Thursday, December 22, 2005

Author Websites

My brother has kindly hosted several websites for me over the past several years. Nowadays, registering an Internet domain name is quick, cheap, and easy. For $15 you can register any name you like for a year. The only catch is that the name has to link to some page on the net -- even if it's just a "holding" page. With my brother hosting the site(s), that wasn't an issue.

Alas, situations change and he's not going to be able to host it for me any longer, so I signed on with a hosting service that charges $6/month. So far, I'm quite pleased with it. I've had two domain names (my wife owns one as well), for a while now, one for my consulting business (Kepler Educational Consulting) and what until now has been my personal site, Exodus Project. Originally, Exodus Project wa a site for articles, gaming scenarios, and stories set in my Exodus Project background, but once I decided I might someday write professionally, I realized that I can't publish my work online -- publishers generally want to buy first print rights. The site quickly became just a personal home page. A few months ago, I basically gutted it, but never got around to refurbishing it. Switching hosting servers has given me an excuse to do something about it.

Having an author website, preferably with a domain that is your own name, is increasingly becoming an essential marketing tool for writers. Not only do your readers get to know more about you as a person, it helps you to maintain visibility in-between book releases. Unfortunately, there are companies out there that have caught on to the value of particular domain names. Apparently a company in Africa snapped up "" and all the other various deriviatives. They then sell these domain names back to the person with the name for huge sums of money. It's a pretty lucrative business, I guess, even if I find it somewhat morally repugnant. For $15 they can register the name and for next to nothing they can host a page on a slow, cheap server. They can then sell the name for thousands of dollars to the person desperate enough to pay it.

I'm not that desperate.

But I am technologically competent. You see, there's a great little UNIX tool called WHOIS that gives all the domain registration information for any domain name you want -- including the date their registration expires. I simply marked my calendar for when the first "keithwatt" variant was due to come up and jumped in ahead of them. For $15, "" is now up and running! There's not all that much there, really -- people who read this blog will find a lot more of my thoughts here than there -- but there are some cute pictures of my kids for the curious.* Still, it's fun to do and I'm pleased with how it turned out. I'm also pleased with my success in out-teching the tech geeks. Take that, ye survy knaves!

*And for the really curious, the two lovely young ladies in the last picture are my son's half-sisters (his birth mother's daughters). There's an interesting tale in that, but that's probably what my son calls "T.M.I" They are super, super kids!

No comments: