Monday

SEO Marketing and Backlinking – Slow vs. Fast (or Ethical vs. Unethical)

One of the most effective ways of creating and increasing your ranking with Google is through backlinks.

The backlink strategy falls under the SEO (search engine optimization) marketing umbrella and according to Google.About.com, it refers to “hyper-links pointing to a particular Web page. Backlinks are important to SEO, because Google considers the quality and quantity of backlinks to determine Page Rank.” Page Rank is a measure of popularity Google assigns a website.

A backlink, simply put, is one website linking to another. In other words, inbound links to your site. You can liken it to a popularity contest - the more links in (votes) the better.

But, there is one essential element Google requires to effective backlinking – they must be from relevant and authoritative websites.

There are two methods of getting backlinks: the slow (ethical) way or the fast (unethical) way.

Backlinking the Ethical Way

The ethical backlinking strategy is to use organic inbound marketing. You will need to create relevant ‘to your site’ content (blog post) that’s keyword effective, engaging, valuable, and most importantly, shareable.

It’s this regularly updated fresh content that will create an inbound funnel back to your site. Readers will see your articles, find them valuable, and link back to your site.

Another organic inbound strategy is using linkbait.

Linkbait can take the form of any content that will be perceived by someone as having value. It must be valuable enough for the person to click on the link back to your website. This creates an ethical and organic inbound backlink.

Examples of linkbait include:

•    Free ebooks that are entertaining or informative
•    Free podcasts or videos that are entertaining or informative
•    Free helpful online tools
•    Articles or blog posts that are entertaining, informative, or controversial
•    Games / puzzles
•    Polls
•    A resource page on your site

You get the idea. Linkbait must have a perceived value to the person in order to motivate him enough to click on your link.

Backlinking the Unethical Way

As with most business strategies, people always try to find a quicker, cheaper, easier way of doing things, even if it’s unethical.

The fast backlinking strategy is to use automated tools or outsourcing services to increase your backlinks. These options do indeed increase backlinks, but there are no guarantees as to where those links are coming from. This means you will most likely get links from low ranking and spammy sites.

The bad thing about having these types of sites linking back to your website is that Google doesn’t like it at all. In fact, Google will drop your ranking if they catch on to it, and chances are with the regularly updated and revised search engine algorithms specifically created to catch these unethical practices, you will be caught.

So, think twice about succumbing to the quick and easy backlink strategy. Go for the ‘tried and true’ ethical one. Use effective and optimized organic inbound marketing strategies that will make the search-engine-powers-that-be pleased.

Google is paying attention - this means you must be careful.

What SEO marketing strategies do you use to create an inbound funnel to your website?

P.S. LIKE THIS POST? PLEASE SHARE IT!

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Friday

Kindle Formatting Made Easy

Guest Post by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Recently I published some quick tips on publishing articles and books on Kindle in my Sharing with Writers newsletter and got tons of feedback, some of it from folks who said they were still worried about "the learning curve."

They helped me to see that the little secrets I shared may have been too advanced; many writers need something that’s more A to Z. It’s so easy that I thought I’d take the worry out of for those who have been procrastinating.

Just remember, e-book readers don’t have page numbers. The pages change every time a reader changes the size of a font. If you keep that in mind, formatting is mostly intuitive. And if you want those extra little tidbits I published in the last newsletter, go to my Sharing with Writers blog where I posted it for your convenience.

