Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Saturday, January 02, 2016

More on promotion: when do you need a website?

Is it advisable to have a website, even if you are not yet published, do not have ANY writing credentials, and do not plan on starting a blog?  


Yes.

Even before you publish, even before you query, it's good to have a place where people can find you. Take this blog for example: if you enter a contest and I like a particular turn of phrase, I might click your posting name, and see a link to your website. I'll click on that just to get a sense of who you are. If there's nothing there, well, no real problem, I was just window shopping so to speak.  But why would you miss that opportunity to tell me you live in Buttonweezerville, have a dog, and you're working on a novel about Jack Reacher's daughter?

There's a rule for writers about this: BE READY.

Having a website is part of being ready.  It allows someone like me to get to know you long before you're even thinking about it.  And in case that idea scares the sox off you: it's a VERY good thing.

There's another rule too: BE REACHABLE.

Think of it this way: if you ran a store, you'd be open even if there aren't any customers actually in the store, or even on the street yet.  Your door sign says "we're open" so that people passing by know to come in and buy those lovely shark party hats you have on display.



 Any questions? 

47 comments:

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

No questions this morning but shark party hats?
I'll bet you were partying with your chums.

"Ready and Reachable," sounds like a comedy team or a law firm or both.

Donnaeve said...

Or a porn shop.

My mind is in the gutter this morning. And I'm not sure why.

On to the Topic Du Jour!

See, this is where I screwed up. I think. When I was the but a specklet of a woodland creature and decided, finish the book!, I, as I've said a bajillion times before, started a blog. Because in my paltry miniscule woodland creature brain, blog = website.

Cue the noise that sounds like a needle being scratched across vinyl. For those born post vinyl era, that sound would be this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAT08T0oJXc

And off I went. Only to discover (likely out here) that blog and website are really two different beasts. No matter though, because I've had a lot of fun doing it AND I've met quite a few folks I keep up with on a somewhat regular basis. So all is good.

BUT yes, DO WHAT QOTKU says. This is the one time you want to feel the nibble of a shark on your toes.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, I am still that spec of an exiled to Carkoon woodland creature. I put myself out there on web due to Janet's advice. It is just a bitty blog and mostly I write about my pug and this blog. But I am there just in case a shark wants to take a nibble out of me.

I am going to be better about keeping my blog up to date this year. Really. Probably. Anyhow, do as shark tells thee. And where do I get those wonderful party hats?

SiSi said...

I haven't updated my blog in years, spending my writing time on the WIP, but this year I'm going to try keeping it more up to date. "More" should be easy enough to achieve!

This isn't off topic, but delayed topic: What If and Thing Explainer (two books Janet recommended as gifts) are both $2.99 today on Kindle.

Susan Bonifant said...

I like the idea of setting up a blog to feel represented by more than just a query.

But yes, I have a question (other than where are the cat and dog graphics with facial expressions that go with "any questions?")

We've touched on this before, but I wonder how likely it is that blog content will endear a writer to an agent if it's not about writing? I use my blog to tell stories about how I see strangers connect, on planes, in line at the supermarket, etc.

I love doing this and have nice blog customers, but I tend to think of it as "the other writing" I do, rather than bracelets and earrings on the writing I pitch.

I'd like to be wrong about that, I guess.

Amanda Capper said...

Jack Reacher's daughter. How interesting.

Jed Cullan said...

Not sure I'm ready, but, thanks to Janet, I am reachable via my blog. Now I just need to make myself ready and maybe make a New Year's Resolution to actually write something publishable. I think I'm going to need more coffee.

Jed Cullan said...

Am so resisting the urge to make a comment on Jack Reacher. Maybe more coffee will help.

CynthiaMc said...

Thanks for the nudge. WordPress sent me my stats for last year. I can take a hint. Two hints. Plus, I miss my blog, Escape from Chaos - except I've been in the chaos instead of escaping from it.

Somehow I have to make it all work - the day job (at least until I write my way to freedom), theatre (I had intended to take a break but my director sent me a Happy New Year text with an offer I couldn't refuse, plus I had already promised him the following show. Now I'm in a pickle because one of my other directors also sent me an audition invite for his show. I try never to say no to a director who wants me for a good show but they may be too close together for me to do both. Fingers crossed because I'd love to do both).

Since I've been housebound with Hubby (doing well, but it'll be a while before he goes back to work), I've been getting a lot of writing done (plus the Twilight Zone marathon which has been a writing course in itself).

It feels good to be writing again. The house has never looked better. Hubby is starting to heal. 2016 is off to a good start. I'm grateful.

Please, Lord, help me keep it all up for the rest of the year!

Susan said...

A website is a great promotional tool for the reasons Janet and others list, but as writers, it's also a valuable creative outlet. If you're working on fiction, it's helpful to have another space for writing that's unrelated to the fiction piece--this way, you're still writing, but if you're stuck on a plot hole or a character is being particularly unruly (or invisible, like what happened to E.M.--glad to see they made an appearance again!), you don't lose your momentum. It's not about maintaining word count (which I personally only pay attention to during NaNoWriMo), but about making sure you don't break the habit of writing. Sometimes, you have to take a break from your fiction to let the ideas marinate (I think Julie calls it letting the boys in the back work, which is a brilliant way of putting it), and writing on a blog is a perfect way to use another part of your creative brain without losing the words.

I started my personal blog 10 years ago because I'd just graduated from college and the well was frustratingly dried up. The blog began as a way to write down some of life's observations, and gradually, I began to write and post a series of connecting short stories. The blog grew as I grew up, transforming into a memoir of sorts through posts about career and personal development, memories, and stories of my life as I tried to figure this life thing out. And those stories I once posted grew into my first book.

I switched blogs (sadly, I'm no longer a twenty(or)something), but still maintain the original one as an archive. Now, everything is on my personal website, which is more cognizant of my creative pursuits (new blog, free fiction, and recently updated sneak peeks of my upcoming books). Someday, I'll figure out a way to combine everything.

Words beget words. It's like a flood that, once opened, it doesn't stop. Journaling is one place for it, but why not share some of those thoughts or stories on a blog as well? Best case scenario, it helps you to connect with others. Worst case, you're ready, as Janet says. It's a rare win-win.

Theresa said...

I adore the party hats.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Technically, you're correct, a blog and a website are two very different things that fulfill two different purposes. A website is like a promotional flyer. It's purely informational, not interactive, and updated when necessary. A blog, on the other hand, is interactive, updated frequently, and is a bit more personal.

However, as is evident from the comments so far, most people these days regard website and blog as synonymous. And really, for all practical purposes, they are. Or at least they can be. Blogs are much easier to set up than websites, cost you nothing, and with the wide variety of templates available from Blogger and WordPress, you can make them look half-decent without much effort. Websites, on the other hand, require design and technical know-how to set up, or you need to pay someone to do it for you. For this reason, I see no problem with people new to Internet self-promotion starting a blog and calling it a website. It serves the same purpose.

I have a domain name, and I started out with a website before I had the notion that I might like to get back into writing fiction. I used my website mainly as a place for my academic writing. I'm hopeless at design, so I was never happy with how my website looked. In the end, after my blog had been going for a few years, I redirected my website URL to my blog. My plan is to leave the website alone until I have a book and a publisher that can use that space and make it look snazzy. Until then, my blog is my website.

So, Opie, I don't know if Janet was thinking website=blog and blog=website, but I think it's okay to think that way. Starting up a blog is so easy to do, in less than an hour you could have your own place in cyberspace with your contact info, a way for people to get to know you, and it would cost you nothing.

Go for it! Be Brave! :)

Colin Smith said...

*Okay, so websites can be interactive. Gaming websites, or shopping websites are certainly interactive. But author websites generally aren't.

Donnaeve said...

Thanks Colin for doing the deep dive on that - I kind a/sort a thought most would get it. Maybe not. Having said that, and even though most would think them interchangeable, I see them as two different beasts. (Now I do, anyway)

ON interactive...I suppose a website/blog being interactive or not is a matter of how one views interactive. I would say an author website is interactive in that if you have a link for books where someone can go and click to choose Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Picks, or whatever in order to buy. You can have follow me buttons for Twitter, FB, Pinterest, etc. You can have a contact page where someone can find out how to email you or whatever. And, you can have a Blog tab, where - if you want - you can still post writings.

