WRITERS: PAY YOURSELF FIRST!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Blog? Tweet? Write something new? Revise current project? Go clean the house?

What to do? What to do?

There never seems to be enough time to get it all done and often the thing I really want to do, like write, gets put on the back burner. Everyone says you’ll make time for the things you find important but that’s not always true. Life often intervenes and messes up the best laid plans.

Several years ago I heard a financial planner say that one of the best strategies for dealing with a tight budget is to always pay yourself first, even if it’s only $5.00. The money saved will begin to mount up faster than you think. While contemplating how to fit working on my novel into my day, I recalled that advice and wondered if it would work with time. I decided to test it out.

Right then and there, I vowed to start my day early, between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM, in front of my computer, Microsoft Word opened to a file containing one of several writing projects. During that time—my writing time—I would allow, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter, just click open my latest project and start writing. 

To my amazement, it’s working! Those 2 to 4 early morning writing hours are adding up. Writing projects are finally moving forward.

Pay yourself first—in writing time!  

Try it and let me know how it works for you. 

A Book Launch Should SOAR!

Monday, September 17, 2012


A Book Launch Should SOAR!
Recently, I’ve attended several Book Launches, and come away thrilled for the author but disappointed in the event itself. Often it was so uninspiring that I didn’t even purchase the book.

A book launch should do just that, launch a book and its author out into the world creating excitement and buzz that will make each person within earshot run to the purchase table and clamor for an autograph no matter how long the lines may be or how long the wait.  

September 25th is the date of one of my critique partners book launch for her debut non-fiction work titled, Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School. While helping Gretchen Griffith plan her exciting day, I came up with several things to consider.

Location, location, location:
Most book launches occur in a book store, but they can be held at other venues. Think about a venue that has a connection to the story being told, a place where you or your story can gather the most fans. That might be a church or library or museum, a recreation center or an old town hall.

The launch mentioned above will take place in the actual school, the star of the book. Fortunately for Gretchen, Pilot Mountain School has been renovated to include an assembly room (the former gymnasium), multiple shops (former classrooms) as well as a restaurant (the former cafeteria). It has become the gathering place for many of the former students who were interviewed for the book. For Lessons Learned: The Story of Pilot Mountain School, the perfect venue for the launch is the school itself.

Room Set up:
The room should be large enough to include seating, plus three or four additional tables with room for lines to comfortably form.
a.       One table for book purchase: This table should be located away from the autograph table, across the room, if possible.  
1)     Make a large foam board book cover with the price + tax, clearly indicated.
2)      Post forms of payment accepted, especially if it’s CHECKS OR CASH ONLY. For checks, list to whom the check is to be made out. Book store sales eliminate these concerns.
3)      Have a bookmark or flyer that folks can take with them that indicates where book can be purchased with a credit card. Book sales will be lost at the launch if sales by credit cards are not available.
b.      One table for book signing: Preferably away from book purchase table.
c.       One table for resource materials or display materials that relate to the book: This table should be placed next to and prior to the autograph table so that those in line for an autograph will have interesting things peruse while they wait. This might not be necessary if you’ve done a picture book or a work of fiction, but you could still have photographs of the child or location or pet that influenced your story. You could also include a photograph of your work space, notes taken, copies of original first and second drafts, edited versions of your manuscript, rejection letters, anything that relates to the process of creating the book you’re launching.
d.      Refreshment table: Place this table way away from the other tables. Invariably, drinks spill and books get ruined.
e.      Chairs: There should be plenty of chairs to accommodate anticipated numbers. Someone should know where and how to get additional chairs should they be needed.

Things to handout:
Some folks attending will not be purchasing a book. You will want them to leave with information for purchase later or information that can be shared with family or friends.
a.       Business card: include contact information along with website and blog information. I’ll assume folks visiting your website or blog can find where to order their book from there.
b.      Bookmark: Have a bookmark made of your cover. Include website, blog and purchase information. Also include your contact information for presentations and school visits, assuming that you do those.
c.       Flyer: half sheet easily printed on your computer with all pertinent information on it. Print it in color so your book cover pops.

