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No Website Yet? Start Here

No idea how to create your own author website? Don’t worry: Hire a professional. Web guru Karen M. Rider offers some tips on how to do just that.

No idea how to create your own author website? Don’t worry: Hire a professional. Web guru Karen M. Rider offers some tips on how to do just that. But first:

• Set goals for your writing and identify how a website will help you achieve them. Unpublished authors want to demonstrate why a publisher should invest in their book. Freelancers want to convey why they’re the person to hire. Established authors want to sell books.
• Focus on voice, tone and attitude of content. Your distinctive voice will resonate with readers.
• Borrow ideas from other websites. If you love Alice Hoffman’s website, be realistic about what is relevant to your goals and needs and what you can afford.

Choosing a Webmaster
• Start with a local Google search for web design firms in your area—some companies specialize in websites for artists.
• Search for potential webmasters on other sites. In the footer of websites you like, look for the phrase “powered by Name of Company” to find out who built the site.
• Look for a webmaster who understands marketing, and is familiar with the publishing industry and the digital media needs of writers.
• Search for a webmaster who will listen to your needs, help you clarify goals, and advise you on the pros and cons of every facet of your site. You want someone whose work demonstrates an active interest in the growth of the client and who sees websites as a tool for growing a business.
• Interview several potential webmasters. Be sure to get and check references. And, research each webmaster’s business practices with your local Better Business Bureau and consumer protection department.
• Pony up the cash—prices range from $1,000 for entry level to $5,000 for intricate sites.
• Retain your power to easily enter updates to some areas of the site.

YOU.COM: Why You Need Your Own Domain
Your website is only as good as your URL name—so choose wisely. Customizable services like WordPress and other “blog” formats are great, simple options for making your author website (and doing it for free!), but your default URL for these sites will be something like http://yourname.wordpress.com. Not as stylish as yourname.com … or as professional, and that’s key when you’re trying to sell a book or get your name out there. (Which URL would you rather have on a business card?)

With so many writers blogging, creating websites and going wild on social media, having your own domain name helps you stand out by adding a layer of professional flair and credibility. It shows editors and agents that you’ve gone that extra mile—that you’re serious and dedicated about your career and self-promotion.
The best part is that it’s simple—and inexpensive—to get your domain. First, check to see if your name is taken already by typing it into the address bar of your browser. (Have a digital doppelganger? Add “author” or “writer” to your URL.) Then, use one of the innumerable services out there (godaddy.com, etc.) to register it.
Now, to add it to those new business cards you’ve had your eye on …

—WD Staff

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