Today I want to talk about the importance of web presence, professionalism, and content, when it comes to being an author.

I would also like to note, that this is all the view and opinion I have developed from research on the topic. It is by no means law, nor entirely comprehensive. However, it is, hopefully, a useful guide and perhaps something to consider. Feel free to discuss these ideas in the comments! I’d love to hear anything you have to add, and anything you disagree with!

Web Presence

Firstly, everything is online now. We are an internet-dependent society, and I know any youths, roughly my age and younger, are perhaps going to understand this better than anyone, but even older generations seem to have followed our lead when it comes to seeking information.

So what happens when someone wants to find something new to read? They turn to google. I know I’ve done it, time and again, “Good vampire books”, “Young adult paranormal romance books”, “Popular mystery writers”. If your name doesn’t come up, you aren’t going to get read. It’s as simple as that.

Now, you may have an agent, or you may have self-published. Understandably, a website may be more important for one than another, but whether your books are on real shop shelves or sourced through amazon, it doesn’t matter if no one can find you. There are millions of books out there, hundreds of eye-catching covers. By increasing your web presence, by showing up on google, you are increasing your chances of discovery.

This is where tagging comes into play. If you aren’t familiar with the ins-and-outs of tags, then get yourself educated! These #’s and search terms are what lead google and other search engines to you. It isn’t good enough to have a web page if you’re the only one out there plugging it, directing traffic your way.  Go crazy – any term that relates to you, to your writing, throw it in! #writer, #author #YA Fiction, #paranormal romance, #ANYTHING RELEVANT. Every variation of words you can think of, it doesn’t matter. You can never have too many tags; what matters is helping people find you.

[For more on effective Tagging visit Ceolsige]

As a wordpress blog, my most likely audience is other wordpress users, searching through the Reader, either in Discover or hunting specific tags. Someone, somewhere along the line, is going to find me. Great! When one person joins the bandwagon, others likely follow – and the more traffic I get, the more relevant I become, the higher my name climbs in the search results.

The trick is: once you get them here, how do you keep them coming back? It’s all well and good for them to stumble across you and browse your stuff. They may even be excited to read your work; but then they are going to move on, and inevitably, forget. What your site needs is a reason for them to hit that bookmark button, that Follow button, sign on for that email subscription. Answers to this in the Content section.

Another important aspect of presence is media options. Not everyone who wants to read me is going to have a wordpress account; I need a presence on other media networks: twitter, facebook, Goodreads, tumblr, and if you have the time, Youtube. Get your name out there.

Professionalism

I mentioned in my previous post that I spent nearly three days making adjustments and adding pieces to this site. Now, part of that definitely resulted from simply not knowing how some things work, but I also think a lot of time was saved simply by using a site like this that already does most of the work for you – cause gods save me if I ever have to html my own site. Three days, in my opinion, is not unreasonable – and I plan on putting in many more hours to construct my Advice and Resources section.

Your site is your public image, and the way you will be perceived is going to depend on how you present yourself. I’ve seen many writer’s blogs that feel private and too personal, which – unless your curious explorer is already a die-hard fan – isn’t likely to make them stick around. What you want is something public and professional that lets your reader know this is a serious author, and not a teenage girl with a hobby (no offense to anyone out there, I was there too once). The difference lies in layout and content. If you want to come across as serious, you need to think like a professional. Look up your fav authors, consider author bio’s on book covers – that’s what your goal is. Keep it simple: brief outline of upbringing, an idea of your personal life (family situation, occupation, etc), and maybe some hobbies.

I did a lot of research while choosing my layouts, colour schemes, and fonts. As mentioned in my last post, I started off with a turquoise background, a sunny picture and white lettering. Sure, it looked nice, I loved it. But it didn’t represent my work, it didn’t echo the genre of my writing. So I looked up the sites of some of my favourite authors, especially those who write in the same field, and I discussed my apparently-poor colour-coordination skills with a friend who’s big on the arts.

Do me a favour and take a look at these three sites from some of my favourite authors. Two of them are examples of very professional, serious websites. The other, well, not so much.

Laurell K. Hamilton | Keri Arthur | Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

There are two very distinct aesthetics and atmospheres across these sites; two are easy to read, nice to look at, and very crisp, while the other feels outdated and very busy. My point is: model your official page off someone you admire.

Content

What to include on your website has already been briefly touched on so far. Let’s elaborate.

You want to split your information up across a couple of easily navigated pages; this prevents endless scrolling, keeps things from getting cluttered, and helps people find exactly what they’re looking for. But the question here is what to put on those pages? Again, think professional, think official. Typically, you want an “About the Author” page and FAQ’s. People want to know a little about you! Include a nice photo – not you and your homies getting lit; a clean selfie or professional shot.  Include your bio (as discussed in Professionalism). Use your FAQ’s to answer any questions you think are LIKELY to come up. Personally, I found one of those 50 question “Get to know me” / “Fill my inbox” posts on tumblr aimed specifically at writers – viola! (Lemme tell you, they actually take a surprising amount of time to fill in!).

Typically, you know, us being writers and all, you’re also going to need a page about your works. If you’re published, include your blurb, your book covers, and where to buy your work. If you’re unpublished, include a blurb, and maybe some “fan-made” cover art. Make sure these are easy to navigate too if you have multiple books and series; you don’t want to overwhelm or confuse your viewer.

However, once all of the above has been explored, your site needs to draw your audience in and keep them coming back – lest they forget about you. You do this in two ways: new content, and invaluable resources.

The first is easy: write a blog. (Hello!). No one’s going to want to reread the same content over and over, so you write new stuff, keep people updated, progress reports, write book reviews, and if you dare book teasers (tread carefully here, I’ll address this later). You need regular updates, and you need engaging content – don’t necessarily just discuss your personal life there; remember this is a professional site. You want to talk about all things book. Talk about the process, hold discussions and explorations into touchy topics that you address in your writing, write reviews on what you’re reading, give them other budding authors your advice (again, hello!).

The second can take a bit of time to put together, but is undoubtedly worth it. Resources for Writers are like candy; we tend to gobble up every tidbit we can find. The key here is links – links to advice columns, links to writing websites, links to anything writer or reader related that you really, really, really love. The other magical ingredient that many, many writers want to see on your site is anything regarding publishing. People want to know how, people want to know who. Do your research, and share your knowledge. Keri Arthur (linked above) is a good example of this: she has a page on agents and publishing. I’ve visited her site many a time to read and reread and revisit her content.

As a final note, your site should NOT include your writing – at least, not anything you want to sell first-publishing rights to. Getting professionally published is a huge deal, and it comes with many strings. An important thing to remember is that publishers don’t always want what’s already been read. If people can find your book online, they aren’t going to pay for it. Short blurbs are acceptable (I believe), and perhaps brief teasers to rile up your readers, but don’t include full chapters or anything you want to one day publish or sell – it can decrease appeal, but remember this is a general idea, not law. On the other hand, if you have short stories and the like that you DON’T intend to publish, then by all means, include that (on it’s own page!). Giving your readers a taste of your writing is the best way to hook them.

That’s all I have for now guys, I hope you enjoyed, I hope you found at least some of this info helpful, and best wishes to you all! Discuss below what you thought.

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