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Writers Make Amazing Teachers to Both Writers and Readers

October 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , , ,

I truly believe that writers make amazing teachers. I could not have gotten this far in my writing journey without my wonderful writer friends teaching me what they know.

Blog header titled Writers Make Amazing Teachers with crumpled paper in the background and photo of a t-shirt with motivating words by Denise M. Colby

When I first started, I had no idea how much tie in there was between writing and teaching. Well, I sort of did. I remember sitting at my first OCCRWA meeting and taking in everything the speakers were saying. I had so much to learn. And these speakers were experts. I remember thinking to myself, “I would love to someday know as much as them, so I could share like they do, but I know nothing about this industry and writing a novel.” And I felt like I would never know what I needed to know.

Fast forward eight years later and I’m now the one in front of a room and teaching. Who knew! And who knew how valuable us writers are to teach what we’ve learned and share it with our fellow writers.

How are writers amazing teachers?

Wikipedia defines a teacher as the following: A teacher (also called a school teacher or, in some contexts, an educator) is a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue. Informally the role of teacher may be taken on by anyone (e.g. when showing a colleague how to perform a specific task).

We, my dear writer friends, are all colleagues showing one another how to perform tasks!

As I thought on this topic further, I came to the realization that us writers teach to two different groups.

1. To other writers.

2. To our readers.

Writers love to help other writers

Let’s talk about other writers. If you are part of a critique group or have ever judged a contest, you are in some form or fashion, teaching. You provide feedback and make suggestions. You are helping another writer learn how to make their manuscript better. You are taking your experiences and sharing them with other writers.

This is yet another way writers make amazing teachers.

I have been blessed with so many writers who have offered their input and suggestions throughout the years, either through contests or from the many different organizations I’m a part of. This is either by being the main speaker at meetings or conferences, or in a table discussion during the lunch break. I have learned many, many, many things from all of it.

This is another way writers are amazing teachers.

And to all my writer friends, you have taught me much!

Again, taking me back to my first meeting, I thought I had to keep my story ideas close to the vest. But that’s not the case. Writers love to talk about stories and there are so many stories out there waiting to still be made up there are not enough days in a year to write them all.

So, as writers, we share. We share ideas, concepts we’ve learned or tried, information we’ve gleaned from a conference, meeting, or blog post. We share encouragement. And we celebrate every single milestone hit by fellow authors. We motivate, innovate, and believe in one another just like the t-shirt says in the photo at the top of this blog!

This is yet another way writers are amazing teachers.

Writers teach readers about places, people and relationships

As writers, we also teach our readers. We research specific locations, jobs, diseases, and disabilities, and we incorporate that research into our books. We look at cultures, relationships, and history and add that in as well. Sometimes readers will not be aware of any of the things we write about and so we are teaching our readers about how other people might live.

Writers are amazing teachers.

We also might inspire our readers to make better choices, be kinder, open their heart to love, or any number of ways people can be inspired. That counts as teaching too.

Just like the t-shirt I recently bought says:





We, as writers, are all those things and so much more!

Write-on….amazing teachers, write-on!

I love to encourage and motivate others. Check out a recent blog post here titled Find Motivation to Accomplish Goals, and Hang On To It.

I teach Author Brand and SEO at conferences and meetings. If you’d like to find out more you can go to my Marketing for Authors page on my website.

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How A Question Created a Post: This Month’s Blog Creation Process

June 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

Ever have non-existent ideas or too many that they are over-whelming?

Blog Post Header Titled The Month's Blog Creation Process by Denise M. Colby

Never fear, my brain can think of plenty of ideas when I have no time to flush them out but when I finally schedule time to write this blog post, they all have escaped my brain.

Anyone else have this problem?

Sometimes the blog creation process can be easy or hard. In searching for a topic to write about this month, I asked myself the question ‘what is the point of a blog post?’ and then decided to google it.

Interesting, that!

Here’s what popped up…

What's the purpose of a blog? google search screen shot of description for post on Blog Creation Process

I love how google also provides similar questions on the same topic. Notice the different choices in words, but they all fit within the same topic. Obviously, people have searched this topic before.

What's the point of a blog post? google search additional questions screen shot for post on Blog Creation Process

And this is why SEO and keywords matter. Someone may not google your name or book directly, but they may google something you’ve answered in a blog post or on your web page.

