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Sonia Preston

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Hello Everyone,

I am relatively new to being an author and the publishing industry. I understand that authors need a website to promote their book, if they participated in an radio interview, trailers etc.
My last publisher created an awesome website, which I loved. I haven't been able to contact them for months and the website has been taken down.

Is it better to have your own website as opposed to a publisher creating one? If it's your own website you have control and it cannot be taken down.

What's a reasonable price to pay for a website?

Thank you Sonia
 

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Hi Sonia :)

The Newbies subforum is a place for new members to introduce themselves to the community. Unfortunately, it isn't the right place for a question like this. I'm going to port your thread across to the Book Promotion Ideas and Advice subforum within the Publishing set of rooms. You'll likely get better responses there.

AW is a large place and it can be overwhelming at first as you try to find your way around but if you take your time exploring you'll get comfortable soon enough. Also, if you haven't already done so, please read the Newbies Guide you were linked to when you registered, as well as the stickied/pinned threads at the top of each forum page. These will help you get to know AW much faster than otherwise. In particular, please read the stickies in the FAQ room and the Tech Help room.

Okay, hold onto your hat because we're going on a little ride :)
 

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Asking what is a reasonable price for a website is like asking what's a reasonable price for a medicine. Do you need tylenol? Chemotherapy? Do you need just one pill or continuous medication for the rest of your life?

You can make your own website for the low low price of $0! Or you can spend thousands of dollars paying someone else to make and maintain it. If you're on YouTube or listen to podcast at all, you've probably heard ads for things like Squarespace and other places where you can make a nice pretty site if you don't know how to code. Stuff like Blogger and Wordpress and Tumblr exist, too.

What will help you out is to make a plan to determine the "scope" of what you want.
  • Do you want your own URL (coolauthor.com) or are you okay with something a little less professional (like coolauthor.wordpress.com)?
  • What do you want a user to be able to do on your website? Do you want them to buy a book totally on your website or follow a link to Amazon/Barnes and Noble? Do you want them to read excerpts? Sign up for a mailing list?
  • What do you want your site to look like? If you can find specific websites other authors have used, that can help you communicate your wants better.
  • How much upkeep do you want to do? If you can make a post on this forum (which you did), you can maintain a Wordpress site. But other things can be more complicated, especially if you have someone make a site from scratch.
  • What's your budget? How much are you willing to spend right now? How much are you willing to spend per month, quarter or year?
 

Sonia Preston

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Hi ChaseJxyz,

Thank you. It's a bit daunting, I mean all the information. You have pointed me to the right path.
Hi Sonia :)

The Newbies subforum is a place for new members to introduce themselves to the community. Unfortunately, it isn't the right place for a question like this. I'm going to port your thread across to the Book Promotion Ideas and Advice subforum within the Publishing set of rooms. You'll likely get better responses there.

AW is a large place and it can be overwhelming at first as you try to find your way around but if you take your time exploring you'll get comfortable soon enough. Also, if you haven't already done so, please read the Newbies Guide you were linked to when you registered, as well as the stickied/pinned threads at the top of each forum page. These will help you get to know AW much faster than otherwise. In particular, please read the stickies in the FAQ room and the Tech Help room.

Okay, hold onto your hat because we're going on a little ride :)
Hi Izz,

I am so sorry to be a pain. I will eventually the right thread for the right question.

Thank you again.😊
 
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Sonia Preston see this thread.

I would suggest not spending more than the minimum on a Website.

I would suggest using your own domain, and WordPress.com, at first.

You can start a free site at WordPress.com now just to experiment, to see what it's like and how stuff works. You can even keep it private while you learn. I would suggest viewing this first attempt as practice, with the goal of registering a domain for the real thing.
 

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Hello Everyone,

I am relatively new to being an author and the publishing industry. I understand that authors need a website to promote their book, if they participated in an radio interview, trailers etc.
My last publisher created an awesome website, which I loved. I haven't been able to contact them for months and the website has been taken down.

Is it better to have your own website as opposed to a publisher creating one? If it's your own website you have control and it cannot be taken down.

