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. 

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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.

Let’s Get Cozy

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Sometimes, genres are broken down into sub-genres. One of my favorite reads is the cozy mystery, which is a sub-genre of crime fiction.

Here, point by point, are those factors which delineate them as such:

1- Profanity, sex and violence are downplayed.

2- They are usually set in small, socially intimate communities.

3- The detectives, almost always amateurs, are frequently women.

4- The main characters are usually well-educated, hold jobs which bring them into contact with others in the community.

5- They often have a contact on the police force (a spouse, relative, or friend) that gives them access to important information about “the case.”

6- The “detectives” are usually discounted by the authorities as nosy busybodies,(especially if they are elderly women) but are generally well-liked and gregarious members of the community.

7- The detectives get their information by eavesdropping, or even “stumbling” upon clues.”

8- The murderers are usually members of the community where the murder takes place and have hidden in plain sight. They often explain their motives after the unmasking.

9- The secondary characters are often comedic.

10- The murders often happen off stage, or even before the story begins. The real story is in the solving of the puzzling mystery.

11- These mysteries often have a prominent thematic element introduced by the detective’s hobby or job, such as fishing, golfing, antiques, etc. Some are based on holidays, such as Cozy Christmas Mysteries.

Cozy mysteries are fun, both to read and write!

Can Pigs Fly?

 

30799328490_7a5353645dHave you ever met with friends you haven’t seen in a long time and as you talked, you felt out of step—out of sync?

Like so much time has passed since your paths crossed that you feel like your reality and theirs doesn’t quite coincide?

Maybe your perspectives are different…your interests have changed…

It might be a little unnerving at first, but later, as you contemplate your conversation, you find their ideas are thought-provoking—even refreshing.

Could a change of perspective be good for a writer?

Could it be just the shot-in-the-arm that sparks creativity?

Try this: write a paragraph in your genre. (Say, mystery).

Then, write it again, in fantasy.

Write it as romance or romantic suspense.

It’s the same paragraph. But it’s oh-so-different from teach of these different perspectives, isn’t it?

Now, go back to the genre you usually write in. Use the creative differences from the writing exercises you just completed to re-write your original paragraph.

I have found that when I feel stuck for a fresh way of expression doing this gets those creative juices flowing again.

Want to share what’s worked for you?

 

Pseudonyms

What’s in a Name?  I asked myself this question not too long ago, reasoning that the name Brenda Poulos might not be so memorable. Maybe I’d need something shorter, flashier, similar to some other well-known person… I’d piggy-back off of their fame…

Some writers use pen names. I was curious to find out why, so I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I found out:

1)   Most well-known authors write in a certain genre. They become known as a Suspense Writer, for example. Then, perhaps they want to add another genre to their writing repertoire. Publishers may not like this for several reasons. Same with their fans. So, they write in the “new” genre under a pen name.

2)  Some writers, I found out, start writing under a pen name when they are looking to switch publishers.  (The internet article cautioned against doing this. I can see all kinds of legal reasons why this wouldn’t be a good idea.)

3)  Writers, whose earlier work(s) may have bombed, might want to use a pen name when they publish something “new.”

4)  Pseudonyms are often used by authors who have names similar to someone else. (Hum, opposite of my earlier idea…)

5)  If a writer thinks his/her name doesn’t suit the genre, he might want to choose a pen name. This happened when Pearl Gray changed his name to Zane Gray to appear more like a western author.

6)  Women who write in a genre that is usually written in by men, often use their first initials and last name.  (For example, in westerns).

7)   Sometimes several authors write books together. They choose a fictitious  name, making their audience think the books are written by one person, when they actually are not.

8)   Sometimes writers want to protect their identity if they are writing in a genre in conflict with their main profession. For example, a surgeon who writes a murder mystery about a killer who dissects his victims. Yikes!

9)   Some of us are shy and just don’t want publicity. It’s possible to conceal one’s true identity by using a pseudonym.

10) Finally, if you want your name to be catchy and memorable, start making your list of possible pen names.

There you have it. Ten reasons to use a pseudonym—or not.

Do you currently use a pen name? I’d be interested in learning why you do so and if it has worked out well for you.

Brenda