Saturday, January 19, 2013

That's no accident - it's the result of a LOT of hard work

Last week my wife told me a friend of ours decided to look my novel up on Google. The cool thing was the official web site for THE TRIP was the first result to come up. My wife thought this was cool, but I already knew it was going to happen. I planted some seeds in Google when I set the page up, and those efforts are now bearing fruit.

Don't get me wrong - it's really cool to know someone else can find my site through a Google search. (It's one thing with me finding it myself, but it's a totally different feeling to see someone else succeeding at it)

So how did I do this? By day I'm a web developer. I know HTML, some jQuery, but I knew absolutely nothing about SEO (search-engine optimization). I bought a really good book on the topic - SEO Made Simple by Michael Fleishner - and put his advice into action. Voila! A couple weeks after deploying my novel's site, I can find it in Google.

I need to stress here I kind of had a leg up - my personal site (accessible off THE TRIP's site) was out and available for a couple years. Rather than starting over with a new domain, I decided to make my novel's URL a subsite under my personal web site. Why spend more money on another domain that I'd need to maintain when I can do whatever I want under my own banner?

So if you want to do this on your own, could you? Absolutely. You can learn HTML from a good book (I highly recommend Laura Lemay's book on HTML). It'll take a little work, but you can probably put together a basic site within a week or so. This custom built site - if you take Fleishner's advice - will be much better for your SEO rankings than an off-the-shelf site will be. ("Canned" sites tend to limit how much you can customize, and IMHO they tend to look a lot alike)

In a nutshell, landing on the top of a Google search result page isn't an accident. It's the result of a lot of work and - most importantly - time to reach that spot. You can't put a page together Sunday and expect to be at the top of Google by Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Now that the novel's comes the hard part

As you know, I've decided to self-publish a novel. On the upside, I've been able to decide exactly how the story unfolds, the word count, and even the cover art. With a traditional publisher, this probably wouldn't have been the case.

So here comes the difficult part. I'm on my own marketing this. I have no marketing department to help me - I've got to do this on my own. My work will rise or fall largely due to the work that *I* put into it. If you're considering this route on your own, you need to understand this going in.

This is at the same time scary as hell and liberating. I fret over whether I'll make my investment back, though I've luckily spent a fraction of what I see other self-published authors spend (I got pretty far without spending any money - but that's for another post). But on the other hand...nobody's calling the shots but me.

Tonight on the advice of a friend, I stopped by a local independent bookstore to drop off a comp so they could decide whether to sell my book or not. The meeting seemed to go well (I mentioned I was self-published and they didn't wave me off out of hand). I'm interested to see where this goes - there's the possibility of a book signing and getting my book onto the shelves. THAT'S exciting!

And I've sent a number of copies out for reviews...the reviews I'm seeing on and GoodReads have thus far been positive. Whether this trend continues (and what the people working for the blogs and newspapers think), time will tell.

Monday, January 14, 2013


After a year of writing, a year of redrafting, and a couple of years trying to market it, I've gone and self-published a novel.

What the hell was I thinking?

Seriously - this is a lot of work. I'm responsible for everything from the cover design to the marketing plan. It's a lot of work, sure, but at the same time...this is kind of fun.

I'll bring you along for the ride here - the ups, the downs...the wonderful journey known as self-publishing.