webpage, www.cmmayo.com, was started by my dad,
in (wow) 1998. That makes it, like, Paleozoic. He taught me how
to maintain it myself, which is surprisingly easy, and in recent
years, my computer coach / IT go-to guy in Mexico City, Rubén
Pacheco, taught me how to use a wider variety of fonts and Apple's
Keynote program with screenshots to make fancier little images
and so improve the design. (There's no doubt a more sophisticated
way to go about this, but for now, this works for me.)
OF LOTUS PETALS UPON YOU,
in his cram-packed one day workshop, Presenting Data
provided tips on how to make the website easier to read and navigate
and, if I do say so myself, I managed to do precisely that. It
looks very different now than it did in 2009 or, say, 2004. I'm
forever learning and fiddling with it. (And by the way, stay
away from www.myfonts.com unless you want to spend
hours surfing around in there.)
YE OLDE AMOEBA
webpage started out as a simple brochure-like webpage for my
collection of stories, Sky Over El Nido, and then, amoeba-like,
year by year, spread out with multiple subpages for my other books, other publications, interviews, events, writing workshops, and specialized subjects
related to my books, such as Maximilian von Mexiko. In 2009 I added podcasts; in 2010, videos; in 2011, a newsletter
archive and sign-up page.
In 2012 I launched a page for my travel memoir-in-progress and a related podcast
JANE FRIEDMAN, VIA SKYPE
After managing this website myself for all these years, in September
2014 I hired the writers' guru Jane Friedman for a two hour consultation
about my website. Acting on her advice, which I thought superb,
to help better orient my visitors, I improved my page headers,
reduced the size of the main menu and added three pages,
FOR READERS & EXPLORERS;
UH, SOFTWARE... AND HARDWARE...
That said, this now giwiggynormungous website is made on my PC
using Adobe PageMill, a program jaw-droppingly wonderful in 1998
but now antediluvian, and which I would not recommend to anyone
getting started today. What do I recommend? Anything MAC. Jane
Friedman urged me to switch to Wordpress, an open-source software, and I shall,
as soon as possible.
Since 2010 I
use a MAC, with my old PC inside the MAC using a neato, if somewhat
glitchy, software called VMWare
JUST OUTSOURCE THE WHOLE SHEBANG?
it takes time to maintain a website, and there is a learning
curve, but I relish the creative process and, as a writer, I
consider it part of the body of my work.
First, establish your budget.
If you don't want to
or cannot spend any money right now, no worries, just do a blog. (Some would argue that
you could just do Facebook.
That wouldn't be me.) That said, a website is not necessarily
going to cost you more than a few pairs of good shoes. OK, maybe
Italian shoes. And in my view, if you want to communicate with
your readers, or anyone else in the literary community, a website
is a vital toolso if you possibly can, make room for it
in your budget.
Forget the PC, get a MAC. If you must keep your PC, put it inside
your MAC using VMWare Fusion.
Make your website using Wordpress. I haven't done this
myself (see left), but so many people I respect have urged me
to use Wordpress that I plan to do precisely that, just as soon
as I can fit the project into my schedule. Update January 2019: This is still on ye olde "to do"
list, but at year-end 2018 I did finally make the move to self-hosted
Wordpress for my blog, www.madam-mayo.com
Of course I could integrate the blog with a new website but I'm
aiming for two sites with two different hosting services. Why?
Resilience. That's another topic.
Don't pay someone else to make or maintain it for you. You're
a writer, this is your major interface with your actual and potential
readers. This isn't rocket science. That said:
Hire an IT person who will come to your house and/or communicate
via Skype and logmein.com
to help you, because for sure, you will need help. (Yelp
is often a good source for this type of service; word of mouth
is even better) Update
January 2019: Another
good resource for WP expert freelancers is Upwork.
For registration of your domain
name and hosting,
I recommend Server101,
which actually is in Australia, because I have been using them
for all these many years quite happily and they seem to me quite
reasonable. Full disclosure: if you mention that I recommended
you, they'll give me a small discount. There are other hosting
services, of course, but I wouldn't know what to tell you about
2019 Update: I also use
Avoid using Adobe's
flash in the design because it's too complicated and
anyway it doesn't work on iPads.
one day workshop if you possibly can.
Hire Jane Friedman
for a consult and/or to help you get started with Wordpress.
Make sure your webpage includes many links (and especially
to your book) and tags on each and every page; otherwise
the search engines won't find you.
Let people know about your website!! This can turn into
a full time job, should that be your path in life, but here are
some super simple and free things you can do immediately:
1. Include your URL in your email signature;
2. If you can stand Twitter, link from your profile page there
and, as the Twitter spirits move you, tweet links to your webpages;
3. Include your webage on your business card (I enthusiastically
4. Link to your website from your blog (see below); and
7. Offer your readers an emailed opt-in newsletter using a service
such as mailchimp. (Want to see what one looks like? Learn about
mine here.) UPDATE: January 2019: Mailchimp utterly and totally is on
my bad list. They sent my account to what their customer service
chatbot calls "the purge cycle" for inactivity, understandably,
but with no warning. I had not backed up my mailing list (yeah,
that was daft), but this also meant that I had to change a good
number of links from my blog and website which had gone to their
sign up form, which was a drag. They invited me to open a new
account; um, I don't think so. In sum, for now I just do a very
once-in-a-ridiculously long while email to those who have asked
to be on my mailing list. I also think we writers, in general,
have been too enthusiastic about newletters. We're interesting,
but not that interesting. Less is more.
Now I am sure you have more questions about websites. But like
I said, I am not the oracle. I am learning, too. Mostly, I spend my time writing. When
I learn more about websites, I will update this page and meanwhile
I send you good wishes!