3.21.2006

Your Web Site is Atrocious

Maybe I spend too much time online, but as I plow through the Web- based part of the agent-research process, I am finding that lame-o, underdeveloped, freshman-remedial-looking Web sites are giving me bad joo-joos about that agency.

The Web-indifferent half of my brain says this: "Who cares? They're word people, not Web people! It's charming and traditional to be clueless about modern technology, so a site that looks homemade is a sign of high literary standards -- in the same way frayed tweeds and
dusty brogans go with blue blood dating back to the Plantagenets."

Yet, the digitally-infected half of my brain says, "Is this agency even functioning in the 21st century? Sure, maybe they sold some stuff, but how of-the-moment can they be with an online presence that looks like it was designed by someone's third-grader?"

I know, I know. I shouldn't even be thinking about this kind of thing. But, yanno. Us scribes, we obssess.

Props to you and KY, always and forever.



I hear ya. But don't obsess yourself out of a good agent. Cause what I'm NOT doing is learning html and tinkering with my website. What I am doing is selling your work. I'm one person and lots of agents are also on their own. If someone leaped out of the sky and said "here I'll gussy up your site for free" it would STILL be a PITA cause I'd have to look at stuff, make decisions, write new text...yadda yaddo yabba dabba doo.

The only thing you should consider about an agent is whether they are effective and whether you can work with them. Ignore their address, web or otherwise, and look at what counts.

And publishing is not filled with people who are up to the moment on much of anything. Publishing is filled with people whose idea of a rollicking good time is to read a book. How very ...well...Edwardian.

17 comments:

Dave Kuzminski said...

Very true that agent sites don't have to look modern. They simply have to be functional.

Folks might want to keep this in mind. Whenever you want to fix something old, do you go to the little neighborhood hardware store where there's so little room that they have to stack merchandise in the aisle, but almost always seem to have what you're looking for or the upscale chain store where there's always plenty of floor space and someone still in their twenties is working (if you can find them) and not only doesn't know the store's inventory, but doesn't even recognize what you're describing or have brought in to be replaced?

Hint: go for service and product availability over someone trying to sell you what you don't need and high prices. Similar advice applies to agencies. Go for ability and a successful sales' track record, not a pretty web site.

Bernita said...

I look for functional and straight-forward.
Bells and whistles are a turn-off, frankly.
One wonders what they are tring to distract you from; one wonders why they're so obsessed with appearance over substance.
You wonder why they put pyjamas on a cat.
Visual overload.
As Steven King said somewhere:
"A frosted dog turd is still a dog turd."
Give me Killer Yap.
No sh*t.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that scammer "agents" tend to have very slick-looking websites, indeed.

Substance over style. Don't be suckered by the shiny things.

Anonymous said...

I'm the opposite of this letter writer--I don't like websites with bells and whistles. I don't like to see animations or cutsy graphics that take time to load, nor do I like to click through pages to get to the meat.

Something simple, straightforward, direct is what I want to see. For me the computer is just a tool--fancy graphics are like putting decals on the handle of a hammer. Oh, I'm so-o-o impressed!

Ali said...

What does PITA mean? Besides a delicious flatbread used to hold one's falafel and hummus.

Lady M said...

PITA = Pain in the Arse

I prefer cleaner, more professional looking websites.

But I do think that some agencies have put out money to have their sites designed or given a template.

I think those make me think that they've spent the money... so they must be making the money.

Strange, I know. But I did web design when HTML was the thing... before Front page came out... And templates were made. I did it all by hand... So I appreciate a good design and well placed stuff. Someone who has created their craft.

However - just because a site is simple would not make me overlook the agency.

In fact the only thing that would put me off was someone asking me to pay up front - or if there were obvious falsehoods on the front page or within the pages.

Lady M
Ps. I'm a softie and trust everyone until they give me a reason not to... Probably why I'm safer tucked away in Alaska. LMAO!

Christopher said...

PITA = Pain In The Ass

December Quinn said...

All I care about is that it gives submission guidelines, including what they're looking for. A client list is also nice.

I don't like any websites with flashy intros and stuff, though, personally. I skip right over them.

Anonymous said...

I got my first agent in the days before websites. Yes, the designation of "B.W." is upon us.

I found him by asking a published writer
"Who reps for you?" She was very nice, gave me his name, and wished me good luck. (I did not bore her with the plot of my book, but did offer to pay for a round in the bar. Networking doesn't have to be a grim, "sobering" process!)

Though that agent sold a few things for me and we made some money, a couple years down the road he wasn't working out, so I began shopping for a better business fit.

