Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social media. Show all posts

Monday, April 10

5 Ways Instagram Can Help Writers Reach More Readers

5 Ways Instagram Can Help You Reach More Readers

For a while now I’ve heard many writers include Instagram as a productive part of their social media platforms.

My reaction: Instagram!? Really???!!!!

It’s not that I don’t love Instagram. Who doesn’t like pictures of delicious food, sun-drenched hills clothed in golden wheat, or ... well, you get the idea. But Instagram is a VISUAL medium.

Writing ... not so much!

Writing IS visual, but those images are internal, subjective. They are formed from our thoughts and ‘seen’ only in the minds eye. But writers WRITE. We produce text, not pictures! So how could Instagram be a good medium for us?

That’s the question I set out to answer.

5 Ways Instagram Can Help Writers

It turns out that there are an enormous number of ways using Instagram can benefit writers. Here are the top 5 I've come up with.

1. Instagram can help writers get personal.

Many readers want to know something about their favorite writers. This doesn’t have to be ultra personal.

- Share pictures of your office. Many of your readers would be thrilled to know what your office looks like (or even just your writing desk).

- Share pictures of the books you’re reading. These needn’t be books in your genre, or even fiction books! I read a fair amount of non-fiction these days, mostly research material plus the occasional biography or cookbook (I LOVE cooking!!).

- Share pictures of your pets. What pets (if any) do you have? Share pictures of them! If you don’t have a pet, consider sharing a pic of a cute nicknack on your desk or perhaps a plant.

- Share pictures of nature around your home. Pictures from walks you’ve taken around your where you live. If these walks are close to where you live I would advise stripping out your geolocation. Also, you might not want to post pictures of anything that would uniquely identify where you live, unless that information is already in the public domain.

- Share pictures of you! Not everyone will feel comfortable with this, but (as I discuss below) you might think about putting up pictures of yourself that were taken at (say) a keynote speech you gave or a signing.

2. Instagram can help you grow your community.

- Share your new book cover. I love it when authors share their book covers, especially if they show a picture that almost made it to the cover. In general, I like it when an author gives me a peek behind the scenes, when they share a bit about the process of putting a book together.

- Use relevant hashtags. Including a hashtag with your image allows you to connect with readers as well as potential readers. I want to write more about this, but for now I’ll just include this list of writing related hashtags:

#author #writing #writer #write #amwriting #handwriting #fountainpen #handwrite #writingcommunity #quote #quotes #writinglife #writingprompts #creativewriting
#writingthis #poetry #poet #writersofinstagram #prose #book #books #blogger #firstnovel
#secondnovel  #thirdnovel #godmode

- Be social! Use Instagram to get to know other writers and readers. Like and comment on the pictures of others. Don't do this in a mechanical or spammy way, be genuine! If you're a writer then you're also a reader, so follow your favorite authors, get involved in discussions. Comment on photos that grab you.

- Let your readers help choose your artwork. Often writers create more than one version of a book cover. In this case it doesn’t hurt to ask your readers which book cover they’d rather have.

- Pictures of short passages from a book of yours. I love this! Composition and design is not my strong suit so I love looking at what other authors have done in this regard. Also, I have been inspired to read new authors and have not been disappointed!

- Pictures of your other creative endeavors. Do you draw? Doodle? Paint? Hike? Bike? Chances are you have many different avenues for expressing your creative drives. Writers are artists, indulge your creative self.

- Share your upcoming book signings and appearances. As I mentioned, only a few of your die hard fans will be able to make any one of your signings, but by sharing pictures of the event all your readers can share in the experience.

3. Instagram can help you nourish your community.

- Share images of what inspires you to write. The picture of a bead of rain on a green leaf. Of babies, puppies, kittens, your bookshelf, the stuffed toy poodle your mom gave you when you were five and that helped chase away nightmares. Or your dying cactus. Anything. Whatever inspires you.

- Share images which remind you of one of your characters and explain why. These needn't be photographs of people (though they often are). They could be of a pensive giraffe or a spectacular sunset or a happy kitten. Or perhaps something darker. The point is, it's up to you. You can see through the eyes of your character, you know what he/she would be drawn to.

- Share images of your book signings and speaking engagements. Most of your readers won't be able to attend any particular speaking engagement you have, so share pictures! Even better, share a video of the event.

- Share art for your book. This can be a book cover, or art for a book cover that wasn't used, but it could also be art that one of your characters created. It could be a picture of their goal, the object/person that they want more than anything else in the world.

4. Use Instagram to nourish your own creativity.

People who are creative in one area are often creative in other areas as well. Painting, drawing, designers, decorating, cooking, to name only few. Take pictures and share them! Often authors don't have any other outlet for these hobbies, but your readers would love to know more about you, about your other passions. Share them!

5. Create a contest.

Who doesn’t like a contest? This can be a fun way to engage with readers and—bonus!—it encourages your readers to share their own creative efforts with the world.

How do you set up a contest on Instagram? Good question! Instead of going into this process here, I’ll refer you to How to Run a Successful Instagram Contest by Krista Bunskoek over at Social Media Examiner.

After you’ve created a contest, it’s a good idea to set up a page on your website that spells out the rules of the contest, what prizes you’re giving out, instructions on how to enter, and so on.

For example, let’s say you create a contest that asks your readers to take photos of themselves while holding your latest book. Perhaps ask them to dress as their favorite character from the book. You could give out prizes for most creative costume, for best-dressed, and so on. If you do this, take a picture of yourself in costume holding your book. It will embolden others and act as a convenient example of the sort of thing you’re looking for.

