Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Can Haz Website!

The last website I had was in 1996, when all the "cool" kids had free Angelfire pages full of...well, pretty much all the junk we add to our Myspace pages now. It didn't last long. Maybe six months before the "Hey, lookie! I can haz website!" feeling wore off and I realize the thing didn't actually serve any other purpose.

When I finaled ATIV, I suddenly had a purpose, but no website. So I found a web host, pretended I sort of knew what I was doing, and slapped something up. It was simple, but it did its job - gave basic information about me and my book to people who were following the contest. That's really all I needed. Now that purpose has skewed a bit. And like my jeans from 1996, the website no longer fits well.

I've been poking and prodding the thing, trying to get it to shape up but I finally decided to start from scratch. New design, new color scheme, new content. It's a little too early to even think about hiring a professional, but I can take the time now to construct something that actually reflects my work and myself as a writer.

I started with aesthetics, and after much searching on free stock photo sites, found a black and white picture of a wheat field with a storm rolling in over it that I could use for a background. It's perfect. My books to date have all been set in rural areas, so the field is appropriate. (Hey, is there actually a rule that says contemporary fantasy has to be urban?) And the storm adds this sense of ominous, unstoppable, primal danger that I really like. So the easy part is done!

Now it's time for content.


What the heck does an unpublished writer PUT on her website anyway?

Well, the way I figure it, an unpubbed's web presence needs to do two things: create awareness of herself and her work through networking and provide information about herself and her work for industry professionals during the networking and submissions process. The former you can do without a website. The latter, I think, would work best with one.

I'm still working on it, but here is what I have so far:

Links to my social networking sites and blogs. LJ, Myspace, LibraryThing, Title Magic, etc.
  • A little biographical information.
  • Completed work that I'm shopping.
  • A brief overview of current WIPs and their statuses.
  • A space for interesting blog posts and essays.
  • And because I'm a book geek, a place for book talk and my Wanna Read List

So, what do you all think? Is it worth it for an unpublished writer to have a website? What do like to see on an unpubbed's page?


Savanna Kougar said...

Mel, from what I can see out there, it's a good idea on several levels. One, if a publisher is interested or even stumbles across you and your writing...well, I've heard of a few contract offers that way.
Two, it's gets your name out, the genres you write in, and starts drawing potential readers.
And, I also believe in this day and age, it's a good discipline in learning how to promote yourself and your books.
Silly me, doesn't have an actual website, I just use my Kougar Kisses and the MySpace blog. So, I probably don't appear that professional. However, I can't justify the professional expense right now. Although, there are some great web designers in the romance subgenre arena now, and more emerging, which don't charge an arm and a leg.
Rae Monet is excellent and Celia Kyle is really good for certain kinds of presentations to mention a couple.

Evonne Wareham said...

When I got into ATIV I didn't really understand why an unpublished writer would have a web site. Then I saw what other writers had and the penny dropped.
That said, I still don't have one. Really must put it on my wish list, especially in view of the announcement I'll be making on TM tomorrow. vbg.

Lexie O'Neill said...

I have one, but I don't update it often. I don't think it's doing anything for me, either, but...I feel good knowing I'm doing little things toward this career. So, I definitely understand the feeling of "I have one--yay, me" and hopefully, it will help some day!