Do you Have an Internet Footprint?
I attended a great webinar Feb. 15th on Savvy Authors hosted by Carina Press Editor, Mallory Braus and authors Cathy Yardley and Marcia James. If you have not been to Savvy Authors, I suggest you go there. A lot of great information for everyone.
The webinar topic: Do you Need a Website or Blog Presence? With the consensus for investing time and money in a Web presence was a resounding yes, yes and YES!
While some view a blog or website as a way to promote themselves, others see it as a platform to sell books. Still, there are those who believe it as the way to attract readership. All three points are correct. But what does an editor look for when they visit your site?
If you are seeking representation, and have sent out query letters, what does your website say about you? Do you even HAVE a website? Editors are looking for the same things readers are looking for, quality, ease of use and information.
A few points to consider about your Web presence
- Is your website easy to find? If you are not using your name for the URL you should be. In fact, you should be using your name in all your social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. (see branding)
But what if your name is taken? Use a middle initial, or add Author to the end, such as SuzanneParrottAuthor.com or SuzanneFParrott.com. Even if you dn’t have a blog or webaite now, purchase your domain name. The cost is about $12 / year. A small investment for branding yourself. (I use GoDaddy.com for domain registration)
- Does your landing page reflect you as an author? If you write paranormal and you have a site filled with hearts and cute little kitties, they you are confusing readers. The site should reflect who you are, your genre. If you write for more than one genre, then try to pick a neutral design that will fit with both.
Keep the site clean. Avoid too much clutter – simplicity and white space is in.
- Does your Web presence appear unified through all platforms? (Facebook, twitter, website, blog). Maintain a unified look throughout using the same colors and backgrounds.
- Maintain your site at least twice a week with well-written posts that reflect your writing ability. Write in a conversational tone.
- List awards or other accolades.
- Highlight your newest release and make your other work, or WIP, easy to find.
- Include ALL the retail locations where your book is being sold as to not show favoritism. Let the reader decide whom to purchase from.
Even if you are an unpublished author, you should have a web presence — not for yourself, but for your readers.
Website or Blog?
The first question is what should you have — a website or a blog. There really isn’t a definitive answer for this. While most equate a blog with a “journal”, blogging has really evolved beyond that label. It really comes down to personal preference.
- Written in HTML.
- Requires a webmaster or knowledge of HTML to make changes.
- Should be professional looking – so hire a professional.
- Requires a domain name and hosting.
- Search engines are slower to initially index webpages in search results.
- Easy to setup.
- Thousands of free professional looking blog template designs to choose from
- Thousands of plug-ins to easily install and setup, including newsletter signup form, contact form, polls, and more.
- Doesn’t require hosting or a domain, but I recommend the domain name -definitely.
- Easy to make changes.
- Does not require HTML knowledge.
- Shows up in search engines almost immediately.
You could also have a website of the main information, and incorporate a blog into the site. Just make sure you maintain the blog section weekly. Keep the site fresh.
What should you have on your Blog/Website?
If you are building a brand, you need to provide the right impression and the right information in an easy-to-find format. There are dozens of pages you can add to your site; a few examples include:
- Home page
- Book page
- Bio page
- Links page
- Facebook and Twitter links
- Contact information
- Articles or Information
- Fun stuff
- Join my Newsletter
The list goes on. The best way to determine what you want for your site is to search other author websites. Make a list of what items you like and include those on your own site.
Should you wait to start a blog or website presence if you are unpublished? No! Start marketing now. You are building your brand – which is you, the author, not your book. You exist now, so promote yourself. The sooner they can find you the easier it will be once your book is published.
Social media is changing the game by offering fantastic opportunities. While they are free, they are a huge time drain. It is important to automate your efforts, connecting your blog to Facebook and Twitter, using LinkedIn or Networked Blogs to alleviate your time.
Remember, it is more important to connect with your tribe of readers than just talking AT them. Connect through forums, comment on blogs. Make genuine connections that will build your readership.
We’ve all heard of Facebook and Twitter, the two biggies in Social Media. But are they important? Not only are they quick and easy, they are cheap – free, no cost. And you can’t get any better than that.
The key is to separate the personal from the professional. Remember, you are representing yourself as a brand – a business. Use these marketing mediums, as well as your blog, as a way to promote yourself to your readers. Avoid meaningless chit-chat. While your dog licking the cat is cute, unless it is part of your WIP, keep that for your personal account.
Is personal chat forbidden? Not entirely. But it should enhance the reader experience — allowing the reader get to know you, the author, and your work.