Setting up an author blog by Matt Rees

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Because I’m such a hip and happening author, I’m redoing my blog. Actually, I’m not redoing it. My friend Harry’s doing it. He’s hip and happening. The point of the blog is to make me LOOK that way.

Until now I’ve mused about the writing of my books, my book tours and research, about the world of publishing and otherwise, on Blogger. Which is simple and easy to use. However, I’m informed by friends who know about these things that Blogger looks dreadfully old-fashioned and that it’s not so easy to do anything but the simplest things on it.

So change I must. This is where Harry Rubenstein, who sings in Jerusalem’s most obscure band, in which I play bass, steps in. He also has a company which consults on company web sites and sets up professional blogs. Harry is doing my blog for nothing, because he’s a friend and because I’ve promised to base a character on him in a future novel who will either be killed or have fried artichoke thrown in his face.

[Note: This isn’t going to be one of those sad authorial blog posts which lament the fact that writers can no longer sit alone in their rooms for years thinking great thoughts before having to face the world. (If that’s how I viewed blogging, I wouldn’t write a blog post about it. Surprising how many writers don’t quite get that irony…)]

I’m quite happy to engage in blogging, social networking, making videos for Youtube, guest blogging and virtual book-touring. (Only “quite happy,” because after all I’m not a teenager.) I’ve put a lot of time into making www.mattbeynonrees.com a good central site for all interviews and articles and reviews… and photos and audio and video… and stuff in foreign languages… and links to my social networking profiles.

But the blog didn’t look so good. Time for a change.

As I’ve had professional help with this, I thought I’d lay out for any writer out there who’s getting more into the interweb thingy (pretty much everyone, if the people I meet at crime writing conferences are a representative sample) how to go about it.

First, the blog needs to be on WordPress. Word Press isn’t as simple to set up as Blogger. You may need a computer savvy type to help you create the blog.

Get your domain name (the www…etc.) and sign up for a server. A good server provider is BlueHost.com.

Set up a blog account at WordPress. But, you say, that gives you a page that looks very basic, too basic in fact. For the “theme” that makes it look like an actual blog, you go to a site like Woothemes or Themeforest. Pick one you like, then get your computer savvy friend to, as it were, superimpose the theme over the basic blog.

Still with your computer savvy friend, put in a few widgets. Most of these are invisible to the blog reader (spam filters, for example), but others can be seen. Like the Youtube widget which allows you to embed a Youtube video on your homepage.

Ok, so now you’ve got a blog. Which is where Blogger stops.

But WordPress has what’re called static pages. That’s more like a website. You have the blog page, probably as your Homepage. But then you have a tool bar along the top with other static pages. Let’s say those pages are: About (your bio,) Books (yours, of course), Contact.

To sign up for a good Contact form, rather than having people email you, go to http://kontactr.com/signup/.

Then you can quite easily load up the other pages with all the stuff that you might otherwise put onto a website. The WordPress blog can, essentially, be your website. The web designer who made my main website says she now designs all her sites on Word Press.

Once you’ve sat with your computer pal in front of your new WordPress dashboard for just a matter of minutes you’ll be able to post your blog musings with natty little photos beside them. You’ll post links to other people’s websites. They will in turn post links to yours and make you famous all over the internet.

Then, when your eyes are so blurry you can’t really see any more… Well, then it’s time for you to go and write your book. For the checklist on how to do that, you’ll have to wait for another week…

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