All of these thoughts should go into your blog creation process.

What is the Purpose of a Blog Post?

These are all the pages that show up on the search’s first page. Notice all the different page titles. Those matter too.

What's the point of a blog post? google search page results screen shot for post on Blog Creation Process

So this leads me to more questions as I ponder my why about my blog creation process. (Yes, my family calls me the Question Queen)

Why do I write blog posts? 

  • I love to write.
  • I love to share ideas.
  • I love to teach and encourage and be positive and inspire.
  • I want to keep learning and challenging myself and writing blog posts do that.

Why do I read blog posts?

  • I want to be informed.
  • I want to connect.
  • I want to learn something specific.
  • I want to read what my friends write.

Why do YOU write and read blog posts? 

I really would love to hear your answers!

As I formulate this into something someone would actually read, I’m asking the question ‘what would you like to read?’

  • Should I write more about branding and SEO topics?
  • Or what’s happening in my writing world over the next few months?
  • Or should I write something related to my continuously never-ending book I’m editing?
  • Or something fun and distracting?

Keep in mind: The process to create a blog post can start with just a question.

Even though I picked a topic out of thin air to write about, as I asked questions and googled one, I was able to create something. It all connects. And that’s what it’s all about.

So, in essence, if we have a topic for a blog post, performing a search about it may wield ideas of phrasing or additional keywords to use so that your post would appear in these searches too.

As I wrap up this post, I now realize I have to figure out a keyword that fits the topic in order for me to have strong SEO. Why I make stuff challenging for myself, I’ll have to cover in an entirely different blog post in the future.

I really would love to know what you would like to read.

It’s much more fun creating content people enjoy. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

On a side note…I’m teaching on the subject of SEO during the month of July!

Clean white desk with words July Classes on SEO by Denise M. Colby

SEO Marketing for Authors in the ACFW course loop in July. If you are a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), these courses each month are FREE!

I’m also teaching a course on Branding, SEO, & Content, at the Virtual SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference July 9-11. Here’s the link to the conference website.

If you’d like to take a peek at some of my other blog posts, here is a link to my archive on this blog.

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Why Link Building on Your Website and Blog is Important

March 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , ,

Link building on your website and blog posts is important because it helps build your SEO (search engine optimization). Google uses links to measure the quality of a page. The more links there are that go back to that page from good sources, the higher the SEO. Link building is only one part of the bigger SEO picture, but for this post, I’m discussing link building only.

Linking between other websites and/or pages is important

Why is it important to have other pages link to your page and vice versa?

It’s a vote of confidence that what you’ve written is worth reading. Similar to a recommendation for say a plumber, car repair, or a restaurant. 

There are other benefits to link building as well:

  • Relationships between websites
  • Referral Traffic
  • Building your brand

The algorithm Google uses changes constantly, so no one truly knows specifically how much link building is appropriate, but in my research there are things you should and should not do. Do not submit your website to a web directory in order to get a link in return.

True organic links work best 

Denise m. Colby

This means links should be complementary to the content that the blog post is written about. Adding links is also a great way to provide extra content to your readers.

But what if you don’t have anything to link?

I have found some web pages and blog posts I write have links that naturally fit, and then with other pages and blog posts, I draw a blank. I especially found it difficult when my website and blog were brand new.

Potential content ideas that include link building:

  • Your welcome page can introduce your other pages with links to those pages (even if you have a menu).
  • Create a page for each book you’ve written and then talk about each one in a separate blog post and put the link to the book page in it.
  • If you are unpublished, you could write a blog post about setting, clothes, animals or any other topic that connects with your manuscript and include links to a pinterest page with sample photos.
  • Review other writers’ books and include links to where the book can be purchased.
  • Write a blog post about craft and include a link to the website or person where you learned about that topic.

Whatever you do, don’t despair. As you add content to your website and/or blog, you are building content. That content may be linkable material later. Just keep building your content.

For example, I have written several blog posts about SEO both on my own blog (Why the M), and here on A Slice of Orange (What is Alt Text and How To Use it).

And, my Marketing for Authors program now has a newsletter (where you can sign up and receive a free booklet of SEO help), with the plan to have training courses available this year.

