Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Web Presence— to or not to?

I have seen this question posted on chatborards and elsewhere: should an unpublished writer have a website?


If time is short, please head directly to this link, from the master herself. Jane Friedman tells it like it is, and the short answer is YES.


There is nothing I can add. But I can write about my personal journey to having a website, a blog, a Facebook Author page, a LinkedIn account, and more. I came to it reluctantly, but I’m glad I did.



Confession: I had little web-presence and no website until I had a book about to be published. This was more a case of fearing the dangerous and choppy waters that is the virtual ocean. I have read too many horror stories of fraud, abuse and torment, and never stopped to check how prevalent or relevant these dangers  would be to most folks. (The truth is, not very.)

My first publisher informed me that having my own website was necessary. They were ready to design it for me. This scared me more than having it in the first place. I mean, it would have my name and my image and someone else’s sensibilities. Their own website, now defunct, (they closed their doors, sadly L ) was a marvel of technology with top-notch graphics. In fact, it was so active with moving graphics that while I know kids would love it, it was more than a bit much for me.
I wanted it plain. I wanted it understated. I wanted it comfortably quiet. In short, I wanted it to be my voice.


At the time, my daughter was twelve, and so sure of herself (doubts will come later) that she informed me it was “no big deal” to make a website. I will provide the content, and in no time she will set it up and voila, there it will be, live.


Which is what happened. On Christmas Day 2010, my website was born. The labor took just about two hours.


But post-partum was an adjustment and it felt odd for a time. Like wearing earrings or a wristwatch, I got used to it. (Does anyone still wear a wristwatch? I do) I adjusted fully just in time for my second book contract, where that publisher strongly advised blogging.


My website today is the same one, still homemade and still un-jazzy, though with added content. 
In other words, it’s still very much me.

That’s my story. But do go back to the linked article for better how-to and what-for.

Just in case you missed my inserted link, I copy it here, again.

22 comments:

  1. I agree that a web presence is essential for an aspiring author.

    I designed my own website as well. I mean it's someone else's template from WordPress, but it's all customized to my needs. I'd love to do one from scratch but don't have the time for that. It would be nice to hire someone and work out a design that they implement, but that's way out of my budget.

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  2. Mirka, I also started my website reluctantly but gosh, I took to blogging like a fish to water. What I've loved is getting to know people better and making good friends. So thankful for your web presence.

    I think at least a static presence is a must for any writer so that it can serve as an online portfolio. And today it's easy to do it without spending $$$.

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  3. Understated never goes out of fashion. And if it accurately reflects you as a writer, that's a win!

    I've had a website of some kind since 1997. That first one was simple and self-designed, customized with owls, humour and poetry, and reflected my taste and interests.

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    1. "Understated" is never out of fashion, nor is it in fashion... It's oblivious to OOOHs and AHHHs, ey?

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  4. My son designed my website 12 years ago and I've maintained it ever since. He says the programming he used is way outdated, but I know how to use it and, like you, Mirka, the design and look of it are 'me.' I like it, so I stick with it, changing the puzzles on it each week and updating new book information when appropriate.

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    1. Your site is more than a statement of a getting-to-know-you. It's a serious resource for the educational market.

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  5. I keep my own simple website too. Web presence has helped me connect with others and stay connected with my writing friends. Thanks for sharing Mirka!

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  6. A website is never a mistake unless you decide to post in such a way it would alienate your audience. =) It's like your online business card. Mine is rather simple and basically just shoots people straight to my blog where I actually hang, but it was definitely a necessity. (Thankfully I'm married to a techie who keeps it running for me.)

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    1. Like you, Crystal, I'm married to a techie who keeps things running safely. My techie doesn't design websites, so I was on my own there.

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  7. Most publishers expect an author to have a website before their first book comes out. I get more contacts and comments through my website than I do on my blog, too. Readers look for websites.

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    1. I think the question as to whether to have a website was for the UNpublished writer. I didn't think so. snd didn't have one before I had a book coming out. But the point of the Jane Friedman's article was that to yet-to-be writers who are hoping to be published should indeed have a website even before they have an offer.

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  8. Nice post, Mirka. I do believe a presence is needed, but I'm afraid I get way behind on my blog and spend much more time on FB. It's nice that your daughter could help you set your website up. I just went to Blogger, as cost would be a factor for me when it comes to hiring someone. I think yours turned out very well indeed.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Before being published, I did have a Facebook page. (still do) But I was keenly aware that there, on *their* terms, I was at the mercy of the Facebook company as to what-and-how. The Facebook aesthetic (while fully functional) is not a personal reflection of any sort.

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  9. Hi Mirka, how've you been? I smiled big at your "understated" and "comfortably quiet" bits. Your website has turned out very well and genuinely you. :) Well done, your daughter!

    For my first website (it was for my printed ABC books more than a decade ago), I hired a web designer. She did a nice job but ultimately it wasn't practical because it became too high-tech for me to change things on my own. After wasting that money, I took to designing my own site. Simple, nothing too fancy, using my own illustrations as decorations. You're absolutely right about having our website/blog reflect who we really are!

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    1. What I love about your site and your posts, Claudine, is the sensibility that comes through, which is to say-- tasteful, intelligent, genuine YOU.

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  10. I have the official author website and then the blogger blog, neither of which I do much on these days. Sometimes I feel sad about that. I sure did love blogging back when it was the happening social media.

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    1. I loved your blog, too, Karen, as did more than a thousand other followers.

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  11. I started social media reluctantly, as well, with my blog/website coming out just before my first book. I remember a few years before then, my son's schoolmate happened to put a picture of our family on Facebook and I was horrified to think of our faces being out there for public viewing. So much has changed, and I agree the more we put out there, the more we (hopefully) can control our public image.

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