Heads Up!

Heads Up!

by K. Allen Wood

If you’re an author with access to the Internet, you’ve undoubtedly been bombarded recently by other authors peddling their books or stories. We’ve all been exposed to this before, but until the past year or so most self-promotion from authors was done in a classier, more respectful manner.

Some still operate that way (and we’re grateful), but others have taken it to a whole new level.

I won’t sit here and tell anyone they shouldn’t promote their work or the work of their friends or authors they enjoy, but I will explain what typically happens on my end when authors do it incessantly.

What’s that smell?

If you follow me on Twitter, I will likely follow you. If you do nothing but post links to your book or books, I will block you and vow to never read your work.

If I connect with you on LinkedIn and you immediately send me a message or an e-mail telling me to check out your book on Amazon, I will “disconnect” from you and vow to never read your book—especially when, as happened yesterday and thus prompted this post, I sample it and there is a mistake three words in. No, thank you!

If we’re friends on Facebook and I’ve “liked” your author page—which is the page I expect to see writing updates generate from—and you go and post daily the same goddamn updates on your personal page, your author page, and every writing-related group you and I (sadly) belong to, even those that are not meant for such updates, I will block your updates, vow to never read your work, and find you to be a total wackadouche.

If you constantly post 5-star reviews on Amazon and then share those overblown, unhelpful reviews loaded with WHIZBANGPOW! adjectives and vague clichés like “it gripped me from the first word and didn’t let go until the last”—which are obviously meant to A) kiss the (undoubtedly more popular) author’s ass, B) hide the fact that you didn’t actually read what you reviewed, and C) use his or her book as a piggyback to your own shitty book or books—I won’t believe a word you’re saying and more than likely will never read that author’s book because your word can’t be trusted.

(That’s right, an absurd run-on sentence in a post where I criticize bad writing. Got a problem with that?)

The fact is, you’re not helping anyone, especially yourself. Most of us promote our work in some regard, but some of you are OUT OF FUCKING CONTROL! I won’t begrudge you your rights to be that way—that pushy, lying kind of self-promoter. You’ll surely fool a lot of dummies out there. But I won’t support you. And worse, I’ll find it very hard to support those other authors that are unlucky enough to be promoted by you. They’re the innocent bystanders in this whole thing. And some are probably damn fine writers, which is a shame.

In the grand scheme of things, the big picture, this post is just one insignificant opinion from a relatively insignificant dude … but rest assured, I’m not the only one with this opinion.

So do as you will, but remember this: You can’t push or lie your way to the top. You can push and lie your way to a top, sure, but it’s most definitely not the top.

Editor’s Note:

This blog entry originally appeared on K. Allen Wood’s website.

How to Meaningfully Grow Traffic to Your Site/Blog

How to Meaningfully Grow Traffic to Your Site/Blog by Jane Friedman (an article from http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/digitization-new-technology/how-to-meaningfully-grow-traffic-to-your-siteblog)

It’s a problem that every new blog or website faces in its early days—or every day (!): How to get readers (also called traffic).

There are a few well-worn pieces of advice in this area, such as:

  1. Comment on other people’s blogs. Virtually all comment systems ask you to leave your name and site URL. If you leave valuable comments, people may visit your site.
  2. Link to other people’s blogs frequently and meaningfully. If you link to someone, and you send them
    significant traffic, they’re going to notice! They might link to you
    one day, or pay attention to your work if you’re within the same community.
  3. Add your URL to your e-mail signature, business card, book, etc.
  4. Offer guest posts on sites/blogs with more traffic than your own.
  5. Be active on relevant community sites, which can interest people in what you’re doing, which can lead to visits to your site/blog.
  6. Ask for a link trade, where others agree to permanently link to your site/blog in their blogroll, and you return the favor on your own site. (This is by far a less popular method nowadays; it’s pushy and can damage credibility if you don’t believe in the links you’re sharing. Better for this to happen naturally, over time.)
  7. Be active across social media and alert people when you have a new post. (And/or make sure your URL is clearly listed on every social media profile.)

