Monday, December 18, 2006

Master of Your Domain

One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your writing career is to create a website. Not just any website, though – you want to create an interesting, dynamic, creative, dazzling website that tells everyone who visits exactly how interesting, dynamic, creative and dazzling you (and/or your book) really are.

Sort of.

The truth is that web page design has been picked apart and analyzed by people much smarter than me, to the point where there are entire blogs dedicated to bad design. What does analyzing bad design tell you? It tells you what not to do.

As a writer, there is little chance that you actually have the design skills necessary to produce a good webpage, much less a great one. However, there are plenty of people out in the world who work as freelance web designers. These are the people that you should be talking to.

Why? Because your website is an easy and effective way to market yourself. You can quickly and easily lump all of the significant information about you and your book on the front page so it leaps out at people when they visit. In addition to the basic information (your name, your book’s name, publication date, genre), your site should have a link to where it can be bought and a free copy of the book for people to download. Cory Doctorow explains the concept better than I could, but remember the phrase “try before you buy.”

When you print up business cards and flyers for your book, be sure that you include the website. One of the most effective advertisements I have ever seen was for the webcomic xkcd. It was a simple business card with just those four letters on the front. On the back were the words “Just Google it already.”

Take responsibility for the presentation of your work. If your book was important enough to self-publish, then it should be important enough to market effectively. And if your website looks like it was put together by someone with not a lot of design skills, then you are not marketing your book effectively. It’s that simple.