Weekly Self-Published Book Review: Know God and Love Him

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Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review by Midwest Book Review:

 Know God and Love Him

Know God and Love Him

Joanne M. Rypma

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781432773991

God’s love is universal, one must know how to embrace it. “Know God and Love Him: Prayers with Scripture” is a discussion of Christian spirituality, as Joanne M. Rypma advises readers on how to bring God’s love into their lives, drawing from scripture and finding their own personal truths in their lives. For those seeking prayers to bring them closer to faith, “Know God and Love Him” is a prayerbook very much worth considering.

Rising Through the Ranks | A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (Part II)

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Last week, I launched a series of blogs to provide a primer to––or a launching point for future discussions about––one vital way to augment your digital presence: Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).  I argued that by making our digital content easier for the average internet user to find, we can boost traffic to our websites––and by extending the reach of our voices, expand our audiences.

I have already examined the specific benefits to refining the way we use keywords, particularly in our website or blog titles, tags, and so on.  This week, I’m going to turn to matters of content.  How can we better utilize the meat and potatoes of our digital content––the bodies of our blog posts, for example––to push our websites up through the ranks of similar websites that show up in search engine results? 

Step 2: Optimize Your Content

Even though traditional strategies for SEO (like keyword optimization) are vital and critical practices for the average blogger, the search engines of today call for even more sophistication.  Consider: in 2013, Google alone had already indexed more than thirty trillion individual web pages.  That’s 30,000,000,000,000 pieces of content vying for the top slot on any individual search.  Thankfully, search engine algorithms are fairly good at slicing away unrelated material, but you get the idea.  There is a lot of digital content, so you have to take certain steps to make yours stand out––and the best way to stand out is to create unique content. 

The basic notion is this: readers have access to plenty of useful data, but they are looking for something more than just another blog on a given topic.  They’re looking for the best blog on a given topic.  And search engines like Google are getting better at finding it!  According to blogger Sujan Patel, Google in particular looks for “longer content, images, videos, correct spelling, proper grammar, proper text formatting and […] both outbound links to other high quality sites and inbound links (and social shares) from high quality sources.”  You’ll note that this list implies a certain level of polish in respect to presentation (grammar and et cetera), but leaves room for you to play with subject and theme. 

If certain elements of SEO sometimes seem like common sense, that’s because search engines are getting better at shaping common sense into measurable data sets, and using those data sets to refine the search process.  It may prove helpful to consider search engines as just another ‘average’ reader, albeit a powerfully influential one.  So, how do you create content that hooks in the average reader or search engine?  By posting regularly, on diverse but thematically resonant topics, using means that are equally diverse and up-to-date as well as easily shared across social media platforms, and by tying your content to other websites using links, keywords, and meta data.  (As a matter of fact, Google does hire actual and real people to rate websites for quality of content.  The process is a fascinating one, and well worth a look.) 

As I mentioned last week, it’s important to remember that we’re not just looking for more users to stumble across our websites; we’re looking for the right sort of users––those users who will stick around long enough to fall in love with our written voices and, hopefully, our books.  We all have probably had some experience in stumbling across bloggers who are so good at making their content findable that they forget to make it readable, personable, or worthwhile.  Ultimately, your readers want to find a little bit of you in every blog post (or YouTube video, or tweet, or Facebook post) you put together.  You are what keeps them coming back, week after week after week.  Taking the time to craft quality content that reflects your personality is a practice that will pay dividends for a long, long time.

Check back every Wednesday for the next installation of this blog series!  I’ll be taking a look at titles and tags in a week’s time––and how can you use lofty ‘meta-data’ to bolster your SEO.  See you then!

If you have a question about any of these tools for self promotion, would like to hear from me about something specific, or have other big news to share, please comment below!

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing Week in Review: 10/28/14

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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

If You Self-Publish Your Book, Can You Sell It to a Big Publisher Down the Road — And Would You Even Want To?

In this article, Allison Carmen, an author who has published with both a self-publishing company and a traditional publisher, shares her story in hopes of helping you decide the best way to publish your book. This is an interesting read for all writers.

