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Website - Part One
by Tina Morgan
For the next few issues, Fiction Factor will be taking a look at the 'writer's website'. Should you have one?
The first step is deciding what you hope to accomplish with your site. It is crucial to be completely honest with yourself here. Your goals are a major factor in the type of site you create or pay to have created. You want to approach your web design in an organized manner. It can save you money in the long run.
There are several reasons for creating your own site. One of the most common is to promote your own writing. This reason needs to be examined carefully.
1) Are you displaying your work in hopes of finding an agent and/or publisher?
2) Do you want to share your writing with potential readers without the intent of being published?
3) Do you have a book for sale? As an e-book? In print? Both?
The second and third reasons are valid; the first is not. Legitimate agents and publishers do not have the time to troll the net for new writers. They receive a large number of queries and submissions every day. They don't need to look elsewhere. If an agent approaches you because of writing you've posted to a private website, odds are, he/she isn't legitimate. Unscrupulous book doctors and editors have been known to search the web for writers who are less secure about their work. They target these writers as potential clients.
Please do not misunderstand. I believe even the most talented writer can benefit from outside critiques and editorial advice/service, but the wise author will look for these services. They will check credentials and client lists. High quality book doctors and editors are not trolling for new clients any more than agents/publishers are.
There is one exception to this rule. Some e-zine editors will look on other web sites for articles and/or stories to reprint on their sites. This is because the majority of e-zines do not make money. They have to find free content for their sites and quality content is hard to obtain for little or no pay. (There have been many articles over the wisdom of writing for free, but the subject is too complicated to cover here.)
Define your professional goals
Not everyone wants to be a professional writer. There is no shame in not pursuing a publishing career. If you want to create a site to share your work then do so, but make certain you don't hold hopes of publishing the work at a later date. Once a story is posted to a website, you have used your first publication rights. Many publishing companies do not consider reprints.
The publishing industry is a very difficult market to break into. Not every writer will feel the need to work that hard to get their work into potential readers' hands. Some writers can be defined more as 'story tellers'. They want to share their work regardless of the lack of monetary compensation. If this sounds like your definition of yourself, then creating a website to share your work is a legitimate goal.
Selling your work:
Once you've written a book, had it published and are ready to begin marketing it, then creating a writer's website can be a very valuable marketing tool. Especially for the e-author. Your market is online; you need to target them there.
The average reader is not going to go to Google and do a search for romance (or any other genre) writers. For this reason, websites often work better for sales of subsequent works rather than a first novel. Unless you can bring a lot of viewers to your website based on search engines or your publisher's website alone, you're going to need something to draw potential customers to your site. A link from short stories or articles placed online or in print can help bring visitors to your site. Author interviews and book reviews with a link to your site are helpful as well.
Join us for our next issue, when we will be covering content and styling of the Writer's Website.
Go to Part Two of The Writer's Website
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