Thursday, April 28, 2011

Revisitng Affect vs. Effect

This one is for you, Deanna. 

In March I wrote up a post about Affect vs. Effect. In order to clarify, I wanted to try again, this time with visuals.

Ice cream is yummy.

It has this crazy affect (affect = influence) on me. It makes me want to eat it.

But if I eat too much, the effect (effect = result) is... I get chunky.

Mmmm chunky ice cream.

Does that help?

Show Me Your Book Clutter

This is really embarrassing. I have this problem, and it's called Book Clutter.

I am actually quite malicious with avoiding clutter in my house, and with three little children that is no small accomplishment. But when it comes to books, I tend to let things slide... almost literally. My husband shakes his head at me, and I just say, "What??"

The problem is I have so many books I want to read. Or, that I need to read. The books in this photo are just the books I own that are on that list. It's funny how varied the genres are--from reference to family history to novels to religious to just about everything.

Aside from my cluttered side table, I have digital and paper clutter where I have recorded books I want to read. From my "wants" list on to titles scribbled on scraps of paper, I am overwhelmed with the amount of books I will get to someday.

Even with feeling almost buried by it all, I have no desire to change. I love books. I want to see books everywhere. My dear mother has stacks and bookcases and piles of books all over her house. I've seen even more than one copy of a book in different rooms! I suppose that is as sign that she should start her own cataloging system. Even then, I would never think that she had a problem. No, Book Clutter is not bad. Book Clutter is awesome.

I admit that I have been cheating a little bit. We have a small house, and only a few bookcases, so I promised my husband that I wouldn't own more books than can fill those bookcases. Those bookcases are full... no room for anything else. But there are technically more books in the house than that (see photo above).  And the pile seems to keep waxing rather than waning. Don't wag your finger at me! I'll give them away when I'm done reading them. Maybe.

Do you have Book Clutter? Take a photo and share it via the comments below. I promise to leave a funny comment.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snippets from The Chicago Manual of Style

I love this book. If you are an editing nerd, you probably love The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), too. Do you have a friend/spouse who edits? Get them this book for their birthday, and they will be happy. If you are an editor or aspiring editor, you need this book. If you are an author or aspiring author, there are some good things in here for you as well.

I recently got a used 14th edition, and I've been reading it like a novel. I am sure my husband thinks I'm crazy.

Every so often, I'll share some snippets here.

From page 32: "Many potential readers scan the tables of contents to determine whether a book is worth their time (and money)."

So, as it is saying, you may not have thought about it, but your table of contents could potentially be a selling point (or not) for your book.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cross Promotion and Partnership

I fixed up some tacos for me and my kids for lunch today. Lunch--the elusive time of day when toddlers whine for food, and my mind goes blank. I plan for dinner, but why not lunch? But that is a post for another time...

Back to tacos. I pulled out the Ortega taco box and saw something interesting.

Do you see it?

Right there in the corner. Yep, fish. But not just any fish--a specific brand of fish that Ortega has partnered with. The little blurb even includes a website for this company right on the Ortega box, directing the consumer towards recipes on fish tacos.

How do I feel about fish tacos? The thought of them disturbs me. But I suppose I should actually try them before making a final judgment.

How do I feel about cross promotion and partnerships? Seems like a sweet deal to me.

This can translate well into the book publishing industry. If you have a book in mind, whether you are in the writing stage or it is already published--consider cross promotion and partnerships. Businesses do it all the time, and so should authors.

In the case of fish tacos--there are already people buying tacos, and maybe they hadn't thought of using fish. Now the fish people have a way to get into that market fairly easily by partnering with them.

Think about your book. What is is about? Is there anything in it that could lend itself to cross promotion or partnerships? Let's say your book is inspiring stories about women; you could partner with a number of women's groups. If your book was about parenting, ideally a partnership with Fisher Price or Disney would help your book, but more realistically you could find a company or group that already reaches out to parents, which would be your ideal audience.

What about a fiction novel? That can be harder, but don't give up. What are the main character's hobbies, job, beliefs, etc? Dig deep and see what you can find.

The benefits could be endless. If you can find a group that already caters to a large portion of your target audience, it is a great way to reach them. But even if you are only able to partner with a portion of your target audience (for the fish people, I imagine anyone who eats is their target, but people who buy tacos are only a portion), it can still be beneficial, for you and the partnering group.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review: Guerrilla Marketing for Writers

There are a few books you should have in your marketing library to refer to again and again, and this is one of them.

Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman and Michael Larsen is a great resource for writers.

It really drives home the message that many authors are missing today--market like an animal and plan on doing most of it yourself. Whether you self-publish or are accepted by a traditional publisher, no one else will market your book for you. This book will help to motivate you into being guerrilla intensive.

In it are useful lists of what you need to know, but what I like is there are also real-life stories that illustrate what the authors are trying to say.

Another aspect I like is that the book focuses on marketing tactics that are not only effective, but FREE. And that is something I think most authors will appreciate.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What is SEO and Why Do I Care?

I am a writer by profession, and even though I enjoy my work as an editing manager and freelance journalist, it is never enough. If you are a writer, too, you know what I mean. You are always hunting, always searching, always sniffing out other job opportunities. The thrill of finding a new writing project is almost just as fun as doing the writing itself. is my constant late-night friend.

One thing has changed in the writing ads lately, and that is SEO. Everyone is looking specifically for an "SEO Writer" or they want a writer who is experienced in SEO. It's everywhere. It's hip. It's becoming essential.

  • What is SEO? Search Engine Optimiztion.
  • Why is is important? It helps boost the search rankings of that website/blog/other so it comes out higher on Google.
  • Why should you care? Even if you aren't a writer by profession, if someday you want to write and market a book, you will need to know this stuff. 

Here is a great article about being an SEO writer. Read it for a little more background before you continue.

Now, where does SEO come in with you and your book? It comes mostly with marketing, which can begin even before you are done writing...

Let's say the book you want to write is about jewelry making. You have a blog with jewelry making tutorials, and then you start a website connected to your blog to sell some of the jewelry you have made. Later you write a book about jewelry making, and you want more people to find your site via online search to buy your book. How do you do it? Think SEO.

How can SEO help you? It will increase your rankings in Google. What features are there to SEO? Things like links to the best places to buy supplies, content specific to jewelry making like tip lists or how-to articles, perhaps even a free downloadable ebook about jewelry making. There are lots of components to SEO (make sure to research it or talk to someone who does it by profession). Basically, make your website a place for people to go who are interested in jewelry making.

So many authors think in terms of a website about them or their book. They need to think backwards. In terms of SEO, they need to make their website a portal for the information surrounding their book. That is how SEO works.

As you develop an author website, blog, social media campaign, etc., you'll want to keep SEO a priority so people can find you and buy your book. As you find out more about SEO, you will come to realize that the way you develop your online presence as an author, specifically through your website, will greatly impact how people will find you and thus book sales.
I've recently helped a few friends develop small business websites, and one things I have advised is for them to not only include the regular information you see on most websites (like a photo, contact information, about us, etc), but add lots of relevant content (typed text). For example, one friend is going to be selling real estate in Arizona. I offered to write up several real estate-related articles for her website. Why? So her site will have more relevant text. Text that is searchable via search engines. Think about it--when you type in "Phoenix houses for sale" into, what do you get? And if my friend wanted to be on the top of that list, she would need the text and other items on her site to help her get there. There are many many real estate agents in her area, so she needs to think in terms of SEO to set herself apart.

Here is another example: There are several financial gurus out there. Probably the most popular is Dave Ramsey. His website is chalk full of financial information, including advice, stories, videos, links, tools... the list is endless. It can be someone's one-stop-shop for financial information. Just one small component of Ramsey's empire are his books, which also happen to be bestsellers. So people are drawn to his site because of his knowledge and vast content, and many leave by ordering a book.

Is all of this making sense?

As you develop your own book marketing plan, make time to research SEO and figure out ways to make it work for you. Think about your site in terms of an information station and you'll be well on your way.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Than vs Then

English is such a funny language.

We borrow words from other languages, we combine two words to make one, and in a pinch we even make up words.

You'd think we could avoid words that sound so similar, they are often mistaken for the other. {Sigh}

Today we are going to cover Than vs Then. Not as commonly misused as Its vs It's, but still high on the list.

THAN is used for comparing. So just remember THAN with an A is used to COMPARE.

Example: Bob is smarter than Bill.

THEN has many more uses. Like if you do this, then this will happen; as a point in time, like then we will go to the movies; and also or adding to, like you take on tire, then another, then another.

Examples: If you eat too much, then you will feel sick.
Let's go to the store, then we can head home.
I want to pack those red socks, then those blue ones.

Does that make sense?

QUIZ TIME! Which usages are correct?

1. Please pass the peas, than hand me the rolls.
2. Please pass the peas, then hand me the rolls.

3. I like my hair now better than before.
4. I like my hair now better then before.

5. First we will go to bed, than we will get up.
6. First we will go to bed, then we will get up.

7. If you get too close to the edge than you will fall!
8. If you get too close to the edge then you will fall!

Leave your answers in the comments.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Your Favorite Bookstore

I was in Portland, Oregon, the other day; a day in Portland isn't complete without a trip to Powell's Books.

I love Powell's because it has a certain feel to it... it's extremely large but it feels intimate. There are new and used books, so I can usually find something I want at a good price. Staff is placed throughout the store to help you find things--I needed to find a specific book and they took me to it in less than a minute. And best of all, there was an awesome children's section with tables and lots of books to read, making it a great resting area for me and my kids. Sometimes in bookstores I am afraid to let my kids touch the books, but here it is encouraged!

What is your favorite bookstore? Why?