January Blog Post Replay: “Do I really need an author website?” Some thoughts.

 Hi folks! January is blog-post re-play month here on the 30 Day Books blog. Some of the posts are over 12 months old and some info may be a little outdated, but I’ve chosen those that I feel will still be useful and valuable. Enjoy! 

If you have been sitting on the fence and wondering whether you really need an author website or not;

OR if you have a site but you’re not sure if it’s working effectively, here is some food for thought.

Author website

  • PEOPLE GOOGLE. Like, all the time.

 

When you tell people that you are an author, they get curious. And we all know what curiosity leads to…

Google.

You’ve piqued their interest and the Internet is where they’ll turn to find out more. So give them what they are looking for and make sure you control what they find! Yes, you have full control over what they see on the first page of results – especially if your website has your name in the URL.

 

Tip: Think of your site as the “hub” of all of your online efforts – it’s your shop window, it’s the place where you can connect with people, it’s a place where you can show your personality, it’s a place where you can persuade the media you are “news-worthy”, & it’s the place where you can urge people to go on and buy your books!!

 

  • Be the cream of the milk bottle.

 

Self-publishers used to get a bad rap. Now that’s changing as more and more indie authors are proving themselves as professionals. Be that professional. A GOOD website shows people that you are taking your career as an author seriously. This is especially important when looking for press coverage, a local signing, working with a book club or library and so on. It also signals to skeptical friends and family that yes, you really are an author!

 

 

  • NOT ALL WEBSITES COME EQUAL.

 

Unfortunately, having a bad website can do more damage than not having one at all. It’s a huge reflection on you as an author and on the quality of your books, so don’t rush to throw a site together in 5 minutes, or settle for something that looks like your 8 year old niece designed it. Just as people judge a book by it’s cover, they judge the quality of your work by your website.

Having said that…

 

  • You DO NOT need to remortgage your house

 

Nice-looking, high-functioning websites are affordable! Technology means that beautiful, functional websites are available for a lot less than you might imagine.

Author websites simply need to be clean, simple, secure, functional and professional. Luckily WordPress.com and a few affordable add-ons will take care of this far easier than you might imagine. What 5 years ago would have cost you $5000+ is available for just a few hundred dollars. I’ll tell you more about why I love WordPress.com and how little a website can cost you in upcoming posts.

 

  • Your biggest asset? Your mailing list. Your site can grow your list.

 

 If you haven’t grasped how important your mailing list is yet, then we need to fix that pronto! It’s your most treasured possession, and you should make every effort to hold on to it and grow it.

Why? Well building your social media presence is great, but we saw MySpace die pretty much overnight. What happens if Facebook or Twitter die tomorrow – if Marc Zuckerberg just decides to close up shop and you lose contact with all of your facebook fans? If people lose interest in it and there’s a mass boycott?

The likelihood of that happening anytime soon is pretty low, but in a couple of years people will lose interest in the social media platforms that are popular now, and something else will take their place.

The only way you are guaranteed to stay connected with people is if you have their email address which changes much less frequently.

New book coming out and you want to do a big Amazon push on release day? Need to get the word out about a contest, promotion or low price? Need votes for an award? Your mailing list is your best friend!

Your mailing list is also the single most personal way to connect with your readers. I have fun with my newsletter and I often get replies back after it’s sent out. I love hearing from my readers and connecting with them more personally. Far more is said than in a FB post or Tweet.

 

  • It’s the place where you can add additional value and content in order to draw attention to your book or work. 

 

Fiction author? Talk about some of the themes in your book. Location, issues, relationships, crisis, struggles etc. All good characters have these problems. Blogposts and articles are excellent ways to present the ideas and experiences that relate to your themes and characters.

Non-fiction author? Provide supplementary materials for the book such as fact sheets, tips, exercises and plans. A good blogpost on your topic can also bring you a ton of traffic.

 

  • You might just attract a literary agent, publisher, or agent abroad.

