Categories
For Writers

Five Important Ways to Boost Your Visibility As An Author

There are, no doubt, lots more than five ways for authors to gain or improve visibility in the marketplace, but this is what I consider to be a “top five” list of sorts. Any one of them alone may not guarantee success, but putting them all together makes for a pretty effective formula. I’ve tried to rank them in some semblance of an order of priority, but admittedly, they can be rearranged to suit your own goals. Now, here are my recommendations:

  1. Create your own Author Website. You need your own site with your own unique domain name hosted on a Web hosting service of your choice. This is a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many authors have not yet taken this step. Whatever you do, do NOT choose a free hosting site that gives you either a subdomain (such as yourdomain.anydomain.com) or a subfolder for your site (such as anydomain.com/yoursite). Not only does this appear very unprofessional and cheap (in the worst sense of the term), but you will not benefit from any of the search engine rankings that result from the link-backs of the traffic you receive.
  2. Get a professional-looking email address. Again, do NOT use one of the free Web-based email providers, such as Live Mail, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. Once you set up your domain and Web hosting account as discussed in point #1, you can also set up your own unique email account using your unique domain name. There are a variety of ways to write your email user name, such as doe@yourdomain.com, jdoe@yourdomain.com, jane_doe@yourdomain.com, or just jane@yourdomain.com. Save your clever and funny user names, such as plainjane@yourdomain.com or maryjane@yourdomain.com, for your non-professional accounts. Using an official-looking email address is much more professional than using one of those free email account providers or a tongue-in-cheek user name. On the other hand, if you’re a comedic writer, a comic user name might be more suitable for you. Just use common sense or ask someone you trust who has common sense.
  3. Use Social Media. As a minimum, you should create an account on LinkedIn.com, Twitter.com, and Facebook.com, although Pinterest.com is ever-growing in popularity. Once you have an account with each of these, set them up to accept updates from each other. I think the best way is to set up LinkedIn so that it will post your update to Twitter, and set up Twitter so that it will update to Facebook. Then when you post an update on LinkedIn, it will post to Twitter and Facebook shortly thereafter. Remember to limit your updates to no more than 140 characters, even on LinkedIn, or else Twitter (which limits all tweets to 140 characters, including spaces) will truncate it. [UPDATE: Twitter has since increased the limit to 280.] It will be very bad indeed if your tweet is cut short just before or in the middle of the most important part, such as the hyperlink that sends readers to your author site or some other site! Also, once you set up your LinkedIn account, you can join various groups that cater to your professional interests, which provides even more visibility for you.
  4. Start a blog. The top two most popular blogs are Blogger.com and WordPress.com, though you should set up your blog on your own domain hosted account, rather than on the blog provider’s site for the same reason mentioned in point #1 above: search engine rankings. You can check with your Web hosting service to see if they offer an automated way to do this for you. Many probably do. The Web host I’ve used for years (PowWeb Hosting Service) offers this feature. In fact, as one of their long-time satisfied customers who has an affiliate relationship with them, I can highly recommend them to you.
  5. Start an opt-in subscriber email list. After setting up your domain with your Web host and creating your email account, you should create a special email account just for communicating with your email list subscribers. There are a number of services that will help you manage your subscriptions and unsubscriptions for a fee, such as ConstantContact.com or AWeber.com, but if their prices are too steep for you, you can always manage your list personally using a mass mailing software such as Group-Mail.com. That’s what I’ve used for years, and another of with which I have an affiliate relationship. Although the paid version is quite expensive, depending on the edition you choose, you can use the free version indefinitely with great results. You just have to be creative with working around the limitation on the maximum number of subscribers to a group if you opt for the free version. Having an email subscriber list will enable you to communicate and market to your subscribers on as frequent a basis as you desire or as often as your subscribers will tolerate. Just be certain to require each sign-up to confirm his or her subscription, in case someone tries to subscribe someone’s email address without permission. Also, be sure to put your email list sign-up form in a prominent place on each page of your Author Website “above the fold” (meaning on the top of the page before the user has to scroll or press the Page Down key). You can put it in either the left or right column of your site, if you use tables or CSS (a cascading style sheet) for your page layout, which I recommend.

As I said, there are many more ways to boost your visibility, but these five are practically essential to your success. I welcome your feedback comments below.

NOTE: I am currently writing on a manual for indie writers who wish to become their own publisher. I’m not sure when I’ll finish it, but I’ll make an announcement here and on my published books Web site, books.parsonplace.com, as soon as it’s available. I’ve also just registered a new #hashtag for Twitter (#indiepub) to help you follow some of my tweets when I send them to Twitter. Feel free to use it yourself, too!

