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

Make Your Blog Mobile

I installed the Alex King mobile plugin at Sybil’s blog (The Good, The Bad, The Unread) a week ago because I was tired of trying to access it from my smart phone and having to wait five years for the home page to load. According to Business Week, 80 million smart phones were shipped worldwide in 2006. About 5% of the cell phone subscribers currently own a smartphone and this is likely to increase to 10% in the next few years according to analysts. Essentially, there is a good portion of the internet browsing market who couldn’t visit Sybil’s blog because of the length of time it took to load her home page.

Ironically, Sybil blogged about her frustration with MySpace last week and authors’ seeming devotion to it. It seemed to me that authors spent way too much time on MySpace and not enough time optimizing their websites for readers who want to buy their books.

Marianne Mancusi
, author of the upcoming book Moongazer (Shomi) (which I’ve not read, but I have read Liz Maverick’s Wired (Shomi) in that line which was good), gave a spirited defense of MySpace arguing that she has gained readers and sales from MySpace.

But one thing that Sybil said made alot of sense to me and that is the following:

5) You can find readers yourself by doing searches and adding friends instead of waiting for them to find you. (Mancusi’s reasoning)

I don't see how this is any different than blogs, live journal or whatever. And again, if you have that kind of time you aren't updating your website or blog enough. That makes readers cry. The ones that don't have to ask their mom's for money to buy your books. (Sybil’s response).

dearauthormobiledearauthormobile

Very few author blogs or websites are designed for ease of use with a smartphone, particularly the ones relying heavily on graphics or other multimedia. If you have a dark background, it is especially hard to read on the smartphone or cellphone device. It seems to me that an author’s goal is to sell books and if the reader can’t access a booklist from her smartphone at the bookstore, then the author might be missing out on potential sales and that might be a much more important marketing tool than MySpace.

But for Sybil and my blog, it really makes no difference. Or does it? Say the reader is out running an errand but can’t quite remember the name of the or the author she read about on Sybil’s blog yesterday. She can easily load Syb’s page on her smartphone (Dear Author too) and read the posts and the comments.

For wordpress, it couldn’t be easier to add mobile functionality. Drop this plugin into your plugin folder and you are set.

For everyone else, it isn’t really that hard. All you are doing is stripping off all the fancy graphics and providing just the meat. White background, black lettering. Link to your booklist. Ask your web gal for some help. If you want to see what your site looks like in a mobile browser, head over to the Opera site and paste your web address in the demo form. It can give you an idea of what your cellphone users see with those slimmed down browsers.

Do it for us reader’s sake and you might just make another sale.

Edited to add:
I did modify the index.php file a bit. I added a “comment” link at the top of a post so that you can quickly jump to the comments. It involves adding two small lines of code to the index.php and comment.php file. I would type it in but for some reason, it doesn’t show up here so if you want, you just email me and I’ll send you my modified files. :)

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

20 Comments

  1. Sarah McCarty
    May 27, 2007 @ 04:51:17

    Just reading this gave me palpitations. *G* I’m a techno phobe of the highest caliber. I contemplated a myspace page but the time to create one was just the beginning of the drain this type of promo requres, and I don’t have that much time, so for this year, I’ll be myspaceless. I don’t have a blog for that same reason. It looks like getting my page mobile isn’t going to be a time suck so I have no excuse. *sigh* I will have to gird my nether parts and go yet another step in the direction of technology. Dammit! *G*

    Thanks for the technololgy update.

  2. Angie
    May 27, 2007 @ 05:40:31

    Funny, the timeliness of this blog. I was trying to read blogs on my Blackberry Pearl last week when I was traveling to/from Georgia and it was frustrating. Thanks for the plugin, I’m going to use it on my own blog!

  3. Nice Mommy~Evil Editor » Blog Archive » Mobile!
    May 27, 2007 @ 06:37:39

    […] to Jane at Dear Author’s post of today, I’ve installed the WP Mobile plugin on my blog so it’s now easier to view my blog on […]

  4. Anne Douglas
    May 27, 2007 @ 06:42:11

    Thought this a great suggestion, but I’ve come across a problem. The template I’m currently using when combined with that plugin shows nothing. Which is definitely a worse place to be than having it load slow.

    Guess I’m ditching the pretty pull down menus and looking for another template to re-skin for the rest of today.

    Meh, who wanted to do housework anyway?

