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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting closer to publishing, and I'm currently wondering whether author websites are necessary.  I've clicked on so many people's profiles and books from these forums and on Amazon that I know most of you have them, but not everyone.

Do you believe an author's website is necessary and therefore worth the time it would take to create?

If so, what do you believe are the important features of that website?  (Some of you have a simple page with a link to your book, others have much more.)

As always, thanks so much for your advice!
 

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Yes, necessary. Mine needs major work, though. I don't think they need to be complicated, just a simple biog, links to work, where to buy, social networking etc. All businesses need a base, and authors are businesses. :)
 

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I started up a special WordPress blog.  But I only have two stories out and no one is visiting.  Yet.

I'm also interested in seeing everyone's opinion.  I can see putting up links to Amazon/Smashwords/B&N/etc.  Clever posts.  Even open up discussions on the art and craft of writing.  I'm not sure what to do to make my site special.  Though, I am considering starting an online, ongoing story to attract visitors.
 

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I'd say pretty much any person who's trying to sell something should have some kind of web presence. Don't ask me for tips though, my blog caters to other writers instead of to the readers so it's not nearly as helpful as a marketing tool as it could be.

I'd say at the very least an author's page should have contact information for email and any social networks you use, direct links to where people can buy your books, and descriptions of your books (preferably with excerpts).
 

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You can try to blog on a regular basis, which is time-consuming and may not generate traffic anyway, or you can use a website as a landing spot for readers interested in your books. You can put up some basic info and some blurbs about your books, and link to Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc., so they can buy them.

I'd only blog if you enjoy blogging. If you don't enjoy it, chances are you won't sustain it, and it looks lame when you see a website whose last update was February 4th, 2009.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Part of what I struggle with is what is the added value to a reader for going to a writer's website.

I know many websites have a consolidated area where the authors list all of their work and links to purchase it on Amazon.  That seems like a given, but I know as a reader that it doesn't offer me much.  When I like an author's book, I buy another, then another, until I've read everything they've ever published.  I find their books via Amazon.  I know now, after having perused the sales numbers that some of you have shown, that I'm apparently in the minority, as some of you have runaway hits while other titles lag.  When I bought one and loved it, I'd get around to buying them all.  It wasn't necessarily at the same time, but once I finished reading the last one, your next one was purchased within a day or so!  I didn't need a website for that.  Indeed, the only time I look outside of Amazon is if I'm not sure what order books in a series should be read.



 

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Jim Franz said:
I'm getting closer to publishing, and I'm currently wondering whether author websites are necessary. I've clicked on so many people's profiles and books from these forums and on Amazon that I know most of you have them, but not everyone.

Do you believe an author's website is necessary and therefore worth the time it would take to create?

If so, what do you believe are the important features of that website? (Some of you have a simple page with a link to your book, others have much more.)

As always, thanks so much for your advice!
Absolutely necessary.

You need to hang out a shingle. If you don't have a place to point people for more information, you don't exist. This is incredibly important.

Important features:
- List of books and where to find them.
- List of upcoming releases
- List of interviews
- List of future appearances
- Supplemental material (I have maps, diagrams, "scholarly works" and other bits and pieces of back story that inform the writing but are not in the books).
- Blog posts on what you're working on now, the state of your publishing, books you're reading ... anything of general interest to a reader.
- Comments enabled. When you blog, you're starting a dialog with your readers. Make sure they can participate.
- A contact form where they can email you if they have a question or problem

I also have a fan forum page that's separate. My fans asked me to create one for them, so I did and warned them it would be vanilla and "out of the box" because I just didn't have time to maintain it. They get on there and talk about me all the time. Great fun to stop in once in a while and see what they're up to.

I also have an email list subscriber so people can subscribe to an email distribution. (I email rarely and only when I think it's absolutely necessary - like a new release is available.)
 

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Web pages take time, so you do have decide what the point of it is--to sell your books?  Then maybe some kind of relatively static 'here are my books' page, how to contact you, and not much else.  It is good to put up supplemental material to your books there too, if you have it.  The more books you write, perhaps the more extensive that part becomes.

It's hard when you are a new author starting out to blog about yourself, because honestly, who cares except maybe your mom? (and my mom has visited my web site once in her life)

I blog about dark age and medieval Wales and have produced a ton of content in the last year and a half.  Maybe a crazy amount of content, but then I get over 6000 hits of month, which I'm pretty happy with.  I've have a feel for it after all this time, but at first I didn't really know what I was doing, so it's a good thing it took Google 4 months to find me.

Like everything else about this business, it takes time to build  . . .  
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sarah Woodbury said:
It's hard when you are a new author starting out to blog about yourself, because honestly, who cares except maybe your mom?
This is one of the biggest reasons why my blog focuses on helping writers move past the psychological hurdles that can prevent us from succeeding. I love psychology and writing, so it seemed like a nice mixture of the two. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it'll have any draw for the average reader.

Back on topic, I appreciate everyone's advice, especially your detailed response, Nathan!

