Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Tuesday Midday Links: Dear Author’s New Design

Obviously we have a new look and feel to Dear Author. The design work was completed by Maili and it is based off a premium theme from WooThemes. Just the Web did some additional coding work. We’ve developed a couple of informational pages: For Readers/For Authors. Those are both in the development stage.

One of the new front page highlights is the Featured area which shows the last four reviews. Because we are a review site, I feel like that content sometimes gets lost. All new content shows up in reverse chronological order under the Featured area.

One other thing we are unveiling is the Advanced Search page. This will be more and more robust as we do some backend changes to the database by as of now, it is easier to search and find content here at Dear Author.

Globe and Mail writes about the year of 2009 and the upheavals and the opportunities:

One positive result of the upheaval has been to "democratize" the industry, according to Nelson, giving smaller publishers a chance to bid on promising titles once monopolized by the majors, whose acquisition budgets have gotten smaller.

Speaking of small publisher success, OR Books, announced that it’s very first title, Going Rouge, has become a New York Times Bestseller. The only way that a reader could initially get the book was to order a digital copy or a POD copy directly from OR Books which cut down on the print run costs and the returns from resellers freeing up money to spend on advertising. OR then sold the paperback rights to HCI. It is now a NYT Bestseller.

Romance was on the front page of Daily Kos, one of the most popular political blogging sites on the internet. It is an awesome, articulate and pro romance article. Mainstream may never give the genre the recognition and respect it deserves, but the internet is democratizing the reach of opinions.

I’m sure there are a hundred other myths to be attacked, and none will die easily. But in the end, even if they were mostly true, the disgust for romance novels and their readers would still look more like disdain for women and feminized culture than anything else.

If you are an ebook reader with a tethered device, the manufacturer or reseller is looking at your reading habits. Electronic Freedom Frontier has a must read piece on an ebook buyer’s guide to privacy. (Thanks, Phyllis, for the link).

In other words, your Kindle will periodically send information about you to Amazon. But exactly what information is sent? Amazon’s wording -‘ “information related to the content on your Device and your use of it” -‘ reads so broadly that it appears to allow Amazon to track all content that users put on the device, regardless of whether that content is purchased from Amazon. Some security researchers have indicated that the Kindle may even be tracking its users’ GPS locations. Is this the future of reading?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. CupK8
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:38:40

    Love the new layout!

  2. Jorrie Spencer
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:42:21

    I love the new look! I think it’s wonderful.

    One minor question, can we no longer subscribe to a post without making a comment?

  3. Emily
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:44:03

    I love the new look. It feels clean and uncluttered and it looks as if articles will be easier to find.

  4. Bonnie
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:49:48

    Love the new look, too.

    One question: How can I add an avatar to my profile? I can’t figure out how to do that?

  5. tricia
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:49:54

    I really love the new look, and that you’ve kept it so clean and uncluttered. Great work, Maili.

  6. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:52:07

    @Jorrie Spencer: I addded that back in. Thanks for the reminder.

    @Bonnie: You need to go to

  7. Susan/DC
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:53:31

    I agree that the new layout is much cleaner and esthetically pleasing. One question and one comment, however:

    Question — Can we no longer format our comments (e.g., bold, italics, block quote)?

    Comment — I liked that the review grade for a book was at the top with the basic book info. Now I have to click on “read more” to see it at the bottom of the review. Hope it can be shown at the top again.

  8. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 11:55:36

    The quicktags are back.

    @Susan/DC: If you look in the grey area below each excerpt, there are “categories” and “tags”. Categories will tell you the review grade.

  9. Darlynne
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 12:03:09

    Add me to the bandwagon for the new design. Very professional.

    A comment about Amazon’s reach via Kindle and how they may know all your reading choices, among other things: My library doesn’t keep records of books I’ve checked out. And they do this for a very specific reason: they do not want anyone, any agency, ANYONE being able to track what I read. Of course, that means I can’t look back over what I’ve borrowed, but I like the idea that the library has my back and my privacy as one of their goals.

  10. Julie
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 12:09:37

    I generally like the new look except for two things.

    First, you can no longer see who made the post before you click on it.

    Second, and the big issue for me, the actual content — the stuff that I come here to read — displayed on the main page is tiny. Before, you could read a couple paragraphs or so before you had to click “more”. Now, the bulk of the page is taken up by extraneous stuff – graphics, links, tags, etc. It feels, well, cluttered and claustrophobic to me.

