Agent Kristin of PubRants fame talked yesterday about web sites and blogs, and if unpublished writers should have either or both.
Something I've often wondered about is whether or not an agent or publisher bothers to look at a writer's site. I know I've read in the past about specific ones who do not; Agent Kristin lays this question to rest (inasmuch as she's concerned, anyway):
"When reviewing sample pages where we like the writing, we’ll often give the writer website a glance and see what’s there. I don’t bother if the sample pages haven’t caught my interest."
She goes on to offer a few tips:
"Don’t have a website/blog unless it can be a professional one. The homemade sites look it and just make me cringe. It won’t keep me from asking for your full (or if I like the novel, offering representation) but it’s not putting your best foot forward and that’s never a benefit."
This is a given. We're not aspiring to become professionals--we already are professionals; we want our web site or blog to reflect that. Choose colors that are easy on the eyes. Use a layout that makes sense. There are a ton of resources available on the web that discuss how to choose color schemes or even ones that generate one for you. If you're using WordPress or Blogger or, if you've chosen to be a little more adventurous like me and opted to use BlogEngine.NET, choose a theme that both complements your message while maintaining a professional look.
Content? Agent Kristin says:
"...the standard. About you, what you are working on, any cool interests you have that might inspire your writing, workshops you are doing, critique partners or anything about the writing process."
And the most important aspect of our blogs and web sites:
"...remember that the writing you have there needs to be representative of you and your good work. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you shouldn’t blog if the writing doesn’t represent your “usual” quality."
We've all read about the job candidate whose prospective employer decided to take a look at their blog... keep the content professional and relevant but, more importantly, put your best quality out there. If you're still learning the craft (we all are), think of your blog as a way to hone your writing skills. Use the same attention to detail when writing blog entries as you do when writing your "stuff". Do a rough draft, revise, proofread. If you happen to be looking through an old post and notice a typo or some other oddity, fix it. Our blog entries remain forever, indexed by Google and other search engines, so who knows when someone is going to access that post you wrote 2 years ago. Make sure that first impression is as good a one as if that person landed on your current home page or latest blog entry.
Now I need to practice what I preach and do some proofreading of my own on this post.
Good luck with your writing.