Digital Book World Day 1 Recap and 2 FREE eBooks

I flew into New York City this morning, took a cab to the Sheraton on 53rd, then went out and grabbed a slice of pizza at a local joint.  I always love how places outside NY advertise “New York” pizza.  I grew up in da’ Bronx and know NY pizza.  I loved the rant Jon Stewart did on Trump eating pizza with a knife and fork. I even went into a pizza place one time in Seattle while at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference and asked for a slice.  And they told me “We don’t do slices.”  I mean WTF kind of pizza joint doesn’t do slices?

Rant over.

Anyway, then I went inside, still eating my slice and sat in on a workshop on SEO.  There were a lot of industry people from publishing there since, after all, we’re in New York City, the home of publishing.

I have mixed feelings about conferences.  Sometimes they can be mind-numbing.  Other times they can be very exciting.  But I find in the long run both extremes pull together towards useful.  Even when they’re sort of mind-numbing, they stir the brain.  As a fiction writer one of my favorite sayings is “take it one step further”.  And another is:  “What if what appears to be; isn’t.”  The latter comes more from my time in the Special Forces.  We were a tad paranoid.  But you aint paranoid when they are out to get you.

Which brings me to the topic of analytics.  The panel was “You can’t grow what you can’t measure.”  Hmm.  I’m not sure about that.  Sometimes we become so enamored with numbers, we forget a key question:  what do they really represent?  I think of Snakes on a Plane.  Tremendous internet buzz.  Then when it came out, tanked.  In Special Forces (YouTube video from appearance on Discovery ref the Green Berets) we knew there was a big difference between information and intelligence.  The latter is usable information.

I was a bit surprised during the sessions I attended on how basic a lot of the information being put out was and how basic many of the questions were.

But here is some of the information (along with a few comments); make what intelligence of it you wish:

There was a lot of focus on click throughs.  I get that you’d want people to actually go to your site and look at what you have, but I think (anecdata without even an anec or a data) that just having the cover on the side of a Facebook or Google page a couple hundred thousand times with only 20 clicks, still has reach.  That image is in the corner of the eye.  It penetrates the subconscious.  And most of the time nothing happens.  But say that person sees that cover or that author name again, somewhere else?  There will be a connection.  Presence marketing.

An interesting slide from the SEO session was how important it is to rank in the top three results on a google search of your keywords.  Because people click on choice one 36.4% of the time, choice two 12.5% and choice three 9.5%.  That’s hmm, 58.4% of people gone before they get to #4.

The Shelfless Book

Pre-Order your copy NOW!

But Jen Talty covered all this in our upcoming The Shelfless Book:  The Complete Digital Author (pre-order you copy NOW!).  After I came back from Storyworld, the West Coast cousin to #DBW12 we focused on metadata.

Google also own 80% of the SEO market share.  However, Bing has now passed Yahoo as a search engine.

Some other points made:  use your keywords over and over in the body of your text also.  Bob Mayer.  And use links.  A lotta links.  Bob Mayer.  An interesting thing we need to check into is that you can use keywords for images inserted into a WordPress blog (Jen just told me when she loads blogs here she puts in a description for the image).  Also, the more time people spent on your page, the higher Google ranks it.  So go get a beer, this will still be here when you get back.  Even better, just leave this page on your screen when you go to bed?  Hmm.

Any of you heard of pinterest It’s supposed to be the hot new thing.  I sent Jen the link. She signed right up, though is still waiting for her “invite”.  What do you think if you’re using it?

One thing I realized, again, is that because I wear so many hats:  author, publisher, promoter, crossbow firer, consigliore to Riley (my three week old grandson) the future leader of the resistance, servant to hardworking guard dogs Cool Gus and Sassy Becca, I have a big perspective on this whole digital book experience.  I still get the feeling that experts are, well experts.  Very good at what they do, but not exactly sure at times how their expertise helps the big picture.

I’ve got to go over my notes and then process them with a full day tomorrow and I’ll blog again.  I did get some interesting ideas “taking it one step further”. Jen is waiting on the edge of her seat for my ideas. I think I’ll make her wait a little longer.

