Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm Somebody!

by Susan Sey

Remember that scene in The Jerk when Steve Martin finds his name in the phone book for the first time? He's overjoyed. That's him, right there in print. It's official! He's somebody! Yahoo!

I had a moment like that this morning.

You see, I've been working on it for ages but I finally launched my very first website. And now, when you type in http://www.susansey.com I turn up. Officially. That's my name, my face and my book cover right there!

I'm somebody!

Now before anybody asks, I didn't do it myself. I considered it, then realized how very attached I am to my sanity and made the excellent decision to outsource this job to professionals. I'm a big fan of all things locally grown, though, so I didn't go very far when seeking out talented people to put together something that would represent me and my writing in cyberspace.

First, I tapped my friend Noah from church. Like me, he stays home with his daughter (whom my daughters happen to adore.) Also like me, he's doing a little something with all that 'spare time' stay at homes have in such abundance. (Careful, that's a lot of sarcasm there.)

He doesn't write romance novels (though I've recommended it as loads of fun) but instead has chosen to build a little company called AugmentJ that designs and hosts websites. But he doesn't just design websites. No, either his child is better behaved than mine are or he's just smarter than I am because he's also developed his own Content Management System called Fruitful.

Now, like many of you, when I thought about building my own website, I toyed with the idea of doing something in Wordpress. I decided to go with Fruitful instead for a couple of reasons.

First, Fruitful allows me to get into the nuts and bolts of my webpages and update things whenever I feel like it. I don't have to wait for my web designer to do a monthly update for me, but (very big but here) I don't have to be a programmer to figure it all out, either.

I hear that Wordpress is user friendly after a fashion but after a bunch of comparison shopping, Fruitful won out. It struck me as far more intuitive, & that's important to me. I can't horse around figuring out a website because I'm a terribly slow writer. I need to devote all the time I can get to my WIP.

Second advantage of Fruitful? Noah taught me how to use it in person. I came to his house after school one day and our kids had a wild rumpus in his living room while he gave me the run down on updating my site. A software lesson AND entertainment for the kiddoes? I defy you to find a web guy who'll do that for you.

And whenever I have a question about why something works or doesn't work, I know I'm going to get an answer ASAP. Because if Noah doesn't get back to me, I'll see him at church on Sunday. On the other hand, if I fail to send him a check promptly, he'll see me on Sunday, too. It works both ways & I like it that way. I know exactly who I'm paying to do this for me--somebody just like me. A person with a passion for what he does, splitting the difference between pursuing that passion and being at home with the little ones.

It works for me, and I'm thrilled with the results.

The other awesome thing Noah did for me? Pointed me toward the designer who put together my banner, my colors, created my logo, etc. I sat down with this poor woman (the very talented Sarah Hellestrom Hoehn, also right here in Minneapolis) over coffee & said, "I'm rotten at colors, so I'm just going to tell you how I feel about my writing & what I want people to feel when they're reading my books. Can you translate that into color and design?"

She said she could, and she did. Did she ever. I was thrilled and amazed at what she was able to pull out of my unfocused and largely incoherent thoughts on my work. If you're looking for a designer, I'd recommend her without reservation. I'll be happy to share her info privately if anybody wants it.

But there are drawbacks. I'm Noah's first writer client, so we're learning together how Fruitful lends itself to a writer's unique needs. There are a few things that need tweaking. For example, I don't have the capacity to allow comments on my blog right now. That communication will be a one-way street for a while but I'm okay with that. Readers will hopefully want to interact with me at some point in the future, and when the time comes I'll work with Noah to develop something that'll fit the bill.

Until then, I'll make do with Fruitful's awesome ability to create gorgeous e-newsletters, run contests and collect user info in a little database that'll come in right handy when I decide to mail out postcards for my first book signing. :-)

Having a website designed was a big decision. Besides being the biggest writing related expense I've encountered aside from attending RWA's annual conference, a website is probably also the most important link between a new author and her potential audience. I really wanted to get it right, and have been so glad that keeping things close to home worked out.

How about you? Do you have a website? A DIY job, or outsourced? Any lessons learned you'd be willing to share?

