1. Why should an author have a website?
    • Information
    • Interaction
    • Promotion
    • Credibility
  2. Why should an author NOT have a website?
  3. Why should he or she have it professionally done?
  4. How long does it take to build a website?
  5. What should be on the website?
  6. How much does it cost?
    • Domain name
    • Hosting
    • Design
    • Maintenance
  7. How many visitors should I be getting to my site?
  8. What about a hit counter?
  9. How can I get people to come to my site?
  10. Should I pay for search engine placement?
  11. How do I pick a webmaster?
Why should an author have a website?

Short answer: It's your name and your work - who can better tell others about it?

There are several good reasons to have a website. Each author will have his or her own set of priorities:
  • Information:
  • Frankly, Amazon gets stuff wrong. Why should they be where readers go to find out what you've written, what the publication order is, to read an excerpt? You've worked hard to find an agent, an editor, a publisher -- and no one can talk about your work better than you can. So, invest what you can afford in being the place where readers (current or potential) learn about you and your work.
  • Promotion:
  • Readers expect to be able to go to www.yourname.com and learn more about you. Having a website address in the back of your book offers the reader a chance to learn more about you and your work. Using the e-mail address name@yourname.com is another way to promote that you have a site, and they should visit it.
  • Interaction:
  • Readers like to interact with authors whose books they liked. By having a website, you can establish your comfort level of reader interaction. Again, you control the flow of information.
  • Credibility:
  • Websites are almost as common as fax numbers and e-mail addresses. Having a site shows that you take your work seriously enough to have an online presence of your own.
Why should an author NOT have a website?

Short answer: There are better booksellers than you.

While there is often a mix of priorities for having a website, these are two of the least effective reasons to have a website:
  • To sell books or make money

  • Websites for authors generally are not going to be money-makers. They aren't likely to sell enough books to offset the cost of the site. Link-exchanges and advertisements tend to only make money for high-traffic sites. There's nothing wrong with selling books off of your site, but you may be better off helping to promote a bookstore who has helped promote you. Link to a local bookstore which can call you if someone wants an autographed book. Link to the bookstores that have you come for signings. Your job is writing books -- their job is selling them. Invest what you're comfortable with on your site, but don't plan on seeing a direct monetary return from the site alone.
  • To be an ego boost

  • Frankly, readers want to know about you -- but not too much about you. Sites that are "love fests" about the author tend to turn off the readers. Show them some family photos if you're comfortable with that, list all of your awards, get on your soapbox about a cause -- but temper pride with facts.

About Cincinnati MediaCincinnatiMedia is a website firm specializing in author, nonprofit and small business websites. We present this FAQ as a service to our clients, as well as to others who might be considering building a website.

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