Nancy: The Big Reveal – Nancy Hunter, Author Website

Last week, I was lamenting my sad lack of progress on my website. This week, I’m singing a different tune.

That’s right. I did it. I completed my author website. You can see it by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post, after I’ve shared some details about creating the site and a few caveats to know before visiting it. Or you can skip straight to the link and come back here after that. (Go ahead, you know you want to do it! It’s definitely what I would do.)

The Look and Feel of the Site

To set up my website, I used a WordPress template built by a company call Author Cats. I’m giving it a try, and might decide at some future time that it’s not the right template for me, so I can’t tell other authors whether it would be right for them. I do think there are some interesting things, to consider. The look of the template is built on an underlying philosophy that is particularly geared to self-publishing writers, but is something to consider for traditionally-published writers as well.

If you’ve done any research on self-publishing, you know how important the author newsletter and the email mailing list used to distribute it is to a writer. It’s one of the few things an author really owns. You don’t own your Facebook or Twitter account. You don’t own your Amazon or Kobo or iBooks account. You can’t force good reviews on Goodreads or count on BookBub ads. But you can connect with readers who would want your books by collecting the email addresses of those who are interested, and then reaching out to them regularly. That’s why you’ll notice that there are two to three places to sign up for my newsletter on every page of my website. And the landing page (where the newsletter sign-up occurs) does not have a menu bar (visitors have to back click to leave the page).

That’s what the site will hopefully do for me, the author. What I hope it will do for visitors is provide a clean, easy-to-navigate place to learn a little bit about me, try a sample of of my work, and effortlessly contact or follow me if that’s their thing.

Placeholder Information

As with many things in life, including me, my website is a work in process. Where appropriate, I’ve made it clear that the Harrow’s Finest Five series will be available in the fall of 2018, the freebie meet cute stories that subscribers get for signing up for my newsletter won’t be sent until May 2018, and the excerpts for kickoff novella and novel 1 will also be unavailable until May. There really is a good reason for this: I want to present the best-possible versions of my books and the excerpts that represent them, which precipitates a good, thorough editing process with an amazing editor. This is happening as we speak, but I want have ‘final’ drafts for another month or so.

I have included placeholder book descriptions on the excerpt pages, in the interest of having something to share about the upcoming books with site visitors. But this, too, will change after I’ve worked with my editor on the book descriptions.

Room to Grow

Some of the self-publishing-specific functionality of the template I’m using is the ability to quickly and easily embed buy links to outside sites that are connected directly to images and text on my website. Changing and updating these links, for instance if I start in Kindle Select and go wide later, is also easy peasy. Easy is important to me. You know how long it took me to get this site set up. When I need to make updates and add more fancy, book-centric bells and whistles, a Nancy-proof way to do so is essential. Otherwise, I’ll never do it.

Over the next several months to a year, I plan to launch websites for my other writing alter egos: Nancy J. Yeager for Women’s Fiction/Mainstream, and NJ Christensen for Mystery/Nordic Noir. (We can discuss the brilliance or idiocy of this plan in a future post.) I had hoped this template would provide an easy way to have multiple home pages that I could manage out of the same site, but it doesn’t look like that’s the case.

Max makes an appearance on my new website, but I hope you won’t see him! He’s on the 404 page.

There are no doubt good technical reasons for this, but sadly, it means I’ll probably have to build separate websites. But it does look like I’ll be able to manage the sites from one dashboard and easily embed links between them. Here’s hoping.

The Reveal

So now, here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for (or, at least, the moment I’ve been waiting for over the past several months). To visit my new website, click on this link to go to nancyhunterbooks.com! And if you’re so inclined, sign up for my newsletter while you’re there. I’ll talk more about that when we closer to the first issue in a few months.

Love the website? Hate it? Have deep thoughts to share? Let me know in the comments.

Nancy: Third Time’s the Charm…I Hope!

One of the things we talk about a lot here on the blog is how to balance a writing life with the rest of life. The rest of life includes family obligations, major life events, and – as is the case for several of us – the dreaded day job. I think I’ve mentioned a time or two (or a hundred) that my day job is very intense and deadline-driven. It’s also a high-stakes profession, with peoples’ jobs and livelihoods and companies’ multi-million (or even billion) dollar deals on the line. Gee, I wonder why I have insomnia?

Another truth about my day job, though, is that it’s not so dreaded. At least, it didn’t used to be. It was, in fact, my dream job when I started working in the field (business proposals for US government contractors) as a writer. After some years of experience and training, I moved into managing the proposals, and found the perfect fit for my skillset, work style (did I mention the word intensity?), and career goals. Continue reading

Jeanne: What’s in a Blurb?

Blurb WriterAs I mentioned in last week’s progress report, I hired the inimitable Kat Sheridan to write back cover copy for The Demon Always Wins. 

Although it’s possible to write your own cover copy, and many writers do, I find it difficult to get the proper distance from my work to do that well. Kat is great at what she does, and really reasonable. Even at minimum wage, I would have spent more trying to write the thing myself.

So, I went online and filled out her Standard Fiction Work Order. It asks for title, author, short description and then descriptions of the two main characters, along with any additional characters the author deems worthy of blurb space. Continue reading

Jeanne: Writing at the Speed of Snail

Back during World War I, a British man named C. Northcote Parkinson did some research into work and bureaucracy. From the research, he created Parkinson’s Law, which states “Work expands so as to fill the amount of time available to complete it.”
I’m running into that exact same problem with my writing.

When I was still working, I wrote 10-20 hours a week. Now it’s more like 20-25 (no, not 40, because other tasks also expand to fill the amount of time available for them). But with twice as much time, I’m not getting twice as much written. Continue reading

Nancy: Into the Great Unknown!

A few weeks ago, Jeanne told us about her plan to release The Demon Always Wins in September (yay!). In the comments section, I asked about her publishing schedule, and then jumped back into some deadlines for the day job and never got back to the conversation.

But with Jeanne and Jilly nailing down their 2018 self-publishing plans, the need to batten down the hatches with my own plan has been looming large in my mind. Like many of the ladies, I’ve joined Marie Force’s self-publishing loop, followed the work of self-publishing guru Mark Dawson, and tried to keep up with the ever-changing book marketing landscape. I’ve also had another great resource in some friends who moved from traditional to self- or hybrid-publishing, including Mindy Klasky, whose book The Rational Writer: Nuts and Bolts I discussed in a writing tools and resources post.

The take-away from all of this data is I know a lot of the what of self-publishing, and a good deal of the the how. The missing data, though, is the when. Continue reading

Jilly: Evaluating an Edit Report

So how’s the New Year shaping up for you?

I started January with a new challenge—deciding how to respond to my very first professional content edit. I’d previously seen the excellent report the editor, Karen Dale Harris, wrote for Jeanne’s The Demon Always Wins, so I knew roughly what to expect. That didn’t mean I was ready for it.

The overview/summary report alone ran to 24 pages, and covered everything from subgenre choice and the implications of that, to characters, conflict, plot, plot holes, world-building, language choices, inconsistencies…you get the idea. I’ll just say that it’s not a comfortable experience to have one’s every last choice subjected to such detailed scrutiny. Continue reading

Jilly: 2018 In A Word

Happy New Year!

Do you play the watchword game? That is, choose a single word to epitomize your approach to the coming year? It’s not as restrictive as a goal or resolution. More like a theme, defined as ‘an idea that recurs and pervades.’

Elizabeth told us on Wednesday that her word for 2018 is FINISH, to be applied to one project per month, not necessarily writing-related.

Last year I wanted a call to action. I settled on PUBLISH, and here’s how I explained my choice:

That doesn’t mean I expect Alexis to be published by the end of 2017, though that would be thrilling. It means that everything writing-related that I do this year should be directed towards that end. By next New Year’s Eve, at the very least I should know the specifics of how and when that book, and that series, will get published.

I think I did pretty well with that.

  • I finished Alexis Book 1 and, with Jeanne’s help, tidied up the ms well enough to win a contest and get some nice comments from the judges.
  • I made a final decision to pursue indie publishing, joined Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101 course and worked through the lectures.
  • I signed up with Jeanne’s editor, Karen Dale Harris, and sent Alexis to her. I received my report just before Christmas and I’m now working my way through Karen’s comprehensive and challenging feedback.
  • I decided to write two more stories from Alexis’s past, one to be given away on my mailing list and the other as a prequel to kick off Alexis’s series. I resolved to get both of these finished before I release the first Alexis book, even if that means I have to let the ‘go live’ date slip a few months.
  • I spent a lot of time thinking about my titles, covers, and all kinds of other useful indie-publishing need-to-know decisions I learned about from the Mark Dawson classes. I now have a pretty good idea of how I’m going to handle most of them.

This year I’m going for a different approach, because although I keep inching forward, I’m feeling a kind of mounting frustration that I still have so much to do and it’s taking me so damn long to hatch a book.

Continue reading