Category Archives: Web Safety Tips For Writers

Strategies To Keep Your Author Website Safe (For Yourself And Your Visitors) | Web Design Relief

When building your author website, you’ll carefully select your theme, typeface, and color scheme. As a writer, you’ll agonize over every sentence. But, while the creative elements of a website may be well in hand, many writers are not as savvy about the technical security aspects of smart web design.

If your author website isn’t protected and secure, it can be dangerous—not just for you, but for anyone who visits your website. Web Design Relief presents the 411 on website security issues.

How Your Author Website Gets Hacked

An author website is basically made of files stored somewhere in the world on a computer. That computer then publishes those files for everyone to see in the form of a website. But, for any computer connected to the Internet, skilled hackers can gain access and control over the files inside your website. They can then upload their own nasty files and redirect your website to scam other websites—damaging your website’s credibility.

At this point, your website’s host company will take action. Many hosting companies do not claim responsibility for the files you host. So when they realize your site’s been compromised because the files are deemed inappropriate or potentially dangerous, the hosting company can—and will—end your service contract. You’ll lose access to your website and possibly all of your files stored on their servers.

Until the security breach is fixed, your website will be deemed unsafe. Your host company will freeze your account and unpublish your website.

Ways To Keep Your Author Website Secure

Strong password protection. Make sure your website has strong password protection. This includes the login information with your webhost.

Quality web hosting. Confirm your webhost is providing a firewall for your server that will help mitigate the typical hacker attacks.

At Web Design Relief we recommend running your website on WordPress, which has an amazing Content Management System.

Smart security plugins. Having the right plugins in place will help fight hacker attacks. At the very least, a good plugin will notify you about attacks on your website. Using plugins such as Wordfence Security and Anti-Malware will safeguard both you and your visitors.

Up-to-date software. Check that your website is always running the latest software releases. Keeping your author website current is one of the services offered in our Web Design Relief Hosting Care Package.

Secure contact form. You want to have a way for your website visitors to contact you. Rather than listing your personal email on your website, use a contact form. This will protect you from spam and dangerous phishing attempts on your personal information.

One way to weed out spam is to use CAPTCHA on your website’s contact form. This tool will protect you against thousands of spam attacks, which could debilitate your email inbox in minutes.

A New Day…A New Spam Attack—And What To Do About It

Unfortunately, new and unpredictable ways of breaking your website security are constantly being developed by hackers. No website is 100% immune to attack.

But if you remain vigilant and informed, you have a better chance of staying a step ahead of hackers who want to hijack your author website.

If you want to put your website security into the hands of caring tech experts who understand the unique needs of writers, Web Design Relief can help. We host the websites we create for our clients and take full responsibility for the safety and protection for the sites under our care.

We take your website’s safety seriously and are up to date with the most recent security techniques. Schedule a free consultation with our experts today!


Question: What are some of the ways you protect your website?

How To Create Backups Of Your Author Website If Your Web Host Doesn’t

Like the savvy writer you are, you have your author platform running like clockwork. Then one day, you check your email and find that the host for your author website has contacted you—and it’s bad news. Your website has been taken down because it’s been hacked.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that’s becoming more and more prevalent in today’s cyber world. Maybe your security wasn’t strong enough—your password was easy to crack, or key files were left unprotected. As a result, hackers were able to get into your site’s back end and upload all sorts of nasty files. When this happens, your web host—the company that provides a home for your website—has no choice but to shut your website down until you delete the files. Aside from being extremely inconvenient, this breach may also result in the loss of some of your blog posts or any pages you may have created around the time of the hack. And while your website is down, you become virtually invisible to your fans, potential new readers, editors, and literary agents.

Here’s another website worst-case scenario: Your web host experiences a data loss due to technical error or natural disaster. If they backup your website automatically (which is something you should check when signing up for web hosting), then no harm done—but what if they perform backups only once a month? Your entries from a few days before the data loss could be missing.

How To Protect Your Author Website From Cyber Attacks

Ask your web host if a backup service is provided. Find out if the backup service is already in the terms of your hosting agreement or if it’s an add-on service. Also: Do they charge you to access the backups if they do them for you?

Learn to make your own backups. Making a backup of a WordPress website is not too difficult, even if you’re not an expert at navigating the back end of your server. Because, like so many other online processes—there’s an app for that! There are plugins/apps available that you can use to automate and simplify the backup process:

Free Backup Plugins/Apps

Paid Backup Plugins/Apps

The most popular plugin on this list is BackupBuddy. One of the major benefits of this plugin is that it allows you to schedule daily, weekly, or monthly backups yourself. It can then automatically save the backups to a cloud hard drive like Dropbox, or you can even email them to yourself. If you’re on a budget, you might want to try the free plugin UpdraftPlus, which offers similar features to BackupBuddy.

Put your author website in expert hands. If you’re not the least bit tech-savvy, or you simply don’t have the time to regularly back up your author website, Web Design Relief offers a Website Hosting Care Package that can help you protect all the work you’ve put into creating your author website. This comprehensive Care Package is affordably priced and includes regular site backups for restore points in case of emergencies, regular installation of updates (for WordPress, theme, and/or plugins), follow-up maintenance should updates cause problems on the site, and more.


QUESTION: How are you prepared when your website needs a backup to the rescue?