What's a reasonable price to pay for a website?

Thank you Sonia
A website to promote your book is only going to work if people visit the website. What will bring them in? How will you get potential readers to find your website?

1. People who have already bought your book, and loved it, and want to know more about the author/want to buy all of the author's other books, might go looking for your website if the info about how to find it is clearly available in the book they bought. (I reckon you can assume that maybe 1% of the book's buyers will be so ga-ga passionate that they will want to buy all your other books.)

2. People who have heard about your book by word of mouth from people who read and loved the book, and find your website by Googling you. (I reckon you can assume that maybe 1% of the book's buyers will be so ga-ga passionate that they will rave about your book to friends and family, and one of them will follow up on it.)

3. People who find your website for other reasons. If your website is All About Saint Bernard Dogs, with information about your books on the side, Saint Bernard lovers will find you by Googling, and once on your website they may notice your book and be interested enough to buy it.

So you can kind of do the maths. For 1 and 2, If your book has sold 10,000 copies, maybe 100 people will find your website through the book. That suggests 100 sales for your other books. And maybe another 100 people will find it through their friend's/family member's recommendation. That suggests 100 sales for the first book. How much do you earn per copy? If it's, say, $3, that's $600 profit. It's probably worth investing 10% of that -- $60 -- into a website. (If your book has sold 100,000 copies, it'd be ten times that. If your book has sold 1000 copies, it'd be one tenth of that.)

For 3, what's your drawcard? There aren't a lot of Saint Bernard fanatics out there, so maybe you'd expand your scope to all dog breeds. Or whatever your special area of knowledge is -- Italian cooking recipes, How To Fix A Broken Refrigerator, gardening tricks, etc.

Shorter version: How many books have you bought because you visited the author's website? How did you find the author's website?
 

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Shorter version: How many books have you bought because you visited the author's website? How did you find the author's website?

I agree with all three points, but this in particular.

I do find my website useful, but I don't use to gain new buyers. What I do use it for is in my other marketing, I always send them to that book page on my site instead of straight to Amazon. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) (this one doesn't apply to me, but it will to others) If you sell on multiple platforms, you don't want to presume the person clicking on the link will use the one you link. better to link to the books page on your website and have links to all of the places it can be bought prominently displayed. It's just casting a wider net.

2) If you have multiple titles, they are more likely to notice them (if you have your website set up correctly, where it's easy to see that you have multiple titles) and if they liked the book they get, they're more likely to remember that you wrote other stuff and get it too. Most ebook store pages don't make it readily apparent what other titles an author has without clicking through to their author page. This is more so an issue with physical stores, since they can only see what that store has on the shelf.

3) This is BY FAR the most important one. You are more likely to convert them to your mailing list if you send them through your site, and your own mailing list is gold. It's where your going to get your advance readers so you start out with reviews and its where you're going to get your preorders. Have it very very obvious from any page how to get on the mailing list, and you will get people to join.

Of course, that's all easy. The hard part is the marketing so you can get people to click on your link in the first place. If you're doing your own marketing, a website is one piece of your marketing plan.
 
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There's this magical* thing called search engine optimization (SEO). When you google anything, google uses some logic to figure out what you want to see. Right now, when I google "Sonia Preston" I get a couple professionals and some not really great reviews for a nurse practitioner, along with Facebook and Pinterest pages. That's because those sites have a lot of people using them and a lot of traffic, so Google thinks that's the kind of content people want to see, not some random post on a LiveJournal a million years ago.

When you have your own website, every page of SoniaPrestonIsACoolAuthor.biz will have "Sonia Preston is an awesome author!" on it, it'll have links to legitimate sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) and other legitimate sites will link to it (your Twitter, your Facebook, your Amazon author page), so Google sees that and thinks "Well, this is a person other people are talking about, other people are linking it, this must be more relevant for what people want to see than this bad review of an NP." So you show up higher in searches.

