Author Archives: Web Design Relief Staff

Why You Need An Author News Page On Your Website | Web Design Relief

Have you considered creating a News Page on your author website? Don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea, even if you’re not a famous writer (yet!). Web Design Relief knows that all writers—from newbies to best-selling authors—can benefit from having an Author News Page on their websites.

But what if you think you don’t have any news to post? You may be surprised how much you really do have to share, and how much a News Page can help you!

What Is Considered “Newsworthy” For Your Author Website?

New publications. Do you have a new book about to hit shelves? Did a literary journal pick up one of your poems, stories, or essays? Announce this to your fans! We know authors tend to be more on the shy side and not naturally inclined to brag. But think of it less as bragging and more as sharing your good news—your readers are sure to be just as happy as you are! And they’ll want to celebrate with you.

Updates on your publication journey. There may be a long gap between when you announce your poem, story, essay, or book is going to be published and when it is actually published. So when publication finally happens, be sure to update your readers. You can also share important steps on your path to publication. Some ideas: signing your contract, learning your publication date, revealing your book cover—all newsworthy moments!

Book signings and readings. Giving public readings from your book and having book signing events are great ways to boost your sales and build your fan base. Plus, they’re fun (once you get the hang of them)! Of course you want as many fans—and potential new fans—as possible to attend your events, so get the word out on your Author News Page as soon as you know the details. You can also promote the event again as it gets closer.

Speaking engagements. You can also build your reputation as an author by sitting on panels, speaking at writing conferences and seminars, and so forth. These events let you use your expertise as a writer, and they’re excellent fodder for your author website’s News Page too! Just like book signings, nudge readers about the event as it gets closer—and remember to post the details as early as possible so that everyone interested can put it on their calendars.

Social media posts. If you’re worried about having enough “news” to regularly post on your author website’s News Page, consider integrating a social media feed or two into the page. Depending on which programs and widgets you choose, this could also ease some pressure on you—especially if you’re busy or not totally comfortable with social media. You’ll be posting updates in fewer places because your pages will sync automatically!

How To Keep Your Information Safe On Your News Page

Host events only in public places. Bookstores, libraries, and even venues like cafés are perfect for author events. Once you plan them, definitely announce these events on your author website’s News Page right away—but be sure to only share the address of the event, not your own home address or contact info.

Be careful when you post photos. If you’re going to share photos of yourself at home—signing a contract, for example!—make sure the location can’t be accessed. Though geotagging can be incredibly helpful in the modern age for public events, it’s just not a good idea concerning your home address. To protect your safety, you shouldn’t post the town your home is in. This is something to also be careful about when using social media sites. Some social media sites strip out location info, but some do not. For example: Be sure to turn off Tweet Location if tweeting from home! 

For more tips on protecting your personal information on your author website—such as your email address, phone number, and legal name—check out this article! 

And Remember—You Have More News Than You Think!

Sure, a handful of best-selling authors will have national tours and fancy awards to post about—but literary agents and literary journal editors won’t expect that from every writer. Even smaller news is worth sharing—genuine connections and fan interactions matter so much more in the long run! Plus, these news items make readers feel like they’re really getting to know you.

Ready to build an author website with a News Page? Don’t worry if you’re not tech savvy—Web Design Relief is always here to help! Reach out for your free consultation to talk us through your vision and get a price quote today.

 

Question: Would you consider adding a News Page to your author website? What would your first post be?

How To Start A Book Review Blog—And Score Some Free Books! | Web Design Relief

If you are a ravenous book reader, you may be able to turn your passion for the written word (and your love of sharing your opinion) into a rewarding book review blog. Not only do book review bloggers get the satisfaction of reading and critiquing, they also often score free books from writers and publishers who want to generate some book review blogger buzz. Here’s what Web Design Relief wants you to know about how to start a book review blog!

How To Start Your Own Book Review Blog

Pinpoint a genre/readership. Although your reading tastes may run the gamut from quiet literary fiction to noisy international espionage thrillers, you may want to focus your book review blog on one specific genre. When you focus clearly on a particular target audience, you’ll have a better chance of connecting effectively with that specific readership.

Sharpen your hook. There are a lot of book review blogs out there. What makes yours stand out? Now is the time to think about how you might distinguish your blog from others.

  • Do you want to write a “shock jock” style book review blog that invites controversy by both delighting and enraging readers? Are you willing to risk being alienated by certain writers or book review-seeking publishers by having an in-your-face style that cuts to the heart of reader concerns?
  • Or do you prefer a milder, more moderate approach that focuses on the positive, supporting the authors who inspire you while choosing not to devote attention to those books that don’t spark your interest?

