blogging, book promotion

On Extending Our Reach.

I’ve brought this up previously and gotten no response, neither pro nor con, from anyone but Curtis. I’m willing to work on our look, but so far I have to assume that you all think it just fine.

The Writer Coop Annex page I’ve created as an experiment on my own site, is it too slick for you? Curtis says too much work. Yes, it is more work than what we have at present, and I am not eager to dive in, but what we show here does not say, to me anyway, we’re in this game to win.

We have had a few folks put up a post and disappear. Do they see us as a waste of time? They obviously do not want to chat, they want a site with activity, that they can market to and through. That means numbers, which we ain’t got. I put Tom Wolosz in this category, and the guy with the riddles.

We have great, wide-ranging content, we need a better presentation, a front page slate of offerings, where people will see plenty going on, plenty to be excited about, that makes them eager to jump in.

I get emails, so-and-so liked your comment, names I don’t know. Why do few of you speak up? I’m damn curious.

Let’s take a survey: Why are you here? What do you like about this site? What don’t you like?

Are you a wanna-be (published) like me, or are you already in (trad/ebook) print? What tactics have you used to get out the word?

I consider Writer Coop to be grand entertainment. Do you? (It’s fun to read, even more fun to write for.)

Facebook has a number of groups where you can cry your wares. Writers do, in droves, hit-and-run appeals, and that gets tedious real fast. This site is more of a soft-sell marketing magazine with feature-length articles. And, literary-leaning, I love that. Do you?

Those who apparently have no time to prepare a piece for us, who are, presumably, busy with the blog tours and such, good luck to them. How’s that going?

Those who proudly proclaim, my book is #425 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Paranormal & Urban, give me a break. That’s a load of crap and you know it.

Hey, break it down even further: Yada > Yada > Paranormal & Urban > Alien Comedians. (There you go, GD.) You select a category narrow enough, of course you’re going to sound good. I would guess that not many of us, at this point, fall for that. How many books have you sold/given out, in the hands of readers, the start (theoretically) of a fan base?

Marketing is exposure, that’s a given. It’s also seduction. The best way to seduce me is to demonstrate your facility with language. And where better to do it than on here? We have no rules here, except perhaps, no bullshit (except in fun), and don’t bore us. Are you up to that?

Lurkers! How’s about, everybody into the pool. Start at the shallow end, the comments section. Get your fanny wet there.

I’m all-in on this, in case you haven’t noticed. But I’ve got my own site (in progress). When it’s ready, I’ll be pushing it gangbusters. So this effort isn’t make-or-break for me. But it’s a tool in my toolbox, and I want to see it succeed.

I bow to the majority will. If you’re happy with our as-is, I won’t bring it up again. Isn’t it worth an on the record yea or nay to shut me up? Everyone admits the need for a professional-level cover on a book. How is a website any different?

What does our DIY-feel format say about our marketing sophistication? Are we an enjoyable writer hangout, a place to recharge our batteries, marketing one of many topics we tackle, or the reverse, a small start on a marketing think-tank, stylish, smart schmooze our (tasty, if I do say so myself) bait?

Am I over-focused on cosmetics? Networking, that’s a vital strategy. Mentions scattered around the web may pay off. I announced our presence yesterday on Book Country. The result so far: 57 views, no replies.

Do we have a way to track visits? One site I followed had a visible daily tally. The owner turned that off fast. It was embarrassing how few dropped by. She’d set up shop as a web designer, but her effort on behalf of her most important client, for herself, fell way short. (That’s what I worry about here.) She targeted small business owners because small business owners, in my experience, don’t know good work from crap. When her domain name came up for renewal, she let it lapse, a wise decision. In the fifteen years I knew her, she never produced a piece I admired.

I could insert our link in the comments section of the YouTube publishing/marketing videos that I comb relentlessly for ideas. Do any of the big-name sites, Jane Friedman for instance, have the equivalent of letters to the editor? I am ready to try all of this, but first I think we need to reconsider our personal-blog style presentation.

