Monday, March 24, 2008

Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency is proud to announce that Utah author Virginia Smith was named Writer of the Year earlier this week during the closing night ceremony at Mount Hermon's 39th Annual Christian Writers Conference. The international group of more than 500 attendees and faculty included writers from forty-eight states and three foreign countries. Keynote speakers at this year's conference were international bestselling authors Debbie Macomber and Jerry B. Jenkins. The coveted Writer of the Year award is selected by the conference's 72 faculty and staff members.

"I'm delighted that Mount Hermon honored Virginia with Writer of the Year," says Wendy Lawton. "Not only has she been successful with her own writing-- building a group of faithful readers-- but she continues to teach workshops, give to other writers and spearhead a new energy for CAN, Christian Authors Network."

In regard to being chosen for this honor, Smith says, "I'm still reeling. I am so honored to have my name added to the list of distinguished authors who have received this award in the past."

Smith left her job as a corporate director in the summer of 2005 to become a full time writer and speaker. Since then she has received contracts for ten novels. She writes humorous inspirational novels, including her debut Just As I Am, a cozy mystery entitled Murder by Mushroom, and her latest releases, Sincerely Mayla and Stuck in the Middle, book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I did it! Thanks to Randy Ingermanson’s class at the ACFW conference last September entitled Marketing Methods of the Mad Genius Writer, I’ve jumped from page three hundred sixty four on Google’s list, to page one. Try it. Google my name. It’s so much easier to find me now than it was a year ago.

Here are the top ten easiest things YOU can do to make Google go ga-ga over you, too. Some of these are Randy's ideas, some are mine. Either way, I've found them to be successful:

1. Link to other writers. Believe it or not, the more you link to other authors and they link to you, the higher your Google rating.

2. Content, content, content. Make sure the content on your website or blog offers something to people searching for you besides information on buying your books.

3. Use meta tags. If you are a cozy mystery author, be sure your meta tags include the words cozy mystery author often. Don’t just throw the words in however. You don’t want to be marked as spam.

4. Use your keywords often in the content of your webpage or blog. It’ll make people browsing a subject rather than a person stumble on your webpage and hopefully come back again and again.

5. Offer freebies and merchandise. Nothing makes people return to your website again and again like the chance at free stuff. The more hits you get, the higher your Google rating.

6. Update often. A stagnant website doesn’t keep people coming back.

7. Make sure links to other websites open in a new window. That way, your website remains open even if you are directing a person to more information.

8. Start a newsletter and get people to sign up by offering something free. The more people you have subscribed to your newsletter, the broader your reach when you have news or announcements.

9. Branch out. Are you a speaker? Tape your speaking engagements and sell them online, or offer them as promotional items.

10. Make sure your website content is clean and easy to read. Nothing turns a person off quicker than having to squint to see. Can’t afford to hire a web designer to create a webpage specifically for you? No problem. There are plenty of free or low cost webpage designer programs out there. Stay tuned next week and I’ll highlight a few of them for you.

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