hapax legomenon

Dear Internet,
I’m procrastinating terribly. I have to finish (well, to be truthful, start) my homework for How Writers Write Fiction 2015, I have a review to write for Nerd Underground, I have a few reviews I need to get up for No Flying, No Tights.  PLUS! I have to possibly do some homework for a coding project I’ve been working on (waiting to find out if I’m in the group needing to complete this or not), prep for NaNoWriMo, Plus look for jobs, do yoga1, shower, and god knows what else I need to do today.
It doesn’t help I didn’t wake up until nearly 13:00.
My sleep has been off kilter these last two weeks and it shouldn’t come as any big surprise. I go to bed at a reasonable hour but getting up seems awful and terrible. I want to cozy down with Teddy2 and sleep the day away. But I get up eventually and do my things.
But today I procrastinate.

Monday I received a phone call from a local university if my references check out, they will be scheduling a phone interview. An email showed up today with the available times. I whooped and hollered about said email. I’ll be back in Louisville sometime this weekend and fingers crossed (and other appendages) I get this gig. The tuition remission is amazing: Up to 18 credit hours a semester. This could mean I could go for a third masters in Art History, or Writing, or something else completely. I can get a third bachelors in Italian or French. I am salivating at the thought.
Obviously, I need another degree.
Leaving my last position was of my own making, which isn’t really a determent on how I feel about the last 18 months. Really. But if I get this gig, that app would have been 160th CV I’ve sent this year. If I don’t get this gig, I’ll start applying in January when the academic cycle starts again.
I’m more thrilled at the thought of living on my own! Paying my own bills again! Having money to buy things! You know, all the good stuff.

Several of TheBassist’s friends got in touch with me in the last few days and well, it’s been good for my soul to sort things out. Some things were confirmed about what I assumed and made a small tear in my heart. But he has been adamant with them, and with me, I was his one and only and I take small pleasures with that information. I’m not so angry as I thought I should be because as I said, I was also party to this game. I can’t fault him too much, though I have tried.
I said to one of his friends:

I love him and I’ll always be in love with him. But I fell apart (not because of him, but it didn’t help) and I need to gain my whole self back. If he comes back, he does. If he doesn’t, well, he doesn’t. And I’m ok with that.

At the crux of it all will remain true for a very long time.
Meditation and yoga has been helping, which is a big part of the reason I’m not flying around on my broom stick wanting to physically eviscerate him. I feel pretty good actually! Not the, “I will say I’m feeling good and I don’t,” kind but the, “You know life is pretty okay at the moment. This was a temporary set-back and I will recover from it” kind.
What is bothering to me, and I think is worthy to be bothered about, was his direct request to tell him when I disappear from his life (which I took to assume he meant off of Facebook — because you know, it’s my “preferred method of communication”). So I told him. And the way Facebook works, much like texting, you can see if someone read your message or not. He hasn’t. I’ve been banished to the otherworld, much as he did to me before, much as he did to the women pre-me. As I mentioned this in previous posts, I get the radio silence — I’m his “kryptonite.” He often reiterated he could quit a lot of things but he couldn’t quit me. He even alluded and remarked on the break-up call he’s not too bright when it comes to leaving me alone and we very well could pick up future endeavors.
I write to understand, to look for patterns, to soothe my feelings. I will have to accept it is what it is and not anything more. There are a million and one reasons he said what he did (to break it gently, to be cruel). I hope not to continue on this path of naval gazing in regards to him. Not much more can be said or done at this point. I’ve aired my dirty laundry, I’ve done what I can to soothe myself on the past, present, and future.
Plus, I promised Krazy Kate I wouldn’t turn this from a post here or there to a fucking book.
So there’s that.

