Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You're a writer, so do you need a website? Part 1

Oh wow. Okay. It’s seriously dusty here.

I rather scared myself looking at how long it’s been since I’ve last blogged…not my last post, because that was prescheduled, but my last actual post. Too long. I hate to say stuff like “I’m back!!! ”Let me give you just a teensy update before I get on with the actual meat of things...

When I last touched base, I was not feeling very interested in writing and concluded that I was okay with that, but then realized I wasn’t so okay with it after all. I still didn’t do much writing though. This was one of those phases that I’ve learned not to push because pushing just makes them worse, and it’s best to just go with it. So these past few months I’ve been writing a little…brainstorming a little…trying to get past editor’s block in Mirrorpass and making little inroads of progress between work and now classes.

The course seems to be running itself through as more and more lately, I find myself making real, substantial progress into Mirrorpass and having cumulative moments of inspiration. I am having writerly thoughts. And, what a better place to share writerly thoughts than a blog, yeah?

Let’s talk about something that I am in geek love with. Websites! And mainly, whether you as a writer need a website or not. Marketing yourself and your book is such a huge part of the publishing industry now, that more and more writers are getting an internet presence, often long before they even sign with an agent.

If you’ve been around the nets at all lately, or heck, even reading a magazine like Writer’s Digest, you’ll know that everyone is talking about networking and platforms and buzz and such. I’m not going to go into it, because it’s everywhere. Just trust me when I say this: the web is important. And if you’re a writer, getting yourself active on it is major.

There are lots of ways to get active; if you’re networking, you want to be on forums and the blogosphere and yes, a social networking site. Those are all great ways to build connections and get your name out there and make some friend who, you will be surprised to find, you are as interested in helping as they are in helping you.

And then there’s building a platform.

Lots of agents and authors try to define this, but in simple terms, your platform is your home base. After getting your name out there people will start to recognize you. They’re interested. When they’re interested, they look for your platform—usually a website or blog of yours with more information about you, your writing, your current WIP, etc.

I know some people say you should have a platform. Like, now. I know people who have just started writing, are on maybe their second novel, and already they’re diving into the world of publishing and promotion and craft. Sounds cool. Sounds inspiring. Also sounds like they’re getting ahead of themselves. The sparks tend to fizzle out when the rate of this person’s publishing career doesn’t keep pace with their promotional efforts.

Sometimes I go to an unagented/aspiring writer’s website and I find myself wondering, why do they have this? It’s cool and shiny and all. But there’s nothing really here, nothing they’re really doing with it.

In essence, they’re trying to meet a need they don’t have yet. It’s not working because it’s not needed—yet. Before you start looking into getting a website or upping your weekly networking time or even starting a blog, pause and think about the level of your need.

I have two more posts in this short series, so in the next post we'll talk about levels of need that don't work well toward a website.

Truly and always,

-Creative A


LM Preston said...

I believe writers can make the web work for them if they build something they enjoy. It shows. I love blogging and look forward to my weekly post. Who'd a thunk I actually have a small (over 100) following. It's rewarding especially since a lot of them have followed and supported me on my journey.

Solvang Sherrie said...

For me, blogging is about connecting with other writers. It's great to have support on this journey and I've made friends I wouldn't have found any other way.

Brian said...

Of course, it all depends on the purpose of your website. A website used to market your publications is obviously different to a blog used for other purposes. And if you're interested in even selling your own work an ecommerce site is a different sort of website again. As there are many means of transportation for getting from A to B, there are many kinds of websites to suit individual purposes.

Eeleen Lee said...

Writers need a web presence, as it'd be a waste not to make full use of the Internet.

Creative A said...

LM--right, I completely agree with you! On the other hand I think there are people who go all out because they feel they should or they think it would be fun, and I wanted to realistically evaluate whether this is a good idea or not.

Sherrie--Same here. :) I expected to meet people, but not the incredibly loyal friendships that have sprung up simply out of reading each other's blogs.

Brian--well said. I agree, because it does depend, and it depends a lot on what you have to have to offer at this point in your career.

Eeleen--I agree! The internet is a huge opportunity for writers.

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