Monthly Archives: August 2011

How do I get my book featured on (for free)?

“How do I get my book featured on”  is a question often posed to me by authors, publishers and publicists. LogoOf course the best and fastest way to obtain prominent placement on is to purchase advertising.  However when the above question is posed, subsequent follow up sometimes reveals the inquirer does not have a budget for advertising.   This is fine, because there are many ways one can promote their work on for free.

While has funded the creation of 1,000’s of pages of content featuring profiles and interviews with authors, critical book reviews, book club reading and bestseller lists, we simply can not cover every author.   In an environment where 3 million (see note) new titles are published annually, no entity can — nor would they want to.   If one is unable to purchase an  ad, how does one get their book featured on at no cost?  Here are three simple ways:

1 – Introduce Your Book on Our Discussion Forum

Visit our African-American Literature Discussion Forum (better known as Thumper’s corner);

Discussion BoardOver at Thumper’s Corner we have been discussing books on-line since 1997.  This is the perfect place to post information about your book.

You can post your book’s cover, and a brief description of your book, post a link back to you website, insert a YouTube video and more.  Creating an account is simple; if you have a Facebook or Twitter account you can use those accounts to get started sharing information about your book, your work and yourself.

One of the best ways to take advantage of this platform is to post information about your book in direct response to a related post.  For example, if someone says that are looking a good children’s book.  If you’ve written a children’s book please feel free to reply with information about your book.

There is also an events calendar  You are encouraged to post your events there as well.  I actively review the discussion boards to discover information on new or interesting books, authors and events to include in my eNewsletter and for my own reading pleasure.

What Not to Do on Our Discussion Boards
Please do not post information about your book on our discussion board every single day.  Do not post information about your book in response to an unrelated conversation.  This is spam and will result in your access being terminated.  More importantly it will turn off potential readers and irritate the discussion boards moderator (read: me)

2 – Introduce Your Book on’s Facebook Fan Page: Facebook Fan Facebook’s fan page was not only created to notify “fans” about content, but it was also created to provide another platform for readers and authors/publishers to directly engage and our fans.  Authors are encouraged to introduce themselves and their work.  As with the discussion boards; I always review the Facebook fan page for information about authors and books.

I read everything that is posted on the fan page.  I visit every link and watch every video posted.  Time does not always permit me to respond to every post but I do look at everything.

What Not to Do
Again do not post information about yourself or your book every day.  Once every few months is plenty, unless you are responding to a related post or question posted on the Facebook page.

Additional What Not to Do on Facebook

  1. Do not post information about your book on someone else’s personal Facebook wall.  Use your own wall for this activity
  2.  Do not tag others on photos, comments or videos that are promotional material for your book or yourself
  3.  Do not add people to Facebook groups without their permission (invite them to join)

While Facebook allows you to do all of the above it is considered spam.   One might think it is clever, to expand their reach by posting on other Facebook friends walls, in reality this just irritates those friends.

3 – Send Us A Photo With an Branded Product

Award winning author Wahida Clark
Award winning author Wahida Clark – Send us a photo and get your “mug” on too!

This is really a very simple way to obtain free placement of  This ad appears at the bottom of every page.  These ads get hundreds of thousands of impressions a month.  Just order an mug or any branded merchandise, email a photograph of you with the produc and send us a short blurb with a link to your site.  We will setup the rest.  You can also hold a copy of your book or anything else to promote your brand.  This free advertisement will be limited to the first 10 published authors  Click here to learn more.

These Techniques are Universal

The techniques listed above (with the exception of the branded product), can be used on other discussion boards, blogs and social media.   In fact these are some of the techniques I utilize to promote

Remember not to spam other websites when posting comments or information.  Ask yourself are you moving the conversation forward or contributing in a meaningful way or are you merely engaging in shameless self promotion?

With the increase in the number of books published, I get more requests to be featured on than ever before.  As a result, the techniques described are even more valuable in an increasingly competitive environment.

For more information about getting your book on, and in general, please visit:

In 2010 more than 300,000 new books (or new editions) are published via traditional means.  If we factor in print on demand and other non-traditional titles published in 2010 that number exceeds 3 million (read more about these figures).