 

Having an active website is not only a great place to direct potential agents and publishers, it’s also a great way for them to find you in the first place. I was approached by a literary agent this way who was impressed with my platform and online presence – it’s what agents are looking for these days as it makes you as an author a lot more attractive to publishers. Perhaps you’re happy with the Indie life and that’s all good – but for those still looking for the traditional pub. contract, a good website can go a long way.

 I’d love to know what you struggle/ fear with when it comes to  your website. Is it cost? Technology? Fear of breaking it? Understanding how to use it? Leave a comment!

pssstt…. Looking for a new author website? 30 Day Books has just released Authorlicious, a WordPress theme built *just* for indie and self-published authors! Find out more here… 



Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!

Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.

 

  • Diane Dettmann

    I already have a website provided by my publisher which was included in the publication cost. How would that work if I decided to go with an Authorlicious one? Also have a blog, but not too active with that. I’m not a techie. It’s hard to balance the marketing time with writing time. :(

  • laurapepwu

    Hi Diane! Can you send me the link to your author website so I can take a look? Authorlicious is a theme used with WordPress, so if your site is built on a self-hosted WordPress site it may work. Thanks!

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  • Madison Dusome

    I am a yet-unpublished fiction writer and what I struggle with most is finding content for blog posts. I am nowhere close to publication yet, but I’d like for my posts to be of interest to readers and not just writers, as a lot of writers’ blogs often are (regardless of the genre/audience of the book).

    Like my fiction writing, my blog is still a work in progress and I know I will eventually discover what content is best, but I feel like there is not a lot of advice for fiction writers in this area. Aside from “make a good website” and “present yourself as an expert” (which is clearly easier to do from a non-fiction perspective), I haven’t found much advice for fiction blog content that would be interesting to potential readers.

    I really like what you’ve mentioned here about discussing the novel’s themes; what else might you suggest for fiction blog and website content? Have you seen any good examples of (preferably unpublished) fiction writers’ blogs? Those that I have found are usually either about writing, or the author is already published.

    Thanks for the post! :)

  • laurapepwu

    Madison, you’re not alone! I’m asked a lot about what content to blog about, and I def have it in mind to write a blogpost from my perspective about this soon.
    You are very right about many writers writing for other writers (phew, messy sentence!). It’s absolutely the wrong approach, targeting our peers and not our ideal readers.
    I would suggest pinning down your “ideal reader” first and then writing about a) topics from your book and b) other topics that your ideal reader would enjoy outside of your book. The idea is to showcase your writing – be it humor, poignancy, spot-on observations. For example, if you think your ideal reader is a stay at home Mom living in the suburbs, the topics you would talk about would appeal to HER vs if you think it’s a 20 year old city girl or a 50 year old retiree.
    This article from Duolit is helpful in understanding who your “ideal reader” is: http://selfpublishingteam.com/six-steps-to-finding-your-target-market/

  • http://twitter.com/doonan1 William Doonan

    WordPress blogs take about five minutes to set up and are free. You can also register an internet domain on go daddy.com for about $10 and then use their proprietary software to put up a basic website for free.

  • Hope Cook

    I struggle with feeling like I must be doing it all wrong somehow. I blog regularly, I don’t spam on twitter, I look to start conversations with like-minded people, and yet most days it just doesn’t seem like it’s happening. I wonder if no one is noticing, or–worse yet–they’re noticing and just not liking what they see.

  • laurapepwu

    Sorry to hear that Hope, it’s certainly an art not a science. Often it’s about finding out who your ideal reader is and reaching them directly – your blog posts might not be getting in front of them, and they might not even be on Twitter, so it’s worth doing the research. Here’s an ideal reader exercise that may help: http://www.30daybooks.com/ideal-reader-exercises-and-why-you-should-do-one-a-new-free-resource/

  • Hope Cook

    Thanks so much, Laura…I will check it out!