Hanging Out On Social Media #MFRWauthor

take by me in my garden

This week’s blog topic is an interesting one.  Social Media.  I’m not a “social butterfly” by any stretch of the imagination. I actually dislike most of the social media platforms out there. With that being said, I do love Facebook. I’ve reconnected with so many old friends from high school, past co-workers, and even a few long lost cousins. I’ve even remained in contact with several of my old pals from the Star Wars forum I’d posted fan fiction on back in a day.

So, with that being said, where do you find me fluttering around….




I will usually friend anyone on my profile–if the person has at least a few friends in common and their profile doesn’t look fake (ie: no friends or an obviously fake profile picture)


Not my favorite hangout simply because it changes so fast and because of the limit on words…. I’m a wordy person and 140 characters just ain’t enough!


I mostly lurk on here. I love getting gardening ideas from the boards I follow.

What’s your favorite social media sight and why?

Check out other authors in the Challenge here:






Categories: Marketing | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Creating a Media Kit, Press Release or Press Kit

Blog hosts, have you ever been frustrated with the way authors send their materials to you for a blog stop? Authors, have you ever wondered what to include for a promo blog stop?

Whatever you call it, a media kit (also known as press release and press kit), can be extremely helpful to bloggers receiving an author’s information for a blog stop.

I’ve hosted blogs for a few years now, and I can always tell the newbie authors from those who have been promoting for a while. The newbies often send incomplete information and often in several documents, which I have to piece together to make sure they post to my blog properly.

Here are some helpful suggestions on what to include in a Media Kit and the formats that should be used.

1.  Include a JPEG or PNG of the cover or covers being promoted. Approximate dimensions of 200 X 300 pixels or 300 X 500 pixels are good sizes. Smaller sizes are just too small to make an impression and larger sizes take longer to upload and can use up unnecessary space on the poster’s blog. I used to resize photos that were too big, but then I’d have to save them to my computer. The beauty I’ve discovered when I finally got rid of Internet Explorer for the much nicer and faster Google Chrome was I no longer needed to save photos to my hard drive. I could simply open the attachment and dump them into WordPress…. Much nicer, however big photos use up more space.

2.  If an author wants a photo of themselves included, he or she should attach a JPEG or PNG following the same guidelines as with book covers regarding sizing.

3.The Media Kit Document should always be saved a RTF file or as a Word 97-2003 document to ensure no problems with compatibility. And should include several things:

……a.  Title of the book(s)

……b. Author’s name

……c. Blurb

……d. Excerpt or Excerpts: I’ve noticed that some authors are including several excerpts. (This is a good idea if you write Erotica and are promoting on non-erotica author blogs. However, it is good to include a spicier excerpt for those erotica author blogs you may be on.) It is also good to include longer and shorter versions. That way if you are posting a guest article or interview, a shorter excerpt can be used to keep your post from getting too long. If you are promoting several books, as in a series, always keep the excerpts shorter.

……e. Author bio: I’ve learned a while back that bios should be written in third person and kept short.

……f. Website, Blog, and Social Media Links: It is good practice to include the entire link, not just a handle for social media, such as @your_twitter_name. A lot of bloggers don’t like to use full links on their blogs because full links makes things look untidy. They hyperlink the links to the appropriate places. There are two things you can do on your media document: hyperlink these things in the document or send the whole link and let the blogger decide if they want them hyperlinked or use the full link. It isn’t always a good idea for you to include the hyperlinks because they can be lost in the copy/paste process. Also remember, the less clicks a reader has to make to get to you, the better, which is why you should include the whole Twitter address and not just your handle.

……g. Buy Links: Basically the same as above. Always include the link to the book you are posting about. You can use your author page on the seller’s site. The idea is to get to the book directly, the more clicks you require an interested potential buyer to make, you may miss a sale.

……h. Reviews: It is fine to add a snippet of a 5 star review or two, but don’t get crazy and add every review you’ve ever gotten for the book.

