tools

Fetishizing The Process

I haunt a few writer’s groups/forums online. Most of them are populated with people around my own skill/experience level, that is, people who have been in the writing game for a while and have a few things published. One of them, however, seems to be largely populated by newer writers–ones who are just starting out, or who haven’t been published yet or haven’t been at it very long. The contrast between these two types of groups is glaring.

I once saw someone coin a brilliant phrase which has stuck with me for years, though I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it. The phrase is “fetishizing the process.” This means focusing on the superficial aspects of something rather than the technical skills involved. I’m talking about wanting a picture for your Instagram of your neatly-organized desk, as you sit behind it with your scholarly glasses on, gazing out the window at a serene landscape, a bookshelf behind you (full of other people’s books), or the person who takes pictures of their expensive Macbook in a coffee shop or on the beach with an open (empty) Word document on the screen. That’s all well and good, and you might do this from time to time, but it actually has nothing to do with writing. It doesn’t matter what you write with, if it’s a paper notebook, an electronic tablet, or a laptop with some complex writing software, you can write anywhere and on anything and still be a writer.

Look how organized and perfect he is! I bet he’s writing 2,000 words right now!

We never see pictures of writers hunched over their laptops, hair wild, in their pajamas, with a quickly-cooling cup of coffee next to them; or with a pet in their lap as they write, or screeching children dancing around them. No pictures of a writer tucked in a corner, desperately trying to escape these things in order to get a few words down. No action shots of a writer trying to find a clean spot on their desk to jot a few notes while they type. And unless you live next to the beach or in some exotic vacation-type spot, most writers will tell you those are awful places to try to write, because you’re distracted by the scenery and the knowledge you could be out there having fun instead of writing.

Here’s a few things I’ve noticed new writers tend to ask on the less-experienced forum. If you’re a new writer, take heed, this may ease your anxieties a bit:

  • How many words do I need to write a day to be a writer? Stephen King says he writes 2,000 words a day! Should I write that many? Is 1,000 okay? What if I write a lot more? Or less? Here’s the truth: some days you might write a lot, and some days you might write absolutely zilch. You’re still a writer. There’s no magic number. Writers just write and set their own goals.
  • How many books about writing should I read? Should I read Stephen King’s On Writing? Is that a prerequisite? What are the best books about writing? While it’s all well and good to learn about your craft and take the advice of others, don’t procrastinate on your actual writing by reading about writing. It’s easy to get caught up in learning instead of doing. By all means, read and learn things, but again, writers write. By the way, I love Stephen King and I’ve been writing for years, and I’ve never read On Writing.
  • How soon after my first book is published can I quit my day job? Can I buy my dream house after a year? Hahahahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  • Do I really need to be good at spelling and grammar? You might think I’m joking, but I’m stunned at how many new writers don’t put a lot of weight on having a strong grasp of grammar and spelling. True enough, if you’re a brilliant writer otherwise an agent or editor might overlook it, but almost probably not. Some agents and editors won’t even read past the first page of something that’s riddled with errors, even if your pitch is amazing. Yes, you have to have a firm grasp of, if not VERY good grammar and spelling skills. Agents and editors don’t have time to teach you.
  • Should I get a Macbook? Yes. No writer has ever been published without the aid of computer that costs at least a thousand dollars. Sorry.

The truth is, writing isn’t always pretty. It’s easy to get caught up in having everything ‘perfect’ when you begin writing, but it’s not necessary. You don’t need a stack of books about writing, or Scrivener, or the exact right kind of coffee. Say it with me, kids–print it out and stick it on the wall, tattoo it on your forehead:

WRITERS WRITE.

Writing Every Day

During the April A to Z Challenge, a commenter on my blog introduced me to 750 Words. I mentioned this briefly at the end of my Z post, but I wanted to talk about it a little more. I’ve been doing 750 Words since shortly after I was introduced to it, and it’s actually been a great tool in keeping me productive.

The site is pretty simple: you create a bare bones account and try to write at least 750 words every day. Your writing is entirely private and no one can ever see it. You CAN choose to make your profile public, which shows some of your stats and insights into your writing (you choose what is shown) but no one can read what you actually wrote. The site is free for 30 days and then $5 a month to use after. Having the paid version gives you access to a few things. I found out during my free trial period you can’t write more than 10,000 words in a day unless you’re a paid member. As a paid member you can also make public posts kinda like blog posts, that are meant to be encouraging to others.

