Thursday, 31 July 2008

Grumbles & groans


I'm bombarded with the advice that an author must have a website. I understand the need for a web presence, of course, but what I don't understand is why a writer who has a blog needs to have a separate website. Isn't a blog a website?

I've looked at several writers' sites and most are quite basic, with some variation of the following:
  • Their bibliography
  • A synopsis of each book, sometimes with excerpts or sample chapters
  • An author bio
  • Contact information
  • Some had a photo gallery
  • An itinerary if the writer is doing tours and signings
  • Links: to Amazon or wherever the books are sold, to the blog, and random others of the author's choosing
There is nothing there that can't be posted or linked on a blog. If I create a website, I'll simply be duplicating all the information on the blog. This pisses off the minimalist in me. In addition, the blog has the advantage of being user friendly: I manage it myself, update as frequently as I like, and it's wonderfully interactive. Managing a website, I understand, requires knowledge of html or some such voodoo.

I'm a stubborn PITA when I can't see the logic behind something that everyone insists is necessary. So I'm throwing this out there: Someone, anyone, please, please convince me why it is necessary for me to duplicate all the stuff I have on this blog onto a website.

[And it's not about the money. My son's job is building websites.]

19 comments:

PJ said...

I'd say that you should stick with what you have already, since you're used to it. You can write the extra information as blog posts and link to it from your sidebar menu. You should probably reserve the lianespicer.com name if you haven't already done so and redirect it here.

KAREN said...

If an author has a website I always look to see if they have a blog as I'd rather read that instead! It's a more user-friendly medium somehow, so stick to your guns :o)

wordtryst said...

Ahh, PJ, that's brilliant! That is EXACTLY what I'll do - redirect it here! Thanks so much for that suggestion!

Karen, that's what I think too! There's a friendliness and immediacy to the blog that you just don't get with a website!

Kaz Augustin said...

The problem with a blog, Liane, is that--as you write entries--the previous entries disappear into partial oblivion. The way around this is, as pj said, to link from the sidebar, but you have to contend with fickle readers who want book details NOW!!! and don't want to spend time looking around for it.

The other thing is that, for every karen, there's another reader who steadfastly refuses to read an author's blog. Maybe they've got too many blogs to read as is. They just want book details so they can hunt it down. OR, they're so sick of the (a) blandness, (b) stupid comments, of authors that they want to remain blissfully ignorant of what an author is actually like! I've heard that one quite a bit.

The final decision is, of course, yours. And pj's recommendation of the sidebar link is a nice compromise if you're sticking to your guns. But I thought I'd just mention the other side of the coin.

Chennette said...

I have seen some merged ideas, which have a nice start page where people can choose where they want to head - blog, books, author - and every section is still contained within the same/similar arrangement of frames and links so the whole site has a cohesive feel. That will allow the Books and Author pages to highlight the most important/recent info and updates for those who need to know.
I like Michael Ruhlman's for example - http://ruhlman.com

Flowerpot said...

I'd feel the same as you Liane but think pj's idea is a great one.

akalol said...

A good example of an author's website and an author's blog is Jeffery Archer's.

http://www.jeffreyarcher.co.uk/

and

http://www.jeffreyarchers.blogspot.com/

His website is a commercial entity advertising the brand and commercial efforts of the authorJeffery Archer. It's not personal and just a brochure in web format.

Jeffery Archer's blog is personal. You get a better idea who Jeffery Archer really is - to some extent. I read his blog but almost never visit his website. But that might be just me.

One suggestion is that you should register you website, www.lianespicer.com, and have it linking to your blog. You could also do what Chennette did when she made her website her blog, website www.chennette.com.

Debs said...

I agree with Karen. I always look for the blog as they are far more interesting than the website.

Chumplet said...

I suppose it serves as an anchor, or a front door to you as the author.

I have a website but it's a bit clunky at the moment. I'm currently going through templates to give to my designer so he can use them as examples.

I also did it so no one else could snatch the sandracormier.com domain name.

I'd love to have more control over my website but I don't have the expertise yet, and my designer is doing it for free so he can use it in his portfolio. So, it's a win-win situation.

I'll have my most recent release front and centre, then older releases on a separate page. It's kinda like "one stop shopping."

I also link to my blog for those bloggy types to check out.

stephe said...

