Author Archives: janetsyasnitsick

About janetsyasnitsick

Visit blog for writing, marketing tidbits to dazzle your creative endeavors. New book: Courtships and Carriages, a sweet Christian romance, (two proposals but who wins Gwen's heart?). Other works: Ruth Ann Nordin's and Janet Syas Nitsick's anthology, Bride by Arrangement; Janet's five-star, inspiring-historical romance, Lockets and Lanterns; 10th place story, "The Silver Lining;" and Best of Year book, Seasons of the Soul. Background: former journalist and language-arts teacher. www.JanetSyasNitsick.com

Developing Effective Web sites

Ruth Ann Nordin and I just returned from a Heart of America Christian Networking conference. We had a wonderful time. The conference revitalized our faith and our writing. There were many workshops, and one of those was on how to develop an effective Web site. That workshop was facilitated by Jim Watkins of Wesleyan Publishing.

As you develop your site, pay close attention to detail and keep it consistent, he said. He highlighted Billy Graham’s site as a good example of a well done Web site — simple, easy to read and not cluttered with material. Here is a link to that site for your examination:  http://billygraham.org/video/heaven/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=November%202014&utm_campaign=CTV&SOURCE=BT14BYGGS&gclid=CPWlsobI88ECFehAMgodSmkA4Q

Define the blog or Web site’s purpose, he said. Is it for people to get to know you better through an author biography (which, according to him, is a must), to sample your material and/or purchase your books or what? If your ultimate purpose is for visitors to buy your products then make sure no more than two clicks gets them there or anywhere on your site, Watkins said.

The home page should show what you are offering, he said. Also, give viewers a way to search your site and contact you.

In addition, keep the site simple, the best readability still is white background with black lettering, Watkins said. Use fonts, such as Helvetica, which are easy to read. Point sizes should be no smaller than 10 to 11 points and use one font throughout your site. However, you can vary that font by using bold and italics and no matter what do not use all capital letters, he advised.

In the United States, we read from left to right so place the most important item(s) there, he said. Size, in addition, denotes significance, thus your largest lettering is the most prominent with each degradation in point size portraying less relevance, Watkins continued.

Adding color to your Web site is fine but make sure the color is rememberable because it should be used across media spectrums, he said.To go along with his point, I would tell you not to use white lettering. Because when you print out white lettering on white paper, it will not show up.

Watkins cautioned you to not overload your site with images. This, as you know, also takes more time to load and could make people leave your site before it finishes loading. I went to a Web site a few years ago, and it took forever to load the fancy wallpaper. I have not gone back since because I do not have time for that. So think of these details when designing your site.

Watkins likes WordPress because it is easy to use. WordPress has Web sites and blogs (which you could use as a Web site). Yahoo small business also is good, he said. These have templates you can choose and are about $120 a year and also are pretty easy to use, said a person familiar with this method.

After you have a Web site, how do you promote it? Watkins suggested you use Facebook to ask questions, prompting people to interact and to visit your site. I have such a question. To those who have read Courtships and Carriages, what character would you like to see as my main character in Book Two of the Great Plains series? You can respond here. I will later post this question on Facebook.

Well, have a great day and I hope this post was informative. Many of the Lord’s blessings to you until we meet again.

Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Promotion, Marketing & Promoting | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Having a Good Team

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Just as a sport’s team needs to have good team work to win games so does the writer.

With the finish of my sweet-Christian romance, Courtships and Carriages, I reflected on how much a good product stems from those behind the scenes. In other words, an author needs a good team. These include an eye-appealing cover, good editors and having a story which takes people on a journey that entices readers to read more and want more.

An eye-appealing cover is important, such as the one for my newest release, Courtships and Carriages. This beautiful cover is above.

However, getting a good design which matches your novel is not easy. It takes the right photograph as well as relaying the right story concept. Mine says sweetness and romance, all fitting the story. But other genres require different qualities, such as a horror book depicting dark or black designs to denote evil lurking in the corridors.

At a glance, readers need to know what lies behind the cover. Currently, I am reading, Doctored Evidence. What is on the cover? A picture of a doctor’s stool and the type of bed you would find in his office or in an emergency room. As indy publishers or with certain traditional publishers, you can have some input on your cover. But a traditional-published book without an author’s input, places that author’s story at the whims of their graphic designer. This could lead to disastrous results like a cover depicting a man wearing pajamas, but no scene contains anything of that sort.

