Welcome to our section on building an author website and/or blog. In today’s technology-centric world, many of us have become familiar with the basics of the Internet. But not all authors have yet created their own branded website for communicating about themselves and their products (i.e. books). Some may have a website but be looking to improve its look or functionality. A few may have hired designers but now want to control their website updates themselves. Others may be tired of managing a website and want to hire a designer.
The menu at left will take you through the articles in an organized fashion. Each article builds on things you learn in the previous ones. If you’re completely new to the idea of building a website or blog, we recommend going through them in order. Or, if you’re familiar with sites and blogs but are seeking a specific topic, go directly to that page. The menu will appear on all the Website-Blog pages.
How Are Websites and Blogs Different from Each Other?
Websites, or sites, are a group of linked pages featuring mostly “static” information, meaning that the general information remains constant from day to day. By contrast, blogs (short for weblogs) are “dynamic” in that new information is added regularly. Many authors build a combination site/blog. The bonus of this is that the website will have the fixed information sought by new readers who want to learn more about the author and will be updated regularly for readers who want to follow the author.
Do I Have To Have a Website and Blog?
Have to? No. Although, many publishers now expect authors to have at least a website. More and more readers use the Internet to learn more about books and authors. Having a website they can find at www.yourauthorname.com is a practical investment. Blogging is optional. More and more authors are choosing to team up and operate group blogs (also known as grogs). This way, each author may only need to post something fresh to the blog once every two weeks or more. It’s a time-saver and allows them to build off each other’s readers.
There are a dozen ways to go about creating a website that range from simple and free to professionally designed. You’ll need to decide how much to spend and how much control you want to maintain over the content and updates.
Where To Begin—Domain Names
Each website has a URL or Universal Resource Locator. Like a telephone number, each URL must be unique. They’re registered with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organization created in 1998 to manage the growing Internet. ICANN accredits all the companies across the globe that have the right to register your domain name. You can see the list here.
Typically, in the U.S., you’ll want a domain name that features your writing name or pseudonym and ends with either .com or .net. If you’re just launching your career under a pseudonym, it’s a good idea to Google search your proposed name. Someone else may be using that name already—not just another author, but an actor, artist, musician, professional athlete or politician. You can also look up a specific URL to see if it’s already reserved by visiting one of the registrar sites like GoDaddy and typing in the domain name.
It is a smart investment to reserve any domain name you want, even if you do not plan to use it right away. They cost less than $20 per year, and that’s much better than discovering you cannot get the name you want in the future. Also, note that ICANN, like a phone book, lists all the registered domains and the contact information of the owners in a WhoIs list. If you are unlisted in the phone book, or if you’ve registered a pseudonym, you may not want your legal contact information in WhoIs for anyone to find. Look for a registrar who will offer a “private registration.” This usually costs another $10 per year, but privacy and safety is, well, priceless. Want to test WhoIs? Run a WhoIs Search.
For More Information:
Novelists Inc. shares Important Information on Recent Court Rulings Regarding Domain Names, an article by Cissy Hartley of Writerspace discussion how to deal with cybersquatters.
Author Paula Roe offers a great short overview on How To Project a Professional Website.
The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood features author Liz Bemis (she’s also the Creative Director of Bemis Promotions) discussing Five Steps to Your Author Website.