Last week, I was talking about writing to deadline and what a strange experience it can be is for writers, especially first-time novelists who are accustomed to writing for pleasure, at leisure and to their own timetable. Of course, when we do find ourselves facing a deadline, it might mean that an agent or publisher is waiting to read our novel, which hopefully will then lead to our book being published.
And once we get that publishing deal, that’s Job-Done for us, right? Not necessarily. A few months back, I talked about creating an author profile and I mentioned that, nowadays, it’s the writer’s job, more than the publisher’s, to market and publicise our own novels. Social media makes it more feasable and so, from the day we sign the publishing deal, we should be shouting from the virtual rooftops that our book is on the way. And, to that end, another important tool in our online arsenal is a website.
Having our own website means that we can have internet presence that fully reflects the style, tone and content of our book or maybe, if we prefer, reflects our own personality. Whatever way we design it though, it should crucially contain all the content that will sell us and our novel to our potential reader.
Novelist Shanna Germain knows a thing or two about having an effective writer’s website. Having built her first website back in the noughties, long before she was even published, Shanna’s online presence has grown and evolved. She takes us through the journey of making her website a significant part of her writing life and tells us why she reckons having a website is vital for any writer’s career.
Melissa Donovan also appreciates the importance of a writer’s website, but she points out that just having the site isn’t enough. We need to think carefully how we design, fill and then use it as our writing careers progress. She suggests that the biggest mistake we writers make – which is then reflected in our website – is that we don’t treat our writing as a business. Melissa also takes us through some of the other most common mistakes we writers make when we are setting up our website.
A lifesaver for many writers over the last few years has been WordPress. For those of us who have little knowledge of website design –HTML, Java etc. – WordPress, which was originally set up as a blogging site, now offers a complete hosting and design service, in which we simply choose from a range of templates and then add the content. The templates are well designed, really good looking (for the most part) and vary to suit any business or hobby, any genre or subject. I have to admit, I’m a big WordPress fan and all my websites have been migrated over to it.
Another writer who loves WordPress is Lou Trelevean who promotes all her writings through a WordPress site. She has also taken time to create a simple guide to setting up a WordPress website, showing us, step-by-step, how to create a site, pick our theme, add content and even how to start blogging. She also reminds us that we can register our own domain name (as in www.yourname.com) and link it to our WordPress site.
For those of us feeling a little bit more adventurous and who want to create our websites from scratch – but still don’t feel like spending the next five years learning how to write code – there are a number of easy-to-use software packages available.
Microsoft’s Frontpage, for example, is easy to master, is very intuitive and, although some would say that it’s somewhat lacking in features, it’s a great package to start web-designing on.
To start using FrontPage, the many tutorials available online will be of great help. TheElectricTeacher.com gives us a detailed tutorial, starting off with the basics of FrontPage and then ramping up to its more advanced capabilities.
You can also learn how to use FrontPage with Internet marketing coach David Cavanagh, whose excellent YouTube tutorial shows us how to use FrontPage to quickly create a very impressive and professional-looking website.
If you’re more technical – or have a bit more free time – Dreamweaver might be worth a look. It’s a more advanced web-creating software and so takes a bit more learning. But once you’ve cracked it though, the results are fantastic.
As with FrontPage, we can avail the many online tutorials that are available to pick up the basics of Dreamweaver, although you will probably learn most by just using it. TheSiteWizard.com gives us a comprehensive guide to using Dreamweaver.
If you do decide to go this more ‘traditional’ route of designing and publishing your own site, you will need to buy a domain, as mentioned above, and sign up with a hosting service. TheSiteWizard.com offers a full A-Z guide to setting yourself up online.
Having A Writer’s Website – It’s A No-Brainer.
Writer Shanna Germain on the importance of having a website to showcase your writing.
“Even before I became a published writer, I knew I needed a writer’s website.”
What Not To Do.
Melissa Donovan takes us through the five most common errors made by a writer on their website.
“As a writer striving to make a career out of writing, your number one asset is your website. Through your website, you can connect with agents, editors, publishers, other writers, and most importantly, readers.”
One Word For You – WordPress (Or Is It Hyphenated…)
Lou Treleaven on how easy it is to create a beautiful and effective website using WordPress.
“There’s a really good way to set up your own website completely free of charge.”
D.I.A.Y (Do It All Yourself).
Learn how to build a website from scratch using Microsoft FrontPage.
“FrontPage is designed to hide the details of a page’s HTML code from the user, making it possible for novices to easily create web pages and sites.”
Or If Feeling You’re More Adventurous…
If you have a bit more free time, you can use this tutorial to learn how to use Adobe’s Dreamweaver.
The Host With The Most.
If you’re building your site from the bottom-up, you’ll need to sign up with a hosting service and buy your website name. TheSiteWizard tells us how.
Writing.ie also has a great section with lots of information on blogging and better blogging here.