Category Archives: marketing

Whoa! Will Medium come to the rescue?

For hevvinsake. I just discovered that I may not have to delete copy from P&S Press before publishing on Medium!

Well. That would be a bit of a godsend. I’ve been, shall we say, not happy at the prospect of having to deconstruct this site. Turns out you can import your blog — part and parcel — to Medium, and not only will this action not trash your Google ranking, it actually will improve it.

Check out what Andre Piazza has to say, in a post about optimizing Medium stories:

Find new audiences: import your existing content to Medium

Sometimes, you have already done the hard work: creating the content. Now, it’s time to reap the benefits.

This chart shows the number of view, reads and recommends one Medium user gained in the course of 30 days simply by importing his existing blog. No new content created. Credit:

You should consider importing your entire blog to Medium. You don’t need to delete the original blog (or posts); in fact, the objective is precisely to keep the original content in its place. The advantages of importing all of your posts at once are:

• Efficiency: no need to copy and paste posts individually. Your content will be automatically import to Medium

• SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Findability: when importing the posts, Medium will automatically add a CANONICAL statement to the HTML code linking to the original blog’s URL. This ensures that search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo) will process both links in a way that increases your search rankings for both posts (original and Medium’s) and also grows the authority of both assets: your blog and your Medium page.

If you’re ready to give the import tool a try, start here and on the comments, keep us posted of the results.

Medium’s algorithms will place your content in front a new audience that otherwise would never have heard of you

Outstanding! Even if exporting this blog to Medium doesn’t increase the number of eyes on copy, the fact that it will not crash Google search results is huge. Just the sheer amount of time saved by not having to swivel-hip around taking down content so that it will have been off-line for ≥ two weeks by the time it goes up on Medium…omigod! How can I count the ways that I did not want to do that?

He also suggests simply reposting Medium stories on LinkedIn, rather than jumping through hoops revising them to make them resemble new copy:

Find new audiences: repost your Medium stories as LinkedIn articles

Same content gains different traction in different social platforms. That happens because the same content will be showed to more or less people (and in different ways) depending on the platform it was written and the platform it is being shared.

For example, a Medium story will usually get less eyeballs when shared on Facebook (as a link) when compared to the same content written as (a native) post on Facebook. This happens because social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube favor distribution of content that is native to them. Facebook is notorious for giving preference to videos directly embedded to its posts versus videos shared as a link in YouTube.

As you start developing a collection of Medium stories, consider sharing them on LinkedIn as (native) articles. This not only likely increase the number of readers to that content, but also will get you new readers, some that will potentially cross-follow you to Medium.

Start here to post articles on LinkedIn by copying the content from Medium and pasting on LinkedIn. Remember to add a statement like this to the bottom of the post: “This article was originally published on Medium <link to the article>.” For more ideas on how to use the footer to improve your Medium game, read on below to number 12.

This also registers as some kind gift from heaven. LInkedIn will be my main stand-in for the defunct Facebook, because I already have a presence there and already have some followers. But there, too, I’ve felt I had to write all new copy for LinkedIn. Like the latest, for example

Naturally, I can’t be posting chapters of strange fantasies like Ella’s Story there. LinkedIn really isn’t the place for fiction. And I’m not at all sure Medium is the place for it, either, though I did find an article describing its use for publishing fiction.

Welp…the Learning Curve looms high, up ahead through the misty altitude. Just getting started learning how to work it and have not yet tried to establish a site there. But in the meantime, I will UN-unpublish the chapters in Ella’s Story, If You Asked, and Complete Writer, and will not have to take down the accruing full MSS for each of those.

It’s a miracle! 😀

Why I’m Quitting Facebook…

Graffiti in Berlin of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The caption is a reference to George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Actually, I’m not exactly quitting. I’ve been thrown off for “hate speech”: remarking that public restrooms for women are often filthy. Of course, as with most social media, there’s no way of reaching a human being or appealing the CopBot’s judgment.

My long-haul trucking friend Connie — one of the few women in the business — was going on at Facebook about unisex bathrooms at truck stops. She remarked that when on the road, men’s bathroom habits tend to  be (heh) execrable. Many truckers, for example, are given to defecating into a plastic bag or urinating into a soda bottle and throwing the waste out the cab window onto the road’s shoulder. Unisex bathrooms, she reported, are uniformly filthy because of similar habits brought indoors.