Your mileage will vary on No. 7 depending on your social media presence, how savvy you are, and if you’re reaching out in the right areas.

But I’m a strong believer in the breadcrumb method, where you have accounts on multiple community sites. That’s because you never know how people might find you, and the more doorways you have leading to your site, the more traffic you will get over time.

Even if you’re not active or devoted to a particular community site or social media channel, you can still appear to be active if you adjust the settings in your favor.

To help explain, let me show you where my site or blog traffic comes from, then explain how that traffic happens.

Here are 5 key, continuing sources of traffic for this blog (No Rules) in the past year—aside from search engines and direct traffic.

1. TWITTER

Both Writer’s Digest and I have active presences on Twitter (130K and 50K followers, respectively). When a link is broadcast that a new post is up, it reaches thousands of people initially, and then thousands more through retweets and mentions.

2. FACEBOOK

New blog posts are automatically fed onto my Facebook personal page, as well as the Writer’s Digest fan page (without any help from me, because it works through NetworkedBlogs). Other people also commonly post links to my blog content on their own Facebook walls.

3. WRITERSDIGEST.COM
There’s a permanent link to all Writer’s Digest blogs on the homepage, and it’s a consistent driver of traffic to No Rules.

4. BLOGGER MENTIONS (and permanent bloggers’ links)
When taken individually, one person’s blog or site may send just a handful of visits per day or week. But when you multiply that effect by dozens or hundreds of bloggers, that’s a huge impact. But you only get to enjoy this dynamic if you’re blogging for the long haul. It rarely happens overnight.

5. STUMBLEUPON
To tell the truth, this is one site where I am not active, and only recently did I even start an account. But over time, this site has started sending MORE traffic my way as my most popular posts are tagged and catalogued. (Right now, this controversial post that’s tagged is sending me a few dozen visits a day from StumbleUpon.)

Some other important sources of traffic this past year have been Writer Unboxed (where I offer guest posts) and Alltop, where this blog is catalogued as part of the writing and publishing pages.

Here are the top 5 sources of traffic for my personal site (JaneFriedman.com) in the past month. They constitute about 80% of my traffic.

1. THERE ARE NO RULES (this blog)
This make sense since NO RULES is where I focus most of my time and energy in producing new content. I rarely link to my personal site in my posts. Instead, it’s a static link on the lefthand sidebar if people want to know more about me.

2. GOOGLE (organic search)

The No. 1 search term that brings people to my site is “Jane Friedman.” I am probably attracting a considerable number of visits from people looking for The Other Jane Friedman.

3. TWITTER
Traffic from Twittercomes from 3 areas:

  • from the static URL on my Twitter profile (see above)
  • from the tweets I send with links
  • from the retweets and mentions from my followers

4. DIRECT VISITS
These visits are from people who have bookmarked my page, click on direct links from e-mail notifications, or otherwise type in “JaneFriedman.com.”

5. FACEBOOK
Traffic from Facebookcomes from 3 areas:

  • from the static URL on my profile page
  • from the links I post to my site
  • from the links other people post to my site

Some of my biggest traffic bumps happen when a major Facebook group posts a link to my series, When Mom Was My Age—which shows you the value of consistent series or features on your site/blog.

If you look at the long tail of my site traffic—on this blog as well as my personal site—I’m getting a significant number of visitors, over a year’s span, from:

Does it take me any effort to get this traffic?

No. I simply make sure that I use all settings and opportunities for auto-updating, when applicable.

Take my LinkedIn profile as an example. I don’t spend time on this site. But I’m “active.” See below; the top red arrow points to my Twitter updates, which are automatically fed into my profile and provide constantly refreshed information about what I’m doing. I don’t lift a finger.

The bottom arrow points to a mash-up of things I’ve told LinkedIn to report, based on my other activity online.