An Update on 5-4-2020

I made a few minor revisions to improve the readability of the content here, and I wanted to note that I finally published my book on independent publishing in 2014. It’s entitled A Publishing Panacea: How to Be Your Own Publisher in the Digital Age. Although it is no longer in world-wide print distribution, you may still get it in paperback from my publisher Website, Parson Place Press, or in eBook format from the store here on my blog or from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You may also consider getting my BYOP Digital Package, which includes lots of extras.

An Update on 4-14-2018

The following comparison page for cloud-based email services is offered for your review. I am not necessarily recommending this approach, but you can consider it nonetheless.

https://www.cloudwards.net/best-cloud-based-email-services/

The Best Email Service Provider of 2024: Top 10 Email Services & Clients

Categories
Religion and Politics

What’s Your Purpose?

Here at the beginning of the New Year is a perfect time to reconsider one’s purpose in life. Have you ever asked yourself one or more of the following questions: “Why am I here? Why do I exist? What’s my purpose for existence?” I believe everyone has asked these questions, not only of themselves but of others, too. Maybe you’ve even asked them of God. In fact, God is the best Person for you to ask such a question, since He is the only One with the full knowledge and understanding of why every single creature exists, because He created everything (including you) with a purpose. In fact, we all probably have more than one purpose in existing, and many may have the same or a similar purpose, but everything indeed has a purpose.

It has taken a while, but I have come to realize that my purpose in life is to fulfill the divine purpose for which God created me. Yes, even though I was conceived by my parents and born into this world, it was still God Who created me. I base this understanding on what the psalmist and king David wrote in the book of Psalms:

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalms 139:13-16 NASB)

There have been times throughout my life when I’ve paused to contemplate my purpose for existence. While I believe I was created for fellowship with God, as is every other human being, I also believe God has a specific, maybe even a unique, purpose for me in particular. I have come to believe, after observing how God has used me most effectively throughout my life, that God’s purpose for me is to influence others — though not everyone yields to this influence — to consider the Word of God and decide whether to obey and follow it or not. It’s just that simple.

Though I have been very discouraged at times when folks chose to ignore my presentation, whether I gave it in a sermon or a lesson or a written form or a personal communication of some sort, I have continued nonetheless to press on with sharing what I’ve learned from reading and meditating on God’s Word throughout my life. I sometimes wonder if there will be a time of vindication at the time of judgment for those whom God sent to share His Word or message with others, both in the Church and in the world. Will I hang my head in shame because I ignored a Word from the Lord, simply because it came from a human messenger for whom I had insufficient respect? Will there be believers in the Kingdom who will hang their heads in shame because they chose to disrespect and ignore the message I gave them from the Lord? I don’t know, but I think about these kinds of things often during my quiet times.

The Good News is that for those who enter into the Kingdom of Christ forever will not be ashamed forever. Once we have been gently scolded by our Lord for ignoring His messengers who bore His message unto us, we will then enter into His everlasting joy and never give our past failings a second thought, except to remember that we are able to enjoy His eternal blessings entirely because He ransomed us from our sinful past nature. HALELUJAH!

Have you discovered your purpose for existence? You already know that you were created for eternal fellowship with God, so have you entered into that fellowship by accepting His offer of salvation which He made possible through the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? You can’t be in fellowship with God any other way. Jesus Himself stated:

“…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father [the One True God] except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul tells us:

…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 NKJV)

In other words, put your full confidence in the fact that Jesus rose from the dead after He sacrificed Himself on the cross for the sins of the world (and your sins, in particular), and then say it out loud to yourself and to anyone else who will listen that you agree Jesus is indeed the Lord and King of all. If you truly believe that, it will impact how you think, speak, act, and live your life foreverafter. Those who claim to have believed in Jesus and confessed His Lordship over their lives and yet continue to practice sin (that means commit sins without any attempt at restraint) are deceiving themselves and are in for an everlasting shock when Jesus returns for His faithful ones. No wonder Jesus says,

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:24-29 NKJV; compare also Matthew 8:11-12; Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 24:45-51; and Matthew 25:13-30)

What a frightful time that will be! God insists on holiness (Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:13-16 & Hebrews 12:14-17). Those who try to side-step living a life of obedience, righteousness and holiness are overlooking and ignoring all of the other commands of God in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures to live righteous, holy lives of obedience to His Word as proof of their commitment to and love for Him (John 14:15, 21, & 24). They base their position on the misunderstanding that, since they are “under grace” (Romans 6:14 & Ephesians 2:8-9), they don’t have to obey any of the commands of God, because that is perceived as works-righteousness and living under the Law. However, Jesus once asked,

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46 NKJV)

God is indeed a merciful, gracious, and forgiving God, but ONLY when a sinner is humble and repentant before Him (see James 4:6 & 1 Peter 5:5). If you want to play fast and loose with your eternal soul like an addicted gambler at a casino table, that’s your decision, but be forewarned that your final “roll of the dice” (when you die) really is for keeps — everlasting keeps.

