Friday, 25 July 2008

Developing an Internet Presence: An Author's Website

This is the second in a set of six articles based on the things I learned during my first year as a published author. The articles outline a few steps authors should consider in order to gain an Internet presence. I have a background in public relations and several years experience in project management and promotions in higher education. My experiences has been in the area of campaign development, press releases, advertisement, graphic design and event planning. Marketing my book took me into unknown territory,
but being one who loves a challenge and is something of a risk taker, I embraced the opportunity. But even I had to admit that as my debut novel Silenced Cry was about to be released in April 2007, I was a bit apprehensive. My hope is that in sharing my experiences with you, you'll find some useful solutions to your marketing questions.

The Au
thor's Website

An average visit to a web page is 60 seconds or less. That's your competition; time and why it is so critical to make sure that your site, particularly your home page, is visually pleasing and easy to navigate. Your website is your persona to the world. It should reflect your writing style, your genre and carry a consistent theme throughout each page. It should be informative and entertaining. All the links must work and each page should have a link that navigates back to each of the other pages, especially the home page.

Impossible? Not really.

The first thing to consider is your domain name. It can be purchased ahead of time to make sure you are able to secure the name you want. Purchase a domain name that identifies you. Make it short, easy to rem
ember and identifiable.

Web de
sign: Websites don't have to cost a lot of money; in fact there are several free programs available. If you've never developed a site, you may want to play around with one of those before you make a costly investment of software. The downside to the free programs is that they have limited capabilities, but they can be just as effective in drawing attention if done correctly. If you don't feel comfortable developing your site, it's worth the money to have someone's help or let them do it for you. Check with your local college or university. Students studying web design are on top of the latest techniques and would welcome the experience to put on their resume and the extra cash in their pockets. Hiring a student will also be easy on your pocketbook.

You'll want a site that looks clean and professional. Consider the layout. Will you display your menu across the top o
r on either margin? How many columns will you require? Whatever style or template you choose to use, you must use it throughout the site for visual consistency. Use only two easy to read fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana. Use the same font, font size and color throughout the site for your text. The second font can be used for all the page titles and menu options.

Select an appropriate color scheme that reflects your writing. Develop a theme and run it through the entire site. Avoid using flashing or distracting images/borders/or loud music that will divert the visitor's attention from your writing. Nothing will turn viewers away faster than a site that is hard on the eyes and ears. Select the pictures you plan to use on your site and make sure they're copyright/royalty free and saved as JPGs.

Once you have decided on the layout and scheme, you're ready to enter the information and start building your website. What should you include? A good start would be your book cover, author photo, bio, excerpt, reviews, events, book trailer and reader comments. If you've received good press coverage, add links to those newspapers and/or magazines. Additional pages can always be added as id
eas come to you.

osing a server: The selection is endless and their services vary as much as the costs. Again, if you don't know what to purchase, ask someone you trust to help you. Start with an economy plan that allows you to secure the site and your domain name for a year or two. It is feasible to obtain a basic start-up service for under $100. Initially you won't need the amount of space the larger options offer. You'll want to purchase the least expensive offer available to track traffic to your site. Take advantage of every free feature your server offers to help keep your site visible.

Once you have built and launched the site, you need to draw readers to it. Insert as many tags (key words) as possible within the code section of your site and install a web crawler to make your site accessible on search engines such as Google. Include your URL on everything, e-mail signatures, bookmarks, letterheads, blog signatures, articles, bios, flyers, post cards, etc. Cross promote your site. Set up a section on your site and blog on a regular basis - at least once or twice a week, the more the better. Then promote that new article or feature on your blog posts.

k to see what type of traffic information is available from your server. My server allows me to generate all types of reports. One report shows me a list of "referrals". This indicates to me where readers are finding the link to my website. Let's say if you click on my website from ABC authors' forum, the report will show the name of that forum. Why's that important? Because it shows which sites are active and that its members are interested in learning about my books. Therefore, those are the sites in which I'm going to continue to promote my work.

The key is to not only continue to post and blog, but to make sure your posts and articles lead the readers back to your website.

Other things to remember:
  • It's not enough to get people to land on your site, make it entertaining; make it interactive. When you plan your site, consider creating 5-10 pages and as stated earlier, make sure each page includes links to all the other pages on your site so visitors don't get "stuck" on one page and leave.
  • There are a few key words to remember as your site evolves and you have more to offer visitors. One is "Sign-up". Do you have a newsletter? Even if it's free, make it worth the visitor's time to sign up on the first visit or you may lose them. A newsletter will be a constant reminder about you, your site and your book.
  • Don't be shy about asking to "Buy". Set up a separate page with the links to all the online bookstores that sell your book. If your book is available on Amazon, sign up with Amazon Associates (free) and place their logo on your site. It will take the visitor directly to your page on Amazon and if you have enough referrals from your site, you could earn a small referral fee.
  • Do you have anything "Free" to offer like bookmarks, signed nameplates, or other products promoting your book(s)? Who doesn't like getting something for nothing?
One final word; have fun designing your website. But remember it's your first step toward obtaining an Internet presence. Get them there and get them to stay!
  1. Developing an Internet Presence: An Author's Website
  2. Developing an Internet Presence: The Public Author
  3. Developing an Internet Presence: Book Trailers
  4. Developing an Internet Presence: Spread the Word
  5. Developing an Internet Presence: Virtual Book Tours
  6. Developing an Internet Presence: The Hometown Advantage
Marta Stephens, a native of Argentina but a life-long resident of the American Midwest, began her career as a fiction writer in 2003. This evolved into a life-changing passion that has led to the birth of her Sam Harper Crime Mysteries and her debut novel, Silenced Cry. She runs the popular Murder by 4 blog along with her fellow crime authors at She also has several short stories and flash fictions to her credit.