76 comments:

Helen said...

Is he staying with me

Have Fun
Helen

jo robertson said...

Hi, Susan! I just toured your gawgeous website and read the excerpt from MONEY, HONEY!

Whooot, girl, can't wait for that book to hit the stands. It sounds superlicious!

Hmmm, Helen, I would've beat you if I hadn't stopped to read Susan's website, tee hee.

Yes, yes, even though I'm unpublished, I have a website which I created www.jobertson.com.
I rather like it, but I find the desire to update and keep checking it fades when you don't have a book coming out. This is me pouting :-((. Soon, I hope!

Helen said...

He must have enjoyed his visit with Corey and Caitlyn today and knew that Jayden and Hayley are coming for dinner so he decided to stay LOL sorry Jo.

Susan
I tried the link and it didn't work for me but I will try again after I have typed this post I am so not very good with computers and I don't have a web site but I do love visiting them. For me as a reader it is such a great way to keep in touch with authors and everything that is happening with them.

Off to find the web site I will be back

have Fun
Helen

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, clearly you're being too nice to that bird!

Susan, I couldn't get the link to work either although when I googled you (you definitely ARE somebody now, mate!), I got you. LOVE the new website. Love the covers and I think it's got a really fun, modern look that really suits the book. Can't wait to read Money, Honey!
Roll on, July!

I adore my website. I had an experience a little like yours Susan. I already knew my designer personally - she's another romance writer, Paula Roe. www.paularoe.com Anyway, I showed her a few pictures that suited the look I wanted - moody and gothic and romantic. And she ran with it and came up with something better than I could have ever hoped. Isn't it wonderful when that happens?

Helen said...

OK I have found your wonderful website added it to my favourites and joined your mailing list I love it such a fun place. I love the colours

Oh and by the way I am soo looking forward to reading Money Honey not too long to wait now.

Congrats on the website Susan

Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

Anna

Isn't Paula a great website designer and writer as well she has just designed the new ARRA website and it is awesome like yours love them.

Have Fun
Helen

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, I think Paula did an awesome job for ARRA and I love that button she put together for the awards. It looks so elegant!

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Helen.

Hi Susan,
Congrats on your website. I've already signed up to be on your mailing list. I don't have a website or a blog.

Enid Wilson said...

Congratulations on your website! It's very clean and easy to navigate. I like Money, Honey, very catchy and yummy.

Steamy Darcy

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Woot! I am on the mailing list! Very nice site, classy looking and still fun.

Dianna Love said...

Hi Susan -

Love the website and LOVE the book cover/premise/excerpt. It sounds like a fun romp I can't wait to read. Congratulations on your debut book and won't it be fun to have it released right before national in Nashville?

As for a website, I wouldn't even tackle it myself. I had the good fortune of finding Pam Fryer of www.authordesigns.com who creates author websites, and is a writer who has finaled in the GH I think two years back. Paula sounds wonderful and the ARRC site is terrific, too.

But I can agree with Jo - it's hard to constantly keep up a website (just finished two days of pulling together everything to send Pam) when you've got books. Much harder when you don't. However, that being said - I know many editors and agents who go looking for a website as soon as they get interested in a writer. So it's worth the trouble.

If you're at national - I'll get my book signed. :)

Barbara Vey said...

Susan, the link to the website didn't work for me, but congratulations. It's a big step to take, but will be well worth it.

Anna Sugden said...

Hey all - just went in and fixed it so the link to Susan's website now works!

Susan - awesome website. Noah and Sarah did a great job.

Fab excerpt - can't wait to read Money, Honey!

Yes - I have a website, in anticipation that some day I will sell one of my books - www.annasugden.com.

I have the most awesome web designer, Shelley at Web Crafters Design (webcrafters.design.com). I looked around to see what I wanted in a website and found that seh'd designed a lot of the sites for authors I love and whose designs I love. Shelley took me and my writing and created the perfect look. Of course now that I'm adding romantic suspense to my repertoire, we'll have to think about what to do next. In the meantime, she'll be doing a bit of an update in April for me to include the RS books.