Did you see what I did there? I added several links to previous blog posts as well as actual pages on my website, all in some way related to the topic I am writing about – SEO and link building.

Screen shot of the SEO results for Link building in a blog post. The green dots shows you have enough links in your post
The goal is to show green dots in the Yoast SEO Plug-in

Remember, SEO looks at both internal and external linking, which leads me to my next tip.

Write guest blogs so that you can link back to your website.

Another way to add links to your blog post is to add your social media links. These would count for outside links.

This can be done at the bottom of your post with a phrase such as: If you’d like to connect with me on social media, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

You could even link to a specific post on your social media. Since this post is about SEO, I’m linking two separate tweets here and here I’ve posted related to SEO.

You can go back and add in links, however, it is BETTER to REWRITE a new post with a little different angle or side-topic (SEO does not like duplicate content) so it reads differently, then add a link to your old post.

Remember, links can include other pages or posts on your website. Circling in a loop is okay. And you can add links to both words (Anchor Text) or photos. The goal would be for every blog post to have at least two links in it (one internal and one external).

There are many other things to learn about link building, but I will save those tips for another post. For now this is enough to get your started.

Give it time. You won’t have enough content in the beginning to do this right away. But in time you will be able to add link building into your SEO plans.

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Why SEO Should Matter To An Author

November 12, 2019 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,
Blog post title Why SEO Should Matter To An Author by Denise M. Colby. Brown background with three scrabble tiles spelling out SEO

There are several reasons why, as an author, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should matter.

SEO What? You ask?

According to Wikipedia, Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. 

Quote from blog post by Denise M. Colby - how SEO works

Basically when someone types in a set of words in their search bar, SEO is what determines which website pages get shown first. SEO is the unpaid results (not the paid ads we see that state clearly “paid ad”).

So what can SEO do for you as an Author?

  • Make it easier for people to find your content, which in turn they find you and your books. 
  • Teach you to think about your posts and your website differently. 
  • Tie your writing and your graphics together. 
  • Give direction as to what type of graphics to create. 
  • Direct you to write blog posts that fit into a content strategy based on your SEO goals.
  • Help you name your pages with urls that are SEO specific.

Here are some questions to ask and ponder when creating a website page or blog post:

  • Do you know your target audience?
  • Do you know the people you are trying to reach?
  • Do you know what you want to reach them with?
  • Why would someone want to read your article, book, post?

How do you find things on the internet?

Think about how you go looking for something on the internet.

Do you type just one word? a phrase? or a sentence?

scrabble tiles spelling out SEO and then a Blog Post Quote by Denise M. Colby

When you think about your overall brand, how would you look for something you write? What would the one word? one phrase? or one sentence be?  

As I’ve focused on SEO more, I feel it has helped me become a better writer. 

When I have to select just one keyword or keyword phrase to fit a blog post, my post is more focused and succint. When I had too many choices to pick just one, it made it harder to figure out the goal of my piece. If I can’t figure it out, how would I expect someone else to figure out the purpose of my writing?

What are some other things I feel SEO has helped me with?

Organizing my website, blog posts, and files.

I’ve developed a category and tag strategy that has given me ample blog post ideas. All which tie into my brand. It’s not perfect, but I feel like I’m going in the right direction. And that peace has been transforming.

Some other things to note about SEO:

Graphically SEO matters as well.

The algorithms look at sub-heads, which are used to break up the flow of reading, and images that match the written content which helps make your content more compelling. Faster website loading, and ease of use to find your content matter too. 

Keep in mind, being creative is great, but having something so obscure for page names won’t help your target audience find you.

There needs to be a purpose/strategy to everything you do.

The more thorough you are with SEO strategies, both with the things I’ve mentioned above, as well as ALT text, meta data, and so much more, the better indexed your pages will be for all the different search engines, allowing your pages and posts to index better. 

The goal is to land on the first page of a search - blog post quote by Denise M. Colby SEO goals for authors

The goal is to land on the first page of a search. That way any person can find you, easily.

So, as I’ve mentioned above, SEO should be an important component to your marketing strategy as an author. If you’d like to find out more, you can sign up for my free Marketing for Authors newsletter. When you sign up, you’ll receive a free PDF on how to improve your image SEO. I walk you through how to do ALT Text, captions, and file naming. Future newsletters will include other tips and suggestions.

You could also look back at a few past posts of mine on this blog, here, here, and here.

I enjoy sharing what I have learned with other authors. Let me know if this has been helpful and what, if any, questions you may have.



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September 5, 2019 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , ,
Author typing on an old typewriter | Tracy Read | A Slice of Orange

Before I get into my post, I have to apologize for not posting last month.  I completely forgot.  I took a much-needed break and my mind was elsewhere.  I think it must have been the 111 degree temperature I was sitting in.  Here’s the funny part, I took my iPad and laptop on holiday with the intention of writing.  I figured, with the few days away from everything, I’d write a novella.  That never happened.  I take that back.  I did write a couple of pages, but can’t find them.  No biggie.  I had started this book a while back, but couldn’t find it.  When I returned home, I dug deep into my hard drive and found the original pages.  I was able to recall some of what I’d written on holiday and included it in the new book.

Now to this month’s post. 

I mentioned in my last post that I was working on my upcoming release, A Southern Gentleman Vol 2.  I was going to hire a publicist to help with the release, but changed my mind.  I’m not saying I’ll never use a publicist, but right now isn’t the time.  I paid a lot of money on a course to teach me to market my books and I need to make sure I’ve given it a fair chance to work.  I tried the techniques twice.  Once with some success and the second with very little success.  I need to make sure I can do this before I can tell someone what I want them to do.  

So, what’s my plan.  PRAY. Smile.  Okay, I need to do a little more.  I’ve learned a lot about marketing since I released my first book five years ago.  My very first release, consisted of me accidentally pushing the Publish Button and hoping.  I didn’t know about Facebook or newsletter ads. I did book a blog tour, which earned me a few reviews, but few sales.  I decided to go wide, so I burned or used a lot of ISBNs because I thought you needed one for every platform.  I sold quite a few print copies to family and friends.  Unfortunately, those are one-time sales, which I’m grateful.  However, I need and want fans, avid readers and followers of my stories.

I have a plan.  Now I sound like a politician. SMILE.  

I am going to take what I learned in the course, plus what I’ve learned from the various Facebook groups, blog posts and authors I’ve met and formulate a strategy.  Will it be my road map from here on out?  Maybe, maybe not. Every book is different and what works for one book, may not work for another.  Now I should a little confused.  Let me clarify.  I’m building a basic plan which I will tweak with each release as needed.

Here we go.  I’ve given myself approximately 30 days in the Pre-Order period.  During this time, I’ll send the book out to my ARC Readers and people in my various groups to read and post reviews on release day.  Next, Take Overs.  I’ve been doing a few of these for other authors with pretty good results.  So now it’s my turn.  ADS.  I’ve made a list of sites and a posting schedule.  Not only do I need ads for release day, I need them for afterwards as well.  I’m considering doing ads prior to the release day for A Southern Gentleman Vol 1 in order to draw attention the duet with new readers.

Where it gets a little tricky is Facebook.  FB ads can be tricky, so I’m going to start testing graphics a couple of weeks prior to release.  I know I’m going to do BookBub Ads,  I would love to do a feature ad, but I think I waited too late to apply for one.  I am going to try for a paid new release ad, but it might be a little late for that one as well.

All of that will be moot if I don’t do one thing…select a cover.  I hear you cringing now, but let me explain.  I had a cover, then I went into rebranding mode and it didn’t work.  I have two covers and have done a soft test.  Before I commit to a cover, I need to do a little more testing.  So far, the one I like is winning.  However, I don’t need the cover to do pre-marketing, although it would help, a lot.  Right now, I’m as busy as a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.  [That statement reminds me of one of the characters in A Southern Gentleman Vol 2]. But it’s the truth.  There’s quite a bit to do prior to release.  Grant it, I could do nothing or the minimum and see what happens, but I want to make this my best release to date.

So here’s the plan:

  • Book to ARC Readers
  • Confirm cover
  • Book Ads
  • Book Takeover slots
  • Get reviews
  • Do tease or coming soon posts to social media week
  • Push for Pre-Order Sales
  • Reader Group Release Party
  • Sell a lot of books

I almost forgot.  I have a new release date, October 8th, which means I have a few days before the plan goes into play.  

I’ll update you next month.  

Happy end of summer. Tracy.

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