Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Practical Matters

I may have to give up on the "normal" thing. I was up again last night to the wee hours, working on revising those last chapters, which meant I slept in again (and then lay there daydreaming for a while). I may have to set an alarm to jolt myself out of that particular sleeping pattern, and even then I doubt it will do me much good because if I know I don't have to be anywhere or have any other reason to get up early, I've been known to just turn the alarm off. I don't think it's a problem, in general, except when I have to be somewhere before noon, and I have a lot of those kinds of events coming up. It would be nice to reset my internal clock a little bit so I can function in the morning (or at least fake it).

Now that I've got a little time to play with promo ideas and plans, I find myself faced with a few big decisions on what resources to allocate and how to allocate them. There is one big issue at work with all of this: I'm kind of cheap. I have a healthy dose of Scottish blood, and I'm coming out of a phase in my life when I had no money at all (more than two years of unemployment with occasional freelancing before I got a book deal), which makes it very hard to spend money. I guess I have a Depression-era mentality that makes me want to save for an inevitable rainy day. So spending large amounts of money on anything goes against my nature, even when I can sort of convince myself that it's actually an "investment" in my business. The big "investment" I'm pondering at the moment is the Romantic Times Booklover's Conference in May. That's a huge fan-fest for readers, writers and booksellers with lots of parties, chances to promote yourself, booksignings, and the like. I've tried asking people about it so I could quantify the value of it, but I haven't had a straight or definitive answer. I've heard that it's a lot of fun (if you like big, wild parties), but from the sounds of things, it's only a really good promotional tool if you write certain kinds of books and are really good at getting out there and promoting yourself.

I do happen to write one of those kinds of books, and if I'm "on," I have found that my presence can do a lot to encourage people to check my books out. I'm basically a nice person, and a lot of times people who talk to me come away thinking that if I write like I talk, my books should be at least mildly amusing. Anyone who goes to the effort and expense to go to an event like this is bound to be passionate about books, so they're people who would be likely to spread word of mouth. I just haven't been able to convince myself yet that I'll get a value out of it that's anywhere near the expense of it. Everyone who attends would have to buy at least one copy of one of my books for it to even out in royalties, or else there are other proportions, like half of the people there would have to buy at least one book and then tell at least one person, etc. I have to make up my mind by next week because then it becomes even more expensive.

Then there's the web site issue. I design and maintain my own site (which reminds me, I need to update it), but my agent is nagging me to get a more "professional" looking design. I'm kind of an oddball about the web. As long as the information is there, I don't care what a site looks like (I think fondly of the days of the Mosaic text-based browser), so I'm still not convinced about the value of going for a slick, glitzy site. I think it's better to have something that's not entirely ugly but that has lots of info and that's updated with fun new stuff every so often than to have a slick, static site that's updated less often and has less stuff on it (because you have to go through some designer to get it updated). Maybe I could compromise and get a professional logo and some header type things done that I could throw onto a site I continue to put together and maintain.

Needless to say, I'm all about the cost/benefit ratio. Sometimes I'm too practical for my own good.


Tori Lennox said...

It's been my experience in cruising the 'Net that professional doesn't always equal good design. I've seen some so-called professional sites that really suck swamp water. Personally, I think your site is cute.

Jana J. Hanson said...

I commented at your Live Journal but I'll repeat that I like your website and ditto what Tori commented.

Maura said...

Your website isn't flashy or trendy but it's cute and doesn't look "unprofessional", IMHO.

I'm also Scottish - with both money AND control issues. I ended up becoming one with photoshop and designing my own web graphics and then just sticking them on a site I maintain myself. I'm no HTML guru but I like being able to change or update the site whenever I want to.

If you really want to update it, you could always pay someone to set up the initial design and then maintain it yourself. That's usually not all that expensive.

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