Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How to find the page rank of your website

The ‘pagerank’ of a website is a mysterious number between zero and ten used by google and others to decide how far up their search results to put your website. It is obviously an important number. If you have a book or an e-book and want people to find out about it, a google search is probably where they will start, and it’s no bloomin’ good if your website/blog is right at the bottom of the last page of results.

So, what does ‘pagerank’ mean, how is it calculated and how can I find out what mine is? Taking the last question first, there is a useful resource here: http://www.vampirestat.com/. Just type in the URL of your website and it tells you a whole bunch of useful information, including your pagerank. Here’s what happened when I entered www.rshelton.org:


First out, check the unique visitors and daily page views. Looking at the ‘Stats’ for my blog (design/stats in blogger), the pageviews figure of 56 a day seems about right. But the pagerank figure of just ONE is a bit disappointing, given that the maximum possible is TEN. However it doesn’t seem to impact too badly. If I enter ‘Bokassa's Last Apostle’ into a google search the secreen is full of links to posts on my blog. Even entering ‘Rod Shelton’ provides a hit to my blog on the first page of results. However those searches assume the person doing the searching knows what he or she wants to find in the first place. Enter ‘gay novel’ and you would have to go a very long way down the results to find a reference if any to my book. I don’t suppose there is anything I can do about that.

Then there are the 206 ‘google indexed pages’. I don’t have 206 published pages, and so I can’t get my head around this statistic. However it clearly is of importance. Google doesn’t just go through the entire world wide web every time I do a search to retrieve the results. It would be far too costly and take way too long. No, programs called ‘spiders’ are patiently crawling around the web in server farms all over the place quietly indexing the internet. Once they find a new website they decide whether it would be of interest and, well, ‘index’ it. Then they come back later and index any pages which that website links to. Google uses the index to generate search results. Eventually the spider creates a pagerank for the website according to the likelihood that a user blindly clicking on links on other webpages would land on your website. This is the pagerank and it determines how far up the list of results your website will be.

The key thing here is that it is the links to your page that are used to determine the pagerank. A link from another website to your page is called a ‘backlink’ and the search I did on vampirestat reveals that there is just ONE google backlink to my site. What website is that backlink on? Can I find out? The answer is ‘yes’. All you need do is type ‘link:www.yourwebsite.com’ into a google search and hit return. This yielded the unsurprising result that the one backlink to my site was from my publisher, paradise press, whose website has a pagerank of three. The Paradise Press website in turn has two backlinks, from websites with pageranks of four and five. And this is the other part of the pagerank equation: the pagerank for your website is weighted by the pagerank of the sites which link to it. Paradise Press has more backlinks from higher ranked sites and consequently a better pagerank than mine.

Now I’m not going to stress too much about this, although many people spend a lot of time and energy trying to improve the pagerank of their websites. This is the fabled ‘search engine optimisation’ or SEO we hear so much about. The simple message is that the more links to your website, the better your pagerank ought to be. But it is, as always, not quite as simple as it sounds. If others are using any means fair or foul to improve their pagerank, so google and others are also working just as industriously to make sure their searches give users the information they want, not links to sites with artificially inflated pageranks and no useful content. Reading around the subject, ill-informed efforts at SEO can backfire, leading to poorer, not better pagerank.

Take my backlink from Paradise Press for example. I have linked to Paradise Press from the outset, yet there is no backlink from my blog to Paradise Press credited by Google. However I did go to http://www.alexa.com/ where I found out that one of the ‘alexa backlinks’ to my site is from Bristol Gay Men’s Book Club, which DOES have a link from my site. Theoretically, reciprocal website links should work in this way, helping BOTH websites’ pagerank. Note though that the link from the Bristol Gay Men’s Book Club to my site hasn’t generated a google backlink, just an alexa one. Given the efforts being made to manipulate the system, Google and others are understandably loth to share the detail of how they index and rank pages, keeping the SEO companies guessing. So … anyone wanting to link to my page is very welcome to do so, and I will return the favour. We all have scratchy backs!

PS: I found some blogger widgets to display the pagerank on your blogspot blog here: http://www.getrank.org/google-pagerank-display-widget-for-blogger/, although I’ll have to think long and hard about whether I want to advertise my own paltry pagerank of ONE.

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/nelp845

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A milestone, of sorts ... ?

A surge of interest in my blog today turned up a peculiar milestone: 666 unique visitors from BOTH the US and UK:

How peculiar is that?
tinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/l5ytsuz

Treehouse Press

Back in November 2011 I was at the London literary salon ‘Polari’ to see if fellow Paradise Press author Timothy Graves would win the ‘Polari First Fiction Prize’ for which his book Homo Jihad had been shortlisted that year. In the end James Mayfair won with Auto Fellatio and I’m sitting on my hands trying to avoid making any cheap cracks about the title so hard they’re losing circulation! NB Polari the Literary Salon should not be confused with Polari the online queer journal.

