I receive the weekly Publisher's Lunch deals emails, in which they list the previous week's worth of reported books that have been sold by agents to editors at major publishing houses. In there, they have a special "debut" section, which I use to mark future author's I'll be looking to contact for NON interview sometime in 2010.
These debut authors, to have made it into the deals list, have been signed with an agent and then had their novel sold, a process that can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, from what I've been reading. In other words, they've had some time to prepare for their upcoming sale. And yet, you'd be surprised (I was shocked) at how few of these authors have websites up and running.
The website, I believe, is the baseline of most people's search when they hear of a new author. They won't go to the publisher's website or to the Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Borders site or bookstore--no, they'll Google you. And if you can't be found easily (if your site doesn't come up in the first ten Google hits), most people aren't going to look much further for first-time authors.
Why, why, why would you not have a website up as a debut author? It doesn't have to be fancy. Just a little page that says who you are and what your book is about. Once you have a publishing contract, a picture of your novel's cover and a link to where and when people can buy it is pretty simple to create, too.
I was even more astonished to find this phenomenon to be prevalent among published authors, even authors with multiple publications under their name. Websites can be free, as easy to create as setting up a blogger account, or as expensive as hiring someone to design and maintain it. But websites, I do believe, are absolutely essential. I wouldn't start a business without one. I wouldn't attempt to sell a novel without one.
Am I out of line here?
Most important, all you debut authors out there: How am I supposed to contact you to interview you for NON if you don't have a website where you can be reached?