Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Rules for Authors

Due to the Writers Guild strike, Bill Maher can't spout any "New Rules." But I can! Mine are inspired by the many authors I still encounter who don't think about having a website, and/or don't update their site with information about their new book, until just before (or even after--sheesh!) publication date.

Rule #1:
Having a website is not an option; it's an absolute necessity.

Rule #2:
You must have a website domain (preferably registered by the time your book's catalog and jacket copy are being written.

Rule #3:
Your book's catalog and jacket copy should include something like, "Learn more about Jane Author at her website," (Some publishers have a policy against this. I hope they wise up soon.)

Rule #4:
Your website must be live and UP-TO-DATE by the time your publisher's catalog is printed. Why? So that journalists, book review editors, writers' conference and book festival organizers, etc., can learn more about you and your book, and find out how to contact you directly.

Rule #5:
Update your website at least once a month. Make sure the events calendar is current: As soon as an item in the "Upcoming" section is past, move it into the "Past Events" section. Add new blurbs; quotes from reviews, interviews and news stories, with links to the full pieces. You don't have to be a techno-nerd to learn how to do this yourself; your site designer can show you how.


Anonymous said...

This is the best article I have read in months. Even for those of us who have a website, sometimes we are so focused on the other marketing aspects of book promotion, we forget the most important things.

Anonymous said...

The impetus I needed. My book will hopefully be published late this year or early next year and while I've registered my domain name, I haven't put in place steps to get a website built.

Thanks you.

karen wester newton said...

All good advice, but especially the part about changing the website often. That's really important! Don't put dates on a page unless you plan to keep that page up to date. Food isn't the only thing that can go stale.

Maggie said...

I loved this article! Thank you for the sage advice.

Southern Writer said...

I recently received a notice that my domain name is about to expire. Renewal is $30 a year. I'm curious. Do I have to "buy" my domain name from the same place, or can I shop for a cheaper rate?

Chris Redding said...

Southern Writer.
There are many cheaper places to register your domain name with.
It takes about two to three weeks for the transfer.
I happen to transfer to the place that is now hosting my website.
I got an authorization number from the original place then I asked for the hosting company to transfer my domain name. They will need that authorization number to do that.
Then the original regigistrar will send you an e-mail to confirm.
I pay just under $9 for my registration.
Good luck!
Hope that helps

Southern Writer said...

Thanks, Chris. I still have a couple questions, but it would probably be rude of me to hijack Bella's blog. If you have a moment or two, would you send me an e-mail with an address where I can contact you? Mine is (remove the spaces): redheartnovels @ lesiavalentine . com Thanks! (I'll understand if you don't have time or something ...)

Annalisa said...

Great little list of simple yet vital website concerns for up-and-coming writers! Thanks for passing this on.

I have a question about choosing the domain name for one's site. Is it still a good idea to use the formula even if your name is hard to spell? Both my first name AND my last name are somewhat long at 8 letters each and there are many ways to spell my names. In fact, people seem to like nothing better than to spell them "creatively" rather than listen to me spell them letter by letter. Should I consider something different in this case? I don't want to lose traffic or frustrate possible viewers because they can't get my name right!

Jessica Burkhart said...

Great post! So true.

Bella Stander said...

Annalisa, you can register the common misspellings of your name and have them point to your correct site. (You can also do this with your book's title.) Costs a bit extra, but it may be worth it. Your web designer can help you with this.

Pepper Smith said...

LOL! I think it's a little late for me to try to get my name as my domain name. I believe it was already snapped up by a porn star who goes by the same name. Oh well...

Loretta Ross said...

Great post!

When I got accepted by an agent last fall the first thing on the to-do list she gave me was build a website. She also didn't go out with the book until I got the website finished.

Doreen Orion said...


Since you're on this subject, just wanted to thank you for the referral to authorbytes, which did a fabulous job on my website.

Here's another plus for making sure you have a great site: My book is pub'ing in June and I got mine up just in time for the spring sell-in. The sales reps saw it and got very excited - always a good thing.

As for URLs: I did, but also got and had it point to the same place. I did this since the spelling of my name seems to give people tsoris. (I had to add "thebook" to "nameofmybook" as the latter was already taken.)

Thanks again, Bella!

Jan said...

Great information... THANKS for posting!

I have been dragging my feet and need to at least get my name registered!

Annalisa said...

Thank you, Bella Stander and Doreen Orion, for your helpful suggestions! Registering the first most common misspellings should cut the problem in half at least (there are SO many ways to misspell my name!) and is a great idea as well. I'm feeling more confident about my (eventual) website now.

Laurie Viera Rigler said...

When you're putting together your site, ask your web programmer to create a content management system (CMS) so that you can go into the site and change content whenever you like. This gives you the freedom to update, add to, or otherwise change content on your site whenever you wish.