Thumb hovering over Instagram app on a smart phone.

Learning the ABCs of Bookstagram

I started my bookstagram page at the end of September 2020. In under half a year, I have amassed 3,400 plus followers, held conversations with some of my favorite authors, and made many bookish friends. There are many tips and tricks only accessible to those engaging with other accounts, consuming a lot of content, and running an actual bookstagram account. Thus, I have gathered my most useful tips and tricks on how to create, operate, and brand a successful bookstagram account.

  1. Realize your definition of success.
    1. What do you want to get out of your account? Do likes matter? Do followers matter?
    2. Know your own value. Likes and followers only hold the weight you place on them. Big or small, this account is ultimately for you!
  2. Develop your content strategy.
    1. Will you be posting book reviews? Do you want your feed to be aesthetically pleasing and uniform in style or color? Will you post other content besides books?
    2. Many followers first engage with your image—this is Instagram, after all. Having good lighting and photo quality are a great first step to running a professional account. Many bookstagrammers use props like fake flowers, bookish merch, and other knickknacks to create a theme, while others use a consistent filter or color scheme.
    3. Your inaugural post is a great way to introduce yourself to the bookstagram community! Why did you choose to begin? What books do you like? Why is your account unique?
  3. Design your profile.
    1. Start with your account name, a.k.a. your @ handle. Making it book related helps alert others to your interests.
    2. Another critical part of your account is the profile picture. Some choose to pay for a designed logo, but you can make your own in many different apps, Adobe Creative Cloud, or even Word. A picture of books or you with books would work, just make sure it is recognizably your account. This is your chance to stand out!
    3. Many times people decide to follow and follow back based on your @ handle, profile picture, and bio. If you choose a random selfie or obscure name, other bookstagrammers may not recognize your account as a book page.
    4. You have the option to switch your account to a “business profile.” It is not required, but it can be worthwhile because you are able to see the best times to post, the demographics of your followers, and engagement rates of your posts.
    5. You can also create highlights on your profile from the Instagram story feature. You are able to further brand your account by creating cover images for different highlights.
  4. Extra tips.
    1. Engage. With. Other. Accounts. If you follow an account, like a few of their photos, and even comment, they are more likely to return the favor! You will also create friendships and start to carve out your own space in the bookstagram community.
    2. A big part of success on Instagram (and beating the algorithm) is consistency. Most recommend posting at least once a day. However, post as much or as little as you can manage. Do not overwhelm yourself!
    3. If you choose to use hashtags on your posts, choose ones with fewer than fifteen thousand posts and more than one thousand. This will help your post be shown to more accounts.
    4. There are many apps you can employ to help you. Instagram layout apps are great for planning your feed, follower apps can help you keep track of any spam accounts or bots, and editing apps can make your images pop!
    5. Follow trains are useful for beginners looking to make new friends and find new accounts to follow; you can often find them under hashtags and around general bookstagram.
    6. Do not follow too many accounts or like too many posts in a short period of time, especially when you have a new Instagram account. They will temporarily block your account. Since the numbers frequently change, you can google the current Instagram algorithm and rules.

Ultimately, successful accounts bring something new to the table! Convey your unique voice via your reviews, use unique props, or just find your people. If you are confused about any steps or features of Instagram, Google will most likely have the answer. You are also free to message me on Instagram, @fringebookreviews, and I will try to address your questions! You can also use my account as an example. Good luck, and happy reading!

Awards, Awards, Awards

Ah, awards season. A time of wins, losses, prizes, and registration fees. It’s a time when you must be comfortable with chaos surrounding you and you have to keep your memory as organized as your Excel sheets. But alas, this year has added yet another hurdle to the seemingly never-ending sprint, and that is COVID-19. Everyone has been uprooted by the pandemic in more ways than one. It seems to have affected nearly every facet of our lives, and rightfully so. If we don’t take the proper precautions, there will be even more unnecessary deaths than there have already been. Across the world, we are just trying to adjust to the “new normal” with no training wheels. But how has it impacted the awards season for book publishers? I’m glad you asked.