So, that's how I view a website as being interactive. Having said that, the blog/website distinction (IMO) can almost creep into a "suspense/tension" sort of discussion, couldn't it?

Colin Smith said...

Donna: You're right, of course. In that sense websites are "interactive." But they aren't interactive in the sense of having comment boxes where the blogger can interact with his/her audience, or the audience can while away hours discussing the finer points of the Buttonweezer family, or the differences between websites and blogs... :)

Theresa said...

I use WordPress and chose it because it can be set up as both a website and a blog. At least that's how I look at it.

Sections of it are more stable, with basic information about me and my writing. These sections change very occasionally. Then there is the blog section, which I update on a regular basis. Visitors don't have to read the blog if they're not interested, though of course I hope they will be.

Colin Smith said...

I think my main concern is that people may be put off establishing a web presence because they think they need to shell out lots of cash to get a domain name and create a website. I would say, no--just get yourself a Blogger or WordPress account, and create a blog. For what Janet's looking for, that'll do the trick nicely.

Donnaeve said...

Colin, ahhhh, interactive as in back and forth while expounding on the benefits not only of knowing the Buttonweezers, but over the fact they love kale.

Dena Pawling said...


Susan Bonifant: "We've touched on this before, but I wonder how likely it is that blog content will endear a writer to an agent if it's not about writing?"

I can't answer your specific question, but in my opinion, (1) there are a LOT of blogs out there about writing, (2) if I posted on my blog about writing, it would most likely not be very interesting and/or just like a lot of other blogs out there [probably done better than mine], and (3) posting about odd things that happen in legal news, many times accompanied by an anecdote about a similar odd thing which happened to me in court, is more fun and hopefully more interesting to readers. So on Mondays that's what I do. Occasionally on Fridays I will post a book review. It's not a lot, but hopefully if an agent breezes by [for lack of anything else to do] [yeah, right], s/he will at least form the opinion that I'm a somewhat interesting person, or at least I'm not boring.

Your line: “I use my blog to tell stories about how I see strangers connect, on planes, in line at the supermarket, etc.”

You use your blog to tell stories. Isn't that "about writing?"

Plus, this sounds interesting, definitely not boring. I wonder if agents get tired of all the blogs that say “I'm currently working on edit #682 of my WIP and my muse is vacationing in the Bahamas and should I use the Oxford comma” or “I received another query rejection today and I'm frustrated but at least I received a response.” Your blog sounds much more fun and engaging. In fact, I just went there and read a few entries. It shows you actually can tell a story, are an interesting person, live where it snows, and have a nice looking cat. I suggest you keep doing what you're doing.

Colin Smith said...

OK, I'll bite on Susan B's question too. I agree 100% with Dena, and I'll add this: it's about platform. Why would you want to read what I, an unpublished, unagented woodland creature, have to say about writing over, say, Chuck Wendig, or any number of published authors who might touch on the subject from time to time. I have blogged about writing, but that was early on when I thought I ought to since I'm trying to be a published writer. Not so much anymore. The best writing advice I can give anyone is "Go read ON WRITING by Stephen King." King says as much, and a lot more, that I would say, only he says it better, and with the authority of someone who has sold a few books and has demonstrated over the last 40+ years that he can write.

These days, I focus more on writing about things for which I have a unique platform: my thoughts, my reviews of books and Doctor Who episodes, my reflections on Scripture, my favorite songs and pieces of music, quotes and things I find on the internet that I find interesting, and stories that I write. No-one else can blog about what I think (unless it's to criticize me, and then they have to read me to know what they like or don't like about what I said). And, as Dena said, done well, these posts demonstrate writing chops, and give you a bit of insight into who I am.

