What if you spent a year planning a party, sent out the invitations, and nobody came? For the past year, that has been the scenario for writers and readers. Each writer’s plan was simple: write the book and go on tour launching it. Readers looked forward to the party aspect of interacting with authors at bookstores, libraries, and conferences. Then, on March 14, 2020, the world shut down.
That weekend, I was in Washington, D.C. at a family function, not knowing it would be a year or more until I saw those loved ones again. Before arriving in Washington, I had been on a whirlwind tour for newly released Three Treats Too Many, the third book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series. The tour had taken me to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Memphis, Fairhope, New York, and Atlanta in two months. More stops were planned for April through August, but they were canceled.
I, like many authors, had to pivot. We spoke to groups or participated in panels virtually. Authors learned to sit up straight, use microphones or earphones, adjust lighting and backgrounds, and provide bookplates instead of only bookmarks. Using Zoom, Crowdcast, or other platforms was a good substitute, but not the same as live interaction with readers and bookstore owners. Reaction times were different, especially for webinar platforms where readers could only communicate by leaving a chat message.
Although readers still establish links between themselves and the characters in books they choose to read, experimentation with new authors dropped. Why? Housebound, people found comfort spending time with familiar characters and scenes that brought back good memories.
Four Cuts Too Many, the fourth Sarah Blair book releases May 25. In it, Sarah, who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder, has no desire to learn knife skills from her friend, sous chef and adjunct college instructor, Grace Winston. But, when Grace’s department chair is found dead with one of Grace’s knives in his neck, Sarah is forced to sharpen her own skills to uncover the elusive killer. The premise and the book are fun, especially for a summer beach, airplane, or bath read, but how to launch it to the most people is a dilemma.
It is a problem that is not mine alone (although it sometimes feels like it). Most authors with release dates that would offer readers the perfect summer book are finding that stores are still not having large in person book parties nor are the usual conferences taking place. Consequently, we’re planning individual virtual store appearances or panels, we’re increasing our number of Facebook parties and group take-overs, more blogs are being written, and we’re hoping for word-of-mouth help.
Whether it is Four Cuts Too Many or any other book you read, review it, and tell your friends about it. Publishers look at sales and numbers, so it is important that readers and writers work together if favorite series and characters are to be survive the pandemic.
I know I can’t wait to see you in person again, but in the meantime, do you have any ideas how you’d like authors to connect with you? I’ve got my pen and paper ready to take notes.
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which debuted with One Taste Too Many on December 18, 2018. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
Find out more about Debra at any of the following links:
(Hover over cover for buy links. Click on cover for more information.)
Did you know that using an Blog SEO Checklist can help you streamline the time it takes you to build your blog posts?
We all know it takes time to figure out what we even want to write about, but then we also need to figure out all the SEO parts that support that particular blog post.
If we were to build the SEO as part of the blog post step, we’d save ourselves a lot of time and be more strategic and purposeful with what we are posting.
I don’t know about you, but it seems every month I forget how much time it takes to organize my SEO because I think about it AFTER I write the post. Sometimes it takes longer figuring out the SEO then it does to write the post and pull graphics together. And then because I’m entering it all last minute, I don’t think it through as much as I would like.
I’m working on changing that and thought it would be helpful to pull together a checklist for all of us.
Figuring out this first—even before you start writing the post—will help save you time in the long run. What do you want your focus word to be? Everything else should stem from this.
Knowing your categories and tags before you develop your blog posts help you be more strategic and set up an organization within your posts. In my classes I help you brainstorm and build out potential ideas for your blog.
Make sure to put your focus keyword in your title and the first paragraph of your post.
This is a summary in a small one-to-two sentence structure. Some use the first paragraph, some change it up. Make sure it includes your focus keyword, and remember this is the summary someone sees if they are searching the topic and your post appears on the search results.
The Alt Text should have your keyword in it. If you pick your keyword last and already uploaded your graphics (see my three-part blog post about graphics and SEO) you might miss this opportunity to connect your graphics with stronger SEO.
Think of one link within the blog website that supports your current blog post. Don’t forget to use Anchor Text. I did this in the slug section and the graphics alt text above.
I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet to keep track of what you use for SEO every post. It’s important that you don’t repeat the same words and phrases each time, yet build out synonyms and similar themes with your SEO to help establish your authority on certain topics.
If you have a notebook, you can download this sheet to write in the blanks.
Short on time? Take a screen shot of the data, or write it on a post-it note. Anything to help you keep track of your SEO. It’s all about building your brand, and your SEO strategy is a part of that. And using a blog SEO checklist is one way to help you develop this strategy.
I’ve been writing humorous poetry since I was a wee girl at me Irish grandmother’s knee… she’d chuckle and get on with baking her apple sugar pies and then winding her blue rosary around her gnarled fingers, praying, ‘What’s the lass going to come to with these ditties?’
Novels, mostly historicals these days and I’m finishing up a second Paris WW 2 novel while pulling all-nighters… I needed a break, so here’s a lighthearted poem about everyone’s favorite frog from this Irish Poetess.
Put the kettle on and Enjoy!
The art of writing fairy tales
is a joy I claim.
But frog or toad, what’s in a name?
’Tis a prince I seek at the end of my tale
And that happily ever after, but to no avail
Ah, but yes have I the power of the pen
So with my snappy keystrokes Poof! I say.
He’s here. Amen!
Here the first in my Occupied Paris series:
The Resistance Girl
Juliana discovers her grandmamma was a famous French film star in Occupied Paris
And the shocking secret her mother never told her…
5* ‘… a beautiful and poignant historic fiction that left me in tears’ Jessica F NetGalley
One of my favorite things to do is create the monthly Encouraging Words podcasts. My even more favorite thing is when someone tells me they were encouraged after listening to it! If you need a reminder that you are special and what you do matters, take a listen to this month’s episode. You are awesome!
Neetu Malik’s poetry is an expression of life’s rhythms and the beat of the human spirit. She draws upon diverse multicultural experiences and observations across three continents in which she has lived. She has contributed to The Australia Times Poetry Magazine, October Hill Magazine, Prachya Review, among others. Her poems have appeared in The Poetic Bond Anthology V and VI published by Willowdown Books, UK, NY Literary Magazine’s Tears Anthology and Poetic Imagination Anthology (Canada).
Her poem, “Soaring Flames”, was awarded First-Place by the NY Literary Magazine (2017). She has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, 2019 for her poem “Sacred Figs” published by Kallisto Gaia Press in their Ocotillo Review in May, 2018.
Neetu lives in Pennsylvania, USA.
Hover on the cover for buy links. Click on the cover for more information.
He’s the most irritating, inscrutable, insufferable lord in the kingdom.More info →
Celebrating Five Years of Global Poetry Poetry that binds, Poetry that is NOW, Poetry that BONDS.More info →