Blogging, Book Promotion, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Social Media

Why Bother With A Platform? Hint: It’s Not About You!

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Image via Pixabay

When I first started out in 2007, many of the marketing gurus told writers that a website was optional.  Some of them were telling writers that Facebook or LinkedIn were more than enough for a web presence.  But a lot has happened since then and with social media sites charging for visibility, it’s nearly impossible to reach an audience organically.  Also, there’s the control issue, does a business owner (you) really want a middleman controlling when and if you have access to your readers?  So today the advice is to get people FROM social media on to your newsletter or website.

This doesn’t mean abandon social media completely, what they mean is have other avenues that you can rely on to get your message out there like podcasts, blogs and of course newsletters.  If you can only reach your readers via Facebook then you might want to take things to the next level and start branching out.

I can already hear you all asking: why are we doing all this work?  It’s hard and at times tedious, well I’m glad you asked…

Reason 1:  Information Gathering

I know many authors are blogging and on social media believing they’re there to build a massive platform (whatever that means to them) but that’s not exactly why.  The truth is you’re reaching out to readers because you need to learn from them.  And by the way, social media is a great place to mine data from customers (readers).  As you put your life and thoughts on display, you should be exchanging information with your readers, so try asking them questions (open ended ones) such as:

  1. What authors are you reading?
  2. Name one personal pet peeve you have about modern books?
  3. Who are the most influential authors today?
  4. What kind of stories do we need to see more of?
  5. Which book character deserves closure and why?

Author H.M. Ward once discussed meeting with a New York publisher and when she began talking about her demographic, she was astonished when one of the executives asked her, “How do you know this?”  Well duh, she monitors her social media and newsletter analytics.  By the way, she has over 50,000 subscribers on her email list and over 59,000 Facebook fans.

If you feel like you don’t know what to say, study the indie authors who are good at connecting with their readers people like; Mark Dawson, Bella Andre, Adam Croft and Marie Force.   Look at their social media accounts and subscribe to their newsletters and see what they’re doing right.

Reason 2:  Showing Your Expertise

This is particularly for nonfiction authors who need to show their knowledge of a given subject.  A platform gives you a non-censored channel that you can use to educate or inspire.  It also gives you an opportunity to connect with other thought leaders in your field.

Reason 3:  Promotion… Of Others

It goes without saying that promotion is one of the main reasons authors build a platform.  However your books aren’t the only thing you can promote, you can promote other authors, there are tons of them out there who have little to no support, and a shout-out or friendly word never hurt anyone.  Another good idea is to promote your readers, these are the people who should get regular shout-outs.  Thank them for their positive reviews and support.

Reason 4:  All The Cool Publishers Are Doing It!

Over the past few years, several major publishers like Penguin Random, Guardian Books and even Harlequin have started their own podcasts.  Those same companies also have newsletters and social media sites even though they’re already household names.  Despite what a lot of authors think, they’ve been watching indie authors closely and have been taking notes. This means we indies need to step up our game, and that requires us to learn from each other.

In closing, if you learned anything I hope it was that you can’t depend on anyone to reach and build your audience.  This is your job no matter if you’re a traditionally published author or an indie.  It’s your job to know who your readers are and what they want.  This is what a platform is really about, it’s not about stats or image, it’s about connecting and building relationships, real ones that will endure your entire career.

Blogging, Marketing

When Blogging Doesn’t Work

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Image via Pixabay

Authors need to blog, it’s the mantra that self-publishing gurus repeat over and over to newbies.  In fact, this myth was started by agents and editors several years back.  Mainly because most publishing companies now completely depend on their authors’ platform.

Problem is, they had no idea what the hell they were talking about.  They figured there’s nothing to building a popular blog.  In fact, one literary agent said, “Blogging is storytelling and that should come naturally to all writers.”  Sadly, he omitted a few other necessary skills like; SEO, HTML, copywriting, and marketing are also key in creating a blog that people will actually read.

Several years back, The New York Times reported, that 95% of blogs are quickly abandoned.  That doesn’t surprise me, I for one, walked away from this blog twice, my longest stint being 3 months.

Good News: You Don’t Have to Blog!

In Cheryl Tardif’s book, “How I Made Over $42,000 in one Month Selling My Kindle Ebooks” she says she doesn’t know any authors who were ever helped by blogging.  P.S. That was like a knife in the heart!

But the reason why most blogs don’t work is because it’s demoralizing to talk to nobody for months, or even years on end.  I should know, I did just that!

So what does an author do instead of blogging?  Here are just a few things some authors have done to make a splash online.

Start a Blog Co-op

If you can’t keep up with the demand for new content, then think about teaming up with other authors and share the responsibility of a blog.  Here’s how it goes, you team up to in order to help each other promote posts, and comment.  This will help propel the blog up the search engine rankings thus creating interest.   However be very careful who you ask, the authors you choose should understand what type of a responsibility they’re signing up for.

