Before launching I was in the literary Dark Ages! In the past I only engaged with my readers via sporadic email newsletters sent to a mailing list comprising mostly friends, family and acquaintances. It was actually only after the publication of my memoir, Walking in Footsteps of Promise last September, that I decided to change my approach. The main motivating force behind this was the realization that I also needed a change in my own life. I was at a juncture in which I felt an urgency to pursue my dreams and in particular my burning desire to become a full-time author able to support myself financially. Basically I knew that if I did not do something differently my writing dream would always remain on the back-burner.

After coming to this realization, I had honestly no clue where to begin. So I read several online articles and blogs from publishers and veteran authors to collect ideas on how to become a more successful writer. One of the consistent recommendations that emerged from this exploration, was that a professional author website is absolutely essential for a writer in this day an age. A website is a platform not only to engage with readers, but also with publishers and the press, as well as a handy e-commerce channel. In short it is an author’s gateway to the literary world, in which they have complete agency.

With this in mind I began my website odyssey in December 2019. Initially I thought to build the website myself. However, I knew that this would likely not result in the professional web design that I was after. On top of that it would take too long to build because I also have a day job. So I spent the next two months researching web design services as well as author websites to help me define the requirements and to find inspiration. By chance one day in early February, I saw a LinkedIn post from Tribe Visual advertising web design services. After a short call with the founder of Tribe Visual, Dee Dorant, I decided to take the plunge by commissioning the website. I chose TribeVisual since I was starting from scratch and they offer the full package in website design. From taking the right photos to website implementation in Word Press. The website took just one month to build, including the photoshoot, photo editing and content generation, and it was launched officially on March 31st 2020.

What is perhaps most interesting of all is what happened following the launch. After just two weeks there have already been several unexpected surprises. An example that sticks out in my mind is from one of my readers in the US, who recently purchased a signed copy of Fresh Ereba, for her three-year old son. She asked me to write a message of encouragement to him when I sign the book. I found this very heartwarming, since in the past I would not have been able to engage with my readers in such a personal way. Traditional distribution channels are excellent at reaching a wider audience globally, however, I feel they miss the personal touch. Admittedly, a book fair is also a way to engage personally with readers, however, they are short-lived, and not always feasible, such as during the current Corona pandemic. A major advantage of an author website is that it offers writers an opportunity to engage personally with readers on a year round basis. Another pleasant surprise has been the uptick in sales since launching the website, which seems to suggest that I am reaching more of my target audience. I feel a web presence helps readers to ‘touch and feel’ an author by discovering more of their bibliography as well the person behind the books that they read. For instance, I have had a few reactions from readers who have said that they were unaware that I had written three books or that I had even written a children’s book.

I can also foresee big changes in the future in the way I interact with my readers and fans. For example, by using Mailchimp to manage my newsletter mailing list on the website I am now able to deliver more personalized content. Mailchimp is a powerful marketing tool which allows me to dynamically tailor and track book campaigns as well as special offers to my fans who have signed up via the website to join my newsletter. This is in stark contrast to my previous Dark Ages approach using a static mailing list. Now my mailing list has expanded to include readers worldwide who are beyond my acquaintance. Another interesting development, has been the opportunity to offer readers a sneak peek into the two books (The Ashes From Our Tears and What I Think About When I Run) that I am currently working. This gives me a chance to build up interest in these books before they are launched. To compliment this, I will also be making blogposts throughout the writing process, to update readers on my progress and share previews of parts of each book. Stay tuned for more!

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