Speaking of ON WRITING, I treated myself to a new hardcover copy to celebrate my fifth year of reading it at the start of the year. Here's a totally off-topic quote, but a good one nonetheless, on the subject of vocabulary and word choice:

[BEGIN QUOTE]
This business of meaning is a very big deal. If you doubt it, think of all the times you've heard someone say "I just can't describe it" or "That isn't what I mean." Think of all the times you've said those things yourself, usually in a tone of mild or serious frustration. The word is only a representation of the meaning; even at its best, writing almost always falls short of full meaning. Given that, why in God's name would you want to make things worse by choosing a word which is only cousin to the one you really wanted to use? (Stephen King, ON WRITING, p. 118)
[END QUOTE]

(I was going to italicize the quote, but I didn't want Janet's eyes to gloss over it...)

Karen McCoy said...

A relief to hear this. I've heard from so many that my website and blog aren't yet necessary (which kind of spits on the efforts I put into them). But, like Janet said, it's preparation. It's constructing a train track before you're sure a train will ever come (Under the Tuscan Sun, anyone?)

Adib Khorram said...

A timely topic indeed, given I let my own web presence more or less wither the last quarter of 2015. Between work and writing I didn't have as much time, and then I read several books in a row that I didn't like very much and never really summoned the energy to post about...

I suppose I need to get myself in gear and make some decisions about where to go from here. As it is, my Twitter profile seems to be the top hit on google for me. (At least from my machine. I should try it on a strange machine some time and see what happens.)

What is everyone reading for the new year? I started Robert Galbraith's CAREER OF EVIL yesterday.

BJ Muntain said...

A blog isn't a web site, but a website can hold a blog. And updating a blog is one way to make your site look lived in and not just put up to look pretty, then ignored.

Susan Bonifant: many writers write about writing. The problem with that is, you're limiting your reach to writers (and sometimes readers, once you're published). You're also joining a huge crowd of writers writing about writing... and I'm sure the agents looking around see a lot of that.

If you want to attract non-writers, write about non-writing things. You don't think an agent would love to see how you people watch? I think yours is the perfect kind of blog for a writer. It shows your observational skills and your style, and it sounds like a nice place to hang out in.

Colin: WordPress makes it very easy to set up a website without any know-how. You can use a WordPress blog and convert it to a website. It's free, it's easy, and if you want to upgrade to something more, it has those capabilities. That gives you your blog, and one or more 'static pages', which could include an author page. And WordPress makes it easy. I'm sure Blogger has similar capabilities, but I haven't used it for that.

As for it not being interactive: you can set up comments on pages, too, just like on a blog. 'Interactive' is a very broad term, and these days has more to do with the creativity of the website owner than any website capabilities.

Susan Bonifant said...

Dena Pawling: I loved that response, and yes, story telling does come in size non-fiction doesn't it. Thank you, very encouraging!

Also, your own example - the telling of daily life in the courtroom, apart from your fiction - was what made me your fan.

Jed Cullan said...

I made a decision to not blog about writing and the process of becoming a published writer. Well, novelist, I've had articles published before many a year ago.

I also didn't want to blog about my opinions on stuff, so I discounted that, too. It didn't leave much else to write about, and, as I was interested in history, I thought I'd blog about that, but with a twist by trying to make it humorous. Not sure I've got it down, yet, but still trying.

Trying to come up with a subject to blog about it isn't easy. And trying to do it on a regular basis, is hard.

It's better to blog about something that interests you, as that will show through with the words on the page. In turn, it will make other readers interested in the subject and want to read what you write.

Colin Smith said...

BJ: I have a WP blog. And while I haven't had need to take advantage of all the web offerings WP provides, I'm sure it's just as you say. I use static pages on my blog, and people comment on them. But when I think of a website, especially from a marketing point of view, I think of author websites that have attractive graphics, and perhaps some cool animation, that give an author bio and then devote pages to his/her books. It's not interactive (apart from links to FB, Twitter, Email list subscription, etc). A blog, however, is an opportunity for author and audience to connect.

If you can set up a good freebie website, and you like the idea of a low-maintenance web presence where people can read about you and what you write, and how to get hold of you, then go for it. But if you want to connect with your audience and share your thoughts (everything from deep cogitations on life to a cool gif you found), then go with a blog.

That's what I think, anyway. :)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Cool party hats.

