As an aspiring writer, I have always wanted to have one of my books published in print. I have always loved the weight of a book in my hand and the smell of the pages. As I was born before the public use of the internet, I have been hesitant to jump into each new technology. I am not a Luddite, but I don’t have an ereader or Facebook, and I only recently obtained a smart phone. One thing I have found out recently, though, is that leveraging new technology to create an online presence is actually vital for any writer to be successful in today’s world.
One of the first jobs I received working for Ooligan Press was to help the Write to Publish managers brainstorm for possible authors—or others—who could be panelists and workshop leaders. I thought I was a prolific reader, but when I began to look up local authors, I found that there are more Oregon authors than I imagined. A simple visit to oregonauthors.org shows over 2,500 names, and that is just in Oregon. As I started working on this list of names, I had to find out more than just who they were. I had to know what they had written and determine where they might fit in the conference. I also had to know how to contact them to send an invitation. This made my job a lot harder.
When you look up a specific author by name, you may find many other people if it is a common name. You may even find the right name, but it could be other sources referencing the author, like news articles and blogs—but they’re not the actual author site. While some people like their privacy, it can make it hard to contact them for events they may want to be a part of, like our conference. It also makes it difficult to obtain information about who they are and what they have written. Some websites like mikeshepherd.org provide a biography, FAQ, list of the author’s works and upcoming events, and an easy way to contact them. Shepherd’s site seems simple, but it is eye-catching and provides an easy way for us to contact him. It also provides information for anyone curious about his works.
Here are some more websites of authors that catch the eye and provide helpful information about them:
All of them are worth at least one visit because they all have beautiful, eye-catching pages that can keep you interested for at least a few minutes. Maybe when you are browsing, you will notice their works and maybe buy a book.
However, there are websites that show up empty when you click on their URL. Many authors have websites that you can find with a search, but have little or nothing to show for it when the URL is clicked. Either these authors bought their domain names and never made a website, or they no longer pay for whoever or whatever was supplying their site.The sad part about that is we can’t contact these authors for Write to Publish, and they’re not providing information to anyone who might want to know about the their works. These authors are no longer marketing themselves to the public. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are not selling anything elsewhere, but without an online presence they are missing out on potentially new readers.
While my goals still remain—get published, sell my works to more than my family, and eventually have a writing career—I now understand the need to move forward technologically. I may still want to see my works in a printed book, but I will also do what I can to provide a potential readership with everything they will need from me, including creating an online presence.