My next book, Psy-V: The Metamorphosis Protocol is scheduled for release in April. Currently working on the book cover which, when done, will be posted here. I can’t wait for this book’s debut!
Starting today, 3/27/2013 through 3/31/2013, the eBook is FREE on Amazon. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Fairy-Tail-ebook/dp/B007TVY5N6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364394181&sr=1-1&keywords=andrew+p+weston+fairy+tail
- Post consistently. When first starting blogging, posting 6 months here and2 months there–with no rhyme or reason. Smart bloggers post at least post once a week–usually on the same day of the week. The benefit to a consistent schedule is that readers know when to “tune in” to your blog.
- Encourage comments. Some bloggers recommend turning the comments off when the traffic is low, because conditions are favorable for zero comments. However, it’s a smarter strategy to expect zero comments, but encourage them from the very beginning. The best blogs will get a conversation going, and that helps build traffic. It can feel lonely waiting for that conversation to start, but just keep plugging away.
- Tag content. Most blogging interfaces (like Blogger and WordPress) have ways to tag posts with keywords that you may use multiple times. And this enables readers to click on the tag to see all the content on your blog that is related to that topic. Plus, it helps with SEO (more on that below).
- Always put your best foot forward. Don’t fall into the trap of pulling punches on your blog. That is, don’t hold back your content. Many writers talk about how they use their blogs as places to throw their scraps. Always blog your best, and you’ll be surprised how you’ll come up with even better ideas as a result.
- Be sincere. Whether you’re sincerely a jerk or sincerely a helpful person–or even sincerely confused, sincerity goes a long way in the blogging world. Don’t try to change your blogging persona every week. Pick an identity and stick with it. That’s one of the surest ways to connect with your audience.
- Create a niche. Most successful blogs have a niche, something that defines what it is. Over at Poetic Asides, that niche is poetry, especially related to poetry prompts and challenges. MNINB is not the best example, but it’s niche is better writing and living. One of the main benefits of developing a niche is that readers know why they’re coming to your blog and why others should go to your blog.
- Think readers first. If your blogging goal is to increase your audience, then you need to think about the needs of your readers first. Most of the tips on this list are designed to put the reader first, from being consistent and being sincere to including share buttons and paying attention to blog stats from time to time. If your blog is reader-centric, then the readers will come and bring their friends.
- Blog different. While it’s good to use successful blogs as a model for your own blogging efforts, readers are looking for unique voices. If your blog is all about books and certain genres (for instance), maybe you can blog about a specific book or genre or writers who favor that genre.
- Provide links. Link well and link often. Link to your own blog content. Link to the other sources of information across the Internet. Link, link, link. That said, make sure the links are relevant and helpful for your readers. If you link to bad information or information that’s not relevant to your blog post, that will leave a sour taste in your readers’ mouths.
- Think SEO. Google is building up the importance of social media in its searches, which may incite other search engines to follow suit, but that doesn’t mean that SEO (or search engine optimization) suddently has no relevance for bloggers.
- Avoid ads (until you’re gain a following). Just because Blogger and WordPress have tools to help you monetize your blog with ads, it doesn’t mean you have to use them–at first. Ads are distracting and can slow down your blog. In fact, they may even harm your search result placement. Plus, if you don’t have significant traffic, there’s no money in hosting ads. Instead, focus on building your traffic first. Many blogs advise getting traffic up to at least 10,000-15,000 page views per month before worrying about monetizing. Even then, you may find that ads aren’t a good fit for your blog.
- Have a social media strategy. A blogger without social media accounts is going to find it incredibly hard to build blog traffic. Bloggers should work to develop meaningful connections on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ at a minimum. But there are others as well, including Red Room, Goodreads, Tumblr, and more. When you publish a new blog post, be sure to link to it on your social media accounts. As mentioned above, the reach your content has on social media sites may significantly influence where you appear on Google searches.
