If I Build it Will They Come?

Everyone tells me that since I now have a book published I must have an author's website.  To this end I very earnestly bought a copy of "Do It Yourself Websites for Dummies".  Seriously, I did.  Me, who pretty much has her computer skills maxed out just putting together this Blogger post.  My Dummies guide was set aside after a few chapters.  As I told a friend, "I need a Dummies guide to understand my Websites for Dummies Guide." 

I then discovered there are places on the web that promise you can build your own website using their templates and graphics even if you a computer spaz like me.  Except they didn't use the word spaz.  I was very excited by this, I have say, but then some friends implied if I went that route I would create an amateurish, tacky-looking website. 

The obvious solution, of course, is to just hire someone to build me a website, right? But I looked into what that would cost me and all I'll say is I'm hoping in my next lifetime I'm a web designer and not a writer.  I even came across a site that only builds websites for authors.  They charge three thousand dollars.  This infuriated me so much I will not mention their name.  Most first-time novelists will not even make that much money in royalties.  But every first-time novelist will be pressured to build a website.

Yesterday it occurred to me that the only time I have ever gone to an author's website is to research what they looked like before I built my own.  After giving it a bit of thought I realized that I am more interested in the actual book than the author.  Which means when I hear about a book that interests me I usually go to Amazon, read the jacket description, flip through the book if I can, and read any reviews that are there.  I may not buy the book there...

So, do I go the amateurish, tacky route?  It's affordable and will get me a website.  Or do I wait until I have the money to hire a proper web designer?  Which may never happen.  Or do I scrap the whole idea and forget about having a website all together?  And just start selling myself as the new J. D. Salinger.


The Book Chick said...

I say go for the website with the template for now. Some of them are really nice, and you can always change it later on and go with the ridiculously expensive one if you choose!!!! Or seek out someone with experience who will do it for you for less because they are doing it as a hobby, rather as a career. I'm sure they're out there!

firstlinefiction said...

Thanks Jonita! Hope you're well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jonita. I set mine up via Wordpress just have a presence online, but my purposes are as much professorial as they are professional. And I'm with you--I don't ordinarily hang out on author websites (though I confess to dropping by Cormac McCarthy's with some regularity). On the other hand, they are damned useful things, and the cool ones can be really cool--my wife, who is a fan of the Twilight books, loves Stephenie Meyer's site and pops in there frequently. And my friend Darin Bradley--who has a book coming out this August and who does some designing of his own--has a pretty cool website that I check out from time to time. So it's worth having something online, just in case.

Of course, my friend Tom Franklin has no website of his own, and he seems to be doing just fine. Same for his wife, the excellent poet Beth Ann Fennelly. They're both happy to let their respective publishers put up author profiles and leave it at that.

All of which just means, do whatever you're comfortable with. The way I see it, an author website is supposed to represent the author, so if you're uncomfortable with complicated web design, then hiring someone to pull out all the stops and build a brilliant, complex website would just wind up seeming disingenuous. Better to do something clean, simple, and pleasant, if that's what you're happy with. :)

firstlinefiction said...

Oh Sam, you're so sensible. A voice of reason in the chaos. You reminded me of something I needed to be reminded of - whatever I do as an author should represent me. So simple yet so easy to lose sight of in the midst of all these external voices telling me what I have to do to promote myself, to promote my book etc. Lately I have either felt like a chicken running around with my head cut off, or the proverbial ostrich with my head buried in sand - maybe I should just breathe deep and feel the sunlight on my wings for a while. Thanks Sam.