How Important is a Website for an Unpublished Author?

When should an author develop a website? How important is it before publication? How much time, effort, and money should an author give a website? If a writer has a blog, is a website even necessary?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had these questions at one point or another. I’ve struggled through them over the past year. I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter. But I can share some of the conclusions I’ve come to.

If a writer has blog, is a website even necessary?

I look at my blog as the place to engage in open and ongoing dialogue with readers. When I write my posts, I communicate my thoughts and feelings. Through the comments, people can respond back. First and foremost, I want readers who come to my blog to know I care about encouraging them, not pitching my book to them.

A website, on the other hand, is a place where I can actively sell myself and my books. Even though I have information about my book on my blog, my website is where I can really showcase everything on a much grander scale. The website becomes the home base for true readership fans.

When should an author develop a website?

Ideally, an author should have a website up and running by the time a book is available for pre-order on any of the major sites. (And no, my website is not ready yet. Live and learn!)

The weekend The Preacher's Bride was posted on Amazon for preorder, a potential reader saw my book there, googled my name, and was directed to my blog. She left a comment that she liked the cover and had added the book to her reading list.

That one communication helped me realize how much I needed a website. When the average reader googles my name, I want to direct them to the front door of my cyber home, my website, where they can gain a positive first impression about me as an author. Sure, they can slide in the back door and lounge around with everyone else visiting my blog. But if that’s not their interest, I want to give them a different place to congregate.

How important is a website before publication?

I don’t think unpublished authors should put too much pressure on themselves to have a website before getting a book contract. Without a published book, not many people are actually going to google our names and try to find out more about us. A blog can suffice for the time being as a cyber home, especially with the new tab features.

On the other hand, a website can help unpublished authors begin to prepare for the future and can possibly save time and effort later. The process of registering for a domain name, thinking through and writing up website pages, and establishing ourselves as professionals certainly can’t hurt.

If a writer wants a site ahead of contract, there are a lot of inexpensive options available. Jill Kemerer has an excellent post detailing some of those options.

How much time, effort, and money should an author give a website?

Once we’re contracted and our book is on its way to shelves, it’s time to invest more into our web presence—and that includes a professionally designed website. I got references, visited a lot of websites, and finally narrowed down two design companies whose work I liked the best.

Between the two, I finally picked Pulse Point Design. After looking at their client portfolio, I decided their work best represented what I wanted in a site of my own. Pulse Point specializes in Christian author sites. Because of their popularity, they’re already double-booked for the next eight months and turn down at least five clients a week. I was excited when they managed to squeeze me in.

Pulse Point Design will start designing my website in May and it will likely be ready for launch in June with a few months to spare before the release of my book.

Now that I’ve shared my opinions, I’d love to hear yours. Do you think a website is necessary? When is the best time to develop one? How much time, effort, or money do you plan to give yours?


  1. I agree with you that a website is necessary once you've got a book published. Even a simple one-pager is better than nothing! I love the look of Pulse Point - if I ever have the good fortune to land a book contract they'll be high on my list of companies to check out.

    Isn't it exciting to be contacted by a potential reader? I hope you really enjoyed that moment.

  2. I definitely want a professionally designed website when I get a contract. Can't wait to see yours!

  3. I didn't really understand the difference between a blog and a website, but you've made it clear now.
    I have a blog, and I use that like you do to communiate to other writers, readers etc.
    I haven't a website yet as such, and have been thinking of getting one for a while now.

  4. I have a website, but it's more of just a filler at the moment to save my domain name and have "something" there than anything. My little brother made it originally because he dabbles in web design, and neither of us have had the time to correct/update it. Because I'm still unpublished, I'm not overly concerned about it. I don't overtly point people to it. Obviously I'll do something more professional once I get that elusive book contract!

    So excited about seeing your website Jody!! I'm sure it will be ALMOST as fabulous as you are!

  5. If you want to make a web site web devloping and Web designing Bangalore for affordable prices, den have a look on this web site

  6. I think one is necessary when you know you will soon be a published author.

    At the moment I focus on my blog and making sure that all the commentors feel close to me so that when the time comes to sell a book they do come back. I do think you'd benefit from a website once you've been offered a publishing deal and to link it to your blog so that everyone has access to it!

    Great post!

  7. When I put together my website I used Jill's advice. It is very good.

    I love the professional look and will go that route eventually.

    ~ Wendy

  8. I've visited other author webpages, and those of agents and publishers. I've seen varying degrees of professionalism in the industry, honestly. Some agents have pages clearly done by their son or daughter, and others have amazing graphics, but are difficult to navigate.

