Debut day: new design, new blog

Today I’m introducing a new look for Three Moons Media, and a new blog to go with it. I’ve completely revamped the site, and I hope you like it. What I set out to do was update a lot of info, improve the navigation, and present the published books better. The project sort of grew, into a whole new design, and into me finally committing to start the blog I’ve been thinking about for years.

The Design

Three Moons Media has been around since 2002, and this is my third site design. The first one started with my logo, which was originally my personal icon for LiveJournal. I took the colors in it and ran with them. Looking back at that design now, I’d say I ran wild with them. It seemed organized and clean, but nicely colorful when I designed it. After a couple of years, though, I kept falling in love with sites that were clean, spare, even minimalist. Which mine sure wasn’t. It was time for a change.

The original TMM site

I tackled the site update in the summer of 2005. It took me almost all summer, because I rebuilt my database and ordering system too. In the process, I had to finally grok CSS to get the pages to look the way I wanted. I had been using all table-based layouts for my pages, for those of you who know what that means. For everybody else, I was building pages with 1998 methods and I needed to drag myself into the twenty-first century.

On top of that, I wanted to make changes to the ordering pages for my books. Because I need to get a lot of information from an author when they sign up to publish a book, I can’t just use a standard shopping cart package. So I dug in and learned enough PHP to get all the data into a MySQL database, take orders and payments, and so on. It took me all summer. And I was pretty happy with the result. That design lasted five years, rather than three.

The last site design

But in between, stuff happened. The print-on-demand company I worked with, Booksurge, had been bought by Amazon in April 2005. It was bumpy for a few months, but some things were much improved once things smoothed out. Royalty payments started arriving on schedule, consistently, which made both me and my authors happy. Newly published books got listed on Amazon within days, rather than weeks. Booksurge added color printing and hard-cover options.

Amazon also had another subsidiary, CreateSpace, which publishes music and videos as well as books. Last fall, Amazon merged Booksurge into the CreateSpace brand. This transition was very smooth, and not much changed in the way things worked for me. But it did mean another round of updates to my site.

Besides cleaning up all the outdated Booksurge references, I took a good look at the services I offered. CreateSpace doesn’t offer hardback books, so that went. I decided to eliminate some ”packages“ that no one ever ordered. And I reassessed pricing for what remains. More on all that another time.

All in all, it led to a full overhaul. I converted to WordPress to get a lot of options without having to build them myself. Moving the whole site over forced me to go over every word of every page. I cleaned up, consolidated, and eliminated a lot of cruft on one hand, and on the other hand added a blog and a whole new section to better show off the books.

In the old design, the three or four newest books were highlighted in the sidebar of the front page, which linked to the ”Bookstore“ page. I’ve felt for a long time that page didn’t do justice to the full booklist. There are over 30 Three Moons books now, and with them all on one page, to see them you had to scroll, and scroll, and scroll, and scroll…I wonder how many people ever got all the way to the bottom.

Now, books are divided in genres—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young readers—so you can see a few at a time, and get more info on the ones that catch your eye. Plus, there’s now that spiffy slider on the front page to show off all of them. [12/11/2010: The slider has been replaced by a gallery; it loads way faster. —Marilyn] I think there’s now a better balance between services to help an author get published and showcasing the books already released. After all, the whole point of publishing a book is to sell copies, to get it read. I hope this will help my authors do that.

The Blog

A year or two ago, I read a whole lot of blogs about blogging. Every business needs a blog, they say, and a blog needs its own name. I’m not starting this blog just because I’m supposed to. It’s mostly that I have a bunch of stuff I want to write about and this will be a good place to get myself to do it, finally. And the blog is not getting its own name and domain. But I did think quite a bit about what to name it. I came up with “Words, Books and Everything in Between.” The idea was that under that umbrella I could talk about language, grammar, writing, editing, book design and production, books I read, the business of self-publishing…Well, that’s still what I plan to talk about. It won’t be my title, but it will define my focus.

For years I’ve joked about writing ”Mama Marilyn’s Picky Editor Pages.” I’m making that the name of a weekly feature here. I have a whole collection of text files full of grammar gaffes, mangled syntax, crazy spelling, misused words, and more things that make an English major cringe that I’ve been itching to write about. I think a blog of nothing but grammar rants would get a bit old (for you and me), so giving myself a weekly quota of just one will be a Good Thing.

I’ll probably also talk about whatever project I’m working on, and I plan to feature one of the Three Moons Media books each week. That ought to keep me going until about November. A couple of my authors have new books in the works, so I expect there will be more by the time I cover the ones already published. One way or another, there should be plenty to write about. I hope you’ll be back to read more.

And I hope you had a nice cup of coffee while you were reading today. I do tend to get longwinded. Hmm, maybe I should put a coffee cup icon on my long posts…

2 thoughts on “Debut day: new design, new blog

  1. The new design looks great and is easy to follow. It will be interesting to see what discussions will arise here on the blog. Having an English major as a wife, I continually get red marks on my writings.

  2. Not a single red mark on this one, sweetheart. 🙂 Thank you, and I’m looking forward to the discussions too.

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