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Thread: how early is too early to have a web site?

  1. #1
    Who wants a cup of tea? HFgal's Avatar
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    how early is too early to have a web site?

    What is the right time to start a website for your book (or perhaps for you as an author, assuming there will be more books in the future)?

    Instinctively, I would say maybe once your book is sold to a publisher, but I have read things along the lines of "it's never too early!". Really? What about if you have a completed MS but don't even have an agent? Maybe I am not understanding all of what the website is supposed to accomplish. Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    If you want to have one, have one.

    But there's no compulsion. If you're sure you know what name you'll be writing under/published under, look into registering that domain. But other than that, I wouldn't spend a lot of money. Don't spend money until you earn it.

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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW Michael Davis's Avatar
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    Do everything you can to get it up and running, tested and and proofed ASAP, then about two months before your first release go live with a "will be release on" label. Once you're operational then on next book put the "Will be released" up about a month early.

    Based on what I've experienced, and what other author bud and budettes have shared, here's the logical to my hypothesis.

    1. First, each time a site is uploaded or goes through major revision it takes time for the search engines to open their eyes to a site again. Not sure why they go blind to ya, but I've redesigned my site three times and each one the search engine directed hits went down big time for about 2 months then came back up to their original level. Drove me nuts first time trying to figure out what the hack was going on until a more experienced writer told me about the search engine "blindness" thingy, and I think she was right.

    2. Announce the release of a book too early and people forget about it before it comes our. 3 or 4 weeks has worked for me.

    Hope that helps.
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    You can download Wordpress free and try your hand at blogging before making a hosting commitment. Some people like blogging and others don't. You'll want to have articles up for newcomers to read.

    Learning blog housekeeping like menu's, widgets, and plug-ins takes time, so I'd say get started way ahead of your book. Good Luck.
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  5. #5
    Inappropriately math-oriented. slhuang's Avatar
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    Are you talking a website with your book listed on it, or a blog?

    A website promoting your book would (I expect; I have no special expertise) only be useful when you're on the cusp of publication.

    A blog may help start building you an audience, however. There are a lot of threads on how well a blog works to gather followers and whether blogs sell books in the Blogging forum; try checking them out if you're thinking about doing one. If you write on a variety of subjects, a blog may bring people to your site for other reasons / search terms, and if they like what you write enough, they may follow you, and then when your book comes out, they may want to buy it. Possibly. It depends a lot on how popular your blog is / how readable you can make it, and even then no one's done a comprehensive study or anything, so it's up to you to make the judgment call on whether a blog will be helpful enough to your marketing plan to justify the time you'd put into it.

    But if you do start blogging, I'd agree with the "it's never too soon" camp. Because assuming you update regularly with decent content, your audience will only grow, so if you start now, you might be able to gather at least a small following by the time your book is released.

    Just my 2 cents. I started blogging once I finished my first draft as part of a marketing plan, as I'm hoping to gather a small audience while the book's in editing. I have no data on whether that will help me out, though -- we'll see!

  6. #6
    space opera-popcorn lover!
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    The advice i was given was it is never too early. Part of that reasoning is because publishers now expect writers to be able to self promote and this is evidence you can, as is using eg twitter, fb, internet forums etc. i am fairly sure at some stage Marc Gasgoine from Angry Robot has said that he would prefer not to consider an author without one ( i don't have the reference to hand and think it might have been a twitter comment).
    And definitely, at the very least, look into a blog. I am a bit lazy at updating mine, thpugh i did yesterday so am feeling saintly, though i do blog regularly in the members area of a specialist website, and send the odd inane tweet.

    Good luck.
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  7. #7
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    I'd say it's never too early, but that's because I like having my own personal 'home' on the web where I can blog and share my art without having to deal with the restrictions, privacy issues and adverts of social networking sites.

    If you don't particularly want to have to learn how to manage a website, don't worry about it until you have a book on the way.
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  8. #8
    Who wants a cup of tea? HFgal's Avatar
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    I remain puzzled.

    This month is the month I am going to start querying. I expect I will be querying for most of the year, and if I do not have an agent by that time, I will re-evaluate (should I self-publish? Is this a trunk novel? Do I need to do some massive rewrite? Or is it just my query letter that sucks? etc.)

    So as for the website, how would this benefit me at this time (from those that say "never too early")?

    As for a blog, not to be too dense, but what would I be blogging about? If there is a good example of an emerging author blog, I would love to read it, so please mention it if you know one.

  9. #9
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    A blog might benefit you because if you blog well, and your blog attracts a large and enthusiastic following, then you'll have a small platform established which might help sell a few copies.

    You can blog about anything you want to but in my experience it's best to have a strong theme, and to post often.

  10. #10
    space opera-popcorn lover!
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    Quote Originally Posted by HFgal View Post
    I remain puzzled.

    This month is the month I am going to start querying. I expect I will be querying for most of the year, and if I do not have an agent by that time, I will re-evaluate (should I self-publish? Is this a trunk novel? Do I need to do some massive rewrite? Or is it just my query letter that sucks? etc.)

