Monday, May 16, 2011

The Bo'sun's Coming Out Ball

When the time approached to start the querying process, one of the things I wanted to include in my query letter was a link to my website. Now, I know what you’re asking yourself. “Bo’sun has a website?” Well, I didn’t, which is why I needed a plan.

Donna set the example by using Typepad to manipulate a blog site into looking like a website. Chance had used the same program, with a little help from DRD to set up her own blog. When I need an inexpensive plan, Typepad seemed the way to go. So I dove in.

It should come as no surprise that this little endeavor did not go smoothly. In fact, poor Donna had to deal with my blundering during a phone call back in February as I tried to figure out what the heck I was doing. If she didn’t think I was nuts before, that phone call made it official.

I eventually got things the way I wanted, labeled a couple pages “Under Construction” and set the site aside to get some other things done. Ironically, when I sent out my (whopping) two query letters into the agent world, I didn’t include the website, since it wasn’t done yet. Another project left unfinished.

Until last week.

I don’t know what’s going on in my brain lately, but something told me I needed to get that site done and take this writing thing seriously. I have an internet presence, but not a “This writer is for reals” kind of presence. If watching Chance attack the land of the published has taught me anything it’s that you don’t want to wait until you’re published to do these things. Grant it, when I publish, I’ll need something more professional, but for now, I needed something. We’ll call it a starter site.

After one hefty hiccup, which resulted in having to delete the site I’d completely finished and starting over, I now have a website that includes a short bio, MS/WIP blurbs, and the unedited version of the short story published in Woman’s World magazine last fall.

Today is my coming out party.

Check me out here and tell me what you think. What am I missing? I’ll eventually add elements like a photo gallery and if things go really well, a “published books” page. A girl can dream.

EDITED TO ADD: What author websites are your favorites and why. What do you expect from an author website and what aspects would put you off. (Meant to add this last night.)


2nd Chance said...

Great idea...and I'd love to check it out... Linky?

Hey,'s here!

And really, she is right. I know everyone thinks they'll be ready for the promo circus... Yes, we all dream of the uber big publisher who will do it ALLLLLLL! I even dream of that...I'm looking at buying lottery tickets and hiring a marketing/publicity team with the winnings...

Oh! Castle is on! Must pay attention!

Quantum said...

WOW Terri, your wearing big girl panties now!

I commented on your new blog site and bookmarked the site which I found very impressive :

Nice start Terri!
The site could use some pictures and color eg favorite book covers, especially if yours!
A shot of those two cats .... the lucky critters. And you standing in your house by a bookcase would be good.
Loved your short story. Serendipity can lead to great discoveries, great lovers and great writers! *smile*

What happens to the old blog site?
Does it just drift in cyber-space like space debris or does it get cleared up by some cyber recycling engineer?

Whatever. I'll be watching the space devoted to your books.

Well done! :D

Bosun said...

Chance - I had the link on the word "here" and for some reason, that version isn't the one that showed up this morning. I must have forgot to hit "update" one more time last night. That's what I get for watching TV while doing the blog.

Thanks, Q! Don't be thinking this pirate is getting all uppity. LOL! (Though I'm totally a pearls girl, you know me so well.) I haven't decided what to do with the other blog. I could probably milk some old blogs out of it, but I don't know. I'd hate to take it down and lose it all.

I'm torn!

Thanks for commenting and the great photo gallery ideas. I'll try to throw that page together this weekend. The kitties definitely need to be included.

JK Coi said...

Love the site, Ter! Very pretty with the flowers on top and I love that you introduce yourself on the front page!

Bosun said...

Thank, JK! I found out the hard way you can't change themes/backgrounds as easily in Typepad as you can in Blogger. LOL! So I went with this theme because I can change out the picture of the flowers with something else if I take a fancy and it won't mess up the entire page. (Man, that was an ugly night.)

I'm hoping to get some new pictures so I can ad a shot to the front page as well.

Hellion said...

I know it's going to be a good day when Q is commenting on the state of some of the crew's underwear first thing in the morning....

I love your site!! Great job!!

Things I like? I like upcoming books. In fact, that is the one of the things I dislike so much about J.K. Rowling's website. NO UPCOMING BOOKS. For the love of God, publish a new book already! And if you're really good, put out excerpts so I can really froth at the mouth and mark the day of the book release on my calendar.

