People judge your website before they even make their way over to it. When you print your website name on a business card or add it to your twitter account, some people will decide on whether to go there based on the name you choose. That's a lot of weight to put on a name, but as an author you should be used to it. After all, it's no more difficult than naming your book. Maybe it's even a little easier, as professionalism constrains your options.
When choosing your site name, you will need to be aware of the anatomy of a URL. Later on we might talk about security, but right now we're just concerned with top level domains (TLDs) and your actual domain name.
What's the author TLD?
You may be wondering what a top level domain is. Quick answer? It's the end of your address. You know, .com, .net, .org etc. Those are all TLDs. Historically, each TLD was associated with a certain type of website. This still holds true for some types of sites, such as .gov (government sites) and .edu (educational sites). But for the most part, sites are self-regulated when it comes to choosing their TLD. This means you have quite a few options open to you.
Making the choice even more difficult, in the past few years several new TLDs have made their way into the mainstream. You now have less-traditional options such as .club or .life.
Some industries have their own TLD. For instance, .fit is the fitness TLD and .adult is for adult websites. Unfortunately, writers didn't get a clear TLD in the latest roll out.
For a classic, professional site, .com is always a solid TLD choice. But what if your site name has been taken or is too expensive as a .com? You may choose a country-specific TLD or, my favorite, .ink. Writers can fight it out with the tattoo artists over who gets that TLD.
Should You Pick a Fun TLD?
You want your author site to be taken seriously, right? Does this mean you have to choose a traditional TLD? While a .com does add a certain amount of weight to your website, the popularity of non-traditional TLDs is rising. This means you can feel free to branch out- to a certain extent.
You want your TLD to reflect your values as a writer. This means you can get away with some fun TLDs as long as they fit the scope of your books. Otherwise, you might want to stick with a more neutral TLD.
Once again, I'll remind you that .adult is for the adult industry, not authors of adult books. So avoid that one!
Picking Your Site Name
You've got your TLD. Next you get to the fun part: choosing your actual site name. This is pretty much your business name or some variation of it. For authors, this usually means your name or pen name.
I know. It's not super creative. It might even be considered boring. But your name is your brand as an author, and it's the easiest way for people to find you. So stick with something recognizable, preferably however you publish. For me that's Koji A. Dae.
But What If You Have Two Pen Names?
Plenty of authors have more than one pen name. If you write children's books and adult thrillers, you might have two names to help keep the work separate and keep children from stumbling on your mature work. Guess what. You get the joy of creating and maintaining two websites!
If you have two pen names, you obviously care about a separation in your work. To maintain that separation and your authenticity, you need two different websites. You can follow the rule for using your name for each of the sites.
What If You Write Two Genres Under The Same Name?
Let's look at the above scenario: You write both children's books and novels with more mature themes. But this time you write them both using the same name. Do you need two different websites?
Not really. Opt for a neutral home page and branch off into two distinctly themed sections, one for kids and one for adults. When advertising one of your genres, make sure to link to your landing page within the appropriate section.