Monday, September 10, 2018

The Indie Publisher’s Toolbox – Part 1: Author Website

By Ray Flynt

Part of the Indie Author Series

Due to a bit of a scheduling mishap last week, here's an extra Indie Author article on the tools you'll need to be successful to get your week started. Though this advice is good for any author no matter which publishing path they take.

Previously we examined the topic of “writer as entrepreneur.” Although this is called the Indie Author Series it’s really about being an Indie Publisher. You’ll find lots of tools and helpful hints here at Fiction University about being a better writer from how to make your stories more compelling to techniques for proofreading. You’ve written a great book. It’s time to make the world beat a path to your door.

If you were building (let’s think modestly) a dog house, you’d have a pretty good idea of the tools you’d need to accomplish the job: plywood, nails and/or screws, a saw, a hammer, a square, and an appropriate cover for the roof. Throw in a blanket and set a water bowl out front and voila -a dog house.

As a successful publishing magnate, what might we find in your toolbox?

While you’re thinking about the answer, let’s talk about cost. In this instance, I define “cost” as the “time and money” involved to make it happen. You can maintain a fairly modest toolbox in terms of money, whereas the time you need to devote may adversely affect your overall cost. To me, the word sustainability doesn’t just apply to the environment, but to keeping up with the many and varied tools you may need/want in your indie publisher’s toolbox.

As with everything in life, you’ll want to prioritize what is most useful for YOU.

In Part I, we’re going to examine a tool that I recommend for every author:


When someone asks you where you live, it’s easy to rattle off your street address. Think of a website as where your books live. A place to tell the world about you, your books, and where people might buy them. A website tends to be static (not changing frequently). These days, nearly every business has a website. But as anyone who’s ever gone to pot luck suppers knows: no two meat loafs taste the same. This is also true of websites. Yours can be simple or perform internet cartwheels.

You can provide links to your website from a variety of other locations (think future marketing opportunities) as well as from the tag line on your email address. It also helps if you have a simple enough web address that you can share it with interested persons you meet at signings, in a restaurant, or during one of those famous elevator speeches. You’ll want to include your website address on business cards or other promotional materials.

Entire books have been written on this subject, so we are just scratching the surface, but that’s why there is a comment section to enhance our conversation.

Selecting your domain name

Let’s imagine that your name is Jane Doe. Before you register the domain name for YOUR website, you’ll want to give thought to what that name should be. Your best option might be the domain name of I suspect there are a lot of other Jane Does in this world and so that unique name may be taken. You could try adding a middle initial (, or maybe, or You can see the possibilities. While a lot of cachetis associated with the .com extension, there are numerous others (.net, .biz, .org come to mind). I understand you can even secure a .author extension. Another idea for a domain name would be to connect it to your book series. For example, if you write stories set in the Dalgenian Galaxy, then perhaps might work for you.

NOTE: Unlike many passwords, domain names are not case sensitive. You can use upper case letters to enhance the readability of your domain name:

Domain registration

A quick Google search will give you the names of a lot of domain registration sites. There are also sites that will sell you a domain name combined with web hosting. NOTE: You can register a domain name without needing to pay for web hosting. The cost will be $10 - $15 per year. Some of those web hosting companies might offer a cheaper “registration” fee in exchange for you paying hosting fees with their company. If you enter into that kind of arrangement, find out if YOU own the domain you want and can transfer it later to another hosting provider.

(Here's a comparison of web hosting services to get you started).

Important: Once you have a domain name you must keep the registration current. There are a number of enterprising persons who watch for domain names to lapse, snap them up at a basic fee once they become available, and then try to sell the rights back to the original owner. I knew of a non-profit organization whose domain registration lapsed and they paid $3,500 to “get it back.” Ouch!

Producing web content

Okay, so you’ve secured a domain name and lined up a web hosting site. Now what? Not that many years ago, you needed to be an expert in HTML language or invest in expensive software to create a WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) website. Most web hosting companies now offer a variety of templates (with different styles and color schemes) into which you can insert pictures, graphics and text to create the look you want.

There are several companies with which I am familiar,, and that will allow you to create a website for FREE. However, your website will be a sub address of their primary domain (i.e. and your website will also contain their advertisements (it’s how those companies make their money). Let me assure you that I don’t get a kickback for mentioning the above. There are many other companies that offer similar services. You can also pay monthly premiums for more customization and control over your content (and fewer ads). Most importantly, if you have your own domain name, you can pay to link directly with one of these sites (or whatever other service you may choose).

Earlier, I noted that websites tend to be static. This should not be confused with “stale.” If you’ve written five books and only include the first three on your website, you’ve allowed your site to get stale.

There are enhancements you can add to any website to make it more interesting to the visitor, including video, audio (music or verbal messages), animated graphics, or even simple things like the inclusion of “today’s date” when a person logs on to the site or a current count of visitors to the site.

Your turn to chime in

Please use the comment section below to share your own tips and best practices regarding an author’s website. Also, feel free to pose questions regarding website issues or to ask for suggestions. This is, after all, Fiction University where you just have to raise your hand to enhance your own learning experience.

Ray Flynt authors two series: Brad Frame mysteries, and one featuring journalist Ryan Caldwell. He’s also written a political suspense, KISSES OF AN ENEMY. A native of Pennsylvania, Ray wrote and performs a one-man play based on the life of Ben Franklin. Ray is a member of Mystery Writers of America and active with their Florida Chapter. He is a life member of the Florida Writers Association. Ray retired from a diverse career in criminal justice, education, the arts, and human services.

Website | Goodreads |

About Unforgiving Shadows

Brad Frame lived a serene but aimless existence on Philadelphia’s Main Line until his mother and sister were kidnapped and murdered.

The tragedy transformed his life.

After helping the police catch their killers, and with the aid of his mentor, Philadelphia Detective Nick Argostino, Brad opened his own private detective agency vowing to help bring justice to others whose lives had been turned upside down.

Eleven years later, Brad is invited to the execution by lethal injection of Frank Wilkie, one of two men responsible for the death of his mother and sister.

Thinking that Wilkie might have something to say, Brad reluctantly attends. Wilkie remains silent, but as Brad exits the prison the chaplain races after him, thrusting the condemned man’s Bible into his hands.

Within hours another man is anxious to get his hands on Wilkie’s Bible, and Brad suspects the motivation could involve the still-missing ransom money.

But as the reason becomes clear, Brad’s world is once again turned upside down. Aided by his associate, Sharon Porter, Brad unravels an eleven-year-old mystery that casts new suspicion on family, neighbors and business associates alike.

UNFORGIVING SHADOWS is the first book in the successful Brad Frame Mystery Series.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |Indie Bound |  


  1. Lots of good advice. Let me add two things about domain names:

    Be sure you own the domain name yourself, that you're paying a separate fee for those rights. Otherwise a service like Wordpress.Org (unlike the Wordpress.Com tool itself) or Wix can delete your entire blog if they get a complaint, and you have no rights. (It's called "digital sharecropping.") Also, a domain name like Myname.Wix.Com looks more amateurish with the company name in the middle.

    Second, think twice before picking a domain name based on your books, because it won't work as well when you start another series. A variation of your own name works with everything you write, and it keeps fans aware of you as well as the books. (Though you can get your book names too, and have those domains redirect to certain parts of the main website.)

  2. Thanks for sharing those points, especially about the ability to own several domains and have them re-direct to one site.