Tag Archives: Twitter

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 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Everybody wants their blog to be noticed.

But in reality, that’s a little tricky. According to Tumblr stats, there are 375 million on Tumblr alone, that’s one for every person living in the United States. That stat doesn’t count WordPress and other blogging platforms. Writers are constantly encouraged to blog more, but getting noticed is becoming more and more difficult.

How do you get more traffic to your blog? Follow the meme #MondayBlogs!

The#MondayBlogs idea is brilliant. On Mondays, anybody who wants to can post a link to their blog and those who follow that hashtag, on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, can find new blogs to read and new writers to enjoy. In theory, those who participate read each others’ blogs, RT and favorite the heck out of them so that the whole world can discover this new talent. I have found dozens of new readers this way and I love doing this.

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

How Can I Get More RTs On Twitter?

I would LOVE to RT and favorite everyone who participates in #MondayBlogs on Twitter, but honestly, often the headlines or tweets that contain the link are so lifeless and dull that I’m not the least bit interested in them. I’d like to suggest, with a few changes in the tweets, all of us could see good results. I’ve listed a few things I’ve noticed (and things I try to implement) —and I’ve written some over-the-top silly blog title headlines to get the point across.

1. It’s All In The Headline

Consider your #MondayBlogs Tweet as a headline of the original post. The more concise and clear, the better. “My Thoughts on Dyeing” is terrible. Be specific. “Why I Dread Coloring My Hair This Summer” is much clearer and much more interesting. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Who” “What” “Why” or “How” and fill in the rest!

2. Follow Headline Rules, like Capitalize Each Important First Letter

This makes your tweet look more grown-up and polished. Tweets like “five ways to get your cat to sing” are wimpy and indifferent and I certainly wouldn’t be interested. But “Five Ways To Get Your Cat To Sing” at least looks like you’re trying.

3. As Tempted As You Might Be, Don’t Say “New Blog Post”

 Duh. We know. Just leave us a link. We can figure it out. Whenever I see this, I conclude that the writer is unimaginative or stuck in 1999 or both.

Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs
Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs

4. Put As Much Thought Into The Headline As You Did Into The Post Itself

Use vibrant verbs. Keep it Short. Pretend for a minute that it isn’t a blog post, but a magazine article and these first few words are on the cover of Cosmo. (It would be best, though to keep it rated G, unlike Cosmo). “Top Ten Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy” is a little long, but it’s clear. I could have also gone with “Your Blog Title Sucks. So Fix It!” But I’m trying to be helpful. And nice.

5. Use Numbers

I asked someone a few weeks ago what their biggest pet peeve on Twitter was and they answered that seeing this: “Eight Ways To Use Your Crock Pot for Cleaning” and “Top Ten Toothbrushes for Dogs”  — the numbers in the title seemed to be too much. A pet peeve? Really? Folks, this is good headline writing. If you can quantify the contents of your blog post into a list and then use that list in the title, you’ve got something interesting. This is exactly why I write all my blog posts in Top 10 lists. My blog posts have structure, continuity and all I have to come  up with are ten points and I’m done.

6. Exaggerate A Little

“Folding Chair Options That Will Change Your Life Forever” Well of course, it won’t exactly change my life, but the exaggeration might compel me to at least click the link and see what the fuss is about. I love the fact that Twitter is so casual, you can get away with a little exaggeration and hyperbole and it may make you all the more charming.

7. Be Funny

 Now not everyone can do this well. But if you can use humor in your headlines or tweets do it! Humor is powerful. If you can get a smirk or a chuckle or a LOL out of someone, you’ve won half the battle. If you can be funny consistently, then you are building a reputation for wit and comedy that can bring readers to you.

8. Sell You, Not Your Book

 As tempting as it is to say, “My Romantic Comedy for Ninjas is $.99 today” for #MondayBlogs. Please don’t do it. I personally find this off-putting. We all have books to sell. Instead, tell me something about you, something you’re struggling with, something that demonstrates how much we have common. Then, after I get to know you, and discover how awesome you are, I’ll be happy to buy your book and maybe even interview you here about it!

9. Study Other Headlines

Spend twenty minutes and read all the headlines in your magazines and newspapers. See if you can make your blog titles just as pithy and pointed as those writers did. There is a REASON why headlines are designed the way that they are and professional writers are trained to capture readers’ attention. Learn from them. If you call yourself a pro, then act like it!

10. Consider the Blog Post Itself

If your having trouble writing a headline for your 1500 words on your writing angst, then there may be a reason. Keep your blog posts simple and to the point, then you’ll see that the titles are much easier to write.

Learn From The Experts

And do a little research on your own! Here is a fascinating article on Forbes about headline writing. And another list of very practical suggestions from author Jeff Goins.