Autographing --Your Signature: 
Don't use your legal signature in your books! Create new one--add loops and swirls or only use your first initial--something other than the one you use to write checks. Unfortunately, we live in an age where identity theft is all too common. Five years ago this wasn't a concern. Today, it is. So work on creating a new signature for your autographs.

What to Autograph:
Decide ahead of time on two maybe three things to sign in books. Believe me, in the excitement of the event, you’ll be thankful that you thought this through ahead of time.
a.       General autograph for most purchasers
b.      More specific words for family and friends
c.       Specific words for those who may have contributed to the book.
d.      Keep autographs short and sweet. If you’re fortunate enough to have long lines at your launch, you’ll need to autograph as quickly as possible.
e.      Avoid lengthy conversations.

Actual Autograph Signing:
If you anticipate long lines eagerly waiting for an autograph, consider having a helper standing between you and those waiting whose job it will be to record on sticky notes the correct spelling of the person to whom the book is to be autographed. This will save time and keep the line moving.
a.       If you do not use a helper as indicated above, always ask folks to spell the name of the person you are signing the book to. Print it out on a sheet of paper that they can see before you sign the book.
b.      Even simple names like Sandy can be spelled in multiple ways; Sandi, Sandie, Sandee.

Your Presentation:
Hopefully you will have attended other book launches so you have a good idea what you would like to say at yours. Always keep in mind your audience and what you think they’d like to hear. Ask yourself, “what do I want to hear when I attend a book launch?”
a.       Keep it simple and short. Less than 30-minutes preferably, fifteen to twenty even better, unless you’ve been told otherwise.
b.      Stand unless the table where you are seated is elevated. If you want a podium, request one.  
c.       Use a microphone.  Even in a small room, if it’s crowded, it will be difficult for some to hear.
d.      Speak slowly.
e.      Consider using Power Point slides to enhance your presentation. If nothing else, have a Power Point slide of your book cover projecting on the wall.
f.        Consider sharing basics about you and your story:
1)      Did you always want to become a writer?
2)      Did anything about your personal life enhance the writing of the story?
3)      Where did you get the idea for the story?
4)      How long did it take you to write it?
5)      How long did you take to find a publisher?
6)      Where there any parts of your story you found difficult to write?
7)      Did you know how your story would end before you began?
g.       Only read from your book if you can read aloud with expression. This is a pet peeve of mine. I’ve yet to attend a book launch where I’ve felt the reading of a passage from the book was an effective use of time.
h.      If you’ve written a short picture book, you might consider reading the entire story.
i.         Only read from your book if you’ve explained to your audience why you’ve chosen to read that particular selection.
j.        If you do read a passage, make sure it’s short and sweet. Stop in the middle of something really exciting so the audience will want to buy the book to find out what happens next.

A Book Launch should SOAR, like a rocket taking off. Think ahead, plan ahead and yours will lift your audience right out of their seats and send them clamoring for your wonderful book.

Share your successful book launch ideas. We all learn from each other. 

Happy Launch! 

Presenting BEFORE Your Book is Out!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


     The call you’ve been anxiously awaiting comes; an invitation to join other authors for your town’s huge book fest.  But there’s one big problem--production has been delayed and your book isn’t out yet. You try to explain that to the insistent librarian, but she says to come anyway and bring your materials. Sheepishly you agree and hang up the receiver wondering, what materials?

     No need to fret. I am about to share multiple ideas—little things you can do and materials you can bring to your table, with or without a book to sell. If you haven’t developed your own following of devoted fans, it will be even more important to consider some of the following ideas.

     Before I begin, however, I need to emphasize the point that you must always approach the event with respect and courtesy towards the other authors present. You don’t want to “grandstand” yourself or your book, but at the same time, you owe it to yourself, your book and your publisher to do what you can to make your book and what you do stand out from all the others.  The way to do that is to set up a unique and friendly book display that screams, “Come to my table. I’ve got a great book to tell you about.”  

