Friday, November 15, 2013

Integrate ALL Your Writing on Your Website by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

It has always been difficult for authors to make a living at writing, but these days it has become even harder with a shifting ratio of more writers and fewer readers than in previous decades. Therefore, writers are supplementing their income by writing articles, multiple genres, and delving into both fiction and nonfiction. Writers are constantly being stretched beyond their comfort zone to write on topics they would never consider if it wasn't a financial necessity, including their own marketing pieces.

I have had authors ask me if they need a separate website for each pen name or for each genre. Some wonder if they should offer more than one blog to their readers. My advice is to integrate as much as possible, but keep it organized and simple.

Integrate with Web Pages
You need to have one website that represents ALL your writing, but offer various web pages for different works. Wherever you have tabs for your Bio and Contact page, insert tabs for your writing. You can categorize these based on what works for you.

If you have various pen names, your web pages should be named accordingly. For example, Nora Roberts also writes suspense as J.D. Robb and it is included as a web page tab at the top of her site. Therefore, if you are a fan of J.D. Robb, but a search brings you to the Nora Roberts site, you will not be confused in thinking you are in the wrong place.

Point all pen names that are actual domain names to the same site
In Nora's case, the J.D. Robb link takes you to a separate website, but it could actually be integrated into one site and have all domain names and point to the same site. The J.D. Robb web pages could still have a different look to represent suspense.

An example of this is Jayne Ann Krentz who writes as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle. If you click on all three of these domain names, they will all take you to the same site.

Create Web Pages for Different Genres
If you write both contemporary and historical, create web pages on your site to reflect those pages. Try not to bury your books deep into too many layers. You don't want readers to click 3-4 times before they find your books. It should only be one click away from the home page. Web surfers won't spend much time looking for your books. They click and move.

Currently, I do not write under other pen names, but I have written both novels and novellas, and I am planning to venture into the contemporary thriller genre. On my site, I've created web page tabs for Novels, Novellas and Thrillers. Each one of those have drop down menus to reveal the series or books I've written in those categories. The drop down effect keeps them from having to click through more layered pages and allows readers to make a choice without leaving the home page. See the image below.

You could do something similar for your articles, devotions, fiction and nonfiction. One caution I would like to provide, is try not to showcase every article you have ever written. Some authors have written hundreds and thousands of articles. Showcase your top 20-30 most recent and relevant pieces. If you still want to provide links to ALL of your work, it is best to provide a searchable archived section. You might want to categorize them as well. Most people will not take the time to sift through high volumes of old works unless they are looking for something specific.

Are there any other dilemmas you've wondered about or solutions you've found? Share in the comment section.


Sherry Boykin said...

I love the idea of simplicity, so directing all the traffic for different pen names to one site sounds wonderful. What I don't understand, however, is how that helps an author whose whole reason for writing under different names is to not "confuse" of disappoint her tribe with genres or content they're not expecting.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


That's a great question. If the site and bio is well done so that readers understand what each pen name represents, they won't be disappointed. Nothing has changed. Their favorite author is still writing what they love to read, and they know which pen name to look for.

The disappointment comes when you like an author and discover they are no longer writing what you like to read. I've had a few of my favorite historical authors switch to contemporary and I didn't follow them. I found new historical authors to read. Pen names keeps this from happening.

Jayne Ann Krentz has a great bio that explains her different pen names. I have never read her as Jayne Ann Krentz or Jayne Castle. I only read her Amanda Quick novels before I switched to Christian fiction. When I first discovered that she had 3 pen names, I was never tempted to read the other contemporary books. I stuck with her Amanda Quick pen names. It didn't bother me as a reader and I suspect there were many other readers like me because she does very well.

Also, I think readers appreciate the transparency.