On LinkedIn, I also feed in my blogs, which appear under my profile summary.

This keeps me active on the site without requiring my time. Look for these types of feeds and settings on every site you use!

This is why I give the appearance of being everywhere at once, while really just focusing my energy on a few things: my professional blog, Twitter, Facebook.

Why those 3?

Because those places give me the most return on my investment of time and energy. Everyone’s results will be different, though, which is why you absolutely must find out where your site traffic comes from. (Use Google Analytics to get started.)

People will find you in a hundred different ways, and it’s more important than ever to have your own site—so you can direct people to your “home,” where readers and community influencers have an opportunity to find out where you’re most active, and choose their preferred means of staying updated.

I can guarantee that after this post, I’ll have a lot of people joining me on Facebook or LinkedIn because they didn’t realize I was there!

And that’s a good thing.

Ax-murderers, Shotguns, and Car breakdowns, Oh My

Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Rural Car Breakdowns by Greg X. Graves (via his website, www.Gregxgraves.com)

My car broke down on the creepiest road in town. It was out on the edge of civilization, past the chemical plant, out where the broken corn stalks stuck up like yellow bones from in a shitty graveyard. The way I saw it, I had two options.

One, I could use my cell phone to call my buddy Logan to come out and get me and wait for him to arrive. And get horribly murdered by an ax-wielding maniac.

Two, I could call Logan and walk to the nearest source of bright, scouring light, a gas station about two miles back.

I chose option two.

I walked along the darkened lane. My phone seemed terribly bright in the pitch blackness.

“Yeah, my car broke down. Come pick me up,” I said to Logan. The night was so still that I felt like I was screaming.

“No can do,” Logan said.

“Come pick me up right now or I will break your jaw the next time that I see you.”

“Here’s the thing, though, I’m with Stacy and she’s finally-”

“Fine,” I said, and hung up.

I had to hand it to Logan, though. I was so angry at him for abandoning me that I wrapped myself in my rage like a suit of armor. I made it to the gas station without a single lump chopped out of me.

The gas station was the only beacon in the night. It cast a sick, medical haze into the night. Drawn like a moth to the flame, I stumbled out of the shadows towards the solitary gas pump and tiny convenience store. The door tinkled as I pushed it open.

“Can I help you?” asked the clerk. He appeared to be just as dusty as his wares. In fact, the only merchandise not covered beneath a layer of dust appeared to be a stack of playing cards on the counter.

“Yes, I was wondering if you had a service station?”

“Did you see one on your way in?” the clerk asked.

“No,” I said.

“There’s your answer. What seems to be the problem?”

“My car broke down some ways back. Do you at least have the number of a tow truck?”

“Just a second,” the clerk said. He stood up from his stool and pulled a shotgun from beneath the counter.

I ducked behind a rack of Nixon-era Snickers bars. I’m not sure why I thought that they would do anything but fill my gunshot wounds with chocolate, nougaty goodness. Luckily, the clerk didn’t shoot me. But he did walk to the door while I cowered there. It opened with a tinkle, and before the bell had quieted itself the shotgun had barked. And again. And a third time.

The clerk came back in.

“I ain’t gonna shoot you, even though you can never trust the living.”

The clerk replaced his shotgun beneath the counter.

“What did you just do? Did you shoot somebody?”

“I sure did. Two ax-murderers. These fields are lousy with ‘em. Shot them right in their faces. One thought he’d be clever and not die right away, so I had to plug him again. You wanted the number of a tow truck?”

“Um, is it okay if you give it to me after the Sun rises?”

The clerk grinned. He snatched a deck of cards from the counter and slid a thumb along the cellophane until he could yank it off with a crackle. He grabbed the spare card with the rules printed on it and wrote a number on the back.

“I wanted to give you the information for the tow truck before dawn, because I’ll be gone. Can’t stand the sunlight. Do you know how to play gin rummy?”

The Moral: ghosts hate rural ax-wielding maniacs.