- Comment on other sites. You have to give if you wish to receive. In addition to responding to comments on your own blog, be sure to leave insightful comments on other blogs you admire. If you read a post that really hits home, let the blogger know. If you disagree with a point, share a thoughtful comment on why you have a different perspective (and be nice about it). Also, make sure your comments link back to your blog, in case other readers are interested in learning more about you.
- Archive well. While tagging can help, it becomes even more effective when you use tags to help archive effectively. This means that you don’t create a brand new tag every single time you post–unless it’s necessary. Instead, try to think structurally of how your posts fit together. Some of tags have more content than others, but they all help group information to make it easy for my readers to find content about which they care.
- Include images in posts. There are a few reasons to include images in your posts. One, they make the blog and each post more attractive and help with design. Two, images help bring in traffic through search engines. Three, post-specific images help differentiate posts in your streams of information on Facebook, Google+ and other social networks.
- Keep an eye on your blog stats. You don’t have to quantify everything, especially when it comes to content. However, a lot can be learned about what’s working and not working on your blog by checking out your blog stats. If there’s a feature that always seems to gain traffic, then you know it’s a safe bet that those posts will continue to work in the future. If there are features that never (ever ever ever) gain traction, then you’ll have to make a decision about whether you still think it’s worth putting time into those posts. And yes, I think stats are something you look at over an established period of time. The Internet can be fickle, so a great post can go overlooked from time to time, and a horrible post can get amazing results every once in a while. The trick is figuring out what sticks for the long haul.
- Give readers option for e-mail updates. As you can see in the upper right-hand corner of this blog, readers can sign up for free updates from your blog. It helps to send out reminders to readers to check out your blog. Visitors can can check out updates on smart phones without having to go online, which a lot may do. It’s a great way to check out a blog when stuck in a waiting room or have a few minutes to kill.
- Provide social media share buttons. Create button strategy. These buttons make it easy for readers to share content that they think is great–without leaving your blog. And as has been mentioned a few times above, social media is a growing force in search engine results.
- Be prepared for high traffic days. The best way to be prepared is to make sure you don’t get lazy with your posts by not including links to your other relevant content and that you include share buttons. You never know what is going to really catch on with readers, so treat every post like it could go viral–that way it’s optimized to reach even further.
- Pick and choose posts to push hard. As you get a better handle on which posts appeal most to your audience, you should know which posts probably deserve a little extra promotional efforts. Hint: The better performing posts should get more promotion, because these are the ones that readers have shown appeal to them the most. You should link to everything at least once, but linking to every post multiple times is likely to scare potential readers and connections away. So pick your battles.
- Craft an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar makes following several of the steps above much easier.
- Invite guest bloggers. Guest bloggers makes a blog more personal and inspirational when dealing with situations about life events, in addition to the tips about writing, blogging, etc. So invite people yiu know and respect to guest post. This benefits are bringing new readers who are connected to the guest bloggers, and it benefits the guest bloggers by exposing their work to those who are drawn to that subject.
- Provide testimonials. These are cool to have, things like comments, from e-mail messages, social media sites, etc. It helps build excitement, especially for readers who are new to your blog and want to know more about you.
- Have a blog post promotion plan. Share blog posts on Facebook , Twitter , LinkedIn , Google+ , and Facebook at a minimum.
- Build your brand. This is just the act of making sure that everything you do works to help get traffic to your blog and help build you, the blogger/author/person, get to people can identify with what’s happening on your blog. It may take a while for your brand to evolve, but once you start to get an idea of what it is, work to build and communicate that message. This brings us full circle to being consistent, which is the surest way to build traffic over time.
An excellent short story by a gifted writer available in eBook and is free on Amazon.com today 3/25/2013 through 3/29/2013.
What Wilbur doesn’t realize is that another woman has her eye on him too. The White Lady returns every Halloween to take revenge on the men of the campus for her brutal murder. She has chosen Wilbur as her next victim.