     I am not suggesting that you utilize every single idea presented. Pick and choose what fits your comfort zone.

Questions to ask about setup:

How many other authors will participate? The number of participants will make a huge difference as to how you plan display materials.

Where will the exhibit be held?  Will it be in one room, scattered down a hallway or outside under a tent?  

Will authors be sitting at tables? If so, will chairs be provided? You’d be surprised how many book fest planners forget about chairs.

What size are the tables? 
How many authors will share a table? Answers to these two questions will tell you how much space you will have on which to build a display.  Half-table displays are much more difficult to plan.

Will tables have table cloths? If so, what color is being used? Answer to this is crucial so that you can determine if you need to bring drapes in colors that will be more complimentary to your display materials. I’ve been to book fairs where there were no tablecloths and the tables were wooden, old and in disrepair. Fortunately, I always bring my own tablecloths and placemats so my books and my display were okay.

Are there presentation spots open? Always offer to do a presentation on your book. This is your best chance of standing out among the other authors, and your best chance to get folks excited about your book. Authors who do presentations at book fests or book fairs get more traffic. The more people you expose to your story the more likely it is that folks will purchase a book.

Materials to enhance your display:

Table drapes - bring colored tablecloth and/or colorful placemats to complement the colors in your book cover. If table covers for the book fest are white and your book cover is white, it will get lost in your display. Be prepared with dark colors if your book is light colored and vice versa.

Book cover – check with your publisher to see if they can send you a book cover or email a book cover or at least send the book cover artwork. Mount it on foam board with a sign, Coming Soon from Author ### ####!

Art – if appropriate, ask for samples of the artwork that will be in the book. Again, if none are available, put together a flyer or poster of samples of the Illustrators previous works. A photo of the artist at work is always an eye-catcher.

Artifacts that complement the theme of your book -- For example, if your story is about trains, bring a couple of cars from a train set and a row of tracks and maybe some miniature buildings; just a couple of things to make your spot at the book fest stand out. Get creative. Think outside the box.

Show your process – put together photos, a scrapbook or a chart on a poster showing the process from start to finish; e.g. when first approached, interviews you may have done, verifying the facts, the writing, critiquing and revising, finding a publisher, final edits, final book.  If your book is non-fiction and even if it isn’t, find a way to show the research you did, where your idea came from and how you put it all together.

Book easels -- purchase one or two table-top book easels on which to stand your foam board displays. For poster sized foam board, purchase an adjustable easel, one you can use on the floor or on a table-top. You will use it over and over again if you continue to do presentations, book signings and book fests. Small boxes strategically placed under a table drape will not only add levels of interest but can also be used to lean books up against so they're not lying flat on the table.  

Business cards are a must! Have some made up with your contact information. Do not put your book on your business card unless this is the only book you ever expect to have published. It is better to only include author information and contact information. You may or may not want to be identified by one book. You can list your books on the back of the card.

Clipboard, sign-up sheet, pens and pencils, sticky notes and a pad of paper -- Invariably, someone will want additional information or you will want to capture a name or a comment on paper.

Materials for the attendees:

Create a bookmark or flyer to hand out – put together bookmarks or some kind of flyer that announces your book and where and when it will be available. (Your publisher may be willing to do this for you.) Bookmark should include: picture of book cover, book title, publisher, ISBN number, cost, age group (if for children), your contact information, email and website. Don’t ignore the back of the bookmark. It’s a great place to repeat the book title and include a one sentence pitch about the book’s theme or message you hope the story conveys.

Offer a Pre-Sale Special – check with your publisher and see if they’d allow you to offer a pre-sale price. If they are willing, ask them to provide the flyer or have them send you information to include on a flyer.

FREE BOOK! Hold a contest. Everyone loves a contest.  It’s worth it to pay for a book to give away. Your publisher might even offer one or several copies. Have a signup sheet so that you can capture the names and email addresses of interested persons. Then, when you book comes out, you can send an email congratulating the winner while announcing the debut of your book and ordering information.

