When an editor or marketing expert tells you to get a website for promoting your book, you probably have one of two reactions: 1) “I can’t afford that” or 2) “I haven’t a clue how to do that; I wouldn’t know who to contact, and I can’t build one myself because I don’t understand anything about web page design or this html code I vaguely recall is needed to construct a website.”
This editor is here to tell you that there’s no need to worry. For very little money, you easily can build a website with just limited knowledge of how they’re constructed or how they work.
How do you do that, you ask? Let’s get started.
First, you need to find someone to “host” your website. A host keeps your web pages on a computer that is always turned on and that people can access at any time via the Internet. Finding this host is fairly easy to locate: Just type “website host provider” into a search engine and begin comparing prices and services offered. A number of reviews of these providers also are available online. It’s best to stay away from the “free” offers and pay a little for hosting a website (typically the lowest priced hosting package is sufficient, and this can range from a couple of dollars a month to a two-year contract that runs a couple of hundred dollars). The “free” option usually means that the host provider will saturate your page with ads, and sometimes they aren’t for items you’d like to see sold on your site.
Look for host providers that allow you to build a website using tools they provide. These turnkey websites are easy to construct and maintain, with many hosting companies providing online tutorials that take you step-by-step through the process. Use one of the hosting company’s templates to build your pages. Often you can pay to have a unique template built for you, but it probably isn’t necessary unless you’re promoting a series of books that you’ve written.
Next, you’ll need to plan your website. What pages will it have? What text and photos will appear on each page? Keep the pages simple – and you can have attractive, compelling pages that are simple – or in frustration you’ll end up paying someone to build them for you. During the pages ahead, we’ll discuss what these pages might be and what should appear on each one. This plan that you develop is called “site architecture.”
Finally, there is the question of whether or not you need a domain name. This is a unique for your website, such as http://www.mcdonalds.com (which takes you directly to the website for fast-food chain McDonald’s). This is very useful for branding and can cost less than a hundred dollars a year. You’ll probably want your own domain name if you’ve published a series of books. However, for first-time published writers, a domain name is unnecessary. When you purchase a turnkey website from a host provider, you’ll receive a free domain name, which you can partly create. The downside to such given domain names is that they typically include some element in the web address (also known as the URL) that indicates the host provider, thus making the web address a little long and not so easy to remember.
My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.