Tag Archives: Social Media

Social Media Etiquette-Manners Matter

Social Media EtiquetteToday I am going to talk to you about something that you may, or may not, have already had to deal with—social media etiquette. As a writer who is either already in the public arena, or who wishes to be, social media etiquette is going to be extremely important.

Why social media etiquette matters…

I’m sure you’ve heard of branding in relationship to being an author, but this goes even further. Social media etiquette is important because how your fans, and the general public, see you is most likely going to equate to clicks and hopefully sales. If you’re like me, then it grates a little  to know that you may need to censor yourself, even mildly, in order to keep the masses happy. But here’s the thing—it’s not censoring yourself I am advocating here, it all boils down to being nice.

Be you, but be the nicest you possible…  

How to be nice in the age of controversy…

Here are five tips, and why they are necessary in today’s age of controversy:

  1. Be open to honest and constructive conversation. If you have to talk about controversial things, do it, but avoid talking down to people.
  2. Speak about specific persons, events, or statistics. Try your best not to  assume that one specific incident is true of an entire people group. ex. Not all cops racially profile. Also don’t talk negatively about entire populations; a racial group, a group of readers, a state, a community, just don’t do it. They tend to raise arms when that happens.
  3. Reciprocate. If someone follows you or shares/retweets you, at least with a thank you. A smiley face. Something. People remember when you are polite. They also remember when you are not.
  4. Be yourself. Swear. Use funny gifs. Tell ridiculous stories. Be you. But be the politest you you can be.
  5. Remember, the internet is forever. Let me say it again for those in the back. THE INTERNET IS FOREVER, and someone somewhere, screenshotted that awful thing you wish you could take back. So just to avoid it altogether, don’t say the awful thing.
A cautionary tale…

So now that I’ve given you the tips I live by, let me tell you why I feel this is so timely. I’m going to try and do my best not to name names. Not that long ago a very famous author said something on twitter that made me see red. Why? Because in a glib tweet she put down and mocked an entire state, and then I sat and watched her twitter blow up. I even shared her tweet on my author page as an example of how not to handle social media.

People who loved her writing told her they would never read her books again. They unfollowed her. Some tried to explain how wrong she was. But here is the thing, the whole twitter storm could have been avoided simply by not posting a tweet mocking an entire state. And this is only the latest incident in the past year of huge name authors saying things that have left their fans gasping with disbelief.

Learn from other’s mistakes…

Here’s the takeaway. The impact on this huge name author won’t be

long term. She has been around long enough that one twitter storm won’t harm her name or reputation, but an up and coming author? This could mean the black mark publishers won’t touch. As readers get more and more comfortable with contacting their favorite authors, they also get more comfortable judging them. And if you are judged to be a not nice person, it could ruin your career.

So please, as you start your writing career, or even if you are halfway through one, keep social media etiquette in mind before you post to twitter or facebook. Once it’s out there, it can’t be taken back, not completely.

We love to hear from our readers. How do you handle social media etiquette? Do you have any personal rules?

 

Sheri Williams is an author who laughs in the face of genre. She always knew she would be a romance author one day, until she found the macabre that lives in her heart and her brain. Equally as comfortable in her own imagination as she is in the real world, she finds inspiration everywhere. Her stories range from light to dark, then very dark, but always with a touch of romance.

Sheri is a wife and a mom, which bring her great joy. She is also a geek and an avid Netflix binger, which also brings great joy. She always has multiple projects on her plate and if you want to stay up to date, be sure to sign up for the newsletter on her website. You can also follow her author page on fb, on twitter, pinterest and Google+

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Top 10 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Author Ethics (With Taylor Swift & Zombie References!)

Writers today have dreams of instant success and fame!

And because the idea of easy publishing is so tempting, we rush into it with  no idea what we should do to promote ourselves.

Often our goal is just to gain any advantage we can in an increasingly competitive market. We may feel “creativity” in marketing trumps courteous behavior. We may suggest trading reviews with another author, not realizing this behavior could weaken our credibility. We may be so distracted by the elusive promise of financial success that we neglect to nurture our art. Or we may attach our pursuit of fame so tightly to our own identities that we can’t tolerate criticism in public forums.

We may champion “truth” in the words that we write, through gritty characters and accurate descriptions, yet cover up our own discrepancies, create false identities or fabricate falsehoods to gain advantage in this industry.

But we may be pursuing fame and fortune at the cost of ethics.

Ask yourself the following 10 questions and test and see how ethical you are as an author.

 Top 10 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Author Ethics

1. Have you ever used the words “best-selling” to describe your own books, when what you mean is that of all the books stored in your closet, Your Guide To Amish Zombie Princesses, really has generated the most sales?

2. Have you claimed that you sold thousands of copies, when really you sold 556 and you just rounded up?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors do not promote books by making false statements about them. Ethical authors do not lie about position on bestseller lists or consent to anyone else promoting them in a misleading manner.

3. Have you ever made up an endorsement for the back of the book, like say, “Taylor Swift called, ‘Your Guide To  Amish Zombie Princesses’ the inspiration for her next album, coming out in 2016″? When the closest you got to Taylor Swift was when you accidentally changed your Pandora station from Muzak to ubiquitous pop tunes?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: If you engage in any practices that have the effect of misleading your readers/buyers of my books, then you’re behaving unprofessionally.

Badge, Ethical Author, ALLi
This is the badge for ALLi’s Ethical Author campaign. Feel free to put it on your blog if you want to remind yourself and others about good author ethics.

4.  Have you ever been so upset over a negative review about your book online, that you called your mother and asked her to change it?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors should never react to any book review by harassing the reviewer or getting someone else to harass the reviewer. Ethical authors would never intrude on a reviewer’s privacy or condone a personal attack. If you do, you’re not just unprofessional, you’re also creepy.

5. Have you ever gone online under a pseudonym, say, Mary Jane Smith, and posed as a raving fan of Your Guide To Fighting Off Amish Zombie Princesses, just so you could boost sales and generate buzz and possibly get the attention of Taylor Swift?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors should never hide behind an alias to boost sales or damage sales of another person. They should also not hide behind aliases to hurt another’s reputation. Pen names should be used for good, not evil. If you do this, you’re not just unprofessional, you’re also a coward.

6. Have you ever attacked other authors in the Amish Zombie Princess genre, just so that your book will look better? That’s impressive if you have because there are, thousands, you know?

 You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: If you do not behave with courtesy toward readers, other authors, reviewers and industry professionals, then you are making us all look bad. If you air grievances or complaints in the press or online, then you’re behaving unprofessionally, possibly immaturely and come off as a whiner. Just don’t.

No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind. – Taylor Swift

7. Do you approach other authors privately, making deals to reciprocate positive reviews so that you look better? Do you ever reward someone, like say, promising them they’ll meet Taylor Swift next week at your house for pizza night, if they give you a five star review?

  You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Ethical authors should always be transparent about any reciprocal reviewing arrangements. Better still, they should avoid them altogether just so people won’t raise an eyebrow. This review by your author friend really isn’t worth it.

8. Have you ever taken the work of others, say, Dan Brown’s How To Fight Off Mennonite Undead Queens,  and then tweaked it just a little to pass it off as your own?

  You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why: Plagiarism is bad, bad news. Don’t do it. Passing someone else’s works as your own is a sure fire way to lose years of credibility and a good reputation. Cutting and pasting is always easier, it is never, ever better.

9. Have you been accurate and fair in your finances? Or have you manipulated your numbers so that you aren’t taxed by all that income that Your Guide To Fighting Off Amish Zombie Princesses has made in 2014?

You have? Then you may not be an ethical author. This is why:  Everyone needs to report income, pay taxes and keep good records. We know you got into writing so that you didn’t have to do math. If it’s really that hard for you, hire an accountant. This is the law, follow it.

All kidding aside. Each one of these ‘questions’ were exaggerated to prove a point. Is is possible, and sadly very common, to slip into dishonorable and unethical behaviors for the sake of a sale. 

Top 10 Things Writers Do Wrong On Twitter

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

 You’ve written a book!

You’ve followed all the great advice! You’ve got your Facebook page and your blog set up and your Twitter account is up and running! You’re doing everything right, or at least you think you are.  The Facebook likes are trickling in, you get a few hits on your blog and then there’s Twitter. You have few followers. You have few RTs. You aren’t making a lot of sales.