    AnneD

  5. Melanie
    May 27, 2007 @ 07:13:08

    As a reader who reads blogs frequently on her Treo (including this morning), let me chime in with an “amen.” (On the downside, I can’t seem to post a response with Opera mini – have had to switch browsers to Blazer. Oh, to have one browser to do all I want it to.)

  6. TeddyPig
    May 27, 2007 @ 07:38:01

    [quote comment="29333"]Thought this a great suggestion, but I’ve come across a problem. The template I’m currently using when combined with that plugin shows nothing. Which is definitely a worse place to be than having it load slow.

    Guess I’m ditching the pretty pull down menus and looking for another template to re-skin for the rest of today.

    Meh, who wanted to do housework anyway?

    AnneD[/quote]

    I love WP-Andreas01 1.7

    or Mistylook 3.3

    In fact I bought a template from Sadish called Pal Nila

    The guy makes some great highly functional templates for WordPress.

  7. kardis
    May 27, 2007 @ 08:07:10

    I have a myspace page for my friends who don’t like email (for some reason) and I hate it! I never try to find an author’s myspace page, I just go to their website. Every time. Of course, I think I’m older than the demographic that authors are looking to catch on said evil page so maybe that’s part of it. In any case, I’d much rather have a smartphone!

  8. The Stalker on Sunday « miladyinsanity
    May 27, 2007 @ 08:24:15

    […] DearAuthor, because we have to meet our DA Linkage Quota of 2 posts minimum per edition, this time on making your blog mobile. On Opera’s demo, my blog looks fine. Anybody seen my blog on teeny […]

  9. Melanie
    May 27, 2007 @ 09:00:42

    Another thought/comment: Viewing your site on the Opera mobile demo is probably the *best* your site will look in mobile format because the Opera browser hands the page off to one of their own servers to format for the small screen then directs it back to the user’s browser. But there’s more to consider than just how it *looks* on the mobile browser – there’s usability issues. I switched from using palm’s Blazer brcause it doesn’t handle javascript well and Opera mini does. (Think of all the blogs with portions of the post hidden behind the cut.) And if a site’s navigation solely relies on flash or java or even some of the dropdown javascript menus, then the site is not navigable for mobile browsers. Having an alternate means of navigating the site in plain text would be helpful. Also, even though Opera does a great job of resizing images for the small screen, they still are large in terms of data size and transfer time. If someone is on a limited internet access plan, large images will really eat up their transfer limit but beyond that, unless you have a 3G phone and plan, it’s veerrrryyy slooooow. (My solution is to surf with images off. Even though I have an unlimited plan, I don’t have unlimited patience and blogs are about the text anyway.)

  10. Jane
    May 27, 2007 @ 09:05:45

    I think the beauty of alex king’s plugin is that it is so stripped down. It’s a bare bones page (although it does show the covers of the books in the post) because all it does is show the posts and comments. All the javascript that runs on the blog is not loaded using the alex king theme.

    But, I could easily add a link to a printed list of, say, A reviews, or something like that. I might do that in the future, but haven’t seen a real need for it. I think its something an author could do.

  11. EC Sheedy
    May 27, 2007 @ 10:15:33

    More technology to worry about. Aargh!

    This from a writer who is just now–finally–at last–having her web site redone. (And who can’t imagine being wanted by someone’s smart phone no matter how hard she tries!) Am I less than writerly when I don’t blog, don’t my-space, and still find it difficult to carve out writing time? …sigh…
    EC (who seriously needs a reident techno-geek)

  12. Michele
    May 27, 2007 @ 10:29:44

    Jane, the reason you can’t include the code in your post is that you have to convert the characters that open and close the coding. For security purposes, WP won’t allow you to add php coding to a post. However, you can enter your code into this utility:

    http://www.tutorialtastic.co.uk/converter.php

    And it will convert your code snippet into text-friendly visibility. You can then use the CODE button in your WP dashboard to add it to the blog post.

    Also, Firefox has an add-on called Web Developer that has a lot of handy tools for viewing and building websites. Under its Miscellaneous tag, it has an option to preview a page in small screen rendering. I’ve been checking my sites with that (though I’ll try the Opera utility too.) Firefox users can download the add-on here:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/60

  13. Jessica Inclan
    May 27, 2007 @ 10:41:30

    When I started writing (when I was 12), I never realized that I would have to have a web site (I do) and a blog (I don’t) and a myspace page (I do, though I’ve never sent a bulletin out to my “friends”) or blog for readership (I post on other people’s blogs mostly out of interest and a loud mouth). I learned very quickly that I needed web things, but I have to say much of this post left me going, “huh?” Plug ins, etc.

