Does an Author Really Need a Website? Duh!

I know I’ve written about this a lot, but every time I see another expert backing up what I’ve had to say, I feel the need to post again on the subject.

Today’s post is in reference to an interview with Annik LaFarge on TheBookDoctors.com. Her bio there reads as follows: “Annik is the author of The Author Online: A Short Guide to Building Your Website, Whether You Do it Yourself (and you can!) or You Work With Pros. She also happens to have spent twenty-five years as an executive in the book publishing business, working at Random House, Simon & Schuster, Addison-Wesley, and Bloomsbury USA. She began her career as a publicist, and went on to become an associate publisher, marketing director, senior editor, and publishing director. And she was involved in the early efforts to create e-books and develop strategies for digital publishing. In the late 1990s, at the height of the dot com boom, Annik took a year away from publishing to join entrepreneur and journalist Steven Brill in the development and launch of Contentville.com, where she published an original series of e-books and oversaw the website’s bookstore. In 2008 she left publishing to start her own company, Title TK Projects, which specializes in website project management, editorial work, and consulting on digital strategy.”

I think we’d all agree Annik is quite an expert at what she does. And, with that in mind, here are some excerpts of what she had to say in the interview about author websites:

“Even in this age of social media, having a website is really, really important. A recent study by the Codex Group showed that that websites are one of the key ways people find out about books.”

“When you type in an author’s name, his/her website is first thing that comes up. To be the first result that pops up in a Google search is reason enough to have a website. This visibility gives you the opportunity to control your message and to craft the experience that you want that person who is interested in your work—that person who has taken the time to Google you—to see.”

“Your website also gives you the opportunity to capture people’s email addresses and to build a newsletter list. Your mailing list is extremely important, even if you’re a literary fiction writer. People who give you their names and email addresses are telling you that they’re interested in you and your work and want to know more about you; they want to be kept up to date. Even just a 100-person list matters because you can use it as a mini-focus group, testing book covers and plot ideas, and you can easily alert your fans about new releases.”

“You need to have a plan for your website—a monthly and yearly plan: what sort of content will you launch with? What will you add as time goes by? How frequently will you post new material? Enough to blog? If so, what will the voice of your blog be? What will be the first 10 things you write about?”

“I tell authors to plan for their website the way they do for a new book: write an outline, like a book proposal, that includes not only the ‘big think’ – the overall substance and point of view of the website – but also a list of all the different pages and what they’ll contain. Think of it as a business plan for your site. Or to put it in more literary terms, it’s like mapping out a long piece of nonfiction – for both the hardcover and the paperback edition.”

“For many authors a website is their beating heart in the public space. Creating one can feel daunting – anything more technical than Microsoft Word intimidates many writers – but it’s enormously empowering and creative, and the technology has evolved to the point where honestly anyone can do it.”

“My advice: start slow, be smart, have fun, and just get on with it.”

I agree completely with her advice. I work with many authors who are intimidated by the idea of creating a website. But with the right guidance, anyone can do it. If you’re ready to take the plunge, contact us today for a free consultation. It will be painless … we promise.

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