No one has seen your awesomeness.  Ever thought about why?

You COULD be making some serious mistakes that are pushing people away.

 I know, it’s hard to believe, especially since it seems like so many writers are out there. They do these same things, don’t they? Doesn’t it work for them?

Top 10 Things Writers Do Wrong On Twitter by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute NovelistThe truth is, it doesn’t.

Here are ten common mistakes I see on a daily basis, what these mistakes really say to the world and what you should do about them.

1. You may have a boring bio.  What does this tell the world? “I wrote a BOOK! But there’s not much more to me than that!” If your bio has nothing but the title of your book, or the publisher or the release date or the name of your awards, you’re boring us to tears. Your bio is not your resume, it’s your handshake and smile to the world. Instead make your bio approachable. Use nouns that describe your whole life, not just your writing life, put in something that sparks readers’ curiosity about who you are. What will an interesting, human and approachable bio tell the world? That you’re an interesting and approachable human and you’re worth following. 

2. You may plug your book ad nauseum. What does this tell the world? “I know how to schedule tweets!!!”  Instead, tweet about what interests you, ask questions of others, and crack a joke or two. Develop relationships. As people learn to love you, then they’ll buy your book. Is this the hard and slow way? Of course it is, but if you do it right, you’ll have a reader for life. What will authentic interaction tell the world? That you’re an interesting and approachable human and you’re worth following. 

BIRDS

3. You may make no effort to follow other people who share your interests. What does this tell the world? “I’m looking for customers!” Instead, follow real people who have similar passions. Me? I like homeschooling mothers of five, writers, readers, people who say something funny in their bios and former running cowards. It’s from this group that you will start your conversations, make friends and perhaps gain long term readers!  What will these followers think about you? That you’re an interesting and approachable human and you’re worth . . . wait a minute! Do you see a pattern here? 

4. You don’t make lists. Okay, so the world doesn’t know or care that you don’t make lists to keep you followers organized. But you should. By the time your followers are in the thousands, you should at least have a few dozen folks that you like to check regularly. If you have to go through your feed just to find the photo they took of their dinner then you’re doing it wrong. Create lists: some for the BFFs, some for agents & publishers, some for those celebrities you love, and some for people who make you laugh. Then, check out other people’s lists and follow the folks on it. Lists can be very specialized and if you dig around, you can find a whole crop of people who share interests with you. 

5. You don’t participate in chats or memes. The world also  ambivalent about your chat and meme activity too. But what I’ve found is that both are great ways to meet people. I’ve gained followers, and more importantly, started conversations, with new people because of my engagement in chats and memes. My favorites? #MondayBlogs meme and #10MinNovelists chat on Thursday nights at 9PMEDT. The purpose of social media is to be social!  Chats and memes are easy fun ways to do that. 

Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A Day

6. You don’t use apps other than Twitter. How does the world feel about this?Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are superior than Twitter when it comes to scheduling tweets, organizing lists and following memes and chats. If you’re going to get serious about your Twitter usage, then you need to play with the same toys the social media experts use. 

7. You forget to proofread. What does this say to the world? You have got to be kidding me.  Look everybody can have a goof now and then. But if you have consistently bad spelling and grammar, no one will take you seriously. This is especially important in your bio. This is triply important if you call yourself a writer. Or, as I actually saw someone put in their bio,  “I’m a writter of romance.” Just do a quick read before you hit send. You never know who –such as editors, publishers, and agents — is reading your tweets. 

8. You send auto DMs. What does the world think about this? I’ve asked all seven billion people on this planet personally and this is what they think: “Auto DMs are a scourge from the mouth of hell. Anyone who thinks auto DMs are a good idea should have their little toenails ripped off. Auto DMs make you look spammy, needy, and robotic, even cute auto DMs.  Auto DMs should only be limited to needy robots who eat SPAM. DON’T SEND THEM!” So, what I’m trying to say is that they are ineffective and annoying. I never, ever read my auto DMs. If I didn’t have so much to do, I’d unfollow everyone who sent me one. 

BIRDS

9. You ask for favors right off the bat. “Hi, Thanks for following me, can you like my Facebook page?” “How about RT my blog post?” “How about signing up for my newsletter.” NO. A thousand times no. This is the wrong way to nurture relationships, build a tribe and have long lasting success.  What does the world think? This person has no interest in giving, just taking. Your followers may feel like you’re just using them.

10. You use True Twit Validation services. What does this say to the world? “I think I’m so awesome that I want to inconvenience you with another step to take to find out how awesome I am!” Listen, we’re all going to get spammers and weirdos. These services just make people roll their eyes. I really, really think it’s the social media equivalent of offering to shake my hand and then insisting that I put rubber gloves on first. NO. Just remove this nonsense please and be real? Is that too much to ask? 

These are the top ten mistakes I see writers on Twitter commit over and over again.

What mistakes have you seen writers make? What do you think of them?

Top 10 Reasons To Treat Twitter Like A Big Cocktail Party by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Imagine yourself in a packed football stadium — one of the big ones like Gillette or Lucas Oil. Now imagine that every one in attendance at that stadium is shouting at the same time.

BIRDS

They aren’t shouting to players on the field, they’re not even watching the game, instead, they are trying to get the attention of the people on the other side of the stadium. Everyone in the stadium, including you, wants attention from others. Everyone wants to be known as clever. They want subscribers or followers or friends or likes. Everyone in the stadium wants the attention of everyone else in the stadium. This isn’t a great way to communicate. It’s chaotic, disorganized and discouraging.

Twitter can be like that for authors.

Yet, authors often hear stories of how books are sold, tribes have increased, and deals are made. Somehow Twitter works for those who know how to work it.

But if all you do on Twitter is shout into the crowd with no plan, no target and no order, you’ll probably come away disappointed.

BIRDS

Perhaps we should think of Twitter as a cocktail party instead.

Top 10 Reasons To Treat Twitter Like A Big Cocktail Party by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

If you go to a cocktail party, your purpose is not ever to shout. Instead, you extend your hand, make small talk, find common interests, and exchange information with the guests there. Everyone has the same purpose — to get attention — but a party is more relaxed. You can be yourself. You can take your time. A cocktail party is a manageable way to start relationships because it’s based in conversation, not shouting.

These nine tips can help you make Twitter less of a shouting match and more of a party.

BIRDS

If you follow these tips, you’ll start conversations, you’ll build relationships and eventually you’ll build your tribe.

1. Target specific types of people, not just other writers.  Other writers should not be your first market for selling your book. Instead, you should be looking for readers that meet your specific criteria. You know who you are looking for based on your genre, your setting, your themes, and characters. Take the time to think about your book and seek out readers who identify with certain aspects of it.

2. Ask questions of people you meet, don’t just say, “buy my book! It’s $.99!” Only blast tweets about their books.  If you are using Twitter as a an advertising medium, you are going to be disappointed. With the vast number of tweets every day, your message of “my Amish Zombie Princess romance is $.99” will get lost in the crowd. Questions, however, engage people who potentially could learn to love you.

3. Think long term. No social media platform guarantees instant success. To maximize the benefits of Twitter, you need to have a long term vision. Set a goal of following 50+ people a day. Schedule your blog post or “look at me” tweets but use the rest of your day to engage your followers and ask questions. You will see results if you commit to this daily, engage others and save the hard sell for something else.

4. Ask questions constantly and don’t overthink it. As you read people’s bios, ask them about their pets, their hometowns or who won last night’s game. You are going to have to get over yourself you are insecure or self conscious. Don’t waste this opportunity thinking “this sounds stupid” or “no one will respond”. Twitter moves so fast, that even if you do sound stupid, you can always tweet something else. Lighten up, ask questions and take chances.

5. Write an interesting noun-filled bio. At a cocktail party, you’re introduced with nouns, “Chip is an agent!” or “She’s a new mother!” or “He’s a marathoner!” The best nouns connect us to our jobs, roles, interesting hobbies and big dreams. It’s these nouns that will identify you to others and start conversations. Your bio should be a warm, friendly, specific introduction, not a CV or resume.

6. Search out relevant chats. There are dozens of chats on Twitter weekly. (My favorite? #10MinNovelists, every Thursday 9 PM EDT) Engage in one of them! You are likely to meet people in your target market who can encourage you. We all need community. We need encouragement, professional opinions and connections. I have meet dozens, if not hundreds of writers (my target market). Even if these writers never buy my books, I’m learning from them.  My writing life is all the richer for it.

