Thursday, April 4, 2019

9 Tips to Help You Build Your Online Community


by Cat Michaels

INTRODUCTION
The thought of starting an online presence kept me up at night when I began my indie writing career in 2013.  I knew social media was a brilliant platform for connecting people and discovering books.  But where to start?  And what if I embarrassed myself by saying something stupid in cyberspace?  Plus, who’d want to hear from newbie me anyway? 

I see you scratching your head just as I did.  You’re wondering how creatives can build professional relationships in cyberspace with someone you’d never bump into at the corner Starbuck’s.

You can do it!  (Yes, even you introverts looking skeptical and scared.) 

You start by being RARE as you demonstrate–
R         respect
A         authenticity
R         reciprocity
E          expertise

If you’re an indie author or trade-published, these 9 tips will help you build your RARE social media presence.


1.  START SLOW TO GO FAST

·         Be clear about your social media goals. 
Everybody wants to find followers and be discovered.  Do you also want support from other writers?  Advice on book launching?  Connections to niche groups, like marketing a book on iguanas to senior citizens?

·         Explore and research.
Start with keyword searches to identify groups in your writing niche, such as most successful romance writers, best websites for writers, or most popular children's books. Most will have social media links you can dig into. 

Look for stats and demographics for different social media platforms to discover where your readers spend their time.  For instance:

Pinterest: half of all US millennials use Pinterest at least once monthly, and the site’s most popular category in the US is art/art supplies/hobbies, followed by food and decorating (Sprout Social).  If you write non-fiction about a crafting hobby or a cozy novel featuring a 30-something female chef, Pinterest should be on your radar.

Goodreads: a brilliant site for book discoverability that hosts 80 million avid readers. You’ll want to set up an author account and join the conversation about books.

Twitter: touted as a micro-blog with breezy messages of 280 characters or less, Tweets are sent at a rate of about 350,000 per minute.  You’ll meet tweeps who blog about books, are wild about book giveaways, and more.  I find Twitter can be troll-heavy and divisive, but it’s the favorite platform of many writerly colleagues.

Instagram: another millennial hangout, visual content uploaded on mobile devices with multiple hashtags reigns on IG.  Searching for popular hashtags by niche, like #bookworm for readers or #writersofinstagram writing groups, helps you find communities to follow.

Facebook:  my author page here is my go-to platform because it’s where purchasers of my children’s books spend time.  Facebook has hundreds of genre and sub-genre interest communities. Some are open groups, and others are closed, so commenting stays safe within the group.  You must ask to join closed groups, but it shouldn’t be an issue if your interests match theirs.

·         Is your head exploding? Mine was when I started!  To keep from being overwhelmed, begin with a single – one – uno – ein-  platform where your readers hang out.

2.  Go Pro
Delineate your personal and professional life.
·         Yep.  Once you decide on that single platform your readers love, it’s time to set up a separate account to share information about your business (yes, writing IS a business!) to differentiate from family life.  Aunt Sue will appreciate her vacation pictures staying private, and you can still boast about your silly pet tricks to Cousin Ed without confusing your authorly personae.

3. HONOR GROUND RULES
·         Once you identify groups to observe, look for guidelines in the 'about' section that summarize the group’s purpose and rules.  Some sites are devoted to sharing interests and don’t take kindly to authors promoting books.  Other communities encourage marketing discussions.
·         Spend time on places that resonate with you and observe how people interact.  Is it a good fit for you?
·         Begin to follow people and pages that offer dynamic interaction and frequently post fresh content in your interest/book niche with a positive spirit. 

4. "ENGAGE!"– Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek
Clapping for you here!  You researched and zeroed in on people and places. Time to engage.
·         With your newly opened professional account, test the waters by liking, sharing or favoring posts.
·         Ask a thoughtful question or comment on a topic you’re comfortable with.  I was so nervous writing my first posts!  Spent 10 minutes just drafting them.  Promise: it gets easier.  Now I whip ‘em out, and even use native and free tools (like Buffer and Hootsuite) to schedule posts in advance.
·         You're building brand YOU, so your actions should reflect a genuine interest that shows who you are as a person and a professional.  I confine engagements as a children’s book author to family-friendly content.  

