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Why Do I Need a Website If I’m Not Famous?
by Kathryn Lay

Within a few months of getting online about 6 years ago, I started working on a crude Internet site. It wasn’t amazing, but it was better than nothing. I didn’t have any books published yet, I wasn’t teaching online classes or speaking to groups, and I didn’t have many online clips to include in the site. But all that was to come and I thought it might be a good idea to prepare early.

And it was.

As my writing credits increased, especially those online that I could link to, as I began teaching online writing courses and hoping for opportunities to speak to local writer’s groups at their conferences or workshops, I found that having my own website was invaluable for getting that information out to people.

I began putting my website link on all my correspondence to editors. I included it whenever I could in my bios for both print and online writing. As the Regional Advisor for a local Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) chapter, I included my personal website link at the chapter site.

Did it help?

Yes. An editor for a Guideposts anthology saw an essay I had in Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul that she wanted to reprint. Although the phone number was old and my bio in the book was ‘pre-Internet time’, she Googled* my name and found my website and my email address.

(* www.google.com)

A conference chairman looking for someone to speak about writing for children looked at our local SCBWI site, saw my name as advisor, went to my website and saw that I was published and a speaker. I got invited to speak in a beautiful East Texas town, stay in a lovely country home, get paid for my time and attend the conference for free.

Not long after my children’s book sold, I was offered the opportunity to have my website redone more professionally in barter for writing services.

My new website has given me lots of opportunities to be noticed as a writer, a speaker, and a writing teacher.

I include my website address on my bookmarks for my new children’s book. At the website there is information about the book and about the school programs I can do. I include my website in my newly printed writer book. Visitors to the site can check out my the online writing courses I teach as well as order a brochure concerning my various talks I can give to writer’s clubs, workshops and conferences.

Links that go to articles printed online have given me opportunities to be offered reprint rights, column opportunities, and requests for a complete writing resume for possible projects.

You may be a new writer, only a few credits under your belt, but think about the future. How will people be able to check out your writing experience when needing a writer or speaker?

While speaking at a recent book festival, I gave out a handful of business cards listing my website to parents, librarians, and teachers. At a hectic festival when everyone is busy looking at a lot of booths or meeting many writers, they won’t remember every lengthy bit of information that each writer tells them. But with a business card in hand that lists a website filled with information, the possibility of being contacted will be greater.

Make sure to buy your domain name for your website. If someone remembers my name, they’ll know how to find my website.

Don’t worry if your website starts small, it can grow as you grow as a writer and speaker. Keep adding information. Include helpful links for those who come to your website. Because my children’s novel has to do with politics and medieval fun, I’ve included links for kids and teachers. To help fellow writers, I’ve included links to my writing articles that are published online as well as information on how to take my online writing courses.

Simple is better. I’ve seen some pretty fancy websites and some of them have beautiful graphics and hundreds of clickable areas. But if it is difficult to decipher, busy visitors may move on.

My website is a continual work-in-progress, moving forward as my career moves forward. I’m thankful for the opportunities that have come because someone has found my site, my books, my classes, my articles, my speaking offerings.

Will not having a website ruin your career? Probably not. Will having one take it to new levels of opportunity? Most likely.

So what are you waiting for? Check out other author’s websites, both big names and beginners, and start planning yours. I’ll be seeing you online.

© Copyright 2004, Kathryn Lay

Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through rlay15@aol.com

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