gods series. His contemporary political thriller ‘Cry of Eagles’ has won the coveted 2011 Readers’ Favorite silver medal award, and his ‘All the Evils’ was the 2013 prestigious Eric Hoffer contest finalist and Readers’ Favorite silver medal winner. His ‘Strike for Honor’ won a gold medal. When not writing, he is an editor and book reviewer.

Website: www.stefanvucak.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/StefanVucak

Twitter: @stefanvucak

I would love to hear from you regarding your experience with websites.

The Steps of Publishing & Crowdfunding

wine_book_IIAlmost every writer dreams of one day being published, but not all writers realize what exactly goes into publishing a book. Whether you are self-publishing or pursuing the traditional publishing route, writers need to learn to navigate the publishing process. After all, writers are first and foremost just that—writers—and learning the ins and outs of publishing is not an easy task. However, as the publishing industry grows, new tools are becoming available to authors to help them publish more successfully. Crowdfunding is one of these resources and many authors are learning the importance of this step in the publishing process.

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Writing is About Living

ahaadmin:

M.C. Muhlenkamp is the author of the Markram Battles series available on Amazon. A special thank you to Melissa for sharing her perspective on writing through this blog post on her wonderful website!

Originally posted on M.C. MUHLENKAMP:

Decisions, like most things in life, come down to priorities. I remember reading a post by Nathan Bransford a long time ago where he said something along the lines of, no project or goal is worth pushing aside the most important people in your life. Nathan, please forgive me for not quoting your exact words. Attempting to track down that single line in your blog would be like looking for a needle in a giant tub on needles.

Back then I was barely starting to share my writing with others and slowly making my way through the world of self-publishing. But here I am today, about two years later, still mulling over those words. As the due date for baby number three approaches (yes, I’ve been pregnant for the past nine months), hauling along all the responsibilities that come with another kid, I cannot help feeling overwhelmed.

I remember when…

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Pin a Tweet?

thCK9TF55KThink about how much time you spend on Twitter and what you are hoping to accomplish by using Twitter. One of the most important things that can happen for you is when someone else retweets for you, right? And for you, as you work to increase your network, you are looking for things to retweet also, right? And all of the activity you do that is Twitter related takes so much time in total and you probably wish you could spend more time writing and less time on Twitter?

Don’t we all! Here’s your quick tip: Pin a tweet.

Pick which of your tweets is most important for your goals and you most want retweeted by others and PIN IT. Then when people roll through their email notifications and are looking to reciprocate or to catch your attention by retweeting, you’ve made it quick and easy for them to select the tweet that gets you the most benefit. Pinned tweets remain at the top of your Twitter page and others don’t have to search for something relevant to retweet.

I personally look for something to retweet every time I follow someone. Often, I end up scrolling down their page and finding only things they have retweeted and I move on to the next email notification to follow someone back and retweet for them–time is money, or in our case, time is words on the page, right? That person missed an opportunity for me to retweet for them. I love it when a new follower has a pinned tweet because I can follow and retweet for them and go on to the next one…they save me a ton of time! And, it starts that chain reaction we all want…retweeting for each other is the neighborly thing to do and helps you gain valuable, meaningful followers.

How to pin a tweet:retweet-490x367

  1. From your Twitter profile home page, send a tweet.
  2. Go to the sent tweet at the top of your list of sent tweets and click on or just move your mouse over “…more”
  3.  Select “Pin to your profile page”

How to unpin a tweet:

