Monday, September 9, 2019

How to Self-Publish and Market a Book: KEYWORDS

Hank Quense on Keywords

Keywords are frequently referred to as tags.You may not be aware of this, but search engines don’t care about your book title.  It’s true if you enter your book title or your name into a search engine, the results will include your book and your name. 

Readers will often search for a book using the name of a best-selling author but readers can’t enter the title or the name of a new self-published author since she and her book have achieved little recognition so far. 

Another way readers will search for a book is by using a short descriptive phrase such as ‘fantasy quest’ or ‘regency romance’.  These are known as keywords and this is the situation where you want your book to appear in the search results.  To accomplish this, it is vital that you develop a set of keywords that will ensure your book title will show up in the reader’s search results.

The keywords you want to use are ones that readers in your genre will use when browsing for a book.  These keywords are not necessarily what your book is about: they are the terms a reader will type into a search engine.  

Let’s say your book is a fantasy novel filled with elves and dwarfs.  You may think ‘dwarfs’ and ‘elves’ would be great keywords.  They are not.  A reader looking for a fantasy novel won’t use them.  Instead, he will search for terms like ‘fantasy adventure’ or ‘fantasy quest.’  Consequently, it is important for your marketing efforts that you develop a relevant set of keywords. 

Google has a free keyword planner you can use to help generate your keywords.  You can access it using this link:

Another free keyword tool can be found here:

Here is a trick you can use on Amazon.  In the search box, start to type a keyword.  Amazon will auto-complete and show you its most popular keywords.  As an example, type fantasy into the box.  By the time you finish typing ‘fantasy’ you’ll see some keywords that may be relevant.  

Keep typing and add the word ’adventure’.  Now you’ll see better keyword suggestions.  You’ll have to develop your keywords before you upload your book to a packager.  If you have a publisher, they will develop the keywords for you.

Your keywords can also be used with blog posts about your book.  On your blog post, there is space to enter all the keywords you developed.  This will assist search engines in finding your blog post.  

To repeat: keywords are important.  Spend time to develop the correct set.

Once you get a set of keywords, you can use them in a variety of ways.  Besides the packagers and blog posts, you can embed them into your book blurb and your short and long synopsis.  Search engines love this usage. 

As an example, here is the blurb for my new novel The King Who Disappeared before I generated the keywords:  ‘A long time ago, Bohan was a king.  But that was before the sleep spell.  Now that he’s awake again, it’s time for revenge.’

The keywords I used are: fantasy adventure, fantasy quest, fantasy humor, fantasy comedy.

Using these keywords, I modified the book blurb to: ‘A long time ago, at the beginning of this fantasy adventure, Bohan was a king.  But that was before the sleep spell.  Now that he’s awake again, it’s time for a quest to get revenge. Fantasy humor doesn’t get better than this.’

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This article was taken from my new book, How to Self-Publish and Market a Book
Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric sci-fi and fantasy stories. He also writes and lectures about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 19 books and 50 short stories along with dozens of articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject.  He and his wife Pat usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.
How to Self-Publish and Market a Book will be available on September 15, 2019, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashword, Kobo (H
ank’s website: ( Hank's Facebook fiction page:

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

#IWSG The Insecure Writer's Support Group Post Day - Location, Location, Location!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 4 posting of the IWSG are Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantine!

Location! Location! Location! We all know that this is a real estate mantra. When it comes to property, location is everything.

So what's this got to do with writing?

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

September question: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why? 
Would it be some faraway, exotic location?

Or maybe a location that would be the actual story setting?

Or is your sweet spot the local coffee shop, where you spend many hours bringing your story to life? 

  Some Unusual Writing Places of Famous Authors

Gertrude Stein avoided tiresome shopping expeditions by dropping off her partner and then parking up her Model T Ford to write.
Nottingham born
D.H. Lawrence loved writing al fresco, leaning on pine trees in New Mexico and great firs in Germany’s Black Forest. “The trees are like living company,” said Lawrence.
Maya Angelou
wrote in hotel rooms, requesting that everything be removed from the walls, in order to avoid distractions. She brought note pads, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a Bible in order to write, plus sherry and cigarettes for a little ‘down time’.
Agatha Christie constructed her plots in a large Victorian bath tub.
Some interesting and quirky writing spots!

Today is the closing date of the Annual IWSG Anthology Contest. You still have a few hours to submit your story!
Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.

The IWSG needs co-hosts for October through to January 8. If you're interested then leave a comment or send an email.
If you haven't co-hosted yet, give it a go. It's a great networking opportunity.

The IWSG Twitter Pitch is coming up soon.   Polish those pitches and have them ready to go. You just never know who may be watching.

There are
loads of exciting activities happening at the IWSG Goodreads Book Club
Discussion Questions, Discussion Day Poll,
Quizzes, Giveaways, Freebies

So what is your ideal location to sit and write your next story?
Have you submitted to the annual anthology contest?
Are you interested in co-hosting for the monthly blog hop?
Getting ready to polish your Twitter pitch?
Do any of the IWSG Goodreads Book Club activities catch your attention?
Happy IWSG Day!

