What I keep hearing and reading these days is that every writer should have a website and/or a blog, as well as engage in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Michael Hice (www.michaelhicepr.com), a publicist and New Mexico Book Association Board member, says that if you are halfway through writing your book, you should have a website.
All this takes time but it’s eventually very productive. For example, the author of the Twilight series of books for young adults developed her audience using Facebook and blogging. By the time she published her first book, it sold phenomenally because she had a built-in audience who had been engaged in her process. And we all know that led to other books and films. If you have a blog or a website, you need to offer your audience something besides “here’s my book, it’s good, buy it” to make it worth their while. You might consider occasionally publishing a short excerpt from your work, information, advice, a downloadable e-book or pamphlet, giveaways--whatever you think the people visiting your site would find valuable.
Aside from the web host I use and promote on my website, there are many reasonably-priced hosting sites that offer easy-to-use web design programs. Just be sure their website builder is compatible with the browser you are using. I’ve learned the hard way that CM4all doesn’t work with later versions of Internet Explorer or Firefox 4. Ask the web host what browsers their website builder supports before you pay for a hosting plan. Stay away from GoDaddy. I find their program difficult to use, and I’ve read that their customer support is not always helpful. Another one that looked interesting to me is WebBaby. They specialize in music and author sites. Of course, you can start a blog free at Wordpress and use it pretty much like a website. Once you are a published author, you can join the Authors Guild and take advantage of their free website offer.
If you are fairly computer and desktop-publishing savvy, you might try a free, downloadable web design program from Serif. It does not require any knowledge of html codes although it does look more complicated than the drag and drop programs I’ve used on the hosting sites. I haven’t explored it enough to determine if it’s as easy to use as Serif says. There are also other programs you can buy. You can check them out at Amazon.com. Just be sure that whatever program you choose is compatible with your operating system. As with any skill, there is a learning curve, and the more you play around with a site builder, the easier it becomes to use.
Tip: I keep both Internet Explorer and Firefox on my computer to view my site after it’s been published. This allows me to see any problems that didn't show up in the editing mode. What looks good on Firefox may not look good on Internet Explorer.
Of course, if you can afford the cost of a professional web designer, that is another way to go. Just be sure the designer is competent and isn’t just going to suddenly disappear. I’ve had friends who have had serious problems getting necessary site information to give to a new designer. I personally prefer the hands-on control of these easy-to-use site builders offered by the web hosts.
For more information on digital resources, go to the top of this page and click on "Publishing."
In the next post, I will discuss various publishing routes and the team that can help you reach your destination.
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