……i. Genre, Publisher Information, Metadata Tags: These things are optional but a good idea to include. I personally use this information for tagging. The more tags that are included in the metadata (sometimes called Tags or Labels, and Alt Text [on photos]), the more searchable you are. Don’t expect the blogger to know what are good tags for you or your book. I personally always include the author’s name, genre if I know it (or can guess by the information given), and publisher if it’s obviously stated. However, these might not be the only tags you’d want to include. For example: I always tag my own contemporary western romances with these additional tags (Texas Romance, cowboy romance, and small town romance). But remember; don’t go too crazy with these, just as with adding reviews. The best tags are those that describe your book in a few words/phrases.

……j. Contest Information: Be specific with what’s being offered and any rules that should be included. If you are using a third party randomizer like Rafflecopter, always include both the code and a general link for your contest. Not all blogs allow JAVA Script code (such as, so if you only include the code, bloggers can’t post your contest.

4. If you are including a guest blog article, you can do two things:

……a. Attach it as a separate document.

……b. Include the article in your Media document. I personally do this when I’m promoting my books. I format the post how I’d like it to appear in the Word document. I always put the article before the book information.

5. If you are doing an interview and the questions were sent to you, always follow the blogger’s instructions. If no instructions are included, then you can follow the same protocol as with guest articles—either attach as a separate document or include in one attachment with the interview preceding the book information.

6. If you have any photos that you want to include other than your book cover(s) and author picture, attach them using the title of the photo or the numbered order they are to appear to identify them. Then in the post itself indicate where you want them by either the photo title or by the number that you’ve given it. The best way to do this is by using bold print, {photo info}, [photo info] or colored font, or a combination of these to alert the blogger. It is also a good idea to include any copyright information for the photo. I personally don’t like posting photos that have no data with them. If you’ve purchased the photos or they are your own pictures, that’s fine, just let the blog host know that you own the photos. If you’ve pulled them from a place like, then you have to include the link for the copyright information as per the site’s Terms of Use Agreement that you would have to have checked before downloading.

These are just some helpful hits. I’m by far an expert, but as both an author who promotes by guest blogging and as a blogger posting guest blogs, these are some things that I’ve either learned to include in my information going out to bloggers or is what I like to receive for posting on my blog.

If you are a blogger and can add something to this, please leave it in the comments. It’s easy to forget we aren’t born with this knowledge already ingrained in our DNA. Just as we had to learn what the acronyms GMC and HEA meant when we started writing, many newly published writers striking out in the world of guest blogging have to be educated on how best get the needed information to bloggers willing to help them in their promotion.

Happy Blogging!

Categories: Marketing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

THE BIRTHDAY FANTASY on Sale the Month of February!

For the month of lovers, The Birthday Fantasy is on SALE for $0.99. That’s half price!

The Birthday Fantasy

Available on amazon

The Birthday Fantasy, Sara Walter Ellwood, Beach read, Colorado romance, cowboy, contemporary western romance


He’s her kidnapper. Can he be her fantasy?

Tate has always known Jamie’s fiancé isn’t the man for her, so when her father approaches him with a plan to kidnap her in order to the stop the marriage, Tate believes this might be his last chance to convince Jamie he’s the man for her. He whisks Jamie away to Fantasy Lake, Colorado, for her twenty-fifth birthday, hoping to rekindle the passion they’d once shared. Jamie can’t believe her father and childhood best friend and former lover could do such a thing to her two weeks before her wedding to a rich Dallas land developer. But with hot days and scorching nights, her sexy cowboy kidnapper could be just what she needs to fulfill her every fantasy.



Tate leaned against the frame of the living room door in a much too relaxed pose with his arms folded over a dark green western shirt nearly matching his eyes. He looked her up and down with a smugness irritating her further.

“What are you doing here?”

