You guys. I had the. Best. Time. last night. Full details coming on Monday -- complete with pics!
All righty, then. Here's round two of Ask Elana. I'm going to archive these on that handy "Ask Elana" page up there. Got a question for me? Ask away!
I attended a couple sessions about online marketing for authors at a writers' conference. Both speakers said aspiring authors don't necessarily need a blog, but they certainly need a website. I like the idea of a website, but I have no idea what to put on it. What should an aspiring author with no professional writing credits put on her website?
To which Elana said:
Websites are more static, and MUCH less work than blogs. I think even if you have no professional writing credits, you can still have a beautiful website.
You definitely need these pages:
HOME - a place for announcements, a welcome page, all your links to other pages go here.
ABOUT - this should be your bio, with a picture
BOOKS/PROJECTS - even if they're WiP's or you're querying, you should have a place where people (agents, the public, whoever) can learn about your work. Consider posting the query blurb, a picture and the first five pages. Be careful how much or your work you put in a public place.
LINKS - any links to your social networking sites. Or links you like
BLOG - a link to your blog if you have one
CONTACT - a place with a form or your email where people can contact you
And that's the basics. You want the website to look professional and tell about 1) YOU and 2) YOUR BOOKS. And you want people to be able to get through it quickly (so be brief) and have a way to contact you or continue to socialize with you later on.
I took a writing class recently but the things we were taught are in opposition to things I've read online...but the teacher was published and I'm not so I'm second guessing myself. In your manuscript how do you handle things that will be in italics in the final version? Do you do an underscore like _this_ or actually italicize? Which is right? Perhaps it's a nonissue with electronic files nowadays?
To which Elana answered:
Okay, my opinion on things is a bit unconventional. Yeah, I follow rules. I mean, everyone has to spell right, and use grammar to the best of their ability. I subscribe to a tense opening, and tight writing and a cliffhanger at the end of chapters. That kind of stuff.
But I go my own way with other stuff. My chapters are short and then long. I have many flashbacks. I write in both present and past tense, sometimes in the same sentence.
So my point is: YOU have to decide what YOU want to do. And then don't be afraid to do it. Yeah, use good grammar and create interesting characters. Other than that, I say "go for it!" And be YOU. Write what YOU think is going to make your story/characters the most compelling and unique that they can be.
Sorry, that's sort of a non-answer, but sometimes I think we let ourselves get folded into boxes. And I'm sort of an out-of-the-boxer.
And things that will be in italics in the final version, go in italics now. I believe underlining was done on typewriters because there wasn't a way to italicize, but with computers, there is.
And that's it for today! Got any questions? Agree/disagree with my answers? Lay it on me.