Do most of you create your own website or contract it out? If you do contract it out, how much does it typically cost (or is there such a thing as 'typical')?
 

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If nothing else, you should have a website so that fans can find you.

Not only fans, but reviewers and bloggers who might want to interview you.  ;)

There is nothing more frustrating for me, as a reviewer, than to try to contact an author, only to find that they have zero web presence.  :-\

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
RedAdept said:
If nothing else, you should have a website so that fans can find you.

Not only fans, but reviewers and bloggers who might want to interview you. ;)

There is nothing more frustrating for me, as a reviewer, than to try to contact an author, only to find that they have zero web presence. :-\
Wow, RedAdept, that possibility never even occurred to me! I was so focused on why I as a reader look for authors' websites that I'd overlooked why others would seek them out.
 

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Jim Franz said:
Wow, RedAdept, that possibility never even occurred to me! I was so focused on why I as a reader look for authors' websites that I'd overlooked why others would seek them out.
I did a thread on it a long time ago, urging authors to have websites and/or make their e-mails available on their profiles in forums.

Many stated that they "valued their privacy" and stuff like that.

In my opinion, the minute you publish "publicly," you need to be willing to give up a little of your privacy.

Besides, authors can easily get new e-mail addresses just for the purposes of publicity.
 

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Well, if you haven't already you can always set up your profile on Indie Book Lounge. I see quite a few people that use that as their page in their facebook or twitter profile.

I have 3 other books that I need to get up online (when I have some time) and once those are done, I'm going to create a new site for all my books.
 

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Jim Franz said:
This is one of the biggest reasons why my blog focuses on helping writers move past the psychological hurdles that can prevent us from succeeding. I love psychology and writing, so it seemed like a nice mixture of the two. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it'll have any draw for the average reader.

Back on topic, I appreciate everyone's advice, especially your detailed response, Nathan!

Do most of you create your own website or contract it out? If you do contract it out, how much does it typically cost (or is there such a thing as 'typical')?
I do my own, but I have several advantages in that regard.
 

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Nathan Lowell said:
I do my own, but I have several advantages in that regard.
+1

You might get a beginner/student to do a simple 4 page site for £50-100, but average prices can run to £500; some sites cost £1000 or more, but are unnecessary for what's needed from this, imo. Mine's probably in need of updating, but I'm all out of ideas, because I have so many sites to maintain. :D
 

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As various people have suggested, simply set up a blog. You can make it even more simple and set up a blog on Blogger, purchase a domain name, and then forward the domain to your Blogger URL.

As a reader, if I come across an author I enjoy, I want to read their bio, any advice or resources they have about writing, and get a bit of glimpse into who they are and what they are up to. It's even more exciting when I can leave a comment on one of their blog posts and they respond back. I think having a way to interact with your readers is so important.

As a book blogger, it makes me crazy when I find an author I would love to interview and I can't contact them because they don't have a Web site containing any contact information! Sure, they might be on Twitter, but I'd rather send an interview request privately then in public.

The blog/Web site doesn't have to be anything fancy. When people are seeking you out, they just want access to some current information. They're not carrying about elaborate Web design, etc.
 
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Personally, I just started my author web site a few weeks ago (based on all the advice I've found here on the boards), and although I don't really have much of a following yet, I have been having a lot of fun with it. It's basically a central hub for curious readers and fellow writers to learn more about your work, check out your blog, and learn more about you, if you wish to post any info about yourself.
In the near future, I'll be posting more about my upcoming sequel, as well as short stories and excerpts to (hopefully) stimulate curiosity about the ongoing story. Right now, I'm using the free service from Google, which has pretty much everything I need. But at some point, I'm probably not going to want "google" to be appearing in my URL and will migrate to something more proprietary. But...I'm good for now!
 

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Reader here : When I'm interested in an author (either through a book, a blog, a discussion, a recommendation), I first try and find out if he has a website. The author's website needs to be found easily (in the first 3-10 first answers on Google, through the profile page on  a forum etc.)...
If/when he has a website, what I like to find is :
- Bio/Bibliography. If some of the books make a series, I like to find out about that series, and a "recommended reading order" (in some case different than the "in books" and/or publication chronological order).
For each ebook, I like to find out a list of selling points (Amazon? BN, Kobo, Smashwords (bonus points here) and preferred selling place, and if it's DRMized. If the author has a direct sell system , I consider it the way they prefer to sell the book unless explicitely noted otherwise.
- Advance notes for the next book/ Work progress/ Status : some way to know about when a next release is due for a long awaited sequel...
- News/Discussion area (Blog and/or forum)
- A way to send a "private" message to the author (email is not mandatory, but a plus). I've seen some websites where the author's email is hidden by a form. Although not quite as comfortable as full email, it's ok for me. Note : email addreses are cheap nowadays. Writers needing privacy can fully well create a pair or private /public ones, and divulge only the public one.

Note regarding the last one : I've occasionally had a need to contact authors directly. In one case for example it was about price discrepancies between retailers, in an other regarding typos, and in a last to inquiry about the legality of a version I found. When such a way to contact the author exists, I really find it better.
 
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