Indie Authors: Should You Bow to Search Engine Demands?

IMG_0206My sincere apologies for this post coming out again, but my WordPress feed just stopped working, so promotion through Triberr and my blog just died. Some readers are accepting my RSS, others aren’t and I have no idea why. This post is being sent out again as I am desperately trying to fix the system myself. Feedburner appears to be working… Fingers crossed.

If it breaks again, ALL posts will cease until it is fixed and Support An Author Month will be moved from May to June. Please stick with me, I am working on it… despite the fact that I am supposed to be on holidays…

Hell hath no fury like technology.

Cate

 

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

SEO_IG


REBLOGS WELCOMED

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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.

#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

SEO_IG


REBLOGS WELCOMED

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…

View original 523 more words

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.

#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.

Controlling How Much of YOU Appears in Your Fiction

SlidingthroughyourfingersAs you write, you write out of your own experiences, no matter what the genre. It is a cliché but parts of you are always going to bleed through your keyboard to the reader. Your life is teaching you plot, characterization, behaviour traits and all the essentials needed to build a fully-formed, believable work of fiction… and that is good. However, you may not want your novel to be a kiss and tell where your subconscious has dobbed you in, through character personality traits, conflicts and experiences.

Consciousness is the key to control. If you have journaled about your feelings and experiences in life, you will discover themes and events which will enable you to identify what is too much you. Plus you’re building a resource you can use to craft a better story. It could be likened to a mini self-service and/or character psychology course. It’s a lot cheaper than taking your novel to a therapist!

The act of physically writing out something which has happened helps to clarify events, giving you a new perspective on how and why things happened as they did. It’s a great plot formation tool that will both inspire your fiction… and keep you off the page! You are creating your own privacy control options, enabling you to effectively edit out the parts that are too close to the way you think or act.

However, don’t become paranoid about self-revelation:

“Let some of you come through. You’re obviously not writing a memoir here, but this book is still partly about you: the world you see, the way you think, the experiences you have with people. And trust me, readers are interested in who you are. So don’t be afraid to let bits and pieces of your personality and even life details seep into the text. It will breathe a lot of life into the book.” David Shenk

May I challenge you to get a journal and start to write about your life, your feelings and how you see the world. Look at how much may have slid through into your fictional work… and what comes out that you didn’t expect. It is a journey that will reward you in many ways.

For helpful information on journalling, go to Journal Chat with Dawn Herring, or Write for Life with Nathan Ohren.


REBLOGS WELCOMED

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 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.

What is Nagging for Book Sales, What is Marketing? The Difference…

qqffb_1285058022796Trying to get the balance right in promoting blog posts and book sales gives me nightmares. I have looked at what Twitter recommends and what the social media marketing people recommend and there is a notable discrepancy. It seems Twitter wants to keep spam and server overload to a minimum, whereas the marketers understand the need to stand out from the crowd. Here is the balanced middle ground:

1. Only Tweet 7-20 times a day: no more or fingers will itch over that Unfollow button. All Twitter makes an interesting point about over-tweeting. Which proves that tweet nagging will knock you out of the game:

TrackSocial took a look at the tweets from top brands to determine whether brands who tweeted more saw more retweets. And the findings are interesting… we begin to see a “sweet spot…” When they tweet 4 to 5 times per day, brands see over 300% more retweets per tweet than when they tweet just once. But the percentage of retweets per tweet drops when brands tweet more than 5 times per day…”

2. Mix your content! I unfollow anyone who tweets the same promotion multiple times a day, every day of the week! Post relevant videos, images, interact with people, promote your blog posts with quick content quotes in them etc. Have a series of different tweets for different books that you rotate over weeks.

twitnest

3. There are many different opinions on what time of day is the best time for Twitter. It depends on your time zone, type of followers… you will slowly get to know what works for you. If like me, you work Internationally, there is no easy answer.

4. Talk to people, be genuine and be a real face online: not just a hard core seller. Twitter recommends you cover behind the scenes information too, not just sales and marketing. Tell people a little about how you work, what you like etc. Don’t err on the side of putting your personal life out there too much, but be human, not just “buy my stuff!”

6. Be professional. If you are selling your work, Twitter is not a good place to list your writing battles and insecurities. You can appear completely incompetent!

