All career authors need to reserve their domain names if they have not yet done so.
Yes, unpublished fiction writers, this means you, too.
It takes 5 minutes; it costs $12 per year. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the unique part of a website address, or URL (uniform resource locator). URLs comprise three parts:
- The protocol: https
- The domain name: careerauthors.com
- The top-level domain (TLD): com
As a career author, you need to reserve your own unique domain name. That name is your reservation on the right to build at a specific web address. Nothing more. Just a claim.
It’s not the website itself. It’s not any actual content. You don’t have to make your reservation public or build on this virtual real estate right away.
Stake your claim
But you need to stake your claim, just like homesteading in the wild west, so nobody else can build on your prime real estate. When the time comes for you to build a website or start a blog or get email at that domain name, you’ll then have the technical ability and authority to do so. When you start to build your dream home, you’ll already know its address.
You reserve your domain name with a domain name registrar such as GoDaddy, HostGator, Namecheap, or Google Domains. That company then tells the world where to find your website should you choose to build one someday using that domain name. There are dozens of domain name registrars; I use Google Domains because I like their ease of use, I trust them to be around for a while, and their privacy registration is free.
Use your author name as your domain name
As an author, your domain name should be your author name. Not your book name, not a catchphrase, not your DBA business name, not any cute wordplay based on a nickname or genre, not a character in your book – not anything but the name you write under.
Click to see if your author name is available.
If your name is taken, try adding your middle initial or name (thanks to a certain musician, that’s what I do at glennjmiller.com), or try appending author or writer or books to your name, viz., janedoebooks.com or johnsmithauthor.com.
Your domain name includes a TLD. Try to have that be .com. A passable alternative is .net, in a pinch. Other TLDs (.biz or .blog or .guru, for example, among hundreds of other choices) will be too non-intuitive for your audience.
Don’t settle for a subdomain, such as careerauthors.blogspot.com, even if offered for free. This sacrifices professionalism and opportunities for your best search engine optimization (SEO).
Of course there are exceptions to using nothing but your name, but they are rare. Part of being a career author is building your personal brand and your author platform. Your name is the cornerstone of this; do all you can to not dilute it. That’s how potential readers will search for you, so don’t make it hard.
You can have multiple domain names point to a single website
If you write under multiple names or have both a professional name and a pen name, you can reserve multiple domains, but build a website at only one – your cornerstone, namesake site. Once that site is built, you can instruct your domain name registrar to redirect any traffic that might come to all your remaining reserved domain names to redirect to the primary domain name at your cornerstone site. Think of these (called “301 redirects”) as permanent forwarding addresses that all funnel to the one address at which you actually build your web presence. Any web guru can do this for you in minutes.
You need not choose a web host yet
Reserving your domain name is an important start and a necessary insurance policy, but until you host a site at this domain name, nothing changes on the internet. You haven’t built anything at your reserved address.
To build a site at that address, you need a web host – a service that stores the website files you create and delivers them to anyone who enters your URL into their browser. But you don’t have to make that choice yet, not until you’re ready. All you have to do now is reserve your domain name.
Reasons to not reserve your domain name now:
You are on the way to or are already in the hospital. (But even then, check for decent wifi connectivity and just get it done.)
Questions? Hit us up at our Facebook page.
tl;dr Reserve your domain name here, now. It’s quick and easy.
PS – while you’re at it, get them for your kids, too.