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Speaker topics proposal for writers' workshops or writers' festivals  by Ginny Stibolt

Writers, as a group, desperately need help with their websites.

For many reasons writers are often on their own when designing a savvy plan for their websites and other online marketing. There are some obstacles to overcome: 1) techno-phobia, 2) lack of funds, and 3) limited time. 

But writers know they need an Internet presence, so they do what they can to get something … anything … posted.  As a result, many of their websites are unfocused and ineffective.  I hate to say it, but many of these websites actually detract from a writer’s professionalism. 

I have developed presentations especially for writers that strip away some of the mystery about websites. These presentations have been honed over time and have been shown to be effective and understandable to writers.

A webmaster since 1994, I have created websites for professionals and businesses, but now I work more in helping people with managing their online content. Recently, I’ve focused much of my attention on writers and their needs. After my double session for the Maryland Writers’ Association in 2004, several attendees told me that it had been the best presentation they’d attended on any subject.  While I’d like to claim that it was due to my superior teaching skills, it’s more probably because writers, as a group, desperately need help with their online presence. 

First presentation:

Getting the most from your Author Website!
You don’t need to be a technical wizard.

Topics include:

· Mounting your own site vs. group sites;
· Defining the purpose and focus of your site;
· Writing for the Internet—how to present your story;
· Understanding the fundamentals of webpage design—developing a critical eye;
· Maintaining your site for the long run.

Second Presentation:

Managing Your Online Writer's Identity

Anything you do or say on the Internet is available for anyone to see.  Handle your writer's identity with care.

Topics include:

· Using social network sites like Facebook;
· To blog on not to blog, that is the question;
· Commenting constructively to enhance your reputation;
· Working on gaining quality inbound links to your website;
· Search for yourself and your books—you may be surprised.

Third presentation:

Maximize Marketing with a Writer's Website

Set up your website to monitor its effectiveness. Internet marketing is a process, not an event. 

Topics include:

· Mysteries of search engine spiders;
· Effective use of directories;
· Myths of link swapping and other so-called wisdoms;
· Using metatags for control;
· How to ensure return visitors;
· Using a media page.

Fourth presentation:

Creating a sticky website

An effective website is one of the most useful marketing tools a writer can have, but writing for a website is different from writing a book or article. 

Topics include:

· Telling a compelling story—it’s not the same as writing for print;
· A webpage is a visual medium and should look more like a billboard or a TV ad than a document; 
· Don’t bore your surfers with say, a gallery of tiny photos to click;
· How to entice your website visitors to return again and again.

Fifth presentation:

Websites for Unpublished Writers

Present yourself as a credible writer with a writer's website. Be your own cheerleader. Everyone is on the Internet. Isn't it time for you to create a professional website? It's not expensive and it's not too difficult, even for the technically challenged.

Topics include:

· Hone your 30-second elevator speech to include your website;
· Make your writing stand out; 
· Focus your website and pick a POV;
· Learn how to spread the word.

~ ~ ~

I would also be available for private consultation with writers to critique their websites. I always have ideas. 

I can do these presentations effectively without a computer, but they’d be better– especially for a large audience–with a projected computer screen. I include handouts with note-taking guidelines and printouts of good and bad examples of websites. I’ve been a teacher (no matter what other job titles I’ve had) my whole life.  I know how to hold an audience and get people involved.  I can present technical subjects in an understandable manner.

I’ve written several articles on writers’ websites for The Book Promotion Newsletter and have posted them on my website: 

~ ~ ~


Ginny Stibolt taught technical writing at a  community college in Maryland before she opened a computer retail store in 1981. She and her staff sold computers with 16K (!) of memory, and taught beginning to advanced computing courses.  In those days, the general population had no idea of what to do with a computer.  Ginny has been working with computers professionally ever since. 

In 1994, Ginny developed and maintained the website for her software company until she sold the business in 2000. She then worked for the Business and Computer Division at another Maryland community college where she developed the division's web pages and taught business and computer courses.  Always the entrepreneur, she started Sky-bolt Enterprises in 2001. Ginny has a mission to help writers and other professionals maximize their web presence through practical design and good marketing. She’s been known to contact perfect strangers with ideas for their web pages.  

~ ~ ~

Please let me know if you need more information or references.

Ginny Stibolt


If I can create a website, anyone can! After Ginny’s class at the First Coast Writers' Festival, I purchased the Microsoft FrontPage software, took it home, and dug in.

For my first attempt, I chose one of the formats included in the software package. I worked for several days until I was happy with the results. Ginny provided several suggestions for improvement.  I will add more pages to the site as I update. 

The best thing? I gained an enormous amount of confidence and pride from learning to do it myself. After all, I am the author, so I should be responsible for my own website. I plan to launch a second site related to writing within the next few months. This time, I may stretch my brain and do the page designs from scratch. Why not?

I was dragged into the computer generation. A few years back, I couldn’t even turn one on without breaking into a cold sweat. No one should shy away from at least trying!

Rhett DeVane, Southern Mainstream Fiction Author  


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