One thing absolutely essential for 21st century authors is a good website. In this day and age, websites are no longer optional. More and more readers search for books on-line. However, setting up a website can be daunting, especially to a new author who, prior to publishing his or her first book, may have never had a need for a website.
First things first. Before you can have a website you need a domain name. The optimum domain name for an author is yourname.com. If it’s already taken, as is the case with me, put it on back order. Sometimes patience pays off. In the meantime you can try yourname.net. However, if the .net for your name isn’t available either then you may have to tweak it a little bit. Try adding your middle initial, or words such as, “author,” or “books.” I’ve registered both “gaylemartin.net” and “gaylemartinbooks.com.” They work well. You may also want to consider registering a domain name for your book title, or, if it’s part of a series, a domain name for the series. I have LukeandJennyBooks.com and LukeandJenny.com. (Remember what I just said about patience paying off? I had the latter one on back order for four years, but I eventually got it.)
Now, where to point it…
I firmly believe that you can never have too much Internet presence. You never know how or where a potential reader will find you. If your funds are limited, you can start with a blog, as you can set up a blog for free or for very little money.
In addition to a blog site, I also recommend having a formal web site if your budget will allow it. You’ll look more professional, and you can do all kinds of cool and wonderful things, such as add animation, slideshows, forums–all kinds of neat stuff, depending your individual needs and on how much time and money you’re willing to invest. There are many people out there who design websites for a living, and if your vision for your website is something that does everything but wash the dishes and do your laundry, I suggest letting the pros handle it for you. However, if your funds are limited, there are hosting companies out there with easy to use site-building tools which will allow you to do it yourself. I’ve been creating my own websites for years. I’m quite happy with the results, and I’ve had many nice compliments on them too. Hey, if a technophobe like me can build a website then you can too. I use Go Daddy, but you may want to shop around to see what works best for you.
When webhost shopping you should also consider whether or not they offer live, 24/7 tech support. That to me is more important than anything else. Things can and do go wrong with websites, so it’s nice have live people out there when bad things happen and you really do need the help.