I've been thinking about building a personal website recently. I was kind of inspired by what I do at my job, but I've also been toying with this idea for many years. Then, it occurred to me that authors (or wannabe authors, like me!) need to have an online presence, especially after they've been professionally published and would like to continue that trend.
A lot of information online is telling me that agents really value writers who can grow their own online platform/following, to the extent that some agents will ONLY consider writers who are already building one with some success. However, other sources are saying that growing your online presence is only going to matter once you gain some traction in publishing; the best thing for unpublished writers is to write, not blog or promote on social.
Anyway, what do you all think, or what have you done to gain an online presence? When should an aspiring author start social media, maintain a blog, and start a website? (Or do you think this is all unnecessary?)
Posts: 252 | Registered: Feb 2013
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I visit writer websites to sample wares in consideration of possible product acquisition, purchase or borrow. More often than not, I am disappointed, irrespective of whether an utter neophyte's first forays, a publication aspirant, ascendant, established, or blockbuster writer. The shortfalls are the same in any case: lack of substantive, meaningful content, common grammatical errors, lackluster wares, overly personalized accounts for no persuasive marketing purpose, one-sided conversation, and low activity.
A website is a commitment that takes time away from writing commitments, though is a marketing tool. Like me, content prospectors seek out new prospects. Bluntly, current prose and marketing content is a wasteland of mediocrity of a same dull blandness, repetition and derivativeness that misses one essential globally: prose's social function, aside from entertainment, is social satire of a moral aptitude degree.
Without a moral crisis tableau, invariably, prose is more or less And stories. And something meaningless happens at the start, and something meaningless happens in the middle, and something meaningless happens at the end, and to no meaningful outcome or satisfaction. Nor do I mean that prose must project an overt moral tableau, best practice not, rather a subtle moral subtext accessible for readers who delight from such though the overt action as well satisfies readers who don't want to be mentally challenged nor exposed to morality tableaus. And both and more.
A writer's website likewise best practice offers similar content, both content wrap and prose samples. Several complete short works is a good practice, so that savvy visitors have completed content from which to decide acquisition. This is a chronological milestone trigger -- when the timing is ripe for a website debut.
Not to mention, ideally, technology skills, too, are ripe for it. Too many writer sites miss the balance between quantity and quality and manner and relevance. Too busy and flashy yet empty or too vacuous lack of substance. Understatement is a best practice, always leave the audience satisfied and -- and -- wanting more, then deliver again and again. What? Weekly? Bimonthly? Monthly? Quarterly? Bimonthly is enough at the thin end for a sole proprietor. Weekly is hard to maintain. Daily? All but impossible without a proficient staff to accomplish it.
Consider some kind of two-way conversation application: chat room, bulletin board, yada; that opens communication channels with the audience. That, though, then demands multiple daily interactions -- unless set up for a more manageable time schedule. How? And this is a schedule strategy per moi that is manageable and dynamic, original and not yet done much, and -- yeah, respectful: Establish a set time and date at which each session will be active. Be creative, too, with an otherwise droll appointment criteria. Say, Mickey Moses' Nine of Five Happy Hour Third Thursdays. At nine minutes before five o'clock p.m. the third Thursday of each month, Mickey Moses meets online with site visitors. Manageable.
Static site meets, though, lack forethought and, hence, conversations are mere idol worship sessions. Love your writing! Everyone must read it! Vanity review astroturf a la Amazon reviews. Best practice is to direct the discussion in advance, one, so participants have foreknowledge of topics and agendas, two, so that they're prepared ahead of time, three, so that participants are focused and not all over the map, so that they're directed ahead of time without being forced to abide by overt dictates, so they participate self-selectively without a stern taskmaster hovering over them.