Marta's debut novel, Silenced Cry, was published by BeWrite Books in 2007.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Pincushion by Anne Morgellyn

Coming Soon - 6th September 2008

Outrageous artist August Stockyard - attention-seeking heir to a media and property empire - dies in typically theatrical fashion ... and the mischief that drove his life's work culminates in the bequest of adjoining houses to his pregnant girlfriend, Cressida, and to his former comrade-in-arms, Louise Moon.

But was August's demise simple suicide, was it the result of a kinky sex game that went wrong? Had he cleverly planned to shame his distant father and take revenge on his ruthless uncle, the obese and grasping millionaire who now has his sights set on Louise?

Or was it a game from the grave to throw the two women with whom August had been obsessed into a fight to the death as reluctant and mismatched neighbours?

Pincushion is the third and latest in a series of psychological thrillers that chart the adventures of Louise Moon and her precarious love affair with brilliant but unconventional pathologist and former boss Chas Androssoff.

Powerful in its metaphoric compulsiveness, bleak, disturbing, intelligent ... DM Thomas

ISBN: 978-1-905202-82-9
Price: £6.99, $13.99 US
Page count: 188
Release date: 6th September 2008
Also by Anne Morgellyn: Disremembering Eddie, Removing Edith Mary

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Art of a Three Second Pitch that can Make a Best-Seller - Part One

Sci Fi and Fantasy artist Karl Kofoed can reveal with a magic brush-stroke what it takes a writer tens of thousands of words to say.

And in over three decades as a world-class pro - illustrating and covering work from Isaac Asimov to Twisted Tongue Magazine - he's earned an international reputation as the author's best friend; the guy who sells stories at a glance.

Because Karl works to a golden rule that would make any other salesman's hair curl … he allows himself only three seconds to hook a potential book buyer.

"Maybe you can't judge a book by its cover," he says, "but the cover is what sells it. If I can't grab the browser within three seconds, his eyes drift further down the aisle. I've lost him."

With a working lifetime in sharp-end publishing, advertising, marketing and artwork, Karl applies his rounded experience when it comes to instantly catching the buyer's eye and steering him from the shelf to the checkout counter.

To do the job successfully, he'll use any medium that will work to best effect; everything from old fashioned oils to sophisticated computer software and even clay models he painstakingly sculpts and photographs.

"I strongly believe that a book cover has a three second maximum sell time. The message should jump out, so simplicity is the watchword. They say you can't tell a book from its cover, but most people do (unless they are already aware of its content). The cover designer's job is to persuade someone in a flash that an author's work is worth many hours of reading time."

Two-time Hugo Award-winning best-selling author and renowned art director John Grant agrees: "There's no doubt about Karl's selling power. He's one of the best there's ever been."

And among other glittering awards, Karl's contribution to the continued popularity of SF and Fantasy was crowned when he was named Artist Guest of Honour at the prestigious Philadelphia Science Fiction Society Congress in the US.

But Karl's uncanny knack of projecting the message of thousands of words at a glance took an unexpected turn when he got so deeply under the skin of his writers that he decided to turn his own hand to the keyboard.

First he published the lavishly self-illustrated Galactic Geographic 3003, and then he got an even firmer grip on the pen and produced his first two novels, Deep Ice and Joko: cover art by … Karl Kofoed, of course.

He said: "I guess my late mother made me try my hand from the author's perspective. She was an English teacher. Both parents were educators. Literature they understood, but art? Nope. She begged me to try prose. I am thrilled that her hunch was somewhat redeemed."

Karl believes his earlier work groomed him for the writer's bench. He told Twisted Tongue: "A lot of skill that I possess was learned on the job, handling promotional materials and advertising. Editing to fit text for ads is often left to the Artist or Art Director who is also best at wording headlines. Artists are conscious of eye-flow - how the text looks and reads - while writers and editors are more conscious of what it says.

"Typography has always been one of my secret loves and it is clearly an art that most take for granted. A graphic artist composes text. After a long career that experience is perfect training for a wordsmith.

"It is often said in the ad game that writers make the best art editors and art directors make the best text editors. The truth is that it takes two orientations to create great text that is readable and gets read. My working life has been an apprenticeship for a publishing Jack-of-all-trades. Writing books is another string to the bow"

The tricks of the illustrator/cover artist trade Karl picked up and honed, he applies to his writing - the value of knowing that a wink's as good as a nod; the art of producing the subliminal hint that stimulates a reader to use his own imagination.

