Spring Cleaning for My Author Website

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The view from my apartment patio. I love spending days out here during the spring drinking iced tea and reading on my Kindle.

This is a busy time of year for me. I have two weeks left of the Spring semester for my university learning and teaching, and I have final papers to write and final papers to grade. I’m also working on a newly edited version of Her Dear & Loving Husband to celebrate the novel’s 5th anniversary. I like to do some spring cleaning around the house this time of year, not just dusting behind bookcases where I’ll never see, but I like to weed through my wardrobe, my books, my shoes, and old appliances and donate things I don’t wear or use anymore to the Salvation Army. I’ve become interested in the minimalist movement, and I’ll have more to say about that in a later post.

As I’ve been thinking about my 2016 spring cleaning, I realized that my author website was something I had been sadly neglecting. I’ve said in this post how I learned that author websites should have a landing page to make for easier navigation for visitors, and while I never doubted the value of that advice, I liked having a flowing site where my latest posts were the first thing you’d see. It was simply my personal choice, and I was happy with it. But over the years I’ve learned and grown like everyone else, and I decided to make some changes.

I should begin by saying that I loved the old site. I loved the Gothic feel, the color scheme, and I loved the clean look to it. Too many websites, from authors and others, hurt my aging eyes with the busyness of all those  links, icons, and other doo-dahs. When I decided that my website needed a makeover, the first thing I realized is that I wanted to maintain clean lines while changing things up in a good way. My blog had looked exactly the same since I started it five years ago. It even had the same header—from the cover of Her Dear & Loving Husband—because when I first created the website that’s the only book I had published.

To make some much needed changes, I upgraded my blog theme to Hemingway Rewritten (of course the name Hemingway drew me in, but I think it’s a snazzy looking template anyway). Then I added several of my novels to the header so there’s more of a sense of the various books I’ve written. I simplified my tagline to just ‘Historical Fiction With a Twist.’ Simplicity–that was my keyword for the remodeling. I do, finally, have a landing page that acts as a directory for the site. The blog is still there (obviously, or you wouldn’t be subjected to reading this now), located conveniently in the handy-dandy Blog link in the menu at the top.

I consolidated the links to buy my books with the book descriptions to create one ‘Buy My Books’ page to make it easier for potential buyers to find the purchasing links. Another major change I made was classifying my historical fiction into paranormal historical fiction (The Loving Husband Trilogy), Downton Abbey inspired historical fiction (When It Rained at Hembry Castle), Biblical historical fiction (Woman of Stones), Woman Suffrage and World War I historical fiction (Victory Garden), and American Civil War historical fiction (My Brother’s Battle). This way readers can see at a glance which of my historical novels might be of interest to them. The right sidebar has been cleaned up and now only contains social media links, my too-cool Indie Reader approved logo from IndieReader.com, and website sign up links.

It took me two full days to complete the website (that’s what happens when I’m procrastinating from writing a paper for school), but I’m happy with the final result. As much as I loved the old style, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for readers to navigate the site.

Over time I’ve learned that my author website is my online home, and I highly recommend one for all authors. We want to give our readers a designated place to find out more about our books, about us, and I’ve learned that the more personal we can be on our author websites, the more we can connect with our readers. I’ve said before that readers want to know who the man or woman is behind the curtain. Our author website gives us a way to share more of ourselves in a way that feels comfortable. If you’re new to my online home, welcome! If you’re a returning friend, I hope you like the redecorating.

I love spring cleaning. You never know what undiscovered treasures you might find if you’re willing to open yourself up to trying out new things.

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