I’ve started to get excited for the Louisville move. It will be nice to see my things again, have my clothes in drawers and hung up in the closet. To unpack my books, put together my Lego MINI, to have a desk again and not sitting on these hard ass barstools as I’ve been wont to do these last two months. (Two months! Jesus.)
Louisville is becoming a lovely city, everything Grand Rapids is slowly becoming. There are a lot of active groups around town, a great music scene, bourbon, and great food. There is, of course, my requisite Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (someone has to keep me up to cookie and cocoa swirl cookie butter. Delicious with pretzels).
TheExHusband lives in a condo downtown, which makes getting to a lot of things by foot. He’s around the corner from the soccer stadium, we caught a few games this summer, which also cheers me up. Plus the food. Did I mention the food? One of my favorite breakfast places ever is located on the first floor of his building.
So while I like Louisville but not really love it, it will be a good chance to kickstart my life. Which is more than I could ask for.

NaNoWriMo kicks off on Sunday and I’m going to wholeheartedly do it this year. (Ignore the 13 years, according to my profile, I have tried to “win” and never did.) I’ve been working on my Edwardian mystery during the Writer How To class and I’ve learned quite a bit on writing, structuring, and plotting. The first chapter, or so, sounds loads better than the first draft I started all those months ago. I’ve been plotting, in my head, how I want this story to flow and I think, hopefully, possibly, I can get it kicked off again.

I stretched a truth, more about TheBassist:
He attempted to argue, and I disagreed, he’s not a factor in my life. He’s holding me back. But knowing him, as I know him, if he check’s up on me, and see’s everything is going swell in my new locale, it will cement his desire not to contact me. He would be a determent to my life, he’d think, and I vehemently disagree on, even with his bad faults I swung around like a bat, there is so much he has given me; he IS a part of my life and I’d want him to share my success with him and hopefully we could work out the downsides.
Wishful thinking.
P.S. 1. Yoga circuit is as follows: Circuit 1: Greeting post, mountain pose (30 seconds each, rotated through 3 reps). Circuit 2: Superman, cobra, hare, diamond, and dancing shiva poses (15 seconds each, rotate through until completed 3 reps). Circuit 3: Shoulder/pec stretch (30 seconds each, 3 reps) and calf stretches, each leg, 30 seconds each, 3 reps.
2. Yes, I am a 43 year old woman who sleeps with her 40 year old teddy.

P.P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 1998

Read. Write. Everyday.

Dear Internet,
Rules on how to be a successful writer are as fluid as how to be a successful librarian. Everyone and their sixteen cousins has an opinion on what the “right” or “correct” way to get ahead in this tough industry. I’ve been reading blogs, books, magazines on/about writing for years and the only consistent everyone agrees upon is:

Read. Write. Everyday.

That’s the easy part. Now that’s done, you start asking harder questions such as: Where to submit? How to submit? Should I go indie or should I go traditional? How do I invoice for work? How do I do X,Y,Z? What kind of coffee should I be drinking? Should I brush my teeth today? I mean, there are a fuck ton of questions and ten times the answers.
It’s overwhelming. Confusing. Often contradictory. No wonder people give up.
I’m friends with a lot of writers: some who are traditionally published, others who are indie, and others yet who a hybrid of the two. Most write fiction, some also write in other areas such as articles for news sites, non-fiction, graphic novels, and everything in between. Some dabble in other arts or may have a job or a career in a field not related to their work. But the common thread between all of them is that like librarianship, calling yourself a “writer” really on scratches the surface. It can mean anything and everything in one go.
You write? You’re a writer. Simple. It’s great if you have a tight story and your prose is perfect, but unless you’re content to write for yourself and not have the world see your work, this is the hard shit. The difficult shit. Writing is actually the easy part, it’s the admin work that kills you.
Since I have the opportunity to quit my full time job and write fiction for a year, one thing that is important to me was transparency. Here is what I did, this is what worked and what didn’t. This is what I’ll do again, and this is where else I’ll go. All the gory, juicy, and miserable stuff that no one wants to talk about. And to make sure it is without bullshit. Because I swear to all the gods in the sky, if I stumble across one more author’s site hawking their classes and wares with borderline exploitative pricing, I am going to scream.


It’s been nearly a year, to the day, that I wrote this and in light of what I wrote yesterday, it seemed apropos to post. And it’s a swift kick in the pants to keep my word on the transparency of the projects.

