Maureen Marks-Mendonca, author of Island Fiction's Legend of the Swan Children is employing internet technology to full effect!
Guyanese born, Ontario-based, Maureen's story is a coming of age adventure involving the fulfillment of a prophecy and a secret society to boot. Published author and Trinidadian journalist Debbie Jacob touts Legend as one of her favorite Island Fiction reads and reviewed it for Caribbean Beat:
"Mendonca has beautiful, elegant language reminiscent of good magical realism. The imagery is spectacular and the story very inviting."
Since publication, Maureen has developed a book trailer, and an active website www.swanislandhome.com.
Rich in relevant content, fans of the book can see video/ photos of Guyana's majestic landscapes, join the secret society Friends of the Flame and learn about animals in the book. Maureen ups the ante with each feature she adds. Not only does she offer interesting trivia about each animal, she created a quizz that connects the content to her book.
e.g. (In Legend of the Swan Children)
What made Alex think Cocoa the macaw was a spirit? Answer on pg. 102
In Words for Winners, one of the games/ activities offered, fans click a word on the wheel that best describes themselves and they receive a secret message/ affirmation. Are you "Eagle-Eyed"? Then, "You will achieve greatness!" Do you believe in "Trust"? "You will always have everything you need!"
As a not-for-profit umbrella, Maureen founded The Swan Light Organization http://www.swanlight.org/
By creating this harmonious, interactive webscape the author offers many points of access to her work. Her Island Fiction title (Macmillan) and Authentic Arawak hammocks are on offer for purchase, alongside free, meaningful content: Articles on "How to Conquer Fear", and her new 6-week, online workshop, "Building a Life of Happiness".
Adding this kind of content, that is purely from the readers point of view (i.e. not only promotional in slant), secures repeat visitors. When a site appears to be a static brochure of information then the interactive benefits are lost, and with them, chances to evolve and expand your work. A site with a "LIVE" feel, can create fans, not just one time visitors. And by 'fans' I mean people who want to join your mailing lists and keep abreast of your work. Over time, this adds potential sales, not only for your current title but for its sequel and any new work or projects you launch.
What makes Maureen's online presence all the more impressive is that she has been doing it herself - including the site building and content creation. Through the process, she has developed a unique style of line drawing on the computer. This gives her pages 'a look' that is identifiable and can be 'branded'.
Those of us who may feel limited in our abilities can use any number of free templates and clip art albums, with some personal digital photography to create our own look. The key is to tie in everything thematically, while diversifying the points of access and interest; increasing the potential number of online 'hits'.
A free blog is a perfectly professional way to do business online these days, so don't waste money on a graphic designer up front (unless you want / can afford to). Setting up your blog or site, is a rent - free shop with international reach!
Link relevant photo/ video content you upload using Flickr, Picassa or You Tube to enhance the Blog visually. Once you have a store front with content, devote some time every week to free marketing and networking via any social media like Face Book and Twitter. It's all pretty fool proof these days.
If you can, invest in as many domain names that apply and link them to your content. This is the name of your shop. But why have one name? Remember search engines are operating to find relevant content based on words searched. Better to secure your name, any pseudonym, book title(s), important character/ hero names even. This increases the chance of someone not only finding you but stumbling upon your latest book! You can even purchase for a small fee lists that show you which words are most often searched. Use these in your domain name choices and text links to maximize opportunity online.
The main message for internet presence these days is - don't get stuck on the packaging. Don't invest time and money and energetic resources on any aspect that won't pay you back fairly whether in cash or kind. Everyone, everywhere can now access social media, production and broadcast tools. This means audiences are tuning in, and making selections based on CONTENT that is meaningful to them/ adds value to their lives.
Take some time to beef up your site's/ blog's content in a way that intends 'giving' to your visitors. Ask: What can I do or give that will improve or enhance the quality of my blog readers/ site visitors? Offering FREE content that is of significant quality, as Maureen is doing, will earn not only long term interest but trust. And that's the surefire way to cut through the clutter and get noticed by online explorers, of like interest.