Setting Up An Author’s Website

You can pay someone to set up your website or you can do it yourself. Either way, make sure you are very involved in your website and always make sure you update your website on a minimum of a bi-weekly or at least a bi-monthly basis. In order to generate traffic, especially repeat customers you have to be able to offer them something to keep them coming back or making them want to come back. A stagnant site or what I like to call a billboard site is not very appealing to readers and visitors, plus it doesn’t get your numbers up on Goggle and we all know numbers is the name of the game to being number one on The Internet.

Paying Someone to Design Your Website:

For paying web designers, you can check out your local yellow pages or go on the web to find someone. There are various web-hosting sites. To look into them type “web hosting” in your search engine. These firms can provide you with your own domain name, email address, online merchant accounts, plus other extra features. Webspawner.com is a web design firm that can be contacted on the Internet and set up a page for you, host it, and give you your own web address.

The best web designers are the ones that are referred. Ask around and DO RESEARCH to find out the best one for you. Compare prices, rates, and so forth. Check out sites like, http://www.free-web-space-finder.com and look at what free website hosts have to offer, than see what your paying host can offer more.

One thing I can tell you to be sure of when you set up a contract with people is that you need to be sure that you have all rights to your domain. Make sure it is your credit card and name that is registered to the domain, so if ever you and the web designer decide to cut ties, you still have control of your website.

I can’t tell you the thousands of times that I’ve had authors tell me they can’t make updates because they haven’t heard from their web designers.

Be your own web designer:

Most paying providers have free web space such as AOL and MSN, but you have to deal with a long address name.

There are a lot of free web space hosts such as:

http://Bravenet.com, http://Yahoo.com, http://Tripod.com, http://Angelfire.com and http://Talkcity.net.

Yet, with these providers you have to deal with the long web names again and they give you so many pages. Plus, you have to deal with the advertisement that they will place on your page on their own. Usually when you open one of their web page extra advertisements will pop up in another browser window or there are items on the side, bottom, or top, depending upon the host.

http://Homestead.com offers unlimited space for about $120 a year and gives you the software to use. This is a feasible solution for people who will have a lot of graphics and large size files on their websites, plus their easy-to-use program can be downloaded onto your computer and is almost an idiot proof when building your own website on or offline.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is computer code used to create most web pages. To learn about this complex language of website design go to FrontPage at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage. Another HTML program is Homesite. Bravenet.com also offers great articles and tips on HTML programming for your website.

GETTING YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME

Some providers and hosts can help you get your own domain name. In order to get your own domain name that says, “www.yourname.com” or “www.yourbook.com” you can check out different domain places. Go to: http://FindMyFreeHost.com, which can give you a listing of free domain places. Most of them will allow you to get a free domain for a time period, but in return they put banners on your web page. Just research the type of material they want in return and you should do fine. After your free time period, you will have to pay a small fee per year, (about $20). A paying domain name provider is: http://www.networksolutions.com or http://GoDaddy.com

If you would like to know more about free web space host go to http://Freewebspace.net, which gives a detailed guide to free web space providers and includes comparison charts and reviews.

Motown Writer’s Network offers Michigan writers a chance to set up their own web page on their site. Even though it will have the MWN’s URL before their page name, the cost is low and updating your page is easy. Not only will you have a profile page, but your book and its cover will be listed in the Motown Writer’s Network Bookstore. To find out more information, go to http://motownwriters.com.

HOW SHOULD MY WEBSITE LOOK?
There’s no true method to designing a website, but just be friendly on the eyes and don’t have too much information especially on your first page that is unfriendly to so many different computer systems that are looking at your page.

One tip I will offer you is that you can set up your website as if you are putting together a press release. You want all the vital information on the first page.

Your website should be eye catching, informative, and well laid out with an eye for simplicity, yet easy maneuverability for viewers. Use your creativity, but make sure it is pleasing on the eye.

1. Title
Mastering the Art of Jumping Rope
By Author and Lecturer
John Smith
An E-Book and Tradeback by Xlibris.com
ISBN: 2255-225-xx

2. Hook Sentence to grab the attention of your viewer
Example: Breakthrough Methods in Jump Roping to make your experience enjoyable at any age.

3. Next you’re going to list the benefits of the book. If it’s fiction, you want to tell us what the book is about in this section, plus ordering information.

4. Put in an excerpt from the book on a separate page, but make sure it’s there on the site. Visitors who can be possible potential readers enjoy testing to see if they like the writer’s voice or writing style.

5. Have a download of the press release (make sure it’s in .doc format or even .txt. If you want to be fancy, I’d use HTML.)

6. List other books by you. Have book page that list all your books and sometimes a link in progress.

7. Post reviews of your book.

8. Suggestion: Post an audio or video message or even read part of a section on the book. Per author and online promotions expert, MJ Rose, at MP3Lit (www.mp3lit.com) there is no charge to have your audio files listed on the site. For video, you can upload it to YouTube.com and embed the code or link the code over into your site.