I also like those For Writers pages, where you let other struggling writers benefit from your advice.

Bosun said...

Oh, and I'm with you. I want all the deats (detes?) on upcoming books straight away on an author's site. I don't want to have to hunt, hit me with it immediately.

Bosun said...

Seeing as I have no covers (other than the pretend ones I make myself) that is for the future. Hopefully, within this decade. LOL!

I could definitely put links up for writer stuff. Except I'm more likely to post links to "other" people's wisdom and advice. Hmmm....that would be cool.

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, Terri's in the Big Leagues now. Is it time for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Good job, Ter. Clean lines, easy to read. I'd post pictures of your pets, and maybe something local to show your part of the world.

I see your Twitter link, but be sure to add Facebook and any other place people might find you.

You might want to do a blog roll or a links page to the sites you regularly visit. People like to know what other people are reading.

I've put your blog on my reader!

Marnee said...

I think it looks great! :) I like the flowers too and the layout of the pages, how they load up and everything works for me. :) (Ie, it's not confusing, what with the toolbar at the top of the page there.)

There are a few web designers I like. I'm not sure I'm talented enough to design my own website. But, I'm waiting a little longer before I figure out what I'm going to do. Maybe after I finish this book and get back out into the querying pool. I just saw an agent's tweet yesterday about how she was checking out a GH finalist's website and didn't see a mention of an agent. She said she was going to email her. That's good promo right there.

Bosun said...

Marn - I saw that tweet! I had no idea an agent would do that, but it was very encouraging. And even more reason to have your site up and looking good.

Bosun said...

Gee, Maria, am I that far out of the loop that this signals the end of the world?! LOL! (I know, I felt the same way. But everyone has to put on her big girl panties sometime. Well, not Q, but anyway.)

I'm happy you like. Determining the "look" that signifies my writing and style of books is what I know I'll struggle with the most when it comes time to work with a professional. How cutesy, how fun, how serious, how angsty. What color would be best?? So I've chosen simple and I'll deal with the rest as it comes.

Yes, another good idea. A blog roll. I've always had a blog roll on the other site so I've no idea why I didn't think of it here. Oh well, like everything else in my life, this is a work in progress. I'll get there!

Donna said...

Congrats, Terri! I think it's great.

I don't have any suggestions at the moment, but if you do add links to other sites, make sure you check the box "open in a new window". This way YOUR site stays in place and the person doesn't leave your site to go to the new one. They have BOTH of them open at once. :) You don't want to lose them to somebody else's site!

I came across a web designer I like, for when I need a bigger, different one, and I emailed her to compliment her on her sites, and told her I can't wait to use her in the future. LOL She was very sweet in a reply email. So now I'm just kind of writing down ideas of what I'd like to do in the future.

Bosun said...

Thanks, Donna, and thanks again for all the help. I do know the "open in new window" trick, which I use here all the time. I hate when I'm surfing a site I don't want to leave, click a link they provide, and I'm off their site completely.

Isn't it fun thinking about what you'll do eventually? It's like planning some interior decorating project. So many ways you can go - contemporary, art-decco (sp?), fancy, casual. The colors alone will have me debating for weeks.

Donna said...

I was glad to help. It's nice when I actually know what I'm talking about once in a while. LOL

I do like pondering what I want to do with my website. I've sketched out something that I think will work with my contemps and historicals, along with the color scheme. I just hope it translates from my brain to the screen. :)

Bosun said...

That's right, you have TWO gengres to work in. I'd never be able to do that. Can't wait to see this "future" website.

Hal said...

Love it, Terri! I love the flowers on the banner, and using a blog system set up for your site is brilliant.

I agree that a "for writers" page would be awesome, and a collection of advice you've loved and used, even if it's not yours originally, could be awesome.

I love designing website and blogs and such. My imagination usually goes a little nut-so, and I have to tone it back down, or settle on just one theme or color scheme. lol :)

Janga said...

Congratulations, Ter! The site looks good, girl! And I particularly like that I can "hear" your voice in the intro and in your bio. That's a biggie with me. I hate generic when it comes to web sites. I also admire your farsightedness--and courage. I changed the template on my blog yesterday and almost had a nervous breakdown.

