What Makes YOU So Special? A Guide to Creating Your Own Personal Brand

Social Media – October2013

Everyone is unique. Social media is where talented writers like us can shine. In just 20-30 minutes a day, you can master social media. We’re all busy. Most of us have days jobs. Here’s how to create a niche quickly.

Create a unique trademark

Use your writing genre to determine your social media alter-ego. Are you Captain Crime? Detective Danger? The Memory Keeper? Rhyming Rita? The Haiku Ninja?

My super power is encouragement. What’s yours? Find your passion. Become an expert. Draw people in with your enthusiasm.

Load daily content

I get up very morning, drink my coffee and open my email. First, I read my daily devotion, then I post a Bible verse and encouraging quote on my Facebook fan page and Twitter feed, different ones for each. After I check for messages on both, I start my day job. There are thousands of good sayings on www.quotegarden.com and www.brainyquote.com. Post fresh content every day. A line from your latest novel or poem will do nicely. Plan ahead!

Add a link to your latest blog post on your Facebook fan page. Not too often…twice a week is plenty. Conversation starters and funny quotes make interesting content. After dinner, read one blog post from a new or favorite author. Share a couple of your favorites every week with your readers.

Interact with your target audience

Personal attention and interaction is the key here. Try to give a reply to every comment and question. Follow Friday is my favorite day! You can share the love with all your writer friends. They get publicity and the ripples on the pond expand. All my Twitter followers have a chance to check out my friends’ work. #Hashtags are fun! Just condense your thoughts in a couple of words. I use #encourageher. Keep it short, though, Tweets are 140 characters. Period.

Attract loyal readers

The best way to attract followers is to be yourself. If you are passionate about your content, people will follow. It takes time and commitment. Your product is you. Give value. Be grateful. Show you care.

I check the stats on my blog site weekly to see how I’m doing. It’s fun to know that people in Bulgaria read my blog.

Now that you’ve created a unique trademark, loaded daily content, interacted with your target audience and attracted loyal readers, you are officially a Social Media Super Hero!

Getting the word out

I try to be active on social media (anyone who follows me on Twitter is now laughing hysterically).  Like many, though, I need to get a lot better.

Someone asked me why Twitter and Facebook (etc., etc.) are important – wouldn’t I be better off writing?  True, I do procrastinate a bit more than I should in checking Facebook (I’m sure many of our members can relate), but social media does serve a purpose besides avoiding work.  There’s news and information about contests – and the latest publishing debacle.  The ability to interact with writers all over the world – some unknown and some quite famous.  Moreover, there’s opportunity: Twitter hosts pitch sessions and gives agents a place to list what they’re looking for (#MSWL – for Manuscript Wish List).

To be able to play, though, you have to get in the game.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Blogging. Where to start, and what to do?  For this reason, I’m so looking forward to Saturday’s meeting.  Carol Martin will be talking social media, and she knows a lot.  She had I have had several brief chats to discuss what to cover, and those chats have left me wanting more.  She’ll start out simply (so if you have no idea what a tweet is, you’ll be fine) and let questions from the attendees guide her.

Feel free to bring your laptop or tablet and play along  Rockwell Library does have internet if you’re a Wichita Library patron.  The meeting will start at 1:30, and should wind down around 3:30.  If people are interested, there will be an informal critique session afterwards (bring about 5 pages of your work).

We’re starting to ponder next year’s meetings, so if you have any idea for one of those let one of the Board members know.  What topics would you like covered in a meeting?  In a workshop?  We’ll probably have a social media meeting at least once a year, as the internet is constantly evolving.

I’d be quite remiss if I didn’t mention National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org).   Granted, writing 50,000 words in a month isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you need a kick in the pants it’s a fun experience.  NaNoWriMo starts November 1, so you still have plenty of time to sign up!   We’ve quite a few WriMos on the Board, so you will have company.

We did have our second write-in, which was a blast!  Our next one will be October 24 at McAlister’s Deli on Rock Road.  We totally stole the idea of write-ins from NaNo – it’s a great way to be social and yet get some work done.

