How to write a compelling About page for your author website

Jennifer Pinkley cavingLearn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Include interesting and unusual photos of yourself.
One of my favorite picture of me in a cave–I like to use this image to supplement my more formal photo.

Even though you may think your webpage is all about your books, many readers also want to know about YOU. Take some time to craft a really compelling About page for your website. Don’t just include a few lines that say “I’m an author and here are my books.” Let readers get a little glimpse of your personality, what you’re like as a person, and why you write the books you write. Here are some tips to create an About page that will draw readers in an make them want to learn more about your books.

Describe your books. 

Well, this one is obvious. Yes, you should share information about all of the the books you’ve published. Provide the names of all of your books if you only have a few, or your most popular ones if you have published several. If you’ve won awards or hit any bestseller lists, share them. This section doesn’t necessarily have to come first.

Learn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Having  a photo of yourself in a Star Trek costume doesn't hurt!
Here’s a fun photo from the DragonCon science fiction convention. Photos like this can show readers your fun side.

Where are you from and where did you go to school?

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to grade school or college? What did you study in college or what were your favorite classes? For example, I studied history in college, so it makes sense that I like to write historic nonfiction. However, I’m also a huge fan of science fiction even though I had no aptitude for many science classes. I have encountered other writers who have degrees in astrophysics and now write romance novels. Readers will find your background interesting.

What jobs have you had?

People are often interested in the career path that led you into writing. Talk about your career path and how writing became a part of your life. This kind of information is especially interesting if you worked in fields completely unrelated to writing. Tell your readers how you made the transition from your field to an author. If you’re not a full-time author, you don’t have to tell us. Just describe how you integrate writing into your daily life.

What inspired you to become an author?

Was there something interesting in your life that inspired you to become an author? Share that story with your readers. People love learning what inspires you. For me, I was inspired to write science fiction by reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was 9 years old. I can still see the characters that appeared in my mind when I read that glorious book. I loved that book so much I wrote my very first book report about it when I was in the third grade. That book inspired me to seek out other science fiction and fantasy books, which then led me to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, which remain in my top ten list of all-time favorite books.

What are some of your hobbies? 

Do you have an interesting or weird hobby? Are you a sports fanatic? Do you enjoy gardening or shopping? Share some of yourself and you’ll make a stronger personal connection with your readers. I like to go caving, and caves show up in many of my books. People find caving a weird hobby so I enjoy adding my love of caving to any “About Me” pages. It’s also helpful to add a photo of your interesting hobbies to your webpage.

Is there any other personal information you feel comfortable sharing?

Do you want to mention your family? Many authors mention that they live with a spouse, children, and pets. Think about describing your childhood, especially if you have some great stories about childhood events that inspired you to become a writer. If you don’t want to talk about your family, what about your pets? What about describing the house where you live or your town?

Photo

Provide a photo. People want to know what you look like. In addition, if you want to get some attention in the press about your book, reporters will often want your official headshot. It’s helpful to provide a high quality photo that anyone can download and use in an article. If you want to be all mysterious and protect a pen name or something, include a photo of your cat or a landscape photo from your last vacation. At least those photos will give people a better idea of what you like. In addition to a portrait-quality head shot, you can also include photos of your family, your home, your hobbies, your pets, or whatever else you think your readers might enjoy. Any additional information you feel like sharing will make your About page more interesting. The photos I’ve included in this post are two of my favorite photos of me. I often use them in addition to my more formal portrait photo. They are just more fun.

Learn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Include photos of some of your favorite hobbies.
A photo of one of my solo camping trips in the New Mexico desert.

About Page examples

I just flipped through my Kindle and looked up some of the first authors in my “recently read” list who have About pages that are fun to read. Check them out for inspiration:

 

 

 

 

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Every author needs a good website

Over the last year, I’ve participated in many different Facebook groups dedicated to helping authors thrive and sell more books. I am always surprised when an author posts a question asking if they need a website. YES YOU NEED ONE.Over the last year, I’ve participated in many different Facebook groups dedicated to helping authors thrive and sell more books. I am always surprised when an author posts a question about why they are not selling more books when they have six, or seven, or eight books available on Amazon. Many times, when someone asks to look at their website for some clues, the answer is often “I don’t have a website.”