Writers who use Instagram:

Looking for examples of how established writers use Instagram? Here are a few:

- Neil Gaiman (neilhimself)
- Lindsay Cummings (authorlindsaycummings)
- John Green (johngreenwritesbooks)
- Erin Morgenstern (erinmorgenstern)
- Ransom Riggs (ransomriggs)
- Kami Garcia (kamigarcia)
- Jane Friedman (janefriedman)

Reference: Posts about how writers can get the most out of Instagram:

Ten Authors And Publishers To Follow On Instagram, Tasha Brandstatter on BookRiot

Miranda July And 15 Other Literary Instagrams You Should Follow, by Claire Fallon at The Huffington Post.

Instagram for Writers, by Crystal King on Grub Writes.

Instagram Marketing: Top 6 Fan-Building Tips For Writers, by Web Design Relief Staff at Web Design Relief (WDR)

Every post I pick something I love and recommend it. This serves two purposes. I want to share what I’ve loved with you, and, if you click the link and buy anything over at Amazon within the next 24 hours, Amazon puts a few cents in my tip jar at no cost to you. So, if you click the link, thank you! If not, that’s okay too. I’m thrilled and honored you’ve visited my blog and read my post.

Today I'm recommending a book I'm reading for the fourth time: Sparkling Cyanide, by Agatha Christie. I think this is one of Christie's most charming mysteries, equal parts love story and murder mystery.

From the blurb: "Agatha Christie's genius for detective fiction is unparalleled. Her worldwide popularity is phenomenal, her characters engaging, her plots spellbinding. No one knows the human heart-orthe dark passions that can stop it-better than Agatha Christie. She is truly the one and only Queen of Crime."

That's it! I'll talk to you again on Wednesday. Until then, good writing!

Sunday, December 23

Writing And Publishing In 2013, How To Survive And Thrive: Part Two

Writing And Publishing In 2013, How To Survive And Thrive: Part Two

This is the second part of a two parts series about how to survive and thrive as a writer in 2013. The first part is here: Writing And Publishing in 2013: How To Survive And Thrive.

4. What Should We Write About? 

What should we write in 2013? Non-fiction, mainstream fiction? Genre fiction? If so, which genre? Paranormal romance? Urban fantasy? And what's the difference between the two? (See: What's The Difference Between Paranormal Romance And Urban Fantasy?) Or perhaps something genre-bending like a romantic western comedy on Mars? (I jest)

These days we're spoiled for choice.

Write what you love

Kris Rusch had an excellent post on this topic last week, and I agree with her 100%: Write what you love.
[A writer] should write the best story she can possibly write. She should be stretching her wings, trying harder with this book than she tried with the last book. If she feels safe and comfortable in the knowledge that the book will make all of her readers happy, she’s probably not trying hard enough.

In her creative office, every writer should feel like she’s on a high wire twenty stories off the ground over a major highway with no net to catch her if she falls. She should worry that this book is beyond her skill level, that she might not know enough to write this one, that she might not be good enough to pull this off.

At the same time, she should be having fun—but an adrenalin-junkie kind of fun, an I-can’t-believe-I’m-up-here-trying-this kinda of fun. (The Business Rusch: Where Art Meets Commerce)
It used to be that writers would scramble over themselves to get on email lists editors frequented in the hope that mention would be made of what kinds of stories were being accepted.

No one can predict what will be 'hot' in the future

For instance, at a conference I attended three years ago I was told, confidently, by a senior editor at a large publishing house that angels were the new vampires. "Three years from now," she said, "we're not going to be reading about vampires". Riiiight.

People read what they love, so writers should write what they love.

5. Diversity Is Your Friend

Publish Your Stories In Different Formats: Electronic, Audio, Video, Print

Why? To maximize exposure. Some readers prefer print, so set your book up at CreateSpace or Lightning Source and provide a print on demand (POD) version. Head over to Audio Creation Exchange (ACX) and do up an audiobook (you can pay to have this done by professionals or do it yourself at home).

In an article talking about how her Kobo sales have taken off, Lindsay Buroker writes:
Canada-based Kobo wasn’t on my radar at all in 2011 (my earnings were fairly negligible there), and it wasn’t until Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo, sent me a note in early 2012 (as a result of my woefully neglected self-publishing podcast) that I started following them more closely.
Nice! The point is, one can never tell which seed is going to germinate, sometimes it's the unlikely ones. I think the best approach is to try everything and see what works for you.

But don't stop at podcasting! Doing a video can be scary, but try reading a scene or two from one of your stories and then uploading the file to YouTube (or a similar service). Provide a link to your blog or wherever listeners can find out more about your work.

Lightning Source vs Createspace:
Jen Talty: Amazon's CreateSpace Vs LIghtning Source
Recording an audiobook:
How To Record Your Own Audiobook: Setting Up A Home Studio
Making a video:
7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion, Joanna Penn

Publish Yourself in Different Formats: Electronic, Audio, Video, Print

You want to help readers find you as well as your work. Last week I wrote about blogging and I feel that blogging is a great way to connect with folks, but don't leave it there. (And, yes, this is a 'do as I say not as I do' moment!)

What is the advice we're given about writing? Engage as many senses as possible! But this doesn't just apply to writing. It applies to everything, including self-promotion.

What is your goal when you sit down to write? What are you trying to do with your story? You're attempting to reach out to whoever is reading it and engage them, make them care. How do we do that? Through the senses: sight and hearing among them.

Videos and podcasts, as well as blogging, help make a connection with others. And it's free.