    I've my webpage name bookmarked in the hopes of needing it someday. I have a friend who is a webpage designer who said he'll do mine for free, but I don't want to bother him with it until I have agent interest.

    Of the author webpages I've found, the ones I enjoy most are the ones with blog type features for communication. I bookmark those pages to return. If an author doesn't make it possible for me and others to communicate with them, then I'm not interested enough in their page. I'm the sort that needs interaction, but maybe that's just me.

  9. I checked out Pulse Point's portfolio and their designs look great. Each website seems to fit the personality of their owners. :)

    Congratulations. I'm sure your site is going to be fabulous.

  10. I'm glad I had a website up and going before I ever sold a book, because once I was offered a contract, everything turned so hectic and exciting, it would've been so much harder to worry about a website at that point.

  11. A website or a blog will only be a dynamic tool if information is update periodically. I designed my website which I use as my electronic portfolio. I try to add new things to keep it fresh.

  12. Great rundown. I'm sticking to the blog for now, but, as soon as I snag an agent *crosses fingers*, I'll start working on the website.

  13. Love that the book is on preorder!

    I have both a blog and a Web site (had a friend build the site before I realized my blog would be so full of info about me). Two pieces of advice I'd give -- things I'd do differently if I could do it again:

    1. I'd build it myself on WordPress and then have an expert customize it -- so I could tweak the material MYSELF. I'm the kind of person who's always making changes to my blog, updating the About Me section, adding widgets, etc. I wish I could do the same to my Web site, but I can't because I don't know how!

    2. I'd make the blog PART of the Web site. Yes, you can have static pages on the site like you said. But then you've got a tab with the blog, where you can interact with readers. If you've got both a blog and a separate site (like I do -- my next project is to fix that!), it's just too many places where people can go to find you. You want it all in ONE place.

    Best of luck!

  14. Alexis,
    Great point! I am definitely having a link to my blog on my new website. That is a must! In fact, my webdesigner is going to give my blog a matching face-lift so that it will coordinate with my website.

  15. It's probably smart to showcase a book with a separate website with a tab to your blog, your press kit, teacher guides, news - so I'd do it. I think it's important.

  16. excellent, excellent points.I totally concord with you.

  17. Hm. Something to consider. I have a blog, but not a website. Thanks for the ideas.

  18. Great post, Jody. I'm no expert on any of this and didn't even start my blog until after I had found representation b/c I wanted my energy and focus to be on my writing. I do have a simple website now, really just a holding spot that a friend helped me with. I'm going to check out Jill's post. Thanks!

  19. My novel is soon to be under contract (waiting for it to come in the mail!) and need to start thinking about this. Thanks!

  20. I've had a website for close to two years. Since I'm not yet published, I went with an inexpensive option, utilizing GoDaddy's Website Tonight program.

    I'm not a techno wiz, but GoDaddy's template approach enabled me to set up the site myself. I can perform updates whenever I want, which is important to me. I was also able to change the banner photos and give the site a unique look that reflects what I write.

    When I sell a book, I'll look into upgrading my site, but I'll still want to perform my own updates so I can keep the content current. I, too, want to incorporate my blog into my website.

    I look forward to the debut of your website, Jody. I'm sure it will be great.

  21. I agree about the timing on websites. One word of caution (and believe me I learned the hard way)--once you have a domain, never ever let it go, because you don't know what kind of creepy people are waiting to scoop it up.

  22. Absolutely a website is important. I regularly check my favorite author's sites to see if they have anything new coming out. Some sites have writing tips or how they got their ideas which is always fun to read. When I read a new author, I like checking their site for other novels or stories they might have available. It's a great information and interaction tool between the author and the readers. But I think blogs are important, too.

    Someday I hope to have my own website! Good luck with yours, Jody. Can't wait to check it out!

  23. Totally concur with everything you've said here, Jody.

  24. Who'd you register your domain name with? I'm still debating on that one. LOL

    Lynnette Labelle

  25. I like the idea of a author website and a blog. With a website you can concentrate more on the marketing for your book.

    Right now, all I have is a blog but in the future, I would consider having a seperate author website.

  26. You read my mind! I've been wondering about this and decided that having a website at my stage in the game is not necessary. I love having my blog and building up a readership for now.

  27. Right now, I'm not really worried about having a website. When I get a book deal and have something to promote, I will be a little more inclined to put one together.