    So as for the website, how would this benefit me at this time (from those that say "never too early")?

    As for a blog, not to be too dense, but what would I be blogging about? If there is a good example of an emerging author blog, I would love to read it, so please mention it if you know one.
    Firstly, it shows you are very serious about the writing. Secondly, if you're working on a second project, it shows you're intending to stick at it, and you can put samples up
    Thirdly, if the author can't evidence that they have the ability to self-promote, and the drive to do so, it might just be another hurdle put in place.
    Also, they're not that difficult to set up, and they don't cost much any more. I was lucky and someone took care of all that for me, but I know others who use the build-it-yourself type where you select the domain name and the style from a preloaded list.

    Um, blogging: I do a few book reviews, not many, mainly if I'm blown away one way or the other, I talk about the wips, where I'm up to, what hurdles I'm facing, and I talk about other related stuff - like yesterday I was singing the praises of Query letter hell. I don't have a following, as such, a few people, mostly other sci fi writers who know me.

    On the other website where I blog that's more open, usually musings about writing - there's one up there about what I learned from AW about query letters this week that's been reasonably well visited - but it's really one for friends in a SFF community.

    It's all about upping your profile, because whether you go self published, or get an agent, in the new-tech world, they'll expect you to do some of the legwork.

    Oh, and twitter is really good both for raising profiles and for following info on agents and what not. Last night I was able to join the agent game discussion and find out about something that was worrying me from my query thread, and all three agents that were on it responded, which was a really good opportunity. (Plus slushpile hell is very funny.)
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  11. #11
    Moderation in All Things AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    You'd be better advised to spend your time writing payable copy than creating a website or blogging. There's nothing wrong with either activity, but they can both give you the feeling that you're working, when you're not.

    Networking is different, but networking is a dialog, a give and take. A site like AW is networking, so are writers conferences and writers groups. Neither a website nor a blog is really networking because you're doing all the talking. Early in your career, you should do more listening than talking.
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  12. #12
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    If you want to have one, have one.

    But there's no compulsion. If you're sure you know what name you'll be writing under/published under, look into registering that domain. But other than that, I wouldn't spend a lot of money. Don't spend money until you earn it.
    My debut novel came out from Samhain Publishing, December 4th. I still don't have a website because I don't think I can afford one. I just have a free blog.
    I'm usually a bit puzzled when I come across the author websites of people who don't have any publications at all talking about their WIPs. I guess if you have the money and think it's fun then it's OK and maybe some editors and agents will be glad you have a web presence, but if you aren't well off I wouldn't bother.
    Paranormal Romance -Menage - Erotic Romance from Samhain Publishing 4th place for Best Published Paranormal in the Passionate Plume award.

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  13. #13
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson View Post
    You'd be better advised to spend your time writing payable copy than creating a website or blogging. There's nothing wrong with either activity, but they can both give you the feeling that you're working, when you're not.

    Networking is different, but networking is a dialog, a give and take. A site like AW is networking, so are writers conferences and writers groups. Neither a website nor a blog is really networking because you're doing all the talking. Early in your career, you should do more listening than talking.
    I have to respectfully disagree, Roger -- websites can be a very important part of networking, giving the contacts you make a place to find you and see your work, as well as a place where you can freely communicate with them. A lot of my networking started with back-and-forth blog comments or forum posts.

    I agree with you regarding listening rather than talking, but a blog can be used to start discussions and invite people to talk to you. It also means that when you're networking online, you have a homepage to point people back so they know who you are and what you do.

    (And a certain degree of 'talking' can help build up your chops as a writer -- writing online copy and blog posts hones one skillset, while building a short story portfolio on your site can hone another.)

    Just my biased two cents. Maintaining a website is very much a personal thing -- some people find it a chore, other people like having their own space on the 'net -- but if it fits your personality it can be a very useful tool.
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  14. #14
    Moderation in All Things AW Moderator Roger J Carlson's Avatar
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    The single most important thing you can do for your writing career is to improve your writing -- hone your skills. No amount of blogging or networking or websites will do anything for you if you can't write publishable copy.

    If you can do it without stealing time or creative energy from your writing, all fine and good. But there are a lot of people who post, blog, tweet about writing and never actually do any.
    --Roger J. Carlson

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  15. #15
    Who wants a cup of tea? HFgal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger J Carlson View Post
    The single most important thing you can do for your writing career is to improve your writing -- hone your skills. No amount of blogging or networking or websites will do anything for you if you can't write publishable copy.

    If you can do it without stealing time or creative energy from your writing, all fine and good. But there are a lot of people who post, blog, tweet about writing and never actually do any.
    I agree with much of what is said above, but I also agree with this. It reminds me of when I was doing final edits to my novel and starting to research agents. Researching agents was fun (so hopeful at the start!) and also a relief from all that editing, but I had to reign myself in and put limits on how much time I was spending on the agent part - because the editing part was way, way more important (and important to finish).

    I promise, I will only fire up a website and/or blog if it is not taking away from more critical activities.

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