Hello fellow writers. In the past, I’ve interviewed authors, both self-published and those who went through traditional publishers. This time, I thought I would interview an editor. Rumi Kijay, a freelance editor from Pagan Writers Press, volunteered. Rumi worked with me on Touched: The Hunter Legacy and is now editing my soon to be released book entitled Psy-V: The Metamorphosis Protocol.
It took a plate of brownies to wrestle a “yes” out of him to do this interview. I also had to make a Starbucks run … who knew coffee could be that expensive.
Okay, so here’s the scenario. You’ve labored for months on a book, read it time and again and think “yes, that’s it”. You then send it out in the world, waiting to be recognized. And when reviews finally start coming in, instead of readers talking about how good the storyline is, there are comments about poor grammar, spelling errors and terrible formatting. That’s a bad time to realize you needed an editor.
L.M. David: Welcome to my little corner of the building and thanks for doing this interview. Usually, my blog guests have a run in with Preston but security told me he took one look at your black and red Tartan kilt and walked off, shaking his head.
Rumi: First, Preston’s your creation, just make him nocturnal and he’ll stop pestering your daytime guests. Second, thanks for the invite, always happy to talk to you. And last, thank you for the brownies, they’re lovely.
L.M. David: You know, I’ve never seen anyone stack them like a sandwich. And the way you jam that into your mouth with a chaser of coffee … wow. You realize you’ve gotten crumbs on your shirt and … your beard. Would you like a small whisk broom to brush them out of there?
Rumi: It’s okay. I got it.
L.M. David: Oh, no you did not just pick that out of your beard and eat it.
Rumi: Why wouldn’t I? It’s not like it landed on the floor.
L.M. David: Let’s get to the interview before I lose my breakfast…
Q. Beyond your eating habits, tell us a little about yourself.
A. Well, I was born in Canada the same year Star Wars made its film debut. I lived in Quebec City most of my life, which is a fascinating place sitting somewhere between Europe and North America. The people and the place have shaped most of my story. It’s where I first fell in love, where I received my Ph.D. in biology, and where I lost my religion. A little under a decade ago, I jumped over the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Brussels, at the heart of Europe, where I discovered a passion for science communication, and expanded my fiction writing and editing.
Q. You currently work freelance for Pagan Writers Press but are looking to expand and work with writers in need of editing services. That being said, tell me what genres are you willing to accept?
A. My main areas of experience are science-fiction and erotica, (he did a fist pump when saying erotica, ladies!) but I’m just as happy to work with fantasy and horror. I’m also interested in non-fiction works, but I feel that I need to have a basic knowledge of the topic before jumping into that in order to do justice to the author’s vision.
Q. Let’s say I wanted to be an editor, what would you suggest I do to accomplish that?
A. Read, read, read, and write, write, write, find your own voice and look at it closely. This will help you to see what the author’s voice is. And it’s one of the most important parts of an editor’s work, in my eyes: to help an author’s voice shine.
Q. When editing a manuscript, what is the most challenging thing with respect to new writers; grammar mistakes or formatting problems?
A. With new writers it’s neither. All writers pour themselves into their work, and have a very personal relationship with their creations. An editor’s challenge is to be as ruthless as possible, especially if the text needs to be whipped into shape. As the author’s work matures, they can add a more distance from their work and that’s where the editor can help them ‘kill their darlings’.
Q. So why, in your opinion, are editors important?
A. As writers, we can lose perspective when it comes to our own work. I’m the first to admit it. Editors are essential because it’s their job to ensure things make sense and the story flows. As a bonus, the basic grammar check is often something we no longer do as writers once we have been swimming in our words after a dozen reads. The mind shuts down, or connects the dots, and we become blind to errors. An editor helps shed new light on the author’s work.
Q. When editing, would you give feedback on a writer’s strong and weak points?
A. Absolutely, it’s the part of the process I find most rewarding, helping the writer grow.
Q. Then how would you handle a client who is sensitive to criticism with respect to their work, and they voice that opinion, or resist the changes you suggest?
