Wilkie Martin - Surviving Publication

Author of the unhuman series of addictive comedy cozy mysteries set in the Cotswolds. This documents my encounters with publishing and includes things I hope will be useful later. It also covers some local writing competitions and reviews some writing events.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Which blog directories to use

Whether a blog is a necessary part of generating your author's platform depends upon how you feel about blogging and whether you have anything to write about on a regular basis. This posting is related to how my blogs are being published. As this is a technical one I'm handing over to @whispproduction.

Good luck.

Hello authors, and thank you Wilkie.

We have helped with some aspects of setting up this blog as just writing it isn't enough and you have to do some legwork as well. Although having interesting postings is the best way to get your blog noticed, a blog directory needs to have regular postings. Until there are several entries some blog directories will ignore it, no matter how good the content.

There are lots and lots of blog directories around, some of which are no longer used (or don't seem to be). So which should you register with? And what do you have to do to register, and what do you do once you have registered?

When setting up you will need to create an account your chosen directory. Make sure you have your email details and the rss/atom/feed address (in blogger you can get this by logging on and going to 'Settings'->'Site Feed' and copying the link from there), and the URL of your blog (http://xxx.blogspot.com). Consider what type of blog you have (Technical, Entertainment, Arts etc) so you know where you want it listed. Also, create a blog description you can copy during the setup. If you have a picture handy you can add this with the profile details, where this is allowed. It's obvious, but do remember to save the logon id, email and password information you use so you can access the directory later.

Once you have created the account and linked to the blog, look in your email for a mail from each blog directory service as they require confirmation that you are the owner and this is normally done through an email prompt. Technorati and bloglines send a unique code which you will need to include in a posting. Until this is done you are not identified as the blog owner.

We logon and check the blog directory entries at least every couple of weeks. We've found they benefit from regular maintenance in the form of visits and searches using the blog search tools the directory provides just to make sure it is refreshing with the new postings. It makes sense to use the blog directory anyway as it is providing you with a free service and it is only polite to use it if you want to reference your blog. For this reason we'd recommend not using all of the blog directories that exist (though it depends how much time you want to dedicate). The ones you use are up to you. To provide you with a starting list the ones we have registered Wilkie's blog with are below. If you have found this blog entry then one of these is likely to have helped you find it - if you know which, then we'd love to know. If you have no idea then don't worry.

  • www.technorati.com
    This was going through a period of change when we registered the blog and was reconfirming ownership of all blogs registered in a bid to tidy up it's lists. It took two goes but it did eventually accept the blog. It has good search facilites and regularly updates with the new blog postings. It seems to be quite widely used and we have found references to it from quite a lot of places. If we do a Google search on the blog then it's reference for the blog appears in the results.
  • http://www.bloglines.com/
    It was only after registering on this blog directory that searches using http://www.ask.com/ started to show results on Wilkie's blog, so this is a good one to do. This is also the one that Wilkie uses most to view other blogs.
  • http://www.blogcatalog.com/
    This has good referencing in it and has the advantage of allowing you to link to other social media like twitter, facebook and others. It also allows you to establish a blog network. We logon and check the blog regularly with this. There is sometimes a bit of a delay in picking up new postings so occasionally we have asked it to refresh the entries. If we do a Google search on the blog then it's reference for the blog appears in the results.
  • http://www.bloggernity.com/
    If we do a Google search on the blog then it's reference for this blog appears in the results. Registering on this directory moved the returned results in Google for it up the results.
  • Google reader
    This is available as part of the google set you get when you start a blogger blog. Just login to Blogger, and choose 'my account', and add google reader.

The more often you post the more likely other blog directories will find the blog. We didn't specifically register with any of these (or we hadn't at the time of this posting), but after several months of postings their robots or search bots started to pickup up this blog (we know this from the list of bots given in the stats for the blog in feedburner.com).

