Monday, January 28, 2013

NINJA STUFF: A New Era of Ninja-ing!

You might've noticed things are starting to look a little different around here, Esteemed Reader. Mrs. Ninja, and one of my critique partners, Jody Sparks, work in SEO, or search engine optimization. Apparently they're very good at it. For more than two years, Mrs. Ninja has been telling me about algorithms and user interfaces and flux capacitors and whatever the heck else is involved in her job. When people ask me what my wife does, I just smile and say, "she wrangles the internets." 

But as I've returned to Ninja-ing full time, it's occurred to me I have a blog that could use some search engine optimization. I have internets what need wrangling! So Mrs. Ninja has been patiently helping me craft a Middle Grade Ninja blog for the modern Esteemed Reader. 

The process of learning content marketing is as difficult and frustrating as leaning publishing, but necessary if I want my voice to be heard--and I do, I do! Eventually, covert government operatives will have read every email and blog post I ever wrote anyway, and I want to leave them a record worth reading!

All this to say, there's changes under way, Esteemed Reader. Old posts are being rewritten in a manner most sinister and Orwellian and YouTube videos are being added wherever I think they enhance. One thing I've noticed  is when folks recommend this blog, they frequently refer to it as a "hidden treasure trove" of interviews.

Perhaps it's all too telling regarding my more megalomaniac motivations that a blog that used to be subtitled "A blog about reading and writing middle grade novels utilizing ninja stealth and skill" is now subtitled "Robert Kent's blog about yadda, yadda." Today, this blog. Tomorrow, the world!!! 

But even so, I don't like the idea of this blog as a hidden trove. Are you kidding me!?! With all the great interviews with writers, literary agents, and editors we're sitting on, Esteemed Reader? We got to share this stuff with the world, man! 

Just think of all the writers we could unite with agents and editors. Think of all the readers who might be united with debut authors. So as I labor to make this blog slicker and to grow it's readership, know that I'm doing so out of a genuine enthusiasm for books and writing and a desire to promote both.

Shameless plug: I've added twitter and Facebook links to the bottom of every post as well as the usual comments option, and I'm going to need your help, Esteemed Reader. I can only promote our authors and their books so far. Tell people we're out here and we've got agents and editors and writers partying with us. 

And I'll do my part.

One thing Mrs. Ninja has made painfully clear to me is my posts are too long (surprise). Apparently the average blog post needs to be between 500-1000 words. My most recent review of The Dark Knight Returns is a whopping 3,200 words, which is perhaps a lot of time to invest and might dissuade certain Esteemed Readers. 

That's all good and well for a post about Frank Miller, who's already a legend, but what about a debut author? What if I just scared off some readers who might've poked about my review and decided to read her book?

Don't worry, my reviews will still be long. Me promising to shorten my reviews is like an obese person promising to lose weight. It's a good idea and we hope they will, but realistically, there are more pizzas in the obese person's future and there are more 3,000 word posts in our future. 

But starting with tomorrow's review of Storybound by Marissa Burton, I'm going to make a conscious effort to be concise. I'm still going to tell you about the book and what writers can take away from it, and then I'm going to stop. Instead of promoting other upcoming interviews, telling you about myself or something unrelated I find interesting, I'm going to tell you about the book and that's it. 

But can I really be trusted not to ramble? Well, like a man on a diet, I have to plan for my success. If you're trying to lose weight, don't hang around a pastry shop--keep yourself someplace conducive to will power:) I'm still going to want to ramble, so I'm setting up a new feature.

Introducing, Ninja Stuff, of which this is the first official post. From this day forward, on a day I don't have an interview or review for you, I'll be posting this column, telling you stuff you may or may not care about and satisfying my need to tell you about it at a designated place rather than taking up time in a poor writer's review and potentially costing them readers. It will be like a blog within a blog:)

From now on, if you want my take on a book, check out the Book of the Week. If you're curious about whatever stuff I want to talk about, check out Ninja Stuff. And it won't be just rambling. If I find some publishing news online or writer resources and want to share them, I'll do it here. I've also got some classic rants coming up I've excised from old reviews. 

Sound like a plan, Esteemed Reader? I know my many patient author friends are relieved I'll no longer be posting Tori Amos songs or reviewing shark movies in the middle of my Book of the Week Reviews:) I'll still compare literature to Batman, of course, but that's just kind of my signature style:)

This first Ninja Stuff post is under 1000 words. Not too shabby, but we'll just see how long that lasts;) 

And as for sharing stuff with you, here's an interview with Stephen King I dig:


  1. Really interesting to hear about your blog reorganization. I think this is something I need to do as well, so I'll be watching for any more tips you have on this subject!

    1. Thanks, Andrea! I'm learning all this as we go. As I learn stuff, I'll be happy to share.

  2. * Looks great! It's nice being able to change the format. Like the Magazine and Snapshot views so far. Good luck with your ongoing efforts. Your interviews are wonderful and so informative.

    1. Thanks Gerri! We've got some great interviews coming up. I'm just trying to spruce the place up a bit for when they post:)

  3. I'd love to hear more about what you learn as you try to promote your blog more. I'm always thinking about that and want to learn about it. It's great that you've got your wife and Jody as resources.

    1. My biggest idea is to find ways to get mentioned more often on your blog:) And yes, Jody and Mrs. Ninja are the most powerful weapons in my arsenal.


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