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Archive for April, 2012

17 tips for marketing your author blog

Bloggers participate in an average of 5 activities
to drive traffic to their blogs.
— Adam Singer

We’ve been on this blogging topic awhile now, but it occurs to me that we haven’t given you an aggregated list of ways to publicize your blog to the world. While most of these tips would apply equally to your website, the most important tip of all is that you ACT on them!

  1. Post Regularly. Yes, I am aware that I sound like a broken record, but you’ve got to post regularly if you want people to find and read your author blog.
  2. Stand Out with a Unique Look. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on it, but make sure your blog has a great look that is unique from all the other author blogs out there. This means, more than just adding your book cover and/or head shot. At the very least, use a custom header that reflects your colors, fonts, and brand. If you can do your own graphics, great. If you can’t – it will be worth it to find a professional to help you create a finished look that is different and eye-catching.
  3. Write a Clever Tagline. Most blog platforms have a place for you to create a tagline. Use this to share a short, keyword-rich description of your author blog.
  4. Proper SEO. Much like your website, your blog needs you to tend to it and manicure it in order for you to see real SEO results. This means proper tagging, intermittent use of bold and italics within your posts, good titles, and a dazzling resource box, at minimum.
  5. Link to Other Bloggers. A great way to boost your own blog traffic is by linking to other blogs you like that are relevant to your book/topic. You may love your friend’s gourmet cooking blog, but unless she’s written a cookbook, linking to her is going to be much less effective for the SEO on your dog obedience training blog than to other animal-themed blogs.
  6. Comment, Comment, Comment. Regularly write smart, relevant comments on other people’s blogs and be sure to include a link back to your own blog.
  7. Reward Your Readers. Our blog does a pretty good job of filtering out the spam comments. That means we can see all the legitimate comments in one spot. Make sure to note, respond to, and take the time to thank those who stopped by to spend some time on your blog.
  8. Write Articles. Submit articles on your topic to directories like EZineArticles.com and IdeaMarketers.com. In the resource boxes for your articles, place links to your blog, to specific posts in particular if they are relevant to your article topic.
  9. Write Guest Posts: Invite others to write guest posts for your author blog, and take any opportunities to write guest posts for other author/writer blogs. This expands your audience and exposes you to other readers who might not normally find/read your blog.
  10. Post Links to Your Blog on Your Social Networking Sites. Linking to Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn is so ubiquitous that most blogs have an almost-automatic function set up to allow these kinds of links. Whether you automate it or not, make sure you routinely place links to your posts on all of them.
  11. Create a Specific Pinterest Board and Pin Images from Your Blog to It. Rather than grouping them in with a catch-all board, create a specific board on Pinterest dedicated to your blog. Make sure to use good keywords when describing the image – and links back to your blog.
  12. Bookmark Your Favorite Posts. Use social bookmarking Sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. to share your posts.
  13. Add a Link to Your Website. If your blog domain is separate from your main website, make sure the two are linked.
  14. Add a Link to Your Email Signature. Don’t overlook these seemingly obvious places to let new people know about your blog.
  15. Make It Easy for People to Subscribe. Your subscription field should be displayed prominently at the TOP of your sidebar. If people can’t find your subscription link, they’re not nearly as likely to come back.
  16. Make It Easy for People to Share Your Posts. Again, most blog platforms make this almost automatic. Make sure your sharing buttons are enabled.
  17. Enter a Blog Challenge! This is one of the fastest ways to meet other like-minded bloggers, increase your traffic, and grow your subscribers.

You’d think these steps would be common sense, especially after nearly two dozen posts about blogging, but you might be surprised how many people skip these easy, necessary steps and then wonder why no one visits their blogs.

Attracting targeted readers to your blog isn’t rocket science, but it does take a time and energy investment. Make sure you don’t cut corners or skip steps in the interest of time if you have any sincere desire to grow your blog subscribers and sell more books.

Happy marketing!