I decided to use a web designer because I knew I'd waste way too much time doing it myself and that time would be better spent writing. Shelley is friendly, efficient and fast! Plus, she doesn't charge the earth for updates and tweaks.

BTW - hate Wordpress - we used to use it for the Writers at Play blog and it was so difficult compared with Blogger!

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Dianna - safe travels with your hubby! look forward to planning your trip to Cambridge!

Anna - your website is lovely and perfect for your books.

Jo - you're a star - your site is fab and I'm so impressed that you created it yourself!

Barbara - waving - good to see you - the link should work now.

Buffie said...

Oh Susan, you must be so excited!! The website looks fabulous! Love the colors and the designs. Isn't it great to have wonderful friends to help you along the way.

As all the Bandits know, Andrea, PJ, Gannon and I have a wonderful website at The Romance Dish. We had so much fun putting it together. We lucky enough to have a great friend design our banner and some of our titles. None other than author Kimberly Killion.

Gillian Layne said...

Loved it! Fresh, fun, easy to navigate. I can't wait to get my hands on your book. :)

Oh, no, I don't have a website. Just a blog. But I'm thinking about it. When I find sites I love I click on the website info. I am pretty computer illiterate and will not be doing anything by myself.

Deb Marlowe said...

Hooray! Great site, Susan--and I'm thrilled because this means we're that much closer to finding Money, Honey on the shelves! Can. Not. Wait!

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Helen! Way to snag the rooster! Yes, he's all yours! Enjoy!

Marisa O'Neill said...

Congratulations Susan! The website looks amazing and I'm so looking forward to reading Money Honey!

Websites, OH Websites! Yikes. I could tell you stories! I found that creating a website is like renovating a house. If you get the right contractor your renovation will be done with a minimum of fuss, on time and on budget and will be a thing of beauty. The wrong contractor can land you up on an HGTV segment about "the tragedy and misery of a bad renovation". I've experienced both the agony of working with people who didn't get it at all and the ecstasy of someone who completely understood my needs. So shopping around and working with someone who shares your vision and duplicates your needs is the best. Glad your experience was a good one and it shows in your website!

Susan Sey said...

Oh,Jo, thanks for the lovely compliments on my site & excerpt. I've been a little surprised at how reluctant I was to widely publicize the launch of my site. I mean, my WRITING is up there. People will read it!

Which is kind of the point. I realize this.

Doesn't stop the cringe, though.

BTW, I love your site. It's so clean and stylish--just like your writing! I'm pulling for you to be published soon, too! Can't wait to find your stuff on the shelves.

Susan Sey said...

Helen wrote: I don't have a web site but I do love visiting them. For me as a reader it is such a great way to keep in touch with authors and everything that is happening with them.

It's fun, isn't it? I love going to my favorite authors' sites and seeing what's new. I especially love following them on Facebook. It's so fun to get that fresh content every day all in the same place.

Susan Sey said...

Anna C. wrote: Anyway, I showed her a few pictures that suited the look I wanted - moody and gothic and romantic. And she ran with it and came up with something better than I could have ever hoped. Isn't it wonderful when that happens?

It IS wonderful when that happens! And I really loved keeping the business sort of 'in the family' in terms of using people I knew to whom I wasn't just another client. People with a vested interest in making sure I was happy.

As you can see, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out, & as I've been to your site often, I know you're happy too, cause your site is gorgeous. It's exactly what you asked for--moody, dark, passionate. I'd checked into Paula Roe, actually, just because I was so impressed.

Susan Sey said...

Helen wrote: I love it such a fun place. I love the colours

Oh and by the way I am soo looking forward to reading Money Honey not too long to wait now.


Thanks, Helen! It feels like I long way off until I remember everything I'm supposed to do between now & then! But I am pretty excited.

Susan Sey said...

Jane wrote: Congrats on your website. I've already signed up to be on your mailing list. I don't have a website or a blog.

Hi, Jane--thanks for checking it out! So, no website or blog of your own, but I'll bet you see enough of them on a daily basis to know what you like & what bugs you. :-) Any thoughts on what you like best or least about your favorite sites?