And a whole honkin’ bunch of articles from Copyblogger. Really, after all this information, there’s no reason why your headlines need to suck.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Do you have any suggestions to add?

There Has Never Been a Better Time In History to be a Writer

But the downside to that is that we are competing against each other for readers. We must be willing to  be our very best with every tweet, every status update, every blog post. Don’t get lazy with things like this. Put your best foot, uh, I mean tweet forward and see what happens.

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/

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. 

Is Your Twitter Avatar Creepy?

I will be the first to admit that I’m probably the wrong judge of what is creepy.

I am a white, urban, college educated SAHM who is squeamish about mice in the house. So the very idea that I would set a high standard of cuddli-ness (which I’m thinkin’ is the most clarifying antonym out there) is pretty bold, if not silly. Nevertheless, in order to make my Social Media More Social, I ‘m willing to step up and put out a Creep-O-Meter for your benefit. This is kind of like a Cosmo quiz for people who have more important things to do than to read the first hundred pages of ads in a Cosmo magazine.

If you stare at her long enough, she can read your mind!

I do not have the technical stats in front of me. I’m not that kind of researcher.

I’m the kind that shows my five children pictures of avatars and says, “Do we want to follow this person?” And if the crowd votes “YAY!” I do. If the crowd screams in terror and runs outside to get a gulp of G-rated fresh air, then frankly, that avatar creeps us out and we can’t follow. The nice thing about having five kids, is that there is that handy-dandy odd number for breaking any ties.

But if you want to step into that brain-sucking realm of self-examination, you can take this test. That way we don’t have to do it for you.

Be honest. No one likes a cheatin’ creep.

Does your avatar have a face on it that isn’t human? +3
Does this face have fur? -2
Is this face have any comic element, like Groucho glasses or a party hat? -2
Does your avatar have any part of a human body that is unclothed? +3
Does this unclothed human body have his/her head mysteriously cropped out? +3
Is this unclothed human body in some sort of position that might suggest to me I should shield my children’s eyes? +2
Is the dominant color in this avatar black? +2
Is the dominant color white, pink or yellow? -2
Is there a flower in this avatar? -5
Is there an animal that is associated in any way with death, Ozzy Osborne or Edgar Allen Poe? +3
Is the face on this avatar wearing dark glasses? +1
Is the face on this avatar wearing dark glasses but smiling/ and or crinkling up his/her nose, as if posing for Tiger Beat magazine? -4
Does the face on this avatar have any visible freckles? -6
Is there any element that might suggest violence, such as a semi-automatic weapon, brass knuckles or a machete? +5
Is the face on the avatar frowning or have eyebrows that are so V-shaped that they look like a ferocious bird of prey? +3
Is the face on the avatar completely hairless? +5
Is the face on the avatar hairless except for the soul patch? +3
Is the face on the avatar bald, but smiling? -2
Is the person in the avatar seated? -1
Is the person in the avatar seated next to a cocker spaniel or golden retriever? -4
Is the person in the avatar seated next to a golden retriever who appears to have a certain kind of leash that might qualify them as an assistance animal? -10
Are there any pictures of babies in this avatar? -6
Are there any of pictures of babies with ducks, daisies, bonnets and parasols? -12
Does this avatar have any reference to American political parties, extreme activism and the word death written in pointy letters? +20

Scoring:

-10 to 0 You are my type of follower! Find me! I will so be your friend! We can exchange recipes for strawberry cupcakes!
0-10 You are slightly creepy. If you can convince me that you are smart, compassionate and do not make a habit of kicking puppies, we’ll probably get along fine.
11-20 You are way out there in the land of creepy. I would suggest either you embrace your inner creepiness (and stay away from my children) or maybe throw in a little Love’s Baby Soft on your avatar. You never know, your numbers might go up.

You can follow me at  @10MinNovelists But please, if you scored higher than a 50, um . . . . I’ll find you instead.

 


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.

Want to win a free copy of my new release Soulless Creatures?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

How I Write: The Image, The Reality, and The Twitter Jokes

 

This morning I woke up with a backache. I decided I would postpone the start of my day until after I felt better. So, what do you do with a little extra time on your hands? You hang out on Twitter!

What luck! #HowIWrite was trending! I enjoyed very much reading suggestions from writers all over the world on the specifics of their process.

How I Write: The Image, The Reality and the Twitter Jokes by Katharine Grubb

 

You know, the hows of our writing is similar. We all sit with keyboards (a few with notebooks), we all daydream, we all fiddle with music and other ambient issues, we all drink ungodly amounts of coffee or tea and we all work at this.

Naturally, I had to write a few jokes about it.


 

#HowIWrite With the probably mistaken assumption that my readers will savor every details of character backstory.

#HowIWrite Surprisingly fast when I listen to banjo music.

#HowIWrite With unflickering white hope I will be loved by the world except for that reviewer who 1 stars me because of a misspelled word.


 

But I DO have a method.

It used to be that I worked in 10 minute increments around the needs of my small children. Now my kids are older and more independent. My increments are bigger, and I am way more productive, but I still have a method.

I’ve created this image that I run around my house like a headless chicken turning off timers and chasing toddlers. But it’s really not that crazy.

I make a to-do list with 8 columns: Newsletter/Blog, Branding, Homeschool, Reading, Projects, Release, Marketing, Podcast.

Under each column is a list of things that need to be done. Sometimes I mark the most important items. Then I work on each column for 15-20 minutes. When the timer dings, I get up and do something domestic like laundry, or check the kids or tidy the kitchen. Then I come back to the next column for another 20 minutes.


 

#HowIWrite Obsessively since we all know that only five star reviews can fill the blackest holes of our hearts.

#HowIWrite With an infinite number of fellow chimpanzees. On my manual typewriter.

#HowIWrite By deliberately, exhaustively, completely, purposefully and maniacally removing all adverbs.


 

But not everything on the list is writing.

Sigh. It’s not. It’s also blogging, emailing, tweeting, marketing, proofing, editing, reading, revising and staring out the window. It’s also running a household, homeschooling and glancing ambivalently at the welfare of the children.

All of my life is broken down into very small steps and I tackle as many as I can in a day.

When I do write, I do a word vomit or a brain spew of every conceivable idea. I don’t self-edit because I don’t have time for it. I want something on the screen so I can work with it. Daydreaming out the window is all well and good but you can’t rewrite something that isn’t written to begin with.  I have to have the raw materials to work with.


 

#HowIWrite With an intimate knowledge of which Hollywood actors will play every role.

#HowIWrite With those magical people the pros call “characters” and that thingy, a “setting” and, what is it? Oh! Plot!

In iambic pentameter just to come off as pretentious. #HowIWrite


 

I also don’t fret too much about deadlines.

But not every writer has this luxury. My deadlines are self-imposed and it’s rare that someone gives me a firm date. But I don’t tell my brain and my fingers that. I want to work fast and furiously in every increment of time. I find that by challenging myself this way I am way productive.


 

By allowing my children to run naked and unfed through squalor. Meh. #yolo #HowIWrite

With a holey, cat hair covered sweater, in a fog of cigarette smoke, an empty gin bottle next to me.#HowIWrite #myimageofarealwriter

With intense, white-hot jealousy of George R. R. Martin. I’ll knock you off YOUR Game of Thrones, bub. Winter IS Coming Indeed! #HowIWrite


 

In my fiction, I pants my ideas to death.

I make tons of notes and create little beads of characters or anecdotes or conflicts. Then I rearrange them and look for patterns or connections. The outline that will somehow develop will be the chain that links every bead together. At that point, I’m not pantsing any more. I’m drafting. And there’s plenty of room for improvisation.


With a gun to my muse’s head. Figuratively, people! Figuratively! #HowIWrite

Type ten words. Pick cuticles. Type five words. Change music. Type fifteen words. Go watch Netflix. #HowIWrite


 

I also have a mental list of books I want to write.

They are all lined up in a queue. I get to them as I can, with ten minutes here and there. I want to write a book on marketing, one on self-publishing, one on local connections, one on speaking. I keep them written down on the columns and touch on them as I can. Someday they’ll move up to a higher priority.

The danger of asking other writers how they write is that we compare our method to theirs.

We think that if we copy them then we’ll succeed too. But that’s not true at all. We need to find our own way and discover how WE write. The best writers are happy writers, who are comfortable with their method and their process. Don’t be afraid to try new things, tweak others’ suggestions and fail at times.

And if you can’t come up with a how, don’t worry about it. Make it a when instead.


 

On my left, with pillow between my knees, a mask on eyes, in a cool-ish room, for 8 hours. Wait! That’s how I sleep! Same thing. #HowIWrite

 


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.

Want to win a free copy of my new release Soulless Creatures?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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

Tips To Make Your Blog Tweet More RT Worthy (Gentle Suggestions For Participants of #MondayBlogs) by Katharine Grubb

Author’s note: I published this post a year ago, on my other blog,  just as I was seeing the wonderfulness that was #MondayBlogs. I still believe in this meme and still think a little shine and polish on our tweets could make the difference. Agree?

How Can I Get My Blog Post Noticed?

I participate in a meme on Twitter called #MondayBlogs. The idea is brilliant. On Mondays, anybody who wants to can post a link to their blog and those who follow that hashtag can find new blogs to read and new writers to enjoy. In theory, those who participate read each others’ blogs, RT and favorite the heck out of them so that the whole world can discover this new talent. I have found dozens of new readers this way and I love doing this. (Unfortunately, I’m not very good at RT-ing back. Monday is LAUNDRY day for this family of 7, I’ve got a LOT to do!!)

