AuthorPage unofficial launch
Andrew Mayne News

AuthorPage unofficial launch

Each year when it's my birthday (May 25th), I like to look back over the year and ask myself what I've accomplished. On a writing level, I'm pretty happy with how the past 365 days went. Besides finishing the latest Jessica Blackwood novel (Black Fall - Due this winter from HarperCollins!!!), starting another series to also be released next year (more on this soon...), self-releasing How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours, The Cure for Writer's Block, Magic & Mischief and Station Breaker (plus a few other unpublished books), it's been a great year. Except... I really wanted to make this the year that I launched something new and tapped into a different part of my brain – the part that likes to make things. I've played around with coding ever since I was a kid (making very simple Choose Your Own Adventure-style games in Basic), but never really dived in and learned enough to do something more powerful. Even though I've built Wordpress sites (iTricks.com, WeirdThings.com, etc.) and dabbled in HTML, javascript and PHP, my knowledge was just enough to follow instructions without really knowing what was going on under the hood. I've had a lot of ideas for projects, but was ultimately limited by my lack of coding skills. While I've had some awesome friends offer their help and advice to me, there's a limit to how much help you can ask of someone when you're not paying them and they have to put up with my incessant feature requests. Last year I had an idea for a tool that would help authors promote their books. It started with a better way to share sample chapters that looked like professional print (drop caps, scalable to screen, full justification, etc.) and could be read on a desktop, mobile device or e-readers without special software. I figured out how to do it over the course of a few days, playing with javascript, CSS and a few other web technologies. Once I had that format, I realized the next step was creating a platform to make it easy for authors to share with readers. This turned out to be a little more complicated...My ambition vast exceeded my capabilities. Fortunately, a couple things happened. First, I got a lot of support from friends that wanted to see the idea happen (Simon Coronel, Dan Dirks, Ted Benson and Justin Young.) They helped me figure out the shape of things. Then I met Peter J. Wacks, a fellow author who got this writer tool concept immediately and had great input. Peter and I began collaborating on a bunch of other stuff and the writer tool became a kind of back burner project. We talked a lot about it, but the project kind of sat there until a few months ago. While we were plotting out our latest world-changing idea, I started to think about how my lack of coding knowledge was a big impediment to actually turning a world-changing idea into a real thing. So my birthday rolls around and I realize a month later that I'd really, really like to have made one of my non-book ambitions a reality. After turning in the manuscript for Black Fall to my editor, I decided lock myself into my home and not emerge until I could actually make something that did useful things. For a language, I settled on Ruby (a friendly and polite language invented in the 1990's by a Japanese Mormon). It was much more user-friendly than anything else – especially for this chimp. I spent a week doing EVERY beginner Ruby tutorial I could find. Then I jumped into Rails. Rails is basically a bunch of code that you install on a server that provides shortcuts to doing more complicated things. I became a complete shut in, only leaving my place to go eat at Wendys EVERY DAY. I'd stay up until the sun came out, learning and doing. Mostly trying to fix my mistakes. I'd say that literally 90% of my time was spent figuring out why something didn't work. While debugging can be frustrating – especially when you're a complete novice that has only a superficial understanding of what you're doing – watching things work is exhilarating. Especially when what you’'e seeing come together is that big idea you've wanted to make happen for over a year. After getting my feet wet, I started working on AuthorPage.com (it wasn't called that at first. I had to shell out some $$$ to get the name.) Thanks to some great coding tutorials (OneMonthRails), powerful tools like Cloud9, Heroku and the thousands of StackOverflow responses I poured over, the project was starting to come together. Most important, was being able to call Peter Wacks at 3 AM and excitedly tell him about some new feature. 8 weeks later, you're reading these words on the site that was just an idea a few months ago. Okay, so what? There are billions of blogs out there... But this isn't a blog (well, technically, this part of the site is.) AuthorPage isn't just for Peter and me. It's for every author. Once we work out the many, many bugs, we're going to throw the doors open to any author that wants to have an easy-to-use website that lets you: + Create your own page in minutes (and gives you your own AuthorPage.com/YourName url) + Create a bookstore with links to Amazon, BN, Kobo and anywhere else you want + Provide your readers with super easy-to-read samples + Share short stories (and bring people to your AuthorPage.) + Build your email list of fans + Email them updates directly from AuthorPage + Test different book descriptions to see which ones work best and get the most clicks + And a lot more.... AuthorPage is designed to help authors in every practical way we can imagine. And the coolest part: Our plan is to support the site using the affiliate fees from whenever someone clicks to buy a book, and make AuthorPage.com 100% free to use. All of the features I mentioned are working(ish), but there's a lot of bugs to eradicate and tons of work to do making it user-friendly and cleaning up the code. Our plan is to roll AuthorPage out like this: Phase 1: Have people visit Peter and my AuthorPage and tell us what's broken and could be improved. Phase 2: Let a handful of authors create accounts and help us beta-test the backend. Phase 3: Do a rollout to a larger group of beta-users. Phase 4: World domination. In the meantime, you can go to AuthorPage.com and sign up for the beta. If something doesn't work, shoot me an email. I'll be either here in front of my computer or at Wendys and Peter will be deep into creating the most awesome guide to publishing ever written that's going to be an integral part of AuthorPage.

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