Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fantasy Castle Books Website Update

My intention when migrating my publishing homepage to a new web host was simply to add some features missing from its prior home at Yahoo and bring a few new domain names into the mix (more on this in coming posts). This almost immediately turned into a major fiasco and has ultimately resulted in a complete rebuild of the site, which is only in its first initial stages. The new banner shown above was first among the changes; the new site needed something a bit more bold and adventurous, as well as slightly more artistic.

Yahoo has hosted Fantasy Castle Books for over three years since its inception in mid-2008. Since then the site has grown to include well over a thousand pages and nearly a hundred downloadable files, including reference works and early drafts of both my first novel and the new one. But it was in danger of becoming bloated and difficult to navigate (if it had not already). So a redesign was hiding somewhere in the back of my mind, waiting for its opportunity to arise.

Meanwhile, Yahoo's Sitebuilder had become problematic in many ways. Foremost of these was its lack of adaptability to a mobile environment, rendering the website all but illegible, not only on small phone displays, but even on the iPad's spacious screen, where the text resized incorrectly so that it overlapped both itself and the images. Additionally, Sitebuilder's e-commerce features are weak and unimpressive to say the least; my first excursion into direct digital downloads a year or two ago was far from satisfactory, and far more difficult to set up and manage than should be necessary. I wanted something vastly more robust than Yahoo offered. In addition I've been wanting to control the site content a bit more closely by including an area for registered guests where the bonus content can be housed, as well as an email newsletter for informing recipients of site updates and events related to my writing.

So it was time to up and migrate, and spring break seemed the ideal time to do it, particularly given that my Yahoo renewal was fast approaching. Initially I intended to transfer the files via FTP and import it into Dreamweaver. But this proved problematic for a number of reasons, due primarily to the inability of Dreamweaver to interpret some of the code in Yahoo files, and the fact that Yahoo Sitebuilder creates a file structure that is not relative to the root folder, but rather to the file location instead, rendering the links unusable once the files were moved to their new host.

So to make a short story long, I've just decided to completely rebuild the site. It was time for a new look anyway, although I wasn't planning on spending the time on it right now. Still, what needs doing must be done, so there's nothing for it but to get on with it.

This means my Nook project will be put on hold for a few weeks or so, although I plan to get back to it as soon as possible, for those of you who've been wondering. Also, be sure to visit the new site and register with the email opt-in, as I plan to start sending out updates as new content is created and added to the site. There will eventually be an e-commerce function with direct downloads available (and possibly signed print editions as well). All ebooks sold from the website will be DRM free and include access to all formats available, not just one, with free updates to any future revisions (another reason to sign up for email notifications).

Finally, I will be starting another blog sometime down the line, which is something I've been meaning to do for quite some time. This blog has been, from the start, fairly technical in its orientation, focusing on various practical issues involved with self-publishing - from print on demand to marketing to ebook formatting. But I've been wanting to start a blog where I only talk about the creative aspects of the process, for those more interested in what it is to be an author or an artist. That site will be hosted at my own domain (www.rscotjohns.com), but that's another project for another day.

For now, click on the "Fantasy Castle Books" tab above to visit the new site. Once there you can click the "Scot's Blog" tab to return here. At the moment there's not much up - just a homepage and a contact form - but more is coming soon. Leave me a note to let me know what you'd like to see, and if you've visited the previous site, what you'd like me to keep from the prior version. I plan to retain a lot of the content, but much of it is outdated (such as the blog tour archive for example), and will be jettisoned.

As always, this is yet another obstacle in the way of getting down to some serious creative work, and it will likely put my current project off by another month or two. I'm already better than a year behind schedule, so that's nothing new. But in the end it will all be for the best.