It’s weird, I keep hearing military terms in the civilian world and it kind of, well, I don’t know what it makes me feel.  Don Cheadle in House of Lies used HALO, which stands for High Altitude Low Opening Parachuting.  Special Forces runs the military’s HALO school at Ft. Bragg, which is now only 60 miles down the road from my new abode.  I also use it in Who Dares Wins by that guy Bob Mayer, and Write It Forward, by that guy, Bob Mayer who works with that girl…what’s her name? Oh yeah, Jen Talty.  But to hear people use it who have never done it, is strange.  BTW, that’s a wickedly good show.  Right up there with The Good Wife and Southland.  We all need a touch of reality.  And yes, I’m watching Downton Abbey too and it’s damn good.  And then there’s Raising Hope, which is on the lighter side and we all need that too.

Oh, yeah, as promised, FREE eBooks.  Two of the Black Ops series:  The Line and The Gate, will be free on Kindle for the next three days (that’s Toosday, Wendssday and Thoisday in the Bronx).  So go snark ‘em up.  (You do know you don’t need to own a Kindle to read a Kindle book, right?  It’s an app.)

The Line by Bob Mayer

Free Kindle eBook 24-26 Jan

The Line received some really cool reviews and also got me banned from the Association of Graduate’s Magazine book reviews at West Point:

“Mayer has crafted a military thriller in the tradition of John Grisham’s The Firm.” Kirkus

“So convincing, that by the last page, readers may doubt the official version of the last 50 years.” Publishers Weekly

I used to pitch it as an updated Seven Days in May.  Until I gave the keynote at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and asked how many people had read or seen Seven Days and not one in 500 people raised their hands.  Oops.

The Gate by Bob Mayer

Free Kindle eBook 24-26 Jan

The Gate, I based on a book I picked up in the nonfiction section of the library at Ft. Campbell called Japan’s Secret War.  The author claims there’s a chance the Japanese detonated an atomic bomb at the end of World War II in Manchuria.  His evidence is spotty, but it is true the Germans sent two U-Boats with their uranium to Japan near the end of WWII.  So it got me thinking and I took it one step further and asked:  What if they did do that, but there were two bombs?  And where is the second one?  And . . .

Well, you can read the free book to find out the rest.

That’s my name (Bob Mayer) repeated how many times in this post?  And how many links?  And how many left this page live overnight?  Come on, Google.  Of course, the machine probably didn’t like me referring to the future leader of the resistance against the Rise of the Machines.

I think I just linked myself into a visit from a guy with sunglasses.

Write It Forward!

About Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret (including commanding an A-Team) and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 60 books published including the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis and The Green Berets. Born in the Bronx, having traveled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife, and said labs, at Write on the River, TN.

Posted on January 24, 2012, in Write It forward and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Bob, thanks for the free books. I look forward to reading them. However… check your dates on the links: it’s January, Bob, not February. Or am I misunderstanding some secret Black Ops military code? :-)

  2. As for “Seven Days In May,” I would call the response that you got from that audience “sad” instead of “oops.” It is one of the best political thrillers—with a military twist—ever written or put on film. I hope that at some of them went and checked it out after your talk.

  3. Thanks so much for the recap, which was as amusing as it was informative. I look forward to part two.

    Regarding Pinterest: I’ve been on it for months, and I love it. I don’t consider it “social media” in the Twitter/Facebook/Google+ sense, but there is a connectivity to it that makes it a bit social (likes, comments, follows, etc.).

  4. I like this, Bob and Jen, but ironically–speaking of inundating your audience with links–when I clicked on the picture of the new book cover (under which are the words, “Pre-order your copy NOW!”), nuttin’ important happened. It just took me to a bigger picture of the book cover.

    You see, I was so excited by the NOW I didn’t want to bother looking over to my right a couple inches for the link. So I recommend that when you click on the book cover, it takes you to the ordering page.

    Thanks, as always, for the useful information. I was just about to order the book when I had a last-minute question: I prefer my reference books to be hard copy. But it’s more expensive. And…what if information in the ebook changes? Would I be able to uplaod the latest version?

    • Thanks for noticing. It was a test. Actually not. Even with just two people, when I write a blog, Jen has to follow behind and clean it up, since I am not technical with computers. Now guns, and crossbows, and field expedient explosives, I’m much better.
      As far as print, with POD it’s a bit slower to fix things, but we can change it. The upload fee isn’t that much, so every couple of months, we redo our books in print.

