The Value of Author Websites
An editor's perspective on why a website is your friend
I can only speak to my experience since I’m not sure what other editors do, but here are some observations about the usefulness of having your own digital calling card—otherwise known as an author website.
When I find a writer I like—or am interested in seeing more work from a writer who has submitted—I go hunting. Typically, I start on Twitter since that’s where I’m most active for the press and for my own writing work, but my first goal is to find a website linked in their bio (not to stalk through the writer’s tweets). If I find one, hooray! If it’s up to date, that’s even more exciting. (I say this as someone who has not updated her own personal website in several months—one of these days...)
But often, especially in the case of writers who haven’t published, say, a book (like me) or who think they haven’t published much in general, it can be harder to find things. Google is unpredictable. Digging through tweets feels…awkward. But I want to find a way to support as many writers in our region as possible, and part of that involves developing creative opportunities to make that happen even if it isn’t in the way originally intended. As a new press, we have the advantage of experimenting with projects that may not be as feasible for publishers with more established timelines, practices, etc. (We’ll have more news about some of those experiments soon.) Already, on a few occasions I’ve reached out to someone with an idea for a project that they may not have known about or considered on their own because I found a publication of theirs that could be a good fit for us. I’ve also heard other writers talk about how they’ve received unexpected invitations to opportunities through their website contact forms. Although it’s not a deal-breaker by any means, when a writer makes their work easy to find, it both saves time and helps me get a stronger sense of how that person sees themselves and their work. Plus it helps simplify the process of tracking down that ever-elusive, ever-changing author bio (assuming they’ve been keeping it updated…which again, mine probably isn’t these days. There’s a lot going on, folks.).
So what should a website include? It can be pretty low stakes, in my opinion. Some basic ideas:
Brief biography and overview of your work
Photo if you’re comfortable sharing (doesn’t have to be fancy)
Links to publications as relevant
Anything else you think might help someone understand your writing and how you relate to the literary community
It can be a simple free site; I went ahead and bought a domain for my own, but it’s certainly not a requirement. Linktree can also be a useful option for writers active on social media who prefer to have easy access to multiple links in one place. Most of my experience is with Wordpress, but I’ve also heard writers speak well of Squarespace, among other options.
Think of it this way: a major paradox of the internet is that nothing ever really “goes away,” but that also can make things much more ephemeral. A few tweets here and there about your latest publication will only last as long as the algorithm decides, while a stable landing page helps guide readers to your work as a whole and gives your writing a better sense of cohesion. We all put so much work and care into every stage of our writing and publishing: it’s worth the time to give it a home.
[P.S. Have you seen our new journals yet? Check them out here!]
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