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Ninc Newsletter

July 2012   •  Vol. 23, No. 07   •  Download pdf version

Reclaiming My Website:
An Impromptu Manifesto

BY JOANNA NOVINS

As part of resurrecting my career as an historical romance writer, I’m revamping my website. My first site was a thing of great visual beauty, but maintaining it made me miserable. To say that I approached the idea of revamping it with trepidation would be a gross understatement. I ignored it and avoided it like the first symptoms of the plague. But, like the plague, I knew that eventually I had to face up to it and do something about it. In the process of thinking about what I wanted to do with my new site—and what I didn’t—I began to understand what it was about the previous site that had made me so unhappy.

First, there was the effort of making my career seem successful even at times when it wasn’t. (There’s nothing like a lovely fan letter praising your work that ends with a polite inquiry about whether you’ve retired to make you want to turn off that buoyant “Email the Author” link.) Second was the effort of making me seem like something I’m not: the sort of homey, folksy person a romance fan would like to have tea with. Yes, I do occasionally knit, and yes, I do live with an assortment of cats, dogs, and children, but homey, folksy, and tea…eh, not so much. In truth, I’m a coffee-swilling, introverted, über-history nerd with a twisted, often toosharp sense of humor that might be great for writing witty ballroom repartee, but isn’t so great in social settings with real live people.

My first step in redesigning the site was a decision not to do the “approachable” stuff: no newsletters, newsflashes, or contests. My next step was to be myself. As I mentioned, I’m an über-history nerd. The period doesn’t really matter. I am fascinated by how people are shaped by history—both by personal experience and by social, political, and economic events of the day. I’m fascinated by how words and objects can encapsulate those experiences and provide a tangible link to the past. (Note, if you are one, too, check out In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life by James Deetz.) I began marketing myself by advertising my nerd pleasures. I collect old books, and among my collection is

Table of Contents

President’s Voice: The Truth about Collaboration
NINC 2012 Profitable Partnerships:
    Coming Soon: NINCThink Roundtables
Small Presses: The Champagne Books Group
Not Your Usual Writing Advice: Revelations Of Spring
Authors Dish on Stage Presence
Writing Is Taxing: Risky Business
The Mad Scribbler: Doing the Math

an early 19th Century dictionary of English slang. I started tweeting the words at #oldslang, amusing myself by using them in a sentence. (For example, a “blue-apron” is slang for prostitute, so I mused can a blue apron be a blue stocking?) That Twitter feed is on my site. I hear other authors saying they hate to tweet. I’d hate tweeting about myself, but old slang? That’s fun (and it attracts historical nerd followers, who are exactly the people I will want to pitch my books to.)

The bio page on the old site contained reflections about how coming from a      Continued on page 5 

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