I’ve been crafting this blog in my mind for weeks and then today, my blog was hijacked by Abby.
I had it all planned out. I completed my research, aligned my information points and was prepared to deliver you the hard facts on creating the perfect author website. I had a series of blogs planned in order to share my experience as a writer, who, in denial of the times, was holding to the statement that I didn’t need a website. I would chronical how I finally caved to logic and I was going to use my blog to share what I’ve learned and will learn through this adventure so that other authors may embark on creating their own website.
All good intentions, until my husband’s cell phone rang today and after checking the call display he handed the phone to me, a confused expression across his face. I then saw my good friend’s number on the screen and I knew something had to be terribly wrong. If my friend was calling my husband’s cell that meant she really needed to find me. I was outside planting trees and I’d deliberately left my phone in the house because I was not the veterinarian on call.
1st PERSONAL TRUTH I MUST OWN – I have been in denial of technology for a very long time. I refused to carry a cell phone for years, so the thought of embracing an author website was ludicrous. I figured I would wait until I was published and then let my publisher or my agent or someone else create one for me. But here is the flaw in this thought process, along with excellent writing, a great story and perseverance, the publishers of today are looking to you as the author to promote yourself and engage with your readers through technology, so you need a website and if someone else completely creates it for you, it will never truly be yours.
WEBSITE LESSON #1 – Create a website that reflects your own personal brand. You need to define your brand and then base every decision on this brand; from your fonts, your images and the information you have available to the reader. Your reader should know what you are about the moment they land on your site.
Abby, my friend’s eleven year old golden retriever has these engaging eyes, loves any attention, has a soft nose to pop up under your arm in order to beg for pets or continued play and is always a willing partner to jump in the lake or catch a ball. Last year she started to have seizures and through the help of the neurology service at the Ontario Veterinary College, they diagnosed and treated a brain tumour. Abby did amazing and every day since the completion of her radiation treatment has been a blessing and these bonus months afforded her family the time they needed to come to terms with the fact that Abby wouldn’t be with them forever. But, no matter how long you get with a loved one, it is never long enough.
Today I spent the day with Abby and my friend on the very worst day her family has seen in a very long time. What this experience has taught me is that my brand is about celebrating the bond we share with our precious animals. In inviting my friend and her family to come to our home to say their good bye to their dear friend, Abby, I embraced the very best of what I do and what I write about.
2nd PERSONAL TRUTH I MUST OWN – Doing anything well is about knowing how to complete each sequential step to the best of your ability in order to weave together the desired experience.
For Abby, who had a devastating seizure this afternoon that left her unable to walk or run or chase a ball, it was clear to her family that her quality of life had been stolen. Today was about doing what I do best. Her family gathered together on our lawn, sunlight streaming down to warm Abby’s poorly perfused limbs, a medical procedure practiced with precision down to one single needle poke to place an intravenous catheter. Sedation given painlessly into the line with private time for the family to stroke her coat as her breathing slowed. A Magnolia tree planted over her carefully selected resting place to bloom every spring as a stunning reminder of her gentle spirit. Their youngest daughter pushing a solar powered light into the fresh dirt at the base of the tree. A matching light sent home for the girls to light up their own sister tree that they will bury in their back yard in the city.
WEBSITE LESSON #2 – If you embark to create your own website, there are a number of core requirements, simple parts that make up the greater experience. Your simple steps should include the following; an ‘about you’ page (for your bio, and professional head shot), a page dedicated to your writing (professional cover photos of your books or published stories, with biographies for each work), a contact form, remember, you created this website for engagement, don’t hide from readers and links to your social media – ‘click here to follow me on Facebook’ or ‘click here to follow me on Twitter’.
3rd PERSONAL TRUTH I MUST OWN – The photo at the head of this article is Abby in her youth with my god-daughter. For the past many years, Abby has done me a great service. She’s been watching over my god-daughter. Our families don’t live close enough to see each other daily, so thankfully, Abby has been there to fetch the ball, to cuddle up in tearful moments and to eat the things off my god-daughters plate that she didn’t like.
I imagine Abby now, in this Fairy like state, carrying her ball around in mouth; perfect bliss. The final personal truth I must own, is that I couldn’t help Abby to live forever but what I could do was help Abby to have a good death. I helped to make her passing as easy and as peaceful as possible for Abby and her family. My experience today has reminded me that I have special gifts that enable me to help others in the worst of times and that even though I will never be a technology whiz, I bet I can find the people I need to help me design an amazing author website.
WEBSITE LESSON #3 – You can do this on your own or hire a professional. If you elect to create your own site, there are resources like WORDPRESS. There are articles on how to use this do it yourself website creation tool and many testimonials to how easy and engaging this site is for helping you to create your own.
I’ve spent the last fifteen years refining my veterinary skills to celebrate the human animal bond and so this author/veterinarian is planning, with the knowledge I’ve gained from my research and my experience helping Abby and her family, to hire a professional to help me create my author website. In my next blog I hope to share how my website has come to life.
FINAL PEARLS TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR AUTHOR WEBSITE;
– make your site clear and uncluttered
– be sure your site is easy to navigate – with an easy to find and follow toolbar
– use action colours to highlight important information
– have a bio page – get a professional headshot
– make your site unique and include engaging content
– give a little inside scoop – share something the reader can only find on your site – maybe share the inspiration for a pivotal character?
– answer the most frequently asked questions – for example – the order of your books if they are in a sequence
– offer a way for readers to contact you – you want to encourage engagement (what if an agent or publisher or bookseller is trying to find you?
– be sure to share links to other social media
– and always – make sure to share how readers can find your work – name the bookstore, links to amazon etc.
In conclusion, my website will need to reflect my personal brand. When someone lands on my site, they should immediately understand that I write about special companions like Abby and the place they hold in our hearts and our memories.
Abby, you will be dearly missed.
Donna Judy Curtin
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