OK. Here goes:
•    Use Word. Save your copy as a .doc., not .docx or .rtf.
•    Use a simple font, preferably Times New Roman or Verdana. 11 point works nicely for e-readers because the font size can be adjusted if readers want it larger.
•    Single space your text.
•    Make margins one inch all the way around.
•    If your book is fiction, change the paragraph indent from .5 to .2 inches. If you write nonfiction, don’t indent at all. Put spaces between your paragraphs instead.
•    Remove any headers or footers you may have. That includes text of any sort and page numbers.
•    Set justification. That’s the little section in the Word ribbon at the top of your screen that lets you move text all to the left, all to the right, centered, or justified on both right and left. Most suggest you use the latter so the copy looks even on both sides.
•    Don’t leave lots of space between chapters or sections. A single space is all that’s needed. In fact, Nook won’t accept more than one blank line.
•    You can use formatting in your chapter headlines. Make them bold or larger but don’t use fancy fonts (type faces). Some readers (like Nook and Kindle) don’t support the ornate ones. Arial, Verdana, or Times New Roman are safe bets. You can use italics, but I see no reason for the clutter. People will be reading on a screen, after all. Chapter subheads can also be given some attention with bold or larger type face but, again, don't get fancy.
•    If your book is nonfiction, be sure you mark the headings so you can make a table of contents with them—all automated and courtesy of Word. You should be able to find the heading formatter in the Word ribbon at the top of your screen.
o    Your Contents page should have live links so that readers can skip easily to the sections or chapters in your book they want to read. Use the “references” tab at the top of your Word screen to make a Contents page automatically after you’ve formatted each headline.
•    You can also use all caps for the first three or four words in every chapter. That helps cue the reader that he or she is in a new section or chapter.
•    It is acceptable to add information about your other e-books or forthcoming ones to the backmatter of your book. Why not? Be sure to use live links to their sales pages. It's something I often suggest to my clients. Some authors even charge for a couple of ads in the back to offset the cost of publishing.
•    The first page of your e-book is your title page (or the picture of your book cover—but Kindle provides an option that does that for you). Keep it simple. But include the ISBN. If you don’t have one, Kindle will provide one for you—free.
•    Here is a tip that no one seems to tell those of us who love our front matter—you know—our acknowledgments, dedications, etc. Kindle eliminates them if you leave them in the front of the book. Your e-book must start with the cover image/title page/first chapter. So I cheat. I move selected pieces of my front matter to the end of my book. I think it’s important to thank people, and think it would be a shame not to put them somewhere!
•    Just repeating here. Find a few additional tips at http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com/2012/01/learning-more-about-formatting-for.html
•    Be sure to proof read the whole book once it’s set up as an e-book. You’ve made a lot of changes, right? We all know that changes beget typos.

Click here to buy The Frugal Book Promoter --the Second Edition that is now also available on Kindle. When you do, notice the ads and special offers in the back of the book.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning novelist and poet. She is also the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers (www.howtodoitfrugally.com) and was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by members of the California Legislature.

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P.S. To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars, join us in The Writing World (top right top sidebar).

Wednesday

Writing with Clarity

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines clarity as lucidity, clearness of thought.

Writing with clarity can be a difficult aspect of writing. There isn’t a GPS for clarity. And, no matter how clear you think you are conveying a particular sentence, paragraph, or theme, the reader may not be able to see what you intend - you’ve missed the clarity mark.

How does this happen?

Missing the clarity mark may happen even if you have clearness of thought; if that clearness of thought or intent doesn’t translate onto paper, you’ve missed the mark.

As the author, you know what you’re thinking, what motives are involved, what you assume the reader should be seeing, or understanding—this knowledge may cloud your perception of what is actually being conveyed. This clarity cloud can at times create a gap between what you think you’re saying and what you actually say. This happens because as the author, you’re too close to your own writing.

Think of a color. Now, think of a very specific hue or shade within that color. Now, try to write what you see or explain it.

This is what can happen with your story. You can see what’s unfolding clear as day, the scene, the characters, and the intent. But, your vision may not translate with clarity onto paper. You may think it has, but that doesn’t mean it actually has.

While this is true of any writing genre, even content writing, I'll use children's writing as an example.

An example of this is a children’s picture book I reviewed. The content and illustrations were well done, but there was one problem. The story ultimately was about the main character having to go through a metamorphosis in order to be accepted by others. This is what a reader, a child, might take away from the story. While the story had a number of good points, this one flaw was problematic. The authors knew what they intended, but that intent didn’t show through. And, because they were so sure of their intent, they couldn’t see that the take away value of the story could be anything but what they intended.