Joanna Penn was one of the first writers to take advantage of the possibilities YouTube afforded writers. In fact, that's how I first heard about her, because of one of her video interviews. And, as I mentioned above, Lindsay Buroker has had folks discover her through her podcasts. Those are just two examples, I know, but I do believe that video and podcasting are two ways of reaching out to an audience that are worth exploring.

6. How Much Time Should I Spend On Social Media?

I've heard folks say that for every hour of social media time one should spend 3 hours writing, and that's not a bad idea, but I think it misses something obvious: Every writer is different. It depends on what your goals are.

Let's talk about goals. Everyone's different, but it takes me at least four hours of editing for every hour of writing.  Since I write about 1,500 to 2,000 words an hour that means every 2,000 words of finished manuscript represents five hours of work.

2,000 finished, publishable, words a day would get me 730,000 words a year or a little over nine 80,000 word novels.

Not bad!

That was all calculated on one hour of writing and four hours of editing.

By the way, I'm not talking about editing the writing done that day. If you're anything like I am, that would be inviting disaster--I'd never get through the first draft!

Also, I'm not suggesting you spend one hour writing per day and spend the rest editing--though that wouldn't be a bad idea.

Every writer is different and many--myself included--like to write a fast first draft which means writing for two or three weeks straight and then editing. Do what works for you. If you're not sure what that is yet, experiment.

So where does this leave us with social media? If you're writing full-time (say 10 hours a day) you still have five hours left in your work day. (I know I haven't accounted for breaks or days off. These figures are approximate.)

Let's say you spend an hour and a half of those five hours doing administrative tasks like sending your previous work out to new markets or publishing your work yourself, answering writing related email (invitations to do interviews, guest posts, asking other writers to do the same for you), and so on.

Another hour and a half could be spent on stretching your wings into new markets. Try out podcasting, video blogging, whatever. Try something new. If it doesn't work, fine! But something will. Eventually.

Sooner or later something will catch and chances are it'll be the least likely thing you did. Hugh Howey is a great example of this.

That leaves two hours for social media. I use Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and a little bit of Facebook, but whatever social media appeals to you, use it to your hearts content for two hours.

This is what a 10 hour day would look like:

Writing: 1 hour
Editing: 4 hours
Administrative tasks: 1.5 hours
Stretching yourself: 1.5 hours
Social media: 2 hours

That's approximate. I'd probably spend more time writing and editing--or at least I'd like to. Administrative tasks seem to eat up most of my time.

What you can accomplish writing 1 hour a week

I think the overwhelming majority of new writers don't write full time. So lets look at a schedule for someone who can only write two hours a day, five days a week.

1 hour writing
40 minutes administrative
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes administrative
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes administrative
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes stretching your wings
20 minutes social media

1 hour editing
40 minutes stretching your wings
20 minutes social media

This is a rough approximation. The schedule will look vastly different depending on the writer. Also, in the beginning you likely won't have to spend as much time on administrative duties since you won't have as much work to send out, as much email, and so on. Also, if you can fit your social media tasks into odd moments of the day (waiting in line at the bank, buying lunch, riding the bus, etc.) you'll have more time to write.

How much work could a person using this schedule produce in a year? Let's take a look:

2,000 words per week times 52 weeks is 104,000 words per year! That's one 80,000 word book and a novella. Or it could be two 40,000 word novellas.

Not bad for one hour of writing a week!

My point: how much time you should spend on anything depends on your goals. When do you want to accomplish your goals by? What do you need to do to accomplish those goals? That's going to tell you how much time you should spend where.

You are the expert on you.

What are your goals for the new year? How are you planning on stretching yourself as a writer?

Other articles you might like:

- How Many Drafts Does It Take To Write A Novel?
- Writing Goals Versus Writing Dreams: How To Get From One To The Other
- The Structure Of Short Stories: The Elevator Pitch Version

Photo credit: "Grandpa" by conorwithonen under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Friday, October 12

Building A Platform That Meets Your Needs

Building A Writer's Platform That Meets Your Needs

A while ago I wrote an article entitled: How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website, in which I argued that just having a blog wasn't good enough, you need a website too.

These days, I'm not so sure. I think having a blog, even a blog on, might be good enough. Here's the thing: What you need depends on what your goals are.

What is the main thing folks are going to come to your website/blog for? And who are these folks going to be? You might be staring at these words shaking your head, thinking, "And how the heck would I know who's going to come and visit my site?"

That's a fair question. Often in the beginning we don't know who these folks, our visitors and, ultimately, our readers, are going to be.

Come one, come all

Whether you decide to go with a static site, a blog or a full-blown website (I talk more about this later) you'll need to keep at it. The key phrase here is: be consistent.

Naturally if all you're going to be putting up is a static site--a webpage with information about who you are, where you can be reached (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)--then being consistent is fairly easy. You just need to update the page every six months or so, or when something changes (you put out a new book, become active in new forms of social media, and so on). Otherwise, there isn't much to do!

If you don't know who your visitors are going to be you can still design a website. I'll go into more detail later, but there are roughly three broad kinds of sites you can put up. I call them the starter package, the starter package plus blog and the full-featured site.

As the name implies, the most basic of these is "the starter package". This is a static website that simply tells visitors how to reach you, where you are on the web (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), what you've written and how to contact you. If this is all you want, or would likely meet your needs. Make sure, though, that the service you choose allows you to use your own domain name ( does and does but you need to pay a fee). That's a must. Why? If you ever decide to move your site from, say,, to another hosting site, your readers will be able to find you at you new home through your domain name.

By the way, I know it might seem like a contradiction in terms to recommend blogging sites for a static site! As it happens, you can set up as a static site (I should probably write a blog post about how to do that) and I imagine the same is true for as well. The great thing about starting off with a site like is that it does all the search engine optimization (SEO) for you and can list your site with all the major search engines.

