July 2017 By now, you’ve likely heard that it’s important to have an author website. But the prospect of actually creating one may be daunting. So this is the first in a series of website-focused articles within our monthly marketing tips. This series is designed to encourage writers as they prepare to create their own sites—or encourage writers who do have a website, but have had trouble maintaining it or remembering why they need to maintain it. We’ll break it down into manageable information, starting with why you need a website. In August, we’ll explain the first steps to creating a site. Why You Need an Author Website 1. So people can find you online There are several reasons someone may want to find you online: Current readers want to learn more about you and find out if you have more books, a blog, or other related resources for them to consume. Potential readers want to know more about you and your work before they invest time and money. Journalists and other content creators (including this writer, who searches desperately for information online to help her beef up your books’ press releases and newsletter features) want a reliable, centralized spot to learn more about you. If you don’t have a website, people who Google your name won’t easily find you or your book. This hurts everyone involved: the readers who waste time trying to hunt you down—or even quit in frustration—and you, the author who wants to get your message into more readers’ hands. 2. To represent yourself and your work on your terms The Deep River Books website has a page for your book, and it includes an author bio, but the focus is clearly on the book, not on you as a person. And you can’t update it with new information about your ministry, life, or writing. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter give you more control, but on their terms. There isn’t much room for extended information about you, your book, and where to buy your work. A website, on the other hand, is more customizable. You can create and update pages according to your needs, and you have far more control of the site’s overall look. 3. An author website becomes your online home base A good website provides a home base for you and your fans alike. It has the basic information you want readers to know about you, your work, and perhaps even your ministry. Once readers have the basics, they can follow links from your website to your social media accounts and to places where they can buy your books. They find ways to contact you, whether to respond to your work, book you for a speaking engagement, or learn more about buying your books wholesale for an event or small store. If your book is about an important social issue, you may also have a resource page to help readers find more information. 4. A website establishes you as a professional writer Readers, literary agents, potential employers, colleagues, and others are likely to look you up online to see if you’re the real deal. A good website lends an extra element of professionalism and legitimacy. Convinced? So there you have it: four reasons you need an author website. If you’re not convinced yet, check out the “Further Reading” section below. If you are, but find the whole idea overwhelming, take a breath. You aren’t the first person to be in this position. There are plenty of resources online, and more articles on this topic will come in future newsletters. Further Reading “Creating an Author Website: the Stress-Free First Steps”—Our next article, which covers the first decisions and steps to building a website, such as choosing a domain name and hosting. “Customizing Your Author Website”—The last article in this series, which discusses what your website needs to have to be effective. “What Does an Author Website Need to Succeed?” by Donna Talarico at The Writer—A great overview of why a website matters—and which details you should pay special attention to. “Do You Have an Effective Author Website?” by Jamie Smith on More Than a Review—A great basic list of details to focus on as you put together your website. Be sure to check out our list of social media and online marketing resources!