7. Follow about 10 new people a day to build your presence without spamming. Never or rarely mass unfollow people who don’t follow you. That is identified by Twitter’s watchdogs as spam activity. New research also shows that paying for followers achieves nothing: as do using gimmicks which guarantee follow backs. They just add you to their numbers, they don’t “see you.”

social-media-sins

Infographic Source:

http://info.reallyb2b.com/blog-hs/bid/332063/The-Seven-Deadly-Sins-of-Social-Media-INFOGRAPHIC


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.

Lessons Learnt by a Slightly Lost, Irish, Novel Researcher

20141703Last week on Triberr I read another writer’s post about seven crazy things she’d done in the name of novel research. Some were so risky, I am amazed she didn’t get arrested! It made me feel somewhat better about myself. As today is St Patrick’s Day, it’s a good time to share the lessons I am learning in my own novel research.

Quick Background: I am resurrecting and updating my old “Chronicles of Mirchar” series with a Celtic identity. It is set within a solar system of seven related planets; features warriors who are several thousand years old who still work with daggers, swords and warhorses… and the whole process of putting it together between migraines has been an epic learning curve.

celticshamrock

The Lessons:

1. If you want to write descriptions well and understand a little more about your character’s discomforts, challenges and joys, it helps to actually own or be familiar with objects they use. For example, horse tack, daggers, swords, saddles: all the cool stuff! I went and bought a bitless bridal that hangs over my desk. Being able to handle the leather, see how non-slip reigns are constructed (and how much they would hurt your hands, gloves or not, after a few hours) is invaluable. I can’t ride for medical reasons, I had to find out somehow. Don’t let “you can’t,” get in the way!

2. If you are dealing with tricky subjects like weapons, which are frowned on in this part of the world unless you own a farm, check with Customs import rules, before you get up the sales hopes of an awesome bladesmith and fall in love with the dagger you have to have. (Sorry Jeff, I can’t get anything remotely that good here.) They don’t like untreated leather products and all kinds of things, so if using International mail, check before you get your heart broken.

3. When you see a HUGE sign that says, “Pattons Big Gun” and it is in a semi-rural area… before you drive the 14 miles back to visit the gun shop, (hoping they will have a dagger or some blade advice,) C.H.E.C.K. Google to find out what that business really does.

Here is what I saw:

Underwooda

If I had looked at the full signage and not the gun, I would have discovered it was a butcher. Plus… the one I went to had just gone out of business and their shop was being refitted for someone else. Epic facepalm! We couldn’t even buy dinner for our trouble.

Underwood

4. Horses drool. Can someone please keep reminding me of that one? I will need that reminder when I go to the local Riding School to bombard them with equine behaviour questions. Knowing my luck, I am expecting a horse to eat my question list. ;-) Just after I’ve written down the answers too…

5. Don’t be afraid of criticism, stupid questions, or of taking pride in your work. Yes, I own a mane comb, hoof pick and bridle (they help me remember how big those animals are. I am a city dweller, I need help with proportions.) They sit in a public spot in my house where people are in and out… and we are just waiting for someone to ask if the bridle hanging off the curtain rail is actually something that would feature in a More Cowbell post. (Love your work Jenny!) No, it’s not… but it does remind me of some of the awful back braces I had to wear as a kid.

So want one!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So want one!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have found most people I have talked to (non-writers) think it’s great I am writing, doing something new despite my health and my horse-loving friends are looking at me with new light in their eyes. I have learnt to talk to my husband in a calm, confident voice, when visiting the local Saddlery. “That hoof pick is for Charlotte.” (Actually, it is, as I need to learn about what she needs. Charlotte is a 16 hands, Thoroughbred, bay coloured, brood mare; bred to Turbot, latest foal is Danae; no bit required due to horse-rider spiritual connection – I have totally got this!) I can now do things like that without feeling like an idiot and when asked by saddlery staff why no bit, I have an answer.

I have lifted saddles to test the strain they put on riders backs when saddling a horse; showed disgust at the time-saving el cheapo options for horses (no class and you don’t bond with your animal as much) and on staff request, could demonstrate a clear understanding of why I have to use saddle soap on my bridle. All in public, which normally I would cringe at… How: I have read, read, read and read. And thank God for Youtube how-to channels and a very patient husband, who still thinks I am a bit weird in public. I know she is not real… but how do you define real when you are working with characters and the horses will function as secondary characters.

If you work hard, you can hold your head up, have a great deal of fun (minus anything involving weapons) and learn things you never knew.

