Last week I wrote about deciding upon your author name to determine your domain name. Once you have purchased your domain, the next step is stake out your own real estate on the internet.
Before you build your author website, you will need to answer three questions.
(1) Who will provide you with internet service?
Internet service providers (ISPs) are those who bring the internet into your home or office or mobile device. This may be your phone company, your cable TV company, or a local independent internet service provider. You will be billed a monthly fee for this service and rates vary. If you already have access to the internet, then you already have an internet service provider and can move on to the next question.
(2) Who will provide webhosting service for your site?
Many internet service providers also offer hosting services for websites and email. You may decide to buy your domain name through your webhosting service, but domain registration and webhosting do not necessarily have to be purchased from one provider. (If you have already purchased a domain name through one webhosting service, you can transfer it to another.)
Webhosting services provide space on their servers for your site and assign it a unique DNS (Domain Name System). With many different companies vying to become the host for your author site, you want to look for one which features access to the Control panel (cpanel), offers site statistics, ecommerce tools, mailboxes, email tools, and 1-click app installs.
One of the most important features for a webhosting provider is the use of dedicated servers. Some of the best known webhosting providers are the least desirable and reliable. Because they host so many sites, they often use shared servers and because they host so many sites, some of which are engaged in more nefarious activities, there are many spam filters which block them and the emails which come from domains hosted by such webhosting company servers.
This past year, the intensity of hacking and spamming and spoofing and phishing makes webhosting an important decision. If you plan to build your own website, then a webhost who offers good customer service and technical assistance is important.
Expect to pay a monthly webhosting fee and rates vary between $5-25/month. Often you will see offers for the first year with domain registration for an incredibly low price, however, you can expect the fees in the second year will be much higher.
Once you have selected an internet service provider, and contracted for webhosting, you can now set up your email at your domain name. The Control Panel, or cpanel, is organized into sections. Look for the section headed Mail. Underneath this heading is an icon showing an envelope with “Email accounts” written below. Click on this icon. To set up your email, use [yourname]@[yourdomainname].com to create your account. To login into your new email account, type into your web browser “http://mail@[yourdomainname]” and you will go to the login screen where you will be asked for your new username and password.
I also recommend setting up an administrative email account separate from your author email at this domain name. Create the email user name as “admin” and then create a separate password for this account. There are times you will log in as the author under your user name (i.e. when you are writing a blog and want your byline to appear on screen) and there are other times when you will login as the administrator to manage your website.
(3) What platform will you use for the architecture of your site?
The third question – which content management system – you may not know how to answer. It wasn’t so long ago when most websites were built in HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). Unless you were a computer geek and knew how to code, you needed to hire a professional website developer to build and update your website. Today, Content Management Systems (CMS) allow you to design, develop, and manage your own website without HTML.
The CMS I recommend is WordPress. It has been found to be incredibly robust and their blogging platform is the best. This open-source software is free and easily installed with one-click through the cpanel of many webhosting services, or here is a tutorial on installing WordPress.
You need to be aware of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. You will want to use WordPress.org which is open source software and you download it and install it in your webhosting account to build your site. WordPress.com offers users a free site and webhosting, however, they add their ads to your content and your options for customization are limited.
WordPress.org allows you to make your site an electronic storefront, complete with display advertising, open source tools, and program affiliations.
Answering the three questions posted above will enable you to execute the purchase of your domain name, establish your author email account, and install WordPress.org on your domain. Once your domain name, email account, and CMS are up and running, you’re ready to take the next steps.
Next week, I’ll review what content you need to prepare to put on your author website. Stay tuned.
Six or seven years ago my advice to aspiring authors of nonfiction books was to build an audience platform by blogging. An example of how critical blogging could be to securing a publishing contract can be found in the case of Ann Marie Ackermann, author of Death of an Assassin: The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee. After an initial assessment of her manuscript, I had recommended she start a historical true-crime blog, and she did. In fact, the editor of the ideal book series at Kent State University Press became a fan ofRead more…