Penguin Books take the internet seriously. The Penguin web site is full of information about their books, with extracts and audio samples, and they encourage their authors to set up web sites of their own.
Not only do they encourage them, they provide a 40-plus page PDF file of guidance.
While this is no doubt just what some authors need, for others it is overkill, full of information which is more alarming than encouraging. The author has tried to combine very basic information (“What is a domain name?”) with guidelines for people who are confident enough to be running their own site – here’s a sample:
First, you need to transfer the files for your website to the server. This is done via FTP (file transfer protocol). It’s a very easy process, and will be handled most likely by your designer (although you could certainly do it if you have the experience and an FTP program).
And indeed you could. But if you need to be told that, you probably won’t want to do it yourself – and if you don’t want to do it yourself, then you don’t need to be told how. Again, a clear and on the whole helpful explanation of domain names and how to choose them is followed by the comment that you may find that a “cybersquatter” has already registered your chosen domain, but don’t worry:
In some instances this will be something you’ll be able to resolve easily, for only a few thousand dollars.
That’s all right, then.
So, if any Penguin authors are reading this, I’d like to tell them this: Penguin have put together some very helpful marketing advice with a lot of technical information which you probably won’t need. Read what they have to say about what they can offer you through Penguin’s web site, and about the different kinds of web presence you might want for yourself (a site of your own, a blog, using Facebook and MySpace…). They are sound, too, on why fancy graphic effects and Flash animations are probably not the best way to promote a book. But don’t feel obliged to try to register a domain name, find hosting or construct a site for yourself unless that’s what you want to do.
In fact, I’ll go further. Cornwell Internet – and I expect this goes for other web design companies too – would very much rather you don’t register your own domain before you talk to us. Unless you have a very popular name, it’s unlikely to be snapped up overnight – and if it’s that popular, it’s probably already taken, and we’ll think of an alternative (trust us on this: we built a web site for Mel Gibson, didn’t we?). We don’t ask this so that we can make a profit on registering your domain; unless you want something very exotic, domains can now be registered so cheaply that there really isn’t any profit in it. But administratively it is so much easier for us to register the domain than to transfer it, that there is no saving for you in registering it yourself – and probably a loss for us!