Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sifting through the stats for nuggets of insight


It's always fun, and occasionally instructive, to analyze how new readers find their way to TKZ. So yesterday I took a quick look at the blog's system stats. Here are some of the key word searches that brought  people to the blog:

Rhino, rhino skin: Searches for rhinos take readers to Jim Bell's Rhino Skin, which contains good advice for writers who need to develop a thicker hide as a survival tactic.

Best written sex scenes: This search phrase has got to be our all-time winner for drawing new readers to the blog. It usually lands on Clare's post, The Top 5 mistakes made in sex scenes. Written in '09, it's the post that keeps on giving.

Semi Colon: This search lands on Jim's The Great Semi Colon Debate. If your page has a semi colon stuck in its craw and you want to vent about it, this is your post.

Formula for writing a best seller: Those in search of a magic formula for best sellerdom will undoubtedly be disappointed to read there's no such thing in a post I wrote a while back, How to write a best seller.

Book revolution: This search lands on any number of field reports about the rapidly changing publishing industrY.

Overall, the search stats for TKZ reveal that readers find us because they're serious about their writing craft, and they're looking for insights on the journey toward becoming a better writer. From the number of repeat visitors we get here at TKZ, and the blog's overall growth over the years, I can surmise that we're providing some discussion that's useful. The Zoners of TKZ pledge to continue doing our best to engage readers and continue the conversation in 2013.

And now I'd like to hear from you. Are there any particular topics or voices you'd like to hear discussed this year at TKZ?

16 comments:

  1. TKZ is one of my first stops every morning (after the coffee pot, of course). Although I don't write in this genre, I find the writing advice from authors who have "been there, done that" to be very helpful and never condescending (phew!). Keep the posts coming on the variety of topics you cover. I always find a helpful nugget or two from your collective experience. And thank you.

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  2. Thanks for being here with us, Julie! Looking forward to hearing more from you in 2013!

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  3. I read A Thousand Bones by P J Parrish over the holiday and was struck by the physical character descriptions. My descriptions are like wanted posters (white male, 6'2", brown hair, brown eyes) and their descriptions are like paintings that did a ton of characterization ("Forceful, high-cheekboned, black brows sitting like emphatic accents over his gray eyes, the left one arching into an exclamation mark when he was amused or surprised. And his skin, smooth and buff-colored, a gift from his beautiful black mother, whose picture he had once shown her, and his white father, whom he had never mentioned.")

    I learn best when I have great examples to guide me. Maybe we could have a column where folks submit their favorite character descriptions?

    Thanks,
    Kathy

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    1. Wow, thanks Kathy! I popped in today just to see what was up and I get a nice gift from you. I think writing character descriptions are hard because you have to know when to STOP describing. I think readers want to use their imaginations conjuring up people but you have to give good cues. In this case you cite above, we wanted to find a way to subtly insert the backstory fact that Louis is biracial without hitting readers over the head. Backstory...there's a whole nother column right?

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    2. Wow, thanks Kathy! I popped in today just to see what was up and I get a nice gift from you. I think writing character descriptions are hard because you have to know when to STOP describing. I think readers want to use their imaginations conjuring up people but you have to give good cues. In this case you cite above, we wanted to find a way to subtly insert the backstory fact that Louis is biracial without hitting readers over the head. Backstory...there's a whole nother column right?

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  4. Hi Kathryn and all,
    I've never attempted to write in first person and would love to learn the nuances of doing this well. I want to practice this year for a short story I'd like to publish (e-book freebie) if it's decent enough, to keep folks interested in my current series.

    Thanks,
    Jill

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  5. Kathy, that sounds like an excellent idea for a Reader Friday! We'll put it in the hopper.Jillian, that's also a great idea for a post. First person can seem easier to write in some ways, but it's actually difficult to do well.

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  6. Perhaps one week we can discuss thriller character's favourite beverage of choice. For instance Jack Higgins's character Sean Dillon has a penchant for Bushmill's Irish Whiskey and of course Ian Fleming's James Bond likes vodka martini's shaken not stirred. Bruce Wayne and Captain Picard both prefer Earl Grey Tea. What other drinks, alcoholic or not, do fictional characters prefer, and what does it say about their personality?

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  7. Who knew bad sex scenes could just keep on giving!

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  8. Basil, I love the idea of a discussion about a character's favorite drink. It's one of those small details that can be very revealing.

    Clare, like the old saying goes, "Sex sells!".

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  9. The search that brought me here was "John Gilstrap." I was researching him before meeting him at a conference. The whole awesome TKZ keeps me coming back most every day (y'all are blocked at work).

    Topics? You guys keep coming up with topics I'd never thought of, but stuff I am always interested in are: self-pub, writer's life, 1st person POV, Reverend Bell's Sunday pep talks, evolution of publishing, short stories, flash fiction, good rules and good reasons to break them, agents, editors, editing,and the first page critiques. Ya know, all of it.

    I found myself as last moderator standing in a writing group on FB that attracts a lot of real newbies. I link to TKZ posts often.

    Terri

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  10. Thank you for the great post, Kathryn! Perfect segue to a question that's been rolling around in my head, but I've been unsure of the best way/place to pose it.

    Would the Kill Zone Authors be willing to do Q & A sessions from time to time, perhaps through a Reader Friday post?

    There's such a wealth of knowledge and experience here -- you guys are the perfect resource for an unpublished mystery or thriller writer (like me). I've had the opportunity to hit up Jim Bell with some questions via his fiction writing workshop, and a one-on-one interview last fall. But I know I'll eventually run him off if I keep hounding him with questions. :)

    I originally landed here because I follow the writings and advice of Jim, but realized I'd hit the jackpot once I arrived and delved deeper. I'm now a regular.

    A topic for 2013? I'd love some advice on narrowing the focus for a plot. I'm currently outlining a suspense/thriller, and with all the available options in protagonists and crimes, find myself easily overwhelmed. Anyone have a good strategy for sifting through the options to narrow down a plot?

    Thanks!
    Diane Krause

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  11. Thanks Diane! A Q&A would be a great topic for Reader Friday. We could all pitch in with answers.
    I also like the topic idea of how to focus a plot. Thank you!

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    1. Kathryn,

      I would also love to hear from the Kill Zone authors about your publishing stories (journeys). I see that, collectively, you all represent a variety of publishing houses and options. I know Jim Bell has done both traditional and self-publishing, and John Gilstrap seems to have a good thing going with Kensington.

      I don't know if other readers and commenters would find it helpful, but I'd love to hear more personal testimonies from KZ authors on the subject of publishers.

      Thanks!

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  12. Terri, they block us at work? Tell them we're helping people become more creative thinkers. Employers love that kind of stuff. :)

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  13. Wow, these are so...almost normal. I'm embarrassed that more people find my book blog by searching for "naked contortionist" or "baby beatniks" than for anything remotely book related. Sad, really.

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