Complications of Platform Building

bang SEO? Platform Building?

It can seem like I choose off-beat topics for a writer, but I sometimes travel roads others authors do not bother with ;-). For example, when Dave Gaughran speaks about platform building in his Book: Let’s Get Digital, he suggests avoiding it unless you enjoy it or have extra time. I enjoy it and I like to make time. Naturally this means I deal with issues many authors avoid.

While I was writing Toys In The Attic I was also trying to run an article directory at articlesandsuccess. com.

 SEO and the A&S logo
The Logo and A&S Header

As far as platform building goes, it started out as amazing. Now This domain is defunct and the directory is gone. When Google changed their algorithms it targeted sites like my hard-built directory as “content-farms.” Yes, it was a content farm, but the articles themselves were worth reading in many cases. As for the spam articles? There were protections against them.

In Google’s eyes, sites like A&S were only out there to gather SEO traffic. It had nothing to do with platform building, even though it WAS a platform by definition. In my eyes it was more about starting a small media empire. I did enjoy the SEO traffic, but it wasn’t as though I was suddenly getting more hits than Facebook, or Google, the KING of content farms.

The incredible cover for TITA
The incredible cover for TITA.

About the book: TITA is a psychological thriller based on a compilation of real events, just renamed and relocated. It follows the story of Sara Stewart who is brutally attacked by her own father and has to live with it and its consequences. She rebuilds her life, then meets a unique man. Here is where the story seems to start over again.

Platform building and the related SEO is now a uniquely hand-made affair. There are tools which help, but basically your job is to out keyword other sites, then prove your worth to Google through link exchanges and quality content. Keyword heavy content is frowned upon, but there are ways to scatter it throughout an article so it is natural and still SEO useful.

As an author of nine books, three published and several in the wings, I consider myself an artist. If SEO is an art, then I am up to the task. This is especially true when I choose to study the myriad guides and information on Google and other sites like Alexa and Yahoo. I am still learning and have had a restart lately. Changing web hosts meant a new blog and a new website.

As for the new blog, here it is. It will be tweaked and modded over time so it is as SEO friendly as it can get. I don’t much care what Google thinks in their back offices, but I do care what my front page readers think. I like to write interesting content. I know it’s quirky and off the wall at times, but so am I. I like to make people laugh and I want them to experience the full range of human emotions when they read my books.

SEO is just a term. The right words here, plus the right tags, plus the right links, plus the right content… It is a fruited Jell-o, in a way. Getting it to set up just right can be tricky. But writing a novel can be tricky. So is SEO harder? Not in any way, shape or form. It’s just more – specialized. I bother because I like it. I bother because I have a computer literate brain that is willing to tolerate the sometimes immutable and childish behavior of algorithms and bots.

I do it because I know there is great content out there to be found and shared. Learning what I like and want to share is an enjoyable process. Even though I have been writing for a long time, building a readership is a challenge I have yet to master. So along the way, platform building seems to be a reasonable addition to my limited but growing marketing toolbox. Over time I expect to both love the experience and gain loyal readers.

If you are going to go this route, some tips for SEO and platform building. I had a huge blog before the shift to the new web host, but it had slipped and I wasn’t doing much with it. Consistency is key and was the first lesson I learned. So:

  1. Three posts a week minimum.
  2. YOAST – use it and learn from it.
  3. Post content you like. If you are using a guest post, tweak it for keywords. This helps both you and your guest.
  4. Good content only. Spun articles and drivel are bot-killers.
  5. Get regular sleep and eat well. SEO can be tricky and platform building can be frustrating at times.
  6. Encourage discussion. So please, comment on my posts!

Your platform should be about you and your SEO should be about how people will find you. Separating the two is key. Content rules and SEO ties it to the search engines. Natural keyword placement and a personal touch combine to make the best results.

Enjoy platform building? Congratulations. You are in it for the long haul. Prefer to avoid it? Good for you. There are easier and quicker promotion methods. Either way you go, however, SEO is going to be part of the game. If your platform is Amazon, for example, your platform building should direct everyone to that spot. SEO and your web presence will accomplish this when combined correctly.

Either way, learning the process is a good way to make sure all your marketing bases are covered!

 

Reading Makes Writers Better

The Author between bouts of reading or writing.
The Author between bouts of reading or writing.

Reading is the hidden tool for writers and as both a writer and a reader I get to enjoy both sides of the literary spectrum. This benefits me, because I get to enjoy the works of other writers, as well as learn from them. This benefits my readers because authors who read regularly are better writers, for the most part, than those who do not. Writer’s Digest, the tips that are part of Writer’s Market, almost every style guide and article written on how to improve our writing, all tell us we need to do one thing above all else: Read.

Why is reading so significant for writers?

For one thing, there tend to be standard conventions within a certain genre that readers expect to see. If they’re not there, or are twisted in strange ways, or even broken, it makes the writer look bad. Readers may choose to not finish the book and, if so, they likely will not buy from that author again.