Now all I want is a miniature donkey as a pet. Why not? It’s research! (And a Clydesdale… ok, can I have a Scottish Claymore sword too? Plus a Celtic dagger, a complete horse grooming brush set, a Dublin Riding top, funky cowgirl boots…)

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This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 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.

Reblogs are welcome as long as the post is attributed to me and no text is changed.

Micro-Blogging: An Idea to Experiment With

In the 1930s, broadcast radio introduced an entirely new form of storytelling; today, micro-blogging platforms like Twitter are changing the scene again. Andrew Fitzgerald takes a look at the (aptly) short but fascinating history of new forms of creative experimentation in fiction and storytelling.

By the way, I’ve been struggling through a lengthy migraine. I am taking some recovery time off, so comments are switched off for this post. I’ll be back in a few days. Cheers everyone!


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Blogging Survival: Get Ahead

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Click to go to post.

With blogs, there are times when you have to hit the pause switch for the sake of sanity. But how? Around Thanksgiving last year, a fellow blogger put up a post asking, “should you blog through the holidays?” It was interesting to read how many people said yes, said no… or said no and then gave into temptation and pressure and blogged anyway! There are weeks when my husband has to refer to our family photos to remember what I look like, as I can’t be separated from the computer.

There is one technique which I have been using for the past two years to save my sanity and cater for those disruptions life puts in your way: scheduling. Writing ahead, even by a week or two, saves last minute “what will I post” panic attacks; stops multiple posts being sent out on one day; ensures you DO have time to go back and edit that dodgy bit you’re unsure about and gives you planning space. As I work in WordPress, here is how you do it.

2013-12-02_13-31-29While you are editing your post, on your right you will see the Publish box. On a new post it will come up as Publish Immediately. Click on Edit and you get this box where you can control exactly when your post will come out. The post I am writing now was written on the 2nd December last year. I am not bragging. As a migraine sufferer, I lose too many days on heavy painkillers and being forced into scheduling has been a great bonus! It does improve the quality of your blog as you have time to think.

If, like me, you are in an inconvenient time zone, scheduling also allows you to post in the zone where you get the best readership. With Twitter, Facebook, Triberr and Networked Blogs automatically sending out new post promotion live, I get the luxury of being asleep when my posts go out: between 1am and 2am my time. It’s bliss! No racing around multiple social media to spread the word. I love it! Use that Publicize feature and pre-hashtag post promo… it works.

Also be aware: I ran a weekly series in 2013 which I planned ahead, then added other periodic features plus my usual write-ahead posts. When I reached 100 scheduled posts, WordPress sent me an email saying STOP! They need you to save posts as drafts if there are a large number.

Keeping a blog running is a mammoth task: particularly if you like to post more than a few times per week. To stay productive you need to take time out. Like any muscle in your body, creativity needs to be rested so you can refresh. Without that you run out of ideas, enthusiasm and your blog becomes a major pain! Try scheduling as a painkiller. You have earned your time off and it will save you agony!


BlogTamingMonthCommuniCATE2

This article / blog post is Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 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.

Surviving BIG Blogging Mistakes

2014-02-14_09-23-58Sometimes we goof. We put up dead links, make spellling misteaks, or publicly make ourselves look as credible as Jar Jar Binks. “Yoosa should follow me now, okeeday?” *shudder* If you have made a grand faux pas, how do you recover?

That is the problem I have been pondering for the last week, as after placing too many promotional posts together, I have consistently lost 60% of my blog traffic. Damn! I wrote a reactive post, then thankfully had the sense to delete it. I realised that those who had walked away, would not be here to read my “ooops, my bad, I will ease up” rant. Instead, I have modified the posts to something much softer… but my ego hurts!

Recovery from a blooper will not come by force. The answer isn’t in storming out red-faced either. You have to “get back on the horse, unless you have to go to the hospital.” I am going to continue on as usual. The best blog posts are still pulling in “normal traffic,” so there is hope in that. Maybe my lost readers will forgive me? First, I have to forgive myself for being so dense! No matter how stats orientated we become, it is not the end of the world.

Maybe there are other reasons for a traffic drop I have not considered?

Maybe it’s not solely MY fault?

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean, taken from Kristen's blog. Is there a chiropractor in the house?

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean. Is there a chiropractor in the house?

If you are a sensitive, shy soul, as many of us writers are, when things go wrong, the first person we blame is ourselves. Life is a trial and error process. Creativity has hurdles we jump and get bruised on… and hurdles where we jump, then thrive off the elation of success. Growth comes from knowing there will be dark with the light and accepting that. Berating yourself won’t fix anything, you will just feel worse. Chalk it up as what doesn’t work and stay on that horse!