I'm not gonna lie, I do look up authors a lot, especially if they're self-published. There are a TON of people out there that steal content from, say, Wikipedia and then put it in a 99c eBook and put it on Kindle or Google Books...but they tend not to go through the effort of making their own website. Something that says "yeah I actually AM an expert in penguin rodeo, so my 99c eBook on running penguin rodeos is legit!" The more STUFF out there, the more legit you look, and people like that. Google likes that, so more people will see it.

Plus if you have a very specific niche (like werepenguin T4T steampunk romance novels), when people search for "werepenguin shifter romance novels," then all those pages you have about werepenguins on your site will make you a top result...and isn't that cool? SEO is a lot harder when people search for vague things (like "good restaurant" or "popular books" or "online bookstore") but the more specific you are (like your full name or your niche genre/topic), the less competition there is. Take advantage of what makes you and your stories special and game the algorithm :)


*And I really do mean magical, in that you do arcane, obscure rituals and signs and use specific language in order to please an ancient, all-powerful spider god to give you what you want...but you can't know for sure if it'll work. It sucks lol
 
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Not looking at webpage creation costs, I pay $20 US/year for my book's domain name website and I have it with a couple of extensions plus predicting the title of my second novel in the duology I have a couple extensions plus that name as well. I have at least one website with my pen name but I'm not settled on that yet.

Bottom line, at most a $100/year give or take will cover website costs leaving page development to various options. If you can get a friend to develop the page, it's not much more. If you have to pay for page development, then you can pay whatever you think gets you a decent result.
 

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This question is an old chestnut , and from memory you will get some mixed advise . So here is my version.
It is best to get your own domain name . It is actuly free to register a domain name , but you need to be registrar to do it , so small fee with renewal fee every year .
You need a computer to host your site . Hosting sites very but the smallest option will do the job . I use Zen Hosting Β£6.59 a month . No contract , nothing for free , just simple hosting.
You can down load wordpress from wordpress .org for free
Hosting companies supply the facility to do that , so it is easy .
To make your own web site using wordpress is not too hard , have a look on you tube to see how its done .
If this is something you really can't do , and your thinking of paying someone , I would suggest you don't bother .
 

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It's a relatively simple and non-technical thing to make your own website using Wordpress.

But can you do it well, and make it look good? A website with blinking text and music playing in the background is easy to make, but it looks horrible and will turn people off quickly. I made my own website years ago, choosing what I thought was a good theme, and adding a bunch of plugins and widgets, and in the end, it looked just like it was designed by someone who didn't know anything about web design.

I met the editor of a local metro paper a few years ago and he said something that's stuck with me. "Find out what you suck at. Don't do that." The application here is that if you can't do something well, find someone who can do it well and pay them to do it. Otherwise you have to put the time and research in to learning Wordpress, learning how to customize themes, learning what works well in which themes and what doesn't, and so forth.

I'm not a web guy or a Wordpress guy. I want to tell stories. I can update things like MyBookTable when I need to, but I don't want to learn all the rest of the stuff. I spent about $400 with a lovely web designer several years ago. I think my site looks much better than it did.
 

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Don't spend money before you make money.

Think about what you need on your site at a minimum.

An About page. A Contact page. A Book(s) page about your book(s), when you have a book that will be purchasable in the near future.

You're providing information. Make it easy to find.
 
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this thread was a learning experience for me as I didn't realize it could be as cheap as $20 a year to host a domain name. Even I might be able to afford that, will have to look into it.
 

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[This is the service I use], I have 4 domains, 3 websites (but 2 I'm actually using/updating lol) and I've been a customer for...about 10 years now? Chasej.xyz is $12.99/yr for renewal and I bought inspect-if.xyz for $0.99. Hosting for all of this is $13.99/mo. There's "one click install" for Wordpress, and that's auto set-up/hosted/updated, which is really cool because then you don't gotta mess around with it (this is what I have for chasej). You can SFTP files using their browser-based client (which is what I do for inspect-if). And email, too! It's a great service, my web design prof recommended it to me lol.

