So far I’ve got no success story to relate, only theories, so take the following with a grain of salt.
I have no book to sell yet. My focus for now is the promotion of my in-progress website, with an eye to the day when I have something on Amazon. I’ve looked at many author sites. There is generally a cover, maybe multiple covers/blurbs/synopses, a bio, probably a comments capability, not much else. I’m going in another direction.
I think a site should be a sort of fan magazine for your book. Like in the old time movie rags (haven’t looked at one in fifty years), behind the scenes stuff. Personalities, speculation, is so-and-so involved with so-and-so? Introduce me to your characters and their world. Don’t tell me what happens. Tell me why I should want to find out what happens. Better yet, show me.
I want to see playful energy. Lots to look at, lots to think about. I want visitors to my own site to say, Let’s have a peek at what that nut is up to this week. That means fresh material, constantly. A lot of work? For sure, but I don’t think of it that way. My site is my workshop, where I solve problems and explore possibilities. And I find it quite therapeutic. It makes me feel like I’m moving forward even when I’m not.
Okay, playful doesn’t pair with every genre. But energy does. However well conceived your blurb is, it takes more to impress me than, say, . . .
When Lizzie woke that morning, she never could have guessed that by noon, having hacked her parents to death with their best cleaver, she’d be frantically trying to dispose of a pile of bloody clothing. The kitchen cupboard had been empty of her special breakfast cereal. That was the kickoff to a very trying day.
Her father had obviously been unable to resist feeding the last of her homemade granola to Cupcake, the pet rabbit whom he babied outrageously, in contrast to the disdain with which he treated her. Only last week she’d discovered her new-bought Easter bonnet filled with her finest crochet-work and turned into a plush chaise in the luxuriously-appointed pen of the abominable animal. Cupcake, she’d hissed, Today you die. Was it her fault that the old man had interrupted the butchery, and that she’d blown a gasket and turned on him as well?
That may grab me briefly, but if you want to make the sale, stun me with a whole-hog (gotta say it, whole-hare) effort. The design of your website should communicate the richness of your conception, every inch displaying an attitude that says, out – way out – of the ordinary.
Less-is-more has never been my thing. I admire it. I’ve tried it. It always gets away from me. Like with my characters. My plot. My prose style. Everything I touch. My site is a maze of this-and-that detail. I want to drag your eye around my page, and give you a sense of what’s coming your way in the book.
Here’s a partial view of my sandbox: mimispeike.wix.com/mysite
(When it goes public, the name will change to MyGuySly.com. Some of the art will change as well. Much of what I have at present is helping me assess content and a layout.)
My site has been created on Wix, where I’ve encountered many technical problems. Perhaps I’ve jumped in too quickly – I’ve yet to read the tutorials – on the theory that the functionality can’t be too different from Indesign, a print-publication program that I’m very familiar with. But it is different, and in very annoying ways. In a word, it’s clunky. Clunky as hell.
The huge problem with my free-form approach is that it will not reconfigure for small devices. Well, it will, of course, but the result is chaotic. There is a reason people head to WordPress and its templates. I may ultimately join them. A structured layout probably works best technically, but image-text-image-text, each element in its neat slot, a set-up more adaptable to a variety of screens, that does not excite me. If I go in that direction, I’m gonna mess with it, one way or another put my stamp on it, for better or worse.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think a bopping website is the magic bullet. In fact, then you have to promote the site that promotes your book. Once my on-line presence is in order, I’ll work on bumper stickers, posters, mailers, etc. My sister in Florida volunteers at a community theater group. She thinks they’ll display my poster. A lot of people should see it. Have I mentioned my idea to dress up Elizabethan and hand out flyers in Times Square? I talked that up plenty on Book Country.
I’m going to get this pie-in-the-sky business off the ground or die trying. I’ve been loving my quirky critter way too long, no way am I gonna stop now.
Here’s the top half of page one of my novella. This look will carry through the whole, with variations.
The art will all be black and white.
The bar on the right will be footnotes and additional comments.
Alice in Wonderland had to wait a hundred years for an annotated edition. My thing is annotated on the spot.
The more I look at what I have, the more possibilities I see for a really exciting, strong look. I recall a page or two thirty-plus years ago in Print (magazine), a showcase for the best-of-the-best design and illustration. It was line art illustration, type used creatively, which I love to do myself, from (my recollection) an oversized edition of Alice In Wonderland.
I’ve looked for it on the web from book dealers, I find no mention of it. Could be it wasn’t Alice, it was something else. Faulty memory or not, that is the direction I’d like to push this in. Or, something half-way between the above quiet conception and rock ’em, sock ’em graphic hand-stands, that you want to frame and hang over your work area for inspiration.
The helter-skelter of my front page won’t do for a novel. It would be exhausting to read and exhausting to produce. Still, I certainly intend to expand the design vocabulary here. In modest ways.