Writers who intend to publish (or have already published) have websites. It’s as simple as that. It’s the twenty-first century, after all. Must you have one? No, of course not. You can do anything you like. But if you’re a serious writer who hopes that writing will connect with readers at some point, you have (or will have) a website.
What, exactly, can a website do for you as a writer or aspiring writer? Its most important function is to make your work accessible to readers and perhaps even engage with them. Even if you are more of a hobbyist writer, it’s part of the package.
The bottom line is that you need an online home. Even if you are unpublished, it’s your online resume, your portfolio, your showcase, your home where you can welcome readers.
Your social media accounts like Instagram and Twitter are here-today-gone-tomorrow. Your website is your forever home. It gives you a place to send potential readers so they can find your work and where you control the message. This notion of controlling the message is key since most of whatever else is written about you online in the future is out of your control―reviews, mentions etc.
Some pundits suggest that an author’s website is primarily a sales tool, but I disagree. I think it’s a promotional tool―and those two things are markedly different in tone and style. Of course, promotion and branding you as a writer are foundational to selling, but you should step away from the notion of using your author website as a sales tool.
Here are my five tips for improving your online home. [For details on each tip and visual examples, take five minutes to view the video]
- Keep your website visually clean.
- Write a tight bio. 200-300 words. Do you need a photo? Yes, you do.
- Ensure that your design reflects your style. For example, if you write children’s books, your website shouldn’t look like you write detective stories.
- Consider including a blog.
- Avoid the temptation to sell, sell, sell. That’s not the purpose.