general, Industry

Why Do Writers Need Websites?

It’s all about creating a brand

Authors need websites dedicated to their work. This foundational building block of brand creation is essential in today’s world where if you want your work to find an audience, you have to roll up your sleeves and do the bulk of the publicity yourself. This may seem obvious to self-published authors, but it is also true even if your book is published by a big-five publisher. You may think that if a traditional publisher buys the rights to your work, you’re home free, but that is not the case. Publishers’ budgets no longer stretch to a lot of publicity or advertising.

This is true for writers of all sorts. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, or magazine articles. The Internet is now the first place your audience or prospective publisher will turn when they want to find out about you and your work.

You’ll want to have a website even before you sell your book. It’s ideal to include a link to your website in your signature for query letters to agents and publishers, for example.

Here are the essentials:

Purchase your domain name

(www.yourname.com). It costs about $15/year, and you should do this immediately, even if you are not yet ready to use it. If the name you want is unavailable, come up with an easy to remember variation. If you wait to do this, you may have a hard time securing your desired name, and it may be very expensive.

.com is still the most popular, but people often elect to purchase the .net variation as well so there will be no confusion or lost website visitors. (It is easy to make both domain names resolve to the same website.)

Avoid using dashes or underscores in your domain name. That gets very clumsy when you are giving radio or t.v. interviews.

A Writer’s Website should display the following information:

 

  • Author’s BioSee Best Practices for Writing Author Bios. Note that for your website, you can list ALL the awards and publications. Just keep a shorter version for publication with books and articles.
  • Clips—If you seek freelance work, you need clips. This term “clips” derives from the practice of collecting newspaper and magazine clippings to demonstrate a writer’s published work. These clips may be scanned copies of published works, such as copies of pages from anthologies Your clips may also include links to your articles that have been published online.
  • Samples of your writing—use this term if you don’t actually have any published clips. You need to put your best work on display but be aware that first publication rights are gone once it appears on your website, so the sample you use can only be sold as a reprint later.
  • A Blog—excerpt from: Should You Blog? And If So, What Are Best Practices? by Jane Friedman on the Writers Digest website:For fiction writers and poets, a blog should exercise your creative muscles and let you write in an unpressured way. Sometimes it can help you stumble on insights, as well as new friendships. However, for an aspiring writer, you have to be careful it doesn’t detract or replace the “real” work of writing the book or the manuscript. For nonfiction writers, blogs can be an essential part of your marketing and promotion—the author platform that helps you get published in the first place.

     

  • Sales Pages for your published work. It is not necessary to have an entire online shopping cart. Your publisher or POD vendor will have a page you can link to. You may even be able to earn a few extra pennies from each sale if you sign up for affiliate sales programs. Amazon and B & N have affiliate programs, for example.
  • A calendar to show any upcoming publication dates, book-signings or events you plan to attend.
  • Links to Social Media This is a big subject all its own—just know it should connect to your website.

The least expensive way to get started

I recommend authors with limited resources start by signing up for a free blog like the ones at http://www.wordpress.com. You’ll end up with an address like http://yourname.wordpress.com. You don’t even need a domain name, but if you have one, it’s a simple matter to “forward” your yourname.com domain name to the WordPress address. Your domain registrar will be able to talk you through this.

For just a little bit more

I prefer to purchase domain name registration together with the economy hosting from a well-known registrar www.godaddy.com or bluehost.com. ***BEWARE, GoDaddy will try to sell you all sorts of things when you check out. When you get started, don’t buy anything but the domain name. You can add those other services as needed, but you’ll be wasting money if you don’t understand what you’re buying.***

Kimberly Davis holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and a BA from Columbia College-Chicago in Arts and Entertainment Media Management. She is currently the Director at Madville Publishing, where she solicits literary poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. In addition, Kim has been designing websites for 20 years. See her portfolio at Sublime Design Studio.

Contact her at kpdavis@usa.net to speak to your group.

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