Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Critiquing Christy Reece's Website

This three-day weekend (which was a four-day weekend for my hubby and me), I jumped the gun on my website. I know I don't have a lot of information to put up, but I get so excited by looking at all these authors' sites and then I look at my current website, and I feel the compulsion to DO SOMETHING. So Cody and I hashed out a few things—new (tentative) template, new text, new siders and headers and tabs. We almost bought Dreamweaver, but couldn't quite justify the expense. Nothing's up yet. Nothing's close to going up yet, either, but we made a start.

Of course, it inspired me to hop around a bunch of authors' sites while we were looking for further inspiration. I have a list of authors for future critiques, now. Christy Reece isn't on that list. However, last night, when I was unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep after realizing that my birthday is only 14 days away, I had this wonderful thought: What if I sold Madison in a three-book deal, with three books coming out back to back over the span of three months. Then the next year, another three, so that in two years, I could have six books sitting on the shelves of bookstores everywhere!

I had a glorious vision of my titles lined up on a shelf and Madison's adventures in fans' hands everywhere. Is six books in two years possible? For me? I don't know. Reading through Book Two made me think it was. If I got the deal now, with three books coming out next year, it would give me a year to edit book two and write and edit book three. Then a year later, three books to write and edit. Yikes! It sounds hard, but doable. I don't know if I would have this faith (or even if I would have had this thought) if not for two things: my love of all things in Madison's world and the plethora of ideas I have for future novels, and Christy Reece.

Christy Reece was a Number One Novels author last year, and now she has six books on the shelves of bookstores everywhere! Last year, a debut author; this year, a seasoned author with a shelf presence. Incredible. So in honor of my awe, I thought I'd take a look at her site.

Overall Impression: That's a mighty tall banner art at the top of every page. I have a large monitor, and it takes up almost everything above the fold (what you can see on the page without scrolling). The art's not doing much to promote the books, either. Otherwise, the site's a nicely shaped and colored, and easy on the eyes. There's not a great deal of depth, but that doesn't detract. It's easy to navigate, which is always a plus.

Favorite Feature: On the News/Contests page, Reece has developed a good compromise between a time-intensive blog and a generic "here's when my books are coming out" news page. Updated at least weekly, her News/Contests page provides a surface insight into her world as a writer, and still offers fans a little something extra with the occasional contest.

(On a side note for people attempting to create their own website with an integrated blog, I'm very intrigued by how this one page is run by blogger, while the rest seems to be part of an independed website/design. Cody's checking out the source code on it now to see exactly how she did this magic.)

Least Favorite Feature: This is a toss up between two items. The first is very nit picky: I don't like the fact that every page has a "Join Christy's Mailing List" option. If people want to be on a mailing list, they'll find the information, even if you put it only in one place. My other least favorite feature is the fact that when you go to the Books tab and click on a book, it takes you to that novel's page (all of which are done very nicely with the back-cover blurb and some reviews), but you can no longer select another book from this page. You have to navigate back to the main Books tab, then select a new book. If each of these book pages had a sidebar links list of the other books available (like her News/Contests page includes links to previous entries on the right), navigation would be streamlined.

What Translates to the As-of-yet-unpublished Author's Site: This site didn't offer me as much inspiration as the author herself did. The only possible translatable items would be a Links page (though I feel that a lot of this could be incorporated into the FAQ page, if necessary), and a few FAQ questions, like "What books or authors have influenced your writing?" That's a good question, the answer of which should give readers a hint of the type of book and tone of book I'm writing.

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