Make or purchase a BOOK PLATE you can AUTOGRAPH for folks who say they will buy a book when it comes out. When they get their copy, they can glue it into the front cover. Commercial book plates can be purchased at your local book stores or you can make one of your own. A computer generated one allows you the opportunity to personalize it to your book. On it include the book title and a quote from the book or one of your favorite quotes, something like you would write on an autograph. Be sure to leave room for your autograph. Offer to personalize the book plate with an autograph to those sincerely interested in purchasing a book when it comes out.  

Collect email addresses – to send out an “It’s Here,” notice when your book is available. Don’t let interested folks walk away from your table without a way to communicate with them when your book arrives.  

Have a bowl of mints or candy kisses or other wrapped candy at your display table. Some folks will come to your table just because they smell the chocolate. Why they come doesn’t matter. Getting them there is the important thing so you can share your wonderful book with them. And as an aside, having mints available during a book fest is a great idea. A mint or two a couple times a day keeps your breath as fresh as the great ideas in your fabulous book. 

     Folks attending book fests aren’t just interested in buying books. Many come to meet and talk to you, the author. They’ll want to know how you work, where you got your idea for the book, how you found a publisher, etc. etc. So, put your best material forward.

     Don’t be shy. Make your bookless display stand out. You can do this, even if your book isn’t out yet. 

More Than A Critique Group: Developing the Craft of Writing Together

Monday, April 2, 2012


     When one of my critique buddies suggested we study Ursula LeGuin’s book, Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or Mutinous Crew, I was not happy. I felt every bit a part of the mutinous crew. Critique sessions, in my opinion, were for feedback on our developing stories. I didn’t want to muddy up our time together talking about a book none of us had time to read much less do assignments. Fortunately, I was out-voted.  Reluctantly, I purchased a book, read the first lesson and did the end of the chapter assignment.  In this manner our group began to plow through the lessons, one at a time, every other critique session. 

     On lesson day, we each brought our own interpretation of the assignment to the group and shared what we had written. Sometimes we responded using sentences and quotes from stories we were developing and sometimes our responses were fresh and new. But, most importantly, as we began to learn from LeGuin’s marvelous book, our writing began to grow, collectively and individually. We could see it in all of our manuscripts. It was exciting.

     By the time LeGuin’s book ran out of chapters to stimulate us, we had found our next project, this time a 24-session course titled, Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft, taught by the esteemed Dr. Brooks Landon, Professor of English, Collegiate Fellow, and Director of the General Education Literature Program from the University of Iowa. No, we’re not heading to Iowa City to take the course; we take it in our own homes in front of our own televisions at our leisure, one lesson at a time.  We found the course on www.greatcourses.com, a company that offers in-depth study via CD-ROM or DVD on a wide variety of topics taught by noted professors. We each committed $39.95 and ordered collectively to save money. The company offers a complete money back guarantee so we figured we had nothing to lose.

     Now you might think that 24-classes on sentence building would be boring but we’re not finding it so. This is not about grammar and punctuation. It’s about dissecting and developing sentences that pull the reader in and move a story forward; everything you need to know to write a great story. We’re only on lesson 6 and already we’re seeing a big difference in our writing.

     I shared Ursula LeGuin’s book and Dr. Landon’s course not to promote the sale of these two products but to share the idea that developing the craft of writing doesn’t have to be expensive or a lonely, isolated venture.  Get your critique group involved. Surprisingly, the very act of studying together elevated the tone of our already awesome critique group to one of serious professionalism, moving us forward, confident that our growth, now clearly visible in each of our writing, will someday soon be rewarded with book contracts.

What does your critique group do to help its members develop the craft of writing? 

Developing a Website for the Unpublished Writer

Thursday, March 29, 2012


     While sharing news about my new website, www.sandrawarren.com, more than one of my unpublished writer friends have remarked, “I know I should have a website but I’m not published yet so I don’t have anything to post.” Well, I’m here to tell ya’all, as I told them, they are wrong. They’ve got a lot to share. 

