Website Update, January 2021

Posted on January 27th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: Website Updates

As you can see, things are looking mighty different around here and on my socials.

Now that I’m getting back into the game this year with planned releases and regular blog posts, I thought it was time that ye ole website got a fresh coat of digital paint.

Right now the website updates are almost purely cosmetic. It started with a new brand logo commissioned from GetCovers.com. From there I followed their recommended branding guidelines to develop the new stylesheet.

For the blog, I decided to simply re-color the existing WordPress template. Because honestly? I hate working with the nuts and bolts of WordPress templates, even though the content management for the blog is fantastic.

I do have more updates I’d like to get done in 2021. First, I will be adding additional stylesheets to make the site more mobile-friendly. Second, I’d like to devote a new section to freebie shorter works as well as a place to find upcoming book previews without digging through the blog. I’ve been working on a backlog of shorter fiction, and I hope to share some of it on the website. Finally, I want to make some serious upgrades to the Contact Me screen.

This next part is for you tech nerds: I am debating a change in hosting so I can really do some upgrades, but there are some details I need to make sure I understand about the blog portion of the site, specifically, before I take that kind of leap. I’d like to be able to rewrite the whole thing in a modern javascript framework and get rid of some of the stuttering that you sometimes see in the animations on the main site. I can’t do that while I remain on my current hosting due to the limitations of traditional shared hosting.

That’s pretty much all I have to say about this. Please, let me know what you think, especially if you stumble across any bugs (broken links, browsers that display funny, etc).

 

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Reviews Matter

Posted on January 24th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: Uncategorized

This is kind of a heavy blog entry. Before I get into it, I’m not looking for pity. If anything, I’d just like people to read this and think about the creative people in their life who may at times feel like no one sees their work. Okay, so with that disclaimer out of the way, here goes…

One of the hardest things about writing to self-publish, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually have anything to do with writing, per se. It’s more about the parts that come after you hit “Publish.” It’s what comes after marketing campaigns that seem to get you… nowhere.

I didn’t really expect much when I published Saving the Dragon. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t much. And yet… it was more. I thought I’d get more reviews. Double digits, at least. Which I have on Goodreads and I’ve very grateful for that, but Amazon has sat at eight for years. Other platforms have no reviews despite some sales. The audio has had zero despite the promo codes I’ve given out. And that makes me feel awful because I feel like I haven’t just let myself down with my marketing, but the narrator as well.

Saving the Dragon isn’t an earth-shattering, amazing, life-altering book. But it’s fun. It’s light. A small bit of escapism in a world that sucks right now. And I thought more people would enjoy it. Granted, I haven’t really made any effort to market it recently, aside from the occasional interaction on Twitter. But the truth is that it doesn’t feel worth the effort. I don’t expect to recoup the money I’ve spent on FB ads and the like in the past. Yet, I had hoped for more of a pay-off.

Today was an amazing writing day for me. I wrote a complete flash fiction story. I started on a short story for an event next month. I got some revision done on a project that I’m keeping under wraps for now. And yet— I feel worthless as a writer. Because it feels like no one is reading my work, and no one will because it’s fallen so far down in the search results. And no matter how much I beg and plead with people who actually care about me that have read it I can’t even get them to write a review and help me improve visibility.

Feelings aside, reviews drive algorithms and recommendations. If you liked a book and don’t review it, you aren’t helping other people find it. You aren’t helping that author grow their audience.

So, the next time Amazon sends you an email and asks you to rate that book you read last week… Please. The time it takes you to write a sentence and click a star rating could totally turn some author’s day around.

 

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January 2021 Updates

Posted on January 17th 2021 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: News, Website Updates, Writing

Where do I even begin? 2020 was a crazy year for me in more ways than one, and not just the obvious. You would think being largely trapped at home I would have had plenty of time to get some writing done, right? Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

So let’s just hit the highlights. Last year in August I married the love of my life.

Matt and I at our wedding

Matt and I at our wedding

Before that we adopted a kitten. Her name is Zoe and she’s spoiled rotten. She loves her big brother Mayhem.

Zoe and Mayhem

Zoe and Mayhem

I went back to school for my bachelors. That’s been a trip. I may have a post about that in the future if anyone is interested.

And finally, we sold our house (finally closed this month) and moved into my childhood home. The first thing we did upon moving in was replace the flooring. A lot of flooring. We still have the room that will be my office to go. I hope to be uploading some pictures of my sweet new office set-up by the end of the first quarter. In the meantime I am doing my writing and my normal day job sitting at a desk crammed in the bedroom. Since I sometimes start work super early in the morning my poor husband has learned so sleep with me typing literally three feet away. The things we do for love, right?

But Sara, what about your writing? Are we ever going to get that long-promised sequel to Saving the Dragon?

Yes, my friends. I have finally had a breakthrough and am once again making good progress. I’ve been stuck in this sort of in-between state where I’m not really revising but also not really writing the first draft anymore and it has been hell. At this point I am writing the “first draft” of the remaining scenes that are needed to complete the ending and go back and fill in some things I now know I need back at the beginning. Once that is complete I have a list of revisions I know I need to make to the first 2/3s based on some serious character changes. After that I can go into a full, normal revision pass and work on cleaning it up before getting it to some beta readers. I am optimistic about getting the draft completed sometime in the first quarter. Be on the look-out for a new release date announcement.

In other news, I’ve started working on an overhaul of the website. I know that doesn’t seem like a productive thing to be doing in light of the unfinished writing I have, but hear me out. In addition to being a part of my platform as an author, my website also serves a more practical purpose. It gives me a real-world project to experiment with for skills that apply to my day job, the thing that still pays the bills (because let’s face it, writing ain’t paying no bills right now). So the website re-write has been an on-and-off work in progress for a while. I’m playing with a framework I have some experience with, but have never built a site from scratch with before. I have to say it’s been quite fun (and frustrating). I hope y’all like the finished product. If I’m lucky I might be able to coordinate the launch of the new website with the release of Courting the Dragon.

I think that’s pretty much it for this update. As part of my plan to get back into the game here I will be trying to post at least one monthly update to the blog, plus some meatier posts as the opportunity arises. So stay tuned, and Happy New Year!

 

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