As part of the evening’s entertainment there was an appearance by Shaun Levin, the founding editor of the now sadly defunct London-based queer literary magazine Chroma. He was giving a very entertaining talk about ‘how one becomes a top/daddie’. But the reason for this post is that in his introduction, the host, the wonderful Paul Burston, mentioned that Shaun had started his own indie press. Following the unfortunate demise of Gay Men’s Press any news of another queer imprint being born is good news. One of my intentions in this blog is to list and describe gay publishers, bookshops, writers etc., so I duly took note. This is my first post on this subject.

Finding Shaun Levin and his press online wasn’t hard, despite a spelling mistake in the notes I made at the time. The press is called ‘Treehouse Press’ www.treehousepress.co.uk. (Careful to distinguish it from www.treehousepress.com, www.thetreehousepress.co.uk, www.treehousepressinc.com, www.treehousepublishinggroup.com and no doubt many others!)

Looking at their website, Treehouse Press have eight publications to their name at the time of writing. I don’t want to get into the politics of labelling things as ‘gay’ or ‘queer’, but it was noticeable that Treehouse Press doesn’t make a big thing about publishing gay books. In fact of their eight titles just two are identified as ‘gay’ (and one of those was about queer women, for which I found the ‘gay’ label misleading). From the website I gather that Shaun Levin has a day job teaching creative writing and so I suppose it came as no surprise, or at least was understandable, that two of their titles are anthologies of writing arising from courses I presume he taught. More of a surprise was the absence of a ‘gay’ label for Shaun Levin’s own book, Snapshots of the Boy, a collection of ‘sixteen short lyrical pieces’. In fact almost the entire output of Treehouse Press consists of collections of one sort or another. The only title which was a single piece of extended work was a graphic novel by a lesbian writer and again it was labelled as ‘gay’ rather than ‘lesbian’ on their website’s homepage.

Treehouse Press’s website doesn’t have a ‘submissions’ link, which I suppose reflects their slow trickle of titles, but I would have thought they would be fairly easily tracked down via the Treehouse Press facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/treehousepressuk.

For the record, here is a list of their publications to date:


Snapshots of the Boy (1 Nov 2009) by Shaun Levin. Thirty-two pages including 16 photographs. Each photo has a ‘short lyrical piece drawing meaning and memories … from the author’s childhood in South Africa and adolescence in Israel’.


The Joshua Tales (27 Sept 2009, 64pp) is a sequence of poems by Andra Simons.


Words Made Flesh (20 Nov 2010, 206pp) comprises twenty-one short stories and novel extracts from participants in the ‘Complete Creative Writing Course’.


The Hex Artist (25 Oct 2011, 60pp) by Lou Dellaguzo is the winner of a ‘three-in-one Chapbook contest’ organised by Treehouse Press and promises three great gay love stories.


Lost Souls (14 Sept 2011, 56pp) by Becky Mayhew is a collection of three short stories about three different women.


Zakkum (15 Aug 2011, 54pp) by Beldan Sezen is a graphic murder mystery with a glimpse of gay life in Istanbul. The interview with the author identifies her as a queer woman.


Writers in the Crowd (30 Jul 2013) is an anthology of writing by those participating in the ‘Write around town’ courses. The Treehouse Press website says this is the first in an annual series. Doing a bit more digging I discover the second anthology is planned to be called Writers in the Crowd II and that there is a course running from 19 October to 7 December this year (2013), which would suggest a publication date in 2014.


Things that have Happened (20 Nov 2012, 70pp) is a collection of stories by five different authors.

Treehouse Press’s facebook page says that Belden Sezen has another title: Snapshots of a Girl in progress.

TinyURL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/oeeh64l

Thursday, 3 October 2013

The OTHER Paradise Presses

I must have too much time on my hands, because in an idle moment I googled ‘Paradise Press’. To my astonishment, it turned up a multitude of hits including EIGHTEEN OTHER PARADISE PRESSES. The first one was my publisher, ‘Paradise Press UK’ www.paradisepress.org.uk. So nothing too much to worry about, and a quiet pat on the back for having got our SEO about right. But I did think it would be fun to see what all the other Paradise Pressses out there are up to:



www.bohemianparadisepress.com is a new venture. The founder hails from Bohemia in the Czech Republic, which explains the name!
So far their website offers just one e-book (Nennen Sie mich Ausländer, cover extreme left below) which is planned to be translated into Spanish and Russian. They also have plans to release a collection of short stories by the same author, another collection of shorts by the Spanish Jesus Ricardo Felix Rodrigez and a collection of poetry by Josef Straker. The website does not make it clear whether any these new titles will be e-books or physical books.


Their website lists six collaborators in Germany, Spain and LA.




www.paradisepressprinting.com turns out to be a printer in Clearwater, Florida.



The next search result was www.susanking.info/Paradise_Press/home.html This website turned out to be harder to understand. The owner, Susan King, has a limited edition book of her artwork, a paper sculpture and a subscription to a series of postcards on sale. From this photo of her paper sculpture, she is clearly a very talented graphic artist:
She also offers mentoring at $150 a day for aspiring artists. She says she established a ‘Paradise Press’ in LA but is vague about the date. Reading between the lines, this must have been before the 1990s. Here: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awrbc4/literary_works.html I found a reference to two books: Women and Cars (1983) and Georgia (1981) both published by ‘Paradise Press’, Los Angeles.

 
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