MARCIE

SOURCES:

http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/four-ways-to-market-your-blog.html

http://www.youngprepro.com/how-to-market-your-blog/

http://www.ricardobueno.com/ways-to-market-your-blog/

http://www.dailyblogtips.com/3-new-ways-to-market-your-blog/

http://www.dailyblogscoop.com/2011/10/11/how-to-market-your-blog/

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Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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7 easy steps to ramp up your summer book marketing

So we’re just past the start of spring – in some places there’s still snow on the ground; in others, we’re looking at 109-degree highs by the end of the week. Nevertheless, the summer gift-giving season is about to descend on us: Mothers Day, graduations, weddings, Fathers Day – LOADS of reasons for people to look for the perfect gift. Is your book right for one of them?

How prepared are you for this tremendous opportunity? Is your summer book marketing plan in place? Do you know which holidays – both well known and more obscure – are coming up and which ones are good marketing opportunities for your book? Are you blogging about them? Are your media kit and news releases all ready to go? Have you thought of a special holiday incentive you can offer, either via your website or your social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest?

If your answers to the above questions are generally no, DON’T PANIC. There’s still plenty of time to craft a plan and a strategy for implementing it. Here are some simple steps that may help you get there:

  1. Review the upcoming holidays for May, June, and July from the lists below.
  2. Identify one or two from each month that have natural tie-ins with your book.
  3. Brainstorm some ideas for ways to market each holiday you identified.
  4. Chunk those marketing ideas down into actionable steps.
  5. Get out your calendar – or, if you’re a more visual planner, download a printable version here.
  6. Add one step per day to your calendar.
  7. Take the steps!

MAY

JUNE

JULY

  • Creative Beginners Month
  • Get Caught Reading Month
  • Latino Books Month
  • National Bike Month
  • National Inventors Month
  • Older Americans Month

_________

  • Children’s Book Week (7-13)
  • Dating and Life Coach Recognition Week (7-13)
  • Reading Is Fun Week (13-19)
  • Craft Beer Week (14-20)

_________

  • Mother Goose Day/1
  • Public Radio Day/3
  • World Press Freedom Day/3
  • Cartoonists Day/5
  • Cinco de Mayo/5
  • Free Comic Book Day/5
  • National Teachers Day/8
  • Birthmothers Day/12
  • Nurses Day/12
  • Mothers Day/13
  • Biographers Day/16
  • O’Henry Pun-Off Day/19
  • Be a Millionaire Day/20
  • Memorial Day/28
  • What You Think Upon Grows Day/31
  • Audio Book Appreciation Month
  • Effective Communications Month
  • Entrepreneurs’ Do-It-Yourself
    Marketing Month
  • National Bathroom Reading Month
  • National GLBT Book Month

_________

  • Positive Power of Humor and Creativity Days (1-3)
  • National Business Etiquette
    Week (3-9)

_________

  • Dare Day/1
  • Drawing Day-Pencil Day/2
  • World Environment Day/5
  • Ballpoint Pen Day/10
  • Family History Day/14
  • Flag Day/14
  • World Jugglers Day/16
  • Fathers Day/17
  • National Columnists Day/26
  • Camera Day/29
  • Anti-Boredom Month
  • Freedom from Fear of Speaking Month
  • National Hotdog Month
  • National Parks Month

_________

  • Sports Cliché Week (8-14)
  • National Independent Retailers Week (15-21)
  • National Parenting Gifted
  • Children Week (15-21)
  • National Ventriloquism Week (18-21)

_________

  • Made in USA Day/2
  • Independence Day/4
  • Take Your Webmaster to Lunch Day/6
  • International Town Criers Day/9
  • Teddy Bear Picnic Day/10
  • Moon Day/20
  • Amelia Earhart Day/24
  • National Day of the Cowboy/28
  • Paperback Book Day/30
  • Mutts Day/31

Note: these are just partial lists of holidays I found interesting. For more complete lists, you might try these sites:

Happy planning!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Authors, if you want to sell books, you must embrace your marketer within

Years ago, I met a gal at a networking group I belonged to who, when asked about her BHAG (big, hairy audacious goal), publicly declared that she intended to be the first Mary Kay distributor to build a million-dollar business. Later in the same meeting, she publicly stated that she fast-forwarded through commercials, had signed up for the Do Not Call List, and pretty much eschewed any attempt by anyone to market to her.

