I don’t think there’s any doubt at this point that every author needs a website. Publishers recommend them for their own authors, and self-publishing writers know that, for most of us, our natural home is online.
But the next thing that comes up when you decide you need a website to advance your writing career, is the question that stops a lot of people: What should my domain name be?
Authors have come up with a lot of creative answers to this question, and in this article I’ll review your most likely options, and give you some hints about how to make this decision.
After all, it’s quite likely that you’ll be living with your domain name for quite a long time. And your domain name is going to be very important for lots of reasons, for years to come. Let’s take a look at your choices.
Domain Name Options for Authors
Domain names for authors fall into a few natural categories, and you may end up with more than one of these names.
Author- and Book-Related Domain Names
This is the most common domain name for authors, and once you become well known, you’ll be very glad you own it.
The problem is that you aren’t very well known, right? So how is this domain going to help you? After all, there probably aren’t many people doing searches on your name, so traffic will be incidental.
The best use for a site of this type is to use it as a linking hub, and include pointers to any other sites you own, to your social media sites, and to your book landing pages. You can also host a copy of your author media kit on this site, too.
For many fiction authors, the author name domain is the best choice long-term. No matter what genre you end up writing, your fans will be able to find you.
Do you need a domain based on the title of your book? It will help searchers who already know the title, but not many others. You can get the domain name of your title if your title is particularly unique or includes branding you want to carry over into the future.
For nonfiction authors, whose book titles and subtitles usually contain important keywords, it’s much more important to secure the domain name of your title. And you may have to adjust, too.
When I published A Self-Publisher’s Companion, the book was closely associated with my blog, so I set up the landing page on this site, and didn’t see a need for a separate site and domain name.
But when I published The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide, I knew we needed a separate site. We obtained the domain www.SPResourceGuide.com since the full version seemed just too long.
Subject-Oriented Domain Names
This is the kind of domain name that works best for authors who have a clear subject focus for their writing, whether it’s nonfiction or fiction. However, in my opinion, I think this is by far the best kind of domain name for nonfiction authors who are subject matter experts.
The obvious advantage to this type of domain name is that it already contains crucial keywords.
This is why it pays to slow down and take your time when you decide to create a website.
Do you really know what keywords are the most important to your readers? A little research with a keyword tool now will repay you for years to come.
Consider the search benefits—in addition to the simple communication benefits—of domain names like:
A Personal Story
Associating your site with an important keyword or phrase has a long term effect. For instance, on my site I wanted to make sure I had keywords in my domain name.
The first domain I tried was taken: bookdesign.com.
So was the second: bookdesigner.com
At this point I stopped to do some research and think through this problem. I was a newbie and not prepared for the fact that the domain name I wanted wasn’t available.
Eventually I came up with the formulation that worked: thebookdesigner.com. Since this is a nonfiction, instructional site, I got my most basic keywords—book and design, as well as the phrase book design—right into the domain name. Using “the” as a prefix wouldn’t dilute the effect of that, so I was happy when my solution turned up as available.
If you write about pizza, just keep going until you come up with a formulation that’s simple, memorable, available, and that includes pizza somehow in the domain name.
More Tips on Domain Names
- If you can, try to include a keyword in your domain name. This is also very helpful if the domain of your name is already owned by someone else.
Because every link to your site that’s placed online will contain your domain name, so reinforcing a keyword in association with your site can have good results for you.
For instance, instead of JoelFriedlander.com, I could use JoelFriedlanderAuthor.com.
- Try to avoid domain names that use hyphens, which make remembering and properly entering the domain name more difficult for many folks.
- When you’re creating a new site, think about creating your own “brand” by creating a name that relates to your subject. For instance, Brian Clark created the title “Copyblogger” for his site that aimed to teach online writers how to use copywriting techniques. Since he invented the word, he “owned” all the searches on it, with no competition.
- A domain name that’s easy to spell will be easier for people to type into a browser, and much easier to remember.
- If you’re having success with your site, consider acquiring all the related domain names to safeguard the investment you’ve made. For instance, after the first year of my blog, I registered all these other names, too:
It cost about $10 for each of these domain names, and another $10 each year to renew the registrations. I always set up my domains to renew automatically, and frequently use the “privacy” option that allows you to show your internet service provider as the contact for the site, instead of showing your personal information.
- Don’t be too cute, it rarely works online. People won’t get the ironic joke that you use for your domain name, so why bother? It seems to me the most important function of a domain name is to clearly identify you for search engines and human searchers.
Here’s an example. I was studying the ketogenic diet and came across a great site with recipes, menu plans, ebooks, everything you would want. The domain name? ruled.me. Although it’s cute, it has no relation to the subject of the site and will confer no search or “discoverability” benefits on the site owner.
- Remember you’re not really limited to just one domain name. Using “redirection” you (or your webmaster) can acquire more domain names and “point” them at your site.
- You can also use redirection to host your book landing pages on your main website. You don’t have to set up a site for every book. But do obtain the domain name of the title of your book and point it to the book’s landing page on your site.
More Domain Name Resources
6 Tips for Choosing the Right Domain Name for Your Author Website by Smart Author Sites
How To Choose The Domain Name For Your Author Website by Web Design Relief
How to Choose Your Author Domain Name by Kate McMillan
Choosing the Domain Name for your Blog by Problogger Darren Rowse (many more on his site)