Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Books & Such Central Valley Office
Weather: 81º and sunny
Last week agent-extraordinaire, Janet Kobobel Grant, tweeted, “If you want anyone in publishing to take you seriously, you need to have a good-looking website that centers on you as a writer.” I agree, and it’s one of the things you can do while you wait.
I asked Janet what prompted her to tweet about websites. She had a publisher anxious to receive a project from a new writer. Janet had been going over the proposal with a fine-tooth comb and called the writer with a few questions. For one, the writer hadn’t listed her website on the proposal. Plus Janet wanted specifics on how many Twitter and Facebook followers the writer had. Janet was surprised to find that her client did not have a website and had only a handful of Twitter and Facebook followers.
You don’t often have a publisher that excited about a debut author’s idea. As Janet explained to her author, when the publishing committee sits down to consider a book, many laptops are open on the table. As a committee member listens to the editor make the presentation, he may be multi-tasking, looking at the author’s website, publishing numbers, reviews and other resources. A website, even for an unpublished author, offers a level of comfort. It introduces the sales and marketing team to the author.
And if you are actively seeking an agent, it’s even more important. Part of our due diligence includes checking out your website. Yes, you can get an agent without a website. (In my example above, Janet’s client did not have a website before signing.) And yes, you can get contracted without a website, but publishers know how important online marketing is these days and how much they count on an author’s skillful online presence. Contracting a technophobe or a Luddite is a big risk for a publisher.
So what is the most important pre-marketing you can do during your wait? Create a professional website. One that will show who you are, will show that you know how to present yourself online and will begin to define your brand. The question unpublished authors usually ask is, “What do I put on a website if I’m not yet published?” Look around. Check out other pre-published authors’ websites. You will want to have a beautiful home page that emphasizes your distinctiveness–your brand. You’ll want to have a bio page. You may want to create a book review page where you promote other authors. (More about that tomorrow.) If you speak, have a page with your speaking topics and quotes about your presentations.
Create something that is distinctly you. Something fun. If you love coffee, you may want to have a recipe page of your three best coffee recipes. If you are a dog person, make sure to have a photo of you with your dog and maybe famous writers with their dogs. Are you a photographer? Add a gallery. Think of what you like to see in a website. Be creative!
And connect your website to your blog, to Twitter, and to your Facebook. Your website should be Brand Central for you–a stopping-off place to get to all your other social networks. Don’t forget that blog numbers (which are available to anyone who wants to verify), the number of Facebook friends or fans and Twitter followers give an agent or publisher an idea how well you can market online. No, it’s not the most important thing, but it is one of the skills that does translate to buzz.
So pre-market while you wait. For some of you, this will seem like a heavy burden. Don’t let it be. See it as a challenge. Have fun with it. Make it uniquely yours. Let this verse from the Bible inspire you:
Live creatively, friends. . .
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Galatians 6:1a, 4-5 [The Message]
What ways have you made a website work for you? Feel free to give us your URLs.