There’s lots of various accomplishments that earn you badges. Things like writing 3, 5, 10, 30, etc. days in a row, not being distracted during your writing, finishing your words in under 15 minutes 10 days in a row, writing 50,000 words in a month (the NaNo badge), and completing a one-month challenge where you write every day of that month, just to name a few. You may not be terribly motivated by the idea of silly badges, but hey, I freakin’ love badges and I’m trying to collect them all!

However, the main point, and benefit, of the site is that it gets you writing. I’ve found since I started writing every day like this, I feel a lot more creative, and I’m writing easier, if that makes sense. It also takes away the angst that plagues me every day I don’t put my nose to the grindstone and churn some words out. Amazingly, my stats tell me that (at the time of writing this blog post) in my 26 days on 750 Words I’ve written 46,953 words so far! A good portion of that has been for a book I’m working on, which is now almost done because of this. But some days I didn’t feel like working on it and couldn’t get up the gumption, so I just used my 750 words for personal stuff, like a diary. Still, it kept my fingers on the keyboard.

I recommend this site if you’re looking for a productivity and motivational tool. My profile is here (only visible if you have an account). I think paid members can follow other people, but I haven’t followed anyone yet so I’m not sure how it works.

Hope to see you there!

The Evolution Of Writing Tools

I’ve had a lot of writing tools over the years. I started out in high school writing in notebooks. I got a manual Brother typewriter for Christmas when I was 12 or 13, but even by the standards of the day (goodness I’m dating myself, but 1989? 1990?) it was archaic, clunky, and hard to use, and the keys always stuck. The only way to correct typos was with white out paper (remember that stuff?), though you could buy ink cartridges with a correction ribbon as well. Nevertheless, I did type out a short story on it and sent it to a magazine. Hilariously, they sent it back unread because the typesetting was so bad as to be nearly unreadable. I was 14 and more optimistic than smart, what can I say?

My first ‘technological’ writing tool was a Brother word processor. MUCH better than a manual typewriter, but by today’s standards still a cumbersome, difficult piece of equipment. They keyboard part (which was also a typewriter) weighed about seven hundred pounds, and the cables to hook it up to the monitor were plentiful. Despite it being a huge advancement over a typewriter, its technological capabilities were limited. Printing anything took years, as it printed by literally typing out everything on the screen (and to print out an entire book took about six ink cartridges). It did take 3.5 disks though, which I saved tons and tons of stories on. I can no longer access those disks because the files on them can’t be read by newer technology. Nevertheless, I wrote many stories and books on it and submitted them to magazines and contests. I even got a short story published. I also had a ‘laptop’ word processor, but I didn’t have a printer to hook it up to so I mostly wrote fan fiction on it.

And then, in 2000, we got our first desktop computer. Oh, the ease of writing! The technology! The mountains of stories and books I wrote and submitted and had rejected! Truly astounding. The internet also enabled me to become a hugely popular fan fiction author, which is where I cut my writing teeth to full sharpness (I won’t tell you the fandom or my screen name, to spare my dignity, but there’s a few friends who read this whom I actually met through that writing).

And then on to laptops, eventually. With each new machine came better technology and a better version of Word. Just recently, I replaced my old laptop because I’d had it nearly four years and it was getting to the point it was usable, but not very efficient. Kind of like that one light switch in your house that’s wired backwards so you have to turn it off to turn it on, or the toilet handle you always have to jiggle. It’s comfortable and you know the workaround by heart, but why not fix the issue and do it without the unnecessary jumping through hoops and voodoo spells you have to cast to make it work right?

My new laptop types beautifully, has more memory, better graphics, more storage, and Word 2016 runs as smooth as butter, the words just flowing from my fingertips onto the screen like the technology is right inside my head. I’ve come all this way from pounding sticky keys and cramping my hand with a pen and notebook. Do I miss the old ways? No, not at all. But nostalgia isn’t always about wishing you could do something the hard way again.

How have your writing tools evolved?

5 Reasons You Should Start A Blog

On Wednesday, I talked about the reasons you should write a book. Even if the industry has too many books and not enough readers, that doesn’t mean we don’t need your book, or that you don’t need your book. If you’re looking for reasons to keep typing, go check it out.

Today, I’m going to tell you why you should start a blog.

