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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who's Responsible for Platform? Author or Publisher?

I came across a 5-part series blog on Death of Traditional Publishers? by Author Kris Tuella. While I don't believe traditional publishing is dead, I do believe it is changing and facing some unique challenges and competition that won't go away.

Traditional publishing won't die, but it will have to transform in order to survive. It's a business and true leaders understand that transformations like this happen in every business and industry. Innovative leaders look at this time as a great opportunity. It's a time to try new business models, be creative, and get excited!

Authors need to realize they are a business and it's an exciting time for them as much as anyone else in the industry. So many opportunities are opening up to authors that didn't exist before. Authors now have direct access to readers regardless of where they live. The Internet and social media are a new tool that Christian writers can use as a writing ministry.

After reading this series, I thought it was very informative and brought out some perspectives I haven't before considered, so I've posted links at the bottom of this post.

I've always been a staunch advocate of traditional publishers and will continue to be. Many traditional publishers have been supportive, helpful, and wonderful to work with. However, I'm also one who believes in computers, online platforms, and author marketing. That said, as an author, I'd be like an ostrich with my head buried in the sand, if I didn't take every advantage of what traditional publishers can offer and what I can do in promoting myself, my work, and building my online platform and that of my clients. I view my relationship with publishers as a partnership.

With the ever-present changing world of publishing, authors must try and survive--to do their part. It isn't the publisher's job to build an author's platform. If those days ever existed, they're over. 

One thing these articles drive home is the fact that author brands sell books not publisher brands. To borrow from a key point posted by Tuella, no one goes around saying, "I just bought a Random House book." Instead, you'll hear people saying, "I just bought a Karen Kingsbury book."

People notice when you go the extra mile or take a few additional steps to do more than you HAVE to do. They not only, notice, but they remember and appreciate it. They may even promote it to others. 

Below are the promised links to Kris Tuella's blog articles. 

Death of Traditional Publishers?
(Note: These links are to a secular blog)

Part IV - The Game Changer by Robert W. Walker

Part V - The Game Changer by Robert W. Walker (Continued)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Don't Miss Out on Google's Free Hidden Apps

For those of you who have or might be contemplating purchasing a domain through Blogger, there may be a few free hidden apps you're entitled to that you don't know about. I call them hidden because Google doesn't advertise them or make them well known. If you do a general search--even on their technical support forums--you will mostly find links to their "paid" apps for businesses.

Want an email that has your 
It's available, right now, without having to pay for it if you've purchased your domain through Blogger. They don't tell you about this feature when you register your domain. If you do a general search for domain emails, one of the first options that comes up is Google Business Apps, a paid service that you can try for free for the first 30 days.

Here's what it looks like:

What you want to do is be sure to search for "Free Google Apps". The paid Google Business App will still come up first, but keep scrolling down to where it says, "Google Apps helps groups build communities". I know it "sounds" like you'll be taken to some group forum discussion page, but you won't, so click this link. It will actually take you to the Google Free Apps that you want.

Here's what it looks like:

Click the "Get Started" button and you'll be taken to a login page with the option to buy a new domain or to enter a domain name that you already own. Now comes the tricky part. If you type in your domain name, you may see a red X and bold red letters that say "This domain name has already been registered with Google Apps. Please contact your domain administrator for instructions on using Google Apps with this domain." Duh! You own it. This is where you may have to "prove" you own your domain. Please be aware that if you try and pay for an email with your domain through Google Business Apps, you will still have to "prove" domain ownership. You won't get out of this just because you're "paying".

Here's what it looks like:

If you purchase(d) your domain from Blogger, it could only be hosted by two companies, or If you have not yet purchased your domain name through Blogger and plan to do so, I recommend going through this process so you can get your emails and Google Free Apps set up all at once. Don't go to Blogger's main page and purchase your domain, unless you don't plan to use the Google Free Apps and access the email options.

Now you need to find out which one is hosting your domain. You can do this through a "Whois domain" search. Do this through Type in your domain name in the big option box. You may have to type in a code to prove you aren't a computer automated system trying to pull up this info. Once you've done that, a page will pop up showing that your domain is purchased with several NameMatch Recommendations on the right-hand side. This is to try and entice you to purchase domain name options. Ignore them. This page still doesn't tell you if or is hosting your domain. They hide it very well. So scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "See Underlying Registery Data".

It looks like this:

Now it will say Registrar: GoDaddy or Enom. In my case it's Enom.Inc. You can do a search for contact info on these companies. I was able to call and get a person on the phone immediately. He didn't even try to sell me email, but told me about the Google Free Apps. I already knew about the Google Free Apps, but I was impressed that he didn't try to "sell" me something additional. When I told him how I wasn't getting anywhere on the Google Forums, he gave me two email addresses that were not posted ANYWHERE on the Forums. If these email addresses are posted, they are well-hidden and I've yet to find them.

The bottom line is this: Google automatically assigns you a user name such as, but they don't TELL you this. You'll have to choose the "Reset Password" option. You'll be denied because you won't know the correct user name, which is "bloggeradmin". Instead, they send you around in circles to all these links and eventually you'll end up on a page asking if you would like help resetting your CNAME for your domain. This isn't necessary, but if you click "yes", you'll be taken to a list of links to several companies who will be happy to assist you for a "fee".

