Sara Amundson isn’t just Eric’s lovely wife, she is first-and-foremost a true horror genius. What’s new with Sara? Everything monster-iffic! IvyCat is proud to have launched her site’s new page: Make a Monster, just in time for Halloween.
Sara’s the author of Dreamer, a “trilogy of tragicomic urban fantasy,” for which she was a finalist in the 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. I asked Sara to tell us a little about what she does and to discuss the updates to her site. Here’s what she had to say.
Can you tell us a little bit about your work, what you do and how you use your website to promote? Or, why is your site important to your business/pursuits?
I’m a horror writer. I’ve been writing horror since I was a little girl. Right now, I have a horror-heavy urban fantasy trilogy called Dreamer that I’m working on getting published. My current goal is to have the Dreamer trilogy traditionally published, which means I’m in the process of trying to land an agent.
The publishing industry has changed enormously in the past decade. Writers no longer have the luxury of being antisocial hermits. Whether you’re traditionally published, or you’re self-publishing your books, you have to hustle and you have to hustle hard. The publishing industry term for this is “building a platform.” You need to develop a following if you’re going to succeed as an author. You need to be active on social media, you need to be blogging, and you need be putting as much work into building relationships with people as you’re putting into perfecting your writing.
My website gives me the ability to show off my writing and connect with the people reading it. For agents considering my manuscript, it demonstrates what I have to offer in terms of marketing myself. It’s a crucial part of my author platform.
One of the big and exciting changes is the addition of the Make a Monster page. Can you tell us about that and the response you’ve had so far?
In Dreamer, monsters shaped in dreams are transported into the human world by magic gone haywire. Some of them are nightmarish, some of them are absurd: monsters made of birthday cake, Christmas presents with a taste for flesh, bloodthirsty boob-beasts. And no two are alike.
I love the creative freedom of playing with an urban fantasy universe whose supernatural critters are all entirely unique. But it’s also quite a challenge to populate three novels with so many different types of monsters. I’ve got a lot of monsters to make, and I want to start sharing the Dreamer universe with people now. Make a Monster turns my writing into a collaborative project. People submit requests for monsters, and I write a piece of flash fiction about their monster killing someone. They get credit on my website as a Monster Parent, and if their monster ends up in any of the Dreamer books, they also get a Monster Parent credit in the acknowledgments.
The response to Make a Monster has been amazing. People are very enthusiastic about it. I’ve got tons of fun monster requests to work with. Agents really dig the concept. I’ve learned that I love writing flash fiction, and I’m having so much fun connecting with horror fans.
What were some of the other tweaks and changes IvyCat made to the site?
First of all, there were several cosmetics tweaks, just to gussy everything up and put my visual stamp on it. We didn’t want it to look like a template site; we wanted it to capture my personality and brand.
The face-lift starting with typography. We changed font styles to something we felt better fit me and the design. Then we boosted font size and added other nerdy fontastic flare. We tweaked a lot of other styles, most related to the new blog and Make a Monster.
There are a lot of nasty things out there that aren’t monsters. We added more security to the site using Sucuri for anti-malware, basic firewall, and site hardening, and CloudFlare for web firewall.
We’re also using CloudFlare for their content delivery network, which adds speed and saves bandwidth along with providing detailed statistics. It’s been fascinating to watch my traffic leap upward with the introduction of the new website and content. I love looking at CloudFlare’s stats.
The rest of the changes focused on marketing my butt off as effectively as possible:
- Making it easier for folks to subscribe to my blog and mailing list (powered by MailChimp)
- Surfacing content within the site in different places
- Adding social sharing links and badges to make it easier for readers to share content. (Come and play with me on Twitter! I only bite a normal amount. I definitely don’t bite more than the average volatile horror writer.)
Thanks so much, Sara!
Need more spooky fun in your life? Who doesn’t! Go check out Sara’s site here and follow her on Twitter.
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