Posts Tagged SEO

WANA Commons–Beautiful Blog Images without the Worry

The Money Shot by Lisa Hall-Wilson

First of all, I want you guys to know that I MISSED YOU! July was a whirlwind month for sure and reminded me of the days when I used to be on the road for sales. Wandering out of bed in the night to go to the bathroom, yet suddenly realizing you’re in a coat closet. Fun stuff!

We will talk about LA another day, because I have a GIFT for you guys. I KNOW! Another one? Hey, y’all are like my kids, and I’m a terrible mother because I dig spoiling every last one of you. Here, have some cake.

Thank you lovely August McLaughlin for the image.

Most of you guys know I am all about writers blogging. Blogging plays to our strengths. Blogs are far less volatile than other types of social media. Twitter might be gone in a couple years, and Facebook could implode, but blogs will likely remain. This makes them one of our most POWERFUL tools for branding. Blogs afford us an opportunity to share our art, to permit people to fall in love with our writing voice. Blogs give us a chance to create those “thousand fans” even before we are finished with our first book.

***Kevin Kelly estimated that all an artist needed to make a really good living was to cultivate a thousand true fans.***

Blogs with pictures look better, rank higher with search engines and improve our overall SEO. Of course the problem with using pictures these days is, unless we take the photograph ourselves, we can be in danger of violating copyright. Many of you have already heard what happened to poor Roni Loren and how she was sued for using a picture on her blog.

We live in a very different world and the very nature of copyright is changing. I am not here to debate this or discuss it. I will say that you guys are free to use anything you find on this blog. If you have a sick day and can’t blog, reblog one of my blogs. As long as you aren’t claiming you wrote my content, share, share, share like the wind!

I believe in giving and giving generously. I know that YouTube (which is free) has been largely responsible for most of my music purchases. I hear a song. I dig it. I download it. And yes there are pirates and people who refuse to pay for anything, but we call those people thieves. We can never lose a sale with those people because thieves weren’t going to pay money for our stuff anyway. But again, let’s remain focused.

WANA is an acronym for We Are Not Alone. I live my life by this motto. I believe fundamentally in service above self. Does it get me hurt sometimes? YES! Sometimes I get hurt, brutally hurt. But you know what? The pain I endure for a jerk who can’t recognize a blessing is worth it a million-fold for the lives I am fortunate enough to change.

So here is the thing. Through adversity we find strength. Whenever I see a problem, I know the WANAs can come together and turn a tragedy into a triumph. When I heard Roni’s story, I was so hurt for her. Roni is absolutely one of the kindest, sweetest people I know and there isn’t a malicious bone in her body. I wanted something good to come from her pain.

I also know that we author-bloggers are already short on time and hunting around to check copyright or go through the legal motions of gaining a letter of permission is just too much work. Many of us have day jobs and families and then writing books and blogs and social media and on and on and on and we are already to the point of breaking.

So I came up with a solution. I know you guys are more than writers. You are creative people and creative people often can’t help being creative. How could we solve the photo/copyright dilemma AND have yet another opportunity to promote each other and serve each other. The answer? WANA Commons.

Photo courtesy of RAS Jacobson

WANA Commons already has 117 members as of this blog, and we have collectively uploaded over 1,400 images. If you check out this group, you will see what I mean about creative people having more than one outlet. So many of the pictures are just breathtaking, and the best part is they are a gift. The WANAs have come together to share their images and you guys are free to use any of the images in WANA Commons. All we ask is you give attribution.

That’s it!

Beautiful image from Shannon Esposito. TALENT!

I hope more of you will join and contribute your images. I have several photographer friends who will be uploading images. We live in a world where people throw away the phone book and ignore advertising. Consumers go to who they know. Bloggers, particularly popular bloggers are the new taste-makers. In a world with the power of the four arrows (fast-forwarding through commercials) product placement is going to be one of the best ways to get business.

Authors all need head shots and we need images for promotion stuff and book covers, and we are going to go to photographers we know so I encourage the photographers out there to contribute. Not your best images. We know you need to make a living, and we want to help get your work out there. WANAs aren’t just writers. WANAs believe that we can work together to solve the toughest issues of life. Discoverability is a nightmare for ALL of us, so let’s work together. Transmedia helps ALL of us.

Seeing free images didn’t stop me from paying almost a thousand dollars for author shots. In fact, free images closed the sale for me. I knew this photographer’s work and I liked it and that’s why I sought her out.

Anyway, I hope you guys will come and join WANA Commons. No we aren’t Ansel Adams, but there are some really stunning photographs on there. To those who have contributed, you are beautiful wonderful awesome souls and you remind me each and every day why I LOVE my job. Thank you for sharing.

Just go to Flikr and sign up for an account if you don’t already have one. Also, please make sure to tag your images with what the image IS. This will help us sort through the images faster. Make sure to put YOUR NAME and WANA Commons on all of the images you tag. This will help us AND will help your SEO. Thank you ahead of time for being so awesome.

Also check out Shannon Esposito, August McLaughlin, Renee Jacobson and Lisa Hall-Wilson and maybe thank them for the beautiful images in today’s post. These ladies are WANA personified!

What are your thoughts? What other forms of art do you like to do? What are your favorite things to take pictures of? What kind of pictures do you need? Maybe we can all be on the lookout, our iPhones at the ready to help a WANA peep in need.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

***Changing the contest.

It is a lot of work to pick the winners each week. Not that you guys aren’t totally worth it, but with the launch of WANA International and WANATribe I need to streamline. So I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners will now have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck! Also, I will announce July’s winner probably on Friday. I need time to tally everything and I am not even fully unpacked yet.

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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Does Publishing Support the Writer-Artist?

 

On Monday’s post we talked about the importance of craft in the new paradigm, yet there seems to be some assumptions floating around that I feel are flawed, and we need to talk about those today. We are artists, and the ONLY one who can develop and mature an artist is…the artist. We are responsible. We always have been. Just because Amazon is not going to appreciate our art beyond the sales numbers doesn’t mean anything other than Amazon remains what it has always been—a means of getting a product to a consumer, the art to a potential patron.

Yet, I will say the same thing about NY publishing.

They can wax rhapsodic about how they care about developing writers and how they care about writing and art, and I believe they do…but only to a certain point. The second any art becomes a commodity, then no one really cares only about the art. It becomes more about how many units can be sold, and will it be enough to gain back our investment before they cut off the power?

There are bills to pay.

But we will get to that, too, in a moment. But first we need to make sure we all have nice open minds and to do this we need to dispel some myths.

Myth #1

The only people who publish on Amazon are writing junk and weren’t good enough to get a traditional NY deal.

In the comments section on Monday many of you expressed that you were working on your skills, honing your art and holding out for a NY deal. That is awesome and up to the individual artist, but be careful. A lot of terrific and innovative writing has come out of the indie movement.

Sometimes writing won’t get picked up by New York for any number of reasons that have nothing at all to do with the skill level of the writer. Feel free to check out Kait Nolan who was the only indie author nominated for the prestigious DABWAHA award (and you can go vote for her, too).

Myth #2 NY Publishing supports art.

True, Amazon doesn’t have any gatekeepers, thus no way to keep out the truly motivated. But, this does not therefore mean that, by default, NY is a great patron of art.

How?

Some art challenges. It upsets and disrupts the status quo. It transforms us and changes us. Not all art is commercial art.

For instance, I could publish a book of nothing but commas, and on Amazon, no one can stop me. No one would stop me. My book of commas might not be a great use of my free time, but who are you to judge my art? Maybe my book of commas is a challenge to the post-industrial society to take more breaks.

Why are you laughing?

Maybe I yearn to make our culture really think about how they have forgotten to pause in their everyday lives. Perhaps I long to expose all those tiny breaks to appreciate life that you missed because you had e-mails to check or a Facebook page to update. Every comma in my 1,000 page e-book represents a moment you will never get back.

I have them all here. Your lost moments. I captured them like little damsel flies in amber.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

I collected your lost moments into one place, a tribute to all the breaks no one wanted. We are a pauseless society always on fast-forward, plunging into the Red Bull-soaked abyss of suffering.