If you want to be slightly more ambitious, you could go with a "starter package plus blog" and blog regularly (keep in mind that if you blog once a month you're blogging regularly!). You can blog even if you don't know what sort of audience you're reaching out to, just talk about whatever interests you. Over time you'll see themes emerge. Also, after looking at your viewer statistics, you'll notice your readers are more interested in certain articles, certain themes, than others. After a few months you'll get a feel for what you like to blog about and also what your readers are interested in.

If, in the beginning, you don't have an idea who your audience will be then I wouldn't advise you starting off with what I'm calling a full-featured site. The way I think of it, a full-featured website one that is dynamic and easily customizable, you likely would have a blog and could even have forums or open an online store! (For example,

But with a full-featured site you'll also have additional concerns. This kind of site can do a lot but, as with everything, there are tradeoffs. For instance, the more cool features you add (e.g., link tracking), the slower the site will run. A few bells and whistles may not make a difference but at some point you'll wonder why your pages are loading slowly. Also, this sort of site is complex and complex things tend to break. If you can fix it yourself, great! Otherwise maintenance can be expensive. Either way, maintaining this kind of a site is time consuming.

You have an idea who your visitors will be

We've just discussed how to go about building a site if you don't know who your target audience is. Now let's talk about how to build a site when you have some idea what kind of a community you want to build.

Shared interest
How do you build community? You reach out to those who share an interest of yours. It could be anything. What are you interested in? Steampunk? Scifi movies of the 80s? Doctor Who? Skiboarding? Cooking? Hiking? Whatever it is, there are people, lots of people, just as passionate about it as you are. The trick is letting them know your site exists.

By the way, when I said you could build your site around any theme/idea that was a bit of an exaggeration. What you write about has to have some connection to the shared interest you've built your community around. For instance, if you write science fiction, by all means, talk about scifi movies, conventions, trivia. Talk about collectibles. Even talk about other scifi writers! Eventually, if you keep at it, a community will form.

Cookbooks are popular. They sell well. Why? The tie-in between a writer's community and how to reach that community is obvious. You write books about food and it is very easy to blog about food, post pictures of food, conventions, good places to eat in your local community and across the country, and so on.

I mean, who doesn't like beautiful close-up pictures of desserts? Especially chocolate ones. (Oh my gosh, if I wrote cookbooks I would gain SO much weight. Anyway, moving on.)

Making the connection between your area of interest and your community
How do you make the connection between what you are interested in--for instance, mystery stories with sleuths who cook--and building a community? 

If I could I would have that word, "interaction", blink red and blue and have big yellow dancing arrows pointing to it. But that's not a surprise, is it? That's how me make friends. Interaction forms the basis for any social endeavor. And that really is the other key word: social. I'm talking about building a community, not a list. For that to happen, for a community to form, there has to be interaction.

And that means you need to find a way to interact with the people who you would like in your community.

I think I'm going to leave it there for today. I covered more material than I thought I would. In the next segment I'll talk about interaction and social media but I want to say here that I don't think social media is necessary for you to form and interact with a community.

Good writing!

Other articles in this series:
- What Is A Writer's Platform?
- Does Every Writer Need A Platform?

Other articles you might like:
- Jim Butcher On Writing
- NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips On How To Get Ready
- On The Art Of Creating Believable Characters: No Mr. Nice Guy
- Perfection Is The Death Of Creativity

Photo credit: "KIUKO"

Monday, October 8

What Is A Writer's Platform?

What Is A Writer's Platform?
This is the first post in a series on the subject of creating a writing platform. 

This is how I think of a writer's platform:
A writer's platform is a way, a vehicle, for reaching out to, and building, community.
Jane Friedman, editor and former publisher of Writer's Digest, tells us that editors and agents are "looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience" (Jane Friedman, A Definition of Author Platform).

So I guess the 64 thousand dollar question is: How does one develop visibility, authority, and the ability to reach out to a target audience?

Here are a mix of online and local activities you could use to improve your visibility, build your authority and improve your ability to affect your community/tribe.

Connecting Online: Social Media

There are many ways to connect online so I'm only going to discuss the main ones. For a full list see the wikipedia page on Social Media.

Website and/or Blog
I think having a digital home on the web, a place your readers can go to connect with you and discover your work is the single most important aspect of social media for a writer. Most writers that I know of have both a website and a blog--I recommend this--but some just have a blog and it works out fine for them. I do think it is a must for you to have your own domain name. That gives you control of your virtual home.

For why you probably want both a website and a blog see my article: How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website.

For more information on setting up a blog see: How To Start A Blog.

Facebook & Twitter
If you want to build a platform I recommend you actively use either Facebook or Twitter. If you have the time, you can be actively engaged with both--and I do think it's a good idea to have both a Facebook and Twitter account--but writers are busy people. It's okay to pick just one to spend a majority of your social networking time with.

Which should you choose, Facebook or Twitter? It depends on you. If you're already engaged with your readership on Facebook then go with Facebook. If you prefer Twitter and have built up a list of followers, then use Twitter. I only actively use Twitter. I have a Facebook account but I rarely visit it unless I'm notified someone left a comment on my wall. (For tips on how to increase the number of followers you have on Twitter see: 19 Ways To Grow Your Twitter Following.)

Video presentation (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo)
I think Video is a vastly underused area. I first discovered Joanna Penn through her YouTube videos and, through them, found her blog. Here is an excellent article on how to get started: On Becoming A Multimedia Creative Producer. Joanna Penn Interviewed By Greg McQueen.