It’s chaos. Utter chaos.

Rules are altered, deadlines have been changed, and payment methods vary from award to award. It forces a person to practice multitasking on another level. But that’s what is asked of a publisher’s assistant. Like the publisher, we need to be able to switch and manage completely different aspects of the industry in a snap, moving from metadata entry one minute to working with marketing on the next social media campaign the next.

All in all, that’s what it means to work for a press. All of us have to juggle multiple tasks that don’t always seem to connect, but somehow these different tasks create a book. Without marketing at Ooligan Press, we wouldn’t have any clue who to sell the book to. Without digital, we would have no way to display our product. If we didn’t have an editor who also handled some coding, there would be typos in our books and no ebooks, and without design, the covers would all be gray. We’re all divided up into different groups with varying tasks that push and pull at our progress of creating a wonderful book that is, generally, written by a wonderful person.

So, why are awards so important to publishers if they don’t add to the book-making process?

Awards are specifically meant for post-pub, and a lot of independent presses depend on winning in their category in order to continue making other books. Ooligan Press likes to focus on some of the more well-known contests such as the Oregon Book Awards and the Foreword Indies because they tend to offer a more substantial monetary award while also creating deals for publishers that enter multiple titles. But Ooligan has also started turning its focus toward awards that support book diversity, especially as we start to publish more books with LGBTQ+ protagonists. Along with the monetary profit that can come with winning awards, many of these contests also bring more publicity for the book, bringing more buyers. So in the end, the chaos surrounding you and having to keep your memory as organized as your Excel sheets becomes extremely worth it when you think of what it can bring to the press.

Book Subscription Boxes Offer an Alternative to Browsing Bookstore Shelves this Holiday Season (And Beyond)

The holidays are here. Festive city squares are displaying trees lit with tasteful white lights, and our marching band kiddos have asked us to buy pies or wreathes to support their teams. In past holiday seasons I have loved walking, wrapped in a knitted scarf, from the chilly city street or suburban stripmall sidewalk, past a musician strumming a guitar or beating a drum, and through charming glass or wooden doors into the warm space of a bustling retail bookshop, illuminated by soft yellow lights.

And now? Well, now I rarely go inside any stores, opting for delivery and curbside pickup. I tend to wince, seemingly irrationally, when I accidentally walk the wrong direction down a grocery store aisle per the masking tape arrows. Yesterday, I found myself asking the cashier at the liquor store if they had any hand sanitizer I could use. COVID-19 has got me like that.

I buy my groceries online. Every twelve weeks, twenty-four rolls of toilet paper are delivered to my front doorstep. I no longer need to carry the bulky, soft, plastic-wrapped packages through the checkout lane to my car, or through the hilly neighborhood to my second-story apartment. I like that. I’ve also been receiving a new pair of super cute, super soft underwear sent to me monthly since April.

Subscription boxes—the recurring delivery of goods—are, in my opinion, a vital part of the marketing and distribution of a product or service. And. They. Are. Convenient. And fun.

So why not feed readers’ chronic bibliophilia with book subscription boxes? In general, shopping habits have been changing for years, and COVID-19 has greatly amplified this. The book-shopping experience will need to transition into a new realm where local and indie bookstore owners send their bookish vibes into the hands and homes of their customers. Maybe every other month, or four times a year, a reader’s favorite local bookstore ships them a pile of used books, a new hardcover must-read, books from featured or local authors, some cute bookish socks, and a new notebook or a calendar. Maybe they could throw in an old bookstore–scented candle (Is that a thing? Powell’s has made that a thing.), or a traveling poet’s self-published chapbook. The product combinations, I imagine, are endless.

