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


Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

This was helpful. I always thought the highest PR rank was a 10, nice to learn it's a 5. I agree, website Grader is great!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Will have to check into the grading system.

I also think authors benefit more from a site THEY can update. Static sites come from being at the mercy of a web designer!

L. Diane Wolfe

MaAnna Stephenson said...

Carol, thank you so much for hosting me on the tour today.

Each person who posts a comment will be eligible for the drawing at the end of the tour to receive a free class from Just the FAQs. Everyone can download the Quick Step Guide for setting up a blog on Blogger with RSS Feeds from FeedBurner right now at

Gutsy Living said...

great information you've given us. As an aspiring author of a memoir, I love to learn more about getting the right audience to visit my blog. So far I have many writers and expats, but I would like to tap into other groups, such as those longing to leave the rat race and take the plunge to live on a Caribbean Island, like my family did.
Any good information on how blogging, Twitter and Facebook, can get more people to feel engaged in your blog? Thanks again for posting this informative article.

Zarach said...

Best wishes to both of you--on your web sites and on the book tour(s).

Jon said...

Not to nitpick, but Page rank definitely goes from 0 to 10.

Lezlie Tripathy said...

amazing thoughts..

god bless yu

環保木棧板 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

nice blog and have lots of stuff here.........

Anonymous said...

You are looking to promote your business online, you would be aware that online business requires a good website. A good website requires a good website design. A new design might be the correct answer and the right strategy for the success of your online business. A quality design can help your website seek the required attention from the customers. At the same time, it also gives you the confidence that you are projecting your products/services in the best possible way.

Bob Sanchez said...

Just looked at the website grader, and it's great! Thanks so much.

Bob Sanchez

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