  1. Go to your Home page in Twitter
  2. Select “more” underneath the tweet
  3. Choose “Unpin from your profile”

~~~~~~~~~~>Debra L Hartmann, Author, Publishing Consultant with Indie Author Publishing Services, and Professional Editor at The Pro Book Editor

Smashwords Ebook Data Graph

indexRaymond Esposito kindly gave AHA permission to use his fantastic graph that illustrates the trends and statistics from a Smashwords survey from last year. Enjoy!

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“Keep Calm and Promote!” by Adite Banerjie

the-beginning-road-sign-300x199So, you are a newbie author and you’re awaiting the release of your book in the next three or four months (heaven forbid, if it’s a longer wait!) After you have wrung your hands and vented to your significant other about why publishers can’t seem to get their act together, you come to a major decision. You are going to be dignified and patient. And, while you wait, you’ll actually start working on your next novel. Sounds like a plan, right? Read the rest of this entry

How To Market Your Book Pre-Publication

crowdfundingAuthors who are choosing to self-publish have the advantage of maintaining all creative control over their work, which provokes many writers to take the self-publishing route. However, in order to be successful, the writer’s role must change. A self-publishing author is no longer simply a writer, but they’re taking on the responsibilities of becoming the publisher, too.

In order for an author to be successful in the crowded book market, authors must begin marketing efforts well in advance of their publication date. Without a solid foundation to launch from, their book will most likely get lost in the overwhelming number of titles that are published every year. Once a book is lost, it’s difficult to recover the possible momentum of being a recently published book. Essentially, the publishing industry is sink or swim, but luckily for business savvy authors, Read the rest of this entry

Marketing Indie Style

Indie MarketingWhat is marketing indie style?

When you began the very personal journey that resulted in a manuscript you then felt compelled to share with the world, you probably didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to let people know your book is available for sale. Marketing concepts and methods are relative to the consumer’s demands, not publishing methods, and traditional publishers will expect you to market yourself just as the indie published author has to. Marketing indie style simply means you are responsible for marketing your product.

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Picking an eBook Distributor by JF Garrard

ebookdistributionIf you are self-publishing or starting a small press, you may wonder where to distribute online and what the differences are between eBook distributors. Is there an advantage of choosing one over another?

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Royalties – JF Garrard Breaks it Down

Money-CastleFor many, publishing a book is already a complicated enough goal.  At the same time, another goal to consider is to just break even on the real money you invested in the book. As I prepare to publish my book in April 2014, I am scratching my head at the different royalties offered by different book distribution sites. To be honest, I don’t really care which company carries my book as long as I can calculate the correct amount of royalties I should be gaining from each sale. It’s important to me that data is available at all times in case I want to check on sales numbers in the middle of the night.

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Replace the Gatekeepers

gatekeepersNo longer is getting published dependent on a wish and a prayer. The traditional publishing houses and their gatekeepers don’t hold the only key anymore. Advancing technology has now made it possible for anyone with average computer skills to publish themselves.

 

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Guest Posting as Advertising: How To Be Professional and Be Asked Back

Tips for Running a Crowd Funding Campaign by J F Garrard

crowdfundingTips for Running a Crowd Funding Campaign

Initially when I first embarked on a Kickstarter project campaign for my first book, The Undead Sorceress, I assumed that it would be a simple task. After all, the media has covered stories about people getting thousands of dollars from crowds, so how hard can collecting free money be? But I learned the truth quickly, there is no such thing as free lunch!

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“Injecting Emotion Into Your Writing” by Stefan Vucak

20131121-130811.jpgWhy were Tom Clancy’s first two books, The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising so readable? Many lowbrow literary critics wouldn’t think they were well written books at all, but then, you can’t please everyone. They sold over a million copies each, so they had to have something—and I’m not talking about having a sophisticated marketing machine behind them.

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“Plotting Your Next Novel” by Stefan Vucak

stefan plotting diagramDazzled by the brilliance of your inspiration for a new book, shaking off the urge to start pounding away at that keyboard, you’ve caught your breath and took stock of what you are really facing. Slowly, a sobering realization breaks through that dazzle: that book idea now needs to be translated into 100,000 words or so.

 

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“Making Your Blog Stand Out Amongst the Millions” by Joshua Danton Boyd

English: Analogy of searching Wikipedia, compa...We live in a world awash with blogs. Everyone has one or has had one at some point. Whether they’re used to simply detail a person’s day-to-day life, or to anonymously snipe at politicians, we’re aren’t exactly starved for choice. So, when you want to start your own, how do you make it stand out against the crowd? It isn’t easy, and it takes work, but here’s how to get on your way.

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What’s the 411 on The Fussy Librarian?

?????????????Let The Fussy Librarian help you sell books. After you’ve spent hundreds of hours writing your book, slaved through rewrites and hired a cover designer, it’s understandable that there’s not much energy left over for marketing. We’ve taken what works, made it better and made it easy for you.The Fussy Librarian is the first eBook website to match readers by genre and their content preferences. If you write cozy mysteries, we have readers who have told us they like their mysteries without any violence.

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“What Drives a Book Reviewer to Drink” ~ by Stefan Vucak

Whstefan cartoon headen I get into a hole while writing, to clear my head and let things sort themselves out, which they usually do, I download an e-book to review. Saying it like that, the process sounds simple, but selecting a book is fraught with apprehension and hopeful expectation. Bombarded with flashy covers and eye-catching blurbs, sometimes not so, I look for a book that will entertain and transport me into the author’s world, but more often than not, I walk away disappointed.

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“Are You Neglecting Your Manuscript?” by Stefan Vucak

manuscriptAh, what writers do! Or should I say, what writers shouldn’t do!As an editor and book reviewer, I cringe when I see a manuscript fraught with beginner’s mistakes. It is not only that the manuscript looks disorganized, if I am editing it, before doing anything, I need to hammer it into proper format, which can be a lot of work and drains my enthusiasm.

 

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“Decline of E-book Publishers” by Stefan Vucak