Write articles for popular websites
You probably won't be paid for this, but it's a nice way to build a resume and, if you provide a link back to your weebsite, an excellent way to get new readers. For more on this read: The Secret To Making A Living As A Writer: Work For Free.

Connecting to your local community

Go to book launches and signings
This is a great way to connect with the writing community in your area. While online contacts are wonderful, nothing can replace meeting with other writers on a regular basis.

Also, it can be advantageous to be included on mailing lists. Writers can be a generous bunch so you could get advance notice of which publishers are looking for what kind of books, upcoming contests, and so on.

Do public readings
Check with your public library. Sometimes they're open to writers, self-published or otherwise,  giving readings of their work.

This can be a great way to get publicity, but I wouldn't want to take this step myself unless I had already developed a following a local following, however small, or I had made connections with local writers whose readings I had attended.

Teach a course
In my city, individuals can submit course proposals to community centers. If you've written for a number of years, or are a publisher, editor, scriptwriter, or if you know something about blogging, or website design, and so on, why not create a course around what you know and offer it to the public?

I'm sure it wouldn't pay well, but it would be great for your writing resume and it would increase your exposure to your local community.

Be prepared when you meet potential contacts
Print out business cards. This is especially helpful at writers' conventions, anywhere you'll want to give out the address of your website or yoru email adress. For instance, I attend SiWC every year and have found it's been a great way to make contacts within the writing community, local and otherwise. Nearly everyone there has been friendly and eager to talk about their latest project and--amazingly!--eager to hear what others are doing.

Often pleasnt chit-chat ends in the exchange of email addresses and it is much more professional to offer your new acquaintance of buisness card than a scrawled address on the back of a napkin. (Been there, done that!)

Also, the back of a business card is a  great place to put a bar code that encodes a URL and can take someone right to either your website or the launch page of your latest book.

Other articles you might like:
- Jane Friedman: How To Build An Awesome Twitter Bio
- How To Become A Full Time Indie Author
- Penelope Trunk Discusses Time Management

Photo credit: Aleeir

Can Wattpad Help You Sell Books?

Can Wattpad Help You Sell Your Books?

What is Wattpad? 
For writers, Wattpad is a creative, welcoming and completely free community to connect with readers from around the world. Writers can build an engaged fan base, share their work with a huge audience and receive instant feedback on their stories.

There are millions of ways to make an impact on Wattpad! We see writers serializing their content, collaborating with readers over plot twists, interacting with fans on cover art and working together to create video trailers. (Wattpad, About)
Interesting. The question is: Can Wattpad help you sell books?

It did for Brittany Geragotelis. 13 million Wattpad users read Brittany's book, Life's a Witch, a contemorary retelling of the Salem witch trials. Bolstered by the positive feedback Brittany published her book on Amazon thorugh createspace.

Interestingly, Brittany Geragotelis was nearly published with Harper a few years before.
About six years ago [Brittany] she had an agent and came close to being published in the conventional manner. “My agent came close to a deal with Harper Children’s,” said Geragotellis ... “but it didn’t happen and my agent eventually dropped me.” (YA Author with Huge Wattpad Fan Base Tries Self-Publishing)
That is a familiar story! Fortunately for Brittany, Life's a Witch sold well and opened up a number of options for her. Ultimately she chose to enlist the help of an agent--Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency--and eventually sold her book at auction to "Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in a three-book, six-figure deal that features an e-book prequel series to be released in 2012" (S&S Acquires Self-Pubbed 'Life's a Witch' in Three-Book Deal).

Not bad!

Of course that's just one story and Brittany Geragotelis's book was one of the most popular books on Wattpad, if not the most popular, but it has worked for other writers as well, writers such as David Gaughran. David writes:
Wattpad approached me just before Christmas [2011] to see if I would be interested in making some of my work available there (for free), and this seemed like a natural fit. I agreed to post some short stories, and to serialize A Storm Hits Valparaiso over five weeks. In return, Wattpad have pledged to promote my work to their community [...]. (What’s Up With Wattpad?)
It turns out David's book did very well, garnering over 2 million reads on Wattpad. Although David has taken his story down, you can still see his profile: David Gaughran over at Wattpad.

There's a great discussion on whether Wattpad can help authors sell books over on Lindsay Buroker's blog (Can Posting Stories on Wattpad Help You Sell Books?). The discussion in the comment section is especially good.

It's worth noting that Wattpad isn't only for writers:
During the summer of 2012, Wattpad in collaboration with Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet/novelist/literary critic, held the "Attys"; the first major poetry contest offering a chance to poets on Wattpad to compete against each other in one of two categories, either as an "Enthusiast" or a "Competitor" [emphasis mine]. (Wattpad, Wikipedia)
Have you tried Wattpad? If so, what did you think of the experience?

Other articles you might be interested in:
- Perfection Is The Death Of Creativity
- Jim Butcher On Writing
- NaNoWriMo: 5 Tips On How To Get Ready

Wednesday, August 22

Kristen Lamb: 5 Rules For Using Twitter Successfully

Kristen Lamb: 5 Rules For Using Twitter Successfully

Kristen Lamb gives great advice, especially when it comes to the no-man's land of social media, particularly Twitter and Twitter hash tags.

As many of you know, Kristen started the group #MyWANA as a kind of water cooler area for writers to hangout in and get to know one another. If you haven't dropped by yet, what are you waiting for? It's a wonderful virtual community that, now, is relatively spam free although, as Kristen shares in her most recent article, that has not always been the case.

What do we need to know about social media to be successful? Kristen says that the same social rules we learnt in Kindergarden still apply: be considerate.

