(I realize lists of things you shouldn’t do are less helpful than tips on what you should do, but let’s get the basics out of the way first. I’ll get back to the proactive stuff in a bit.)
- Backgrounds, borders, bars, and bullets taken from a free graphics site. You don’t need to go out and collect a bunch of free images to decorate your site. You already have them: your book covers. They’re the only images you need.
- Dancing, spinning, swirling, sparkling, or otherwise moving images, especially backgrounds. Animation calls attention to itself. Unless I’m quite mistaken, you want people paying attention to your writing.
- Fifty affiliate logos on the bottom of your page, of varying sizes, clashing colors, and little relevance. Please, please, just do away with all of these silly things.
- Poor image quality. You of all people should have a good copy of your cover art; if it’s badly distorted, off color, or obviously pixelated, get another one (even if this one came from your publisher). Here are some tips on using and abusing Amazon’s cover images.
Always, always, ALWAYS shrink your images using an image editor. Don’t change the dimensions in the HTML (or the CSS!) in order to resize an image. Why? Two reasons…
- Browsers are not as good at resizing images and the results will be distorted.
- Visitors will not appreciate having to download a big image only to be shown a small version of it.
If you need to use two different sizes of the same image on your site, save two versions of it. Waste the disk space, not visitors’ patience.
Conventional wisdom says you should save images for the web using 72 dpi. Conventional wisdom is pretty much wrong. That’s not a bad setting, though, because the images will print reasonably well.
Does Glamour Shots set up a booth at RWA National or something? When I was visiting romance author sites for that talk a while back, I was creeped out by the number of soft-lit, overly made-up women grinning at me from their home pages. To borrow an apt phrase, I’m just not that into you. The home page is the first impression; it’s your chance to hit me with what you want me to remember. You really want me to remember your hairdo when I came looking for books?
I repeat: your book covers are the only images you need.
You don’t need to put your photo anywhere on the site at all. I’m perfectly happy going through life not knowing what you look like. But if you’re going to do it, for the love of all that is holy, put it on the bio page where it belongs and not right smack at the top of your home page.
Yes, this makes me ranty. And it’s not just the romance authors, either, although it’s endemic in that crowd.
If your photo is your book cover — i.e. you are Lauren Bacall — you get a pass on this rule.
STeph, you are right on the money with this. There are so many web sites that do stuff like this it led me to my golden web rule: just because you can doesn’t mean you should (hey, George Lucas and other CGI people, I’m looking at you too).
Oh, amen on the glamour shots! They really look ridiculous and feed that stereotypical image of romance, which adds to the hurdles of the genre being taken somewhat seriously. So 80s. A Stacy-and-Clinton style makeover is a much better idea and would certainly be more professional. Down with glamour shots!