It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and thus it is IWSG day. The group is a haven for all anxiety, and insecurities. We meet (online! the socially anxious may now doubly rejoice) every month to share, support, and encourage each other.

To sign up for the group yourself, head over to the sign up page and prepare to bask in the warmth of our support. No, really. Support and caring. Each month members of the group co-host to keep the conversations going and the anxiety safely in its place. This month our co-hosts are Janet Alcorn, SE White (it me!), Victoria Marie Lees, and Cathrina Constantine!

And the entirely optional question for February 7th is:  What turns you off when visiting an author’s website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author’s books? Constant mention of books?

This feels a bit like a trick question, so let me first preface EVERYTHING I WILL NOW WRITE by saying I am absolutely not thinking of anyone’s blog or website in particular. In fact, I consulted my colleague Dr. Google and found advice about what to do instead of what not to do, entirely at random. Okay? Okay.

SE, running away from accusations

Do Not: A lack of information would indeed be a turnoff when visiting an author’s website. What genre do they write in? Can I tell that they write books just by looking at their website? Wait, what is the purpose of this website? Did the Desk Tribbles just pound random keys and create a mash of images and words? Stop it, Desk Tribbles! Can I find that information easily, or is it just somehow . . . assumed I will know by the volume of wordy posts? H E L P

Do: instead of being vague and having little mention of your own books, include the words author or writer somewhere on your home page. Establish an identity for your site. Have some pictures of your own books or writing efforts easy to find. Maybe a menu navigation option called ‘my books’/’my articles’/’my short stories’/’the tortured musings of my soul’, or more subtle hints like the entire banner for the website header being one big ad for your books. It’s your website, and if you want to include multiple graphics of your own work, you can.

Do Not: taken to extremes, a constant and overwhelming barrage of mentions of the author’s books would also be a turnoff. I know I just said you can include as many graphics of your work as you want. That’s because not everything you read on the internet is true. There is such a thing as too much. But it would have to be a truly amazing volume of spammy baitclick graphics to qualify as extreme.

Do Not: in that same vein, don’t immediately attack readers with a crazed vomit splatter of pictures, gifs, words, headers, sidelines, graphics, banners, and the end of their hopes and dreams. Splatter being the operative word here, and meaning that everything is just crammed onto the main page (landing page or home page) without a structure.

Do: have some organization. At the minimum, a header that includes obvious cues to what this website is, a menu (usually on the top or side) to help readers navigate where they’re going on your site, and some different pages which the menu leads to. Organization. Every website builder (WordPress, Weebly, Wix, SquareSpace, Blogger.com) includes templates. Spoiler alert; I used the WordPress templates for my website. Didn’t even attempt to build my own. Use those templates, and thank the black magick of the internet devoutly for a rare and brief example of its mercy.

Jane Friedman has a lovely, informative article on exactly how to build an author website. Packed full of good information, of course, because she is Jane Friedman. If you’re in the process of building your site, I really recommend taking a look.