Kristen's rules for social media success:

"RULE #1 Listening is as Important as Talking—We don’t need to tweet all the time, every hour to be heard."
Tweeting 24 times a day is too much! Of course whether you flood someones twitter account depends on how any people they follow, I try to not send more than 6 general tweets a day.

"RULE #2 You Will Be Graded on Attendance and Participation—NO AUTOMATION, PERIOD"
Kristen writes:
Recently on #MyWANA we had a link-spammer who would not stop spamming #MyWANA. I tweeted nicely and asked her to stop. So did at least a dozen other people. When nice didn’t work, we tried not-nice and tweeted “WHY ARE YOU SPAMMING #MyWANA? STOP!” I even blogged, then blogged AGAIN to make the mission and rules of #MyWANA clear and to gently discourage her behavior.

Still, she kept posting links…and more links…and, yes, even MORE links.

We finally blocked and reported her so much that Twitter shut down her account. What did she do? She opened a new one (or unlocked the reported account) and started link-spamming #MyWANA AGAIN, no matter how many times we told her that #MyWANA was for community.

Why didn’t she listen? Likely because she’d set up automation. Because she wasn’t present, she couldn’t see the fierce hatred we all had for her. Every time we saw her name, we saw red.

When I awoke yesterday to an entire column of tweets from this woman on #MyWANA, I took the fight to Facebook. This got her attention. She apologized and said she was only trying to help writers, that she had a good intentions, and I believe her but:

Good intentions + horrible manners = ticked off followers
"RULE #3 Each of Us Gets One Turn—We only need one identity on Twitter…really."
If you're a writer and you DO have more than one Twitter account, think about the trade-off you're making. The time spent in setting up and maintaining a second account versus time spent writing.

"RULE #4 Play Well with Others—Follow any #s we regularly use and pay attention to the Mentions column."
Excellent advice! And a great way to find useful articles.

"RULE #5 Remember the Golden Rule—Tweet Unto Others as You Would Have Them Tweet Unto You"
That says it all.

Read Kristen Lamb's entire article here: All We Needed To Know About Social Media Success, We Learned in Kindergarten.

Happy tweeting!

Other articles you might enjoy:
- 19 Ways To Grow Your Twitter Following
- 50 Shades Of Alice In Wonderland: Another Indie Success Story
- Kristen Lamb: Don't Let Trolls Make You Crazy

Thursday, August 9

Pinterest: A Writer's Best Friend

Kristen Lamb writes:
Pinterest is a splendid tool for word of mouth. With billions of posts a day on the Internet, we all suffer a discoverability problem. Pinterest (and sites like it) help that problem, so in my book, they ROCK. I hope I at least helped you look at Pinterest in a new way. We can take advantage of this site without a lot of the problems. And yes, it is another social site, but this one is easy and fun because who doesn’t love looking at pretty pictures?
To read Kristen's article, click here: Writers, Why It’s Time to Renew Your Love Affair with Pinterest

I love Pinterest, though I haven't spent as much time on it recently as I'd like. Too much time spent writing. ;-) I'm not complaining!

Here's my page on Pinterest, where's yours?

Further reading:
- Penelope Trunk Discusses Time Management
- 5 Book Review Blogs
- Helping Writers De-Stress: Meditation Apps

Tuesday, August 7

Ewan Morrison's Misconception

Ewan Morrison's Misconception

Ewan Morrison has made a number of incendiary remarks about the future of self publishing and social media. He believes that self publishing is a fad and that it's day will soon be over. Specifically, in his latest article, Why Social Media Isn't The Magic Bullet, he claims that writers who have published their work themselves will not be able to use social media as an effective means to grow a readership for their work.

My response: Time will tell. It seems to me a number of writers are doing just that, but if Mr. Morrison believes this is a bubble and it's about to burst, well, I guess we'll wait and see.

David Gaughran has a more active and literary response, one much more befitting an indie author. He writes:
This gets to the heart of Morrison’s misconception of how self-publishers use social media. It’s not about selling books, it’s about making connections. The only thing that has ever really sold books is word-of-mouth.

The difference today is that social media can act as an accelerant to the spreading of that “word.” If a reader discovers a book they enjoyed (whether self-published or not) they don’t have to wait until they meet somebody in person to recommend it to them. They can email their friends, blog about it, post it to Facebook, or tweet it (reaching all their friends in less time than it takes to meet one of them for coffee).

Note: I said “a reader” not the author. If you are friends with somebody, and trust their taste in books, you will place value in their recommendations. What happens with social media is that such recommendations can spread much more efficiently.

Authors – whether self-published or not – who attempt to mimic this organic process through relentless tweeting about their own work will soon find that such an approach is ineffective (and counterproductive).

That doesn’t mean that authors don’t do it. You only need to log on to Twitter and Facebook to see plenty of “buy my book” spam.

The problem for Morrison’s argument is that he (a) assumes that all self-publishers use social media in this way and (b) assumes that such marketing is integral to self-publishers’ sales/marketing strategies; neither claim bears any resemblance to reality. In fact, I would wager that there is an inverse relationship between a self-publisher’s sales and the amount of “buy my book” spam they emit.
Precisely! Growing a readership is about connecting with people, as Seth Godin says, it is all about building a tribe. And who wouldn't want to be part of a tribe? I'm part of many tribes/communities.

As David writes:
I don’t relentlessly tweet about my work. I announce a new release, or a special sale, and I might point my followers towards a nice review now and then – but that’s about it.

