Operation Concrete

I thought, as I’ve been involved with the social media for almost a decade now on a personal level, and on a paid professional level for the last two years, I’d share my thoughts on how I’ve built this blog and joined in with the ‘aspiring novelist’ community that exists online. How I’ve got myself a little self promotion, gained regular traffic streams, and generally ‘joined the conversation’ to the benefit of both myself and my novel.

Blogging isnt deadAlso, some fool called Paul Boutin kicked up a fuss over at Wired the other day saying blogging is dead. A fool, that’s all I’ll say about him. Hugh Macleod replied aptly, as he always does. See the image.

To start, it’s mainly common sense, if you’re looking to try and promote yourself a bit, the novel you’re writing, have written, and you want to use blogging, the social media etc, then follow your natural thought process. How you’d get along in the real world, if you want to talk to people and want them to pay attention, you have to be interesting, regular, generally nice and have ideas. Same thing online.

Just be a bit of a geek. It should work whether you’ve been online for years or have just started up. Here’s a few quick points on how I’ve done it, and will continue to do it;

1.    Get set up – Decide what your goals are online, decide what you want your blog to look like, decide if you’re going to join in the community anywhere else, decide how much time you want to spend per week, make all these decisions and stick to them. Make sure of a load of other stuff, all basic to blogging, like XML site maps so your blog pings the search engines, key words, all that stuff, if you need more detail on this technical side of things read about it here.

2.    Create content – Simple place to start, as I’ve been writing about my novel I’ve broached subjects ranging from automatic writing to naming characters, the experiences I’ve had. Do the same, there’s people out there that are inclined to read your opinion on whatever matter it might be, just be sure that you’re ready for some stick as well as praise. But keep it coming, find a groove and stick to it.

3.    Make friends – Talk to people, lets face facts, you and your novel probably aren’t interesting enough to garner attention out of thin air, so, being new to the community of ‘aspiring novelists’ put yourself about, comment on other peoples blogs, join forums, lay low and stick your nose in every now and again, be nice to people, but speak the truth, and people will click back onto your content via the little stepping stone links you leave in comment sections, your signature on forums etc

4.    Join the conversation – Simple, almost the same as the last point, but slightly different. Once you’ve got a grip on the first three, you’re quite happy commenting on a regular set of blogs, you’ve joined a forum or two, you’ve been at it a few months and you’re seeing a few visits here and there coming in, really get stuck in. Join the conversation, and you’ll reap the benefits, and by this I mean all the things that are normally labelled ‘how to gain traffic quickly,’ so, for instance;
a.    Review other bloggers – I call this my ‘Aspirers mark’ on my blog but you can do it however you like, include stuff like a little synopsis of another aspiring novelist, give a few links to their blog and content and let them know. Often they’re quite nice and will link back to you and drive some traffic your way
b.    Use other social media tools – Really get yourself about, join in the conversation on all the other platforms that are out there and have novelists on, twitter and 12seconds.tv through to ning social networks and blog directories. Get your nose dirty, into all the little nooks and crannies you can find and enjoy yourself with the people that you’ll find

5.    Keep at it – It wont happen over night, in fact very little will happen for quite some time, then you’ll see results, and then you’ll be happy, like anything good in life, these things take time.

And that’s pretty much it, that’s all I’ve done, sporadically and in the spare moments I’ve had between actually finishing my novel, working full time, seeing my awesome girlfriend and trying to have a social life.

And in about six months, Google tells me I’ve got over 175 backward facing links to my blog across the social media and my page rank is 4, I’ve got a technorati rating of 21, I get regular traffic and most importantly, I get comments, I get people joining in with MY conversation, about MY thoughts, and asking me to help them out. It’s awesome.

And this brings me onto the conclusion of this post. You see, the wonderful Nacie from her blog, The Life Uncommon, has recently finished her first book. She’s currently selling it as an eBook and asked if I would review a sample. So I have, it’s my first go at a literary review, so I’m keeping it short, I was going to get really involved, but I’m not that confident yet. So, I’ve done a 200 word review.

The Life Uncommon - Nacie Carson

the life uncommonThis book wanders into that dark area of ‘self-help literature’ but, it’s more than that, it’s more than the regular paperbacks you see scattered around the bookstore on the subject. The Life Uncommon is founded on tact and humility which, hopefully, will see some readers eventually chase their dreams the way Nacie has.

It’s a first person exploration of how to get what you want out of life. It’s effectively written, it’s personal, you’ll disagree with parts, but those parts only make you want to keep on reading and explore why Nacie chose that particular route.

I’ve no complaints about spelling, punctuation, grammar, anything like that; it’s all solid in that regard.  I think what I’d like to affirm in the reader of this review is that, if you decide to go with this book, don’t expect exact science, don’t expect a guaranteed stamp of approval, but do expect a peer explaining how they changed their life. Turned away from the corporate rat race and followed their dream to become a writer. Expect a routine and a set of rules that Nacie followed to success and wants to share with you, expect that and you’ll get a whole lot out of this book. There’s no power ties and ‘YOU WILL SUCCEED’ here, but there is thoughtful prose and ideas.

So, if you're in the market for something to help you turn yourself around, give it a go, for 10 bucks you can't go wrong.