What to Write About

We’re nearing the end of September and Fall is definitely in the air. If you’re planning on taking part in National Novel Writing Month in November then you may need to make a decision about just what subject you plan on writing about.

As you all know, I’m a history buff and love historical novels – writing as well as reading them. One answer to the question “What should I write about?” is to look for historical anniversaries. We are currently at the beginning of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial. We are also approaching the Centennial of World War I.

April of 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

May 2012 is the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

These can get you started.

Predators & Editors

Most of you probably already know that Predators & Editors provides a wonderful resource to writers. P&E gives lists of attorneys, publishers, agents and contests, as well as other publishing industry concerns. They do not represent or support any entity but share warnings and information about many of those you come in contact with on your writer’s journey. I keep the site bookmarked in my “Tools” bookmark folder. Before using a service you can look them up on P&E. I also recommend that you Google search the name of the person or organization plus “complaints.”

I recommend adding this link to your tool box and using it frequently. P&E also provides a place for you to post warnings from your own experiences.

Guest Post by Karen Cioffi

The following is a reposting of Karen’s guest blog on 4RV Publishing’s blog. Great advise.

SEO and Marketing: Basic Tips and Definitions

In its simplest form, promotion is a tool or strategy under the marketing umbrella. The marketing umbrella covers the creation or manufacturing of a product or service, R&D, distribution, and any other elements needed to get a product from creation to the consumer. Promotion creates visibility.

Utilizing online promotion means you will be using the internet, search engines, and SEO. SEO is the process of getting the search engines to find and rank your content. You obviously want a high ranking so when a searcher (potential customer) types in a search term (keyword) your site may be one of those on that first SERP.

Marketing and especially SEO can be confusing and seem like a daunting task to undertake, but once you understand the basics it becomes less intimidating.

SEO and Marketing Definitions

1. SEO – search engine optimization: “the process of creating and adjusting website content with the goal of improving search engine rankings.” (according to Compendium.com)

2. SERP – search engine results page – the page results from a search query.

3. Keyword – “any word or phrase a searcher might use to describe or identify a desired resource on the Internet.” When using keyword in your title, it’s important to use the keyword in the beginning of the title. Rather than use “How-to-Guide for SEO,” opt for “SEO: A How-to-Guide.” (according to Compendium.com)

4. Organic Traffic or Marketing – free strategies, such as Twitter, blogging, article marketing, etc.

5. Paid Traffic or Marketing – utilizing paid/sponsored ads, such as Google adwords, etc.

6. Ranking – your position (how high up) on the SERP: the higher the better. In other words, you want to be on the first SERP, or at least within the first few pages.

7. Anchor text – linking to other websites and/or pages directly from text within your content. This strategy should be used to bring the reader to your products, to other related articles you’ve written, to another site that has useful information pertinent to your post, and/or to link to a site you’re mentioning.

Providing readily accessible information and links through anchor text will give your readers more “bang-for-the-buck.” It will give the reader a broader reading experience, and she will definitely appreciate it – this builds a relationship . . . and trust.

Using anchor text links will also help search engines, such as Google and Bing, relate your content to other relevant content, and create a target for searchers to hit.

One last note about SEO, keep your keywords simple and concise. And, often it’s of greater benefit to use long-tail keywords. These keywords may not get as many search hits, but they do get a much more targeted audience; this leaves you with less competition.

An example of a keyword might be, “allergy relief.” Allergy relief is a very generic and heavily used keyword. In order to make it more specific and hone in on a narrower audience/searcher, you might use, “allergy air cleaners,” or maybe, “remedies for allergies,” or, “allergy sinus medications.” You want to narrow the playing field.

There are free tools to test out and analyze keywords; here are three of them you might try: 

http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/
http://www.keyworddiscovery.com/search.html 
http://www.wordstream.com/keywords/ 

 

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. For writing and marketing information visithttp://karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com

Christian Writers Article Bank

I know there are a lot of article banks that you’re probably familiar. Many writers publish on them frequently. They are great resources in many cases.

http://www.christian-article-bank.com/index.php

 

You’ll find a great selection of articles to read and be sure to read the submission guidelines. Best of luck!

