Category Archives: Author Platform Resources

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 to use a platform that says you can create a “free” website.

But you know the old adage: There’s no such thing as a free lunch! The experts at Web Design Relief know that many of these supposedly “free” websites actually have hidden costs, limited options, and even unexpected dangers. Here’s what you need to know before you sign up for a “free” website.

10 Things Writers Need To Know About “Free” Author Website Builders

  1. Free websites usually can’t be customized. As a writer, you have a unique personality and a unique style of writing. So you’ll want to customize your website based on what you write—a picture book author, for example, would certainly have a different author website aesthetic than someone who writes horror novels. Having an author website that reflects you and your writing helps you attract the right audience. Free websites, however, offer only a few basic, cookie-cutter templates that are rarely customizable, or might only offer a few color and template options. And forget having multiple pages—these companies may not even let you choose fonts or color schemes that match your book’s genre!
  1. Free websites may not let you sell your products. Free website companies don’t always give you options for selling your books and other products (tote bags, bookmarks, etc.). They also may not allow for a contact page—making it difficult for visitors to reach you to set up speaking engagements, book signing events, etc. And many prohibit you from running your own targeted ads.
  1. A free website might stick you with an unfavorable URL. Picking your author website’s domain name is an important decision, and it should be one you—and only you—are in control of! You’ll want your domain name to be something easy for your readers to remember, one that is all letters if possible. Example: YourNameAuthor.com. But many no-fee websites won’t give you that option, or only let you choose part of your URL, or make it mandatory to include their business name in your domain name.
  1. Your free website may not function very well. Once you get past the design challenges, you’ll find that many free websites are hosted on unstable servers that are vulnerable to viruses, or servers that are shared by thousands of websites. As a result, your website may load very slowly, or not at all. When your site finally does load, it may be subject to devastating crashes—and many free website hosts don’t create backups of your site—so in one crash you could lose everything.
  1. Free websites are often riddled with ads. Free websites have to make their money somehow—so if they’re not charging users like you, they often turn to advertisements to turn a profit from their sites. These ads could be placed anywhere on your website, and there could be so many of them that they distract from your content. You also won’t get to choose the ads, so chances are they won’t have anything to do with you or your writing, and may even tout products that don’t align with your values, giving the wrong impression to visitors.
  1. Free websites often don’t support mobile browsers. These days, your fans are as likely to search for your author website from their phone or tablet as they are from their desktop computer. Smart website design includes optimization for mobile platforms, but free websites rarely offer this option. The result? Your website may not load properly on fans’ mobile devices—or may not load at all. So visitors will bounce off your website and head to someone else’s.
  1. You may actually end up paying—a lot. If they aren’t loaded with tons of annoying ads, so-called free websites must find other ways to make money. You may notice charges for “annual fees” or “security fees.” Another tactic: Services that are normally included in a professional website design (custom email addresses, hosting images, etc.) may be “extra charges” on a free site. There may also be charges for services you’ve never heard of, like “website transfer” or “FTP access.”

And keep an eye out for the supposedly free website that’s really just a “trial offer”—once the trial expires, you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg to keep your website live.

  1. Free websites usually don’t offer any help or support. If something goes wrong with your free author website, it’s very unlikely you’ll get any help from the company to fix the issue. Most “no-fee” websites don’t even provide a phone number or general email for questions, let alone offer IT support. And let’s face it: Like most writers, you’re probably considering using a website service because you aren’t a tech expert or IT troubleshooter. So why choose a free website with no support or help desk?
  1. Free website companies can vanish overnight—along with your website. These companies’ terms-of-use agreements are often ironclad: Infinite protections for them—and none for you or your author website. Not only can most free websites choose to drop your website at any time, the company itself can disappear at any time. Most don’t even have to inform their users before they shut down their servers—you could simply wake up one morning to discover your website is gone, and the company won’t be held accountable.
  1. A free website may give the wrong impression. A poorly designed, low-quality author website can be just as detrimental as not having one at all. If literary agents or journal editors visiting your author website are bombarded by irrelevant ads or find navigating the site difficult, they may decide to simply bounce off—since it will seem you haven’t truly prioritized your writing career. And with hackers constantly finding new ways to break into less secure websites, your readers who visit may be less willing to trust an off-brand website, making it less likely they’ll sign up for your mailing list or visit your site again.

 

How To Get The Best Author Website On A Budget

Rather than take your chances with a free website, trust reputable companies like WordPress to create and customize a website on a budget. If you already have an author website and are looking for low-cost ways to keep it useful and current, check out this list.

And if you’d like to put the entire website-building project into the hands of experts who understand the unique needs of writers, the techies at Web Design Relief can create an affordable site for you. Even our most budget-friendly options will still make a big impact on your writing career—check out our Professional Package or our Create-Your-Own Package.

 

QUESTION: Have you ever used a free website service? Why or why not?

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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