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message 1: by Pete (new)

Pete Kelly (shadow2683) | 15 comments Hey guys,

Ive been updating my site putting new info on book Dawn of the shadow and blogging on different movies. Im curious what people think, Im hoping to be on the right track.

message 2: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments Any special reason you didn't buy the domain? Free website providers have a way of going out of business and leaving you stranded. If you have the domain, you can take it from one service to another as needed without losing your readers.

The dreambooksllc page took a long time to load with my cable connection.

message 3: by Pete (new)

Pete Kelly (shadow2683) | 15 comments Julie

sorry about the dreambooks load my publisher keeps updating their site. As far as buying the domain I havent gotten around to it.

message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments No need for apologies...I just thought you'd like to know.

message 5: by Ross (last edited Aug 28, 2010 04:16PM) (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments Pete, you have a couple of major errors on your website.

1) Never play music in the background. Especially music that can't be turned off or turned down immediately. When people click to look at your book at work, this will only piss them off and they'll immediately click off the page.

2) The background is way too busy. You always want the website to be uncluttered and easy to read.

3) Never have a dark background with light text. It's hard on the reader's eyes.

4) Always have your own domain. As Julie pointed out, those free places can go out of business and leave you stranded. Sure you can put it up somewhere else for free but all the time you spent advertising that other free site is wasted. A domain only costs about $10 a year.

5) Your publisher's site uses flash which is pretty to look at but hated by search engines. It also is funky sitting in that frame on the page and has a long load time.

If you have a chincy website, that will reflect on your writing and your book. Perception becomes reality.

If you'd like to talk more about it, send me a PM on here. I'm a website designer and an author too.

Check out my book website and see what I mean about keeping things simple.

What you need to decide is whether or not this is the only book you'll ever write or are you serious about writing? You've got to brand yourself and your book if you want to build a fan base for the future.


message 6: by Pete (new)

Pete Kelly (shadow2683) | 15 comments Thanks ross music is gone

message 7: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 64 comments Excellent example, Ross. been to your site before. why, if I may ask,is there no subscribe, follow, twitter FB etc?

message 8: by J. (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 64 comments Opps, n'ver mind. Just found it on your other web site. You are now liked, twitted, friended, followed and bookmarked.
easiest most conveniently accessible site I've seen.

message 9: by Ross (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments Good pointin'out j, I wanted to keep the book site very clutter-free but it would be a good idea to have those on the main page.

I added some small icons to the main page now.

message 10: by Ross (last edited Aug 29, 2010 11:48AM) (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments Pete, much better. Now you just have to eradicate the spelling errors on the site. That also gives people a bad impression.

On the fly, the spelling and grammar errors I found:

1) Main page, green text: "In the end its" should be "In the end it's"

2) Main page, green text: "In the end its a story about discovering the greatest power" should be "In the end it's a story about discovering that the greatest power"

3) Main page, red text: "Fate or chance denied" should be "Fate, or chance, denied"

4) Main page, red text: "Time passed and like many things the machine " should be "Time passed, and like many things, the machine "

5) Main page, red text: "Accidentally he triggers it sending energy coursing through him changing him." should be "Accidentally, he triggers the device; energy courses through his body, changing him forever." (you use 3 gerunds in a row and the word "him" twice, need to make the sentence stronger).

6) "and the ability to fly. These abilties" should be "and the ability to fly. These powers" (abilities was misspelled and the word was just used anyway, substitute a synonym).

7) "However the day Pete found the machine something evil was awoken." to "However, the day Pete found the machine, something evil was awoken."

8) "Bocchio, frozen inisde the lab where the machine slept awakens" to "Bocchio, frozen inside the lab where the machine slept, awakens" ("inside" misspelled, and needed another comma to separate thoughts

9) "His desire for power magnified he sets in" to "His desire for power magnified, he sets in" (comma to separate thoughts)

10) "In his effort to begin he starts with Pete." to "He begins with Pete." (unneeded prepositional phrase and infinitive phrase that is repeated with the action verb. shorten it and it has more punch. also good to put this on a line all by itself.)

11) "The newly confident Pete also discovers a darkness growing inside him. Born from a life always in the shadows." to "Pete discovers a darkness growing inside him, born from a life in the shadows." (3 unneeded adverbs and a dependent clause masquerading as a sentence)

12) "Bocchio seeing this attempts to turn" TO "Bocchio, seeing this, attempts to turn"

13) "blaming himself for it all Pete is saved " TO "blaming himself for it all, Pete is saved "

14) "his families past" TO "his family's past"

15) "A lesson that will define his life." -- consider cutting, it almost repeats the idea from the previous sentence, or add it after a comma to the previous sentence.