It looks like they have a sale right now for the lowest tier being $2.95/mo, which is for 1 website but no email. But it has the 1 click WP install, so you can have a website up and running in about an hour! Wordpress has so many things baked-in that you can get it looking nice without paying a guy to do it for you.

How much the domain name costs depends on a lot of factors. Not a lot of places want .xyz so they're cheap. But everyone wants .com so those cost a lot more. But you can do some cool/funny things with different top-level domains, like how I got chasej.xyz (because alphabet and also yugioh) and a friend of mine has chickencord.blue. So think of what you want your Brand to be when you're looking for domains :)
 

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As someone who just had their website done about two months ago, I'll pitch in a few of my own thoughts:

1. I wouldn't go about making a website until you have a clear design for it in mind. On one hand, this should go without saying, on the other, I've seen way too many projects where action is taken before planning. A generally stated "I want to make a website," then you jump in and start making always ends in a giant mess.
1.1. Even if you don't intend to pay someone to make a website for you, write a technical brief as if you were explaining to somebody what your website needs and what it would look like. Then get someone to read it and ask if it makes sense to them. This sounds easy, but really is not in practice.

2. "Buildings websites on Wordpress or Wix or whatever is easy" - this is a fallacy. It is a bit like saying anyone can be a programmer because you can copy code from StackOverflow. Sure, anyone can do that, just like anyone can slap together a website on Wordpress. Knowing how to do it is a different cup of tea. If you've never made a website, I would at least invest in a getting somebody who designs websites to help you.
2.1. I mention this because your website is, in a sense, your face on the web. Having a poor website is worse than having no website at all. First impressions unfortunately matter, and often your website is one of the first things a potential reader will see. Even if your novels are A+ quality, if a reader is turned off by the website, they won't pick it up in the first place.

3. I personally was against making a website for a long time, especially because it can be a hefty monetary investment without any true payoff. At the same time, while you would like to live in the comfortable reality that your works will sell on their own merits, let's be realistic here: you're competing with a lot of different people and it is easy to get lost in the noise. A bit of self-promotion, if done right, can be a worthwhile investment in and of itself.
 
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2.1. I mention this because your website is, in a sense, your face on the web. Having a poor website is worse than having no website at all.

I disagree, since a site serves a purpose other than just being a "face." It should aggregate all of your information and I'd rather see something functional than pretty. And a lot of those non-pretty websites have provided useful information which, in the absence of any website, I wouldn't have had.

Having no website is far, far, far worse than a website that looks like an old MySpace page, provided the essential information is on the website. If I'm visiting an author's site, I want to see what else they've written, details about those works, and where I can read/buy it. In the complete absence of a website, I won't know some of those books exist.

First impressions unfortunately matter, and often your website is one of the first things a potential reader will see. Even if your novels are A+ quality, if a reader is turned off by the website, they won't pick it up in the first place.

For the most part, very few -- if any -- potential readers' first interaction with your work is via your website. It's almost always going to be a book. However, when it's not through a book, they need someplace for would-be readers to get information.

I've mentioned this story elsewhere, but a while back some self-pubber got a feature on the front page of a regional newspaper and, because the guy didn't have a website, I wound up jumping through hoops just to find his bibliography because he had no centralized information. I was only able to discover a few of his books and it was after way more effort than it should've taken. (And, in that case, my first impression was the article -- which intrigued me -- and my second impression being annoyed that I had to scour the internet to find just a few of his books. Supposedly he'd had 15 published -- at least were self-pubbed -- and I think I only found 7.)

9 times out of 10, I'm only looking for an author's website AFTER I've read one of their stories or books. And generally this is their single best chance to get me on a mailing list, subscribed to a YT channel, and/or -- more importantly -- reading something else they've written.
 

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2. "Buildings websites on Wordpress or Wix or whatever is easy" - this is a fallacy. It is a bit like saying anyone can be a programmer because you can copy code from StackOverflow. Sure, anyone can do that, just like anyone can slap together a website on Wordpress. Knowing how to do it is a different cup of tea. If you've never made a website, I would at least invest in a getting somebody who designs websites to help you.
Yeah, I've always thought this. They say it's easy, but guaranteed it's beyond my tech skills. I just feel that it can't be as easy as everyone says.
 
