Posts Tagged ‘Reichold Street’

Don’t Let Readers Walk Off the Pier …

November 14, 2012

Lake Worth, Florida Pier © 2012 R.L. Herron

I’m sitting in Lake Worth, Florida tonight, getting ready to attend the Readers Favorite Awards in Miami this weekend. At the risk of sounding like I’m tooting my own horn (I am), I’m here because I won a Gold Medal for my novel Reichold Street.

I’m a little nervous, so I thought I’d try to calm my nerves by updating my blog … but I wasn’t sure what to write about. I was thinking about it late this afternoon when I took the picture above. Then it hit me.

I’ll blog about blogging.

Every writer seems to be blogging these days, from unknown authors to literary legends. If you’re a writer or want to be, you should be, too. But since blogging has become ubiquitous as a book-promotion tool, it’s important to do things right.

Here are ways to make sure your blog has a positive impact on your writing career.

1. Look Professional
The design of your blog is really important. It’s how you lure visitors and direct them to the places you’d like them to go, no matter how good your content. Remember business-speak about an elevator pitch? Consider your blog the same way.

If you’re not certain about that term, think of it this way: Does your site pass the “Three-Second Test”? We constantly pass judgment on people and things; often, in less time than it takes to take a deep breath. It’s how most human beings are wired.

The elevator door opens, a stranger enters and your brain instantly starts gathering data: Age: 50-ish. Build: Athletic. Tan: Real. Clothes: Expensive. Demeanor: Confident. Briefcase: Leather. Occupation: Trial Lawyer?

Of course, first impressions are sometimes wrong. Perhaps this fellow isn’t a lawyer at all, but a rich tennis player who also sits on the Board of a large sports equipment conglomerate. Regardless, your first impression of him was formed in those first seconds.

The same is true for websites and blogs. It’s important your site makes the right impression, because within those crucial seconds your visitors will know whether they’re going to dive deeper into your content, or hit the back button and forget about you.

Don’t let readers fall off the pier. At a glance, your website should instill confidence.

How many followers do you already have? What are your credentials? If you’re blogging about writing, why should the visitor trust you? Is your content well written, believable and relevant?

Visitors will often judge your quality and trustworthiness based on that first brief visual impression, so make sure your site sings in perfect pitch right from the start.

2. Convey an Emotion
Beyond simple quality and trust, visitors are looking for something more … something they might not even be able to put their fingers on, but will know immediately when it’s there. It’s an emotion; a feeling; an intangible resonance that gives them faith in their connection with you. Make sure your website conveys your personality, your aesthetic and your reason for writing.

3. Imagine the Whole World is Reading
Before you post anything on your blog, ask yourself two questions: (1) would I be embarrassed if anyone I know reads this, and (2) is this content WORTH sharing? In other words, you should be sure that your blog posts will interest your readers, that they’re share-worthy and, most importantly, that you won’t regret them later.

4. Keep It Simple, Stupid
There’s a lot out there in the blogosphere competing for those few moments of your readers’ time. People have short attention spans. Feed them tiny meals. The shorter and punchier your posts, the better they’ll perform in terms of engagement and sharing. Plus, shorter posts are easier to create.

5. Let Your Personality Shine
If someone is visiting your site, they’re there for YOU – so give them what they want. Make sure your personality is on display. You don’t have to be an authority all the time, and you certainly don’t want to come across as pompous or arrogant, but be sure readers can tell from the content you post why you’re unique, or at least worth listening to.

6. Post Photos and Videos
Social media thrives on the sharing of photos and videos. So post your own. Post others, if you need to. Create a book trailer for your books, or link to one for a book you like. The three most important rules are: Post, post and post. You can even try an on-camera interview.

When Stephen King released Full Dark, No Stars he also did a live UStream video interview. King sat in front of the camera for 25 minutes and answered questions as they popped up in real-time. If you’re so inclined you can watch it here.

But you don’t have to do it live. Put it on Facebook and Twitter you’re going to be recording a video interview and you’re soliciting questions. Then, when people have responded to you in those places, compile your favorites and tape yourself responding. Record your answers off-the-cuff so they don’t sound stiff and contrived.

Once you like what you see and what you hear, upload the video to YouTube, embed it on your blog and link to your blog from Twitter and Facebook. Your readers will be excited to get a glimpse into your creative mind. The good thing about this kind of interview is you can always do it over, if it doesn’t come out great the first time.

7. Be Part of a Blogging Community
Be sure to network with other authors through their blogs and social media profiles. Share content and introduce your readers to other peoples’ works that you admire. Let other writers introduce your work to their fans. Remember, there is strength in numbers.