Find your voice as a blogger. The tone and style of your book reviews will help define your future readership. If you are reviewing books that have an academic or literary focus, you may be able to get away with writing long, formal, winding sentences in your book reviews. But keep in mind that the most popular bloggers often embrace a witty, chatty, casual style, because the way people read using a computer or mobile device is different from how they read print. Learn more: Author Website Copy: Five Essential Tips For Writing Web Text.

Establish a format for your book reviews. The traditional publishing industry format for book reviews includes dedicating the majority of the review to the facts of the book in question (story/content/synopsis/background). Only in the last few sentences, would you share your personal opinion and include both strengths and weaknesses of the book.

But you don’t have to stick to the traditional style of writing book reviews. As a blogger, you can take creative liberties with your book reviews. You may decide that the bulk of your review should focus on opinion, with only a few sentences dedicated to summary of the book itself.

Develop a book ranking scale. Another thing to consider is how you will rate or rank the books on your book review blog. You can use a traditional five-star system, or you can develop your own rating guide—using anything from emojis to color schemes. You may want to link each of your book reviews to an explanation of your personal book ranking system so that readers who are new to your blog can understand it.

Focus on value. Whatever the format/style/voice you choose for your book reviews, keep in mind that the most successful book reviews are those that are practical and helpful to readers who are trying to decide whether to read or buy a given book. Readers who are looking for the next great addition to their TBR list may not want to waste their time reading a lengthy diatribe about a book you consider a “don’t buy.” They might prefer to spend their time learning about a book they will actually want to read.

Select which books you will review. Your choice of book titles to review will say a lot about who you are as a blogger and what you value as a reader. Will you choose to join the conversation by reviewing nationally released, buzzworthy books that are already being discussed all over the Internet? Or will you focus on hidden gems from independent presses? 

Keep reviews short, memorable, and quotable. Book readers want you to cut to the chase and let them know what makes a particular book a great read. Witty insights, pithy phrases, and unique perspectives can make your book reviews memorable. Plus, authors who are happy with your turn of phrase might just feature your book review quote and URL on the cover of their next book release—which will help spread the word about your book blogging efforts!

Reach out. Book bloggers rarely succeed by writing in a vacuum. To generate an audience and increase the likelihood that writers and publishers will send free books your way, you’ll need to do some marketing. Here are a few ideas:

  • Connect with other book bloggers
  • Reach out to writing groups to invite book submissions
  • Cross-promote with other bloggers
  • Host book giveaway contests
  • Feature writer interviews/Q&As/guest bloggers
  • Integrate your book reviews with social media feeds 

Final Thoughts: Are You A Book Reviewer? Or A Writer?

If you are active in the creative writing community as an author, you may want to be aware of how your book reviews will be received within the community of your peers. What you write today about a given author’s book could affect you tomorrow if you sit down at a luncheon and an author you once lambasted is seated right beside you. Also, if you come down hard on a particular publisher’s title in a way that makes a big splash, that publisher might not be particularly receptive when it’s time for you to pitch your own book for publication.

Your words have power—as both a book lover and an author, you’ll have to make decisions about your priorities and values if you decide to start a book review blog. Learn more about what it means to be an author who also writes book reviews.

 

Question: What most influences your decision to buy a book?

How To Defuse The Negativity Of Trolls On Social Media | Web Design Relief

Once upon a time, trolls only existed in fairy tales, lurking under bridges and feeding on unwary travelers. Today they lurk on the Internet and feed on the conflict they create on social media.

No online community is safe from the risk of being attacked by trolls. Web Design Relief knows the dangers and difficulties of dealing with Internet trolls, and we’ve gathered some tips and suggestions on how to defuse negativity on social media.

Effectively Neutralize Trolls On Your Social Media

Identify what type of troll you’re dealing with. Trolls get their jollies by getting a rise out of you or your followers. Their intention is to humiliate or ridicule a targeted victim. They want to tarnish reputations and discredit businesses. But, it’s a mistake to believe that all trolls are teenage boys with too much time on their hands. While it’s true that most trolls are male, studies have shown that they are not always who we think they are:

  • Trolls don’t necessarily work alone. Some of them are part of well-organized groups.
  • They aren’t always uneducated. In fact, many are well-educated individuals, some with advanced degrees.
  • Most importantly, trolls are not all harmless.

Use agreeable phrases to reduce tension. Polite gestures such as thank you, I get your point, here’s what we have in common, and/or I see my mistake might de-escalate the situation or lead your attacker to believe you are not easily provoked. Of course, this doesn’t work in all situations. Your reluctance to take the bait may come across as being vulnerable and weak. Some trolls may not be challenged enough to continue. Others will think you might be easy prey. Another thing to consider when placating a troll is that you must be careful not to ostracize your followers or disappoint your friends in the process.

