Sunday, March 18, 2007

A writer without a blog is like a -- without a --.

But a blog's not enough. I must have a website. And register a domain name for that day when someone is googling for me and not for a DC Comics fansite.
If all the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you get an LJ account? Answer in 500 words or fewer.

Okay, fine. I've started thinking about what I'd want in a website, and it's pretty minimal. I'm not self-publishing (the 3-Day doesn't count, because I'm not selling that, it's just for friends who want to read the first version, where you can still see where the sweat-drops marked the manuscript) so I wouldn't need a shopping cart or catalogue.
  • A short bio, of questionable accuracy, so as not to bore anyone.
  • FAQ (if that name can be used of questions that have not in fact ever been asked).
  • List of sales (one!!!) with link(s).
  • Opening chapters of WiPs.
  • Recommended research sources.
  • Possibly silly stuff like pics of characters and places, the floor plans of Woram Hall, pics of my cat and bookshelves, random bits of interesting folklore.
  • Some simple way for hypothetical readers to contact me and get a response.
  • No Flash animations (no matter how cute), no blinkies, no font madness.

I hereby vow that I will not have a website or even a page that is 'under construction' or empty. Content or nonexistence. Feel free to take me to task if I break this vow.

Now, here's the deal. Mark has a website, which you should all go to and order from, hosted by islandnet. Which isn't cheap, but is local and reliable. He can move to the next level, and get a second domain name and more stuff, for another $10 Cdn a month.
Zoe's website is hosted by doteasy. She found it easy to put together and has had no problems with the host. However, according to a couple of review sites, doteasy goes down rather more than is acceptable.
Googling free or low-cost web hosting reviews takes me to several sites, where the reviews may be scanty, biased, a mix of ranty negative over-reactions and suspect enthusiasm, or not updated for a couple of years.
Most of the low-cost hosting services seem to charge rather less than $10/mo, but see above for the difficulty of knowing whether they're reliable or not. I'm not so much worried about downtime, because I'm not planning to sell anything from the site. It's being being renewed (and charged for it) without notice, and odd business like that.

So, I'm collecting datapoints and opinions. Who would you recommend for a minimal sort of website, and why?

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