  5. And now a word from out sponsor…..we had a few minor technical difficulties, but now dates are corrected and images now link to pre-order and free books on Kindle! Go, get your copies now!

    This goes to show that we can overload things. I was so focused on the links in the text, and making sure names were used x number of times that I forgot some basics. Its important to follow good procedure to maximize your efforts on the Internet, but too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing.

    Bob kind of reminds me of Gibbs on NCIS sometimes…his answer to computer problems is “I will just reboot.” Well, if all else fails, then reboot. Or perhaps some expedient explosives (I’m not sure I know what expedient explosives are and I don’t think I want to find out…)

  6. Thanks so much, Bob. I’m here on Toosday, so I’m actually in time to get your books free! I love your writing. I do quite a bit of writing for the web, and what you said is absolutely accurate. You need to get the keywords that put you on the front page of the search engines. Otherwise, you’re spitting in the wind.

  7. Thanks for the wrap-up, Bob–fascinating changes going on in the world of publishing and I’m just beginning. Thanks also for the free books–went right to them from your links and they’re already on my Kindle, ready for a fireside read over the weekend.

  8. This is the most unbiased and straight shooting source if information on the changing publishing industry I have found to date. Thanks for keeping us all posted, Bob. Looking forward to hearing you speak here in Indy in April.

  9. Interesting feedback from the rear echelon’s ‘front lines’. The new book sounds great, going to preorder.

    Civilians, esp in corp America LOVE Army talk. I had a hard time getting some stuff out of my vocabulary, and some I kept on purpose because it worked well w/leadership style in corporate management. (You don’t have to like it you just have to do it – got me a lot of milage w/staff- really puts it all into perspective when you have something hard to do that no one wants to do but must be done to carry on and keep the job rolling.). One of my old bosses, who’d grown up in a gated community but loved colorful phrases, started using the lingo about 3 months after joining our department and was always after me for ‘expressions’. O- Dark Hundred was his favorite (I was never a morning person so how I made it thorugh the Army w/flying colors given the early hours approach is a mystery yet to be solved.) “Case of the Ass” was his all time go to phrase right along side “ate up” and “WTF – over”. By the time he’d been with us a year you’d have thought he’d been a lifer. You have to admit, HALO and the drill down approach to laungage and meaning has a certain panache. Ever think of writing a Military Code Phrase book for writers? Those who do military and paramilitary characters would benefit from it – even in terms of what the caracter’s thinking and they way they ‘evaluate’ what they see.

    I never understood why it was such a draw, but even now I find when I write it slips into character exposition or description. In my current WIP (mystery/romance- all civies) I had to change Lume stick to Golw stick because my husband pointed out that few outside the miliatry or those who read military action adventure would know what Lume sticks were. Even with this years ago in my very distant past, it’s hard to escape the mark it makes. I guess reading all that Mac Bolen and Stonyman/Able team stuff in my teens didn’t help any either.

  10. Pizza with a fork? Puhleez! Everyone knows you fold it in half and hold the top corner so the oil can drip onto your plate, not down your chin…

    Thanks for the rundown on SEO – really interesting.

  11. Thanks so much, Bob, for your reports and the sharing. It lifts a tip of the cover for me, and I will read your 2 ebooks.

  12. As to Custer’s “We’ve got them on the run”, I have a feeling a few Big 6 execs may not be saying it but they are certainly thinking it – if their strategies of dealing with change are any indicator. ;-)

  13. Dear Future Leader of The Resistance;
    The time for Revolution is not in the future, it is now. The “machines” aren’t the mechanical type envisioned by so many fiction writers, but they are human created machines nonetheless, and their name is Corporation. Corporate machines, thanks to judicial rulings like the Supreme Court’s Citizens United, are now legally “people” who have more rights under the U.S. Constitution than human beings. (Check it out if you think I’m kidding.)

    As for the usefulness of analytics in war, recall Red teams decisive defeat of Blue in Millennium Challenge 2002. If we weren’t already at war I might wonder how you think van Riper’s strategy could be applied to publishing, but since we are at war I wonder more how you think it can be applied to fighting the corporate machines and their masters? Nonviolently.