16) In your video (I didn't watch it) but the middle frame that shows is "Aim's to send" and should be "Aims to send" .. no apostrophe

Also some style issues:

1) Make your text left-justified, not centered.

2) Main page, red text: put some paragraph breaks in there. Web surfers don't want to read large blocks of text. But the same words broken into shorter paragraphs (some just one sentence) have greater readability.

3) Main page, red text: "Then one day a young man named Peter Farrell would find it. " should be "Then one day a young man named Peter Farrell found it. " -- don't use passive so much. make this an active verb; it's a pivotal point in the plot.


message 11: by J. (last edited Aug 29, 2010 09:56AM) (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 64 comments Whewww! What an eye opener, Ross. Great! Its good of you to take the time to explain. Many Goodreads writers could benifit from it's example; specially, me.:) thanks
btw, what's a gerund?

@Pete: I know how you might be feeling. I went through the same experience once. Heartbreaking, ain't it?
Looking back, it was a great wake-up call. I was much worse off than you are.
I still keep two editors busy; with the hell I put them through, they should be canonized. My infinitives split,my participles dangle, and I neber cud spill fer shet.
Sleep on it; Ross just handed you a gift, with the best intentions. Take advantage of it... and get a copy of Struck and White

message 12: by Ross (last edited Aug 29, 2010 11:49AM) (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments Definitely don't take my words too harshly, that's not how they were meant. My wife's a college professor finishing up her Ph.D. and guess what she teaches?

English composition.

She set me straight on a few things about a year ago and it made my writing much tighter.

It's very hard to summarize your own writing because you want so bad to say it all. I've rewritten my own summaries of my book at least twenty times, using the same suggestions I gave you.

Even though I've only published 1 book, I've written 4 complete novels and written over 40 short stories. Writing is all about writing and there's no shortcut. You should check out

You've got all the pieces there, you just need to make it tighter and cleaner.


message 13: by Pete (new)

Pete Kelly (shadow2683) | 15 comments believe me J I am taking the advice to heart. I really have been trying hard to make this site work, especially since my mistakes will effect how people see my book Dawn of The Shadow. If they think mistakes are in all my writing then the editors who helped smooth out the book would be hurt as well.

message 14: by Pete (new)

Pete Kelly (shadow2683) | 15 comments Thanks again Ross

message 15: by J. (last edited Aug 29, 2010 04:33PM) (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 64 comments Pete, there's a topic somewhere on GR: Describe your book in ten words. Try it. After doing it, I replaced my "riotous" "hilarious" "fun" "adventuresome", two-paragraph description with, "Mark Twain's mind in modern times. insight with bite." Overnight, I noticed a slight increase in sales, and a big jump in hits on my site.

A book description, such as back covers or web sites, is ad copy, which is a whole different ballgame when it comes to writing in English; it'll drive a Ph.D nuts.

j (lower case)

message 16: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments Ross: style point 3: There's nothing passive about that sentence. You changed the conditional tense to past tense, but both are active.

J. A gerund is an adjective or adverb ending in -ing: The singing bird. The other form ending in -ing is the present participle, used in making progressive tenses: The bird was singing.

I don't recommend Strunk and White because they don't know what "passive" means either.

message 17: by Ross (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments @Julie: Yep. You're right. It's the future conditional tense? Is that right? A lot of the times, I know when something doesn't work (or can work better) but I don't know the exact name for it.

I do ask my wife a lot "what this is." And I make her edit my writing too. My current weakness is using a comma in places where I should use a semi-colon ... she spanked me hard on that one.

I had trouble identifying all those crazy tenses in French also.

You obviously are a real English person because knowing that's a conditional is way ahead of 99% of us.

Thanks for the call on that one.


message 18: by J. (last edited Aug 29, 2010 07:58PM) (new)

J. Guevara (jguevara) | 64 comments Gee, Julie, tanks. :o)
@Pete: forget that last suggestion. I just burned my copy of Strunk and White. I had no idea that the page on "passive' was missing. And that's been the writers hand bible for over 60 years? Jeez! If you can't trust Strunk and White, who can you trust?
do you have another suggestion, Julie? another, maybe similar to SnW 35th addition, with an easy grammar/phrase reference that fits in your back pocket?

