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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Keywords & Content

I've been in a pensive mood lately. I've been mulling quite a few topics such as the future of publishing and the transitory existence of anything posted on the web.

Sure, our cyber words are there forever, but unless someone sees them, they are read and forgotten within days.

What keeps them alive are search engines. I get a lot of hits for old posts strictly because Google has them listed prominently.

Keywords are so very important in blog posts. If you want people to look you up, learn to title your posts with specific language so search engines will pick you up. My most active post titles are posts about dogs, remodeling, and when I mention authors and agents by name and link. Brand names also raise your visibility. Link a lot and you'll find yourself higher in search listings.

The other very important thing I've learned is that web crawlers read the first paragraph of a landing page. If you're not saying anything important within the first few sentences, the crawlers will move on to other blogs/websites, searching for key words.

Publishing futures: (Ironically I did a post title with that name and regularly get a lot of hits for that too.) It's an unsteady market all the way around. Right now I have two stacks of print books on my nightstand as well as at least a dozen ebooks in a folder on my desktop. All of them were FREE. I have not bought a new book in almost a year. All of them were either gifted to me or were given away at a conference.

Ironically, the one set of books I did win, I never received. I won't embarrass the author by mentioning her name, but if you offer a giveaway, you need to deliver.

Anyway, the point is, where are authors making their money? Maybe it's because I hang with other authors that I've come to know where all the free books are, but I don't even try to compete. Most books are given to me. Some perhaps because people hope I will review them or mention them on this blog. (BTW, my reviews for books and movies also get a lot of hits from search engines.)

Before I got into writing, Greg and I would visit Barnes & Nobles weekly. We hardly ever left without a new book a piece. Now I have more books than I can read and all of them were free.

The majority of my non-writer friends no longer read. Of those that do, I notice most like fast reads. This makes sense in our fast paced world. While I sometimes enjoy the rich, deep novel, such as Sarum, by Edward Rutherford, most times all I can manage is a quick fix, so I read novels I can finish in a couple of sittings.

When I go garage saling, the books I see most often are romance and mysteries. Twenty years ago, science fiction novels were common in yard sale finds. Now, they are few and far between. Fantasy has replaced sf and vampire heroes are the popular favorites.

You can tell a lot about public consumption by seeing what's sold at garage sales. I generally start seeing new fiction in garage sales about 6-8 months after its debut, so it's been a pretty fair barometer on trends.

Most of my author friends are midlisters or debut authors. I have not seen ANY of their work at garage sales or flea markets and that troubles me on several levels. It means we as a group are not reaching the casual reading masses, only the fringe of voracious readers.

If it was hard to make a splash in this pool before, it's even more difficult now.


Friday was the day from hell. Nothing worked right, my computer connection was slow and a half dozen people called or emailed me for favors.

To top it off my security alarm wouldn't stop beeping.

You would have to know how sensitive I am to noise to understand how debilitating this was for me. My headache was so bad I was actually nauseous. Still, I couldn't rest until I found a way to stop the beeping. I had to take pictures of the wiring box and email them to Greg so he could tell me what to disconnect. Still nothing worked. I found out later there was a secondary backup battery that kept the darn thing running. Unbelievable!

I had scheduled to do a podcast interview with KS Augustin that night, but the incessant beeping was loudest in the room where my computer lives.

--Kaz, I'll write you in a little bit to see when we can reschedule.

Friday was a bust from morning to night. Oh, and the icing on this trouble cake...while I was busy trying to locate the source of that incessant beeping, Iko chewed up my favorite bed comforter. I made him think about his sin while sitting in his crate. The heathen never uttered a peep--he knew he was in trouble.

On the bright side, next week is a special week on this blog. I contacted Lynn Viehl to be included in her Left Behind and Loving It series. Next week, we will have an entire week of Killer Campaign posts followed by an announcement on Saturday.

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini --


Jannette Johnson said...

We all have days like that, but the good news is, Friday is gone. :)

Good advice about naming blogs. I think I'll change the name on mine. Make it easier for people to find. That is, if they want to. :D

Maria Zannini said...

Duh! And I thought I had you on my reader. Sorry, Jannette. I've got you there now. I also added myself to your followers.

Marianne Arkins said...

I often forget about keywords -- though most of my hits are about voles and gardening, lol...

And re: publishing -- I really think that folks are turning more and more to eBooks (partly because they get instant gratification which is very important in today's society... people HATE to wait for anything), so it may be that you don't see those books at garage sales because you can't.

When I went to my library's bi-annual book sale, the largest majority of paperbacks consisted of Harlequin/Sillhouette books, which tells me that people still subscribe to their service in large numbers.

I get plenty of free books, too, but I also buy them -- my favorite best-selling authors or friends books that have come out in print. I purposely allot a certain amount of money for books -- they are also my favorite gift for any occasion. I figure if I want the industry to survive, I have to do my part.

Looking forward to your Left Behind and Loving it posts and sorry you had such a miserable day on Friday.

Maria Zannini said...

I would say you must be the foremost authority on voles.

How's that for infamy?

Mike Keyton said...

Key words can have unexpected results, though then again maybe I should have thought twice before heading one of my posts 'A sound spanking'. An analysis of what my hits were looking for indicates they would have been profoundly disappointed.

Maria Zannini said...


Mike, I don't even want to go there.

I try to be careful about my double entendres. But I still get the occasional weirdo.