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Setting up your website before your book launches

For several years I have had the pleasure of participating as a Winter Writers Weekend workshop presenter. At the 2017 event I will be reviewing concepts to start and enhance your website. The ideas can be used if you decide to follow the do-it-yourself path or enlist the assistance of a professional.

Choose the content focus for your website

Do you need a site that features a single book or do you think you might build a series or collection? An author focused website might provide more flexibility. You can display your collection of books in a gallery or portfolio area of the website. Later, if the books need a more specialized space, you can move the content to a separate website.

Purchase a domain name and select a website platform.

While there are several free and low cost tools available to help get started to set up a website, it is wise to allocate some funds in your marketing budget early on in the process. Free versions of tools are helpful for experimenting. It is better to invest in an appropriate level of the selected tools so you do not waste time struggling with unsupported products. For a moderate monthly or annual investment you can put together an uncomplicated, yet professional looking, website.

I find that, most for most of my client’s sites, one of the packages of WordPress software can efficiently and effectively be used to start a website and expand it as an author’s creative work flourishes. There other website builder vendors available if you need an alternative. (i.e. Squarespace, Wix etc.) Before starting to set up a website, ask if the content you add is able to be exported to use in another way if you outgrow the selected vendor.

Bonus tip:

Register (a.k.a.purchase) your website domain name independently from your website hosting tools. This tip may result in adding a few extra steps for set up, but can make it easier for changes in future.

Resist the temptation initially to spend a bunch of time selecting the perfect fonts and perfect colors.

Focus on creating interesting text content to support the themes of your book or your expertise. Find photos and graphics to accent the text. Be sure your selected website layout is flexible for a display in a variety of device sizes and types.

Build an audience

Establish a path to share stories, essays and articles that are aligned with themes of your book. Expand your reach by getting active in the social media spaces where your readers spend time. Build a pre-launch email subscriber list with a form that can be displayed your website. There are several email list building vendors to choose from (i.e. MailChimp, ConstantContact, AWeber etc.) Make a plan to share your content. Keep the people on your subscriber list informed of your book progress and launch date. Schedule regular opportunities to promote your website and make it known to your future readers. Be sure you are permitted to export and control the names and email addresses in the list you are building.

I look forward to meeting you at the 2017 Winter Writers Weekend.

Contributed by Lisa B. Snyder, Silver Hoop Edge

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