    I think that having a website really depends on the person. Some people just resonate with different mediums. You could follow me on twitter, but you won't get a lot of action right now. If maintaining a website is your thing, go for it!

  28. Hi Jody -

    Thank you for your post. It clarifies the different goals for a website and blog.

    I've had a blog for almost two years, and a domain name for almost the same amount of time. Money is an issue, so I'll probably look into a DIY site builder. I've seen commercials for Intuit, but haven't checked it out yet.

    Thanks for all the great practical tips.

    Susan :)

  29. I agree published authors need websites. Nothing is more frustrating then to only have the publisher's site to go off of for a bibliography, they never list if a new project is in the works.

  30. I figured I'd start the blog now, and build a professional Author Website with the guidance of an agent/publisher (you know, once I get one)...

    I love Allegra Goodman's website.

  31. Fantastic post! I don't have a website up yet for writing, but I have one for photography, so I know a bit about getting one up and running and how to design using flash and html. These are great points, so thank you for sharing!

  32. I set up a separate web site in January to act not only as a "hub" for all my social media homes (including my blog), but also because I wanted static pages for free downloads, project blurbs, and a quick bio. I wanted all of those before I started querying this summer so that agents/editors/publishers could all be directed there in my query, and it would have any and all information they could ever want about a writer they're considering working with. Also, having it all set up now means that if I do get a contract, I don't have to worry about web site stuff in addition to learning the ins and outs of getting published - one less thing to worry about. And it's helping me build my name ahead of time, IMO.

    I'm a professional web designer by day, and a lazy one at that, so I simply customized a GoDaddy template and moved my blog over there as well so it's all under the same domain. It's not all that hard for anyone to learn who doesn't want to pay a professional company - and there are many template designs that look very professional, IMO.

  33. I love the image of fans sliding in the back door and lounging around with everyone else visiting your blog! :)

    A professional looking website that incorporates a link to the blog would be my ideal. The other criteria would be ease of use so that I could update content myself. I maintain two church websites and firmly believe that a stagnant site is worse than no site at all.

    Your blog is so attractive, Jody. If your website is anything like it, you'll be guaranteed happy followers!

    One of my favourite secular author sites is Barbara Delinsky's because it's visually attractive, clean, easy to navigate, has tabs to all the features that I think are important, and it is frequently updated.

    I'm off now to check out Pulse Point's portfolio.

  34. I agree with you. A website is important, but more so for a published author.

  35. Another great post, Jody! I think a website isn't necessary until you at least have a book being pushed by an agent. Since I don't even have an agent yet, I'm content with my blog for now. :-)

  36. Initially I put up a completely free site via Microsoft Small Business, which you can see here.

    Recently (my novel is coming out in February) I upgraded to this, which I put together on SquareSpace, where it's phenomenally easy to build and maintain your own site.

    Other SquareSpace sites:
    Jamie Ford
    Reed Farrel Coleman
    JT Ellison

    One thing to remember when building a site or having it built is how easy it will be to update and change things.

  37. I have an active author blog, but my promise to me, myself and I, is that if I ever get an agent, I will invest in a website. My reward so to speak.

    Interesting post. Thanks.

  38. I can't wait to se it!!! As for me, I have a website tonight by Go Daddy. It's really all I need right now. In the future I have no problem with shelling out the money to do a good one, right. Thank you for introducing me to Pulse Point.

  39. Great comments from everyone here!

    One thing I can add, after working with many authors, agents, and publishers over the years: acquisition editors and agents will absolutely Google your name.

    I can't count the number of editors and agents who've told me they researched prospective authors online, prior to contracting them.

    As Jody mentioned, our company has a massive waiting list, so we research our prospective clients, too. When deciding between multiple requests, with limited slots available, it's those authors who present themselves and their heart in the best way who have the best chance of working with us. And with publishing houses and agents, too.

    There's quite a bit to think about when it comes to presenting yourself online-- whether that presentation is via a blog, or a web site. We've written a detailed post about some of the things to consider on our Author Marketing Blog

    I hope this will be a help to someone :)

    In the meantime, stay tuned for a glorious new web site for Jody :)

    Cheering you on,
    Kelli Standish
    PulsePoint Design

  40. I've had a chance to interview a couple of authors because of my reviews for Atria Books. The first thing I do to prepare is go to the author's website.

    It's imperative that an author today have a website. Probably not the minute they have an agent, but definitely in advance of the publication date. Because all those advance readers are going to want to know more about the author.

  41. Jody, I know your website will be lovely! I can't wait to see it.

    Question: Are you going to have your blog and website similar in design?