ebooks_stefanvucakimageEvery budding author wants to see his masterpiece published, preferably by one of the traditional book publishers. After all, that’s where the fame and money is, right? After accumulating a stack of rejection letters, thoughts of ending it all bubbling in the background, reality starts to sink in. There are lots of writers out there competing for the same thing, with traditional publishers closing ranks and picking up fewer new authors all the time.

 

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September Workshop Series: Social Media and Listening

Originally posted on THE MORNING SOCIAL:

Social media is not a magic bullet, but there are certain steps that you should follow to ensure that you’re on the strategic path towards carving out your own social media strategy. Social media listening is the best way to gain the information you need to prepare a targeted social media strategy. This is what marketers refer to as “sentiment.”

So, before we get started, let’s define what “sentiment” means for social media.

Sentiment analysis or opinion mining refers to the application of natural language processing, computational linguistics, and text analytics to identify and extract subjective information in source materials.

Generally speaking,  sentiment analysis aims to determine the attitude of a speaker or a writer with respect to some topic or the overall contextual polarity of a document. The attitude may be his or her judgment or evaluation, effective state (that is to say, the emotional state of the author when writing), or the intended…

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“Turning that Inspiration into a Book” by Stefan Vucak

inspirationI am sure someone famous once said that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Not sure about the genius part, but in writing, the rest is certainly true. When I wrote my first novel, and I use the term ‘write’ loosely – good thing it will never see the light of day – I wasn’t short of inspiration. I had ideas for a dozen books; still do, and some have been turned into real books.

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“Write the Book Only You Can Write!” ~ by Bruce Hartman

English: André Gide, Nobel laureate in Literat...I’m fond of quoting this advice from André Gide:

“Throw away my book: you must understand that it represents only one of a thousand attitudes. You must find your own. If someone else could have done something as well as you, don’t do it. If someone else could have said something as well as you, don’t say it—or written something as well as you, don’t write it. Grow fond only of that which you can find nowhere but in yourself, and create out of yourself, impatiently or patiently, ah! that most irreplaceable of beings.”

In other words, write the book that only you can write. No other book is worth writing.

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Digital now makes up 11.3% of Hachette’s revenues worldwide, and 20% of Random House’s

Originally posted on paidContent (old):

Lagardére, parent company of book publisher Hachette, and Bertelsmann, parent company of book publisher Random House, both announced financial results for the first six months of 2013.

Of the two, Lagardère provided more detail on digital results:

  • Digital made up 11.3 percent of Lagardère Publishing’s net sales worldwide, compared to 8.4 percent a year ago.
  • Ebooks now account for 34 percent of adult trade book sales in the U.S., compared to 27 percent last year, and 31 percent in the U.K., up from 22 percent last year.
  • In France, digital sales are much smaller, though growing: Ebooks accounted for 3.2 percent of adult trade book sales there, up from 1 percent last year.

There’s less digital stuff from Bertelsmann. The company just noted that at Random House Germany, digital now accounts for 10 percent of revenues. Worldwide the figure is around 20 percent, company spokesman Stuart Applebaum told me.

Also…

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“What NOT to do when Writing” by Stefan Vucak

Adjective Magnet WordsThere are lots of things authors should not do when writing, like indiscriminate shifting point of view between characters, churn out your novel without a detailed outline, frequent usage of the same word, overusing slang…there are others. What I want to touch on here is the usage of adjectives.

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What I learned from the Emerging Writers Festival: Structure

ahaadmin:

Rebecca Berta shares her notes from the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne in this great article. Thanks Rebecca!

Originally posted on Novel Girl:

So you didn’t make it to the Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival (EWF), huh? Well, fear not! [It's still on, by the way.] I have my messy hand-written notes all typed up and ready for your perusal.

First up …

STRUCTURE

Damon Young

Damon Young, Ph.D., author of Distraction; opinion, feature, and review writer for the biggest newspapers and magazines in Australia; poet; and radio personality had this to say:

  • Introduce familiar characters/archetypes

What’s an archetype?

“a universally understood symbol, term, or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated. — Wikipedia”

This description perfectly shows us writers how to familiarise our readers ASAP.

An example: when was the last time you connected with the busy mother character, fumbling with six bags of groceries as she tries to heave them inside her front door? How about the sweaty, trembling teenage boy who’s…

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“How to Self-edit Your Novel” by Stefan Vucak

stefans edit picIf writing simply meant putting words on paper or into the computer, we would all have lots more fun. However, our readers might not think too much of our efforts. All of us have spent our primary school and high school years learning English: spelling, grammar, sentence and paragraph construction, writing essays…the memories are coming back? Yet, despite the best efforts of our teachers, many writers still haven’t mastered the craft. So, what’s the problem?

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Consider the Source: How Reviews Reflect Our Experience

ahaadmin:

A great post that covers the review processes of the ebook market.

Originally posted on WordServe Water Cooler:

I recently read an account of a celebrity and her young daughter which captured the concept of feedback from a unique perspective. Having completed a Google search, the daughter was troubled to find that strangers were saying all kinds of things about her famous mother, both positive and negative. The mother told her daughter that when people make those kind of comments, the feedback is based on their own individual experiences. Therefore, when people provide comments, they are typically talking about themselves, whether they realize it or not.

What an epiphany, and what a great way to see feedback (like reviews) in a completely different light. People are a product of their own experiences, strung together like pearls over the course of a lifetime. If art imitates life, then reviews of art imitate the reviewer‘s life. Reviewers respond to reading material based on their own individual experiences. When people read books…

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“You Always Need an Editor” ~ by Stefan Vucak

Writer WordartYeah, I can hear you groan already. Not another plug to have your work edited. You’re telling yourself, I’m a good writer and I don’t need anybody fixing my typos, thank you. Those blood-sucking worms out there are just out to get my money. That can be true, but it doesn’t remove the need to have your work professionally edited before you rush it into print, no matter how good an editing job you feel you can do yourself.

 

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