5.  THOU SHALT NOT SPAM
Rule of Thirds
Carla King, Author of Self-Publishing Books: A Guide for Authors, proposes a social media Rule of Thirds that’s good for indie or trade-published authors.  (Yep.  Publishers expect their creatives to have a social media presence.  No escape.)  King suggests dividing posts equally among promoting/selling, supporting like-minded authors or businesses, and revealing yourself as a person and author:
·         33% PROMOTE:
Okay, I promote more when I launch books or run special offers.  But otherwise, I keep marketing contained.
·         33% SUPPORT:
Actively seek and support others.  It’s pure delight to see their reaction!  (More about supporting others coming up on #6 ) 
·         33% INSIGHTS:
Who are you as an author/illustrator and citizen of this planet?  Readers want to know! 

I love sharing my interests but make them relatable to my readers and my writerly life as plain ole me.  When Stephen King (who has more than 4M Facebook followers!) posts a cute photo of his pooch
Molly, aka the Thing of Evil, and posits she can unleash a battalion of zombie Irish Wolfhounds on Vermont, he gets 54K likes.  So, he shares an amusing tidbit about his personal life and ties it to his genre.  Pure genius!

6.  OFFER VALUE, THANKS AND CREDIT
Don’t shake your head wondering, What can I offer?  Yes, there are a gazillion people in cyberspace, but no one is YOU. 
·         What’s your unique expertise and interest?  Whether it’s grammar, baking, photography or sports, use those talents to demonstrate how you'll add to the conversation.
·         Share ideas from wise people in your field and be sure to attribute their ideas.  That’s easy to do on Facebook and Twitter: adding @ in front of someone’s name automatically tags them.  I discovered early on that the more I share, the more others engage, and friendships start.  How cool is that!
·         When people interact with you in positive ways, they’re reaching out, trying to make a connection.  Show interest by responding as soon as possible. Personalize your reply by using the individual's name. 
·         As you gain followers (and you will!) routinely thank them.  People are always happy to hear they are appreciated!

7. GET VISUAL
Studies show that posts with visual images receive the most engagement. 
·         Create original content that supports your brand and interests readers by uploading free public domain photos through sources like Pixabay or Unsplash.
https://pixabay.com
http://www.unsplash.com
·         Take advantage of free online editing and design tools, like Canva and PicMonkey. They turn plain posts into dazzling visuals with text overlays with the click of a mouse.
https://www.canva.com
http://www.picmonkey.com
·         Videos also boost engagement.  Many of my author friends have great on-camera presence and do live feeds.  I’m not there yet. However, a no-frills 30-second video of ice pelting my garden or ducks on my nature walk that’s captured with my Iphone get 2-3 times my usual organic reach. 

8.  EWWWWW…..GET OUT OF MY DIRECT MESSAGE INBOX!
·         Repeat after me:
“I will never DM or reply to new followers with a buy-my-book or follow-me-on-Insert-Social-Media url.”
This is the cyber-equivalent of being badgered by a plaid-suited used-car salesperson. When I get one of those messages, I delete and unfollow in a heartbeat. 

9.  SLOW PROGRESS IS PROGRESS
·         Building your online presence is like building a wall.  The foundation must be firm, and the rest assembled from there with care and precision. Cutting corners could bring the whole structure crashing down. 
·         When I started, it felt like eons passed before I got traction, no matter how hard I tried. True confession: some days, I still want to tear my hair out because building and maintaining online connections takes effort.  

OUTRO:
Now you’re ready to jump on social media.  People will follow you as they experience the RARE online voice that is Y*O*U because you demonstrate….
R         respect
A         authenticity
R         reciprocity
E          expertise

Good luck on your journey.  Let me know how you’re doing and what’s working for you.  Hey, if we’re not connected in cyberspace, let’s make it happen and be RARE together. 


BIO
Cat Michaels started writing stories in fourth grade and hasn’t stopped since. She has an M.S. degree in special education, two decades of teaching experience, and has managed communication and training programs. Cat and her family live in North Carolina where she designs pocket gardens, dabbles in photography and graphic design, works out nearly every day, and writes.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Website 
www.catmichaelswriter.com

Cat’s award-winning book

Twitter                      
http://www.twitter.com/catmichaelsbook 

Facebook                   
https://www.facebook.com/catmichaelswriter

Instagram                  

Goodreads

Pinterest                    
http://www.pinterest.com/catmichaels


YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/user/catmichaelswriter

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Five Ways to Build a Sustainable Author Platform

Whether you’re a seasoned author or someone just stepping into the publishing waters, you have undoubtedly heard about the importance of building an author platform. In case you haven’t heard this term, your author platform is essentially the way in which you engage with your target audience. For some authors, a certain social media channel is their main platform. For others, it’s their teaching or speaking careers. For others, it’s a blog or website. For most, it’s a combination of a few of these things.  