I have a feeling this website thing is going to be a work in progress, & I like to have a running list of potential improvements. :-)

Deb said...

Susan, your website is lovely! How exciting for you!

I kind of have a website. About 3 years ago, my school required the teachers to make their own site and it was a lot of work. Sure, I just had to pick and choose colors, fonts, and graphics offered, but it took a good month or two to complete. (On my own time, mind you, minus the 2-hour inservice given to work on it.) I haven't updated it for over a year just because 1) Who looks at it? and 2) Administration isn't squawking about it any longer.

Congratulations on the website and MONEY, HONEY!

Kirsten said...

Yeah Susan!!! I adore the website -- it's beautiful and so perfectly YOU. What an amazing trick.

And I loved the blog because it mentioned ME! :-)

For anyone who doesn't know, Susan is my dearest friend, critique partner, and person assigned to the important task of pulling me out of the Pit of Despair. And believe me, I keep her busy!

For those who know know, I write YA as Inara Scott. I don't have a professionally designed website (got to get on that!) but do have a little something I created using a Mac template. It's fun. You can check it at www.inarascott.net

Here to my incredible CP! She will doubtless be too important to acknowledge me on the street soon, so I'm taking advantage of the opportunity NOW to inform you all that I know her and that she kinda likes me. ;-)

Hugs to all!

Susan Sey said...

Enid wrote: It's very clean and easy to navigate. I like Money, Honey, very catchy and yummy.

Thanks, Enid! That was one of the things I said over & over to my web designers--CLEAN! I have a really hard time with sites where too much is going on. Things flashing and moving and blinking...

I'm so glad you found it easy to play with!

Susan Sey said...

hrkwrkdmom/dianna wrote: Woot! I am on the mailing list! Very nice site, classy looking and still fun.

Thanks so much! I was hoping the fun element would come through, & I hadn't killed it with my fixation on clean. :-) It's kind of like asking for two opposites. "Can you give me charming/fun AND clean/spare?" Tall order.

MsHellion said...

The website is awesome! Great job outsourcing! :) Cannot wait until your book is in stores!!

I do have a blog. http://romancewritersrevenge.com

I originally had one on blogger, like the Bandits awesome blog, but my Bo'sun won a free website creation so she wanted to upgrade the ship. We are all, as yet, unpublished, but hopeful and working. And we like the blogging. And we think our new website looks pretty piratey.

Joan said...

Susan, LOVE your website! It's fun, it's fresh, it's YOU!!!

I went with a professional who does not attend my church. Heck, she does not live in my STATE, LOL. But Dawn at Austin Designworks did a great job creating what I wanted www.joankayse.com

Looking forward to Money, Honey!!

Susan Sey said...

Dianna Love wrote: However, that being said - I know many editors and agents who go looking for a website as soon as they get interested in a writer. So it's worth the trouble.

Oh, jeez. I'm so glad I didn't know that a couple years ago. I thought as an unpubbed I was all safe and cozy with no need for a website. But you're right. It makes total sense that an agent or editor might want to check out your stuff and you'd want it right there, easy access.

Susan Sey said...

Dianna Love wrote: If you're at national - I'll get my book signed. :)

Eeeeep. I never thought the day would come when I would entertain the idea of signing a book for *Dianna Love*. Heehee. That totally made my day. Thanks. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Barbara Vey wrote: Susan, the link to the website didn't work for me, but congratulations. It's a big step to take, but will be well worth it.

Thanks, Barbara! Vrai Anna kindly fixed my link (I think it must require the http:// that I failed to attach)--THANKS, ANNA!

You're right--it was a big, scary step but I'm thrilled it's behind me. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Anna S. wrote: Yes - I have a website, in anticipation that some day I will sell one of my books - www.annasugden.com.

Anna, I've always loved your website. It's so unique and really puts your voice/style at the forefront. Will you romantic suspense under the same name, or come up with a pseudonym for that writing persona? You could do a cool split website like Trish for her split personality!

Susan Sey said...