Wow, I really ran with that.

Please look for upcoming book “,”…never in stores, well, for obvious reasons. It is part of a series–”?” “!” and “.” will be released some time after they let me out of the looney bin.

Some Art Cannot Begin as a Commercial Product

I know I am going to get e-mails about this one, but again. Breathe and give me a moment. Some art is meant to please and be aesthetic. It is designed to appeal. But is that the only art? No. Some art is designed to shake things up, to challenge. This kind of art, the kind that disrupts, confronts and even offends is often only appreciated as a commercial item retrospectively.

Trust me. Most people didn’t “get” Dahli at the time, and now his work graces many a T-shirt. The industrial publishing machine is in business to sell goods people want, but if something is a certain type of art, then no one knows they need it…yet. This art will only be appreciated by the society the art changes.

For instance, in Picasso’s time, art had been steeped in realism for centuries. Then Picasso stepped in and shook things up by doing things…differently. He painted a woman with her eye closer to her forehead or a person made of geometric shapes. It forced society to transform, to open its ideas of what it considered beautiful of what it considered to be art.

Of course, now, a century later, even a small schoolchild has seen cubism if only on her mother’s mouse pad near the computer. Modern art was once shocking and of no determined commercial value…but then as society changed, the value did as well. This art, once only appreciated on the fringes of society, over time became more and more commercial.

Writers are Artists

Yes, there are wanna-be-amateur hacks who believe they are being rejected because no one can see their brilliance, yet I would be bold enough to say that there are some genuine artists being rejected by New York, too.

Oooohhhh.

Who is to say that modern digital age society wouldn’t like to read a 130,000 word book written in the verbose style of A Tale of Two Cities? Anyone who shops at Wal Mart truly understands how it can be the best of times and the worst of times. That manuscript that is being rejected for all of its heaviness and lack of commercial appeal might just spark that style of writing back to life.

It could. Why not?

Maybe potential readers are feeling nostalgic. Maybe we were too immature to appreciate The Grapes of Wrath in 11th grade, but now, a book like that is just what we need. Maybe works that read like Jane Eyre would appeal to modern audiences if the stories were modern. Perhaps the unique juxtaposition of a modern world and archaic language would be brilliant.

Worked for the movies! I saw Romeo and Juliet. Lionardo Dicaprio’s performance was stellar.

You might chuckle, but maybe I am right. Yet, the thing is, New York will reject most books that really challenge conventional tastes, so how will we ever know?

Agents will reject these works not because they might not love them, but because they can’t sell them. New York will say these works won’t appeal to reader tastes, and they would be right. New York is in the business of satisfying appetites, not necessarily creating new ones or reviving old ones.

I am in no way saying that New York Publishing doesn’t appreciate art, it just doesn’t always support it. It can’t afford to.

Publishing is Not Necessarily about the Art

Yes, publishing supports some great works of literary genius…ones it believes it can sell. Publishers have overhead and payroll and frankly, they cannot afford to be philanthropists. It isn’t as if they are supported by donations and foundations. Museums have the luxury of being innovative and provocative.

Let’s take Dadaism as an example.

Dadaism was an artistic movement birthed in response to the outbreak of WWI. It was to protest the reason and logic of a bourgeois society. Dadaists believed the misguided values of the time had plunged the world into war. Dada was the antithesis of everything art stood for at the time. Dada had no concern for aesthetics, and their works were intended to offend. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics, the Dadaists sought to destroy traditional culture and aesthetics.

What this means is that people of the time, regular people buying stuff, probably would not have cared for anything Dada in nature. It was a fringe appetite. If we have a urinal installed in our home, it is a place to use the bathroom. Install it in a display at the Museum of Modern Art and it is an Marcel Duchamp exhibit.

So New York can say they support art, but the fact is they would probably love to, but they can’t. They likely could if they would embrace digital publishing. Maybe my book of commas would be a hit. If NY followed my suggestions, they could take more chances on art. Maybe they could mold tastes instead of trying to predict them and react to them.

Hmm. Food for thought.

