As you know, these interviews are usually of authors, illustrators, or author/illustrators, but I'm making an exception today because Donna has some uniquely applicable expertise that I think you'll find interesting and helpful.
As the world (of publishing and in general) has changed, we as authors and illustrators have been encouraged to have a presence on the web. We're supposed to have websites, blogs, Face Book pages, twitter accounts etc, and yet many of us have no real knowledge of how to go about these things. How do we design a site that will draw readers? What should it look like? What should it offer? And how can we fit design and maintenance into our already busy schedules?
Enter Donna! (Who, in case you didn't know, designed my website and blog! :))
SLH: Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Donna! I'd like to start by asking, what exactly do you do?
DF: My creative umbrella covers- illustration, web design and graphic design.
Although they may all seem different, it really is all visual story telling.
As a designer, I take information and present it in a logical way. I understand the need for whitespace and a balanced composition.
The majority of my web designs have been for children's authors (20+). I didn't start out targeting this niche. My involvement in the field of children's publishing and my own pursuit of publication came first. Along the way a business has been born. I bring a unique perspective to the table. An understanding of what is needed on an authors site. What visitors are expecting to find and how to present that information. I also act as a consultant, giving advice about content. Visitors often visit the site to get "extras". Information that isn't in the book itself or available elsewhere. I can help make suggestions about those things, design activity sheets that tie in to the authors books etc.
|Screen shot of site designed|
DF: No. But when attempting to develop a site on your own, please ask yourself the following:
1. Can I create a professional looking site?Be sure your site reflects you as a professional. Publishing is a business, you want to be taken seriously.2. Do I know what needs to be on my author site?Design is important but content is essential. Have a good understanding of what visitors are looking for dictates content.3. Do I have the technical knowledge needed?You can purchase a program to develop a website, but if you don't have the know how, you have just wasted your money. The site will not design itself.4. Do I know who my site is for?Knowing your audience is very important. Pre-publication your site might focused on editors, agents and other writers but, publication will mean that your focus will shift to your "fans". Those who are investing in you as an author and your books. You need to be prepared to give them something.5. Do I have the the time?Creating and maintaining a site takes time, time that will cut into your writing time.
|Screen shot of site|
designed by Donna
If you answered YES to all the above, you are probably a good candidate to try it yourself. But, just like a manuscript that needs critiquing before submissions, I strongly recommend having a set or several sets of eyes look at the site your going to publish to be sure it is easy to navigate and doesn't have any major design flaws that send visitors screaming from your site before you launch it into cyberspace for literally all the world to see.
If you answered NO to some or most of these, it might be a good idea to have someone with experience help you out, that's where I would come in.
Looking at the same questions above, here is what I can offer:
SLH: What are some tips for authors to think about as they design their site?1. Can I create a professional looking site?Yes. I create professional, yet personal sites. Each site I create is unique to the client. It is important that it reflects them and their writing.2. Do I know what needs to be on an author site?Yes. Because of my experience and research I have a good understanding of what is expected.3. Do I have the technical knowledge needed?Yes. I don't sell myself as a techie. Foremost, I'm a designer, but I do have the knowledge required to create and publish a site. At this moment technologies are changing so quickly that I would never say I'm an expert, but I do my best to stay current.4. Do I know who your site is for?Yes. I can look at the site from a visitor perspective and make recommendations.5. Do I have the time?Yes. Let me free up more writing time by taking the worry out of some of this for you!
|Screen shot of site|
designed by Donna
My Top 5 Suggestions to authors regarding content:
SLH: Thank you again for joining us today, Donna. We really appreciate you sharing your expertise! If readers have questions, I'm hoping you won't mind answering :)1. Have at least one good photo of yourself.2. Have links to purchase your titles.3. Have a strong "About" page. (Statistics show this is the most visited page on an author site.)4. Have contact information available.5. Have exclusive content, freebies, downloads, extras.
For anyone interested in learning more about Donna's work, please visit her website! You can also follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.