It comes down to patience, having the guts to try again and not just being greedy for success.

Speaking of success, Kristen Lamb’s blog has the most heartening post on author earnings and what will make you successful. It’s a must-read. In short, it takes patience, professionalism, quality online interaction and a backlist of work to set up a base on – and it occurs over multiple years, not fast. Remember: patience, patience, patience! When we are too eager to become an overnight success, we also become too eager to label ourselves as an instant failure.

Stay faithful to your dreams.

Those of you who are in it for the long haul, are the ones who will succeed.


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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.

Image is from my Bitstrips account.

Six Word Memoirs

When people think of memoir or autobiography, they often think of long, weighty works. There are many approaches to capturing various times in your life. One is the six word memoir.

It may be harder than you think! Try it. In six words, write about where you are now in your life.

The Rebel Writer’s Creed: Set Your Creative Self Free

creed2014My blog posts that are read the most, are the ones where I break out of the “have to” boxes that we sink into as writers. I spend as much time as I can encouraging people to do the same: break free, balance your time and be yourself. That is the only way you will find fulfilment in your creative life.

In 2013 I stumbled across author S.A. Larson’s Rebel Writer’s Creed. I immediately identified with it and promoted it. The 2013 creed was worded like this:

  • BElieve in myself
  • BE me –  don’t compare myself
  • BEat a writing fear
  • BalencE social media
  • Take writing BrEaks
  • BE a writer every day
  • DREAM BIG

It was everything I have been saying in one sidebar friendly image.

Needless to say, I have been waiting for the release of the 2014 creed with anticipation and it has arrived: the post is here and the creed is above. Please visit Larson’s site, sign up to take the pledge and be a rebel writer. Don’t let SEO, online peer pressure, social media fads etc. dictate how you write! You’re worth more than that!

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My most popular rebellious posts:

~ Your Individuality is Your Greatest Asset: Writing and Marketing as You

Surviving Blogging and Writing Challenges: Wise Choices

SEO and Social Media Survival

Getting Real About Writer’s Burn Out and Social Media Demands

Creative Freedom or Selling Out for Profit: Which is Your Choice?

 


Creative Commons License
This work, created by Cate Russell-Cole 2013 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Guest Posting as Advertising: How To Be Professional and Be Asked Back

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Getting a guest post on someone’s blog is a bonus. It’s essential advertising you can’t put a price on… However, many bloggers will not allow guest posts and for excellent reasons. Having taken guest posts for two years and being used, abandoned, over-worked and given the run around, I have recently changed CommuniCATE’s policy to protect my time and blog quality. Don’t go looking for the sign up page, I shot it.

I should warn you, this post may sound a tad annoyed in places. I’ve had 33 “guests” to work with in 2013. It’s been a loooooooong year… and far less than 33 posts went up on the blog through no-shows.

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R.I.P. guest post guidelines page. I wonder if I will actually miss you?

Here are the elements that will make you a great guest poster, one that I will lay out the red carpet to have back.

  • Read the guest post guidelines and if you don’t fit them, decline politely. If your post offer has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, then I know you don’t read this blog and are using me: I will say no.

I have a theme. It’s up there in the header you see on every guest post. I will promote your books if you give something to other writers, by way of sharing a writing lesson you’ve learnt. Simple barter. Find out what other bloggers want and think before you ask anyone for a spot.

  • Include your blog, social media and web site details so the blogger doesn’t have to waste time chasing you around the Internet. This includes book links.
  • Include a thumbnail photo of you and small images of your book covers.
  • Write a one-size-fits-all bio about yourself and send it out with all queries and posts. I wind up wasting a lot time going to people’s “about” page to do them justice.

Lissa BryanSee those last three points: they are the difference between professional marketing and not knowing how to package yourself. All writers need to learn how to do this. I have it all in one file and it’s ‘copy and paste’ into the document or email. Lissa Bryan is a great example of how this is done. Her posts on Choosing a Book Cover and Learning Curve: Editing and Publishing are worth reading.

There is another point: a good blog host will keep promoting the guest and will send them a thank you e-card or free book. The guest has done you a service. A thoughtful thank you is appreciated.