    Liberty, Equality, Community!

  14. I’m addicted to Pinterest, but it’s not social media and it’s definitely not a place to sell books. It’s pretty great if you’re into beauty, fashion, photography, sewing, decorating, and other crafty stuff (basically it’s a more interactive and less bloggy version of Tumblr). The fact that folks consider it to be the new Holy Grail of social media is surprising–do they use it?

    • Of course, but the overall community on Pinterest is focused on lifestyle and crafts–and it’s pretty “anonymous” in a way, unless you have a blog following interested in what you specifically pin and re-pin (like food blogger/photographers or sewing bloggers).

    • No idea– interested in more feedback on it. I don’t think a lot of social media is useful for “selling” books. It’s for building community.

  15. Great information, as always. It’s amazing how many jobs a writer needs to be able to do, especially if s/he becomes a blogger and even more especially if s/he wants to self-publish. So much of this stuff seems like an alien language until you get into it a little more. I’m still marveling over the fact that I actually know what SEO stands for. LOL.

    And thank you for the free books. Yipee!

  16. Thanks, Bob, for once again stimulating further thinking on the whole SEO concept. There are so many numbers and ratings to take into account – at times it is difficult to work out what’s really meaningful for your specific situation and requirements.
    I’m with you on the idea that social media is more about building community than physically selling books. Pinterest simply adds another option to a writer’s tool box.
    Thanks for the Black Ops books. Looking forward to reading them.

  17. Hahaha. I often open up websites in tabs and leave them there for hours while I wait to get around to it. I’ve had your post from yesterday open since yesterday! Didn’t realize I was helping out :)

  18. Thank you for the free books and for filling us in on what you’re learning at the conference.

  19. Is this what happens to you when you go to New York Bob? You are hilarious today! Bring some of that back with you to our class! :)

  20. Great stuff, as always. I need to get a couple of your books for my dad, I think he’d really like them.

    Pinterest — super groovy, but I’ve been on since the beginning of December and I’m not yet sure how to translate it into sales…but it’s a great place to connect with people. Pinterest is basically everything beautiful on the internet.

    Tell Jen if she needs an invite to DM me her address on twitter (@jengreyson) and I can shoot one over….it took me about 3 days to get my invite from the pinterest team.


  21. What a hoot! Thanks for the free books and great information. I had no idea I was helping so many people by leaving their blogs open for hours, or even days at a time.

  22. You and Jen are crzcking me up. Now i need to catch up with post day 2.

  23. Very much enjoyed the Special Forces clip. Thanks for the reminder that about a hundred special forces soldiers mustered support from Afghan warlords and overran the Taliban in about 3 months. A great victory in military history. It will be included in a revised ‘Atlas of American Wars’.

    Thanks again.

  24. I actually had some really great New York pizza once in Jerusalem. But that guy earned it. He had gone to NYC to study pizza making and plastered the walls with pictures to prove it. I’ve also had pizza in Italy. New York will always do it best.

  25. Say Bob Mayer . I actually found your blog from a link from Dean Wesley Smith , and actually it boosts your page rank much better if you link to somebody else. You might investigate zemanta if you want to fill your page with relevant links. No I don’t work for them.

  26. Your post really cracked me up. :-) But it also had me going “Aw!” for your grandson and the cute doggies! (That should get a look-see from some people, SEO be damned. ;-))

    It’s interesting that Bing has taken off ahead of Yahoo, although I haven’t used Yahoo in ages. I’m actually using Bing more to find public domain pics; finds a lot of them that Google doesn’t pick up, for some reason.

  27. OMG! I haven’t the term HALO in years. My husband from C130 days at Pope AFB, right smack in the middle of Ft. Bragg, loved it. It scared me to death, but he didn’t ask my opinion, and I didn’t offer it. (It wouldn’t have mattered a lot if I did.) Many things you did scared me then. You probably still could, just don’t tell me.

    I’m still scared. It’s a brave new world full of techno junkies, instant access to information, and so on. But, you know what? I’m loving it. This brave new world is fun and exhilarating, thanks to people like you, Jen, and Kristin who share your insight and lives with us.

    Thanks, guys.


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