A. That situation becomes tricky, and one that doesn’t have a single answer. I believe it depends on the suggested changes, of course. The duty of the editor is to help make the book become better, not to attack, or belittle the author. There has to be openness on the part of the writer with respect to an editor’s changes, no matter how large or small, to their manuscript from the time it is accepted for publication until it actually goes to print. If the editing process becomes a squabble fest, then the partnership between editor and writer hits a wall and growth is not possible, not for the writer, the editor and, most of all, for the fine tuning of the book.
Q. I queried my Prose Group for questions. One asked: What are the most common high-level errors you see, problems beyond those a competent line-editor would catch and fix?
A. Hmm… Difficult question, although a very interesting one. Every writer has his/her own quirks and blind spots. And every editor has his/her own pet peeves so where the two meet is a possible collaboration between writer and editor. Mistakes that do come up are often in word choices, in the direct translation of spoken language into written form, but higher than that is story construction and evolution of characters that sometimes get lost into the writing process.
Q. Here is another question from my Prose group: Do you have any suggestions regarding handling dialogue? Meaning, as a writer, it can sometimes be difficult trying to figure out when you should identify the speaker and when it’s okay not to.
A. There are no steadfast rules. I suggest reading it over with as much distance as you can get, and see if it is understandable. You can also use the help of someone external to see if the dialogue is understandable. Usually when it’s two people who are talking, you need less identifiers, but as soon as you get into a discussion with many people, then it can get confusing very fast, and then you have to get back to ‘said’ at every piece of conversation. I like things simple, so I’m an advocate of ‘said’ to be used all the time in conversations instead of alternate verbs like ‘sputtered’, ‘whispered’, ‘interjected’, ‘remarked’… ‘Said’ is an invisible word in the English language, and it doesn’t break the flow of conversation.
Q. Here is another question from the Prose group: I have a problem with tenses, most of it being present and future. Are there any rules to follow to get this right?
A. The only rule is that all your verbs should work together. If you start your narration in present tense, then all other verbs have to use present as their ‘reference point’. It’s not much more complicated than that. What do you mean with ‘most of it being present and future’? Do you write fiction with future tense narration? This can indeed be very difficult to achieve, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
Q. Another member asked this: Most of my work in in first person POV. What are the most common mistakes made using this format?
A. First person narration has one main problem: the person telling the story has no distance from it, so a lot of information needed for the reader to understand the story lies beyond the boundaries of the ‘I’ experience. This can lead to convoluted lines of thought by the narrator in order to get the information through. In a mystery, or an adventure setting, the ‘I’ narrator announces from the start the protagonist is going make it through the story alive, otherwise he wouldn’t be telling it. One of the arguments for first-person narration is that it is more engaging for the reader. But it can also turn out completely the opposite, making the text seem self-absorbed and self-obsessed, and alienating the reader instead of engaging him. On a very practical level, an ‘I’ narration can easily suffer from ‘I’ overload, with every other sentence starting with ‘I’, and trying to fix that can lead to word gymnastics that are not necessarily much better.
Q. Here’s another question from the Prose group: Head hopping is an issue for me. How can I let everyone have a voice without someone pointing a finger at me about the head hopping subject?
A. Limit head hopping to clear scenes or chapters. It’s ok to have several voices in a story, but it has to be in clear chunks, otherwise it becomes confusing. I am not sure if it is advisable to let ‘everyone’ have a voice. When telling a story through the eyes, or the life, of one character, or maybe two, or three, it can make the whole thing more personal. So take the jump into one character’s head if that is how you want to tell your story, and don’t worry about leaving the thoughts of other characters out of the narration. The POV character could actually wonder what the others think; it could be a nice trigger for dialogue, for instance. You could also take a step back in the narration, telling the story of everyone at once, but then you can’t get into anyone’s head.
