SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

What are you most pressing author website questions?

Discussion started on

Hey everyone! I'm working on building a (free) resource for children's book makers who are wanting to build and/or improve their websites (but maybe have tight budgets of time and/or money). For the most part the information I have found out there about author websites is geared towards all types of authors in general. I'd like to specifically help children's book authors as we have our own unique needs. ::-)

So, help me help YOU... what are some of your most pressing questions, doubts, and frustrations about author websites? I've been making notes of questions I've seen pop up in these boards but just wanted to check and make sure there aren't any new questions out there. Is there something you wish you knew how to do better? Is there something that you hate about building a website that you wish would be easier? Is there a cloud of mystery hovering over some specific aspect? Think hosting, content, strategy, design, maintenance, you name it...

All comments and questions are welcome and valid!
#1 - January 24, 2017, 01:49 AM
workingtitlestudio.com

Maybe you could talk about how children's book authors can walk the fine line between promoting their work while NOT advertising to children (which is illegal).
#2 - January 24, 2017, 07:34 AM
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD
author/psychologist
www.EileenKennedyMoore.com
www.GrowingFriendshipsBlog.com *For parents
www.DrFriendtastic.com *FOR KIDS!

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region sandiego
Hi Lindsey! What a wonderful service. (First, what did you mean by "children's book makers?" [Publishers?] I wasn't clear on that.) When I visit the sites of authors who write for children, I like to see something visually compelling, or at least, something pleasing that welcomes me into the site. One of my frustrations is white text on black background. The eye is not trained for that. Or, a jumble of pictures or multitude of fonts in various colors. My eyes don't know where to settle. So, visuals first. Then, content. It's always nice to hear how they broke into publishing. I love craft talk. In terms of my own site--do I even need one? There are two camps for people who are published vs unpublished. Costs dictate I build it myself. I give up design options (really important to me) for ease. WordPress leaves me like:  :twitch :aah :twitch

Then, there's hosting. Which host should I choose to not shortchange me in the future? What I hate about building a website is the jargon. I know not what they mean. As writing is my priority, how much time would I need to spend in building up a following/presence? What kind of content would feel fresh and not done eleventy-million times? I could go on and on! But won't.
#3 - January 24, 2017, 08:01 AM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region midsouth
LadySlipper touched on what I was going to mention.

I've had the same website host for about ten years and have been happy with it. (It's free and doesn't require any advertising on my site.) But this past fall, my site was down for about two weeks and it looked like maybe my host was no longer going to be an option. (Turned out they were just doing a major revamping, but I didn't know that.) So during that time frame, I was scrambling around trying to find what was the best alternative hosting site. If you provided a list of hosting options, with the pros and cons of each, with objective comparisons among them, that would be a wonderful resource to children's authors who are trying to figure out where to set up their website.

Sounds like what you're hoping to provide will be a terrific service, Lindsey! Thank you in advance.
#4 - January 24, 2017, 08:19 AM

Thanks for the feedback, and keep it coming!

Maybe you could talk about how children's book authors can walk the fine line between promoting their work while NOT advertising to children (which is illegal).

Great suggestion I hadn't even thought about that! Mostly because I wouldn't think to advertise to the kids since the parents do the buying... but then again I guess if you get the kids to bug the parents enough you might have a shot. :/ Thanks for the idea!

(First, what did you mean by "children's book makers?" [Publishers?] I wasn't clear on that.)

Great question. "Makers" was my way of saying authors and illustrators. Personally I think the person who writes AND the person who draws are both the authors (of PB's) but thought makers was a bit more encompassing. Just a personal jargon thing I guess.

As writing is my priority, how much time would I need to spend in building up a following/presence?

Great question I didn't have this one on my list before.

So during that time frame, I was scrambling around trying to find what was the best alternative hosting site. If you provided a list of hosting options, with the pros and cons of each, with objective comparisons among them, that would be a wonderful resource to children's authors who are trying to figure out where to set up their website.