7. Use hashtags appropriately. Hashtags are shortcuts to conversations. I’m the first person to volunteer to use one as a punchline, (#likethis #duh) but the purpose is to find common threads or topics quickly.  Your target market has its own set of hashtags. Find them! The people who use them are the people who may buy your book. The effort research is worth it.

8. Don’t treat Twitter like Facebook. It’s a waste of time to scroll through your Twitter feed to “catch up”. Twitter is so fast, that there is no need to go to where your 1200 followers left off yesterday and see what everyone had to say. Instead, create a list of your favorites or closest friends and check on them a couple of times a day. Use Hootsuite to track the threads of important hashtags. Find what’s trending and jump in the conversation, if you can’t catch up, don’t worry about it. Just go forward.

9. Make lists. Twitter allows for you to make lists to organize your followers. Use them. This will save time. Lists are also a great place to find more followers in your target market. And it’s perfectly fine to find followers from others’ lists — in fact if you may be able to find the lists created by others who share your target market (your competitors!) Take advantage of this: new connections are ripe for the taking.

10. Don’t get in a rush! Relationships take time. If you are antsy to make a sale, gain a reader or get a follower, it will show. And rushing relationships is a big turn off. Cocktail parties are meant to be relaxing — hence the cocktails. So pour yourself another glass, raise it high and toast to the beauty of good conversations through Twitter.

I love Twitter. I love its speed and its flexibility. I love that if I have an off week and don’t keep up with my tweets, I can pick up where I left off.

I love that writers everywhere are learning how to use it well. I love that most of my online connections have come through Twitter. But Twitter won’t work for you if you don’t know how to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses. So put away the football jersey and megaphone and slip into the little black dress.

Join the Twitter cocktail party, engage with others and have fun!


Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant more tips on how to make Twitter work for you? CONQUERING TWITTER in 10 MINUTES DAY is available for pre-order! Specifically written for authors, this book will help you think about yourself, your brand, your books, and your goals on Twitter, create great questions to ask and organize your time in such a way that you can get the most out of every tweet.

Available for $.99! 


Making Your Author Platform Work for You — A Guest Post by Rachelle M. N. Shaw

By Rachelle M. N. Shaw

In such a highly competitive world of publishing, it’s no surprise that author platforms have taken center stage and become the foundation for any writer’s success.

But who has time to keep up with all the Tweets, Pins, and Instagram posts needed to do so? The truth is, successful authors don’t. They pick the top few social media sites that fit their style and their audience, and they roll with it.

By Making Your Author Platform Work for You --

What an Author Platform Should Do

  • Provide original content fitting of your audience through a well-designed blog or website
  • Become a place where you regularly engage with your followers; this doesn’t mean you sit back and let autoreply do all the work
  • Teach readers about yourself or your writing process
  • Allow readers to connect with you and follow you on various social media
  • Build your credibility as an author
  • Act as a landing site for media and for readers seeking events that you’re hosting; it’s a good idea to include a press release, a bio, and a professional photograph of yourself in at least one place
  • Tastefully link to your books, including where to buy them

Keep in mind that even though your platform is about you as an author, its main focus should always be on your readers and what you can provide them.

Think of it as a job interview—you want to show off your skills while marketing yourself as a prime candidate for the position.

What an Author Platform Shouldn’t Do

  • Spam readers with promotions for other authors—if you want a creative way to spotlight other authors on your website or blog, try author interviews; they’re a fun and easy way to build connections
  • Contain nothing but reblogs from other sites (it’s okay to share some of these too, but the majority of your posts should be ORIGINAL content)
  • Use completely automated responses
  • Be information based only (readers need a way to connect with you personally; a newsletter or blog is a great way to achieve this)
  • Ignore rules regarding grammar, punctuation, and spelling—this will sink your credibility faster than a one-star review
  • Feature a bathroom photo of yourself or one you took while out drinking with your buddies
  • Spam readers with promotional content for your own books (keep it to a minimum with a blurb or tagline and links for buying your books; you can also put your information about your books on a separate, clearly marked page)

Choosing Social Media that Is Right for You

The most important thing to sort out when it comes to choosing which social media you want to use is which ones will cater best to your audience. For me, though I write both YA fiction and general nonfiction about the craft of writing, the age for my target audience for the two overlaps the most for readers between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine. For that reason, sites like WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are my main areas of reach. However, six social media sites still proved to be too many to invest my time in. So I opted to keep things simple and to go with the sites that worked best for me in terms of audience and comfort level: the blog on my website (a WordPress substitute that actually works better since it leads followers directly to my own website), Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Through active engagement and regular original content, I’ve been able to build a relationship with my readers on those sites, and my author platform has grown because of it.

The secret to building a successful author platform is this: you don’t have to reach every virtual corner of the Internet to do so.

You just need to delve into those media where you’re mostly likely to reach your target audience and provide them with solid content that they can’t resist.


Rachelle M. N. ShawAn avid reader who has an incurable need to research everything she comes across, Rachelle is an author of paranormal, horror, and writing craft books. Since scribbling down her first story at the age of eight, her love for language and books has blossomed into a full-time career. She currently works as an independent editor and author while being a stay-at-home mom to her children and two rather persnickety cats. When she’s not baking cupcakes or playing in the snow, you can catch her blogging, tweeting, or plotting her next series. Her e-book, The Eyes That Moved, was released in May 2015. It is the first in her three-part paranormal horror series The Porcelain Souls. Part two is slated for release in the spring of 2016.

Rachelle also has two solo short stories and the first in a four-book series about the craft of writing fiction in the works. 

Website: http://rachellemnshaw.com/  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rmnsediting 

Tumblr: http://fmtpextended.tumblr.com/ 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/rmnsauthor/ 

 Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Rachelle-M.-N.-Shaw/e/B00X8D3LSY/

Top 10 Things To Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As A Jane Austen Heroine Chose A Husband

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a good story must be in want of a publisher.

It’s the age old story. You have so many hopes and dreams. You have all these wonderful stories to tell. You know that it will take an attachment, a proposal and perhaps a big commitment to make you moderately rich and a teensy bit famous. So you, the perfect Lizzie Bennet, who will only writes for love, not necessarily £10,000 a year, will be happy just to attach yourself with a publisher who respects you.

Fortunately for you, your access to publishers on the internet is an inviting a prospect as a town full of regimental soldiers to a 16-yearold girl. But if you don’t have a benefactor such as the much lauded Lady Catherine de Burgh, or your family’s connections are little more than a barrister uncle in Cheapside, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own.

Never fear. This list will give you some guidance.

Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As  Jane Austen Heroine Choose A Husband

Top 10 Things to Consider When Choosing A Publisher With The Same Care As Jane Austen Heroine Choose A Husband

 

  1. You’ll attract folks like you. If you want the best, then be the best.  Before you start looking for a publisher, make your story the best it can be. I know, you’ve been working on it for a long time and it really is good. It’s not silly like Lydia or Kitty’s, and it’s not quite as good as Jane’s (but she’s being courted by the Big Six.) Your first responsibility as a writer is to write well. Take your time. Learn from the greats. If you are going to take your writing seriously and you want to attract publishers who take writing seriously, then push yourself to the most excellent level. If you want to make a fast buck, then you’ll attract publishers who want to do the same. Don’t know where to get advice? Start with hanging out at my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, which was named by Writers Digest as one of the top 101 sites for writers for advice. 

 

"That is enough, child. Let the other ladies have a chance to EXHIBIT!"
“That is enough, child. Let the other ladies have a chance to EXHIBIT!”

2. Get the right kind of feedback from those knowledgeable in the industry. They will push you to excellence and the right connections. Your story is level headed. It  has a liveliness to it,  it’s been tempered by your exposure to great literature and you’ve been told, more than once, that it has “fine eyes.” But the best advice will come from critique groups, beta readers, editors or experienced writers who know the business and can honestly show you where to improve. You need to listen to them and improve your story in the very best way you can. You also never know who knows who. It does pay to be connected. I recommend Scribophile as a great resource. 10 Minute Novelists has a group there. Check them out. Ask for Sara Marschand. She’s awesome!