What is my purpose? I’m fulfilling it right now by sharing the hope of salvation with you and warning you that time is running out to make your decision whether to accept, follow, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are ready to do that now, just do as I wrote above: put your full confidence in Jesus and tell everyone you meet what you’ve done and invite them to do the same as you have done, and then live your life for Jesus, according to His command to love one another (particularly fellow believers in Christ) as He has loved us (John 15:12-14). That’s it!

Now, do you know what your purpose is for existing in this world? You were created for fellowship with the everlasting God of all creation, so go fellowship with Him by reading, believing, and obeying His Word (the Holy Bible) and sharing His glorious hope with everyone who will listen. Join in corporate worship each week with other sincere believers who believe and try to practice the command to love one another as Christ has loved them, and finally, keep looking UP, for our redemption is nearer than we first believed (Luke 21:28)!

NOTE: I’m currently writing on a book about God’s Plan of Salvation in which I go into much more detail on this subject. Keep a watch here and at my published books Web site http://books.parsonplace.com for an announcement on when it will be available for purchase.

Categories
Religion and Politics

What About Mythological Rivals to Christ?

Like my new online acquaintance Steve Sawyer (whose blog post at http://stevensawyer.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/mickey-mouse-is-a-fraud/ prompted me to write this post), I, too, grew up as a Disney fan. A self-identified pastor named Chuck Dettman wrote a rather harsh comment to Steve’s blog post, and that further prompted me to write this response.

If Walt Disney was “a very strong believer” (I presume Chuck means in Christ), why did he side with the evolutionists in his Fantasia film and in any number of his wildlife documentaries? Why did he wink at sorcery, etc. in such otherwise wholesome family entertainment as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Bed Knobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, Escape from Witch Mountain, et al? As a clueless child and teen, I was duped by this soft-pedaling of evil masquerading as good. It actually took the news of the Disney Corp. siding with the homosexual agenda by permitting an annual “Gay Day” in Disney World (which they continue to do to this day) to wake me up in my adulthood and realize that this was not the family-friendly company it was portrayed as being.

Frankly, while I haven’t actually thought much about people’s love affair with all things Disney as a rival to Jesus, I can certainly see how that is true for some. I’ve often wondered why professing Christians continue to patronize a company which sponsors such wickedness as homosexuality when God has made His position quite clear on this issue in both the Old and New Testaments. Many of them even attend Disney World on this “Gay Day”!

Just as great a concern for me, if not greater, is how Christians persist in elevating the myth of Santa Claus to be on the same level as the birth of Jesus at Christmas-time. Jesus’ birth is the TRUE purpose for celebrating Christmas. It really bothers me how otherwise sincere Christians see nothing wrong with perpetrating and perpetuating a bold-faced lie to their children about a mythological being with quasi-god-like characteristics (“he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake”, for instance). Yes, my parents perpetrated this lie to me, too, but I refused to do so with my own children.

I have actually participated in a lot of culturally-accepted sin in my life, but once God points it out to me and convicts me about it, I repent of it. For instance, for years I thought nothing of hosting a community Easter Egg Hunt at the churches where I pastored, until the Lord revealed to me the sordid origin of this practice. The word “Easter” comes from the name of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar (also called the Queen of Heaven; see Jer. 7:18; & 44:17-19 & 25), and her husband (or some versions of the story say her son) Tammuz (see Ezek. 8:14), who died and supposedly resurrected. You can read a very thorough telling of the origin and history of this myth, as well as how it was incorporated into Christian practices, on the Web site of what appears to be a true believer in Tammuz and Ishtar here: http://www.assyrianvoice.net/forum/index.php?topic=8232.0

Every one must be accountable for his or her own decisions in life. Now that you know the truth behind these things, what will you do about it? Will you continue to support Disney, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Easter Egg Hunts? It’s entirely up to you, but be forewarned that God will judge your participation differently now that you know the truth.