Self-publishing: setting up a website
When I was 15, I got my first ever paid job as a bookings clerk for an old paddle steamer. I worked in an old railway shed at Barry Docks, which by then, was mostly abandoned. setting up a website
My boss, Mr Sylvester was a very shrewd and very hard-working businessman who would arrive at work about 10am and work through until the small hours of the morning.
He was passionate about his work, mostly because the paddle steamer we were running was the world’s last sea-going one. It still is to this day.
My job was a summer job, my main duties included answering the telephone and making coffee. Mr Sylvester would often wander into my office and talk endlessly about cricket and his desire to buy a Rolls Royce.
He taught me a lot but one of the things I remember most was his mini lecture on businesses who would spend thousands of pounds on glossy leaflets and then leave them unopened in their warehouse.
It’s something I’m conscious about to this day with my day job of publishing magazines. They cost about 50p each to produce. I also deliver them door-to-door myself. I make sure that EVERY house is delivered to for several reasons – 1) my advertisers have paid good money to have their adverts put in front over potential customers b) I’d be wasting 50p of my own money for every magazine that wasn’t delivered and c) knowing my luck, if I didn’t deliver it to a particular house, it’d probably be that of an advertisers who would tell me that they never received a copy.
Selling your own books is a similar process. Unless you’re very lucky, you’re not going to receive rave reviews at one given point in time and sell thousands.
You have to build your numbers up one by one.
Having your own website is like having your own shop. And as any good shop-keeper will tell you, you need to make the most of everyone who comes through your door. It only takes one person with good connections to like your stuff and blab it to all their friends, starting a ‘ripple effect’.
Setting up website is easier than you think but it will act as a focus hub for your readers. It will also allow you to collect email addresses to keep in touch with your fans. This will be important later when you publish more books and need to let them know.
If you have no experience in creating a website, I’d recommend Blogger (www.blogger.com). You’ll need a valid email address from Google, which you can get from Gmail (search Google for Gmail or Googlemail).
Once you’re signed up, you’ll be presented with your dashboard. This is the screen where you can control your website. Up in the top left-hand corner, you’ll see a button saying ‘New Blog’. Click on this, decide on the title for your blog and the address. The address is a weba address where you can direct people to. Choose a template to suit your needs – this is where you decided what your site is going to look like.
It’s worth spending an hour or so deciding what looks best for you but try not to change it too often over the next few months. As mentioned before, you want to be instantly recognisable and any dramatic changes will confuse your audience. If you have to make changes, do so gradually over time. As a guide, use Pages as ‘static’ information (eg about you, your past works etc) and posts for ‘news’ or extracts.
WordPress is another way of getting yourself online for free and offers a wider range of customisations. These included Plug-ins – essentially features that you can ‘bolt’ onto your website. These include things like statistics, social media buttons etc. One plug-in that I would recommend you adding is a ‘Contact Form’, which will allow your audience to sigh up to newsletters (I’ll talk more about this later).
If you’re feeling a little more confident, you can buy your own website from a hosting company (I use www.one.com who are very helpful when you get problems – and yes, you will have them). Find a name that you want and purchase it. It’ll probably only cost you a matter of pounds/dollars. To design your own site, you can upload the WordPress (from http://wordpress.org/download/). I won’t go into detail with the set-up as it’s all covered in detail at their site. It’s free to download WordPress and it’s also worth adding security features such as Wordfence and SEO (I’ll talk about marketing your website later).
There are other sites which can host your site free of charge but whatever you do, you’ll be far more successful with one.
This leads us on to setting up a Facebook or Twitter account.
Getting word out about your latest releases and other developments can benefit greatly from a Facebook or Twitter account. If you don’t have either/or, take half an hour to set one up. These will be your mouthpieces and it’s also a way of meeting like-minded individuals, some who you’ll learn from, some who’ll help you, and some who you can help on their journey.
With a Facebook and Twitter account, you will now be able to direct people to your website by posting links. The more people who visit your site, the more books you are going to sell.
It’s all about the numbers.
Now that we’re set up, it’s time to start actually writing your book.
You may have already have some ideas for your story. In fact, you may have already written it.
Either way, you can use your blog, like a shop, to sell your book.