If you’re a writer, you write all the time, right? You’ve got your book (or books) out, you’re updating a blog on a regular basis, and you’ve got some kind of social media presence, and your website is up to date.
These are the things I’m assuming you have, because they are the basics you need to be a writer in 2013. Writers are creative types, but they also need to be organized. I wrote a whole book that walks writers through doing this, step by step. However you get there, you need to have some kind of network going where people can get to know your writing, buy your work (if you have some to sell), and get in touch with you to offer you multi-million dollar book deals.
The bulk of the work is going to be done by you. Today, I’m just going to tell you about a couple of things you could (should) be doing to make it more possible for people to find your work.
As a writer and a computer nerd, part of what I do is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I like to explain this field by simply saying that search = demand, and content (writing) = supply. It is my job to connect you with places where you might find examples of what people ARE ACTUALLY SEARCHING FOR, so that you may respond accordingly. Maybe this means you will write articles or blog posts that contain those keywords. Maybe you will just use this information to be a little better informed about what people want, and this will help you think of topics (for books) that will catch on. Maybe you will just look at the lists of keywords and find them interesting, then go back to your writing. However you use them is fine, really!
The first tool I will tell you about is Wordtracker. They have a free keyword section where you can type in a topic and get actual phrases people are using to search for that thing. You can find that here: https://freekeywords.wordtracker.com
Here’s why this matters to you if you write non-fiction: say you write about gardening, you are an authority on gardening, and you have a gardening blog. You will certainly want to pop over to Wordtracker and type in “gardening,” just so you can generate a list of ideas/ topics for book chapters, blog topics, and even sub-topics that could grow into new books. Keyword research is super useful to writers, no matter where they are in the book process, because it indicates real things that people actually want to know.
I know, right now you’re thinking “I write fiction, this doesn’t even apply to me,” and that’s where you are wrong, my friends. Say you’re writing a novel about vampires (as a few of you probably are). If you went to the link above and typed in “vampire,” you’d find a long list of keywords and topics you could use, not only in the book itself, but in your blog posts about the book (when it’s finished), your Twitter hashtags, and anywhere else you might see fit.
If you don’t like Wordtracker for whatever reason, you can still use the Google AdWords tool for free. You’ll find that at http://adwords.google.com, though they will make you open up a Google AdWords account to actually use the tool. However you get it, get some keyword research right now!
If you’re still not satisfied with either of those tools, I would suggest that you sign up for the free version of Market Samurai, which is a most excellent keyword research software. http://www.marketsamurai.com. They have many videos and tutorials, and who knows? You might love keyword research so much, you’ll switch careers and become an SEO person. Stranger things have happened—writers do make the best SEO experts, in my opinion.
Your homework for today is to go and sign up for one (or both) of these services and conduct what might be your first-ever keyword search. No pressure, just run some different keywords and see if any of them are relevant to you. Next time: we discuss where to put these keywords/ how to use them to increase your discoverability.
Lori Culwellis the author of five books, including her debut novel, Hollywood Car Wash, which was originally self-published and went to be bought and re-released by Simon & Schuster. She writes and works with companies, agents, and authors on marketing, lives in New york and California, and has a super-awesome husband. You can find her at www.loriculwell.com Open to U.S. residents: