Do You Need a Website?

As a newbie writer, I resisted the pull of social media for as long as I possibly could. I avoided Facebook, had no clue what Twitter was used for, and shunned the internet altogether. For me, the internet was a necessary evil, a large-scale phone book I referred to when I needed to look up directions or a phone number. I was utterly un-Google-able. You couldn’t find me anywhere in cyberspace.

Eventually, I branched out, signing up for different online writers’ groups. At the urging of one of my local writers’ groups, I even set up a blog. Facebook and Twitter came later–much later. Maybe too late.

When I began querying my first novel, I had no author platform, no beta readers, and no clue what I was supposed to be doing. I’ve since discovered an author platform is essential. Some experts advise new writers to set up their blog, Facebook author page, and Twitter account BEFORE they finish their first book. By the time you’re ready to query, your author platform should already be in place. Agents will Google you. They will check out your author platform. What will agents find when they search for you?

If you don’t have an author platform, it isn’t too late. But, where do you start? How much is too much? What does a new author really need? I think most social media gurus would agree a Facebook presence and Twitter account are musts. Do you have to set up an Author Page on Facebook right away? No. But, it’s something to consider. Here’s something else to consider–if you’re going to set up a social media platform, commit to it.

Don’t start an Author Page and then abandon it after one post and ten likes. Your Twitter account will look a bit silly if you only have seventeen followers and your only Tweet says, “I don’t know how to work this Twitter thing.” Yeah, some of you might be laughing, but that’s what my Twitter account looked like for six months. It takes a while to expand your audience on Facebook or to attract lots of Twitter followers, but keep at it. 

What about a website or a blog? 

A blog is a stream of separate posts. It’s articles, random thoughts, poetry, short stories… whatever you want. A website is for static content. For some authors, a blog is part of their website. They have pages with static content and one blog page where they post updates and articles. Many authors use a simple WordPress or Blogger blog in place of a website. Other authors don’t blog at all. They set up a website and only update information when necessary. 

Personally, I think a website or blog is important. Is it necessary for you to spend hundreds of dollars to set up a fancy website with all the bells and whistles? Absolutely not. WordPress, Weebly, and Wix have free templates you can use to set up your own website or blog. For a fee, you can register your own domain name (example: http://www.awesomeauthor.com).  Or, you can stick with a free set-up (example: awesomeauthor.wordpress.com) Either way, I think you need a place readers (or agents) can go to find out about you and your amazing talent.

Wondering what you should put on your website or blog?

You’ll need an “About the Author” page where you’ll list your bio. For the published author, you’ll want a page (or pages) to display your book (or books). Published and unpublished authors can list works-in-progress. You can also add pages for short stories, poetry, helpful links, or anything else that adds to your image as a professional, serious writer. Of course, you’ll also want to prominently display your social media links–Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.

What about your blog?

If you choose to blog, you can link this to your website. Or, you can set up a separate blog. I have a website and a blog. My static content lives on Weebly. My blog is here on WordPress. Why? Because Weebly has lots of pretty templates I can use to best display my static content. But, it’s much easier to foster a sense of community on WordPress. Other bloggers can find you on WordPress. On Weebly, it’s much less likely readers will accidentally stumble across your content. I’ve made friends on WordPress I never would have met if it wasn’t for our blogs. 

Still not sure if you need a blog or website? Or both?

It all comes down to personal preference. If you’re just starting out as a writer, a simple blog with a couple of pages is probably enough. You can always set up a website later. Once you’ve published a book or two, it’s nice to have a website to organize your content and showcase your accomplishments. A website can be simple or dynamic. That’s entirely up to you.

You don’t have to have a blog. Or a website. Or anything at all. But, if an agent wants to research you, what do you want them to find? Setting up a website or blog allows you to control some of the content available on the internet. And, it tells agents, publishers, and readers that you are a serious, professional writer. 

If you need help, let me know. I’m slightly obsessed with websites and blogs. (Okay, more than slightly obsessed.) As a writer, what have you done to establish an author platform? 

42 thoughts on “Do You Need a Website?

  1. I absolutely agree that an author platform is essential. I have a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. I used to have a website, using Dreamweaver, which was a pain in the bum to maintain. Dreamweaver is really for professional website builders and not for thickos like me 😀 Since there now seems to be simpler methods available, I might just build myself a website again.

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    • Kate, you have an excellent author platform with your blog. It would be lovely to showcase your published books on a website. Weebly and Wix have easy, drag-and-drop features that make setting up your website quick and easy. I have no training in website design, so for me, those easy-peasy do-it-yourself website templates are a must.

