The question of what sort of web presence a writer should have comes up regularly on chat boards.
I’m not a fan of shoulds. If you’ve read my past posts, you probably know that. I won’t deny the discomfort I felt when I first made a website with my name domain. Touting one’s work and personal self feels weird and also somewhat unseemly.
But I also think there’s gigantic cognitive dissonance in wanting to be published (i.e. make public) and at the same time wanting to personally hide.
Unless you dream of doing a J.D. Salinger act, which means writing a classic and then disappearing as an ever-growing mystic aura radiates from the mention of your name, writing to publish means having some public presence. This is true for traditionally published authors, aspiring writers, and even more for the self-published who effectively become publishers and marketers.
While social sites are nice places if you like such hangouts, there is no substitute for a site you control under your own name. I think this post by agent Jennifer Laughran says it well, in her own take no-prisoners verbiage.
A few common reservations you can wipe off the deck immediately:
*It doesn’t have to cost much, though free options are not as good for various reasons. There are many inexpensive options that won’t force ads or a domain of the hosting company.
*It doesn’t require hiring a professional web designer. Nice to do (and worthwhile) if you are independently wealthy or already successfully published. But most web hosting services have templates that are intuitive and even non-techies like me can work with.
* It doesn’t have to blow anyone’s socks off, like the sites of famous bestselling authors. Start small and plain, but start.
Your website, under your own domain name, is your bit of real estate in the digital world. It’s a place to see you, (photo, please) your books if you have any, and a way to connect.
Of course, you don’t have to. You don’t have to write or publish anything. You only have to eat, drink, sleep, and try to be kind to others. But if you wish to share your work, get thee a website.