Authors often ask us which are the best platforms for them. The answer is this: the best platform for you is one that is A) reaching your target audience and B) sustainable for you. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and that is a good thing! The more unique and organic ways you can reach your audience, the better! 

That said, there are definitely some things that all great author platforms have in common. Here’s what we have seen work for authors to build a sustainable platform which sells books!

Engage, consistently.
We cannot stress this enough. Simply having an Instagram or LinkedIn account is not a platform! You absolutely must join groups, respond to comments, and communicate directly with people on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
Build a platform where
your audience spends the most time. Facebook might be your favorite social media platform, but what’s the use being there if that’s not where your audience is? Any research you do into where to best find your readers will be well worth your time and energy.
Utilize a content calendar.
It can be really overwhelming to feel the need to post and interact with people on a consistent basis. That’s why you should keep a calendar. Can you commit to a once per month newsletter? Can you schedule posts to your social media 3x a week for the next month, so you don’t have to worry about it on a daily basis?
Collect email addresses.
One thing we can say with certainty is your email list is an important part of building your platform, regardless of genre. Use a service such as Mailchimp to store and send beautiful emails to your audience about the things you’re up to.

Have fun.
This might seem silly, but hear us out. We are naturally attracted to positive, inspirational people. When we see an author who is clearly loving what they do, it’s much easier to want to support them and give their book a try. Use your platform to show that you love this work, even when it’s hard! Your audience will grow organically because of it.




Roseanne Cheng is an author of two award-winning young adult books. She is the marketing director at Wise Ink Creative Publishing and co-author of Buzz: The Ultimate Guide to Book Marketing.

You can find her at  wiseink.com.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What to do with that Terrific Book Review

So your book just got an excellent review . . . Congratulations! Good reviews are like gold. If you're fortunate enough to get one, you'll want to make sure you do everything possible to put that endorsement to work for you to help sell more books. So where do you start? Here are a few tips for ways to help spread the word about recommendations for your book . . .






Press Releases
Submit your book review as a press release to all your local media (newspapers, magazines, radio, television news, etc.) If your book appeals to a specific niche, make sure you submit your press release to any publications online, or otherwise, which cater to the demographic of your readership. Don't forget to use online free press release services to help spread the word.

Back Cover
If you've received a positive review from a reputable review agency, make sure you put it out there where potential buyers can see it. Use a quote, or an excerpt of a quote for any future print runs of your book. Don't forget to credit the source of the reviewer; if you've received a great review from the New York Times, then you want to make sure everyone knows about it!

Banners & Signage
If you're attending book-signings at festivals or other venues, you'll want to create professional looking signage. Banners and signs are a great place to promote positive reviews of your book. Take the time to do this well. Professional looking banners with sturdy banner-stands are eye-catching and can do wonders to create a professional image for you and your book. If a banner is impractical, or out of the budget, you can also print professional looking signs to place inside plexiglass frames.

Social Media
Do you have a blog? Great! Post your review there. Don't forget to share your review on your Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn pages. Make sure to use #hashtags to increase your post's visibility. Go ahead, be shameless, and ask your friends and family to like and share your posts.

Amazon's Editorial Reviews
The Editorial Review Section on your Amazon Author Central profile was created to help you bring attention to your professional reviews and literary achievements. This is a great place for sharing your success as an author!

GoodReads Profile
Post your reviews in your GoodReads profile (go to your dashboard to do this). Also, don't forget to blog the review in GoodRead's blog section.

Your Barnes and Noble Profile
Post your review in the section entitled: More About This Book. Take the time to get this right the first time though, because Barnes and Noble does not make it easy to edit your posts here.

Your Website
Post all, or a portion of your all your positive reviews on your website. Don't forget to include images and logos (with permission) to help bring attention to those reviews which have been provided from reputable and well-recognized agencies. If you have a media page include a PDF of your review which can be downloaded directly from your site.

Your Sell-Sheet
Your sell-sheet is the perfect place to include reviews of your book. A sell-sheet should include pertinent information for bookstores, libraries and buyers to tell them why and how to purchase your book.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sage Advice from a Teen Author!



- Katelynn Renteria

As a teen author, I would like to share some advice I have learned that has helped me keep the elusive calm in the constant chaos of publishing a book. I wrote my first novel at age 14, and was published at age 16. I am now a self-published author and often still think to myself, what have I learned throughout this process?

