Saturday, September 24, 2016

Building Your Own Website For Your Author's Platform

Author's read it all the time. Experts all tell them they need one. An author's platform that is and one of the key components is a functional website. If you're like me, the first thing you think about is how much is one going to cost.

I've had a custom website built for me. It wasn't cheap but it was well done. It had lots of functionality and eventually it paid for itself. I have nothing but good things to say about the company that built the site for me.

But, like I said, it was expensive.

As I prepare to enter the world of fiction writers, I don't want to spend money on a website. I'd rather invest what money I do have for this new enterprise is to cover design. Covers that look good on a POD version of the book, the ebook version and the all important thumbnail image.

I still need a website.

I lack programming skills. If it is up to me to code the programming for the website I'd like to have, it's not going to happen. So I'm back to paying a lot of money.

That's still not an option.

Fortunately, there are ways Indie authors can create their own websites affordably and not have to learn how to program and write code.

You need three things, all of which fortunately are either inexpensive, if you look, or free. 

To build your website for your author platform you'll need:
  • a domain name
  • server hosting
  • a Wordpress Theme
A domain name is nothing more than the URL address for your site. is a domain name. is the domain name for the author platform I am building to promote my fictional novels as an author.

Server hosting is the actual device that hosts your data for your website. These devices are expensive and require specialized knowledge to set-up and maintain. Spend the time to find a reliable company that provides regular back-ups for your site. I suggest Bluehost. I've used them and had a good experience.

That leaves a Wordpress Theme.

Wordpress is an open source program originally designed for blogging and later expanded to include website design. A theme is nothing more than the design of the home page and the functionality the site will provide. 

Wordpress themes are available for free and more advanced themes can be purchased at reasonable prices.

Plug-ins and Widgets allow for easy additions to be made to your Wordpress based website, adding functionality, SEO and other features. Most are free and simple to add to your website.

For those authors who are interested in learning how to set up their own Wordpress based website and in the process saving money for other important things, like cover designs and editing, I'd like to suggest the following book, How to Create a Website Using Wordpress: The Beginner's Blueprint To Creating A Website or Blog in Less Than 60 Minutes by Brian Patrick.

The Kindle version of the book has links to numerous sites and examples of what the author describes. The links alone are worth the $4.99 you'll spend on the book in regards to the time you'll save.

Mr. Patrick writes in an easy to read style. In a month or so, I'll post the link to my new author's platform! That's how confident I am after reading his book.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Books Are Judged By Their Covers or Are They Judged By Their Thumbnail Images?

My first attempt at a novel is nearly half finished. With over 20 non-fiction books under my belt, I've decided to venture into fiction and I'm slowly working my way through my check list of tasks that have to be finished in order to meet my target publication date.

Having a cover designed is my most important, and probably expensive, task to complete. It doesn't matter how well written my novel is nor does the book's interior design matter if nobody buys the book. No buyers equals no readers and no income for me as an author of fiction.

I have invested quite a bit of time examining covers of books in genre's similar to mine. What I have found coincides with what the experts say. A great cover generates interest to investigate the book further to see if you might be interested. Even more important, the cover must look great as a thumbnail image on the retailer's website, be it the all-important Amazon or other popular ebook retail platforms.

Going through my collection of over 700 ebooks on my iPad, I discovered I liked almost every cover design of very book I have purchased. In the rare instance of a book with a cover I didn't like, I found there was a specific reason I obtained the book, namely it was non-fiction and I wanted the content provided in the book. 

In the case of fiction books, I liked every single cover.

I'd never taken the time to examine all of the covers of the fiction books I've collected before. Going through the covers a second time, I looked for novels I'd started by not finished. A quick read of the first few pages again invariably reminded me why I didn't finish the book.

The fact remained though, the cover had enticed me enough to eventually download a book that did not hold my interest.

I spent nearly an hour on several occasions examining covers on Amazon. I picked a genre and went down the page, examining every cover of each book. Sadly, what I discovered was a lot of covers that looked terrible, or uninteresting, as a thumbnail image. When clicking through to the product details of each book, I was able to see a much larger version of the cover. Sometimes a cover that held no attraction for me as a thumbnail attracted my attention when I was able to see a larger version.

Now that I am in the process of searching for cover designers, one of the things I am going to insist on is that the cover design look just as good, if not better, as a thumbnail image as it does as a full size cover.

It would be a shame if I write a fantastic novel with a great cover design and it never sells because the cover lacks enough appeal as a thumbnail image to draw readers to the product page.