    Okay, I have a blackberry, too, but I’ve never read dearauthor.com on it or much of anything besides google and dictionary.com to settle arguments. So maybe I should. But I don’t want readers to think I’m being negligent because I don’t have such things.

    But as I was writing this, I turned to my computer programmer boyfriend, who explained the entire idea: that a plug in is a little bit of code that allows a server to pull a modified version of a site into a device. Okay, I could add one to my web site to make it readable on a phone. I currently have flash on my site. So–I feel edified now by this entire post and conversation, and will write to my web maven.

    Anyway, I hope readers don’t take offense at all the things authors do or don’t do. There’s a learning curve with this tech stuff.

    Jessica Inclan

  14. Bev(BB)
    May 27, 2007 @ 10:44:12

    Oh, neat. I just added the plug-in to Bev’s Books. I will say that at first it didn’t work so I had to go back and check the readme file. Duh. ;) Just simply drop the plugin into WordPress, huh, Jane? Gotta watch her like a hawk on those “easy” bits. :D

    Anyway, I think it’s working now after a little tweaking. Of course, since I don’t have Internet on my cell and rarely use the thing, what do I know.

  15. TeddyPig
    May 27, 2007 @ 11:08:55

    Thanks!

    Just installed the WordPress Mobile Edition plugin and used this demo to check. Most excellent!

    Opera Mobile Mini demo

  16. TeddyPig
    May 27, 2007 @ 11:22:34

    Oh and I downloaded that Opera Mini to my Blackberry. Way better browser!

  17. Sybil
    May 27, 2007 @ 11:54:18

    I have been wickedly lucky in all things web design because I couldn’t find my way out of a box. Every blog, lj, wordpress and or website I have ever had or been apart of was put together by talented people. So I completely feel for authors who don’t have skills, time or even want to screw with this stuff. Hell I didn’t even know I was mobile until someone else brought it to my attention.

    But really I think that is sort of the message here. More often than not, readers are an easy bunch, we LIKE many things but we ‘need’ little. Lisa Kleypas had a very cute site with a picture you could scroll over to find info. Very cute – hated it. Her new site is much more simple. Julie Garwood has a very interesting site – if I had the time or want to screw with it to find info I wanted. I don’t.

    Give us the info – book titles, backlists (printable text rocks for YOU and US), tell us what you are working on [be it out next week or in a year]. Give us a sample of your work – excerpts, free stories, out of print downloads for free or cheap. But really if a writer can’t be arsed to put that information out for me to easily find – unless I am already a fan – I am one to say screw it. There are a hella lot of books out, coming out and already on Mount To Be Read.

    Monica McCarty has a trilogy coming out in July, I just yesterday deleted them off my to be bough list because her website was STILL ‘coming soon’ after over six months. Oddly enough going to get the link it looks like it is finally up. Will I read them, maybe at some point but I already have more books at this point than I can read for July and August. So it is no longer at my top of GET this NOW. Track it down, must read, get ARC or eARC, find out more about the author because too many others I wanted to know more about during the same time frame had the info up. This could be the bestest trilogy ever but if the author doesn’t care to get the info out there, why should the reader care?

    Writers write… I would much rather have any writer working on their book(s) than spending hours out blog hopping or myspace hunting. The bells and whistles can be nice and fun at the same times they can be too much. And at the end of the day it is up to each author what they do or don’t do and how much of their time they can pony up for anything.

    Of course I have a jane so what do I know ;)

  18. The Good, The Bad and The Unread » Can You Hear Me Now?
    May 27, 2007 @ 12:05:26

    […] Jane talks about getting your website and/or blog mobile. Just like we are here. I would tell you all about it but since I didn’t even know we were […]

  19. Charlene Teglia
    May 27, 2007 @ 13:59:53

    Thanks, Jane, will be going mobile. For some reason, I hadn’t even thought about browsing from a smart phone or equivalent.

  20. acoucheGah
    Mar 31, 2008 @ 18:09:02

    Yo!
    Wasjust serfing on net and found this site…want to say thanks. Great site and content!

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