    Thanks for including the link!

  42. I agree that a website isn't necessary before the book deal - but I like how you differentiate the function of the website vs. the blog after the book deal. It's an important distinction.

    I think you made a good move getting your site designed - once published I think it's wise to kick the design up a notch.

    Once again, you've started a great discussion.

  43. I recently put together a website in addition to my blog (although I'm not sure I would have gone through the trouble had I known blogger was about to launch the pages feature.) But now that's it's done, I'm happy to have it.

  44. Exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks! :) You just answered several of my questions in one single post.

  45. Jody: Congratulations on finding and excellent company to design your website!

    I believe a website is important for a published or about-to-be published author. I hope this means soon for me!

    But my blog will always be in the center of my heart.

  46. I definitely think a blog works well for those writers who are not yet agented, or even published. But once contracts have been signed and a new path is aligned, websites are needed.

    Go you!

  47. Wow! Lots of great discussion here, as usual!

    You really draw in the interesting folks! Love it!

  48. Agreed, a website is absolutely necessary. I send people who want more information about my book there all the time. I also have the first chapter on my site. People seem to really like that. :)
    Plus, it's a place to list where my book is available.
    I also think it's important to keep a site updated.
    It always looks bad when I pull up someone's home page and there are events or announcements well past date.

  49. Great advice! I've purchased and just in case I ever need them. I figure that as soon as I get (if I get) an agent, I'll start the process, so I'll have something set up by the time I need it.

  50. Jody,

    I didn't even know about blogging when my children's books came out in 2005, but I did sense that I needed an online presence, and got my website going around the time of my books' releases. It definitely helped me land quite a few author visits and was worth my time and money for that reason alone. On that first site I had a "journal" that I would write in on a quarterly basis. That was sort of the beginnings of my blog writing in some ways. I plan on changing up my website again soon so it's the perfect time for me to be thinking of just what its value is. I know it will continue to be helpful to me in my work as an author and freelance writer. Good to be "back!" :)

  51. Great post, Jody. I'll keep all this info tucked away for the right time.

    Also, three cheers for your book being listed for pre-order. I bet you're pinching yourself!!! Can't wait to read.

  52. A website may not be a must right away, but if you want a specific domain name it's best to get dibs on it right away. I created a website (with the help of my husband) years ago, when I started recording a cd. I didn't let go of the domain when I took a pause from the music. Now, I plan to use it for my writing as well.

  53. As a reader, I like to go to an author’s website to find out about new books they are planning, release dates, etc. So, I do think they are a must for a published author. It makes sense to have a website up before your actually first book release to get all the bugs worked out.

  54. I agree with what you have said. Having a domain name and researching the design for your website can be done as you are trying to get a book published so you are ready. I recently went to an author's blog that had the name of her upcoming first book, but none of the links worked. Like she started to put it together then forgot? I think if you have one, you need to maintain it in case someone stops by before your book is out.

  55. What I'm all too slowly learning is that you need some kind of web presence even before you gain a contract. Agents/publishers want to know who you are and what you have done. More people than you realise will google your name.

    In the case of article writing and short stories (which is currently my thing) this is especially important. The more you can spread your name out there, the better.

    As for website design - keep it simple!!!! I can't stress that enough. (Having a graphic Design background helps. Having a husband who can help on the tech side helps even more!) ;)

  56. Thank you for this lovely post! Though I am nowhere near being agented/published yet, I've thought about having a website vs just having a blog. And I agree with you on all of the points above. Sometimes, if the blog's the first thing I see on the author's website, it can make the website look clustered on the first glance.

  57. Jody, thank you very much for the kind referral. I'm in the camp that the sooner an author gets a website, the better. The main reason is because of time and stress. Book contracts take away from our time and they add stress. Who wants to have to figure out a website too, you know?

    I can't wait to see your site! I know it will be amazing!

    Thanks again!

  58. Hello, wow, what an interesting blog and congratulations on your publishing deal. Considering that you write a lot about publishing i thought the news of a new site and publisher,, might be of interest to you and your readers.

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    Apart from the selection process Slush Pile Reader works like any traditional publisher - we will edit, distribute and market selected books. As such, of course there are no fees or costs involved for the authors what so ever.

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  59. I just interviewed a promotions expert for my blog and she said unpublished authors should post a website and start branding themselves.

  60. First let me say how much I appreciate your tone, Jody. Even though you're light years ahead of most of us, you always come across as just offering us what's worked for you, and not as if it's the only, or even the best, way.