Delivery subscriptions for things like dinner prep kits, sustainable toilet paper, murder mystery games, and even locally roasted coffee beans have become increasingly popular since at least 2003. Forbes reported that in “April 2017, subscription company websites had about 37 million visitors. Since 2014, that number [had] grown by over 800 percent.” I wonder what the numbers are today, in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, with kids learning from home, many folks working remotely or unemployed altogether, elders isolated from loved ones, and people simply staying away from other people (in the best of circumstances).

COVID-19 continues to change lifestyles and restrict in-person contact. People may not be able to shop at their favorite bookstores (or any stores) without potentially waiting in a line outside the brick and mortar or needing to proactively set an appointment. A box of books and other goodies being delivered right to readers can bring the bookstore vibes to their homes, and can keep us consuming the titles that flood our wish lists and the titles we had no idea we needed.

Some booksellers have been dabbling in book subscription boxes for a while. For about fifty bucks, every six to eight weeks, Powell’s Books will ship subscribers a new title from an independent publisher. Their Indiespensable subscription club is well-reviewed (and out of stock). I am definitely adding their next installment to my wish list! Also, a charming local bookstore in Delaware is running The Book Drop, a monthly book subscription where adult readers get a wrapped, paperback book to pair with coffee, tea, or bubbly, and kids have options too.

I’m into it.

I am expecting to see more (like all my favorite) independent bookstores offering some form of niche subscription boxes for their book-loving readers. Bookstores, small and large, need to get their inventories online and offer more accessibility—as well as some customizable options—for these subscriptions.

How Goodreads Helped Me Find My Memories

An unsettling thing happened when I went home to Colorado for the holidays last year. While my family sat around a fire in Summit County, trading stories and recent news, my sister asked me about a time she and I had shared that she remembered vividly.

“You don’t remember that?” She stared at me emphatically, as if asking the question would light the match to the memory that had clearly grown cold and damp in my mind. No such luck. In fact, I couldn’t recall even a portion of the memory she described to me—a memory that wasn’t from too long ago, but distant enough that it’s not tangible anymore, something vaguely familiar.

I don’t know when I started noticing gaps in my memories of things, but it became more pervasive and embarrassing in my early 20s. Large swaths of time suddenly go dark, dissolve from within me. It starts small, with a drive home from a late shift that I couldn’t really describe, to a song that sounded like something I knew but couldn’t pinpoint who it was. People waving and saying, “How are you?” who I didn’t recognize or couldn’t name. Then more of those questions:

“Remember that time?” “What year was that?” “When did you get that tattoo?” Significant portions of my own timeline were missing. I became skilled in leading conversations away from my frustration and increasing anxiety over these lost portions of time. I started leaving myself notes around the apartment.

“Don’t dry the tan, wool shirt!” “Remember your sister’s birthday is on the 13th, CALL HER.” “There is spinach in the fridge, if you don’t eat it, it will go bad and you will feel like a failure again.” While some of these were reminders about small tasks, I started to wonder if this was how my life was just going to be now. The problem for me wasn’t just why I couldn’t remember, but how I could get these memories back.

My partner and I were talking about books we had read in 2019; books that blew us away and books that we wished we had put down sooner. I knew I had read stellar books last year, but I couldn’t pinpoint those titles. I reached for my phone, as many of us who need to remember something right away do, and opened my Goodreads app. My “2019” shelf sat, neatly and chronologically ordered for me to peruse. Month by month, the books I had slogged through and the books that shone brilliantly awakened in my memory, but something else happened too. I began to remember other parts of my life in those months, what I was doing while reading The Song of Achilles, or where I had been sipping a particularly delicious sticky rice tea in Sellwood while devouring La Fronterra in June. One by one, my memories filtered back in, and as I looked further and further through my Goodreads archive, pieces of 2017 and 2016 came together before me.