This week in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2003, 2000

in which we have reading and writing adventures

Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, Rutland (LOC)
Barker at the grounds at the Vermont state fair, circa 1941. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,
It’s a long, lovely holiday weekend and I’m digging into my stack of books, aided by hot tea, for entertainment. Since my own book has stalled, I thought it would be a good time to take notes on the books I’m reading to see what worked and what didn’t and apply it to, hopefully, jump start my own writing as well to see what makes me happy reading. (AKA, these notes are mainly more for me than you, but hey, if you get something out of it; Awesome!)
The number one rule you’ll see anywhere on writing is, “read more,” but is that all? Yes and no. Below are some of my notes from chewing through a few books this weekend.
If influenced by a particular era, do the research. In reading a book set during the Belle Époque (France’s version of the Edwardian era / American Gilded age), the book should have a feel for that period. This one did not and it felt what details were made available were slapped on from Wikipedia. Just no.
Alternating POV should move the story along, not show the same scene from different prescriptive.  Thus far, I’ve finished three books this weekend, of which two used alternating POV as a story device. One used it well to advance the story, spending less time on recreating the setting, while the other not so much. In the second, I felt as if the author was slapping my hand for not getting something right so they had to tell me again.
Chapters are not always necessary. Yes, they break up the scenes and action, but if done stealthy, the shift between could remain seamless without the use of chapters. Chapters may be like periods, pauses to break up the scenes, but are not necessary. Terry Pratchett was the king of lack of chapters. In one of the books I read this weekend, the switching happened with the alternating points of view and was so seamless, it took me half the book to realise there were no chapters.
The length of a book, by page number, does not necessitate how good it is. The ones on the longer side are more than likely just like to hear themselves read. Get it? (They all can’t be winners.) One book I’ve read recently, and was quite good, was a slim 150 pages. Another book that was pure dreck clocked in at 400. Length does not mean everything, as much as we like to believe.
Give the book an old college try and read the first 50 pages. I’ll go out on a limb and say this applies to writing as well; if you can’t make the story palatable within the first 50 pages, neither will your readers. And readers? There are too many good books for you to read terrible ones.
If heavily using phrases of a language that isn’t your primary language or the colloquialisms of a particular thing, include an appendix of sorts. It’s presumptuous to think your readers are going to have the same breadth of knowledge on the same topic you’re writing about. An aforementioned book set in the Belle Époque period heavily used ballet terms and dropped French like it was ice cream sprinkles. This makes sense because this was the subject matter, BUT if you aren’t familiar with ballet or spoke even rudimentary French, a lot of what was happening with the characters would be lost on you. Yes, I get it, we learn by reading outside our comfort zone but there is a difference between needing to look up “demagogue” and wondering what in the hell is “battement développé” and having translate.google.com by your side.
There were a few more main things I forgot to write down, but this is the gist of it. So it is true, the more you read, the more you learn. Hrm.
P.S. Last winter I decided to put together a newsletter for those who read my stuff but can’t be arsed to check it out daily (no worries, I get it, I do!) so this is a monthly round up. I’ve decided to resurrect it again! Called Skaldic Press Presents, you can check out the archive here (http://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator/archive) and subscribe here (https://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator).
P.P.S. There are GIFs involved!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2014, 2000, 1999