Hopefully, this navigation process will help you avoid these headaches without paying for additional services that you shouldn't have to pay. Also, if you find out that any of this info has changed since I last posted this and tried it, please let me know so I can update this post.

Don't Give UP!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The BIG Question for Pre-Published Authors

Do I REALLY need a website/blog?
I receive a lot of questions from new authors about online marketing and building a presence on the Web if they are pre-published. These are great questions and my answer is always the same, whatever you can do--do it. Don't wait until publication. Marketing yourself as an author is going to cost time or money, or both. The less you can afford to spend, the more time you're going to have to invest. Even if you have an unlimited budget, if you wait until the last minute, you won't have time to build that network of support for your platform. Time is a necessary key.

Most pre-published authors mistakenly believe that their publisher will handle all their marketing needs when they finally sell their first book--especially if they're seeking a traditional publisher. While a publisher will help, most likely your book will appear in long lists with other new books printed in the same week or month as yours. Authors with a proven history of sales and great print-runs will receive the bold listings, call-out features, highlights, store displays, aisle displays and cover racks. New authors are blessed to be on the shelf.

Promoting and marketing your books will be YOUR responsibility as the author. All the years you spend polishing your writing and promoting your work to agents and editors is a test of preparation. It prepares you for the real thing--promoting and selling to the public. This is hard for writers as 80% of us have introverted personalities. We dislike being in the spotlight. We just want our writing to shine and make a difference in the lives of others. That's fine, but in order to make that difference, your writing has to produce sales so your editor can justify why they need to keep publishing your work. Without publication, people won't experience the benefit of your work. 

So, if you're a pre-published author, do you need a website?
Yes. Yes. Yes.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on a professional website with all the bells and whistles with the latest flash craze, nor do you need to learn a lot of html hand codes. Start out with a simple blog through Blogger or Wordpress. They are free or you can buy a domain name for $10/year on Blogger and secure your domain name. Blogs now have static pages on them that function like a website. The bottom line is to create your special place on the Web that tells agents and editors all about YOU as an author. One of the first places they will go to learn more about you after reviewing a proposal is the Web. You can't make a great impression if you don't have anything for them to view. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The REAL Deal with SEO Marketing

You've probably seen the online articles and Twitter tweets about improving SEO performance, but what does it REALLY mean beyond the acronym of Search Engine Optimization?

It's improving the visibility of your website through a natural, organic process that doesn't cost money, but be assured, it WILL cost time.

Marketing is an ongoing process and you'll never be able to do enough of it. Therefore, unless you have unlimited funds to spend on buying top search engine placement, you'll need to spend some time improving your site's rankings and page algorithm. When people search for a term, they aren't going to click on hundreds of pages until your site pops up in the listing. This is why you want your site to come up as high as possible in the rankings, hopefully the first page or the first few pages.

However, don't get too caught up in "rankings" since it is only one algorithm used to upload pages to key search words. If you have enough "quality" backlinks linking key search terms to your page or site, it's possible for your site to beat a higher ranking site on that particular key search term. You need to consider the top search words and phrases people will use to find your site. Incorporate them into your html, your blog posts, headers, tags, etc.

Here are a few techniques to improve your site's rankings and algorithm:
1) Cross Linking - This is linking pages within the same website or blog. Examples of  this would be creating a sitemap, a resource center of links to previous articles, archives, top visited posts, etc.

2) Multiply Incoming Links - You want to get as many "quality" sites linking to your website/blog as possible. This is sometimes called Deep Linking. It tells the search engines that you have a lot of worthwhile content. Ways to improve this are offering guest posts to other blogs, uploading your archived articles to other ezines and allowing your articles to be reposted by other bloggers as long as they use your byline and link back to your page.

3) Write Good Content - Make sure blog posts and/or articles contain frequently searched keywords and phrases, but don't overdo it to the point that you get your site banned by the search engines. Just make sure each page contains your key search terms for that page at least twice.

4) Update Content Often - This lures the search engines back to your site to crawl over your content and re-index it. It also builds traffic. This is another reason why it would be better to blog at least 3 times per week.

5) Multiple Domains - Search engines only list one page per domain, therefore, if you have several topics that are strong enough to support their own site, go for it. Examples of this are ministries, author sites, homeschooling pages, and side businesses. I own two author domains, and Also, I own a few more business domains. They all link into each other.

6) Strategize Anchor Links - It may be tempting to anchor as many links as possible to your url, but to the search engines it may look like automation and could result in getting your site banned from search engines. Therefore, use your url, but also link to various pages on your site. Include links to your individual book page, speaker page, bio, and archived articles where appropriate.

7) Use Text Links - Even where you've used an image to link to another page or site, be sure to include a text link above the image as well. Spiders and webcrawler search engines pick up text links first, so list them above the image, not below.

8) Use Frames & Flash Sparingly - So many people have switched to using frames and flash to develop their sites, but they don't allow links to individual pages. It's all or nothing.

9) Truth About Paid Links - Unless the paid link is embedded in the body text and not obvious sponsored links, it does nothing to improve your SEO. It only provides a few clicks to your site. So if you pay for a link, be sure to place it on a quality site and have realistic expectations.

10) SEO is Daily - Be aware that the landscape for search engines changes daily, therefore, you must expect to work on your SEO daily. At least keep it in mind for each blog post and each time you update your site/blog.

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