Should authors have their own website? There is no getting away from the fact that it’s an explicit advertisement, even more self-regarding than a Twitter or Facebook account – mirror mirror on the wall, show my collected works to one and all.
We live in the age of the electronic sandwich board. It’s okay to walk around shouting your name. The theme of 21st century life is attention, and the cunning, independent ways to go out and get it. Writers are not exempt from such socially acceptable boorishness; and a website is really just a sensible option. It might help sales, it might lead to an invitation to appear at a writer’s festival – the one in Ubud sounds nice.
But it seems that once a writer has committed to a website, and got it up and running, their duty to maintaining their image sooner or later begins to…fade, and evaporate. I had a look at the websites of four New Zealand writers. Three of them were very nice looking, even quite graphic in their use of images. All had the basic information pack. And all had been pretty much completely abandoned.
The bibliography of one author stops at 2012, even though they have published several works since then, including a book which has been translated into French and Italian. Another claims they are still living in a city they left in 2011. A third has a “News” page, which fails to mention any news since 2013, including their work on exciting projects in Los Angeles. The fourth writer says their latest novel “will be published in 2013”.
O vanity! Where is thy staying power?
I have every intention of providing fresh, daily updates of my new website.
It’s not an author website as such – I created it to advertise and promote my latest book,
Madmen: Inside the weirdest election campaign ever – and its domain name is Luncheon Sausage Books, “a new and pungent name in New Zealand publishing”.
I formed Luncheon Sausage Books to self-publish Madmen. Talk about vanity. No one wanted to publish the book, so I took matters into my own hands. It’s been a fascinating process and I couldn’t have done it without Katrina Duncan, who designed Madmen, cover designer Jenny Nicholls, and subversive Hamilton man Joshua Drummond, who painted the cover depicting Prime Minister John Key in a state of supreme indifference.
When it came to creating a website, I couldn’t have done it without my daughter. I sat down next to her on the couch with my iPhone, and determined to find out how to make a website. I went to Google and clicked on a few suggested sites. I didn’t understand a goddamned word and the instructions were impossible to follow and I howled with agony, rage, deep-seated loathing for mankind – the usual range.
“Oh, give me the phone,” said my seven-year-old. She directed me to Simple Site, and then talked me through it.
It was very good of her. I’ve tried to live up to her expectations by designing a possibly fairly striking website – with news, updates, slide shows, the contents of interesting emails, and a comments section, which I really should moderate. I don’t know where they come up with those terms of abuse.
Simple Site provides 40 pages. I have 30 unused pages left to go, and fully intend to use every last one of them as I try my best to entertain, inform, and shift stock.
I welcome fresh ideas – and will reward the very best idea with a free copy of Madmen, which retails for $20. Perhaps a questionnaire of some sort, an idea involving clever use of photography, mock satires of other writers’ websites? All suggestions will be considered, and gratefully received. Please send emails to Booksellers NZ (email@example.com) with the subject line ‘Luncheon Sausage Books’, or email directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll sign and send a copy of Madmen in the post to the winner.
Entries close at 5pm Friday 14 November. I will use the winning idea as Monday’s entry on Luncheon Sausage Books website. Yes, that quick; vanity doth not wait.
Guest post by Steve Braunias, author of Mad Men: Inside the Weirdest Election Campaign Ever, as well as the NZ Post award-winning Civilisation: Twenty Places on the edge of the World (Awa Press), among other titles.
Stockist list available here.