I have a few practical suggestions for anyone considering putting a book or other material up on the Web. First, the size of my site – 300 pages in the form of 24 “articles” – is probably too large and intimidating for some readers. Half that size would make for a much more reader-friendly site. Also, as I mentioned earlier, you need to spend some time and money making your site look professional and attractive. An amateurish, do-it-yourself site will put off some readers.
Finally, don’t assume, as I did at the beginning, that “if you build it, they will come.” Few people will simply stumble upon your site. My readership did not begin to grow until I sent out dozens of promotional e-mails to political scientists, political activists, journalists, bloggers, politicians, etc. The biggest boost in readership came when the site got mentioned on several popular political blogs. One link to my site on The Daily Kos brought in several thousand visitors in a few days. So you really need to be willing to put considerable effort into promoting your site if you want it to succeed.
While I have been extremely pleased with the results of using the Web to publish my work, this strategy may not be for everyone. For example, some professors seeking tenure or promotion may be in departments that frown on this nontraditional way of publishing one’s academic work. But if you are at an institution that believes professors have a responsibility to be public intellectuals, and if your main concern is getting your ideas out to the broadest audience possible, then this kind of Web publishing is certainly an intriguing option worth considering.
Take a look!