#Search Engine Optimisation for #Indie Authors: How Far Should You Go?

There are many bloggers out there who still don’t know what SEO is. That is and isn’t a good thing. SEO is Search Engine Optimisation and for best practice, it is supposed to have a very large say in how you write book titles, web pages and blog posts. (There is an infographic explaining it at the base of this page.) A great idea? Yes, if kept in balance. There is one major worry with getting too carried away with it: you stop writing as yourself and allow yourself to be told what to do by a robot. Think about it…

Digital computations determine how easy it is for us to have our books found on Amazon, our Page posts read on Facebook, our web site or blog found on Google… They are awfully frustrating and if you want to claw your way to the top of the pile, you have to work – hard! You must sprinkle your keywords through your post, use meta tags on web pages, sprinkle matching keywords through your web pages, tweet, status update, Like, Plus 1, retweet, share and comment until your fingers fall off and your brain goes numb.

I did this asiduously throughout 2013 and got to the end of September and simply burnt out! I wasn’t tired of blogging, writing and people. It was those robotic demands that did me in. So I spent far less time on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. After reading a massive, endless stream of SEO and social media how-to posts, I came to the conclusion that as writers, we are possibly far better off writing in the attic, away from the computer and all this “wonderfully good advice.” Any available time I had in my week, was spent assuaging the gods of rank. So I quit! I’ve noticed that since I began to pull back in September, my visit stats and book sales didn’t drop much. They are growing.

1238999_450639671718505_835016741_nSo here is how I am now surviving online. I hope it inspires you and if you have further suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

  1. I will automate as many blog posts and shares as I can, so I can take time to see the sunshine and not be spending hours manually on social media. “I’m sorry Hal, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
  2. I will not read any more SEO and social media how-to posts or books: instead I will be myself and stay tapped into my innate creativity identity.
  3. I will not get trapped in worrying about my statistics. If I get 2 Likes on a post and someone was inspired: I aced it! That is my main goal: encourage, equip, empower. Not rack up fat numbers.
  4. I will write the blog posts which are close to my heart, regardless of what posts pull in the greatest number of readers.
  5. I will market my books with titles that make sense to the content of the book and are not used elsewhere. I will not calculate words on what sells.

In business, if something does not pull in sales, you stop doing it. Yet online, many of us tend to jump feet first into the latest and greatest next thing, perhaps in the hope it will propel us to stardom? That doesn’t work. It simply chews away more of our time and sanity.

It is all about sanity. If I have to mutiny against binary calculations, the numbers game and everyone’s marvellous advice, then I will. Join me… your creative soul is worth more than this.


If you want to know more about SEO, check this infographic from nerdyface.com

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IMG_0204Note from Cate: this post was published last year under a different title, but there was a technical glitch and it never got proper promotion. As it received great comments from those who did read it, I have updated, improved and published it again.

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2013 and adapted in 2014. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

TRUTH BOMB: Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I Want To Quit

Cate Russell-Cole:

We have all been there… thanks Myndi for giving us reasons NOT to quit.

(Yes, I know I am on holidays, but this was too good not to log in and share!)

Originally posted on Myndi Shafer:

quitterLately I’ve been asking myself this question:

What would happen if I were to quit writing?

I think every writer gets to this point eventually (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). The new shiny has worn off. The over-the-moon-I’m-so-in-love-with-what-I’m-doing feeling goes away. Inspiration dries up to nothing more than a brittle bag of bones that if you shake together real hard might amount to a paragraph or two. And we’re not talking Hemingwayesqe brilliance that makes up for the scant word-count. We’re talking shaky drivel that makes I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGR look like soul-stealing genius.  

And so I ask myself, what would happen if I were to quit?

Life would immediately become simpler. I wouldn’t have to structure my days so intensely. Family time wouldn’t feel so urgent because writing wouldn’t be putting any demands on our schedule. I could cook and clean and play when I want…

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#Romance University for Writers: A Gold Class #Writing Site

Printhttp://romanceuniversity.org

Purpose: Dedicated to helping writers establish and advance their careers, introducing readers to a variety of authors, and delving into the ever-inscrutable male mind.