Q. What is your favorite genre to work on? And why is it/they your favorite(s)?
A. My genre of choice is science-fiction, in good part because it’s the genre I’ve been swimming in since I started reading. Looking forward and imagining what might be has a strong pull on me, and I enjoy exploring the visions of other authors. Another genre of particular interest to me is erotica, mainly because finding well-written erotica is a rare thing in this age of fan and slash fiction. My work as a photographer has been an exploration of sensuality for 15 years, now, and I am happy to explore the same theme in my writing and editing work.
Q. Off subject, you mentioned you have written books. What are they about and do you plan to publish any in the near future?
A. I have participated in the craziness of NaNoWriMo for the past five years. Through it, I’ve written five novels, all of which are in various states of completion. I am at a place in my writing where I feel I can finish each and hand them to an editor and, from there, get them published. I have in the works a science-fiction trilogy, a pre-historic epic, and a modern-day tale of enlightenment. I believe it’s this last one that will get re-worked and pushed towards publication. The title is ‘The Council of the Enlightened’. It follows a man who reaches the awakening and gets tangled up in the bureaucracy of a strange organization that monitors everyone who reaches enlightenment. It’s a theme that seems to crop up in my writing again and again, this quest for illumination. I’m also working on an ongoing poetry project ‘A Thousand Kisses’ that is growing organically at the rhythm of my inspiration.
Q. What do editors pay the most attention to? Spelling, grammar or how the story is written?
A. It all depends on the state the manuscript is in, and on the individual editor. The most important thing for me is the story. The rest is easily fixable, but a story problem needs a lot more work.
Q. A friend of mine said that editing is easy and editors are not necessary as long as I pay close attention to what I am doing. Is that true?
A. Editors give you an outside eye on your work, which is always a valuable input. At some point in the writing process (very early on I’d say), we lose the perspective needed to judge our own work dispassionately. Something we find amazing might actually be bad, or the other way around. That’s where editors can come in handy, to bring us back to the reality of our work.
Q. Here is yet another question from a Prose member: There was one thing that worked for me once (many years ago) when I was applying for a rather big job. They seemed to be having trouble making up their minds about me and someone else. I sent them some additional information (naturally, just trying to be helpful – and not at all pushy). It may have worked. They hired me. All publishers have a set procedure for submissions, and tell you not to vary an iota from it, but I wonder if that is true. For instance, I’ve added one story to my short story collection, and am sending it to the five publishers I sent the first 21 to. Just being helpful, letting them know there’s even more. They have a lot of submissions and names mean little to them, so my thinking is it doesn’t hurt to give them reason to remember my name. So, the question is: If you have something helpful to add to the submission you originally sent, should you send it?
A. This all depends on the specific publishing house, but I would say that it is not necessary. An extra story out of “21” is not going to tip the balance. If the rest are good, they are good, and if the rest are not good, then an extra story is not going to make a difference. I would like to think that all serious publishers care about stories when they are in the selection process. The extra nudge is not necessary, in my opinion.
Q. Here’s another Prose question: Can my self-published book be published by a notable publisher?
A. Most publishers have clear guidelines about submitting previously-published work, and these guidelines apply both to traditional publication and to self-publication. I would suggest you go through an agent to help with the process unless you are knowledgeable about how the system works.
Q. And totally going off the editing topic, I’d like you to name some of your favorite authors and tell us why you like them.
A. Well, I prefer science-fiction classics, books from Asimov, Clarke and Herbert, mainly because that is where I discovered the joy of reading. ‘Dune’ is one of the first novels I read on my own impulse in the first year of high school, and it shaped the way I construct stories now. Another favorite is Kim Stanley Robinson, who writes compelling ‘hard’ science fiction. I also love the work of Carl Sagan, who found a balance between science and poetic imagery that resonates with me very strongly.
L.M. David: Well, okay, that’s all the questions I have. Thanks, again, for doing this interview. As a side note, I’d like to add Rumi and I have been collaborating on a little erotica novelette entitled: “Distant Promises”. It follows a long-distance relationship between two people who both have their demons to battle, and who heal each other’s wounds through, for lack of a better description, mind-blowing sex. It’s now in the editing stage.
“Rumi” website editor’s link: