Blog Page Content: 4 Essentials to Remember

Most everyone needs a blog to be successful online and with their websites.  And while it is important to have a plan for what to blog about,  have you noticed what content that is essential for every page despite the subject or industry?

Every blog page needs to have several essential content pieces to make it successful with your readers.

There are 4 things that are essential to your blog being successful:  Search function, social sharing button, comment ability, and topical keywords.

a magifying glass to show that we are searching for content that you are adding to your blog posts

The first thing you need is the ability for your readers to search your posts to find other posts that you have shared with them.

Having this feature allows you to entice your readers with more of what you have to say!!

 

social media icons to help readers share your content from your blog page to their favorite platform

Making sure your readers have the ability to share your posts that you work so hard to write only makes sense.

Why wouldn’t you?

Having social sharing buttons on every blog post will enable your readers to share with other readers.

speech bubble to show that your readers want to leave comments on your blog post page

I guarantee your readers have something to say.

Don’t freeze them out by not giving them a place to comment on your blog posts.  They will thank you for it.

A comment feature doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.

If your readers feel like they’ve been heard, they will return the favor and share your book with other readers.

word cloud for keyword content for blog posts

If you’ve done your SEO right, then you have a list of keywords that your blog posts are about.

Having this somewhere to be seen will help your readers to check out what other topics you have been talking about.

It’s also a fun thing to look at.

 

So there you have it.

4 things that your blog post page needs in order to be able to help your readers; search abilities, sharing buttons, commenting and keywords will help you to help your readers!!

 

Comparing Landing Pages to Landing Pages

Comparing Landing Pages to Landing Pages

Dear Author,

There are two schools of thought when it comes to defining a landing page.

The first one is a page that your visitor comes to onto your site, whether that be from social media or a Google search.

The second one is a page where you’re asking for only one action to be taken.  This is also called a squeeze page.

So let’s

Compare Landing Pages to Landing Pages

The first one to think about is on your website.

Website landing pages

Pic of landing pagesBasically, every page on your site is a landing page.  This means that any page that a reader can land on is a landing page.  If you think about it, this can be any page of your site.

Each page then needs to be written in such a way that when your reader lands on it, they will understand what the page is about.

Let’s identify what needs to be on a landing page.

Headline

Each page should have a strong, compelling headline.  You need to tell your reader exactly what your page is about.  Your headline can be the title of your book.  It can also be something about your book that would excite your readers.

Sales Copy

As an author, you can tell me why your book is so awesome.  You can sell me your book.

This is what sales copy, or copy, or the words on your site are.

You need to convince your readers that your book is the next book they need to read and why.

That means that you have to tell me about your book.

Let me know if I could help.

Book Images

Adding pictures of your books is the best way for the reader to know what it looks like.

Because whether you like it or not, your book will be judged by it cover!!

Reader Reviews

When you add reviews of your books right on the pages of your site, you help new readers to know if your book has been liked by other readers.

You could also have a link to your book pages on Amazon when you have too many to add to your site pages.  That way your new readers will know more about your book before they buy.

An offer

While you can’t set Amazon prices, you can run different marketing campaigns that will benefit your readers.

When you are doing that, make sure it is on the pages in question.

Calls-to-Action

Your calls-to-actions will be your “buy now” buttons to take them to Amazon, Barns & Noble, or wherever.

But you can make them more appealing by changing the wording of the button that is used.  Or you can have such compelling copy that they can do nothing but get your book.

 

 

Squeeze Landing Pages

Pic of landing pagesThe biggest difference with Landing pages that are Squeeze pages is that they are one page, one offer action pages with no distractions anywhere else on the page.

Think back to the last time you signed up for something that was on a page with only a simple statement or question and a “sign up” button.  That is a landing page.

 

What you need to remember is that landing pages are always working for you.  They are up and running 24/7.  If they are formatted properly, they can help you sell more of your books.

You need to have landing pages that will deliver results.  This is essential to growing your following while turning more occasional readers into devoted buyers.

 

You could take this one step further and say that…

what will you say on your website pagesEvery website page must have…

….a purpose.  Ask yourself the question:  How will this page help my reader?

While your books don’t give your readers a tangible benefit, you do give them a benefit nonetheless.

And at times that benefit can be bigger and stronger than anything you can hold in your hand.

….a message.  Each page needs to share what the underlying message is that you are trying to share.  And for some authors, this can be pretty deep.

Let me give you an example.  My fav book of all time is Jude Deveraux’s Knight in Shining Armor.  Loved the book, totally recommend it.  But in the back of the book, there is a blurb from Ms Deveraux telling us that the book is about alcohol addictions.

This is the type of thing I, as a reader, am asking you to add to your site!

….awesome pictures.  Every romance reader out there has pictures in their heads of their favorite characters.  If you provide that picture for your reader, think of how much more appealing your site would be!!!

….an objective.  If your purpose if fulfilled, then what is your reader to do next?  Thought needs to go into what the next step should be for your reader.  Most likely it will be to buy your book, but it might be something else too.

There is, what marketers call, a funnel that you need to lead your readers through.  This funnel will lead them from an occasional buyer to a devoted reader that buys everything that you send out.

….a call-to-action.  This is the words that you use to tell them what to do next.  Usually this in a button or a text link format.  Yes, it could also be the button to send them to Amazon.

 

Take the time to go through your site, page by page, to make sure that each page is defined and formatted accordingly.  I know it takes time.  I am still working on mine!!

Let me know if I can help you make your site awesome.

Your friend in romance,

Shental

3 Pieces of a Well-designed Book Page

3 Pieces of a Well-designed Book Page

Dear Authors,

Let’s face it, product pages are boring.  But every business out there needs to have a product page.

You’re no exception.  You need a page where you can show your books and you can convince a reader to buy your books that you’ve worked so hard to write.

Your product pages are your book pages.  The pages where you are trying to sell your books.

And as a romance reader, I can say, your pages are horrible.  They don’t excite me or persuade me into buying your books.

As a reader, I want more.

As a copywriter, I want to help you give your readers more!!!

Here are…

3 pieces of a well-designed book page

For many this is going to be a new idea.

But as an author, you can’t hide behind your books anymore.  Your readers want to know more about your book, more about your characters and more about you.

Your readers crave more information!!

Let’s start with…

Design

What you put on your pages is important.

You need several things to make it work.

  1. High resolution images of your book covers, as well as any other pics you added.
  2. Background colors that are neutral help your book covers to stand out.
  3. Easy navigation to buy your book.

Give your readers more and they will pay you back by sharing your stuff all across social media!

Formatting

How you add details is just as important as what you add

Keep these in mind as you write your page.

  1. Headlines and subheads.  These help your reader to know exactly what they are buying but also helps search engines to know too.
  2. Keywords and phrases.  While your readers may know what your book is called, you need to guide the search engines to the right spot.  Identify your keywords to Google to help your book pages be found easier.
  3. Product description.  Using keywords and phrases that you want the search engines to use to find your book.
  4. Call-to-Actions.  Your reader needs to be guided to the next step.  Give them clear instructions in your CTAs.

Copywriting

The role of copywriting is to convince your website reader to do a particular action.  To persuade them to do something.

On your book page you need to persuade your readers to buy your book.  The best way of doing that is by giving them the WHY.  Why they should buy your book?  Why should they care about your books?  Why your books are a better read than another author!

When you tell your reader the why, you are sharing the benefits that they will get when they read your book.  They may be all intangible benefits, but the benefits are very real!!

There are several things that you can do to help your page.

Use headlines and keywords.  This helps the search engines find you and will help your readers find you.

Informative copy will further convince your readers that your books are wonderful.

Additional product info will help you help them.

You can also give additional downloadable gifts that can convince your readers to buy, maybe even buy more.

 

Selling your books is the ultimate purpose of your whole site, with the book page being the one page that should finally persuade your readers.

Other pages (home page, about page, contact page) are used to pull them to your book page.

Let me know if I can help you with yours!!

Your friend in romance,

Shental

3 Essential Parts of your About Page

3 Essential Parts of your About Page

Dear Author,

Writing your About Page is an essential part of your online presence.

Did you know that your About page is the most visited pages on your site?  Why?  Because readers want to know who you are and how you came up with the story that they just read.

So how is your About page doing?

Do you have a well thought out paragraph that tells your readers who you are and why you do what you do?

Why do you need to have a detailed About page?

Because authors can no longer hide behind their books.  Readers want to know more.

 

To help you with what to include, I have found some great articles on About pages.

Here are…

3 essential parts to include on your about page

While there is no wrong way to write an about page, there are definitely some things to include that will help your site be more interesting, more convincing, and more entertaining for your readers.

 

Picture of a hand holding a card with the words About Page on itWhat to include

While you don’t have to divulge every detail of your personal life to feel personal to your readers, you do need to share things that are personal to you.

Here are some ideas:

Pic of you

Include a nice shot of you.  This doesn’t have to be a professional head shot.  Readers would love to see you in whatever environment that shows who you are and what’s important to you.

Share your story

Every reader wants to know more about you.  How you got started?  When you wrote your first story?  What made you start writing romance?

This doesn’t mean that you are giving out very personal details about you or your family and friends.

All this means is that you are sharing more of you and how you came to be.

If you focus on the things that make you human, your reader will feel that and feel more inclined to get your next book.

Describe your values

Almost every writer has a WHY behind why they do what they do.  Sharing this will help your readers feel closer to you.

It’ll endear you to them.  Causing them to want to feel that again.  And they’ll buy your next book, just because they felt that with you.

I know, it sounds weird but try it and see what happens.

Add book reviews

Your About page is a great place to have extra testimonials about your books. (By the way, testimonials can go just about anywhere on your site.)

This gives other readers a thumbs up for your new book coming out next year.

Including a list of what books that you’ve written and a small snippet about the book,  adding links to your book pages.  This is great for your site to have internal links

Additional info about you

I’m sure that you are not just an author.  I’m sure you are involved in some other exciting adventures that you would love to share with your readers.

Adding them to your about page lets readers know that you are well rounded and are actually human!!!

This is also a great place to add external links that are good for your site.  Add the links to the pages of the places that you are involved in.

You could also add a list of your favorite authors (and the links those other author sites).  This is a great way to add external links that are good for your site.

A call-to-action

When your readers are done reading, what do you want them to do?  Make sure to include some sort of action that will bring them further into your site and giving them a better opportunity to engage with you.

 

 

I found a picture of a statue that is thinking and asked Think about this?What to think about when you write your page

While your site is all about you, you need to direct your pages to your readers.  They are they ones that you need to impress upon.  When you do that, they will be more inclined to buy from you again and again.

Consider your audience

I know that this is your site.  But you need to direct your pages to your readers.  What would you say to them if they were standing right in front of you?  Each page should be directed with them in mind.

Forge a connection

Take the time to forge a connection with your readers.  Your readers will feel connected with you by reading your story.  Now you need to connect with them through your site and even through social media or in your newsletter.

Be interesting

Don’t just write the same thing on every about page (across other platforms) that you have.  Take the time to share things that make you YOU!!  Be interesting to your readers.

You want your readers to be interested in you because when they do, they will buy more books from you.  So be interesting!!

Get personal

Your about page is about you.  But is also about them.  You are giving your readers these amazing stories that you have put a lot of yourself into.  So get personal and deep with what it takes to be the writer that you are.

Use different forms of media

Just like in any web content, you need to make it appealing to your readers.  Add pictures, videos, music links.

Anything to make your page more interesting and entertaining.

 

 

A picture of something that is being formatted on a page with the "formatting is important too"How to format

Just typing words onto a page is not the way to send a page out for your readers to see.  Take a moment to format your page for optimal reading.

Lead with best info

If you have a lot to share, make sure your best stuff is “above the fold”.  This means that your best information is right at the top before they even scroll down.

Add headlines and subheads

Break up your text with the appropriate headlines and subheads when you need them.  Don’t have just a clump of words for your readers to read.  They won’t like that.

Add rich media

Make a point to add pictures, videos, charts, or music so your reader will engage with your page.

Add a call-to-action

Make sure your call-to-action is noticeable and easily understood.  This could be in the form of an actual button but it can also be a text link that will send your reader somewhere else.

Add social media buttons

Make sure your social sharing buttons are above the fold and easily seen.  This will give your readers the opportunity to share to the platform of their choice.  Don’t hide your social buttons just on this page though.  Having social sharing on every page gives your reader the ability to share what they want when they want.  They will like that.

Test Test TEST

No page is written in stone.  If you try one way and it doesn’t work, try another way.

Test to see what your readers want and like to hear.

 

So there is a whole list of things that you can do to make your About page all the more exciting.

Also keeping this page up to date and looking fresh will benefit your site and keep the search engine bots happy!!

If you would like my help to fix your page, head on over to my consultation page.  Fill it out and we’ll chat.

Your friend in romance,

Shental

Sources:

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/remarkable-about-us-page-examples#sm.00004ioq1sfymdpwv7m1h2l1q417r

http://www.copyblogger.com/how-to-write-an-about-page/

http://www.susangreenecopywriter.com/articles/write-killer-about-us-page.html

https://moz.com/blog/9-simple-tips-for-making-an-about-us-page-that-works-for-your-brand

http://diythemes.com/thesis/amazing-blog-about-pages/

http://thestoryoftelling.com/10-rules-for-writing-about-me-page/

8 Key Elements of Your Home Page

8 Key Elements of Your Home Page

Dear Author,

Your home page is a very important page to your website.  It is the most visited page.  Why?  Mostly because you use your home page URL in your marketing.

Anybody you talk to you send to your home page.

Do you have the right things on your home page to convert your readers?

Here are…

8 key elements to add to your home page

Out there in the marketing world, there is only a little debate as to what is needed on a home page.  But for the most part many of the gurus agree on a few basics.

What they all agree on is that your page needs to convert your reader.  Convert your reader into doing something.  What that something is, is up to you.

 

Let’s start with your…

Logo

While many companies spend too much money on developing a logo, you are lucky that you can use your own pic as your logo.

I have found that this is what most authors do.  They don’t have a logo, per se, but they do have a really nice photo of themselves on their home page.

Some have taken some part of their book design and made it into a fancy logo that represented what they were doing.  Some have taken their name or initials and created a creative logo

No matter what you decide, you need to take that same design and use it all across your online presence, so when someone is looking for you, they will know by your logo.

 

Headline

Your headline is likely going to be: “Bestselling Author (your name)”.  And that’s okay.  I would consider adding what type of romance you write.  Such as “Queen of Paranormal Romance”.  This is what Christine Feehan has been dubbed!!

So consider an additional word that you can use to describe yourself.

This will give an added word to be used in search engines that you can be found under.

 

Sub-headline

Not many authors have an actual sub-headline.  But I have seen a few that take a testimonial and added that as their headline!!

This does a double whammy of using social proof and keywords in your subhead to help you in the search engines.

But this could also be a statement about who you are and what you do.

 

Navigation

Your navigation should be easily noticeable and above the fold of your home page.

You want readers to know exactly where they can go to get your books.  So make your navigation easy to use and easy to understand.  Don’t use words that they will have no idea what you plan on doing on that page.

Strive for intuitive navigation.  This is where your site is designed with the user in mind with a flow from page to page.

Use words for each page as close to what you are wanting that page to do.

 

Content Promotion

Do you have a blog that you write for your readers?  If so, having a link to that blog right on your home page will mean that more readers will know where to look for what you have to say.

This can be just a link in your navigation but it can also be a separate text link to your blog page.

This could also be linked to your product page, your book page.  Your readers need to know right away where to go to get your books.

This could also be a place to sign up for your newsletter.

 

Resources

Do you offer any other services other than your novels?  Add this link to your navigation.

 

Social icons

This seems to be the biggest one that is missing on author sites that I have seen.  There are social icons but they are buried on the contact page or the about page.

Having the ability to share on whatever platform your reader’s choose, will enable your readers to share with many others if you make this easy for them to do so.

Having this on every page helps them to do that.  You want them to do that!!

 

A Clear Call-to-Action

Each page has a purpose.  What is the purpose of your home page?  Then you know what your call-to-action should be.  Using keywords will help your reader decide what to do.

 

While there are other things that you can include on your home page, these are the essential elements to include when you are wanting to convert your readers more often.

 

And because I like things to look pretty.

Here’s some

Bonus formatting tips:

  • Keep your most important information above the fold.
  • Choose your fonts wisely.  Don’t have several different ones, pick one or two complimentary ones that work well together.
  • Pay attention to color.  Avoid too many bold colors.
  • Include white space.  This helps the reader be able to scan your page with ease.  Break up the text so they can easily scan your page.
  • Go with simple before you add too many things.
  • Don’t waste the footer.  Put some of these in the footer, the ones that are not as essential but still needed.
  • Set up your analytics so you can keep an idea on who is doing what and for how long.  This helps to develop future marketing plans.

 

One thing that I have learned is that a website is never completely finished.  It is a work in progress.  I know that mine is!!

Let me know if I can help.  Give me a shout if I can help.

Your friend in romance,

Shental

How to write faster, better and more of what you love!

How to write faster, better and more of what you love!

Dear Author,

Today I would like to share something different.

I have been doing lots of reading about how to write a book and what it takes to write a book. Both in the non-fiction and the fiction way.

I have because I am in the process of writing a book just for you.  More on that later.

I have come across some great books and today I would like to share the highlights of one of the books that I have found.

This is called Rachel Aaron’s 2000 to 10000.  How to write faster, write better, and write more of what you love.  Here’s a link to her site.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it would be a great fit for any author no matter the genre.

non-fiction book 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron
2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron

I will share with you the highlights but you really need to check it out.  It’s only a buck on amazon so it is a great read to help you in your journey as a writer.

Here is the link for amazon.com http://amzn.to/2d6kmnk and here’s the link for amazon.ca http://amzn.to/2d6ltng

 

This book is the story of how she went from writing 2000 words per day to 10,000 words per day.  Sounds like a feat that not many could do but she makes it sound so easy.

She points out right in the beginning that there are many ways to be productive in writing.  But she has a method that is worth learning and seeing how you can adapt to your own style.

All the points here come from her book.

Rachel Aaron’s 2000 to 10,000:

How to write faster, write better, and write more of what you love.

She identifies three main sections that are needed to be productive in the book that you are writing.

  • knowledge
  • time
  • enthusiam

 

The first one:  Knowledge.  You need to know what you are writing about.  You need to know details about your story so you are not making them up as you go along.

The second one:  Time.  You need to keep track of how you manage your time, what time works best for you and use that to your advantage.  There is no point in writing at a time that you are so tired you can’t see straight.  Or when the kids need you.  You know those times!!  The times that you are pulled in many different directions.

The third one:  Enthusiasm.  You have got to enjoy what you are doing.  If you don’t enjoy what you are writing about, then why are you writing.

 

Chapter 1:  Plotting your novel in 5 easy steps

She gives you 5 steps to plotting your story.

Step 0:  Decide on what your book is about.

Ask yourself the following questions about the idea that you have:

  • Can you stop thinking about your idea?
  • Is your story writing itself in your head?
  • Can you see the finished product?
  • Could you explain your story to other people and prove to them that your story is worth buying?

 

Step 1:  Write down what you already know about your story.

Jot down some rough ideas that put your idea in front of you.

What is exciting to you about your idea?  What is it that keeps you up at night?  Basically, answers the above questions.

 

Step 2:  Fill in with the basics.

Fill in some details about the idea that you have by figuring out the three pillars of your story.  The characters, the plot and the setting.

Characters

You need 2-4 main characters.  With 1-2 antagonists.  Then you need to add as many power players as needed.  She called these extra characters power players as they play a pivotal role in the plot line.  She gave the example of Dumbledore in Harry Potter.  They are needed but are not who the story is about.

For each of these characters you need to have a list of each of them are and how they relate to the main characters.

Plot

You need to know the beginning from the ending.  How does you story begin?  What is the final ending?

And the add in the basics to the twists and turns that you are planning on having.

This is not with immense detail.  This is just the bare bones thought.

Setting

This is the basic feel of the world that you are creating.  Jot down the general ideas that you need to know what is happening where, with who, and why.

 

Step 3:  Filling in the blanks.

This is the point where you really start filling out the details to what you want to happen.

Create details that are about the history of your world.  Figure out why the characters are doing what they are doing.

She calls it “spend time with your characters”.

 

Step 4:  Build a firm foundation

When you have the basics laid out of the characters, plot and setting, you can now create a time line and a map of your community.

I like this idea of a timeline.  It actually goes with a book that I am putting together.  It will be a specially designed journal that can help you keep track all of these ideas.

Timeline

Note the ages of each of your characters.

Decide on how long everyone has know everyone else.  Put them into your world.

Add the events of your story and where they fit in the timeline.

Draw a map

Draw an actual map of your world.  Add the locations of your events.  Give a brief description of each place.  This gives you the ability to be consistent in your movements of characters.

Write out who knows what and when.  This is a quick list of the flow of information.

Memorize everyone’s particulars

Know the name (with spelling), age, and physical description of each of your characters.  All of them.

Scene list

Break down the action into scenes.  Then divide into chapters.  Keep in mind that chapter breaks are used to increase dramatic tension in the plot line.  Use that to your advantage.

Word Count Estimation

There is a sweet spot for traditional publishing.  It is 80k to 100k.  Do a rough guess-timate for how long your story will be.

Then do a boredom check.  Go through your story, scene be scene, and visualize.  Are there any boring scenes?  No reader wants to read boring!!

 

Step 5:  Start writing

She says that when you know your world, your characters, your voice, and your climax then the story may just start writing itself!!!

 

 

Chapter 2:  Characters who write their own stories

She shares that “a character’s story comes from their choices”.  This ability to make decisions that change the direction of the plot is called character agency.

She says that your character must decide for themselves that they want something.

She does a much better job of this chapter then me.  Take a moment and read it.

I think I have trouble explaining this one because I am not a fiction author.  I have not had those characters talking to me.  But I’ll try my best!!!

 

Here are some more points that she adds:

  • Go back to your characters sheets and add – these define who your characters truly are.
    • what your characters like.
    • what they hate
    • and what do they want more than anything
  • Your characters who want things are the ones that push the story to get them.
  • Simple motivations are good but for the main characters, motivation is also a plot decision.
  • Plot and character development should be so tightly intertwined they can’t be seperated.

 

Chapter 3:  The Story Architect

She tells you to become a story architect.  She compares what an architect does and what an author does.

Your writing should be an active undertaking.  It needs to be pursued relentlessly, testing and building until your ideas are strong enough to hold up as a story!!

She gives the 3 act structure idea.

  • Act 1:  Set-up
    • Introduce your world and characters.  This is the beginning of the action.
  • Act 2:  Action
    • This act begins with the something that happened.
    • This is usually the longest part of the story.
    • This section is exciting and tension filled
  • Act 3:  Resolution
    • This has the climax.
    • This is where all the complications of act 2 are leading up to, where it boils over.
    • This is the main event.

 

Chapter 4:  The two bird minimum

This is the actual writing part.  Where you put details into your scenes.

Each scene needs to do three things:

  • advance the story
  • reveal new information
  • pull the reader forward

If your story needs to be longer than your scenes needs to do more.

If your story needs to be shorter than consider joining 2 scenes together.

Okay, I’m not explaining this one well.  Read it yourself and see what she means!!

 

Chapter 5:  Editing for people who hate editing

She shares how she changed the way that she thought about editing and gives this advice:

Step 1:  Change the way you think about editing.

Ask yourself: What are you actually doing?  You are revising the prose, making it prettier, fixing character issues and patching plot holes.

What is the final destination of editing?  The answer – Reader experience.  Your book is an amusement park fun house.  And once you invite your readers inside, it’s no longer yours alone.  So your book has to make sense to others.

 

Step 2:  Editing tools

Be your own editor first.  Identify what is wrong with your story.

Scene map

This is similar to the earlier one.

Quickly jot down what happens in your story.

This is a guide, a literal scene-by-scene map of what happens in your story.

This identifies the plot lines.

This is a visual guide for your book.

She actually uses a color coding idea that helps her to see if she needs to better balance her story.

 

Timeline

Jot down all the relevant events that happen in the story.

Then go back and write down what each character is doing and where they are.

This timeline is about keeping track of what happens in what order, who’s together at what times and where everyone is when important events occur.

This is a fault finding device for your plot.

 

ToDo list

Now it’s time to put your story through the wringer to squish out the problems.  Add it to a to-do list.  You are making a giant pile of things that need to be fixed.

 

Step 3:  Actually editing

This is fixing the big stuff.

Use your scene map and timeline, move through your story.  She recommends going through it in a non-linear fashion.  When using the map and timeline, you can spot what you have missed and be able to fix things a whole lot easier than if you started at the beginning and moving through your story that way.

She does recommend reading it from beginning to end, after you have fixed the things on your to-do list.  This allows you to clean up the sequence of events and make sure your story flows.

 

Step 4:  Activating the reader brain

Now you need to back and read your book as if you are a reader.  Not a writer.

She gives the idea to take your book and put it on your Kindle and then read it there.  That way you can’t make any adjustments while you are reading.  All you can do is enjoy.

She does point out that all this last step is even before you send your story to beta readers.  You need to know if your story flows and entertains.

 

Chapter 6:  Advice for new writers

I’ll just point out some things she said:

Write the book that is inside of you!

Don’t let others opinions change what you have inside of you.

Worry about making your book good.  Worry about the best way to order your scenes or your character’s actions.  Worry about your grammar

She gives some great advice that any up-n-coming author needs to hear.  I know that I enjoyed hearing it!!

 

So there you have it.

 

Even though I have given you a detailed summary of this book, I can not do justice to this author.  She as a way of bringing you into her book and giving you hope that you can do exactly what she has done!!  Thanks Rachel.

Get your own copy and give it a read.  You won’t be sorry you did.  It’s worth it.  Here’s the links again:  Am.com http://amzn.to/2d6kmnk and Am.ca http://amzn.to/2d6ltng.

I know that I enjoyed it very much!!

Good luck in your next story writing!!

Your friend in romance,

Shental

8 Tips to Make your Site More Exciting

Dear Author,

I think one of the biggest reasons why I am doing what I am doing is because whenever I would go onto an author’s site, I wouldn’t enjoy it.

The colors would be waaaayyy off.

The font would be really small, to the point where I couldn’t read it.

There would be no other content on the site other than the back blurb of their book.

To say I didn’t enjoy their sites would be an understatement.

And I wanted more.  I wanted to know more about the characters.  More about the story.  More about the author.

But more often then not, I couldn’t find it.

 

I found a great article about websites and user experience by Hubspot.  It’s called 8 Guidelines for Exceptional Web Design and Usability and User Experience.  I’ll reference it and then point some things out.

 

8 tips to improve your reader’s experience on your site

User experience is a huge thing when it comes to your online success.  If you have a crappy site, you most likely don’t have many visitors to your site.

If you don’t have many visitors to your site, the chances of you selling your book are slimmer and slimmer.

 

Let’s make sure that other readers have a good user experience by implementing some of the following tips.

The first one they talk about is simplicity.

Simplicity

The idea behind simplicity is that when readers come to your site, they enjoy what they see and how your site makes them feel.

How many different colors do you have?  Hubspot recommends a max of 5 different colors.

How many font types do you have?  And what size is your fonts?  They recommend using a font that is legible and only going with 3 different sizes.

How many graphics do you have?  As I reader, I would love more graphics.  More often than not, there is no other graphic other than the book cover.  And while that is not wrong, only having that is kinda boring.

 

They call the next one…

Visual Hierarchy

This is related to the simplicity of the site pages.  But this one is more about the user experience (this is abbreviated to UX) that your reader will have when they are on your site.

On a well formatted page, you, as the reader, are guided from one thing to the next. (I am still learning this one.  Even my own site is a work in progress.)

So the color, position, content, visual elements and calls-to-action are all placed in a certain order to convince your reader to navigate through your site a certain way.

How does your site rank for those kinds of thing?  I can tell you that not many authors actually get this.  Some do but most don’t.

 

The next one should be a given…

Navigability

Having your navigation that ensures that your readers find what they are looking for is called intuitive navigation.

This is when a reader comes to your site and doesn’t have to think too hard about where to find what they are looking for.

This one is actually not a given.  It is amazing how many authors sites have either not enough of a navigation to share their books.  Or they have more than one line of navigation links that leave you confused.  This makes your site have so much information that it gets very confusing.

 

This takes us to….

Consistency

Each page of your site needs to look like the rest.  Don’t have one page completely different with different fonts and colors and backgrounds.  Make a point that you have a consistent feel of who you are and what you stand for.

This actually goes with developing your brand.  Your brand is your visual picture that you present to the world.

That certainly doesn’t mean that each page must look exactly the same.  That is not what I’m saying.  Each page needs to have it’s own purpose.  Be consistent in your color schemes, backgrounds, and fonts.

It’s the layout that is going to change.  Each page is going to have a different layout because it is going to have a different purpose.

 

The next thing to think about is …

Accessibility

The accessibility is all about how well your site is accessed by your readers and how it responds to them.

Is your site mobile responsive?  When your reader is standing in the bookstore and wants to look up your books, is she going to be able to find your books using her smart phone?

I have actually done that.  And guess what, I couldn’t go onto some sites.  They were not mobile friendly.  I didn’t end up buying any books.  A lose-lose situation for sure.

Another thing to think about is the meta data that you can’t even see.  When you make a point to include the alt tags, your readers, that are visually impaired, can enjoy your books too.

 

Next is

Conventionality

This brings a subject that I have found very predominantly in the Romance Industry.  Many authors think that they need to be different and have their sites be different to stand out.

As I have been learning things about marketing and copywriting, there is a proven format to what format sells and what format does not.

I can’t help but wonder if, because they are not selling, is the format of their sites part of the problem?  If they changed their sites to be following standards set out by marketing gurus, would their books sell better.

I don’t have an answer to that one yet.  I’ll get back to you on this one.

Some of the conventions are:

  • the main navigation is at the top or left side of the page
  • the logo is at the top left (or center) of the page
  • is that logo a clickable link to bring your reader back to the home page
  • do links change color when your reader hovers over them

Even you, as an author, know that there are some format conventions that you are familiar with.

 

A big one to consider is …

Credibility

I’m sure there is a credibility factor that you have had to earn to be an author.  I’m sure that you have had to earn your reader’s trust with your books and how well they are received by them.

But there is another type of credibility that needs to be earned online.  And it is going to be largely due to how your site is formatted and what type of user experience your readers will have while on your site.

Your site needs to be clear in it’s message.

You need to be honest about your books that you are trying to sell.

You need to make sure your readers don’t have to dig to find your books or how to find you in social media.

 

The last thing is …

User-Centricity

While I know your site is to showcase the books you have written and to introduce yourself as an author, you need to make sure that your website is designed with the reader in mind.

If you don’t believe me.  Take a moment and send out an email to your email subscribers.  Ask them for an honest opinion of your website.  You might actually be surprised at some of the answers.

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If you would like help updating your site to be more reader friendly, give me a shout.

Your friend always in romance,

Shental

Writing Emails That Sell your Books

Dear Author,

Email marketing is completely under used by the Romance Industry.  Now I may be a nobody, as of yet, but I know that authors do not use email like the other industries do.

Emails from authors are not usually part of any strategy.  They are just sent out willy nilly.

Let’s change that.

Let’s make sure that you develop a strategy that will enable you to sell more books and take your author business just that little bit further!!

So…

How to write emails that actually sell your books

Email marketing may be antiquated and maybe even a bit old school, but it is still more effective at convincing readers to buy your books than any tweet or post

Here’s a great article from Neil Patel that gives you more details.

To know how to sell, you need to understand why you need to sell.  Understanding the psychology behind email marketing can help you be more successful in selling.

Here are the fundamentals that I have been learning.

 

Convincing readers to open your email

Your readers already love you.  So when they see your name on an email, they are going to be excited to read what you have to say.

But to get your readers to open your emails, you still have to entice them to open your email with something exciting!!

If you send an email that shouts “Hey, here’s my next book!!”  You are not actually winning their attention.  You are just sending an email.

You need to make your email personal and friendly and sound like an extension of your story.  If you do, your reader will open every single email from you.

If you just send an email and don’t put any thought to it, you will most likely get passed over.

Captivate your reader

The first thing your reader is going to read is the subject line.  And depending on the email service that they use, you might only have a few words’ space to really convince them.

How will you grab their attention?

Your reader wants to hear about your new book, about your characters, maybe even about you.

So entice them with strong power words in your subject line.

Power words like

  • Sexy
  • Lucky
  • Gorgeous
  • Dirty
  • Crave

You could even use the title of your article and use it in your email subject line.

 

Tease their curiosity

When your subject line entices your reader so much that they can do nothing but open your email, you are on the right track.

They need to be left wondering what you were talking about, what you meant.

This convinces them that they need to open your email to find out what you were talking about.

One way to do that is to ask for their help.  When you genuinely need and want their help, your open rates will most likely be higher.

What you have created is an information gap between your request and the point of your request.

When they fill that gap, they will open your email to give you an answer.

 

Write an epic opening line

The next step is to draw them deeper into your email with an opening line that is nothing short of awesome.

Your opening line needs to pull your reader into your email even more than your subject line.

Yes, you need to address your reader by name.  You also need to be personal and authentic.

One idea would be to gain their attention by drawing on a shared experience.  Like your book.  They just finished your book.  Give them something more of your book.  Something that isn’t in your book.

Just make a point to get right to the point.  Don’t give them a long drawn out email.

 

The body

This is the place where you really connect with your reader.  This is where you give them real value that no one else can give them.

Make sure to keep it short and simple.  Don’t overpower your reader with long paragraphs and long drawn out explanations.

Break up the paragraphs to be short and easily read.

Don’t forget to ask personal questions.  This gives them the face-to-face feel, like they are talking to you directly.

 

Make the close

The closing is definitely an important part of your email.  Maybe even the most important part.

This is where your reader makes a decision about whether or not they will do what you want them to do.  You have to move your email to an end and ask your reader to act.  This is called a Call-to-action (CTA).

You need to make the decision very clear to them.  There should be no confusion as to the action involved.

Give them exactly what they should do next.

 

Cultivate an urgency

Throughout your email, you need to develop an urgency that your reader needs to do.  If this is done right, then they will do something right at the end of reading your email.  And not tomorrow or next week.

This is also to be used in your CTA.  Using power words to compel them to take action is the only way to get them to buy your next book.

 

Conclusion

Email still works.  When you use effective marketing tricks to compel your reader to do what you want them to do, you will have more success in your open rate and in your response rate.

 

Your friend in romance,

Shental

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3 formatting tips to improve your website

Dear Author,

Your website is a showcase of your accomplishments of your success as an author.  It should reflect who you are.

But the stuff you put onto your site should be formatted with your reader in mind.

And the biggest thing you will deal with is the content.  The content should not just be slapped onto your site.  You need to think about why you have it on your site.  You need to think about what your reader would want.

And that is more than just adding words to your site.  To be an effective seller (of your books) you need to have an website that has marketing techniques that are effective.

To be effective, you need to have a strong foundation of good content.  Content that your readers want to read.

You also need to think about the purpose of your site.  Knowing why will help you in what direction you should be taking your content.

Ask your self these questions:

  • Do I want to improve my SEO rankings in Google?
  • Do I want to add more readers to my email list?
  • Do I want to convert more readers to buyers of my books?
  • Am I looking for more readers to view my site?

The answer to these questions will help you to take your content in what direction.

No matter which direction you choose, you can…

Improve your website by adding these tips

that will help you to make sure your content to what your reader wants to read.

While I could have added pages and pages of improvements, I am only going to touch on 12 things that need to be improved to help your readers enjoy your site more.

I have lumped them into 3 different categories:  Formatting of your site.  Actual content on your site.  Adding rich media for a better user experience.

 

How you format your site is essential

There is a way to format your site that will help your reader to enjoy being on your site more.  This is called user experience.  It is vital to your site being seen again and again by your readers.

 

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Headline

Your headline is the first thing your reader will read.  Are you catching their attention?  Are you pulling them into your site where they are compelled to read more and want to stay?

The headline is the first step in converting your casual visitor into a frequent visitor and ultimately a buyer.  When you do it right, you will have a loyal customer that will shout praises for every book that you write.

 

Your content

Okay, really truly, your content is everything that you put onto your site.  From the words that you use, to the pictures that you add, including the music and/or videos.

But the placement of everything should be given some thought.

For example:

  • Place your most valuable content above the fold.
    • This means the content that you see right when you come to your site before you start to scroll down.  This is what is above the fold.  If you think about where the phrase came from, newspapers penned the word so you would know what is the most valued information in that day’s paper.
  • Don’t add long paragraphs to your page.
    • Each page needs to be scannable for your readers.  The internet is not the same as writing your book, so you have to change the way you add it.  This means that you can throw out every rule that your English teacher ever taught you.  Instead go with how you talk.  Write online like you talk to your friends or your family.  This way you sound like you are a human.
  • Don’t add the dates to your blog posts
    • You are lucky because your books are timeless.  They will always be new to someone new.  When you add the date to your blog posts, you are dating yourself.  Don’t do that.  By the way, this is not your publication date.  Yes, you can add that.  Just don’t add the date to updates or blog posts about your books.
  • Add a call-to-action (CTA) on each page.
    • Each page should guide you to another one with a final destination of buying your book.
  • Don’t add your actual email address to your contact page.  I have heard some controversy about this one, but the gist of it is this.  If you add your actual email with the @ sign (youremail@yoursite.com) then the Google bots that scan your site will take your email and give it to those that send out spam.  Instead do either:
    • Add your email address like this:  your email (at) yoursite (dot) com  This way it is not read like an actual address but humans will still understand it.
    • But what would be better is to have a form on your site for your reader to fill out.  This way you can keep track of sign ups in your analytics.

Another thought is to make sure that you add something new to your site on a regular basis.  This will help you to be seen by the search engines and thoroughly enjoyed by your readers.

 

Testimonials

I have heard of different thought when it comes to placement of your testimonials.  Some have said that you should have a whole page dedicated to them.  While others have said that you should have them dispersed throughout your site.

I happen to like the idea of having them dispersed throughout your site.  Why?  Because each testimonial is going to be about a particular book.  Take that testimonial and add it to that particular book’s page.

What happens if you don’t have any testimonials.  My answer is:  Do you have an established email list?  If you do, you can send out an email asking your readers to give you a testimonial of any of your books.  Then add that to your site.

 

Other pages

There are many different types of pages that need to be on your site.  Each page has a purpose.  You need to have:

  • a thank you page
  • a contact page
  • email sign up page
  • author page

You know what??  I am going to do a whole article on this.  Look for this next week.

 

What you say is just as important as how you say it

Please don’t just put the back cover blurb onto your site.  Please add more.  I say this from a reader’s perspective.  The majority of authors only add the back blurb.  Now while that is a good thing.  Add your blurb, but add more.  Your reader wants more from you.  More about your stories.  More about your characters.  More about you as an author.

Does it have to be hard to find more content.  Nope.

Give me a shout and I can let you in on a new idea that I am coming out with!!!

 

Give your readers a better experience by adding rich media

Your readers want to have more of you.  They want to have more of your books.  More of your characters.

Take a moment to add:

  • videos
  • music
  • maps of your communities
  • family book tree
  • pictures of your muse
  • a pdf of your family book tree or a map of your community

Each of these things will help your reader to have a richer experience on your site.

Don’t forget to add the alt tags to each of your images.  This helps for search engine rankings but is also helps any reader that needs the extra assistance.

 

Okay, I know that this is not all that you need to be thinking about for your site.  But it is a start.

Please let me know if I can help.

 

Your friend in romance,

Shental

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