Monday: Crafting Your Career
Most writers begin writing because they love the process–using just the right word, crafting the perfect sentence, giving life to imaginary people. However satisfying the writing process, many writers begin to want more. The want people to read about and love those imaginary folks. Okay–they want people to pay to read about those imaginary folks. Join us each Monday at RU where we’ll discuss the business of writing or career topic. Visiting Professors (guest bloggers) often stop by the school to offer advice.

Wednesday: Anatomy of the Mind
This is the day we explore every facet of writing, reading, and men.

Friday: Chaos Theory of Writing
On Fridays, RU Faculty along with industry professionals and established authors will focus on the elements of manuscript writing. Tips to help you hone your craft and write a damn fine book. After all, it will be your writing that will catch (and retain) the interest of a lucky agent or editor.We’ll tap into our own experiences, share what’s working and what isn’t as we chase our dreams of becoming published authors. We’ll also discuss advice from our favorite writing reference books and websites. So join us each Friday to experience the chaos of writing.”

Gold class sites

Unplugging to Recharge

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Wishing you all a restful, safe and blessed Easter.

My husband’s work schedule is going to be nuts for the next three months, so I am going to take a break over the Easter period and following ANZAC day long weekend to get in some quality family time. Scheduled posts will still come out on this blog and myTwitter feed will continue to autoshare posts from the best writing coaches out there.

Blog comments on all posts are switched off. I will resume post continue sharing on Triberr and be back online interacting around May 1st.

Thank you for your support.

Cate

Sanity Saving Blogging Resources

Be UniqueLife flies by at an insane pace… I constantly miss or have to dash past blog posts I want to and need to read. In case you missed it, here are the resources I shared during Blog Taming Month in February. A few extras are thrown in, just because I can… Happy scribing and remember, forget the musts, the have-tos and the myriad of experts. Your best success comes by being yourself!

Micro-Blogging: An Idea to Experiment With

Blogging Survival: Get Ahead by Scheduling

Services Which Make Your Blog Easy to Follow

Surviving BIG Blogging Mistakes

Blog Sidebars: Easy Ways to Add Whatever You Want

Are Your Blogging Goals Slipping? Help to Get Focussed Using Planners and Organisers

Building Community Spirit in the Blogosphere

Is Your Blog Trapping You or Helping You Fly?

Savvy Blogging Cover Image 2If you want even more… and why wouldn’t you? All blog maintenance and promotion posts here on CommuniCATE can be accessed by this category link. Or you can save yourself the trouble and download the free .pdf ebook, which saves you scrolling and reading through all those posts online. This is the download link. It is safe, with no strings attached and comes from my web site.

Chapters Include:

  • Blog Treasures Hidden in Plain Sight
  • Get Yourself A Second Brain
  • Slack, Fake and Egocentric Followers: How to Pick Them!
  • Blog Post Promotion on Social Media: Instantly Hooking Reader Attention
  • Sometimes, It Just Goes Wrong: When to Ditch!
  • The Best Kept Editing Secret
  • 10% On Top: Being a More Efficient Writer
  • Professional, Effective Author Sites: The Problems With Using Blogs
  • Cleaning the Cobwebs Out of Blogs: Reader Engagement and Content Value
  • Guest Posting as Advertising: How To Be Professional and Be Asked Back
  • Your Individuality is Your Greatest Asset: Writing and Marketing as You
  • Faulty-Tasking
  • The Road to Success is Paved by Free-Sharing

Have fun!


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

A Needed Reminder on the Rewards of Writing

We all stress as writers: bad reviews, low blog stats, poor interaction with readers, horrible sales figures, word counts not met, trolls and idiots, technological hassles… there are so many issues. For some reason we tend to focus heavily on them. Maybe the creative process just brings our insecurities to the fore?

While wandering around Twitter I found this profile which gave me a much-needed jerk back to reality.

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Guess which is more fun: it’s not hard. It’s the writing. That is why we got into it in the first place!

I decided to follow Mervat. I like her attitude and on bad days, I hope it rubs off on me.

Go have some fun.

 

N.B. This image was used without her permission, but Twitter is public. Please follow and support @miminov70


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

#Character Archetypes Treasure Troves for #Writers

I promised myself this year, that I would get back to fiction writing and I will… write that is… once I stop having a field day planning characters personalities, strengths and weaknesses; and plotting about how I can weave all that into plots.

