Social Media for Writers: Do you need an author website?

Do you really need an author website? What's the point? I share a few thoughts in this post.
Ten years ago, this might have been a
redundant question, because of course you need an author website, of course you
need some kind of platform to communicate information and content to your
readers.
I remember when I was maybe twelve,
thirteen, and if I’d read a book I’d liked, I’d go to the author’s website to
find out if they had other books, find out any behind-the-scenes content, and
learn more about the author.
But now there are so many platforms
available for you as an author to be able to communicate with your readers that
this becomes a trickier question to deal with. And although it’s maybe not
strictly ‘social media’, I thought it was important to include in this series.
So now, I’m a lot less likely to go and search
for an author’s website if I liked their book: I’ll go look for them on Twitter
instead, and hope there’s a link in their bio if they have a blog or website I
can take a look at; but otherwise, chances are, I won’t actively go searching
for their website before I go to their social media.
Let’s start out by looking at what the
point of an author website is.
As I said right at the start of this post,
it’s a platform to communicate information and content to your readers. It’s a
place where you can put up information about your books (what books you’ve
published, their cover and blurb, where readers can buy them), and tell readers
about yourself.
And yes, you do need some kind of platform
like that as a writer. You want to be able to direct your readers and your
audience to a place where they can learn more about you and your novels.
They’ll find you on Twitter or Instagram,
sure, but it’s harder to convey all the info they’re looking for there. You’d
have posted it, but a link to your second novel might be buried under a few
dozen Tweets about editing and what show you’ve just started binge watching and
replies to other writers you’ve connected with. So yes, you want a place where
you can basically info-dump and send your readers to.
You want a site where you can showcase your
work, your books, your other projects and social media channels. You might want
to link to interviews or just post snippets and quotes from articles about you
and reviews of your book. You want an ‘About Me’ spot where readers can learn
more about you, the person behind the book. You want a point where people who
want to know who you are can go to and if they want to, find some contact
details to get in touch.
But
what about a blog
, I hear you ask. Why can’t I just use a blog instead? I’ve
already got one, do I need a website as well?
This is the tricky part of the question,
and honestly? It’s up to you. You have to decide what works for you.
A quick summary of the main points, before
I go into more depth: at the end of the day, a blog is free to set up, you’ve
got to pay to have a website, and you can use a blog for all the same sort of
things.
The main difference is that your website is
static. And that might make all the difference for you.
As you’ll have noticed even if you’ve only
just clicked onto my blog today to read this post, my blog is a blog. It’s
mostly about writing, and my life, and less about my books. I don’t even have a
link in the top to a page telling you about my books. See? I really don’t.
Maybe I should, and maybe I’ll change that, but this is primarily a place for
me to blog. This is not a place I’ll direct a reader who wants to know if I
have any other books published aside from the one they read.
A blog is not static. You can create static
pages, of course you can, but every time you add a post it’ll update the home
page on a rolling basis and push other content further back into your archive,
which can make it harder to find.
A website on the other hand has a home page
that’s static. You’ll see the same thing every time you visit it. There’s often
less content than on a blog, too, which can make it easier for your audience to
navigate.
When my writing started to become popular
on Wattpad, I set up a Tumblr blog. I added static pages to it where I wrote
about each of my works published on Wattpad, which later developed into pages
about each of my published novels.
The big reason for me that I wanted to set
up a website separate from my blog was to make things easier for my readers. My
blog was my blog. I’d talk about books I was reading, I’d run the Writing
Wednesday series, I’d answer questions from my readers. I wanted somewhere
simpler to direct them where they could just find out about me, my books, and
where to buy them – and then access my other social media platforms if they
wanted to.
Like I said, though: there’s nothing
stopping you using a blog as your ‘author website’ if you want to. Especially
if you know you won’t really be blogging or posting anything else on there.
And if it’s the pricing you’re worried
about, it’s actually not that expensive. I mean, it is, but it’s not completely
extortionate. I paid something like £300 (I think?) for ten years. That gave me
ten years of my domain name (the URL), the hosting platform for the website,
and ten email addresses. I use the email I set up with my website –
info@bethreekles.co.uk – to give out online. If I meet someone in real life,
I’m usually happier to give them my personal email, but I like to have this
‘professional’ one that keeps things safe and separate. But at the end of the
day, that was what, £30 a year? I felt like that was okay for me.
A note on the pricing, actually: you can
buy a domain name (your URL) but that doesn’t necessarily include hosting. That
means you own the URL but you don’t have a website space to build alongside
that URL. You can use the URL on blogging platforms, or you can just pay a bit
extra for the hosting (GoDaddy do this, and I think Wix do too – I’m not sure
about other providers). If you have hosting, this means you’ll be able to build
your website up there and then. The provider will create a blank space in the
internet that corresponds to your domain name and is waiting for you to add
your info and make it look pretty.
And a note on building your website: no,
you don’t have to be a coder or know much about any of that to be able to build
your website. GoDaddy (and I think Wix is similar) offer free templates or
blank templates where you can add/drag/drop text and pictures, embed a Twitter
widget or Youtube video, etc. They’re crazy easy to do.
I’ll talk more in the next post about how
to set up your author website, but I wanted to cover a couple of the main
bullet points that concerned me when I first got mine.
Look, you don’t strictly need a website website – but you do need
something that acts as your author website, and Facebook probably won’t do the
job in this case.

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Do you have an author website, or are you
thinking about setting one up? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the
comments!

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