author website domain name

Author Website Domain Name: 5 Fast Facts

author website domain name

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s the first thing you need to do when you are building an author website: choose a domain name! And yet, many people get tripped up by the experience. Here are five fast facts that may help make the process of choosing an author website domain name a little bit smoother and easier.

1. An author website domain name costs very little.

While building and hosting a site may come with some cost, a domain name shouldn’t break the bank. For about $15/year you can purchase your domain. So even if the domain you purchase isn’t the perfect one, that’s okay. Don’t let anyone try to charge you an arm and a leg for it.

2. Your domain name is not the same as your site hosting.

In order for your website to be live online, it will have to be hosted somewhere. Think of that as paying rent for your space on the internet. But well before you get there, you need to have your domain name purchased. One common misconception among authors is that their author website domain name and hosting are one in the same. They are not. The two entities — both of which are required to have a functioning site — can be purchased through the same company, but they don’t have to be. And, too often, an author only remembers their login for their domain name and not their site hosting, or vice versa. These are two very distinct items. Think of one as the copyright to your book (the domain) and one the book itself (the hosting.)

3. You can purchase multiple domain names.

I’ve worked with many authors who purchase multiple domains and have them all point to the same site. That’s perfectly fine. If you want to purchase your name at .net, .com and .org, great. If you want both your name and each of your book titles to all be domains that take people to your author site, that’s totally doable. You will need to select one primary domain (the one that is visible to your audience), but there’s no limit to how many domains you can purchase. Any time someone enters any one of those domains, they will end up on your website.

4. Unless it’s not available, your author website domain name should match the name on your book cover.

Let’s say you go by the name of Joe, but your book is published under Joseph. Or you use your middle initial on your book cover. In those instances, what do you do? Do you reserve a domain by the name people know you as? Or by the one you’ve published under? Again, you can purchase multiple domains, so in many cases I would recommend both. But your primary domain — the one that people see — should match as closely as possible to your author name. Now, if you have a relatively common name, like Joseph Smith, you may have to get more creative. So JosephSmith.com may not be available, but you can always try JosephSmithBooks.com, AuthorJosephSmith.com, etc…

5. You should ALWAYS own your own domain.

I can’t stress this to authors enough. Never let another organization purchase your domain name for you. They might build your website and own the rights to all your files. They might host your site. But at the end of the day, your author website domain name has to be yours. If at some point you decide to terminate the relationship with whomever built your site, you want to have full control over that domain. Because, if you own it, you can always have a new site built under that domain. If someone else owns it, they essentially own your brand and can do with it as they wish. That’s a marketing no-no for authors.

Hopefully, this has cleared up some confusion you might have had about author website domain names. If you have any additional questions, feel free to post them in the comments box below and I will be happy to provide a response! Or feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

website hack 404 error

Website Hack? 5 Reasons Your Author Site May Be Down

website hack 404 errorLast Friday, there was a huge website hack. Without going into too much detail, a large percentage of the sites we visit every day — like Twitter, Spotify and PayPal — were completely unavailable for a good chunk of the day. There were many author websites that were impacted as a result of this huge outage.

But chances are, this won’t be the only time you log on and notice that your author website isn’t working. Here are five possible causes of your site being down, and what you can do about each one.

1. Domain name has expired.

The first thing you probably did when you decided to create an author website was to purchase a domain name. You might not even remember doing this, since it didn’t cost much (usually $10-$20) and you’ve barely touched this account ever since. But whether you reserved the domain for one year or 10 years, that domain will expire eventually. You’ll likely receive email alerts from the company through which you purchased it as it comes close to expiring, but you may not pay attention to those. You might have even changed your email address since you set up the account. If your site is down, you can quickly find out if your domain name has expired by going to http://whois.com and entering your domain. That site should also tell you where the domain was reserved so that you can reach back out to them about renewing.

2. Hosting has expired.

Yes, the account through which you purchased your domain name may not be the same as the one through which your site is hosted. Many authors think these are one in the same, and that can lead to a lot of confusion. But, to be clear, your domain is simply the name of your site that you are reserving the rights to and no one else can use. Your hosting, which is generally more expensive than your domain, is where all of your files live. It is essentially your rent paid for space on the internet. If you suspect your hosting may have expired, follow up with your hosting company or firm to determine if your account is still active. Much like the whois.com link above, you can visit http://www.whoishostingthis.com/ to check your site’s hosting status.

