Monday, March 1, 2010

Author Web Sites

Hey ho, and happy Monday to youse. This weekend I went a bit wild on my new story and cranked out 11,000 words. There's so much on my mind right now, and these characters are hammering on me to please, please, please tell their story some more. How can I resist?

As always, I think of many things, and one of those is the whole idea of whether to have a web site before you're published -- or more accurately, whether it's worth putting in the effort to begin "branding" yourself before you're published. Roni at Fiction Groupie did a fabulous post about this last week (what else is new?), complete with pros and cons, and launched her own web site. I was so glad she did, and I'm going to tell you why I'm in favor of having a web site before you're published (not the least of why because I already have one).

Why I'm in favor of having a web site:
  • It shows you're serious and professional about what you're doing. Going to the trouble and expense of a web site means you're putting stock in the long term. Designing, publishing, and maintaining web sites is not easy and requires work.
  • It offers a window into who you are and what you write.Your blog can do this, too, but with the day to day ramblings, it's sometimes hard to keep that introductory information topmost. Your web site serves as your virtual business card.
  • It can be static until you score that book deal. Then, you'll need it. And you might not have time to launch a whole branding effort, so having one in place sets you up for when your site needs to kick into gear and work for you.
  • This is the way. In today's world, every business needs a web site. Yes, they do. Why? Do companies really sell more because of a web site? It's not about sales--it's about reassuring your customers that you are what you say you are. If you tell me you sell high-end windows for residential customers, I will want to know how long you've been in business, the kinds of windows you sell, and who else you work with, and I'll check your web site to see if it matches what you tell me. If I find a picture of you sitting in a folding chair in a basement next to a window, then you're not getting my business, ya reprobate.
Obviously, you can see that I'm into branding and web sites, but I also come from a design background and have been building web sites for years. It was a fun project to do mine. I recognize not everyone has the software or the the know-how to create a site. In this week's Thursday Five (on, not uncoincidentally, Thursday), I'll list resources for creating a web site. So apart from the mechanics of getting and creating a web site, what should go on it?

What your web site should contain:
  • An "About Me" page. See my post on About Me sections, and yes I recognize that linking to my own stuff is a wee bit big-headed. I'm sorry.
  • A page that describes your writing. It should state up front what you write, the genres you write in, and if you've been published. It's okay to have a placeholder for this and list only the basics. ("I am working on a novel.")
  • A way to contact you. How many times has agent Janet Reid blogged about people querying her, and she gets excited about the query, and then can't contact them the writer? For the sake of kittens, get a dedicated gmail account and stick it on there. Put your Facebook and Twitter links. (See here for mine. Notice how obnoxious I am about providing ways to contact me.)
  • A link to your blog.
That's really all you need. You can add other things as needed, such as a dedicated page to your current novel that you're shopping, or pages that personalize your site a bit. The most important thing to remember is that you don't have to make a big splashy site. Just the pertinent and static information, and you're all set.

What are your thoughts on web sites? If you don't have one and aren't going to have one despite the stunningly convincing reasons I just gave you, I'm interested in your reasons.


Julie Dao said...

Thanks to both you and Roni for the tips! I don't think I'm at the point yet where I need a website, but good information to keep in mind for the future. And excuse me ... you wrote 11,000 words?! You are a writing machine and my hero!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Congrats on the word count, wowza! And thanks for linking to me. :) Don't worry about linking to yourself, your "about me" post was fabulous--totally inspired me to change my about me page. I look forward to your website tips because I'm still a little clueless in that area. Luckily, the site I used was mostly idiot proof. :)

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I am not going to set up a website... not yet! But, when I'm ready, you're the one I'm coming to for advice.

Sierra Godfrey said...

You guys are sweet, glad these helped.

Julie -- YOU are my hero!

Meghan Ward said...

I think you absolutely need an author site, whether it's a blog or it's own site (I do think a blog is sufficient if you have all the relevant information on there.) The redesign of my own site has been delayed quite a few times. Looking forward to seeing Roni's new site!

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