I blog three days a week–usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though sometimes it varies. So you may be surprised to hear that I, for the most part, freakin’ hate blogging. More often than not, I’m wracking my brain for the next blog topic and it’s aggravating. I never know what I’m going to write most weeks, unless I already have something lined up. I’m a tour host for Goddess Fish Promotions, because I want to promote other writers, but also because on average it gives me one ready-made post per week. I’m part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group because it’s an awesome, fun group, but it also gives me a blog topic once a month. I like when it’s easy.

So why do I blog, if I don’t really like it? Well, after you read the list below, maybe you’ll understand.

And here are some reasons why you should add another blog to the internet, because clearly what the internet needs is more blogs:

Five reasons you should start a blog:

  1. It’s cathartic to talk to yourself. When you start out, probably no one is going to be reading your blog, except maybe a few friends who are too nice to tell you no when you ask them to follow you. That’s okay. Blogging is kinda like a diary when you first start out, and it helps you sort your thoughts and learn how you feel about things. It also gives you time to practice before people actually start reading your blog. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more interesting things you have to say. It’s okay to fumble around when you first start. Somehow, miraculously, after two years of blogging I have over a thousand subscribers. That means I have to provide some content instead of just talking to myself–and hopefully, I’m managing that. Talk to yourself first, and you will learn to talk to the public.
  2. If you suck at social media, it will give you a platform. I really suck at Twitter and Facebook. I had a personal Twitter a long time ago, and loved using it, but eventually my Twitter fever went away. I have a personal Facebook I’m much more active on than my writing one, but it’s locked to friends and family. My writing Facebook, Twitter, G+, and everywhere else I’m expected to be are mostly full of promotion and regurgitating my blog posts. At least with a blog I’m still reaching an audience, and I can say more here anyway. I can be present without having to be good at everything.
  3. It’s great for procrastinating on your writing. I should be working on the book I’m writing right now, but I’m blogging instead. And I can still say I’m ‘working.’ Ha! Take THAT, productivity!
  4. You can reach people who don’t even read the kind of stuff you write. I know that most of my subscribers don’t even read romance and erotica, but we’ve made friends and enjoy talking to each other because we’ve found each other through places like the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This is why I started a general writing blog instead of focusing on one genre of writing. I’m more interested in engaging other writers than specifically engaging other romance writers. This is up to you, though–but remember, if you make your blog very specific, you need to find a way to reach that specific audience. Sometimes broader is better. It also gives you a lot of freedom in topic matter, too.
  5. It provides site content. If your website is lacking content, if there’s not much to put on there, a blog puts some meat on the skeleton of your online presence. Also, it can be really good for driving traffic to your site. People come to read your posts and check out the rest of the site–that’s a big bonus!

Whether you have a blog already or you’re considering starting one, you should know this: the internet is infinite, and there’s room for you. If you want to blog, then blog! You have a right to express yourself just like everyone else. And even if you find it aggravating, there’s a lot of good reasons to keep at it

Have a great weekend!

Self-Pubbing Check In

I have about two months under my belt now with my self-publishing experience. My first self-published book, Black Mountain Magic, went live November 15th and I put it on sale for 99 cents on December 15th. I made a post talking about what I learned when I first started this adventure and I’m going to make another update now.

As of today, I’ve sold 218 copies on Amazon, 22 on B&N, 4 on Kobo, 5 on iBooks, and 1 on Smashwords, for a total of 250 books sold. About 75% of those sales have been the result of paid advertising, which I haven’t broken even on, so don’t cheer for me yet!

Here’s where I’ve done promotion. If you’re looking into doing paid promotion, my experiment may help you out:

Total: $203 spent on promotion.

Out of all these promoters, the only two who were any good and worth the money were Ereader News Today (which is ALWAYS gold) which netted me 106 sales on Amazon, and Bargain Booksy, which netted me 73 sales on Amazon. However, I paid twice as much for Bargain Booksy for less sales, so take that as you will. Would I use them again anyway? Absolutely.

The others got me between 0-10 sales. BKnights gave me back my money (I didn’t ask for it) but in the form of a credit to use on Fiverr. Books Butterfly guarantees your sales or your money back, but in the introductory email they tell you this is just ‘store credit’ to try their services again (also they weirdly track your visits to their site and list them in the email). Since they didn’t work for me I’m not even going to bother asking for a refund and chalk it up as a learning experience. Maybe it was my genre or the timing of running the promotion on a holiday (I didn’t pick the date of the promotion, they did).