I haven’t seen her since then, but I don’t have to guess whether she ever reached her goal.

Interestingly, many people – authors chief among them – are horrifically averse to the moniker “salesperson.” This in spite of the fact that, as marketing master Adam Urbanski says, “All business owners are in two businesses: the business they’re in and selling and marketing the business they’re in.”

My friend Connie is an international sales trainer who specializes in helping clients overcome Sales Call Reluctance®, which is defined as the emotional hesitation to prospect or self-promote. There are 12 identified forms of Call Reluctance, including one called “Role Rejection.” According to Connie’s website, people with this form of Call Reluctance “are secretly ashamed of any kind of selling. They deflect any association with being a salesperson and tend to believe that society dislikes salespeople, and they themselves get irritated and annoyed when salespeople solicit them.”

If you’re an author who hopes to sell books, it might be a worthwhile exercise to take a personal inventory of your attitude toward salespeople. If you deliberately skip commercials, hate telemarketers with a venom, and reject all attempts to sell or market to you, you may be experiencing Role Rejection – and inadvertently jeopardizing your book sales success.

This is not, however, meant to be an indictment – just an opportunity to reframe your thoughts about sales and marketing. I’ll admit that some marketers are devious, and not all salespeople are scrupulous, but no one is suggesting that you ally with those types of folks. I am suggesting that you consider your sales goals for your book and look for ways to see marketing as a positive – perhaps even fun – enterprise. Trust me, if you view it as a chore you hate, you’ll be a lot less successful at it.

One thing I enjoy is watching and critiquing TV commercials. Some of them are absolutely fantastic; in other cases, I wonder whether the creative departments at certain ad agencies even watched their commercials before airing them. In either event, though, I am honing my marketing skills by noticing what works, what attracts me, and what makes me cringe.

You can do this too, whether it’s with TV ads, radio commercials, banner ads on the Web, or calls from telemarketers. One man Connie recently interviewed for the book she’s writing told her, “Those calls certainly don’t irritate me, because, at the end of the day, I’m a conversationalist. … So if someone wants to call me and open the door to a conversation, I’m willing to have that conversation with them.” What a refreshing way to view a phenomenon most of us see as an irritating intrusion.

We spoke a long time ago about learning to think like a marketer. In order to do that, it might just be time to retire your inner Role Rejecter and instead embrace your marketer within.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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One of the BIGGEST oversights (aka blunders) bloggers commit

OK – if you’re writing anonymously, this doesn’t apply to you. However, most of this audience is made up of authors who are looking to make a name, brand themselves, and SELL their books. So please, go check now to make sure your contact info is (a) ON YOUR BLOG and (b) EASY TO FIND.

Yes, this may seem obvious, and though I haven’t said it for a while, it’s often just when you think you shouldn’t have to point things out that you need to … Point. Things. Out.

On a handful of occasions in the last week, I tried to get a hold of particular bloggers through their blogs with no success. Fortunately, my first job was as a research librarian, and I’m tenacious, so I was able to find all of them, mostly through that ubiquity known as Facebook.

Yes, with social media, we’re using e-mail less often. However, if I’m not your friend on Facebook and you’ve got filters set up so that only friends can message you, guess what you just did? Made yourself UNAVAILABLE to people who want to contact you. This is a cardinal sin for someone looking to build their brand and platform.

What’s more, if your blog doesn’t identify you by the same name you use on Facebook or Twitter (e.g., Dr. Sally on the blog but Sally Smartypants on Facebook), that avenue is now closed off, as well.

In two cases, I was trying to reach people who write on multi-author blogs. They have links to their archives – but NO contact info, including e-mail addresses. While this may be a policy of the blog owners, it’s a poor one. I would think long and hard before becoming a regular contributor to a blog that didn’t allow me to tell people how to contact me.

