Fran Cannon Slayton - The Wild Ride To Publication (Children's Book Version!): Author Websites

Monday, February 18, 2008

Author Websites

I can't believe it, but I finally have a website!  I've only been working on it since, oh, the beginning of November so it's pretty exciting to finally have something out there actually breathing in the cyber world!

For those of you who are thinking about a website, I'll share the process I went through. First, I had to decide whether to have a website or a blog or both.  I opted for both because everything I've read about book marketing says you absolutely, positively need a website if you've got a book coming out.  It's the very best way to let people know about you and your book and having one is not negotiable these days.  But if you're pre-published, having only a blog might be the way to go.  It gives you a web presence, helps you become part of the kidlit community, and best of all it's free!

Once I realized I needed a website I had to figure out how to go about it.  And more importantly, how much it would cost.  I figured I had three primary options:   1) hire a web designer, 2) find a really good friend with web knowledge, or 3) design it myself.  I didn't want to impose upon friends, so #2 was out.  I didn't mind putting money into a web designer because my website was going to be a pretty important part of my marketing efforts.  When I researched cost, I found they could run from perhaps $500 to $20,000.00!  Of course, when I priced my "dream site" it turned out to be on the high side.  As in more than my advance.  And at the same time I realized that if another person designs your site you often, if not always, have to pay them when you want to change it.  I wanted my website to be dynamic - as in changing - and I didn't want to have to go back to someone else over and over again every time I wanted to make a change.

So I began to think about option #3, designing it myself.  At first I looked into learning HTML, but the learning curve was seriously high and I really wasn't interested.  I knew there were simple website templates available on various web hosting services, and I'd even used one called Website in a Box for another organization I belong to.  Website in a Box certainly is easy and it's cheap (around $60 or $80 per year), and it allows you to control your own content 24/7.  But for all the great things about it, it just wasn't as polished and professional as I wanted for my author site.  I was about to embark upon a search for the best templates available when to my delight, my problem was unexpectedly solved!
I bought a Mac.  Little did I know at the time it would be the solution to my website woes.  When I got it home I found out it had this great program called iWeb.  iWeb's templates were amazingly professional and extremely versatile.  Long story short, it's how I made my website. It lets me add my own pictures, video, and podcasts pretty much where ever I want, and I can change the content at any time.  It took some effort, but it was not nearly as complicated as learning HTML.  I absolutely love it!  

But there are a few drawbacks to iWeb.  From a programmer's viewpoint, I understand that the program is rather cumbersome and the files become very large.  That makes the site load a little on the slow side, especially if you have video.  To combat this I decided not to use my dotMac (.Mac) account to host my site because the Mac servers are said to be slow.  I opted to pay for a web host - I used IX Web Hosting because it had unlimited storage and transfers per month and they had a money back guarantee.  Granted, it's not been 24 hours since I uploaded, but so far so good.  My site uploads a little slowly - not because of IX, but because of iWeb - but I don't think it's so slow that it will be a problem.  Hopefully some of you will take a look at it and let me know if it's too slow for you.  I've noticed that the pages with less background "stuff" load quicker, so I can always change over to them if quicker loading becomes necessary.

More on website design next time . . .


Laurie said...

Ooo. Good info here, Fran. I just got a Mac and have been playing around with iweb. Your site looks great! As does your book!

Fran Cannon Slayton said...

Good! I was hoping this info would be helpful! Thanks so much for the feedback!