If I make it, will they come?
It’s a question a lot of writers have when they’re working toward establishing an online presence.
With that question weighing down on me some years ago, I made the decision not to establish an author website. Sure, it’s great for Stephen King, John Irving, Nora Roberts, Steve Berry, Dan Brown, James Patterson and the likes. People go to the web searching for these household names. But, how many readers are hitting the web with our names on the tip of their tongues?
That’s why, early on, I instead I focused my online presence on an individual book, not on me as an author. When my first book came out (a storybook for children called Flightless Goose) I had a website devoted to it and it alone.
Then, when my first novel came out, I put up a website devoted primarily to that one book. My thinking was that nobody was interested in searching for me. It was far more likely they would be interested in my book, Tracks: A Novel in Stories. If someone heard me read from the book on the radio or at a reading or book festival, or if they read a review or interview, I figured it was more likely they would remember “Tracks: A Novel in Stories” than “Eric D. Goodman.” That’s why I made my website all about the book.
That may have been the right decision for a first book because these days a big part of a book’s success depends on how easily it can be found online.
But, when my literary agent agreed to represent my second novel, she encouraged me to refocus my website on me as an author rather than on the individual books. I was in New York City at the time, near Columbus Circle, sitting face to face with my agent and her assistant. You could say I was “under the influence” of the situation and open to any advice the professionals had to offer.
Still, I had reservations.
“I’m not big enough for my own website,” I said.
“Of course you are,” she countered. “If you have more than one book published, then you’re big enough for your own website.”
Now, I have one website for all of my writing. That will make it easier down the road when other books make their way to publication. And, everything does not have to relate to the book of the moment. My site includes radio readings, short stories, articles about writing, reviews, travel writing, and more. Even a link to this article will find its way there!
Like an unpublished (but well-polished) manuscript, I’m sure the website will never be finished, but will always be ready to share.
I encourage authors to develop a website centered on them as an author with information on each book centralized in one place, rather than stove-piping individual websites for each book.
If you’re a published author, you’re big enough for your own website. If you make it, and if you promote it, they will come.
Eric D. Goodman is a full time writer who lives and writes in Baltimore. He’s the author of Tracks: A Novel in Stories (Atticus, 2011) and Flightless Goose (Writer’s Lair Books, 2007). Visit his new author’s website for some ideas on how you can design yours! You’ll find it at http://www.EricDGoodman.com.