Welcome to another session of Q&A with The Lit Coach! Thanks to those who submitted.
I'm changing the delivery structure of the Q&A sessions a bit. Usually this is a once weekly updated blog, but since I feel these questions need more meat than a quick paragraph or so, I'm going to expand my answers. So, you'll get my responses to a question submitted on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When we're not in Q&A week (unless there's a special occasion), you can expect only one blog post from me during the week.
Ok, so let's get this show on the road!
Q: "I realize it's up to the authors to arrange their publicity but what about websites (not social media sites like Twitter or Facebook) - who creates them? The publisher? The author? What role does the agent play in this?"
A: Just as it's up to the author to take responsibility for the majority of their publicity efforts, it's up to the author to create their own author website, or hire a branding/website company to create and coordinate your whole online image. Your publisher will expect this. An agent may be open to helping you shape your site...giving you ideas and examples of what they'd like to see, what best represents you and your book/work, but it's not their job, per se.
If you're just starting out as a fiction writer, say, and you really have no platform or previous successes but are beginning to query agents with your novel, I don't feel a website is necessary. You can wait until your book is sold to begin thinking about creating a website to support your book.
Websites need to serve a distinct purpose for you and your audience. Depending on what kind of an author you are and how cozy you'd like to get with your readers, they must do one of the three: inform; inform and sell; inform, sell and interact.
Let's take a look at some examples.
Inform: This type of website, much like my own right now, is only for informative purposes. It's considered your flagship, your online bricks and mortar. Its function is to simply let people know who you are and what services you provide (if applicable), contact info, where people can find your work (links highly recommended), professional endorsements, dates of workshops and appearances (again, with links), blog, links to your social media, press info, anything else that lets people know about who you are and what you're doing. Let this online space represent your personality, but keep it crisp and frequently updated as necessary.
Inform and Sell: This type of site will include everything from above, when/if applicable, but will provide an opportunity for your viewer to buy your book or other products (other book-related merchandise, webinar, workshop, professional services, etc.) via your site. Check out NYT Bestselling author (and TLCG contributor), Chelsea Cain's website for a great example of an Inform and Sell site. I also love what author Michelle Hoover is doing with her site (her blog is fabulous). And Inkygirl. I LOVE this site because I feel it's authentic to who she is...and it has cartoons!
Inform, Sell, Interact: This type of site will usually always include everything from above AND provide an opportunity for the author/expert to interact with their audience via an open invitation or login only online community. This is for an author who can either hire an assistant or two to monitor the site, manage updates and keep the online community well informed and validated or for the author who is a master and commander of their own time management. Stephen King's site is an awesome example of this, Neil Gaiman is another.
For nonfiction, I love what my former client, Cheryl Lage has done with her twins support site since I signed her on so many moons ago. She's grown from a writer with a great idea for a book about raising twins through the first year to a nationally recognized twins expert whose blogsite serves as a hub for those seeking any supportive info about raising twins (side note: a producer from one of the VERY popular morning shows contacted Cheryl through her site to seek her assistance in rounding up twins for a twins segment they had). Cheryl's site is a great example of how to use your blogsite as your website...and it's free!
Somewhat related in topic - blogs. Are they for every writer? Stay tuned. Next week I'll show you some examples of blogs that work and tell you why.
Hope this helps, Anon!
On tap for Wednesday - The best resource for finding your authentic voice.
Have a productive week, writers!