Writers Retreats List

On Tuesday, I suggested that writers take retreat days to focus on their manuscript away from home without spending a lot of money. The following list gives you some professional retreats available:

“A Dream of Our Own: Women Writing New, Women Writing True” – 2011 Writers’ Retreat

August 8—14, 2011
Ghost Ranch, NM

The Guide to Writers’ Conferences & Workshops

Professional Writing Retreat

July 21 – 24, 2011

Cedarbrook Lodge
Seattle, Washington

 

 

 

Printed Books, Audio Books, and E-Books

Do you have a favorite? Some of us grew up going to libraries and reading. Others only read what they are assigned at school or at work. For me, I’ve always loved books. My mom read to us as we grew up. I love the smell of a library. About half of the books that sit on the shelves in my home came from Friends of the Library sales and second hand stores. The other half are brand new books and you can hear it in the binding when you open them for the first time. In case you didn’t know, I’m a tactile and visual person.

Publishing and the way we get access to books is changing, as you all are well aware. I treasure holding a book in my hands and turning the pages. Then, after hours on the computer five days a week, my eyes got tired and I wanted to read at night but my eyes bothered me. I’d heard of audio books but had never listened to one. After a trip to the Amarillo Public Library branch closest to me, the world of audio books opened up. A whole section of classics and new releases sat on the shelves and I’d never noticed. Audio books go on road trips, flights, and act as bed time stories. They are even in the yard with me sometimes while I get the garden ready for planting in the Spring. My mother-in-law lost her sight in the last few years of her life and she listened to audio books. She’d been a voracious reader all her life.

Enter E-books in all their forms. At first, many thought it wouldn’t be much more than a flash in the pan. However, it is revolutionizing the publishing world for all of us and opens up options for authors.

Now, I realize none of this is news to any of you, but as the industry has diversified, so must we. Keep a finger in all the pies. Versify your writing and use all the wonderful ways to get your writing out to others. I’ve learned this lesson over the past year and a half and am working on just how to get it all implemented. That’s where time management comes. The next post will address some time management tips for the busy writer.

Kindle and E-books

Anyone involved in writing or the publishing industry is well aware of the rise in E-books sold. If you don’t get the Publishers Weekly free newsletters, then I’d recommend them to you. Over 13 million iPads were sold in the last half of 2010 and E-book sales are up 158% according to some sources I’ve read recently.

If we’re not on board, then the train is going to pass us by. One of my goals for this year is to become a part of that change to a greater extent. My publisher, Buoy Up Press, editor Dan Case put Rebekah Redeemed and The Fisherman’s Wife on Kindle and Nook for the Christmas shopping season.

Joan and Steve Neubauer of WordWright.biz, Inc. Publishing, are getting my women’s fiction book, Shelter from the Storm, ready for re-release in the early Spring on Kindle.

Amazon has directions available for authors who want to go directly to publishing their works on Kindle. Read discussions in online writing groups for experiences of others and their tips. I know that Amazon converts your document from html to their formating software much better than if you try sending it in MSWord or PDF.

Check our the upcoming free online conference for free and upgraded members of savvywriters.com . In February, they’re offering this online conference focused on E-books, publishing them successfully, and changes in the publishing world. Even if you don’t write romance, I think the information about changing from only print books to a combination of both electronic readers and print books is valuable to any writer. (Note: This site is for 18 years and older because some of the books have adult content.) Watch for other conferences or webinars that can help us with the transitioning to electronic books. I’ll pass on links as I come across them. I’d love to hear about conferences or webinars from you. Feel free to post them in a comment.

I’m also reading and learning as much as I can about preparing manuscripts for E-books so they can be on Kindle, Nook, and other readers or downloaded from my own website Dianne G Sagan – Author . Right now, I’m working toward’s having Free downloadable discussions for book clubs or groups to use for Rebekah Redeemed and The Fisherman’s Wife.


45 Days After NaNoWriMo

I know that a lot of you participated in NaNoWritMo this past November. National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel (first draft) during the month of November. Over 300,000 people participated, world-wide in 2010. Some succeeded and reached their goal of at least 50,000 words, others only made it part way. Hurray for everyone that participated.

Some participants say “I couldn’t believe that I could do it, at first. Then, I knew I couldn’t just stop along the way. I had to finish it and the best thing is that you learn you can do it.” Once you do it you can do it again.

I’m working on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm edits.

If you’re like a lot of us, we’re working our way through editing and re-writes so we can submit the manuscript and get it published. I’m working on a sequel to Shelter from the Storm editing. Good luck with your books.  Please join me in a discussion on how we’re all doing.