The Authors Guild is now offering writers the tools to produce low-cost Web sites. The program is open to members and nonmembers of the Guild, though participants will have to have been published by an established press or published three major freelance pieces.
The service (www.authorsguild.net) is being touted as user friendly and extremely cost effective. A single page listing costs $3 per month in maintenance; a standard site, which can feature up to 10 books, is $6 per month; while a larger site for the prolific writer is able to feature as many as 50 titles and costs $9 per month. The Authors Guild will also register new Web site addresses (such as JohnDoeAuthor.com) for $18 per year and provide e-mail to those building Web sites with the Guild for an additional $3.
Guild director Paul Aiken told PW, "Having a presence on the Internet is already important and is only going to grow in importance. A nonfiction writer can show off their expertise on a topic; others can promote their entire body of work. It's a space where an author can control the presentation of the book, which doesn't happen elsewhere online."
In return for the fees, the Guild will submit sites to major search engines and promote the sites along with its own.
Ironically, on the same day the Authors Guild announced its Web initiative, Amazon.com, which the Guild has criticized for selling used editions of books alongside new ones said it will make a major change. The online retailer will no longer limit Web site developers to putting a link to Amazon.com on their sites but now will allow outsiders to incorporate search and shopping features on their own sites, free of charge.
Amazon's new program, launched under the rubric Amazon.com Web Services, offers developers the option to incorporate a search bar that will return either full or truncated results and product descriptions. A developer can also offer users the ability to add these items to an Amazon.com shopping cart, wish list or wedding registry without going to Amazon.
Despite Amazon's past troubles with questionable sites joining its associates program, Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, invited Web developers to experiment with the features, saying: "We're putting out a welcome mat; we can't wait to see how they're going to surprise us."