It turns out, it’s not just me; our memories are getting worse and that’s largely due to the
Google effect, in which the ability to look up or search is so readily available to us that our minds have “decreased dependency on internal memory storage.” I can’t recall the amount of times I’ve been thinking of a word for something or a fact about so-and-so and just Googled it. While I was briefly euphoric at the discovery that Goodreads had carefully catalogued the past three years of my life for me with dates and metadata to support the timeline, I wonder about the accuracy of archival memory. It’s unsettling to consider that memory may become something that lives on a server farm somewhere, susceptible to be infiltrated, altered, or vanished. But there is a rather simple solution: write more. Research has shown that writing things down is essential to memory retention. Perhaps the digital cataloguing of the books I’ve read in some way has captured those memories within the pages of those books. In rereading the titles, I am able to relive those parts of my life with more clarity, and to engage again with my life through the “written” lists of how my past was spent.

A Marketing Tool for Indie Publishers and Authors Alike

“Tell us what titles or genres you’ve enjoyed in the past, and we’ll give you surprisingly insightful recommendations.”

In December 2006, many things were happening around the world. NASA revealed photographs supporting the theory of water on Mars, an adult giant squid was captured on video, and the dress Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was auctioned to charity for $923,187. Another notable December 2006 occurrence was the creation of the online book catalog and recommendation resource, Goodreads.

Goodreads allows users to keep track of books they’ve read, books they want to read, and the reading journeys of other registered users. Users are able to interact with each other while getting consistent recommendations from both a Goodreads algorithm and the ever-updating feed from their friends on the website or app. While Goodreads is a wonderful resource for readers, it also houses a very lucrative market for indie publishers and authors. Through the Goodreads author program, Q&A groups, word of mouth, and the Goodreads recommendation engine, indie publishers and authors are able to establish a presence among the bigger five guns in the publishing world.

Goodreads Author Program

Per Goodreads, the author program is “designed for authors to have a profile on the site and interact with fans, and add photos, videos, or events to their profiles.” Using Goodreads as a sort of social media platform, authors are able to cultivate a following and stay connected with their readers. They can even update readers on what they are reading, since most authors are—at a fundamental level—readers too. Authors can post reviews or favorite quotes, or even create lists of favorite books.

Q&A Groups

Authors can also host a Q&A group to answer questions and interact with their fans. Any followers of the author are notified via their inbox to submit a question, promoting the new release. There are seven million users on Goodreads and it is very worthwhile for authors (either publishing independently or through an indie press) to interact with them! Another program, Ask the Authors, allows authors to engage with their readers from their author dashboard.

How do books get discovered? This pie chart distinguishes between the various methods Goodreads members use to find books on the site.

states that they “require such a threshold to guarantee they know enough about a book to be statistically comfortable recommending it.” Ratings and reviews on books, especially indie titles, matter!

Using programs such as LibraryThing and Eidelweiss offer the option to implore early reviewers to review books on websites such as Goodreads. Having a strong baseline of early reviews helps a title tremendously when looking to market it on Goodreads.

Furthermore, Goodreads notes that if there is a strong comparable title to a new release and a publisher or author is able to market their book to the readers of the other title—and the readers respond by adding the new book to their goodreads account—the recommendation engine will notice this correlation and be even more likely to suggest the book to the right readers.

Where do people initially hear about the books they read?

Friends are one of the best methods of new book discovery.

A Publicist’s Guide to Successful Online Events

Have you attended one of the many online events recently and the lighting was bad or you could barely hear the speaker? Knowing how to have a successful online event is crucial to getting readers to engage with your book. We all know that our attention spans are short, and when it comes to online presentations or keynotes, our attention is even shorter—especially with Zoom fatigue. So here is a publicity manager’s quick guide to successful online author events that attract and engage readers.

Strategize

Come up with a plan of what the main theme or goal of the event will be. Do you want to interact with attendees? Do you want to show readers what the book is about? Or do you want to introduce your author to the audience? It may help to write down bullet points for ideas on what you will be speaking about. This way, you have a guide to follow and you won’t get sidetracked. However, make sure it doesn’t feel too scripted, otherwise, it will feel inauthentic. Authenticity is an important aspect of hosting online events.

