Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reader Questions: Web Sites for the Unpublished

At what point do you recommend a career-focused but not-yet-published author set up a website? Last year I snapped up my domain name and set up a very simple, inexpensive site, but I’m not doing much with it. Hmmm . . . should I be?

I’ve done a number of posts on Web sites and publicity, including this piece on PR for the Unpublished Writer , but this question is a little more specific. When do I recommend you set up your Web site? Yesterday. I don’t think I have to tell you that Web sites are an amazing resource and we all use them. If I get a proposal or query I’m interested in and find out the author has a Web site, I will most definitely check it out. In fact, a number of authors in Karen Tabke’s first-line contest have links to their Web sites, and you bet I checked those out while reading the entries. The smartest authors posted the first chapter or so of their books, and if I continued to read and liked what I was reading, I would most definitely drop that author an e-mail requesting material.

My suggestion for unpublished authors is to include the first chapter or chapters of any books you are submitting as well as a bio about you and your writing. Make sure the site looks professional and reflects the tone of what you’re writing. If you’re writing cozy mysteries, for example, you don’t want the site to look dark and scary.

What I can tell you not to do is use the Web site as your query. In other words, don’t e-mail agents with a link to your site and nothing more. Your site should be considered another home for you and should be listed with your address, phone, and e-mail. It’s simply more contact information, it’s not your submission.

I haven’t been surfing any sites recently, but if anyone can recommend good Web sites by unpublished authors, please do.