Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Web Wonders

by Hannah Roveto

When the background noise in my house reaches certain levels, ("Stop singing!" "It's homework!" "If you play Ironman one more time I'm going to scream!" "Wanna see what a kid on the bus showed me?"), I hope that if I wait five minutes, calm will return. Okay, so I'm dreaming, in more ways than one. That becomes my time to surf Web sites for fun and ideas.

As you know, we have several links to your lower right, a cross-section of valuable resources and places to interact with wonderful people who share the literary life. Many of them, generally author sites as opposed to industry ones, are gorgeously designed, with elements I hope to incorporate when I, too, have thick, rich sheaves of bound paper on bookstore shelves and need a spot on the World Wide Web of my own. It's your face, your voice to the outside world. What should it say?

I confess when the World's Greatest Guitar Riffs compete with Children's Chorus concert practice in my eardrums, I tend to explore author sites that push at some boundary and that incorporate a sense of play. These are three that stand out for me of late, and why:

Mark Haddon. Pow! If you haven’t read A Spot of Bother yet, please do. You will laugh out loud at one or more of many characters, at more than one of the many crazy and yet somehow completely possible situations. After his going two for two, as far as I was concerned, on a literary front, I decided to check out his site. This is a style not every author could get away with, but boy, do I love it. The colors and layout are vibrant, simple yet powerful. The virtual tour is recommended for those of you looking for marketing ideas (and who isn't?), and Dog TV makes a great visual you have external audio more than covered.

Joe Hill. Joe Hill’s stories make your cool and thicken, then surge toward your heart. Dark, elegant and unique. What I love about his Web site is that carries a lot of traditional format and elements, yet the result is distinctly Hill, with the gray-blue coloring and photographic background, and quite a volume of information presented in a clean, clear way. Plus, you've got to try the game that lets you match quotes with famous pontificators.

J.K. Rowling. If you have written not one but seven books that reverberated worldwide, you appeal to YA and s with a little YA in their souls, and you're going to pull out all the stops, this is the result. From a budget standpoint, it would be impossible for me. However, I love the desk that pops up at the start, for the feeling that this is, indeed, what her desk looks like and as an invitation to start exploring. Second, the fact that she posts her character lists, early notes and all those other details appeal to me both as a fan and as a writer. Then, of course, there is the interactivity: the game (eraser), the telephone, and the movement of the elements.

So that's where I'm at now. A fresh graphic look, a simplicity and clear tone, a picture or device that invites the visitor in to explore. The challenge, of course, is that all this must reflect me, the author, and not a specific book. My work-in-progress ties in heavily to the game of baseball, and how much fun to develop elements of a Web site built on baseball? Yet my second novel-to-be has nothing to do with the sport (maybe I’ll mention it for the heck of it). So what would my dream interactive Web site look like? I'm taking notes. If you have any thoughts on more fun author sites, please do share!


T. Forkner said...

I love the J.K. Rowling site too.
Elizabeth's Berg site is nice. It's like sitting in her house having a cup of coffee. Not loud and fancy, but quietly interactive. Like her books...

Lisa said...

So smart! I'm sure you've already bought your domain name and all that. Bella Stander's Book Publishing 101 monthly newsletter focused on author websites today and she's got a post up on it at The first thing I do when I find an author that interests me is find her website. I love that you are really putting thought into this. It will be one less thing for you to stress over WHEN you are awaiting YOUR first book's release.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Looking through sites feels like guilty pleasure, until you remind yourself that someday you will need one as well and it's business time well spent! Thanks for the suggestions, too!