The Thinking Piece

August 29th, 2006 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

Once your domain name is secured, you can breathe easy. No need to worry about someone grabbing your precious name and forcing you to spend hard-earned cash on buying it back (by the way, if you do spend said cash, do not feel bad; it happens a lot…in your next life, go with an unusual name). Your inclination will be to throw something up on the Internet and wait for the traffic to start driving through.

Okay, we’ll allow you to do this: throw up a blog and then come right back here. Many hosting services allow you to do a “one click” (a misnomer if ever one existed) install of blogging platforms like WordPress. You can get the Google dance* started while you’re doing the hard work. Karen, we hear you groaning now. The first, biggest, and most important question you can ask yourself is “What do I want to do with my website?” This seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Au contraire, nous amis…

So, yeah, you’re an author and you’re trying to sell…hmm, what is it that you’re trying to sell? Yourself? A current book? Non-fiction work? A short story collection? Your skills? It’s a big, bad world out there — who are you trying to reach? Take your time, think about it. Off the top of our pointy little head, we can come up with four or five potential audiences for your website. And that’s without even trying.

We’re not, by the way, including your mother, father, or grandmother in that first pass. But, yes, if they are still around to drive you nuts, they’re a potential audience for your website. Also that one ex who you still feel it’s necessary to impress even though you’re so over that relationship.

Authors should be particularly good at this exercise because it’s an extension of the world-building they do on a regular basis. How do you want your site to look? How can you reach your various audiences via content and other features? What can you offer that nobody else is offering? Look around at a lot of author, musician, painters, heck, anyone’s websites and make notes. What works, doesn’t work, piques your interest, makes you groan.

(Note: music is always bad unless you’re a really good musician and/or band and don’t start the music automatically. Let the user click on a link to hear your favorite song. Please. Thank you.)

Carefully consider your website. It matters. It’s going to change over time, that’s fine, but if you build in a flexibility up front, it will be cheaper and easier to adapt as your needs change. But start first with a plan. The features you deem necessary on your website are going to be the determining factors when it comes to choosing underlying technology. They will also factor into the ultimate cost.

Think as long as you need to. That’s why we gave you the blog out (and that may end up being your ultimate solution). If it’s worth doing this for your career — and we do not see why it is not — it’s worth doing right.

* – Google doesn’t automatically give high ranking to new domains. In fact, due to the sheer number of new sites that go up every day, it might take a while before Google gets around to spidering your site. Yes, there are ways to help yourself. Content, content, content. Stay tuned.

[tags]authors, publishing, publicity[/tags]

File Under: Back To Basics

2 responses so far ↓

  • Karen // Aug 29, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    “Think as long as you need to.” Oh, good. Thinking — that’s what I’ve been doing. The Vice Principal knows this, so maybe I won’t be expelled after all.

  • n.l. belardes // Aug 30, 2006 at 11:07 am

    And if you don’t know what to do and you’re building an author platform, try community support… go be a writer and cover your scene, get to know where you’re from. Dig into the world of artists… everyone needs press and you can become the media… and promote yourself at the same time…