Why You Need a Website Before You're Published

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It’s becoming common knowledge among writers that you need to have your own site on the Internet after you’re published. Your fans need somewhere to pick up the latest scoop on your book signings as well as to get the complete list of books you’ve written.

But did you know that you need a website before you’re published? Yep, you don’t want to wait until you’ve actually got a book contract in hand.

A Website Shows That You’re a Professional

This is for readers as well as agents and editors. It says, “I understand the importance of the Internet as a marketing tool and I’m out here using it.”

There are 1.7 billion people using the Internet around the world. That’s a huge market to ignore by not being online.

Agents and Editors WILL Google You

If an agent or editor is interested in your query/partial/full manuscript, they’ll often Google your name to see what the Internet has to say about you. You want them to find your website first on the list, as opposed to a whole lot of nothing.

You also want them to find the carefully-constructed site that showcases you and your writing. Not just the comments you made on that oddball forum you dabbled in during college. Or the rant you posted on that freebie blog you created years ago and then abandoned.

You Can Start Building Your Fan Base Now

It can take a long time to gather a large group of readers, so you want to start as soon as possible. You can begin by posting snippets of your work on your site – a few paragraphs, maybe a sample chapter, or a short story. Enough to get people interested in what you write and wanting more.

Make sure it is the best you can possibly write and don’t post too much. Your website isn’t a substitute for getting published (unless you’re not pursuing writing as a career, in which case, post as much as you want). The material on your site is to give visitors a sample of the incredible stories and characters you write.

But What If I Already Have a Website?

Congrats! You’re ahead of the game. You can use these three reasons to guide you when you make changes to your site.

1. Are my changes going to make my site look even more professional?

If not, reconsider them. Your writing career is business. Your website is part of that business. Make sure it looks like a business website. That doesn’t mean that you can’t add some whimsy or personal touches to it. Just remember to think business when you’re making tweaks or adding new stuff.

2. What would an agent or editor think of the changes I’m going to make?

Adding a picture of your dog to your site? Probably won’t hurt.

Adding a dozen pictures of cute animals because they’re adorable when you don’t write anything animal-related? Probably not a good idea.

Writing a rant against your publisher or the publishing industry? Again, not a good idea.

When in doubt, refer to question 1 and remember that your website is for business. If you want a site with dozens of adorable animal pictures and the freedom to rant at will, consider setting up a separate site under a different name.

3. Will this change make it easier for my readers to find me/read me/talk to me?

If the answer’s yes to any of those, absolutely make the change! Add links to your social media sites. Add new short stories or character teasers. Provide an email address to contact you or start a mailing list.

Anything you can do to reach out to your readers in a positive way will help your career in the long run.

Your Turn

Do you have your own website? Leave a comment with the URL so we can visit. Free publicity!

2 thoughts on “Why You Need a Website Before You're Published

  1. Cassandra

    Hey Cheryl, have enjoyed your site. It has some good relevant info on it (for me anyway as I'm an unpublished author).

    Thanks Cassandra

  2. Virginia

    Hi Cheryl,
    I miss your famous writer's series and hope you will do more of them. I was looking forward to having you do a feature on my new novel when it comes out.
    Without Consent is going to be out in less than 3 months and I'm in the publicity and advertising stage with my publisher I just sent photos today so it's getting really exciting!!!!
    I am also enjoying your e-mail and blogs that you have been sending me.
    Take care of yourself and good luck with your new ventures.
    Virginia Degner

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