Friday, June 17, 2011

Do Pre-published Writers Need a Website or Blog? by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I receive a lot of questions from new authors about online marketing and building a presence on the Web if they are pre-published. These are great questions and my answer is always the same, whatever you can do--do it. Don't wait until publication. Marketing yourself as an author is going to cost time or money, or both. The less you can afford to spend, the more time you're going to have to invest. Even if you have an unlimited budget, if you wait until the last minute, you won't have time to build that network of support for your platform. Time is a necessary key.

Most pre-published authors mistakenly believe that their publisher will handle all their marketing needs when they finally sell their first book--especially if they're seeking a traditional publisher. While a publisher will help, most likely your book will appear in long lists with other new books printed in the same week or month as yours. Authors with a proven history of sales and great print-runs will receive the bold listings, call-out features, highlights, store displays, aisle displays and cover racks. New authors are blessed to be on the shelf.

Promoting and marketing your books will be YOUR responsibility as the author. All the years you spend polishing your writing and promoting your work to agents and editors is a test of preparation. It prepares you for the real thing--promoting and selling to the public. This is hard for writers as 80% of us have introverted personalities. We dislike being in the spotlight. We just want our writing to shine and make a difference in the lives of others. That's fine, but in order to make that difference, your writing has to produce sales so your editor can justify why they need to keep publishing your work. Without publication, people won't experience the benefit of your work. 

If you're a pre-published author, do you need a website?
Yes. Yes. Yes.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on a professional website with all the bells and whistles with the latest flash craze, nor do you need to learn a lot of html hand codes. Start out with a simple blog through Blogger or Wordpress. They are free or you can buy a domain name for $10/year on Blogger and secure your domain name. Blogs now have static pages on them that function like a website. The bottom line is to create your special place on the Web that tells agents and editors all about YOU as an author. One of the first places they will go to learn more about you after reviewing a proposal is the Web. You can't make a great impression if you don't have anything for them to view.


Jeanette Levellie said...

I am SO glad you addressed this question, as it's one I've wondered about. I bought my own domain name, and have it link to my blog, which has "pages" similar to a website. I had a professional design it, so it looks snappy and not thrown together. Do I need a second site as well?

Melissa K Norris said...

For someone on a budget and no techie skills, offers a great web package with no coding skills needed. I suggest purchasing your own domain name and for $9 a month (less than a weekly latte budget) you'll have a website. You can customize the pages, add forms, you name it. If you'd like an example you can see mine at

I have an article on this coming out in Northwest Christian Writer's Magazine next month. :)If anyone has any questions, I'll help as best as I can. Or if anyone has any suggestions, please share.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Great advice. I recently queried a publisher who wrote back and said he was signing me up for his next run because he liked what he saw on my website and blog. It is easy to think that because we are not (yet) a big-name author that we have no right to promote our writing. However, everything we write says something about us as a writer, whether it is an online blog, newsletter or email. Thanks so much for the wise counsel.

Anonymous said...

I've been hearing about this online presence for several years now. My biggest problem is the time social networking takes away from my writing. There's a delicate balance to be had.
But, I for one, am here to stay, if only for a few minutes each day!

Caroline said...

Thanks for these thoughts. Along with the growth of platform, I've truly enjoyed blogging as a way to both increase and develop my writing. Plus, growing in community and fellowship with other believers and writers has been so encouraging!