Author websites

Miss Snark, you said "Every single time you hear something about publishing keep in mind who is telling you and what their agenda is. If you paid money to hear them, even more so. If they want you to buy more services from them, remember, they aren't providing services out of altruism, they're making money off your ignorance."

Does this also apply to websites? I can't help wondering if a) an author actually needs a website and b)how much time and effort actually goes into building and maintaining them, and how much an author should be paying for such a service.

Is this an area where the newly-published could get ripped off?

a. yes you need a website if you're going to have a book. You want a place to post your reviews, your bio, links to Miss Snark's fabulous blog, and all sorts of other things.

b. not that much once it's built

I don't have a clue about cost. However, most websites will tell you who designed, built and now maintains it. You can click on the icon and email them. Look at websites you like and ask those people. You can get template sites and you can pay a fortune to a webmaster but really, its not that hard. I bet there are a lot of author focused web sites that talk about this. I just tell my authors they have to have one. They hear and obey!


Southgrl said...

I was *rejected* by web designers who specialize in author sites!! Talk about a downer. They said because of the volume of requests for proposals from them, they couldn't even give me a proposal.

Sal said...

Some links here, if you want to consider doing it on your own. There are writers who have done some excellent work for themselves. (I like Scalzi's site f'rex.)

Others claim that that's just one more thing they'd like to offload onto someone else -- Karin Slaughter (site by Cincinnati Media) springs to mind. (The Cincinnati Media site includes their answer to the question, How much does it cost?")

I had two articles on building a simple website that I used to link to from the internet-resources.com link referenced above, but Computer Bits went under after almost a decade and their online mirror is no more.

I've been intending to put some of my Computer Bits columns and articles up on my site. This may be the kick in the pants I needed.

Cornelia Read said...

Two designers I recommend highly for author websites are Heidi Mack of http://www.xuni.com and Sue Trowbridge of http://www.interbridge.com/. (Heidi is currently working on mine.) Contact info is available on their respective sites, along with links to websites they've done for a variety of writers.

And thank you, O Snarkissima, for your wonderful blogging.

Christine said...

If it's cost you're worried about... personally, I used Freewebs to get my site started. It's , well, you know, free. Pick a template, and the pages are WYSIWYG. Easy as pie to design a simple site. You can add a blog, counters, a guestbook, even a chatroom.

You get the site ad-free for 45 days. Then I purchased my domain name ($17 a year for two years, you can buy more) from Freewebs. Instantly you're a premium member, and all the ads go poof.

I've gotten lots of compliments that my site is clean and easy to navigate. A big plus when you write for kids. Plus, you don't really need a bunch of flash graphics or dancing doodads. If you google my name, my site does come up on the first page, mixed in with some real estate agent from Florida who also has the first name. Google my book's title, and you will also find the site.

Maybe once I've sold a four book deal to HarperCollins for six figures, I'll pay a web builder for a fancier site. For now, it works for me.


Tim Bete said...

My Web site (www.TimBete.com) was picked as the 2005 Writer's Digest Best Writer's Web Site. I wrote an article about what should go into a writer's Web site -- http://www.timbete.com/CreateWebsite.html

You can read the WWD article at http://www.writersdigest.com/articles/writerswebsite_05.asp

Ami said...

I'm fortunate enough to have a web-geek for a husband and he designed both my personal web site and a site for my novel.

Here's some of his advice:
As Christine said, a clean, easy to navigate site is best.

Decide what the purpose of the site is before you plan it...is it a place for publishers to get a look at your work? is it a place for other writers to stop and share information? a place for your readers to visit and learn more about you and your work?

If you're a writer with a readership, then remember to update your site on a regular basis. Keep a blog, write a newsletter, include a short story or two, keep them coming back.

If you're worried about the cost of setting up a web site, then contact your the computer tech department of your local university or community college. There are always young, hungry designers who are eager for work!

Here are my web sites.
The Birth House

Carolyn B. said...

