Thomas Umstattd, Jr.
CEO of Author Media
As a writer, I've heard about and read about social media over and over again on blogs written by agents and other authors.
The final word is that a writer needs to develop his or her platform in social media long before the first book is ever published.
I have to admit, I wasn't quick to leap onto the bandwagon, but after a year of taking advantage of social media, I have to say that the experts are right.
Social networking does help form one's platform.
Do Authors Need Websites?
And the answer is YES.
I am not a web developer nor do I pretend to be, but I know I will eventually need an author website and I have no idea where to begin.
Enter Thomas Umstattd, Jr. He's the CEO of Author Media, a marketing firm that specializes in developing websites for us "right brained" authors who have no idea how to start.
Not only is he entertaining, but he is very informative. This is a guy who developed his first website at age 13 and designed his first website for a customer at age 16.
He gives tips and steps that made me sit up and take notice.
Now I can't wait to work on my website!
Big Bucks and Big Time
Now, I don't have a lot of money to invest and I am certain Mr. Umstattd's services are pricey, so I will have to work on my website on my own.
But I do have options.
I have an art website at Homestead.com.
Homestead is great because for $99 a year, I have two web sites available to me. I already use one, so I have another just waiting for me to use. Yay!
Homestead has come a long way. I first started using them in 2000 when their services were free. That's right, FREE. The Internet was new and Homestead was looking for new users so I took advantage of them and never looked back. They are terrific.
Over 12 years they have only raised their prices twice. Not bad!
They provide many templates and services like PayPal payment options and other tools to make your web content beneficial to your visitors.
Design, design, design...websites are all about design.
Umstattd stresses that a website should be functional yet also attractive. Luckily, as an artist, I am set in the design department. My son is a Photoshop wiz so I will hire him to develop some nice color designs with graphics to boot. I am confident each page will be gorgeous.
So, I highly recommend you work with someone who is good with color schemes, graphics, animations, and elements of design to help you make your site pleasing to the eye as well as functional.
Umstattd stresses buttons, too. No, not buttons on your shirt, but buttons on your site.
He recommends to keep buttons limited to 5 or less and make sure visitors know exactly what to do:
Buy my book!
These are just a few button labels you should have on your front page. Notice how short and precise they are. That's the secret.
Go For It!
Now that you have an idea about the importance of an author web site, seriously consider having one for your book. There are so many reasons why and so many features you can highlight on your site. For instance:
Character art- have your fans draw or paint pictures of your characters. This is what I will feature since my fans are middle grade kids. I can't wait to see their fan art from The Dragon Forest!
Fan Fiction- Have fans submit short stories they have written about your characters. Have a contest and give a way your book! I plan on having this feature too.
Short Stories- why not have your own short stories on your site? Ever consider writing about a secondary character from your book? Here's your chance.
Director's Commentary- here's your chance to answer fan questions about why you wrote what you did and why you chose your title, etc. Fans love this stuff!
So, those are just a few features you can have on your site. I am certain you can think of more!
Now I just have to find the time to sit down and design this web site. I highly recommend you take a look at what Author Media has to offer.
Find a website host that is perfect for you!
Good luck and get busy ...and get readers!