It’s been live on the pre-order page for a while now, but I’ve been too busy to update the site. This is the finalized wraparound cover for the paperback version of QUEEN & Other Stories by the wonderful AD Roland (click to enlarge). In addition, I’ve created a sampler with the opening pages of the collection’s first five stories, for those interested in flipping some pages before they buy. You can do that here. Long-time readers may be familiar with two previous, slim volumes collecting some of my short work, but this will be my first novel-length collection.
Originally written in 2008, reblogged due to a recent social media discussion regarding websites/blogs for authors. I don’t think any of this is out of date, and if any of my readers have something to add, feel free to do so in the comments!
Every so often I’m in a position to give advice to writers who are either newer to the game than myself or who simply don’t have as much web experience as I do. I gave an exhaustive crash course to a fellow Arctic Wolf author yesterday via instant messenger so I figured now is as good a time as any to put down what I know in an easily accessible format that I can link people to.
Disclaimer: This is what I do. It works for me. It might not be your Gospel truth, but take what you need and forget about the rest. I do know what I’m talking about, though; I’ve been an IT professional since 2000 and an amateur web designer since 1997. My site will never be the flashiest or most cutting-edge; I don’t have any use for that stuff. It is, however, an effective marketing tool. These lessons have been learned through trial and error; my writing site alone has undergone 4-5 revisions since 2006.
- Get Thee a Domain Name and Webhost. Or if you’re really not tech-savvy, at least get the domain name and redirect it to that free website you have. What sounds better, looks better on your biography, etc.? http://lincolncrisler.freewebs.com or http://lincolncrisler.com? Your name is your brand. People could see my name somewhere online or in a bookstore and find my website by taking a guess. “I don’t have money for that,” you say. That’s ok; I’m the cheapest guy on the face of the earth. Just ask my wife.
I pay $35 a YEAR for my domain name and webhost at TinyHosts.Com. That’s for the URL, webspace and email.If you can’t afford that, you should be reading this instead.
- Consolidate Thy Site. My first author site had three pages; one each for biography, news and links to stories. My second had five; I added two pages of stuff I can’t I can’t remember but sounded good at the time. My latest page has one, for all intents and purposes; yeah, there’s links to excerpts from my books and a little note to readers of my blog, but you don’t need to read any of that to know about my work. Links to my books, interviews I’ve done, what I’m reading/watching now, biography… all of it’s available in the sidebar of my site. I used to have a webpage AND a blog. My blog got almost no hits, for reasons I’ll get into further in a minute, but the biggest reason is: Who the Hell wants to weed through five pages of website AND a blog belonging to a relatively unknown small-press author? Once I had that revelation, it was simple; my blog is now my site, and everything else anyone needs to know about me is right there on the side of the page.
- Make Thy Website/Blog Interesting. The dude I was helping the other day had nothing on his blog but posts about reviews of his book and interviews he’s done. The links on his sidebar consisted almost solely of places to buy his book. All that stuff is important, yeah, but no one is going to find your site on a search engine if all your content is about YOU. Unless they already know you; but you’re trying to reach new readers, right? Blog about your life. Show thumbnails of funny webcomics you like. Review books and/or movies of interest to people who might read your work. Have links to stuff like that in your sidebar. The most-read ten posts on my site include reviews of work by Brian Keene and Cormac McCarthy, a political rant, a funny IM prank script and a recipe for some chicken. Also in that top ten are my Dear Reader note, the excerpts from both of my books and an essay I wrote on the virtues of paying markets vs. 4TheLuv markets. What does that mean? The additional content brings in readers, and they do stick around to learn more about your work.
- Optimize Thy Site. Use categories on your blog. Use tags on your posts. They help search engines direct people to your site. Honestly. I had the opportunity to guest-blog at A Bunch of Wordz a few months back, and since it’s a more widely-read site than my own and it’s run on WordPress like my own, I took the opportunity to analyze their statistics to see how they get so many hits a day. I spent an hour a day for almost a week adding tags to my entire backlog of posts and now I make sure to add them to every new post I make. My statistics also look as filled-out as A Bunch of Wordz’ these days.