A good cover also needs to focus on not more than three concepts. My Courtships and Carriages has three — the girl, the basket and the yellow-wheeled carriage. Each of these are important to the storyline.

If you are a self-published author, you need to make sure you hire a professional to do your design work or are proficient in developing a cover. I met an author a couple of years ago who used his mother’s painting of their Alaskan cabin for the cover. It was awful. After talking to the man, I heard intriguing stories about his family’s experience in Alaska, such as a bear peeking into their window when a certain television show was on air. I bought his book after talking to him, but if I only had seen his cover I would have dismissed it.

Another must is to line yourself up with good editors. I cannot tell you the importance of having an excellent team in this regard. I have readers who look over my manuscript from a reader’s perspective. One reader is especially knowledgable about farm animals since she grew up on a farm. She also is a great resource for lanterns and cooking without electricity because she experienced these.

However, I also have wonderful editors. They are great in finding grammar and spelling errors, historical inaccuracies, making the story flow smoothly and providing suggestions to improve the overall work. I am so grateful and I cannot thank them enough. Without this team, my work could end up in a wastebasket.

Of course, a key is to have a story which makes readers turn pages. I cannot tell you how heartsick I was last year to learn that my story needed major changes. It would not work as a book in a series as I planned so I made changes and started a new series with Courtships and Carriages. Her input was extremely valuable. It improved the work and although I hated to hear this terrible news it also was what I needed to hear. The story is better and it freed me from having to stay under the guidelines of a villainous character which I was trying to turn into good. Now the story flows and the characters shine. Thanks so much to this special person.

So line up a great team. One which also works for you and remember this sometimes takes time to find, but you will and as always I will end with a God bless.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Facebook Scam Artist

As writers we need to be out there for people to reach and know about us. However, in this process, we also make ourselves vulnerable for scams. Last week, for example, I received a scam and wanted you to be aware of this in case you are targeted as well.

The scam was quite prevalent and wide spread as I saw other posts talking about this particular one. The first inquiry was a message I got from a high-school friend who I never had chatted with before on Facebook. So I was delighted to hear from her and knew her to be a good and honest person, this was why I did not discount the message from the very beginning.

The message began with a hello and I responded with a “hi.” It started quite seductively with a couple lines of conversational banter then went into its scam which ran something like this: Did you know Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is running a $90,000 lottery promotion?

I questioned the lottery promotion angle from the beginning. Lotteries are run by municipalities or states and is a form of gambling so how in the world could he offer a lottery promotion, which would not only include the United States but all over the world? This could not be legal. In Nebraska, there was a ballot issue to allow for casino gambling (in order to compete with Council Bluffs, Iowa, which has several casinos and lies across the river from Omaha). The Nebraska measure was defeated, but my point is it had to be legally approved. So as a political junky and former journalist, the word, “lottery,” was a red flag.

The message told me my supposed friend’s portion was “delivered” to her. Delivered? Money is either sent to your checking account or a check is sent to your home but “delivered?” This too gave me an uneasy feeling.

It proceeded, saying they saw my profile as a winner and I needed to contact this claim agent to receive it. At first, I thought my friend was kidding so I wrote yes and I better claim that 50 cents. After this, the person provided a link to this particular claim agent’s Facebook link. If the Internet has taught me anything, it is to not click links from unknown sources.

The message continued I could see “she” was serious. I finally said you are serious, aren’t you? Yes this person replied. At this point, I stopped communicating with my supposed friend and really got an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my gut.

I called a friend and asked her advice. She too thought this whole thing sounded too good to be true and mentioned a fact I had not thought of and this was what were the odds that both of you could win?

So later, I returned to my regular tasks when about a half hour later a writing friend asked me to befriend her. I confirmed it since I did know her. The message again started with a “hello” then asked if I heard about the $90,000 lottery giveaway. This is when I knew definitely it was a scam.

What did I do? I deleted the messages and reported the scam to Facebook. You can to do this on your page and select different options, such as “delete” or “delete and report scam.” I soon discovered the person who requested my friendship was already my Facebook friend. I unfriended the fake one and, as with anything of this nature, it is suggested you change your password.

Anyway, I thought I would alert you to this since as writers you are on the Internet to interact with friends and give them updates on what you are doing in the writing arena. I hope this helps you, and remember most people are honest brokers but there always are those scammers. God bless.

Categories: Social Networking | Tags: , , , , ,

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