Wilkie Martin - Surviving Publication


Author of the unhuman series of addictive comedy cozy mysteries set in the Cotswolds. This documents my encounters with publishing and includes things I hope will be useful later. It also covers some local writing competitions and reviews some writing events.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Starting an author's platform

Everything we’ve read about getting published has suggested creating a presence on the internet. When I attended Alison Baverstock's workshop at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature on 16 October 2009, she mentioned that US publishers expect an author to have a complete ‘author’s platform’ on the web. This would include a website, a blog, twitter and facebook.

Since we required a web presence, we created a website. Then, a few weeks ago, our next step was to create a blog, to catalogue the procedures and different steps we are following.
Below are the most useful things we have found in setting up the website and blog. There may be other or better ways of doing it.


Website


  • 1. We registered the website id with http://www.discountdomainsuk.com/

  • 2. We built the website using MS Frontpage. (I did a useful course on website generation with the Open University using Netscape. However, my partner built the site for me using Frontpage).

  • 3. Once the website was loaded we registered it with search engines. We loaded the website url at the following:

    http://www.google.com/addurl/

    http://search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html

  • 4. We added key words to each individual page to reflect the contents of the page. We used Page Properties to do this, but it can be done directly in html

    after

    <head>

    and after any entries for

    </title>

    but before the

    </head>

    we could have added

    <meta name="keywords" content="your,keywords,separated,by,commas,keyword1,keyword2">

  • 5. We added hyperlinks between pages and some relevant hyperlinks to external pages, and made sure they worked. We check these regularly.

  • 6. We added a robots.txt file to the website to tell robots what they shouldn’t look at and where our sitemap was kept.

    Example based upon our robots.txt:

    User-agent: Googlebot-Image
    Disallow: /

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /anydirectorynottobeusedbyrobot1/
    Disallow: /anydirectorynottobeusedbyrobot2/
    Disallow: /anydirectorynottobeusedbyrobotetc/

    Sitemap: http://www.yourwebsiteaddress.com/sitemap.xml

  • 7. We added a sitemap.xml file to give details of each web page, when it was last changed, and how often it changes (we keep it up to date when any changes are made).
    we set <changefreq> to weekly, monthly, or daily,
    and set <priority> to between 0.5 and 1, where 1 are the most important pages,
    and set the date in <lastmod> to reflect when that page was last changed.

    Example based upon our sitemap.xml:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

    <url>

    <loc>http://www.yourwebsite.com</loc>
    <lastmod>2009-09-28</lastmod>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>1</priority>

    <loc>http://www.yourwebsite.com/page1.htm</loc>
    <lastmod>2009-09-28</lastmod>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>1</priority>

    <loc>http://www.yourwebsite.com/page2.htm</loc>
    <lastmod>2009-09-24</lastmod>
    <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
    <priority>0.9</priority>

    </url>
    </urlset>

  • 8. We added a favicon.ico file to the website with a very small picture to be used next to the webpage address when the site is opened.


Blog

  • 1. We created a blog on http://www.blogger.com/. We started with the Settings->Permissions set so ‘Blog Readers’ is set to ‘Only Blog Authors’ so we could adjust the format and content until we had something that looked ok.

  • 2. We added a feed for RSS (Really Simple Syndication – used to create links to the blog and to send consolidated entries or summaries to anyone who subscribes) using http://www.feedburner.com/.

  • 3. We added a reader so we could check it though a different blog viewer using http://www.googlereader.com/.

  • 4. We found a list of blog readers and aggregators here http://blogsite.com/public/item/79250, although there are lots of them we only ‘pinged’ this one http://www.technorati.com/ to announce the new blog and to see what effect it would have.

  • 5. The blog only started appearing in google searches after we added the meta content. In http://www.blogger.com/, in the blog ‘layout’, and in ‘edit html’, we added the meta content

    after

    <head>
    <b:include data="'blog'" name="'all-head-content'/">

    and before

    <title><data:blog.pagetitle/></title>

    we add

    <meta content="'your" name="'description'/">
    <meta content="'your,keywords,separated,by,commas,keyword1,keyword2'" name="'keywords'/">
    <meta content="'your" name="'author'/">

  • 6. We added a set of labels to each blog entry.



Comments:

If you find any other steps/settings useful then please let me know. Or, if any of this helps you, let me know which bits were most useful. Good luck.