Websites! We are told as authors that we must have a website or at the very least pages tied to a blog to tell readers a little bit about ourselves but when you are starting out it can be a daunting experience. How do you begin? Where do you start?
The options can be bewildering: a simple Facebook page and a separate blog, a free website you create yourself or, if you have the resources, the bells and whistles of a website created by a designer to your specification.
I wanted three things from my website:-
- I wanted it to be informative.
- I wanted to build it with the future in mind so I wasn’t endlessly tinkering with it.
- I wanted it to appear fresh and interesting even during the months I hadn’t got a new book to promote.
If you are not particularly website savvy (and I’m not!) it can be hard to know exactly what you want but I discovered pretty quickly that I knew what I didn’t want!
I read extensively on the type of things that should be included in an author site and how to make use of the most important part of site: the Home Page, especially the top third of the Home Page which is sometimes, depending on the device, all that is initially visible. Oh and the smart money said don’t build your beloved site on someone else’s real estate make sure it’s your own.
Having digested all this information, I set about checking whether the domain names I wanted were available. My heart was in my mouth whilst I waited but the computer said yes and I was delighted. I purchased the two domain names I wanted and then turned the computer off.
I sat at my dining table with A4 sheets of paper, a pencil and a ruler and I started sketching out how I wanted each page of the website to look. I am a visual person so I found sketching the layouts fairly easy once I got into the flow. I had plenty of ideas of the type of things I wanted to put on my site and this gave me the opportunity to experiment with how they might look and where they might best be situated. When I got to a box that needed text, I sketched out the outline and then turned the computer back on to type up the text. I worked like that, switching back and forth between paper and computer for three Sundays until I had the bones of my site, on paper at least.
Next I created a Word document (formatting ugh!) to give an idea of how it might look on screen. Then I tweaked and fluffed.
I had come to the end of the line. I knew I didn’t want to learn how to build a website. I had too many other writing related things to be getting on with and I had created the content and pinned down the rough layout. I decided to bring a professional on board.
I had a couple of missteps where good natured people tried to assist but it didn’t come together how I wanted. The word website was starting to make me develop a nervous twitch and then I remembered a recommendation I had come across years ago for a website designer who worked with authors. I dug out my old notes and then googled her. I discovered she had got married so her name had changed but to my delight she was still designing websites.
I emailed her and then we spoke on the phone. Suddenly the word website wasn’t making me twitch, it was making me smile.
I gave her my extensive brief. I wanted clear, fresh and elegant with a simple palette of colours. I pulled together all the photos I wanted to use – there were a lot – remember I am a visual person and I sent these across to her along with all the text. There must have been plenty of times when she rolled her eyes in private about my nit picking as the site was being built – please could you centre this, please could you change the colour of that – but she always responded with good grace and humour and complete professionalism.
Where I was uncertain about some things, Aimee pitched in with ideas and suggestions until we hit on something that worked and with which we were both happy. Her insights and ideas have been incredibly helpful.
I was conscious I had given her a detailed brief. I had also raised the prospect of a deadline that frankly I felt was unachievable but hoped for nonetheless, coupled with the fact that I had by that stage become a slightly hysterical client who was convinced she was never going to have a @*&! website.
Aimee’s cheerfulness, thoughtfulness, creativity and talent saved the day. Oh and she made the deadline with time to spare!
I have my own piece of real estate. Ellie’s world! It won’t be to everyone’s tastes. There will be plenty of people who will say you should have done this or that would have worked better. But for me and the type of books I am writing it is just what I wanted and I couldn’t be happier. We writers don’t get many days of pure satisfaction so I’m going to cherish this one!
If you’d like to take a look you can find the site at http://www.ellieholmesauthor.com
Today’s blog is the fifth in my Flower Seller Thursday collection of writing related blogs leading up to publication day of my first novel The Flower Seller on Thursday 2nd June #FlowerSellerThursday