There were websites by then, but I still asked another writer in the same genre. She very kindly gave a name and wished me luck. (I owe her a round at the bar.)

While I did not get her senior Big Name agent, I did make contact with one in the same agency, we had a face to face chat at a convention, shook hands, and things have been going great ever since.

Cruising sites is one thing, but talking to another writer who does stuff similar to your own is the only way I'll ever go. If I was starting out all over again now I'd do the same thing.

However, I'm real happy with this savvy gal. She stays in touch, returns my calls, cheerfully answers questions, and has been selling my older stuff in Europe, which keeps my own "Killer Yaps" in Kibble and margaritas. For me a website check is just part of the process. And because of my word of mouth on her, she's aquired new writers in her stable, one of whom was with my pervious agent. (Said friend wasn't happy with him, either.)

Ask nicely and most writers don't mind letting you know who reps for them, and oh, hey, THEY have websites--usually with some kind of e-mail address.

Just don't bother telling them all about your book. "I'm writing in the same genre and looking for an agent. May I ask who reps for you?" is all you really need.

Good luck.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I admire a good-looking web site. I hate flash animation. I want an easy to read, easy to navigate site. It should be professional looking, I suppose. And I'm partial to blue. Blue is nice. And an offer of free Oreos ....

As long as the web site is funtional and contains enough information to submit, I'm happy.

The agents who puzzle me are those who don't have a web presence.

dcqfwmsz has got to mean something. Can anyone translate that?

Chrysoula said...

On the other hand, an actively bad website-- with annoying old blinkies, or dating and unchanged from the dawn of the web-- would turn me off, too. Having something functional, trivial to update and clean is so /easy/ these days. The really old websites feel a lot like looking at a handwritten letter.

Of course, it may be to an agent's benefit to turn off some of the hordes of agent-seeking slush-writers. Just as email queries make it easy-peasy to query, having all of an agent's information (including sales information) in one place (like on a good website) makes it easier to query them.

And yes, I go to the big chain hardware stores. OK, I go to Home Depot. Small crowded dirty little stores intimidate me. And talking to somebody is usually a shopping technique of last resort (for me).

(I'm reminded of how I explain to my less literate family members that on the web, punctuation and word-choice is the equivalent of clothing.)

Reggie said...

"dcqfwmsz has got to mean something. Can anyone translate that?"

didn't, couldn't, quite freakin' wouldn't, meet snarkin' zone

The query dcqfwmsz requirements and ended in the bin.

Anonymous said...

I love those old fashioned hardware stores where the guy behind the counter knows exactly what you're looking for...and you don't have to buy a dozen of them when you need one!!
That's expertise.

Anonymous said...

For me, the most important thing in a web site of any kind is content. Beyond that, it has to be easy to read (I mean physically, hate dark backgrounds with light text, for example) and easy to navigate (don't lose me in a maze of sub-directories, I have no sense of direction). Anything beyond that can embellish, but often detracts.

And I've opted for my local hardware store of late. Service is more important than bells and whistles, most of which I'm not going to ever use.

anon-y-mouse

litagent said...

I can only speak for myself, but my website was "designed" (in the loosest terms) by me years ago. I wanted something simple and straightfoward, and that's what I got from the person who put it together for me as a favor. Then I changed website providers, losing certain fonts and formatting in the process. Bottom line is that the site still provides the basic information, but it isn't particularly pretty and definitely needs a renovation. Unfortunately, I am a techno-idiot, and I not only don't have the time to learn flash and html and whatever else goes into webpage making, I haven't had the time or energy to put together the information to pay someone else to do the updating. Sigh. The structure is sound -- someday I'll work on curb appeal.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, you can create a web site using Microsoft Word. Save the document as an htm type and it will create a file folder for any images it needs (such as background, inserted photos, etc. You can also insert hyperlinks. Some html knowledge is a plus as you can hack the script for some desired effects (such as open link in new window), but it isn't necessary to create a web page.

One caution, I've been told Word creates inelegant code, but if your site is fairly small, it should be a big issue.

That's how I created my web site and the feedback I've received has been really positive.

anon-y-mouse

Corn Dog said...

As a web developer, I do not comment on people's web sites unless asked. I consider unsolicited comments rude, much like saying "I don't like your old Chrysler with the dog hair in the front seat." To the owner, the old Chrysler might be her favorite classic automobile that she ferries her beloved Chihuahua/Dachshund mix around with her everywhere she goes. The car has served her well and she loves it AND the crazy yapping bug-eyed dog. It works for her. So be it.