I replied that women’s bathrooms are filthy, too, and for the same reason — and that it’s the proprietor’s responsibility to keep the facilities clean.

Forthwith comes a notice from Facebook:

Only you can see this post because it goes against our standards on hate speech.

Women are slobs, too. I’ve been in amazingly filthy women’s rooms. Problem is that the proprietors need to be required by law to keep the facilities clean.

How amazing is that?

As ridiculous as it is, nevertheless I deeply resent it and indeed consider it to be slanderous.

Later this afternoon, in comes yet another machine-generated e-mail from Facebook, noting that I seemed to be having difficulty signing in and instructing me to “click here” to sign in with one click. That instruction returned me to the profoundly mistaken and insulting slap in the face above.

Many of my friends have already left FB because of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, which made it impossible to pretend Facebook’s intrusiveness somehow wasn’t there. I should have left then, too, when I could do so with some dignity. I’ve stayed though, partly out of inertia, partly because it is nice to stay in touch with friends scattered around the country, but largely because Facebook has been my main marketing tool for the P&S Press books.

But y’know…it’s not a very effective marketing tool. And it’s not the only game in town.

More effective marketing? Get off your duff and go give public presentations. Write guest columns for magazines and newspapers. Pay Kirkus to review your books. Make yourself an expert on your subject matter and tell people all about it.

Sitting at home with your feet up while you tap away at a keyboard is just…well…not effective.

Shortly after I published 30 Pounds/4 Months, a diet guide and cookbook, I decided to run a Facebook Ads campaign. A friend who was busily making himself an expert, too — on amateur book marketing — insisted that this was the way to go!

Accordingly, I hired a marketer with glowing reviews of her Facebook expertise. Fantastic sales were guaranteed. We created the Plain & Simple Press and The Copyeditor’s Desk Facebook pages, and after she put them online, we launched a Facebook Ads campaign.

She was sure we would see a sharp spike in Amazon sales.

Along comes the first revenue report from Amazon.

Not only is there no spike, sales went dead flat after the FB Ads campaign went up! On the day our campaign went live, sales dropped off sharply. Then: nothing. Literally, not one sale.

She couldn’t believe it. Surely that couldn’t be possible! I surmised she thought I was trying to get out of paying her, so determined was she to believe that this state of affairs could simply not be true.  Not until I sent her PDFs of the Amazon reports did she believe me.

So…as a marketing tool, maybe it works for some people. But if you’ll do a little googling, look around the Web, check out a few YouTube videos on the subject, you’ll learn it doesn’t work for a lot of people.

I should have left a long time before this. Facebook is as hypnotic as online games. You get engaged with it, and you can’t quit gazing into the cobra’s eyes. Truly, it has become a dreadful timesuck. This morning I rolled out of the sack at 4 a.m., and with nothing much to do sat down in front of the computer. Next time I lifted my eyes from the screen, it was 6 o’clock!

Two hours blown away, with no more awareness of it than if ten minutes had passed.

So. What am I going to do?

Well, first, I’m not going to rejoin Facebook, even if the hard-copy complaint I’m snail-mailing to their Menlo Park HQ gets a rise out of a living entity.

Second, I’m probably going to join Medium, where, a few posts at a time, I will move the *FREE READS* chapters, once I get a feel for how the platform works. I may post chapters for one of the books at LinkedIn.

Third, I’ll join some new groups and offer to give presentations by way of letting people know these books exist.

And fourth, I’ll pitch ideas for guest columns to various publications around town and around the country. Weekly newspapers, in particular, are holes in the office floor into which to pour copy; editors are thrilled to find writers who can compose a simple sentence.

What I am not going to do is have anything more to do with the intrusive, privacy-invading, and arrogant likes of Facebook.

Wikipedia. By Victorgrigas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Pen-Names, Pseudonyms: When, Where, Why, and How?

When and how to write under a pen name - useful stuffA friend, in the course of chatting about the Publishing Empire, asked how you go about using a pen-name, and by the way…when and where would you use a pseudonym, and why?

