Like with the previous two guests, I met Michelle Newcome at a local GRW meeting and was instantly drawn to her larger than life personality. Michelle is currently very active on GRW’s Board as our new Historian and is leading the endeavor to update Georgia Romance Writers web presence. Although I have not yet read Michelle’s manuscripts, I’m a frequent visitor to her blog and get a kick out of her tongue in cheek entries. Help me in welcoming Michelle Newcome to our list of treasured guests.
Part One – Websites
Tami – Thanks for inviting me to talk about one of my favorite subjects – websites – and particularly about unpublished writers having one. You can check out my website at www.michellenewcome.com
For me a website is like a nose – everyone should have one, but some are more attractive and well-suited than others. I’ve seen a few websites that could use some wart removal.
I’m a big believer in websites partly because my husband began his career doing websites and partly because I’m what is known as an “early adopter.” I like the new fangled things.
But, do all unpublished writers need a website? Back to the noses for a second – do you really need to smell everything? I mean, there are some scents out there that are pretty heinous. Cattle dung, burnt coffee and the air outside Savannah when the paper mills are going at full tilt – to name a few.
Then again, what about the lovely smells – roses, baking bread and the fresh washed skin of your children? You’d miss out on those without your nose.
Maybe I should tell you how I woke up one day and smelled the coffee? I had completed one manuscript and was nearly done with a second, and the third and fourth were all plotted out, when my phone rang (oh, those ears are handy as well!). The caller was letting me know I was a finalist in The Maggies. That alone wouldn’t have been enough, but I began checking out who I’d schedule my extra pitch session with. I came across a website with an agent guest blogging. She talked about how the first thing she does when she gets a query she sort of likes is to see what kind of web presence that writer has established. What’s the writer’s brand? What does the writer have to say about themselves? Are they building a career and treating themselves like a business?
I smelled something funny and it wasn’t my old dog, George. I did not have a website. Although, Googling myself did reveal my entire job history. Finaling in a big contest like The Maggies was probably some kind of indication that I was moving in the right direction (sniffing the direction the wind was blowing, first). So, like anyone with a nose for bargains, I ran next door to my husband’s office and said, without any drama at all I swear – “Honey, bust me out a website right quick!” Can you tell I’m difficult to live with?
He asked me some hard-nosed questions. He’s a marketer and likes to know all kinds of pesky things like, “what’s your platform?” “Who is your audience?” “If you were a nose, would you be Roman or pug?” I had no answers.
He quickly passed me off to one of our favorite vendors, Don Grant. Don left his high-powered advertising job to open his own shop and he specializes in branding. Did I mention Don is a man? Don does not read romance novels. Much hilarity ensued with me trying to explain how romance novels work. Don wanted to know what, exactly, was I trying to say with my books. What set me apart?
No one had ever nosed around my work like that! He even read writing samples. We had one really funny conversation involving a “personal massage device” and batteries. This process not only provided some laughs – I came out of it truly understanding who I was as an author. I knew I was a brand and I knew what my writer’s face looked like. I’m going to be published – I have too big a nose not to be – and when I am, I’m already really certain of what my brand is and what I have to say. I know what my nose looks like from every angle.
So, the big question every unpublished writer needs to ask when contemplating their “face” is – do I need a nose job? And my best advice is – don’t let your husband do the surgery, consult a professional. The product you end up with will smell like a million bucks and suit YOUR face.
Thanks for your point of view Michelle. I was relieved to see that agents actually do look at websites (at least some of them, I guess). I, like you, believe whole-heartedly in marketing. The way I figure it, get as much promotion done as you can before you get that first contract! I love your nose analogy- perfect!
This WAS a hilarious post…
I completely agree with both Devon and Michelle. The more you do before you get published is less you have to do after (when all hell (or so I’ve been told it can be hell) breaks loose). When I read Scott Eagan’s post in the Galley – his opinion is that websites take time and unpublished authors should be using that time to write – I was a bit disheartened (is that a word?).
But I remembered reading another agent’s blog that said she personally did look at websites for unpublished authors who send manuscripts to her. I also remembered attending another agent’s workshop who said she too looked at websites.
So, for every person out there who does not, there are those who do. In other words, it’s up to the individual writer when they want to start their own site. I just happen to believe it should be sooner rather than later.
Thank you guys so much for posting your opinions on this subject. I love that people will get more than one person’s POV…