I’ve dropped the term Glabelhammies into my remark on a Mark Knopfler video, and advised viewers to google it up. The hit on the search result brought me straight here. Guerrilla Marketing! Channel Hunter S. Thompson and get to work. That’s why we need a really exciting front page, so our accidental tourists are persuaded to peruse, and perhaps bookmark for a return visit.

Give us more neat words, GD. I’ll disperse them, here, there, in ways that (seem to) make (some kind of) sense. Write us a blog-post full of wonderful invented words and I’ll skip, tra-la, tra-la, from Facebook to YouTube to Twitter, Gretel-like, judiciously dropping my bread crumbs. I love new words. I’m always looking them up. I can’t be the only word-nut around.

Craigslist! Is there a category on Craigslist for us? If not, can we make one up? I’ve said it before. I say it again: NO STONE UNTURNED.

________________________________________________

Here’s a screen shot of my latest try. This is built in Wix. I would look for something of this nature in the WordPress templates.

The blue and dotted lines are there because I took the screen shot in the Editor. A header and footer would display on all pages. And, of course, a menu.

A template, where you would have your features set up and only have to plug in new copy, I don’t think that would be too much work.

What you see below is real easy to do in Wix. The time consuming part is, you have to tweak everything. Every item impacts what sits beneath it. Any increase in depth on nearly anything, what lies below bumps and jumps around. Annoying as hell! A locked in place template is definitely in order.

FYI: From dotted line to dotted line is the recommended width for a standard screen. To accommodate a decorative edge right and left, I would have to skinny up the guts.

If I were working in Wix, I would create a spare, random repeat/motif of the symbols as a background, to liven up the empty side space on a big screen. I don’t know if you can do that with WordPress.

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 12.33.31 AM.png

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31 thoughts on “On Extending Our Reach.

  1. GD Deckard says:

    Excellent analysis, Mimi. And a clarion call for useful changes.

    I think the WritersCo-op website reflects the writers who work it. “This site is more of a soft-sell marketing magazine with feature-length articles. And, literary-leaning, I love that.” Yup, me too. For us, “It’s fun to read, even more fun to write for.” I like the fact that, “We have no rules here, except perhaps, no bullshit (except in fun), and don’t bore us.” So far, I’m happy having “an enjoyable writer hangout.”

    What the site becomes in the long run will depend on the members and what they contribute. What writers do with this site may change it. Ideas will not. Change is made real by doers, not by thinkers. So of course, one day we may be a dynamic and useful site for writers. And I certainly won’t stand in the way of such a desirable change. But I remember how happy I am to see Carl E. Reed join us and how happy he was to find us. So in the end, I may always sit at a corner table with others for whom sharing the company of writers is a sufficient reason to be here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mimispeike says:

      It could be we want to keep this a small, select company. If so, what we have does, I won’t say does fine, but it does. Except for discoverability, that needs help. But it’s tiring pumping out the blog-posts, only a handful going at it. At some point the few are going to run out of steam. Maybe we should cut back to one new piece a week. Thoughts?

      If pretty-much-fine-as-is is the general view, that’s all I want to know.

      I already see that I’m going to lose this argument, and that’s fine. Many of my ideas are, as usual, overkill. I just wanted to give my opinion.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Carl E. Reed says:

      As I am overjoyed to have found all of you, again! GD, I remember you remarking on BC (after the massive changes they rolled out) that you missed the old BC, which had a “cafe-in-the-south-of-France” feel to it, or words to that effect. I know what you mean. Although I applauded BC’s focus on getting writers to self-publish, the changes they implemented made it inordinately difficult to follow the writers you wanted to. No such problem here . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Perry Palin says:

    The rigors of the retired life are much more rigorous than I had imagined.

    My former employer will not let go. I haven’t reported to the office for months, but they continue to pay me well for written and telephone consultations. Let me go!

