Monthly Archives: February 2011

PROMOTION: Do you need a website or a blog?

Do you create a writer’s website or a writer’s blog? Are they essentially the same thing? Is it a question of “tomato” vs “tomatoe” or “potato” vs. “potatoe”? Kind of, but not really.

I have both and experience with both. Actually, I have several blogs, which can be a mistake if you’re not careful. I’m riding that borderline of not being careful. Blogs are designed to be regularly updated to keep readers coming back for fresh/new content. If you set up a blog, it is important you update it once a week, bi-weekly, or at least monthly. If you can’t devote the time to that, then don’t set it up.

A website is more formal, more business oriented. It needs to be updated, too, but not as regularly. For many writers (including myself), it is where I keep a complete listing of all my writing works and much more. I also have two blogs incorporated with the website. One is my more sporadic postings on various writing-related thoughts that cross my mind. The other is my Writing Tools blog.

My personal belief is that a published author needs both a website and a blog.  And it is best that they are linked together for more traffic all the way around.


Definition of a Blog
The word “Blog” is actually short for “web log” and it is a dynamic website that may contain a number of pages. Usually it is a frequently updated online journal featuring personal writing, photography, artwork, and videos. They reflect the personality of the blog author (blogger).

Definition of a Website
A website is a permanent online address where information about a business, products, services or hobby is described in detail. It contains a set of interconnected pages, including a homepage, images or videos hosted on one or several web servers.

• Usually is a more formal, has a more official business approach to a website than a blog.
• Normally contains an index or menu which is repeated on every page, listing all available pages.
• After updating a website, it can take search engines a while to do another round to pick up the changes on a website and update their indexes.
• Offers a better browsing experience for someone seriously searching for data.
• Mainly good for displaying one-time information that doesn’t require regular updating.

• Easier to set up, host and run than a website.
• Usually navigated from page to page by links within posts to other related posts.
• May have a sidebar which lists recent posts and archives by month.
• Usually have categories to differentiate between types or topics of posts.
• Usually allows for interactive communication between the blogger and someone reading a post and then commenting on it.
• Due to their being frequently updated with posts, they are picked up more often by search engines. The posting “pings” the search engines that there is content to be indexed.
• Can be used to increase traffic to a website.
• Search engines push blogs higher up because of their dynamic, fresh content.
• Require more time spent on regular posting with relevant content. Do not set up a blog that you don’t have the time to maintain. You will annoy readers who check back and find nothing new.

Types of Blogs
• Personal: This is usually an ongoing diary or commentary by an individual. They can reflect on life, works of art, and can be sentimental in quality.
• Corporate or Organizational: Blogs can be used internally for communication in a corporation. They can be used externally for marketing, branding or public relations purposes. Or they can be used by clubs and societies to communicate about club and member activities.
• Genre: Some blogs focus on a specific subject such as politics, travel, fashion, education, a niche, music, etc.

Things to Consider
• How quickly do you want to gain recognition with search engines and readers? If your time is limited, I suggest setting up a blog first. When you have more time and money, set up a website and tie the blog to it.

PUBLISHING PROCESS: Understanding Contracts

Making that first sale is far beyond exciting and the first time the writer must seriously think about legalities. Of course, future sales are just as exciting.

The first sale of a writing project may be just a verbal agreement or an agreement in an email. Even then, though, the writer must learn how to protect yourself and what you have agreed to provide and receive.

If the first sale results in the writer receiving a written contract, it is important that you understand what is included in the contract. Do not let your excitement over a sale keep you from knowing your rights and what you are agreeing to with a publisher.


Definition of a Contract

  • An agreement enforceable by law.
  • It must contain an offer and acceptance.
  • It must reflect the “consideration” (value) given each way, such as what the writer is agreeing to provide and what the buyer is agreeing to pay in compensation.
  • Per copyright law, the publisher does not control exclusive rights of a work unless the agreement has been signed by the author.
  • A verbal agreement is not legally binding. Confirm the agreed upon terms in a letter or email message.

Terms to be Included in a Publishing Contract

  • Title of the material being purchased
  • Rights being purchased (first rights, one-time rights, reprint rights, all rights, international, etc.)
  • Medium to which the rights apply (print, online, etc.)
  • Distribution for the publication
  • Payment to be received and specifics of when it will be paid
  • The writer’s obligations and liabilities (accuracy, originality)

Creating Your Own Contract

If you sell to a publisher who does not offer a contract or simply sends a check which is their confirmation of a sale, it is wise to protect yourself by creating your own letter of agreement.

  • Keep the letter of agreement simple.
  • Direct the letter to the editor.
  • Acknowledge that you received the check (state the amount of $) in payment for the title of the work purchased.
  • State that you look forward to seeing the work published in the agreed upon publication.
  • This is not a legally binding co-signed document. But it is a written record of the terms you, the writer, have authorized.

Links to Discussions About Publishing Contracts