One of the most common questions I hear from writers is: when should I start an author website? I hear it from my web design clients, in writers groups, on social media, at conferences, and in critique groups. I’ve been asked versions of this question three times in the last week.
The answer is: probably sooner rather than later.
Don’t believe me? Well…
Agents and editors agree: start your author website while you’re pre-published!
Literary agent Eric Smith outlines some reasons for starting a website as a pre-published author and literary agent Joyce Sweeney agrees. But I’ve heard the same thing from numerous agents and editors at conferences and in webinars.
They agree: having a website or online presence isn’t a dealbreaker when they’re deciding whether or not to work with you. But it can tip the scales in your favor. (More below.)
Benefits of starting an author website early
That said, there are reasons why earlier is often better.
1. Make a hub to centralize your author platform.
One of the benefits of a website is that you get to collect and curate your online platform in a space you own. It’s a good compliment to the ephemeral nature of social media. (Plus, if a platform becomes unusable, you don’t lose your content!)
As your author platform naturally grows over time, your website can grow with it and become the one place people need to find all your information. (Versus having announcements on social media, book summaries and purchase links on bookstore pages, no list of your social media handles, no designated way for people to contact you, ….)
2. A way for people to contact you.
Sure, they can DM on social media, but that’s not ideal. Having a website with a contact form gives people a professional way to reach out to you.
The farther you get in your writing career, the more important that becomes. Eventually you’ll have people reaching out about signed books, events, or just to share how much they love your books!
3. Show agents and editors you’re someone they want to work with
Back to what Eric Smith said. Agents and editors will Google you when deciding if they want to work with you.
A website can help show them you’re someone they want to work with:
- Dedication to your career (you’ve already built a website!)
- Knowledge and willingness to market yourself and your work
- Professionalism (that doesn’t mean suits and business-speak – it means you are a reasonable person who isn’t a scammer, a stalker, a troll, or headache to work with)
- And you can further show them this through content that highlights all of the above.
4. Reduce stress around book launch Time
Launching a book involves a lot of work. So is launching a website. Doing the website early means you’re spacing out that work.
By the time you have book announcements for your website, the foundation will be laid. Adding an announcement to an existing website is much easier to fit in around book marketing!
5. The longer your website has been online, the more likely people are to see it
When Google decides what websites to promote in search results, it considers how long a website has been online and how much the content is updated. Since people rarely scroll down to see more than the first few results, that matters.
Starting your author website early means you’re establishing an online presence early. Plus, every time you add a new announcement or new content to the website (like a new book or new agent), you’re making an update.
If you want to learn more, you can check out this article on getting more visitors to your website. It’s written with blog posts in mind, but all the same ideas apply to any webpage.
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Ok, but how do I actually start an author website?
If you’d rather spend time on your writing than building a website, I’d be happy to chat with you!
If you’d rather DIY your author website, here are some resources to get you started:
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