As promised, I have a guest blogger for you today. Devon Gray is a wonderfully energetic person and her enthusiasm for life really shows through in her writing. I met Devon through my local writing chapter and immediately thought of her when I came up with the idea of having guest bloggers share their ideas on this subject. When you get a chance, click on over to her website and blog. As an unpublished author (as of yet – I honestly feel it can’t be all that much longer before she joins the published ranks), Devon’s site shows that she has a very good handle on where she wants to take her career in the future.
Okay, enough blabbing. Here’s Devon….
Are Websites Necessary for Pre-Published Authors?
Boy, this is the stuff of spirited debates. I know I have participated in this argument (discussion) several times. There’s an obvious question that begs to be asked. If you haven’t had a book published what would you promote through your website? Well, I’ll tell you. Yourself. Have you heard the story yet of a newly published author facing the enormous task of marketing his or her book like a deer caught in the headlights? Realistically, it is probably more like a squirrel in the path of an oncoming car—running around frantically in every direction hoping to make it to the other side without getting squashed. The equivalent of being squashed for writers? Not enough interest in your work. You can guess what happens from there. Of course, depending on what kind of contract you get and the time before the book is released will give you some wiggle room. Personally, I want to do as much marketing before that process begins. Because when (smile) I get a contract, I envision myself busily working on more books—having a large chunk of my marketing taken care of will be a huge weight off my shoulders.
I have chosen to add a website as part of my pursuit of publication. What you will read is only my opinion. I relied on five years of marketing background in my decision making process, and because of this I have experienced success in my endeavor. In the end, it all comes down to personal choice and what you feel in your heart is the best way to spend your valuable time and, sometimes, money.
If you build it, they will come…right? Um, no. If you build it, and beat them over the head with it (gently, of course), they will come. How do you kindly persuade visitors? Talk. A lot. Make sure everyone you know (and I mean everyone) realizes you have a website and that you are promoting your writing. Make certain everyone you don’t know is aware of your website as well. How do you do this? Entice. Intrigue. I had very inexpensive postcards printed up that have a teaser and my web address printed on them. Don’t make the website content obvious—make them curious. Vista Print is a great source for promotional materials. www.vistaprint.com I leave these postcards everywhere. I give handfuls of them to friends to pass out. I network. I send out emails to my address book to remind my contacts of the website.
Your website must be visually appealing and entertaining. If you don’t hook your visitor, they won’t be back. This is where the expense comes in. I chose to have my website professionally created. I maintain it myself using FrontPage software. This was an expenditure I felt was worth the price. Again, this is a personal choice. I have a link to my blog on my home page. In essence, this is the heart of my marketing. This is where I keep visitors updated on my progress. Only posts about your writing career belong on the blog. Your daughter’s third birthday party may have been the talk of the town, but it doesn’t belong in your marketing plan.
What a Website Will Do For You:
1. Market your name
2. Hold you accountable (once you put it out there, it’s out there, and you have to follow through)
3. Help you to network—you can link to other author’s sites, which will drive more traffic to yours
4. You will be “dressing for the job you want”- a tactic that helps drive individuals to success
5. Keep your writing goals on track (see #2)
What a Website Will Not Do For You:
1. Entice Editors and Agents and get you published sooner
2. Run Itself—don’t start it and leave it. It needs to be active and entertaining to keep visitors returning
What a Website Should Not Do TO You:
1. Take time away from your writing career. Schedule your time, don’t get wrapped up in running a website and blog that takes your time away from your true goal—publication.
2. Have a negative effect on your image as a professional writer. If you have absolutely nothing to post about in the advancement of your career, you will lose that professional edge (not to mention the fact you aren’t actually doing anything to move toward publication).
In summary, websites are very effective tools when done properly. If you are considering your own, my best advice is to give it a lot of thought. Do you have the time and discipline to run the site without sacrificing your writing time? Do you have the skills and/or revenue to build the initial website? Would you be using this as a legitimate marketing tool or would you just be “playing author”? Please feel free to check out my website: www.authordevongray.com
Update 03-24-08 from Devon – Searching for your name through search engines
A few months ago when I would look for my name on search engines, both “Devon Gray” and “Author Devon Gray” had me way down on the list. Now on Google “Author Devon Gray” has me at #1 and “Devon Gray” has me at #3. That second statistic is actually more impressive!!!
I would say that is proof that the marketing works!