Delve into the inspiring world of character archetypes and see what comes out. There are a few hundred to choose from and you will be intrigued by how assigning roles to people (especially couples), fuels ideas!

If you are asking, what is an archetype, here is the definition: a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology; mid 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek arkhetupon ‘something moulded first as a model.’

Original Source Embedded in Graphic

Original Source Embedded in Graphic


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

#atozchallenge Ideas ~ Hard Letters to Fill: X and Z Word List

XIf you get stuck finding A to Z Challenge topics for the letters X and Z, these may help. They come from my 1920′s Hordern’s Home Dictionary and some words are out of common use. These words are great short story prompts. Q words came out in yesterday’s post.

 X Words

- Xanthein: yellow colouring in flowers which is water soluble.

- Xantippe: an angry woman.

- Xiphias: a sword shaped comet, resembling a sword.

- Xylograph: a wood engraving, or impression from a wood block.

- Xylopyrography: producing pictures on wood by charring with a hot iron; poker painting.

- Xyster: a surgeon’s instrument for scraping bones (sorry, but you are always scraping the bottom of the barrel for X words as there are so few…)

Z words

Z- Zanella: a twilled fabric which was once used for covering umbrellas. (Remember, this is a 1920s dictionary.)

- Zareba: an enclosure against enemies or wild animals.

- Zax: an instrument for cutting slate.

- Zeitgeist: the spirit of the time.

- Zeugma: the connection of two nouns with an adjective or verb, suitable to only one of them.

- Zingaro: a gypsy (zingari is the plural)

- Zoanthopy: a psychological disorder in which someone believes they are one of the “lower” animals. (Lower may mean less intelligent.)

- Zoetrope: an optical instrument representing pictures as if alive. (Perhaps the early silent films were Zoetropes. Does anyone know?)

- Zonulet: a little zone.

- Zoograft: tissue from a lower animal, grafted onto a human being. (Use of pig valves in heart surgery would be a zoograft.)

- Zoolatry: animal worship (successfully achieved by cats in Egyptian times and they are still trying to bring this fad back…)

- Zounds: expressing anger or wonder.

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Reading Challenges of a Visually Impaired Writer in the Digital World: Guest Post by Kerry Kijewski

Cate Russell-Cole:

This is an awesome post. Next time Dreamweaver nags me about some aspect of my site not being accessible, I will listen.

Originally posted on change it up editing:

I recently met author Kerry Kijewski on  my Facebook page . She commented that she really enjoyed the writing- and publishing-related posts on my page, but she couldn’t always access the links because she is blind. After some back-and-forth discussion, I learned that if I just added the links to the comments section, Kerry could access them with her reading software.

That conversation got me thinking about the other accommodations a blind reader/writer might need, so I asked Kerry to share her thoughts with us. Before I met her, I’d never considered how technology helps or hinders the creation and consumption of digital content. Now I know a bit more, and so will you:

I was born blind, but I had enough sight when I was younger to read and write large print. In the beginning days of computers I could use large print magnification programs. That seems like another lifetime to me…

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#atozchallenge Ideas ~ Hard Letters to Fill: Q Word List

QIf you get stuck finding A to Z Challenge topics for the letter Q, these may help. They come from my 1920′s Hordern’s Home Dictionary and some words are out of common use. These words are great short story prompts. The challenge also accepts poetry, quotes, photoblogs and artwork. It’s about creativity. Try and use 100 words or more.

What is the challenge? It is “the brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list.”

Go to their site to sign up.

X and Z come out at the end of the week.

Q words

- Quardangle: a shape with 4 angles. In school, we used to assemble in the Quadrangle. Perhaps some school days topics?

- Quadrat: used in printing presses, this is the small piece of metal they use to make spaces between words. It is lower than the letters, so it gets no ink on it.

- A four leaf clover is a quadrifoliate. As is anything with four leaves attached to a common stalk. If something has five leaves it is a quinquefoliate.

- A quadrille is not just a dance, it is also four people playing a game with forty cards.

- Quaquaversal: inclined outwards in all directions from a single point; a pyramid would be on of these, or an inverted cone.