Writer How To: my writer website part ii

Dear Internet,
On Sunday I talked about what authors should (and shouldn’t) have on their websites, yesterday I broke down the branding, design, and infrastructure of my own author website, and today I am going to discuss main navigation and why I set it up this way, child pages, what’s left to do on my author site, and base plugins you should use for your own WordPress site.
Here is the landing page of my author site again:
Let’s take a look at the main navigation, homebiofictionother writingblog, and contact. Each of these links are to the minimum pages an author should have as I mentioned on Sunday.
Home will bring you back to the main page.
ProTip: If you include an image header on your page, make it a clickable link back to your main page. This way if people get lost in your site, they have an easy way to get back to the beginning.
Bio will contain the short and extended about me along with a headshot of some kind. 
Fiction will contain all the fiction work (short stories, novels, novellas, etc) with links to purchase or to read.
Other writing will link to mainly non-fiction and academic works. 
Blog will take you directly to EPbaB.
Contact will take you to a contact form.
ProTip: I’ve heard both sides of the story on whether or not to keep a contact form. One argument is that it creates a barrier with your readers, can get confusing, and you’re not entirely sure if the form was sent or not. My personal experience, having managed websites other than my own with contact forms, is you’re more apt to get people writing in using the form rather than if you provide a simple email link. I will more than likely include an email link on the form itself to give people the option.
ProTip 2: Interestingly, the sites I looked at for Sunday’s piece had a lot of the writer’s putting their reps as the contacts but no way to directly contact the writers themselves. “For foreign rights, email joeschmoe@you.com. For media inquiries email yourmom@thejeez.com.” I thought that was interesting.
Let’s take a look at one of the child pages.
childpage copy
I’ve clicked on other writing. We know the link we’ve clicked on takes us to the right page by a few clues. The first clue is the word other writing in the navigation bar is now white instead of grey. Second clue is the breadcrumb shows us where we are, and thirdly, we have a header that tells us on what page we’re on.
As far as design goes, all the child pages will look identical to this one. We have our main navigation at the top so we can bounce around. Our header image from the landing page has been resized to fit comfortably and allow content without (much) scrolling. The right hand sidebar has the same content as the landing page sidebar. The main content box is easy to read and links are easy to find. Header text  is obvious and tells us what the page will contain. Lastly, we have a sharing bar that allows us to share the content across various social networks.
ProTip: I debated on having a share option on these pages since they will remain mostly static, but thought it might be useful if I write a trillion short stories and someone wants a printable version or share it with their BFFs across the social sphere. This is another plugin within Jetpack that allows you to cherry pick social networks you can share across. Plus I get annoyed when I find a page that does not have sharing enabled, so better turned on then turned off.
Now that we’ve got the main infrastructure in place and a design we like, let’s sum it up:

  • We have (potentially) cohesive design that works with my other sites
  • Each site is clearly identifiable of what it is and links to its brethren
  • The design and structure are responsive and mobilized
  • The layout and navigation clear and easy to use
  • Pages are well marked
  • Typography is pleasing easy on the eyes, link colors are bold

Over the course of a week I’ve put about five to six hours of work in with a couple more hours left to go. Since most of the work was design and infrastructure, the least bit is content which should take less time but in my case, I’m importing all the writing works over from EPbaB to the author site for consistency, so that’s taking a bit longer.
What’s left for me to do:

  • Fill out content of child pages
  • Flesh out widgets in right hand sidebar
  • Check for grammar and spelling errors as well as verb consistency
  • Tweak accessibility
  • Export over to live site

Now that we’ve got the site in place, content sorted, let’s talk about the base plugins we can use to make the site even better.