Oh no! I definitely think this is super important. Who has time to research all of the different options?? Nobody, that's who. Well, except me because I want to save everybody else time :) Thanks for the suggestion!

Sounds like what you're hoping to provide will be a terrific service, Lindsey! Thank you in advance.

I'm so glad you think so! It hurts my heart to see authors struggling with website stuff when what I really want them to be doing is making more awesome books for us all to enjoy, so I'm anxious to help lighten the load in any way I can! :)
#5 - January 24, 2017, 09:06 AM
workingtitlestudio.com

Thanks, Lindsay.

A couple of questions:

1)  How do you choose a hosting site and how much should you pay them?

2)  If you invite children to send you not only comments but also creative stuff to participate in website activities, should you require them or their parents to sign a release form relieving you of responsibility in case they believe you stole one of their ideas?  A literary lawyer strongly advised me to BEWARE of setting up an interactive site for children. She said I'd spend all my time fending off lawsuits. But that's what I want to do, have a site directed at kids, not at other writers.

Thanks so much,
Gatz
#6 - January 24, 2017, 09:45 AM
SurfYourOwnMind.com, children's creativity blog currently in development.

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region houston
My biggest question is, how can you taylor a site to a wide variety of writing? I am submitting PB and MG and have a YA...and I'd like to have just one website. How can I appeal to all of that? (My current website is geared toward YA, and I'm nervous to add it to my Bio to send out on queries because it doesn't look like the website of a picture book writer.)
#7 - January 24, 2017, 12:05 PM

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region sandiego
amber--great question! I have the same conundrum.
#8 - January 24, 2017, 12:10 PM

Great questions everyone!

How do you choose a hosting site and how much should you pay them?

I will definitely be including this question in my resource.

If you invite children to send you not only comments but also creative stuff to participate in website activities, should you require them or their parents to sign a release form relieving you of responsibility in case they believe you stole one of their ideas?

This is a little out of my wheelhouse as it's more on the legal side but I wonder if there's a creative solution anyway... What age are the kids you're trying to reach? Because if they're young it's possible that they will need their parents to get them to the site in the first place so even though kids will be interacting with your site in the sense that they'll come up with stuff to send, wouldn't they still be going through their parents? If so it'd be easy to add a quick disclaimer to cover you legally. That was just the first thing that comes to mind but I think it's a really interesting discussion topic that probably deserves its own thread. I'd like to know more about your audience and vision for this interactivity.

My biggest question is, how can you taylor a site to a wide variety of writing? I am submitting PB and MG and have a YA...and I'd like to have just one website. How can I appeal to all of that? (My current website is geared toward YA, and I'm nervous to add it to my Bio to send out on queries because it doesn't look like the website of a picture book writer.)

Ooooh great question and I can definitely help with this! I will go into more detail in my resource but the super duper short answer to this would be that you focus on the common thread... which is YOU.

In other words, when people land on your website they should know they're landing on the site of an author who happens to write for various ages and genres. You're not selling a certain type of writing, but instead you're selling the idea of you as an author. Does that make sense? The homepage will be key to making it clear that people can access various types of your writing and then each of the different sections of your site can be customized to cater to each style... then you can send people direct links so they dive right into the section you want them to see.

That's the umbrella answer anyway :)

If anyone thinks of more questions, please send them my way!
#9 - January 30, 2017, 02:56 AM
workingtitlestudio.com

With regard to the legal issues around dealing with children accessing your content, in the US the main law to be aware of is COPPA - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children%27s_Online_Privacy_Protection_Act

Most websites simply will not allow any type of membership or interaction for children under 13 years old. Most of the main social media sites restrict access to people of 13 years or over in order to comply with the law. What is important is to clearly state what information you will be gathering and how it will be used.

http://www.adweek.com/digital/social-media-minimum-age/
#10 - February 16, 2017, 12:11 AM
Frequency - Design for Authors
https://www.frequency.ie

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.