Buffie wrote: As all the Bandits know, Andrea, PJ, Gannon and I have a wonderful website at The Romance Dish. We had so much fun putting it together. We lucky enough to have a great friend design our banner and some of our titles. None other than author Kimberly Killion.

You ladies have a fabulous site over at the Dish! Big props to you and Kimberly for putting together such a quality site! I think my process would have been a lot more fun as a collaborative process, too. Instead it was just me thinking, "I have no idea how to make this decision." :-)

Everything is better with good friends, isn't it?

Susan Sey said...

Gillian wrote: I don't have a website. Just a blog. But I'm thinking about it. When I find sites I love I click on the website info. I am pretty computer illiterate and will not be doing anything by myself.

Amen, sister. That was exactly how I felt. But I hate paying tons of $$ for something I could do myself with a little effort, so I explored the process. Then I realized that I'm hopeless & resigned myself to paying for it. :-)

There's obviously a wealth of info here in the lair when it comes to building your own vs. outsourcing, so when your time comes, don't be shy! We all love to pass along names when the work is good.

Susan Sey said...

Deb Marlowe wrote: Hooray! Great site, Susan--and I'm thrilled because this means we're that much closer to finding Money, Honey on the shelves! Can. Not. Wait!

Aww, you're sweet, Deb. :-) At this point I've been waiting so long to see MH on the shelves that I'm half convinced it won't happen. July is going to be a banner month in our house!

Susan Sey said...

Marissa wrote: I found that creating a website is like renovating a house. If you get the right contractor your renovation will be done with a minimum of fuss, on time and on budget and will be a thing of beauty. The wrong contractor can land you up on an HGTV segment about "the tragedy and misery of a bad renovation".

Oh, I can totally see this happening. Every time I think, "You know, I could really use a new kitchen" I turn on HGTV & remind myself what could go wrong.

A LOT, as it happens.

Sorry to hear you've had personal experience with the website version of that. So far I'm counting myself lucky...

Susan Sey said...

Deb wrote: About 3 years ago, my school required the teachers to make their own site and it was a lot of work. Sure, I just had to pick and choose colors, fonts, and graphics offered, but it took a good month or two to complete. (On my own time, mind you, minus the 2-hour inservice given to work on it.)

Oh, jeez. That's ridiculous. You know, I seem to remember a lot of that from the few years I was a teacher. A lot of, "Oh you can just do that after school or on the weekend." You teachers are angels and saints, and I salute you. Even if your website hasn't been updated in two years. :-) Maybe BECAUSE your website hasn't been updated in two years.

Susan Sey said...

Kirsten wrote: Yeah Susan!!! I adore the website -- it's beautiful and so perfectly YOU. What an amazing trick.

And I loved the blog because it mentioned ME! :-)


Well, yeah. How could I write my first blog and NOT mention you?? You're my dearest, ever-loving CP with saintly patience and an eagle eye. I would be lost without you, so if I ever outgrow my britches to the point that I flip you attitude, you have my permission to slap me until I come to my senses. :-)

I depend on you for these things, dear. Much like I depend on you to tell me when my characters have gone completely off the rails. Which they do with alarming frequency...

BTW, I love Inara's website. It's enough to pry the PC from my hot little hands & convert me to a Mac.

Susan Sey said...

MsHellion wrote: I do have a blog. http://romancewritersrevenge.com

...we like the blogging. And we think our new website looks pretty piratey.


It DOES look very piratey! I've always enjoyed my visits to the pirate ship. You ladies run a good one over there! Who did your site? It's very arrrrgh! (Which is a good thing, btw.)

Anna Sugden said...

Actually, Susan, you had some extra stuff in there that I deleted (which is about the limit of my computer know-how!).

Thanks so much for the compliments on my website. Like you, I had no idea how Shelley would come up with something from my garbled brief, but she did!

As I'm still waiting to sell, I'm planning to write them all under the same name. When I sell (Note the positive AC - no need to wield the crop!), I'll do whatever is recommended. We'll need to redesign too, I'm sure. But, for now, Shelley is going to do a separate page for me - kind of the same scene, but a night-time version - for the romantic suspense stories.