3. You understand your own goals for publication. Some writers have Rosings Park ambitions. Some will be content with Longbourne. (Forget Purvis Lodge. The attics there are dreadful!) If you don’t know what you want, then it will make choosing a publisher all the more difficult. This is what I did: I tried to find books, both fiction and non-fiction, that were similar to mine in content. I looked at who published them and who represented them. I asked myself if I wanted my books to be lumped together with these kinds of books. If I did, then it was from this list of publishers and agents that I would do research. If I didn’t, then I kept looking until I found books that were a better match. Writer’s Market is a great resource for writer willing to do the research. Get the book! 

Oh, Mr. Collins! You are such a charmer!
Oh, Mr. Collins! You are such a charmer!

4. You have a full understanding that an entire industry has been created to take advantage of desperate authors. And along comes your first contact with a publisher. He is tall, dark, handsome (okay maybe not in reality, but go with me, this is fun!) He is a mercenary. He may not be interested in art. He may not be interested in your long term goals. He may just want to cash in from your hard work. Legitimate publishers, who have good reputations, are, in this current economic climate, not likely to initiate relationships with writers. They don’t have to. They’re turning manuscripts away constantly.  It’s the less than trustworthy who are Googling authors and trying to sign anyone. Anyone. What to do? Go to Preditors and Editors and look for the names of reputable and notorious publishers, agents and editors. This is like Consumer Reports for writers. You’ll be really glad this site warned you about that Wickham!

5. If the publisher that contacted you is a start-up with few past authors, you need to be careful.  This should be a red flag. If you are their first client, or one of the first, it’s not likely that they have the credentials or the power or the skills to make you famous or even sold. Get names of anyone associated with them and send a few emails. Ask this, “I understand you worked with Wickham House for your book on gambling. Was that a positive experience for you?

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6. You should get a third party to look over a contract or legal document. If this potential publisher wants you to sign something, it is in your best interest to ask a lot of questions. Find a lawyer that specializes in contracts, or ask an agent to look something over for you. You don’t have to sign with an agent to sign a contract, but if you should be fully informed in what you’re signing. This is not one of those moments when I agree to the terms and conditions should be your knee-jerk reaction. And if your potential publisher doesn’t have a contract to sign, that means they’re depending on verbal agreements. This should be a red flag for you. A reputable publisher will be happy to provide you a contract, make adjustments, be patient with you while you get someone to look over it, and calm your nerves.

7.Make sure that they have professional editors working for them. Get names. Ask for specifics. Just because they say they’ll handle the editing, doesn’t mean that they will. You would hate it if your ARC was full of spelling and punctuation errors. It would be as embarrassing as having your petticoat six inches deep in mud. Need to find an editor? This is a list of reputable editors who would be happy to help you prepare your manuscript for publication. Check them out. 

8. Make sure that they have professional graphic designers working for them. Ask what happens if you don’t like the cover. Ask other authors if they liked their covers. Ask for them to show you all of the covers that they have been responsible for in the past. If you don’t like what you see, you may want to rethink this relationship.

9. Know the difference between a self-publishing house, an indie house and a vanity press. More importantly know what kind of publishing house you are working with. Check out this article that explains what a vanity press is and why you sign up with on, you just may regret it. 

Jane: "Oh Lizzie! The deepest love! And  . . . I can totally see up your nose!"
Jane: “Oh Lizzie! The deepest love! And . . . I can totally see up your nose!”

10. Don’t be desperate. Beginning writers think that having the word “published author” is like a halo of legitimacy. In some ways it is, but waiting to get published with a reputable, trustworthy publisher is far better than rushing into a relationship that you’ll want to get out of in a few months. Take your time. Do your homework. Someday I’ll use your book to teach your ten children how to play their instruments very ill.

Because you want so badly to be published, you’re not much different from the sad situation that all young women of the Regency Era were in.

You want to be published! That’s been the goal all along! Your mother has four other writers in the house who need to marry well because if they don’t the estate will be entailed away to Harper Collins! (Oops, sorry. I got carried away!) But trust me, you don’t to sign up with the first soldier that comes along. 

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 12.02.15 PM

You do have choices. While being published is a great accomplishment, it’s not the only opportunity for writers. So before you sign, take the time to really get to know your publisher and do your research.

And your ending will be a happy one.

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Enjoying The Cocktail Party: How To Use Twitter to Engage Your Target Market by Katharine Grubb

Imagine yourself in a packed football stadium — one of the big ones like Gillette or Lucas Oil. Now imagine that every one in attendance at that stadium is shouting at the same time.

BIRDS

They aren’t shouting to players on the field, they’re not even watching the game, instead, they are trying to get the attention of the people on the other side of the stadium. Everyone in the stadium, including you, wants attention from others. Everyone wants to be known as clever. They want subscribers or followers or friends or likes. Everyone in the stadium wants the attention of everyone else in the stadium. This isn’t a great way to communicate. It’s chaotic, disorganized and discouraging.

Twitter can be like that for authors.

Yet, authors often hear stories of how books are sold, tribes have increased, and deals are made. Somehow Twitter works for those who know how to work it.

But if all you do on Twitter is shout into the crowd with no plan, no target and no order, you’ll probably come away disappointed.

BIRDS

Perhaps we should think of Twitter as a cocktail party instead.

If you go to a cocktail party, your purpose is not ever to shout. Instead, you extend your hand, make small talk, find common interests, and exchange information with the guests there. Everyone has the same purpose — to get attention — but a party is more relaxed. You can be yourself. You can take your time. A cocktail party is a manageable way to start relationships because it’s based in conversation, not shouting.

These nine tips can help you make Twitter less of a shouting match and more of a party.

BIRDS

If you follow these tips, you’ll start conversations, you’ll build relationships and eventually you’ll build your tribe.

1. Target specific types of people, not just other writers.  Other writers should not be your first market for selling your book. Instead, you should be looking for readers that meet your specific criteria. You know who you are looking for based on your genre, your setting, your themes, and characters. Take the time to think about your book and seek out readers who identify with certain aspects of it.

2. Ask questions of people you meet, don’t just say, “buy my book! It’s $.99!” Only blast tweets about their books.  If you are using Twitter as a an advertising medium, you are going to be disappointed. With the vast number of tweets every day, your message of “my Amish Zombie Princess romance is $.99” will get lost in the crowd. Questions, however, engage people who potentially could learn to love you.

3. Think long term. No social media platform guarantees instant success. To maximize the benefits of Twitter, you need to have a long term vision. Set a goal of following 50+ people a day. Schedule your blog post or “look at me” tweets but use the rest of your day to engage your followers and ask questions. You will see results if you commit to this daily, engage others and save the hard sell for something else.

4. Ask questions constantly and don’t overthink it. As you read people’s bios, ask them about their pets, their hometowns or who won last night’s game. You are going to have to get over yourself you are insecure or self conscious. Don’t waste this opportunity thinking “this sounds stupid” or “no one will respond”. Twitter moves so fast, that even if you do sound stupid, you can always tweet something else. Lighten up, ask questions and take chances.

5. Write an interesting noun-filled bio. At a cocktail party, you’re introduced with nouns, “Chip is an agent!” or “She’s a new mother!” or “He’s a marathoner!” The best nouns connect us to our jobs, roles, interesting hobbies and big dreams. It’s these nouns that will identify you to others and start conversations. Your bio should be a warm, friendly, specific introduction, not a CV or resume.

6. Search out relevant chats. There are dozens of chats on Twitter weekly. (My favorite? #10MinNovelists, every Thursday 9 PM EDT) Engage in one of them! You are likely to meet people in your target market who can encourage you. We all need community. We need encouragement, professional opinions and connections. I have meet dozens, if not hundreds of writers (my target market). Even if these writers never buy my books, I’m learning from them.  My writing life is all the richer for it.

7. Use hashtags appropriately. Hashtags are shortcuts to conversations. I’m the first person to volunteer to use one as a punchline, (#likethis #duh) but the purpose is to find common threads or topics quickly.  Your target market has its own set of hashtags. Find them! The people who use them are the people who may buy your book. The effort research is worth it.

8. Don’t treat Twitter like Facebook. It’s a waste of time to scroll through your Twitter feed to “catch up”. Twitter is so fast, that there is no need to go to where your 1200 followers left off yesterday and see what everyone had to say. Instead, create a list of your favorites or closest friends and check on them a couple of times a day. Use Hootsuite to track the threads of important hashtags. Find what’s trending and jump in the conversation, if you can’t catch up, don’t worry about it. Just go forward.