The rest of my time on Twitter or Facebook is spent connecting with people – hashing out the issues of the day, making friends, joking, sharing advice, seeking help, getting to know each other; you know, just like meeting people in real life.
David mentions that well-known self publisher Joanna Penn has a rule-of-thumb. 80% of the time don't say anything about what you're selling. Less than 20% of your social media time should be taken up with promoting your products.

That seems about right to me. By the way, if you haven't taken a look at Joanna's website, it is full of great articles. You can visit her here:

Further reading:
- The Harlequin Class Action Lawsuit Explained
- Helping Writers De-Stress: Meditation Apps
- Writer Beware: Outskirts Press

Photo credit: Alaskan Dude

Monday, July 9

Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog

I was surfing the electronic currents of the web when I chanced upon Elisabeth Spann Craig's Twylah page. It looks incredible! I signed up too and today received my own Twylah Page. I'm thrilled to bits.

For some time now I've been looking for a program that could do two things: first, show which of my tweets were the most popular and, second, display them in a blog-like interface.

Tweets and popularity
I've often wanted a quick way of determining which of my tweets were the most popular--I guess this is known as 'trending'. After all, I don't want to bore anyone! It's true, there are a number of programs that will tell you how many times a certain tweet has been retweeted (for instance Topsy Labs Social Analytics and Tweetreach) but, in my opinion, they lack clarity. That said, I love Topsy Analytics and use it all the time to find who is re-tweeting my tweets as well as interesting people to follow.

Blog-like interface for tweets
I'm not complaining about Twitter's interface. I like it that I can go to my twitter account and see a timeline of my tweets. I can't tell you how many times my cat has jumped onto my keyboard while I'm composing a Tweet and I need to find out whether it was cancelled or published prematurely.

That said, it would be handy to have an attractive visual interface which allowed a user to take in my most re-tweeted tweets at a glance.

I've only just received my Twylah page so all I can give you are my first impressions. I'll write again about my experience with the service after I've used it for a while.

If you'd like to try out Twylah, here's the link: Twylah. The service is still in beta so you have to request an invite, but I got mine after two or three days.

Other articles:
- Aherk! Makes Writing App 'Write Or Die' Look Tame
- Changes in Amazon's Algorithm: An Update
- Mark Coker, Founder Of Smashwords, Talks About Indie Publishing

Sunday, May 13

The Business of Writing: Using Google+

Mike Elgan talks about how he uses Google+ for all his social media. I had no idea Google+ could do all this!
Technology broadcaster Leo Laporte had me on his show, This Week in Tech (TWiT), recently. I mentioned that I publish all over the Internet automatically from my Google+ stream.
I said, for example, that I publish both a daily and a weekly email newsletter without doing anything. It just happens. Everything I write on Google+ is automatically posted on Twitter and Facebook, and it's made available as an RSS feed.
This is part of the appeal of Google+. It's the only service I'm aware of where you can do just about everything -- publish, chat, email and blog. You can even use it as a social network.
Read the rest here: Elgan: How I publish from Google+

One fantastic feature of Google+ that I've recently taken advantage of is automatically publishing my blog on Google+ as well as Blogger. It's easy!

All you have to do is merge your Blogger and Google+ accounts -- a procedure which at first seemed suspiciously Orwellian. I was hesitant at first, but am very glad I did. I prefer the look of my Google+ profile and it's easier for me to keep everything updated, not to mention that my blogs are now published to my Google+ circles.

If you're wondering how to merge your Blogger and Google+ accounts, here's how:

1. Go to your Blogger account, the main page.

2. Click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

3. Select the fourth option from the top, which should be "Connect to Google+". This will bring you to another page which will explain in great and glorious detail what will happen if you merge your accounts.

4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, accept the terms, press the button, and you're done!

If you change your mind, no worries. You have a month to do so and reverse any changes made.


Wednesday, November 9

Kristen Lamb: 3 kinds of social media platforms for writers

Kristen Lamb a savvy writer on any social media topic, and her latest post is no exception. It is a must read for any writer, whether traditionally or independently published. Even if you're thinking of publishing your work, you'll want to read this article.

First, Kristen Lamb talks about different kinds of platforms:
The Traditional Author

If you are agented and likely to be traditionally published, you have the backing of a publisher, an editor, an agent and people hired to help your books succeed. Thus, the burden of sales and marketing doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders. Focus on writing the best book you can write.

But, is a good book alone enough? No. And it never has been. How can I say this? I like to cite the BEA statistics of 2006. 93% of all books published (traditionally and non-traditionally) sold less than 1000 copies. So, for traditional authors, even with all those people working in your favor, the failure rate can be sobering of you rely solely on a good book alone. Historically, a writer had no control over changing these odds. Now, we have social media so we can help spark word-of-mouth. We are no longer forced to gamble, and that rocks ;) .

Also, what we need to always keep in mind is that social media has changed demands placed on traditionally published writers. Many times the publisher will expect the author to help with her own marketing and promotion. This is easier to do if when your first book is published, you aren’t trying to pull a platform out of the ether.

For the traditionally published author, you don’t need to do as much. If you want to blog and tweet and Facebook, then go for it. I think the stronger your platform, the better. My opinion? Being traditionally published does have advantages.There really isn’t a need to have a social platform the size of a self-pubbed author unless you want one. A great author to follow who has THE BEST advice for the traditionally published author is Jody Hedlund. Another fountain of wisdom in this crazy world? Anne R. Allen. Bookmark their blogs and listen to every word they tell you. These ladies will keep your head straight.