Engagement and Professionalism

Don’t just do one thing in your event. For example, don’t just have an excerpt reading. Excerpt readings are overdone and will lose engagement quickly if the author or speaker isn’t a captivating reader. Some other types of events could include a look behind the scenes, a day in the life of an author, writing tips, or an author or book Q&A. Be creative when coming up with ideas. Outside-the-box events are always more fun to attend. Finally, make sure all speakers for your event are kind, respectful, and professional. This isn’t a FaceTime date with friends. It’s a professional event, but also make sure to have fun with it.

Angles

If the event is a typical interview, reading, or Q&A, the phone or laptop used needs to be at head height so the speaker is looking directly into the camera with their shoulders and neck visible. There is usually no need to show their full body. Some exceptions may be made to create a homey or comfy feel when doing an at-home reading.

The background of the shot should be aesthetically pleasing, be it a bookshelf, plants, or just a plain wall, as long as it looks professional and does not distract from the main speaker. The background should always add to the event, not take away from it.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the biggest mess-ups for online events. Lighting can be unpredictable, especially when using natural sunlight. The best way to get predictable lighting is with professional lighting equipment. However, it is unrealistic to think that everyone can afford that. If you don’t have access to a ring light or something similar, your best friend will be bright, artificial light or indirect sunlight. The artificial light or indirect sunlight should be in front of you, and behind the camera if possible. This way there is no blinding light, making it hard to see the speaker. Artificial lighting is usually easier to deal with than indirect sunlight because it is predictable and easier to manage.

Sound

You don’t need a professional $1,000 microphone to get good sound quality. Event speakers can wear headphones which will help them hear better and will create better sound quality. Many headphones have microphones in the volume controller. If headphones are not available, make sure the environment the speaker is in is as quiet as possible and that they sit close to the computer or phone.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Always prepare ahead of time for tech troubles. Set up the equipment beforehand and test it a few times to make sure you have it down. Start the event a little earlier than the scheduled time to set up the equipment and make sure there are no sound or video issues. If there is an issue, don’t freak out. Remain calm and try to fix it. More likely than not, you just need to press a specific button to fix the problem.

The safety of speakers, hosts, and attendees is the top priority. Requiring registration and passwords to Zoom events will allow attendees to feel more comfortable. This may create a smaller turnout for events, but this means those who attend are actually there because they want to be. And nobody wants to be Zoom bombed.

I hope this short and sweet guide is helpful to all the hosts out there. See you all soon on the internet. Happy Zooming!

Preparing Authors for Digital Readings

Reading is often a solitary experience, but it becomes a social experience when we attend an event where we get to see authors read their work live. One of the most common ways that publishers and authors promote their books is by holding readings. These events can take place digitally or in person, but are becoming increasingly popular as digital occurrences. In light of the global pandemic of 2020, we learned just how valuable it can be to have a strong digital reading event.

Although digital readings are great opportunities for publicity, it can be daunting when a digital event is one of the only events that will occur, as was the case for many events for debut authors in early 2020. With all of that pressure, how can publishers get their authors ready for these events? What is the best way for an author to prepare for an online reading?

First, the basics. What will they read? The author probably has a good idea of what selections may read well. In general, the passage should be engaging, and involve some kind of mini plot or character arc. It should sound beautiful and read naturally out loud, without dragging on and on. Dialogue is a great thing to include, but too much can be confusing to the audience, as the “he said, she said” can be hard to follow.

Next, how will they read it? They’ll need to practice. While it might not be poetry, a reading is still a performance of sorts. The author will need to take time to run through the reading aloud, noting where to place special emphasis, change pacing, use a different voice, or make minor changes to the text in order to ensure audiences will be able to follow along, as they may not have a copy in front of them. This can also help sharpen their focus and aid in creating smooth transitions. This practice is also a time to make decisions about what kind of background would be fitting for the reading, what they will choose to wear, and how they will handle possible distractions like children, sirens, or pets (if the reading is occurring in their home).