9. Make lists. Twitter allows for you to make lists to organize your followers. Use them. This will save time. Lists are also a great place to find more followers in your target market. And it’s perfectly fine to find followers from others’ lists — in fact if you may be able to find the lists created by others who share your target market (your competitors!) Take advantage of this: new connections are ripe for the taking.

I love Twitter. I love its speed and its flexibility. I love that if I have an off week and don’t keep up with my tweets, I can pick up where I left off.

I love that writers everywhere are learning how to use it well. I love that most of my online connections have come through Twitter. But Twitter won’t work for you if you don’t know how to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses. So put away the football jersey and megaphone and slip into the little black dress.

Join the Twitter cocktail party, engage with others and have fun!


Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant more tips on how to make Twitter work for you? CONQUERING TWITTER in 10 MINUTES DAY is available for pre-order! Specifically written for authors, this book will help you think about yourself, your brand, your books, and your goals on Twitter, create great questions to ask and organize your time in such a way that you can get the most out of every tweet.

Available for $.99! 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

The Book Launch Checklist To Make Your Next Release Awesome!

Congratulations!

You have a new book to sell! 

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb
I do too! I have Soulless Creatures coming out August 15. Click the image to pre-order your Kindle ebook!

Are you doing everything you can to promote it? 

Some of these points are no-brainers, like have a great cover. Some, though, are optional, like having a live release party at your local coffee shop. All of them will require YOU to look at YOUR book and YOUR needs and decide what YOU can do.

I’m also going to assume that your starting point is AFTER your book has been written, rewritten, revised, edited and proofread to death. If you don’t have a quality product, please, please, please, go back and make it one. You aren’t respecting yourself, your art, your readers and the other writers around you if you’re sloppy and unprofessional.

 Pick a release date. Ideally this is six months away. The more time you allow yourself, the more you can accomplish before the big day. You can compare this to a wedding. Sure, you can get married two weeks from now, but if you want your wedding to be memorable and involve more people, you need more time to plan.

 Buy your domain name. Do it while you can before anyone else takes it. You’ve got time to either design your website yourself (like I did) or hire someone to design it for you.

Sign up for a couple of social media platforms if you haven’t already. Pick 2-3 and only pick ones that you really love or drawn to. Start acquiring followers every day. Need to know how to do this with Twitter? I have a book! Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A Day! 

Consider your target market.  Who is your ideal reader? What do they value? Where do they hang out? Find those places! These could be forums, blogs, websites, Twitter chats, groups, podcasts. Make a point of visiting and contributing to as many as you have time for. Don’t mention your book yet. Just engage with others, start conversations, participate in games or memes, leave blog comments, etc. This is how you can build your tribe up for the release. You really should attend to this item on your list daily.

 Hire your graphic designer for your quality book cover. Do NOT go cheap unless the person you are working with has a great reputation. I blogged about what makes a great cover here.

Format your book for ebook and for paperback. You can do this yourself or you can hire it done. If you hire it done, you want the person to have plenty of time to get it done before your release date.

 Ask your designer to help you design business cards. You can get them to match the design of your website, which makes you look all branded and stuff. Or you can get bookmarks and business cards with your new releases title on it. You want this ready before the release.

Buy business cards from Moo
These are my business cards. I designed them myself and then bought them from Moo.com

Start thinking locally. If you haven’t introduced yourself to your local librarian, DO IT! They will be your BFFS. If they know that you have a release coming out, they may be able to help you promote it. Tell them well in advance of your plans so they can carve you into their calendar.

Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!
Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!

On a map of your region, draw a circle with your home in the middle. Make that circle as big as you are willing to travel. Mine? An hour. Then, list all the town in that circle. Under each town heading, research libraries, indie bookstores, consignment stores, gift shops, ANYTHING that could potentially sell or promote your book. You could easily have 100 places. Then make a phone call a day. Say, “I’m a local author. My book, “BLAH” is coming out in a few months. Is there a way that you and I could work together? I’d love to meet some of your clients/customers/patrons and introduce them to my work.” Make notes. Return calls. Go see these people.

Plan your pricing. Are you going to have the ebook run for free for a few days? Keep it .99? There are a lot of different ways to look at it. Pros and cons to both strategies. Once you make your decision, contact those FB groups and sites that advertise free or .99 books.

Other ideas:

 

1) Have a LIVE party at a local coffee shop and invite all your friends.
2) Have a giveaway on Goodreads (of which you will Tweet daily and mention on ‪#‎AuthorHappiness‬ day!)
3) Go back to all those podcasts and blogs you’ve been stalking for months and ask if you can be a guest blogger or interviewee. The worst they can say is no.

One month before your release, GATHER YOUR STREET TEAM. This is a group of people that are crazy in love with you and will help you. Have them read your book for free, then leave reviews, then promote it THEIR WAY either word of mouth or various internet magic, then reward them with free copies to give away or Skype chats or gift cards or something. Gently remind them on release day that that’s the BIG DAY and that’s when you need the reviews up and the promotions released.

Now, those are the FREE ways to have a good release. I know about those because I’ve never had the funds to pay up. I’m sure you could fork over hundreds of dollars to get someone to do this work for you. It’s going to cost you one way or another — money or time. Any more ideas?

The most passionate force behind your book is you! So put a smile on your face, get ready to do the research, make the phone calls and ask! You never know who can help you until you do. 


 

I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb available now
Click the image to order your copy!

Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing.

Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, <em>The Rallying Cry, </em> will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing. <em>The Rallying Cry </em> will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

 The Rallying Cry  will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

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13 Top Twitter Tips For Newbies By Katharine Grubb

Congratulations! You have a Twitter account!

You were told to get a Twitter account to help promote your books. So you did. 

How Can I Make TWitter Work For Me?

What do you do now?

So you’ve set up your Twitter account and you have a lot of questions on how it’s supposed to work. This quick primer will give you a few tips to get you on your way. Before long, you’ll be RT-ing, hashtagging, and DMing your little heart out.

1. Expect Twitter To Work Differently.

Don’t expect it to work like Facebook. It’s a different animal altogether. Facebook is like having a big meal at Applebee’s with your buddies from high school, your college roommates and your parents. Twitter is like going to a sold out professional football game in Gillette Stadium and trying having a conversation with the people next to you, while yelling at the guy on the other side cheering for the other team.

2. Know The Lingo

You only get 140 characters  in a Tweet. This boundary is a great thing! You wordy folks will learn how to cut sentences! This is a great skill for a writer! Being precise and pithy.

 You will “follow” people. Unlike Facebook, you can follow strangers. Most of the time people will follow you back. This is a game of reciprocity. You can’t be expected to be a media sensation if you don’t find people to follow.

An RT is a ReTweet. That means that someone took your tweet and tweeted it again because they wanted all of their followers to see it.

What Is An RT? How Do I Get More Followers?
A screen shot of what happened to me on Twitter the day I wrote this post.

3. Write An Interesting Bio

Your Twitter bio is how you introduce yourself to the world. It’s your handshake. It is NOT your resumé. Whatever you write in your bio should be a reflection of your brand. It should enhance you, not bore us to tears. You want your brand, and subsequently your bio, to attract others, not be a sales pitch.  I suggest NOT putting in the titles of your books, awards or agent’s name. Instead fill it with nouns that show how diverse you are. “Poodle lover. Vegan cook. Mom of 7. Crochet enthusiast. Neurosurgeon.” This is a much better picture than “Award winning author of THE VAUGE BIO, a YA adventure to be released in 2015”. In other words, think about something that would get others to ask you questions.  Social media is all about relationships and conversations are the first steps in developing them.

My bio is this: “Mommy, homeschooler, indie author, baker, comedian wanna be & former running coward who writes in very small increments.” Guess what has happened with this bio? PEOPLE ASK ME QUESTIONS! They ask me either what it means to be a former running coward or my personal favorite, “how do you write anything in 10 minutes?”

How Can I Use Twitter As A Writer?

4. Find People To Follow

If you are a writer (and if you’re not, what are you doing here?) then follow people who could be potential readers. Follow people who fall into your target market. If you write romance, you want to find women of specific educations and age range. If you write legal thrillers, you might want to follow men in their 40s or older. You find them by finding accounts they follow. For example, if my target market is moms of toddlers, then I need to go to products that these moms use: Pampers, Gymboree, Graco and then follow every real person. More than likely they will follow me back and my numbers get bigger.

5. Follow New People Every Day

Sadly, just because we have a great bio and can write great one-liners, it doesn’t mean the world will flock to us. We have to go find the world and get their attention. In less than ten minutes a day, you can follow 20-50 people. As you do, your Twitter followers will grow.  After you figure out who you are, seek out one group one day, say, Conservatives in your home state. Then the next day seek followers of Anne Lamott (an entirely different group of people) then the next day seek out people in your profession, make sense?

6. Post Something 3-4 Times a Day.

This is where you can be yourself. Share a line of poetry, crack a joke, make an observation about the lady at the coffee shop who looks just like Michael Jackson. What I love about Twitter is that it’s the perfect place for every little thought that comes in my head. Be yourself, talk about music, your favorite foods, the funny thing your kid said or anything else. People will respond to you.

What kind of things should I tweet about?
Two tweets I posted around the time I wrote this post.

7. Post Links That Others Will Find Useful

It is through shared links that community can really be built. Did you read a great article about how crochet helps neurosurgeon patients recover from their side effects? Retweet it! But make sure the headline is readable, use a service to shorten the URL. It’s likely your followers, who have similar interests, will RT this and you’ll be the hero. Your success on social media depends on how willing you are to be generous.

This is from Twitter help page and can show you how to shorten links.

8. Retweet (RT) The Contributions of Others

In ten minutes, you can skim over your twitter feed and find interesting links others have shared. RT these. Retweets can start conversations and make you look like a hero.

How can I RT others on Twitter?
On Hootsuite, I can see that my friend @mistileemurphy RTed my tweet about our Facebook group!

9. Create Lists To Keep Track Of Your Favorite People

After a point, you can’t go through your Twitter feed fast enough to keep up with the world’s brilliance. Instead of worrying about it, create lists for your favorites, your celebrities, your closest friends or anyone else who you don’t want to miss. It’s from your favs list that you should do the most of your RT-ing. This, if worked consistently, can be a core part of your tribe.

10.  Ask Questions

Instead of telling us your favorite kind of music, ask your followers what they’re listening to. (For the record, it’s The Cure.)  Twitter is a great place to have conversations and asking questions is the perfect way to start them.  Also, if you’re researching stuff for your WIP, ask your Twitter friends, Google is great and all, but it won’t lead you to your next BFF. I had a lot of success with research questions. It helped that my book took place in 1986. I wanted song titles and types of cars and what people wore.  Not only did I get the answers I needed, but I walked down memory lane a little and confessed to being a very big band nerd.

11. Don’t Hard Sell!

Twitter is a social medium NOT a sales medium. If you are only saying things like: “Buy my romance! Now 99 cents!” then you will push away far more people than you will engage. Also, don’t use things like Twit Validations services, don’t do “approval” where people have to wait on you, don’t send automatic DMs!!!! All of those things make you less and less interesting to others. Instead? Be real. Be generous. Mention your books graciously and organically.

12. Plan Your Twitter Around Your Life.

You can’t be on it ALL the time. Use Hootsuite to plan your regular tweets, favorite links, your blog post and recipes. When you’re live, read your lists, then RT and favorite your closest buddies. (Having a Twitter app on your phone is perfect for this! Use all your down time to find out what trending and RT a few things!)
What is Hootsuite?

13. Have Fun!

I believe that the best tweets are also spontaneous. I think that if we write and rewrite our tweets we’re missing the point. I think if we are unsure, feel like it has to be perfect, are overly concerned with grammar or spelling (within reason) then you’re missing out on the vibrant, fast-paced environment that is Twitter. Back to our stadium metaphor: if you’re standing in Gillette Stadium with 70000 NFL fans, you’re not overly concerned with manners.  The bottom line here is FUN. If this stresses you out, don’t do it! Your social media presence is not dependent on this one thing.


Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant to conquer Twitter, but you don’t have the time?

This downloadable workbook will show you how to create a long-term Twitter presence. This workbook approaches your Twitter activity in three parts: your set-up, your strategy and your system. This book is not a guarantee of success. But what it will provide for you, is an orderly, thoughtful process in your brand, your biography, your target market, and your future tweets. Throughout the sections, exercises are provided to help you think about yourself, your brand, your books and your goals on Twitter. This book was originally intended for authors who want to use Twitter to build their tribe of readers, but the principles of it are universal. Anyone with an interest in using Twitter as a marketing tool would find this book useful. Download. 29 pages. Available here for $4.99

#Top10Tuesday Top 10 Ways to Market Your Book on a Budget

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I met Janice Thompson in 2014 at the MacGregor Literary Marketing Conference. Besides being a delightfully encouraging person, she also knows a lot about marketing books. Because she’s published over 100 titles, her Top 10 Ways to Market Your Book On A Budget is full of practical help. Enjoy! And then support Janice and buy her books!

1). Market first. Create a full marketing strategy in your proposal. Include every bit of contact information you can think of: local TV and radio stations, civic groups (or other places where you can speak/teach), bloggers who might be interested in promoting your book, online chat classes and so on. Put together a spreadsheet of your sales and/or potential books. Publishers see you as a pro if you come in completely prepared.

2). Market to your brand: Add your tagline to your email, along with your latest book title. “Love, Laughter and Happily Ever Afters” is mine. Make sure your business cards, headshot, tagline, etc. all match. Be consistent. (My former pastor used to say, “We want to be a people who finish well.”)

3). Market to your team. Once published, market to your sales team before anyone else, even before the book comes out. Form a small marketing coop of three authors. You could agree to promote each other works by committing to a certain number of tweets, Facebook announcements, etc.

Top Ten Ways  to Market Your Book on a Budget

4). Market according to your schedule. Pre-schedule FB posts but do it on FB (not hootsuite, etc.) Look for your peak times. The key is to engage the reader AFTER the post goes up. When you see them “liking” a post, chime in with a comment. Same with blog. Schedule posts in advance according to your book’s release date. (Old posts can be relevant, too, even if they didn’t get many hits. Go back (work in reverse) updating your blog posts to add keywords.

5). Market to your neighborhood: Become a big fish in a small pond. Go local. Always do press releases to your local paper (and/or college alumni papers). Keep your press kit handy. Things to include: business cards, speaking topics, interview questions, endorsements, community service sheet (your involvement in the community as it relates to your book/topic). Thank online bookstore owners for carrying your book. When you do a local book-signing, take something special for the shop owner.

6). Market with your mouth: (Along the same lines as marketing to your neighborhood) Become a public speaker. Speak before signing books. (I always sell far more books when I have an opportunity to speak first.) Target local groups that no one would think of: the DAR, library, ABWA, Rotary, Lions, Historical Foundations, Knights of Columbus, Girl/Boy Scouts, Bible study groups, seniors’ groups at church, parenting groups, MOPS, public schools, Christian schools, (With my novel Hurricane I spoke to 7th graders at a Christian school. They all read the story in advance.) Remember to include homeschool groups, CE courses at the local junior college, retirement communities and reading groups.

7). Market in blitz fashion: Hit hard and fast on the week of the book’s release. Create your own one week blast blog tour, all reviews landing on amazon within seven days. Get friends to tweet for you. Put out teasers from your book. Pose questions related to the theme of that book, etc. Set books for free. Offer specials: one for $10/three for $25. Create a personal note on Youtube announcing the book (not a book trailer, but a personal note.) Make sure amazon reviews land hard and fast when the book releases.

Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life
Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life

8). Market Ties. (Not the kind you wear around your neck.) Tie your book to a hot topic (or TV show) and keyword/hash tag the two. (My books are often tied to  Dancing with the Stars of other big-named shows.) Tie to other things you’re known for. For me, it’s cakes, so I did 30 Days of Cakes (for Icing on the Cake). I Love Lucy for The Icing on the Cake. (Every single book of mine is linked to a famous actor/actress/TV show…something.) Also use your endorsements to tie to heroes and/or people of interest. (Shoot high and look for big endorsements: Dr. Neil Frank, former head of the National Hurricane Center endorsed my book Hurricane.)

9). Market with articles. Write corresponding articles on the theme of your book. Publish them on other people’s blogs (or in magazines) and link to your book. When I first started writing wedding books I wrote wedding planning articles on the Examiner. Take the time to write articles for online magazines and well as traditional magazines. They may not always pay, but when they agree to include your bio and information about your latest release, it represents some good exposure, but without the advertising fees.

