View Full Version : should I get a website (and how?)

04-20-2008, 03:14 AM
Hi, my publisher keeps telling me I should have my own author's website. I am a techno-idiot so I don't know the first thing to get started on this. I am especially worried about the cost.
Are there any other writers out there who can give me some first-hand advice on this?

Claudia Gray
04-20-2008, 07:08 AM
I ponied up and paid for mine. I am sure there are more economical alternatives -- and I don't pay much for many of the things other writers invest in, like conferences -- but this i thought was worth it. My site cost around $1000, with another $150 per quarter for updating and further bits of design work; I am so happy with the site, and have already reached so many readers, that IMHO it's worth it. But the designer is someone I know quite well; I think most designers would charge more for similar work.

If money is an issue, I second the recommendation of MySpace. This, too, gets a lot of attention, and you can do that for free.

04-20-2008, 07:18 AM
I had a pro do mine and it cost about what Claudia paid. It depends upon your career goals, of course, but it definitely looks more professional than anything I could have done myself. Plus, it's easy to hang a blog on the site, which is what I did using WordPress.

04-20-2008, 10:58 PM
Thank you so much! It is really helpful for me to see other writer's sites.
Keep 'em coming!

04-24-2008, 08:59 PM
I would recommend NOT paying and either using one of the free websites or setting up a WordPress blog and not using it as a blog, but as a static website. If you have the money, then by all means get a pro to do it - they know what they are doing and it will pay off.

Here is an extensive list of free websites for author promotion and book marketing (http://www.bauuinstitute.com/Marketing/FreeWebsiteHostsforAuthors1.html).

WordPress blogs can be set up really easily and you can use them just like a regular website, with static pages, plus they have a lot of widgets and plugins that you can add as you go.

04-24-2008, 09:24 PM
Mine is not the best, but it has generated inquiries to my publishers and to Amazon. Once you have it built and hosted, get some tracking software if your host domain does not provide it. Look for 1) where your referrals are coming from. 2) where they go to from your site (link to your publisher and even consider working with Amazon or Borders etc to link to them and your book on their site) 3) Update your site regularly and get people to come back. There are many good suggestions here in this thread, and I went mydomain.com. Affordable hosting I created my on site and the tracking software is pretty good. Good luck and let us know when your site is up.

04-24-2008, 09:33 PM
When you mention MySpace, don't you think it's a bit hard trying to get traffic over there?

I mean, I've had a profile, and my profile barely even reached 500 views.

Sheryl Nantus
04-24-2008, 09:39 PM
I have my site and domain with Yahoo - my sister put me onto them because she uses them for her small business and has had few problems.

It's *very* user-friendly to set up your site and they'll renew your domain name automatically - and give you software to review your hits.

although be warned - hits do NOT equal sales. Plenty of people visit sites without purchasing anything and you should not take a high number of hits to be translated into sales.

anyway, that's been my experience... good luck!

04-24-2008, 09:46 PM
Wait, but don't you need some start-up cash to get a domain with Yahoo?

or any site, for that matter?

04-24-2008, 09:54 PM
You don't have to spend a lot of money to set up a website. I really wouldn't recommend a free host. You can get your own domain for as little as $10. If you cannot afford to pay a designer, try using a free template. You can eventually move on to something more professional, but it can be a good start.

04-24-2008, 09:55 PM
just asking now....
When do you think would be a good time to get a website to show your writing skills?

When you got one manuscript finished?
When you have one published?
When it's still a WIP?

04-24-2008, 10:16 PM
Hi, my publisher keeps telling me I should have my own author's website. I am a techno-idiot so I don't know the first thing to get started on this. I am especially worried about the cost.
Are there any other writers out there who can give me some first-hand advice on this?

It is very easy to get a basic website running. Here is a two minute guide:
1) Get a domain and hosting account (costs about 5$/month). Get one with cpanel because that is easy to use. For my personal sites I use webhostingbuzz.com
2) In cpanel, click on fantastico and install wordpress
3) That's it! You're ready to go.

Once you feel like going a bit more professional, you can hire someone to make a custom wordpress theme for you and voila, you have a professional website with all your previous content included.

04-25-2008, 07:26 PM
Does it cost money to go in and do updates to your website?

And what about blogs? Do they cost money to set up? Are they hard to maintain? (I'm such a techno-idiot!)