Picture 17

How Can I Get More RTs On Twitter?

I would LOVE to RT and favorite everyone who participates in #MondayBlogs, but honestly, often the headlines or tweets that contain the link are so lifeless and dull that I’m not the least bit interested in them.   I wonder if with a few changes in the tweets, all of us could see good results. I’ve listed a few things I’ve noticed (and things I try to implement) —and I’ve written some over-the-top silly blog title headlines to get the point across.

How Do I Get My Blog Post Noticed On Twitter?
Why Go Through All The Trouble If No One Is Going To Care?

It’s All In The Headline

Consider your #MondayBlogs Tweet as a headline of the original post. The more concise and clear, the better. “My Thoughts on Dyeing” is terrible. Be specific. “Why I Dread Coloring My Hair This Summer” is much clearer and much more interesting. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Who” “What” “Why” or “How” and fill in the rest!

Follow Headline Rules, like Capitalize Each Important First Letter

This makes your tweet look more grown-up and polished. Tweets like “five ways to get your cat to sing” are wimpy and indifferent and I certainly wouldn’t be interested. But “Five Ways To Get Your Cat To Sing” at least looks like you’re trying.

As Tempted As You Might Be, Don’t Say “New Blog Post”

 Duh. We know. Just leave us a link. We can figure it out.

Put As Much Thought Into The Headline As You Did Into The Post Itself

Use vibrant verbs. Keep it Short. Pretend for a minute that it isn’t a blog post, but a magazine article and these first few words are on the cover of Cosmo. (It would be best, though to keep it rated G, unlike Cosmo). “Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy” is a little long, but it’s clear. I could have also gone with “Your Blog Title Sucks. So Fix It!” But I’m trying to be helpful. And nice.

Use Numbers

I asked someone a few weeks ago what their biggest pet peeve on Twitter was and they answered that seeing this: “Eight Ways To Use Your Crock Pot for Cleaning” and “Top Ten Toothbrushes for Dogs”  — the numbers in the title seemed to be too much. A pet peeve? Really? Folks, this is good headline writing. If you can quantify the contents of your blog post into a list and then use that list in the title, you’ve got something interesting.

Exaggerate A Little

“Folding Chair Options That Will Change Your Life Forever” Well of course, it won’t exactly change my life, but the exaggeration might compel me to at least click the link and see what the fuss is about. I love the fact that Twitter is so casual, you can get away with a little exaggeration and hyperbole and it may make you all the more charming.

Be Funny

 Now not everyone can do this well. But if you can use humor in your headlines or tweets do it! Humor is powerful. If you can get a smirk or a chuckle or a LOL out of someone, you’ve won half the battle. If you can be funny consistently, then you are building a reputation for wit and comedy that can bring readers to you.

Sell You, Not Your Book

 As tempting as it is to say, “My Romantic Comedy for Ninjas is $.99 today” for #MondayBlogs. Please don’t do it. I personally find this off-putting. We all have books to sell. Instead, tell me something about you, something you’re struggling with, something that demonstrates how much we have common. Then, after I get to know you, and discover how awesome you are, I’ll be happy to buy your book and maybe even interview you here about it!

Study Other Headlines

Spend twenty minutes and read all the headlines in your magazines and newspapers. See if you can make your blog titles just as pithy and pointed as those writers did. There is a REASON why headlines are designed the way that they are and professional writers are trained to capture readers’ attention. Learn from them. If you call yourself a pro, then act like it!

Consider the Blog Post Itself

If your having trouble writing a headline for your 1500 words on your writing angst, then there may be a reason. Keep your blog posts simple and to the point, then you’ll see that the titles are much easier to write.

Learn From The Experts

And do a little research on your own! Here is a fascinating article on Forbes about headline writing. And another list of very practical suggestions from author Jeff Goins.

And a whole honkin’ bunch of articles from Copyblogger. Really, after all this information, there’s no reason why your headlines need to suck.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Do you have any suggestions to add?

There Has Never Been a Better Time In History to be a Writer

But the downside to that is that we are competing against each other for readers. We must be willing to  be our very best with every tweet, every status update, every blog post. Don’t get lazy with things like this. Put your best foot, uh, I mean tweet forward and see what happens.


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. Buy instantly here for $4.99!


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 the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A DayFalling For Your Madness, and Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayBesides homeschooling her five children, baking bread and doing crazy amounts of laundry, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists, the liveliest writers’ group on Facebook. Her new book, Soulless Creatures, about two college roommates who bet a brand new car that one of them doesn’t have a soul, will be released August, 2015. Katharine and her family live in Massachusetts.

