Lately, I’ve been on a Social Media 101 (201?) crash course. Now I think I’m ready to tackle the final: publishing my novel on-line as a serial. To succeed, I’ll need to ace social media marketing (because I’m sure not spending on Google AdWords).
But you don’t care about that.
And that’s okay!
You see, to succeed I’ll also have to modify my manuscript for the web. While I won’t call myself an expert at writing for the Internet, there are some best practices that apply whether you’re blogging, drafting web text, or serializing a novel.
- Less is more. Reading online is hard on the eyes. Confronted with a wall of text, the average web surfer will click away from your page. Fast. So cut, cut, cut.
- Keep it simple. I was tempted to write “brevity is the essence of wit” as rule #1. However, web language should be targeted to a first grade reading level. Try to avoid big words and complicated sentence structure.
- Short paragraphs. Paragraph breaks make your text easier to read.
- Bullets and numbered lists. These enable readers to get right to your point. They’re also beloved of bloggers because people tend to click on headlines with numbers in them, e.g. “7 Tips for Writing on the Web.”
- Hyperlink like hell. It gives you credibility. Even better, with hyperlinks you don’t have to go into detailed explanations, so you can keep your text short. The hyperlink does the explaining for you. One note: if you’re hyperlinking to an external site, make sure it opens in a separate window. You don’t want people to navigate away from your page.
- Use pictures. People expect to see them online. They give the eyes a break. And yes, they’re worth a thousand words…
- Start with a bang. Today’s post is not a shining example, but web text should grab people’s attention immediately. For example, in Chapter 1 of my manuscript, the “bang” happens around page three. For the web, I’m going to have to cut out the first two pages and go straight to the exciting bit. I won’t mourn the loss — less is more.
- Bonus! Dan Zarella has put together a readability analyzer widget for WordPress. It’s still in Beta, but if you’re interested, check it out here.
And should you be wondering, there’s nothing “final” about my final project. New ideas and platforms are introduced daily in the world of Social Media marketing. I love it.
And hate it.