Well, the why can be pretty obvious: if you’re tattling on the President of the United States and the CIA, it’s probably wise to call yourself something like Deep Throat.

There are other reasons, of course. You might publish a memoir or a piece of autobiographical fiction that reflects dimly on a relative. Or maybe you write Edwardian-period romance novels and think a by-line that sounds aristocratically romantic will help sell books. Or maybe you’re doing a corporate project written by a number of people and, to avoid confusion, choose a single (real or fake) by-line.

TravelerCover-LORES-764x1024In our case, for example,Roberta Stuart” is actually five writers, all emanating pulp fiction for the Camptown Races Press imprint. Each has written several Roberta Stuart stories over time. The reason we decided to put them all out under the same pen-name was to build brand recognition: a Roberta Stuart story is short, often witty or outright hilarious, sometimes marked by magical realism, and always genially erotic. An incidental benefit is that our authors can choose to or not to reveal their role in creating the persona of the pseudonymous pornography queen. Some of their friends and relatives know nothing; other CR authors are fairly open about this aspect of their writing careers.

How do you go about it? Simply choose a name and put it on the title and the copyright page. When you apply for an ISBN at Bowker (this is an international cataloguing code — you need it to get your magnum opus into Books in Print), the form will ask you for the name of the author, which may be different from the name of the copyright holder. For all the Racy Books, I always list Roberta as the “author.”

You also can list a pseudonym at Amazon. There, it’s a little more problematic, because Amazon limits the number of pseudonyms you can use. If you publish a lot and you’ve published under more than one version of your own name, this can put a crimp on your style, because Amazon regards every version of your real name as a “pseudonym.”

This, of course, is incorrect. If your name is Robert Smith and you write as Bob Smith in some places and Rob Smith in others, none of those are “pseudo” (i.e., false) names: they’re all variants of your name.

But no amount of arguing with Amazon factotums will bring about a change in this inconvenient policy.

robert sidneyI find it particularly annoying because Amazon has glommed publications that I’ve emitted under three variants of my name. My first book, The Life of Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, was published under my full, formal name: Millicent V. Hay. A scholarly biography, it came out at a time when I still hoped for a full-bore academic career, and so I wanted it to appear under the name that appears on my curriculum vitae.

But…I happen to hate that name. As a little girl, I was bullied so fiercely throughout grade school that I became suicidal. The sappy name was a ripe target for the little monsters who made my life so miserable that at the age of 10 or 12, I wanted to end it. To this day, the name “Millicent” elicits a physical cringe reflex.

When I escaped that school and that country and started attending schools in the US, I called myself “Vicky,” a familiar version of my middle name. This worked well because it was so plain vanilla it provided no ammunition and never did spur any significant meanness among my stateside classmates.

essential featureIn the fullness of time, I became a magazine journalist: a writer and editor for a variety of local and regional publications. My byline was the name that everyone knew: Vicky Hay. I never wrote a journalistic article under any other name, and my guide to newspaper and magazine writing, The Essential Feature, came out under that name.

With the vast encyclopedia of contacts I built — I knew or knew of every top-flight writer, editor, graphic artist, and photographer in the Southwest — I decided to start a kind of finder’s service. We would put publishing clients in touch with editorial and graphic talent and, if desired, package books and other publications for them. At this time I took on a business partner, a guy who had been a public relations professional for decades.

He felt that “Vicky” was way too informal. He asked me to start using my full middle name: “Victoria.”

MathMagicWe put a lot of stuff out under that name. In one book, where I didn’t want an essay inside the book to coincide with the publisher’s name, I used my mother’s maiden name, Julie DeLong, as a pen-name. Eventually, I cowrote Math Magic with a fellow named Scott Flansburg, and of course used the fancy middle name: Victoria Hay, Ph.D. That one turned into a best-seller, thanks to Scott’s high-level marketing skills.

Now I decide to experiment with self-publishing, pretty much for the Hell of it…and that’s when Amazon informs me that I can’t publish under the name Roberta Stuart because I already have three pseudonyms.

Which are NOT pseudonyms.

So how do you copyright material written under pen names? Anything you create in a reproducible medium — including writing — is automatically copyrighted as you create it. You own the copyright on it by virtue of your having made it. You can publish it and copyright it under any pen name you please. The copyright will always belong to you, unless you choose to sell some or all of your rights in the work.

