Thursdays with Amanda: Why Unpublished Authors Need Websites
June 28, 2012 | Written by admin
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
This week (and next week, too), we’re going to talk about websites. We received this great question that got the ball rolling: “I would love to hear why you think an author should have a web site. What can the web tell you that the back of the book hasn’t already said?”
It’s pretty obvious why published authors need websites…in an age when celebrities are more accessible than ever through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, authors need to follow suit. I mean if I can Tweet my favorite actor or band and get a response, I should be able to interact with my favorite mid-list author, right?
But what about the unpublished author? What value does having a website provide if it can’t showcase a published work? Let’s look at the business-related effects of having a website as well as the platform-related ones.
Why having a website as a published author makes sense from a business perspective:
- It tells potential agents and editors that you’re serious about your career. Believe it or not, some authors aren’t looking to make a career out of writing. Sure, they may be very serious about getting the one book they’ve written published, but after that, they’re done. They don’t have any more stories in them. Having a website tells industry professionals that you’re in this for the long haul, and you’re willing to invest some money to make it happen.
- It tells potential agents and editors that you aren’t afraid of using the web to promote yourself. Most authors don’t know how to navigate social media. Having a website dispels those fears for agents and editors when considering your project. Even though most authors have someone else build or maintain their site, it still tells us that you’re willing to find the right help to develop an online presence.
- It gives potential agents/editors an avenue through which they can learn more about who you are. Query letters can be a bit impersonal. But a website with a full “About the Author” section, a blog, photos, etc. gives agents like me an opportunity to do some snooping without committing to the relationship. In this business, we work with people we like. And if your website is able to give us warm, fuzzy feelings about you as a person, you’re more likely to make it through. I’ve had editors contact me after a conference, wondering about so-and-so unpublished author. They met the author at the conference, got a good impression, and then found themselves snooping around the author’s website. They contact me to see if I’m either working with the unpublished author or am aware of them. When I’m able to say “yes, I work with them” the editor has always asked me to include them on the submission list when the project is ready to go. Pretty cool, right?
Why having a website as a published author makes sense from a platform perspective:
We’ve spent the last few months looking at what both published AND unpublished authors can be doing to build a platform. The website, though, is the most crucial component because it brings everything together.
Let’s say to get started, you’re most comfortable using Facebook. So, you develop your Facebook page and start getting “likes.” You utilize its Photos and Notes features and are consistent about posting to it. Eventually, you realize you can handle more. So, you venture into Twitter. After that, you launch a YouTube channel and then a blog. Eventually, you have many different social media channels going at once and you realize you need to link them all together.
Enter, the website.
A great website will give users a one-stop place to go where they can decide how they want to follow you. Do they want to subscribe to your blog? Follow you on Twitter? Be notified through email?
A great website will have the author’s blog, Twitter and maybe even their Facebook all streaming directly to the home page (or therabouts). This increases the likelihood that a user who happens to be dropping by for a quick check-in, will be encouraged to interact with you by leaving a comment or reTweeting you.
A great website will also become your go-to reference when people ask where they can find you online. Instead of choosing to either tell them about Facebook or Twitter or your blog, you simply direct them to your site. From there, the user can choose where they want to go and how they want to interact with you.
OK, so how does an upublished author provide content for a website when there isn’t a book they can feature?
We’ll talk about that next week.
For now, I want to hear from you published authors…did you have a website before you were published?
And what about you unpublished authors…do you currently have a website? Do you feel it adds a level of professionalism or are you worried it’s a waste?