Guest Posting

Amanda Hocking was famous for her blogtours and online savviness.  She understood how hard it is to build an audience for a blog, so she got a little help.  If you find a blogger with a large following within a similar niche, there’s a huge opportunity to market your work.  Just make sure you get a byline and a link to your books in it.

Create a Short Newsletter

Instead of writing 400-1,000 word posts, why not just create a brief newsletter.  Have you signed up for some author newsletters?  J.K. Rowling for example had a newsletter called “The Prophet” and Stephen King has an archive of newsletters here you can study.  You should check them out and see what different techniques those authors used.

Use Social Media as an Alternative

Instead of building your own hub, why not go to the ones already established?  Wattpad, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Google+ and even LinkedIn all are good places to mingle and share your work.  You can also start reading clubs or community groups dedicated to your genre.

Write Articles for Pay

Both print and online media outlets are starving for content and some are willing to pay for it.  If you can find a paying freelance gig that helps you promote your book you’ve hit the jackpot.  As a part time freelancer, I highly recommend making money while you work on your book.  It not only pays the bills but it also gets your name out there.  Here are a few sites you should check out:

Places to Find Paying Writing Work:

I hope you weren’t thinking this platform building thingy was simple.  It takes more than just a posting or two to become a blogger.  It’s a commitment to research, community building, and content creation.  It’s okay, if you don’t have the stamina or desire to blog, that’s why there are alternatives.  Stop listening to the soothsayers and find out what’s right for you and your book.

Blogging, SEO

SEO Keywords For Fiction Authors (Part 2)

Before we get started, let me review last week’s lesson.  Hopefully, you got some good key words and are ready to use them.  Now before you go posting keywords all over your blog or website, let’s stop and figure out why we’re doing this in the first place.

The point of author SEO is to rank highest on the Google search for your name, your book’s title and for the genre(s) in which you write.  If you’re going to rank highest for anything it should be your name.  When your name is typed, your blog or website should appear near the top of the page.  This keeps things easy for readers, journalists, and people within the publishing industry.  Today I’ll be showing you how using WordPress.

Okay, so now that we got our keywords, what the heck do we do with them?

Putting Keywords in Your Site’s Header

So if you’re trying to get ranked for the key term: “Children’s Author” your title should go something like, Jane Doe Children’s Author.  The header of this blog is: “Rachel Rueben YA Author & Novelist” to change your header on WordPress simply go to your dashboard and go to Appearance and click on Header.

Blog SEO

Keywords in Your Post

Next, you’ll have to insert these key words within the content of your page/post.  When doing this make sure to use bold, italics and even underline those keywords and spread them throughout the post.  This is the part that many bloggers fail at.  It’s an art form to include keywords throughout an article without making your content read like gibberish, but it’s doable.  This is a great idea for those who are creating sales pages or bookstores on their websites.

Tagging Your Pics With Keywords

Now it’s on to tagging photos on your blog.  Hopefully, you have a picture of your book’s cover, if not, grab a stock photo and make a mock cover.  Start by going to your dashboard and clicking on “Add Media” button.  Now upload your cover and in the “Title” as well as the “Alt Text” section, put your book’s title, your author name and genre then when you’re done, insert that picture on your webpage or blog post.

SEO in Pics

Tagging Posts With Keywords

Next, go to a new or old blog post and scroll down to the “Tags”‘ section and start adding your keywords.  Just be certain they have something to do with the article or post your tagging.  It’s considered bad SEO to tag irrelevant words to a post and the people at Google frown on that and will downgrade your site’s ranking.

    Tagging Blog Posts

Think You’re Done?  Ha, Ha!

Believe it or not, you can add even keywords to your blog post’s URL.  Often called the slug, it’s part of the URL that’s readable and contains a summary of the article.  In WordPress, you can edit your blog post’s permalink by simply clicking on the “Edit” button.  Just remember to include the dashes: Jane-Does-Childrens-Book-Zoo-Babies-From-Mars and click O.K.

SEO Keywords in URL's

Final Tip:

Like with all marketing, you will have to update some of your keywords from time to time in case of a genre change, or even with new technological innovations.  Ebooks seem to be the hottest topic researched on Google today, but who knows, ebooks may be history in a few years.

Well I hope I helped demystify SEO and made things a little less scary.  Now you can confidently go forth and rise to the heights of the search engines with no fears. 🙂  I know this was a lot of information, so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section.  And for those of you who need a more visual tutorial here’s one from Blogging Bootcamp on Youtube.