I'm so glad you asked this question, because I was thinking the same thing and feeling a bit rebellious myself (though I'm not there yet).

Looks like you got some great advice.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

People who blog can't see why websites are necessary. People who don't blog - i.e. the majority of Internet users, surprising though it seems to us bloggers - can be put off by blogs because they don't look like websites. Us blogger-writers are avid readers, and not put off by lots of text on screens. Do remember that lots of people, including those who buy and read books, don't feel the same. I think a simple business-type website, linking to your blog, mirrored by a link from your sidebar to your website, should work fine. (But you will keep your website up to date, won't you? Lots of authors don't, and it's really annoying.)

wordtryst said...

Kaz, I'm so glad I threw the question out instead of just mulling it over. Now I see the other side of the story, and appreciate the essential difference between the blog and the website. Thank you for clarifying this for me. I've decided to go with PJ's suggestion for the moment, but will arrange to get the website up and running.

Chennette, another great idea! I like the idea of the start page where visitors can choose where they want to head. Thank you for the suggestion, and the link!

Flowerpot, yes, I like PJ's idea, and it's the one I'll go with in the short term.

akalol, thanks for the links - and for helping to clarify this issue for me. I'll go have a look around. I'm not too sure what Chennette did - I just remember her domain name and the graphics changed on her site. I'll take a closer look.

Debs, they certainly are, most of them. The website seems to work better if you're looking for straight info, though.

Sandra, that's one of the reasons I balked at the idea of a website: I don't know enough to manage it myself - yet. But I'll learn. And I'll definitely link to the blog.

Stephe, I have my rebellion well in hand now that I've gotten such good advice. That's another plus for the blog - people share their ideas and expertise so generously.

Zinnia, you are right! All that text can indeed be offputting. And I'll try not to be one of those annoying authors with neglected sites! Thank you so much for your insights.

Sometimes I wonder what I did before the blog came along. Thank you everyone! You have all been a great help in getting this sorted out for me.

:)

Matt said...

Liane - Ask your son about moving your blog to Wordpress and search for a template like Cutline.

Like Blogger, it's free. Unlike Blogger, Wordpress templates, or "themes", allow you to make your blog look more like a traditional website.

Here is an example of a friend who uses it revee.wordpress.com. You probably wouldn't even realize that she was using blog software to make the site. She knows next to nothing about HTML.


If you want help, just send me a note on Water the Blog. I'd be happy to set it up for you.

(PLUS: You don't have to link to the blog, because you can put the whole kit and kaboodle onto www.lianespicer.com!)

Kaz Augustin said...

Matt makes a good point. I have my blog, website and podcast page all on Wordpress and they all look different. Wordpress has lots of great and versatile themes and 99% of them are free.

I second the Wordpress suggestion! :)

wordtryst said...

Matt, thanks for the offer. This looks like the perfect answer. I've taken a look at your friend's site and if it's something I can manage myself then I'd go for it.

Question: can I have a sort of dual setup where the blog continues to run on Blogger and simultaneously on the new site? I'm asking because it might take some time for the publisher and other places that are linked to the blog to change over. Also, what happens to the archives? Can I move those over as well?

Kaz, I'd never have guessed your pages were on blog software. I'll definitely look into the Wordpress option.

PBW said...

You're right, I think you achieve the same things a website does here on your blog. I agree with pj, just reserve your domain name and have it redirected here.

I have a website, but I'm considering discontinuing it next year and going with just my blog. The website just kinda sits there, while the blog is more interactive and more folks visit.

wordtryst said...

pbw, thanks for your input. I'll definitely go with pj's suggestion in the short term.

Creative A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Liane - Sorry it took so long for me to reply!

You can indeed import all of your old posts onto your new blog. Not sure about comments, though I suspect you can... I'll have to double-check.

As for maintaining a dual-existence, I would recommend simply adding a post to Blogger that says "Liane Spicer has moved!" and include a link to the new blog.

Again, in the long term I really recommend buying the rights to www.lianespicer.com. It's a pretty inexpensive investment (about $10 a year). Now, that's just the domain. You also need a web host, which you can get something decent for between $5-10 a month. (For my photography website, I use www.westhost.com.)

Again, if you want any help or have any questions, just let me know. You've got my e-mail now. :)