  • Bio-234x300Never, ever, ever do a blog tour, cover reveal or guest post and then not link back to the hosting blogger in some way and promote their post on social media liberally. Author Sandra Nickolai is a wonderful guest for this. It is months later and she still promotes her post. I love her. She knows the benefit to me, is a benefit for her. Sandra, thank you! Please read her posts Coping with a Cynical Critique and Lessons I Learned from Writing My First Book.

If you’re doing a tour: stagger dates and make sure you promote that post on the bloggers site. More promo for you: more promo for them. If you can, alter the heading and a little of the content on promo posts so readers don’t tune out. Everyone wins.

I had one guest who signed up a dozen people, had her promo go up and never thanked or promoted any of them. I went back and checked her feed and she had used and abandoned us all. I removed her post from my blog, then a year later she was back asking for more help. When I politely explained to her why I was reluctant to host her a second time, I never heard from her again.

  • A ridiculous number of guest posters who have deadlines and arrangements go missing, never to be heard from again. If you have made a commitment, put it in your diary! Scrawl it on the bathroom mirror in red lipstick to remind you… it’s free advertising, don’t underestimate the value! A survival tip for bloggers: I schedule my posts ahead and don’t leave room for guest posts because of these let downs. When one does actually come in, I move my work to make room for them.
  • Do not ever send out work which needs editing. You are submitting the equivalent of an article to be published online which becomes part of your public work portfolio. Be professional. I don’t mind tossing ideas around with writers by email, I am very happy to do that, but if I need to correct your grammar and your work looks thrown together, I will be very unhappy.
  • KP_003 smallerIf asked to, send photos/illustrations to make the post attractive and make sure they don’t breach copyright. Kathy Pooler is great with this!
  • Kathy’s other great example is check the blog post for comments about your work and reply to them. You will gain new followers.
  • If you need to submit late, that’s fine! Just let me know. I am flexible and most people are.

I truly do love to have guests. They come up with ideas I had never thought of and I want this blog to be inclusive. I enjoy sharing. However, the number of hours I have wasted is ridiculous. I don’t want to stop guest posts, but I am going to be very careful about how I go about it in 2014. From January 2014 guest posts are by invitation only. If I follow you, know you’re a great writer and know you’ve got your head on straight, you’ll hear from me. The best posts I have had are the ones I have asked for.

If you would like to read the awesome guest posts I’ve had the pleasure of sharing, just click on this tag link and enjoy: http://cateartios.wordpress.com/category/writing-lessons-from-the-writing-life/


REBLOGS WELCOMED

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.

Writing Challenges Online: 2014 Calendar

51A-PsG1t2LUpdated: January 25th 

A master list of all the online writing events I have been able to track down is below. The CommuniCATE Resources for Writers blog has several initiatives planned for 2014, including Support An Author Month in May, “Blog Taming Month” in February and Independent Author Promotion Month in September.

For an amazing series of lists on blogging events based on every topic, word combination or theme you can think of, visit The Daily Post. You’ll be hooked!

All Year

ROW80LogocopyA Round of Words in 80 Days: http://aroundofwordsin80days.wordpress.com There are 4 rounds of 80 days a year. Rounds start in January, April, July and October, but you can participate in as many as you wish. ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life where you post your own goals, check-in twice a week and can change your goals as needed. Join at any time.

5436912_origThe Ligo Haibun Haiku Weekly Challenge:
http://www.yakutia-coppercure.co.uk/l298go-ha298bun.html#.UsyjOaX_Qkg This is original! Haibun is a piece of prose and at least one haiku. The challenge is to take one of the two prompt words, quotes, or visuals and blog it!

Creative Every Day: http://creativeeveryday.com This is a low pressure, all-inclusive, year-long adventure for bloggers. You can join at any time.

#writemotivation by K.T. Hanna. http://www.kthanna.com/category/writemotivation/roll-call/  This initiative runs periodically through the year. You need to sign up, make a realistic list of blogging goals for the month, check-in once a week and visit your team mates to encourage them.

logoNaPoBloMo, BlogHer’s National Blog Posting Month: http://www.blogher.com/blogher-topics/blogging-social-media/nablopomo This now appears to run each month with a theme. People post a link to their posts that they publish on their personal blogs. You must sign up by the 5th of each month.

Blog Blitz by DL Hammons:
Blog Blitz Edithttp://dlcruisingaltitude.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/blog-blitz-wanna-join.html Sign up on the linky list making sure to record your email address, and you’ll instantly become a member of the Blog Blitz Team. Then from time to time, DL will select a deserving blog, email the team members and on that date team members visit that blog and leave an encouraging comment on the most recent post. The aim is promotion and to leave 100 plus comments on each blog selected.

#challengetowrite http://www.coasahmom.com/p/challengetowrite.html#.UaLiDpUyHHg

awwbadge_2014Australian Women Writers Challenge http://australianwomenwriters.com/2014-challenge/
The 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, Australian and non-Australian, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only. (Suggestions for what makes a good review can be found here.) The challenge will run from Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2014. You can sign up at any time. Follow @auswomenwriters on Twitter and use the #aww2014


March

NaNoEdMo, National Novel Editing Month: http://www.test.nanoedmo.net This can be used to compliment NaNoWriMo. Your novel, reborn: 50 hours of editing in one month.


April

logo-napowrimoNaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month: http://www.napowrimo.net Write a poem a day in April.

Camp NaNoWriMo, April and July, http://campnanowrimo.org/ Based on November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Camp NaNoWriMo provides the online support, tracking tools, and hard deadline to help you write the rough draft of your novel in a month… other than November!

logo2Wego Health Bloggers Challenge: http://blog.wegohealth.com/2012/04/01/april-is-health-activist-writers-month-hawmc/ Health Activist Writer’s Month is a month dedicated to the art of writing… about health. Award nominations for health bloggers are held later in the year. Watch the Wego website for events and challenges.

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001A-Z Blogging Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com “Can you post every day except Sundays during this month?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?”

This appears to be one of the more popular challenges which has gained a great deal of traffic for participating blogs. They also have a reflections session at the end and guest post opportunities on their blog.


May

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Story A Day: http://storyaday.org “An annual Extreme Writing Challenge. Write a story every day in May.”

Story of my Life Blogathon: http://storyofmylifetheblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/blog-every-day-in-may-challenge.html Blog every single day in the month of May.


June

junowrimo-book-button-large-e1367440612773JuNoWriMo, June Novel Writing Month: http://junowrimo.com Write your novel in June, with a goal of 50,000 words, or 1667 words/day on average.

Word Count Blogathon: http://michellerafter.com/the-wordcount-blogathon/ The Blogathon is an annual community blogging challenge that brings together freelancers, writers and bloggers for the purpose of improving what they do by posting to their respective blogs every day for a month.

#Rockyourblog: http://eatplayrock.com/2013/05/june-writing-prompts/ from Cheap Is The *New* Classy and Eat Play Rock know that sometimes it can be hard to think of something to write about. So, we are happy to bring you this summertime themed list of prompts for the month of June. We hope that these summer topics can provide you some inspiration! As an added incentive, one lucky participant will win a $10 Starbucks Gift Card and a 125×125 ad space for an entire month on both Cheap Is The *New* Classy and Eat Play Rock!


October

OctPoWriMo, October Poetry Writing Month: http://www.octpowrimo.com Write 31 poems in 31 days.


November

Nanowrimo-298x415NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month from the Office of Letters and Light: http://nanowrimo.org Write your novel in a month with a supportive community, word count tracker and a goal of 50,000 words. If November is a bad month for you, see Camp NaNoWriMo under April. This is the biggest event of the year. If you don’t write novels, you can join as a NaNoRebel or…

LeNoWriCha: a “rank-and-reward system is to provide an escape from the “success/failure” paradigm that seems to evolve from NaNo.” Started by David Shelverman Grimes and accessible through here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/david-shelverman-grimes/lenowricha-an-upgrade-to-nanowrimo/10151561140712496

WNFINNOVWrite Non-Fiction in November: http://writenonfictioninnovember.com “Challenges nonfiction writers to spend the month of November writing and completing a work of nonfiction. It also discusses nonfiction writing and publishing and provide a way for nonfiction writers to comment on their writing experiences during November each year. This is not a contest!”


December

2014-01-25_15-56-28INTERNATIONAL PLOT WRITING MONTH: December AKA PostNaNoPlot Perfection http://plotwrimo.com PlotWriMo initially came about to help writers who take part in NaNoWriMo and find at the end of November they are left with a whole lot of words that do not always add up to much. PlotWriMo annually spans the entire month of December for writers who have a draft of a novel, memoir, screenplay and are wondering, now what? This is a chance to revision and redefine the plot arch of your project before actually rewriting the manuscript. (This also works for writers without a first draft. Whether you merely have an idea for a story, a few chapters or scenes, just tweak the assignments to make them work for wherever you are in the process.)



Know of a challenge not listed here? Please let me know.

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