For starters: I would not have landed the publishing deal I landed without this website.
See, back when I was active on this site (sigh...those were the days), I was always looking for new things I could do that would give readers an opportunity to engage and interact on the site. And one of the ideas I came up with was The Storyteller Project. The concept behind the project went like this: I would write the first three sentences to a story, someone else would come along and write the next three sentences, someone else would write the next three sentences, and so on.
We ended up with a fairly cohesive and well-written story (which is a whole lot more than can be said for the second and third attempts at The Storyteller Project), and this project caught the eye of a man named Dan who is now Dan My Publisher, but was then just Some Guy Named Dan Who Is A Publisher.
That project led to some open dialogue (whatever that means) between myself and Atticus Books, and soon I had a publishing deal.
No, not everyone who runs a website as an outlet for sharing their thoughts and insights on writing will end up with open doors to a publishing house becasue of it - but that is just an example!
Agents dig on websites also. If two projects come across an agent's desk, and they are equally excited about each, but really only have room in their schedule and stress-regulator for one, which do you think they will choose: the project with a great website attached, or the project with no web presence at all?
And of course, your website - when used effectively - will provide a great forum for you to interact with other aspiring authors, and with future readers of your work.
Now, trust me when I say: You'll sell a lot fewer copies of your book as a result of your web presence than you might think. Most of my sales, quite frankly, come from word of mouth on facebook and Goodreads, or from an article about myself or the book that someone has read, or from people who find the book on display at a bookstore and pick it up and decide to give it a shot. Generally, people who visit your website in order to pick your brains on writing are not actually interested in reading your writing (and who can blame them, when there are so many great author sites out there, and when there is only so much time available for reading new authors!). But what about those who do purchase your book as a result of visiting your site - and who love the book, and who then get their book club and their mom's book club to buy the book as well? See?
Wait - I was staring at my cat, The Old Man And The Sea (she turned four years old a couple days ago, by the way), and I lost track of my thoughts. Did I stay on a straight path with what I was saying up there? (Eh, who cares - you know what I am getting at.)
If you are an aspiring author, you need to start developing your site. It is a great way for you to connect with others, and it is a great way for you to articulate some of your thoughts and make them concrete. And hey, at worst, it's a great time capsule that will enable you to look back over your journey (which is probably something I ought to do sometime soon; that would be fun - maybe after the wedding [May 4] and the ensuing honeymoon I will have time to do that; we'll see).
What do you think?
*Did I miss anything?
*Do you have a website?
*Why do you think it's great - or not great - to have one?
Postscript: One reason I think it's "not great" to have one: I genuinely feel that the more you keep your thoughts on writing to yourself (using a journal or diary to articulate them, instead of using a website - making these thoughts real only to you, rather than to the world), the more quickly you will develop as an author. But with the importance these days of building an audience and connecting with readers, what use is it to develop a bit more quickly if it means your book never sees daylight (except for the somewhat-musty daylight that shines through the window beside your desk, that is)?
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*on this website*