Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ping and Twitter

SEO has been on my list of things to do for months. I get so little traffic to my novel's website, I can't even give away books there. So I read everything I can about search engine optimization and work at it when I have time. Some of the terms and technology were intimidating me. I'm so over that now. The latest buzz words in SEO are ping and twitter. When I first heard them, I groaned, thinking I'd have to learn new HTML or dig around in my website set up.

Nope. They are websites. And so easy to use. Ping-O-matic is a simple form. You fill in the name and url of your blog, check where you want to send the update, and then click "send pings." The idea is to do this every time you post a new entry on your blog and let blogworld know there's new content. SEO for Dummies.

Twitter is new social networking site, similar to MySpace and Facebook. If you have the time for yet another networking site, Twitter is a little different. It is all about the personal update: What are you doing now? If you want to keep your friends updated all day—I'm clipping my toenails, I just ate a bowl of bran flakes, I'm thinking mean thoughts about my husband again—then this is the site. It offers a little Twitter box that you can paste on your other sites to make your update available everywhere you are. I'm not sure yet how this will increase traffic to my website, but I'm game.

The other SEO term I'd been hearing and finally checked out is "Technorati." It too is a website. But its name and tagline—what's percolating in blogs now—are misleading. There's no information about the technical things you need to know to be a successful blogger. It's just breaking news through the eyes of bloggers.

So take heart, writers. SEO is not complicated. But like everything else you do online to market yourself and your books—it takes time.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Shaking It Up (aka: cliff diving)

At the end of last year, I decided that 2008 would be different. I had several goals:
1) start a new novel
2) write my own stuff first thing every day, even if I had to get up at 5 a.m. to do it
3) find or create work that I enjoyed more than what I was currently doing
4) sell my detective series to another publisher

By March 1, I had accomplished the three things I had control over. January first, I began to outline my new Detective Wade novel, working title, SECRETS TO DIE FOR. I began getting up at 5 a.m. to write for an hour or so before I went to work. At the time, I worked as an editor for an educational publisher, a demanding job that left me too mentally exhausted at the end of the day to feel creative enough to fill blank page after blank page (which is how a novel comes into existence).

Next, I started sending out letters to agents, publishers, and writers, announcing my services as a fiction editor. And I contacted some corporate clients and magazines about nonfiction editing as well. Then I took the biggest step: I asked my employer to let me cut back on my hours at work, thinking it would be long slow transition to self-employment. They promptly laid me off.

Thank you very much.

Terrified, but joyously liberated, I plunged into a new routine: Write for three hours exclusively on my novel first thing every morning, break for an hour of cardio, then freelance edit for others. After dinner I switch to networking and marketing my novel that's currently in print, THE SEX CLUB. Most days I work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

I love my new life! My bathroom is perpetually untidy, dinner is often an unimaginative freezer-to-oven meal, and there's laundry backed up everywhere. But I passed page 100 yesterday on my novel, so who cares? My husband says he's never seen me so happy. It's the first time in my life that I've put my personal writing first. Making a living, raising kids, taking care of extended family, and keeping the house clean were always a priority. These things are still important, they are just not most important. (Don't call child services; my kids are adults now.)

My goal now is make it all work for as long as possible. My husband was laid off one week after I was—an unexpected event—so we're sweating the health insurance a little. But he doesn't want me to change anything about my new life. I had already quit spending money (except on books) and guess what? I don't miss any of the things I don't buy. It's amazing how simple life can be.

Now if I could just land a publisher . . .