Respond with facts. Let’s face it: Trolls do not fight fair. They like to use disparaging off-topic comments to start fires in your social media feeds. If a troll accuses you of spreading lies or misinformation, you can handle it one of two ways. Either admit you were mistaken (if indeed you were) and apologize (believe it or not, folks, information does vary online) OR respond calmly with facts. Hose down inflammatory comments by identifying the resources that led to your conclusion. Show examples if possible. A good offense is the best defense. And don’t forget what we’ve said about using positive remarks to defuse negativity. Something as simple as I see how you came to that conclusion but this is what I found might help neutralize an attack.

Counter with humor. Treat trolls like comedians treat hecklers. Either disregard them and move on or respond with something that makes light of their virtual assault BUT not in a derogatory manner or personal attack (trolls hate competition). If enough followers chime in, the troll may feel outnumbered and throw in the towel. But a word of caution if you attempt to use humor to subdue trolls: Sometimes, this can backfire—especially if the troll feels embarrassed or ill-equipped to handle your humorous attempt to diffuse the situation. Keep in mind, Internet bullies do not like to be bullied or mocked.

Do not feed the trolls. You know those warnings about not feeding the bears, alligators, or your moochy cousin Albert? If you toss them some popcorn, you will be forever associated with food. Trolls aren’t much different in this respect except the food that nourishes them is negative human emotion. Show them one scrap, one teeny tiny morsel of anything remotely related to fear, pain, guilt, or insecurity—and they will know exactly where to go to be fed. No matter how hungry trolls are for controversy, feed them only positive comments or ignore them completely, and you will likely starve them out. Recognize the hunger signs early on and don’t be baited.

Block and report. Most social media sites have moderators who monitor discussions and intervene when someone is being toxic or a certain post is headed in the wrong direction. If a commenter continues to display inappropriate social media etiquette, the moderator can use the block/report feature to ban the person or people being discourteous.

Unless you appoint a moderator on your personal blog or website, you will be the one doing the blocking. If you are overly concerned about how people will respond to something you post, an option that might prove beneficial is to pre-approve comments before they go live. These safety features were created for a reason. But use them in moderation. Not every rude or disagreeable person is a troll. Some of them are just rude, disagreeable people.

However, there may be times when online harassment crosses the line. Hate mail, death and rape threats, and threatening comments toward family and pets are not uncommon tactics used by trolls on the Internet. These threats should not be taken lightly. Remember, not all trolls are harmless—some have proven to be very dangerous. If a situation escalates and you feel threatened, here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

Alert family and friends to the situation. This isn’t just for support. If people around you know what’s going on, they will be less likely to inadvertently divulge your personal information to strangers pretending to be friends.

Save screenshots of the harassment and/or threats. This will help if you are forced to involve law enforcement (see below). There are ways to unveil anonymous trolls.

Avoid posting your whereabouts or daily routine on social media. Data location apps were designed to help you discover new things, but keep in mind, they also make it easy for people to discover you and your precise location.

Disable the geotagging features on your smartphone. Metadata is like bread crumbs for stalkers. It will lead them right to you. Think it’s safe to take a quick photo of yourself using your cell phone camera to upload on social media? Think again, Hansel and Gretel. There is so much metadata recorded in a digital picture, it’s like a map and you are the red star right in the center of it. Be smart about your smartphone.

If it gets really scary, involve the police. They have departments specifically created to assist with cyberbullying. Depending on the severity, you may also want to fill out the Internet Crime Complaint form known as the IC3 on the FBI site.

You can also report cyberbullying on the Cyberbullying Research Center’s Report Page.

While the Internet might sometimes seem like a scary place with trolls lurking in every dark corner, taking these few basic precautions will help keep them at bay. And remember, there are lots of nice, friendly, interested people on the Internet and social media who simply want to follow you and your writing!

 

Question: Have you had to deal with an Internet troll? What steps did you take to deal with the situation?

Keep Your Website Visitors Safer With These Tools | Web Design Relief

You may have an author website with great design elements, informative content, and lucrative promotional material, but this means little if your website isn’t safe! When it comes to your author website, Web Design Relief feels the safety of those visiting your site should be your top priority. Without the proper precautions, you leave your… Continue Reading

Self-Test: Is Your Author Website Up To Professional Standards? | Web Design Relief

Your author website is a powerful networking tool, essentially acting as your online business card. Since your website represents you as a writer to readers, editors, or literary agents, it should look professional and polished—not like the cheapest option you could find. Take this easy self-test from the experts at Web Design Relief to determine… Continue Reading

Great Ways To Use Moving Elements In Your Author Website | Web Design Relief

Strategically incorporating motion into your author website design is a smart way to grab the attention of your followers and publishing industry pros. At Web Design Relief, our experts know that using moving elements in your author website will engage visitors in ways static images cannot. If you’re ready to get moving, here’s how to… Continue Reading


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