If you’re an author or writer and exert even a nominal effort to stay current with what you should and shouldn’t do to market your work and build your platform, you’re confused. It seems every other day, every other expert is offering what looks like conflicting advice.
You should blog. Every day.
You should be on Facebook.
And Google +.
You should get off Facebook.
You should only be on Facebook.
You shouldn’t have a website.
That last one — authors shouldn’t have a website. That’s a new one to me. Jane Friedman reported this week that (some) publishers discourage authors from having websites. Friedman, a proponent of a (wise) promotional strategy that includes both social media and a website presence, puzzles at this position that publishers eschew
what I consider the No. 1 calling card for a digital-age author. In my experience of having a website *and* being active on social, I would feel hobbled if either piece went away. Social is more powerful with my website, and my website is more powerful with social.
In a follow-up article, Why Authors Should Believe in Their Websites Darcy Pattison breaks down some of the same issues Friedman explores, with a helpful discussion of the difference between paid media (advertising), earned media (press and social media exposure from others) and owned media (your website, social profiles etc.), and why you need all three. (I’d quibble slightly with the idea that your social profiles are “owned” by you since your content there is still subject to the whims of folks like Mark Zuckerberg. But the POEM acronym works and we’ll let it go at that.)
So, publishers and authors and agents and marketing departments can debate all day long about which approach is best, and what the right mix is, and where you should spend the majority of your time (writing, of course, though none of us have mentioned that yet). But here’s where Pattison cuts through the chicken-and-egg debate with what might be the best reason for you to have an author website: your readers want you to.
She cites a 2012 Codex study that confirmed that readers want to find authors online:
Your readers want to get to know you. From exclusive content and insider information to speaking schedules and freebies, Pattison lists the content the Codex study found that readers want from their authors. Your website is the one media source you own and control:
Are you taking advantage of it?