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Web Feat
By Lori Myers
January, 2007, 07:30

Entering into the world of having a web site portfolio is fast becoming necessary.
There comes a point in every professional writer's career when you want to let more people know about what you do for a living and what you can offer anyone who deals with the written word. That's where technology comes in and where having a website is essential.

A website is a writer's best publicity tool. If it's magazine writing you do, a website can let readers and editors know about your expertise. If you're having your novel published, you can feature it on your site along with an excerpt or teaser that will showcase your writing style. You can transform your site into a virtual store selling your work. You can also make it the vehicle through which you offer an online writing course.

While business cards, brochures, and book signings only reach a select number of people at any given time, your web presence can reach audiences around the world, at any time of the day or night. Having an online presence increases your visibility, enhances your image, and gets your name and efforts out into cyber space. It's a way to wave your hands up in the air, figuratively of course, and shout, "Hey, I'm here and this is what I'm about!"

But having your own site is not only is a great advertising tool, it's also a time and cost saver. A website makes it easier for editors and publishers to read about you and your work, eliminating the need to mail or fax clips. If you teach writing workshops, you can refer prospective students to your site so they can get information on where you'll be teaching or lecturing in the future. Dates and times for book signings can be added for those fans who yearn to meet you in person. Websites are quicker, easier, and cheaper to update than print media.

You may be confused about what to include on your writer's website. One of your first steps is research. Log onto other writers' sites and jot down things you like and don't like. What attracts you about each site, how user friendly is it, and does it give you enough information about the style and type of writing by this author? Do you get a sense that they are serious about their writing or does it appear to be only a hobby?

Next, look at your own work. It's best to select a few aspects about you and your writing, rather than trying to dump everything into the site and risk confusion and frustration of those logging on. If you have a writing specialty, then let that be your focus. For example, if you're a travel writer, emphasize that aspect of your writing in your bio, your writing credits, and writing samples. Pick your best work to impress publishers, editors, and readers. Think about including some articles or stories that are in an unedited state to show editors that your writing doesn't require much overhaul prior to submission.

Most importantly, don't be afraid to strut your stuff. Include glowing remarks from others, favourable testimonials from writing students, and good feedback from editors who have worked with you. List snippets of book reviews or links to other sites that sing your praises. Sprinkle some humour on your site to show off your personality and include a headshot so readers can have a visual connection. Some writers are also including blogs on their sites to allow even more of their personality to shine through.

Setting up your own website or having someone do it for you takes work and forethought. You'll have to decide on the design, how you want the information to be organized, even the colour scheme. But the time you spend is worth the effort. After all, this will be your global calling card!

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Lori Myers is an award-winning freelance writer and co-founder of the Central Pennsylvania Writers' Consortium whose articles, essays, and fiction have appeared in over 40 national and regional publications. One of her articles is part of the archives at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

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