Please, my SBM* darlings – make sure you are easy to find and contact!!! Connection is the lifeblood of relationship marketing.

Laura

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Author lessons from a sex quiz and Chicks with Picks

DISCLAIMER: There is a somewhat explicit sex quiz below. If you’re squeamish about sex or easily offended, please stop reading now – or just skip it. Enough said.

Last weekend, a friend and I went to the Arizona Ultimate Women’s Expo (hey, there’s that word ultimate again!). If you are a man, chances are you’ve never set foot anywhere near a women’s expo. If you are woman who lives in a good-sized American city, you may be one of the thousands of women who have descended on these expos as they’ve rolled out across the country.

“Lots of estrogen here today,” my friend quipped as we waited in line for the doors to open. I’ve long wished I could find a way to harness the energy of all that women power congregated in one place. Honestly, I think we should be able to do something important with it, like wipe out childhood hunger or put a giant dent in domestic violence.

It’s an interesting theory, though, bringing a bunch of women together to shop in one place. Wait – isn’t that what shopping malls are for? The expos are different in that every vendor perceives itself as somehow targeting the female audience. That’s great, right, a niche audience? But as half the species, women are a pretty broad niche.

On its Exhibitor Info page, AUWE claims, “Our successful track record in delivering upscale, ready-to-buy women guarantees that your small booth investment will create a profitable return on your time and money.” There were dozens of booths, vending everything from banking to cosmetics to home décor items. And jewelry. Crikey, were there jewelry booths, most of them selling the exact same kind of stuff, and some virtually on top of each other. There were also free samples, makeovers, massages, demos, and celebrity appearances. Maybe my friend and I just aren’t their typical demographic, because we didn’t buy anything. Granted, I was there mostly for the research anyway.

So how does one stand out among such a crowded field? Castle Megastore found a way. Castle is a sex shop franchise based in Tempe, Arizona, with locations in several Western states. At the expo, they had women with clipboards asking attendees if they’d like to take a sex quiz. Ever adventurous, I said, “Sure!” Come on now, you’re at a women’s expo with your pals. Who wouldn’t want to take a sex quiz?

I did pretty well – just missed two out of 15. And for my effort, I was awarded a travel mug that vaguely resembles the female form, some condoms, and a bunch of coupons. Woo-hoo! More than that, their tactic was memorable enough that I’m writing about it here on my blog. That’s more than I can say for 98 percent of the rest of the vendors.

In fact, other than the Castle goodie bag, the only other things I brought home were:

  • A flyer for a company that will convert my regular old pedal bike to an electric bike that can go as fast as 20 mph
  • A 20% off coupon for a local nursery
  • A 20% off coupon for jewelry-making and fused glass classes
  • A flyer for adult skating sessions at the local skating rink

One other point of note was the women with guitars in the foyer of the convention center. That’s right, “Chicks with Picks,” an Arizona organization that features/helps local women musicians, had their members performing at the event all day. And they were really good!

So I had three major marketing takeaways from this event:

  1. Find a way to stand out. Do something bold by being adventurous, even edgy.
  2. If you’re doing an event like a book fair, check in advance to see who the other vendors are. If you’re a romance writer, you probably don’t want to be set up right next to another romance writer. Some event coordinators are really good at making sure this doesn’t happen – but sometimes (as in the case of the dozens and dozens of jewelry booths at the expo) they aren’t. Take responsibility for your own success by speaking up when you still have time to make a change.
  3. Partner with the right people. Chicks with Picks didn’t show up at this event by accident. Someone picked up a phone, played on connections, or took other action to make it happen. When you see books for sale in creative locations (motorcycle shops, hardware stores, beauty salons), they didn’t get there by magic. Someone picked up a phone, played on connections or took other action to make it happen. You can do that, too.

Happy marketing!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Woo-hoo!! It’s a DOUBLE-horn-blowing day!!