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?

What 10 Minute Novelists Means To Me — A Guest Post by Michele Mathews

This month 10 Minute Novelists is celebrating our first anniversary. To make it even more fun, we’re asking our group members to post what the group means to them. Today, Michele Mathews shares what she’s learned since being a part of our group! 

A few months ago I saw a Facebook friend had joined a group called the 10 Minute Novelists. As a curious person, I clicked on the page to see what it was about, and within a few minutes, I clicked to join the group. I’m so glad I did that.

10 Minute Novelists celebrates 1 year on March 28!
Are you a 10 Minute Novelist? We’d love to hear from you!

For the last few months, I have been encouraged and supported with my writing. Everyone in the group is so helpful and always willing to give an opinion, share a link, and so much more.

Each day we have something new. Like on Mondays, we have Monday blogs so we can share a link to our blog posts, and everyone can see what we have written. On Tuesdays, we have Buddy Day and Top 10 List Day. We can ask for help on whatever writing we are working on, and we can post a link to our blog of our Top 10 list. On Wednesdays, we have Author Happiness Day. We can share something good that has happened to us the past week. Fridays are for new members to post an introduction.

What 10 Minute Novelists Means To Me

I love how we have each of these days to share whatever the topic is. I usually share my blog post on Monday. I mean why wouldn’t I? It’s free promotion! I even put the hashtag so that it is found on Twitter easily. Of course, I link to Twitter so it should be seen there anyway.

Speaking of Twitter, we have chats there on Thursdays. I have joined a couple of times, but Twitter is harder for me to do. Chats also happen on Sunday and Monday afternoons at 3 p.m. on Facebook. I have learned quite a bit in the Facebook chats, and I always try to participate as much as I can. Sometimes the chats are not topics I know well so I tend to lurk more. However, when I do comment, I never feel like I am being judged.

Our Twitter Chats are every Thursday night!
Our Twitter Chats are every Thursday night!

Aside from the daily themes and the chats, I decided it was time to kick my freelance writing career into gear. I have been struggling financially for the past few months, and I can’t live like this any longer. I always seem to have excuses for not writing, and I haven’t done much writing these past few months.

What did I do? I joined the 365K Club that 10 Minute Novelists started. We have been divided into teams of seven or eight people.  My goal is to write 1000 words a day since I want to prove that I can write every day, or, at least, get a routine going so that I will sit down and write.

I thought this club was such a great idea. I need something to get me motivated. I certainly can’t do it alone as the past few months have not seen much writing from me. So far I’m not doing too bad. Only three or four days in which I didn’t write a word. A few days of less than 1000 words, but at least I wrote something that day, right?

Writer Michele Mathews
Writer Michele Mathews

I typed the first part of this guest blog post as part of a sprint. I have never done a sprint before, but it is actually kind of fun. I typed to see how many words I could get down on paper, or in my case, this computer in 15 minutes.

Before we started this sprint, I was chatting with the gals on my team. The captain asked how we were doing, and when I said okay, she asked if she could help me out in any way. I told her I was feeling overwhelmed and need to get organized. The organizing is all on me, but how nice of her to ask!

I belong to other writing groups online. One group is helpful. We can ask writing, publishing, and marketing questions, but we don’t get to know each other like this group does. We don’t get to share our personal victories because the group is more impersonal, or, at least, I think it is. Don’t get me wrong. I love the information I have gained from the other group and have actually used some of the advice I have read and been given.

So what does the 10 Minute Novelists group mean to me? We are like a good group of friends or, even perhaps, a family, and we are all writers in various stages of publishing books. We get to know each other and our writing. We share our victories on Author Happiness Day and cheer each other on.

#Author

Best of all, they encourage and support me no matter how many words I put down on paper or in my computer each day. And I’m not put down because I didn’t hit my daily word count or asked a stupid question. Everything matters in this group.

Do Author Ethics Matter? A Guest Post by Jane Steen

Jane Steen, a member of the Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, shares with us today about good practices and ethical behavior for writers. This is an important issue for everyone who has published either traditionally or independently. Please read and consider carefully Jane’s thoughtful suggestions on ethics for authors. 

Do Ethics for Writers Matter?

Read the Ethical Author Code here

A short history of how I came to draft the Ethical Author Code

It started with a Facebook conversation between authors. Someone suggested a visibility tactic that involved, I think, upvoting your own book on a site. I can’t remember the specifics. But I do remember writing, “I don’t think that’s ethical.”

Up to that point, I hadn’t seen the word “ethics” used much in online places frequented by writers. Which isn’t to say that people weren’t being ethical.

Most authors behave ethically as a result of innate honesty or from a good upbringing. Many have a grounding in business ethics gained from years in the workplace.

