Monday, July 27, 2009

Do You Need a Website? Ask MaAnna Stephenson

I realize I have hosted several interviews recently and some of you might be thinking, “get on with the publishing stuff here!” But for those of you who are on the verge of publishing your first book, or are already seasoned authors, you might already realize the importance of educating yourself on book promotion—especially pre-publication marketing.

Selling books begins with extensive exposure and that takes time. Need pre-publication reviews? Of course you do. This Blog, A Book Inside, was started nearly one year before the release of my book by the same name. Now, viewers swarm to this site in search of information on writing and publishing their stories; maybe they buy a copy of my book. A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story was accepted for review by professionals in the industry partly because I had already established this Blog along with my other writer’s Websites. As a writer and author, you MUST have a professional Blog and/or Website to succeed.

My guest today is author is MaAnna Stephenson. MaAnna is the author of the Just the FAQs eBooks Series. She is a professional at setting up quality Blogs and Websites that draw visitors. So let’s get started.

Carol Denbow: MaAnna, welcome! Your topic is one we all need help with.

As I’ve already stated, I started building this Blog nearly a year prior to my books release. Can you please tell us why it is so important to get a Blog or Website up-and-running early?

MaAnna Stephenson: A site is the very heart of any online marketing campaign. It’s the central hub where folks can find more information about you and your book. All of your other marketing material will need to reference the site, so it’s important to get it ready early on in the process of establishing an online presence.

Carol Denbow: When I started this Blog, nobody came to see it. I was so worried it was a failure. I spent months “learning the ropes” through research online and probably wasted several days which included severe frustration. But after all the hard work, this Blog is at PR4. Please explain to our visitors what a PR is and does for you, as well as how to get to that level.

MaAnna Stephenson: PR stands for Page Rank. Google uses their own terminology to distinguish the ranking of a site in their search engine by giving it a PR rating of 0-6, with 6 being the highest. It’s important to keep in mind that this ranking is based on Google’s algorithms for their search engine alone and may not actually reflect site traffic. In fact, several sites that are ranked PR3 have more traffic than sites ranked PR5.

You can run yourself silly following the latest advice from the latest guru about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. The fact is, each major search engine ranks pages differently and the way they do it is top secret. Some folks are paid big money by big business to find and exploit loopholes in SEO, and they usually don’t share their top trade secrets with the general public. Another thing to keep in mind is that search engines change those methods often. So, what has worked in the past may not work well at all today.

There are, however, some tried and true basic steps that will certainly improve your ranking. These include good keywords used in every element of your site. But, the most important thing to keep in mind is that if you are offering helpful information, and actively sharing it with others on a few social media sites and such, traffic will come to your site and more folks will link to your site, all of which will affect your SEO ranking too. More importantly, it will drive continuous traffic to your site, and that’s the real thing you are trying to achieve.

Carol Denbow: You have several books under your belt. Is all your work related to Website and Blog development?

MaAnna Stephenson: I’ve done technical writing for private companies for several years. But, the first book that I wrote for publication was The Sage Age – Blending Science with Intuitive Wisdom. It debuted in September 2008 and was featured in Publishers Weekly a few weeks later. In all, it took over four years to research and about another eight months to write.

The Just the FAQs series was written as I documented the process of creating an online presence for The Sage Age. So, I fully understand the wasted time and frustration many new authors feel trying to figure out all of the technical aspects without step-by-step guidance that cuts right to the point of what they are trying to accomplish. I also understand how budget conscious new authors have to be. That’s why the first books in this series deal with establishing a site on a free platform that is very stable and easy to use, while offering a lot of perks.

More advanced books will be in the works later this year including help with WordPress sites. All books in the Just the FAQs series are written for non-geeks and have a lot of color and symbols in the formatting that creatively-minded folks will find appealing and easy to use.

At the moment I’m writing a class based on material I touched on in The Sage Age. It’s titled Acoustics for Intuitives and will be a fun way to bring information about the physics of sound to those who work with it in healing modalities. I’m also researching material for another book about the ethics-shattering changes just around the corner in the field of biotechnology that will cause us to completely rethink what it is to be fully human.

Carol Denbow: Can you please tell us a little more about each of your books, such as their titles and what readers can expect to learn from each one?

MaAnna Stephenson: Just the FAQs - Blogs along with Just the FAQs - RSS Feeds help folks dramatically reduce the learning curve of setting up a blog with Blogger and adding RSS feeds with Feedburner by giving them step-by-step directions for all aspects of optimizing and customizing the features of both. In July I will also be teaching classes on these two books that will take folks through the process and show them some advanced tricks and tips that are not covered in the books.

The material in Just the FAQs - Websites is based on my years of experience as a Web designer and director for several non-profits and small businesses. It has three printable worksheets to help folks participate in creating a great site that works well, including organizing all the content and developing a good theme or design. It will also help folks avoid the expensive pitfalls of site ownership. The information is good for those who want to create a static site or a WordPress site. And, if someone already has a static site, there’s no need to do a complete site redesign or switch over to WordPress to incorporate blog posts. It’s actually a rather simple process to use RSS feeds to populate a static site with your posts.
The Articles book contains step-by-step instructions to get set up with all the major article directories. It also includes tips and tricks for running a successful article marketing campaign that can help drive traffic to your site.

Carol Denbow: I know you have Websites as well. Can you give us the links to your sites so we can see an example of your work?

MaAnna Stephenson: The URL for the Just the FAQs series is The URL for The Sage Age is I also have a site for my wood carvings, which have been featured in two national magazines, including Woodcarving Illustrated. They can be seen at

Carol Denbow: As always, we all love freebies and I enjoy giving my viewers a chance to get something for nothing. I hear you’re offering giveaways to people who leave comments during the tour. Can you tell us more about that?