1. Fall off the bandwagon! Be yourself. Be bold, daring, and show your audience who you really are. From the pictures that you post on social media to the marketing and promotion of your book, make sure your audience sees what’s in your heart so they can read what’s on your mind.

2. Audience building is key. You could have written the best book on the shelf, but if you don’t build your audience, then you have missed your target. Use social media such as Facebook pages and Twitter to show your friends and people who follow you that you have a lot to say.

3. Make positive connections. Networking with other authors and meeting new people to add to your following is a must to have your social media thrive. By growing your presence and promote other authors as well as yourself, you are able to grow your audience and reach your target. Marketing and book promotion is easier when you connect with friends that already have a large audience halfway around the world.

4. Write your heart out. Critics exist because of the great works in this world. Do not be afraid to write what’s really on your mind instead of wondering if someone will like your story. It’s your story. Make it count.

5. Make sure you fall in love with your characters first. They are the reason people will buy your book. Talk about your characters as if they were in the room. After all, you want your audience to go home with them.


Katelynn Renteria is a teen author from South Texas. She is a 2017 Recipient of the Literary Classics Silver Book Award in the middle school division for her YA fiction novel, The Other Side of the Law. Katelynn advocates literacy in the Rio Grande Valley by visiting South Texas communities and promoting the importance of reading and writing to children and teens. The sequel to her award-winning novel is near completion.  Links: www.amazon.com/author/katelynnrenteria

Saturday, October 21, 2017

How to Make the Most of a Good Review of Your Book

So your book just got an excellent review . . . Congratulations! Good reviews are like gold. If you're fortunate enough to get one, you'll want to make sure you do everything possible to put that endorsement to work for you to help sell more books. So where do you start?  Here are a few tips for ways to help spread the word about recommendations for your book . . .




Press Releases
Submit your book review as a press release to all your local media (newspapers, magazines, radio, television news, etc.)   If your book appeals to a specific niche, make sure you submit your press release to any publications online, or otherwise, which cater to the demographic of your readership.  Don't forget to use online free press release services to help spread the word. 
Back Cover
If you've received a positive review from a reputable review agency, make sure you put it out there where potential buyers can see it. Use a quote, or an excerpt of a quote for any future print runs of your book.  Don't forget to credit the source of the reviewer; if you've received a great review from the New York Times, then you want to make sure everyone knows about it!
Banners & Signage
If you're attending book-signings at festivals or other venues, you'll want to create professional looking signage.  Banners and signs are a great place to promote positive reviews of your book.  Take the time to do this well.  Professional looking banners with sturdy banner-stands are eye-catching and can do wonders to create a professional image for you and your book.  If a banner is impractical, or out of the budget, you can also print professional looking signs to place inside plexiglass frames.  
Social Media
Do you have a blog?  Great!  Post your review there.  Don't forget to share your review on your Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn pages. Make sure to use #hashtags to increase your post's visibility.  Go ahead, be shameless, and ask your friends and family to like and share your posts.  
Amazon's Editorial Reviews
The Editorial Review Section on your Amazon Author Central profile was created to help you bring attention to your professional reviews and literary achievements. This is a great place for sharing your success as an author!
GoodReads Profile
Post your reviews in your GoodReads profile (go to your dashboard to do this).  Also, don't forget to blog the review in GoodRead's blog section.
Your Barnes and Noble Profile
Post your review in the section entitled: More About This Book.  Take the time to get this right the first time though, because Barnes and Noble does not make it easy to edit your posts here.  
Your Website
Post all, or a portion of your all your positive reviews on your website.  Don't forget to include images and logos (with permission) to help bring attention to those reviews which have been provided from reputable and well-recognized agencies. If you have a media page include a PDF of your review which can be downloaded directly from your site.  
Your Sell-Sheet
Your sell-sheet is the perfect place to include reviews of your book. A sell-sheet should include pertinent information for bookstores, libraries, and buyers to tell them why and how to purchase your book.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thoughts on Bublish

by Patricia Reding
An author’s being active on social media is necessary these days. It is a way to get one’s name out and to help to build a following. But it takes precious time from the writer’s craft and we writers are often left wondering if it’s all worth it. Then, along came Bublish (at www.Bublish.com).  Without a doubt, I’ve come to love this tool.

These days, it is fairly easy to discover what readers think of works. They tell us, most notably, through their posted reviews. There are also outlets like Wattpad that give them the opportunity to comment on bits and pieces of an overall work and even to engage in discussions with the author. But Bublish is different because its focus is for an author to share with readers the back story behind her creations.