    I put my site up over a year ago because I thought it'd be a good supplement to my query process by making a comprehensive look at my work/style available to the agents, but all I seem to read is how much some of them hate queries that include site addresses.

    I didn't start my blog until almost a year later, because I thought I'd have to have some kind of credentials to ever gain a following.

    FWIW, I did my site ( myself, using Yahoo's free SiteBuilder software, without a template, and it really wasn't very hard at all, and no, I'm not a computer geek. (I'm a pilot geek.)

    My blog was straight off-the-shelf Blogspot (, but my wife's gone to WordPress ( for its e-commerce functionality, and I may eventually join her.

    Since she's beating me into print (insert expletive here), she needs it sooner than me.

    Best of luck with all of it - you're exactly the kind of person I love to see succeed!

  61. I've been thinking about a website recently, but I agree with you - I need to have a book with an agent at least. Thanks for the advice and the follow.

  62. I'm looking forward to seeing your new one! I know I need a professional looking one but until I've a book published, my money is better spent at conferences and buying books about writing. Thank you as always for sharing.

  63. Krista had a great point above--even if you're not ready to launch your site, save your domain name! It's terrible to try to launch a site and then find your name has been taken.

    Many book authors start out as magazine and article writers, and what we have to remember is that a website is like a resume. Before people hire you, they want to look at you. Before people buy your book, they want to look at you. So ask yourself: what do people want to know?

    In the case of editors, they want to know where you've been published and what you're written. Readers want to know a bit about your personality, and things they can't get just by picking up the book.

    Even potential publishers of a book manuscript are going to Google you before they sign you. Make sure when they Google you, they find YOUR website, and the face that you want to present to the world, instead of just a hodge podge of different things you've done in your life.

    So, yes, I think a website is important as soon as we are in the communication business. It's a bit costly to start up, but it's worth it.

    And don't scrimp on the professional photo, either! It makes all the difference.

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum

  64. An accomplished author develops a vibrant blog. Diversification, I think, is a good thing. I wonder also if a video element would also be good strategy?

  65. Hi Jody, thanks for connecting. Though I am a published author, and I don't have a website, I feel a website is essential for readers to connect with the book/s.
    With a blog, we get familiar with the writer, but with websites its the books that we get to know.
    As usual it was a lovely discussion.

  66. Great info. I have been wondering about this. I don't think I'm anywhere near close to needing one since I'm not ready to query.

  67. Hi Jody,

    Great post. I think around the time an author enters the general public domain - like getting a publishing deal - is the appropriate time. Otherwise, I don't really think it's necessary.

  68. Valuable info. I know too many writers who don't have websites - they really need them if they want people to read their writing. It's the electronic-age - whaddya gonna do?

    What would Hemingway do?

  69. Jody,
    I'm just starting to think along these lines. Can't wait to hear more about your process. Please keep us up to date!

  70. I think it is good you researched a design company you felt could best represent you. I am always surprised when someone's book has been on the market for a while and they have no site when I Google them. It is good yours will be up before the book is published. It is always nice to go to a writer's blog whose work you like. It feels more personal than a website. As a person who hasn't been published how much attention should I give to my blog? Should it be a part of marketing myself as a writer to potential employers in the publishing world? I am looking into a job or internship in publishing. I am fairly new to blogging so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  71. I think it is good you researched a design company you felt could best represent you. I am always surprised when someone's book has been on the market for a while and they have no site when I Google them. It is good yours will be up before the book is published. It is always nice to go to a writer's blog whose work you like. It feels more personal than a website. As a person who hasn't been published how much attention should I give to my blog? Should it be a part of marketing myself as a writer to potential employers in the publishing world? I am looking into a job or internship in publishing. I am fairly new to blogging so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  72. Hi Christina,
    Those are great questions! I did a post a few weeks ago about the importance of keeping our blogs professional because we never know when an agent or editor may stop by (particularly when we're in the querying and contracting phase).

    While professionalism is important, I also think unpublished fiction writers put too much pressure on themselves to build a platform. Early on in our writing careers, the focus needs to lie with improving our writing and learning more about the craft. As we gain an agent and starting moving forward toward publication, then we need to gradually spend more time on building our platform. But early on, spend the majority of time writing. That's my two cents!

  73. I definitely want a professionally designed website when I get a contract. Can't wait to see yours!
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  74. Thanks for your ideas. We were planning on a redesign based on buy any house.

  75. Quite appreciable, thanks. Do you want to know more about why website is important for your business? Here it is.


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