MaAnna Stephenson: I’m delighted to help folks get started with creating an online presence. The Quick Step Guide for setting up an account with Blogger and Feedburner is available for free download here It will help you set up the accounts properly the first time.

I’ll also be giving away two free classes in a random drawing of folks who leave comments during the tour. You can read more about the classes here

Carol Denbow: Wow, this has been informative. I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and sharing this valuable information with us.

Hey guys and gals, watch and learn! You MUST have and draw exposure to your own Website and/or Blog to get your book noticed. The Web is an awesome tool because it’s not a “one-and-done.” Every post (even this one) stays in cyberspace forever to be found and found again.

My guest author today, MaAnna Stephenson, author of Just the FAQs eBooks Series. Thanks again MaAnna!

Please leave your comments below (maybe a freebie is in-the-bag for you!!)

FYI…Each time a blog visitor comments on any or all of the blog stops, they will be entered in a random drawing for two free Just the FAQs classes. Not only that, but every commenter is a winner and will receive a copy of MaAnna Stephenson's e-book the Quick Step Guide. If you haven't already read her books, be sure to pick up the series at

For more information about MaAnna Stephenson and her virtual tour, check the schedule at

Already have a Website or Blog? See how your's rates now with a free tool I found online at

Monday, July 20, 2009

6 Steps to Writing a Nonfiction Book

Almost everyone harbors a secret -- or not-so-secret -- yearning to write a book. Ideas range from memoirs to mysteries, from pamphlets to tomes. Books do not appear out of thin air; they are the product of much thought, planning, discipline, and effort. What follows are the 6 essential steps to take you from concept to completion of your nonfiction book:

1. Planning is the first and most important step. It means asking yourself all the tough questions about the book, from "Why am I uniquely qualified to write this book?" to "Is there a real market for it?" The most effective way to plan is by writing a book proposal, which has a dual purpose: to help you think through the book and to provide you with material you will use later in the process.

2. Writing is the nuts and bolts of producing a book, and it takes blocks of time. This is where all of your planning pays off. The chapters are the heart of the book and, of course, take the most time. They are the reason you are writing -- the cake. All the rest is frosting. Begin with Chapter 1, if each chapter is going to build on the one before it, or with your favorite topic, if it doesn’t matter what order you write them. The first chapter you write will help you find your voice, pace, and style. If you submit your proposal to a publisher, the chapter you attach must provide a sample of your best writing and of the caliber of the whole book. In addition to the chapters, you will also have to write the introduction, preface, table of contents, and "back matter."

3. Professional Assistance comprises all the people who help make a book come to life. You may not need all of them, but consider different kinds of editors, graphic designers, book reviewers, publicists, agents, and attorneys. If you self-publish, you will definitely need a graphic designer. If you prefer a conventional publisher, you will probably need an agent.

4. Production involves the elements needed to turn your manuscript into a book -- your computer and software, design and format, photos and illustrations, sidebars, endorsements, and more. These are the nitty gritty details you will learn if you decide to become your own publisher.

5. Publishing makes your book real, tangible. You have several options, including self-publishing, print on demand (POD), electronic, and conventional. There are pros and cons associated with each option. They include cost, speed of publication, rights, contracts, and profits. Learning curve, and control. Publishing is not a one-size-fits-all decision.

6. Promotion is the step many writers skip. It takes work to get your message into the hands of your target audience. No matter how your book is published, promotion is your job. You can send out advance review copies, tour book fairs, make presentations at bookstores and libraries, launch a Web site, or even hire a professional publicist.

Article Credits: Turn your idea into a book. Are you a business executive, a trainer, or a professional speaker? Bobbi Linkemer & Co. will ghostwrite your book for you or edit your manuscript. Visit or call 314-968-8661.

Article Source:

For more useful book writing, publishing, and marketing links visit Author's Box

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Are You Expecting Too Much From Your New Release?

Written by Carol Denbow and Lillian Brummet

Often times when authors release their first new book they automatically assume that fame will come along freely with this special accomplishment. Unfortunately, they are most often surprised as well as disappointed with the reality of book publishing.

With over 300,000 new books released each year in the U.S. alone, the truth is, authors are likely to be buried and completely lost amongst the new title lists and their book sales typically within the 120 book sales average.

So what can a new author expect? Not much without a great, not just good, marketing plan. Authors need tools to climb above the competition and beat the odds.
One new marketing book I recommend is Purple Snowflake Marketing - How To Make Your Book Stand Out In A Crowd by authors Dave & Lillian Brummet.

This book is a reference guide for self-marketing authors who want to be noticed in a snowstorm of writers. With nineteen chapters and twenty-five appendices, this book is a means for authors to design an effective marketing plan and utilize frugal promotional tools with the click of their mouse. Whether it is utilized by order of chapters or randomly at the reader's discretion the book is a marketing plan in itself. The book makes use of breaks and ample headings to break up the monotony of learning. Readers will find the multiple headings useful when they wish to refresh their memory on a particular aspect, and will feel encouraged to create a marketing plan that suits their unique situation. The book also provides over 900 resources – that will accelerate your marketing efforts far beyond your peers. Purple Snowflake Marketing provides reassurance to authors along with ample advice for avoiding pit-falls and setting a pace for marketing endeavors. This e-book was originally released in June 2007 and since then has made the recommended reading lists of more than a dozen writing courses. Authors of most genres will find this inspiring book an essential component for marketing their book. Visit to learn more about this great new book.

I also recommend visitors click on over to Plain & Simple Books Blog at and read the first post listed.

As authors, we all must learn how to effectively market our books if we want to stand out in this ocean of new releases and stay on top. Book writing is a business—treat it as such. If you have no business experience, I also strongly recommend reading, Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss?Available through

By the way, happy 4th of July everyone!