Susan Sey said...

Joan wrote: I went with a professional who does not attend my church. Heck, she does not live in my STATE, LOL. But Dawn at Austin Designworks did a great job creating what I wanted www.joankayse.com

Dawn did our romance bandits site, too, and we love it, do we not, ladies?

And Joanie, right back atcha, because your site is gorgeous and HAWT! "Rome...where romance begins" has to be one of my favorite tag lines ever. Or maybe I was influenced by the huge hunk of manly chest right next to it. So hard to say. :-) Either way, I love your site.

Deb said...

@Anna S.--- your website is charming and fun!

Susan Sey said...

Anna wrote: But, for now, Shelley is going to do a separate page for me - kind of the same scene, but a night-time version - for the romantic suspense stories.

OOooh, what a great idea! See, this is why I'm not a web designer. I don't think in terms of pictures. Not AT ALL. But this is a fabulous concept, & I can't wait to see how it play out WHEN you sell. :-)

Deb said...

I have a lot of websites I need to visit...

MsHellion said...

You ladies run a good one over there! Who did your site? It's very arrrrgh!

Thank you! :)

Haven Rich did our design for the website: http://havenrich.net/.

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Susan, from your lips to the publishing gods ears!

Helen, I'm sure the rooster will enjoy playing with the grandkiddies instead of hanging with me. I have to go to the dentist in a few minutes! Ugh!

p226 said...

My employer does website design and hosting. Some of our clients are household name, international brands. Web design is one crazy field your friend has chosen to enter.

And since you guys are writers, and as such, have or might be planning websites like Susan here, allow me to provide you from some perspective from the other side of the fence.

The biggest challenge in actually doing website design (particularly for smaller entities like an individual author) is scope communication. This is a two-way street, which is sometimes lost on clients. Choosing a good, competent designer is an obvious goal. However, people often dont't realize that you should also strive to be a good customer. What this means, is that you must clearly establish and then communicate your goals to your developer. They need to know what you want from the site, both visually and functionally. Try to put that work (it's really more thought than actual work) into your project up-front, before you engage a developer's services. Be sure that you and your developer are on the same page. I personally think Susan got lucky. She communicated a "feeling" to her developer, and wound up with a site she likes. "Feelings" are quite subjective, and going this route can put you into a development loop where you and your developer go back and forth on designs ad infinitum. It's my advice that your goals and design vision be a bit more concrete. The more concrete they are, the better a customer this makes you, and the better your chances of a successful web-development project.

You can bet your bottom dollar that large corporations put as much time in deciding what they want their end-product (site) to look like than they do shopping for someone to develop it.

The second thing to watch for is scope-creep. Define your project. See it through to completion. One of the biggest mistakes customers make is making scope/design changes on the fly. They see portions of the site in development and then start the "wouldn't it be cool if my site could do...." Let your developer finish your initial scope. Get it right. Then, once this is done, deployed, and in production, THEN consider what added functionality you might want.

So, there's my view from the other side of the fence. I hope you guys find it helpful.

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Susan, wow! Lovely website, and so excited for you about Money, Honey!

I have heard people say even if you are an aspiring writer, you should have a website. For example, Joan's is gorgeous! Maybe if I ever get off my duff and enter a contest or three, I will consider it then, meanwhile, I have a blog!

http://karynsromanorum.blogspot.com/

I just put up a new banner, gee, I wonder who that guy is plastered all over the banner? *snort*

p226 said...

Good lord my post above is a grammatical train-wreck. That's what I get for trying "stream-of-consciousness" blog commentary.

Oh well. You guys will have to live with it and my apologies. ;)

I just hope I made enough sense.

Susan Sey said...

MsHellion wrote: Haven Rich did our design for the website: http://havenrich.net/.

Ooooh, she does pretty work! And I see she donated a design to the Novak auction--how cool!

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote: I have to go to the dentist in a few minutes! Ugh!

Good luck, Jo! I know the dentist isn't my favorite place--hope it's a quick, easy visit!

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks so much, Deb!

P226 - sage advice. Made perfect sense to me! As a former marketing executive for a large multinational I applaud you!