THE TWIBLE Wins in Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published Book Awards Nonfiction Category

The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less . . . Now with 68% More Humor! by religion scholar Jana Riess has won First Place in the Nonfiction category in the Writer’s Digest 2014 Self-Published Book Awards. The honor includes a $1,000 cash award, a one-year membership in the Small Publishers Association of North America, and a one-year membership to Book Central Station. I always recommend writers study successful self-published authors as a way to learn about the industry and improve their craft.

The great Amazon debate: A leading Amazon critic and a self-publishing rock star try to find common ground

In this article, two writers each make their case for their view on the Amazon debate. This is an interesting read for all writers.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing, A Trick or Treat

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I’ll end the month this week with the pros and cons of self-publishing, so you can decide if self-publishing is a trick or a treat. Be sure to check out the previous posts about spooky self-publishing statistics, why authors are scared to self-publish, and how to scare away readers.

Pros

  • Freedom of expression — You have complete control over the content of your book. You don’t have to edit your manuscript to meet the opinions of a traditional publisher.
  • You control how your book looks – Everything from the cover to the interior formatting is in your hands. With traditional publishers, authors usually have no say in these decisions.
  • You set your own price — It can be as low or high as you would like, depending on your target audience and goals. Again, this decision is usually not given to the author when working with traditional publishers.
  • You receive 100% of your royalties — There’s no middleman stealing your profits.

Cons

  • No one critiques your manuscript — How can you be sure your story is “worth reading”? You can hire professional editors to review your book, test your manuscript on a group of readers, or ask trusted friends, family, and colleagues for feedback.
  • You don’t have to edit your manuscript — A messy manuscript turns into a poorly-written book that very few people (if any) will want to read. You can choose to hire an editor to prevent this from happening.
  • You control your book’s design — This is great if you’re a designer but not so great if you have limited graphic skills. Again, you may want to hire a professional to help you.

While self-publishing isn’t for everyone, it is a great option for many writers. Only you can decide what is best for you. Talk to other writers. Learn about the industry. Research publishers. Educate yourself, and then trust your decision.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 10/24/14

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CRITICAL THINKING-WRITING II

Someone once told me that my true vocation was as a CSI (crime scene investigator) in the writing field because I question everything and look for better answers.  That particular person’s tone was a bit thick with sarcasm.  However I accepted it as a moment of “constructive criticism.”  Since then, I’ve developed several “rebellious” elements to my writing career that have greatly enhanced my editing techniques and (in my opinion) bring out the best in the manuscripts I’m editing or ghostwriting.  The following four points are part of those strategies.  I hope they will also help you fine-tune and enhance your projects.

  1. IF A CONCEPT is presented as “the accepted wisdom” or the “the way things are always done,” don’t hesitate to challenge it! Our society—humanity in general—and the thousands of cultural groups within it have, indeed, developed what is referred to as “conventional wisdoms.” They are established rules based on general assumptions that have proven to be accurate “the majority of the time.” These suppositions beg to be questioned and, in many instances, can be used in a storyline or the development of a character to demonstrate the harm of blindly believing the accepted wisdom or statement of fact—facts that the next generation discover to be untrue.
  2. Automatically accepting all authority is the other side of the following-conventional-wisdom coin. It is up to us (writers) to weed through the authority-maze, research viable options, and write about them. It is worthwhile to demonstrate the many levels of “authority” in our lives that protect us and our property, keep our cities and country functioning and guide us spiritually. However, it is even more valuable to expose the traps set by the PR firms of the world—ploys that are too often exploited in other areas of life to manipulate and deceive us.
  3. Don’t JUMP on the Bandwagon! If a certain genre has become popular and you see other writers turning their efforts in that direction, STOP! Should you be joining them? Ask yourself whether or not that genre peaks your interest. Check your passion quotient. If you’re not attracted to that field of writing—and research—stick to your own area. While other authors are drawn in by the intensity of the moment, you will be at the cutting edge of the genre you enjoy most. THIS will get the attention of readers, while the others will be lost among all the other instruments on that bandwagon.
  4. Lastly, resist the pull of emotionalism. Each of the three strategies mentioned above involve elements of emotional connection to our human automatic response systems. Emotions often blur clear vision. If there is anger toward an authority figure or establishment, a writer’s thought process can become jumbled. The “accepted wisdom of current thought” can supersede what really needs to be written and bandwagon-emotionalism will lead a writer down many wrong “rabbit trails.”

