My Self-Publishing diary: Creating an author platform

I’ve spent the past week preparing to publish Tilted, and from all that I’ve learned so far, it seems clear that the non-negotiables you need in place when you publish are:

  • An author website
  • A mailing list

That’s it. Social media platforms are a bonus. On which note, a quick slide sideways:

Me, myself and social media

Gah! I really struggle with it, I’m not going to lie. Is it just me who finds being online generally a fraught and strange experience? I really value my privacy (in-person over-sharing aside) and I feel weird having a lot of stuff about my life on a public platform. Also, WHO HAS THE TIME?? Seriously! Especially when you’re meant to be writing at the same time. The only platform I use is Instagram, because I enjoy the visual medium and I’ve made some fantastic writing friends, but a single post generally takes me about 30 minutes, not including the time spent fretting over whether I should be posting more, and if so, what the hell I should be posting. Twitter would just suck me into a never-ending wormhole of despair, and Facebook just… No. I don’t want Facebook. So I’m just going to have to hope that not having a presence on every damn platform isn’t going to doom me to (further) obscurity. I’ve heard really mixed opinions – some say social is essential, others say it’s a nice bonus but not a deal breaker. I’ll have to find out the experiential way.

What’s the best website option for authors?

There are some really good resources out there. David Gaughran (my go-to on all things self-pub) wrote a good article about it here. He uses, and is a fan of, a website theme called Parallax V2 designed specifically for author websites. It does look really good. It’s also $399 (which does include installation, so that’s a bonus, but still.) On top of that, you’d have domain name costs, self-hosting costs and mailing list service. Here are my rough notes on costs and some recommended providers (not linked, just for info):

Platform: WordPress.org (flexibility, own domain, needs host) – free

Hosting: Flywheel (WordPress hosting service – £18 p/month, £216 a year)

Theme: Premium theme – (Parralax 2.0 £315 one off)

Domain: iwantmyname.com – £10 yearly

Mailing list service: Mailerlite – Free (up to 1000 subscribers then c. £10 a month)

Total – £541 to set up, c.£230 per year ongoing

So… Yeah, I’m gonna be honest, the editing wiped my savings. I have about £500 left to spend on my book(s), and I don’t think that right now this is the best use of it. It’d be slick, sure – but it would be overkill for one book and – let’s be honest – minimal -to-nil traffic. It’s something I’ll seriously consider when I have three books out, a working sales funnel and a better idea of what the hell I’m doing.

So I went the free-er, easier option.

Using Wix as an author

I set my site up with Wix, lured in by the slick registration process (I already had a website set up by the time I realised I’d been stealthed into creating an account). The basic plan is free – though I upgraded so I could connect my own domain. Wix has an Editor function that allows you to have fantastic levels of control over every aspect of your site – but I’m not good with too much choice. I need limited options in order to get anything accomplished. THANKFULLY they have something called Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) which creates a website for you based on your needs and preferences. It’s a good system – and it saves a LOT OF TIME. Seriously, so much time.

You can choose from a number of pre-set themes and styles. They are simple, but get the job done.

And the costs were appealing:

Wix – basic upgrade £3 per month

Domain – £10 per year

Total – £46 a year

That makes me a lot happier. And though I haven’t published it yet – it’s going live along with my book – I’m really happy with it. It’s visually pleasing and it makes me feel – I’ll say it – legit. And as any wannabe writer knows, that’s half the battle.

If you want to check it out, keep your eyes glued to my Instagram account – I’ll let you know when it’s live…

giphy-7

 

 

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