Fortunately, there is help in this area: a critique group. Every writer who is writing a manuscript, whether fiction or nonfiction, should belong to a critique group. Having three, six, or ten other writers, who write in the same genre will help you find many of the pitfalls in your story. They are the unknowing audience. They have no perceived conception of your story, so they will be able to see where it goes astray and where it lacks clarity.


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MORE ON WRITING

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Monday

Video Marketing – A Powerful Marketing Tool That’s Proven to Increase Your Conversion Rates

From an online marketing viewpoint, video is hot. In fact, it’s red hot. What that means, is that video is one of the top conversion tools, if not the number one tool. People respond to videos. And, along with it being proven to increase conversion rates, it’s gold to your search engine optimization.

Why do videos take your search engine ranking up a notch?

Visit Length

Well, in addition to quality and ‘sharable’ content, search engines rank your site based on visit lengths. Yes, how long a visitor stays on your site matters and videos keep visitors on your site longer.

There’s more though. Video is a powerful selling tool.

Selling Through Showing

A while ago, I happened upon a YouTube video of an amazing little boy guitarist. While watching it, I noticed a music instructor promoted his business with a bit of content at the bottom of the video.

In marketing, one of the best ways to sell a product or service is to SHOW what it can do for the potential customer or client. This music instructor had the right idea in using one of his students (I'm assuming) to demonstrate how a child could learn to play the guitar.

Granted, not all children or adults have the same capabilities or talents, but this is an excellent marketing tool. And note that just listening to the audio wouldn't have the same affect. It's the video (the visual and audio) of this little boy with amazing talent that makes you want to run to the instructor's home and get lessons for you or your child.

So, without further ado, here is one outstanding little guitar player and an amazing marketing example:



Sungha plays 'C*ome Toge*ther' arranged by Michael Chapdelaine

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I love listening to the guitar, violin, and cello.

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PLEASE SHARE THIS POST!

Friday

Media Release - The Basics

Mini Primer for Putting Together a Publicity Release

Guest post by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

You’re Invited to a Publicity Party

Many authors don’t crash the FREE publicity party because, although they’re writers, they fear the process of assembling a press release, or more accurately a media release.

They may worry about looking less than professional to the media. Kind of like we worried about what to wear to the prom when we were in high school. I promise you this party is lots easier to dress for. Here are the basics for sending your release off in style, but you’ll find more detail for the entire process in The Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo). 

  • Use a header of only five lines on your existing business stationery.
  • The first says M E D I A   R E L E A S E. Put it in caps, large type, boldface, 18 point Ariel typeface with a space between each letter. Justify it on the left of your page.
  • Leave a space and enter CONTACT: in 14 point, Ariel caps. Left justify it. If you’re the one who knows the most about what you are publicizing, this is your name, phone, fax, and e-mail address, each on its own line. Revert back to upper and lower case for the details. Include this information even if it is in your letterhead. I have read advice to authors that they use a fake name and pretend they have a publicist. Don’t do it. Editors are on to it. If you’re not a consummate actor/fibber, you’ll only make yourself look foolish.
  • Release information goes one space beneath that. Type in For Immediate Release in 12  point bold Times New Roman, also left justified. Change this only if there is a very good reason for doing so, in which case it would read: For Release After…with your chosen date. Space is an issue for editors. Don’t limit them unless you must.
  • Your headline is centered in 16 point Ariel bold. This catches an editor or producer’s attention.  Study headlines in the newspaper. Avoid anything cute or elaborate at first. More advanced party-goers will learn how to make their headlines catchy. Choose the most newsworthy (read that original, unique or honor-driven) element of your story to feature. 
  • The lead should be simple and brief. It is the first sentence in the body of your release. State who, how, where and what.  Check to be sure that the “when” includes the day of the week and the date. Here’s a sample: “Joseph Martin was honored by Authors of America at a gala ball Tuesday, March 8, at Rockville’s City Hall.”
  • The body of the release follows, single spaced. Leave a space between paragraphs. Do not indent. Mention the single most newsworthy aspect of your story in the paragraph after the lead: “Martin was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1976.” Or even, “Martin has been a Rockville resident for more than a decade.” Add details to the next paragraph: You might credit those who are involved with planning and include the town in which they live after their names. This gives editors an idea for local angles, if needed.
  • Your permanent promotional paragraph comes next. Put it together once and it may only need an occasional update. It is your sales pitch or mini bio and it lists your most important (and relevant) experience and honors. Also include and/or any local organizations you belong to or important offices you’ve held. This kind of information can convince an editor that you are newsworthy. Use it in every release you send out.
  • Your pitch might be a quote about your book, a blurb or short or synopsis about your book. Loglines work here, too. Look up an easy way to write a great logline in The Frugal Book Promoter.
  • Media kit or photos are mentioned next in parentheses, 10 point bold, Times New Roman, centered: (A  media kit and photos are available on request.) 
  • Fax or e-mail your releases; those are the cheapest ways. A fax, however, is most likely to get attention. Include a Fax cover sheet to direct it to the proper editor or use the subject line. This will usually be the features or book editor. For radio and TV, it will be addressed to the producer of each show. Check by phone to make sure the name is current and spelled correctly. If you send photos with your release, use envelopes to match your letterhead and print each address using the envelope feeder on your printer.
Warning: When this simple release is complete, you won’t want to be overdressed.