An even better reason is personal expansion. Great authors tend to evolve over time. They are rarely gifted with the skill set required to write good stories. They practice, tweak, learn how to use techniques. They learn the way words work to elicit responses from readers. All of this requires time, patience, research, and observation. Reading other authors gives us working examples of these concepts and allows us to expand our own arsenal of writing techniques.

A third reason, and I am being personal here, is the fact that most of us began writing because we love literature and stories. We are captivated by characters, provoked by plots, wound up by words, and struck by stories. Reading takes us places we can only imagine. It lets us be heroes or villains, allows us escape from the real world, and keeps us enthralled in another. We can see ourselves as Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Frodo Baggins, Muad’Dib, Joan of Arc, Harry, Hermione, or Ron, Viking raiders, Dragon Lords, King Arthur; well, anyway, you get the picture. Reading makes it easy to be someone else for a while.

This is the thrill of reading, and so it becomes the magic of writing. We get to take others on a journey with us, share worlds of our design, characters of our creation, ideas that move the heart, or shake up the universe. We become captains of a ship with unlimited possibilities. It can go anywhere, do anything, connect with anyone, accomplish the impossible, hold unlimited passengers, and break any speed barrier.

Our obligation as authors is to provide the best possible voyage for our travelers. We must give them the trip of a lifetime, and leave them wanting to be repeat passengers. This requires a unique approach, an engaging story, great characters with whom readers can identify, and a knowledge of story conventions which allows for a smooth and entertaining ride.

Learning the techniques other authors use, by reading their works, is the very best way to master these techniques and fully develop our own writing abilities. We can take classes, and that can help, but only reading gives us the practical insights we need to truly master our craft.

David Cleinman is an Indie Author, Blogger, and Book Reviewer. At this time he has two published novels: Toys In The Attic and Principle Destiny, and MindEater, a Vampire Short. For more information about David, please visit his website.  You can also find David on Facebook and Amazon.com.

Politics and I – A Parting

Farewell to the insanity of USA Politics!

David A. Cleinman
The author…in those heavenly days before the 2016 election cycle!

As a concerned citizen of the USA, I have been politically active for a long time. With the rise of blatant racism in our political process, however, I can no longer participate in the diatribe. Rational arguments based on fact and verifiable data are ignored by too many people and the resulting nastiness in defense of unfounded opinions or blatant untruths is unpalatable. To rescue my own mind and heart, and possibly soul, I am divesting from politics and will do my activism in the best way I know, through my writing.

When I was in kindergarten, way back in 1970, we had a class-up day, where we visited the next grade and were hosted by an upperclassman (a 1st grader). My host and one of my first real friends was a black kid who had a great sense of humor and was so much fun. All I remember is sitting in the same desk with him and laughing a lot. He moved away not long after that and never returned for second grade. As sometimes happens with young friends, I forgot his name. But I will always remember him with love.

I grew up in such a small community in upstate New York and there were very few black residents. I was friends with all of them. In college I had friends who were of every faith, every skin type, and of both sexes. I have never really understood racism, beyond its fear-factor, and I want no part of it, nor the recent justifications for violence (rationalizations is the better term) that have been uttered.

Hatred is a crutch, just like a drug, but it is more addictive and harder to quit. USA politics has seen billions of free advertising go to the most racist and hateful candidate, while kinder and wiser candidates are largely ignored. One party is comfortable with any level of dishonesty as long as they think it serves a purpose. The other uses silence and inaction as means of forward progress. (Snark).

I refuse to be involved in the ridiculous pandering of the democrats or the obstruction and dishonesty of the republicans. I have had enough of both. If you believe in your positions you should be able to sell them without lying. Equally, you should have the courage to advance them with authority. The inability of either side to do these things is why people are losing faith in the process and why I can no longer support the divisive and dishonest nature of current US politics. It’s like watching playground bullies and whiners fight over a candy bar, while their school and friends burn behind them.

I wish both sides good fortune. The right has work to do to fix their wayward and dishonest stances and the left needs to get a grip on their inability to stand up and fight for what is right and DO it, rather than just talking about it. Big money in politics means politicians don’t work for us. Want real change? See who rejects this and fight for them and us.

Freed from the burden of trying to correct perspectives based on facts and information, verifiable through multiple sources, our media has learned to latch onto the most lucrative news stories, even if they are childish and inane. Profit has become the guiding force behind the mainstream US media, not the education of the viewers and the advancement of unbiased knowledge. This means most voters are not getting a complete or honest picture of current events. This and the original desires of the founders of our nation, desires for a well-educated populous who reject tyranny and embrace the gift of democracy, have been corrupted and twisted.

On my personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/david.cleinman  I will share good news about social progress and green energy most of the time. I will share injustices and negative happenings less often. But if something is really wrong, I will call it out.

On my Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDavidACleinman I will only share the upbeat and positive or something directly related to my writing or that of a friend’s.

So I am saying farewell to the juvenile yet deadly battlefield of USA politics. I hope, for the sake of our country and the world around us that this battlefield returns to a semblance of honesty and togetherness. The consequences of the alternative are more severe than just lost elections.

