Seeking Reader Advice: Book Website

I hate to ping readers for help, but I am going through a bizarre period. For many years, I was able to find very high quality professional help (attorneys, accountants, tech support) with ease. In fact, I seemed to always get people who were very smart and grossly overqualified.

Now I am going through a phase in which I have had so many peculiar and just plain bad incidents that it sounds like a Woody Allen routine. For instance, someone recommended a doctor who is known as a very good diagnostician. The day I go to his office (summer) he is wearing tight biker style trunks (mid-thigh) a vivid print, with a Hawaii shirt in an equally vivid but non-matching print on top. After I spend maybe five minutes describing my complaint and what is relevant from my medical history (and I have my records so he can see more), he proceeds to tell me how I remind him of three people he hates. And I still had to pay $250 for the privilege of being harangued.

By contrast, when I was working on the book, a number of very smart and grossly overqualified people showed up to help….so it seems my finding-professional-help karma has transferred over to the Yves me, leaving the real me at sea.

The real me has been trying to find someone to do a teeny bit of website design. This is not for NC; that is going to be (mainly) a long-term project of feature tweaks, with a little work on text layout, per the advice you gave (thanks!)

Publishers ask authors to put up websites on their books at their own expense. The feedback I have gotten from authors (and this includes well established authors) that it is a waste of money. However, most think having a landing page for the book that has basic info is useful (jacket image, some blurbs, an excerpt, a brief description of what the book is about, and when reviews come out, quotes from a few reviews with links to them, and most important, an “Order Now” button that then goes to a page with links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, maybe the very big independents too). NC would then have a thumbnail of the book cover, with an “Order Now” button and a ‘Learn More” button that goes to the same www.econned com landing page (yes, I bought the URL a while ago).

So this isn’t a big job at all, and it is hard to find people who are good and also game for small jobs. My old designer was frighteningly talented (he was one of the only people I have seen who could get look and feel right on the first pass, with anything as minor as glamming up documents to website and brochure design across a wide range of clients (the firm he worked for had a lot of cutting edge accounts, so he did some very edgy stuff). He was also a complete diva (a professional dancer in an earlier incarnation, so he had been practicing at that his entire life), and proceeded to get more and more difficult with his boss (who everyone agreed cut him a ton of slack) as well as me, and quit on a lot of people in huff, so as a result I do not have a designer any more.

I am also thinking it might be better to have the landing page be a blog IF it can be done without compromising the design or making the implementation too complicated (the reason being I can update it when the reviews come in, but I do not intend to put up a lot of reviews. This site is a teaser/selling tool, not a compendium).

So if you know of anyone who could handle this, and would be up for a really small gig and could do this SOON, please let me know!

I also have a fun idea for a video, but it is not directly related to the book, more philosophically related (an imaging thing, not a message delivery vehicle. Would require clever editing of existing footage, none of it of boring talking head types….goal is to be cool and adventuresome. I have an idea of how it might work, but that does not mean it is as good an idea or as doable as I think it is). But that is really tertiary, the big priority is the book.

And a final question: do any of you every look at the author connect pages at Amazon? I never have, so I can’t relate. I was advised to sign up since it will display recent blog posts, but they also want a photo and bio, and I am really not keen about that. I blog as Yves Smith for the same reason J.K Rowling chose to write as J.K. Rowling, and I’m not big on pushing me as a personality (that idea strikes me as bizarre, and it seems to me that is what those pages are implicitly about), particularly since that does not make a ton of sense with an argument book.

Thanks for your patience and advice! If you want to discuss further, off-line, please ping me at

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  1. Ted K

    I don’t know anyone directly to recommend. But I have an idea. If there are any Universities located nearby, you might just poke around the professor offices of the Computer Design Department (or other related majors to what you want) and see if they know any youngsters looking for a job or work. Usually college students are very eager to find any extra work to turn a dime, especially now. You’re apt to find a diamond in the rough there somewhere, especially if they were recommended by the professor.

  2. tfitzaz

    I cannot help with the design, but I definitely would put up an Amazon author connect post, I go to Amazon first to look for books I am interested in. Youtubes might help illustrating key issues and points in the book.
    Not easy to find, but there are so many talented unemployed people out there, and if you find a person who believes in what you are writing about, even better.
    Also getting your book excerpts and reviews posted on other big sites, that refer to your new site, like Truthdig, Salon, Huffington Post.

    These days, a great site to complement your blog is essential on getting the word out and keeping people interested.

  3. Hal R.

    As a consumer I love to shop on line for books. I always look at the table of contents page first and 2nd the index if it has one. Autographed copies are always a plus for me. I detest splash pages nor have I ever gone to the author’s web site.

    I always buy across the phone never on line, but I still use dial up. Compatibility and time consumed with some shopping carts are a pain with me. I’m a Jakob Nielson type of consumer and just a little old fashion. sell sell sell and Good Luck.

  4. S. Miller

    I never looked at the Amazon authors page until today when I was trying to figure out what other books Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, had written. The name was just too common to separate him from other people with the same name.

    Good Reads has authors pages. Some authors choose to cross-post blurbs from their blog posts onto the Good Reads website.

    What you are asking for does not seem too difficult, and you should be able to get a student to do it. I don’t think that you necessarily need a full blown blog to update the reviews portion of the site. Something that has something as simple as CushyCMS for a section of a page could do. I do this for a site that I neglect while I am gainfully employed.

  5. Walt Kuenstler


    I have some experience with all this. We are an independent publishing company, primarily working with author funded books.

    1)Yes, a small web site as you describe is important.(go to

    2)Yes, videos such as you describe can be very effective.

    I have excellent suppliers for both. Email me if you would like to know more. I am on the level and am a very faithful reader.

    Walt Kuenstler

  6. Bob Alexander

    Hi Yves … we are independent film distributors, internet based, and as we have gotten into this, the number of web assets we have deployed and managed has grown substantially. I can send you links etc. You are right that this should be a small job. You are right that it requires some on-going maintenance. You are right that a blog front end is a good idea (cause you can do a lot of the updates yourself if you want to). I don’t think you should underestimate the value of having a good page. Your story has touch my heart! We’ll offer to do it for you gratis if you like. Contact me if interested. Bob

  7. dlr

    Yves, The important thing is to make sure that Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and Google Books have a nice big chunk of the text available on line as a ‘grabber’. People won’t buy books on-line if they can’t read some of it first.

    1. IF

      I agree with dlr. I do nearly all my shopping online, of which a lot gets done on Amazon. Before buying a book, I read the comments, browse the book using the “look inside” feature. I never cared about an authors page or a dedicated book site. That sounds like the movie promotion sites. I go to those, but just to see samples of the upcoming movie. Basically, would be wasted on me. So, I vote for making it as simple as possible. Maybe just point from there to to see the author in action?

  8. Scott S


    I’m a filmmaker (my last film was at Sundance) and I make on-air promos for TV shows and movies. Have a look at the work on my site and if you think I can be of help with your video project, I’d be delighted to speak with you.


  9. Aaron Artessa

    As a veteran of publishing design and a major supporter for the future in digital output I can tell you that a book site IS important. Depending on what you wanted to add to your site it adds a entirely new dimension to your book with interactivity from your fanbase.

    If you aren’t fully versed in html I recommend using some sort of CMS (content management system) such as WordPress or Joomla!. Feel free to zap me an email via my website if you would like.

    Good luck!

  10. David Patrick Columbia

    Yves: Contact me at my email address and I’ll sell some books for you. Re your web site, you already have a web site! You can promote your book here where your readership is diverse and growing and are readers. Also go on Facebook. It’s all numbers; you know that. Naked Cap, however, is excellent place to sell books.