As you may have read in our earlier post, we had an exciting event today, our debut guest post by Gwen Tanner. But today’s a day of firsts and a day of guest posts, as we are very pleased to refer you to OUR guest post at IndieAuthorCouncil.com.

Please click the link and make sure to read our post: TOP MARKETING MISTAKES INDIE AUTHORS MAKE. There are 8 of them, and some are doozies! I’m sure that if you’ve been following us for a while and have earned your SBM* creds, you’re not making any of them … but if you’re new, you’ll want to be on the safe side and read up.

The good news is that you it’s never too late to learn, apply, and correct course on any marketing campaign or strategy, even one that seems stalled in the starting gate.

And while we’re tooting, if you have a book/writing/literary/marketing blog and would like us to write a guest post for you, please drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com.

Happy posting!

Laura & Marcie

*Savvy Book Marketer

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If you would like to contribute a guest post, please contact us at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Giant excitement here at the Marcie Brock blog. Today, we’re proud to share with you our very first GUEST POST! Woo-hoo!! That means our 9th category goes into effect today. Please read up, and take some wisdom from Gwen Tanner, as she has excellent advice about a way to further monetize the content of your book. Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Repurpose the Content of Your Book to Create Online Courses

by Gwen Tanner

As an author, you have a great advantage when it comes to passive income opportunities: You have knowledge that others want! This puts you in an excellent position to profit from your knowledge by sharing and teaching others the skills you have.

Let’s talk about people for a moment.

  1. People always NEED to learn something: they are starting a family; they’re in the market for a new home; they need to plan for retirement.
  2. People always WANT to learn something: they would love to start crocheting; they desire to get in better shape; they dream of becoming rich.

The problem is that most people don’t have the time or money to take a formal course to learn these things.

This is where you, as an experienced author, can jump in. You can create online courses (or ecourses) to fulfill these needs using the knowledge you already have. You probably don’t even have to do much more work than you already did when you wrote your book. The content is the same – you just put it into the form of a “course.” This may mean creating exercises or adding some “how-to” steps, but it’s essentially recycling the same material.

The benefit to you as an author is that an online course will typically have a higher perceived value than a physical book or an ebook. I’d say the sky is the limit when pricing an ecourse, because you’re taking on a little more responsibility than you would with a book. And with that responsibility, you’re branding yourself as an expert who can get your readers (i.e., students) from point A to point B in a logical way.  That’s the beauty of selling online courses.

The sites listed below allow you to create and sell your very own online courses. All you do is upload your courses once and sell them over and over again, receiving payment directly into your PayPal account.

UDEMY (Free). Decide on your topic then upload your course content. Then set the price for your course and receive 70 percent of the revenue.

ODIJOO (Free). Create your original online course and sell seats to access it. You will keep 90% of the course enrollment fee. You can even create your own “campus,” which can become your online business. You can also sell your content to other instructors who can use it in their classes.

LITMOS (Monthly Fee). With this service, you can use your own domain name and brand your landing page. You receive 100 percent of your course fee directly into your PayPal account. The monthly fees for Litmos increase once you get more students, but the thinking is that if you have more students, you will be able to cover the costs.

Gwen Tanner provides guidance, tips, how-tos, and more on creating quality information products that stand out from the rest. Visit her blog for the inspiration and motivation to complete your next product.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Blog keyword selection: Good for rankings, research, and connections

Last week, we did a post that discussed the importance of tags, or keywords, for your blog posts. I want to explore keywords a little more closely today.

Choosing the proper keywords is essential to the success of your blog because it determines where your posts will show up in the search rankings. You want to pay attention to a few things when determining your keywords:

RELEVANCE – Make sure your keywords pertain to the topics for which you want Internet searchers to find you.

TRAFFIC – Deeper than searching, this means that once people find your link, they click on it.

COMPETITION – How many other people are using the same keywords and how well are they doing with them?

PROFITABILITY – If your goal is to enhance your book sales, you want your keywords to attract buyers, not just researchers.

You can use various keyword tools like Wordtracker, Google Adwords Keyword Tool, KeywordSpy, or Good Keywords to help determine the best keywords for your blog posts. These tools will take a word, say “vacation,” and give you the most popular variations of searches people do for that word or phrase, like vacation sweepstakes, Napa Valley vacations, Italian vacations, dog-friendly vacations, and cooking vacations, along with the number of monthly searches associated with each term. Most of the tools are fee-based but allow a free trial.

But there is another way you can use keywords. My WordPress blog tracks the terms people are using to find me.

So occasionally, I will do my own search for the same terms to see who else is writing about them.

This usually leads to a couple of things. This particular search is where I came across a treat post titled 8 Interesting Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns, which I mentioned in the comment section on my post on guerrilla/mischief marketing.

By visiting the blogs/websites that are addressing the same topics, I can:

  • Do further research on those topics
  • Find other bloggers to read and comment on, perhaps creating more new relationships
  • Stay current on those topics

Remember, blogging is definitely a place to share your knowledge, promote your book, and build your brand. But it’s also the perfect opportunity to encourage the SOCIAL aspect of social media by interacting with your readers and going out to find other bloggers with whom you can connect. Proper keyword strategies open the door to these possibilities.

Happy keywording!

MARCIE

RESOURCES:

http://sonnylanorias.com/keyword-research-tool-online-business/

http://www.steps-to-make-your-own-website.com/what-are-keywords.html

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Beware the autocorrect … and other hazards of a wired world

I was communicating with a blog pal this morning through the comment section on her blog via my Kindle Fire. I like the Kindle Fire for that very reason – WiFi is totally portable. I’m even learning to type without a real keyboard. Of course, then, there’s the autocorrect function. Blog … bologna. It’s all pretty much the same, right?

While this was a humorous episode of an auto fill mistake, there can be more serious consequences.

Say you have two people in your e-mail contacts: Jackie Wood and Jack Woodson. You’re in a hurry as you enter the names, and you accidentally send the message meant for Jack to Jackie. Not that big a deal if they don’t know each other – just a little “Please delete that message I sent in error” note to Jackie, right? But what if they do know each other? And what if the message you intended for Jack contained sensitive information about Jackie – or something she didn’t need to know? Raise your hands if it’s happened to you? I’ve definitely made this embarrassing mistake.

Other mistakes we make when we’re in a hurry:

  • Addressing someone by the wrong name (happened to me just the other day)
  • Referring to someone by the wrong gender
  • Using an incorrect title, particularly if the mistake is a demotion
  • Copying someone on a message that they don’t need to see

Yep – everybody’s busy these days, and all this technology is supposed to make life and business easier. But even with the myriad time- and labor-saving devices we have available at the touch of a screen, we still need to slow down, stop, and give our full attention to what we’re doing, especially when it really matters – like e-mails to new connections in the publishing industry or applications or contest essays.

Sometimes a typo is just a typo and you can fix it before anyone notices, like on Facebook or your own blog post. But other times, like on someone else’s blog comments or an e-mail, once you hit “Send,” it’s gone like a flash of lightning and there’s no getting it back, erasing it, or making it better. Those 30 extra seconds it would take you to re-read your message before sending it could be the most important 30 seconds of your day.

Happy spellchecking!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Green publishing and book recycling: Steps in the right direction

For those of us with a concern for the planet, one of the best things to come from the move toward eBooks is the reduction of paper consumption, and therefore the wholesale harvesting of trees. For Earth Day, I thought we might examine some important numbers related to the ways the publishing industry affects the planet – and then look at some ideas for recycling your old books.

Trees that would be saved if the book industry shifted to a collective
average of 30 percent post-consumer (i.e., recycled) paper.
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Publishers, printers, and mills that have developed strong
environmental policies, and/or signed the
Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper Use.

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Pounds of greenhouse gas emissions prevented
by replacing one ton of virgin fiber with one ton
of post-consumer recycled fiber.

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Rank of the pulp and paper industry on the list
of largest industrial greenhouse emitters.

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Kinds of new book paper with environmental
attributes that have been developed recently.

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Wood harvest committed to industrial use
(i.e., everything except fuel wood) that goes
into paper production.

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Amount of solid landfill waste that is paper.

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These numbers are a bit dated, as they come from a 2007 post from TreeHuggers.org titled “How to Go Green for Publishers; however, they still tell a shocking story about the effects of traditional print book publishing on our forests and land.

Please make a point of reading the full post for other fantastic information, like:

Top Green Book Publishing Tips

Green Book Publishing: Getting Techie

Where to Get Green Book Publishing Materials

Green Book Publishing: From the Archives

Further Reading on Green Book Publishing

In addition to being planet-conscious with your publishing, you can also help Mother Earth by recycling your old books. If you’ve amassed a large library and it’s time to downsize or you need to make room for new titles, here are a few ways you can recycle your old books.

  • Resell them at a local used book store.
  • Sell specialty books on eBay or Amazon – it may be too much effort and too little reward for run-of-the-mill titles.
  • Host a book swap party – or find a book exchange on Meetup.com.
  • Donate them to your local library.
  • Donate children’s books (toddler to age 18) to foster homes and programs for at-risk youth.
  • Post them on freecycle.com – since you’ve got to give something away before you accept any items.
  • Donate them to Goodwill or other second-hand store.
  • Donate them to a nursing home, hospice or hospital – even if they’re not large print, the staff and visitors would welcome new reading material.
  • Donate them to a prison library – especially textbooks and nonfiction educational books.
  • Leave a book on a train, in a waiting room, or some other public place – a potential found treasure. Tag your book with a unique code and use Bookcrossing.com to track who finds your book.

We have one home, so it’s up to each of us to do our part to protect her. If you have other ideas about green publishing or ways to recycle old books, please share them in the “Comments” section below.

Happy recycling!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Lessons in tenacity from a screen door and a staple gun

Recently, the mesh on our screen door sprung a hole. More literally, it came unmoored from the wood frame. Either way, frayed little wires were beginning to poke out around the edges and the flies were making their way inside, seemingly by the droves. After weeks of staring at that loose mesh that was no longer doing its job, I finally made my way to the hardware store to get some replacement screening.

Then the fun began: measuring, cutting, and stapling the new mesh in place. Enter, my handy staple gun.

While I do not recall purchasing the staple gun, it is not an exaggeration to say I have owned this thing for more than 20 years. And it has served me well over those decades. But isn’t it funny how you can own something (or know someone) for a very long time, and still not know how it really functions?

I had all my tools and supplies lined up: knife (for cutting the old screen out), new tube of mesh, scissors (for cutting the new mesh to size), staple gun, step stool. I was ready. I made a practice staple to be sure the gun was functioning properly. Check. Mesh in hand, I climbed up on the stool, put the mesh in place, and held it there with my shoulder as I raised the staple gun to take aim.

Phfsht…

Instead of firing into the wood frame of the screen door, the staple dribbled out. So I tried again. And again. And again. Until I had a little puddle of staples at the foot of my step stool. What the hell? It was just working! I tried again. No go.

Finally, I thought to myself, This is easy. It was working a minute ago, and now it’s not. So what changed? Use your eyeballs and LOOK. And then I noticed a little piece of metal at the end of the staple gun. Twenty years, remember, that I’ve owned this tool. But in all that time, I’d never paid any attention to the function of that little piece of metal at the butt of the gun: it’s a safety!

Perhaps it was dumb luck or just the way the staple gun was made, but in all those years, I’d never had a problem using it before – apparently because the safety had been in the “off” position every time I’d gone to use it. Wow! Talk about a simple awareness.

Lessons for us, as authors and marketers?

  1. Even after 20 years’ experience with something, you probably still don’t know everything about it.
  2. When you get frustrated, stop and take a breath.
  3. Many problems have a simple solution. If you’re willing to open your eyes, pay attention, and discover the answer, it might be right in front of you.