Social Media Art–Embrace WANAism

Why my social media teachings are different is that I am not here to make “responsible little marketers” who can sell books as if they were no different than vacuums or light bulbs.

I created WANA (We Are Not Alone) to tear down the establishment that wants writers to run out and automate messages promoting book giveaways on 8 different platforms. WANAism rejects the current system and declares that writers are not car insurance and books are not tacos. My medium is social media, and I create art every day. So do my followers…WANAites. WANAism cannot be measured with metrics, because, while WANA is digital in delivery, it is human at its core.

WANA is here to liberate your inner artist, to show you the truth of the new paradigm, and that is you are free. Writers have a new medium. Social media isn’t a chore, it is a new canvas! I am not a marketing expert; I teach art classes for WordPress ;).

Art is the Divine Part of Our Humanness

What makes us human is this longing to create. No matter what race, creed, religion or place in time, we humans are united by our universal desire to create art, and we will use anything available—stone, canvas, skin, words, paper or Facebook. Doesn’t matter.

Those who follow WANAism understand that technology doesn’t steal our artist spirit, it gives it another medium, much like the invention of cameras and film gave rise to movies…a new way to tell stories. Make social media your art and your attitude will change. It will no longer be a chore to be endured. It will transform into a place to share your artist passion with those who can….appreciate it.

Social media offers a place to give away your art. Not your product…your art. Art is part of who we are so each interaction, each tweet, every blog represents a sample of us, our art, our personal Dada movement.

Amazon Opens the Door for Art

So if I really wanted to make an argument for who did a better job of supporting art, I would have to vote for Amazon. By opening the doors and not using any outside market standard of “acceptable, publishable material” Amazon has liberated the artist to put his art on display. If the world throws digital tomatoes at it, c’est la vie.

Either the world wasn’t ready or the artist wasn’t. Time will prove which was the case.

But…

The daring. The truly original. The writer-artist who creates that very thing that no one knew they needed until they saw it…this writer will be rewarded. He will sell books and his following will grow because his art will affect people. They will feel it and will want to share this experience and pay good money for it because this is always what art does.

This digital paradigm lets indie and self-publishing test the “art” to see if there is an audience for this innovation and create the market (then NY can step in with a deal when the risk makes fiscal sense).

The New Paradigm Liberates the Author-Artist

Until now, the act of publishing a book was so terrifically cost-prohibitive that is truly limited art in our medium. If we created something so original it would revolutionize the world, we had to hope and pray we landed a gatekeeper with vision who was willing to risk her reputation and career. A lot of money was on the line if the art was not embraced in a way that made it commercially viable. Now? Digital makes art possible.

All of us art putting out art…just not all of us will make the commercial cut.

Art vs. Tastes

Let’s even set this notion of art aside and maybe just talk a moment about reader tastes. Tastes can be molded, shaped and changed. In the new digital paradigm we are seeing a resurgence of essentially pulp fiction. Fantasy, sci-fi, erotica, Westerns, novellas, poetry books and all kinds of works are now finding a home now that we have loosed the chains of capital risk.

We no longer need anyone but the artist to invest, and the readers either come…or they don’t.

Maybe we are a Picasso that later will be embraced by millions and generate wide-spread commercial interest, but we could just as easily be a giant sculpture crafted from used diapers that a handful will think is brilliant and provocative…but no one will want to take home and display in their living room.

Thing is, in this Brave New World we all get our own exhibit.

Thoughts? Reactions? Are you elated? Horrified? Do you think writers should shape and create reader tastes or publishers? I want to hear from you! And yes, I am putting my art out there every week, hoping that even if you don’t agree, you will walk away somehow changed ;). Off to go do revisions on “,” and I will let you know when you can pre-order copies :D.