Also, applaud well-thought out contributions; make no comment about weak or malicious comments; prepare teaser questions ahead of time that engage participants and reward efforts: contests, scavenger hunts, name that source, games that further writing culture. Like, who said first about willing suspension of disbelief for fiction? Ten-word sentence that evokes curiosity? In what novel does the concept of reality imitation first see full realization? Who most explored human consciousness complications through prose? How does Pluralism work in fiction? Etc. Short answer questions that incite Socratic irony yet benefit all participants, couched as a site host curiosity and wanting satisfaction.
One more best practice consideration: research for and prepare a firm opinion position, take a stand, and support it. If the prose products are about a human condition; that is, a moral tableau, imply it. Best to not assert it overtly, let participants interpret it for themselves. Sooner or later, persons of different opinions will drop out and persons of similar views will join the conversation. Irrespective of what It is, It is the focus for the site, its marketing strengths, and, ideally, the prose products themselves. What? There's the friction rub. Satire, yes, and, otherwise, the satire target topic is infinite. Best practice one and only one focused, consistent satire topic, though leave some room for moral aptitude movement.
The one milestone trigger above, of enough content to justify the commitment, is a certain time nexus, these others above are milestones, too, though in and of themselves are less concrete time stamps, except that they be prepared in advance and each session be dynamic and regular, predictable, and consistent.
Roughly three-quarters of publication culture seeks out writer self-promotion, once someone comes to their attention. A website can be that springboard, though rarely. The opposite is valid, though, word-of-mouth buzz arises somewhere else and curious and meaningful-content starved prospectors hunt for further content. The world starves for meaningful content. A personal writer website is convenient if easily found. Other social media can be as convenient, though, again, too much content can clutter the Internet and consume hours of time. One definitive and effective, easily searchable location serves the marketing needs of a sole proprietor, to agents, publishers, readers, and fans.
Getting a website and/or starting a blog can't hurt, even if you have yet to be published. It will give you the chance to develop good habits (at least, in theory).
I obtained a website several months back, in the hopes that I would get published in the next couple years. I didn't do much with it at the time; I need to put some actual work into it now that I have a story coming out this month. XD
I'm not overly fond of pushing my social media presence, to be honest. I'll work on it eventually, I guess. I'm just... not overly social, in that way.
Good points all around. I'm currently of the opinion that an author should have a website, but the amount of content on that website should depend on the number of professional publications the author currently has.
That's not to say that an author should ever compromise quality of content to gain greater quantity of content. I have also seen really bad sites. Just last week, I was looking over an "About Us" page and was totally put off by grammatical/spelling errors.
Extrinsic, I do think that author meets or a chat room (like Hatrack, here) should only be part of an advanced author's website. Maybe someone who has published a few novels could start one of those and be successful. It's definitely not something that belongs on a fledgling author's website! I do think that website creation in itself is a valuable - if not increasingly essential - learning experience. When it comes time for online promotion, the existence of a website that social accounts can link to will be extremely helpful. However, spending several days a week maintaining a website and/or social accounts without any meaningful publications is pointless, in my opinion.
DP, I think I'm on the same page as you - it couldn't hurt, right? Good thing you got that website! Share the URL (if you want to)! I don't even consider updating an author's social media accounts to be an enjoyable social activity so much as a business activity. It's a way to grow a fan base, a way to advertise. This isn't always the case; for example, Philip Pullman was (or is still) tweeting an ongoing story from his Twitter account. I guess it really depends on how personal you want to get with social media.
Posts: 252 | Registered: Feb 2013
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Yeah good points. I have a writing blog and am on Google+ and two writing forums. They each do some of what extrinsic mentioned.
Lately I have been placing mostly older redone stories on my blog. Yet some new mini stories too. I need to add a update or three like I used to do. I also started placing some writer interviews I did. But haven't done that for over a year.
Been super busy with a private thing dealing with selling my Father-in-Law's house. My wife has put in many days of hours on it and her craft business has suffered. Anyway, I need to get back to the updates and interviews soon.
Posts: 5280 | Registered: Jun 2010
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