Apparently Caroly is going for another record for first commenter.

If anyone doesn't believe being reachable is important, refer back to the great Gary Corby international search. While I was of no help, I was simply one of the pack hounds, it was a fascinating exercise.

Lisa Norman insisted I needed a website and not just a blog. So, after much prodding and nagging and bribing, she talked me into letting her design a website for me. She even convinced me to abandon blogger and move my blog to the site so readers could have a one stop shopping experience.

So, months later, I had a working site. My son thinks it's too busy and wants to make it more professional. I'm happy with the busyness. It reminds me of a lovely old book with those gorgeous papers on the inside of the covers.

The biggest problem with it is I don't use it often enough. That became one of my resolutions after Janet posted her thoughts on promotion. I shared the post about Janet and one of my short stories to wind out the year.

Writers think they have to blog about writing. Honestly, most of those posts remind me of this.

Having said that, I refer to Jo Bourne's blog a lot. She has a knack for teaching about writing and dropping interesting little research nuggets.

As I research stuff for RAIN CROW, I've been paying some attention to food that was popular during the Civil War. I'm collecting old recipes. I'll share some of them throughout the year on the blog. I'll post more short stories. I'll share some silly stories like the one about how Alvin the pig cured a man from drinking. I might share some excerpts from current works, though not many.

One of the my favorite writer blogs is from Kari Lynn Dell.

Will has a picture of himself in front of a sign they had at their base in Iraq. The sign reads, "Complacency kills. Is today your day?" It's kind of a stark reminder, but complacency in writing is also deadly. I keep the picture on my desk.

Panda in Chief said...

All good comments (as per usual). As someone who only 10 years ago swore I would never get a computer, I now am the owner of 4 blogs, only one of which gets much attention. (From me) They are all Wordpress, which I love. It's really easy to work with, and all but one (Your Brain on Pandas) are your standard free Wordpress.com sites.
One is my fine art blog, but as I was rarely posting a new post, I set it up with a static gallery page as the landing page, plus some other pages for printmaking and a blog page, in case I have something to say.
Another is for a local art show I produce, which is active for about 3 or 4 months a year, leading up to the show.
The last is one I set up for my illustration work, so it could be separate from my fine art work. Eventually this one will become more active.

Your Brain on Pandas is whete the real work happens, and besides making me more discoverable once I do start querying with my graphic novel WIP, it's where I sell the books that are collections of the cartoons.
I post on a regular schedule, two days a week with new work, (Sunday and Wednesday) and re-runs...um...I mean encore presentations on Fridays.
Besides giving me a presense online, I have developed a small but devoted following. Besides the fact that they buy my books, I know that they form the base of people that will be interested when I eventually find a publisher for the GN.

So, Opie, think of your blog (or website) as a place where readers will discover you, and get to know you, and that's what will make people want to support you and buy your books. I wish I could sit in my ivory tower and just do my work and hand it off to some all powerful being to make my fortune for me, but that's not how the world works anymore. And at least in my case, getting to know the people who read and enjoy my cartoons has proved to be a lot of fun.

But there is no way we should be expected to like kale. There are limits.

John Frain said...

This is all such great stuff. Thank you.

I have one question, and forgive me if this is out of too much ignorance. I'm visiting sites to try and figure this out, not sure I have it mastered yet.

So, if I'm starting out right now, one logical option seems to be to start a blog that will live on my website. (Neither exist right now.) That puts some static info about me in place (the website) while also giving people a reason to keep coming back (the blog).

But here's where I'm still confused. If one of my goals in all this is to develop an email list, where is that happening? Do I ALSO need a newsletter or some such to collect email addresses?

You guys are awesome, in case I forget to mention that enough.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I've been off my blog for almost a month, (no time, no energy). I finally updated with something that's happening which is really weird. And you know what?
It felt good to share, felt good to write something that isn't writing, even if it does prove I'm a few cashews short of a full can of nuts.

John Frain said...

Okay, question out of the way, now a quick comment. (Sorry, I had to work this morning so I'm late getting here.)

