When members of the media hear about books and authors, one of their first moves is to find out more about them on the Internet. It’s become standard procedure. Since journalists and producers are always looking for stories, they want to learn about authors: who they are, what they’ve accomplished, what others have said about them, whether they’re interesting and unique, and how they present themselves.
So, reporters, editors, and producers search the authors’ names and their book titles using their favorite search engine and on the sites of online booksellers. They read everything that’s posted about them and visit their websites. From that, they start forming impressions. Usually, they’re trying to determine if this author or book would be of interest to their readers, listeners, or viewers.
In today’s media world, you must have a great website; it’s the sign that you are a professional, someone who should be taken seriously. Like it or not, your website can play a major role in how you’re initially perceived. For many, the fact that you don’t have a website will raise questions that you must overcome. So, do both the media and yourself a big favor and put up a great website.
A website is a tool, and its main purpose is to support your mission. Some sites can be dazzling; they can have all the new and most exciting technology, all the bells and whistles, but most visitors—especially the media—won’t go there again if the sites don’t provide the information they want. Visitors won’t waste time with sites that are all style and no substance, are not clear about their purpose, and don’t deliver what visitors need.
Before you even consider creating a website, clarify its purpose—what you want it to achieve. Know exactly what you want your site to do. If it has several purposes, prioritize them and then apply your efforts and resources to those that matter most.
Authors often have multiple objectives: they may want their websites to help build or maintain their careers, promote their books, and sell their products or business services. Experienced website designers know how to build sites that will accomplish all of your objectives. They know and can advise you on all of the elements that should be included and how they should be structured and work.
Think of your website as a storehouse of information about you, a one-stop place where the media can go to find out about you and your book: who you are, your background, your platform, what you’ve written, and what has been written about you. In this chapter, we will discuss the specific elements that your website should contain.
Author 101 Advice
Your website can also shape the direction of your writing career and move you into new areas. For example, you may wish to fill it with content that presents you as a historian, a novelist, a biographer, a journalist, a copywriter, a technical writer, a speechwriter, an editor, an indexer, or a writing coach.
Your site also reflects how you have decided to present yourself, what you wish to feature, highlight, and stress. If you wish to appear academic, technical, sophisticated, artistic, trendy, classic, or irreverent, you easily can. It’s up to you.
When the media hears about books and authors, it checks them out the Internet. So, it’s essential for authors to establish a strong Internet presence. Make sure that your site supports your mission, which can be to publicize your book. Find a great domain name that is easy to remember, and register that name with all the major search engines. Create a site that looks great and is easy and intuitive to use and understand.
Reprinted from “Rick Frishman‘s Author101 Newsletter”
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