No offense Julie, but every time I recommend that book, someone objects. Although I've yet to hear a better choice. Why is that? it's been around since 1930, and has sold over 30 mil copies. My only objection to it is I wish it was bound better; I must have worn out a dozen copies.

message 19: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments Following Strunk & White will not improve your fiction, and it will leave you very confused as to what is actually a passive. Geoff Pullum is a very competent writer on grammatical issues and knows whereof he speaks. He recommends Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English He recommends Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage for a desk reference. I don't use a style guide in writing, so I can't give you a personal recommendation. All I ever tell anyone is to read until it comes naturally.

(For those who are unsure: Passive structure looks like this: The noun was verbed (by the agent). If the past participle (verbed) is functioning as an adjective, it's not a passive. Test it with a by-phrase to be sure.

Not to say that quicker, snappier writing is not good, only that somewhat less snappy writing is not automatically passive.

A man will find it: future
A man would find it: conditional (past of future)
It will be found by a man: future, passive
It would be found by a man: conditional, passive

message 20: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments My personal objection to S&W dates from my college days, when we were told to write according to it...and conforming to it not only didn't improve my writing, but made it clearly worse.

message 21: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments Ross:
You might find this discussion entertaining:

And J, I didn't mean to sound quite so harsh or snobbish with you the other night...I was called away from the computer and just hit "send" without realizing quite what I'd written.

I do think that a well-read native speaker of English should be able to recognize problems intuitively, that if you read the sentence out loud, listening for the punctuation, you'll generally get it right on your own, and in the correct register for your work. Strunk & White don't deal in "register" at all, nor with rhythm. (I consider both to be very important in writing fiction.)

It seems the better books on the subject are all desk references, not pocket-sized.

I would use S&W guidelines only if I were writing for someone who uses them.

message 22: by Ross (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments @Julie: Actually, I find that discussion overwhelming and scary. I don't remember all those from English class ... I guess my flow comes into play more than I thought.

message 23: by Dixiane (new)

Dixiane Hallaj (dhallaj) | 6 comments Hey,
While you're bashing websites, want to take a crack at mine?
I would appreciate all the criticism I can get.
Thanks, Dixie

Born a Refugee

message 24: by Ross (last edited Sep 01, 2010 07:37AM) (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments Oh wow .. this is not the rep I wanted on Goodreads. LOL .

Okay. I'll criticize but not bash. Deal?

This site is a little toward the plain side but I don't have a problem with that. It's a style choice and that's always up to the author, in my opinion.

Here's what I notice right off the bat:

1) Looking at the code, your site was definitely built by a machine and not coded by hand. The style definitions are included on the main page, rather than a separate file, and the menu selections are all each done in their own separate DIV statements. No big deal, except they don't exactly line up horizontally because of this; they're all off a pixel or two. So that part looks a little bad.

2) I also don't like when the menu is treated like other links on the page: underlined. These should be entities of their own. Underlining the menu is a lazy stunt where the programmer didn't take the time to make it right. A good menu selection will at least turn colors when you mouse over.

3) When I click on the "Born a Refugee" book on the front page, I'm taken to a page where the book image doesn't show. Bad. The page could also use a little "layout love". It's too jumbled and unclear that the bottom part are all quotes from different reviewers.

4) There is no footer for the site. There should always be a little breathing room at the bottom with some type of disclaimer by the author (Copyright 2010 author name) followed by a little more space with possibly a line above the disclaimer to indicate "stop reading here." Going to the site for the first time, I tried to scroll down to keep reading several times on different pages only to realize there's no footer.

5) Books Page: Even though I'm told at the top of the page to click on any image to learn more, not all of the images go to something. This is frustrating. On several of the book pages that I can go to, there are broken links for the images of the books. Some of your image files end in ".JPG" instead of ".jpg." On unix systems, case matters in file names. You might want to check that.

6) I love that your cat is named "Dog." :-D

7) On your front page, clicking on every book title goes somewhere, except for "A Game of Peace" and "The Authentic Dissertation." You should let them all have links, especially since the bottom of the page says, "(click any image to learn more)."

8) Links that go off your site should have the "target=_blank" tag embedded in the link so that a NEW browser window will open. This way the surfer is never completely taken away from your page until they actually want to close it. Remember, web surfers have short attention spans. (I do too when I'm web surfing).

