author websites

Author websites . . . what a pain, but hey, when I decided I wanted to write for publication, I knew what I was getting into, and one of the marketing tools at my disposal was some form of web presence. I started out blogging so I could get a feel for design and content through a template and because it is free.

I investigated several blogs and how-to sites when I decided to make my website. I wanted both a blog and a static site. I looked at using my WordPress blog with a URL, but I wanted something separate from helluo librorum. That way, if my career as a novelist flopped, I could turn helluo librorum into a fan site and still enjoy connecting with authors and readers.

Several people I know use Google blogs and have purchased a domain name for their blog. If you want to see an example, check out the websites of  Weronika Janczuk and Dawn Kurtagich. Google enables you to create a distinctive design and most domain names can be purchased through Yahoo/Bellsouth or GoDaddy.

Google blogs perplexed me, though, so I found the user-friendliness of WordPress to be more my speed. WordPress has a super selection of templates that is constantly being upgraded with new capabilities, and I love, love, LOVE WordPress. With that said, Jonathan Danz‘s website started out as a WordPress blog, and at D.H. Schleicher’s site The Schleicher Spin is exceptionally well done in terms of design and content (also WordPress).

I took another route and went with GoDaddy and WebSite Tonight (my website is here). This is probably a little more expensive than some folks would like to go, but I will say that I have been delighted with the template and most impressive, the service I get from GoDaddy. I can call or e-mail them and get a knowledgable person every time. They are wonderful and quite experienced with the HTML-challenged (*waves hand that’s me*).

I use Feedburner‘s Buzzboost feature to run my author blog through my website so the content on the site is updated regularly. You do need to know (or in my case learn) some CSS in order to change the appearance of the Buzzboost feed, but with a little experimentation, you can achieve a look that is consistent with the rest of your site. What you see on my website now is not how the original feed looked.

Now I have three online content points: Feedburner, my WordPress blogs, and my website. This increases my visibility and creates a web presence, which is really what most agents and publishers want to see. Not necessarily a website, but a web presence.

So once you’ve investigated all these options and decide which one you want to use, then you have to think about your design. Content is more important than design, but let’s be realistic: a cluttered, busy site is going to detract from what you’re selling, which is you and your writing.

As tempting as flash and all those nifty widgets can be, skip them. Flash slows the reader down and widgets draw the eye all over the page. Keep the focus central: your name, your genre, if you have a catchy tag-line for your novels, put it there. Tailor your color scheme and pictures to your audience (that seems obvious, but you would be surprised). I avoid black blogs and websites, because they can be hard to read; however, some dark fantasy and horror authors make them work beautifully.

A few things you really need to make sure that are prevalent are: links to your blog (if it’s separate from your website), your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and a contact button so people can reach you by e-mail. Today, we are click and go, so make sure someone can easily see how to reach you.

A quick note on you and your writing: have someone read your site for errors. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes. Websites today are like the resumes of old, they project a picture of you and your work–make sure it’s a professional one.

I looked at a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of author websites before I decided on how I wanted mine to look. I feel like I’ve managed to settle in with a look that’s comfortable for me. It may take some experimentation, but you’ll arrive at a look that works for you too.

Shop around and talk to other writers. They will be able to tell you exactly what problems they’ve encountered and whether the support from the hosting site is worthwhile. If you want to share some of your trials and tribulations in the land of HTML and CSS, please let us know what works for you in the comments.

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About T. Frohock

Please visit my web site at: www.tfrohock.com
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17 Responses to author websites

  1. Liz Colter says:

    Nice site. I love the artwork! Where did that come from?

  2. connetta says:

    I had a website once..tried several different blog sites, and i like wordpress best.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Looks like you’re doing it all! Nice work. I like how you’ve integrated helluo librorum with your site. Pretty slick.

    For my site (thanks for the mention!), I went with WordPress and Bluehost. It was so easy, I fired up a site for my wife’s art. It’s fun if you can find time to monkey with it, but it can also be a black hole if you get fixated on stuff. Not that I ever do, of course 😉

    • No problem on the mention, Jonathan. You’ve done a wonderful job. I think it’s fun too (once I figure out how to bend the codes to my will). 😉

      I try not to let it consume me, but if it doesn’t look quite right, I have to monkey around with it until I have achieved a tolerable compromise.

  4. Theresa – great advice. Thanks for the shout out!

  5. Oh geeze and I misspelled your name, Teresa. My apologies, I have a relative who spells it with the “h”.

    • No problem, David! I get all kinds of spellings (and I confused a Therese and a Theresa once).

      I’ve loved your website and reviews for some time. It’s very well-written and well thought out.

  6. kat magendie says:

    I have a separate website – one I’ve had up for a while and have updated once when TG came out and I really want to update it again, just not sure what I want to do ….make it cleaner, for one. I had a friend who does websites do mine – and I’ll probably seek her out again to fix it up for me, but I’m able to go in and fiddle with it. She used zoomla for the templates.

    However, for Rose & Thorn we use Go Daddy and have been pleased with it! It’s easy to deal with if you aren’t a website designer – although we have someone who does our website stuff, they didn’t know much about website design and Go Daddy made it easier for them!

    Now I’ll go check out your website….

    • I’ve been extremely happy with GoDaddy. They have a wonderful support crew who has really helped me navigate some knotty issues. I know they were probably diving under their desks when they saw an incoming e-mail from me, but they were always patient and thorough in their explanations. Love that team! 😉

  7. Kelly Bryson says:

    Hey Teresa- thanks for the info. I went with Blogger since I’m familiar with their sysem and customized my URL to my domain name. The whole website thing was kind of intimidating to me- it just seems so “real” somehow, but you’re right, it operates as a resume. Merry Christmas!

  8. lawrenceez says:

    Hi, very nice looking website. All the best over the holiday season.

  9. erikamarks says:

    Hi Teresa, Thanks for this round-up of very useful information. I’m still trying to figure out which way to go with my website…so I am always looking for advice.

    Hope the holidays are bringing you great merriment!

    • Hi, Erika, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday and glad to help with the website. I know when I was looking to do mine, I found a lot of great advice on what to include and not include, but not a lot of practical how-tos. Since you have a WordPress blog, you might want to get in touch with Jonathan or David to see what they did. I’m a big fan of “the path of least resistance.” 🙂

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