I was lucky in that my designer had a detailed questionnaire that really made me think about exactly what I wanted and how I wanted the website to feel and what it should deliver. She also read some of my work to get a feel for my writing.

I think those of us who were once in business often forget some of those principles when it comes to our 'babies' *g*. We can even advise others as you have done, but seem to become like a kid in a sweet shop when we think about our stuff!

And, for those who've never been in business it can be difficult to know what to ask for and what you really want.

Anna Sugden said...

BTW - what Dianna Love said is spot on (as always *g*). I know of numerous examples of editors and agents looking up authors on the internet.

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: However, people often don't realize that you should also strive to be a good customer. What this means, is that you must clearly establish and then communicate your goals to your developer. They need to know what you want from the site, both visually and functionally.

Exactly! I found this immensely difficult, & give huge props to both Noah (who built the site) and Sarah (who did the design) for helping me through the process and asking questions that brought my thinking into the right ballpark.

For me, it was like buying my first frame pack (for back packing.) I couldn't really go on a long trip without one, and yet how could I know which features I'd really love and find indispensible without having gone on a long trip? A total chicken/egg problem.

In the end, I just had to make an educated guess & live with the pack for a while. On my second pack, I was a MUCH better customer. I walked in and said, "I want a pack that is XX big, has A, B, and C, and comes with blah blah blah."

I imagine my experience with websites will be similar. At some point you just have to go for it and resolve to make lists of things you want to do differently next time.

Susan Sey said...

P226 also wrote: Let your developer finish your initial scope. Get it right. Then, once this is done, deployed, and in production, THEN consider what added functionality you might want.

Yep. I agree completely. I asked for THIS site as it currently stands and am determined to live with it at least six months before I decide to tweak anything. The only thing I can imagine might get to me is the limited blog function (no comments capability just now.) That'll get old, and it's very limiting in terms of developing a relationship with readers. Other than that, I'm fine just letting it play out for a while.

But this is really great advice, P226. Definitely something to keep in mind when it's finally time to dip a toe in those waters.

Susan Sey said...

Karyn aka Drew wrote: I just put up a new banner, gee, I wonder who that guy is plastered all over the banner? *snort*

Heeeeeeey....I recognize that guy! Very nice! And yes, do start entering those contests. Dianna Love said it herself earlier today--agents & editors are more and more looking at unpubbeds blogs and websites if a query intrigues them. Put yourself out there!

That said, I do love your blog. :-)

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: I just hope I made enough sense.

Plenty of sense. More than I make in a day, usually. :-)

Plus we're all writers here. Nobody loves a first draft like we do.

Susan Sey said...

Anna S wrote: I was lucky in that my designer had a detailed questionnaire that really made me think about exactly what I wanted and how I wanted the website to feel and what it should deliver. She also read some of my work to get a feel for my writing.

Wow, that's awesome. I went through the process with a few designers and only one impressed me with that level of pre-planning. And I WAY couldn't afford her. :-) So I took a chance.

But you're so right. This is such a crazy business where so many of the rules we learned in our previous incarnations as professional people don't apply. Sometimes it's hard to remember that a good many of them DO apply still. And will save us some $$$ if we remember in time.

TerriOsburn said...

I love the website! And what a pretty picture. Can't wait to read this book. Whoot!

Sounds like you found amazing help creating the site. I wouldn't even have thought to look local. No where near thinking about websites, but I may pester you for that designer info when the time comes.

I have several author friends who used the same website designer and though the sites are gorgeous with all sorts of neat gadgets, they also look very similar. I think I'd rather look more unique and less like sites A, B, and C with different colors.

TerriOsburn said...

Oh, and I signed up for the newsletter too. Look forward to following your launch to stardom.

(And I'm the Bo'sun MsHellion mentions up there. We are proud of our little Revenge. *g*)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Gillian, love the new photo. Is that the headshot you had taken for your Golden Heart final?

What a wonderful lot of advice we're getting here. Thanks so much to everyone for contributing!

Susan Sey said...

