Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Discussion about Authors' Websites

Today's post is more of a question. I'm thinking about authors' websites today. By this I don't mean simple blogs. I mean sites made up of various pages, preferably having their own domain. I think these are becoming a necessity for novelists, especially ones trying to reach an audience. I say this because, as a reader, I like to browse the websites of my favorite authors, and I'm always disappointed to learn that the author does not have one. I'm also a bit disappointed whenever the domain "authorname.com" is owned by a fan or fan club, and is "unofficial."

I like a pleasing, modern and easy-to-navigate design, with multiple pages. I dislike when the website is made up of one page, or when it looks like it might have been created in the 90s, or has not been updated in three years. I don't like ads, though links to the author's books on Amazon (or other seller) are appropriate. I don't mind political issues being raised, if they seem to genuinely matter to the author, but I'm annoyed by partisan politics and I don't want to see the name of any politician! Seriously, I don't know why an author would want to risk alienating about half of their prospective readers, anyway.

I want to find interesting things to read on these websites. A short, fun-to-read bio. Pictures. A list of books or stories with a teaser, and maybe a link, for each. Maybe even a sample chapter, or a sample story. Advice for new writers. A list of their favorite books. And a blog, of course.

Anyway, I'm very curious to hear from other writers on this subject. Do you have a website? If so, did you purchase your domain? Did you make it yourself? Give us the link! Also, are websites a necessity, in your view?

How should they be designed, and what do you think they should (or should not) include?

8 comments:

  1. Funny, I just finished mine over the last few days! I'll be posting a link to it on my blog page soon...once I add a few more things. I included a lot of what you mentioned above and agree that a website is now becoming an essential for a writer.
    ~ Wendy

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  2. I don't know, Can't you do the same thing in a blog? You can even move them to a different domain, though I don't know why or how that's done. You can put multiple pages in a blog, sell your book, link to Amazon, to PayPal, anything. You can even make it not look like a blog at all and you certainly don't have to have ads. I don't think they work for us normal folks anyway. But I'm not in need of one just yet, so what do I know.

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  3. Websites?

    Two of my favorites:

    George R.R. Martin

    Jeri Smith-Ready

    Martin provides extras. I liked reading what he had to say about fantasy and his experiences as a writer. Also, he is a favorite writer.

    Jeri has a lot of cool interactive stuff. She has an animal personality type test that I've had my students take as an icebreaker. Plus, she had a short story up that I loved. It took place in the world of her first published book (which I loved), but was before the time period of the characters in her first book.

    Stuff like that is great.

    Beyond that there is the basics: contact info, background, sample pages, ...

    I think that published authors need a well developed blog and/or a website.

    I developed a website because an owner of a small press told me that it is never to soon to start one. I'm glad I did because I have learned a lot from the process and will be in a much better position to create one that I think is even better, when and if that is needed.

    I'm a bit hesitant about providing the link, because I need to update a paragraph in the sample pages, but here goes.

    www.dmmcreynolds.com

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  4. I prefer author blogs to author websites. With pages, you can include all the info you would normally find on a website, but blogs have more of a live feeling, instead of a static webpage that might only update once in a blue moon.

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  5. One thing is necessary: Get your own domain. Your address is part of your overall brand. If you have "chuckwheller.wordpress.com", that address is one half the brand Chuck Wheller, one half wordpress advertising.

    I like personal sites with a voice minus political crap that makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs.

    Great post!

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  6. I started with an author website(www.douglasLperry.com), and I still have it, but I have turned my focus to my blog for all of my latest info and discussions. It's at http://douglasLperry.wordpress.com.

    I found that a blog that has a consistent look and feel maintained by someone else, is a lot easier than trying to deal with all the maintenance of my website. With a blog, I just create a new post.

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  7. Thanks for sharing your views on this Diane. I am working on starting up my own website but I wanted to gather as much information as possible. I feel as though it is important for an author to have a blog. When a reader wants to know about an author, checking on-line is one of the first things they're going to do. A blog is fun as well and gives you more of an author's personality but a website is just a good general starting place for readers to get more information about you.

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  8. I'm still procrastinating on mine. I've heard so many different views on which domain registration service to use and which to avoid. Some people love GoDaddy, yet many others warn you should stay away.

    At this point, I just want to register my domain and work on the website when I have something to put on it. However, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to do this. With some, you can register, but then if you don't go with them as a web host, they won't let you take that address with you. This means I've wasted my time saving the name in the first place and have actually sabotaged myself. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

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