Do authors need a website? Yes. The answer is yes. End of post.

Just kidding about the end of this post. But I’m definitely not kidding that all authors need a great website. Here are just a few reasons why.

  1. Your website should be your main hub of information. One of the reasons many authors cite for not needing a website is that they use Facebook to get the word out about their books. Although Facebook and social media in general can be good marketing tools, relying on social media alone is not a good marketing strategy. To ensure that you have a place where readers and potential readers can go and easily look up all of your books, find links to all of your social media sites, find out more information about you, and access all of your contact information, you need a website. When correctly designed, your website should serve as a vital and central hub of information for readers.
  2. Your social media sites don’t really belong to you. When you pay for your own website domain and set up your website, you own and completely control all of the information. You control what to post, what the public can see, and what the site looks like. That’s not the case with social media sites. Social media sites could completely change the way they work overnight, creating massive problems for people who use the sites for marketing. Just think about Facebook’s recent changes to Pages. A few years ago, when an author shared something on their page, everyone who likes the page would see the post. That’s no longer true. Now, you’re lucky if 5% of your fans see your post unless you pay to boost it. Social media sites can change their rules overnight, leaving you with no good ways to share information about your books if you don’t have a good website.
  3. You can’t easily find old information on social media. So you shared information about your newest book on Twitter two months ago. Great! Can people who like saw that post easily it find it again? Nope. Social media is great for immediate engagement and meeting other people online. However, it should be just one part of your marketing strategy. If you have a great website, it’s easy to frequently share content from your website on social media to drive traffic to your site where readers can then find nicely organized information about all of your books.
  4. Your website can easily and elegantly display all of your books. If you set up your website effectively, your books will all display in a nice, organized way with your book covers, a book summary, and online ordering information right at your reader’s fingertips. Your website will make it much easier for your readers to learn about all of your books, your book series, and read a blurb or book excerpt. Social media sites are not as effective at this as your own website.
  5. After you set up your website, you don’t have to worry about it every day. Your website is a great central hub of information, but after you spend time writing all of the content, you don’t have to worry about updating the content very often (unless you have a blog, and then you still only need to post once a week or less). If you write crisp and compelling book blurbs, provide book excerpts, and provide great information about you, the only thing you’ll need to do with your website is add new books, update your event calendar, and fix any errors you find. Unlike social media, you don’t need to post every day, making it a great static tool for your marketing efforts.

 

If you are serious about selling books, build a website. If you already have a website, take a close look at it and make sure it’s a beautiful and effective showcase for your books.

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How I ditched Mediacom internet

Me when I'm on the phone with MediaCom technical support
me when I’m on the phone with Mediacom technical support

I live in a very rural area among the rolling hills of south Tennessee. My husband and I moved here for the peace and quiet, plus the opportunity to own some land. We love it here. There are some things to get used to when you when you move to a rural area. It’s a 20 minute drive to the nearest grocery store. There are no pizza delivery options here (although this forced me to learn how to make a killer pizza). One of the biggest challenges has been how to get reliable internet service.  All authors and small business owners need reliable internet access, and over the past month my cable company has almost driven me insane. This post is about how I ditched a big cable/internet company for something more reliable.

When we first moved to our new home, we signed up for the one and only cable and internet service that is available here–Mediacom. Due to the fact that all cable companies have carved out service niches that effectively give them regional monopolies, there is zero competition in my area. According to Gizmodo, only 2% of Americans have any choice at all when it comes to cable/internet companies. For many years, the service was OK. I thought it was too expensive, but since it was only option, we just accepted it.

When reality TV got so popular, it seemed like all of my favorite channels stopped providing quality shows. The History Channel stopped showing history documentaries and started featuring some reality show about pawn shops. Animal Planet stopped focusing on animals and switched to reality TV. National Geographic started featuring a show about doomsday preppers. I really hate reality TV. We cancelled our cable, bought a Roku, and just started streaming video on Netflix and Amazon. For a while, this worked fine. A reliable internet service has always been very important to me since I work from home and need to be able to pop online to do research, to send an email, or to host a webinar or other online meetings. However, over the past two years our service has really started to decline. That’s when I discovered one of the worst problems with monopolies: the companies don’t care about providing great customer service, or even good customer service, because they know their customers have no alternative.