And yet we all know there are rotten apples in the barrel. As an avid reader and reviewer who spends far too much time on Goodreads, I’m perhaps more aware than most authors of the damage unethical behavior does.

The activities of an unscrupulous minority have harmed the reputation of authors as a group, and self-published authors in particular. Book bloggers and top reviewers—the very people whom authors most wish to befriend—are extremely sensitive to breaches of ethics and etiquette, and their standards are high.

Very high. I’ve learned to see through their eyes, and I knew that readers perceived the tactic proposed in that Facebook conversation  as spammy and unethical. So I spoke up.

A lively discussion ensued and I defended my position. I explained why authors owe it to themselves, to each other and, above all, to their readers to hold themselves to an ethical standard. As a result of that conversation the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) invited me to contribute a post on ethics to the Self-Publishing Advice blog. I hoped to light a tiny fire to combat all the wrong-headed marketing advice I was seeing in writer groups and, worse, the growing animosity shown by authors to readers who dared to criticize their books.

I hadn’t anticipated the amount of attention my post would get on Twitter. I hadn’t expected the sudden eruption of YA novelist Kathleen Hale into book blogger infamy with her gleeful doxxing*—on a major website—of a reviewer who’d given her novel one star on Goodreads. I hadn’t foreseen the British case of a novelist who slugged his reviewer on the back of the head with a wine bottle, leaving her with concussion and stitches.

Within a month of my original blog post I’d been asked to draft an Ethical Author Code—which, let me tell you, is easier said than done. But with the help of the ALLi leadership and others, the Code went up on the ALLi website in time for the FutureBook conference in London. There ALLi’s Orna Ross announced it as a Big Idea that might help shape the future of the publishing industry. Blimey.

The Ethical Author Code isn’t just for self-publishers, by the way.

It’s for “any writer who has published a long-form work of fiction or non-fiction, either via a trade publisher or self-publishing platform.”

Because personal responsibility doesn’t stop when you sign a publishing contract.

The four major objections to the idea of an Ethical Author Code

As you can imagine, I’ve participated in a few discussions about ethics since then. I think I’ve identified the four major areas of pushback against the notion of an Ethical Author Code. Each point has its variants, but they go roughly like this:

  1.  How can we enforce the Code? And if we can’t enforce it, what’s the point of having it?
  2. Why do we need a code or badge to show people we’re ethical? Shouldn’t they judge us by our actions?
  3. This has all been done before, and failed. Stop flogging a dead horse.
  4. Big Publishing employs all kinds of unethical business practices, and nobody objects to those. Why should individual authors be held to a standard that the corporations don’t keep?

These all seem like pretty compelling arguments for sitting on our hands and doing nothing. In this individualistic world, people are uncomfortable with the idea of being told what to do, and it’s that sense of discomfort that runs through all the objections I’ve encountered.

I’m here to argue that we authors are the ones who hold the power to mend the breaks the book world has suffered as a result of the unethical behavior of a minority. And I believe we can do it with as much flexibility and freedom as we all feel we need, given how different every author’s experience of publishing is these days.

I want to take the negatives of each of these objections and turn them around. I’d like to empower authors to encourage each other to a high standard of professional behavior, in the same way that we encourage each other to improve our writing craft and output.

Join Ethical Author Weeks! February 1-14, 2015
To continue this conversation, this blog is sponsoring Ethical Author Weeks February 1-14. Got questions on how you can start conversations on ethics on your blog? Leave a comment!
1. A code of ethics isn’t about enforcement—it’s about personal responsibility

The point of having an Ethical Author Code isn’t to create some kind of ethics police. I’m not—never have been—interested in criticizing what other people do, and I don’t think you should be either. If you come across unethical behavior that infringes the terms of service of the website where it occurs, by all means report it or flag it or do whatever’s necessary, and then get on with your day. Finding a procedural way to deal with unethical behavior is vastly preferable to expressing your outrage on your blog or on social media, even if you’re offended because the host site doesn’t seem to be dealing with your complaint fast enough. (Believe me, if enough people complain, they will eventually take action).

The Ethical Author Code isn’t about other people—it’s about you. It’s about your commitment to being a true professional, one who employs ethics and etiquette as part of her author’s toolbox. I’ve been hugely encouraged to see authors referring to the Code when asking others for their opinion about a marketing ploy they’re thinking of using.  It means they’re concerned about the long-term consequences of their actions. It’s that kind of long-term thinking that distinguishes the author who’ll go on to have a long and successful career as a beloved member of the book-loving community. Isn’t that what we all aspire to?