BEING an author and living the life of a Career Writer is so much more than a job.  If you’re like me, your friends think that “all you do is sit around and play on the computer.”  Yet the playing we do becomes STORIES peopled by unique characters who accomplish GREAT THINGS and INSPIRE others around the world.  So, WRITE your stories, my friend.  GET PUBLISHED!  And, enjoy the accolades of your friends and neighbors.  Your TIME is NOW!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Weekly Self-Published Book Review:Before I Forget

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Before I forgetBook reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review by Midwest Book Review:

 

Before I Forget

Morayo Olayombo Ruth Luwoye

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781432780296

Education is taken for granted in America. “Before I Forget: Ola Goes to School” is a memoir from Morayo Olayombo Ruth Luwoye who shares her life’s struggles and how her desire to seek education drove her forward, through poverty. Driven by her faith in God, she shares her life’s challenges of growing up in Nigeria. Moving with charming illustrations throughout, “Before I Forget” is a strong addition to any international memoir collection.

Rising Through the Ranks | A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (Part I)

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve explored some of the benefits of tapping into social networks (read those blog posts here, here, and here) for self-published authors.  Even for beginners or newcomers, there are ways to take advantage of the complex tools now at our disposal.  And social media is just the beginning! 

This week, I’m going to launch a series of blogs to provide a primer to––or a launching point for future discussions about––another means of augmenting your digital presence: Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).  What does this somewhat obscure term mean?  Simply put, SEO is a constellation of processes that boost your visibility on the internet by making your digital content––whether book page listings, or blog posts, or book trailer videos––easier for the average internet user to find.

But first, a touch of necessary background:

These days, it’s much easier to find information online than it used to be.  The internet has gone through a number of changes, but if you hopped onto a computer in the early 1990s, you will remember just how different the experience was.  If you didn’t have a specific website address to type into your browser’s navigation bar––well, good luck finding anything other than an error message!  Lucky for us, we now have access to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  All you have to do is enter a couple of keywords into the search box, and a complicated algorithm takes those keywords, chews them over, and spits out thousands of websites that contain relevant information.  This search process has become so easy, and so subsumed into our everyday activities, that it seems both natural and obvious to hop online to answer even the easiest questions, including ‘what’s the weather like today?’ or ‘what time does the grocery store close?’

We tend to think of search engines as democratic tools, as likely to spit out one piece of relevant information is it is another, equally relevant piece.  All blogs dedicated to self-publishing should get their chance at the top of a list of search results, right?  Wrong.  The first thing you need to know about search engines is that the results they provide are strategically ranked.  Paid advertisers on Google, for example, spend a considerable amount of money to guarantee that their websites are at the very top of every list.  The second thing you need to know about search engines is that there are some extremely simple––and entirely free––steps you can follow to take advantage of, or optimize your digital content for, these algorithms.  That’s where this blog series comes in––we’re here to help!

Step 1: Optimize Your Keywords

Functionally speaking, a keyword is a word or expression that you and your readers both use to collect together related material.  The best keywords are not just those that show up often, statistically-speaking, in your book or in conversations surrounding your book.  Articles, pronouns, and ‘be’ verbs remain the most common words in the English language, so a truly effective keyword will be just common enough to occur in a substantial number of related texts, and just specific enough to exclude truly irrelevant material.  As an author working to amplify your presence online, it’s important to remember that you’re not just looking for more users to stumble across your website; you’re looking for the right sort of users––those users who will stick around long enough to fall in love with your written voice and, hopefully, your book!  Incorporate keywords in your website (or blog, or YouTube video) titles, meta tags, bodies or descriptions, and in your link profiles.  As Google converts to Latent Semantic Indexing (more on that in future posts!), make sure to identify and incorporate LSI keywords throughout your written materials.

[ For more free resources specifically related to keywords, check out Google’s AdWords indices, Wordtracker, and the Bing Ads Intelligence homepage. ]

Keywords are only the tip of the iceberg!  Next week, check back here for the next installation of this blog series.  I’ll be addressing matters of content––and how can you use the actual raw stuff of your digital presence to bolster your SEO.

Check back every Wednesday to read more about the art of self promotion!  If you have a question about any of these tools for self promotion, would like to hear from me about something specific, or have other big news to share, please comment below!

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

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