Learning HTML

I think any serious writer should have a Web site. I am always amazed when I meet fellow writers who do not one. Victoria Strauss says:

A website, if it’s properly publicized, is 24-hour-a-day, nonstop billboard advertising for your writing. It launches you into a virtually unlimited public space, where huge numbers of people potentially have a chance to see you and your work. It can introduce your books to people who have never heard of you, place you in contact with readers who want to know more about you, and serve as a professional tool to which you can refer people who want to learn about your writing.

It is also helpful to me to have a Web site because I can refer to my own work. My stories are Online there and I can send the links to anyone very quickly. In addition, I think my writing has improved as I work on my Web site. The act of writing the pages helps me develop my writing skill.

I prefer to build my own site. I like the control and instant gratification of seeing my pages Online at the click of my mouse. I would never be happy waiting for a host to load the content. Plus, web design services can be costly.

Even people like me, folks with little knowledge of HTML, can build a site. There are hundreds of resources on the Web and in bookstores and many free hosting sites, like GeoCities, the one I use. If you can use a computer, you can make a Web site. I did update from the free site to a paying one because I didn’t like the ads that GeoCities puts on their free sites and I did not want geocities in my domain name.

Maintaining the site is what takes time, but a stale old site can be worse than no site at all. Thus, I am in the process of updating my site. I decided than since I will be contacting agents to represent me for my young adult novel, I want a site that reflects who I am now. I had posted several short stories, essays and articles, but nothing geared toward young adults. I decided it would be a good idea to include a page for young people on the site, with perhaps an excerpt or two from my young adult novel. I am developing that page.

I had previously been using the PageBuilder on GeoCities to build my pages. I have outgrown that program, which I think is helpful for beginners. When I first started building my site I thought HTML was a secret code that designers learned. I had no idea where to start in building a Web site. PageBuilder helped me create and edit my pages without software such as Dreamweaver or Frontpage. I found it to be much like using Microsoft Word.

PageBuilder may be a good tool for beginners, but it is tedious to use and I sometimes could not save the pages after I had developed them. I could usually make a few changes, save the page, and then the program would freeze and I’d have to reboot. It was frustrating and a time waster having to redo work. Others have had the same issue with GeoCities.

This weekend I stumbled upon this HTML tutorial at w3schools.com. It has changed my Web building life. The tutorial makes it so easy to learn HTML that I taught myself on Sunday morning in a couple of hours. I had always thought HTML was complicated, but it is quiet simple. It is actually quicker to put in the HTML tags on my pages than to use GeoCities page builder. I won’t suggest that my site looks like a professional developer built it, but I am happy with it. I think it will be a good platform to show case my work for now.

I wanted a simple site without many bells and whistles. I dislike flash on any Web site–I always skip introductions and hate any pages that take forever to load. So I wanted my site to be bare bones. I hope I succeeded.

The site is now about half finished and I’ll continue to work on it when I have time. The home page and several other pages done or in process. For now, I’ve linked to some of the old pages–I’ll get to them when I can. I plan on plugging away on the Web site and sending submissions to agents. Wish me luck.

I welcome any suggestions on how to improve my Web site.

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2 Responses to “Learning HTML”

  1. I still use w3schools as a reference from time to time, and I’ve been doing web development for years. It’s a great resource.

  2. A website is certainly a great tool for writers who are willing to devote time to doing one well.

    I began my website as a means of marketing a book about teaching writing that was (is) still awaiting layout. Publishers expected me to have a mailing list and a website was the only way I knew to develop a list from my central New York home, which is 8 miles from the nearest red light.

    Learning HTML has been a small part of what I have had to learn. I had done other websites before, but I had never attempted to optimize them for commercial use. Anybody can put up a website ( I had put up several!), but putting up a site that attracts traffic and presells visitors on buying your writing is entirely different. Fortunately, I found Site Build It!, which provides web hosting and a wealth of support services for growing a web businesses.

    Thanks to SBI, my site has grown from 2 unique visitors a day in February to over 100 a day this month. Visitors are contacting me asking for that book that still hasn’t been laid out. And they are suggesting materials they want to buy.

    The best part of web work, for me, has been the variety it offers. I don’t just write. I do graphic design, marketing, sales, SEO, bookkeeping, customer service. The work is sometimes frustrating, but it is never boring. And it means I am not financially at the mercy of publishers.

    Linda Aragoni
    http://www.you-can-teach-writing.com

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