TerriOsburn wrote: Sounds like you found amazing help creating the site. I wouldn't even have thought to look local. No where near thinking about websites, but I may pester you for that designer info when the time comes.

I'll be thrilled to pass it along! Just shoot me an email!

Susan Sey said...

TerriOsburn also wrote: I have several author friends who used the same website designer and though the sites are gorgeous with all sorts of neat gadgets, they also look very similar. I think I'd rather look more unique and less like sites A, B, and C with different colors.

Exactly! I went through the same thing! And while those sites are well-designed and pretty and functional, if there are so many of them they start to look like a template...then why pay for an original design?

Susan Sey said...

TerriOsburn also writes: (And I'm the Bo'sun MsHellion mentions up there. We are proud of our little Revenge. *g*)

As you should be! I visit the Revenge from time to time and always get a hearty welcome. :-) You sure know how to make a girl feel at home, & I've visited enough blogs to know that's no easy trick. Good on you!

Susan Sey said...

Anna C wrote: What a wonderful lot of advice we're getting here. Thanks so much to everyone for contributing!

Absolutely! I knew I could count on the banditas and the bandita buddies to come through with a wealth of info! You guys are the best! Keep the info coming! I'm taking notes!

Nancy said...

Helen, congrats on the rooster!

Susan, I have a website and it's outsourced. Liz Bemis of Bemis Promotions did it for me. I can get into the pages to do minor changes. Anything major, requiring html expertise, Liz handles.

PJ said...

Love the new website, Susan! It's chic, modern and very "you". I also signed up for the mailing list.

Count me among those eagerly anticipating the release of "Money, Honey!"

As Buffie said, we were very fortunate to have Kimberly Killion design our banner, logo and avatars. We love the end result! Her design company's website is hotdamndesigns.com. Don't you just love that name? ;-)

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: Susan, I have a website and it's outsourced. Liz Bemis of Bemis Promotions did it for me. I can get into the pages to do minor changes. Anything major, requiring html expertise, Liz handles.

I met Liz at nationals last year--I'd heard she did websites. I should have remembered her, because your site is awesome! I love the dual personality thing you have going on there, the historical/urban vibe. It's pretty cool.

Susan Sey said...

PJ wrote: As Buffie said, we were very fortunate to have Kimberly Killion design our banner, logo and avatars. We love the end result! Her design company's website is hotdamndesigns.com. Don't you just love that name? ;-)

That is a super name! I checked her out, too, when I was doing my research and was really impressed. And I love what she did for you guys. The Dish is gorgeous!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Smoov!
You've always been somebody here in the Lair!

Sorry to be late for the party, but your website is GREAT! And July 6th is a GRAND day for a book release... ;-)

I'm a real techno-dummy so I used AustinDesign Works for my website also, and I LOVE the final product: www.loucindamcgary.com

Now I'm off to look at all the other websites listed in the other comments.

AC

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: Sorry to be late for the party, but your website is GREAT! And July 6th is a GRAND day for a book release... ;-)

Ahhh, yes, the Wild Irish Sea hits the shelves that day also, no? :-) A perfectly GRAND day for a book to drop. I'm thrilled to be in such good company--you'll have to hold my hand as you've been through this a time or two.

And thanks for the lovely words about my site. I do love it, as I do yours. Its vibe matches your books perfectly, which is a wonderful thing. Dawn does primo work.

Susan Sey said...

Thanks for coming out to play today, everybody! As I have sick kids that need tending, I'm going to call it a night. I've been perusing your websites for long enough now that the children are asking me when I'll be done 'working.' I'm cutting myself off now. :-)

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Susan,

The link works now, I've just left
there. Thanks for the nice, clean
look of your site! I love to visit
but only if I don't have battle so
much to reach the various areas.
My kudos to Augment J and Fruitful!

Congratulations on the new site. I
read the excerpt and joined your
mailing list. (I don't mind being
on the receiving end of emails &
postcards!)

Pat Cochran

Nancy said...

Thanks, Susan. I told Liz what I wanted, and she found the graphics to do it.

I'm so looking forward to Money, Honey. How cool that you and AC have books coming out the same day!