Susan Bonifant, I LOVE the idea of reading your experiences of how strangers meet. For my mind, that's a fantastic way to demonstrate your writing chops to an agent or any other reader. The concept caught my attention, the execution is likely even better. Great job!

Theresa, I'm a check out your site right now to see how you're handling the "blog inside a website" concept, if I'm following along correctly. Thanks for posting that.

I'm sure glad I moved into this neighborhood! I especially love when I walk through the neighborhood and Julie Weathers' ladies are sitting out on their porch looking opposite directions. I slow my pace when I pass their porch, and sometimes have to stop and tie my shoe when they're in the middle of a conversation. Oh my, they're my favorite characters here!

Pam Powell said...

There is a big difference between a blog and a web site. A web site is/can be static. It exists to show what you have. A blog needs tending. Sure you can set up a blog for free but it costs you time daily, weekly, or monthly if you want to keep it current. Ask Janet. She’ll tell you.

Chris Bachman, the fellow who designed my web site, suggested I write articles rather than have a blog. His suggestion let me add four articles to my web site and then concentrate on my long-term writing.

I chose Chris to design my web site because he wasn’t trying to sell me a particular product. His interest was in meeting my business needs. He kept me from making mistakes. He created additional copy that could (and did) generate sales of my consulting services.

Results to date:
1. I approached a man whose unusual background made him perfect to critique some of my writing. As introduction, I referred him to my web site. Before I was able to mention my need to him, he contracted with me to review his writing.
2. A man I befriended when I lined him up for an interview at a radio station emailed me about someone I “just had to meet”. His friend took a look at my web site. I’m now writing her biography.

Apologies for the long post!

Kara Ringenbach said...

Thank you Janet. This is a wonderful resource. I haven't yet had time to read through all the comments but I will (work and three kids'll do that to ya). I was the OP today and am finding a lot of good info from Janet's answer as well as the comments. Thanks so much, all of you. I am *almost* convinced to start a blog. Lol.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

John,

You're so funny. I need to write another story about Martha and Tilley. You'll like them.

I wish you could have been there for one of the writer's retreats in Myrtle Beach. We decided to go to Medieval Times. Most of the ladies were romance writers with the exception of Beth and I. We took up a table right at the rail where one of the knights gave Beth a red rose and pledged his fight to her.

There is a meet and greet the knights after the show so we descended on them. I may have had something to do with this. Sometimes you just need to be bold. I introduced the ladies and mentioned we were writers.

"Oh, what kind?"

"Romance, romance, romance, romance, romance, epic fantasy, high fantasy."

I pointed to Jo Bourne and said, "She has two books up for RITA awards this year which is a big thing in romance. Mind if we ask you some questions for research?" I wiggled my eyebrows at him.

Surprisingly, they didn't run away in terror. Instead, they gave us a private tour of the stables and discussed training hawks and horses, sword fighting, choreography, etc.

It's a tough job researching with a group of handsome young men, but someone has to do it.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I daresay I won't do a "real" website until I have some manner of professional writing career (vs. a single published piece). I have two blogs though, and two Twitter accounts to match. The dog one (The Elka Almanac) was one I started to spare the people I know in person from my endless dog/Doberman prattle. I've neglected it woefully in the last year, and intend to get back to it. I have some products to review, some Elka tales to tell, etc.

My "writing blog" is one I started when I had a contract to publish a collection of short stories with a small press which folded not long after it was digitally inked. They wanted me to have a web presence, I started a web presence other than the public-but-somewhat-"private" Livejournal I've had since college (which is still there, because I don't want to delete it, nor devote the time to making each individual post private. I thought there used to be a blanket option but I cannot find it).

It's funny, a few years ago I had zero Google-able presence (that LJ doesn't have my full name on it) but since starting the dog blog, my half-siblings who only recently learned of my existence were able to find me. And because of my writing Twitter, after my story was published in Daily Science Fiction, the editor of the Far-Fetched Fables podcast was able to find me and solicit its use. So yeah, I'm behind this notion 100%, be reachable! Be findable!

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Kara,

You need to start a blog. My first one was with blogger and it's pretty painless even for me.