10). Market for long-term relationships. (Think Jerry Macguire: the mission statement) Send your teaser/blurbs to key players on your dream team. Foster a sense of community and seek long-term (genuine) reader relationships.

Janice Hanna ThompsonJanice has published over 100 books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more. She particularly enjoys writing light-hearted, comedic tales because she enjoys making readers laugh. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. When she’s not busy writing or playing with her eight grandchildren, Janice can be found in the kitchen, baking specialty cakes and cookies for friends and loved ones.

 

Nine Things I’ve Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn’t Know Last Year

Marketing is the self-discovered path of relational choices in which we meet the right people who will happily exchange something they value for something we've created.

I am not a marketing expert. 

I am, however, an informed consumer and reluctant buyer of stuff. I am not easily impressed. I don’t follow trends, I am only impressed with designer labels when I see them at my local thrift store. I also come from a family of manipulators so if anyone has a BS detector, I do. You would think that I would have negative feelings about marketing.

You’d be wrong.

I LOVE IT!

I love it because it’s not what I thought it was. I thought that if I am going to sell, then I have to be annoying to buyers. If I’m going to sell, then I have to cajole, manipulate, and lie. If I am going to sell, then I  have to yell from the rooftops the name of my book to get attention. I have to tweet constantly, I have to send auto DMs (you guys know how I feel about auto DMs) and I have to spend a lot of money, buy ad space, get onto every single social media platform, harass local bookstores, blah blah blah.
Nine Things I've Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn't Know Last Year

Nine Things I’ve Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn’t Know Last Year

No one successfully markets the same way. The path is self-discovered. You can’t market the way I do and expect the same results. Every marketing plan should be individualized for the author and the book.
Good marketing is about relationships. I’m reading To Sell is Human  by Daniel Pink and he goes into specific detail about the importance of this.
Good marketing still follows the foundational principles of finding buyers. You have to find the right people who will love your product. I recommend Amanda Luedeke’s book The Extroverted Writer for suggestions on how to do this.
Marketing is about exchange, and this doesn’t always mean money. Think about big bloggers, like Flylady or Pioneer Woman. You can receive from them a LOT of information without ever giving them a dime, right? What are you giving them? A brand. A household name. A reputation. And when they write the next book, they cash in on this exchange. Who will line up to buy the next cookbook from The Pioneer Woman? EVERYONE IN THE WORLD!
Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life
Magical Marketing: Marketing Is Life
 A marketing plan is a living organism that can grow, stretch, reproduce and shrink. I found this truth to be freeing. Instead of being obsessed with my to-do list, I should have a plan, but then enjoy the ride it takes me on. Sometimes the best connections are the most random, most unpredictable and most scary!
 
A marketing plan must measure results.  I’m not great with analyzing data, but it’s a must. Track what works. Make changes if it doesn’t. A successful plan is one that has a 30% return. Only THIRTY PERCENT! That means that 70% of the time, your plan won’t work. Do it anyway.
A marketing plan makes the most of the author’s strengths. Some of us are great at Twitter. Some of us don’t have a good voice for radio. Some of us are afraid that our big hair will overpower any television set. That’s fine. Figure out what you can do and do it!
A marketing plan Is deliberate and thoughtful, not impulsive. Which means that TIME needs to be invested in creating it and then implementing it. My personal plan starts locally with libraries, bookstores and coffee shops. Then I’m expanding to Google searches with a few key words in my target market. I can’t assume that one blog post or one tweet is all I need to be successful.
A good marketing plan is useless unless the book is EXCELLENT.  If you are offering a slipshod product with no editing and bad artwork you are insulting writers everywhere. You are attacking the dignity of this art. You’re telling the world that you disrespect your readers and yourself. Do us all a favor and get it right first.
What can I control?
The gorgeous table I set up at a local event. I succeeded in everything I could control, yet I only sold one book.

Five More Things I’ve Learned About Book Marketing That I Didn’t Know Last Year

Marketing is not some set of hoops that we have to jump through.

Marketing is not a cause and effect scientific formula.

Marketing is not a list of dos and don’ts (except for the auto-DMs one!)

Marketing is not a for sale sign, or balloons tied to used cars, knocking on doors or cold calls.

Marketing is about figuring out WHO YOU ARE and HOW YOUR BOOK RELATES TO YOUR READERS. Good marketing takes thought, organization and humility. 

What do you think? What have you learned recently about marketing? How has this changed how you market?

How A Box of Knock-Off Grape Nuts Taught Me About Relevance

We buy the cheap stuff.  One purchase, a box of store brand Grape Nuts, was not only good for our budget, but it also taught me humility.

What lesson did your box of breakfast cereal teach you today?

The back of our store brand, knock-off Grape Nuts had a large graphic illustration explaining, “The Internet and How It Works.” My children and I read every word (and I totally regret in the telling of this story that I didn’t get a good enough photograph so you could see all of its glory.) It went on to explain such unfamiliar terms as “email” and “emoticons” and “HTML”.

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 12.43.18 PM

We mocked this. We mocked it over and over.

What was the most fun, however was seeing my 12 year old son hold his head and shake in mirth. It was hilarious. “I didn’t know this!” He wiped the tears away. I could understand his perplexity. He was born as a result of his parents meeting on America Online back when they had to explain email to people.

We asked ourselves. Just how old is this box of cereal anyway?

 Does Market Basket sell boxes from 1994?  Where’s the nutritional pyramid or the advocations of a cartoon animal wearing clothes encouraging us to get exercise and eat right? Why this? Was it a marketing department’s modern solution to the prize at the bottom of the box? (Kids love the Internets!) Have you been to a Market Basket lately? They’re not exactly bastions of modernity.)

But then I realized that maybe the problem wasn’t the cereal box, maybe the problem was us.

How A Box of Knock-Off Grape Nuts Taught Me About Relevance

Then it hit me. The Market Basket people think we’re 70. Who else buys Grape Nuts? Most families like us buy either brand name sugar cereal or designer organic gluten free vegan pops from Whole Foods. Who buys generic grape nuts?  The retired?  People who may have a keen interest in fiber? People who don’t get on the Internet!

“How Do I Educate My Senior Parents About The Internet? Maybe I Should Buy Them Cereal.”

I get it now. The poor misunderstood designers of this cereal box are trying to educate the generation of people who neither need the internet nor care about it. They’re trying to make changes. They’re trying to get my parents to jump on Twitter. (#itwillneverhappen)

I wondered if future boxes would explain Tumblr or the necessity of Google+? Would the fake Cheerios tell us how to monetize Goodreads? Puffed rice would instruct us when the best time of day to pin stuff on Pinterest?

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 12.43.33 PM

The back of cereal boxes could, be, if we really wanted to stretch it, kind of Wikipedia for the older set.

 They could get more information on important topics, like How Not To Alienate Your Adult Children and  You Lived Mad Men, You Don’t Need To Watch It.  Put This Box Aside And Talk To Your Spouse of Forty Years; You Never Know, One of You Could Be Dead Tomorrow.

What I thought was just a dumb idea, was in fact a brilliant one.

The designers of this box are  trying to tap into a untapped audience. Instead of mocking them, I should be following their example.

“What’s next? Instructions for my Smart Phone On The Back of TV Guide?”

Just because it’s relevant to me, doesn’t mean it’s relevant to others.

 I put a lot of thought into Twitter on a daily basis. I blog. (Obviously) Social media/the Internets is always at the front of my mind. When I crawl out of my cave to talk to people in real life, sometimes I wonder why they haven’t interviewed writers in New Zealand or chatted with a BFF in the UK. What are they missing? Apparently, there are a lot of people who have happy, fulfilled lives without ever writing a tweet. I need to appreciate this. Not scratch my head in bafflement.

Just because it’s irrelevant to me, doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant to others.

 I don’t need to know exactly how the internet works (We all know it’s the LOLCats running in little treadmills.) But I suppose that there are plenty of people out there who really don’t know and want to know. Who really don’t know what it means when I say I DMed my friend in Ohio or am charging my Macbook Air or got repinned for the 800th time on that cake recipe and yet nothing on my writing stuff. If you read the back of a cereal box (which probably has more staying power than a copy of Reader’s Digest) to understand these things, then great! This is unintrusive. You don’t look stupid by asking your grandchildren. You are empowered just a little more. Instead of thumbing my nose at it, I should be applauding.

The creators of this appear to have figured out where to go to meet the needs of their core consumer. Am I thinking so outside of the box? (Or rather, on the back side of it?)