  • Jetpack for WordPress has over 30 plugins in one beautiful package. I use the following: contact form, custom CSS, enhanced distribution, extra sidebar widgets, JSON API, mobile theme, monitor, notifications, omnisearch, publicize, sharing, shortcode embeds, site verification, spelling and grammar, subscriptions, wp.me shortlinks, widget visibility, and wordpress.com stats. A lot of these plugins have variations available individually on WordPress’s site, but I like knowing that Jetpack is constantly updated, added to, and guaranteed to work with the latest versions of WordPress itself.
  • All In One SEO Pack Search Engine Optimization is how web crawlers find you, index you, and then report back when people are searching for you. While the metrics and math can get complex, you can significantly increase your traffic by following a few simple SEO rules. This plugin does the work for you. Here is why you should use it: a few months ago I was wondering what other writer’s sites looked like, so I did some basic keyword searching and found — nothing. Well, almost nothing. Today while thinking about the same search, I wondered if there would be a difference if I swapped out the term “writer” for “author” and the answer turned out be a surprising fuck yes. I also duplicated near same results in Bing.
    This tells me a lot. One, it tells me how Google (and Bing) are indexing content. Two, it tells me even if a writer type person doesn’t use the word “author” anywhere on their website, or metadata, to be indexed, Google and Bing still sort them out as “authors” and list them under that search term  but not under “writer.” The search engine derivatives of “writer” seemingly refer to magazines, goods, and services. So if you prefer the term writer to author, this could hurt you in terms of SEO. Now most people interchange author/writer, but there is apparently a difference with the gist referring to a writer as someone who technically writes whatever (just as a baker bakes) while an author is someone who comes up with the ideas and plans to execute the writing. Someone can apparently be both. Another argument is a writer is someone who is unpaid while an author is a paid professional.
    Whatever you believe or agree with, the bottom line is if you want to make sure you’re getting properly indexed, you need to use SEO to make sure all of your bases are covered so use author/writer in your SEO markup even if you use only one term in your content.
  • Breadcrumb NavXT The easiest and most complete way to set up breadcrumbs on your site.
  • Broken Link Checker Nothing more annoying than going to a site, clicking on a link and discovering it was dead. This plugin actively scans your links (internal and external) and reports back which links are broken and with what kind of errors. Super handy to use and makes your site look a million times more profesh since you can clean up errors and change links from across the site in a single page .
  • Google XML Sitemaps One way to make your site easily indexed by any search engine, on top of SEO, is by having a XML sitemap on the ready. This plugin generates a new XML sitemap based upon your specifications, which can get pretty in-depth. It automatically notifies Google and Bing of any updates.
  • Analytics How are people finding you? How many page views are you getting a day? How many visitors have you had? Jetpack comes bundled with its own analytics, but you may want to use another one or two more as not all analytics software are created equal. I use Google Analytics (which is part of Google Webmaster Tools) and StatCounter.

This has been a quick and dirty walk through on getting a simple author website up and running that is not only informative but eye catching as well. There is a lot more (isn’t there always?), but this should give you a good understanding of why things are done a certain way and access to tools that can accomplish your goals.

This Day in Lisa-Universe:  2010

Writer How To: my writer website part i

Dear Internet,
It seemed only fair after I doled out all that advice yesterday, I should show you the money. I’m going to throw down my author’s website, software and apps I use, as well as design thoughts and more.
As I mentioned yesterday, TheHusband suggested I keep my author site separate from Exit, Pursued by a Bear (where you’re located at now) and my librarian site. I agreed. However, since I am going to have three sites to maintain, they all need to be consistent and relate to each other in some fashion.
A couple of years ago, I designed business cards using the image of three year old me holding a phone as the main graphic, which was also the main header image at EPbaB for a long time. The cards were a huge success when I handed them out and people easily remembered who I was later on. Since it was time to make new cards, I expanded on that idea and decided to use the same concept across my sites.
(If you click on the images, it will open up a new tab with a larger image for greater detail.)
Exit, Pursued by a Bear – Online Journal (Theme: Mon Cahier child)
Cunning Tales From A Systems Librarian – Librarian Site (Theme: Elucidate)
Lisa Rabey – Writer (Theme: Arcade Basic)
The only site I’m not 100% happy with is my librarian site, which I will futz more with later. There are also couple of other things I can do to make all three sites more cohesive, but the idea is there and I like where this is going. The Lisa Rabey Empire is coming to fruition!
Now that I know how I’m branding the author site, I played with the freely available themes at WordPress until I found one that would work for my needs and required as little hacking as possible.
ProTip: I exported a  year’s worth of entries from EPbaB and imported them into the test site to see how the theme handled a wide variety of posts and formating.
I looked for a theme that allowed: Custom header, adding breadcrumbs easily, two column so I could have a sidebar, and top navigation bar that wouldn’t get lost when you scrolled. I like white backgrounds with no textures, and I wanted something that was eye popping. It also had to work mobilized via the Jetpack for WordPress plugin. I settled on Arcade Basic.
ProTip: As someone who likes things quick and to the point, Jetpack for WordPress is one of the best plugins you could install and make your life insanely easy. I know a lot of my more advanced WordPress/coding friends are not a fan of this plugin for a variety of reasons, but as someone who wants no fuss, no muss and ease to use? This thing is a godsend.
When you land at my author’s site, you see a young Lisa with her pops as the landing graphic. There is a top navigation bar for home, bio, fiction, other writing, blog, and contact. Here is all the basic information I mentioned yesterday clearly listed and easy to find.
In the middle of the landing page is a box that says See More. When you click on it, it jumps down to the second half of the landing page where there is additional content (there is also a scroll bar in the right hand side if you want to use that instead).
ProTip: I’m not crazy about the wording of “see more” so I may just change it to something else, which will be easy enough.
Excuse my rudimentary Photoshop.
The navigation bar stayed in place when we hopped down the page, which is why even though I know a lot of people hate these giant graphic landing pages, I loved this one because you don’t lose your navigation.
The main content box is a quick about me / this site. There is also a search box, social media links, and a news feed.
ProTip: Having learned my lesson trying to maintain blogs across variety of sites, I found a work around that allows me to keep this site looking like it’s constantly updated without stress by using the Appearance->Widgets->RSS widget within WordPress. Every category and tag in WordPress has its own RSS feed, so I can pull a specific feeds to show up in this particular widget box. There is no limit to the number of RSS widgets you can use. For the news widget, I mark all my writing stuff under the “writing” category  on EPbaB and the feed is pushed on the author site. I do the same thing on the my librarian site, under recent posts in the sidebar, which has its own category for the very same reason.
To recap: I write everything on EPbaB and the RSS feed for a specific category are fed to specific sites based on feed name. If people are interested in the whole shebang of the blog, they can click on blog in the top navigation.
I wanted two columns because I need the ability to add/remove things as necessary for whatever reason without losing the main content box or forcing people to scroll to the bottom. When I get a newsletter up and running, books to buy, or whatever, it will go in the right hand side bar. Additionally, Jetpack has a feature that allows you to show certain widgets on certain types of pages for more customization.
Tomorrow we’re going to look at the main navigation and why I set it up this way, child pages, what’s left to do on my author site, and base plugins you should use for your WordPress site.
P.S. As my author site is not live quite yet, but I do link to it, so if you find a broken link, that’s why.

