Your First Author Website: How to Make It Happen

You know you need a Website to help promote and sell your book but don’t know the technical details to make it happen. Relax, it isn’t as mystical as it seems. There are four steps you’ll need to take in order to get a Website developed and “live” on the World Wide Web:

1. Register a Domain Name
2. Write and Develop Your Website Content
3. Hire a Website Designer/Developer
4. Sign Up for a Hosting Plan

1. Register a Domain Name

The domain name is the address you type into your browser: www.YourWebsite.com. There are several domain extensions to choose from. (.com, .us, .net, etc.) You will generally want to register one or more .com domains. Many authors register versions of their own names (including common misspellings) as well as their book’s title or subject matter. You must go through a registrar (or one of a registrar’s affiliates) to register domain names. A domain costs from approximately $7 to $35 per year, depending on the registrar and current discounts. For a list of accredited domain registrars, type domain registrar into any search engine or visit:
http://www.icann.org/registrars/accredited-list.html

Once you’ve chosen a registrar, search to see if the names you want to register are available. If they are not, the registrar will often suggest alternatives. After deciding on your domain names, purchase them by following the on-screen instructions.

2. Write and Develop Your Website Content

You will be responsible for your Website’s content — the text, pictures, and logos. You may hire one or more copywriters, editors, or graphic designers to help with the work. But you are the ultimate expert on yourself and your book, so you must be intimately involved with content development. To generate ideas and get your “creative juices” flowing, start by exploring other authors’ Websites. Make note of features you’d like to include or offer on your own site. For example, sample chapters, discount for multiple purchases, premiums (such as t-shirts, bookmarks, or book bags), audio readings, etc. Other things to consider when developing Website content:

    Overall structure (i.e. which pages you will have in your site and how they fit together): Structure will be driven primarily by your site objectives. A Website that sells your book, for example, may have these pages: About the Book (as home page), About the Author, Contact, Store, and Privacy PolicyText on each page: On the Web, short paragraphs read better than long ones. Experts typically recommend 250 – 1500 words per page.

    Call-to-action: Know what you want to accomplish with your Website and what actions you want visitors to take (read about the book, buy the book, contact the author, etc.). Encourage visitors to take action with links in the navigation, within text, and near the top of pages.

3. Hire a Website Designer/Developer

Website development and design involve putting together your Website’s overall structure and artistic look. There are several ways to accomplish this. You may find, for example, that your registrar offers an inexpensive site builder program that allows you to build your own Website step-by-step online. Site builders, however, rarely live up to expectation and/or meet your needs. Some common issues: frequent “glitches,” slow program response, minimal directions or customer support, poor search engine optimization features, and inflexible or limited design options. I recommend you avoid these site builders. Instead, hire a design firm or Website developer to help with your Website.

For a higher-end site you may want to hire a firm to create and develop your Website around a custom design. A lower-budget alternative is to forego custom design and hire a Website developer to create your site around an existing Website template. Some Website developers offer their own pre-made templates as part of their development packages. Others develop around a purchased template.

Design and Development Costs

Design and development costs for your Website can run the gamut from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on Website features, quality, size, and design. In general, the more pages and the more custom graphics and design in your site, the higher the cost.

Finding Developers and Templates

Many people find a Website designer or developer through word of mouth. There is also a list of some St. Louis area firms here: http://www.marketingtool.com/channel/webfirm/b.435.g.6579.html

If purchasing a template, expect to pay anywhere from zero (for a very basic, one-page design) to a couple hundred dollars (for a multi-page, high-end site design). Type Website template into any search engine to find a variety of template options.

4. Sign Up for a Hosting Plan

A Website host “rents” file storage space to you on a Web server, generally provides email services (so you can have “@MyWebsite.com” email addresses) and takes care of the technical aspects of making your Website visible on the World Wide Web.

After choosing your approach to Website development and working with your developer to decide features, you have enough information to look at Website hosting packages. Most hosts charge a monthly fee, which varies widely depending on features and account size. Your Website developer or designer can help you choose a host and plan that fit your needs. You can also research numerous hosts at www.websitehostdirectory.com.

You know you need a Website to help promote and sell your book. Now you know how to get one!

About the Author

Bobette Kyle is Webmaster for the St. Louis Publishers Association. She draws upon 15+ years of Marketing/Executive experience; online marketing and Web development experience; and a marketing MBA as inspiration for her writing and Website services. Bobette is also author of the marketing plan and Web promotion book “How Much For Just the Spider? Strategic Website Marketing For Small Budget Business.” Additionally, she offers starter Website development services. For more information, visit: http://webmarketingplace.com/startersite.htm



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