Removing his hat, he grinned and pushed away from the doorframe. “It’s nice to see you too, princess. I’ve been fine. Thanks for asking.”

“I’m in no mood for your sarcasm.” Glaring at him, she entered the living room and headed for the cabinet in the corner where her father kept a bottle of good Kentucky bourbon. After pouring two shot glasses, she handed one to him.

He raised a dark brow. “It’s a little early, isn’t it?”

She lifted the glass and smiled. “I’m celebrating. Isn’t that why you’re here?”

He shrugged and tapped the edge his glass to hers. “Sure.” He glanced around and sat on the rawhide couch. “I’m here to lighten your mood.”

Jamie tossed back her drink and set the glass on the end table. Crossing her arms in front of her, she leaned against the liquor cabinet. “I haven’t seen or heard from you in nearly four months and now you show up and act like we talk every day. And you’re avoiding my question. What do you really want?”

“Well, you haven’t actually been around much.”

Which was true. Lately she’d been spending a lot of time in Dallas. She tapped her foot and narrowed her eyes on him. God, why was he so damned handsome? His black hair curled around the collar of his shirt. Green eyes danced with mischievousness reminding her of Rhett Butler when he saw Scarlett after she tossed the vase over his head in the drawing room of Tara. He’d set his hat next to him on the seat, and her breath caught. It was the tan Bailey she’d bought him for his birthday the wonderful summer they’d been together.

Tate looked into his glass of whiskey before drinking it in a single swallow. He winced and set the glass next to hers on the table. “I have a gift for you.”

“You didn’t have to get me anything. I got you a gift for your birthday, but it’s upstairs.”

Why did her heart always race like a horse out of the gate when he smiled at her like he was now?

“Really? You thought of me on my birthday?”

“I’ve always gotten you something for your birthday.” Shrugging, she glanced down at her crossed arms and shifted her feet. “I just never got a chance to get this year’s present to you.”

“Tell you what. You can give it to me later, but you’ll have to come with me to get yours.”

She thought that was odd, but smiled anyway. “Okay.”

“After you.” Standing, he set his hat on his head and gestured through the door.

The last thing she remembered was him putting something over her face and the devil’s voice in her ear.

“Sorry, princess. I’m hoping someday you’ll thank me for this.”

Categories: Marketing, The Birthday Fantasy | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Signing Event on February 8

small rose open bookLove Is in the Air

I will be at a book signing event on Saturday, February 8 from 12 – 3 PM at Ashcombe Farm & Greenhouses 

ashlogo3906 W. Grantham Road

Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

(717) 766-7611

Open Monday – Saturday 9-6, Closed Sunday

A Romance Author Event


Visit with 14 local romance authors for this romantic book-signing event! Many books will be available for purchase and the authors will be on hand to answer questions and talk about upcoming releases.


And There’s More!

• Enter to win an Ashcombe Gift Card

• Bring Your Sweetie – Buy One Lunch, Get One Lunch Half Price

• Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies made in our bakery

• Chocolate Covered Strawberries

• Children’s Craft Table


Meet The Authors…

Award-winning and best-selling author Karen Rose Smith will see her 84th novel published in 2014. Although she has written romance novels for over 20 years, she has now branched into mysteries as well as women’s fiction. Writing for Kensington Books and Harlequin and indie publishing her Search For Love series, she still saves time for her three rescue cats, gardening, cooking, and photography. She has also developed many of her books into audiobooks! She looks forward to contact from her readers through her websites and loves to chat on Facebook and Twitter @karenrosesmith. Her next Caprice De Luca home-staging mystery, DEADLY DECOR, will be available in June.


Andrew Grey grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing). He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


Susan Gourley writes epic fantasy with her latest release, First Dragon, now available in stores and online as print or ebook. Writing as Susan Kelley, she has nine romances published, including the bestselling science fiction novel, The Marine’s Queen. Writing is her full time career, and she resides in central Pennsylvania in a large country home with her husband and children.