I always enjoy the recommended books on authors'sites. Or you could play to your strengths and do playlists for your own work or for your life.

Bosun said...

Thanks, Janga. Now I must head to your blog and see the new look. I did want the intro/bio stuff to sound like me. I know it's common, but that talking about yourself in third person (as if some reporter is writing your intro) seems odd to me. It's my site which is kind of like inviting people into your home. Your writer home.

That should be a personal welcome.

Recommended books/authors would be fun. And I never thought of playlists! I'll have to hunt around Typepad to see how I could do that.

You all have such great ideas. Thanks for all of it!

Bosun said...

Hal - I am not the artistic type - have never doodled - but I love creating these sort of computer things because my ability to draw (or lack thereof) does not play a part. Still, I know what I like when I see it and I know when the day comes, whoever I pay to do my site will have to be soooooo patient as I'm sure I'll have lots of little tweaks.

P. Kirby said...

Looks good! I like the flower banner up top. I feel like the template could use a smidgen more color or a textured background. Something other than the white with light gray diagonal lines that it currently has. I also find the format on the left-hand sidebar a little bland. The category listings--"Recent post, Archives"--in a white box isn't working for me.

Of course, my site is a study in bland. So here I am in my glass house with a handful of stones.

On my old site, I have a collection of links to writing sites that I've found helpful, as well as a few articles that I've written. I'm in the process (meaning I yap about it, but do nothing) of moving everything over to the Wordpress bloggy setup. The plan is to have an extra tab with "Writerly Links" and whatnot. (I find that kind of thing does get a lot of hits from people looking for help with writing and publishing.)

Anyway, it looks like you're off to a great start! Good luck with the queries. Here's hoping for a request for a partial or full!

Bosun said...

Pat - The themes are kind of limited and if you can manipulate them, I don't know how. But I too find that column to the left bland. I figure as I add the suggestions here and post more and more blogs, that column will grow and come to life.

It's all good intentions, isn't it? I mean, I set this up in February for crap's sake. Took me until May to get my butt in gear and finish it. And now it turns out it's not even finished. LOL!

I still have one full request out with an editor so we'll see how that turns out.

Irisheyes said...

Awesome site, Ter!!

I would just second everyone else's suggestions: a blog roll, your personal recommendations, and of course when you acquire them - a long list of your published works and whether the books are connected or not.

I like reading a little about the author and your bio is fantastic and very "you". I love it. I like reading about "what's upcoming". I like reading excerpts, along with all the author's backlist. I also like reading about what they are reading.

Author's websites I like - Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Mary Balogh

Bosun said...

Thanks, Irish. And I love how you throw in "...and whether the books are connected or not." An author really must include that information.

I'm glad everyone likes the bio. I was afraid it was too flip or not serious enough, but it fits me. I know several authors who use the same website designers and the sites start to look a bit too similar. Anyone else notice how some author sites look so similar, the color and maybe a font is the only difference?

P. Kirby said...

Anyone else notice how some author sites look so similar, the color and maybe a font is the only difference?

The trend with a lot of sites seems to be for sexy, with emphasis on hot male bods. I love looking at the man candy (Yum), but the proliferation of pretty men makes for a lot of sites that, as you noticed, look alike.

OTOH, I imagine this functions as a kind of marketing device that signals to the reader, "Yep, this here is a romance writer's website." :)

Bosun said...

Actually, I was talking about some Historical authors I follow, but now I see I'm visiting the wrong author websites. LOL!

Another negative side-effect of my mid-life crisis year (which I am in) is that man-candy has to be really good or I'm "meh". Thankfully, a viewing of the film Burlesque over the weekend brought me out of my meh for a while.

Janga said...

This may be merely the reaction of a GOB (Grouchy, Old Bitch), but I can get weary of all the bells and whistles. When I visit an author's site, I'm looking for information. All the clever technology does not make me happy if I can't easily find basic stuff like series info and news on upcoming books. I love Jo Bev's web site. It may not be a work of art, but it is packed with easily accessible info. OTOH, Christina Dodd's site, which is high tech--and gorgeous, is also filled with the info I want about her books (past, present, and future). And I confess I love those cover puzzles. :)

Bosun said...