One variant of the unenforceability argument is the claim that if authors are to adopt an ethical code, so should, say, reviewers. How come they’re allowed to be vulgar and abrasive and offensive in their reviews, and we’re just supposed to turn the other cheek? Well, this is an area where we just have to take it on trust: taking responsibility for ourselves, rather than existing in a permanent state of outrage about other people, is the best policy for the long term. Somebody’s got to be the grownup, and since we’re the ones asking people to pay us to write, that’s us. Again, it’s about you, dear author, taking the decision to be the most professional You that you can be.

2. Think of the Code as a rallying point

I’ve noticed something about writers. They’re not joiners. Or maybe they’ve joined writers’ groups in the past and haven’t been comfortable with what they’ve found there. And if you’re already acting ethically, why should you have to tell people that? Won’t making a public declaration that you’re ethical make people suspect the opposite?

If that’s your objection, I’d ask you to think again. You already belong to a large group of people known to the public as Authors. The reading public make surprisingly few distinctions between the traditionally published and self-published, the avant-garde and the conservative, the professional and the sloppy. Authors—as a group—have a public image, and it’s not always a particularly professional one. What other people do is affecting you right now—it’s affecting your sales and your readers. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard avid readers say that they’re mostly reading books by authors who are no longer living and can’t throw a hissy fit about a negative review. Readers are no longer restricted to the books available in the library or the local bookstore—thanks to online shopping and e-readers, they have access to just about every book ever written.

And yet people are wired (somehow) to look up to writers in their communities. Perhaps it’s a halo effect that dates back to the days when our ancestors sat around a communal fire, breathlessly listening to the storyteller acting out tales of history and imagination. Perhaps there’s a sort of inbuilt assumption that those of us born with the gift of expressing ideas in fiction or otherwise are leaders, worthy of respect.

Go back to the Code and read it carefully. If you agree with its provisions—and if you’re like most authors, I’m sure you do—then think of making a public commitment to it as a rallying point, a way of showing your readers that you’re putting them first. It’ll take the efforts of a large number of authors over time to make an impact on the reading world, but I think we can do it.

3. A good idea should never be buried

I’m sure someone’s raised the notion of a code of ethics for authors before. All good ideas are perennial—each generation simply shapes them to fit their particular environment. And yet before writing the Code, I did an internet search on author ethics, and found—nothing. Whatever happened in the past didn’t stick around long enough, or didn’t quite have the right qualities to succeed. Or the timing wasn’t right. Ideas are like inventions—they need the right environment to flourish, and I believe we’ve got that environment now. Traditionally published authors know they have options they didn’t have before. Many self-publishers have grown from slightly unpolished beginners to consummate professionals. We’re closer to our readers than ever before, and promoting ethical behavior is a great way to show them we care about that relationship.

4. We’re leaders, not followers

The publishing world is changing fast. The largest publishers, of course, are the slowest to change, and that’s understandable. Over the years they developed a whole bunch of marketing tactics that worked because the market was much more concentrated in certain places (e.g. bookstores, print journals with review sections, bestseller lists.) They’re clinging to that older model because it still works up to a point.

It’s odd, though, that individual authors want to imitate those tactics, since they don’t have anything like the budget or the marketing staff the big publishers have. They often end up trying second-tier versions that veer close to unethical and often come across as spammy and offputting to savvy readers. Authors who are quietly achieving success in the new market conditions don’t use these tactics. The formula for long-term success is clear: write well, publish often, build your fanbase through the smart use of social media, and curate your backlist. There are a great many authors out there earning a living without even bothering about bestseller lists or co-op placements. They know that there aren’t any shortcuts—they work hard for what they get, they understand the business and they’re professional.

#EthicalAuthors Weeks Feb 1-14
#EthicalAuthors Weeks Feb 1-14

If you’re going to follow anyone, follow those authors. At the same time, the big publishing companies are coming under fire for some of those tried-and-trusted techniques. It’s possible that in ten years’ time many of those hallowed marketing strategies will be history. Using the practices of publishing corporations as an excuse to engage in unethical behavior is like building a house on quicksand–a poor long-term strategy for success.

I—and ALLi, which has been so instrumental in fanning the flames of the very small fire I lit back in August—see the Ethical Author Code as a win-win situation.

We’re looking for as many individual authors, readers, bloggers, writers’ organizations and publishing industry corporations as possible to express their agreement that ethics and etiquette are valuable tools for long-term success. As we near the end of the Gold Rush era of self-publishing and the traditional publishing world continues to change, I think we’ll find that the most successful authors are those who’ve learned to operate as highly professional creative entrepreneurs. And they don’t work in a vacuum—most successful authors are also well plugged into groups and organizations where they can motivate and support each other. They’re talking about best business practices, comparing notes on publishers, agents and service companies, and sharing tips for success. They’re starting to see publishers—large and small—as potential partners rather than as employers.