The best piece of advice is to be consistent. Post once a week, twice a week, once every two weeks. Whatever you decide, just stay on a schedule. I used to have a pretty healthy following until I just stopped blogging. People forget about you.

Kari Lynn's blog posts are most often about ranch or rodeo life and almost always very humorous. You have children. Interesting things are happening to you. Blogs about family life can be great. The most popular post on my blog is still the one about how to iron Wranglers properly. The one that got the most hits in one day was my interview with Sara Lynn Sanders the artist.

Blog about your hobbies. Blog about your writing life occasionally. As a rule, don't blog about rejections. You're a writer, inspiration is everywhere.

Good luck. You can do this.

Jearl Rugh said...

I seem to recall JR (I use her initials here because mine are the same and I hope by this means, if no other, to establish a symbiotic connection with our esteemed Selachii--okay, I'm showing off my Google skills here), not long ago posted that fiction writers do not need to have a platform to find an agent or publisher.

I breathed quite a sigh of relief then, as building lasting relationships with folks via social media is a struggle for me. Nevertheless, in my opinion, both a blog and website are not only a good option, but a necessary one.

My website is purely informational about stuff I'm writing or have written, including a couple of indie books I put out there. My blog is where I post book reviews (stuff I've read) and even one of my complete novels.

A couple of points I'll mention: 1) Blogging can drive readers to your website, if they find interest in you and/or your work, where you can link them to Amazon (or wherever) to buy your work product. 2)Finding content to write about (I don't know how our beloved Shark does it daily) is tough. Since we are in the new year and the MC in my WIP stumbles into a subplot regarding the human race's self-destructive race toward extinction, I'm considering blogging about that.

One final note, I use Blogger as, at least for me, I get more hits than WordPress, and it feeds directly into Goodreads and Google+. For the novel I put up, I had scores of readers hit my blog, but over the course of 90 days, what I called "Novel Nibbles," had over 25,000 views. Not the hundreds of thousands I would have liked, but ...

kdjames.com said...

I started out with a Blogger blog too. It was an accident. I just wanted to set up a Blogger ID so it would be easier to comment on someone else's blog, and ended up with a blog of my own. All that white space was just sitting there, waiting for words . . . and I discovered I had things to say. Some people liked my words and left comments and came back for more and I was hooked. That was September 2006. I used to post weekly, but have now pretty much slacked off to posting monthly-ish. I have tons more readers now than I did then.

I switched to WordPress several years ago and LOVE it. It imported all my old Blogger posts, no problem. I have several static "pages" (About, Contact, Books, Misc) in addition to my blog, all on the same site. I have links to other social media. I have links to buy my books. I have a link to my email as well as a link to sign up for a "newsletter" (which will actually be less of a newsletter than an email announcing the release of new books). My domain name is MY name, to increase visibility/searchability (same with my twitter name).

In all those years of being visible and reachable (ie, vulnerable), I've had SO MANY positive and extraordinary interactions with people. The only thing even approaching negative has been when I post a rare book review and a few people contact me to ask whether I'll review their book. I've learned how to politely decline, which is not really a bad thing to learn.

All this rambling on and on is just to say, YES, absolutely set up some kind of web presence where, at a minimum, you tell a bit about yourself and let people know how to reach you privately. This is not some onerous Herculean task. Really. I can't imagine any of you regretting it.

LynnRodz said...

I've let my blog go woefully by the wayside and write about once or twice a month now. I just looked at my stats and was surprised to see I'm averaging around 21,000 visitors a month/7000 unique visitors. I'm way down from when I use to blog 4 or 5 time a week, but people still come to read about how to take anti-reflective coating off their eyeglasses, quotes about Paris, or brain teasers to start the day. Unfortunately, I don't think that's what an agent is looking for.

I do have a question for you, Janet. Will you be visiting Carkoon anytime this year?

Craig said...

I believe that I suffer from the same things as many others. I, at the moment, do not have any idea about the direction and identity of my web presence. After I query I will have a better idea.

When I decided to get serious about writing I drew up what amounts to a trilogy of trilogies. The first three are bang bang shoot'em up thrillers, the middle three are speculative thrillers and the final three are sci-fi.