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If you can post, reply and use the Conversations message system, you can build a perfectly usable Web site on WordPress or Squarespace.

Skip Wix. It's a bad platform.
 

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If you can post, reply and use the Conversations message system, you can build a perfectly usable Web site on WordPress or Squarespace.

Skip Wix. It's a bad platform.

This.

As an author, all you really need is a single-page web site (buy the domain; that is worth the money) with your name, your work, and buy links. (I'll note I've found "name" authors often don't include buy links, but for the rest of us they don't hurt.)

Your readers may find your web site. It's vanishingly unlikely your web site will find you readers. (This may be different for non-fiction.)
 

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Your readers may find your web site. It's vanishingly unlikely your web site will find you readers. (This may be different for non-fiction.)

For niche non-fiction sites where you provide regulsr contnent, yes, the site can find you readers.

In my case, two very niche sites, on on Medieval Celtic Sites and am IT Apple-centric site, the site brought readers and book/articlr content, but my sites are more than twoenty years old. It's a very different Web.
 
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Yeah, I've always thought this. They say it's easy, but guaranteed it's beyond my tech skills. I just feel that it can't be as easy as everyone says.

My perspective is warped, I realize, because I used to be a web developer. :)

But as @lizmonster and others pointed out, you can start off with just a single page and add more later. Check out other author sites to see what they do and what kind of platform they use. Oh, and like @lizmonster, I also strongly recommend buying your own domain name.
 

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I disagree, since a site serves a purpose other than just being a "face." It should aggregate all of your information and I'd rather see something functional than pretty. And a lot of those non-pretty websites have provided useful information which, in the absence of any website, I wouldn't have had.

Having no website is far, far, far worse than a website that looks like an old MySpace page, provided the essential information is on the website. If I'm visiting an author's site, I want to see what else they've written, details about those works, and where I can read/buy it. In the complete absence of a website, I won't know some of those books exist.
I guess this is why it's important to hear multiple perspectives, because I operate in the opposite manner, at least as far when I'm looking at new authors. I do agree that I look at a the novel I'm interested in the first, then at the webpage. If the latter is really off-putting - call me a member of the spoiled younger generation - I won't pick that novel up.

To make an important distinction, simple does not equate to bad. Again, I can only speak from personal experience, but the really off-putting websites are those which have aggressive pop-ups or which are difficult or unintuitive to navigate. One annoying feature I found cropping up from time-to-time are images serving as hyperlinks to pages without said image indicating it should link to anything.

Another thing I also find off-putting is websites trying to force a narrative down your throat: "My novel is the next great action romance thriller adventure trilogy which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat!" Yeah, no. You've committed the cardinal sin of telling over showing.

To conclude: part of the design process is having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with your website. If you're using it as a marketing tool to get people interested, then what you're setting out to do is different than creating a website which already assumes people are coming to you with interest in your works.
 

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I guess this is why it's important to hear multiple perspectives, because I operate in the opposite manner, at least as far when I'm looking at new authors. I do agree that I look at a the novel I'm interested in the first, then at the webpage. If the latter is really off-putting - call me a member of the spoiled younger generation - I won't pick that novel up.

My point is you wouldn't have visited the web site if you hadn't already known about the book.

It's definitely important to think about clarity, because presumably your visitors are there because they want to learn something, and you should make it as easy for them as possible.
 

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Another point in favor of going with Squarespace or similar is that it's more important to have an up-to-date website than an attractive one.

Sometimes, I read an author's book and check their website to see if there's more, but they haven't updated their list since a few years ago, and the new books are missing.

If your book isn't on the website, I won't buy it. Not because I don't like the website, but because I assume there's nothing to buy. And I'm not always going to double check on Goodreads or Amazon.

It's also true in a more subtle way for blogs and such. If you have a blog, and the last entry is from four years ago, I'm going to assume you stopped writing and moved on with your life.

So make sure your website is easy to maintain.
 

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