Please welcome Eric Mayer today, who is half of the husband and wife writing team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. Mary and Eric have published several short John the Lord Chamberlain detections in mystery anthologies and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine prior to 1999's first full length novel, One For Sorrow.
The American Library Association's Booklist Magazine named the Lord Chamberlain novels as one of its four Best Little Known Series.
Ten For Dying, tenth in the series, appeared in March 2014 from Poisoned Pen Press. Head of Zeus is now publishing the series in the UK and Europe. More info about their writing at http://home.earthlink.net/~maywrite
Today, we hear from Eric. Mary chimed in separately two weeks ago, in her guest post on cheese, bread, and fairies (oh my!): http://theladykillers.typepad.com/the_lady_killers/2014/05/cheese-and-bread-and-fairies-oh-my-by-honored-guest-author-mary-reed.html .
You can't sell books unless you have a website. Or so authors are told. Mary and I don't rush to follow every bit of marketing advice -- we don't do Facebook -- but we've had a site since the mid-nineties, before we even had a published mystery novel to promote. As a matter of fact, the site hasn't changed much in all that time.
Which is a long time, considering how fast things move these days.
What's two decades in "Internet years"?
When we first got online we weren't thinking about marketing. In the days before social sites we were all expected to announce our presence by staking out our own home pages. So Mary and I uploaded some links and old essays and over time we just kept adding more material as the whim took us. The few times we've needed to change servers I simply moved the files to the new location. There are probably pages that haven't been touched since 1995.
If you want to see an example of ye olde tyme amateur hand coding pay us a visit. This was how sites were done before style sheets, before frames, before whatever bells and whistles are being used today that I don't even know about.
It's fitting. We write historical mysteries so why shouldn't our website be a historical artifact? (A much nicer term than "an old ruin," don't you think?)
There are those who will disagree. Most authors today hire web masters who know what they're doing rather than trying to cobble something together themselves. Their sites are polished and professional looking. After all, they are professionals and their sites should reflect it. That argument has some merit. Our site could be improved by a college student who'd work cheap or a gifted third grader who'd do it for free.
But I recall how amazed I was when the Internet was new to me and I realized that by typing out a few simple codes I could create a page with neatly integrated words and pictures that could be seen by browsers all over the world. (Understand, I'm old enough to have used a manual typewriter, ditto masters, and a hand-cranked spirit duplicator.) How much of the real value of a web page is in the content as opposed to the glitz, anyway? For me, almost all of it.
Besides, a hand crafted web page is more personal. Our website is our attic in cyberspace, every corner filled with old essays about whatever interested us at the time, bits of games from my text game period, experiments with scraps of java script from my html tinkering period, we're not even sure what all's up there. I ought to clean it out but if I throw something away, I'll suddenly wish I had it again!
I'd rather be invited to rummage through an author's attic than subjected to yet another glib sales pitch. And you're bound to trip over information about our books while you're rummaging around in the electronic cobwebs.
Now we're thinking of how we might promote this on Twitter:
Visit Mary and Eric's old-fashioned website. Hand made by the authors, just like grandma used to do it.
Don't miss Mary and Eric's home brewed website. All natural hand coded ingredients.
Need to relax? Visit Mary and Eric's place. Not an all singing all dancing website.
Mary and I do our own website. We don't need no steenking webmaster.
Mary and Eric's website is author made. No, it isn't very slick. Dammit Jim, I'm a writer not a coder.
Hey, we're not complete Luddites. We do use Twitter!