The concept of Bublish is that the author takes portions of her work and then shares them with readers, adding comments about those excerpts. The author might explain how those portions of the story came to be, or how real-life events brought the portions about or influenced them in some manner. For example, I’ve written “Book Bubbles” about such things as:

How I struggled with the idea of whether or not to include an introduction/preface to my tale: http://bit.ly/1YyN6Xb;

What words and concepts I used in the opening scene to create suspense: http://bit.ly/1HtGNzS

The significance of smell/scent (an oft-forgotten sense) in my stories: http://bit.ly/1HtJOAb;

How I research for information while writing: http://bit.ly/1HtX5sD; and

How I use “doorways” and similar devices to urge readers to continue reading: http://bit.ly/1Q5Pinn.

And take a look at the “look” of Bublish. It is quite handsome, don’t you agree?

Picture
Once a BookBubble is created and posted, the author may share it on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Then the magic of Bublish really begins, as the author can follow her metrics to discover how many views there have been of the Bubble and on what outlets, the number of times it was shared by email or re-posted on Twitter or Facebook, the number of viewers who checked out the author’s profile on Bublish or elsewhere, and so on. What’s more, the author can see what retailers those who saw a BookBubble went to so as to check out the work. But Bublish does not stop there. It also allows readers to “follow” the author so as to receive notice every time the author posts a new BookBubble, keeping the author’s name and works in the reader’s sights.

I would love for you to follow me on Bublish. Just click the “Follow on Bublish” button at https://www.bublish.com/author/view/6479 and join me for the background to my creating the Oathtaker journey!
Multi-award-winning author Patricia Reding leads a double life. By day, she practices law. By night, she reads, reviews a wide variety of works, and writes fantasy. She lives on an island on the Mississippi with her husband and youngest daughter (her son and oldest daughter having already flown the nest), and Flynn Rider (an English Cream Golden Retriever). From there she seeks to create a world in which she can be in two places at once. She started writing The Oathtaker Series as a challenge, and re-discovered along the way, the joy of storytelling.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Power of Visualizing the Story

by K.B. Hoyle

I love to draw. I'm not terrible at drawing, but I'm also not very good. Like most of the creative arts, I have a natural knack for it, and if I had ever received good instruction, I probably could have become quite proficient, but alas and alack for time and energy and life. When I was a child and had more of all three, I used to keep sketchbooks for all my stories, and those sketchbooks were like gold to me. You see, I'm an incredibly visual person, and as such, my stories live first in my head--in full, vivid, sharp detail--and it's always been the case for me that the itch to get the images down on paper has overwhelmed, at times, my better sense that tells me I'm not a good enough artist to do the images justice. (Someday I'm convinced I WILL make movies, but there's so much that has to happen first.)

When you're writing a story, however, getting the images just right IS important, and that's one reason why my bumbling attempts to draw what is inside my head has always frustrated me. Yes, I realize it's my job to paint pictures with my words, but when creating worlds that don't exist, the longing to see those worlds is sometimes overwhelmingly powerful. And I'm not one to believe we ever create ex nihilo, so sometimes having the images to view as we create is also, in and of itself, a form of inspiration.

So allow me to let you all in on a little secret of mine... Now, instead of sketching out my characters or settings, I collect images on Pinterest. I've had an author account on Pinterest for years, but I kind of just picked at it, never really realizing its full potential until recently when I downloaded the app. And Pinterest is so vast, I can usually find just what I have in my mind, or close enough, or sometimes (even better) what I never knew I wanted but come to realize is related to my idea through the Pinterest search engines. Eureka! Now I scroll through it while cooking dinner and doing other menial tasks, and I collect images to people and inspire my worlds. Some of my boards (like my Girl in the Sea board) are public, but I keep several private boards full of images for future projects I'll someday release to be viewed by all--once the books are written. I can't tell you how helpful Pinterest has been for me as a working mother who also--oh yeah--writes books, public speaks, and manages all my own marketing and social media on the side! I no longer have time to sketch, but I do have time to Pinterest, and that means I can still visualize my stories. And if I can visualize my stories, I can better bring them to life through words, and that benefits my readers.

Check out my Pinterest boards HERE! I hope you will be encouraged to start your own writing inspiration boards, too.





K. B. Hoyle is a multiple award-winning author, a public speaker, and a creative writing instructor. She and her husband have four sons who test their sanity on a daily basis. Learn more about her and her books at kbhoyle.com.