March 4, 2013

Author Online is Always a Work in Progress

(cc) Chmouel Boudjnah
 One of the most difficult things about being a writer, besides the act of writing, is conveying to the world that you are a writer.

I knew that when I enrolled at Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction program, it would prepare me to be both a writer and an author; and one of the things I expected would come up would be self-promotion, online marketing, etc. 

My online authorial identity is a fragile thing that's taken forever to build and grow, and it's constantly something I keep adjusting and fine-tuning. 

Overall I'm pleased with what I'm saying and what I'm trying to do, but sometimes the most tedious aspect of projecting an online image of yourself is all of that visual madness.

I just created a Twitter account--@kristinafiction-- and I spent over an hour trying to make my profile look good. Not just the photograph, but the backgrounds and headers. What made it so difficult is trying to not only make it look aesthetically pleasing, but to project an aesthetic consistent with my online personality--something that looks like this blog, for example. Or something that looks like my business cards. 

It's very difficult to create that kind of visual uniformity if you aren't a graphics designer (or have hired one to work for you).  

For anyone who's followed this website, I've redesigned it three times--with backgrounds, fonts, color schemes, etc. Even when I've kept the same background for over a year, I've tried to declutter the page by removing widgets, updating to more relevant icons, etc. 

Then I had an assignment due today in class that was all about the author blog, and we were required to research five author blogs and review them in terms of their effectiveness. After reading my classmates' responses, I instantly felt self-conscious about this website again.

Especially after I just created my Twitter profile and ordered some business cards specifically for Colossalcon. I updated my Google + profile; I changed my favicon to align with my profile photo update, and now, I'm thinking I need to change this website again. 

There's too much going on. Although I've had people tell me the site looks gorgeous, it continues to grow into an eyeball monster. It seems like I can either have a large beautiful image as my background, but to compensate I need to have text, and no images in the foreground...OR I can have a minimal background, and an image-heavy post in the foreground. 

My last version of the site I've got a large busy image as my background, and then a ton of images (my followers, and my profile photo) in the side bar, and then tons of images in my posts.  

Rest in Peace, third version of website!

How have people not gone cross-eyed looking at my website? 

The thing is, a couple weeks ago I tweaked my page by adjusting widths, re-ordering widgets, and removing items from my page...it just doesn't seem like enough. Sooner or later the page gets too crowded again for some reason. 

So! Guess what I'm going to do? For the next day or so, I'm going to redesign the website again. (Update--yup, you're looking at the new version right now). As much as I like pretty pictures, I need to shoot for readability (and site loadability). Hopefully I can find something that communicates who I am to you, is pretty in design, but also doesn't give you a headache. 

Stay tuned!