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

10 Myths about Forensics Spread by TV

Protecting Our Writing Time by Elizabeth Craig

I’ll Get to It…Eventually by Alan Orloff

How Does a Publishing Auction Work? by Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner

What is More Fairly Priced at 99 Cents? Nonfiction or a Novel? by Edward Nawotka over at Publishing Persectives

What is an Author Platform? by Jane Friedman

The Controversy Over Controversy by Amber West

What’s Better than a Fight? over at More Blogging Cowbell

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Blogging Part 3–Tearing Up the SEO in 2011

2011 is the year of the Rabbit. That rabbit is DYNAMITE! Okay, so I had to find a way to make a rabbit seem badass, and that gave me an opportunity to use a gratuitous Monty Python reference. Making a rabbit seem hard core is not all that easy, you know. I want you guys fired up for 2011. 2010 was the Year of the Tiger. Easy. Then I looked up 2011. Year of the Rabbit? Great.

We dare not risk another frontal assault… ha ha ha ha ha. I’ll stop :D. For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, here is a clip. You aren’t a true writer until you quote Monty Python way more than is socially acceptable. All right, back to business…

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. This is the day I dedicate to making your social media experience more enjoyable and productive. Today we are going to discuss search engine optimization (SEO). I want you guys tearing up the search engines Killer Bunny-style. Don’t panic. I am all about making this fun. And yes, technically I am making this Blogging Part III. Why? Because if you don’t understand how search engines work, no one will FIND you–okay the site that sells Zanex and cheap Prada purses will find you. But we want readers to be able top locate all this lovely content that you guys are going to be posting this coming year.

Most of you following this series understand that you need to be blogging. That’s great! But one of the big problems I notice among writers is there is a chronic failure to understand how search engines work and how to use them in our favor. What good is posting content if no one can find it, right?

What I am going to teach you today is going to help you rise even more above the masses of competition all clamoring for the public’s attention and money. Unless you happen to already be a household name, your social media platform is more critical now than ever.

As a debut fiction author you will be competing against counterparts who have a solid social media presence and a blog following. Are you prepared? If not, the odds are not in your favor. According to the BEA, 93% of novels sell less than 1000 copies. A solid social media platform can make all the difference.  In earlier blogs, we have discussed using our name as a brand. Anything else will cripple a platform and leave an author stressed out and spread too thinly. Our goal is to get our names to do the heavy lifting (sales) so we have time to write.

So why is a name so important?

Today we are going to have a quick lesson on how search engines work, because there is no point in blogging regularly if you don’t gain a large, committed following. By the end of this lesson, I am sure it will be much clearer why your name is so critical. 

Think of search engines like a codependent personal genie bent on making you happy. Meet Google the Codependent Genie. Anything you desire is his will to supply. Google, your personal genie, will rush out and find whatever you require because he wants you to be happy and not have to wait.

The Internet is like one giant master closet full of everyone’s “stuff.” Now some people are like my grandmother and everything is neatly labeled, categorized and organized. Our personal genie can rush into the closet, look at the side of the “box” and know exactly what is inside. Yet, other folks on the Internet are more like my mother (okay, me) and they have all kinds of boxes that would have been labeled “Miscellaneous” if only we could have found the box with the Sharpie markers. So either there is no label or there is one giant vague label “My Crap” or “Writing.”

So let’s slip into the shoes of our poor little codependent genie, Google.

Oh, my little Google, you are powerful indeed. Here’s my wish…

(You type) How do I write a prologue for a novel?

What your codependent search-engine genie SEES is…

How do I write a prologue for a novel?

So our little genie knows you get impatient and begin smacking buttons on your keyboard if you have to wait more than three seconds. He also knows he has less than a second and a half before his mistress gets testy. And he also also knows that if he takes too long or doesn’t return with quality stuff, that his beloved mistress might decide to use another codependent genie (Bing, Ask, Yahoo) and leave him alone in cyberspace with no one to serve. If enough mistresses do this, he knows eventually he will fade away and die and be banished to the realm of AOL.

Our genie, Google, is very motivated.

So as Google the Codependent Genie whizzes into this giant storage closet known as the Internet, he knows that his fastest approach and the one more likely to return quality goods is that he needs to look at the sides of the boxes (think Internet files). He glances at the labels and brings back the files that have been precisely labeled first.

These “labels” are known as tags. Tags are metadata, which means, “data about data.”

When you add tags to your blogs, you make it easy for other people’s codependent genies to go to your stuff first. The genie will look to the labels first. Only after he has located the “boxes” with labels will he then take the effort to look inside the box for what his mistress has requested.

