Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Why you need an author website

The question I hear most often from new writers is what the heck am I going to put on a website; I haven't published anything.


If you're just starting to query, or querying again after unsatisfactory results, think of your website as the director's cut of your query.


Your query must be very short; 250 words is the sweet spot.

That means you had to leave out a lot.


Start with your bio.

You can put pictures on your website. Pictures of your dog/cat/dragon.

Even though I love looking at pictures of babies, I do NOT suggest you post pictures of your kids online.


You can elaborate on hobbies you have, or where you live.

I've had intriguing conversations with writers about all sorts of things that I read in their bio.


You can talk about your writing if you want. You can post a (SHORT) excerpt  from your book.


You can talk about things you value, or good causes you're involved with.

I do that on my own website.


And you can have a place for people to sign up for your mailing list.  A robust mailing list is the #1 thing I look for when I've found a book I like, and an author that sounds conducive to work with.


Get a URL that's as close to your name (or your pen name) as you can.

Wacky URLs like FlitteryGibbertyBoo tell me you're not taking this whole thing seriously.

URLs that are hard to spell (mur3skeyWr9 for example) are contraindicated.


If your URL looks like a password, time for a new one.


An effective author website can be a big help for your stalwart little query.


Lack of one isn't a deal breaker, but why not use all the tools you have at your disposal.


Any questions?




PAH said...

Mailing lists still feel like such a chicken and egg situation. To me, it feels like you're saying, "If a lot of people already stop to ask for your autograph, then you will have a much better chance at becoming famous."

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I have a website with emgoldsmith.com as the URL - it includes my love for baking by using my fantasy world as a back drop. It's silly but I really enjoy it so you can get a delicious recipe with a bitty story attached to it from the realm of my fantasy world. Not sure if this is the best idea but I do enjoy it. I also have a blog that is rather academic for people so inclined. And an About Me section that works for the whole bio thing and writing stuff. Like PAH - I am uncertain about the mailing list set up. I have a placeholder to set one up but it does feel like asking people to ask me for my autograph before I am famous.

Anyhow, hoping my website does work in my favor as I redid it entirely after my last set of rejections in the query pit of eternal torment.

John Davis Frain said...

Oh, my website that I haven't visited in years. Guess I can hope for someone else to visit if I don't.

Reconstruction, here I come. Wish there was a way to add more time to the day.

Craig F said...

I have contemplated a website, maybe just a blog, several times. Every time my mind wanders back that way I see it in a different light.

My interests are just too diverse for me to get plan together and stick to it. It seems like and invitation to writer's block. I have three books in the works, and they are all so different. One is a thriller, one sci-fi, and one is a YA horror, urban fantasy vehicle.

I'll try harder, but I go back to that cyclical argument.

AJ Blythe said...

Website ... check
Newsletter ... *blush* I have everything ready to go but I am very afraid no-one will be interested in the newsletter of an as yet unpublished author. I know it's silly to have fear stopping me from hitting go, but I can admit that's all it is. I need to be brave.

Hope you are off your sudafed, Janet, and feeling better.

Julie Weathers said...

Janet, I hope you're feeling better. I know it takes a while to get over the galloping croup.

I have a website, neglected though it might be, Julieweathers.com. KISS so I can remember my own website. I had a mish mash of one and then Lisa Norman, a friend who does web design, social media mentoring, and indie publishing with her small company, convinced me to revamp the site. I was reluctant, but signed up for her course on Margie Lawson's site. I've taken several courses through Margie before and they are excellent, Lisa's was no different. She taught me not only how to build the site, but how the back end works so I can play with it myself and not have to call on someone to fix things...most of the time.

I still manage to screw up all things computer related. Then it's time to either ping Lisa or most often my son the computer wizard.

"Will, my computer is doing strange things. I don't know what I did. I promise I'll stop looking at P0rn if you'll just fix it."


"Uh, that was a joke."

"Hey, not judging. Just looking something up."

We have a strange and wonderful relationship. Mostly strange.

I have to get back to blogging regularly. I just let life get me by the throat and it's time to take control again. The next post is one I'm dreading, and then it's back to Civil War alphabets.

How To Starch Wranglers Correctly is still my most popular blog post written years ago. Whoda thunk it? In addition to blog posts, I have recipes, short stories, book reviews (I need to get that caught up), period recipes I'm experimenting with, and interviews. My son is setting up a recording system so I can do some podcasts. Alas, Kari Lynn Dell had agreed to be interviewed, but life got busy and then we know what happened. For period recipes I already tested some out, mostly hair things like making a shampoo out of brandy, honey, and eggs. It works surprisingly well and my hair was like silk.

Anyway, you don't have to have books to tout to have a site. The world is an interesting place. There's lots to write about. The key, alas, is be consisten, which I haven't been. If you build it (and feed it) they will come.

Amanda said...


Based on what I read in your post, I am wondering, would you recommend creating a website as early in your writing process as possible?

KariV said...

I just redid my website this year to focus more on my brand as an author and as a person. I am a big advocate of authors having them. You might not think you've got much to put on it or much time to maintain, but Janet's suggestions get you off to a great start. As far as maintenance, set a goal to check in regularly, even if that's once a year, for housekeeping and updates.

I don't post as much as a should, but I do keep the website updated because I think it's important people have a place to find me and my writing online. And yes, if you can get your name with a .com URL, it's highly worth the money to buy and host.

Betsy said...

Is a personal blog just as/almost as good? Lots of ways to get to know me there. It just isn't about my WIP.