- The Bottom Line. I revamped my site in April of this year. That is, I scrapped my five-page website, switched over to just using my blog, installed WordPress on my webhost (and WordPress’ll even do that for you for FREE if you’re not tech-savvy) and went wild. That month I netted 173 hits for the month, and I called that good. In May I had 323 hits, and 572 in June. It’s nine days into July and I already have 175 hits; that’s more than the whole month of April landed me. Do the math.
Hope this helps. Drop me a line in the comments section with any additional advice, hate mail, etc.
I am now taking pre-orders for QUEEN & Other Stories, a novel-length collection of my horror and dark science fiction work which includes selections from my two previous small-press short story collections, pieces that made their debut in various anthologies, a handful of no longer available Amazon shorts and, of course, some brand new works. The thirteen short stories and one novella include:
- Tradition: A widow and a group of her late husband’s friends take a stab at a cathartic hunting trip in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse.
- Old Stooping Lugh: Irish and Italian gangsters run afoul of an ancient Celtic deity in 1920′s Boston.
- Nice to Matter: The secret origin of a superhero cop’s prostitute sidekick.
- The Bad Place: A little girl discovers the secret behind her brother’s disappearance–and an outlandish time-travel plan to save her from their abusive father that might do more harm than good.
- Queen: A middle-aged woman in a frigid marriage discovers her experimental age-defying treatment may be something more than skin deep.
QUEEN & Other Stories will be self-published. I expect the Kindle version to go live in January, followed by the paperback edition in March. I’m taking pre-orders through Indiegogo, but I consider this to be more of a traditional pre-order than a fundraiser–there won’t be any crazy perks, just ways to order different editions of the book and either get them before anyone else or have them signed. My sole nods in the direction of bells and whistles are a Book Club package including a one-hour Skype chat, and my donation of ten percent of any money raised above my goal to the Horror Writers’ Association‘s Hardship Fund.
I’ll be using the funds raised to pay a cover artist and publicist, and to purchase copies of the book for sale at conventions and local signings. Though I’ve been published traditionally since 2006, I’ve had the occasional flirtation with self-publishing and want to finally take the plunge with a full-length, single-author work. Success in this venture will lead to more efforts of this nature, to include novella and full-length novel releases. Even if you can’t afford to purchase a copy, please consider sharing the link with your social networks.
Those who’ve been paying attention to my deeds for the past year or so have heard me mention the Midnight Diner–at least in passing–once a week, at a minimum. This is because I accepted a position as Managing Editor shortly after sometime Diner collaborator Michelle Pendergrass became the new, permanent, Editor-in-Chief. My goals as Managing Editor have been primarily the raising of funds so as to turn the Diner into a semi-pro paying market, the conversion of the Diner from a yearly print anthology to a quarterly digital mag, and the conversion of the four existing Diner volumes (one which didn’t see the light of day for about two years after it was compiled!) from print only to being available on Amazon Kindle.
Today, I’ve met the last step in making that last goal a reality. Converting the books (from PLAIN TEXT FILES!!!) has been time-consuming, but Midnight Diner 3 is now available on Kindle, and that was the last of the four I had to do. You can scoop ‘em all up for under four bucks each, and all the proceeds goes right back into the Diner’s budget, where we’ll use it to pay future contributors and possibly tackle a couple of other fun projects at a later date. You can purchase volumes One, Two and Four at their respective links.
I’ve gotten to shill this book a few times since it came out last year; I’m still extremely proud to have a story, Kettletop’s Revisionary Plot, sharing a TOC with Joe McKinney, Brea Grant and several other excellent authors. Thus far, while my tale has been available for quite some time for .99 via Amazon, the various editions of the complete anthology have been a bit costlier, which not everyone can afford (the Kindle version is $9.99; the trade is a few bucks more, and worth it at twice the price and there’s also a signed hardcover that costs around $60 on Amazon).
This past Wednesday, IDW released Zombies Vs. Robots: THIS MEANS WAR! in mass market paperback form. While there’s no listing available for it on Amazon, you can purchase it at Things From Another World for two bucks less than a digital copy(!!!!) and I’m sure other fine retailers have it, as well. My contribution is a tale of regret and time travel with cameos from some of the characters featured in the very beginning of the comic book series that started it all.