    That said, I like the new colors a lot, and the text font and size is easy to read. So I see that as a nice improvement. I also like how the posts look once you click “read more” (it’s just the main page that I don’t like).

    Just my $0.02. I know you can’t please everybody. :)

  11. Moriah Jovan
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 12:39:33

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    One thing (you heard the “but” in my voice, didn’t you?). Under the comments section (on the sidebar), I would like to be able to see which post someone is replying to.


  12. Elly
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 13:00:39

    Another suggestion: I loved how on the old design you had the links to navigate to the next/previous posts both at the end of the post and at the end of the comments. Am happy to see the links are still there at the end of the post but is there any chance of reinstating them at the end of the comments? It’s ok like this for posts with only a few comments, but I am imagining the amount of scrolling that will be required for some of those epic discussions…

  13. Marilyn
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 13:39:23

    Love the new look, congratulations

  14. becca
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 13:41:33

    I still wish there was more contrast in the text color – particularly quoted text that is now light gray. The sans serif font is elegant and classy, but combined with the low contrast, hard to read for those of us with vision problems.

  15. Sandy James
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 14:32:36

    I like the new colors and the layout, but I miss some of the information being on the front page. Then again, I’m a major creature of habit and resist all change. :-)

  16. Likari
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 14:40:24


  17. Alyson H.
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 14:43:11

    Beautiful! I do most of my blog reading through a feed, so I’m glad you put up the post about the change. Happy to see you kept the stamp–I love that logo!

  18. Kassia Krozser
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 14:48:45

    The new design is lovely — this is one of my favorite Woo themes (I’ve been agitating for a redesign…) and the colors are beautiful!

  19. Carolyn Crane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 14:49:11

    I love this new look. Emotionally, it feels more reflective of what you’re up to than the old look did. That is, it’s more you, or at least, it more matches my idea of DA.

    Also, I feel you’ve increased your user friendliness; frex, the author area is handy and suddenly I had an answer to a question I’d had for some time. Most of all, I love the letter at the top, the way it sets the theme and mood for your review style. The gray doesn’t bother me, though I have no eyesight problems. I don’t think black lettering would wreck the look for me whatsoever.

  20. Jill Sorenson
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 15:10:53

    I always feel disoriented when one of my favorite sites gets revamped, but I like the new look! I’m not sure the comments section is as user friendly as the previous format. I think I remember being able to see/scroll through more comments at once.

    Agree that black text would be easier to see.

  21. rebyj
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 15:25:03

    The new look is very eye appealing and easily navigated. WIN!

  22. library addict
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 15:33:32

    I like the new design.

    I also miss the article/thread/post name being included in the comments section in the right pane. Then again it took me about 6 months last year to realize the recent comments list was even there.

  23. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 15:38:46

    Looks great. Threw me for a loop at first, but I’ve quickly adjusted, LOL!

  24. Evangeline
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 16:00:24

    Love it. Very sparse and elegant.

  25. Anion
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 16:06:59

    Eep, sorry, but I’m not crazy about it. It’s lovely, it really is, but it takes waaaay longer to load for me and feels way more user-unfriendly. And I too miss being able to click once for the whole comments thread.

  26. Ridley
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 16:20:55

    The grey text on white is really hard to read, and I have perfect vision.

    I also miss the ability to respond to specific posts and see who was responding to which posts in the update box on the main page.

    I can’t tell if the 5min load time is the site’s fault or my internet, because my connection’s wacky today. Hopefully it’s my internet.

    Superficially, however, it’s a very attractive redesign. The home page is still easy to read.

  27. Bonnie
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 16:34:06


    @Bonnie: You need to go to

    Thanks, Jane.

  28. S.
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 17:19:11

    Another voice for bumping up the contrast on the text. I like that the background isn’t pure white but even a couple of shades darker grey like 333333 would be easier to read.

  29. BlueRose
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 17:22:29

    Its very elegant and I like it – tho like everyone else I was taken aback when I opened the page and it looked COMPLETELY different

    I agree with the comment that grey text on a grey background is less than optimal

  30. LauraD
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:04:42

    I like the layout, but to my eyes, the colors all blend together. Especially the text-it may be because I have cataracts, but it’s all just variations of gray to me.

