Bitsy is our social media maven and today she continues her series on building a writer's (or illustrator's) platform.
There is no question that you need a website. Even if you’re “pre-published,” a website makes a professional impression. It shows you mean it, you’re taking it seriously, that this isn’t a passing fancy like rollerblading, scrapbooking, or cake decorating (maybe that was just me). It’s proof you are here to stay.
The URL to your site should be your name, not the title of your book. Why? You’re more than just one book. At least you should be! You are an author, or illustrator. You do this for a living, or want to. Your current book is just one example of the many ways you exist in this profession. Think of it this way: You aren’t the apple, you are the tree!
Best case—secure your book title and have it “bounce” to your (name) page when it’s typed it. Your friendly tech person can help you make that happen. For example, if someone types in YOURBOOKTITLE.COM, it can automatically take them to the page YOUR AUTHOR NAME.COM/YOUR BOOK TITLE. Companies do this when they make a name change not everyone’s hear of, or when they know their product name will be googled more often than their company name. Do this for every book and have them each bounce to the same author site.
You can have separate pages for each book that all bounce to, and stay under, your main site. You promote your book(s) AND your site at the same time with no extra effort. It doesn’t cost much more to have more than one domain name, plus it prevents someone else from taking the URLs. It will be easier on you when you only have to go to one location and update one site, as opposed to calling up each site and updating them all one at a time.
The look and feel should reflect who you are. Even if you’re the leopard-print-pants-and-purple-houndstooth-scarf type, keep your site warm and welcoming. Font matters. Make sure it’s easy on the eyes so people want to linger. Same goes for the background colors and images. When people get to your site, make them want to stay. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just good.
Make sure every page of your site is:
1. Current. No one wants to see “I’ll be at Marge’s Book Attic on February 3rd” when it’s March. You can get away with that in blogs because they are dated and represent a point in time, but for a website it’s a no no. At a minimum, change it to “Was at Marge’s Book Attic on February 3rd” and post some pictures from the event.
2. Relevant. If your current content isn’t, make it so. That flash mob video of the guy asking his girlfriend to marry him, that you thought was so sweet you had to share? You can keep it only if you can convince your readers why it’s there. “I like this” isn’t good enough. Make it a statement about the temerity of mankind or how if your main character were alive today, he’d do the same thing.
3. Written in your voice. Even if that voice is in third person, make sure whoever reads it can hear you speaking. You want your friends to say “It’s so you!”
4. Not annoying. Skip the splash page—no one likes to enter your URL only to be taken to something that says “Welcome, click to enter.” Drop the background music (unless it serves a specific purpose) and go easy on the flashing backgrounds. Gimmicks are unnecessary.
You don’t have to wait until you’re published to start. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s important to remember you’re branding yourself, not a product. It’s never too early to get your name out there. No one will do it for you, and if they did, it wouldn’t be as good.
Every minute spent on your website will be well spent. Unless you’re making a crappy site. Put your best foot forward. You deserve it. And so do your readers.
Bitsy Kemper is the author of six picture books (and one YA under contract), her own website, three Facebook and three Twitter accounts. You may have seen Bitsy on CNN, heard her on national radio, noticed her quoted in anything from Parenting Magazine to Writing Children's Books For Dummies, or seen her work in countless newspapers, radio and TV stations across the U.S. Maybe you drove past her on the freeway and didn't even know it... Busy with three kids (four if you count her husband), she finds time to present at writer conferences and author visits from L.A. to N.Y. Wander over to www.BitsyKemper.com or follow BitsyKemper on Twitter.
Meet the Friday Blogonauts
First Fridays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer , man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
Second Fridays will feature awesome multi-award winning author Marsha Diane Arnold who will be writing about character-driven and/or nature-based books and/or anything she likes :)
Third Fridays will feature independent Aladdin/Simon & Shuster editor Emma Sector who has helped bring many books into the world.
Fourth Fridays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
Fifth Fridays will feature the fabulous Carl Angel award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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