When I finished my book, SICK, and had it edited I felt like I had really accomplished something. Of course the dream of an agent was fluttering around in my brain like a beautiful brightly colored butterfly. I proceeded to write the most interesting gripping query letter I could possibly muster up and sent it out to eighty agents. Yup, that’s an exact number I carefully logged them on an excel spreadsheet. (geek) My beautiful dreamy butterfly quickly turned into an ugly moth as the rejections flooded in. Add the bad timing of Borders closing to the fact that agents now get hundreds of submissions sometimes daily, and I realized that I didn’t stand a chance. Borders was now sending back its entire inventory to the publishers at the cost of the publishers. That’s how it works. So no one was willing to take a chance on an unknown author. (I’m not ready to ponder the possibility that I suck as an author.)
I was going to get my book out there one way or another so the self publishing route was the next logical step. With book cover design and formatting lined up again I really started feeling like I had accomplished something. Little did I know the real work was just about to begin- book promotion! You can write the best literary novel of the twenty-first century and if nobody knows it’s out there nobody is going to buy it. Being a geek, as I mentioned earlier, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about book marketing. My two favorites so far that I would recommend are Mark Coker’s Book Marketing Guide which he gives away for free and the much more intense Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. The latter gets deep in the weeds of social media but in my opinion is amazingly well written, educational, and forward thinking. I am fortunate to also have the help of a friend and Google search guru Scott Wasserman of WSI Internet Marketing. I’m writing this article to share some great tricks of the trade that I have learned mainly from Scott.
So the real work began. I needed a blog, a Twitter account, Facebook, Linked In, blah blah blah yatta yatta- Ahhhhh!!! And then I saw the letters SEO. What the heck is SEO? Secret Encryption Overload? Service Entry Order? Then I read it, Search Engine Optimization. Well that didn’t really help. Then I put two and two together. Remember, like I said before, you can write the best book ever and if nobody knows it’s out there no one is going to buy it. Search Engine Optimization is all the stuff you can do to help Google, and more-so the searcher, find you and your book. Here are some facts from the book Inbound Marketing. In the month of April 2009 over 13 billion searches were conducted in Google, in all other search engines combined there were roughly 22,000 searches. So Google rules the world and if your book and blog are not being found in Google you don’t exist in the search world. Another hard fact is that there are only about ten search results on a page and very few people ever bother going to the second page so you have to be in the top ten. This really isn’t as hopeless as you may think it is and I will explain why. This is where SEO comes in.
First of all, if you are an author, you have your name and book name. I’m Jen Smith. SICK, that is my product. Your name and book name are your key words with perhaps another key word or two about the subject matter, for example zombies or World War II. You need to let Google know these are your key searchable words over and over and over. This is where tags come in. A tag is exactly that, a key word or words that you want Google to associate with you. The more specific the better, like your name and book name. The more general your key words, like World War II, the more search competition you will have. WordPress blog format allows the input of tags for every blog post. Do not overlook this significant and important step. I add my name and book name in the tags of every blog I post. Also try to use your key words in the content of your blog as much as possible, but please not to the point of destroying the readability of your piece. Be sure to use this option of imputing tags and be precise about tags that are specific to the post, and repetitive always adding your name and your book name.
Another easy, free, and great way to increase your chances of being pulled up by Google is a no brainer! Join Google plus! Ok I’ll admit I didn’t think of this myself despite the fact that it is a no brainer, but my brain has been compromised by a past filled with debauchery and other shady unmentionables, what’s your excuse? Anyways, think about it like this, who rules the search world? Google! So why wouldn’t Google choose to be partial to pulling up results from its own platforms? They are! Not only do I belong to Google plus, I have a share button for Google plus on my blog and I share every one of my blog posts to the Google platform by clicking the Google plus share button. The way Google rates a page has to do with sites they deem as ‘authority sites’ linking to your site. I know that’s confusing but stay with me. Think about it like this, what site do you think Google thinks has the most authority? Well Google of course! So by sharing your blog post to Google plus you are greatly increasing the chances of it coming up in a search. I just Googled myself again, Jen Smith SICK, and of the top four links, three of them were Google plus shares of my blog posts. It works!
Is any of this new information to you? Do you find it helpful? Stay tuned for part two for more on SEO and increasing your Google searchability.
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Jen Smith is author of the memoir SICK which is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Learn more about Jen and her writing at her blog. You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.