Ereader News Today (usually referred to as ENT) continues to be the BEST site for promotion outside of BookBub (which is incredibly difficult/expensive to get into) and I’ve used them for almost all my books in the past. Some authors don’t use them because they mistakenly believe you have to have a certain number of reviews for them to accept you.  This isn’t true, you simply have to have an overall decent rating if  you have any reviews at all.

What I’ve learned so far: you gotta spend money to make money. But spend it in the right place!

Other things I’ve learned from self-publishing:

  • If you think understanding your sales with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) will be easy, you’re gonna have a bad time. Amazon continues to lead the market in not making a lick of sense, so don’t expect the various confusing parts of your sales dashboard and your sales rank to correlate or reflect each other accurately at any given time. Just smile and nod, and understand if you want to get anywhere with self-publishing at all, you need to be on Amazon.
  • Smashwords has a hilarious attitude about Amazon, to the point I’m pretty sure they try to gaslight their customers into believing there’s no such thing as a Kindle. Don’t mention the word Amazon anywhere in your book. In fact, if you wrote a book about the Amazonian jungle, you’ll probably want to avoid publishing it on Smashwords. They seem to believe they’re going to be bigger and better than Amazon. Just smile and nod.
  • Send your book to reviewers and review sites yourself. Don’t pay for reviews, as this could get you kicked off Amazon for life. Of the 1,000 sites you send a review request to, about 10 will say they’ll review it and 2 will. However, don’t believe the scare tactic of “Reviews are the only way to sell books! Ooooh!” It’s not true. I’ve sold 250 copies with one review. I would rather get them organically than pander.
  • Trying to size book covers correctly is the devil.
  • If you’re not a super-duper popular author, the only real reason to produce a paperback copy of your book is so you can buy insanely discounted copies for yourself to not sell to people who don’t want them (also so you can run a Goodreads giveaway because you can only give away physical books).
  • Just keep writing.

So that’s my two-month report. The second book in the series, White Witch Magic, will come out February 21st and I’ve already racked up a wonderful 16 presales for it! I’m a superstar!

Release Day Is Almost Here!

My first self-published release, Black Mountain Magic, will come out on Tuesday! I’m really excited about it. You can pre-order a copy at all major online retailers right now if you like.

I’ve learned a whole bunch of stuff on my first self-publishing excursion. I’ll share with you some of those lessons, if you’re planning on doing the same and still need advice:

Thing I’ve Learned About Self-Publishing

  • Use a simple, non-fancy font on your cover flat. I learned this the hard way, after I received copies of it. The cover flat is the back and front of your physical book, that you upload to a place like CreateSpace. The font I used for the blurb on the back looks wonky. No one I’ve shown the book to so far has even noticed it, but it bothers ME, so I’m in the process of re-doing it. Making a cover flat and getting it to fit right is harder than you think. You might have to tinker with it over and over again.
  • Don’t be afraid of reviewers. I sent my book to a bunch of reviewers pre-release and some of them actually said they’d review it! I found them through reviewers who had reviewed my traditionally published works, as well as through the tour service I do blog tours for, and Manic Readers. You can also just Google ‘book reviews (your genre).’ Make sure you read each reviewer’s guidelines for submitting books and MOST will tell you if they review self-pubbed works.
  • Have a Goodreads giveaway! This is only possible if you have physical copies of the book to give away, since you can’t do an e-book giveaway. It’s free, and tons of people have entered my giveaway, much to my surprise. A large portion of those people also added it to their to-read shelf and a few pre-ordered.
  • If you publish through Smashwords, they will distribute your book to places like Kobo and B&N as well. I didn’t even realize this. Whoops.
  • If you don’t publish through Smashwords and use Nook’s self-publishing platform, you can’t put your book up for pre-order. However, if it’s distributed by Smashwords, you can do pre-order on Nook.
  • Most people have no idea your book is self-published unless you tell them. I haven’t had a single person ask who my publisher is. Most people don’t buy books based on the publisher, either (unless they’re looking for books from a publisher-specific imprint).
  • If you made your own cover, don’t tell people. Let them see it first and get their honest reaction before you tell them. 😉 I was pleased so many people exclaimed “oh, I love the cover!” only then did I buff my nails and do a little bragging.
  • Don’t check your sales obsessively. Seriously, doooooon’t.

I’ll come back AFTER it goes on sale and I’ve had a little experience with that and let you know what else I’ve learned. I’m sure there will be plenty!

Hooked on a feeling

I hate exercise. I know it’s good for you and all the benefits it provides your body and mind, but I just hate it. However, some years ago I tried running, which I surprisingly loved, but ultimately got lazy and gave up on it. Now, I’ve decided I want to try to get more healthy and fit, but I can’t just pick up running again because I’m too out of shape (because I don’t exercise) so I’m starting off slow, by walking 30 minutes a day.

I recently moved, from a very ‘city’ neighborhood to a much more residential one–still in the city, but a lot less implicitly urban. This means I have some nice areas nearby to do my walking. The other morning I walked nearly a mile through the quiet, sleepy neighborhoods that surround my apartment complex. It’s a nice brain jog to have so much new scenery to take in. It’s fun to explore, too–kind of exciting, and weirdly scary, every time I’ve wandered a good distance from home into an area I’ve never been before. Not scary because I think something is going to happen to me, or I’ll get lost, just the vaguely nerve wracking thrill of wandering around somewhere unfamiliar and outside my comfort zone. I walked all the way to the interstate one morning, and it was pleasantly odd to know I was somewhere I had never been before on foot and didn’t even know I could get there from my starting point. Discovery! Newness!

This has something to do with writing, I promise. This is a writing blog, after all.

The neighborhoods I walk through are very suburban, even though I’m not in the suburbs. Each squat, tidy house (no big houses in this area, most are one and two stories, and very compact) with a nice efficient square of yard in front of each, many with towering trees surrounding them. Smooth, clear sidewalks, all flat terrain with maybe a gentle hill here and there. A maze of interconnecting streets I haven’t explored yet, each much like the other. I walk past a school and a factory (which is blended into the neighborhood setting with trees and gorgeous landscaping and tall fences). Each house and yard seems much the same, apart from the personalized touches the owners and tenants have added–flowers, bushes, lawn sculptures, patios, a splash of bright color here and there. Having lived in an overly gritty, ‘city’ area for so long, I forgot places like this exist. We’re also in the full blush of spring right now and the grass is blazing green, the trees burgeoning with leaves.

Here’s where the writing part comes in: based on the description above, you can probably picture this neighborhood. Not the exact details of course, but you get an image in your head, because you’ve probably been in a place just like it. Describing how a setting looks is pretty easy. Based on a few descriptors, most readers can picture an idyllic, quiet, well-maintained neighborhood on a spring morning.

Much harder to capture in writing is the way a setting feels. And even if you can capture the feeling, there are still readers it won’t resonate with.

In our formative years, as children and young people, our eyes are ‘wide open’ because everything in the world is literally new to us and we’re taking it in for the first time. During that time, feelings get attached to certain sights and events–namely, how we felt when we first saw and experienced them. As I walked through this neighborhood, all fresh and new to me, certain things kept sparking my memory–the way a fence sat, the sprawl of a yard, a box of flowers, the way the shadows gathered under tall, thick pine trees. Not so much memories as the memory of a feeling. I can’t tell you from what point in my life those memories came, but they kept getting triggered over and over. When I was a child I grew up in the desert, where neighborhoods are only green if they’re watered and maintained constantly. We lived in a few of those places and they were always eye-opening to me, because at other times we literally lived in places where the backyard was sand. I think the onslaught of neat, idyllic greenness took me back to that time. Everything I passed had an interesting, comfortable, elusive feel to it that I couldn’t explain if I tried. It was a good feeling, though.

The problem with conveying the feeling of a setting is that your readers don’t share your memories. And while something you hit upon might resonate with a few of them, some are not going to understand. We share a lot of universal truths as human beings, but our memories–and the memory of feelings–are our own. You can still convey this though, by making your character’s memories a vital part of who they are and in moving the story forward. You don’t know me or share my memories, but after explaining my background to you, you can probably understand why a lush, picturesque neighborhood would make me ‘feel’ my childhood. You can explain your character’s feelings by pointing out why they have them. A few people might really get it, too.

Every day is a writing lesson! Even taking a walk to try to stop hating exercise can make you a better writer.

Tell us what it’s about

I’ve been doing a lot of editing this week, preparing a novella for submission. That also means writing a synopsis, which I think is easily the most difficult part of any submission process. If you’re still preparing for your first ever submission and you’ve never written a synopsis before, you’re going to find out quickly that it’s an art form in itself–and that you’d probably rather write a thousand books than one synopsis.

