by Iola GoultonLast month, Jeanette O’Hagen introduced our 2016 joint posts between Australasian Christian Writers and Christian Writers Downunder with a post on platform, that elusive necessity for modern authors.
As Christians, we have an advantage in that we know our platform needs to be built on the Rock, not the shifting sands of popularity and changing trends.
As Jeanette said, while God has a plan for each of us and our writing, we need to use our God-given talents in obedience to God’s plan and the gifts He has given us.
I like this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, because it reminds me that while responsible for planting the seeds (and perhaps keeping them fed and watered), God is responsible for the harvest.
In terms of marketing ourselves as Christian writers, we're not the responsible for the overall harvest (blog hits, comments, sales). Our job is to do the best we can in planting the seeds: writing the blog post or the magazine article or the book, and making sure it's out there where our target reader can find it (even God can't make your book an Amazon bestseller if it's still sitting on your hard drive).
One essential of online book marketing that every “expert” agrees on is this:
You must have a website.
Your website is one of the seeds. It's your online home. It’s where readers will go to find out about you and your books. I asked in a reader group and they confirmed this: they most commonly visit author websites to find out:
- More about the author
- When the author's next book releases
- What other books the author has published
- The correct order of a series
And a website is where agents, publishers and editors will look to see if you have that magical platform. And it’s where publicists and bloggers will look to find information about you.
You also need a way for readers to subscribe to your email list—your list provider will probably have a way to integrate this with your website. I'll talk more about email lists and why they're important in a later post in this series.
Your website one of the foundational elements of your platform and of your passive marketing. While it's a lot of work to build a website, the ongoing maintenance isn't as difficult, as long as you set it up properly (and remember to keep all your themes and plugins updated, especially security plugins. I've learned that the hard way).
What does my website have to have?here, here, and here). You need the following pages:
- Home (to bring people into the site and introduce your brand)
- About (to introduce you as the author, in order to begin to develop a relationship)
- Books (only once you actually have one, of course!)
- Contact (to allow people to communicate with you)
The one other essential for an author website is a way of capturing the email addresses. I'll be discussing this in a future post.
You'll notice I haven't said you have to have a blog. That's next week's topic!
Meanwhile, what questions do you have about author websites? What author websites have you visited you particularly liked? What did you like?