Vicky Burkholder grew up in the Mechanicsburg area, but now lives in Lititz. Her writing spans the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and romance lines from YA to adult. No matter the age or genre, all of her books have a touch of romance in them and have to have a happily ever after ending. She currently publishes with Liquid Silver Books and Ellora’s Cave.


Megan Hart: I was born and then I lived awhile, and I did some things. Now I mostly write books. Some of them use bad words, but most of the other ones are all right. I can’t live without the ocean or music, and I can’t stand the feeling of corduroy. Visit me at


Natalie J. Damschroder grew up in Massachusetts, and despite living in Central PA longer than anywhere else, she loves the New England Patriots more than anything. (Except her family. And writing and reading. And popcorn.) When she’s not writing romantic adventure for Carina Press and paranormal romance for Entangled Publishing, she does freelance editing and works part time as a chiropractic assistant. She and her husband have two daughters they’ve dubbed “the anti-teenagers,” one of whom is also a novelist. (The other one prefers math. Smart kid. Practical.) You can learn more about her and her books at


Although Sara Walter Ellwood has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write contemporary western romance. Living in Mount Holly Springs, PA, with her college sweetheart husband of 20 years, two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny, she longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. She also published paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.


Victoria Smith moved eight times before finally settling in Mechanicsburg. She writes paranormal, urban fantasy, and dystopian – all with romance. Who doesn’t love a happy ending? She currently publishes with Liquid Silver Books.


Gerry Trust is a former professional race-horse groom, artist, gardener, author, and the mother of five grown children. Her fondest memories from childhood include horses and books. Growing up, she regaled her classmates during lunchtime with “fan fiction” stories she invented based on characters in popular TV shows. Gerry joined Romance Writers of America in 2001, and for the last thirteen years has devoted herself to penning novels.


Geri Krotow is an award-winning novelist who has followed her dreams. She is proud to be a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, navy veteran, and now a retired navy spouse! Geri enjoys the beauty of Central Pennsylvania from her bike or with her dog at her side, and has made it her personal duty to “inspect” every yarn shop in PA. Find out about Geri’s navy romances at


Anson Barber grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southern Pennsylvania and now lives near Hershey, Pennsylvania, with her husband. She enjoys going on long motorcycle adventures, and recording the experiences in scrapbooks. She writes fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, and contemporary romances.


Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at


D.R. Grady lives with her husband near Hershey, PA. She loves gadgets, books, plants, shoes and writing stories that resonate with others. You can generally find her in her “office,” a chair in the living room, hopefully writing, but sometimes playing Angry Birds or reading.


Cate Masters has made beautiful central Pennsylvania her home, but she’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart. When not spending time with her dear hubby, she can be found in her lair, concocting a magical brew of contemporary, historical, and fantasy/paranormal stories with her cat Chairman Maiow and dog Lily as company. Look for her at and in strange nooks and far-flung corners of the web.

Categories: Marketing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Improving SEO with Titles, Tags, Metadata and URLs

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been touching on methods of increasing your SEO on your website/blog. The last time, I’d asked you to come up with five to seven keywords or key phrases that describe your genre/writing. This IS NOT your tagline or name. Your name is not one of your keywords. The reason for this is simple, if your website is in your name—which it should be because your biggest branding statement is your name—it will automatically come up on page one of a search when googled. Your keywords should focus on words someone who does not know what you write would google. For example my keywords and phrases for my site Romance Writer Sara Walter Ellwood are “contemporary western romantic suspense”, “cowboy romance”, “Texas romance”, and “Native American romance”.

Keywords, internet marketing, SEO, blogging, contemporary  western romance author Sara Walter Ellwood
Isn’t he a cutie?

What do you do with the keywords?


Your keywords should always appear in your page and blog article titles. The problem with this is simple. It can’t always happen. But if you can make it happen it should.

