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Establishing Your Online Identity As an Author

The world wide web is huge. You could spend an eternity visiting social websites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or even communities devoted specifically to authors. You really should be working on your novel, but that can wait. Just make one more post on your Facebook and MySpace profiles. Visit a couple of your friend's pages and post a couple messages. Before you know it, you've wasted your entire day and accomplished nothing.

The internet can be an amazing tool for an aspiring author if used correctly. If used incorrectly, it's just a massive time sink. Focus on what's meaningful to spreading news about your work, cultivating and interacting with your readers, and establishing your identity as an author.

First, buy a domain name that matches your real name as closely as possible. There are free websites available through the likes of WordPress and Blogger, but don't be a cheap bastard. Domain names and web hosting are inexpensive, and most hosts make it easy to build a good-looking website. Don't wait until you have an agent, either. I guarantee if one is interested in your work, he's going to Google your name and look for your website. You can even include it in your query information. If you don't have one, shame on you. If you do have one and it looks like hell, that's one more mark against you.

Writing is a profession. You are a professional. Your website should reflect that.

It should include information about your writing, your events and engagements, your biography, and your contact information. It should also include a place to sign up for your newsletter's mailing list, even if you don't have one yet. Start building buzz and your fan base now. For the most part, your website may remain static, but ensure that it stays up-to-date with the latest information.

A blog is also an important part of your online identity. Yes, it takes time away from your novel, but it also develops a readership and a reason for your fans to return to your website again and again. However, remember that your blog reflects your talent as a writer. You're not a 12-year old girl on amphetamines--at least, I hope you're not--so don't write like one. Keep it professional. This blog is for your readers, not your friends and family. No one cares what you ate for breakfast or how the copy machine broke down at your day job. Your blog can be part of your author's website at www.yourname.com, or it can be a separate website. Personally, I prefer incorporating it into my author's website in order to develop brand.

I don't believe in a social networking identity. It's not necessary. Your million and one friends on Facebook and MySpace aren't going to make you a national bestseller. Social websites are a waste of your time. At the very most, create a profile, link it to your author's website and blog, and leave it at that. Focus on your website, and spend the rest of your time writing the next great novel.

The Essential Elements of a Writer's Online Presence [There Are No Rules]

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