How to get on WordPress Freshly Pressed

freshly-pressed-circleOne of my blog posts appeared on Freshly Pressed a few weeks ago and, as I know there is a reasonable amount of interest among WordPress bloggers in how you get on there I thought I’d explain how it happened for me and what the effects of it are.

For those who aren’t aware of it I suppose you’d describe Freshly Pressed as the front page of WordPress – it’s the display page where blog posts chosen by editors appear and if one of yours appears there it suddenly becomes very visible indeed.

Getting on there has been described as like winning the lottery since around half a million new blog posts are created each day so the chances of yours getting picked up are pretty slim. But it happened to me – so it could just as easily happen to you.

My post which was chosen was ‘Do you Have a Writing Routine?’ Which you can read if you click here.

So what was the effect for me of appearing on Freshly Pressed? Well – I think you can break the effects down into short term ones, which are dramatic, and long term ones, which are probably a lot less so.

The first thing you start to see when your post appears on Freshly Pressed is a big spike in views – and this goes on for about a week or longer – but gradually falls away as your post drops down the Freshly Pressed pecking order as new ones are added at the top. I would say, over the period, I had around 1000 more views than I would have expected – which is a lot for me on a blog where I normally average a few over 50 hits a day. Being on Freshly Pressed didn’t actually give me my best ever day for visits to my blog – but it damn sure gave me my best week, wiping the floor with any other.

The second thing you find is that your email inbox goes crazy with all the alerts from people interacting with your post – I had getting on for a thousand emails to clear. I suppose if I’d known what I know now I might have turned off the email alerts from WordPress so save myself the bother – but it’s nice to be popular.

And what those alerts are telling you about of course is all the likes, comments and reblogs your post is receiving.

  • My post was reblogged by 50 other WordPress bloggers, which gives it some kind of a legacy in that I might get views back through their sites.
  • It was liked by 433 people.
  • It was commented on 169 times.
  • And my blog now has more than 800 followers, I think from memory I had a few over 200 before my post appeared on Freshly Pressed.

Now ok, this was a post which had been around a while – it had a handful of comments and likes already – but the vast majority of these interactions came through Freshly Pressed. Appearing on there made me very visible for a short while.

Why do so many people bother to comment on Freshly Pressed posts? Partly just general interest in the topic of course, but also because they are linking their blog to a popular post in the hope of getting SEO benefits and people clicking back through to their blog.

Longer term effects? Well, I doubt those will be so dramatic. My daily views have dropped back to what I would expect now. Though you could say of course that there is a legacy for me in that I now have many more followers – all of whom will see my blog in their reader or get an email every time I put on a new post.

Oh – and I do get a nice little ‘Featured on Freshly Pressed’ badge to stick on my site and, you know, we all like a badge don’t we?

So it’s not a life-changing event in blogging terms but it is an exciting ride, as you watch your stats climb and read the new comments as they come in. Normally I’m fairly scrupulous about replying to everyone who comments on my blog and following back those who follow me, but those rules had to go out of the window temporarily such was the pressure of incoming traffic.

It’s also a nice little pat on the back for someone like me, who’s been blogging away in relative obscurity for a couple of years.

So how do you get on there? Well, there’s no way to apply, your post has to be chosen by the editors, and as I said at the top, they have a lot to choose from.

I think it helps if you can make your post visible to a lot of people, then you have a chance of a WordPress editor being among them. That’s how it happened for me.

I take part in #MondayBlogs on Twitter which is an initiative started by author and book marketer Rachel Thompson. It’s a useful thing for all bloggers I would say. Basically you tweet your post with the hash tag – then retweet some other people’s #MondayBlog posts which take your fancy. You can also follow @MondayBlogs there is no guarantee your tweet will be retweeted but it has worked for me. I have around 19,000 followers on Twitter and I find #MondayBlogs well worth using to reach new people.

My #MondayBlogs tweet linking to the writing routines post was retweeted 28 times and when my email arrived from the WordPress editor Cheri to say she had chosen it for Freshly Pressed she told me she’d seen it on Twitter that morning.

So that’s how it was spotted. But, once the eye of the WordPress editor had fallen and rested on that particular post, why did she pick it?

Well there are some general guidelines about what they pick for Freshly Pressed if you click here, but they are necessarily vague given the whole aim must surely be to provide a wide variety of posts in both themes and styles.

Cheri did offer me this little explanation in her email, she said that, despite it being one of my older posts: “I think it’s a timeless read on writing that still resonates.”

I think maybe that last word is the important one. For a post to get chosen for Freshly Pressed there has to be plenty in it for the reader, it has to resonate.