The other important titles besides your website and page titles are you blog article titles. The worst thing you can do is to not add a title to your articles. Even if it’s silly and doesn’t have anything to do with your genre, it should have a title. If you ignore titling your blog articles, you miss a very easy and important area to increase SEO.

The other place titles are important is within the articles themselves. Give titles to sections of your articles. It’s best if phrases with the keywords in them are used, but even if they aren’t, either a H1, H2 or H3 tag should be used. Okay, what the heck are they? Simply, they are the heading sizes. H stands for heading. The 1, 2 and 3 are the sizes. Most blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger) have more than these three, but search engines only look for these three HTML tags. For example: in this article the subtitles Titles, Tags, Metadata and URLs are set apart from the normal text formatting of “paragraph” with an H3 tag, meaning I highlighted the text and increased the size by using the dropdown list on my platform. Or if you are good at HTML, you’d add the tag that way.

What this does is makes these subtitles more important than the rest of the text, at least to search engine bots. It’s not always possible to do this in a normal article, but you should try to use at least H3 tags where you can. You can see examples all over my website where I’ve done this, especially on pages.


Tags are the words used to describe an article or on a larger scale, if the website allows it, a page. They are bits of data that help search engines to know what the article/page is about.

Most websites/blogs all contain an area to place tags on both the pages and blog articles. In pages (the one on a self-hosted site) a plug-in that allows tags can be added to pages. In (the free one like my website) tags can’t be added to pages directly. And from what I’ve seen with Blogger the same is true for pages. To make sure the bots know what your page is about, present the keywords within the first line or so of your page content. I’ll discuss this in the next installment.

Most of us blog, it is the easiest way to add content to your website. But to get the most out of that new content, it has to be categorized and tagged. A category is a super tag. For example, I use my book titles as categories. This article is categorized under “Marketing”. An article can belong in more than one category, as with my Sneak Peek Sunday articles. They are categorized under “Sneak Peek Sunday” and whichever book I’m highlighting.

Next are the basic tags. Just as every article should have a title, every article in your blog should have at least one category and tags. If I’m writing an article about one of my books, I always use the book title, and my keywords as tags. I may also use keywords that describe that book in particular.

See, easy peasy.

Metadata and ALT Text:

Metadata is simply hidden HTML code that can be read by search engine bots. It is the information that shows up under the title of a website when it’s googled. Don’t be scared. I know if you’re like me, you know about zilch about coding and HTML. Fortunately, most blogging platforms realize this. They’ve created areas where you can put keywords that the website then converts to HTML.

So, how and where do you put your keywords so that it’s converted to metadata? The first and most important place is that tagline space that should have been filled out when the website was created. This information can be edited in the settings area on the Dashboard. The first line should be the website/blog title. Then usually below it is a place to put a tagline. Most authors automatically put their taglines. For example: mine had been “Stories about cowboys and the women strong enough to love them.” This isn’t bad or wrong, but it’s not complete. So I changed it to “Author of Contemporary Western Romantic Suspense — Stories about cowboys and the women strong enough to love them.” Do you see what this did? It not only gives my branding statement, it also includes my main keyword phrase. This is the statement that shows up under the title when my website is googled.

The other important place to add metadata is on photos. If you run you curser over most of the photos on my website now, a small pop-up will show a list of words or a description. Where is this information added? It’s actually rather simple. Again most blogging platforms allow for a place to add information it converts to metadata. On photos there are several places. Photo title, description and ALT text. None of these spaces should be blank. Every photo should have a title and it shouldn’t be the generic number your camera assigned to your picture. It also should have a description: what is this a photo of or what is it being used for? For example: the title for my cover of Heartstrings is “Heartstrings Cover”. The description (which you can’t see as a reader, but a search engine bot can) is “Heartstrings, a contemporary western romance by Sara Walter Ellwood”.