I had to go check out Christina's website so I could see what you mean. That is a very well done site, very high-tech and professional, but so user friendly. That might be one of the best ones I've seen. Wow. Must keep WebCrafters in mind.

I'm with you on too many high tech gadgets and links. If there are things flashing and changing all over it's what I imagine it must be like at those papparazzi things.

"Here, look at me!"
"No, look over here!"
"Forget that, see this!"

Gives me a headache and I'd rather click out to something simpler.

2nd Chance said...

I'm a fan of keep it simple! Not everyone has the ability to check on all the bells and whistles and by God, that sucker better load fast or I'm outta here!

Now I'm getting paranoid and hoping mine fits all of these criteria!

Maybe I need to do a page of 'What other Writer
s Recommend' since I personally reek at the checking out the how-to-read books. I have found some online classes helpful...

WTF am I saying? Like I have time to dicker with figuring out more to do on my website right now. My left arm is flirting with the same crippling pain the right pulled a few months back...and I have a book to finish...

Pounding head on table at moment. Might distract from the arm hurting...

Bosun said...

The last thing you need is one more distraction or item on your to-do list. LOL! I take it you haven't found another stray Vicodin in your purse today? (Did that even help yesterday?)

It's very odd for your arms to rebel. Especially one at a time like this. What did you DO to them??

Hellion said...

I agree--not a fan of the high-tech websites where it takes a half-hour to load. Not all of us have high-speed internet. If your java causes my computer to seize up and crash, I am not happy with you and will wait to look at your website when I'm work and have time--and good luck with me remembering to do that.

Simple is awesome.

2nd Chance said...

It's an armed mutinee *GROAN!

What do I do specifically? I have no idea. It's a combination of not stretching enough, pulling my shoulders together to write, bent over the keyboard?

The git of a vicodin did did the two I took, hours apart, once I was home. And I have enough to last until my GP can see me. Thursday.

And yeah, make the website load fast and not ask me update this that or whatever. No sound unless I select it. (Nothing like sitting in Starbucks and having a site suddenly start blaring at me!)

Bosun said...

I forgot about the ones that make noise. Some are subtle, like Julie Garwood's, but others take me by surprise and the first thing I do is close the browser tab completely. You DO NOT want a site visitors first response to be closing the site immediately! LOL!

Your arms are trying to mutiny. That's hysterical. LOL!

PJ said...

Congrats on the new site, Terri! I love the banner with that vibrant burst of color and the terrific tag line: "Healing broken hearts one book at a time."

I agree with what others have said about the bio. It's very warm and welcoming and sounds like you're talking to me rather than about yourself. I like that.

I enjoy seeing a list of blogs that you enjoy, books you recommend, etc. as long as the lists are kept to a manageable number.

Janga has already mentioned Christina Dodd's site but I'll second that. It's one of my favorites to visit. Another one easy to navigate and filled with good info is Susan Mallery's site.

PJ said...

Terri, the site of a suspense author I enjoy used to open with a blaring police siren. Caught me off guard the first time I went there (the speakers were turned up) and about gave me (and the dogs) heart attacks!

As you might imagine, I'm not that crazy about website "noises", unless they're part of a video trailer and expected.

Bosun said...

Thanks, PJ, I'll have to check out Ms. Malery's site. I'm glad you like mine and I will take some time to add the details and polish it up a bit more this weekend. I think this early version is proof I'm am not the most detail oriented person.

2nd Chance said...

Well, Bo'sun, you use your attention to detail on your job...might not have more to spare for the website right not.

So, I saw Thor. Eh.

And I bought Save the Cat...I hope that is the book that was recommended to me. Seems to me it was one of them!

Bosun said...

I just bought Save The Cat recently and haven't gotten into it yet. But I will!

2nd Chance said...

So, I was thinking I'd add a page to my website... Books Recommended to Me.

I mean, I never read them, but they are recommended to me by people I trust! ;-)

Maybe I'll read this one, past the table of contents. I do have one book I read 50%...I figure if it caught me and kept me that long it must be fabulous. ;-)

Di R said...

Your website is beautiful!
I very much appreciate that its not too 'busy'. I don't like so much stuff that I don't know where to look first.

Great job.

Bosun said...

I'm not sure I've ever read a craft book start to finish.

Thanks, Di! It'll get better, but this is a start. Thakns for checking it out.