Category Archives: Author Platform Resources

Videoconferencing For Writers: The Top Software And Apps | Web Design Relief

Videoconferencing For Writers: The Top Software And Apps | Web Design Relief

In today’s new normal, writers are scrambling for alternative ways to interact with colleagues and readers. No longer able to meet in person with critique partners, schedule bookstore appearances to promote a new launch, or participate in conferences or workshops, writers have turned to videoconferencing software and apps in an effort to stay connected. But with so many options out there, which videoconferencing platform is best for writers? The tech experts at Web Design Relief have the scoop on the pros and cons of the latest videoconferencing software and apps.

So put on your nicest shirt (no one will see your sweatpants and fuzzy slippers) and let’s get started!

The Best Videoconferencing Software And Apps For Writers

ZOOM

ZOOM has become the most popular videoconferencing choice during the quarantine, in part because it works across lots of devices and operating systems. One author can call into ZOOM on an iPhone, another can join through a PC, and a third on an iPad, along with ninety-seven additional participants, effortlessly.

Because ZOOM allows a large group of people to participate in a single videoconference, it’s a great option for critique group gatherings or impromptu networking events—as long as the event doesn’t last longer than forty minutes, which is the limit for the free option. Paid options are available for as low as $14.99 a month and include unlimited minutes and many more features.

FreeConferenceCall.com

This high-quality videoconference software stands out for several reasons. Paying a fee for use is voluntary, and the suggested amounts are less than the cost of a cup of coffee. The income from these small contributions supports this company’s dedication to keeping high-quality videoconferencing software free or low cost for small businesses that can’t yet afford pricey options.

FreeConferenceCall.com features include:

  • Videoconferencing with up to 1,000 participants
  • Screen-sharing images from your computer—your book cover design, perhaps—to everyone else in the video chat
  • Recording and playback, which is handy if you’re opting to record an informal Q&A in place of a cancelled in-bookstore event

Because this videoconference option has no session limits, it’s great for workshop presentations for your local writer’s chapter, lengthy critique group meetings, or an open-ended editorial meeting with your publishing team.

Skype

Skype has been Microsoft’s videoconference software for nearly twenty years. Previously, using Skype required downloading their software. However, with the onset of the pandemic, Skype has introduced a new option: Skype Meet.

Skype Meet hosts can start a free meeting on a Skype web interface for up to fifty people, with no sign-ups or downloads required. In contrast to some other options, the familiarity of the interface may be a boon to authors who feel challenged by newer interfaces.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is one of the few successes that originated from the now-defunct Google+ social media platform. The software is simple. If you have a Gmail account or use Google as your preferred search engine, access is easy. Best of all, video calls with Google Hangouts are free in the US and Canada.

Google Hangouts only allows ten participants, so this option may be best for casual chats with your author buddies, or directed calls with your developmental editor, book formatter, or cover designer.

Group FaceTime

Authors who use iPhones, iPads, or other Mac devices updated to iOS 12 or higher have the option of using the FaceTime app for casual video conferencing. You can connect up to thirty-two people on one call. It’s a great way to network with writing colleagues who are across town or across the globe.

Facebook Messenger Rooms

Facebook recently rolled out its latest messenger chat upgrade called Messenger Rooms. These dedicated video chat rooms can host up to fifty people and are free to use. While you can create the room right from your Facebook account, attendees do not have to have Facebook accounts in order to join the video chat. You can also lock your Messenger Room for more security.

Video Conferencing And The Future Of Publishing

Considering the advantages of remote connection, videoconferencing software and apps will continue to reshape the publishing industry and open up new and innovative ways for you to collaborate on projects, market books, and connect with your readers.

And when you’re ready for your videoconference, try out one of these virtual backgrounds for videoconferencing featuring well-known bookstores!

 

Question: How have you used videoconferencing software or apps to keep in touch with your writing colleagues?

 

New Year; New You: How To Revamp Your Author Persona And Grow Your Fan Base | Web Design Relief

It’s the start of a new year! What better time to give your brand identity a facelift? The experts at Web Design Relief know that a fresh approach to your online author persona can help you achieve your goals as a writer, increase the size of your fan base, and find the right voice for your author website and social networks.

5 Ways To Revitalize Your Author Website And Online Presence

Make A List: Check out your favorite authors and how they portray their personas online; then create a list of the qualities you want to exemplify through your online activity. You’ll be able to use it as a reference every time you make a website update or put up a new post. This will help you maintain consistency and develop your author brand.

Watch Your Words: Because almost all of our online communication is through text on websites and social media, your words and phrasing are incredibly important. Whether you are trying to appear friendlier, more approachable, or dark and mysterious—adjust your word choice to uniformly reflect this and stay on brand. Your blog updates and social media posts should all sound like they were made by the same person. Here’s what Neil Gaiman has to say about writing in your own voice.

Change Your Imagery: The images you use to engage with your fans online are also key elements of your author persona. Consider Instagram: Successful Instagram accounts tend to focus on a theme. Your theme should relate to your books or the genre in which you write. Make sure your images embrace your overall author brand, are high quality, and are tasteful!

Engage, Engage, Engage: Any author who’s been reaping the benefits of online success is one who actively engages with fans, friends, and followers. Be sure to answer questions, respond to messages, and acknowledge comments so that your visitors and supporters feel heard. Keep all of your responses kind, courteous, and as interesting as possible. Remember to interact in the same way you’d want your favorite author to respond to you! An active social presence will keep fans and followers returning to your accounts.

And if you end up with a few trolls to deal with (it’s an unfortunate reality of the Internet today), here’s how to keep your cool and protect your online reputation.