Song of the Sea GodDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

A new book on the way!

10563217_545777922221017_6114809158228153280_nSome good news for me this week, I’m delighted to be able to say that I signed the contract for my next book. To celebrate, here’s a slightly cheesy picture of me actually signing the actual contract (yes, yes, I know – it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

The book’s called The Pick-Up Artist and it will be published by Magic Oxygen publishing who have given it a tentative release date of February 14th, Valentine’s Day, 2015.

I’m thrilled to have a second novel coming out – it makes me feel like a proper author, I mean, getting one book published could have been a fluke couldn’t it? Having a second on the way feels like I did it on purpose.

magic oxygenMagic Oxygen is a small UK-based publisher. From my dealings with the team there so far it’s clear they are incredibly enthusiastic and committed to doing a great job for their authors, both in producing the book and in helping the author to promote and market it. I am very much looking forward to working with them. To find out more about them on their website click here.

I should say a little about the book. I’m conscious of the fact I’ll have plenty to say about it nearer the time when it comes out, so I‘ll just give you the headlines. As I said, it’s called The Pick-Up Artist and it’s a little lighter, perhaps more commercial, than my current book Song of the Sea God. It’s about a young man’s attempts to find love using the PUA method which claims to teach psychological seduction techniques.

I suppose the title is ironic as it’s about someone who would like to be a great seducer, but isn’t really.

I’m not a big worrier me, can’t be bothered to put in the effort required to really fret about something for longer than five minutes, but I suppose if I do have a little cloud on the horizon at the moment it’s the thought that the people who were most in love with my current novel Song of the Sea God, might not feel the same about this next one. It is a very different sort of a badger. But, in the end, it is still by me and I suppose that comes through. My hope, of course, is that I bring old friends along with me on this new journey and make lots of new ones on the way – but then, that’s what all authors hope. We shall see.

I had fun writing The Pick-Up Artist, people who have read it so far tell me it’s fun to read. But, of course, you, the reader, will be the judge of that when it comes out in a few months time.

Until then I have plenty to do – rewrites on the horizon once the editor at Magic Oxygen has finished with it. And myriad other pieces of work to get involved in from a website the publisher has planned for me through to thoughts about the book cover.

It’s an exciting time, a time of anticipation, like waiting for a new baby. And I am very glad to be involved in preparing for the birth of my second book!

Song of the Sea GodIn the meantime, why not take a look at a book which actually exists? If you get a moment, here’s my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

Be your own ruthless editor!

 

All writers have to be a bit schizophrenic I think. It is a craft which requires you become not one, but two people, a writer and an editor.

The writer is the ‘you’ who provides the words, he or she is free-thinking and open-minded, working on blank pages where anything is possible and ideas can roam wild. The editor comes along afterwards and has to be someone who doesn’t care for the feelings of the writer one jot, only for the quality of the work.

427px-Ernest_Hemingway_1950_cropThe editor has words to judge and judge them he must because, as Ernest Hemingway pithily put it: “The first draft of anything is s***.”

He didn’t mince his words did he? But then, this is a guy who fought bulls for a hobby – his inner editor and inner writer were no doubt tough enough to slug it out with each other without too many hurt feelings.

When you have your editing hat on your job is to take the words given to you by your flighty writer and hone them so that they are as good as they can be.

Here’s another quote for you about the writing and editing process. Samuel Johnson advised: “where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”

On the face of it that’s a curious piece of advice – why would you cut something you consider to be good? But it gets to the heart of the relationship between your inner writer and inner editor. The writer believes the passage to be good – the tough but fair editor realises that, in the context of the work as a whole, it is not.

It’s very important to establish some distance from what you have written when you edit it. You need to approach it as though it is by someone else – someone you are indifferent to.

479px-Zadie_Smith_NBCC_2011_ShankboneI think it was Zadie Smith who suggested that, as an editor, you should read your own work not only as a stranger would, but as an enemy would – eagerly looking for mistakes, seeking to put the work down and decry it as inadequate. That’s how hard you need to be on your writer self in order to produce work which is as good as it can be.

Sometimes it helps if you have left the piece of writing in a drawer for a while before you rewrite it – that way you can come to it fresh and so edit what is really there, rather than what you thought you wrote. You can look on a paragraph you once thought particularly fine and decide it is surplus to requirements.

AlexanderPopeAlexander Pope advised would be writers: “Keep your piece ten years.” (basically in the hope they would leave him alone for that long.) That might be a little excessive but a few months might not be a bad idea.

Another trick I feel helps me when I abandon my writer and become a ruthless editor is to make two versions of the piece I am editing. The first I put aside in a folder, untouched, the second I work on. That way, however ruthless my decisions turn out to be I can always go back to what I originally wrote if I choose too – I have done nothing irrevocable. It is surprising how seldom I go back to the original version.

My editor might be a tough task-master, but he is very often right!

Song of the Sea GodDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USAhere.

 

Lynn Dixon – author profile

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Lynn Dixon from Chicago to talk about her life and her writing – thanks for coming Lynn, lovely to have you here! 

Tell me a little bit about yourself as a person?

FotoFlexer_PhotoLynn3 (2)I was born in Detroit, Michigan as the youngest of four girls. My father was a truck driver and my mother later became a librarian and teacher after we were raised. Our family moved to Memphis Tennessee when I was about six which was my mother’s hometown. She later became a public librarian and I watched her every move. Then, she was my school librarian when I was in the 5th grade and would frequent the library and read the little blue biographies about famous persons’ lives. She and I attended one year of college together and that was amazing to be able to say, “Hi Ma,” in the hallway. She beat all of her girls by graduating college ahead of us.

All of the travel and movement helped shape me as a writer and an observer of life. Both of my parents were avid readers and great conversationalists, so words were always flowing whether during discourse or while reading. Daddy also took us on many road trips and exposed us to a variety of places. He would even take us over the Memphis Airport and let us watch the planes take off to help us become visionaries.

He relocated the entire family to Chicago to give us an even better lifestyle because there were more jobs in the North for African-Americans. This period is historically known as The Great Migration where millions people of color left the agricultural southern states for industrial jobs in the northern states. I completed high school and college in Chicago and later went on to take up my mother’s professions. I became a high school English teacher and a librarian. I have taught and worked children and youth from elementary years up through the college level.

Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?

I wrote feature stories for different newspapers and had my first by-line at age 24 after taking a Feature Story Writing course at Northwestern University. My first article was on child abuse which was just becoming an open topic in the mid-70’s. I also wrote poetry while in college.

I started my first book, A Golden Leaf in Time after a conversation about the challenges of balancing a profession and romance. I recently wrote my latest book, Warm Intrigues in a few months, after taking an early retirement from the school system. I was finally able to sit down and write and not worry about punching the clock or grading papers late into the evening hours.

The first book was written in different formats and on different computers, after work hours from a host of jobs. I kept changing, so the manuscript has gone through quite a few transformations. I just revised it again, but I still see flaws. I am self-published which means out of pocket costs; but I feel that my stories can be of helpful to some and refused to be stymied by the rejections from traditional publishers.

How would you describe your work – it‘s themes and the important things about it?

My first novel, deals with young professionals whose jobs are negatively impacted by being in relationships with the wrong mates. Both characters, who finally meet at the end of the first novel, A Golden Leaf in Time Revised, work hard to build a durable relationship in Warm Intrigues hoping this relationship will last and sustain them through life.

When I look at the talk shows and see all of the truly hurting people, I often think that if they read more and looked for answers in better places, they could possibly solve many of their life problems. I have also seen quite a few friends and co-workers whose jobs have been adversely affected because of unions with the wrong persons. At the end of the first book, I offer a list of self-help books which I call a bibliotheraphy.

Tell me about your current book– what is it about and what makes it a great read?

Warm Intrigues-thumbnailIn my latest book, Warm Intrigues, the two main characters reveal bits and pieces of their lives as they get to know each another. It also highlights the huge distances they are willing to travel to meet each other. Chicago is a very large city and called the Second City here in the States. They live north and south of the entire city itself; so their meetings take a lot of planning. Also, those who know the city will recognize some of the restaurants and hotspots where they meet.

Where can I buy a copy of your book?

All three of my books: A Golden Leaf in Time Revised; Warm Intrigues: A Sequel and Traveling Streams can be purchased in hardback, paperback and in e-book format through the publisher, Trafford Publishing. Amazon and Barnes and Noble have them; but Traveling Streams can only be purchased through Trafford, as an e-book.

I would stress the revised version of A Golden Leaf in Time Revised with the yellow cover.

My website: http://lynnmdixon.com/

Thank you Chris, for featuring me on your blog and in the UK. 

 

The death of the novel is greatly exaggerated.

WillselfauthorI was reading an article recently by the  literary novelist Will Self in which he proclaimed, if not quite the death of the novel, then certainly the demise of literary fiction. You can read his full piece here.

His central argument is that the serious literary novel has been pushed from the mainstream and has become more like classical music, the preserve of an interested minority.

While I do believe the novel, and reading generally is being changed by the digital age, I’m not sure I buy his idea about this shift in the place of the serious novel. I mean, it was always a minority interest wasn’t it?

41P7822EM1L._Does anyone really think coal miners got round a table in the pub in 1913 to discuss how DH Lawrence had portrayed their lifestyle in Sons and Lovers? Then as now the serious novel was the preserve of the few who felt motivated to pick up the books.

And, in the days when literacy rates were a lot lower than they are now, it was also the preserve of an intellectual elite.

Probably still is come to think, that hasn’t changed. If you have never been exposed to the magic of great books then sadly, you might never discover it for yourself.

But what impact has digital technology made? The temptation is to say that it has stopped people reading books – we stare at tablet screens and mobile phones now, we are hooked up to laptops and video games, even television is feeling the pinch, never mind fusty old reading.

But, when you examine things closer, reading books as an activity seems to be in rude health. No writer, or reader, could immerse themselves in social media today without coming to the conclusion that there are an awful lot of other readers and writers out there.

Doubtless the business model for publishers and writers is changing significantly. Will Self alludes to this in his article when he’s talking about the difficultly of making a living out of literary fiction and the need to do something else, such as teach creative writing, to make ends meet. But again, wasn’t it always difficult to make a living as a writer? And the more serious your work, the more you cut down your potential pool of readers by aiming at a small proportion of them, then the fewer books you would sell.

Now at least there is a connected community of readers around the world – so, as a writer, it is easier to reach your readers than it ever has been before. And those readers can be truly international, even for first time authors like me.

Perhaps it is the case that, overall, fewer people are reading books, and perhaps it is also the case that the books they do read have taken a dive down in class on the scale from literary to pot-boiler. But it is also the case that those people who are interested in the literary novel, and in writing as an art form, can find new books and connect with their authors more easily than ever before.

Song of the Sea GodDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USAhere.

Guest post – Why self-publish?

Today I’d like to welcome a guest blogger to my blog – a young Californian writer called Daniel Wallock who has just started to self-publish his work. Self-publishing isn’t my area but I can see it’s making massive strides in the publishing world and becoming a real force to be reckoned with. I thought I’d ask Daniel why a young writer like him would chose to self-publish his work rather than going down the traditional route of looking for a publisher and an agent. Thanks to Daniel for coming along today!

headshotsmallwebI never thought I would self-published.
I didn’t ever imagine getting a cover, an editor, and all of the stuff that came along with the decision to self-publish. It started about two months ago while I was doing a writing internship at the Kim Maxwell Studio in Ojai, California. The internship was very simple. I got to the studio and then had to figure out what I to do with myself for the next seven hours. The first few days I wrote poems and flash nonfiction. About a week into the internship I was on a walk with a friend and I was ranting about how I just wanted to be read.
I kept saying, “I don’t want to wait. I have a dream and I just want people to read my stories.”
My friend who is middle aged turned to me and said, “Don’t wait. You have a story to tell! Go share it.”
I looked at him and yelled, “F*** waiting! I’m going to self-publish.”
It was that simple.
Within twenty-four hours I had a cover designer. The story was previously professionally published which made the publishing process a lot easier. Within forty-eight hours I had my story professionally formatted, lined up with blurbs from serval different authors, and it was published on Kindle. The next few days I contacted every news station and news paper from Santa Barbara to Los Angles. Of course almost everyone of them didn’t respond, but one or two did. I was featured in an online news paper called Edhat, and I had a few interviews set up with other organizations.

rightheartedThe first few days of publishing my short book entitled Right-Hearted: Finding What’s Right With a Wrong-Sided Heart, I had received around two hundred free downloads.
For the week after publishing I went on a promotion streak! I posted the book all over the internet and I tried to email all my contacts asking them to download the book. I even spending some money on websites like Fiverr.com to promote the book. All day long I thought about different ways I could promote the book. I was obsessed with getting more downloads. Each day I wanted to rank higher on the free bestsellers list then the day before. The book became my life; it still is.
After two weeks the book had been download 1,400 times in five different countries!
This is when I decided it was time to get the print version ready. It took about $100 to get everything including formatting, design, and finalized edits until the book was ready for print. I ordered a few different sets of proofs because each time I got one I noticed a few errors I had missed before. The process was awfully annoying. Having to wait six days for the proof, then reading it to find errors, and then paying for another proof. This helped me realize next time editing has to be way better before I order the a proof copy.
The day the book came out I found out that it had been download, and or sold in around ten countries!

You can find Daniel’s book Right-Hearted here

and meet Daniel on his blog here.

Word cloud

SInce Song of the Sea God came out it’s been compared to all kinds of work by other writers, as well as to movies, TV shows and so on – here are some of those comparisons as a word cloud.

Don’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God. You can read full reviews, look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

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