8. Tag, Tag, Tag
Finally, tag every post with relevant names and keywords that people might use in a search engine (think Google) to find your post. Tagging posts is one way to ensure that search engines (and more importantly, readers) find the content they’re looking for.

If you have a moment to spare, please check out the book trailer below for my novel, “Reichold Street.” It’s the book for which I’ll be accepting the award on Saturday.


75 Years Ago Yesterday

September 22, 2012

Original Cover for “The Hobbit”

The Hobbit

Yesterday (Sept. 21, 2012) marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of one of my favorite stories: J.R.R. Tolkien’s immortal adventure tale about the furry, stay-at-home, almost-human creature called Bilbo Baggins, a small, likable hobbit who was very fond of his calm, unadventurous hearth and home.

Bilbo wanted nothing more than to enjoy the quiet solitude of his cozy home in the Shire, but in order to do what’s right, this unlikely hero ventures on a quest wth 13 dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf, to retrieve treasure stolen by a dragon.

In writing The Hobbit, Tolkein changed the face of fantasy fiction forever.

John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R) Tolkien, a British professor, wrote the story for his four children and published it in 1937 with a 1,500-copy first printing. He had no way of knowing what wonderful havoc he’d wreak with this story of a reluctant hobbit’s quest.

Tolkein’s Middle-Earth is quite likely the most extensive, detailed and exhaustive fictional creation ever made. Middle-Earth was a place where there was a role for an individual hero like Bilbo Baggins.

Tolkien had already written poems and tales set in a nascent Middle-Earth. Some were penned while he was hunkered down in the trenches during World War I. That miserable war would cause him to turn to a pastoral, other-wordly place to work out his fears, hopes and dreams; a place where adventures and wars have happier results.

An easy-going and recognizable character, Bilbo was a flustered, nervous fussbudget who nonetheless craved adventure and had a hunch he might actually harbor a gallant heart.

Unlike the millions who perished in World War I for no good reason, Tolkien had Bilbo set out to risk everything to do the right thing.

Tolkein (1892-1973), a reclusive British scholar and lexicographer was, in a way, the original geek. He specialized in the rather mundane field of philology (the history of languages). He didn’t even read contemporary fiction.

He had founded literary clubs with archaic names: the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, the Kolbitars Society and the Inklings.

Tolkien hung out with fellow egghead, Middle Ages-minded pals (like C.S. Lewis, a fellow Inklings member) in pubs, where they drank ale, smoked pipes and made up stories by firelight. How very hobbit-like!

Tolkien didn’t worry whether his novels were seen as high art or bedtime stories; in fact, he was doubtful his creations would have any appeal beyond his own children and his Oxford colleagues. All he wanted, Tolkien once said, was to “open the door on Other Time” and “stand … outside time itself.”

He succeeded. The Hobbit has since been translated into more than 50 languages, sold 100 million copies worldwide and inspired hundreds of fantasy writers. And it all began 75 years ago with the opening line: “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”

No one could have predicted how well his heroic, romantic, high fantasy would catch on.

But we are all reaping the benefits.

My own stories should be so lucky.

The Trailer for the Upcoming New Movie: “The Hobbit”


I’m Still an Indie Author

July 2, 2012

Miami International Book Fair
Miami International Book Fair

Did you know the Miami International Book Fair is one of the largest book events in the country?

The first Miami Book Fair International, founded by Miami Dade College and community partners, took place in 1984.

Since then it has been recognized as the nation’s finest literary festival. In 2001, the Fair became part of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College, a cultural and academic initiative that promotes the advancement and appreciation of literature throughout the year.

I didn’t know any of this yesterday. I discovered it about ten hours after discovering that my debut novel, Reichold Street, is a finalist in the 2012 Readers Favorite Awards.

It’s in the young adult genre, and the award ceremony honoring Readers Favorite Award finalists will be held during the Book Fair event next November.

I have to admit, I find it pretty heady stuff. Top five. Wow!

It isn’t clear that this will help sell any copies of the book, but I figure what the heck. What can it hurt?

At the very least I’ll get to bump elbows with other aspiring authors at the Award Ceremony, held on Saturday November 17, 2012, the second day of the street fair, at the Regency Hotel Miami.

I might even get a chance to pass out a few rack cards promoting all my books, including Tinker and Zebulon.

Even if nothing happens with my books, the weather should be nice and my grandkids aren’t that far away. You’ll get nothing but smiles from me about that.


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