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?

5 Mistakes Writers Make On Their Author Websites (And The Easy Fixes) | Web Design Relief

Did you know that every website needs regular care and housekeeping? So unless you have a fairy godmother or can sing well enough to inspire woodland creatures to assist you with your chores, you should keep a virtual broom and wrench handy. Even the most meticulous author website design may experience issues that arise over time: Links break, information becomes obsolete, plugins stop working, etc. Thankfully, the most common mistakes writers make on their author websites have easy fixes!

Check out these website blunders and Web Design Relief’s tips on how to fix them without IT support intervention.

5 Easy-To-Fix Common Website Mistakes

Broken images: Uh-oh, has your beautiful photo been replaced by a sad face or what looks like a torn piece of paper? This means that the file containing the image may have been corrupted. But this can be fixed simply by re-uploading your photo to your author website or installing a handy plugin to solve the problem for you!

Typos: Some of the most damaging mistakes on an author website are typos, grammar mishaps, and incorrect punctuation. After all, you’re a writer—you’re held to a higher standard of web content than your online neighbors. Typos and grammar gaffes on your website may cause visitors to question your writing skills in general.

And you can’t count on website building elements to alert you to typos; they don’t feature spellcheck like word processing programs do. Thorough, expert proofreading is the solution to this common mistake and can ensure that your author website is up to professional standards.

Dead Links: Is there anything more frustrating than a link that leads nowhere? If the hyperlinks you have included on your website are no longer active, your site will look abandoned and poorly maintained. Worst-case scenario—improper use of links can even get your site banned.

Fortunately, reviving dead links is easy! If a website has a new web address, simply update your link with the new URL. If the site you are linking to no longer exists, remove the link altogether or find another source. And remember to check your hyperlinks often to make sure you aren’t letting dead links lurk on your website!

Slow Response Times: Does your website take a long time to load? Having too many elements running can cause lagging. Download time is an overlooked issue on many author websites. And if your website is taking too long to load, visitors will bounce off your site.

To fix a lagging website, reevaluate what you really need on your web pages and what is simply clogging up response times. For example: There is no need to have images larger than 1500px, so you may want to resize large photos so that they do not take up so much space. However, don’t lose the resolution—make sure your photos have at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). Another tip: Instead of uploading videos directly to your website, upload them to an external website like YouTube and then embed them on your site to save space!

Design Is Not Mobile-Friendly: Your author website may look perfect on your desktop computer, but nowadays more and more people visit sites using their cell phones and tablets. So it’s important that your website looks great on mobile devices too! The key is sizing. Make certain that your buttons are big enough to be seen on smaller screens, but that your photos and graphics aren’t so big that they are cut off.

Our pro tip: Test, test, test! View your author website on as many devices as possible and adjust your design elements accordingly.

Check out these 7 tips for a more mobile-friendly author website!

BONUS TIP: While most mistakes on your author website can be easily fixed, there will be glitches that require more complicated intervention. But don’t panic! Regular website backups can still save you lots of grief. Backing up your website frequently gives you the option to revert back to an earlier version (before the error kicked in!).

 

QUESTION: What are some overlooked mistakes you’ve found on websites you’ve visited?

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