Plain & Simple Press and Camptown Races Press are both imprints (effectively DBAs) of an S-corporation, The Copyeditor’s Desk. Because receipts come in to the corporation and contractors’ fees are paid by the corporation, I register the copyrights in our works to the corporation. The corporation buys all rights to subcontracted works, and the corporation owns the copyright in everything it publishes.

This provides a corporate veil between the principals (me and a business partner) and the doings of the business. Sometimes this can come in handy. And it certainly simplifies the tax accounting.

If you’re just one little person publishing one little book or one series of books, there’s no reason for you to get elaborate, as long as you dutifully pay your income taxes. Just publish the thing under whatever name you please.

Self-Publishing: Why It Doesn’t Work

Should you self-publish your book? It depends. Here are some things to be aware of if you're thinking of self-publishing.Know how to get a small fortune?

Start with a large fortune and publish a book.

Nyuk nyuk! That old chestnut wouldn’t be so funny if it weren’t so true. As a practical matter, most people make nothing on self-published books. They soon find their magnum opus interests no one but themselves, and the whole project turns into an expensive hobby.

Right now I have a pricey Facebook Ads campaign plus several other efforts en train, by way of peddling one of the 48 books and bookoids my two imprints have online at Amazon. It’s been going on since January and we have sold exactly zero (yes, that’s 0.00) copies of the book.  Not for lack of trying: serial versions have earned five-star reviews.

The books that are selling — the smut published through Camptown Races — do not even come within shouting distance of breaking even on ad investment.

The cookbook sold smartly to a group of friends but in the wide world has sold just a few copies.

Yesterday as I took a break from hour after hour after crushing hour of recovering a 325-page Word file that corrupted for reasons unknown, I reflected on the reasons for this.

Books have never been easy to sell. Unless you have a platform from which to market them — a business with a broad reputation or one that does something relevant to the book’s subject matter — you will have to hustle madly to bring your book to anyone’s attention. That has ever been so, yea verily long before the Amazon disruption.

Amazon has made the marketing challenge infinitely more difficult. Without literary agents and publishing houses as gatekeepers, the market is now flooded with dreck and chaff. Not just flooded: we’re talkin’ tsunami here.

Readers know that about 80% to 90% of books offered on  Amazon and waypoints are junk or self-serving marketing tools. They also know, if they’re at all savvy, that they can acquire most of the stuff — and even some readable books — for free. So of course they’re not about to pay you enough to cover your time and skills. Not when they think they shouldn’t have to pay you anything at all.

So, the nature of the market has changed: not for the better, where people who write for a living are concerned.

Then we have the issues inherent to self-publishing that have always worked against independent writers: publishing a book or periodical and getting people to buy it requires a full staff of workers. It’s not something one little person working alone is likely to succeed with.

Every time I’ve published a book through a mainline publishing house — and I’ve published three of them, not counting the ones I’ve worked on for my employers or the ones my business has packaged for other publishers — I’ve worked with an acquisitions editor, a copyeditor, a layout artist, a proofreader, a marketer, and various secretaries and admins.

The first magazine I worked for had five editors, three graphic designers, four or five ad space sales staff, and a publisher whose job was to market the publication. The next magazine had three high-powered editors, a fact-checker, a photo editor, four graphic artists, a production director, and a marketing department. It also had a book division with its own editor and designers.

To make a self-published book fly, you need to do the work of all those specialists.

And you’re not a specialist. If you are, it’s as a writer, not as an artist, a marketer, a sales rep, an acquisitions editor, a production manager, a copyeditor, or a proofreader.

Because you’re an amateur at four out of five of the many jobs that need to be done to write, produce, and sell a book, your chances of success are almost nil. But even if you were expert in all those lines of work, you’re only one person: there’s no way you can do the work of five people and do it well.

That’s why you’re better off trying to sell your book idea or manuscript to a mainstream publisher. And it’s why, if you have a  lot of money to start with and are willing to subsidize your book project by hiring the talent needed to put it together and sell it, you’re likely to end up with a lot less money.

How to address this problem? In the next post, I’ve suggested ways self-published books can work in your favor. They’re not obvious: check them out!