I've been mulling over whether or not to write this post for a couple of weeks. And to be honest even as I am writing it I'm wondering if I should name the website that really got up my nose. I'm still not sure, but as this is another we'll just have to wait and see if I spill all the beans. Before getting to the nitty gritty of this post, I first want to say that I fully understand that websites, and in particular ones that have a great deal of new content, want to make a bit of money, time is money of course. However there are ways and means of doing this. ones that don't just smell of wrongness. So what has got my goat up?
Hot on the heels of yesterday's post on not being a lazy git, comes this follow on article.
This has been a funny old week at Ginger Nuts of Horror, spending a week off work with a torn hamstring has meant that I have had a lot of time to go through my email. Normally when it comes to dealing my email, a lot of the emails don't get that much attention. Most of them fall at the first hurdle when it comes to my three point plan for filtering out unwanted emails. It's a simple one address the email to me. Not to a "Dear Sir" or "Dear Madam "
However as I said I've had a lot of time to spare this week, which I have used in the main to get some of the background stuff sorted out, like a new design look for the site, it's looking good isn't it? Tidying up and deleting a lot of dead links or links that lead to some dodgy sites. If you have a website with a lot of links I recommend that you go and check this out. I had no idea that dodgy companies can go around and buy up dead domains.
More importantly I spent a whole day sorting out my emails, it was a horrible job, but one that was desperately needing some attention. For once I actually went through every email and read the whole thing and replied to every single one that needed a reply. And it was in doing this that I noticed something that really bothered me.
A few things have happened over the last couple days that have really, really got my goat. Two of them in particular have left me dumbfounded, and rather angry. I understand that sharing my feelings might annoy some of you, might even lose me some readers, and might even lose me some contacts, however things are really coming to head.
First off, Ginger Nuts of Horror and many other websites out there like mine exist to help promote authors, we generally don't do this for any personal gain. We spend hours hunched over a computer out of a love for the horror genre. We want to via the use of our horror websites to give something back to the horror community.
We are however not here TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU. Seriously I'll do whatever I can to promote your work, I'll tweet, share, recommend anything you send me. Hell if I see your book in a bookshop I'll move it to prominent site in the shop. But what I won't do for you is do your work.
So when you send me a press release for your book that solely consists of the cover of the book, then when asked if you have actually have a press release for it your reply is
"OH, I THOUGHT YOU DID THAT"
Your going to be told exactly where to go. Especially when you then reply
BUT ISN'T THAT YOUR JOB!
No it's not my job to write copy for you. If you want me to write copy, then I'll gladly do it if you want to pay me. I won't do it for free. You need to understand that the horror community is one of the smallest genre communities out there. It doesn't take much for word to spread around if you act like a dick.
Please if you want any horror website to help you, you have to stop treating us as slaves. We are a nice bunch of people, we like help, we just don't like being taken for a ride. Unless you are taking me and the kids for a nice day out.
It's time for another one of these posts. At this moment in time I have twenty 5 Minutes With interviews sitting in my inbox. Many of them have been there for months, one of them has been there for almost six months. I'm now at the point where I don't think I'll ever get round to publishing them, I open them up and I just can't bring myself to take time out of my day to get them formatted. The reason for this is simple, they are just so dull.
Come on guys, you're supposed to be writers, spinners of tales, weavers of magic, Gods of the worlds that you create. You should be able to answer a few simple questions. You should be able to appear interesting.
It doesn't matter how good your writing is, if the first contact a reader makes with you is through an interview you did, that makes them want to stick their heads in an oven through sheer boredom, they won't buy your book.
Seeking out new readers is like one marathon speed dating session, you've only got a few minutes to make a good impression. If you come across as a sullen monosyllabic dullard, then you’re not going to get a date. There are thousands of potential dates out their all flexing their muscles, and flashing their pearly white teeth all in the hope that one of us will take you home and curl up in bed with you.
You have three avenues to engage with a reader, reviews, word of mouth and social media interaction. The first two are kind of out of your hands, unless you're into sock puppetry, or do something really amazing or something so terrible that everybody starts talking about you.
However YOUR social media presence is something you can shape and control. You have to engage a reader, whether through interesting and funny Facebook updates. Or through interviews and guest posts on review sites. How you come across is totally down to you. All we can do is add a little polish to your posts with a nice graphical touch here and a little bit of formatting pizazz. As the old saying goes we can't polish a turd.
Take a look back through some of the interviews and guest posts on my sites, you'll see the whole range from brilliant interview responses from the likes of Carole Johnstone, and Chantal Noordeloos, and some wonderful guest posts from the likes of Jasper Bark and Kit Power. See what they did them, they were interesting, funny, and talkative and above all they weren't dull. I can tell you right now that the viewing figures for these articles are huge. There a huge spike in my daily viewing figures on the days that they were posted. People talked about these articles, they shared them and looking at my Amazon Associate account they bought books.
I used to offer in-depth personalised interviews to ever author who asked for an interview. I've stopped doing that. The amount of research that goes into doing these is astronomical. I can't justify getting spending that amount of time on an author who replies to a question like "What do you think of the current state of the genre? With "it's alright" That's from the interview that has been sitting in my inbox for over six months. It's never going to get published, and I'll never get round to reviewing their book.
So please, please when you do an interview for any site, please try and be interesting. It will be worth it
And if you don't believe me here is an excellent post from Chantal that says the same thing, but much more eloquently than I ever could
Here is a small postscript to the original post.
While searching for SEO tips I came across this quote with regards to the ideal length of posts so that Google can discover your site. I like the quote as it pretty much sums up the feeling of this post.
If you can't write at length on a subject, then it probably doesn't merit its own page or post.
One thong have leanred It turns out that the minimum recommended length for google to take notice is 600 words. Now I'll tweet share and talk about your posts as much as I possibly can, and this is something that you should also do. But the thing is this only gets so much coverage. Unless you are some big name horror writer, you reach through fans will only get you so far. To maximise your potential reach for your interview or guest post you need to get into Google's mind. For the most part there is not much you can do from your end. I target my SEO for Horror and Horror Website, if there is any way in which you can incorporate these terms into your article then great.
Where you can help is by boosting the word count past 600, ideally 1000 and if you are feeling particularly eager 200 - 25000 is where Google really takes a liking to your post. (By the way Google is not stupid, adding a thousand random words will just get Google to penalize you). See even an emotionless algorithm can tell when you are being interesting. I told you it was important. When it comes to my interviews even the basic one has 382 words already written for you, so you really have no excuse to get some good quality interaction with Google.
Looking back over the last few months the articles that have had the biggest reach and the largest number of referring sites have been not from the most well known authors but from the ones who have been the most interesting. One other thing that I did learn was great website design is key, if you are looking for a great web design compony then somewhere like MangoMatter Media is a great place to check out
So please if you want to maximise your reach put the effort in. Together we can rule the world.