    Now that the open water trout fishing season is over, I have only the trout anglers holiday dinners and fly fishing EXPOs to worry about. The gardening and landscaping are about done for the season. But now I am deeper into fence repair, animal husbandry, horse training, farm equipment maintenance, and my inside and outside fitness programs. My wife and I volunteer at a few not-for-profits; this evening we have a gathering by the local live theatre company, where we volunteer and to which we make substantial (for us) charitable contributions. I thought I would spend more time writing, but there is little time.

    I have had many short pieces accepted for publication over the years, and two short story collections published by a small traditional publisher. I sold a couple hundred copies of each. I know there could have been more, but I’m not a marketer. My first novel is on the hands of a small regional publisher, and I am waiting for a response. When the novel is accepted for publication, I will start a blog or website. I have been working on content for the site. I will need help putting the thing together. I can get a marketing professional, one of my readers, to help me with that.

    In 2016 I’ve had four short fiction or creative non-fiction pieces appear in regional periodicals, a number well below my goal. One of my best outlets quit production when the publisher went out to get a day job.

    I had intended to be more active on this site, but time is an issue. Also, I sense my writing is quite different from any of yours. And I am not qualified to suggest turns or tricks for the site. I am interested in what you have done, don’t know how to improve or change it. I am not much into the “look” of any site. If I like the content, I’ll return.

    Okay, one idea. If we had list of articles, a table of contents, on the first page, people might click on former offerings before they scroll down the entire length of the site.

    I like the comments sections following each article. I would participate in a WIP section as elsewhere described, with short stories that might otherwise appear on my own blog. The WIP section might be a spur to actually working on something. Our local writer’s group does that for a number of the members; we are expected to read new things at every meeting. I would not post chapters of my novel.

    I would not use the co-op site to market my writing. My own blog is for that, and as I written before, writers sell books in my area by arranging in-person appearances and charming those who come through the door.

    I don’t know if any of this is helpful. You wrote a lot of questions, Mimi, and I’ve responded to the ones I can.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Carl E. Reed says:

      I enjoyed this piece, Perry! Nice to know that you’ve been writing and publishing. I get the “I don’t have enough time” bit, though. Truly–active writers DON’T. There are only so many minutes in the day; one has to be absolutely ruthless about the time one devotes to social media. My own rule of thumb: one’s actual writing time (re: new composition) should exceed social media time by at least a 4-to-1 ratio, else–IMHO–one is a poseur and merely literarily [sic + please forgive the alliterative rhyming there] self-pleasuring in public.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Carl E. Reed says:

    @Mimi: Well, there’s certainly a lot of there there, in that post of yours . . . err . . . there (ahem), eh?

    I’m not qualified to speak about the site’s future potential, as I’ve only recently discovered the site. And since GD and Curtis pretty much run the co-op (as I understand it), I can only share what my hopes for the site are.

    (1) I echo GD in that the joy I felt in rediscovering my favorite Book Country writers over here in this part of the tangled internet woods was based upon the quantity and quality of the posted interactions. This is a very active, engaging, thought-provoking and inspiring (key word there for me) site, as is.
    (2) It strikes me that you have a very definite vision for what you want the site to become. I trust you to create and shape your own site into something worthy of that vision. I’ll be glad to cross-post over there—as I’m sure others will here—when you have it hammered into shape.
    (3) I agree with you that the site could stand some categorization lay-out improvements to aid in drive-by accessibility. Keeping the changes as small and manageable as possible, I would like to see:
    (a) A hidden WIP section (to solicit whatever comments may come our way on works-in-progress; no formal critiques expected—though not forbidden, either)
    (b) A WRITERS ON WRITING section that would contain only inspirational quotes from The Greats
    (c) As GD has suggested, a WRITERS TOOLBOX section that could be indexed to easily find helpful guidance and suggestions on a multiplicity of trade topics.
    (d) A GENERAL COMMENTS or MISC THOUGHTS section where we could post quick reviews of books or films; anecdotes; the odd interesting thought, question or epiphany worth sharing publicly.
    (e) Personally, I don’t worry overmuch about the reading-to-posting ratio. It happens everywhere on the net, it seems. Remember BC? Some of those threads had tens of thousands of readers and only a few dozen posters!