The Hybrid Author

Some of you might fall into the traditional category. Ah, but you have a bit of a wild side that likes to write essays, poetry , short stories, death threats, or manifestos. Now, in the changing paradigm, there is finally a cost-efficient way of getting these types of works to the reader. Ten years ago, no publisher would have taken a second look at a book of poetry because it might only sell 500 copies. It just was a terrible investment with dismal returns for the publisher and even the author.

Now? Just e-publish. Those 500 copies that looked so depressing before, now are darn spiffy sales numbers if you’re keeping 100% and putting out only time, effort, and a minimal cash investment. So, if you are wanting to try your hand at selling some self-published items, you need to have a larger platform and a greater presence to drive those sales. Pay attention to Chuck Wendig. He makes the second-oldest-profession-in-the-world look good and is not above showing a little leg.

The Indie

Yes, for the sake of brevity I am lumping a lot of stuff together. Indie has a lot of different flavors and I highly recommend listening to Bob Mayer and Jen Talty. Take one of their workshops because they are the experts when it comes to all the different publishing options in the new paradigm.

If you are an indie author, you have the backing of a small independent publisher. There is the upside of not being completely all on your own. I am with Who Dares Wins Publishing and I am blessed with a lot of expertise I don’t even know if I have the smarts to learn.

But, we need to point of the pink elephant in the room.

As awesome as indie presses are, logic dictates that most of them won’t have the manpower to help us in promotion and marketing like Random House or Penguin. We don’t get book placement in major chain bookstores or WalMart or Costco. We need a VERY LARGE PLATFORM. Sure, the indie press will help, but the lion’s share of the burden is ours.

Many new writers are carving out a career path by starting indie in hopes it will lead to traditional publication. Yet, here’s the deal. NY will want to see high sales numbers. Our social media platform is critical.

The Self-Published Author

Some of you love being in control of all aspects of your career. Web design, book covers, uploading? No sweat. There have been some tremendous success stories that have come out of the self-publishing world—Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory and John Locke are three that come to mind. These folks didn’t already have a name branded by traditional publishing. They rose out of the nothing with their own hard work….but boy did they WORK.

I was blessed enough to meet H.P. Mallory and listen to how she sold a bazillion books in six months and I needed a nap. John Locke? He is a MACHINE. I read his How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months and I thought it could be retitled as How to Kill a Writer in Less than a Year. The amount of work, planning, strategy was incredible (and I say this with the utmost amount of respect awe and yes…jealousy).

Yet, I do need to point out that Hocking, Mallory and Locke have all since signed with traditional/larger publishers. I think there comes a point when the workload is too much to maintain alone and long-term, but that might just be my opinion. Would have to ask them.

Thus, when we start thinking about our writing career, we need to be really honest about how much work we can do. Too many new writers think that self-publishing is a panacea, that all they need to do is upload their genius and people will buy.


If we look at the self-publishing success stories, the harder they worked, the luckier they got. Same with indie. If you are considering any kind of publishing outside of the traditional route, then ask the hard questions.

Can you write and maintain a blog and a social media presence? Can you do guest posts and blog tours and contests and create groups? Can you do all of his without the quality of your books suffering? Can you keep writing more books? In indie publishing and self-publishing, it is becoming clearer and clearer that those writers who can turn out books and quickly create a backlist are the ones that are the most successful.

What is your background and what do you bring to the table? Do you already possess a lot of technical expertise? H.P. Mallory left a career in Internet sales. She built her own website and uploaded, formatted and designed covers for all of her own books. If you don’t have the tech savvy, do you have money to hire people to do it for you? John Locke did. What is your background? Both Mallory and Locke came from a background in sales. That is a driven and fearless personality.

If you are writing under three pen names because you fear your family will find out you want to be a writer, then this might not be the best path. Things like time, money, background and personality all need to be considered when it comes to tailoring the right platform to the right publishing choice.

It is a wonderful time to be a writer and the sky is the limit. There are all kinds of generous people willing to offer time, help and expertise. My favorites are Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, and Bob Mayer. And if you are an unpublished writer?

Feel free to start with the Snuggie, but eventually? Yeah, you will have to hand it over lest it become your Lazy Blanket.
The above is only a part of Kristen Lamb's excellent article, I would encourage you to read the entire thing. You can find it here: Beware the Social Media Snuggie -- One Size Does NOT Fit All.

Friday, October 7

Book Promotion Tips for Hardcore Introverts

Hardcore introvert, that's me! I just found Lindsay Buroker through twitter (@GoblinWriter) and I just had to share a few of her tips for how introverts can flourish on the web:
Ignore the people who try to be everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, every forum, etc.), using these platforms as billboards for their stuff, sending out grating sales pitches all the time. If they’re selling books, it’s in spite of what they’re doing there rather than because of it.

So, what do you do?

1. Start a blog (if you’re like me, you’ll be most comfortable sharing your thoughts, and maybe throwing in a post or two about your books, on your own site because it’s a place people have voluntarily chosen to visit — you’re not bugging anyone in a “public” venue).

2. Pick one or two social media sites to get involved on (I’ve been on Twitter for ages — I like it since you’re forced to keep messages short so it’s not a big time sink — and I’ve recently started doing more with Facebook, since much of my target audience hangs out there).

3. Use those sites to get to know your fans (or people who, based on their profiles, might become your fans!), and also use them to promote interesting posts on your blog. People are a lot more likely to click on a link to a possibly-useful-to-them blog post than they are to click on a buy-my-book link. Then, through your blog, people can get to know your writing style and what you’re all about. (I use affiliate links to track sales that originate from my blog, and I sell more than I’d expect, given that I write about e-publishing instead of fantasy or something specifically for my target audience.)
You can read the entire article here: Book Promotion Tips for Hardcore Introverts