The last bit if information that is the most important is called ALT text. Think of this as tags for the photos. Just as articles should never be posted without a category and tags, photos should never be posted without adding ALT text. I usually use my keywords. For my example above, the ALT text for my Heartstrings cover is “contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, Texas romance, Native American romance, country music singer romance”.

So what does this do to your photos? It allows the search engine bots to read a photo just as it does your articles. You’ve made those photos important and searchable. This is also how images are posted to search engines. So, if you google my keywords “contemporary western romantic suspense” my photos tagged with these keywords show up in the Image section. If you want to see how this works, just hold your curser over the photo on the search engine image and a pop-up shows up that will list the site the photo comes from and the metadata information, which is pulled from ALT text.


This last section outlines another place information search engines rank as important. It’s also a way to cheat, especially if you can’t always title your pages or articles with your keywords. I’ll admit; I’m not sure if Blogger URLs can be changed, but WordPress allows for editing of a URL. I’ve edited the URL for every book related page and usually for every article I’ve created. For example: the page for Heartstrings has the “slug” or URL identifier of “heartstrings-contemporary-western-romance”. I changed the simple “slug” of heartstrings to the long one to include my main keyword phrase.

I also change the “slug” for the guests I have on my blog to just the author’s name. For example: the blog titled “Interview with Sharon Cullen” becomes the slug “sharon-cullen” instead “interview-with-sharon-cullen”. This doesn’t necessarily help me, but it does Sharon. It shows her as being important on my blog, and in a backhanded way, helps her SEO.


Hopefully, SEO is not as mysterious as it had once been. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them either later today or tomorrow. If you’d like an email with your answer, leave your email address and I’ll answer both here for everyone else and email you so you don’t have to keep checking back.

Next week, I’ll be talking about how important it is to keep your content current and up to date, and the easiest and yet hardest way to do this—regular blogging.

Categories: Marketing | Tags: , , | 14 Comments

Keywords for Success

Today’s article, part two of my series on SEO, is more of an exercise for you to perform. Over the next several weeks, I’ll walk you through improving SEO on your website. I’m no expert. But from my research and by implementing the basic fixes I’ll introduce you to, I’ve improved my SEO drastically.First, let me explain how a search engine finds your site among the billions on the internet and then how those search engines ranks your site. A internet crawler, or web spider, is a bot that lists the URLs and hyperlinks on the World Wide Web and then visits those sites and links to rank them in relevance. What determines relevance is the use several pieces of data. I explained one of those pieces last week—backlinking.Today I’m introducing the second important aspect of the puzzle—keywords.

There’s a lot of information out there on the importance of keywords. Whole books and articles have been written about them. So, needless to say, I’ll be talking about keywords and what you can do with them for a few weeks.

What Are Keywords:

Simply put, they are the words or phrases that describe your brand or product.  What phrases and words describe you or your books? For me it’s “contemporary western romantic suspense, cowboy romance, Texas romance.” You notice this isn’t a tag line. But it is a branding statement.

What basic words describe your brand? In other words, if a reader is looking for a western romance with some suspense, she might go to Google and type into the search bar “contemporary western romance suspense.” If I used my keywords properly (and I’ve optimized other areas of my SEO), my website will pop up on the first or second page of the search results. Ideally it’s within the first three listings on either page one or two. Research has shown that the rate of click-throughs (people clicking on the links Google lists) is nearly the same for sites listed in the top three on page one or two.

Where to Place Keywords:

I’m only going to list the places keywords should appear. Each one of these will be either a separate blog, or part of a blog within the coming weeks.

1. Your keywords should appear in the title of each page of your website (I will admit, I fail terribly at having the keywords in my titles. To me it’s almost impossible.)

2. Your keywords should appear in the titles of your blog articles and you use a H1, H2 or H3 tag. (Again this seems almost impossible)

3. Make sure your keywords are in the URLs of your pages.

5. The metadata of you site and pages should contain your keywords. Don’t fear, I’ll explain what metadata next time, and believe it or not, it’s not that scary.