Happy trouble-shooting!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Are you making the best use of your author blog’s sidebars?

When we think of blogging, generally speaking, we think of the content: the text, the images, perhaps the comments. However, most blog platforms (even the free ones) give you lots of selection in terms of the templates you can choose – and many of those templates include sidebars. Those sidebars are an incredible opportunity for you to take your blog deeper – to grow roots, if you will. How are you using that space?

On the free WordPress.com platform, you access the sidebars through your Dashboard, under the Appearance menu. Look for the Widgets button. Widget is a gimmicky name for all the different kinds of things you can place on your sidebar. But the widgets you see there are only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Do a Google search for “WordPress widgets” and an entire universe of widgets will open up to you. Granted, some are plug-ins that will only work on a standalone WordPress.org blog. Many, however, are things you can use on your free WordPress.com blog.

Take, for example, the flag program I mentioned in a previous post. That’s a third-party widget I installed on my WordPress.com sidebar. OK – here’s the BIG caveat. To use some of these, you must have a little knowledge of HTML coding. But when I say little, I mean LITTLE. Essentially, if you can cut and paste, you can install a widget. Below on the left is the code I got from the FlagCounter.com site. On the right is how it appears on my blog. All I did was copy the code (using the key combo Ctrl + C), go to my WordPress.com widget window and open the one titled TEXT, and drop it in using the paste function (Ctrl + V). [I did go one step further by adding <target=”blank”> to my code so that the flag program will open in a new window when someone clicks on the image link – which is ALWAYS a good idea, but not necessary to the functionality of the widget.] It’s really that simple.

You can do all kinds of things with your widgets, like adding metrics about your blog. But it’s that TEXT option (and accompanying code) that really gives you a lot of versatility with your sidebars. My client, Samuel N. Asare, is a financial advisor in the Washington, D.C. area. He uses his sidebar to show off the books he’s written and to offer easy access to Tax Tables.

Some things your sidebar should absolutely include are:

  • Subscription and/or RSS Feed button
  • Search button
  • List of your categories
  • Your publishing schedule
  • Links to your social media sites

Here are a few different things other bloggers are doing with their sidebars:

Rhonda Cort publishes the Magnetic Woman Int’l blog.She does a very cool thing in her sidebar by including the icons for all the media outlets where she has appeared or been featured. The only thing that could improve on this would be if each icon held a link to the actual interview. Depending on her blog platform, that might require posting each icon independently.

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On the Celebrate Success 2012 blog, Teresa Beeman includes dates of her upcoming events. There are lots of calendar options for your sidebars – this one is particularly clean and easy to read.

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Jack Smith, author of the Tempe Tempest blog, has used his sidebar for a partial bio. Many bloggers use the About page as a bio, but the sidebar idea is good, in that readers don’t need to click another page to read it. I find Jack’s warm, witty style particularly engaging. Who can’t relate to the School of What the Hell Were You Thinking?!

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My new friend Robbie Schlosser writes the Magnolia Jazz blog and uses his sidebar to include the most current comments on his posts. I like this idea because it (a) gives the appearance of interactivity and (b) invites more people to comment.

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Shawn Snyder and her husband Rob present The Odd Couple blog, offering advice on marriage and family. They’ve done a very nice job of including images of their books – with links to the sales page – on their sidebar.

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Now, not everyone chooses to use a sidebar. Take the absolutely GORGEOUS blog by Danielle Charles: The Teacup Chronicles. I don’t know Danielle, but perhaps she’s just writing her blog for the love of sharing her stunning photos and lyrical word pictures with the world. If, however, you’re an author blogger, you probably have a more commercial mindset around your blog – which means you WANT to use the sidebars to their fullest promotional advantage.

If you’ve got unused territory over on those sidebars, start thinking about the best way to use it to draw people further into your blogs, promote your books, and share the resources that will make your blog an invaluable resource. These are the things beyond your posts that will cause readers to return again and again.

Happy widgeting!

MARCIE

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Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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