To be …..or not to be…..on-line
By Chérie B. Stihler ©2003

this article first appeared in the Winter/Spring 2003 edition of The Arctic Draft Newsletter

My apologies to the bard (or Christopher Marlowe depending on your belief).
The decision to have an online presence can be filled with fear and frustration
or indeed be one that is festive and fun-filled. An author/artist web site provides
you with an excellent opportunity to reach millions of potential new readers or
"customers" from all over the world.

I've "met" a frustrated gardener in Turkey, a lorry-driver in London, a teacher in
Los Angeles, an accountant in Toronto, a systems analyst in Houston and a
dog-groomer in New Zealand all of whom have expressed a keen interest in my
upcoming picture book. [Released by Sasquatch April 2003] My site has only
been up sincethe middle of November (2002) . I had to change my original"index"
or first page andthe old site address (URL) was only referenced on old cover letters
for my writing.
From the statistics reports for my web siteI know that there
have more than 30 editorial staff visits. That is very exciting for me as a newbie writer.

To make the decision if you are ready to have anartist site, first decide on your site's content. Look at the websites of the folks who are really BIG in children's literature. Great sites are morethan just vanity spots for authors and artists. Your site does not need to be slick or flashy - think fun, educational, and functional. As a person who is blessed to work with children almost everyday - think fun FIRST.

Ask yourself : Why would folks want to visit your site?

What do you have to share?

Yes, you may be an interesting person, but a site that is just about you - is not.

Do you have

GIVE folks who visit your site a reason to visit and even betterto "bookmark" it and come back later. Make it as easy as possible for visitors to reador view samples of your work - and then of course to purchase your book or art if they desire.You can start small, create a basic site with one or two features and then add more goodies later.

A good web site is like a true Alaskan home - NEVER finished and always updated.
I am still looking for electronic duct tape and blue tarp. (Hee hee hee)

Publishing credits -List all of your publishing credits. Many writers refer potential editors to their author sites as way to share more writing credits than will fit in a query letter. If your work has positive reviews - you can feature those as well. Of course whenever possible provide a link for visitors to read or purchase your work.
If you are an artist you can select your best pieces and create your own art show or electronic portfolio for visitors to enjoy.

Author/Artist information - Always write your biographical information in third person. If you do, media folks can lift bits for stories, interviews, articles, reviews - etc. Make it EASY for them!It is just like writing publicity releases. Expect your words to be 'borrowed' and adopted as the media person's own. (Be delighted if they are!!) Be sure to include the information you REALLY want people to know.

Do you do school visits?
If so let visitors know about them ...............

Can folks contact you? Some readers enjoy written contact (via email or through letters) with authors and illustrators. If you keep a mailing list of contacts invite people to include their email address' too. You can send email to let readers know about web site changes, upcoming books or local visits and events. Teachers often have students write letters and such in class or after school visits. Contact provides an anchor for folks to see you as more 'real'.

Whew! - Yes, this is a big decision.
Whatever you decide - Have fun with your life - Have fun with your art!