Loyal readers will note that I have come out strongly in favor of having your own publishing website even if you are driving most of your sales to Amazon. I often get push-back, though, that talks about how expensive having a website can be. Fair enough; let's talk about it.
I spend about $13 on a domain name (like, for example, DegreePress.com). I also pay for hosting that website. While it's hard to tell exactly how much I pay there because my hosting account covers more than a few websites. I can tell you that you can host a single domain at HostGator for about $5.50 a month (if you pay for a year). So, total for a year for the domain and hosting is $79.
Might I suggest that, if you cannot afford $79, you might not want to consider self-publishing.
However, let's continue. At this point, you would likely let me know that there is more to having a website than just a domain name and hosting service. And you would be right. There is the website development piece (i.e. making it look right for sales).
Do you know about Wordpress? Wordpress is the software used by many companies and individuals to create websites. What you may not know is that, as soon as you have paid for hosting, you likely have access to Wordpress for free. It is available in your cPanel as an option. From that, you can create a very plain website.
The "vanilla" version of Wordpress is ugly. It's not meant to be used for a website. You will want to select a WP theme to use. Many are free; some cost money.
What you may not know as well is that there are many resources available from which to learn how to use Wordpress. Youtube has many videos and there are many websites solely dedicated to teaching you how to create WP websites. Here is an example of a Wordpress site that I created myself. It's fairly good.
I should tell you that I have no great Wordpress or website development skills. For better, higher-profile websites, I hire someone to do the work for me. That being said, I feel that my skills would be enought to create an adequate publishing website doing exactly what I have described here.
And so can you.
Look for my next article where I show you one of the free ways to develop a publishing website. I also have an interview with my web developer coming up. You will be able to see what he has done for me and for others (and, I should note, he does it using Wordpress).