Friday, August 23, 2013

Escape the Texas heat this October

If you're like me, when "autumn" arrives in Texas (to the extent that it ever does!), you dream of crisp, cool air and brightly colored leaves drifting down from stately maples and oaks. This fall you can make that dream come true if you attend "Your Word is My Delight," a Catholic writer's retreat to be held in Lansing, Michigan, October 13-17.

The five-day retreat will include workshops, talks, daily mass, and, no doubt, plenty of time for contemplative walks through autumn leaves. Speakers and presenters will include novelist & editor Michelle Buckman and Catholic radio personality, Al Kresta. Quite a bargain for $450!

Find more information, including downloadable brochure and registration form on the Catholic Writers Guild blog.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Google provides easy ways to boost your author visibility online

Google+ iconAt our most recent meeting, several members expressed interest in ways to make their work known to more people. After all, writers write so that their work will be read, right?


There is a lot of information "out there" about book marketing, author branding, and promotion through social networking -- so much info that it can seem confusing or intimidating. So here is one easy way to boost your online profile, which will help interested readers find your website, blog, or online publications: Use Google+ as part of your social networking platform. This article from Where Writers Win will give you an idea how Google+ can help you:
Its distinct advantages include:
  1. Google+ impact on search results (because, yeah, it’s owned by Google!) In 2012, SEOptimise founder Kevin Gibbons tested this theory by looking at the websites of his clients who do and don’t use Google+. Those without a Google+ presence saw a 19.5 percent decrease in organic traffic. Google+ users saw a 42.6 percent increase.
  2. It’s easy to post your latest blog link to your Google+ profile. Want credit for authorship? Of course you do, and posting a snippet and link from your latest post onto your Google+ profile helps you get there.
  3. You’ll be indexed quickly. When you create a post on Google+, the search engine indexes it immediately. This makes it more likely that your Google+ followers will find your content when they search Google.
  4. More bang for your author-marketing minutes. Time is always a consideration, and no author wants to suck up all theirs on social media. Google+ features make it stronger than Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn combined. Google+ has integrated Twitter’s hashtag (#) to track trends and also has mentions, allowing you to interact directly with another user. Google+ Communities allow people to share and discuss information like they do in groups on LinkedIn. You can even pre-edit photos before posting them.
I would add a couple of reasons not covered in the article. First, Google+ makes it very easy to connect with like-minded people, much easier than on Facebook, for example. Google+ communities are easy to join, and there is a goodly number of writers communities (for different genres), as well as those for editors, publishers, etc. And Google+ makes it very simple to expand your circles on contacts.

Blogger & Google Analytics

Another reason to use Google+ is the way it integrates with your Blogger blog. (I love Blogger! I have several Blogger blogs, including this one.) I know, Word Press is supposed to be the groovy, with-it blogging platform, but the truth is that Blogger blogs are much easier to set up, customize, and maintain. And, since Blogger is a part of Google, it is optimized for the Google search engine, and easy to connect to Google analytics. Plus, if you wish, you can integrate your comm box  with your Google+ account, extending the reach of your blog posts and improving your search ranking.  And Google Analytics makes it easy to determine which blog posts are getting read, and how your readers are finding you.

Google Authorship

Even more important than all of that is the fact that you can now use your Google+ profile to make sure the Google search engine links ALL your content on the internet, wherever it has been published. Learn more about the advantages of "Google authorship" here and go here to sign up for it.

If you haven't yet started building an online presence, why not start with the many free products and applications that Google makes available? Get started here with a new blog -- free!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How time flies! It's almost time for another meeting

Alan Brooks (pen name D. A. Knight)
with his recent publication,
Cretaceous Clay & the Black Dwarf.
In just another week, we'll have another meeting of the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers Group. Those of us who aren't in New Jersey for the Catholic Writers Conference, that is. Founding member Nancy Ward will be at the conference this year to pitch a book to Catholic publishers. Good luck, Nancy!

Our local group was inspired by last year's Catholic Writers Conference, held at the Arlington (TX) convention center in August 2012. A lot has been accomplished since our first meeting last September, and we hope local writers (and aspiring writers) will continue to join us for mutual support and encouragement.

One of the things that has been accomplished since last year's conference is the publication of Alan Brooks' novel, Cretaceous Clay & the Black Dwarf. Those who attended our most recent meeting had an opportunity to snag a review copy of the novel (written under the pen name D. A. Knight). To find out what other members are working on, take a look at this post from May.

If you are new or a returning member, please join us when we meet again on Friday, August 9, at Half-Price Books, 5803 E. Northwest Highway near Central Expressway in Dallas. Click here for a map and directions. Look for our group in or near the Community Room at the far left rear corner (just past the Hollywood Lights). Feel free to bring your lunch or pick something up at the in-house café.