  • SimplePie, Caibu, BlogPulse, BlogSphere, Cuill, IceRocket, MSN News Blogs, Moreover, Planet, PubSubHubHub, Radian 6, Search Bot, Sphere, Twingly, ia archiver bot
Each of the ones we manually linked to (apart from technorati's which is still under development) also allows you to create a button with a link from your blog to the blog directory. The buttons created look like this:

Subscribe with BloglinesBooks Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directoryblog search directory

If you register with the same directories and you want the same buttons as this blog then you can use the following code. To add it to a blog created in blogger (in blogger designer create a new gadget of type html and copy this code into it). Here is the code:

<a href=http://www.bloglines.com/sub/http://YOURBLOGFEEDADDRESS>
<img src="http://static.bloglines.com/images/sub_modern10.gif" border="0" alt="Subscribe with Bloglines" />

<a href="http://www.blogcatalog.com/directory/entertainment/books/" title="Books Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory">
<img src="http://assets.blogcatalog.com/buttons/blogcatalog5.gif" alt="Books Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory" style="border: 0;" />

<a href="http://www.Bloggernity.com/" target="_blank">
<img src="http://www.Bloggernity.com/images/80x15.png" alt="blog search directory" width="80" height="15" border="0" />

For individual buttons:

  • bloglines - do a google search for bloglines buttons as this is the easiest way to find them, choose the one you want and copy the code (http://www.bloglines.com/about/subscribe)

  • bloggernity - at the very bottom of the webpage select 'link to us', select the button and copy the code

  • blogcatalog - logon, on you page, select 'blog catalog button', select the button and copy the code.

If you found any other directories helpful, then let us know.

If you want to register with lots of blog directories and are looking for a list then we found this very good, resonably recent list, compiled by iWoodpeckers http://www.iwoodpecker.com/submit-blog-to-50-free-working-blog-directories/

Good luck with your platform and book.

Wilkie's Related Postings

Linking twitter to facebook and adding twitter to blog
Include options on #blog to add the posting to #social #bookmarking sites
Blog reader

Monday, 26 July 2010

Sprucing up the website

Building a website and an author's platform can be a big distraction, or would be if I had to try to do it all myself (finding out how to first). Luckily when I decided my website wasn't up to scratch and wanted to rebuild it I had help. In the review with Whisp Productions, we looked at what other writers were doing on theirs, how they laid them out etc. What follows is a guest posting from Whisp Productions with details of the changes they have made to my website that we hope will be useful as we're assuming that other writers, like me, need some technical help with some aspects of building a platform. So over to Whisp.


Wilkie's previous website was a fairly simple site as it was built using Frontpage with a few buttons to navigate around the page. This worked ok, but the main problem we found was that the website took up the whole of the screen and wasn't very easy for a reader with a wide screen to read. When we reviewed other websites with Wilkie we found that the ones we liked best were those with a more blog-like layout, that didn't display text across the whole width of the screen. The rebuilt website now has more blog-like pages that appear in the middle of the screen. It also allows the website to look similar to this blog (which was previously changed using the new template editor - see Using Bloggers new template designer).

It was rebuilt using the RVSiteBuilder tool on Wilkie's hosting service, so unless you use on the same service, sharing the instructions on how it was generated won't help. However, what may be of more interest are some of the additional bits and pieces that we added to the website. We hope you find the following useful.


1. We do not want search engines to archive every page (especially those with time dependent material or competition information. So we added a meta setting to each page where Archiving isn't wanted:

<meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOARCHIVE" />

2. We added another meta settings, to tell mobile phones to format the information differently for the small screens.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=670, initial-scale=0.45, minimum-scale=0.45" />


3. The file sitemap.xml is for search engines. If you keep it up to date it tells them which files on your site have been changed so it doesn't have to search them all. Put it in the root directory. For example:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
- <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
- <url>


4. The file robots.txts also gives instructions to search engines. This tells them which parts of your website not to look at. Put it in the root directory of the website. For example,:

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /

User-agent: taptubot
Disallow: /iphone/
Disallow: /mobile/
Disallow: /m/
Disallow: /mobi/

User-agent: *
Disallow: /adirectorynottobesearchedbyanybot/

Sitemap: http://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml


5. We added a favicon.ico file. This is a very small image file that appears in internet explorer at the left of the address box. Again, this is in the root directory.

6. We added an apple-touch-icon.png file. This, like the favicon.ico file, is an image file that is used by iphone apps to display with the website.


7. Add a connection into Wilkie's youtube videos. For this we've used a video strip. The code for this can be built on youtube, but we added a line before and a line after the code that youtube gave us. The lines we added are:

We built the youtube code as follows:

Goto youtube home page. You don't need to logon.
At the bottom of the page click on the 'Developers' link.
Click on the 'Widgets' link.
In the 'Widgets' description in the middle, click on the link to the Video bar wizard.
Fill in the information:
Horizontal or vertical.
Untick the popular video feeds unless you want these too.
Fill in the name of the youtube channel you want.
Then click to show the code and copy it to your website.


