Diamond State Romance Authors

Author Websites – Necessary or Not?

Back in the spring of 2010, Gwen Hernandez and I teamed up to teach a WordPress.com workshop for the RWA PRO Community. During that three week period, seventy-five new author websites were built.

Since July, I have built two completely new websites. One for Oklahoma City RWA (http://okrwa.com/) and one for an author (not released yet.) OKRWA wanted to reduce costs for their web hosting while having a website that could be kept up-to-date without requiring someone with extensive programming knowledge. What they have now is very similar to their previous site except the cost is about $8.00 per year for the domain name and $13 per year for domain mapping. Compare that to $50+ for hosting per year + the cost of the domain name. There’s a savings for sure.

When one of their members hired me to build a site for her and then teach her how to keep it up, I started spending a lot of time looking at various authors’ sites. Some of them are quite “fancy” with buttons and do-dads that make the site sing. Others look nice, lots of links and pictures and you can tell a professional did the design. And then there are those sites that are sorely out of date (mine for example!)

I know all the buzzwords about driving readers to your site..the fresh information, the up-to-date blogs, the special insider knowledge for your fan club, but is it all worth it?

Most of us don’t make a lot of money with our writing. We don’t have that extra cash lying around to hire a professional PR firm to do our work. Most of us do it ourselves.

But I got to wondering…do readers really care about author websites? Do they use them? Would a “fancy site with all the bells and whistles” impress them to the point that they immediately ordered a book, or will a clean, easy-to-navigate site serve just as well?

And the biggest question of all…do readers even use these websites? Are we authors killing ourselves over something that doesn’t really drive readers and purchasing habits?