The Right Words Are “Key”

businessman with a cup of coffeeAs we continue to take actions to drive sales to our sites, our discussion naturally turns to keywords.

Simply put, keywords are the words a prospective reader would type into the search bar in order to find a book on a topic or in the specific genre they are looking for.

If you have included these words into your headline, description copy, and your pages, your book will be “found.”

If you don’t include searchable keywords, the feisty little web crawlers will, in essence, crawl right on by and continue to search until they have discovered someone else’s website, book page, etc. Yikes!

The suggestion is that we narrow down a list of 5-7 keywords and insert them in our copy everywhere—and as often as—we can.

Some day, we may not have to do this. Some day, we may be famous and have a following–readers who require nothing more than typing in our names as they search for our latest books.

But for now, those 5-7 well-chosen words are key. 

All Things Visual: The Video Blog

 

30117796355_718613dda3

I mentioned in my last post that we would embark on a short venture together in order to learn to do things that would be visual and thus equate in BOOK SALES, according to the latest “research.”

The first idea I came across is the suggestion that authors create a video blog.

So, instead of writing posts each week, like I do, and pairing them with interesting pictures, we are being encouraged to make videos, upload them to YouTube, and then embed them in our blog posts.

In the videos, we can answer questions, do interviews, recommend conferences, teach writing skills, or endorse our books.

In the visual age, this is just one of many ways to drive sales to our website or Amazon page.

We will explore others in the weeks to come.

All Things Visual

8159131_0f68f6e772

Lately, it seems all the buzz is about U-Tube videos, podcasts, and interviews.

All things visual.

There are websites which help authors do book trailers, podcasts, and interviews.

But, of all these, which really bring results? Which equate to book sales?

Glad you asked.

My next few posts will deal with each of these, individually. I will bring you the latest numbers in a concise manner.

See you next week for the first installment.

Stay in Your Own Lane

13366864053_840b7df994Driving home after an evening out, my husband complained about a driver in front of us. “Just look at that guy, weaving in and out of traffic. He’s going to get somebody killed. He needs to stay in his own lane.”

Perhaps writers should heed his advice. Settling on one genre, such as Amish Romances, for example, lets the reader know what to expect when purchasing one of their books.

When a brand is loud and clear, it not only benefits the reader, but it also helps the writer focus their writing.

New writers often have to feel their way through two or three books before they catch the vision for their writing, however.

Recently, I discovered that my books—Runaways: The Long Journey Home and The Choice: Will’s Last Testament—have a common thread: forgiveness. Then I took a hard look at my newest book, Simon Says, and found that this story about bullying  has forgiveness as its central theme, also. (Simon Says is not, yet, completed).

So, I guess I am in full “branding mode” and I couldn’t be happier than to be writing stories of forgiveness because they assure us there is hope after we mess up or make wrong choices.

So, if you don’t want your readers to be confused and you want to bring your writing into focus,

Simply find your lane and stay in it.

As Promised

6899795110_f3edd9d7a6

Second half of critique group questions from last week’s post:

6)  CONFLICT:

* Are character motivations powerful enough to create sufficient conflict?

* Is a potential for conflict established that is strong enough to move the story forward?

* Are the motives understandable?

7)  DIALOGUE:

* Is the dialogue between characters natural, purposeful, interesting, engaging?

* Does the dialogue contain emotion in a way that narrative cannot?

* Are the character’s voices distinct? Does each one have a different way of expressing themselves? Are their voices appropriate for the setting, genre, and time period?

* Is the dialogue believable?

8)  NARRATIVE AND POINT OF VIEW:

* Is the narrative well-placed with the dialogue, not overwhelming the reader?

* Is background information presented at appropriate times and in the correct POV?

* Is POV clear and consistent?  Are changes smooth and logical?

*Should I use a different POV?

9)  PACING:

* Has the author dropped the reader into the action?

* Does the story flow smoothly, freely, and logically?

* Does every scene move the story forward?

10)  STORY:

* Are the story ad plot elements compatible with the genre?

* Can you picture each scene in your head?

* Is the purpose of each scene clear?

* Does each scene move the story forward?

* Does the story hold your interest?

* Does everything in the story build logically, plausibly, and believable toward the end/climax?

* Where do you feel the story is heading?

* Do inspirational elements grow organically out of character or plot?

Use a Checklist

10519774073_296682697a

You may want to consider utilizing a checklist to guide your comments to others in your critique group. Below is one we developed. I am sharing the first five this time and will post the rest next week. 

 

 

1) HOOKS:  

* Does the opening line or paragraph immediately hook the reader?

* Did you want to keep reading?

2)  STYLE:

* Is the writer’s voice distinct and unique?

* Does the author utilize showing and telling skillfully?

* Indicate passages needing more “show”.

3)  PROFESSIONAL IMPACT:

* Does the author have a grasp of the elements of grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

* Is the writing fresh and original, avoiding cliches?

* Is the writer overusing/overdoing actions? Themes? Words? Character traits?

* Is the manuscript appropriate for the general market?

4)  SETTING:

* Was the place, time of day, season, time period set?

* Does the setting support the story?

* Do sensory details (sight, sound, touch, smell) enhance each scene?

5)  CHARACTERS:

* Is the main character identifiable? Unique?

* Do you get a sense of the character’s journey and what the story is about?

* Do secondary characters contribute to the story? Are they defined and likable?

* Do characters’ emotions seem believable and/or provide understandable motives?

You’re A Winner!

 

3417340248_0f4bdb2a9cYou may be tempted to enter writing contests from time to time. Winners are certainly provided an often-needed mental and emotional lift, exposure of the win on social media (thus giving you a boost in sales), as well as a variety of prizes. 

Most importantly, contests can be a valuable tool, especially if they offer constructive feedback.

Most contests are based on samples of anywhere from three to ten pages of writing being judged by contest officials.

When feedback arrives, the writer can use it to adjust their writing, sign up for classes or read books on areas of deficiency, and so on.

I find the most helpful feedback comes in the form of written comments with examples. The least helpful, in my opinion, is a simple checklist.

I would recommend entering contests where you are assured that you are competing against others at your relative skill level (beginning writer, seasoned writer, etc.) AND that your work is looked at by more than one judge who is an expert in the same genre in which you write. 

Most contests post comments/reviews of their previous contests.  Reading them before entering, will be helpful in deciding just which contest is right for you.

Your goal is to become a better writer, so carefully consider the comments you receive without getting emotional. Weigh them against what you know to be true, while bearing in mind that their opinions—although hopefully based on some measure of expertise—are simply their opinions. 

The next reader may feel quite differently about your work. So don’t let just one set of scores discourage you.

Remember to always get a second opinion.