9. Make sure your email, a toll free # (if you have one or regular number with area code) and a PO Box is listed on the initial page.

10. Give your tour schedule. (These are one of the items that have to be updated on a monthly basis). You can opt to have this in your monthly newsletter if that is your choice. (See Ezines)

11. Post items of interest on your site:
 Post Articles about your subject matter or just your experience as a published or self-published writer.
 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about your subject or yourself. If you’re a fiction writer, then interview yourself and answer the questions. For example: “What was your purpose for writing The Forgetful Heart? I wanted to touch on the problems with early age memory loss.”

12. Put a counter on your pages to monitor your viewers. That way you can know what works and what doesn’t work.

13. Set up an order page. If your publisher has an order page on their site, link the page directly from your own. This can apply to http://Amazon.com and http://BarnesandNoble.com or other online bookstore’s websites. If your book isn’t available on the web, (which it should be! – See putting your book on the web), make sure you list on this order page all your contact information and if you have the form program in your website design program use this to make it easier for your interested viewers to order from you. If you have a self-published book and want to receive all the profits without the middleman you can set up your site to have a merchant account, which will allow you to receive and process credit card orders. Card Service International (http://cardservice.com) usually takes about thirty cents or more per transaction. Another online service that is garnering a lot of attention is http://Paypal.com. No matter what service you choose to use keep a detailed record of all your transactions.

14. List Social networks. If you’re a part of any social networks (Myspace, Facebook, Ning or more) make sure you list them on your webpage to connect and network with your viewers.

15. List Blogs. I have over 20 blogs I post on randomly and I like my readers to know them. I feed the main ones through an RSS bar on the main site, but I also have a page on my site that lists all my blogs as well.

16. Guestbook – This is so important to know exactly who visited your site. I always tell people to make sure to sign other guestbooks. That way it attracts more people to their own site. When you leave a comment (and please do) tell the person what you liked about their site and then invite them to check out your site. You can add a little bit about your book and yourself. (This is why your blurb and hundred word paragraph is so important.)

MORE WEBSITE TIPS

 Avoid graphics that are too large on your website because it takes a long time to download the page. If you wish, create a splash page. This page is before the main website and may contain large animated graphics such as PowerPoint displays and/or Macromedia program. Make sure you have an option to bypass this for the impatient visitor.
 On each page always have a navigation bar. This helps the viewer find a way back to your home page or jump over quickly to your order page. On Motown Writer’s Network, my basic navigation bar has the following, Home, Contact Us, Join and Resource. I put the Homepage first because people can get lost in my pages, and they might have found something and wanted to go back to it. The contact button and the resource page is just for viewers to have something to quickly reference to instead of jumping back to the home page.
 Add a blog or if you have several blogs elsewhere from your main site, do a blog list page so other’s can find you or subscribe to your several blogs.
 Link’s page. This is your page to connect your social networks and other friends together under your website.

These tips should help with a well formulated and a pleasing picturesque website. You don’t have to use all these tips on your page. Good luck!

Of course by now, you should have a Yellow Page size book of email addresses. For friends and family, write them a letter announcing your website and your email. You shouldn’t email people you don’t know well because this could be considered spamming (unwanted junk mail to other email addresses.) That will get you kicked off the Internet fast!

Spamming will make you very unpopular very quickly. If you have a contact that might be interested in your work or you, personally email them or sign their guest book and include a message to draw them to your site. (e.g. “I loved your site and thought you would love mine because…) Make sure you include your URL and keep your fingers crossed.

Your website should also have a way of prompting a visitor to leave an email. Your mailing list is a vital part of your marketing and promoting campaigns. Being able to reach back to past visitors that have come to the site and bring them back them back on to find out more about you, plus buy more product is the point of having a changing.

META-TAGGING (tags)
Other ways to enhance your website is using Metatags.

Metatags are keywords that search engines and web crawlers seek out to find different websites. For instance if you did a search in http://Goggle.com for the word “dreams”, eventually my fiction novel, Dreams of Reality would pop up. That’s because in my metatag software, I have dreams and other words listed so when a search engine is activated with specific words, they will find my site. You can put a lot of words in your metatag menu. Enter familiar words that you would want people to find your site with.

To use your metatags, look into your help section on your website and find out how to enter metatags for your site.

Do some research on key words and metatags. For more information on metatags, go to http://www.searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/meta.html. This is an article that describes the use of metatags and metadata – a website’s summary information in search engines. It also gives links to resources.

For more information on setting up your website or using HTML’s (which are really cool and you’re not so limited to what website designing programs offer) go to http://Webmonkey.com, which is a web developer’s resource site.

Once you have your URL (website address) and your email you’re almost ready to start your Internet Marketing plan!

Setting Up Your Site From A Blog

Using a Blog to set up your site is a great way to get a website for free (wordpress.com or blogspot.com) or very low cost without any advertisement on it. Very little html is needed in order to set it up and you can update it not only from the site itself, but from your email and from your phone. WordPress now has an iPhone application.

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