My apologies to you, Market Basket, for your daring public service on the back of your cereal box.

 Let’s hope that an entire generation of seniors (or at least Grape Nuts lovers) have their world expanded because of the happy wink. 🙂

What has your breakfast cereal taught you lately? What lessons have you learned lately about relevance? So, do you like Cheerios better or Frosted Flakes?

#Top10Tuesday Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting

You wrote a book!  You once conceived an idea, which seemed like fun at the time.  You've seen it through to the end!

The writing of the book, was the pregnancy. You conceived the idea in a romantic, intimate moment.

You developed it secretly in the dark. You wrote while stuffing your face with all kinds of snacks. You tried to explain your characters and your plot to others and they just didn’t understand. And the length of the ms got bigger and bigger. And you wondered will I ever get this done? Will I be waiting for the arrival forever? 

And the big day comes!

You get your little bundle of joy from Createspace or some other expert labor and delivery establishment! You count all of the pages to make sure that it is all there!  You think that your book is the most beautiful and the most amazing thing that was ever created! And you tell all your friends! You post it on Facebook! There has never been a book before this book! No one will be a better author than you!

And then the novelty is over.

The well wishers have bought their copies. You realize that you’re the one up all night with the little buggar. You second guess yourself, are you the best marketer you could be? Amazon Kindle sales are nice but the reviews aren’t as complete as you’d like. The sales are only trickles. You thought that perhaps something significant would happen now, something bigger? The blues come on you and you don’t know what to do. One star reviews smell like dirty diapers. Rejection letters are the mean toddlers who throw sand on the play date. And then there’s that other author close to you who says, “I would never do that to my book! What are you thinking? What kind of an author are you?”

This metaphor can go on forever. 

Just like parenting, we often don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to marketing our books. Just like parenting, we read good advice and we try it, but it doesn’t always work for us. Just like parenting, we have great aspirations, but sometimes we get caught up in our own inadequacies and our own faults. Sometimes the frustration of knowing what is best for us is overwhelming.

Like parenting, if we are going to market our books, we kind of have to figure it out as we go. 

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting

1. A good parent does what they can when they can. You don’t fill out college applications the day after coming home from the hospital. A good marketer understands that there are seasons for their book, look at the process in the long term and gives themselves grace.

2. A good parent has low expectations. A first time author should have them too. I haven’t  met a mother of a toddler yet that  didn’t. If you’re a first time author, understand that you won’t sell thousands of books. That’s okay. You’ve got your future ahead of you.

3. A good parent attends to the basics automatically. For a parent, that means having baby fed, washed, nurtured and well rested. For an author, that means having the manuscript well-written, well-edited, well-covered, and accessible to readers on the most basic of platforms, like Kindle direct. As your platform and skill set grows, your accomplishments will too.

4. A good parent doesn’t compare their kid or their style to another parent’s child or style. A good book marketer doesn’t either. What works well for your friend’s book, Amish Zombie Princesses won’t work for your book, Lint Art for the Lonely.  Like parenting, our marketing journey is a personal one and we have to choose what’s best for us and not judge others’ choices.

5. A good parent knows parenting is a game of inches. Children don’t master good manners in one lesson. It takes years. Authors who market should understand this too. A first book gains a few readers, the next book gains more. This game — parenting and marketing — is not for the impatient.

6. A good parent uses their community. Who hasn’t asked a friend, neighbor or family member to watch a child? What parent hasn’t depended on a social group to help them out? Authors need community too. If nothing else, an author’s community can

7. A good parent manages their time the best they can. They have an understanding of what must be done and figures out ways to get it done. A marketing author does this too. The engage with their readers without being too distracted. They delegate. They learn how much they can do in 10 minute increments.

8. A good parent takes reasonable risks. They want their children to stretch themselves, try new things and grow. A good marketer does this too. They aren’t afraid of speaking to the librarian at their local branch or calling the local paper. Both parent and marketing author knows you never know what great thing could happen if you try!

9. A good parent knows the “rules” but makes them work for their situation. A good marketing author does too. They’ve read marketing blogs, they understand generosity, they’ve taken great notes. Then they get good ideas and apply the principles their way.

10. A good parents sees the differences in their children and nurtures them accordingly. A good author may also see that each of their books opens doors that the other one can’t. They also aren’t afraid to learn from their mistakes and do better with children and books this time around.

Authors should take another lesson from parents — just because you do everything “right” doesn’t mean that there are guarantees. Parenting is fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, pain and expense. But then, it’s awesome and joyful and exhilarating.

But like parenting, marketing will take hard work, trial and error, risk-taking, expenses, time, energy, possible humiliation, disappointment, regret, sleepless nights, and the list is endless.

So are you a good parent/marketer?  What other similarities do you see? What has parenting taught you about marketing?

 

Bushwhacking Your Way Through The Marketing Journey (Or, Why There Is No Trail Already Blazed!)

Some would call marketing an adventure. Some would call this a long, mosquito ridden trek full of disease, peril, snakes, and bugs.You can try to market your book or you can explore the Amazon. In some cases, the jungle would be easier.

Sometimes we think marketing is easy. Sometimes (especially by marketing gurus) that if you say the right words, follow the right script, and start the right conversations, readers will magically appear to buy your books. 

But this isn’t true.

Marketing is far more like a neophyte jungle explorer with a coffee stained map in one hand and a machete in the other, who hacks and trudges through the rainforest hoping not to be eaten alive by local fauna. If you’ve tried to sell a book, you know this is true. What works for the writer next to you doesn’t work for you. You’re on the hunt for contacts, relationships, attention and sales. You’re looking for the perfect opportunity just like a entymologist is looking for the rare species. Like a jungle explorer, you’ve learned the lingo, you’ve trod carefully and you know the shadows around can smell your fear. And you wonder sometimes if you’ll succeed, get malaria or get lost.

And you wonder if it is worth it. 

When you’re traveling through a jungle (note, the most strenuous hiking I’ve ever done was a night hike in the Hollywood Hills and it nearly killed me) they tell you what to expect but you don’t get it until you in the middle of it.

Bushwhacking Your Way Through The Marketing Journey (Or, Why There Is No Trail Already Blazed!)

It’s the same way for marketing. 

1. Surviving in the jungle is a day to day, moment by moment process, not a one time thing you do. Marketing is the same way. To succeed, you need to look at the long-term, slowly build relationships and be patient.

2. As you bushwhack through the jungle, you get stronger. Marketing is much the same way, the marketing I do next week, next month, or next year is easier because I worked at it today.

3. You need to be prepared for anything. A jungle explorer has a kit and a pack. Book marketers need business cards and their books with them. I have so many conversations about my books, I always want to be able to put one in someone’s hands.

4. Sometimes jungle trails are actually trails that have been traveled by many. In marketing, it’s not quite like that. You have to find your own way. Your book is unique to the world so it will have it’s own marketing journey. What works for some may not work for you. But that doesn’t mean you quit, it just means you sharpen your machete and keep hacking.

Your book is unique to the world so it will have it’s own marketing journey. 

5. If you’re headed in the wrong direction, you could find yourself in trouble. I have absolutely no desire to get lost in a forest, Amazonian or otherwise. I also have no desire to waste time and resources on marketing that won’t yield a return. This is the tricky part. We’re the only ones who decide what works and what doesn’t.

6. Good judgement comes with experience. The only path to experience is hard work. I’m not going to make it to the mountain top unless I’m willing to hack my way through. I’m not going to sell books at all unless I’m willing to market, face my fears, and do the work.

7. There’s always something to learn. Even if you’re first book sold thousands of copies, you could probably stand to read about what others are doing. Figure out a way to give back to your readers. Or try a new social media platform.

8. There’s victory in persevering. You can’t give up because you never know what’s behind each corner. The small gig you had at the library lead to this book club, which lead to this bookstore appearance which led to this other thing. If you quit because it gets hard, then you have know idea what success could have been yours.

You most writers hate marketing. Figuratively speaking, you come away weak, dirty, mosquito bitten, smelly and ready for a stiff drink. But if you’re going to succeed as a profitable writer, it’s must. 

Someday you’ll reach the summit, you’ll have a large fan base, a tidy profit and the satisfaction that you did it!  Marketing is hard. But you’ll be able to turn around to the writers behind you and say,

“It’s a jungle out there. But it’s so worth it.”