9) You've got a good mix of images and text on your site so that's good for the short attention spans. :-D When appealing to surfers, you need to give their eye some candy every once in a while.

10) Here's the biggest problem I see (I've saved the best for last):

You have very little actual text on the front HOME page except for the menu selections. So therefore, the search engines see nothing of worth there. All they see are images because all your books are just images without their titles in text. And there are no "alt" tags with the images for the search engines to even have a clue. To google, you might as well be showing porn because it has no idea what's on your page.

Your BOOKS page is even worse. The only actual text on there is the menu itself. The words on the page are part of your graphics, which again have no "alt" tags. THE MOST IMPORTANT PAGE on your site not only has no book descriptions beside the books, it has no useful information at all for a search engine. It might as well be invisible because for all practical purposes, it is.

Having said all that, you should know that the program you used to create the page, Virtual Mechanics SiteSpinner Pro V2, did not include any META DATA at all for search engines. This is the death sentence for searching on the web. META TAG DATA has become one of the many standards used by search engines to determine how relevant your page is.

I did a search for "hallajs" on Google and your site didn't come up once until page 9 which means that Google doesn't consider your site very important. That's bad considering that I essentially typed your domain minus the ".com". Even "" came up before "" when I searched for "hallajs."

If you type "rosscavins" into Google, you'll find my site come up 3 out of the top 4, with Smashwords and Amazon rounding out the top 5.

Of course, a lot of this comes into play with the domain name for the site, which makes a big deal to Google's relevancy algorithms. Your site would do better if named "" although that's a mouthful for someone to remember how to spell when you tell them verbally where to go. Sometimes you have to trade off.

There's more to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but I'll stop there.


That covers most of it. Hopefully you don't feel like I bashed you. :-( I've been doing this for 15 years and it's constantly changing; no one expects an author to know all this stuff. That's what us programmer geeks are here for!


message 25: by Dixiane (new)

Dixiane Hallaj (dhallaj) | 6 comments Thanks!
A lot of this I can fix. Part of it is VERY frustrating because after using SiteSpinner for years for 4 different websites, this is the first time I have had problems with it. The missing images were there when I checked the website--now they're gone.

You have told me a lot about search engines that I did not know. I can add meta tags and some text. Yes, the titles are images; since you say that is bad, I can change the font and use text.

The idea of a footer is new to me, but it makes sense.

Obviously, I have a lot to learn.
Aaaargh! I'd rather be writing!
Thanks again. All constructive--no bashing.

Ross wrote: "Oh wow .. this is not the rep I wanted on Goodreads. LOL .

Okay. I'll criticize but not bash. Deal?

This site is a little toward the plain side but I don't have a problem with that..."

message 26: by David (last edited Sep 03, 2010 07:26PM) (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments Ross, you should start charging for this service. I need to add the page content for "Novels," but would you take a look at my site and let me know what you think?

Much appreciated,
David David

message 27: by Ross (new)

Ross Cavins (rosscavins) | 19 comments David, I actually do charge .. LOL ..

Email me at with some more specifics on what you see for a "Novels" page. Looking at your site, it appears you'll be finishing up your 2nd novel this month? What exactly do you visualize for the page?


message 28: by David (new)

David Katzman (daviddavid) | 90 comments Yes, i've just finished my second novel and am starting to shop it around. (Self-published my first one back in 2000). When my second book is finally launched, i'll be revising the homepage significantly to focus much more prominently on the new book. I plan to allow the user to read more reviews and sample the first several pages of my first novel on the Novels page. Once the second novel is out, the earlier book will still be accessible but below the new one.

don't let us take advantage of your income! :-)


message 29: by Renee (new)

Renee Clare-Kovacs (reneeck) | 1 comments I'm working on my second novel and think I have a publisher for my long-shelved children's book. Yea! But, the main thing going on at right now is my blogging and the radio interview I did. Fun, fun!

Check it out and tell people- I'm looking for representation for the novel! ;)


message 30: by Pete (new)

Pete Kelly (shadow2683) | 15 comments Hey guys just added chapter samples from my book check it out

message 31: by Kirstin (new)

Kirstin van Dyke (kirstinvandyke) | 1 comments Hello! I'm the author of Code Name: Silence, a YA, sci-fi novel. I created the website for it myself, and I would really like to get some feedback on it. Any suggestions are appreciated as to what I can do to improve it and/or promote it. Thanks!

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