Today I'm going to talk about something that is very important for new authors. It's what represents you when people are interested in your work and want to know more about you.
I'm talking about author websites.
In the beginning, a blog is always a great way to connect with readers. However, as you write more and begin gaining an audience, it's a good idea to get a website together. That doesn't mean you have to fork out mass amounts of cash. There are websites you can use for free, as well as other alternatives to build your own site at an affordable cost. There are a few rules of thumb I think authors should follow, which I'm going to list below. Opinions vary, but here are five things I find helpful when I visit an author site. Also, remember to register your domain name as soon as possible. This is very important and makes it easier for people to find you online.
1. Keep it clean. Cluttered sites can be hard to navigate. A simple template is usually best. Make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for.
2. Have a print out list of your books for readers. Right now, I don't have a large number of books in print (or more than one in a series available). When I do I fully intend to have a page to make things easier for those who are interested in following the series I write.
3. List your contact information. Some readers want to connect via Twitter, Facebook, or email. If you're able, I recommend you have a page that lists the places you can be found on the web.
4. Keep your website updated. Readers want to know about new releases and what you're currently working on. If you can, provide a blurb for your upcoming releases and place your artsy new covers up as soon as possible.
5. Make sure you have a bookshelf. If you don't have a print list, a bookshelf is a perfect way for people to check out your other works. If possible, try to have a page connected to the book to provide more information. Or if you'd like, you can simply link a cover image to the place of sale so readers can read the blurb and see if the material is something that interests them.
Remember, the first impression you make is your book. The second is how you present yourself and your product. A website is the perfect way to do this. If readers take what you do seriously, they are more inclined to regard you as a legitimate author. This isn't to say a blog won't achieve the same goal, but I know from speaking with editors at my publishing houses that many request the authors website information so they can stop by, take a look, and get a feel of how you'll promote yourself and your work if you become an in-house author.
Having a website created by a professional can be costly and, in most cases, isn't feasible when an author is just starting out. Fortunately there are alternatives if you want a nice site at a fraction of the cost. If you're interested in building your own website, here are a few places you might want to check out.
http://www.lunarpages.com & http://www.mydomain.com
These sites allow you to purchase your domain name and customize your own website via pre-made templates. The fees are usually requested up front and are paid in full for a year.
I haven't used webs.com. However, I do know that it's free and you can customize your website to look the way you want.
Websites can be daunting, but I assure you that you'll be glad you took the plunge. There is no better feeling than having a website to promote your work that you can be proud of.
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