Ink and paper. That’s all people used to need to write. Then we got typewriters. Although I don’t write with a typewriter, I love listening to the click click of the keys. My mom had a typewriter in her office and whenever I used to go to work with her, I would beg and beg to play on the typewriter. When I got old enough to spell out words and write sentences, I began writing short stories on them. They always began with “It was a dark and stormy night. . .” because that’s how Snoopy started all of his stories.
Then came the computer. My family got our first computer when I was in fifth grade, I think. I was so excited and even though I didn’t have to turn in papers or reports that were typed up, I did anyway.
Then came the internet. Suddenly writers could more easily communicate with fans and other writers. Now we are so connected to our electronic devices that we can barely imagine a world without them. While this is good for indie writers in that it has given us a means to publish and sell our work without getting agents and publishers involved, it also means that we’re on our own as far as developing websites, social media sites, blogs, etc that are essential to indie authors.
Essential? You say. I imagine that my readers are skeptical to everything I say. I’m not sure why. Possibly because I’m skeptical? Perhaps. But yes, essential. Websites are a way for your readers to connect and identify with and relate to you. Websites give you a human quality. A face behind the characters and plot. It can also be a way for you to sell your own work, if you don’t want to solely sell on Amazon or some other platform. It’s a way for you to track your statistics, express views, give some behind the scene information, and promote upcoming releases. And, let’s face it, things just don’t seem legitimate if they don’t have a website. If I’m looking at buying a new brand name and I research them online to find that they don’t have a website, I won’t buy the product, regardless of what it is. Websites legitimize us. We’re not some corporation or marketer simply trying to make some quick money. (FYI there are people like that, if you hadn’t realized it already. There are people who HIRE OTHER PEOPLE TO WRITE STORIES FOR THEM and publish it under their own name. Seriously, what’s the point of this????)
Websites also give you a way to express further creativity. You get to create an actual visual experience for your readers. While you create worlds with your words, that creates a mental image, unless you hire an artist to create the visual side of it as well. But your website can speaks volumes about your personality and the world as you see it, to the people who love your words.
There are many platforms that you can use to create this experience. Many people choose Wordpress as it has limitless possibilities. However, you have to have some knowledge of computer coding to use Wordpress. I tried and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to make the template that I purchased do what it was supposed to do.
The easiest and most flexible platform that I’ve found is the one I use for my website, Squarespace. I LOVE THEM! You get a prebuilt template that is completely user friendly, but they’re easily manipulated if you do have a little code writing knowledge. I’m able to include everything I want to include on my website at very little cost and trouble on my part. I can change it on a whim, then change it back if I don’t like it. Easy peasy. I could even sell my work on here if I chose to, and that may happen in the near future.
But of course, if you have oodles of money and want a one of a kind website, you can hire a company to create one for you. While this is one of the easier options, it can be quite expensive.
The point of all this is that an internet presence is a necessity for an indie author. If you’re not well known, people need to be able to read up on you if they’re interested in your work. People like to read works written by real people. I appreciate being able to learn about the authors I follow. Seeing them as real people makes it easy to forgive small typos and it can also make it easier to understand various plot points – at least that’s what I’ve found.
From an SEO standpoint, Google loves websites with backlinks and a strong internet presence. The more backlinks you have to your website, the more they’re going to give you a good ranking and help you promote yourself.
Yet, all of this detracts from what we truly love to do – write. My to do list is always full of miscellaneous tasks that prohibit me from focusing on my actual work, which frustrates me to no end. But if all I did was write and never promote myself, then what was the point? There wouldn’t really be one, other than getting out pent up emotions via pen and paper. Which is a pleasant side effect of writing, if you stop to think about it. It’s great therapy – even if you never publish or make any money off of it.
The theory is that if you put all of this work into it now, when you’re big and famous you can hire a team of people to do this SEO and marketing work for you! But it’s usually obvious when there’s a team of people writing Facebook and Twitter posts instead of the actual celebrity you’re attempting to follow. They just don’t seem realistic. Or maybe that’s just me being skeptical once again.