The facts about a synopsis that will make you laugh with utter insanity:

  • You have to distill an entire story–no matter how long, even a book–into just a few paragraphs to one or two pages. The whole thing! All of it!
  • Remember, you gotta make it sound interesting and exciting!
  • You have to decide what’s important to mention and what can go without being detailed in the synopsis…but wait, isn’t all of it important?!
  • Good luck!

My method of writing a synopsis is to write the first version as long and detailed as I want to, and then go back through it and omit things that aren’t pertinent or don’t directly move the main plot. And then go through it again and remove more. And then again. And then again.

Here’s some other methods you might try:

Pretend you’re telling a friend what the story is about and they have to catch their train in two minutes.

Tell the bare-bones version of the story. Who is the main character, what do they want, what’s working against them, how does it get resolved? Remember, in a synopsis you have to reveal the ending. There are no ‘spoilers’ in publishing, agents and editors want to see that you can write a coherent story that gets resolved in a satisfying way. They’d rather read the two-minute “my train is coming” version of that first before bothering with the manuscript itself because they’re busy people.

Describe what your story is about in one sentence.

This sounds even more insane than a synopsis, but if you can do it, you can then expand on that sentence rather than whittling down a longer description. Work backwards!

Write the synopsis as you write the story.

I have grand plans to one day actually try this, but I haven’t done it yet. Each day after you write, also write a brief description of what you wrote that day, and then at the end shape this into the synopsis. It sounds much easier than working on a synopsis post-story, but I’ve yet to remember to try it.

Writing a synopsis is daunting, and I’d like to tell you it gets easier the more you do it, but I won’t lie. It’s never easy to distill an entire story down to just a few words and you always feel like you’re leaving out something vital. If you’re one of those people who can write an amazing synopsis effortlessly, kudos to you and also send your magic fairy my way.

Still learning

I recently finished edits on a novella that will be out this fall, and every time I work with an editor, I learn something new. No matter how tight I think my writing is, when I work with an editor who really knows their stuff, I find something that needs more cranking. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I’ve gotten past the point where having my mistakes pointed out to me makes me defensive. Usually I slap my forehead, get a bit chagrined, but ultimately I’m grateful to learn something new and have the opportunity to make my writing even better. I habitually thank my editors for their insight and for being willing to teach me things.

That’s why I’m a writer, after all, not just because I like to tell stories, but because I want to understand writing and all its rules and usages and learn everything I can about it. A carpenter learns their trade not just because they love to build things, but because they’re interested in all the components of their craft–the tools, the wood, the techniques. I think it’s an important aspect of any skill that you want to keep learning about it and trying to do it better. A carpenter wouldn’t create a lopsided, precariously-built house and call it good enough, and I don’t want to leave my writing ‘good enough’ when it could be better.

I’m happy every time I learn something new, even if I look back at the already-published stuff and wince because I wasn’t doing it then. However, the thing about writing is you can’t keep going back and fixing up things that have already gone out into the world (and if you’re traditionally published, just try asking your publisher if they’ll take your book down and let you revise it–see how hilarious that reaction is) you can only apply the new things you’ve learned to future books and keep trying to be better.

I don’t expect to ever be perfect, I don’t think there is any such thing–I’ve seen even the biggest authors in the business make mistakes–but I love to write and I love to learn about it.

Excuse my dust

Over the next few days I’m going to be doing a bit of tinkering with my website. I want to make it a little more streamlined and professional and make things easier to find.

So if you’re visiting me right now *waves* I apologize for any wonky-ness you might encounter. WordPress has a great preview feature for changes, but not all of them are completely accurate and sometimes it’s not until after you’ve applied them that something appears off. I will try my best to keep things functional while I’m tidying up.

I’ve been considering paying to have my site professionally designed, but I’ve done a lot of my own website work over the years and I’m not sure about paying for something I can probably do myself given enough practice and patience. Do any of you have your sites designed by someone else? Is it worth it? WordPress also offers paid themes that I could do more with, but again, I’d like to see how far I can take it on my own.

I think more important than aesthetics, an author’s site should make it immediately easy for visitors to explore their books, so I’m going to put more focus on that. I’m also not a huge fan of sites that employ too many flash components or animations–not everyone’s computer shows these things correctly. I like to keep things simple.

How about you? What sort of websites are most appealing to you, and what do you want to see when you visit an author’s site?