Thursday, October 29, 2009

The five reasons to do it....

Today I had lunch out, without a child chaperone, with two author friends. It was wonderful just briefly feeling like a human being - able to enjoy lunch in a cafe without that nagging my child going to throw up... be impossibly demanding... hog the conversation...spill something across the table.... Of course the other authors are mothers too but they weren’t bringing their kids along for a working lunch in a cafe...and neither today was I. Yippee.

So at the end of the working lunch, one author leans over and says...” Pippa you have another book coming out... you need a website...” (the famous words that Fifi said to me 18 months ago)

“I’ve been thinking about it,” came the reply. This started the discussion of author websites.

“I blog every Thursday,” I said

“Its Thursday today, what are you going to blog about today?”

“I have no idea,” I replied, but the conversation started me thinking...

Over the last year of learning about marketing for authors these are my five essential points to putting together an author website...and how you go about it...

1. Research.

Have a look at what other authors are doing, especially in your genre. Decide what you like and what you don’t... Make a list. Some things you will need straight away...some you can work up to...

Have a look at my link list on the right. In the cool websites lists... there are a range of authors who are doing a superb job with their websites. Take a tour...

2. Who is the website for? Children? Adults? Other writers? Potential publishers and agents?

As Pippa is a children’s author... the content and language of the website matters as children researching her and her work will be ‘googling’ her name first. This is not the place to be showing pictures of your holidays at the Sunshine ‘au natural’ park.

3. Have a budget. It could be zero or thousands.

If it is zero...look at the biggest impact you yourself can do...learn techniques on free blogs. Blogging software is simple to use, it’s drag and drop technology. You don’t need to know any computer languages. You can play in private while you get the skills to put a website together...or play in public which is what I do...(coz I like learning)

If you have money, talk to a website designer about what you want...but be careful. A site that has lots of flash and whizzy stuff can take ages to download. Studies show that people are prepared to wait only about 7 seconds for a site to download...and many not even that....If you need a degree in website design to upload new content on your site it probably isn’t for you. Clean (uncluttered) easy to navigate around works every time.

3. Authors must have...names of their books, what they are about, where to buy them and some way of being contacted.

Remember that this is your public brochure to the world. If you are waiting to be published then find some other point of difference which will be of interest to a potential publisher who might be ‘googling’ you after they see your manuscript.

If you write for the Young Adult market consider having a myspace page as well. This is all part of your marketing. I recently heard of a YA author who was turned down by a publisher because they had no ‘social media’ presence. If myspace is where your readers are... that is where you should be.

A free email address can be the difference between getting a paying workshop job or making a manuscript sale.

4. When looking for a dot com name...look around for the best deals available.

You can set up a free blog and change the domain name to a dot com for very little money. There are deals out there for ten years for around $10 US...and with the exchange rate at the moment that’s almost $1.20 NZ a year (worth thinking about) If you invest some time in a free website and get a domain name, It doesn’t look any different from one that has been designed costing lots of bucks...Check out Ribbonwood designs ( to see what I mean. (hi your site)

5. Be committed to updating your site regularly.

Old, out of date information is a real turn off. It shows your readers that you don’t care that much about them.

Tell them where they can buy your latest book...have competitions or extra content just for them or recipes...songs...etc that inspired the about the hidden meanings in chapter 5... Make your site fun, interactive and interesting. Not only does this show the reader that your books might be just great to buy... it keeps the search engines noticing that your site is updated, which moves your page up the rankings on a general search....Would you rather be on page 1, of the google search on your name, or page 20?

Here endeth the lesson

On another note - The Spinning Gold team are very excited for three people who in the last week have had their manuscripts accepted for publication as a result of the Pitch Slam at the conference.

We are toasting you all...


pic...the seedling...because it's the beginning of a new life...(online life)

P.S. Jon from CBICLUBHOUSE put together this video on how easy it was to get started yesterday... great minds think alike... so take it away Jon....(and to think that when I started blogging 18 months ago posting video was so out there......)


TK Roxborogh said...

How lucky am I that a Y13 student chose me for her design internal and now I have a stunning website which hasn't cost more than the webhosting fee. She did lots of research and consulted me at every step. I like to think the site is very much a reflection of my personality. It's only been 'live' for a week and it's already had nearly 500 hits. I link from my blog and FaceBook and visa versa.

Maureen said...

Hi Tania,
I was going to add another point Number 6 and talk about your website which I have had a good look around...and figured out that you had student help....what a brilliant idea I thought....
but in the end I stuck to five points because it was it was great to open up the computer this morning and see your comment right there....

there are probably many more points we can add to tell others about this whole online presence thing...
I have Banquos Son on the table next to me...My NZ book for the month...and I am going to be diving in to it as a present to myself for writing the CNZ report...on the other hand the cover is calling me...oooh

Melinda Szymanik said...

Are you going to tell us who the successful pitchees are?

Maureen said...

Hi Melinda,
Check out the Spinning Gold Blog...

We are all excited for them...and we hope there will be a few more.

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