    Anyway—thanks for keeping us talking! As the person whose e-mail drew me to this site, I will forever be in your debt, madam. And I mean that entirely on the level.

    Liked by 3 people

    • mimispeike says:

      We are so so glad to have you here. I like your ideas also. I guess my biggest wish is for a visitor to see a sort of table of contents, advertising the posts and various regular discussions, not having to scroll down and down and down. (And maybe give up.) That would be a very good start.

      It was no problem at first, and it is still not impossible, but at two posts a week, in a year, what a nightmare! This is something that has to be fixed. It should be a listing by dates and titles, with links to an archive area. Perhaps a short summary of the contents.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @Mimi: Not sure where to drop this question into the on-going conversation, but I believe you mentioned recently that the writers on this site are expected to contribute something interesting in the way of a blog post a couple of times a week or so. Are we supposed to queue these up for Curtis and then, once approved, watch them run under general content?Or is there a special section of the site where we post these contributions? I plead “newby” status for my appalling ignorance.

        Like

  4. Carl E. Reed says:

    Oh, and one more thing: Curtis, where’s my edit button?! I need to be able to edit my comments anywhere on this site. For instance, in the post above, I lost all italicized words when I xfr’d the text from the Word doc I used in composing the reply. Am I missing something? Again? Heh!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Heh, heh, Carl – I added a few italics above. Hope you approve of the words chosen. 🙂 Just below each comment you should have a ‘reply’ and ‘edit’ button. You can’t put italics directly in the reply but hit ‘edit’ after and you can add them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carl E. Reed says:

        Heh! I see what you did there, Curtis. But please understand that I only see a REPLY button. The EDIT button, for some odd reason, is missing from my postings on this particular page.

        Liked by 1 person

        • GD Deckard says:

          I only see the EDIT button when I am logged into WordPress.
          If I am not logged in, I see the REPLY button but when I click it, I am then asked to log in.
          ‘Course, I may have been sipping from my Holiday bottle of Irish whiskey.

          Liked by 1 person

          • LOL! No DOS. I wrote my own version of an internet browser in basic back in the early 80s and it’s been giving me no end of issues since. (Actually, I just discovered the issue. After clicking REPLY–as you noted–a window pops up with one’s pertinent info. It is from within this window that WordPress must be selected in order to edit responses. The learning curve flattens just that much. . . .

            Liked by 1 person

              • I think this is the issue. It will require admin editing of the site:
                ………………….

                Adding a Quick Edit Button to WordPress Posts

                Simply open your theme’s single.php file and add this post anywhere inside the loop. Don’t worry, this will only be shown to users that have specific permissions. Average user will not see this button.

                Adding a Quick Edit Button to WordPress Comments

                By default this code is added in the WordPress comments.php file, but if you don’t have the functionality, then add the following code:

                By adding these codes, a Quick Edit link will be displayed on your post page, so you can simply edit the post with one click rather than searching the wp-admin panel for editing.

                Like

  5. Thanks for that post, Mimi. Some tasty food for thought there. I do very much like your Wix page – far more enticing indeed. I don’t think I said it was too much work, but a lot perhaps for what we stand to gain. Having said that, I’ve recently gone back to explore Wix myself and I’m sure it’s quite doable – a matter of getting the hang of it. Is Wix a good blogging tool, though (as opposed to just a website)? I’ll have to look a bit closer.
    Lots of ideas in the post itself as well as in the comments. Gotta catch a plane in a while but I’ll chime in longer tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mimispeike says:

      I am not necessarily recommending Wix. It has its downside. You have to think multiple steps ahead, like in chess. Your choices can impact things down the line in unpleasant ways. Maybe a Wix template would be better. I’m working freehand, for the InDesign-like freedom.

