“Unite & Represent”: Asian American Writers on WordPress

The need for diverse voices in journalism today is greater than ever. This year’s Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) convention — with the theme of “Unite & Represent” — will be a four-day event to network, gather skills, and push for better representation in the media. WordPress.com is proud to be a sponsor of the conference, which kicks off on July 31. Here’s a showcase of Asian American writers who make their online homes on WordPress, as well as tips for making your own author website.

Born in Vietnam, Viet Thanh Nguyen came to the US as a refugee in 1975. He is the author and novelist of numerous books, including The Sympathizer, his debut novel that won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and The Refugees, a book of short stories. He is also a professor at the University of Southern California.

Tip: We like the mix of information on Viet’s front page, including his upcoming appearances and contact details in the right sidebar. Do the same on your site with an event widget or shortcode or a custom HTML widget, respectively.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is a writer, editor, and author of Harmless Like You. Her second novel, Starling Days, was released in the UK this month.

Tip: We love the clickable book covers on the right, which link to pages where you can buy Rowan’s books. You can achieve this with an image widget, which lets you link book images to custom URLs like Amazon, IndieBound, or publisher pages.

Esmé Weijun Wang is the writer of The Collected Schizophrenias, a collection of essays, and The Border of Paradise, a novel. She lives with late-stage Lyme disease and schizoaffective disorder, and focuses on creativity, resilience, and legacy.

Tip: We love the full-width portrait of Esmé on her homepage, sitting with an open book. It visually sets the tone of her site and invites readers in to learn more. Want your front-page photography to make the same impact? Many of our themes have header areas that you can customize with big horizontal images.

Nicole Chung is the editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine and the former managing editor of The Toast. Her debut memoir All You Can Ever Know was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and landed on numerous best-of lists.

Tip: We love how Nicole displays all the praise for her memoir in the “Press” section of her homepage. Similarly collect reviews for your books or positive feedback from your clients or students with testimonials.

Poet and Amulet author Jason Bayani is a National Poetry Slam finalist and the artistic director of Kearny Street Workshop, the oldest Asian Pacific American multidisciplinary arts organization in the country.

Tip: Just under Jason’s homepage header section, he promotes three important pages: “Work,” “Amulet,” and “Contact.” Depending on your theme, you can call attention to specific pages via the Theme Options or Featured Content areas of your Customizer.

Mia Alvar is the author of In the Country, an award-winning collection of nine short stories that tell the experiences of women and men of the Filipino diaspora.

See another static homepage in action on the site of poet, author, and professor Kimiko Hahn.

Tip: With a static homepage, Mia keeps the attention on her book and its awards and praise. Want to transform your blog into a website? Tweak a few settings in your Customizer to set a static homepage like Mia’s.

Franny Choi is a Korean-American poet, editor, playwright, and educator. She is the author of two poetry collections — Soft Science and Floating, Brilliant, Gone — and a senior news editor at Hyphen magazine.

Tip: Franny displays a short version of her bio on her front page, then displays a “read more” link to her About page. Similarly pull readers in with a succinct bio — whether in a special call-to-action area (available on some themes) or with a custom HTML widget in your sidebar — then link to your About page for readers to learn more. Alternatively, the More Block is another way to achieve this.

Amitava Kumar is an Indian writer, journalist, and professor of English at Vassar College. He’s the author of both nonfiction and fiction, including Immigrant, Montana: A Novel.

Tip: Video is a powerful way to engage readers. Amitava embeds a book trailer to complement the images and text on his homepage. If you don’t have a WordPress.com Premium plan (or higher) to upload your own video files, embed videos hosted elsewhere, like Amitava’s Vimeo clip.

Erin Entrada Kelly is a Filipina-American author, short story writer, and professor of children’s literature. Hello, Universe, her children’s novel that received the 2018 Newbery Medal, is currently being adapted into a feature film by Netflix.

Tip: Erin has an FAQs page, accessible in her menu. This format is a nice complement or alternative to a traditional About page — you can call out questions in bold or a bigger font size, or display a list of anchor links at the top of the page so readers can “jump” to different questions on the page.

S. Jae-Jones, or JJ, is the author of the novels Wintersong and Shadowsong, the co-host of the PubCrawl podcast, artist, and adrenaline junkie.

Tip: JJ offers two different calls to action on her homepage, directed to writers (to subscribe to the PubCrawl blog and podcast) and readers (to sign up for her newsletter). Consider your target audience(s), appeal to them with specific messaging, and use a Button Block to grab their attention with a CTA button.

Rahul Kanakia is a novelist, writer of science fiction and young adult literature, and blogger — he has maintained his site, The War on Loneliness, since 2008.

Tip: Unlike the majority of the websites featured in this list, The War on Loneliness is a classic blog, with recent posts appearing first on his homepage — you’ll generally see new, fresh writing on each visit. If you have a blog, post with a regular cadence so readers come back for more.

Learn about #AAJA19 or explore more author websites on WordPress.com. Or, if you’re ready to build the site of your dreams, consider the right plan for you.

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July 24, 2019Authors, Books, Diversity, Inspiration, Publishing, Writing, , ,