Writing How-To: Home, home on the web...

Monday, September 14, 2009
Every writer today should have a web presence. Period. Full stop.

Why?

Because agents and publishers want to SEE you. If they're going to take a chance on you, they want to see you're serious about your craft. The website doesn't have to cost you anything other than the price of registering a domain name. (I recommend GoDaddy.com for this.) You can then set the domain name to forward to a free site, like Blogger, Word Press, or any other number of sites. Register your domain name, and have it forward to your free site. It's very easy, takes minutes to do.

Customizing your site doesn't have to be difficult either, even if you're using Blogger or Word Press. There are literally thousands of free templates out there (and a ton of for sale ones too) that a writer can choose from.

Just a few?

Word Press:
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/08/100-excellent-free-high-quality-wordpress-themes/
http://www.siteground.com/wordpress-hosting/wordpress-themes.htm
http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/
http://wordpresstemplates.name/
http://topwpthemes.com/
http://www.eblogtemplates.com/templates/wordpress-themes/

Blogger:
http://mashable.com/2008/05/17/70-plus-new-and-beautiful-blogger-templates/
http://www.eblogtemplates.com/templates/blogger-templates/
http://freeskins.blogspot.com/

You get the idea. All you have to do is use Google and put in "free blog templates" or something similar and go to town.

Most importantly - make SURE you proofread your blog entries! Not just for spelling and grammar either. I see way too many entries where it's obvious the blogger doesn't go look at the live blog (not just the preview feature) because there are no gaps between their paragraphs, making it VERY hard to read! (Paragraph breaks are a MUST in online content. You cannot substitute a paragraph tab indent! For one thing, it usually doesn't render anyway. For another, people want breaks in their text or they won't read it.)

Don't just copy willy-nilly from Word into your blog composition screen -- paste it to Notepad, make sure there are line breaks between paragraphs for ease of reading (like in this blog), and then also use find/replace to replace curly quotes and apostrophes to plain text ones. Replace em dashes and ellipses too. And any other "accent" characters. Why? Because more and more, you know how you see the funky little nonsense characters in postings on the web? That's due to problems with a browser or with the browser's rendering settings not displaying the character correctly. Fix it with plain text, even if it takes away the funky characters you really want to use, and you will have MUCH happier readers.

Now go get your patooky over to GoDaddy and register your name/pen name as an url if you haven't already. Register common misspellings for it, too. Have them all point to your blog site, and you're in business!

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