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  2. Many of us are in the same boat, getting into social networking very reluctantly. You’re so right that we need to pull out all the stops if we’re to get any exposure at all.
    Reblogged for the benefit of any other ditherers.

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    • You’re right about that! I tend to let my Facebook page go by the wayside. My blogging can get sporadic too. I work outside the home and have three kids still living at home, so life often gets in the way of my author platform. All we can do is try to keep up.

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  3. I’ve been hearing this advice a lot lately and believe a social presence is a must for serious authors. I have FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and in the process of creating a website using one of the free platforms. Working full time definitely creates a new kind of stress, especially since my family wants to take off on a whim on nice weekends. It’s a struggle to find the right balance, and one I’m working hard to manage.

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    • Balance is the toughest part of being a writer. We all have jobs, families, and other things in our lives that sometimes takes priority over our writing. Just when I seem to catch up in one area, something else slides.

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  4. These days, authors are expected to do a lot more to market their books. This means developing a strong online presence with an appealing author site to draw in the crowds and regular engagement with potential readers through blogging and social networking. It’s become a vital toll in the author’s toolbox.

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  5. Many thanks. I agree with all the comments and particularly how difficult it is to do all that and have a full time job. Many pulls on your time. And of course, you should carry on writing, as another piece of general advice tends to be that one of the best marketing tools is to have a few books published, as hopefully one will attract readers to the others (probably works better if you write in only one genre, but still worth thinking about). I have to look at my website as it is a bit heavy going…

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    • Time seems to be the greatest obstacle to keeping up with everything. When I’m in the zone with writing, I definitely let my social media platform slide. Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out in terms of balance, something happens. There’s always something between work, kids, pets, or family that forces us to have to shift our priorities.Lately, it seems my writing has taken a back seat. Thanks for the reminder that the best thing we can do in terms of marketing is to write more books. That’s a very important point.

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  6. One of the advantages of a website over a blog or facebook is that it needs less maintenance. As a complete technophobe I managed to set up my websites on Weebly efficienty and without cost. Which was truly amazing.

    I’d also advise getting into a routine with a blog, so that you post regularly at the same time each week or month: that way when you build a following people know when to expect to see your stuff.

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    • I used Weebly too, Will. It was very easy. With a Weebly site, you can set it up fairly quickly and update as needed. Not every author blogs, but if you do decide to blog, consistency seems to be a challenge for most of us. Not for you, Will–I can always expect to see your posts on Sundays.

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  7. Totally agree, having some sort of website and/or blog is essential for so many reasons. Not only does it give the author an instant platform to showcase their work, it’s a great way to engage with readers and the public who after all may end up buying your books. It’s also a fantastic way to connect to fellow authors, share information and tips and grow as a writer! A win win situation! 😀

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  8. Absolutely, an author platform is important. It’s a way for readers who enjoy your work to find out more about you and you can gain a larger readership with the tool of a blog. The key here is to remember the blog is a TOOL for the author rather than the base for their work.

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  9. Pingback: Juggling for Writers | Tricia Drammeh

  10. I have one of just about everything you could have! I have turned into a social media junkie since I began my journey in 2010. I have accounts on all social media platforms and a blog. Although I started with Blogger and produced my own website, once I got established as a writer, I employed the services of Author Design Studio who created a very professional website for me. It was well worth the money and I was delighted with the result. You can find it at http://www.carolewyer.co.uk if you want to see what Aimee did for me.
    I also found it requires less effort and frees me up to chat on social media or actually get on and write!

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  11. Pingback: Should Fiction Writers Bother with Blogs and Websites? | change it up editing

  12. Hi, I saw this from a reblog & it’s a great article. I’m not on twitter or Facebook. I did try twitter (am very anti Facebook) but omg I couldn’t handle so many communications! There REALLY IS A LIMIT to the computer time you should spend – it gets way much.

    Enjoyed this. Cheers 🙂

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    • Thanks for stopping by. I reluctantly signed up for FB a couple of years ago and now I’m on it way too much. FB and Twitter will definitely take away from writing time if you don’t learn to limit yourself. You are so right!

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    • Gee! Thank you for the follow! I can’t hope to be as informative as you are on here…I’m not published or anything else, but I am grateful you’d even stop by my blog! For sure, your blog here will be a big, big help in moving forward with my writing! Thanks again for all your posts! Am still wading through them and I’m certain I’ll have to refer back to certain things over and over……

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