Our problems started out just as annoying blips. Our internet service would go out for no apparent reason, often on bright sunny days with not a storm cloud in the sky. Usually, the service would just magically restore itself after a few hours. When the internet was actually working, it was usually slow. Verrrrry sloooooow. I am pretty sure high speed internet doesn’t usually operate at under 1 mpbs.

slow speed mediacom cable internet

The times I called customer support, the representatives seemed to know very little about actual troubleshooting and could provide no real assistance. Usually they would tell me to just reboot my modem and if that didn’t fix the problem, obviously my equipment was faulty. The few times I did need a technician to come to our home to fix something, I always had to wait two weeks for a service call. TWO WEEKS. Then, sometimes after waiting for two weeks, then having to wait at home between either 8:00 am and noon or 1:00 and 5:00, sometimes the technicians wouldn’t even bother to show up. Luckily, I rarely needed actual service calls.

That all ended this September. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, our internet connection would go out at least two or three times a day. The timing was sporadic. Sometimes it would go out first thing in the morning. Other times around lunch. Sometimes around dinner. It didn’t make sense.

I started calling tech support. They were no help. I scheduled a service call in September, and after two weeks a technician came out, looked at our modem, and said “dunno.” He said our modem and router were both working correctly and he didn’t know why our service was dropping. He supposedly checked the wiring outside, but the problem continued. I called back and scheduled another service call. Even though this was a continuing problem, Mediacom said I’d have to wait another two weeks for help. I lost my temper, did a bit of yelling, and asked for a supervisor. She was somewhat helpful and got my appointment moved up a whole three days.

When the next batch of technicians showed up, they took one look at my modem and said “well, here’s your problem. Your modem is old and isn’t supported anymore.” Sigh. If true, why did the first technician not mention that? Again, they did some testing on my line, said everything was fine, and if I got a new modem my problems would disappear. After they left, I immediately drove to Best Buy to buy a new modem, took it home, installed it, and everything seemed to work. But that only lasted for two days.

After a couple of days with our new modem, our problems got even worse. Every morning around 8:00, just as I was trying to get started with my work day, the connection would drop. It would come back up an hour or two later, then would often drop out again in the afternoon. The connection would then drop in the evening, right around the time my husband and I were trying to stream a TV show or movie to unwind from the day.

Again, I called tech support. They hung up on me twice. Finally, I got through and the representative did some remote tests and said that the problem actually had something to do with the lines outside our house. I told him that the last technicians said me our modem was too old. “Well, I don’t know why he told you that, that’s not true, we still support that modem and it should be fine for at least another year or two,” he said. Again, I scheduled a service call. Again, I was told it would be two weeks.

Around this time, I decided I was going to find an alternative to this crappy service and terrifically bad customer support. No other cable companies operate in my area, but I could get a satellite dish. I investigated that a little. A friend mentioned that some people are now just using smart phones as mobile hotspots and using their phone service for all their internet needs. I found that idea intriguing.

I called AT&T, described my problem, and within minutes knew about several viable alternatives to Mediacom. I could get a satellite dish with high speed internet bundled with my cell phone service for $200 a month. I didn’t much like the idea of getting a dish. Another alternative was to simply bump up the data plan for our smart phones and use our phones for a mobile hotspot for our computers and our Roku streaming device. It was amazing to discover that I could bump up my data plan for not a huge additional monthly charge. In fact, if I bump up my data to 25GB a month, the cost of my cell phone service would actually save me money since I paid Mediacom $55 a month. I decided to try that.

The results have been glorious. I get 4G service here at home so my mobile hotspot is completely reliable and is actually MUCH faster than my crappy Mediacom service. When my husband and I stream movies now, there are no little hiccups, no annoying pauses, no interrupted service. I feel like I’m in control again.

I am unsure why cable companies like Mediacom provide so little training to technicians who visit customer’s homes. The technicians I dealt with over the last few months all gave me conflicting information about what the problem was with my internet service and none of them had any idea how to fix it. If I have to wait two weeks for help, I expect amazing help and very knowledgeable technicians when help finally arrives. I also am unsure why telephone support is so horrendous. Although I guess I answered my questions earlier–if a company has a monopoly, why bother spending money and effort training technicians? During this entire experience, I only encountered one person who actually seemed like he understood internet technology and had any idea what my problem actually was. I’m sure if I kept my Mediacom service, technicians would never have figured out my problem and would have continued to blame my equipment.