"An artist works within the framework of the medium. Great artwork, even illustration isn't too finely detailed. The best painters know that brush suggestions look better than finely detailed work. Same, I think, in literature. You have to allow the reader to fill in the details himself. Suggestion works best. 'Always leave them wanting more,' as Barnum famously said.

"Artists who write often are asked how they choose to express an idea; in words or image. I think; why choose at all? Why not do both if you can? Everyone is creative if they create something, and there are no limitations on our forms of expression. Words and images speak of an idea in different ways, that's all."

Karl was born in Westfield, New York State late in 1942. As a child, he first showed talent drawing with his cousin, Pete, when the family got together. The youngsters were impressed by the early Disney movies, but what fascinated Karl most were books like the Time/Life series, The World We Live In and Bonestell's work in Conquest of Space.

"I learned later that those days were probably the great days of publishing," said Karl. "If my work was stimulated by anything it was them - and being raised during the Space Race, of course.

"My dad was trained as a scientist, my mom; English. Pop taught me the Scientific Method and mom fed me literature. I read more science than fiction. That's where I get most of my ideas.

"By college I'd chosen to be an illustrator and attended the Philadelphia College of Art. I was there when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. I found myself to be more of a general artist and designer than one with just one style or vocation. Art Direction seemed to suit me. And illustration was a lucrative sideline.

"Becoming multi-talented over the years meant I could fall back to being a house artist if illustration failed or got slow as it often does at times for illustrators. This helped pay the bills but it cost me as an illustrator. If you want to be one, you have to stick to it through thick and thin.

"But I later found that my diversity all came together under one title - The Galactic Geographic."

Galactic Geographic helped make Karl one of the most popular SF artists/writers on the planet. He was first text published in 1979 with the words that went with his groundbreaking Galactic Geographic illustrated series in the hugely popular Heavy Metal magazine. Also a series called Music on Other Worlds appeared in Music and Sound Output magazine. But becoming a novelist was his personal giant leap.

Part Two

Interview by Alexander James

Interview first appeared in Twisted Tongue Magazine

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Zimmercon - 8th August 2008


Where: Chester ...

When: Saturday 30th August 2008 ...

Time: 1pm until 6pm

Quaker Meeting Rooms. Union Walk, Frodsham Street. See map

An afternoon devoted to the Small Press, editors, writers & poets. Come along and meet, listen too, and maybe take part, with some of the stalwarts of the Small Press. This is 'real' grass roots publishing.

Already booked:

  • Steve Sneyd of Hilltop Press, writer and well known Science Fiction poet

  • Andy Robson editor of the weighty KRAX magazine

  • John F. Haines editor & writer of the U.K.'s longest running S.F.
    news broadsheet

  • Geoff Stevens editor of 'Purple Patch'

  • Well known poet Maureen Wheldon

  • Our own local lyricist Shiela Hamilton published writer &
    poet from the Wirral

  • Sam Smith now of Cumbria, writer and editor of 'The Journal'. (Select Six, Original Plus, The Journal)

Sam will also be in charge of a book-stall. You can contact him by e-mail

Admission will be free, but donation's will be appreciated on the day. Tea & coffeee will be available throughout a varied afternoons programme. Anyone wishing to take part must contact Peter Presford, as places may be limited.

Contact: Peter E Presford (Malfunction Press) by email Please mark all mails `Zimmercon'

Monday, 7 July 2008

Out Now!


Wickedly humorous Daniel Abelman is our guide on a magical mystery tour of African and Jewish culture, apartheid, the holocaust, telepathy, police corruption, rigged boxing, exploding dogs and orthodontics ... while a lovable psychic conman tries to peddle a miraculously discovered manuscript to gullible publishers with $$$ in their eyes.

The astute reader navigates a labyrinth of highways and cul-de-sacs from the African bush to Jerusalem, via Germany, solving riddle after riddle (never sure if he, too, is falling under the trickster's hypnotic spell), until he ultimately finds himself as though waking from a memorable dream.

Abelman writes with an enchanted pen. He shatters the rules of the novelist's art by creating new and more ingenious ones of his own, pulling rabbits from hats where other authors don't even have hats.

ALLAKAZZAM! is accompanied by three of Abelman's haunting short stories.

The novel and its accompanying short tales are exquisitely illustrated by artist Catherine Edmunds.

Purchase: paperback eBook

ISBN: 978-1-905202-28-7
Price: £5.99
Pages: 160

All BeWrite Books are available from: BeWrite Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Angus & Robertson and other online booksellers and to order from high street bookshops.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Upcoming interview with Howard Waldman

Magdalena Ball will be interviewing Howard Waldman on the Compulsive Reader Talks show. The author of Good Americans Go to Paris When They Die will talk about his latest novel, his unique premise, his settings, characters, themes, sales, next novel, and a whole lot more.

Listen to the show live here on 30th July 2008 at 02:00

A recorded version of the show will be available here after the show has been aired.

Compulsive Reader talks:
The Compulsive Reader's author interviews, book chat, literary discussions, readings and more. It's an audio haven for book lovers!