Something I highly recommend to anyone considering becoming a published author is to purchase your domain and begin building a website, even if you haven’t finished writing your book.
Part of the business of writing is to have a website for readers to visit. You don’t have to wait until you have a book to create a site for readers, and I suggest you don’t wait.
You can still do things to attract readers while you are writing the book. You can have sample chapters of your story to entice readers to read the story when it is released. You can have contests for readers. You can have a journal or blog about you and your interests. You are only limited by your imagination. It can be a lot of fun to begin interacting with readers and having a place that is your own. It’s like inviting friends over to your house to hang out.
But even if you don’t want to create your website yet, I still encourage you to buy your domain name. This guarantees that when you do get ready to build your website that the name will be available.
You may be thinking, we’ll of course it will be available, it’s my name. Well, I started my writing career writing under the pseudonym Lara Rios. My first four books (seven if we count the ones the publisher never released) were written under the name Lara Rios, so my website name was Lararios.com. When I changed genres and started writing under the name Julia Amante, I let the renewal lapse for the Lara Rios name. I didn’t think it would be a big deal and honestly, I didn’t keep track of the expiration date. When I thought of it, I just figured that I’d renew it as soon as I had time. After all, who would want my name?
Foolish me. Apparently, there is a photographer with the name Lara Rios, and she purchased the domain name the second she was able. I kicked myself a million times for being so dumb. So, I had to buy a new domain, lara-rios.com.
Unfortunately, hyphens are not a good idea. But I didn’t think it through, and proved again that I didn’t know what I was doing.
Choosing Your Domain Name
So, how do you choose your domain name?
If you are an author, it should be your name, whatever name you plan to write under. Your first name and your last name. If your name is difficult to spell or pronounce, then you might consider a pseudonym.
1. The first “rule” for domain names is to have an easy name to type. This was why I loved lara rios. It was short and easy to spell. People do not want to enter super long names into search engines. And even if they are willing to enter all the characters, it’s easy for them to misspell a long name and end up elsewhere. One of my favorite authors is Susan Elizabeth Phillips, so her website is her complete name with .com, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve entered a wrong character, spelled her last name with one L, for example. There are just too many letters. People on social media call her SEP. Today, I think she could get away with SEP.com, but I understand that it’s a branding thing also, so you want your name to be your domain name. Just understand that if your name causes readers confusion, you might want to modify it. Ask friends or acquaintances to spell your name, and see if they get it right.
2. No hyphens. As I already mentioned, I ended up with a hyphen, but it was a bad idea. No one was around to advise me not to do that, but take it from me, it was a mistake. Don’t do it. People just don’t think of adding hyphens when they type a website address in.
3. Make the website name short if you can. Not only should your name be short to make it easy for readers to type on a search engine, but you should also consider that it will be on a book cover one day and you want the name to fit on the cover.
4. Make sure the name isn’t already being used. My other big problem with the name Lara Rios was that there was already an author using that name and publishing books in another country. She writes children’s books. Sometimes I would get emails or correspondence for the other Lara Rios. The same happened to her. I contacted her and I forwarded her messages to her and she did the same for me. But what a mess, right? If your name is common, you especially want to double check that there isn’t another author or someone else with that name whom readers might confuse with you.
5. Buy an extra domain if your name might be easily misspelled. According to Hostingct, if you type googl.com or gogle.com you will be directed to the correct google.com. This is smart otherwise competitors could buy the misspelled name to pull views to their website. So, for example if your last name is Joe Gonzales, you might want to purchase the domains: JoeGonzales.com and JoeGonsales.com and have them both pointing to the correct website. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has not bought Philips with one L, but if I were her, I would.
You also want to stick with .com because it’s the most common. You can use .net or any of the many others if you want, but readers will first try yourname.com
I typically buy my domains from my hosting company to make it easy on myself, but I shouldn’t do that because they tend to be expensive. I recently found namecheap.com and they are super reasonable, so I may start using them for future domain registrations. You might want to check them out, though like I said, I haven’t used them yet, so I’m not recommending them. I only noticed they had good prices and good reviews. Or use any of the many domain registration companies out there.
My recommendation is only that if you have not registered your domain name, definitely do it immediately. Paying $6 — $12 a year to secure you name is well worth it. I made many mistakes when I started because I focused on becoming a writer and not on the business of writing. I was not (and am not) tech savvy; the internet world, websites, SEO, felt like a foreign language I did not want to learn. Reluctantly, I have learned a little to avoid the same mistakes with juliaamante.com. I encourage you to learn now a well.
Have a story to tell? Want to learn how to record personal experiences before they’re lost or write a novel? Let started by downloading for free Julia Amante’s “Free Your Story” framework.