Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Author Websites


Today's topic comes from Sheena-Kay, who asked:

What is the best way to create an author's website? How can you do it yourself or affordably without it looking cheap and do expensive looking sites really sell books?

Great question, Sheena-Kay. My answer may seem confusing at first, but I promise I'll explain. First, I don't think websites sell books. However, you need to have one. ;)

Okay, here's what I mean. A reader comes across your book title or name in conversation or on Amazon. You want to make sure that if that reader googles you, they find something. So you need a website that has all the information they might need about you: 
  • your social media links
  • your newsletter
  • information about your books
  • buy links for your books
  • a press kit with your author bio
  • contact information
The danger with having that information on sites that sell your book, like Amazon, is that some retailers (AMAZON!!!!) will check to see who follows you on social media and will not allow that reader to review your book because you're "friends." Don't even get me started on this. Don't link your social media to your Amazon account! Just don't! But do put those links on your website. Also, you don't really want to give out your email to the world, right? Maybe if you have a separate email for fans, but otherwise, I wouldn't. Websites offer contact forms for readers to get in touch with you without giving out your email address. I love this feature. Many will also offer an email address attached to your website to keep it separate from your personal email.

So, how do you set up a website now that you know you need one. (You know that now, right?) I'm a huge proponent for doing it yourself. Yes, this takes more time, but it also takes less money, so it evens out. You should know how to operate your own website though because you don't want to have to run to your website designer every time you need to update the site. Find a website host that seems relatively easy to use. Some people love Wordpress. I hate it! Truly hate it. You have to go with what works for you. So look around and take tours of the sites to see what will work for you. Then take the time to get your site looking professional (with all those things I mentioned above) before you publish it. You want the site you create to be something you're proud of, not something that you're still fiddling with and that looks amateurish. 

Sheena-Kay, I hope that answers your question. If anyone has tips for creating a website or website hosts you can recommend, please feel free to share!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

20 comments:

  1. Kelly, I'm going to disagree. You want readers to have your email. And the impersonal nature of forms can be a turn off to some readers

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    1. Then you can have an email separate from your personal email, like I mentioned.

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    2. Spambots go out and collect email addresses that are published publicly on the web. So if you're going to post your email address, make sure it's one that you don't mind receiving 1,000 pieces of spam to each day. (I learned that lesson the hard way!!!) The contact form sucks, but it's the only way not to have your email address sold off to every business interested in buying a mailing list.

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  2. Your own site (and your own domain) is the only information that a search will pop up about you, which you truly control. I find that alone a good reason to have one. I agree, Kelly, that paying the $ for a professional designer doesn't make sense initially. Not until, and if, you make $$$ from writing, and can take it as a deduction.

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    1. Yes, if you make it big and don't have time to take care of your website, using that money as a deduction is a way to go.

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  3. Great post, Kelly. I'd love a writer website but I'm not published yet so I've nothing to offer at this time. Maybe next year.

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  4. Even if you're not published yet, please consider starting a blog and engaging the readerbase in the blogosphere. That way, when you do decide to publish, you will have an audience. It may not be a large one, but it will be more than you would have if you didn't get your name out there with some established content. At least show your potential audience that you don't have an issue with putting yourself out there!

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    1. I have a blogger blog and a writer Facebook page but that's all from me as a novelist. I run a website for my script writing business though.

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    2. Yes, blogging is a great way to get your name out there before you're published.

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  5. Great post Kelly! And that issue with Amazon is a bit irksome. When I first started blogging I set it up myself using Weebly. But then after two years moved to Wordpress. Had my doubts whether it'll be too hard to navigate or use but caught on quick. Only trouble I have with it is how some if not most html/widget codes don't work on WP. Other than that I love it.

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    1. Yes, html can be Wordpress unfriendly. That's one of the things I hated about WP.

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  6. WordPress is a pain in my behind. I finally just tried enough themes that I found one that somewhat worked with what I wanted to do...but I still am not 100% sold on it. I had my site with Wix, which was a great editor--just drag-and-drop--then one day a bloggy friend told me my site was setting off her virus alert software. No biggy--just figured it was her. Then someone emailed to say she couldn't include a link to my website in something that would have gotten publicity for my book because my Wix site was setting off her virus alerts. (Different virus software!!!) I contacted Wix and they said it was a known problem and I should just "tell them to change the settings on their virus software." I explained that when you're running a business, it doesn't work that way, and got no response. So I promptly dropped them and moved everything to WordPress. A sucky site is better than one that makes people think you are giving them a virus!!!

    Avoid Wix. I have heard good things about SquareSpace, but I don't trust anything but WordPress now, to be honest.

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    1. Eek! That's awful customer service for Wix! I hate Wordpress. It's so difficult to use.

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  7. I use Wordpress and always have trouble with it. It's probably just me.

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    1. No, it's not you. I couldn't figure it out, so I switched.

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  8. Thank you for all the tips Kelly. I have heard multiple complaints about Amazon in that regard. The policy is ridiculous to me. Happy Holidays and glad to see all these comments offering extra assistance. Thanks guys. Yeah I used wordpress to blog with a pseudonym for a short time. Not the best experience. Considering them as a website though because I've seen very good author sites with wordpress. Will keep blogger as my main blog and use the other only for writing announcements.

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