3. File security issue.

Now that author websites are self-updatable, our clients are always adding blog posts and uploading files — including photos, downloadable PDFs and more. But sometimes, when these files are uploaded they can create problems for the site. In other words, they might contain elements that are considered a security risk by your hosting company — whether or not they actually are. If that happens, there’s a chance that your host will shut your site down and send you an email informing you that the site needs to be cleaned before it can be restored. Don’t ignore those emails! Follow up immediately and determine what you can do to ensure that your site is clean and that it won’t infect others with whom you share a server.

4. Server hiccup.

In the 10 years that we have been hosting author websites, we have had server problems at least once a year. That’s not exclusive to us. Nearly every hosting company will have problems from time to time with their servers — these can crop up as sites that are down for a short time or error pages being displayed instead of website homepages. If you notice that your site is down, call your hosting provider and report the issue. If you get a recorded message from them about a multitude of sites being down, know that you’re not alone and they’re working to fix the issue. Otherwise, make sure to get a customer service person on the phone and report your particular issue. Sometimes, if it’s only your site that’s having a problem, they just have to reset things and can get your site back up and running while you’re still on the phone.

5. Website hack.

That’s how we started this piece, and that’s how we’re ending it. Entire servers or systems go down sometimes for a variety of reasons. And, while you and I may never understand why, there are people out there who make website hacking a hobby. But here’s the good news/bad news: If your site is the victim of a website hack, there’s not much you can do other than wait. That means you don’t need to call customer service, log on to your cPanel or anything else. Just be patient and know that people a lot more tech savvy than you are working to fix this website hack and get your site — and probably thousands of others — up and running again.

Technology is fun, right? Sometimes, I wonder why I didn’t just go into print…

mailclients

Authors: Setting Up Your E-Mail Client

In my article last week about choosing the correct mail client I discussed several different options you can consider, including MacMail, Outlook and Thunderbird.

This week I’d like to go over how to actually configure your e-mail client.

This guide is written specifically for use in our system, which uses a webmail-based interface. However, the guide should also be helpful to those who do not use webmail, or who’s sites are hosted elsewhere.

Configuring a mail client is a fairly straightforward process, but some of the more common issues that crop up are the following:

  • Outgoing mail isn’t sending, but incoming works just fine
  • Login settings are not correct
  • Email looks like it is sending but the recipient never received the email
  • Settings on the mail client show that it is configured correctly but no mail is received

If one or some of the above has happened to you while trying to configure a third-party mail client, don’t despair! The step-by-step guide below should help you configure the client correctly so you can send and receive mail.

Step 1. Log into your account

The first thing you will need to do is to log-in to your webmail account straight from your website. Every site that is configured to work with webmail (which includes all of our sites that we host) has a login portal from which you can check email. To access this portal, navigate to your website. We will use http://smartauthorsites.com as an example. When you enter your site URL in the navigation bar above, you just need to type the following: /webmail at the end of the URL to access this portal.

So if your website URL is http://annetteqwriter.com you would go to http://annetteqwriter.com/webmail. Then, on the screen show at the right, enter your full email address as the username, as well as your password. The system will sometimes not allow you to log-in if you don’t enter the full address with the domain. So, annette@annetteqwriter.com would need to be entered rather than just “annette” for the username.

Step 2. Navigate to configuration settings screen

On the next screen you have the option to use one of the built-in pieces of webmail software to check your email right on the web. While is a very useful feature, this guide is all about showing you how to bypass the need to log-in every time you check mail. This is what using a mail client is all about!

So instead we will select the “configure mail client” button, as this will help us figure out exactly which settings we need to enter into our mail client to get everything working correctly.

Step 3. Copy settings to your new mail client

This is the most important step in the process. When you arrive at the next screen you will see a lot of different settings and options. It might look confusing to you at first, but these are the settings you will need to either automatically configure or manually enter into your new mail client.