How do I write a prologue for a novel?

Our genie will look for articles and blogs with those three words—write, prologue, novel—in the tags first, and only after that will our little friend sift through the body of the material for those words.

Tagged items will always be at the top of a search and on the first page. This will be important for later when we continue our lessons about blogging. Who among you go to the second page of a search unless you just absolutely have to? Tagging makes the difference between being first on the page versus being relegated to Internet Limbo on page 4.

Tags are also critical to defining you as an author (your brand), much like the boxes in our closets define us as people. If you went into my closet and noticed stacks of boxes labeled, guns, Guns and Ammo Magazines, ammunition, survival manuals, camouflage, snares, rain gear, this would form an impression.

Similarly if you went in my closet and found crochet, quilting, cross stich patterns, thread, fabric, sewing, batting, needles sewing machine parts, you would also form an impression.

So what if you went in my closet and saw guns, romance novels, dragons, crochet, architecture, self-help, babies, cooking, Dr. Seuss, Martha Stewart, political science, 6-Pack Abs in Three Weeks, Judo, How to Train Your Dog? What impression would you form? Would it be positive?

Or would it be more like seeing a recipe that called for beef tips, chocolate, Marsala cooking wine, marshmallows, yams, jalapenos, corn, and jelly beans? Not too appealing, right?

Our blogs and our tags serve to define our brand. The content and tags associated with our name are important. What potential consumers, an agent and an editor see associated with our name is vital in how they mentally define us. Are they going to define us as Quiche Lorraine or Dear God! Who Let the Kids Cook?

As an example, here’s my list of tags:

Kristen Lamb—Kristen Lamb, writer, author, speaker, teacher, social media, publishing, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blog, blogs, blogging, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, branding, marketing.

Notice all the tags were simple. These tags were all nouns that, if typed into a search bar, would serve to help someone else’s little codependent genie find me FIRST. Generally with writers I see one of two errors. Either they don’t use tags (or don’t use enough tags) OR they use tags that are so obscure they are ridiculous.

And yes, notice I put my name in the tags. Why? Because I want to become a brand name. I want that when people think/say, “social media for writers,” Kristen Lamb comes up first.

Like, say “Tiger Woods” and…okay, bad example.

Say, “Warren Buffet” and you think billionaire. Conversely, say, “billionaire” and one of the first names that comes to mind is Warren Buffet. I want my name to do the same. Say, “Kristen Lamb” and people think social media for writers….and vice versa.

Also, what if someone meets me and all they remember is Kristen and a couple random details? But they liked me and wanted to buy my book? I could happen! :P

If they google… Kristen, writer, social media then who will pop up? See, this stuff is pretty awesome ;)

Here’s an exercise. Free write a list of all the words that you would like associated with your brand name. If someone forgot your name, but was describing your work to a clerk at Barnes & Noble, what words would she use? Write as many as you can think of and highlight your favorites.

You may also want to give a copy of this list to those close to you. Have them highlight their favorites or add any you failed to list. We don’t see ourselves the same way others do and that will help you get perspective and eliminate emotional distancing. Some of us it took years to say, “I am a writer” aloud unless we had wine first. So how do others view you? It’s important.

Also, go back through your blogs if you are already blogging. Do your tags make sense? Are they too vague? Too general? Too obscure? Are your blogs even tagged at all? If, not, then tag them so people can find your content.

We will continue next week with Blogging IV, and tips to help you guys rock the Year of the Rabbit, Killer Bunny Style :D. Taking no prisoners.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

Give yourself the gift of success for the coming year. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books!

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Jane Friedman (Editor for Writers Digest Magazine) posted her 10 Best Tweets of 2010

Two New Bloggers that Have Captured MY Interest (I am a raging geek, so I totally dig these)

Manon Eileen is blogging on psychology and philosophy and their influence in storytelling. Simulated Reality in Schitzophrenia & Brain in a Vat 

Another new blogger Peter St. Clair has some awesome posts this past week. Read about Jim Jones and Dexter–Crafting an Anti-Hero all on the same site! Yes, my leg is thumping.

