Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Search Engine Optimization and other Thoughts!

I was in two minds as to whether to add my two cents to the recent discussions about the effectiveness of online promotion. 

As an author who, sadly, has just been dropped by Berkley after 4 books (because of “the numbers”) I’ve been wondering what more I should have done. I don’t have the funds to hire a publicist. I work a long day at an advertising agency and finding time to write, let alone promote, is always a challenge. However, if I converted my day job salary into an hourly rate and then calculated how many hours I spend doing online promotion, I’m quite sure I could afford to quit my day job! 

Bearing in mind that the Bowker Report discovered that mysteries are purchased primarily because of an attractive book jacket, through word-of-mouth, libraries and book clubs, I often wonder why bother. The snag is, I just don’t know enough about driving “traffic” to my site. 

On the one occasion when I was a guest on Kate Carlisle’s Romance Bandits, my statistics went up 400%. I captured at least a dozen new readers and many said they’d buy my books so there’s definitely something in it (whether they kept their promises remains to be seen). 

This past weekend I met Michael Varma who is not just an expert in online PR. Along with being a professional magician, a recipient of the Distinguished Toastmaster award and author of  “Tasteful Toasts.” Michael mentioned SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” and how to drive traffic to websites. I had no idea that I should be incorporating “keywords,”  “metatags,” “site structure headings,” and “indexing.” I’d never heard of “BackRubs” or “Link Farms.” I do use Google analytics but up until now hadn't bothered to interpret the data because I didn't understand. 

The weird thing is that far from feeling overwhelmed by all this techno jargon, I got excited. If there is something I can do to improve my chances, then I’m all for it. But if all else fails, I share Vicki’s sentiments. The wonderful new friendships I've made along this journey have become more important to me than selling books. Of course I'd love to quit my day job, but I realize I look forward to conferences not because of the book room, but because of the bar.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your publisher. That has got to be hard when you have a body of work to be proud of.

I am nowhere near published, but I ran across this website, which seems to offer lots of good free advice for novelists (check out "free advice blog") as well as packages to get you going on various social media etc.

I didn't investigate the costs beyond the initial "starting from," since I don't have anything to promote yet, but it looks like it could be a useful resource.

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