  31. GrowlyCub
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:09:41

    The new layout is pretty to look at, very classy, but I’ve a number of issues with functionality.

    It takes forever to load (even though I’ve been poking about all day and reloading and stuff), the grey on grey is really hard to read and I miss the author and number of comments at the top of the reviews in the feature box.

    Hope you can fix some of the issues.

  32. Ros
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:18:06

    I’m another one who’s not a huge fan, sorry. It’s pretty but it feels very cluttered to me. This is no doubt at least partly to do with the fact that I normally browse the internet on my netbook, and the new site doesn’t fit on the small screen, so I’m continually having to scroll across as well as down. I know the magazine style is trendy at the moment, but I prefer being able to see posts in order.

    Still, I expect even this conservative reactionary will get used to it eventually. Just when you have your next revamp, probably!

  33. Ros
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:20:25

    Oh, also, I would love it if ‘First Page Saturdays’ could be added to the drop down menu under Features (or wherever you think it fits best). I often like to look back at previous entries to compare.

  34. msaggie
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:22:49

    I like the new look very much – but I need to get used to it as I am a creature of habit. I always liked the old website format where you can see who wrote the post/review upfront (where it used to be near the title of the post/article). Could that not be put back in? (or is it there and I didn’t click the right space for it?) I like that feature, particularly for reviews, as there are some reviewers whose tastes are closer to mine – and then I could have a more informed reading of the review!

  35. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:23:59

    @Jill Sorenson: I’m not sure what you mean by grey text. The text of the post. The text of the comments?

  36. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:25:57

    @Ros: I think I can do this. Check back tomorrow.

  37. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:27:36

    @Ros: All the posts appear in chronological order after the “featured section. What size screen do you have? I am on a netbook and I don’t have to scroll to the left or right, just up/down.

  38. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:28:52

    @Anion: What do you mean “click once for the whole comment thread”?

  39. Mireya
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:33:27

    Just testing if gravatar works for me here ;)

  40. Jenny Schwartz
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:52:02

    I like the new look, particularly having new reviews front and centre. It feels clean and uncluttered, and for me, the colour scheme rests my eyes.

  41. Lou
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 18:55:05

    Purty new layout!

    Maili, very nicely done. :D

  42. Chicklet
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 19:32:31

    1. Overall, I like the new look, but…

    a. I’d prefer black text instead of grey;

    b. I miss having the comments be numbered within the entry, so when I returned to vigorous discussions, I could jump back in where I’d left off;

    c. I’d like to be able to read a bit more of an entry before having to click “Read More.”

  43. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 19:38:56

    @Chicklet: I don’t think the comments were ever numbered within the entry – or they haven’t been for a long time.

    I changed the text of the post font to be black instead of grey.

    The excerpt size isn’t likely to be changed. Sorry!

  44. Sherry Thomas
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 19:58:40

    What’s the purpose of the featured review?

    I’ve always rather liked the democratic nature of the reviews, with the biggest books and the most obscure ones getting equal time, at least in terms of acreage on the front page.

    Also, where did the book image for Gentlemen Prefer Succubi go?

  45. DS
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:04:46

    Very pretty but it is loading slow (and my DSL service is usually pretty fast).

  46. Gina
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:07:24

    I love the new design. The blue is very easy on my eyes and the navigation seems more straight forward. Thanks for changing the font color to black, that was my only nitpick.

    @Chicklet: I seem to remember the comments being numbered, too. I would always make note of the last comment number I’d read so when I came back to those busy posts I knew where to pick up reading. Hmm.

  47. Claudia Dain
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:10:14

    I think it’s gorgeous! It was such a shock to click to this site and see something so different. It’s going to take me a few days to get used to all the changes, I’m sure, but I never fail to be excited by a ‘redecorating’ project! Congrats, Jane!

  48. Christine M.
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:10:57

    I think the new look is pretty but I miss the numbered comments… I was using them to know where I’d left off reading other people’s comments…. especially the very long thread!

  49. Lori S.
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:11:41

    I’m a slow one for change, so it’s going to be a while before I make up my mind as to what I think of the new format. It is pretty, though.

    But I will say that I do miss the numbered comments. I always used them so I could pick up where I left off, especially with the more active topics.

  50. Susan Reader
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:21:55

    Well, it’s been done and lots of people like it, but I don’t, much.