- A quarrel is also an arrow with a square head and a diamond shaped pane of glass. Arguments can also be included.

- Quasimodo is the first Sunday after Easter.

- A quean is a worthless woman; a wench.

- Quiddity: a trifling nicety; a captious question. An insincere, “How are you?” is one.

- Quidnunc: one that is curious, or pretends to know everything.

- Quirites were ancient Romans in their evil capacity.

- Quondam: a former friend.

- Quotidian: anything recurring daily.

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Writing Historically Based Books: Author Philippa Gregory

The-Other-Boleyn-Girl-by-Philippa-Gregory“Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl which was made into a tv drama, and a major film. Now, six novels later, she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.” Sourced from her web site, http://www.philippagregory.com

These videos are on how she researches her books and is drawn to work on the main characters. It’s a fascinating process, which I enjoyed hearing about. If you are a lover of research or historical fiction, you’ll be inspired by watching these clips.

On Continuity in Creative Writing

Cate Russell-Cole:

As I am world building for The Chronicles of Mirchar, this is an issue which is coming up more and more and is critical to polished, believable writing. One other ingredient is needed too: don’t rush it! Writing a draft in a month is one thing, but it takes a great deal more to produce a novel. Many thanks to Victoria Grefer for her helpful posts. They keep saving my bacon!

Originally posted on Creative Writing with the Crimson League:

diary-srb-1118480-m One necessary component of engrossing, readable fiction is always cohesiveness: and today, as I edit “The Crimson League” for its second edition release this Autumn, I am thinking more and more about the role continuity plays in cohesiveness.

There are so many forms and levels of continuity. A large part of editing–not the whole, certainly, but a large chunk–involves keeping track of and maintaining, or improving, continuity. You could dedicate an editing pass or two JUST to continuity issues. And that’s what I want to discuss today: continuity issues.

What are the major things we authors can look out for as we edit a draft for continuity?

CHARACTER CONTINUITY: PHYSICAL TRAITS

Personality cohesiveness–asking yourself, “would this character, believably, say or do these things?”–is a different issue. I am talking more basic, surface-level things here.

  • Does a character’s eye color change from scene to scene?
  • Does a character, mid-scene, shift from…

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How NOT to look like a total loser on #Twitter: Social Media Professionalism

2014-02-24_08-58-36There are services out there which are incredibly useful to have, particularly if you like proper stats on where you’re at. However, openly advertising that you use these services can make you look like a woeful failure if you don’t have a massive following. For example:

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That was one of the more cheery ones I saw this morning. 224 people walking away is a lot! I would be worrying if these were my stats.

I see numerous notices like this go through my stream every day. They are auto-generated. All services spit out these ads. If I use one, I go into Twitter fast and delete them. Plus, if I pay to subscribe to a service, I will remove all automatic options to have these services air my private laundry at their will.

I would never advocate not using these sites to clean up your following. They also removed dormant accounts and have many benefits. They are too good to ignore. Benefits include:

  • Finding inactive users and your unfollowers.
  • Finding relevant users to follow.
  • Keeping track of how your social media updates affect your follower/unfollower stats.
  • Checking the relationship between any accounts and doing a whole lot more (for a price on services this good).

I would recommend you never auto-follow anyone using them though: not only do automatic DMs mean I know you are insincere and have never seen me; you also follow every spammer out there, thinking you’ve got great stats when you’ve only got snake oil merchants and porn…

So be aware of who advertises what in your Twitter stream and how it makes you look. You won’t be sorry you did.

P.S. May I present to you the other side of the argument? Note that when you have many followers, this isn’t an issue but if you have a small number, the above still applies.

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This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

realisticfiction

Do You Write by Heart or Head? Technique Overload

Complexities that put me off my game.

Complexities that put me off my game.

When does studying the craft of writing stop you or inhibit your work? That is a question which some of us need to ask. Writing has become more than a plotter or pantser issue, it can come down to science vs your instincts as a bard.

I like to know I am doing things the right way. However, in branching back out into fiction, I am finding the more I read about what to include, the more nervous I am becoming with my writing. I look at images on Pinterest, like the one on the right, feeling bemused, hemmed in, inadequate and I am stunned into inaction by a fear of failure. What if the “right” way is not my way? Jane Austen wrote without all this!

