Breaking up with your homepage

We are not sure why, but we seem to have lost the Freshly Pressed page that used to be our home page (and a  great  subtle reminder to blog).

It’s really hard. We loved logging on and seeing the colorful daily round up, the best and brightest, the weird and the wild, the touching and the touchy. We got used to the World of WordPress being there, a part of our world. But now, we have to break it off.

Don’t get us wrong, people grow and change. The new wordpress.com home page probably works for wordpress. But for us, it’s a series of rather grim grey and black adverts that keep whipping by in such a way as to cause everyone anxiety.

So, like any relationship where two people (or entities) grow apart, we have to break up with our wordpress.com home page. Sniffle, sob.

We’re hoping to find the old Freshly Pressed page somewhere, at some point,  but we’ve already invested time looking for it, couldn’t find it, and given up. Sometimes, you just have to let go.

At this point, it’s simply  more time effective and less stressful to make google.com our homepage and keep checking back. There seems to be some weird stuff going on at WP, but we’ll keep blogging, when we think of it.

(UPDATE: You can still find Freshly Pressed, https://wordpress.com/#!/fresh/, but you may have to be logged in to your WP account and access it through your dashboard. We’re not sure if it’s an independent link).

Published in: on August 30, 2012 at 10:40 AM  Comments (2)  
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If you’ve decide to go with a blog . . . Why WordPress is a writer’s best friend — how to make your best stuff even better

Blog posts represent your talent and marketing abilities to large, established agents and publishers, who are more risk averse because generally they’re going to make a bigger investment in your career than a smaller publisher. If you’re set on fame and fortune and the bright lights of HarperCollins or its ilk . . . having a blog is a huge plus.

Well-known authors don’t really need a blog. New authors seeking attention from the big guys, really do. We at FAB read some websites regularly, and guess what, we’d probably publish those people if they sent us a query and a work that fit our parameters. Large publishers do the same. As do agents.

We recommend WordPress for a variety of reasons, but not least because it’s so versatile. There’s a loads of themes to choose from and for a little extra money ($30 a year) you can really go to town and make it your own — which we highly, highly recommend. Easy to use, easy to set up and integrate with other social media, easy to switch around until you find your “it look” that drives up more traffic, WP is “da bomb” as one of our less trendy associate’s (Oz!) likes to say.

Blogs are good for other reasons too. Even if you’re having an awful writing day when it comes to your book, you can look at your blog and remind yourself that every time you blog (or tweet, or facebook), you’re adding to your book’s marketing campaign and your showing potential agents/publishers that you will put out the effort it takes to make sales.

Some things you may need to keep in mind with your blog, is your book’s target buyers. You should be writing in a style that they can expect to read more of if they buy the book. If that swearing is part and parcel of your style, and in your book, stick with it on the blog. The worst thing you can do to a reader is give them something the didn’t expect — in a bad way. As long as your honest about your writing, it’s ok.

Ditto the content.  Think more critically about your blog/tweet/facebook posting because at certain point, particularly with blogs, you can end up spending time and effort just giving away future saleable content. Every author has to decide, based on what’s actually going into her/his book, where that point is but publishers aren’t interested in trying to sell content you’ve already given away.

When we at FAB, as publishers, look at posts we really enjoy, we tend to think:

“OK, proven writing ability, strong marketer, good concept! But what’s going into the book that isn’t on the blog? Will it be more great stuff like this, woven together to make a great magic carpet ride for the reader? Or are we reading all the best stuff? Is there more better stuff?  Will webe thinking “the best stuff on earth just keeps getting better” when we see the manuscript? Or will we be thinking, we’ve already read this stuff, or, worse, this wasn’t at all the stuff we were expecting based on the marketing campaign (ie, the blog).”

All these might be questions to ask before hitting “publish” on a blog.  On a WordPress blog.

And ok, for pete’s sake, use a blog publishers can actually read, something like Manifest, or Twenty-Ten.  Nothing turns off people who are there to read faster than black/grey/grungy overdone blogs. We mean it. They’re hard to read, clunky, depressing, ugly and in general tell people who love to read “don’t read this.”  If we see a big black header, on drab blog, with little non-serif thin grey type, on a blue  grey background, we get eyestrain in 1 post, and guess what? We won’t read anymore and you loose your opportunity.

Koi is a nice theme, it’s just not professional unless you write about something Asian themed. But the overall type and layout are good and if you change the background, it can work.  Twenty-eleven is a good theme, but it has a hard to read (ie, non serif) font (which you could customize into serif with an upgrade). Chateau could work, but not if you choose black as the background and load it with widgets. Matala is readable, but screams childrens books, comedy, or travel writer.  Whimsy is good, silly is bad. Matala is whimsy.

We use Quentin for this blog, but it has been retired. For something like it, see Elegant Grunge (if you choose this, customize it!). The things you want in a blog theme are easy to read font (usually black type in a serif font in a point size, say 10+), on a white or light background (that isn’t in a grey hue), where the posts are to the left (if you opt for 2 columns or more).  The first thing people who read left to right want to see, is the posts you want them to read. If we see a bunch of left-side widgets . . . click, we go to the next blog.

You are showcasing your writing. If the thing you see first when the page come us is something other than clear, clean, easy to read dark text on a pale neutral or white background, some readers (read publishers) don’t bother. We’re one of them.  But we also want to see your personality, so get the upgrade and personalize the theme even if it’s just in some minor way such as changing the color of your type or its style.

Better writing is not bitter writing

WordPress is starting off the year with a you pick it:  Post a Day 2011 or Post a Week 2011 campaign.

It’s a great jumpstarter for those seeking motivation to write more consistently. However, as a famous writer once observed : Misanthropy drives many to authorship. It’s a statement as true now, as it was in the days of quill and parchment.

If you decide to participate, and why not, remember that writing out of bitterness or hatred, while your right, isn’t all that interesting and it’s only going to connect you to others who are bitter or consumed with hate.  Do yourself a favor in 2011, for this one year, choose not to go there.

As for us? We wish wordpress had offered Weekends and Weekdays post categories. A daily post to us means committing to an unhealthy obsession. People need time away from their computers and, even God took a day off! Once a week, however, is a little on the light side for us.

We’ll be shooting for posting Monday to Friday, with no posts on weekends or Holidays (please be aware that holidays are staff determined and can be weird stuff you’ve never heard of or completely made up).

We’ll be committing to making 2011 a Post Positive year.

That’s Positive, not Pollyanna.

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 1:31 PM  Leave a Comment  
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