The Uphill Slog – Chapter Six on Self-Publishing
Update. I’m close to the end of the first round of editing – the substantial edit – the one where characters, plots, themes and sentences are wrestled into something respectable. The one where I’ve had to make harsh decisions on the chunks which needed to go. (They say you need to be able to ‘Kill your darlings’, you really do.) My editor wants to have a quick go through again before she sets the creature free on editor number two. Editor number two will do the copy-edit (or proof read), with a fresh pair of eyes for typos and small imperfections.
The substantial edit for Dogtooth Chronicals has taken around three months. This is unusual, but my editor has been ill in parts and it’s a longer, more complicated book than the average Joe (500 odd pages layered in chewy, delectable prose, or some such). Also I didn’t want to rush this part, as this was also my time space to work on my ‘web presence’. So I’ve been steady in completing my side of the editing based on the feedback I received.
So, web presence. This is a major factor in the digital age, so here’s some dispatches from the front line of quietly wailing ‘please notice mee! I’d dead talented and creative!’
Various sites offer space for author profiles, these range from the humongous Authonomy to the small time Novelreads. Some you can register automatically, others you need to contact whoever runs the site. Whatever you’re doing on the internet it’s good gumption to use what my dad calls ‘common courtesy’. It should be obvious to most, that making unrealistic demands and flouncing about like you think you’re better than everyone, won’t get you very far.
While I haven’t found the time to make the most of Authonomy (joining conversations on forums and making cyber-friends), simply having a profile that contains a link back to your website or blog is a small, golden building block to web presence. It helps with that other lovely term SEO, which stands for ‘search engine optimisation’, or to the lay woman/man – making sure Google etc. can find you. If someone searches your name with the word ‘author’, you want to be on that first page of results.
SEO is a complex beast and many spend too much time staring into the proverbial rabbit hole, trying to unravel its magic. So here’s a few simple things I’ve learned that most folk can get their head around.
- Make sure there are links on other websites to your main home (blog or website). This includes the afore-mentioned author profiles and social media sites (Twitter/Facebook etc.). The more longevity/status the site has that links to you, the better.
- Try to get guest blogs or articles on other sites. Though some may simply be interested in the book you’re promoting (look up indie reviewers), it can also be very beneficial if you’re willing to share advice on the writing and publishing process, or how you juggle the practical and the creative. E.g I’ve a recent article on Flaneur arts & culture e-zine about self-publishing and the current state of the publishing industry.
- Keep a consistent presence – update your main blog regularly and encourage fresh internet traffic. There’s a lot of dead wood on the net, Google is trying to filter out old sites which are no longer really in use or relevant.
- Interlink your blog/website so you’re drawing people in to stay on it as long as possible. For example I’ve begun putting links at the bottom of this particular series of blogs back to earlier ones on the same subject. If you’re linking to anywhere outside your blog (e.g a recommended site) tick the option to open this in a fresh window. That way yours will still be open and they may go back to it to have another look.
- Be social on other blogs, like things you like and join in disscussions. If folk click your avatar it leads them back to your blog. You can actually plug your blog in some situations, but make sure it’s totally relevant, otherwise folk get annoyed and ignore you.
For more tips on setting up a blog (if you’re new to it, or still finding your feet), here’s some tips and advice from a freelance writer – Kana’s Chronicles.
So, back to the tale of woe. Actually I’ve nowt to pity myself about. Lady Luck has tickled my chin a few times. But this stage of things is a psychological and emotional slog. I feel like I’m getting nowhere very slowly. It probably isn’t true, I just can’t see the the book for the leaves (Basil Brush says boom boom). I get phases of lethargy, when it all seems utterly pointless. And then I feel guilty for my lethargy and mentally whip myself for not being 24/7 gung ho fox. And this very blog frustrates me, because I’d like to have more regular contributors from other creative spheres (music/film etc.), but I don’t have the time to chase and nag. (I’ve had so many tempermental creative folk promise blogs that have never materialised, for someone like me, who grabs hold of such oppurtunities with the ceaseless grip of a rabid bull-terrier, I struggle to identify.)
But I know it’s all relative bullsh*t. Neuroticising over this, that and the other is the human disease. I don’t think foxes even have navels to gaze at. Wild fox picks her chin off the floor puts her nose in the wind and trots off over the horizon.
Over & owt.