Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Should a Writer Have a Website?


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.

©From Author Vashti Harrison’s site


Kelly Hashway said...

My website is very easy for me to update, which is important because I didn't want to pay someone to have to design and run it for me. It's simple but effective for my needs.

Vijaya said...

I agree. Even a static website is more helpful than none. I made mine after I was published in magazines and two editors encouraged me to make a website so that they could point others to it when asked about me.

Evelyn said...

Websites are also important because sometimes you might have an interested editor contact you because of what's on your site. I've had it happen to me.

Janie Junebug said...

Wise words.


MirkaK said...

Even before the pandemic, it wasn't always possible for someone to see all or even most of my artwork, but I could always refer them to my fiber art website. And because I can't hand someone a copy of every book and article I've published, I can send them to my writing website. Websites certainly make life easier in that you don't have to schlep around a big portfolio or a bag of books on public transportation. I agree that it doesn't have to be a spectacular website. Over time, as your needs change, you can modify the website by moving to a different company, switching to another template and new images, almost like putting together an album. That's the fun part once you get over any frustration with techie stuff.

Jenni said...

I tend to want to hide away, but I like what you said about how a writer who wants to be published can't also be a hermit at the same time.
Vashti Harrison's graphics are gorgeous!

Barbara Etlin said...

Part of me sympathizes with J.D. Salinger, publishing and then hiding away and cultivating his mystique.

I've had a website of sorts since 1997, long before I had anything much to publicize. But I started publishing some poetry around then and the ezines wanted a website to which to link. Also having a website with some poetry on it got me some early fan letters. Those can go a long way toward encouraging you and making you believe you are a writer.