My best, David A. Cleinman

 

Writing Books and Baking Bread

EFV Cover prelaunch test1This novel series is about to be released. I have delayed releasing the first book, officially, because of a few personal issues and the fact that I really wanted to get ahead in the series so I knew where book one was headed. Now book five is in pre-edit and book two is finished. It is time to let this one go. A ramp up and a release party…

It’s a lot like baking bread, I was thinking. I always have the ingredients I need on hand. Flour, water/milk of course, butter, yeast, salt and grains. But sometimes I don’t. I was sure I did, damn it! Oh well, market here I come! With a battle cry I launch myself into my silver mare and we chase down the yeast master wherever it may hide! The grocery down the street, usually, matter of fact.

All right. Ingredients together, bowl warm. Butter is melted. I usually cheat and use milk… some sugar (a touch) added to pot. yeast added and left to bloom… Dry ingredients… add to wet… Mix, knead, rest and rise… BAM. Knock it down. Knead it again a little bit. Rest and rise. Bake until golden brown and delicious!

Writing is a lot like that, you know? Ingredients needed on hand, or fetchable with some work. Mixing up a dough without beating it too much or letting it settle. A final product that everyone loves… forget it. Bread is a lot easier! But it’s not as satisfying.

I am a god it would seem, when crafting a family of characters, creating living scenes that can be smelled, felt, even tasted at times. You hear the wind, the rain, the thunder, the beat of a heart, the brush of a hand. I AM GOD!

Nonsense. I pass on the lives that my fellow humans live. The characters? They are all around us. I may clothe them a bit differently and place them in another world, but you know them. You talk to them, love them, hate them, are angry with them a lot! They make you laugh, cry, want to eat chocolate… Because they are the people you already know, you can relate to them in intimate terms.

Story… where would I be without my predecessors? The masters of mental craft and illusion. Irony in the fist and a gleam in the eye. Steinbeck gave me hope. My life could never be THAT bad! But I was wrong. Tom Joad and I traveled the same road for a long while.

Tolkien made me see light in any darkness. Frodo? Never could I carry such a ring so far… but I have. Over and over again dreams of being the ring bearer excited and sometimes frightened me! I recall a particularly dark one with thunderstorms, charging orcs, and a single chance to escape by trusting a cliff had a short drop or a tall tree. Great fun.

Stephen King rarely scared me, but it did make some nights very cold and lonely. The Shining? The book was better than the movie and that is saying something!

Dickens… cruel ironies and twists of fate… cold London streets and warm taverns and dining rooms… eerie and heartwarming. Funny and heartbreaking.

And these are but four authors I adore out of hundreds!

Love… you feel it deeply when eating homemade bread. It connects you to the people you remember and still love to this day. Passed on, or just far away, the feeling remains as strong as ever. Provided we allow ourselves to feel it. Sometimes the pain makes it difficult. I like to think my writing makes it possible to bridge such a gap. You feel the emotions as if they are your own. Because they are. And mine, and everyone we know. We feel the same things, sometimes for different reasons, but we get it, if we let ourselves in.

The aroma of baking bread brings a warmth and comfort to the soul. A great book does the same. It can evoke the same memories and get us in touch with times we miss. Make us laugh over a sliver of a memory, or take us back to a cold winter day, where snow was falling and warmth was hard to find, even inside. My fellow upstate New Yorkers will know what I mean. Baking bread and writing stories kept me warm as a youth.

Slicing bread… like slicing up concepts, buttering them, and making them part of a meal worthy of eating… Bread is easier, perhaps, but only because it takes less time. The idea is the same. Symbolism aside, every bite of a book is like the slice of bread. It has to be good, all the way through. A few holes are okay, but that big air bubble?! Knead man, knead! Too dark on the bottom? Don’t overbake! Doughy? Take your time and let it bake a bit more… Did it fall? Hmmmm was the yeast old? The oven too cool? Always difficulties and kneading to overcome them.

Ha! A homonym! I love words. Their casual elegance, their passionate exuberance! Their simple and direct ability. Their amazing artistry. I own and can solve a Rubik’s cube without help. I am aware that I am much faster with the solution guide, but I solved it many times without ever studying it for more than a minute or two. Twice before my friend even got the guide. Lately, I have been using it, however. I hope to solve it through knowledge of its correct solution, rather than the semi-guessing I do now. Even so, with all its combinations, and the guide says there are trillions, it is just a cube with six sides and six colors.

Words are endless and varied, with unlimited combinations ensuring unlimited possibilities. This is why stories keep being told. Because every person has unique stories to tell. We listen, we write them down, and we read them. If they intrigue us enough, we share them. They need not be real and true to life, as long as they are true to the lives we know. Then, when the bread is baked, we share it.

Baking bread… writing books. Who knew?

Check out the first book of my Saga of The Lost Dragons:

Escape From Vengeance

EFV Cover prelaunch test1

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