Saturday, August 25, 2018

Web Site Woes

     Eight years ago when my first book was published, I was told by nearly everyone that I absolutely had to have a web site. This included my publisher who of course would not help develop or pay for it. Now, I grew up in a time when people were still making punch cards to enable a huge computers to play Bolero. I did more or less master Word because I needed it to write my novels, and I also came to enjoy e-mail and Facebook--but web sites, I had no idea how to go about them, and they were expensive to set up. At that time, I had a friend who was jumping on the band wagon to be a web site developer and web master. She offered to put together my site for $350, which, believe me, was a bargain. I told her what I wanted on the site, wrote tons of copy for it, supplied pictures, etc. In the end, I was happy with my simple site She also did updates and other maintenance for the site for very little money. In January, she broke the news that she was out of the web site business that, like e-publishing, was reaping small rewards. I was on my own.
      Fortunately, my computer literate son agreed to do my updates which aren't very frequent. Easy, he said, just use html. The only part of that I understand is that the L stands for a language I do not understand. Then, a week ago came the annual demand for the renewal of my domain name and hosting from the provider. No problem, I thought, until I noted how much the fees had gone up and received notice that they'd detected malware on the site which they could fix for yet another $90 in virus protection. I had two knowledgeable people go into the site. Neither could find anything wrong.I responded saying as much, and immediately get another notice that they can prove I have malware but it is buried very deep. So, twenty minutes later, the helpful person on the other end shows me some code that he says is the malware--frankly I wouldn't know. So, how do I get it off? Pay them  the $90. I inform them that in the diminishing e-pub market, that plus the domain name and hosting comes to half of my royalties for last year and maybe is not worth it.
      Okay, they can remove it for one set fee--but my web site is old and needs to be migrated to a new and safer platform. Great. After much discussion, I ended up with a discount if I renewed for three years, and the malware would be removed, but still over $200.  And I must now navigate the migration of the web site with which they will help me.. I suffered through several migrations at my place of work. They are never easy or pleasant, but this one must be faced in the next few days. Mostly, I am fearful of losing all the work I did for the first web site--though I might update my out of date picture of me-or maybe I will choose to be that younger age forever. All in all, I know I am not cut out to deal with this and yet I must. Another learning curve, sigh. They seem to get more treacherous all the time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Covers Uncovered

     I missed doing my monthly post by one day thanks to having two contracts for new books come in  on the same week and edits for those books at two different presses arriving on the same day. It's a good problem to have, but I've done little but edits for two weeks. Lady Flora's Rescue, an 18th century romp, will be out in January or sooner.  No date set for the latest Sinners book, The Heart of a Sinner. Neither have covers as yet.Which brings me to this month's topic, Covers Uncovered.
     I have a "friend" who constantly corners me at social events and introduces me as Lynn, who writes those dirty books with naked men on the cover. Please note, she has never read even one of my books, but simply judges them by their covers--none of which have a naked man. At a library event, I marched to the stacks, pulled one of my books, the 1920's historical, Queen of the Mardi Gras  Ball, and placed it in her hands. Great story with low sexual content, I told her. The cover has a Flapper wearing a red dress. She told me she only read murder mysteries. I countered that by saying there was a murder in the book. Did she read it? Nope, took it to the desk and returned it. Tired of all this, when she started her dubious introductions again, I told her companion, "Don't listen to her. She's never read one of my books and has no idea what they are about."  Repeated several times, she finally stopped her salacious introductions.
     Currently, I have twenty-three books in print. I decided to count up what kind of covers I've been given--authors have less to say about this than you think unless they are self-published and design their own. The tally came to this: 3 shirtless men, 6 sexy guys with all their clothes on, 3 couples, clothed, 7 women, clothed, 3 with miscellaneous items (flowers, a necklace, etc.), and 1 horse. Though I hate to admit it, the sexy guys covers do sell the best except in my conservative home area where readers always go for the flapper, the necklace, or the horse. I you are writing romance, go for the sexy guy.
     When I received the cover for A Place Apart which takes place in coastal Maine and features a wounded warrior with PTSD, the cover artist presented me with a man in a red hunting cap staring into the woods. I did protest: 1. no man with PTSD is going to call attention to himself by wearing a red cap and 2. the scene is the coast of Maine, not the deep woods. She said she'd checked recent best-sellers' covers and concluded the solitary man worked best.  Yes, in the proper setting. I dove in and found a better stock photo to use which she accepted cheerfully (some don't), and she photo-shopped the wonderful Portuguese water dog who plays a major role in the story to sit by his side. Between the two of us, we got it right. A Place Apart is selling very nicely, though I think it might be because of the dog.
     Another publisher recently sent out a notice that they'd been getting criticized for "old-fashioned" covers. I'm not sure what that means, but we aren't to have as much input is my guess. Personally, I hate dark colors and always go for bright if I get a choice. On the cover of Sister of a Sinner, I did get the dress changed from black to red, much more eye-catching.I prefer to work with cover artists who give me choices and don't get snitty over a requested change. In one case, the artist did a wonderful cover first time out, but her second for me did not hit the mark, not even close. First one, the hero looked evil, second try, way too young, finally compromised on another on the third try, still not my favorite cover by far. I also got a lecture that she was paid with a small percentage of my sales and since I was a nobody that wouldn't come to much. Needless to say, we haven't worked together since.
     So, I await my two new covers. Obviously, one will be new-fashioned. No idea what the other will be like as that publisher seems to switch the cover artists fairly often.  We'll just have to wait and see. I'll post them when I get them.