Five Useful Elements for Your Website

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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Through the years, I’ve run across a lot of author websites.  When I see something really useful, I’ll add it to my own.  Here are five things that I’ve found worthwhile to add.

A book page for each book

This is important for SEO for your books.  If you look up my books on Google, you get ‘rich results’ in the sidebar showing the cover, ratings, publication date, my name, etc.  This wasn’t the case until I had a separate page on my site for each title (I also used some schema markup on book WordPress pages to help search engines read my page elements. More on how I did that here).

 

A coming soon page

A reader in suggested back in 2016 that I should create a ‘coming soon’ page on my site because she kept losing track of my releases and what series was launching a book next.  I’ve made sure to keep it updated (which is, of course, the danger of having a page like that).

A nice link to add to the Coming Soon page (along with other pages on our site) is a link to our Amazon Author Central page with instructions to follow us there.   I just put a simple: ” Follow me on Amazon for release updates” up. Continue reading Five Useful Elements for Your Website

Preorders Revisited

A man is reading a book on a bench and the post title, "Preorders Revisited" is superimposed on the top.

Although I wasn’t impressed by my first pre-order experiment, I’ve grown to accept pre-orders as a good way to make sure everything is in perfect order at the retailers on release day.   I made changes in my pre-order strategy by including the pre-order on Amazon and by running the pre-order for a shorter period of time.

In December I ran a pre-order for a completely different reason: I wanted to delay a release until January, after the holiday busyness had settled down for readers.  The book was finished by mid-December, so I decided to try to generate income while I waited for a better launch time.

Of course, I always second-guess myself.  Would January really be better for sales than December?  January is when everyone’s credit card bills come in.  But then I reminded myself that December hasn’t been, for me, a good time to release.  Fewer people are buying for themselves in December and they don’t have as much time to read. And I’d hardly be tempting new readers with the 12th book in a series. Continue reading Preorders Revisited

Twitterific Writing Links

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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 43,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

Continue reading Twitterific Writing Links

The Benefit of Small Goals

A winding highway leads off into a sunset with a lone runner on the road and the post title superimposed: "The Benefit of Small Goals"

by Elizabeth Spann Craig, @elizabethscraig 

I read an interesting article recently, “What Setting Small Goals is Costing You,”  from author and publisher Michael Hyatt.  I think it interested me because it had such a radically-different point of view from mine. But it was onethat gave me food for thought.

In it, he said:

“Setting small, unchallenging goals is one of the five blunders I cover. I call it “sailing too close to shore.” We tend to set small goals because we’re unaware of our own inherent fear of loss. We don’t want to risk much. But there’s a direct correlation between low risk and low achievement. The greatest achievements are waiting on the other side of discomfort.”

He gave a couple of pretty compelling examples to support his position.

I could see where he was coming from.  But for me, it’s totally the opposite.

For me, slow and steady wins the race.  I’ve had 25 books published, but this has been over nine years.  I set small goals that I can easily achieve. These small goals have made it possible for me to build a daily habit of writing and have helped to keep me motivated over the long-haul.

When I was first starting out and seriously writing, I purposefully set my writing goal as low as I could.  I had a toddler in the house and a kindergartener. I set a goal of writing for 5-15 minutes a day.  In less than a year, I had a book.

Knowing that I could accomplish my goals under challenging circumstances gave me confidence in my ability to push through, just like finishing a project (as opposed to stalling out or starting a completely different manuscript) gave me confidence in following through and trusting my ability to deliver.

But back to Michael Hyatt’s point of view. He does make some good points. For me, though, I think I’ll incorporate them differently.  It is important to stretch oneself.  But I’d rather that be a weekly extra goal instead of a daily challenging goal.  Since I nearly always hit my daily goal, maybe that is an indication that I need to re-evaluate how much I’m expecting of myself.

But let’s face it.  Some days just stink from start to finish.  The kids are sick, the dog needs to go to the vet, you thought there was chicken in the freezer, but there wasn’t.  I think on days like those, it’s best to still hit our usual goal, maintain our habit, and not feel disappointed in our performance.

What kinds of goals do you set?  Do you stretch yourself or set small, attainable goals?

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Rep Days for Writers

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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I read an interesting article by writer Victoria Griffin called “Writing Gains are Made on Rep Days.

Griffin explains rep days for weightlifters:

“For lifters, rep days mean loading light weights on the bar and repping it out until you’re entirely sick of whatever exercise you’re doing…For example, hip contact is important to a good snatch. I’ll spend days doing nothing but hip contact drills until I’m black and blue. It’s not fun, and it’s not glamorous. But guess what? Next time I do snatches, my form is better and I lift heavier weight.”

She then makes the writing analogy:

“For writerly folk, rep days may be big word count days. Or they may be those days when we just don’t want to do it. For whatever reason, we don’t feel like writing, but we sit down and do it anyway. Writing on those days strengthens our writing “muscles” so that on the days we do feel like writing, when the words are flowing, we’re able to write more and better than we would have otherwise.”

I liked what Griffin was saying.  I agree with her that there is a sort of ‘writing muscle’ that atrophies when we don’t work it out enough.  It’s always harder to jump back into a story after taking a long break…the characters aren’t as familiar to us, we have to get reacquainted with the story world, and it’s easier to make continuity errors.

I’ll take it a step farther and say that it gives a tremendous boost to our overall confidence as writers to write on those days when we have to push ourselves through it.  I know that most days out of the week, I’m not feeling inspired as I sit down to write.  As I go, I get more into my story and into the flow of writing.  I show up.  I’m not one of those who says writers have to write every single day, but it sure helps if you can write for most of them.

Writer Teresa Frohock put this well in her post “Writing When You’re Uninspired“:

“By forcing myself to write, even when I don’t feel like it, I build on the self-discipline that I will need to get me through those deadlines when I must write.” 

If we know we can tackle our project on the toughest days, it can give us the motivation to power through most days.  Also, having a string of successful days of working in a row can help us to build confidence in our ability to keep making progress on a story. Writer Karen Woodward’s post, “How to Write Everyday: Jerry Seinfeld and the Chain Method,” explains how we can gain motivation by marking off writing days on our calendar.

While I don’t feel like it’s necessary to write every day (I’ll miss a day several days out of the month, if not more), I do feel it can help to write most days–and that there’s a special benefit to pushing forward with our writing on some of the more challenging days, if possible.

What if you have gone a while without writing, but you want to pick it up again?  Read this helpful article by Daphne Gray-Grant, “How to Get Back Into Writing After a Break.”

Do you write on the tough days?  What keeps you motivated, as a writer?

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