Since I originally studied writing, main characters have become protagonists and there are also antagonists, contagonists, deuteragonists… what? Deuteragonists are the main secondary characters. Why can’t we just say that! How many aspiring authors are being scared away? I often get the feeling you I am being told to be perfect and write a specific way, rather than being allowed to just write down that story I need to tell.

There are things I need at the beginning: plot arcs, descriptions, body language, emotional reactions which are realistic, archetypes as a guideline and character profiles (such as the Enneagram); however, I need to begin to ignore many technical articles or stash them for later in the writing process.

Things that freak me out when I am writing a new story for the first time:

  • Dos and Don’ts for the Last 10,000 words of your story.
  • What you should write and when : hook, plot point, response, mid point, attack, plot point, climax, resolution… complete nervous breakdown?
  • Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 5 (What if I don’t fit neatly into all that? Did I fail?)
  • 200,000,000 ways to say that, went, and or whatever, which makes me feel like I need to watch every word as it comes out.
  • Revealing secrets, pivotal information etc. for maximum impact on a very detailed, precise manner. (What if I don’t fit neatly into all that? I really stink at this, don’t I!)
  • The First Five Pages. A writer’s guide to staying out of the rejection pile. (That has to come with editing, you can’t get that right, straight off the bat!)
  • The most annoying type of story conflict / the most hated antagonist readers will throw the book down after reading etc.

You get the picture.

My answer: learn slowly as you go; be open to new ideas but don’t let them mash you into a one-size-fits-all, formatted cliché like a Hollywood blockbuster movie… You need to get that story down before you can start working on perfecting it.


This blog post by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share and adapt it.

#Blogging and Realistic Goals: Don’t Be Crushed by the Pressure

ROW80LogocopyIn 2012 I discovered A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80). One thing we all have in common with our writing is life sure does get in the way! It’s unavoidable and you just have to go with it. Even taking a day off to have fun can be necessary in our creative lives. The trick is, to do it without the guilt… and in people’s update posts, I frequently read an awful lot of guilt!

ROW80 shares the same blogging philosophy I have. “We are all different and we all have different demands on our time. Why should we all have the same goal? The simple answer is that we shouldn’t. If you want to be a writer, then you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to your changing circumstances. If that means changing your goals when your life blows up, so be it. ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.” (The next round starts in early April.)

I like the emphasis on the goals being achievable. That is the secret ingredient to any goal. There must be flexibility and a sense of reality. However, despite how Kait Nolan has emphasized the easy-going nature of the challenge, I keep seeing writers listing masses of goals: far more than 80 days worth! NaNoWriMo is another example that concerns me in as far as mental and creative health are concerned. The word count allows for no days off for an entire month and a very high output. It’s too short and writers stress, particularly when they hit plot problems and again, real life gets in the way. Why we are so insistent on deliberately placing ourselves under high-achievement related stress?

sunriseThe happiest bloggers seem to be the ones who have three goals at the most. These goals aren’t back-breaking and they have a balanced attitude which accepts that some days they may fail; some days they may come close; some days they will achieve above and beyond and that is all good. The strategy which brings a cheer from me, is seeing writers list the rewards they will give themselves on achieving their goals. A small treat, some ‘me’ time, a fun activity which refreshes and pulls them away from their desk. It’s a great idea. I love it!

Reaching your goals and dreams by making small changes, seems to work the best for most people. Trying to revolutionize our entire lives in one effort leaves us tired and discouraged. Small changes are the ones that stick. They are less likely to fizzle into failures and regrets.

Go easy and be kind to yourself!

Work, family, finances, holidays, sickness and the occasional crisis will always be there to keep you away from putting words on paper. Your success as a writer depends as much on how you deal with that, as it does on how much output you have. As a writer there is a massive laundry list of demands you are supposed to meet to succeed, plus I know how easy it is to get enthusiastically carried away with everything you want to achieve. However, please do take the time to step back, reassess your direction and see if you need to cut back on your goals to maximize your creative energy. It is not a sign of failure to do that, it’s a sign of wisdom.


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All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. 

Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

The sunrise is a purchased istockphoto.com image licensed to me. You are not legally able to re-use it in any manner, neither may you adapt it without risking litigation from the source.