Socially Acceptable Grandstanding: 7 Tips For Talking About Yourself On Social Media


These days, many traditional publishing contracts include clauses that require an author to have a social media presence for the purpose of marketing and promotion. An author hoping to use social media to sell books might think the best way to go about this is to incessantly blast Buy! Buy! Buy! on every social media platform.

Yet the average social media user doesn’t scroll down a newsfeed to be sold to. Most folks engage with Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to maintain contact with far-flung friends and family, to keep up with breaking news, and to connect with people who have similar interests. Social media is all about networking. To use it well, an author needs to spend the bulk of her time attracting friends and followers—not selling books. Straight-up advertisements are the least loved posts.

In fact, using “hard-sell” promotion and marketing techniques may actually get you blocked, unfriended, or—worst of all—labeled a spammer.

So how are writers supposed to use social media to encourage sales if an author isn’t allowed to, well, sell?

Savvy Social Media Techniques For Book-Selling Authors

Building a dedicated group of friends and followers takes time and effort.  If done well, it happens organically. Check out these seven posting techniques on how to talk about yourself and your books in an engaging but soft-sell way.

  • Be Yourself. Folks want to engage with people who are authentic, honest, and passionate, while you want to inform folks about your books. These two goals are not mutually exclusive, especially if you can craft posts about where your passions and their interests intersect. For example, if you write sci-fi, share exciting new space-probe pictures of the cosmos. If you write historical novels, share interesting tidbits you’ve discovered while researching. If you write diet books, repost or retweet heartwarming success stories. These posts will attract folks with similar interests who may be willing to join your tribe—and buy your books.
  • Share Challenges as Well as Successes. Finishing a new book or making a sale to a big publisher is fabulous news, but you’ll seem more approachable if you also share your work struggles, such as brainstorming a new title, finishing a difficult chapter, or meeting your daily word count goal. Drawn into the narrative, people will follow your progress in the hopes of a happy ending.
  • Be Generous. It’s human nature to have warm-fuzzy feelings for people who are selfless. Offering up a book giveaway, for no more reason other than it’s Tuesday, is a great way to draw interested readers to your backlist. Hosting contests with books or related swag as prizes may attract new friends and followers. Engage your followers in your writing process by giving them a chance to name a secondary character, a pet, or even a town or storefront in your next book. Giving your followers a heads-up about a freebie offer for another author’s book will show your willingness to spread the love.
  • Be Positive. The old adage about avoiding discussions about sex, politics, or religion in social situations goes double for social media—except, of course, if you’re writing about sex, politics, or religion. There’s enough negativity in the news, so friends and followers may flee if your page becomes too polarized. Generally, strike a positive tone, even when discussing challenges. And never, ever engage an Internet troll.
  • Get A Cat. Nothing draws more attention than cats or dogs, with recipes coming in a close third. Posts about your life, whether about pets, food, or family, can be surprisingly intriguing. They let curious potential friends and followers see that you’re just like them—except you also write books. But be careful about oversharing, for the safety of both yourself and your family.
  • Always Respond. Make sure to respond to anyone who has taken the time to comment on one of your posts, even if it’s just a “thanks so much!” or an “aww, you made my day!” If the response allows it, ask a question to engage them further. Developing a dialogue helps cement the bonds of trust and friendship for when the time comes to harness the power of your network to build a newsletter list or sales.
  • Choose Your Timing Wisely. If you’ve used the above techniques to develop a trusting relationship with your growing list of followers, they’ll be less likely to balk when you ask for a favor—or put up the occasional sales-oriented post. Pave the way by cluing them in about an upcoming launch. Tease them with an exclusive book cover reveal or an excerpt. When you’ve got a big launch or a big sale going on, you can post your sales pitch and follow up with humble thanks. If you’ve done it right, your followers will be as excited as you are to watch your book climb the charts.

It’s a strange quirk of social networking that the key to making sales is not pushing sales, but making friends. Better to spend your time growing a network of enthusiastic, encouraging, like-minded followers than to spend your time grandstanding like a politician. When the right moment arrives to ask for their support, all those happy folks will have your back.

Question:  In your experience, do you think social networking is a waste of time or a vital way to grow an audience for your books?




Essential Vacation Safety Tips For Your Social Media (And More!)

You’re so excited about your upcoming vacation that you can hardly contain yourself! Finally, you’ll be the writer posting photos of umbrella drinks and tweeting about glorious sunsets, or blogging on your website about amazing Mayan ruins. Authors are always in search of new content for marketing and promotion: What better way to captivate your… Continue Reading

Don’t Feed The Trolls On Your Social Networks

In a perfect, fairy-tale world, all the visitors to your social media accounts would be well-mannered princes and princesses who politely comment on your posts and tweets. Unfortunately, this is the real world, and sooner or later you’re going to run into a few nasty, unpleasant creatures: Internet trolls. Internet trolls are (often anonymous) people… Continue Reading

Is Your Author Website Protected From Hackers, Spammers, and Frauds?

Let’s face it: You’ve invested lots of time and money into your website in order to create the best resource for promoting your writing. But here’s an unfortunate fact of today’s world—you must be vigilant about keeping your author website safe from frauds, hackers, spammers, and other e-criminals. Your website safety must be a top priority.… Continue Reading

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