     Before I begin, let me just say that all the good and fast rules for marketing apply to putting up a website. Make it interesting. Keep the writing short and concise. Show off your writing ability. How you convey facts about you, your life and your writing, spotlights your writing skills. If your website is creative, lyrical and poetic, visitors to your website will assume that your story writing will be also. 

     The first thing you need to do is decide what you want your website to convey about you? Is the website for family and friends? Your writing career? Something else? Assuming it’s for your writing career, your focus should be on all things related.

     Next on the list, think about how many pages you might have.  Even though you lack published books to talk about, you’ll be surprised at how many pages you can still fill. Check out other published author websites and take note of how many pages are devoted to their books. I think you’ll be surprised. 

     We'll start with the INDEX PAGE also known as the HOME PAGE.

     The HOME PAGE is the first page folks see when they punch in your URL or website address. Like the cover of a book, consider it the COVER of your website. On it you will put information to introduce your website and entice visitors to look further. It will include buttons that will link visitors to additional pages of information. Think of the buttons like chapters in a book. Chapter one, would be the HOME PAGE, Chapter two, the ABOUT PAGE, Chapter three, the CONTACT PAGE, Chapter four, the BLOG PAGE, etc.

     Well now, looky here. We’ve just started and already we have four (4) buttons/pages for you. And as we go along, I can guarantee we’ll think of other possibilities.

     Let’s take a look at each of those pages in-depth, the ones that you, an unpublished author, can post right now, and discuss what your content might be. Keep in mind that any or all of these button/pages can be changed later.

     Here are five pages (see, I’ve already thought of one more) that you can post on a website right now: 
  1. HOME PAGE – first page
  2. ABOUT PAGE – tells us about you
  3. BLOG PAGE – connects to your blog
  4. CONTACT PAGE – has your contact information
  5. WRITING PAGE – about your interest in writing and the genre/s you prefer to write

     Remember: as you contemplate page content, keep the focus on writing, if that’s your purpose for having a website. The following lists are meant to stimulate your ideas. They are not meant to be used verbatim. 

     Here are possible things to put on your HOME PAGE:

  1.  Inspirational thoughts about life, writing, pets, anything that interests you and influences what you write. Perhaps a quote from your favorite author or a mantra that keeps you writing.
  2. Whatever it is, keep it short and sweet
  3.  Include a photo or photos of you and/or things that mean something to you. It could also be an artistic rendering instead of a photo.
  4. Use colors you enjoy. Colors are windows into your personality.

     The ABOUT PAGE is where you might tell us:
  1. Who YOU are.
  2. Where you’re from: born? raised?
  3. Unique things about growing up – are you an only child? Tons of siblings? Where you lonely? Did you live in the Australian bush or a farm in Iowa?
  4. Books you loved as a child. Did you hide in books? Did you live in your books dreaming about the characters? Did you put on plays and pretend?
  5. Teacher or teachers who influenced you? How? What?
  6. Are you well-traveled? Where do you love to vacation? Are you a hiker? Camper? Stay-at-home person?
  7. Again, whatever you say, say it creatively and stay short and sweet.

     Possible things to share on a WRITING PAGE: (Some of these things could be additional pages within the WRITING PAGE.)
  1.  Defining moment when you knew you had to write?
  2.  Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
  3. Who has most influenced your writing?
  4. What genre/s do you love to write in?
  5. What genre are you working in now?
  6. Persons, books, conferences, author links that have helped keep you writing.W
  7. What keeps you going?
  8. You gotta read this – book/s that you’ve loved and highly recommend.
  9. Projects you’re working on. You may not want to divulge too much of the story but a one sentence pitch might entice an interested editor.
  10. Do you have a solution for writer’s block?
  11. Tell us about your rejection letters.
  12. Where do you write?  Office? Basement? Staring out at mountains? In the kitchen after the kids are in bed?
  13. When do you write? Middle of the night? Morning? Anywhere, anytime? Are you in a critique group? If so, how many are in it? How does it work? How often do you meet?
  14. Write a review of your favorite author’s books or shin a spotlight on other writers you admire.
  15. If you could write like any other author, who would it be and why?