First, check to see if you are using Outlook or Mac Mail with your OS from the top box. Then select either POP over SSL/TLS or IMAP over SSL/TLS. Either option is perfectly fine in terms of receiving and sending mail – the key difference is that POP will download a copy of all email to your mail client whereas IMAP will sync with your mail client. So if you use POP then a copy of the email will not be retained on the server. We recommend IMAP.
Here is some more useful information about the difference between the two and why IMAP is preferable.

Once you make your selection, webmail will attempt to automatically sync your email account to your mail client. Almost all of the time this is successful. If, for some reason it is not, or the mail client of your choice does not have an option on this page for auto-synching then you will need to do it manually by entering the settings shown in “Manual Settings” below. These will vary depending on your server settings. You will almost always want to use secure settings, which are in the grey box on the left. Enter the username (full, with domain), password and IMAP/POP settings shown in the grey box into your mail client. This will allow the configuration script to complete and you will be able to start sending and receiving mail right away.

If you are synching with a mobile device, you will also likely need to use these manual settings.

Step 4. Watch the mail come in!

Email can definitely be a headache to set-up, and dealing with spam, bounced mail and other mail-related issues is not fun. But our hope is that the guide above will make this process a breeze.

Using a mail client is so much easier than logging in to your system every single time you want to check email. You may have gotten into the habit of using webmail, but a properly-configured mail-client is a must for running an effective business or marketing yourself as an author. It will make everything go so much faster. Personally, I would never go back to just using webmail!

junkmail

Authors: How to Select a Good Mail Client

One of the most exciting facets of managing your new author website is getting to send email from your very own domain. Instead of relying on gmail, hotmail, or AOL, you can have your own custom email address with a subdomain.

Not only is this far more professional, but it is recommended if you want to connect your new website with your email marketing efforts. For example, wonderfulauthor@gmail.com certainly doesn’t have the same personal touch as jason@wonderfulauthor.com.

However, one of the trickier things about email is finding a good mail client. True, you can log-in to administer your email through the webmail system, but it is usually preferable to use a 3rd party mail system to manage your email.

So how do you know which to choose? There are tons of options out there! Not all mail clients are created equal, but some are far more popular than others. Here is a short list of possibilities to help make the process easier for you:

Mail Client Possibilities

Mac Mail

This is the most widely-used mail clients for Apple or iPhone users. Mac Mail ships with both the iPhone and most Apple products, so no downloading is necessary. In my experience if you have a Mac and you want to use a 3rd party mail client don’t even read the rest of the section. This is what to use. It is a free application that comes built-in and installed on most Apple products. Doesn’t get much simpler.

Outlook

The Windows counterpart to Mac Mail, Outlook has gone through many iterations over the years, and different versions will work with different operating systems at different levels. Nowadays you can sync your mobile device with Outlook.com, which is a cloud-based app that stores and manages your email and is quite good. You can still use the newest version of Outlook if you would like, which is the 2013 version (as of 2015). One disadvantage of Outlook is that it is not free.

Thunderbird

This is open-source email software for both Mac and Windows that is simple to set-up and has some very nice features. You can also install the Lightning add-on to go along with this application that has some nice add-ons including task management and scheduling of appointments. Thunderbird is created by the same company that is behind the Firefox browser. This will become apparent when you install the software as it uses the same tabbed browsing system in email as the aforementioned browser. Overall Thunderbird is a nice email client and tends to be pretty easy to learn.

PostBox

If you love gmail this is the best way to integrate the gmail system into a workable mail client. PostBox also integrates well with the file-storage system DropBox and has a lot of fun features. The system for organizing email is also very nice, and though it isn’t free software, it is a really good alternative to Outlook if you use Windows, though it is really built for Macs.

But What if I Like Webmail?

There is nothing inherently wrong with the Webmail system. In fact, many of our clients log-into webmail every day and use RoundCube or one of the other built-in Mail-readers that come with Webmail. However, we recommend configuring your email with a 3rd part mail client as it will allow you to more easily manage your contacts, emails, and store this information locally.

Now check out Part II of this series: setting up your new e-mail client.