Keep It Real: It’s vital to keep your online persona sociable and interesting, but that doesn’t mean you should over-embellish. Your fans will be able to tell if you are being inauthentic. Also, if you put on a performance or establish yourself as an incredible character, your marketing attempts might actually backfire and turn off your target audience. Instead, be the best version of yourself. By being genuine and thoughtful in what you share and write, you’ll create a realistic persona that can enhance your author brand.

Once you decide to revamp your online persona, be careful that you don’t overwhelm your followers with too many changes all at once. Gradually incorporate any new elements and strategies to your online usage, and success will follow.

 

Question: What is the most important element to update on an author website?

Pen Names And The Internet: 5 Writer Problems—Solved!| Web Design Relief

Many prolific authors use pseudonyms (pen names) in order to write in multiple genres without muddying brands. And some writers with long or difficult-to-pronounce names may opt for shorter, easier-to-remember monikers. Pen names can also be used to build walls between day jobs and writing ventures, or to provide a fresh start if a writer’s previous efforts have failed in the marketplace. But, while there are many good reasons why a writer might use a pen name, Writer’s Relief has discovered that using a pseudonym can also introduce problems—especially when it comes to author websites and social media.

Problems—And Solutions—When Using A Pen Name On A Website Or Social Media

Problem #1: Someone Already Has The Same Name On Social Media.

With billions of people active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s no surprise that you may find a non-writer with the exact same name. So how are you going to distinguish your pen name profile from thirty other non-authors with the same name—without losing or confusing your readers?

  • Facebook requires you to set up a personal profile with your real name, but you can create an author page with whatever name you please. Consider calling your new page “Pen Name Author,” “Pen Name Writer,” “Pen Name Books,” or some other simple title. Focus all of your writing-related Facebook social media efforts there.
  • On Twitter and Instagram, you can set up (separate) accounts with “handles” that also incorporate “author,” “writer,” or “book.” Just make sure to note your writing career in your short bio so your readers can feel confident that they’ve found the real you.
  • To build authenticity, keep your social media name consistent across all platforms. Ideally, all of your pen name’s social media handles will be short, easy to spell, easy to remember, and contain your pen name, preferably first.

Problem #2: Which Name Should Appear In The Website Registry?

If you’re going to use a pseudonym online, you’ll need an appropriate domain name to set up a website. But who is going to buy that domain? If you buy it with your legal name, then your ownership of the pseudonym will become searchable in website registries—and thus available to the public.

  • If you’re not concerned about anonymity, then the simplest choice is to buy your domain under your legal name.
  • If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, but want to buy your pseudonym domain name under a legal name, consider purchasing privacy insurance for a monthly or yearly fee.
  • If you wish to ensure anonymity, consider adding a layer of privacy with several corporate or legal options. Some authors write under pseudonyms connected to a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or corporation. Others file DBA (“Doing Business As”) statements with their counties. If anonymity is the central reason why you’re using a pen name, you may want to seek legal help for your particular state, county, and situation.

Problem #3: Which Name Should The Website Copyright Notice Be Under?

U.S. copyright allows for the listing of both a legal and pen name. If you register your work under your legal name (whether you choose to include your pseudonym on the copyright materials or not), your book will remain under copyright protection for the author’s life plus seventy years. However, your legal name and your pen name will be linked and thus publicly searchable.

You do have the option of registering your book ONLY under your pen name, but if you leave off any record of your legal name in the copyright, you’ll run into two issues. First, you may have trouble proving the book is yours if you don’t take the necessary legal precautions. Second, the term of the work’s copyright will be changed. As opposed to the author’s life plus seventy years, the book registered under a pseudonym alone will be protected until 95 years from publication or 120 from the creation of the work.

An IP (intellectual property) lawyer can help you consider your options wisely.

Problem #4: What’s The Best URL?

If you’re writing under several pen names, you’ll be faced with the dilemma of how to design your website for multiple pseudonyms and determining what URL works best.

If the readership of your genres is quite different—you write both middle grade books and adult erotica—you may want to set up two separate websites so the two audiences never meet. In that case, your best URL for each website is the domain name of the associated pseudonym.

If you write in several subgenres under one strong brand, you may want to consider creating one branded website that has different tabs for each of your pen names. Each of the associated domain name URLs could be directed toward the one landing page.

A good website designer can help you choose the wisest course for managing pen names.

Problem #5: How Am I Going To Manage More Than One Writing Persona Online?

One of the biggest hurdles to using a pen name is the multiplication of social media accounts, and perhaps multiple websites. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when juggling more than one active pseudonym!

Fortunately, there are social media management software options like Hootsuite and TweetDeck that can make your life easier. And linking your pen name to social media profiles across platforms can amplify your efforts.

Writing under a pen name can sometimes be challenging, but with a little planning, smart website design, and clever social media time management, embracing a pseudonym can give you anonymity and the freedom to write what you want, and multiply your chances for breaking out in a new and exciting genre.

 

Question: In what situation would you choose to write under a pen name?

Is A “Free” Website REALLY Free? 10 Things Writers Need To Know | Web Design Relief

You know all the reasons you need an author website—to act as your online information source for readers, editors, and agents; to provide a hub for your author platform, etc. But like most folks, you don’t want to spend all of your hard-earned cash building a website. Budget-conscious writers might therefore jump at the chance… Continue Reading

How To Create A “Book Me” Page On Your Author Website To Get More Speaking Gigs| Web Design Relief

Networking, shaking hands, and meeting new people is a great way to drum up interest in the speaking or book signing events you can offer as an author. But your author website can be equally effective at nabbing you some new invitations to speak—if you’re using it right. Imagine: You could be lounging around in… Continue Reading


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