Google Worsens Web Experience by Retuning Poor Search Results

Please read the notes at the end of the article for important updates to this Blog post (the last note added February 20, 2013).

After the browser Google has been the best thing the Internet has seen.

I have been a fan and user of Google for more than a decade.  The biggest reason is that Google, more than any entity before it, brought order to the worldwide web. Google’s search engine enabled one to find the highest quality content, quickly, easily and without bias.

Google’s YouTube allowed me to easily publish and share videos — increasing our video viewership by 2 orders of magnitude.  Google Analytics have proven to be an invaluable tool, providing deep insight into my website’s performance.  Google’s new social network Google+ seems to have addressed many of the concerns and issues I have with Facebook and other social platforms. Over the last few years revenues from Google’s AdSense easily covered all of’s overhead. Indeed, AdSense helped make it possible for me to grow from a sideline business into my livelihood.  I could go on, but if should be clear that I love what Google has provided.

Unfortunately my love affair with Google is becoming tainted with skepticism and caution. I no longer believe Google’s near monopolistic dominance of search is in our best interest. In fact, I’m beginning to believe Google’s dominance may be to our detriment over the long term.  The primary reason for this belief is that Google no longer returns the best search results.

Sure, one could easily assert that the “best search results” are a matter of opinion.  At some level, I agree with this sentiment.  However, the example, shown below, reflects an undesirable and recent trend I’ve observed in the relative quality in the ranking of Google’s search results, that I think most reasonable people would agree with.

Google search results tend to skew more toward scandal and away from meaningful content.   

For example, run the following query for the NY Times Bestselling author; “Terry McMillan”  You’ll find the following, or similar, results.

The 3rd ranked result – Two sentences on the Huffington Post site for a page with the title; “Terry McMillan Apologizes To Smiths For Calling Kids ‘Pimped'”

Here is all the text on the page:

Just a few hours after Terry McMillan went on a Twitter rant against Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith for “pimping and exploiting” their kids Jaden and Willow, she’s issued an apology.

It seems she couldn’t take the heat. However, she does make a good point.

That is all the text on the page related to Terry McMillan.  Again, this is the 3rd highest page returned by a search on “Terry McMillan” .  The 4th ranked search result is a USA Today page for an article based upon the same tweeted message entitled “Terry McMillan: Willow and Jaden being ‘pimped and exploited’.”

The fact USA Today used Terry’s tweet as a news story is, in and of itself, astonishing (subject for another rant) .  However, couple this with the fact that Google ranks the 7 month old, USA Today article 4th for a query on “Terry McMillan” and it becomes clear that Google search algorithm is doing something other than retuning sites with the best content.

The next remaining top ten search results include brief articles; including one from entitled, “Author Terry McMillan and ex-husband Jonathan Plummer return to discuss their relationship” (Sep 28, 2010) and the sharing with us, “Terry McMillan Sues Her “Little Fag” Ex | The Smoking Gun” (Mar 22, 2007).

Websites that actually deal with Terry McMillan’s work are buried pages deep in the search results.  The page where I’ve published original video of Terry McMillan, a description of all of her books as well as links to original book reviews is the 11th ranked page.  One saving grace is that McMillan’s own website is ranked first.

Now I’m not saying that Google should not return websites containing scandalous or trivial information about someone — indeed they should.  The scandalous results should be returned to people who are clearly performing a search for that type of information.  The presumption, by Google, that someone querying “Terry McMillan” is looking for websites that provide two sentences about an inappropriate, Twitter message that Terry sent over 7 months ago is, at best, an insult to our intelligence.

Another saving grace is that the 2nd most popular search engine does not exhibit this bias toward scandal.  Compare Yahoo’s (Powered by Bing) search results with the Google search results on “Terry McMillan”.