    A couple of technical issues issues–

    I also like numbered comments, for the same reason others have mentioned.

    Also, the tags (?)–the words that appear at the lower right, to link you to related stories– appear to be leaking out of their assigned space and invading the articles beneath them.

  51. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:35:44

    @Sherry Thomas: The featured review is the most recent review. The featured box displays the four most recent reviews. It’s still democratic.

  52. becca
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:36:31

    Thank you for changing the text color – this is much better! I love the blue wallpaper background!

  53. Jane
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:39:47

    @Susan Reader: yes, this is a css problem and I’ll need the developer to look at it.

    @Lori S.: I’ll have to see what can be done to add in the numbers then. It’s something the developer will need to look at.

  54. GrowlyCub
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 20:40:48

    I’m struck by so many people saying that the background color is blue. It’s slate grey on my screen… go figure. :)

    The ‘submit comment’ button is kind of tealish, but I see nothing except ‘link’ above that I’d call blue. Gonna fire up my other laptop to see if the colors are different there.

    Btw, that’s no complaint, just an observation. I love the pattern on the background.

  55. Bonnie
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 21:09:06

    Text color is much better, thanks.

    And yes, numbered comments would be nice.

  56. Susanna Kearsley
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 21:19:18

    Jane, is there a ‘Home’ button I’m not seeing? Right now the only way I can find to get back to the home page is by navigating backwards with my ‘Back’ arrow. A more direct ‘Home’ option would be really great to have.

    And I’ll join the chorus pleading for numbered comments — I, too, always use them when keeping up with the longer threads.

    Otherwise it looks really lovely.

  57. Shiloh Walker
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 21:26:49

    I love the new look although I’m still trying to figure my way around the new layout. The colors are very easy on the eyes-I do love that.

  58. Bonnie
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 21:39:44

    @Susanna Kearsley:

    Susanna, I just click on the banner at the top of the page to get back home.

  59. Mai
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 21:41:34

    @Susanna Kearsley:
    Click on the Dear Author header/masthead/banner for the home page.

    Alternatively, click on a house icon on the gray navigation bar.

  60. Billie
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 22:48:16

    Looks great but I’m sorry you have removed
    the numbers on the comment replies. The
    numbers made it easier to find my place
    when I don’t have time to read them all
    at one time.

  61. Anion
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 22:48:26

    @Jane: I don’t seem to be having the issue now, but last night when I clicked on an entry with several hundred comments the page only gave me a certain number at a time and I had to keep clicking “Previous comments.” And it started from the end. I have seen this whole comment thread, though, so again that may have been a bug being worked out.

    Dittoing others on the numbered comments, though. They definitely were recently, because I often leave the page up after I comment or memorize the number of my own comment so I know at a glance after refreshing if more people have replied.

    But yay on the darker text!

    Oh…and the site isn’t remembering me. I’ve had to enter my info for both comments. Not sure that’s a site issue, but thought I’d mention it, as I’ve always been remembered before.

  62. BlueRose
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 23:23:07

    @Anion: Thanks for reminding me – the site is not remembering me either – I have had to put my details in for (counts in head) at least three comments since the makeover appeared

    Something wonky with the caching?

  63. Amy
    Dec 29, 2009 @ 23:47:59

    I love the new look! I’m not keen on the longer loading time, but it is not a big deal. I, too, miss the numbered comments. I also miss being able to see who wrote which entry right on the top of a post (near the title of the post); could you bring that back?

    Further, to follow up on Sherry Thomas’ comment re the new “Featured” author caption. Jane, your response to Sherry’s comment suggest that you meant for all of the last four reviews to be “featured,” but that is not how it looks. Right now it looks like the most recent one — the one highlighted above the four small cover shots — is the only featured review. Part of it is due to the larger focus on the one review and part is due to the fact the word “Featured” rests right on the book as opposed to being the caption of the entire big box (that encompasses the additional book covers). When I first saw the page I thought how odd, what is so special about this one book review that it is being featured above the others?

  64. Keishon
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 00:04:17

    When I first saw the page I thought how odd, what is so special about this one book review that it is being featured above the others? ////////****

    The “featured” review only refers to the newest review. There’s nothing special about it other than that I don’t think and it’s nice. It draws the attention of the newest review while at the same time featuring the others right below it. Standard stuff, really. Just my two cents on the matter. Carry on.