And finally, where will they read it? Authors and publishers should spend time getting to know the platform they’ll be using. Whether it’s Instagram Live, a large Zoom call, or a recorded reading, time must be spent familiarizing oneself with the ins and outs of the technical aspects of the software. Several tests should be run prior to the real deal, and everyone should have a contingency plan for troubleshooting technical issues. What if the audio cuts out? What if the dog barks? What if there is a disruptive audience member? Things can and will go wrong, and having a plan for how to deal with it can both save everyone from embarrassment as well as give everyone involved a sense of confidence.

Nailing down the what, where, and how of the reading will prepare the author to have the most successful, stress-free online event possible. This will be especially necessary as book marketing moves online. As debut author Kevin Nguyen said in a New York Times interview on the way book publicity is shifting to an online presence, “…there’s an opportunity here, if we can all figure it out…I’m hoping these hurdles can encourage us to think about how book promotion can be reinvented.”

Indie Portland Bookstores During COVID-19

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many small businesses are facing hardships due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures. In Portland, however, small independent bookstores are changing the way they operate in order to stay open. Below is a list of local booksellers that are using their online presence to their advantage during these difficult times:

While this is not an exhaustive list, these are some of the stores that are staying open due to the patronage of their communities.

How are they operating behind closed doors? Most of these stores are now offering free shipping and, in some cases, free delivery or curbside pickups. However, these models are continually changing as the guidelines and procedures for safe transactions continue to be updated. Many of these small stores do not have a robust online catalog, which means that in order to get your books, you must speak directly with an employee in the store who can let you know what they have in stock and make recommendations. In this way—even though they don’t have the backing of larger chains who might have more employees available to ship books—these small independent stores are giving customers the service and care they always do, and making the extra effort to keep their communities safe.

Another thing to consider is how these companies are advertising to their customers during this time. We know people are not supposed to leave their homes unless it is essential, so how are stores getting the word out? Social media has been a key component in this process, beyond just a simple telephone call. As more and more people find themselves stuck at home with little else to do but skim their phones, these stores have utilized their advertising on social media platforms in order to keep the word out about their options. From posting funny quips to sharing ideas for family-friendly reading activities, these stores have been going above and beyond to reach their communities, all while fielding business in a challenging new way. A few of the bookstores have requests on their websites for customers to be patient when it comes to ordering and receiving their books. For a lot of people, that is no problem at all, because there is a lot of time to wait for a book these days.

Their ability to adapt is a testament to the ways independent bookstores go above and beyond to stay in business. During all of this chaos, it’s still important to be able to sit down and read a good book—and as people are stocking up on necessities, they’re starting to consider that as well. So as you consider the small businesses you’re supporting during this time, keep these bookstores in mind.

Help Me Design

It is amazing how design finds its way into all professions. Whether you are a graphic-design guru, a website developer, a technical writer, or any other professional who has some sort of visual element in their day-to-day (so, everyone), you are surrounded by design. So let us dive into some resources for the non-designers.

Adobe Help
Adobe can be a fickle mistress, controlling our experience through buried functions, robust shortcut keys, and a beautiful array of possibilities. It is amazing how creative a non-designer can be once given the power through Adobe Creative Cloud. But for those who aren’t willing or able to sit in on weeks of Adobe workshops, here are a few resources that may help.

  • InDesignSecrets
    InDesignSecrets is a creative network family of sites and services for InDesign users. Considered the world’s best resource for all things InDesign, InDesignSecrets has a robust network of help forums, sites, and services that help users get past the most grueling of holdups.

  • LinkedIn Learning
    LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) is an online learning platform that has a bounty of lessons on everything from creative practice to business practice. It is primarily for multimedia and software development, and student accounts are affordable and provide valuable resources like software tutorials, design concepts, and coding fundamentals. If you don’t believe me, read the reviews—LinkedIn Learning speaks for itself.