04-25-2008, 08:32 PM
For a website remember you need two things. You need to own your domain name (ie www.adriennekress.com) and you need to own your "space" on the web. Kind of like buying a plot of land. Many companies offer you a packaged deal, but if you shop around you can buy each item at separate locations and save some money. The cost for buying both the webspace and the domain is very little, and I would recommend doing it as there is nothing that screams amateur than those free sites where they put their name first followed by yours: www.freeawesomesites.com/authorname

Once you have paid these fees (which you continue to pay annually) it costs nothing for you to update your site.

Blogs are different. They grew out of a different culture, free online journaling. This means that while yes there are blogs out there that are just the name of the author or whathaveyou, most blogs are "name of blog" + "name of blogging host". For example a popular blog host is "Blogger" so you will find "blogspot" written into many addresses. Mine for example is: www.ididntchoosethis.blogspot.com Others may have "Livejournal" for example. This address is made up but is a good example: www.authorname.livejournal.com

These blogs are considered just as professional and no one turns down their noses at such addresess.

Blogs also grew out of an idea that "everyone deserves a voice on the internet". We can debate that later. But what that means is they are ridiculously easy to set up. I use Blogger, and they provide you with templates to design the look of your blog, and a very simple way to change what is in your sidebar. In theory you don't need to know html (the coding behind what makes the internet work) at all. I know I don't.

Blogs are great for authors, because authors like to write. But they must be updated at least twice a week really for them to get visitors. You as a blog owner must also visit other blogs, comment on their posts, and become a part of the community so that visitors will come to you. Driving up traffic is often what takes the most work, more so than finding something to write.

Either way it is an excellent idea in this day and age for a professional to have a web presence. But remember the web is vast. Do not post anything you wouldn't want your mother to know, and remember that even if you delete something, it can be found somewhere in the bowels of the internet. Also be safe. Posting pictures of your children online can be fun, but there are bad people out there who like pictures of kids. Also posting too much information about where you live etc is extremely dangerous.

The internet can be awesome if you use it properly. Just be thoughtful about it!

04-25-2008, 09:43 PM
My sister-in-law is a freelance web-designer and is looking to expand her portfolio. You can see what she's done with my site in the link below. If you wanted to ask her questions, her info is on the site.

I bought my domain through HostMonster (http://www.hostmonster.com/). So far I've found them very reasonable with rates and very friendly and helpful with the customer service.

04-25-2008, 11:31 PM
Hi, my publisher keeps telling me I should have my own author's website. I am a techno-idiot so I don't know the first thing to get started on this. I am especially worried about the cost.
Are there any other writers out there who can give me some first-hand advice on this?
As others have implied, the cost isn't in getting the domain name (about $10 per year) or the webhosting (could be as much as $10 per month depending on how popular your site becomes), but in paying a web designer (essentially someone with a graphic arts background who knows how to apply their talent to a webpage) to give the content a professional look. It isn't that hard to learn HTML and the hosting details on your own, but since it's your publisher saying this, you probably should pay someone to make it look really good, rather than the "look, I made a website" look that I'm famous for...

But there's also templates and such, and/or blog-type things such as Wordpress that can be set up on your site rather cheaply, and still look pretty good. I'm not familiar with how to set it up myself, but I've read about this sort of thing on the Blogging subforum, and the Wordpress sites do look nice. As I recall the Blogging subforum is where most of the putting-up-a-website discussion goes on - you should check it out. If you're really loathe to spend many hundreds of dollars on having a pro design a website for you, setting up something like Wordpress could get you what you want on the cheap. It requires some nerdy tech knowledge, but I suspect there's a lot of helpful people 'round here who are knowledgable in that area.

ETA: Look! I made a website!

04-26-2008, 12:21 AM

Easy to use and not expensive.

04-26-2008, 05:40 AM
I highly recommend http://www.e-moxie.com They're a small company and they work with authors a lot too. I'm very pleased with my site. They have several packages that are considerably less than what was quoted earlier in this thread, and I think the quality is just fine.

You don't necessarily have to start with all the bells and whistles. Getting just basic pages up at first is fine, add as you get the money.

As far as when to do it, if you put up a simple site you can at least start to get a feel for creating traffic. That takes a lot longer and a lot more education than getting a site up (mine was done in 2 weeks).

If you can't add a blog to your site right away (even though it helps with the search engines) you can start with one of the free systems and then change later. I like blogger because I'm not techie either, but others swear by Word Press.

