1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

When to start an Author Site

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Incanus, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    1,024
    430
    83
    Coming from someone who should probably be described as ‘social-network challenged’, I’m just wondering, in a general way, when it would be appropriate to start my Author Site.

    Mostly, I’m setting up such a thing because it’s ‘expected’. For me, it’s all about the fiction itself; everything else is window dressing. As of today, I have in my ‘catalogue’ three completed short stories, and one novella that might be about a quarter done. (I’ve also got an essay on the history of my world, about 31,000 words, but not fit for human consumption.) I’m working on another short story that looks like it might be my best yet. I would like to get a few more shorts, finish the novella, and then start on the novel.

    I don’t feel quite ready to send out any of the completed stories yet–I’d like to finish a couple more and then pick the best one or two to submit.

    Is it time yet to start the Author site? Or should I maybe wait until I’ve made a start on the novel, and sent out a story or two?
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,778
    4,775
    313
    From my perspective, I see two main uses for my web site. One, to provide backstory. Two, to provide links to published work.

    The killer, also from my perspective, is being able to keep adding content. After an initial burst of energy, I now find maintaining the site to be more chore than pleasure, and the list of things I need to do there is now months old. And everyone will tell you, readers figure out very quickly if your site is moribund and they go elsewhere.

    I know I do.

    All of which is, however sound, just plain depressing.
     
    Incanus likes this.
  3. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    5,997
    1,715
    213
    I think it's useful to have an author site in case "something happens." Meaning:

    a. You have a short story that gets attention and people want to find more from you.
    b. You get a lot of attention on social media for some reason (a good reason hopefully) and people want to find more from you.
    c. You publish a novel that people like and they want to find out what you're doing next.

    From experience, I've had a sudden surge in traffic on my Japanese blog for some reason I didn't know why. That might have been a good time to have links to books I have for sale and stuff on the Japanese blog (even though it's not related to my writing). I think it's always good to have something on stand-by and then when you really start promoting a book, you have a place people can go as your contact point. I know some self-published authors do special deals if you buy directly from them and not from another source like Amazon.

    Once I make an official author site (my blog is still that for now) I want to make it a place where you can get unique information about my books, progress, history, deals, etc. that can't be found elsewhere. That's what makes me interested in author sites anyway.
     
    Butterfly and Incanus like this.
  4. FarmerBrown

    FarmerBrown Troubadour

    130
    39
    28
    It's really never too early to start building your 'platform'. I'd start building your website now and getting involved in social media (connect with other writers and fantasy lovers now, who will be connections to your readers/fans later); being involved on this website is an excellent start. As above posters said, your website is where readers will go when they search for you, so you want info about you and your work, and where to buy your work when it's ready. You want to have something ready and stable by the time you publish and definitely do not want to wait until after you have something ready! So, your timeline for having a website is okay. But you can start working on it now and just don't make it live, because you want plenty of time to tweak it and make it the best it can be. Unattractive, confusing websites are as bad as bad book covers: people will leave your website before clicking on anything.
     
    Incanus likes this.
  5. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    1,024
    430
    83
    Thanks for the helpful replies! Slowly, I'm getting my head around this stuff. I guess I'll have to work out what sort of looks like a chicken/egg dilemma:


    --Start a site without having any fiction published anywhere, or

    --Try to get something published without yet having a site set up.


    One must preceed the other, but which to tackle first?
     
  6. Kristene Collins

    Kristene Collins Dreamer

    11
    1
    3
    I don't see why this has to be chicken-or-the-egg. Why can't you simply set up the site WHEN you publish, or at least are about to? That way it can say "'title of book' COMING *date*!" to help create hype for it's release.
     
    Incanus likes this.
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    6,778
    4,775
    313
    Also, don't forget all that backstory stuff. You're probably writing it anyway. That way, if someone asks if you have a website, you do. Even if you don't have a publication yet.
     
  8. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    1,024
    430
    83
    Kristene and Skip--you're both quite right. I tend to overthink myself into a stasis. There's no hurry yet, but I'll just bull forward with the website, probably sometime early next year.

    And yes, I've got a pretty good build up of world-building, backstory material. Not sure yet what bits of it to include, but it will be a good deal of work to distill some of it into a website-friendly form.

    In the meantime, I've gotten my answer--thanks to all who replied!
     
  9. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    1,242
    333
    83
    If nothing else you can go ahead and lock in your domain name. That's not very expensive.

    Websites tend to be more static, with information on published works, covers,.buying links and activities, maybe an about page and such. Blogs and dedicated Facebook pages tend to be more dynamic and changing, keeping more up to date.

    Having a good website is handy, but you'll be struggling for content relevant to potential visitors--looking for more information on you or your published works.

    If you find a publisher (for a short story(s) or novel(s)) it generally takes months or longer for them to come to print, so you would have some time to develop and establish a website, once items are accepted and the contract is signed. With self-publishing, if that's the route, since you're in control of when a work is released, you can complete the website when appropriate.

    At least that's the dynamics I see for an author website.
     
    N.S.Griffiths likes this.
  10. Has anyone had any luck with any social media utilities? The problem seems to be replication of information across multiple platforms - including personal websites.
     
  11. Scalvi

    Scalvi Scribe

    49
    7
    8
    I imagined it's a "ASAP" item. You want to have as large a base as possible for when you actually want to do something.
     
  12. spectre

    spectre Sage

    355
    75
    28
    I am officially facebook challenged, i'm glad this post is here to make me start to think about these things.
     
  13. Addison

    Addison Auror

    1,794
    360
    83
    Chuck Sambuchino, a noted author, and columnist for Writers Digest published a book called "Create Your Writer Platform". I have a copy and he said that you want to create your site before your story is done. He gives a time of three years but the gist is you want to make it prior to the story's completion, enough to get a following going.