A professionally designed website is definitely best, but there are alternatives. It's possible to use a blogging service to post to your own domain name. Here are the basics:

1. Go to GoDaddy.com (or any other domain name registrar) and get a domain name. I like them because they are VERY cheap and easy to use.

2. Get GoDaddy.com, Addr.com or some other provider to "host" your domain. That means they have the servers where your website is actually physically housed. I like Addr.com because they are quick to respond to any inquiries I have and they seem to know what the heck they're doing. GoDaddy.com may be similar; I just was already using Addr.com.

3. Go to Blogger.com and sign up for a free blog. During set-up, you can arrange settings so Blogger posts to your domain instead of to their default server, Blogspot.com (but that's a totally free option too if an author doesn't want to get his own domain). It takes a tiny bit of knowledge to do this, but it's a one-time thing. Then you can post to your own website any time WITHOUT having to know html -- just "blog" via Blogger.com and it sends the info to your website. They already have templates for simple, clean designs, too.

Hope that helps some new auther who's on a tight budget and who doesn't want to have to master html in order to have a site.

Best - Carolyn Bahm

Tania said...

It took me about 6 hours several years ago to learn enough basic HTML to put together a decent, readable website. It's really something I found very easy to learn and I do wonder why more people don't choose to learn how to do it themselves instead of paying a ridiculous amount for someone else to do it for them.

ptztlavo said...

This looks good:


Rina Slayter said...

I agree, tania. One of my author websites was created and then handed over to me. (My husband owns an advertising agency) At first, it was a pretty tall learning curve, but I dove in and now that site has about 150 pages, growing as necessary rather than being huge right off the bat. That way there's a reason to toot your horn [newsletter, blog, etc] every time a new section goes up or the site gets revamped or even an update gets done.

Although, I think it depends on the author how much of a website they want to have or need. Money and time play heavily. Promotion is not cheap, but there are ways to soften the blow. And once a website is live, maintenance is super easy and takes very little time away from writing.

Writer Webs said...

Thanks for mentioning writerwebs.com, ptztlavo! One of the reasons I started Writer Webs is because I'm inspired by authors. At the same time, I find the quality of writer web sites to be in dire need of quality designers. While a writer's web site should focus on the content, in my opinion, it should do so with as nice a presentation as possible.
In going into business, I had to address the same issue of cost, and decided that designing directly for authors I wanted to keep it as inexpensive as possible, and offer some flat rate packages to suit the needs. ($85 - $485 in my case). So far I've been fortunate to work with some wonderful people.
Beyond price and all, the most important thing you can do is make sure you find a designer that is interested in what you're doing. If you don't click with him or her, no amount of cash or time will help.
Writer Webs

Gabriele Campbell said...

So far I'm not published (except for non fiction under my real name, and a short story under my pen name) but I've designed several websites for places where I worked, so I'm going to do it myself once I have a nice cover to show. *grin*

I taught myself html back in 1993 when you had to hand-encode every frigging code, and woebegone you forgot a > somewhere. ;-)

Allison Brennan said...

I believe a website is essential to connect to readers. I didn't have one until I sold; I've had modest but increasing traffic over the last year -- it jumped dramatically since I launched my site.

I did pay a professional designer and it was my single largest promotional expense, but I feel it was worth it.

Sal said...

Spent a few hours today updating the articles I'd written a couple years back on building and designing Web sites. The articles are way simple but might be helpful to someone who's just starting out. I added the links to them back onto the Your Website section of Internet Resources for Writers.

Also added a link to TIm Bete's "Creating an author's Web site" article, which he mentioned up there ^^^^ a ways.

Bill Peschel said...

Unpublished writer here. I started www.planetpeschel.com to post my book reviews and other writing back in the mid-90s. I used Dreamweaver 3 (which I still use), got my name from godaddy.com and pay $7.50 a month for web hosting from HostMagik (which I recommend).

It's not award-winning or flashy, but it does the job and in my opinion doesn't look offensive to the eye with moving gifs and eye-clashing colors. The prose, of course, is another matter.

A Web site is a cheap way for people to find you, and for you to keep them informed of what you're up to.