This is just one example.  I can provide many, many more.  I’ve attempted to reach out to Google regarding this issue and have been unsuccessful.  This problem and related ones are no secret.  A great many websites are complaining about Google questionable search results.   Unfortunately for us, Google is so big and powerful they have no incentive to be responsive; despite the #1 statement of from Google’s philosophy being: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”

While competition from other search engines provide a glimmer of hope against Google completely dominating search.  Today Google is the most popular search engine.  The majority of new visitors to arrive via a Google search.  I suspect the same is true for most other websites.

I’ve also heard and read additional speculation that Google skews their query results to sites that purchase a great deal of online adverting through Google’s AdWords.  While I can not prove this; the search results shown by the example above do not rule this assertion out.

Of course it could be that web page popularity is a significant factor in Google’s search algorithm.  The sites or pages with the most traffic would tend to rank higher.   Perhaps the very popular, AOL owned, Huffington Post can exert dominance and higher page ranking simply because of it prominence.

Even if the Huffington post brought $10 million dollars in Google ads and was more frequently visited than Facebook; there is no way one can justify that a page containing two sentences (quoted above) belong in the top ten of a search result for the query string “Terry McMillan“.    That Huffington Post  page would be appropriate result for a query entered something like this: Terry McMillan Tweet Willow Jaden Smith

I fully realize I could be making things worse for myself by making these accusations against Google in a public forum.  I have first hand experience with Google shooting first and asking questions later (yet another topic for a future rant).  However, this is a very important issue that needs additional scrutiny and awareness.  We are already losing on-line sources for quality news and information because of a lack of platforms for good journalists and writers.   Now the potential for these platforms are hampered even more by having their content devalued relative to sites that promote more scandalous or otherwise less valuable and relevant information.

As large corporate entities produce, broker, promote and manufacture more scandal, and companies like Google make this information more accessible by elevating it in it’s search results; we are witnessing the Internet becoming less free while corporate interests contort the world wide web in to a entity where profit is the only motive.


  1. For the purpose of this article I ran my Google queries using Internet Explorer’s “InPrivate” viewing option.  Presumably, this returns results that are not manipulated based upon browsing history.
  2. I also made sure I was not logged into my personal Google account.  I noticed when I’m logged into Google my search results skew toward sites that I frequent.
  3. The quotes were included in the query.
  4. Following the 3 steps above will improve the likelihood that you queries will return results identical to mine.   However feedback from other indicate the no mater how you run your Google queries the results will not differ so significantly to warrant a change of the opinion expressed in this article.

Troy’s Note (20 Feb 2013)

A GREAT new (to me) search engine

  1. Each domain has only one link returned in the results. If you want multiple results from a single domain. You can click the “site search link” next to the results to get more results from that domain. No single domain dominates an entire page of results.
  2. You’ll find only one sponsored link and it is very clearly labeled. Sponsors links do not dominate the most prominent area of the search results page. Visitors get answers not commercials.
  3. If you want Wikipedia results just type !w at the end of your query and you will be taken directly to Wikipedia. These “bang” queries are available for other popular sites !a for Amazon !g for Google (which is really more of a eCommerce site than a search engine), etc.
  4. Official websites are list listed first and denoted as being his “Official Site”.
  5. This should have been listed 1st, DuckDuckGo does NOT track you rsearches. Read this: (it is brilliant).  No lame excuses (lies) explaining that your searches are tracked to bring you better search results or better advertisements.

Returning good search results quickly is very difficult but looks like it is up for the challenge and is able to do so with any observable bias in it results.  The results do not skew toward big corporations, or scandalous content  — I’m actually excited about this new search engine!

Try a query on Terry McMillan now!

Troy’s Note (26 Jan 2012): I just watched 60 Minutes on CNBC which validated my observations below.  60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl, after running a Google search on the term “60 Minutes”, asked Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt why the results skewed negative.  Eric said they had no way of distinguishing the popular favorable results from the popular negative results.  That response, not mincing words, is bullshit.  Google had no problem doing it in the past and Microsoft’s Bing search engine accomplishes this today.

Troy’s Note (4 Dec 2011): I was really motivated to do something about the issues described in this article.  I decided to create a customized and curated search engine, by taking advantage of Google’s, fee based, Site Search.  The result is Huria Search:   (Huria Search Terry McMillan to see the difference)

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