I cancelled my Mediacom account an hour ago. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me. Now that I’ve switched to my AT&T hotspot, I no longer worry about not having internet service when I start my day, or the internet dropping out in the middle of a webinar, or not being able to watch a movie in the evening.

However, even though I am very happy I found a solution to my incredibly annoying problem, I think everyone should have more options when it comes to internet access. I really should not have to use my phone to get online and run my business. I should not have to be cautious about how much time I spent online doing research, or running webinars. I shouldn’t have to monitor an app to make sure I don’t go over my data limit.

Other countries realize that broadband internet is a critical part of society and a successful economy (South Koreans enjoy base speeds of over 20 mbps with a cost of about $15 a month!). Everyone in the US should have reasonable access to the internet. Nobody should held hostage by one terrible regional company. Everyone should be able to choose between multiple companies and have options when it comes to internet access. There should be competition, which would improve service, customer support, and cost. My great hope is one day soon new technology (like Wimax) will emerge that renders cable company monopolies obsolete in the world of high speed internet access.

We all seem to hate our cable and internet service providers. They are the most hated customers service companies in the US.  If you hate your cable company as much as I hate Mediacom, and you feel like you have no other option, talk to your wireless phone company about bumping up your data plan and switching to a mobile hotspot. It has worked for me.

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Steampunk coloring book almost ready!

We’ve been working hard on two new adult coloring books, one with a mandala/symmetrical art theme and one with a mechanical/steampunk theme. We’re really pleased with how they turned out! Here’s the cover for the new book to give you an idea of what the images in the book are like.

Here’s the front cover:

steampunkcover

Here’s the back cover. We had a good time coloring the images to create the covers! back

Here are a couple of examples of images inside the book. We’ll share more with you as we get closer to the publication date. inside1  inside2

Independent Book Publishers Association conference

I’m in Salt Lake City, UT right now attending my very first Independent Book Publishers Association’s annual conference. I joined the IBPA a few years ago when I was frantically working on my first self-published book, and it’s a fantastic organization. I’ve learned so much just from the online classes and the monthly magazine, so I decided coming to the conference would be a great investment in my publishing projects.

I have spent a little time in Salt Lake City over the years, usually flying here as a launching point to drive down to the Moab area to backpack and run around in the backcountry of canyons and desert. This is the first time I’ve spent more than a day in the city, and so far I’m enjoying it.

Last night the conference kicked off with a reception for conference attendees, and I met so many inspirational people. So many people are running such innovative and interesting companies, and so many authors are publishing such great books. I can’t wait for the rest of the conference.

Better get started.

What I usually do in Utah: hike. This photo will soon be included in a coloring book about the outdoor world.
What I usually do in Utah: hike. This photo will soon be included in a coloring book about the outdoor world.

Launching new science fiction and steampunk coloring book series

Adult coloring books are all the rage, and we’re getting in on the act with an offering that is a little different. We’re working with the amazing artist Steve Pitts to publish a coloring books of his intricately detailed drawings of mandalas and Celtic designs, but also steampunk and mechanical drawings.

Zororaster symmetrical universe adult coloring book
Scan of the original pen and ink drawing Zororaster

Steve has created his amazing drawings for many decades, entirely freehand with only pen and ink. Everyone who sees an original is blown away by the skill and creativity it obviously takes to draw something so beautiful and so detailed.

When people started to mention that his drawings would make great coloring books, we were intrigued. We took a look, and with some work we were able to put together two lovely books based on his artwork. Because his original drawings are all a fairly large format (14×17 in most cases) we included each original drawing, but then broke the book down into detailed views of many of his most complex drawings. We believe this will give you a great opportunity to use your creativity to design your own colors and interpretations of the drawings.

Steve’s mechanical drawings are also unique in the world of coloring books. Many of his drawings are inspired by spaceships, electronics, and machines, so his drawing will be attractive for people who enjoy the world of steampunk and science fiction.

symmetrical universse mandala adult coloring book steve pitts

 

The coloring books will be available on Amazon on April 20. Get a copy and share your coloring inspirations with us and we’ll publish them here!

symmetrical universe science fiction art steve pitts