Warning #2: One page or less is best.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning novelist and poet who learned to market her books the hard way—by falling into publicity potholes along the way. She wanted to share what she learned and pitched a how-to market a book class at UCLA and then began the HowToDoItFrugally series of books to support those classes which she taught for nearly a decade. Get more writers' resources on her site at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find her Frugal Book Promoter at http://budurl.com/FrugalBookPromo.

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Wednesday

Writing and Marketing – Doing Business Online and Email Privacy


I belong to a number of environmental and health related groups. One of those groups is Care2.com.

Care2 sent an alert about Google’s Gmail and your privacy. It seems Google reads “every word of every single email you send or receive every single day,” including those involving “personal relationships, your health information, your finances, and more.”

YIKES!

Google’s response to a lawsuit against them for this invasion of privacy is that their users have “no legitimate expectation of privacy” in regard to their email.

Again, YIKES!

Interesting, it’s a federal offense to read another person’s traditional mail. Why isn’t email held up to the same privacy expectations, especially when Google uses the information in our emails to target you with ads.

As part of your writing and online marketing endeavors, it's certain you're using email. And, it almost as certain that your emailing family and possibly health and financial professionals. This email information should be private.

I signed the petition Care2 has in place to tell Google I expect email privacy. If you feel inclined to do the same, the link to the online petition is: PETITION IS CLOSED.

Please take action and share this alert.

Image copyrighted 2013 Karen Cioffi

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Monday

Email Marketing - Gmail and Unsolicited Email Sorting

I wasn’t going to write about the new format Google is using for its gmail system, but changed my mind, especially since Yahoo may follow suit.

It’s not complicated, but for those who are in a rush or aren’t paying attention to their inbox, the changes can easily be overlooked.

The change is unsolicited email sorting.

Google has decided that we (the Google gmail users) aren’t savvy enough to go through our email and sort it ourselves, so they have randomly put email to our inbox into three compartments or folders (this is the number of folders I currently have):

  1. Primary
  2. Social
  3. Promotions

Here’s an image of how it looks:








Unfortunately, Google doesn’t always know what a particular email should be considered. For example, I get emails from Mercola.com, a health site. It puts those emails in Promotions, although a couple of them have gone into Social. They should go into Primary.

Another example is I just subscribed to a newsletter from Psychotactics.com and it was put into Promotions. By the way, I do recommend this site.

At the very least, Google should provide a feature to create at least two or three more sorting folders. Maybe: personal, health, work, newsletters, marketing, writing, information, or other.

If Gmail has the option for the user to create new folders I haven't found out how to do it yet. If you know, please put the instructions in the comments. It'd be appreciated.

What has this to do with email marketing and content marketing?

The potential problem with this email system is the recipient may not pay attention and look in all three folders for email and incoming content. If they don’t, they may not see your important newsletter or other email you took the time and effort to prepare. Your information, promotional, or opportunity email will not be seen.

Along with this, Google may put a specific email in one folder and then put a similar one in another folder. This means you can’t assume where it will be.

