Friday, October 28, 2005

WORKSHOP: How to do a website on a budget?

How to do a website on a budget?
Shelia M. Goss ©2005 All Rights Reserved.

If you're a published author, soon to be published or even thinking about being published , then you should have a website. No one thought the World Wide Web would be used in the capacity it's being used now. Well, correction, some folks did (smile).

There's no excuse for NOT having a website. If you're unsure of how you want your website to look, I suggest surfing the net. Go to and enter in a few authors names to get an idea.

If you're unable to hire a web designer to create your home on the web, then do it yourself.

If creating a website scares you, then halt. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe. If you have yahoo, AOL or any one of the many other internet providers, then you have access to creating a website. Bravenet (, Angelfire(, GeoCities (, or Homestead ( offer free or low costing web space with handy tutorials.

As an author, you need to choose a domain name. What is a domain name? It's an identifier or the information you type in your web browser to pull up a website. For example, if you want to pull up the Shades of Romance website, you will enter the domain The most important thing to remember when deciding on a domain name (your new website address) is to choose something that is easy for your current and future readers to remember.

For example, if your name is Jane Doe, then use the domain There will be instances where your name is already taken and you might have to add an initial or some other identifier. Some authors use there book title as their website address. This is fine if you plan on that being the only book you'll publish or if you can have it forward to your main website (i.e.,

Once you purchase your domain name, it's yours for the allotted time. You can buy it yearly or whatever terms you and the provider set up. In the past, I've seen it for as low as $2.95. The price will depend on the web host site you choose.

There are so many sites that offer web services and it's easy to get lost and frustrated while trying to find the one for you. Here's a website that I hope will make it easier for you. The page identifies the web space and price:

Thank goodness there is software out there that doesn't require you to know HTML. Frontpage is one of them. I use it constantly and it's simple. You can create your page in Microsoft Word and paste it directly into Frontpage. If you have Microsoft Office, Frontpage may already be on your computer.

What should you include on your web site once you've decided on your domain name and web server? At the minimum, make sure the following are included:
Book Information (Title, price, where to purchase your book, sample chapter, etc)
How to Contact You (Email or contact sheet)
Mailing List
Guest Book
I've been doing my own website for quite some time now. If I can do it, you can too. My website is Take a look around and check out the headings.

One day I'll turn over the reign to someone else, but in the meantime, I'm always trying to come up with different looks. What you see today will probably be different six months from now.

Remember, having your own website doesn't have to cost much, you just have to shop around.

1st Assignment: If you have a website, post it here. If you don't have a website, and at the minimum, sign up for one of the free websites.

2nd Assignment: Visit workshop participant websites and take a look around. Be sure to drop them a note in their guestbook, so the'll know you were there.

Shelia M Goss is the ESSENCE MAGAZINE Bestselling Author of My Invisible Husband. With unique storylines, her goal is to create "stories with a twist." Shelia was the recipient of three 2003 Shades of Romance Magazine Reader's Choice Multi-Cultural Awards for her debut novel, ROSES are Thorns, VIOLETS are True. Be on the look out for her next novel--My Three Beaus. Her articles, poetry, and short stories, have appeared in National Magazines such as Black Romance Magazine, Bronze Thrills, InnerCosmetics, and Tribes Magazine. Visit her website at or check out one of her blogs:


Tempie said...

Shelia...Once again you are right on time with great info...

I too love working through the fact my tag is...

Workin From Home and Lovin IT!!!
Check out some of my websites I designed just for fun:

Questions: To any member of the panel or all?

In your opinion what is the ratio and/or percentage of your business have your acquired through the internet using your websites, blogging, etc verses face to face or one on one encounters in reference to promoting your work?

Thanks Tempie
Badge #151

Shelia said...

Temie, I have yet to do the 10 city tour that I hope to do one day. Being on the internet allows me the luxory to reach the masses without travelling.

To answer your question, I would say at least 90 percent of my business is because of the internet.

BlackButterflyReview said...

That was really good advice. I had difficulty with frontpage, but once I figured it out, I was aok :)

Eleanor (#17)

Monica Jackson said...

I've had a web presence I've done myself since 1997, up continuously without interruption.

I obtain my domain names at They are $8.95 a year, have been in business for years with 24 hour support. There is a feature called Website tonight, where for a few dollars a month (which includes hosting) you can easily put up a professional looking site, choosing out of hundred-plus looks.

There's a special ending in October that if you buy any other product you can get a domain name for $1.99. has tons of great options for websites, including some really great looking Flash ones, you'd pay thousands for.

Tempie said...

Thanks again have each added more wood to my fire...I am about to embark in becoming an avid blogger

Does anyone know who was the first person to invent the BLOG? Who get's the credit for such a simple yet profound piece of internet savvy?
Thanks Tempie
Badge #151

Shelia said...

Tempie, I didn't want you to think I was ignoring the question, but I don't know who the inventor of the blog is, but if I find out, I'll let you know.

Shelia (#16)

Anonymous said...

I don't have front page, but am interested in publishing a website. I'm an aspiring writer, but I believe my book will be published. I want to set up a web presence before to let readers know what I'm doing. How would you suggest setting up a site? And how do I let others know to come to my site?

Tempie said...

Shelia..Thanks...I was just

* A very creative idea!!!

Badge #151

Shelia said...

Saundra 180,

If you want to do your own website, go to the websites listed in the article(bravehost/angelfire/geocities/homesteads) and see which ones offer the most reasonable price for setting up a webpage, which would include getting your own "domain" name. Those sites have tutorials tht help you set up your page. If you are unfamiliar with html, one of the sites above is more beneficial, because they usually have tutorials or easy ways to upload your information.

Put your website on business cards that you hand out to people. Don't forget to include your new website in your email signature. When you visit message boards or guestbooks, there's usually a place to include websites, so enter it there.

Shelia #16

Anonymous said...

Basic HTML isn't too hard to learn... I do my own web site (too poor to hire anyone else) and it's not too, too difficult. Plus, I can always update my site whenever I like and I don't have to pay another person (and wait for them) to do it. :)


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