9. Add a connection to Wilkie's twitter so that a subset of it shows in the side bar.

In twitter.
At the bottom of the page, select 'Goodies'.
Click on 'Widgets'.
Click on 'My website'.
Then on 'Profile widget'.
Complete the Settings, Preferences, Appearance, Dimensions to what you want.
When it looks like you want, click on 'Finish & grab the code'.


10. We also added a link to this blog on the website so that the titles of the last 5 entries are shown. We've done this using the www.feedburner.com services that can be linked to your blog.

In feedburner.com.
Choose your blogname.
Select 'Publicize'.
Choose 'BuzzBoost'.
Change the settings to get what you want.
Copy the code that is given.

Wilkie's Related Postings
Some of the above settings and files were used before the site was rebuilt and the instructions for these were included in some of Wilkie's previous postings.

Changing my website for #iphone users
How to #twitter your blog updates and add twitter to #website
Adding a website icon for iphone and stopping page not found for mobiles
Adding free blog subscription options
Add blog to website
Starting an author's platform

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Skip Walker at #WritersintheBrewery

On 24 June, Writers in the Brewery were pleased to welcome Skip Walker, editor of the Wilts and Glos Standard.

Skip spoke about her career, as a reporter and editor. Following Oxford, she became a trainee journalist at the Daily Express, where she spent far too long in the pub but did receive a good training. After three years she moved on to working for Distillers, becoming assistant editor of the house magazine (where she was not allowed to mention Thalidomide). She moved on to be editor of the SWEB in-house journal and then to working on an encyclopaedia for Robert Maxwell. After time spent at Weapons and Warfare and Camera magazine she moved out west. She became a district reporter in the Forest of Dean, then editor of the Marlborough Express (which failed, though it was failing before she got there!), and worked for the Dursely Gazette, the Stroud News & Journal and finally the Standard.

Skip suggested that writing as a journalist was not difficult, providing you like sticking your nose into other people's business. You have to be interested in people and then start writing the story at the beginning and end when it stops. Accuracy is important.

She talked about how easy it was for a writer to get into print in the Standard, if they were not expecting to be paid, though up to 40 stories per week are not published due to space constraints. If a writer wants a little money, she recommended approaching Cotswold Essence, which pays £60 for articles!

It was an interesting, informative, encouraging and amusing evening. Thanks to Skip.

There will be no Writers in the Brewery in July, because of an exhibition. Our next speaker, on 26 August, will be broadcaster, writer, poet and ecologist, Matthew Oates.

Contact Skip

Writers in the Brewery

My Related Postings

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Using Bloggers new template designer

I've just had to redo a step in generating my #author's #platform. My posting Making a blog on #blogger look more like a website detailed the many changes we'd made to my blog to customise it and to make it look more like my website. We lived with it for a few weeks while we looked at other people's websites and blogs, and came to the conclusion that we had gone the wrong way. Instead of making the blog look like the website we should have made the website look more like the blog! The shorter lines of text generally found on blogs was much easier to read than the wide lines allowed on the website. So we decided to change both the blog and the website again. We started with the blog and found that blogger now makes customisation changes much easier. Although you can still amend the html as we mentioned before, there is now a template designer that does it all for you.
  • In blogger,
  • go to 'Design'
  • then select the new option 'Template Designer'.
  • Choose the template you want and customise the fonts and colours, and choose a new background. The template will be applied to your current blog.
  1. The only problem we found with this was that all the gadgets we had on the site were moved into the side bar, including those we had at the bottom of the blog. However, the 'Layout' option in the new 'Template Designer' allowed us to move them back where we wanted.

  2. Then the only other thing to do was to reapply a couple of the html change that we had before.
  • This included adding back the options available from feedburner to add links at the end of every post to share the blog. See Include options on #blog to add the posting to #social #bookmarking sites

  • And also, to remove the blogger navigation/toolbar bar that appears at the top of the blog (if you want to that is).
    Near the top of the code, just before
    /* variable definitions
    insert the following code

    /*remove toolbar start*/#navbar-iframe {display: none} /*remove toolbar end */

The next job was to make the website look more like the new layout of the blog. This was also easier to do that we expected as the site hosting my website now also includes a design tool. So we have rebuilt the website too.

Good luck .

My Related Postings