viva la revolucion

One year ago this weekend, something happened to this website. I doubt very many of you noticed it because I know for a fact that almost no one who is reading these words now was reading my blog a year ago. But it was an important milestone for me, my life as an author and my social media presence, so important I refer to it as “the revolution,” which began with this post. May 24, 2013 was the day stopped being another boring author website, and I’m making this post, one year later, to tell you that it was the best thing I ever did online.

I was once a newbie to the world of author promotion online, and as a neophyte, I felt I had no choice but to follow the advice that was given to me by people, some of them professionals, who were knowledgeable in this area. I was advised that my website should heavily promote my books, most notably Zombies of Byzantium which had just come out, but also my past titles; that it should have links to where readers could buy them, an easy contact info site, and a blog section. The blog, said the Experts, should be the centerpiece of the site. I should do lots of articles on writing tips, on the publishing world, and on various facets of my books–for example, maybe a few pieces on zombies or on Byzantine history, but don’t overdo it. Oh, and I was supposed to have blog tours. Lots of blog tours for other authors. This was the key to success.

old site

Believe it or not, this is what this website used to look like. Sucks, doesn’t it?

In the first months of the existence of this site I followed this advice. I’d post maybe twice a week, usually about writing or story issues, and occasionally I’d have an article that was reasonably popular–Bobby Ewing in the shower, for instance. The day I got mad at TrueTwit was a good day for my site, as that has been a very popular article too. But page views were very low, and I wasn’t selling many books. In February 2013, the month Zombies of Byzantium came out, my blog averaged 23 page views a day. That was generous. Some days I had none at all.

Then one day–May 23, 2013–I took a look at my blog, and you know what? I got bored by it. It was dull. It was listless. It wasn’t a site I wanted to follow or read regularly, even though it was my own site. I started looking at other author websites. I discovered they were exactly as dull as mine was. They were platforms to sell books. The blog sections, full of bland writing and publishing tips for other authors, did not tell me a single thing I hadn’t already heard a hundred times. There was just nothing there.

So I trashed that website. I decided, instead of boring writing tips and book promotions, I’m going to do stuff that I would find interesting if I was out there surfing the web. So I decided I would do history. I would do movies. I would do cooking. I would do wine. I would do missing persons. Those initial categories have branched off and evolved into even more eclectic stuff that I would never have dreamed of doing before, such as (always a hit) and reviews of Choose Your Own Adventure books. I’ve also done some really great quality stuff, if I say so myself, like the “42 Historical Objects” series.

If you think I’m going to miss a chance to plug this awesome Sidney Bechet song, which I profiled hereforget it!

Since the “revolution,” this website has reached 282,397 people, according to WordPress’s stats. I’ve met some wonderful people and even taken on collaborators. I feel like this site has become an extension of myself. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m incredibly happy with it. But I could not have done any of it without you, the readers, the friends, the sharers and commenters and collaborators, the readers who keep coming back here day after day.

So thank you. Thank each and every one of you. Long live the revolution! Death to the Boring Author Website! Vive la liberté !