That’s the new Gmail formatting problem in a nut shell.

Many may think it’s obvious to look in all the folders, but for some it’s not. And, it’s an added element to our already overloaded email inbox that needs to be dealt with.

Bottom line, since there’s nothing we can do about it, we do need to be aware of how to find specific emails.

Happy hunting!

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Friday

Should You Use a Pseudonym?

To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym


Guest post by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Nora Roberts, the author of more than 150 romance novels, was asked why she writes romantic suspense novels under a pen name. Here is her answer:

"It's marketing."

She says because she writes quickly that makes it difficult for her publisher to publish all of her work with an appropriate amount of time between each of them. So she writes works which are “edgier” than her romance novels under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. She says. "Putting it under a pseudonym helps brand it for the reader." Children’s writers often separate their real names or their “other” writing names from their children’s work to keep work intended for children untainted.

All these reasons are absolutely valid. And there are lots more. But I believe there are far more downsides to using a pseudonym than upsides. A lot more. Especially from marketing and organizational perspectives.

Writers will find information on the concept of branding in the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) including some of the reasons why you shouldn’t use a pen name. You will, of course, have to weigh the pros and cons, but keep in mind that Ms. Roberts has a powerhouse publisher and its marketing department to help her navigate the difficulties inherent in using a pseudonym. If you are considering using a pen name, here's what you should know:

1. It is very hard to keep a pen name secret. Everyone knows who Kristie Leigh Maguire is, as an example, but most know that it is a pen name. If people didn't know that Robb was Nora Roberts' pen name, most of them will now that Time magazine let the cat out of the bag in a featured interview. The magazine also revealed (big time) that Nora Roberts is also a pen name! Suddenly I don't feel the affinity for her as a person or an author. I don't even know her name.

2. It is very hard to promote a book in person when you use a pen name—especially if you choose an opposite-sex pen name. In fact, promotion of all kinds can become touchy if you use a pen name because you are intent upon keeping your real identity a secret.

3. Using a pen name isn't necessarily an effective barrier against law suits. But do ask your attorney.

4. Have you ever heard people talk about how hard it is to be a good liar? One has to have an amazing memory and as well as a deceptive nature. Authors have problems enough learning to navigate the marketing, publicity, TV and radio, and speaking skills they had no idea they'd ever need when they started writing. Trying to remember all the little white lies (or big whoppers) you may find yourself telling may not be worth the effort. I mean, Nora Roberts finally gave up on the biggest fib of all—that she uses pen names. In the Time interview, she just ended up being herself.

Read more about Roberts in Time magazine's "10 Questions" feature, page 6 of the Dec. 10, 2007, issue.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is a multi award-winning novelist and poet and has a hard enough time keeping the identities as a writer in these genres separate from her work as the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books—one for writers and one for retailers. Learn more about all of them at http://howtodoitfrugally.com where you can also subscribe to her free SharingwithWriters newsletter that’s jam packed with writing and book marketing tips. She also blogs at http://SharingingwithWriters.blogspot.com, http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com, and at http://TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. You'll also find how-to articles and tips on every page of the Writers' Resources pages on her Web site http://HowToDoItFrugally.com

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Wednesday

The 6 Most Important Tips on Using Google+ for Authors and Writers

Guest Post by Erik N. Bowman

Google+ is a fantastic tool to use if you are an author and want a cheap and easy way to publicize yourself and your latest book.

1. When you set up an account, try to write your biography in such a way that best explains everything that your readers need to know about you, it should also be written in a way that it will give it maximum visibility when people search for certain keywords that are associated with you. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tricks can help to direct search engine traffic to your site, so make sure you include keywords such as "fiction" or "new author" which are terms that people are likely to search for.

2. Verify your account and make sure you have an appropriate picture. If your account is properly verified, your picture will appear next to search results that are returned when people search for related keywords. This means that you can get your picture out there so much more easily and people will start recognizing you.

3. Link your Google+ account to your website, your blog or any other social media sites you use, such as your YouTube, your Twitter or your Facebook fan page. This allows any fans you have on Google+ to connect with you via these other social media sites as well, and can help to generate more visibility for your writing.

