I know this topic has been beaten like the proverbial dead horse, but I have a full head of steam and need to get this off my chest. I was half-tempted to break out Little Miss Crabby Pants, but decided against it because I really don't want this to be a rant. No, I merely want to offer some advice, specifically to Harlequin writers.
First, a little background:
I reviewed Once An Outlaw by Debbi Rawlins for TGTBTU this month. It's a time travel western from Harlequin Blaze, and that was enough for me to try it. I found it to be an OK read, my main quibble being with the abrupt ending. Frankly, the heroine's sister is left hanging and I wanted answers. Since it screamed Sequel Bait to me, I thought I'd do a little searching.
I found out that Once A Rebel is due out in May. But no plot description since Debbi Rawlins' web site has vanished. OK fine. The cover art is similar and it's got the same "Stolen From Time" tag line - so I took a leap of faith. And fell on my face.
Someone commented on my review (thanks ldb!) and basically said, "Hey looks like there is a sequel out next month." And they're right. The heroine's sister is getting her own book, called Once A Gambler, which is written not by Debbi Rawlins, but Carrie Hudson. I didn't even consider a multi-author series. So does Carrie Hudson have a web site? No. Of course not. But thanks to Harlequin's Browse The Book feature, I find out that Carrie Hudson is really Barbara Ankrum, who wrote several historical romances back in the 1990s. So does Barbara Ankrum have a web site? Of course not.
Lather, rinse and repeat.
I'm going to be blunt here. This is way more work than I should have put in to find out about these books. And I'm a librarian for cripes sake. If I need the secret handshake, chances are your average Jane Schmoe Reader would have given up long before all of this. Plus I'm still stuck with the problem of not knowing what Once A Rebel is about. I'm assuming the hero of that story will be the drunken doctor, who was a secondary character in Once An Outlaw. But I'm assuming. I don't know for sure. Why?
BECAUSE NEITHER OF THE AUTHORS HAS A BLOODY WEB SITE!
Ahem. Sorry. I really don't want to rant.
Every author needs a web site. Even if the thing is bare bones. And if you're a Harlequin author? You know, someone who's books have very short shelf lives in retail outlets? It's imperative. Because readers can only buy your books during an allotted period of time, and trust me on this - not all readers are buying their books online. I know it's easy to think that they are - but trust me - they all aren't.
Oh, I can hear y'all thinking, "But gee Super Librarian, I'm just a fledgling baby author. I don't have the money for web site hosting and design!"
Seriously, just shoot me now.
Anyone, and I mean anyone, can set up a web presence for free. It's called a blog. I've been blogging (for free!) for the past 6 years. And the best part? The whole process has gotten idiot proof. With Blogger's new interface a damn monkey can throw up a blog (which I haven't converted to because I'm scared to push the button). Seriously. And it won't cost you a single dime. An example of an author using blogging software to host her web site? Long time Harlequin writer, Gina Wilkins (who is using WordPress). Oh sure, I wish she had plot descriptions of her books, but at least she's got a list there for readers, and has her series books marked.
It doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't need a ton of bells and whistles. Truly. But you all need something. Otherwise I get annoyed. And if I'm getting annoyed....
I'm thinking other readers are annoyed as well. Just going out on a limb with that one.