Why should you have an author website?
When people search for you on the internet, they will need one place to find everything about you, including what books you have published and where they can be purchased. This includes your fans, as well as potential publishers, agents, and editors, who may use your website to determine whether or not they want to work with you.
What should you include on your website?
Visit the websites of your favorite authors for more ideas on what to include on your website. Keep in mind that authors who are wildly successful may require larger websites with more information than someone who is just starting out.
For those not looking to create a website from scratch using code, these website platforms are for you! Most of them will offer a free version with a domain name that includes their company name, or you can pay for extra features that will also give you your own custom domain (JoeShmo.wordpress.com vs. JoeShmo.com or JoeShmo.net). Whatever your needs are, you're sure to find something here to get you started.
JournoPortfolio - (Free version/cost) Easily create multiple web pages in different layouts, themes and designs and share your work across social media and other platforms.
Pressfolios - (Free trial/cost) Keep track, organize, and show your work. Includes an auto-backup feature that will save your work as PDFs and store them in the cloud.
SquareSpace - (Free trial/cost) Effective for e-commerce, but with customized editing tools, advanced features, many themes and readymade layouts you can create a stellar website that's totally flexible to your needs.
Tumblr - (Free/Optional paid services) An easy way to share your work with the world (including videos and graphics), reblog other authors' posts, and follow others with easily customizable themes.
Weebly - (Free version/Cost) Easily customize your site and integrate third-party tools such as newsletter platforms.
Wix - (Free/Optional paid services) An e-commerce platform with a wide variety of templates, custom-made layouts, and preset designs to make it super easy.
Wordpress - (Free version/Cost) Great for authors looking to integrate their blog with their website, or not, Wordpress.com is very versatile and easy to use with free templates. Note: Wordpress.com hosts your website for you while Wordpress.org requires you to download and install the software on your own server.
Why should you have a blog?
Admittedly, not everyone will be a good blogger. If blogging isn't for you, you can still participate in author interviews on other writer's blogs to help get your name out there. And remember, patience and consistency is key! It may take a long while for you to gain enough readers to make everything worth while, but as long as you're enjoying your work and you're taking your blog as seriously as you would a novel, stick with it, and readers will come.
What should you write for your blog?
See the Author Websites section for more suggestions, as many of the website platforms listed at the bottom of that page can also be used to host your blog. Blogger, listed below, seems to be the one blogging platform for beginning bloggers that is still popular in 2019.
Blogger - (Free) Create a unique and beautiful blog easily. This is a Google product, so you will need a Google account to get started.
We do not purchase books directly from authors or publishers. However, the best way for us to consider your book for our collections, is to have an independent, positive review in one or more the of the major review journals (such as Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist and Publisher's Weekly). We are more likely to consider adding a self-published book to our collection if a major review journal has reviewed it.
To submit such a request, email us at email@example.com and include the following:
Unfortunately, we cannot notify you if your book is not selected because of the number of submissions we receive.
Donated books are subject to the same selection criteria as other books we buy. Materials not added to our collection cannot be returned, and are sent to the City-Wide Friends for their bi-monthly book sales.
Proper author event etiquette
This list came from several library and bookstore event coordinators who work with authors on a daily basis.
Follow directions - Many major public institutions have a program form to fill out. If they instruct you to email or to fill out a program proposal do that. It doesn’t hurt to find out the name of the librarian in charge or the events coordinator and send a polite brief email with the proposal attached.
Be professional - You are representing yourself and how easy or difficult you are to work with. Please do not pester librarians and booksellers by sending a bunch of emails or leaving them multiple phone messages. It does not help you make your case and makes you look pushy and difficult to work with.
Don’t drop by unannounced - Do not try to run your pitch past the first librarian or bookseller you encounter. Also, please do not call the librarian or event coordinator, say that you are in the building, and demand to meet with them for a “couple minutes”. They are busy people with meetings to attend and programs to run. They can’t drop anything, no matter how awesome your book is! This will be viewed at best as rude. It is also a surefire way to not be asked to come speak.
Go through your network - Are your friends librarians? Do you know anyone who works at a bookstore? Ask them to help you out. They may have networks or know the person who plans programs at a library.
Be flexible and be prepared for snags - Even if the Central Library can’t host you, don’t rule out the branches. Often branches are willing to bring in self-published, local, and debut authors for talks. At the event the audience might be shy and need a little warming up before they ask questions. If you have an awesome PowerPoint presentation but your laptop died or the venue doesn't have a projector, be ready to present without the tech. Remember, anything can, and probably will, go wonky at some point. Be prepared.
Be willing to help promote programs - Libraries and bookstores have a range of abilities to promote via social media. We will love you forever, if you post about your talk on social media or are willing to go hang up some fliers. Don’t forget to list the talk on your webpage (if you’ve got one) or Instagram—preferably a day or two in advance! Also, if you're a less known author and you can bring fans to to the venue, that will make them much more willing to host you than if you're expecting them to make you famous. Yes, appearances help increase your profile, but only if people actually show up. In short, the event will only be as good as you, the author, can make it!
Self-published authors - While there are many fine self-published titles out there, the reality is that larger libraries work with publishers and booksellers to bring in Authors. Libraries depend on public funding and part of how we demonstrate need is through program attendance. This means that when we invite authors we are selecting writers who we think will draw a certain amount of people. Because we are working together with publishers and booksellers we want to keep them happy, too! If we don’t think people will come out and/or buy your book, we probably will host someone else. Again, this is why you should always try your neighborhood or smaller town libraries. They generally have more ability to invite self-published, local, and debut authors to come speak.
Your book availability - Do some research on venues (libraries AND bookstores!) and find out if they can sell your book or have someone come in and sell it. For example, if your book isn't available outside of Amazon.com, libraries may not be able to purchase it for their patrons to borrow, Barnes & Noble stores are not going to be able to host you, and smaller independent bookstores may not want to host you. If your event is at a library, find out if the library in question can bring in a local bookstore to sell your books at the event. Make sure the library has your book in their collections for patrons to borrow as well, even if it's checked out at the time of your event.
Be nice, no matter what happens - Just like being professional, this will go a long way to ensuring you can return to the venue for another event in the future. It will also ensure that if something does go awry, it will be easier to pick up the pieces and keep going for a great event despite the setbacks.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your email will be forwarded to the Events Coordinator or the appropriate branch manager who will get back to you as soon as they can.