     Things to include on your BLOG PAGE:

     This goes without saying. If you have a blog, you’ll want it linked to a button on your Home page so that folks can toggle from one to the other and vice versa. A blog allows you to share your thoughts on a daily basis. Having it hooked up to your website will encourage followers and allow them access to your creative ideas in greater depth.

     Things to include on your CONTACT PAGE:

     You’ll want to be computer savvy and computer smart about the CONTACT PAGE. Think long and hard about putting your personal street address and telephone number on your website. For security reasons, consider the following:
  1. Create a new email account and post that address. (Most website software will allow you to create multiple emails so wait until you’re website is being developed before doing this.) 
  2. If you want an address to post, rent a postal box from the United States Post Office, and use that address. 
  3. Another option is to add a contact box on your page, as I did at www.sandrawarren.com . Folks who fill out the contact box indicate why they are contacting me. This gives me the option to respond. In addition to the information someone fills out in my contact box, I also receive information, which allows me to report spam or any problems that may arise from receiving their request.  

     Sad to say, this is the world we live in and if we’re going to be on social networks, we have to protect ourselves. 

     So there you have it. You may be unpublished, but I’ve just helped you find information to fill a five button website.  Now your excuses are gone. What are you waiting for? Get that website up and running so that when the book cover arrives for your first published book, all you’ll have to do, after you do the “happy dance,” is add that BOOK PAGE button.  

     If you haven’t read my previous post, Want a Website? Here’s How in a Nutshell, be sure to take a look. It contains the basics of putting a website together.

     I’ve shared my experiences, thoughts and ideas, now I’d love to hear yours. 

Want a Website? Here’s How in a Nutshell!

Monday, March 26, 2012


The powers that be tell us we, as authors, need to be “hooked up” to the available social networks. But how to do that is confusing to many. Building a website is particularly difficult.  My new website www.sandrawarren.com launched a few weeks ago. So, while it’s all still fresh in my mind, I’m going to attempt to break down the process in simple terms, sharing what I wished someone had shared with me.

What comes first? It’s the old chicken or the egg thing.  So, I’ll begin with the homework you need to do first and then move on to the technical side of it all. Your journey may start differently.

A website is a rather permanent site on which you present yourself as a writer. How you want to do that is totally up to you. And that’s the hard part.

To build a website, you’ll need the following:
  1) A web master and/or web building software and the 
      knowledge to do it yourself.
  2) A clear vision of what you want; your goals included.
  3) A hosting company on which to park your website.

Let’s begin with number one - A web master.

To build a website, you'll need a web master (person who builds websites) or website building software.  A computer savvy writer may consider building one themselves, but most will use a web master, who might just be the teenager down the street, to do it for them. If you feel up to the challenge of doing it yourself, check local community colleges for classes, online instruction, or find a web master willing to teach you. I was fortunate to meet a web master who was willing to train me to do it myself. In order to do that, I had to purchase the website building software.

Web masters can charge anywhere from $100 on up for a website. Most are in the $500 range. Some charge by the website, some by the hour and some by the page (each button takes you to a different page). Be sure to ask if the price will include X number of changes after the website is launched. I can guarantee that you’ll want to make changes once it’s up and running. Also, ask how long it will take. And as usual, buyer beware: ask to see other websites, go to them and contact the owners and ask how the web master was to work with; was the website built in a timely fashion; where there hidden charges; did the web master do what you asked him/her to do?

One of my goals was to be able to manage my website and make changes myself, so I wouldn’t have to rely on someone else and pay additional for changes. My previous website was managed by a web master. I found it to be a constant frustration and vowed that when I revised it, I would maintain control. Within the first two days of launching www.sandrawarren.com, I uploaded changes five times!

Two web masters I know, both claim they can create a website in two hours for anyone, IF, and that’s a big IF, they are given all the information the person wants on their site.

The second thing you need to build a website is a clear vision of what you want your website to look like; what you want it to do for you.

Check out other author’s websites and note the buttons/pages they have. What do you like/dislike? How easy is it to navigate the site—go from one button/page to the next? One author’s website I visited had a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that I found interesting. I added a FAQ page to my website because of it.

