Last week, I was reading a post about how creating a Book Page for your website is a bad idea. Links don't draw traffic, the buttons are confusing, the layout isn't appealing. On and on.
Some of it was making some sense, then I saw that the author was selling a service that would make your book page better. Then it made sense.
I'm not selling you anything today.
I'm just telling you about a weird thing I did that seems to be working out. (Oh, stop it.)
I've done a great deal of research for this latest book I'm working on. It takes place in Shreveport, Louisiana, where I'm from. The book has a little to do with the music scene in Shreveport in the early twentieth-century. The jazz. The blues. The brothels.
I'd searched around, read some articles and some books, and about one percent of what I'd learned went into the story.
So I had all this extra, interesting stuff I'd gathered from many sources, but nowhere to put all the extra.
Back when I was a grad student, I'd have just taken all the research and written some extra papers to sell, using the money to fund my My Little Pony collection.
Now, though, you know. What to do. What to do.
So I wrote a little essay on cool music from Shreveport in that time period. I named the mini-essay "Seven Songs To Hear in Shreveport When You're Dead."
I wrote about the "Elvis has left the building," a phrase that originated in Shreveport.
I wrote about Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come" song, which was "inspired" by Shreveport's racism.
I wrote a little about Murco Records, about Leadbelly, about the Blue Goose.
I just collected some stories, linked out to the sources, and set it up in a list form.
People love videos. People love lists. People love learning stuff.
Anyway, I started getting quite a few hits every day from this page.
If you Google "St Paul Bottom Shreveport" then you'll see a link to my page. Search for "Murco Record label" and the page pops up.
I'm not saying it's the top hit anywhere. And if you look for Jelly Roll Morton, you'll probably have to wade through 376 pages before you get to me.
But people keep looking for stuff that I mini-essayed about, and they end up coming to my place.
I'm not drawing people in with pages devoted to reviews of my books. I don't have one of those pages where The Media can download a high-res headshot of me. I don't have much of anything, really.
And I'm certainly not trying to say I'm any sort of SEO Expert.
I just thought this might be helpful to you. Here's why.
If you're a writer, you've probably done research for your book. If you're writing about the mob in Toledo, you've done research. You know stuff. Warp engines. The history of crime in Toronto in the 1970s. Getaway cars. Diners in Chicago in the 1950s.
You've already done so much work. Why not use that? Make a page on your site that shares information with people. A specific, horrific crime in Baltimore in 1939 is the basis for your novel? Sweet. Write up a little non-fiction piece, with art/video, and let folks find it.
Use your research -- not just in your fiction -- but as non-fiction on your website.
And here's the cool part: When they're looking around the web for something about The Baltimore Massacre of 1939, they'll run across your essay and then see your novel for sale, too.
You've become The Expert in the thing your novel is about. Use that. Share that. Don't let it go to waste.
You've already done the hard part. Now you just have to put it together.