  11. avrymann

    You absolutely have to do a web with a bio. I agree that it’s the work that counts, not so much the author. But reality intervenes: if interested in your ideas, then people want to know, “Who is that masked man”?

    Just to show you how this can work, I didn’t know that Yves Smith was a pseudonym. Now you got me; I really, really, really want to know your real name and who you really are. But please don’t tell me as that would take all the mystery out of it. Once know, it’s OK time to move on. A little mystery keeps people’s interest up.

    Video is the new paradigm of the web. I remember seeing you interviewed on MarketLies, I mean MarketWatch, wherein you made the prediction that the big dog banks would be nationalized. If my memory serves me well (it doesn’t) you said, ” They will be nationalized, they will just call it something else”. You were right.

    To me this video is a great marketing tool for you. It allows you to show your face and your opportunity for the curious to get some idea of what you are all about. More importantly it validates the book. You made a prediction, and you were right on. That’s about as good a start as you can get. More of the same, not necessarily on video, just lends to your credibility.

    Do NOT underestimate the power of charisma. It is said of Obama that no one knows what he stands for. Wait a minute. Then how did he get to be president? OK so he was lying the whole time. But I maintain that it was his his charm, his delivery that convinced people to vote for him. It’s all in the presentation.

    Do not expect your publishers to do this for you. The value of a personal website is that it gives you the opportunity to deal vis a vis with your audience. I understand what the previous commentary is saying about it being a waste of time. But that may because most personal webs they have visited were poorly done. The web itself has not fully matured yet, so there is room for development.

    A little humor helps a great deal. It permeates NC and is one of the reasons I always enjoy reading it. Your antidote du jure is charming and gives your audience an insight into what kind of person “Yves Smith” really is.

    You have the power of personality (Kennedy, Reagan, Castro, Churchill; all were able to mobilize it to change the course of history. Yes, you can!

  12. Ellen Farmer

    Yves, Just got back from a nutrition and neurology conference, a review for me. Been down this path for years. When they talk of health care reform these are the things they need to reform! Dietary changes,etc, significant enough to delay and or stop chronic diseases that the average american diet has us all doomed for. Yves, whatever your medical condition is that brought you in to your doctor to get harassed if you want to consider alternatives that journal study after journal study has proven effective let me know.

  13. Percy

    A friend does professioanl web site design at a relatively small level and I have sent your query on to him. He may be in touch.

    Another does very professional video work. I wil do the same with him tomorrow.

  14. farrar

    Why not do it yourself, since you don’t need anything very complicated. Recent programs make it as easy as word processing.
    On Mac iWeb is free with the latest OS. RapidWeaver and SandVox are cheap. All are capable of embedded video, with optional blog format.
    Believe me it’s as easy as a blog entry.

  15. wsv


    I’m a former book editor and now do freelance web design for former authors of mine. Here are my thoughts:

    1. WEBSITE. Last I checked was free. You should purchase this NOW, especially if you plan on writing future books and using this pseudonym. Someone owns (hopefully you).

    2. TWITTER. It’s easy to set up so your blog will post to Twitter automatically. This will expand your reach dramatically. Add to both blog and website.

    3. FACEBOOK. Set up a profile page. If you’re going to do a book tour this is a great place to post the schedule.

    4. YOUTUBE/VIDEO. Great idea. Create your own author channel. This is common for authors now, too.

    5. WHO TO CHOOSE. Find an author whose site you like; the designer will likely be listed on the bottom. Contact them. Author websites are simple. Usually Home Page, About, Reviews, Contact, Tour, Blog. That’s it at most. Don’t mess around trying to learn this yourself, since you’ve got plenty to do.

    6. GOOD LUCK. I’m a fan of the blog; looking forward to the book.

  16. Irish Leprechaun Times

    Hello. This is kind of an “unconventional” question , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu bar to look like you’ve got it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am scared to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this …so i am just not positive exactly how to try to to it all yet. I’ll just keep working on it one day at a time Thanks for any help you can offer here

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