Blogging, SEO

SEO Keywords For Fiction Authors

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Image via Pixabay

 

Update: I did a more recent version of this article called: SEO Keywords for Self-Published Books in 2016, so go check it out.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t enthusiastic about writing this post because it was so technical and to be real, I usually ignore posts about SEO and keyword research.  That’s mainly, because the subject is so boring.  But after seeing the comment section in my last post, I realized I had to face an old demon.  Yes, I do read the comments and I often feel your pain.

Not only did I find SEO boring, I didn’t realize the correlation between it and book marketing.  But there is, keywords are an intricate part of online marketing and most of us are selling our books online so wouldn’t it be nice if we understood this mysterious creature called SEO?

Anyone can rank high in the search engines just by inserting popular words and riding on the coattails of controversy or news headlines but that easily backfire.  In my own experience I’ve used the wrong keywords on this blog and ended up with a ton of bounce traffic.

In most cases, author blogs and websites need to be tagged with keywords that include:

  1. Title of your book
  2. Author Name
  3. Genre of your book

But you can’t just let it end there, you have to insert commonly searched terms.  This is where the Google adwords search toolbar comes into play.  In less than a half-hour, I was armed with the most searched terms related to fiction books.

Top search results on the word: “Books”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

E books 4,090,000
Online books 2,740,000
On line books 2,240,00
Books online 2,740,000
New books 1,000,000
Google books 2,740,000
Children’s Books 823,000
Kindle Book 1,220,000

Top results for the term: “Fiction”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

Fiction Books 673,00
Adult Fiction 201,000
Historical Fiction 135,000
Top Fiction Books 110,000
Free Fiction 90,500
New Fiction 90,500
Fiction Series 74,000
Good Fiction 60,500
Romantic Fiction 49,500
Adult Fiction Novels 40,500
Gay Fiction 40,500
Flash Fiction 33,100
Horror Fiction 22,200
Christian Fiction 27,100
Contemporary Fiction 18,100

Top Results for “Novel”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

A novel 13,600,000
The Novel 13,600,000
Novel Books 1,220,000
American Novel 1,220,000
Online Novel 550,000
Romance Novel 368,000
Fiction Novel 368,000
Best Novel 301,000
Free Novel 368,000
Romantic Novel 165,000
Novel Writing 135,000
Pandigital Novel (An iPad like eReader) 90,500
Fantasy Novel 40,500
Novel Reviews 40,500
Historical Novel 40,500
Vampire Novel 33,100

Top Results for the word, “Adult Readers”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

Book Club 1,220,000
Books for Young Adults 135,000
Books for Girls 368,000
Books for Teens 110,000
Adult Novels 110,000

Top Search Results for “Reading Books”

Keyword Ideas

Number of Global Monthly Searches

How to read a book 1,220,000
Reading Books on line 201,000
Reading Books for Free 135,000
Where to read books online 450,000
Online Reading Books 246,000
Read Books 1,220,000

Homework:

Pick out your keywords or look some up on the Google Tools page and find some unique to your book.  Look up things like Science Fiction or Chick-Lit and see what you get.  This will take awhile since you’ll be trying different words and combinations of phrases.  That’s fine, take your time and next week, we’ll put those keywords to use.

Blogging

The B Word and Why I Took My Own Advice

It’s been a year in the making and finally, I did it, I changed the name of this blog.  Why?  Well, as much as I loved: The Bitchy Writer’s Blog, it was holding me back.  You see, I write for children and teens now and as you can imagine, people might have a problem with the B word.  It was perfect when I was freelancing, but as a children’s author, it’s a huge hindrance.  So I’ve renamed the blog to: Writing By The Seat of My Pants.

What’s in a name?  Everything!

I also bought my own domain name and linked it to this blog: http://www.rachelrueben.com.  It makes me much easier to find online, not to mention, appealing to a PG audience.  I always complained when I couldn’t find an author’s website or blog during our podcasts and here I was, being just as invisible as they were!  Pot calling kettle, can you hear me?

You Attract More Flies with Honey!

I even jazzed up my sight making it more clean and easier on the eyes.  So all the pretty colors are gone!  I didn’t want people repelled because of the motif.  Eventually, I’m going to buy a Premium theme to look more professional but for now, the Mystique theme is adequate.

 

I’ve been observing other successful blogs and finally got a game plan together.  It’s funny, I’ve been able to help others with their blogs and even helped them gain more viewers, but when it came to my own, I was at a total loss.  It’s the physician heal thyself syndrome.  I had so many ideas but I never knew where to start.  So here I am relaunching my blog to fit my new author image!

Things to Come…

In the future, I’m going to add a few more pages to display my work, sort of like a portfolio.  I was actually thinking about posting my starter novel Eternal Bond, but I’m not sure, that’s a lot of work with all that formatting and WordPress can be a pain when I comes to formatting!  So let me know what you think.  If you got suggestions or tips I’d love to hear them.