Above all, they’re aware of the responsibility that they shoulder when they expect readers to pay them to write books. The Ethical Author Code is, I hope, just the beginning of a discussion of the right way to do business. I’m hoping that in the not too distant future, books on business ethics and etiquette for authors will be on our shelves right next to the books on writing craft, or advice on book covers and marketing. In this maturing disrupted market, the keys to success will be quality and excellence in every aspect of a writer’s professional life. I’d love it if you could help me get the conversation going about the piece of the puzzle that’s been missing up till now.

Jane Steen is an historical fiction writer and lives in the Chicago area. 

*doxxing or doxing is the online disclosure of information someone else would rather have kept private, such as her real name, address, phone number and so on.

#Top10Tuesday Top Ten Ways To Start Conversations On Social Media

#Top10Tuesday Top Ten Ways To Start Conversations On Social Media

 Your first objective in starting conversations on Twitter is NOT to make a sale. It just isn’t.

Conversation Starters on Twitter
Sorry Alex, your advice is out of date, insensitive and can get you labeled as spam.

So when you are making conversations on Twitter, you should ask questions that are NOT yes or no questions. You are looking for a friend. You need to go under the assumption that they are going to LOVE you. No they are going to be amazed by you. This is the assumption.

1. Ask open ended questions. What’s the best thing about this day for you?  What’s the most interesting thing you’ve faced recently? 

2. Celebrate with people over small victories. That’s awesome! Tell me about it! 

3. Ask questions about something benign — relatable but not controversial, like pets or the weather. Absolute questions you can’t miss on: what music are you listening to? What book are you reading? 

4. Ask questions about something difficult — parenting or writing or home ownership, but keep your responses to the compassionate and understanding. When do those terrible twos go away? Fifteen? Sixteen? 

5. Say something positive about your day. People are ATTRACTED to positivity. Negativity repels people even if they don’t admit that it does. There is something inside all of us that wants to believe in the good and the hopeful and the enjoyable. Let your little light shine and mention what’s going right for you.  Had an awesome time at the park today! Got dirty. Had fun! Now to do laundry. What about you? 

Conversation Starters on Twitter

6.  Say something self-deprecating jokes. Oh, yes, this works. They will laugh and you will be put down in front of them, thus moving up their superiority and they will, even subconciously, like you more. With the smells coming from our dirty laundry hamper, I can’t, for the life of me, understand how we have friends.

7. Say thank you. Take a minute and say thanks for the RT or the shout-out. Use this as a way to ask questions.

8. Ask for advice.  What do I do with the grape juice stain on my sweater? 

9. Look for info in people’s biographies that could spark a conversation: A Pats fan? How do you think we’ll do in the playoffs?

10.  Get creative. (This is a very lame #10, but I was running out of ideas.)

Don’t overthink your tweets. Conversation starters are just that — they are light and airy and can disappear in the Twittersphere in a matter of seconds. But they can open doors to new relationships and connections, which ultimately will lead to sales.

Got any more ideas? Let’s hear ’em!

Writerly Reasons I’m Thankful

 

This last weekend my family and I celebrated with the rest of our nation. We stopped to celebrate and contemplate for what we were the most thankful.

As a writer, I have a list too.

reasons I'm thankful

I’m thankful that it’s super easy to get my words into the hands of readers. I’m thankful for great tools like Scrivener, Evernote, Hemingway, Canva and my MacBook Air to make writing as physically and organizationally easy as it can be. I’m thankful for Createspace and Kindle Direct that became the best solution for my self-publishing needs. I’m thankful that there has never been a better time to be a writer. What was impossible ten years ago now is an everyday occurrence. I am very thankful for technology.

But technology is just a tool. I’m thankful that my writing has allowed me to meet readers and writers from all over the world. I’m thankful for Facebook and Twitter which are the tools I use to find them. I’m thankful that connecting with people has never been easier. I’m thankful for every reader of this website, every comment, every connection and every lurker. It means a lot to me that you stop by even if I never know why.

I’m thankful that my writers group, 10 Minute Novelists, has surpassed all of my expectations. I’m thankful for the inspiration I found as a result of this group.  I’m thankful that relationships are developing in the group, that the writers are inspired to find time to write and be better in their writing. I’m humbled and overjoyed by what this group has become. I can’t wait to see what happens to it next year.

I’m thankful for my writer friends who have been with me for the last five years. These are the friends who know me the best and if anything they’ve wiped a few tears in my heartache and were the first to jump for joy with me in my victory. I wouldn’t have had today’s successes with out the pain and struggle of yesterday.

I find it so interesting that my writing dreams are so much more than words on a document. Published books are nice and it really does feel good to see my name on the copyright page and deposit those advance checks, but the real joy in this journey, is the people. How could I do this without the people in my life? If I never write another book nor post another blog I would have considered myself rich as a writer because of the friends I’ve made.

This is why I am thankful.