    Little tip, ask friends and family for help if you're new to website creation and such. Bonus points if the person who can help is a teenager or parent. You may be able to get help in exchange for babysitting, the car for the night etc. :p I'm waiting for my step-dad to get a break in his projects so he can help out. I've got the design but not the host site or anything like that. For a first site, and on a budget, don't expect the site to be perfect or just as you imagined.
     
    Incanus likes this.
  14. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    3,531
    535
    113
    We talked about this on another thread.

    But I would keep your Author site a-political and try not to mention stands on any subject(other then writing or subjects of your book) that might apply to current events, and then after alot of thought.

    Up and coming authors can't afford to alienate any large portion of readers. Definately not 40% of Dems/Repub(in USA),
    even the smaller groups, 10-20% of society is alot of potential sales lost to an announcement on your author site. That includes majority in agreement, even if 80% of people agree with you, 20% is still alot of potential sales.
     
  15. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    1,024
    430
    83
    Ah, nice to know that someone else has found this thread useful.

    In Addison's post, I read 'novel' for the word 'story'. I have completed short stories, and a novella well underway. But I'm pretty slow, so I probably won't have a novel done for at least 2 or 3 years after I start it, which itself might be in another 5 or 6 months. Plenty of time to learn about this stuff.

    And yes, I have absolutely no intention of including political or controversial content on my sight. Despite having opinions on such matters, it just seems like a naturally bad idea. The primary focus is fantasy writings. I want the sight to highlight my stories, not me.
     
  16. Addison

    Addison Auror

    1,794
    360
    83
    Story's apply too Incanus. I only put Novel because, while writing the post, I was taking a break from my novel. A site can promote any kind of author or any person of any career or skills. So don't be afraid or wary to make your site, go for it! :D
     
  17. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    1,024
    430
    83
    Right! I'm going to read up on this for a bit and then get this 'social media' stuff going (just ordered up "Create Your Writer Platform"). I wish I could get as excited about this part as I am about the writing itself, but I'm still looking forward to getting it underway. One day at a time...
     
  18. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    1,952
    982
    113
    I think it really depends on what kind of audience you're trying to draw to your "platform". Are you trying to draw in readers/potential customers? Then I don't think there's a whole lot of point to having a social media presence without anything to offer to that audience. The vast majority of readers/potential customers just want to read your stories. They don't care about your life as a writer. Those who do care usually only care AFTER they've read something you wrote that they liked. The main purpose of any author website for most readers/potential customers is to provide information on your published works and where to buy them.

    If you start an author "platform" without any actual published work for people to buy, most of the people who are going to be drawn to you are going to be people just like you: aspiring writers who have been told they need to build a platform and start following you in the hopes that you will follow them and become one of their potential readers/customers. But most of those people won't become one of your readers/customers.

    So again, it comes down to what you're trying to accomplish with your "platform". Do you want to get to know other writers just like you for the community aspect even knowing that most of the effort you put into social media isn't going to translate into future readers/customers? Then go forth and have fun. If what you really are trying to do is attract readers/customers then I would advise you to wait until you actually have some published work available to offer said readers/customers. Especially if you are really the sort of person who enjoys social media. The earlier you start the faster you are likely to burn out from the effort, especially if you aren't actually gaining much from it.

    And quite frankly, I would not recommend listening to the advice of anyone in the legacy publishing industry about this question. That industry is remarkable ignorant about the internet in general and most of what they have to say is really bad advice for authors.
     
    Incanus likes this.
  19. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

    1,024
    430
    83
    Yes, yes, yes, yes. This is exactly the kind of content I was looking for in an answer to my initial question. Is there a counter point to what Mythopoet is saying here? I'd like to make an informed decision. And, again, I must emphasize my general lack of interest and presence in social media.

    A writer web-site for an author who has no writing available for the public. If you deck out such a site with a billion bells and whistles and shiny things, doesn't it still amount to: I want to be a writer, really I do! I'm writing something, honest! It's going to be awesome!

    This sort of thing seems more suited to Facebook, or whatnot. I conclude that there will be plenty of time to get a site going in the interim between being accepted, and actual publication, should any such thing ever occur--as was wisely pointed out somewhere above (sorry, forgot who that was!)

    Am I wrong headed somewhere in all this? Please expose the flaws in logic or provide the information that puts this on its head. I"d love to know.

    Sheesh, I think I'm swinging back and forth like a pendulum. Oh, well. It'll settle down--
     
  20. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    1,952
    982
    113
    I'll counterpoint myself a little, because I freely admit that I'm somewhat biased. I look at the entire question of publishing from the position of an indie self publisher, because I believe it is very foolish for a newbie author to sign with a traditional publisher under 99.9% percent of circumstances. (The possibility that you will be the .1 percent that manages, as a new author, to land a really lucrative and fair traditional publishing contract is so unlikely that I think planning your career on that assumption is about as smart as planning your retirement on the assumption you'll win the lottery one of these days.)

    However, if you are hoping to get a traditional contract, it's entirely possible that not having a pre-built platform to show the bean counters will greatly decrease your odds of getting an offer. Publishers are more and more adverse to taking risks these days. They want the sure thing. And they don't actually want to invest a lot of money in new authors who aren't guaranteed bestsellers. This is why they love to sign celebrities and social media stars and self publishers who have already achieved success on their own. Anyone who already has a fanbase is pure money in the bank for them. And they expect all authors to do their own social media marketing, so an author who is already doing that successfully is more attractive to them than an author without a platform.

    Some would see this as a reason you HAVE to build a platform. I see it as just another reason to shun the traditional publishing system.
     
Loading...

Share This Page