1 September 2015

‘Come into my Parlour’ said the Spider to the Fly

No not cobwebs – although I must admit to not liking spiders much, especially those great big hairy ones that scuttle really quickly. One advantage of having poor eyesight is not being able to see them ‘lurking ‘ in the shadows. My philosophy for spiders since moving to the country is: “you stay out of my way and I’ll leave you alone.”

It is the other webs I wanted to talk about. Websites.

Spider’s webs are mostly spaces between bits that are delicate and can break easily. They are mystical things that dangle from one side of a path to the other, or cling to branches or bushes, and glisten with dew in the moonlight or the early morning sun. They are ethereal things – like ghosts, or spirits, or mist. They sort of just appear as if by magic. Then the spaces get filled up: sometimes with interesting things, but often with old bits of dead flies or dried leaves and other non-things.

Websites are very similar. They appear as if by magic at the press of a button and we admire the pretty pictures, and browse the spaces in between the structured rigging (the html code). Some are interesting, others – well the spaces fill up with dead bits and dried old bits, and other non-things…

My website has evolved over the several years that I’ve had it, from something fairly basic to – well, thanks to my webmaster and graphics designer, something almost as intricate as a fascinating spider’s web. It has lots of spaces all of which, I hope, are filled with interesting bits.

The prime object of an author’s website is to promote the business of being an author. So the home page must have the books displayed. The immediate impression should be: “Oh this looks interesting, I’ll have a browse.”

This is not easy as the attention span of a drop-in casual visitor is something like three seconds, and remember, nothing on your website should be more than three clicks away.

It is all very well having your book covers and details of your epic tomes – but how to convince visitors to buy your books? I’ve found one of the best ways to do so is to show that you are an interesting person. If readers are interested in you - what you do, what you have to say, they may very well also be interested in what you write.

At least, that’s the theory.

My graphics designer, Cathy Helms of www.avalongraphics.org produces a new image for the home page each month. On the menu bar are the links to other ‘spaces’ on my web – try the H2U (Helen to You) area. There’s a host of entertainment there! 
I also have a brief ‘diary of events’ and a few links to ‘items of interest’ on the Home page, and linked from the menu, my monthly journal. (Very useful if ever I decide to write my autobiography memoirs!)

September's Home Page Graphic
I have recently introduced a monthly ‘giveaway’: anyone who messages me via my website is entered into a monthly draw. I’ll let you know after a few months if it has attracted any more visitors.

That is one thing that bugs me (excuse the pun) about some author’s websites (or blogs for that matter) No CONTACT button. Why? Do you not want your readers to tell you how much they enjoyed your book, or ask about the next one? Do you not want that agent (or movie producer) who happens to be browsing to contact you and say “hey I like your books!”

I try to make my website a business place where I market my books and I market me. My name ‘tag’ is my brand. I have a similar connecting theme through my website and social media sites – my blog, Facebook and Twitter (@HelenHollick ) - take a look, the background image is the same and the colours are similar. Even my Amazon Author Page   UK and  US  have some continuity as I have the same  mugshot (LoL the spider who owns the web!). 

And no, I’m not the sinister spider lurking in that shadow in the corner of the ceiling, catching innocent flies – I’m tempting readers to come into my parlour to sit a while, and read a book!

Background to my website and blogs
you might not have noticed it!

So click here – and wander round the spaces on my web. (and if you send me a message via the contact button, you might even win a book!) 

Previous article: When David meets that Big Guy click HERE


  1. Another wonderful, fun and to-the-point article, Helen.
    As far as real spiders are concerned, I heartily agree with you--especially when it comes to the flesh-eating Brown Recluse, lurking here in Arkansas.
    So, "keep leaning on the gate," but watch out for small critters.

    1. Thanks Inge - fortunately our spiders here in the UK are either small and harmless or large, hairy and ... harmless. I think our inherent fear of spiders comes as an instinct thing from our ancestors for precisely the reason that many ARE poisonous (we haven't lost that instinct here in the UK though) Either that or our fear is because spiders are actually aliens./...


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