Friday, April 25, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

This Writer's Thoughts on Websites
                       Part I
Since my picture book/storybook - The Scandinavian Santa - will be released in September, I finally hired a website designer. However, now that I'm busy with marketing and networking activities, I wish I'd started thinking about a website a year ago.

Because of that epiphany, I thought I'd share a few things that I've learned from my research on websites. Much of my knowledge on this subject was gleaned from visiting numerous author sites while writing book reviews; I gained the remainder of the information while recently researching web designers for my own website.

Here are several tips that I've learned about websites for writers:
(Note: These tips are not related to specific recommended content in a writer's website.)

* Secure your domain name early. I secured my domain name a few years ago, from GoDaddy.com - but you can choose from numerous hosts on the Internet. Although it might seem silly to purchase a domain name if your book is years away from publication, if you have a common or semi-common name, like I do, it's essential. (I found that out a long time ago when I had trouble getting an email address due to the fact that there are at least a dozen females named Victoria Lindstrom in Sweden!) My domain name is: victorialindstrom.com; my website launch is scheduled for late July.

* Use your blog (and the additional pages it can provide) for as long as possible before you launch a website. Doing that provides at least five advantages: 1) It allows you to get accustomed to being consistent and professional; 2) It also allows you to hone your writer's skills; 3) Maintaining a blog allows you to connect with a core group of writers; 4) Being a consistent blogger will help you to be a more confident writer; 5) Until a writer has a book deal, a blog can serve to relay her thoughts, news, and current events, quite nicely. (I plan on using my blog in tandem with my website to share news and events.)

* It's time to start thinking about website designs when you start sending out query letters. I failed to do that, and now I'm in "catch up" mode. Since I'm collaborating with my publisher to create my book, there are numerous phone calls and emails between us. I'm also exploring book signing opportunities, connecting with independent children's bookstores, and I've even placed my name on a list for a book booth at the SCANFAIR in Portland, Oregon next December! All this while I'm committed to maintaining my blog, cleaning my house, making my husband home-cooked meals, and finishing my work in progress...you get the idea. Even though I hired a fantastic web designer, I still need to make choices in regards to images, photos, videos, and text for the pages on the website.

* Obtain the most professional website that you can. It's important to have a professional presence as a published author. Obviously that concept is important for a blogger and pre-published author too; but, in my opinion, once people are looking to purchase the writer's books, the level of professionalism must go even higher. Also, it's important that the website reflect the type of books the author writes: fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, etc. Middle Grade and Young Adult authors often have crossover readers, but a writer of middle grade stories must keep in mind that besides the young readers that will visit her site, there will also be teachers, librarians, and parents checking out the website too. I found it necessary to hire a web designer because I could not find a way to create a website that would meet the needs of the educators and parents, and still be an attractive website for young readers. If you, or someone you know, has graphic design and technical skills, you may be able to develop a professional design independently. (My web designer/manager is xuni.com .)

As you can see, I have numerous thoughts on the subject of websites for writers. I'll share Part II on this subject next week.

Do you have any thoughts to add? Do you have an author website?

2 comments:

  1. Well, congrats on all this! How exciting. I bet your website will looks awesome. Me...I have a website (carolriggs.com) but I just redesigned a blogger template for it myself, because it was free. You're right though--it's good to secure the domain name EARLY, and start contemplating a website as soon as you get a book contract. Or before! (I had mine before, but had to redesign it.)

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    1. Carol, It's funny you would comment because you're the one author I thought of when I was writing this post that would have the "artistic chops" to create a website independently. I mean, in addition to being a writer, you are also an artist. :-) Have a great weekend!

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