Adobe Resources
Not every design project starts from scratch. Designers often use resources or inspiration from other creators or creative spaces. Often borrowing a simple brush stroke, font, swatch, or pattern will evolve one’s work into something unexpected. So here are a few resources you can mine.

  • Jotform.com: A Gold Mine of Adobe Illustrator Resources
    Melissa Scroggins has done the design community a huge favor and listed over two hundred free Adobe Illustrator resources. On the blogging platform Jotform.com, Scroggins lists an awing amount of brushes, patterns, symbols, vectors, and swatches. This is a post worth getting lost in.

  • Font Squirrel
    Font Squirrel is a legitimately free typeface resource that has thousands of completely legal and high-quality fonts. Font Squirrel handpicks and organizes popular fonts for easy finds, but depending on the typeface, designers can go down any serif or sans-serif rabbit hole they would like.

There are thousands of resources out there, and these are only a few; but hopefully these help those who either are just getting into design or need some online inspiration. Happy designing!

Rise in the Ranks with SEO Techniques

So, you’re a new author: you’ve climbed the gargantuan mountain of writing, rewriting, tearing your hair out at some unknown hour in the morning, pitching your book several times, and going through the editing and publishing process, and now you’ve finally heaved yourself up that last ledge—you’ve been published!

But as you look up from that beautiful book in your hands, you realize that you’re not done after all. There is still a little ways left to go, and those seemingly infinite footholds on the mountainside spell out a terrifying word: marketing.

Don’t worry—it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. One of the best ways you can build your brand and put your book out there is through developing your website. This serves as a place where your readers can learn more about you and your book, locate you on social media, find promotional events, and more. But with over 3.5 billion Google searches made every day, how do you ensure your website stands out? Ooligan Press encourages authors to utilize search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to bump your site higher in the ranks. Continue reading for simple tips to help your book reach the peak of its potential!

  • Identify Your Keywords
    All right, so this seems like an obvious answer. However, it is still important to note that in order to utilize SEO correctly, you must select the right keywords. In fact, the more specific they are, the better chance they have of ranking higher in searches! For instance, instead of using “fantasy” and “unrequited love” as your keywords, opt for specific subjects in your latest novel, such as “wood nymphs” and “immortal love interest,” to reach that niche audience. Make sure that these keywords are used in your title, your meta description, and elsewhere. Google recognizes that users are more likely to click on a link that includes the keywords they are looking for in both the title and the description, and so they place those websites that do this higher in users’ searches and penalize the websites that don’t. There are many creative ways in which you can include your keywords on your site. In fact, you can even put your keywords in your alt text, which is usually included as an option when you upload an image to your site. This is helpful because Google cannot read images but does recognize alt text.

    Placing your keywords everywhere on your site may be tempting, but did you know that it’s possible to use your keywords too much? This strategy is also known as “keyword stuffing.” When you needlessly fill your webpage with your keywords, Google will read that as a spamming tactic. Research has shown that in order to achieve the best results from utilizing SEO techniques, it’s best for keywords to account for 2–5 percent of your total text.

  • Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
    The number of mobile users has increased exponentially in the past decade, and Google has made a recent update that penalizes sites that are not mobile-friendly. This means that if your site isn’t compatible with mobile devices, Google will automatically disregard your page in the rankings. Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? You can place your URL here to check.

  • Take Advantage of Free SEO Tools
    I know what you’re thinking: I’m a writer, not a website developer! That’s okay, because there are resources out there that are not only easy to use, but also free! Tools like Google Search Console will give you insights on where your site ranks, which pages are giving you the most traffic, and which keywords are getting clicked on the most. This tool will notify you if there are any errors on your website and help you optimize your content so that your potential readers can find you not only by searching your book title, but also through other tabs on your website, such as your book blog, accolades, and promotional events.

And there you have it: a few simple tips and tricks to get you started in learning how SEO techniques can help your website soar in the ranks—and with it, your book sales too!