A few words of questionable wisdom from author Al W Moe - you can leave questions on each blog or go to my profile for direct email.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Gift from John Grisham

Recently I really got stuck on a writing project. I thought, I paced, I waved my arms at the blank canvas of my computer screen, I bit my nails. Nothing. Just me and the darkness. I was stuck, stranded in limbo. After a day in the dark I was afraid to go forward. There might be a cliff, a wombat, or even worse an editor out there for all I knew. I mean come on, it was really dark and I was scared and hungry sitting there cradling my meager story ideas in my lap.

Eventually I gathered enough courage to slink away to the kitchen for a tuna sandwich, leaving the story to fend for itself, because I'm a heartless bastard. And that's the way the story would have ended, except for John Grisham.

Strange as it seems, the man of 100 million book sales clicked on friends on my Goodreads account. I know because the website sent me an email, I looked to confirm this happenstance, and there was a great quote from him:

"Don't compromise yourself - you're all you have."John Grisham

Now not even in my fevered mind did I think he was sitting at home in front of a roaring fire reading  Nevada's Golden Age of Gambling, but still, I was happy, and suddenly inspired. And, I wanted to pass that along to another author. So, I chose a not-yet-proven but fun-to-read writer and bought a dozen of their eBooks on Kindle and passed them on as gifts, to friends via email. Really, you could do a lot worse for a present these days than a book that can be read anywhere.

If you buy those gifts on Amazon, your friends can read from any Kindle reader, the device itself, or a web app on a computer or even a Smart phone. And, it's win-win. Your friends get a good book, and the author gets the thrill of seeing some extra book sales and makes some royalty bucks before Christmas. You can pass on a little inspiration and kindness. And, if you happen to see Mr. Grisham, tell him thanks for me.

Those thanks are heartfelt, because his little mouse click, that tiny act of kindness, inspired me to get that last story, a chapter of my novel, actually, back into play, and now it's nestled between chapters 11 and 13, safe and sound and no longer alone. A random act of kindness can go a long way!

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe

Friday, November 9, 2012

Living on Book Reviews

Living on book reviews will not feed you as an author. There is a popular misconception that a book with a lot of reviews is selling more books based on those reviews alone. Sure, book reviews can be very important, but they don't come first!

I really enjoy reading reviews at places like EK Ellis Literary Works or Goodreads, or even Amazon, because they help me find what I'm looking for. However, too many new writers see wildly successful books on Amazon with 1000 reviews and put 1 and 1 together to get 11. Sorry, doesn't work that way!

You have to have a quality product and great marketing first, to sell that many books and then to get that many reviews. If your book isn't selling you may be able assuage your feelings by blaming it on a lack of reviews, but the secret is, you don't need more than a few reviews to sell your book. Books sell based on author name recognition, genre, price, reviews, marketing, and well, those last two things, what were they, oh yeah, creativity and quality.

If you forget those in your manuscript you won't have many reviews and the ones you do have won't be that good. A bad book can get some reviews and sell some copies, but those sales won't last, while a quality read without many reviews can still sell plenty of copies.

Your Book's Best Friend

If you are a self-published author, you know how important it is to try most everything to sell your books, from blog tours and book signings to free copy giveaways, but your absolute best friend for life is good old word-of-mouth.

You only get good word-of-mouth if you have a great product and you manage to get some copies into the hands of people that will mention your book to their friends. So, you'll have to do some good marketing, but before you publish, have a few friends take a look at your work. Then, track down all those dangling participles, passive sentences, and of course all those adverbs you do not need (that's 98% of them). And then, go through your manuscript again and look at the story, your timing, your protagonist's motivation. Does your book still need work?

Yes, without reading your manuscript I can tell you that it does! Self-published authors aren't often hurt by a lack of enthusiasm and drive, but their stories can be killed by a lack of editing. Find a librarian, English Teacher, your best friend's mother's cousin's sister if you have to, but find someone who can help. You might even have to pay someone.

I've read hundreds of manuscripts from authors who thought they were ready to go-to-press, and I can tell you that only two of those were really ready. That's bad odds for you being ready. Fight the fight, edit till you can't stand it any more so you don't put your readers in the same boat - and then you have a great chance of selling your books, even if you don't have many reviews!

Other Marketing

You also might consider using a banner exchange to get additional readers to your site. A banner exchange is (usually) a free-membership type of website that allows you to install a banner on your website (for most, like this blogger site, you simply go to "layout" and click "add a gadget," then scroll down to "add html" where you insert the html you got from the banner exchange and your web page will now show a banner!

You, in turn, upload a banner with a link to your own site page to the banner exchange and they automatically give you x-number of free page views for the readers on your own pages. The exchange is usually 6 or 7 to 10 (your site gets 10 page views and your ad on their network of web sites will show your banner 7 times).

If you want to stay free, try ad designer. You can signup for free and make as many free banners as you want.

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Secrets of Search Engine Optimization

Marketing your website or blog without having first provided good content is like capturing water with a net. Even if you do succeed in getting to the source, you won't be able to hold onto it! Readers want quality content - whether you are writing a blog, a web article, or a book. Offer junk and you won't hold your readers, even if you provide excellent SEO practices.

Today's search engines don't just analyze your traffic patterns, they actually have amazingly strong algorithms that measure your actual content. Search engines like high quality, continually updated content that is unique on the web. Provide it and the web will beat a path to your site - using front and back links!

Know Your Audience

Just as a book author has to know their genre, a blogger needs to know their main subject and their readers. If your blog is about manhole covers, you need to know a lot about them, you need a new slant on them, and you need to figure out what your readers want to hear about them!

Make sure you use the name manhole covers in your blog title. And, when you do each article, use something associated with them in the title - and whatever the article is about, make sure you use several keywords in the text.That's the first step towards getting some good marks from search engines.

The second step is proving new and unique content every day. Obviously your readers will return more often if there is something new to read. If they return once or twice and there is nothing new - well,  you just lost them. And, the search engines really do love to see new content. Do yourself a favor and make the search engines happy!

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe