The Essential Components of an (Unpublished) Author's Website

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Over at Harper Studio's blog, The 26th Story, they recently discussed what constitutes a really meaningful author website.
They give an excellent big-picture view of how a website is like an extension or operation of your platform, and continues to serve the needs of your
audience just like anything else you do.

The post also mentions
some wonderful examples of author websites. But here's the catch: These
are sites by authors who already have a great degree of success (e.g.,
Tim Ferriss, John Hodgman).

What about writers who are just starting out, have no publishing deal, and are still developing their platform?

It's
one of the most difficult questions I ever attempt to answer. And
that's because much of it depends on your genre, expertise, and comfort
level with technology. And your unique talents: what makes you
remarkable.

This is an important concept: being remarkable (The Seth Godin Concept), especially for aspiring writers trying to catch anyone's attention, in an industry that's full of enormous dreams. But, consider:

  • What do people remark on when they meet you and encounter your work?
  • How are you currently making a difference?
  • How do you currently get attention? (in the ways that you want!)
  • How are you currently making waves? (again, in a good way?)
  • How have you been successful at making waves in the past?
  • What kind of practice is enjoyable for you (and NOT like work)?
  • What
    could you continue practicing and consider it yet another form of play? Something you can practice because it's really your passion, and not a marketing scheme?

You need to find where your passion and skills intersect with the marketplace. A website might not be exactly the right tool to show people what you have to offer, but it can at least point people to the right place. (E.g., if your real skill is live radio or film, your site catalogs your work and ensures people can find your radio shows or films. Or it offers transcripts of your shows. Or gives people an opportunity to request certain features or exclusive notifications.)

Even if you're not yet published, you can have a very successful website that helps you build a platform and get a book deal, if that's what you want. But it has to be something that makes sense for who you are and what you want to accomplish.

Thanks to Vanessa Wieland on the Market Books staff for pointing me to the 26th Story item!

Photo credit: Hadassah28