I still sometimes see people asking questions about author websites. Do I need one? What do I put on it? Who should I pay for it? Do I really need to blog? Do I need to social network facespacepintwitlr? Blah blah blah.
Okay, first, the obligatory HA HA, why would anybody take website information from a site as ugly as this one? (I don’t know.)
There are roughly a million billion sites that will tell you stupid minutiae about what your website should look like, and how to blog, and whatever. 99% of all that shit is optional. I won’t say that nobody cares about that stuff, but it’s not essential. I’m not saying that more advanced/complicated questions aren’t good. But sometimes I see websites that are full of all sorts of fancy bullshit but not the basics.
I don’t care how pretty your design is. Your website exists to tell people who you are and what you write. If it doesn’t do that, fix it.
with your name on it
and a way to contact you
and a list of your published fiction (if you have any).
It does not have to be a fancy website. You can go to WordPress.com or blogspot, or even LiveJournal if you are feeling nostalgic for 2003. Try not to make your site look like it was designed in 1996. If you don’t know what means, just choose something like WordPress and use one of the free themes. It’s sufficient.
It does not need to be your legal name. It needs to be the name that you put (or intend to put) on your fiction. Recently, I went to an author’s site to try and figure out who the author was, since their Twitter account didn’t have their name attached. I had to dig through several pages of the site until I finally found a jpeg file of a book cover with the author’s byline. Their name was not on the main page, in the header, in their bio, or on the “about this blog” page.
Don’t do that. Make sure it’s visible on the main page of your site.
Shit happens. Especially in slush piles. Your email provider can decide that the magazine you’ve submitted to is spam. You might fuck up and send a submission with no contact information. I don’t know. Name anything that could possibly go wrong when submitting a story. It’s happened.
Editors become very, very sad if they read a story, want to buy it, and can’t get into contact with the author. No, if you somehow forget contact info, good editors are not going to automatically reject the story. Why? Because if it’s worth publishing, it’s worth the (admittedly annoying) task of typing the author’s name into Google and sending an email.
It can also result in awesome stuff falling in your lap. Example: a few weeks ago I got an email out of the blue from an independent film producer who wanted to give me money and make a short film based on one of my stories. So that’s cool. I felt all validated about making myself easy to contact.
List things you’ve had published (or published yourself). Link to everything that’s online. If I find one of your ancient stories in a back issue of a magazine, make it easy for me to find something more recent to read.
Okay? Okay. Everything else is optional, so stop freaking out about how some person is claiming that you ABSOLUTELY NEED an account in the current trendy social media site.