Shennandoa Diaz has an excellent blog. Key Elements of Strong Fiction.

Make sure you stop by for Author Chuck Wendig’s Edit Your Shit Part III–The Contextual Edit

Author Jody Hedlund has a fantastic blog about Finding Your Blogging Voice

Need a great laugh? Holiday Survival with Bayard & Holmes & Tawna Fenske’s Peeing in Front of Spouses, Agents & Readers

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Search Engines–Your Personal Genie to Build Your Author Brand

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. This is the day I dedicate to making your social media experience more enjoyable and productive. Many authors have gotten the message that they need to be on social media and they need to be blogging. But one of the big problems I notice is there is a failure to understand how search engines work and how to use them in our favor. What good is posting content if no one can find it, right?

What I am going to teach you today is going to help you rise even more above the masses of competition all clamoring for the public’s attention and money.

These days the competition is fierce. Barnes and Noble just announced its self-publishing service PubIt so everybody can get published. The gates have been thrown open and it is every writer for himself. Why I brought up this new development in self-publishing is that it highlights why it is even more critical for authors to have a platform. Unless you happen to already be a household name, your social media platform is more critical now than ever.

As a debut fiction author you will be competing against counterparts who have a solid social media presence and a blog following. Are you prepared? The odds are not in our favor. According to the BEA, 93% of novels sell less than 1000 copies. A solid social media platform can make all the difference.  In earlier blogs, we have discussed using your name as a brand. Anything else will cripple a platform and leave an author stressed out and spread too thinly. Our goal is to get our names to do the heavy lifting (sales) so we have time to write.

So why is a name so important?

Today we are going to have a quick lesson on how search engines work. By the end of this lesson, I am sure it will be much clearer why your name is so critical.

Think of search engines like a codependent personal genie bent on making you happy. Meet Google the Codependent Genie. Anything you desire is his will to supply. Google, your personal genie, will rush out and find whatever you require because he wants you to be happy and not have to wait.

The Internet is like one giant master closet full of everyone’s “stuff.” Now some people are like my grandmother and everything is neatly labeled, categorized and organized. Our personal genie can rush into the closet, look at the side of the “box” and know exactly what is inside. Yet, other folks on the Internet are more like my mother (okay, me) and they have all kinds of boxes that would have been labeled “Miscellaneous” if only we could have found the box with the Sharpie markers. So either there is no label or there is one giant vague label “My Stuff” or “Writing.”

So let’s slip into the shoes of our poor little codependent genie, Google.

Oh, my little Google, you are powerful indeed. Here’s my wish…

(You type) How do I write a prologue for a novel?

What your codependent search-engine genie SEES is…

How do I write a prologue for a novel?

So our little genie knows you get impatient and begin smacking buttons on your keyboard if you have to wait more than three seconds. He also knows he has less than a second and a half before his mistress gets testy. And he also also knows that if he takes too long or doesn’t return with quality stuff, that his beloved mistress might decide to use another codependent genie (Bing, Ask, Yahoo) and leave him alone in cyberspace with no one to serve. If enough mistresses do this, he knows eventually he will fade away and die and be banished to the realm of AOL.

Our genie, Google, is very motivated.

So as Google the Codependent Genie whizzes into this giant storage closet known as the Internet, he knows that his fastest approach and the one more likely to return quality goods is that he needs to look at the sides of the boxes (think Internet files). He glances at the labels and brings back the files that have been precisely labeled first.

These “labels” are known as tags. Tags are metadata, which means, “data about data.”

When you add tags to your blogs, you make it easy for other people’s codependent genies to go to your stuff first. The genie will look to the labels first. Only after he has located the “boxes” with labels will he then take the effort to look inside the box for what his mistress has requested.

How do I write a prologue for a novel?

Our genie will look for articles and blogs with those three words—write, prologue, novel—in the tags first, and only after that will our little friend sift through the body of the material for those words.

Tagged items will always be at the top of a search and on the first page. This will be important for later when we discuss blogging. Who among you go to the second page of a search unless you just absolutely have to? Tagging makes the difference between being first on the page versus being relegated to Internet Limbo on page 4.

