The Dreaded Website Dilemma
As I said before, when I started this little journey I really didn’t plan to publish a book. Ah well, maybe in the back of my mind I thought about it, but it really wasn’t until a few friends that read my WIP (work in progress) urged…no, demanded that I finish the story and publish it.
We all like to have our egos stroked, and that for me was a fullbody massage with hot rocks, mud mask and a pedicure included!
My story took on a life of its own after that. You know the bump on your finger that you develop as a child from holding your pencil too tight? Mine came back in 3D…no funny black glasses needed. Now it was time to find someone to publish…if you read my post last week, you got the jist of that adventure. I also began to follow author blogs. I had read somewhere that the Indie Community was very generous with information on self publishing.
Every single solitary blog I followed, including Amazon’s own pages about publishing, said I had to have a website for my fans (?) to find me and that I had to have a blog. Ah well…once again, I was determined to do everything bassakwards. I ignored the advice. “Why in the hell do I need a website? I’m not going to sell my book from it. That’s Amazon’s problem. And why do I need to blog? I don’t have any useful thing to say, and if I did, who is going to listen to me?” I went about the business of dealing with Createspace and forgot about it.
I avoided the inevitable all summer. My book was beginning to become a reality to me. First edit was in progress. Book cover blurb, author photo, and cover design had been completed and uploaded. I was on my way. But that damn website advice kept rearing its ugly head. So I contacted my best friend Google while I mentally sat kicking and screaming NOOOO!!! and began to research domains, web/hosting, and websites.
I’m no expert on web/hosting. There are a ton of great ones out there. But one fact I came upon really stuck with me. If you have a web host retrieve and register your domain name, you need to make sure you own the name. I’ll explain in a minute. If you don’t, then when your hosting is up for renewal, the web/hosting company can up their fee for you to keep your domain name. They don’t like to share that little tidbit.
Example: Let’s say you have made Doodads. You develop a market plan and get Company X to host your website. Doodads take off like a rocket…you can’t manufacture them fast enough. Sales soar and you’re making bank. Oops…it’s time to renew your web/hosting account with Company X. If you haven’t purchased your domain name (you are a sub-domain) then Company X actually owns your domain. Company X can charge you not only for the web/hosting, but also for renewal of your domain name. You must comply because Doodads are associated with that name…Doodaddy.com.
Just a little something you may want to think about when you are ready to choose your web/host. You can check out the top 10 web/hosting sites for 2012, here.
I went with GoDaddy.com for my Web/hosting. For one, they register your domain name for you for pennies on the dollar. They are also one of the few hosting sites that are a domain registry. The longer you sign up, say five years instead of just one, the cheaper the annual fee. They have 24/7 tech support…and you actually talk to a person (amazing how that is an oddity in this day and age). WordPress which is the premiere web program, is included and already installed with your site. Already have a blog? You can link your existing blog to the site. No jumping back and forth between the two. They have over a thousand templates to choose from to meet every need (except mine of course) and they have a fantastic record of reliability. I’m not a paid endorser I assure you, I’ve just been very pleased with the service and attention as a valued customer.
So I sat down to start my very own website. If you don’t read code or HTML or know what a widget is or how to use a plugin…you’re in deep doodoo. I was up to my ears in it! So I went back to these fine people and said I needed more help…the learning curve was too steep for someone with my limited knowledge (I had to have my husband turn my computer on the first time) and skill level. They credited my account and signed me up for the DELUXE package!
The DELUXE package consisted of someone setting up my website for me. Now you’re talkin’! What I didn’t realize was that the service which was about eight hundred dollars and some change (which I thought was reasonable since I had seen other places charge five thousand dollars) was an annual cost to maintain my site…YIKES! I was also constrained to thirty minutes of changes to the site per month….WHAT!? That just wouldn’t do.
Finally I went back to the original plan. I began to research but found nothing in the way of website help. My husband even hired a programmer to come and set me up…he didn’t know the first thing about author sites. Frustrated and ready to give up, I literally stumbled upon a fantastic blogger, Laura Pepper Wu. She is well-known in the Indie community for helping authors with marketing and improving their online presence. She and her husband Brandon, are a marketing team from the Seattle, WA area.
She is an author and marketing consultant. He is a tech genius…let me repeat that…a tech genius. 30DayBooks is their website. They offer a multitude of services along with a phenomenal web template just for authors called Authorlicious. It’s the template I use for this site.
Authorlicious costs $129.00 and it’s yours. It comes with all the widgets and plugins that authors need to build a professional and functional website/blog.Widget for Amazon…got it. Widget for Goodreads…got it. Facebook/Twitter and other social media buttons…got em.’ Got a video trailer you want to add to your site…embedding instructions (in plain English, I might add) right at your finger tips. It links right into your existing WordPress program. A video tutorial is included and it’s extremely user-friendly. Problems…no sweat! When you purchase Authorlicious you get one full year of tech support from Brian. He will also tweak and clean up your site if you’re still not satisfied, for a very reasonable fee. Again, I’m not a paid endorser. I’m a happy customer! My site is still far from where I want it to be, but I’m proud of it and what I’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time, with the limited knowledge (none!) I had.
If you’re an author and you don’t think you need a website, think again. Virtually every social network, every promo site, and every marketing entity wants a place to direct readers…a website! Don’t wait until your book has been out there for several months…do it before you even think of how you want to publish. This is part of building your author platform (I’ll go into that in a later post). Do all you can, long before you’re ready to push that “publish” button.
I never would have dreamed I would have a website/blog. I never thought I had anything to say. However, I have found in my blog and social media travels, that there are people out there just like me, that may know about some aspects of this world of publishing, but nothing about another aspect. I’ve learned so much over the past two years, and obviously I have a lot more learning to do. But maybe I know where I can point someone to help them navigate just a bit easier or quicker.
From one newbie to another, I hope this helps.
I would love to hear your thoughts or ideas. Maybe you have better directions to give. I’d love to hear from you.