4. Make sure that you have added all your important contacts to Google+. If you add and recommend other authors, there is a strong chance that some will return the favor and add you in return. Once people are connected with you, they are more likely to see your posts on both Google+ and on regular Google searches.

5. Hold Google+ Hangouts for select groups of fans. A hangout is a group video chat which allows up to 10 users to actively participate at one time. The participants have to be Google+ users who have received the required unique URL from you. Either hold a reading for these select group of fans, or hold a question and answer session. You can handpick the fans, or you can offer the chance to participate in the hangout as a prize in a contest you hold. If you want to reach a larger audience it is possible to host a "Hangout on Air" which can be viewed over YouTube, and recorded and posted on YouTube for people to watch at a later date.

6. Google+ is good for authors, because there is no maximum post length for things that you post, unlike when you tweet on Twitter. This can allow you to show off your writing skills to their full potential. If you want to give fans a teaser, you can consider posting the first chapter of your new book, but only making it available to people in certain Google+ circles. This gives fans the onus to connect and engage with you. You are also allowed more freedom to format posts in the ways that you want to, including putting things in bold or in italic.

Google+ is one of the best social media sites on which to showcase your writing ability. Join Google+ to help self-publicize your writing.

Marketing your book via Google+ or any social network is an ongoing process. In order to properly market your book and yourself as an Author you should consider using a third-party service like Authr .com or if you're a new author you should read the book, "Publish It Now! From Blank Page to Bestseller", available at Amazon or http://www.publishitnow .com.

Erik N Bowman is the best-selling author of "Ultimate Marketing Secrets: Social Media Marketing", founder of Authr .com and the best-selling author of "Publish It Now! From Blank Page to Bestseller".

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Erik_N_Bowman

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Tuesday

Author Dorit Sasson Talks About Writing

The Writer's Life with Author, Dorit Sasson


Dorit Sasson has two new books:

Speaking and Writing for English Language Learners: Collaborative Teaching for Greater Success with K-6

Reading and Listening for English Language Learners: Collaborative Teaching for Greater Success for K-6

And, she's here to talk about her writing life:

The Writer’s Life

I don’t wait for a muse. If I did, I would be waiting forever. I also know that if I try to stick very hard to a schedule, that just might backfire on me.

Because I am currently 39 weeks and my son finished camp for the summer, I do my best to wake up early (not always possible when you’re pregnant and can’t always get a good night’s sleep) and try to get some writing in. These past two days though have been heavenly in terms of finishing writing projects. I realize though that this will change significantly when baby is born.

Writing is a very important part of my life and it centers and balances me. At the very least, I intend to journal when baby is here just to keep my sanity. Writing also puts me in touch with my writing and publishing goals.

When my son was in camp, and I was full time teaching, I tried my best to schedule my writing time before I headed out to teach or after. I found that after a full day of teaching, I didn’t have the brain power to write and since I’m a morning person, the mornings work for me the best.

During that time, I wrote at cafes, but I find I am more productive and less distracted when I write at home. And that’s when the good stuff usually comes! I would love to be able to write near the sea or a lake, but unfortunately, that is not possible. I usually write in bed with my laptop during these last few week of my pregnancy because I need to elevate my feet. I do realize that I am much more focused when I can work at the dining table.

A typical writing session at best, is usually between 1-2 hours. Sometimes more or less depending on my day’s tasks.

I like to freewrite or journal before I start to do any “serious” writing that requires mental energy or stamina.

Because I type faster than I write longhand, I usually end up writing on the computer. However, I realize there are serious benefits to writing longhand, which slows the brain down.




Monday

Email Marketing - Does Your Opt-in Offer Convert?

I was a regular guest blogger for Inkwell Editorial and since the articles I published there have lots of online marketing information that may benefit you, I link to them.

The first one up is:

Marketing Your Writing - Which Opt-in Offer Converts Best?

It’s realistic to say that all writers today are also marketers. The internet has made marketing a necessity – it’s just jam-packed with individuals and businesses offering the same thing you do.

This being the case, you need to promote you, your website, and what you’re offering. You need to grab all the visibility you can. But, even with sufficient visibility, is it working the way it should? Are you getting good conversion rates (the percentage of YESES you get in response to your call-to-action)? In other words are your efforts bearing fruits?

Let me backtrack a moment and talk a bit about the purpose of visibility.

To read the full article, please go to: Marketing Your Writing

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Friday

Your Writing Career - Take It Up a Notch with Holiday Promotions

I'm thrilled to have Carolyn Howard-Johnson as a weekly blogger for the month of September! How great is that. The author of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor is here for a full month of Fridays.

Okay, lets get to it. Carolyn is a deep well of information.

How to Jazz Up a Writing Career with Holiday Promotions

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Have you heard of The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans?

It was originally self-published. Evans believed in himself (and his book) when big publishers didn’t. When it did well, “lo and behold,” as they say in the Christmas stories, someone saw the light.

The motto here, for writers, is seasonal material sells. Especially things that can be given reasonably inexpensively during gift-giving seasons. Seems that books fill the bill. They’re generally $15 dollars or less. They lend themselves to the inspirational (always high on the list of gifts people like to give). And they lend themselves to great cover and book design including religious, whimsical, cartoons, and on and on. Oh, and books are easily and inexpensively mailed or e-mailed!

So, are you using the seasons to build your writing career?

There are all kinds of ways to do it. Magdalena Ball and I are seasonal poetry partners. That is, we have written the Celebration Series of chapbooks. She contributes half the poems, I the other half. And we also share publishing and marketing skills. Blooming Red: Christmas Poems for the Rational is the Christmas entry for that series. We also have entries for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day and even one with a feminist theme (or Women’s Day) to celebrate women for—maybe their birthdays? Our full book in the series, Sublime Planet was just released for Earth Day which is April 22. But there are so many other seasonal themes you could use. How about:

  • The spring and fall equinoxes.
  • Easter
  • Fourth of July
  • The Signs of the Zodiac—both Western and Chinese. I count a series of 12 books here! No?
  • Chanukah
  • Passover
  • Kwanzaa
  • New Year’s
  • St. Patrick’s Day. Think of all the Irish, all the beer drinkers.
  • State holidays like the 24th of July in Utah. Something local could have a surprisingly big fan base.
  • Patriotic books that would work for Labor Day and Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Halloween
Gordon Kirkland is a humorist (Canadian, bless his little soul!). He has written a couple of very funny (and extremely giftable!) books including Holly Jolly Frivolity and The Plight Before Christmas. I met him when we both spoke at a writers’ conference and I know he believes in marketing almost as much as he loves writing.

And that brings me to using seasons, holidays and themes to market any of your work. Here are some ideas for doing that, even if you don’t have an entry in the seasonal category (Yet!)

1. Plan well ahead. Print magazines can work four to six months out. This is about the right time for Christmas ideas or for  Halloween or Thanksgiving for online journals and blogs.

2. Write articles (like this one?), using your own themes related to your books or whatever else strikes you. They can be used as guest posts on others’ blogs or on your own blog or Web site.

3. Offer a discount on a book to be used as a greeting card or casual gift. Of course, most who send Christmas cards buy them by the box of 25 or so!

4. Cross promote with a fellow author on a book in your genre. People who read cozy mysteries likely read more than one a year. And they often love to give them as gifts. Both authors’ contact lists should be full of people who read cozy mysteries so offer them all a two-fer one special—a new one for themselves and another for a gift.

5. Share a list of holiday (or Easter or Valentine’s) gift book ideas. Post it on your blog. Put it in your newsletter. As an example see Karen Cioffi Ventrice’s list at http://www.writersonthemove.com/2011/11/writers-on-moves-authors-books-for.html. A list like this is Zen. It helps your book. It helps other writers. It is an ideal way to build a lasting network of authors both willing and able to cross promote. There is even a way to make this idea in a seasonal catalog and produce it as an income-producing venture in the new edition of my award-winning Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) on page 340 (but also check the index for other ideas for using catalogs). It is also a way to benefit the publishing industry

6. Write a little seasonal poem, story, or article to include with your holiday letter or greeting card. Always include a credit line that lists one of your books and a link to a buy page for it. Send your poem to the editors of newsletters, blogs, print magazines both large and small. Everyone loves to have something seasonal to pretty up an issue at any given time of the year.