This day in Lisa-Universe:

Writer How To: the writer’s website

Dear Internet,
This is a bit of a chicken and the egg conundrum: Do I write a bit on the launch my new writers’ site and then talk about what went into it or do I write about the influences and decision making  first?
I decided to go with the egg first.
One thing I wanted to get done immediately on this new career of mine, even if it was damned near empty, was my writer site. TheHusband suggested, and I agreed, that having a site dedicated to my work would make my life easier in the long run rather than trying to shove everything under the EPBaB banner or tossing it over in my librarian profesh site.
While I’ve always mentally noted what I’ve liked or didn’t like when I came across an writer’s site, I wanted to see what others thought. A couple of weeks ago, I started asking around the Internet what people liked / didn’t like / expected on their favorite writer’s websites. Do writers need one and if so, what should they include on it?
A couple of days later, Katie Dunneback asked the same thing with the intent to write a piece on the results. She and I more or less got the same responses which could best be summed up as:

Short answer: Yes. Everything but the kitchen sink.

Long answer:
(Italicized is Katie’s round up, non-italicized is my addendums)

  • Information about upcoming releases
    • Synopsis, book trailers, ways to get ARCs
  • Excerpts from past, current, and upcoming releases
  • Publication history about previously published works whether they are currently in print or not* – double points for printable (we librarians have patrons who still really prefer getting a piece of paper from us)
    • Sorted by format: Short stories, novels, novellas, and so forth. Also break out non-fiction work from your fiction work. If your work has been published online, links to to the work.
  • Reading order information for series* (this includes “you don’t have to read these in order!”) – again, printable
    • If you write under multiple names for multiple works, make sure the sites connect or list everything in one site
    • Also, book club information would be grand
  • Contact information* – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, other social media du jour, email (maybe I’d like to book you for a program if I were to book programs for my library), newsletter sign up link/form
    • At the very, VERY least, a newsletter and email form for contact. Many of my friends said they mainly follow people on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr but like Katie points out, having email form for contact is great.
    • Newsletter is fantastic if you don’t plan on writing a blog or have a news page
  • Biography – @surlyspice suggests two: 1 brief and 1 expanded
  • Every cover that your book has ever had
  • Direct links to where to buy your books
    • Not just to your publisher, but also any retailer (online or brick and mortar) that sells them and or you want supported
  • Events /Appearances (online and off)
  • Influences or “you may like me because”
  • News page. Example: “I just sold the rights to Three Blind Mice to Germany — here is the new cover.” “I have a new story coming out in Fairytales Unlimited, you can read it here.” “I’ve been nominated for a Locas, Hugo, and Wednesday awards. Please go vote for me.”
  • Blog. If not integrated into your site, at least a link from your site to the blog, and a link on your blog back to your site.
  • Awards won and reviews
  • Periodically updated
  • Press kit (bio, selected list of works, professional grade headshot)
  • FAQ page
  • Easy to navigate, content is easy to read