  65. Michele C
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 00:29:05

    Hi Jane. I think the new look is beautiful. Nicely done.

  66. elisa
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 02:42:42

    thanks for changing the older comments thing, so it’s now all on one page!

    couple more nitpicks:
    1. no author anymore at the top of the post, I liked knowing who wrote a post right away. I also miss the tags at the top, so you know what a post is about right away too (especially the grade on a review, and what type of book it is).
    2. I liked being able to “skip to comments,” at the top, very useful when coming back to a post. will that button be taken away?
    3. will numbered comments be back?
    4. it’s not remembering my name either, it used to before.

    @Growlycub – it’s slate gray w/ a blue tinge on my laptop as well (not really blue), and the “submit comment” button is blue.

  67. Ros
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 03:52:04

    @Jane, thank you! And yes, it’s just the ‘featured posts’ that irritate me. I daresay I’ll get used to it. I have a 10″ screen on my netbook, but I have solved the problem with CTRL and – to resize the page.

  68. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 05:54:19

    Congrats on the new face! I look forward to it becoming familiar to me. :)

  69. Las
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 07:35:33

    I hate change so it’s going to take me a while to get used to the new look, but all is forgiven for the revamped search function.

  70. Jane
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 07:42:48

    @elisa: The tags are at the bottom of the excerpt now. I’m not sure if we’ll bring back the author of the post on the front page, but you can see it on the single post page in the sidebar.

    @Amy: The featured area is to highlight the last four reviews. The most recent review loads first, but if you click on any of the smaller grey boxes underneath the featured area, it will load the other three. It’s a way to highlight the reviews that as we think it’s the most important content of the blog.

    @BlueRose: and @Anion: I’ll have to look into that. In the meantime, you can be a “registered” user and never have to enter that information again. (Look at the bottom left footer area).

  71. Jane
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 07:53:58

    @elisa: Elisa – if you click on the number of comments at the very top, it scrolls you to the top of the comment section.

  72. Gennita Low
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 08:50:10

    It’s very lovely although a bit cluttered to my bad eyes, content-wise. I do wish the excerpts were longer so I don’t have to click through every one of them; even one more paragraph would help make it less headlinish (?). But I understand it ups the pg counts. I like the new buttons on top (recs/ebks/etc).

    Happy New Year to the DA reviewers!

  73. Susanna Kearsley
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 08:56:33

    Thanks, Bonnie and Mai. :-)

  74. Jane
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 10:57:43

    I’ve tweaked some stuff so let me know if it loads faster.

  75. Likari
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 11:57:22

    This time it loaded much more quickly. Whew! That was the only thing that bothered me.

    I love the new design and the organization. I too would like a tab somewhere for First Page Saturdays. Sometimes on Twitter, someone will mention they did one “back in such and such” (@ElyssaPapa) and I’d like to go look for it.

    I liked the old design when it was brand new, and I like this one better, esp now that it loads quickly.

    Oh, it also didn’t remember my name info. I’m using Chrome if that means anything.

    One last nitpick: the preview feature doesn’t show blank lines.

  76. Likari
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 12:02:35

    Wow, the personal information disappears when you submit your comment, if that helps you fix that bug. I just hit preview, and the info didn’t disappear.

    Also, I just noticed the “author of this post” box, second down on the right column. I can get used to that, and it has a lot more information than just the author’s name. I think I’ll like that better, actually.

  77. Castiron
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 12:40:20

    The new design looks very classy!

  78. jmc
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 14:51:14

    Whoa! What happened? DA is back to the old design.

  79. Jane
    Dec 30, 2009 @ 14:52:30

    @jmc: We apparently are having some load issues so the host asked me to put up the old theme while we work out the new theme issues.

  80. Lorraine
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 19:44:20

    Great new look ladies, although I agree with @Elisa that it would be nice if the reviewer’s name appeared at the top of the review.

    Also, thanks for the link to the Daily Kos. Laura Clawson did a wonderful job pointing out that the romance genre is no different from any other and thus doesn’t deserve any more mockery than the others.

  81. MaryK
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 15:02:13

    I’m getting used to the new look (change, oh noes!), but I’m not fond of the scrolling on the main page. When the slides are different sizes, everything underneath shifts so you’re scanning down the summaries and the whole page is shimmying as the top changes. It’s alive!

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