For years I have debated this question. I did have the money to create my website four years ago but didn’t have the conviction. Even when my book was published, I wondered: Do I need a website?
What does one do when faced with a dilemma?
Google. And Google I did.
The advice from various authors proved that while many of the reasons why I felt I didn’t need a website were right, there were compelling reasons to have one. I have given an analytical pro and con for a website.
What a website does not do:
- A website doesn’t push your sales for sure. A few copies that it might manage to sell will be offset by the costs and time involved
- A website doesn’t make you famous or read. It actually works backwards. You have written something good and people wish to know more about you. To achieve this you have to slog, get published to be on the road to be taken seriously. Just parking your website in the worldwide web and sharing the links with everyone you know doesn’t make you a celebrity
- A website is definitely not a place to showcase the work you want to be published. World over, stuff that has appeared in an e-format before is not taken too eagerly by publishers. It doesn’t have the freshness with it, if and when it is published. Free content is just that -‘Free’: very few take it seriously.
- A website doesn’t necessarily make your presence felt in the web. It takes time, and a network of friends and appreciative readers to make that happen.
What a website can do for you:
- Make you feel committed to your hobby or profession. Having an identity is the first step to creating layers around it. Even before we were conscious of it, we got a name. And with the passage of time, we wanted to attach value to our name, do something unique. Similarly, a website makes us conscious of the journey as a writer we have to make
- You published a fantastic story which was read by a film director on a flight. Now it gets him/her worked up and he/she wants to make a film. How do they contact you? Ten to one he/she will Google your name along with your story and if you are there, they will find you. Otherwise the obstacles to your discovery (read copyright agreements) become huge and the enthusiasm of this director might fade with time as he has many other challenges on his or her plate
- It helps people to contact you for commercial reasons: films, book contracts or projects if they like your work and style
- It helps people in the event industry to locate you for possible interactive sessions if your work happens to be of a specialist nature: Green Planet, Human relationships, Psychology, Technology, Science Fiction etc. You can be a contracted speaker at prestigious events.
- Create a buzz about your work, however small by leveraging the internet: You can upload excerpts of your work and make people interested enough to read your work
- Act as an archive of your published work (never future work)
- Build you as a brand (only after you have built a body of work)
The making of our Website
We contacted Dreams Media because they enjoy a good reputation in the market with regards to making customized word press websites. Authors need websites where they can add, delete or edit the content they write without being dependent on website managers or administrators. They should be able to post stories, articles and blogs etc with ease and on their own. A normal website doesn’t allow you that but websites modeled on WordPress blogs allow you that ease.
Harish helped us create a website that was quick to load, is friendly on all browsers and gives us complete ease and a lot of flexibility in content management. We had many exotic ideas which he shot down because of his experience: most of them were impractical, would have slowed the website or would have been against our interests.
The present website we feel is creative and affordable: we got a website that does full justice to the spirit of the book.
Based on our experiences while making the website we arrived at the following conclusions:
- More than being creative it is necessary for the website to load quickly. But if the website is fast and creative then it is a great combination
- The website should be compatible with all browsers and their older versions too
- It should have back up options at two locations to take into account failure at one place
- It should be readable in mobiles: in future this trend will be more common
- Youtube promotions if they exist should never be housed on the website, instead a link to the upload at Vimeo is a better idea. Vimeo for some reasons is better than Youtube video. We did as we were advised.
Conclusion: If you can afford it, have a website
If money is not a constraint, all authors should have a website. It is like having an identity. The earlier you do it, you are likely to get the domain name of your choice. If you are short of budgets, then it is better to wait for the right time: No need to jump the gun. Websites are better than blogs because they are more professional, speak of your seriousness to your business and have many features which blogs don’t provide. They help you rise from the clutter.
Wish you all the best in your quest for success.