Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Marketing During a Pandemic

We authors are perfectly content sitting in our favorite comfy chairs, wearing our furry bunny slippers, with a cup of coffee nearby, and pecking away on our laptops all day. If truth be told, the pandemic has provided us with a socially acceptable reason to be socially distant.

But, if we want to sell books, we must market them. Marketing is the most challenging and odious aspect of being an author, doubly so during a pandemic or economic recession, triply so--is triply a word?--because, unless our last name is Patterson or Baldacci, most of us can’t afford to hire an agent or distributor.

Without our usual in-person book signings, tours, and festivals, we must rely on Amazon to sell books and keep our publishers happy. And as my publisher, Jeanne Johansen of High Tide Publications, knows, I live to make her heart sing. “Cha-ching” is her favorite song. So, she has been holding Zoom workshops with her authors to help us understand the confusing world of branding, metadata and search engine optimization. Oh my!

I’ve learned that my brand is Cindy L. Freeman, my author name. The key is to use that name consistently in my online presence: website, Facebook page, blog spot, Amazon bio and wherever my name appears on the internet. Okay, that’s not so hard to understand, but metadata is another story. Yikes!

According to the dictionary, “metadata is data that describes other data, as in describing the origin, structure, or characteristics of computer files, web pages, databases, or other digital resources.” Yawn! More simply put--for those of us with more simple minds--it is data about data. I’ll have to trust Jeanne on that one. But now I think I understand how to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to market my books.

Whenever I learn something new--rather, when something finally sinks in--I get excited and have to share. So, here goes. For each of our books, Jeanne challenged us to come up with multiple keywords. Keywords are words that are most frequently typed into Amazon’s search engine by readers looking for books like ours. For fiction, these words might relate to genre, topic, and character type. For nonfiction, they might identify a problem, solution, and audience.

So, my novel, Unrevealed, might come up in an Amazon search if someone entered any of these words or combinations: fiction, intrigue, romance, mystery, secret, heiress, business woman, lost sibling, powerful father, or family conflict. The goal is to optimize the chances of this happening.

My novel, The Dark Room, could be tagged with any of these keywords: fiction, family dynamics, child abuse, domestic abuse, hidden child, abuser, abused women, abused children, dysfunctional family, power and control and others.

Possible keywords for my novel, I Want to Go Home, include but are not limited to: fiction, homelessness, kids alone, teenager, brothers, protector, homeless kids, child protection, homeless shelters, etc. You get the idea.

So, how do authors ensure that our books pop up in searches? We must use the keywords often in our book descriptions, blog posts, websites, and social media posts. In this way we maximize the number of visitors and potential instances of our books being tagged. Okay, as long as I don't have to take off my bunny slippers, I think I can do that.

Wish me luck!

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Best Medicine

“Laughter is the best medicine.” The origin of this quote goes back to Proverbs 17:22 in the Old Testament which says, “A joyful heart is good medicine” or literally “...causes good healing.” It’s true. Scientists have studied the physical benefits of a good laugh and found that laughing can actually strengthen the immune system and promote healing of diseases. There’s even a name for the science of laughter. Gelotology is the term coined in the 1960s by Dr. William F. Fry, a psychiatrist from Stanford University, California. According to Fry, laughter produces chemicals (endorphins) in the body that relieve stress and enhance physical and mental health.

Throughout the four months in which COVID-19 has ravaged the earth, many of us have shared jokes and comic strips with each other via text, email and social media as a way to ease the stress of isolation and quell the worry about ourselves, our loved ones, and our world. At this writing, more than 120,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus, and while there are areas of our country where the spread of this terribly contagious disease seems to be leveling off, cases are spiking in other areas. That’s no laughing matter, especially to those who are ill or have lost loved ones or watched in helplessness as patients in their care died of the disease.

The second part of that quote from Proverbs is “But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” I’m convinced it is the loss of hope that causes a spirit to break. When someone’s spirit is broken, it cannot be restored by reading a joke or taking a laughter pill. To one who has lost hope, laughter is empty and mocking. To one who is hopeless, people who make jokes seem insensitive and devoid of empathy.

People who are brokenhearted and broken-spirited need time to grieve. Trying to cajole them out of their sadness, trying to make them laugh when they need a good cry serves only to stall their healing. If we encounter someone on a window ledge contemplating suicide, do we tell them a joke? Of course not! Instead, we attempt to offer them a glimmer of hope. Once we have talked them off the ledge, we must allow them time to grieve, time to deal with the cause of their despair. We need to assure them that even in their darkest hour, there is hope, that life is worth living. They might require professional help, but they also need a reminder of God’s faithful promise in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So, let’s take another look at King Solomon’s proverb. It doesn’t actually say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Rather it says, “A joyful heart causes good healing.” Yes, laughter promotes the release of healing chemicals. Yes, laughter is good for us, but we can’t expect those whose hearts are broken by suffering and hopelessness to feel like laughing again until first they have walked through the dark valley and shed cleansing tears of grief.

During this pandemic, it’s important to remind each other that our sovereign God loves us and wants to hear us laugh again. When we place our trust in the God of the universe, God infuses our fear and sadness with comfort, comfort that we can share with others. When we feel weak and anxious, God gives us His strength and replaces our hopelessness with joy...if we remember to call on Him...yes, joy even amid problems, disappointments, and seemingly impossible circumstances. Only God can give us a joyful spirit amid tragedy, sustaining our hope until we can laugh again.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Her books are available through or