6. Make sure you are labeling your photos with ALT text, descriptions and accurate titles. Again, I’ll explain ALT text.

7. Use your keywords within your content. And here’s probably the hardest for those of us who hate to blog, but update content often.

The last few articles of the series will touch on some of the pitfalls and myths of SEO and on registering your website with Google and Bing, again not as scary as it sounds.

Okay, now for that assignment I talked about at the beginning. I want you to come up with at least five to seven keywords that fit your brand. Thank like a reader who is looking for a book to read, but has never heard of you. But don’t just have the keywords “romance author.” It’s too broad and nearly useless. If it helps, Google authors who write in the same genre as you or has a similar brand. For example, for me it would be Linda Leal Miller, Kat Martin or Joan Johnston. Try to figure out what their keywords might be.

So, next week we tackle the first four items—titles, tags, metadata and URLs.

Categories: Marketing | Tags: , , | 16 Comments

Blog Tours and the Art of Backlinking

Today, I’m starting an extensive blog series dealing with something I think we all struggle with—marketing. I’m by far an expert and mostly I’m just sharing what I’ve learned over the past few weeks after diving into the very murky waters myself. I set out on this quest after realizing my blog tour was a failure. I have to bring readers to me, which means figuring out some of the easiest ways to market myself.

The internet.

But are all blog tours a waste of time? Are they worth the effort? These questions might seem odd coming from a blog tour host, and from someone who’s now done two long tours and one short one, and has another long tour booked for April/May. But it’s a valid question, I think—especially since I’ve seen no jump in my sales from them.

So, you are probably asking, why do them?

I’ve recently asked myself this same question and oddly, the answer is mixed. There are several reasons for not doing them. They are a royal pain. They’re time consuming. Blog tours haven’t helped my sales. I work full time and it’s hard to respond to readers, or just keeping up with all of the contest winners is next to impossible. The same people—my writing buddies—seem to be the only ones who comment. I am not reaching actual readers, but just other writers who have full slates of their own and can’t possibly read every book they see on blogs. I know I can’t.

I’ve actually canceled most of the second month of my Gambling On A Secret tour for the reasons listed. And I still believe all of them to be valid—especially the last one.

Then I started a marketing experiment. I need to bring readers to me. The simplest way to do this is through my home on the internet. This meant making sure my website has the best SEO (search engine optimization) I can provide. But I knew nothing—other than what the acronym stood for and that mine sucked—about SEO. I asked a question on one of my RWA email loops and came away with a ton of helpful nuggets of information, some of which were links to articles which led me to finding some awesome free ebooks.

From all this marketing research, I discovered the real benefit to guest blogging or blog tours—something called backlinking. So, you’re wondering what the heck is this?

Simply put, backlinking is the action of putting your website link on another website. So, when you list your links in your guest blog, you in turn create a “call to action” which brings potential buyers—or just the curious—to your website.

What this can do is increase your ranking among the search engines, especially once you’ve started to improve your SEO by using keywords (see next week’s post). Keywords is one of the bits of data search engines (Google being the most widely used) crawls your site for to rank it. So, when Google (or others) crawls the blogs/websites that you’ve appeared on and finds your link to your website with your keywords in the article or in the link, it adds this backlink to your ranking score.

Guest blogs may be a PIA and the immediate outcome may not be a sale at that moment, but for me, it (along with several other measures I’ve taken) has improved my ranking. In fact, when I checked Google yesterday by typing in my keywords “contemporary western romance suspense” I was number three on the list. Which means if someone out there was searching Google for a contemporary western romantic suspense novel, they would come across my site before even Kat Martin’s (which I assume is a fluke). But hey, maybe it’s just because my SEO is better than hers.

I can dream, can’t I?

Next week:  Improving SEO with Keywords

Categories: Marketing | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

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