      Wix has a whole host of nasty behaviors that are built in, you have to learn to work around them. Some of these behaviors probably are the same in any website builder, and a template addresses these problems for you. There’s no such thing as mobile-friendly when you integrate text and image like I do. I will have to create a companion mobile-ready site.

      The people in the Wix Design Experts group are always debating WordPress vs. Wix on many levels. I don’t know enough to even understand many of the arguments. I tell myself, I’ll figure it out when I get to that stage. Which is better at SEO? I hardly know what SEO is! Let alone the niceties.

      To sum up: you can do (nearly) anything in Wix that you can in InDesign, but with (usually) a whole lot more steps and effort. And nowhere near the same control. Leading issues drive me mad. So easy in InDesign. So not easy in Wix. Kerning? You have to make do. Find work-arounds.

      But it’s something of a miracle that you can work with kerning and leading at all. And you can’t beat the creative freedom.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. mimispeike says:

    I admit it. I am fixated on the cosmetic, as a way to encourage interest and to organize a message in ways that make it easy to access. In what undertaking of any kind is it a good idea to make it difficult for your client/customer/fan to find/buy/use your product?

    To quote our Carl, “Just sayin.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      No objection from me for a new look. But on a website, content is king. Arguably ugly & boring-looking sites are extremely successful if people want their content. Ebay, Wikipedia & Google come to mind 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. mimispeike says:

    Content is certainly the most important thing. But if eBay had no categories, no search bar, people would lose patience and be gone. Except for the pot-luck types. (Of which, I confess, I am one.)

    I want to be in the art pottery area. I’m willing to scroll through genuine collectibles because, who knows what else I’ll find? But if I have to claw my way through scores of born yesterday pieces to get to one early Marblehead gem, I’ll say screw it and move on to a less frustrating site.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Oh! OKAY, sorry, Mimi – I didn’t understand exactly what you wanted.

      Curtis knows best but I suspect that WordPress is offered virtually free but also offers versions with more functions at a higher cost.

      Right now, I just use the search feature at the top of the page.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mimispeike says:

        Yes, but to use the search bar, you have to know what you want. What if you don’t know what you want to read util you see it, or see an interesting title in a table of contents?

        This simple format is workable, really, but we could use a table of contents to show the world what we have available. Like I said, it’s not a big deal now, but in a year, when the blog-posts run to, say, a hundred, no visitor is going to want to scroll down that amount of material. And that’s a shame, because we have great stuff.

        I’m more thinking of the functionality than anything else. I don’t mean to be difficult. Let’s just use some common sense.

        Let me emphasize this: I am happy to accept the majority opinion. Let’s let it ride for six months, and discuss again. I believe you’ll come around to my view in time.

        I’ve said more than enough. Discuss amongst yerselves.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Hmm… What’s needed is an archive page organised by categories, with a one-line description of the content of each post and a link to the post in question. It’s work but can be done gradually. In wp.com (as opposed to the self-hosted wp.org), it would have to be done manually rather than with code. I’ll see if I can make a start in the next few days.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. mimispeike says:

    It can’t be too much work. Go visit Speak More Light, Atthys’ site. He has a list of ‘Recent Posts’ on the right, linked to the full article on a behind page. We need Atthys to lend an opinion.

    I know also that it wouldn’t be hard to do in Wix. I’ve done it. It takes two minutes: Type your title and a line of description in your Recent Posts box, or whatever you want to call it. Go to your links dialogue box. Choose Link to page … select a pre-created and named page, already in your menu. You’re done. Go on to the next title.

    Like

  9. I’ve added an archive page (Mimi’s right – it isn’t a huge load of work), for the moment as a draft. You may want to add to or modify the categories, and the one-line descriptions are very succinct, so don’t hesitate to edit those to your own articles. Just say the word when we’re ready to go and I’ll publish it.

    Liked by 1 person

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