The very bare bones site should contain: about (this site), bio (brief/extended), list of works, sorted by format; contact info. If you’re on social media, make sure to link to those sites. Same with a blog. Readers build relationships with the writers just as much as they do with characters of the stories they are reading. Some have said that the less they know about writer, the less likely they would be read more of their works.
With that in mind, I decided to poll the last 20 writers I have or am currently reading from my GoodReads account to see what I could find on their online presences. The genre classifications comes directly from GoodReads and I wanted to see if it had any bearing on site design or content. (Hint: It doesn’t.)
(If the embed isn’t working for you, you can view the spreadsheet in full.)
[iframe src=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TXSjg2dqvbImUJ8MLo7Z3HVp6t6sXcMzwudrYP6EROA/pubhtml?widget=true&headers=false”]

  • 18 had websites
  • 18 had some sort of bibliography available, but five of those were only partial lists
  • 17 are on social media but only 10 actually linked to their social media accounts
  • 16 had an about page
  • 15 direct linked to buying their works online
  • 11 were built on WordPress
  • 11 had a contact page (not social media links)
  • 11 had a news or a blog
  • 6 had a FAQ page
  • 6 had newsletters
  • 2 had a link to donate / tip jars

A million years ago, Kristin and I started a research project on the online presence of public libraries in Michigan and the stats were kind of along the same vein. Libraries bitching no one is using their online services, but libraries aren’t putting the work into building their virtual front door.
I haven’t even dug more into SEO, branding, marketing, and maintenance of the sites either which by looking at what stats I have available now, would be a complete nightmare to untangle.
Some of you are looking at the list at the very beginning and are thinking, “Fuck. That is a lot of work.” And you’re right, it is. But being a writer these days is a lot more than sitting down and spinning stories. My pal Saladin Ahmed recently quipped that he felt like he did more administrative work for his writing than actual writing work — and he’s a 100% right. I’ve been writing for years, but as I start unraveling the pandorica of submission, editing, publishing, and more, my todo lists now have todo lists. Now I have to schedule time when admin work is done versus writing time is done.
Look, I get it. A lot of people think the Internet is a fad, some don’t give a fuck, and even more think it’s a waste of time to have a new fangled website. Or they don’t want to spend the money, the energy, or the time. But as a reader, a writer, and a librarian (not in any preferential order), I can tell you with surety if I can’t find your work, if  I can’t get a list of your books without looking at the back mater of a printed copy, or you don’t have a Wikipedia page, how in the fuck do you expect the people you’re writing for to find you?
If you want your work to be read and you want to build a community around your work, you need to have an online presence and you need to keep it updated. You can’t fuck around anymore thinking having only a Facebook fan page (like Helen Fielding) is enough or that your sparsely, outdated website is sufficient. As a reader, I want to know more of what you wrote. As a librarian, I want to get printed lists of your works to my patron. As a writer, I’m looking at your practices as to whether or not model my own after yours.
Anyone with any level of technology can create a website these days. You can knock out a pretty professionaly looking site with Tumblr or WordPress.com in a few hours if you don’t want the pains of going tits to the wall and buying a domain and hosting plans. And then spend a few hours a month making sure it’s updated with all of your current work and news.
If you’re not willing to put the time in to get your work out there, how do you expect your readers to do the same?

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 1999