I want by web presence to be relevant to where I am at that moment. I tend to look at author websites to find out what else they have written or to get the chronology of their books straightened out.

I know I want to post a couple of short stories in it and have a link to my online jigsaw page.

I sure as hell hope I will BE READY when I query.
I will BE REACHABLE because of the contact info on that query.

I also wish to issue my first apology of 2016. I did not mean to sound so callous in yesterday's post. I was going to go on to how everything less than jail is personal and a relationship with an Agent should be kept professional. A personal problem (virus) sucked the life out of me and I crashed and burned. Sorry about that.

BJ Muntain said...

John:

If you have a website, MailChimp can give you some code to embed (basically, you copy and paste it into a text box) on your site. People can put in their e-mail address, and MailChimp will send them a verification, and once they verify, bingo. They're subscribed.

I just added one to my website. Top right corner-ish.

Lucie Witt said...

Late arrival to this post (yesterday was my stepson's last day with us before they return to VA and we won't see them again for three months - sniff sniff).

Anyways, this post prompted me to start clicking on people's names and see if that pulled up easy access to their website. I ended up visiting Julie's, reading her post about Janet, and getting sucked in to her writing. The Janet post made me smile, and I am a bigger fan of Julie's writing now than even before (really, that bad news/fast horse/dead horse opening is brilliant).

I'll be damned if that being reachable thing doesn't work.

I am working on my blog/website now. It should (fingers crossed) go live late January. Then best believe I will be updating my profile here!

Susan Bonifant said...

John Frain, and BJ Muntain - I have a new appreciation for my "overhearing" pastime today, thanks to your comments. Much appreciated :)

Audrey Shaffer said...

I do think it’s a good thing to buy your domain name early, and redirect it to your blog. That way, nobody else can buy the domain name you want, and people already know what it is, when you start building your website. It’s a branding thing, having the domain in place before you need it. And a domain name is around $10 per year, pretty affordable.

Blogging about writing is only of interest to other writers. Your blog should interest readers in YOU, the author. The blog isn’t about selling books (at least until you have a book to sell), it’s about selling you to potential readers.

Make sure your blog has the option to “follow by email”. That way, if you slack off with posting, your “fans” are still notified when you get back to it, and you don’t lose your followers.

My two cents, late. :)

Barbara Etlin said...

Even in the small circle of writers I know on the internet, I can count about six whose blogs directly or indirectly netted them publishing contracts or agents. Editors or agents liked their writing, contacted them, and nice things ensued. I used to think that that sort of thing was almost impossible, but apparently not.

As Janet says, be reachable. You never know who's reading.

Diane Holcomb said...

I've been silently following your posts for some time now. Okay, I might have jumped in on a contest or two, but otherwise I've been squirreling away your advice, tweeting it, and staying silent.

But this post brought up an issue that's keeping me up at night, grinding my teeth. An issue that leads to the dreaded: "You must build a writer's platform." Which I understand is necessary. But in building that platform, I'm afraid I'm throwing spaghetti at the internet wall.

I've got a blog, www.squrrelsinthedoochickey.com. My initial idea was to blog about the nutty stuff we do, say, and think when confronted with the stuff that drives us nutty. So I'm blogging about nutty doctor visits and nutty dates and nutty co-workers and oh, let me throw in some writing advice and examples of the nutty ways I avoid rewriting my novel, and while I'm at it, I'll share tips on dealing with anxiety and how to live in this extroverted world as an introvert. The purpose of all this nuttiness? To build a platform.

A platform for what? I haven't got time to rewrite my novel. Okay, I'm only blogging once a week, but I'm building a copywriting career too. And my fiction writing is a different tone than my website, so it seems to me an agent poking around on my site might be highly disappointed to discover that I write literary fiction.

That is, if I was writing it.

So, my question is this: should I abandon the blog and start a website that has snippets of my fiction writing?

Jearl Rugh said...

Just bumped into this post from Blogger re: Google Friend Connect. If you use this feature you should check it out.

http://buzz.blogger.com/2015/12/an-update-on-google-friend-connect.html