Catherine Ryan Howard is a self-published author and blogger. When I first started thinking about self-publishing, her blog helped get me up to speed. She’s also written a book on the subject, the third edition of which is now available. Since she’s given me so much help and advice, I decided to take part in the Self-Printed 3.0 splash, to help her launch her new book (and, yes, the chance to win a prize helped).
I asked, “What WordPress plug-ins are absolutely essential for an author website/blog?” Her answer is below:
Well, here’s the thing Russell: I don’t use WordPress.org, so I don’t use plug-ins. (For those of you who don’t know the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, the first is the self-hosted one you have to pay for and the second is the free one you don’t.) I have never paid for anything to do with my website – or, to be more specific, the blog I make look like my website – except for the €18 a year or something for the URL upgrade which allows me to take “wordpress” out of my website name, i.e. http://ift.tt/ZKVQQc. I absolutely adore WordPress.com and think they have everything you need to make a great blog and/or website, and that since self-publishers should be trying to save money where they can, that’s what I’d recommend other self-publishers use. Bonus: you also don’t have to worry about plug-ins!
If we’re talking the features of an author website/blog, I’d say keep it simple, functional and professional. You’d want a section all about your books, obviously, plus an “About” page, plus a way for people to contact you in private (a “Contact” page with either your e-mail address or a contact form, which you can easily insert in WordPress.com). Telling people they can get you via Twitter is not acceptable; you never know who might be trying to get a hold of you and chances are, one day it’ll be someone who doesn’t want to have to do it in public, like a radio show producer or a publisher. A newsletter sign-up and links to your other online homes (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is essential. I’m against having fifty different flashing widgets in your sidebar just because if you paid to have your website professionally designed, the design wouldn’t come back looking like that. Cohesiveness is best. Above all else, don’t distract from the content.
Catherine Ryan Howard is a writer, self-publisher and caffeine enthusiast from Cork, Ireland. SELF-PRINTED: THE SANE PERSON’S GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING (3rd edition) is out now in paperback and e-book and available from Amazon. Follow the #selfprintedsplash on Twitter today (Friday 24th) and/or visit http://ift.tt/ZKVQQc for the chance to win an amazing prize that will get your self-publishing adventure started!
“SELF-PRINTED is my self-publishing bible. It taught me how to format, create and upload my e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. It showed me practical things such as how to build a website/blog and how to promote my books. More importantly, it taught me how to compete with the professionals. Just look at the results – The Estate Series has sold nearly 100,000 copies and following that I got a traditional book deal with Thomas & Mercer too, so I’m now a hybrid author. Jam-packed full of hints and tips all in one place, I’m always referring back to it. In a word, it’s priceless.” – Mel Sherratt, author of The Estate Series and DS Allie Shenton Series.
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