Lastly, yes getting a domain is just a few bucks and you want your own for your name, your book or something related to your topic.

05-05-2008, 06:07 AM
I use aplus.net to host my sites. I recommend something very professional (yourname.com). Without any additions to the URL.

Best of luck--get a site!!! And see if your publisher will help. Mine wouldn't but the domain was cheap for my most recent one, www.ramenrentresumes.com.

05-30-2008, 12:56 AM
Does it cost money to go in and do updates to your website?

And what about blogs? Do they cost money to set up? Are they hard to maintain? (I'm such a techno-idiot!)

If you are making your own website on your own domain and hosting it yourself it costs nothing to update it. You could hire someone (teenager next door) to set it up for you and you can update it as often as you want yourself.

Blogs are very easy to set up and can be free at blog sites or can be installed and setup for free on your domain. If you treat your blog like a website, it can be your website. Nobody needs to know it's a blog :)

PS -> Blogs are easily customizable so once you are ready to start paying a professional, you can just get them to make a custom theme/template for your blog and you have a professional website. Also, blogs have the advantage of automatic search engine optimization, submission etc. You site will not only appear on google web search, but also on blog search. You can easily install plugins for email subscription, etc.

Susan B
06-08-2008, 06:30 PM

i struggled with this too.

Initially thought I'd do it on my own, partly because I'd already put together a simple site for my Cajun band. But then I took a good look at how "homemade" my band site looks compared to author sites--and frankly more seemed at stake with my upcoming book. So I decided to go with a web designer for the book, to be published in January. (Some would say I've been a little slow--it should already be up now!)

But doing it on your own is certainly an option. I got my band domain name through Register.com, and it included as part of the deal both web-hosting and a free "do it yourself" site. (Used to be 3 pages, now it is down to 1, for new domains.) It is not expensive for this kind of simple package, about $35/year total.

You do get a "free" page when you buy a domain name from register.com. I used to have a very primitive one page author site, basically a book description, links plus a note that the full site was under construction.

I also think Red Room is a very nice deal--it looks classy and professional, it is easy to use, and it is free. (You can see a link to my site with them below.) But it is not your own site/domain name, of course.

I am now working with a web designer I found on a list of resources put together by publicity guru Bella Stander. She has done some good-looking author sites, without too many "bells and whistles," and for less than quotes mentioned above. I'm hoping it works out--I just signed the contract :-)

Good luck!

06-12-2008, 10:17 PM
I've done a lot of research on this. Yes, you really should have a website. It is really better to have your own domain. I went through IX Webhosting and only pay 60 a year which works the best for me. This company gives you templetes which are really easy to work with.

You basically go through the designs, choose the one you like and then pick the color arrangement. After that's selected, you can change the colors and make it more personal. Once you begin adding things to it, you really want to make it more personal.

This is who you are so let your website say that. Don't use too many pics, they will fight with your books and information about your books and you. You do want to include the covers of those books you wrote though and a few of yourself.

Here's a list of things to include in the website:

-A bio
-Excerpts from published books
-Reviews (personal and professional)
-Information about upcoming books if you have any
-Ordering information and where your books can be found with prices
-ISBN #s
-Your email if you choose to have one which can be provided by the company you host with (mine was included at no extra cost)
-And anything extra that your fans might enjoy

A website is a place to share your work. It is a marketing tool. Free webs are ok when getting started but they are by no means professional looking and if you are serious about your work then they are wrong for you. Some publishers and agents do check out websites, they are human like we are. Impress them by having something nice with your name on it not your name.free web or something.

Hope this helps

Susan B
07-13-2008, 11:45 PM
Just wanted to update my previous post.

My new author site went "live" this week. Link is below.

I am very happy with my web designer, Anne Gerdes, and would certainly recommend her. She was very easy to work with, seemed to understand what I wanted. (Her link is at the bottom of each page of my site.)

I found her through an AW connection, too. Doreen Orion (author of "Queen of the Road) recommended a book publicity consultant, Bella Stander, who has a great web site, which included Anne Gerdes web design on her list of resources.

C.F. Jackson
07-22-2008, 03:03 AM
Hi, my publisher keeps telling me I should have my own author's website. I am a techno-idiot so I don't know the first thing to get started on this. I am especially worried about the cost.
Are there any other writers out there who can give me some first-hand advice on this?


We as authors have to open ourselves
up to all areas of the literary industry! :)

My question to you: What is it you wish
to create from your works? What is your
ultimate desire as an author?

Now, that you've really asked yourself these
questions: Don't you agree a pivitol vehicle
to get there is through the internet?

There are many ways to create a website
as simple as Microsoft Word. Using basic
templates. You can type your book? Then
there ways to do a website just like that
and it's within your means!

You see the key is knowing it's a must and
making a point to add this vehicle to marketing
and promoting into your plan.

Should you have any questions feel free to

Continue to make this your day!

Won't Be Denied,
C.F. Jackson

08-19-2008, 04:59 AM
I use googlepages.com. Its free and has all the website templates even a monkey could build it in an afternoon.

Its part of gmail, so looks like: http://yourname.googlepages.com (don't click on this as it not a real site)

I use mine as an online book proposal with sample chapters, biog, info, reviews of my MS and put it at the bottom of email pitches, has worked well for that purpose, don't know about using it as an author's website, certainly useful for a MS promo site, helped me

08-19-2008, 05:06 AM
My sister-in-law does freelance web design and she's trying to build up her portfolio, so her rates are really reasonable. I'm very happy with it.
You can take a peek at mine (linked below) and her info is on the contact page if you'd like to talk to her about it.

Ryan McFadden
10-16-2009, 08:02 PM
Luckily for me, I'm a website designer. Here's ones I did for me, my book, and the co-authors:

http://www.womenoftheapocalypse.com (the book)
http://www.ryanmcfadden.com (my page)
http://www.eileenbell.com (co-author)
http://www.roxannefelix.com (co-author)

Each one costs $150 per year -- and the author keeps them updated. So you can do a very professional webpage, for an inexpensive amount.

11-08-2009, 07:27 PM
I'm designing my own: D. MacDowell Blue (http://zahir13.webs.com/index.html),

Phantom Writer
11-09-2009, 12:49 AM
I did mine on webs.com. It was really easy and straight forward. I wanted to keep it simple. It's $99 a year for premium packaging, and they have one site option above that I think in the $200 range. But I have full control and can advertise it and keep stats. So far, it's worked out really well.

11-09-2009, 07:10 PM
I went with google sites (http://sites.google.com) (google pages is now defunct). They are free and have lots of little features.

Lemmy Caution
11-09-2009, 07:33 PM
Yes you need a website! No doubt about that.

This is mine, done by myself using iWeb on the Mac (a very easy programme that comes with all new Macs).


11-11-2009, 12:00 AM
Hi, my publisher keeps telling me I should have my own author's website. I am a techno-idiot so I don't know the first thing to get started on this. I am especially worried about the cost.
Are there any other writers out there who can give me some first-hand advice on this?Thanks!I also would advise to make one site. And I would suggest to make it rather for your work, not about yourself. At least this is my philosophy. Personally I wanted to create something new which rather presents the atmosphere of my novel, present it with few of my draws and even with the official music of my world. I rather use this approach then presenting myself with few boring blablabla pages. The people must be interested in your work, in your tale. If they know your work, they'll know you too.

Others are already written the cost of their websites. My site's cost was a bit high, mostly due to the music, but I made the other stuffs for it. So creating a site is relatively cheap. Also I would suggest if you're making an official site, use something with com ending (So not a free host). That's making it much more official and also it's easier to remember then other host endings. Remember. You're promoting your business or yourself with your website. Free hosted websites are not professional in the eyes of the audience, regardless what the website is containing and how good is it really looks like (Mostly because they have a tricky address. i.e.: something.anything.org. And org endings are used to go for organizations, such as the free website hosts.)

My site is in my signature (Flash based). It's a little homemade site, running currently in core mode (Will be expanded soon), but as hundreds of viewers are written to me, somehow they like it and it's grabbed their attention. By my opinion that's the essence of a website.

11-11-2009, 02:19 PM
Do you have to have a fully fledged site? If you don't feel you have the time / skills to build one yourself, and you don't want to pay a fortune for a design, why not set up a blog on WordPress.com? There are some pretty minimalistic themes on there (for free) that look more like a 'site' than a 'blog', and it doesn't cost much at all to upgrade your WordPress.com account so that you can use your own domain for a more professional appearance.

11-11-2009, 02:36 PM
I"m actually looking for someone to assist me with creating a website for my forthcoming nonfiction book, so I'd certainly say that you'll need a site.