Monday, August 26, 2019

If You're Only Going to Master 10 Literary Devices, Let it Be These Ones

James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place over the course of a single day, but it’s notoriously chock-full of literary devices. Weighing in at over 700 pages long, it’s a masterclass in writerly tricks, with the intimidating heft of a brick. Joyce seems to have never met a literary device he didn’t love, a fondness that made him the bane of many English majors’ existences — but also a celebrated genius. The good news is, we don’t all have to be James Joyce. There’s no need to frantically stuff your novel with every literary device you can think of, in the hopes that it’ll turn it into the next Ulysses. Still, it’s good to have a handful in your bag of tricks — they can punch up your prose, and make your readers unable to look away from your skillful weaving of plot and theme. Just don’t overdo it. If you’re only going to master 10 literary devices, let it be these ones!

1. Simile

Try this one on for size: writers are like chefs, and literary devices are like their seasonings. If that’s true, then the humble simile is definitely like salt. It’s simple and versatile, and you probably need less than you think — just a pinch can add an irresistible savor to your language. You can use similes to add clarity to your narration, and they can also liven up your characterization: the kind of comparisons your protagonist uses in dialogue — or just in her thoughts— can tell the reader a lot about her personality, background, interests, and even mood.

2. Metaphor

If simile is salt, then metaphor’s pepper: they make a natural pair. Metaphor is just about as universally useful, but because it makes comparisons directly, it’s got a bit more kick. You can even use metaphors to enhance the more complicated flavors in your cooking — by which I mean, themes in your writing — by extending them, elaborating on a comparison to evoke greater emotion and truly engage the reader’s imagination.

3. Symbolism

Novels make statements about abstract concepts — but they don’t make them abstractly. Instead, broad generalities like freedom, love, and growing up are fleshed out and animated through character and plot. Symbolism is an indispensable tool in that process: it takes the abstract and gives it texture, shape, and color so that readers can see and feel it instead of coldly grasping it with their intellect. For instance, instead of droning on about the protagonist’s fear of death, you could represent it symbolically with a raven he always seems to see in moments of dread.

4. Motif

Symbols and motifs have a lot in common — both help you get your theme across. But because motifs recur throughout your narrative, they have the added benefit of making your story feel coherent and satisfying. Motifs are also common in visual art. Imagine the effect of looking at an immensely complicated, dizzyingly beautiful tapestry, with a certain repeating element — say, a dove. Seeing that bird appear again and again in the gorgeous chaos of the tapestry will help you make sense of it and appreciate its beauty all the more.

5. Imagery

This sort of thickly descriptive language plays to the reader’s senses, grounding them in the universe you’ve created using vivid visuals. It’s the key to taking your novel from a list of events linked by causality — something like a news report — to an immersive experience like a whole world, something the reader won’t want to leave.

6. Irony

Irony is often misunderstood — its core meaning is one of distance between how things seem and how things are. Maybe we’re clear on the fact that the brave swordsman who saved the princess is really a woman, but Her Highness has no clue (dramatic irony). Or perhaps the conquering hero we’ve followed throughout his training randomly dies of the flu (situational irony), or the narrator refers to a fatal accident as a “slight mishap” (verbal irony). Sure, it can get a little complicated. But if you use irony correctly, it can do so much for you: build suspend, encourage reader investment, and give your writing a more profound quality.

7. Juxtaposition

Like irony, juxtaposition is also a device that plays with opposites. Here, two seemingly opposing things are placed side-by-side: life and death, prince and pauper, fire and ice. They’ll illuminate each other by their proximity, and the aesthetic effect can be very striking, like a visual pattern in contrasting hues.

8. Flashback

Mastering the flashback will give your writing a cinematic quality. It lets you control exactly when readers get access to the information they need to make sense of the story: you can dole it out in drips, making them hang onto your every word. Flashbacks help build suspense, giving you a gripping story full of immediacy.

9. Foreshadowing

Want your readers to think you’re a genius? Foreshadowing is the literary device for you! By seeding your story with hints at how things will pan out, you’ll wow them when they get to the end — and those seeds suddenly bear satisfying fruit. Foreshadowing shows your total control over the narrative, and mastering it will make your conclusions feel earned.

10. Interior monologue

Why do people even read fiction? Being able to get inside someone else’s head is a big part of the appeal. It’s certainly an advantage of our chosen medium over film: when it comes to showcasing a character’s thoughts, no voiceover narration or facial closeup can compare with a simple interior monologue. This device offers direct access to the contents of your characters’ minds, making them more knowable to your readers than even their closest friends. It’s the perfect recipe for emotional investment in your story, and the cherry on top of what should already be extremely strong prose — especially if you’ve taken this advice to heart.