Tags are also critical to defining you as an author (your brand), much like the boxes in our closets define us as people. If you went into my closet and noticed stacks of boxes labeled, guns, Guns and Ammo Magazines, ammunition, survival manuals, camouflage, snares, rain gear, this would form an impression.

Similarly if you went in my closet and found crochet, quilting, cross stich patterns, thread, fabric, sewing, batting, needles sewing machine parts, you would also form an impression.

So what if you went in my closet and saw guns, romance novels, dragons, crochet, architecture, self-help, cooking, babies, Dr. Seuss, Martha Stewart, political science, 6-Pack Abs in Three Weeks, Judo, How to Train Your Dog? What impression would you form? Would it be positive?

Or would it be more like seeing a recipe that called for beef tips, chocolate, Marsala cooking wine, marshmallows, yams, jalapenos, corn, and jelly beans? Not too appealing, right?

Our blogs and our tags serve to define our brand. The content and tags associated with our name are important. What potential consumers, an agent and an editor see associated with our name is vital in how they mentally define us. Are they going to define us as Quiche Lorraine or Dear God! Who Let the Kids Cook?

As an example, here’s my list of tags:

Kristen Lamb—Kristen Lamb, writer, author, speaker, teacher, social media, publishing, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blog, blogs, blogging, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, branding, marketing.

Notice all the tags were simple. These tags were all nouns that, if typed into a search bar, would serve to help someone else’s little codependent genie find me FIRST.

And yes, notice I put my name in the tags. Why? Because I want to become a brand name. I want that when people think/say, “social media for writers,” Kristen Lamb comes up first.

Like, say “Tiger Woods” and…okay, bad example.

Say, “Warren Buffet” and you think billionaire. Conversely, say, “billionaire” and one of the first names that comes to mind is Warren Buffet. I want my name to do the same. Say, “Kristen Lamb” and people think social media for writers….and vice versa.

Also, what if someone meets me and all they remember is Kristen and a couple random details? But they liked me and wanted to buy my book? I could happen! :P

If they google… Kristen, writer, social media then who will pop up? See, this stuff is pretty awesome ;)

Here’s an exercise. Free write a list of all the words that you would like associated with your brand name. If someone forgot your name, but was describing your work to a clerk at Barnes & Noble, what words would she use? Write as many as you can think of and highlight your favorites.

You may also want to give a copy of this list to those close to you. Have them highlight their favorites or add any you failed to list. We don’t see ourselves the same way others do and that will help you get perspective and eliminate emotional distancing. Some of us it took years to say, “I am a writer” aloud unless we had wine first. So how do others view you? It’s important.

Also, go back through your blogs. Do your tags make sense? Are they too vague? Too general? Too obscure? Are your blogs even tagged at all? If, not, then tag them so people can find your content.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Great blog by Tawna Fenske about the dangers of over-editing.

Kid.Lit is such a tremendous resource for writers. Great blog Antagonists in Contemporary Fiction.

5 Ways to Make a Novel Hopelessly Addictive by Editor A. Victoria Mixon.

Learning from Hollywood-High Concept in Women’s Fiction by Lydia Sharp.

9 Ways to Prepare for National Novel Writing Month by Jodi Cleghorn

Creating the Page-Turner: Tricks to Great Pacing in Your Books by Mary Carroll Moore

Bad Advice to Ignore from Your Critique Group  by Anne R. Allen

3 Reasons to Start Blogging Before the Book Contract by author Jody Hedlund

And now the shameless self-promo. We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to be fun and effective. I am here to change your habits, not your personality. My method will help you grow your network in a way that will translate into sales. And the coolest part? My approach leaves time to write more books. Build a platform guaranteed to impress an agent. How do I know this? My book is recommended by agents.

You don’t have all day to market. You have best-selling books to write! So pick up a copy today.

Need a great workshop? SIGN UP TODAY!

Best-Selling Author Candace Havens’s on-line workshop teaches everything from plotting to editing. She also brings some of the industry’s best and brightest to make you guys the best writers you can be. I will be teaching about social media for three more days!!!! It isn’t too late to sign up and it is FREE.

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