Advertising Commercial Writing and Other Social Liberties

Stephen Coonts is a commercial writer of long fiction. His home page briefly introduces site guests to each of his character-driven series, each summary following a teaser of most recent publication. There is a very visible and easily discernible “sign up” toolbar for not just email updates but social media access. The links and icons throughout the site are very “low key” and unassuming. The selected text reminds me of a library website, and the personal photo and name overlap is a great fit for his given subject matter, resembling the front of a dollar bill (he writes political/military thrillers). Coonts has a direct link to buy his books on Barnes and Nobles on his home page.

Joseph Young’s home page features an odd wavy line graphic at the bottom which links to his about page. His link dropdown menus on his links keep the actual homepage ¬from appearing too busy, organizing both his collections of work and mode of formality in a simplified manner. The use of lower case is “artsy” (could’ve utilized more?), although the site in itself doesn’t do much with color or graphics. Joseph seems to mostly publish in print (magazines).

Laura van den Berg makes a clear distinction of her most “important” publications on her home page. Clicking on each book takes the user directly to a buy or preorder page, but the most striking thing about the site is the use of graphics for hyperlinks. These images are in conversation with the “forested” background, which definitely sets a tone for her work. Once a user clicks on one of these icons, the actual menu bar appears. There seems to be an endless amount of positive reviews available for each novel (better to have a sample?), but it’s hard to view the website design critically without taking into account the front cover design of her latest publication (available in print), since they’re one and the same.

For comparison’s sake, Clive Cussler seems to sell himself more so than Stephen Coonts as a best-selling commercial fiction writer. There is less information on the home page about individual works, giving the site more of an inventory feel than selling platform despite the initial points about the author himself (hard to know what separates one series from another). The photo Cussler includes is a bit Photoshopy, and the flash link fades into the exact same graphic. Both authors include recent social media activity but Cussler also includes a video of himself. Cussler also offers newsletters specific to each of his novel series but a less “artistic” feel of the website itself given the white background.

I was really inspired by Miranda July’s “refrigerator as dry eraser board website” concept, as well as Amelia Gray’s site given the interplay of a particular background with the surrounding text while scrolling. I haven’t noticed much in terms of authors promoting digital publication, but I do recognize how text type and size can really affect the professional feel of any given website. In the case of Gray’s site, this may not be a feel I want to recreate, but I do see the benefit of both the personal writing touch as well as sampling positive reviews (in moderation).

I’m not sure I like the idea of presenting practically everything you need to know about a particular author on the homepage itself, but if there is a hyperlink toolbar there should be at least three clickable destinations (and no repeats). There is also a minimum distance that should be adhered to between two given lines of text, which can vary (but there is definitely a minimum).



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