Here are some additional things to consider to help with your vision of what you want:

    a) The Home page: Do you want text or photos or both? This is YOUR chance for a first impression. It’s what folks will see when they come to your site. What is it you want them to learn about you right off? This page will have the buttons on it linked to your other pages.

    b) Number of additional pages/buttons you want. A page is not like a normal written page. It can be quite lengthy. It would include everything you want under a particular topic heading, or button, i.e., Home, About, Contact, Books, FAQ’s, etc.  Within a given page, you might have two or more additional pages. Go to my new website, www.sandrawarren.com and click on the button that says, “Books.” Under Books, you have three choices; Children’s Books, Adult Books, Educational Books. The Book button links you to three (3) additional pages. You may not need anything like this. It’s all up to you. 

    c) All the text you want to appear on each page. (This is the hardest and most time consuming part.) Every word you want on your site should be saved and ready for easy download per page. Type it out first, use spell check and have others edit it before you give it to your web master. Your web master is not necessarily going to want to edit anything you give him. Make sure each page says what you want it to say.

    d) Any photos – saved as .jpg files and located for easy download, along with instructions as to where and on what pages you want the photo/or photos placed.

    e) A list of KEYWORDS to imbed in your website. Think of as many words or combinations of words folks might use to find you. For example, let’s say that you write books about alligators. Keywords might be: alligators, gators, stuffed alligators, alligators in Florida, Florida gators, swamp creatures, alligator logos, alligator farms, alligator hunter, alligator stories, alligator book, books about alligators, writer, nonfiction writer, children’s writer, etc. etc.

    f) Do you need a shopping cart from which to sell books? Or will you link your books to your publisher’s website? Your web master will need to know this. If you want to list your books, he will need book descriptions, as well as cover photos and purchase information.

    g) All website building software comes with multiple templates or patterns, on which to input your information. Once you choose a template, you can then change colors, add or remove graphics, photos, shapes of boxes where you input text, etc. So if a particular author’s website impresses you, present it to your web master as a sample of what you have in mind.

    h) It is acceptable to copy other’s web site templates/or patterns. It's like making cookies with a cookie cutter. You might cut out the same shape but the decorations will be uniquely yours.

The third thing you need to consider when building a website is who will host it?

Building a website is like making a Garage Sale sign. No one will know you are having a sale much less come to it, if the sign stays in your basement. You have to find a yard to put it in so people can find your sale. The same is true for a website. You can build it but then you need a yard, a HOSTING COMPANY, who will send it out to the world.

    a) If you are working with a web master, he will recommend a hosting company. The price you pay will depend on how many features your website needs. Mine, with the shopping cart and ability to sell books, is still considered a basic site. I do not pay extra for hosting. The hosting fee is an additional charge over and above the website building charge, one you will have to pay monthly or yearly. Many companies offer hosting packages for less than $10/month. The company I’m using charges $6.95/month. Hosting packages are usually paid for by the year with offers of additional savings if you purchase more up front.

    b) You’ll also need a DOMAIN NAME. Your domain name is unique only to you and is the name someone will type in to get into your website. The domain name you choose may already be taken so have in mind additional names folks might think of to find you. There can only be one name for every .com or .biz or .org. However, more than one domain name can be hooked up to your website. I have two; www.sandrawarren.com and www.arliebooks.com. I’ve owned both names for over ten years. Click on either and you’ll go directly to my website. There is usually an additional charge for domain names although some hosting companies now offer them as part of their hosting package.

Now you know what to do or at least how to get started, so get busy. Build that website. And, I do hope your journey into the process has been made a little easier because of this post.

This post is comprised of things I had to think through to create my own website. It is not meant to be a lesson in website building but rather a pattern for discerning things to consider when creating your own. Your path may be different, but many of the things I needed to consider, you will also.

Watch for my next post: A Website for the Unpublished! Don’t have a book published yet? Wondering what you could possibly put on a website. Stay tuned.

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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