blogging, writer's life

A New Direction

Heather headshotI mentioned last week that I’ve been searching for a new design for my website. We worked on ideas for ages, it seemed, sketching out new headers and debating the overall direction of my website. The more we worked on it, the more we discovered that I needed a clearer picture of what I want readers to know about me and my work. It’s hard to look at yourself and try to sum up your entire persona in one image or phrase. That’s called personal branding, and I’m not sure I’m quite there yet. Still, I feel that we’re getting closer. Here’s how we came up with my new theme:

1. Each of my books (so far) includes a big forest scene and to me a forest is always full of mystery and adventures lurk just around the next tree. I wanted to capture that air of mystery and excitement. Also, my lovely assistant suggested that I reminded her of a tree. So, there’s that…

2. We looked at illustrations and clipart of trees, but none of them seemed to capture the mood we were going for. So, in the end we opted for a stock photo. This was when we knew we were getting closer to our goal. The dark forest with it’s rugged pathway bathed in light and beckoning seemed to fit perfectly with the image we had in mind. It would’ve been easier to brand with an illustrated logo of a tree/forest, but we’ll have to find some way to work out that dilemma in the future. (If you’ve got any ideas, PLEASE share them in the comments below!)

3. Next for the tag line. How on earth do I narrow my work down to one short sentence? I’m basically summing up my entire mission as a writer. Yikes! We played with a lot of ideas, but most of them leaned toward one story line or another. I needed something that would work whether I was writing YA fantasy or contemporary romance (hey! It could happen!) Finally we decided on “Escape to another world” because it seemed to sum up what I hope readers will feel as they read my books. Some readers want to experience reality in a deeper way, but I write for those of you who want to escape reality altogether.

In the last week I’ve been reminded once again that I have no natural aptitude for graphic design, no matter how much I wish it weren’t true. I love images and the idea of creating just the right picture to illustrate a thought or a concept to the world. I deeply wish I could design my own covers and all of my own branding material, but it is a TON of work and in the end I”m not very good at it. After fighting with graphics for the last week we’ve decided to start learning Photoshop, so that should be an adventure! I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

We have a lot more to reveal in the next few weeks. I think it’s time you met my incredible assistant, LA. She has been working hard to give me young reader’s perspective and I’ve put her to work researching the best of the best. I can hardly wait to show you all that we’ve been working on lately. I’ve invited her to introduce herself to all of you tomorrow and she’s getting her own weekly spot on this blog so that you can see a little more of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in this indie life. So, come back tomorrow and say hi to my sidekick.

What do you think of my new website header? What else do you hope to find here on HeatherSutherlin.com? Leave your suggestions in the comments below and maybe you’ll find your wish is granted the next time you stop by to visit.

Happy reading!

~Heather

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