7. Consider commercial catalogs. There are resources for that in The Frugal Book Promoter, too, but the best resource is the catalogs you get online, in your e-mail box, and in the pocket in front of your seat when you fly. Think, how can I pitch the idea of my book in a way that will fit with their own theme, their own audience? And remember: These catalogs pay the freight on books (bookstores do not). They also don’t return books as bookstores do. And they tend to buy a lot of books to cover their orders.

Do you have ideas of your own? Please leave a comment (with your e-mail address) and I’ll add them to this article to use next season, to promote my books—and yours.

Have you heard of Charles Dickens? Do you know Scrooge—in person or as a character in A Christmas Carol? If so, how can you argue with what writing for the season can do for you?

Carolyn Howard-Johnson has several decades experience in journalism, retailing (authors are retailers, too!), in publicity, and as a marketer of her own fiction and poetry. She is also author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books—one series for writers and one for retailers. Learn more about all her books and services at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com. For lots more ideas on promotion and craft, subscribe to her blog at http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com.

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Monday

Your Qualifications Should be on Your Email Opt-in Landing Page

All writers, including content writers, authors and freelance writers, must have a website. It’s just the way it is. And, it doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or nonfiction – you need a website.

Everyone from Writer’s Digest’s Chuck Sambuchino to Jane Friedman (formerly with Writer’s Digest, now an editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review) to agents to publishers, all adamantly proclaim the need for an author website, even before your book is published.

While a website is mandatory, another must-have is a separate landing page to entice visitors to subscribe to your mailing list.

Having a separate landing page for your email opt-in offer is just a good marketing move. The primary purpose of this separate page is to avoid visitor distraction. On a regular author website or freelance writer site there are usually too many options, which translate into distractions for the visitor.

Think about it.

Do you have a Home page, About page, Reviews page, Events page, Awards page, Excerpts and Illustration pages? Audio? Video? Do you have ads or other sidebar content?

These are all distracting features. They may have their purpose, but they are counterproductive in regard to focusing in on building your subscriber list.

When it comes to building an email list, your site must be focused – NO distractions – No visitor anxiety. It should have clear call-to-action content with a simple opt-in process.

This page should fully explain the benefits the potential subscriber will get if he opts in, and it should also include what your qualifications are for offering this particular information, for claiming to be an authority in your niche.

Let Your Qualifications be Known

People need to be persuaded into subscribing to yet another mailing list and into buying what you’re offering, so you need to make the YES decision and process as easy as possible. Conveying your qualifications for writing your book and the book’s merits are part of this process. For example, if you write fiction:

•    Do you have a ‘big name’ publisher?
•    Did your book win any awards?
•    Is your book a best seller?
•    Do you have positive reviews and feedback?
•    Are there book illustrations you can share?
•    How about a brief excerpt?
•    Do you have a book trailer?
•    Do you have good sales numbers?

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the Frugal Book Promoter, suggests you also “include a pitch or logline for that piece of fiction that will intrigue your Web site visitor” and “include praise (blurbs) for it.”

Even your social networking numbers matter (e.g., number of Twitter followers, number of Facebook connections, and so on).

Getting a bit more specific as to your actual qualifications for writing the book, particularly if you’re writing nonfiction or offering freelance writing services or products:

•    Did you take special training (e.g., classes, ecourses)?
•    Do you have a degree or certification in the topic?
•    Do you have ‘good’ clips?
•    Do you have great testimonials?
•    Have you won awards?
•    Do you belong to relevant groups/clubs?
•    How in depth was your research?
•    Do you teach the topic?

Whatever gives you authority in your niche, whether fiction or nonfiction, be sure to include it in your list.

Sites claiming to be an expert in a particular niche are a dime-a-dozen. Let the visitor know you and your book are the ‘real deal.’

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