Here are six things to keep in mind when you make that big decision.
1. What’s the purpose of the site? Is this a book-focused site, a series-focused site or an author-focused site? In most cases, authors will say the third and choose their own name as the domain name. This allows the site to expand down the line when the author publishes another book, decides to do speaking engagements, or branches out to other types of writing. Regardless of your priorities, it’s important to recognize what the main purpose of the site is — selling books, promoting the next book in a series, attracting a publisher, etc… — and then choosing a name accordingly.
2. What’s in a name? If you decide to go with your name as the domain name, there are a few things to keep in mind as you’re reserving your final URL. For example, if your name is very common, the domain may already be taken. MarySmith.com may not be available any more. In those cases, consider MarySmithBooks.com or AuthorMarySmith.com. On the other hand, if your name is too unusual — say Francescha Verranzano — you need to be aware that a lot of people may misspell your name. In those instances, you should think about the most common misspellings of your name and possibly reserve the misspelled domain names as well (more on that below).
3. Go out on a limb for a .com. So MarySmith.com is taken. So how about MarySmith.net? A good general rule is that you should try everything under the sun to get a .com. People tend not to remember the .net at the end of a domain. So you’re better off with MarySmithBooks.com than you are with MarySmith.net.
4. Avoid hyphens. Another common “out” authors often take when their first choice for a domain name is taken is to go with a hyphen between their first and last name — say Mary-Smith.com. This is yet another instance of choosing something that is commonly forgotten.
5. Feel free to reserve multiple domains. There’s only one domain name that’s going to be the official domain of your site. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase as many domains as you’d like and then have each of them forward to your primary one. So if Mary Smith writes a book titled “The Road Once Walked,” she could have MarySmithBooks.com as her primary domain name, but also have anyone who enters TheRoadOnceWalked.com be redirected to her author site. Similarly Francescha Verranzano might want to purchase FrancheskaVerrazano.com and have it redirect to her site. Domains are relatively cheap, and there’s no downside to owning multiple ones.
6. Splurge and spend the $10 on an actual domain. Too many people pinch pennies in the wrong places. A domain name is one of them. Sure, you can have a site for free where the domain name ends in .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com. But that just confuses things for users. A real domain name will make you look far more professional, and the cost is really minimal.
Did you make any mistakes in choosing a domain? Anything you wish you’d done differently? Share your ideas with us!