I've been prowling around many an author website of late.
Some are really good.
Some could use some spiffing up.
Why should you care?
Because when you query me (as you should) and I'm interested in your work (because I'm not a complete dunderhead) I will slink over to your website to see what's what, who's who, and hopefully a picture of a cute dog/cat/horse.
Make sure you have a website for starters.
Increasingly, being invisible is a deal breaker for me.
Make sure you list the CORRECT URL in your query.
If I cut and paste the wrong URL and end up with dino porn on my screen, that can be a deal breaker too.
Make sure the links to your social media accounts are correct.
As in spelled right, and the buttons for Twitter et al are functional.
(Have a friend do a click through for you as added insurance.)
I don't want to have to hunt around very much.
I'll do some, but if you make me work at it, I'm less likely to want to work with you.
Read into that what you will.
What do I look for on a website?
Your bio, expanded from what's in your query.
A place to sign up for your mailing list.
Links to your social media sites.
Pictures of your dog/cat/horse.
(I STRONGLY encourage you NOT to include pictures of your small children.)
Pictures of where you live if it's someplace like End of World, Wyoming. Remember, I live in NYC and my "vista" is the courtyard and the buildings across from me.
What you don't need:
Your blog posts
You can link to those if you want, but if your landing page is your blog and the last update was 2018, that's not putting your best foot forward.
You can list or link to places your writing has been published (if it has) but this isn't any kind of deal breaker. I've signed and sold writers with NO publishing credits whatsoever.
Yes, this is my summer. Yes, I have no idea what I'm doing. Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Just checked out Greg Levin's site for an example. His is pretty spiffy, but he's got publications linked. Having a writer site without links to publications just seems . . . weird, I guess?
But if the agents want to see a website, I will cook up a website. It can't be that hard, right?
*Cough Cough* Right?
Would love to see an example of what a decent website looks like for an aspiring author sans agent (or maybe recently landed, but site is yet untouched by improvements directed by erudite agent). I'll do some digging, but if you or a commenter want to toss out some examples, I'd appreciate it. I've seen plenty of personal websites, most I think fall short of the mark. But, who am I to judge?
Echoing TJB in wanting examples.
Then there are those of us who have no social media presence. No Twitter or anything to link to. And only a blog with maybe 4 posts (links to published stories), with none in the past 18 months or so. But hey, there's a mailing list button. How hopeless does that make us?
I am so, so, SO glad it's not obligatory to write a blog. That sentence alone has made my week.
Plus, there is a picture of a cute horse on my website! (It's not my horse though, despite the fact I took the picture. Hoping that's allowed. If anyone asks, can I say I borrowed it? Also, it might actually be a pony.)
Might this really mean my website is okay?? Excuse me while I gibber with relief.
Now I just have to write a novel somebody wants. Hmmm.
Uh-oh. My landing page is my blog, but I do post once a month so is that active enough?
And I echo Steve about the worry of not being on Twitter or any other social media. I do have a Goodreads page and an Amazon page, but that's it.
I have a website. Is it good? My most popular page is my review of Steven Charleston's book, The Four Vision Quests of Jesus, not exactly my aim as I'm working on a novel! I try to blog once a month.
And I'm unsure about directing it toward my facebook page as it's a personal page, not an author page.
Thank you for this Janet. It's good to see more posts (but no pressure!) and some of the Reiders here. Hi y'all!
I have a website (It should be listed in my Blogger profile if you want to see it). I redid it this year with a custom logo that hopefully better represents myself and my brand. I only mention the logo because I did it myself in photoshop and was proud with how it turned out as I don't consider myself skilled in graphic design at all.
I looked over MANY website of published YA authors (my age-group) for inspiration for mine. It's taken a while and multiple attempts at themes before I got to this point where I think mine is pretty nice. Feel free to check it out. I am available for questions or to offer help for my fellow Reiders if you need it. I am pro-author website (YES, you ABSOLUTELY need one!), so LOVE helping others get to this point.
One quick tip: make sure your site is viewable across multiple devices - computer, tablet, smartphone. You want to pick a theme and design it to be as accessible as possible otherwise all your hard work is for naught when someone clicks your link from a smartphone and it warps all your careful designs.
Here it is, right up front: https://kacliterary.wixsite.com/kaclaytor
And I'll have you know, Janet, your websites are linked on my website under "Resources for Writers". If this does not garner me more brownie points, nothing will.
@TJB I am not published - though I don't know if my website is worthy of an example.
I used "WIX" to build this (last week) as it's free and was recommended. It took one day to create (they have templates) and I've been fiddling with it ever since (specifically today, when Janet said their ought to be a mailing list and pet photos and I so added them because I DO WHAT JANET TELLS ME TO DO).
And add me to the list of "I don't want to / why do I have to have this / fine I'll do it anyway" crowd. I am not (yet) an author. But enough people have said a website is needed, and I've filled out enough Query Manager forms that have asked for the "author website" to know it was finally time.
If/when I'm ever actually published, I will buy my own domain and pay for the proper website. But until then, free is better.
"...if your landing page is your blog and the last update was 2018, that's not putting your best foot forward."
Kind of you to not mention me by name. Guess I better take care of something.
I have horses on my website...! Lots of horses (and dogs, cats, pigs, goats, llamas).
I have a website. No idea if it's any good. I like it. There's a dragon. I like dragons. I will update with my social media if anyone cares to watch me drone on and on about Liverpool FC and cute animals. I love cute pet pictures. And all the foxes and badgers that people in the U.K. find hanging out in their gardens. Fascinating.
John Davis Frain
"...and I resemble that remark!"
Ok, I conceded. Bare bones website created. Still no social presence, though. So only partially screwed?
I have a website. I used WordPress to create it. It used to be a lot more complicated, pulling in three blogs into one blog stream... but I couldn't keep up the blogs. Now there isn't even a link to them. I haven't even really looked at the site for awhile, but it's pretty basic.
Of course, I'm not currently querying, either. If I were, I would make sure my site was up-to-date and working well. I am, however, active on Twitter and Facebook. I have an author page on Facebook that I haven't updated in awhile, either. That, too would change if I were querying.
But I do have a website and social media presence. When I get to querying again, I'll be prepared.
Yes, I have question.
Janet, I admire you as an agent and as an advocate for writers. But, your recent posts make me uncomfortable.
What if I don't want to show you (or anyone else) where I live? What if I don't want to Tweet, or blog? What if my own thoughts and my life is something I want to keep private. Not because I have anything sinister to hide, but because i am just a deeply private person.
What would that mean to you if I wrote a compelling query, and had some solid sample pages?
How important is it for a writer to be on Twitter? I'm on other social media, and I've tried Twitter but it makes me super anxious. If it's important, is the amount of followers someone has important too?
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