Keep the words flowing!



The Future of KWA

Greetings, fellow wordsmiths!  I hope the writing is going well!

I’d like to invite all of you to our August meeting.  Besides having an awesome panel discussion, we are going to review the changes that the Board has agreed on to help KWA continue to thrive.

KWA has been around for 16+ years.  It hasn’t changed much since its inception.  This is a problem – it means we’re no longer serving our members.  Publishing has changed.  Researching has changed.  Writing has changed. Even the ability to meet and interact with other writers has changed.  The world we live in today is not something anyone could have envisioned 16 years ago.

We had several Board meetings in July to discuss how to make KWA relevant.  We kept several questions in mind: What would best serve our membership?   How do we offer our members even more opportunities to interact?  How do we promote our members – and help them learn how to promote themselves?  How do we best utilize our resources?  We took a hard look at all of our offerings to decide what to focus on for our future.

Effective immediately, we will no longer have an Adult Contest and will take an indefinite hiatus from the Scene Conference.  However, we will continue to offer a Youth Contest, as that is unique to our organization. Samantha LaFantasie is now Youth Chair.

Starting in September, the newsletter will become a weekly email with links to articles on our website and member news (book release parties, signings, blog tours, etc.).

In 2014, we will change the monthly meetings.  We will still have monthly meetings, and the majority will remain open (anyone can attend).  However, we will host special members-only meetings with special guests and/or featured topics.  More critique meetings will be added.  We are also going to rearrange the Board, and have only four Board positions (President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer).  All other Board positions will become committee chairs.

A lot of change, yes?  But wait, there’s more!

K.R. Bartelheimer, our Treasurer, is going to host a regular write-in every two weeks.  Location and time are currently TBD.  Gordon Kessler, our current Ambassador and founding member of KWA, is going to start an affiliate program in the Kansas City area.  We’re not quite sure what that entails just yet, but we are excited to be able to reach more of Kansas.

We do appreciate your patience as we strive to incorporate these changes, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Keep writing!  Lisette

Thinking Outside the Box

Last weekend, our monthly KWA meeting was all about Thinking Outside the Box, that pesky thing that tends to place boundaries on how we can be successful.  The following brief synopsis was provided by our own H.B. Berlow, the facilitator for the day’s proceedings.  Be sure to leave a comment below explaining how you’ve been successful thinking outside the box!

Why is it that people tell you not to try something different?   Is it because they think you’ll fail?  Or because what you’re trying to do is just so out of the realm of the usual that it almost doesn’t make sense?

Well, that’s why you’re a writer.  Remember: doing something the same way all the time and expecting different results is crazy.

Looking for an agent used to be as easy as getting the latest copy of the thickest book you could find that listed every agent, editor, and publisher known to mankind. The problem is that once it was printed, it was practically obsolete.  Writer’s Market offers an online service for a monthly fee that is updated regularly. In the Digital Age, that’ called Real Time.

But take it one step further. Figure out what books are similar to yours.  Go on to Amazon.com and look those books up.  There is a section called CUSTOMERS WHO BOUGHT THIS ITEM ALSO BOUGHT.  Now, you have more books similar to yours. A Google search will help identify the agents.

You know you need a platform. So, you start with Facebook, then add a Twitter feed, and ultimately get a Website or a Blog. Independently, they will not draw in as large a crowd as you might think. You have to make sure your Blog posts automatically hit Twitter and get onto Facebook. More importantly, you want to have something to say.

But why just post commentary and profound thoughts? Consider the visual components as a substantial way to impress your targeted audience.  Book trailers are a relatively easy thing to create on your own.  Windows Movie Make, your digital camera, and some creative thought and you have just given your audience a tangible visual.  Or a board on Pinterest with captions from your book. Show them scenes and locations. You might even take a photo of a person that resembles your main character.

The most important thing is that technology does not have to be used in a strict and rigid fashion. A typical household will have computers and digital cameras. From there, the possibilities are endless. As long as you network, keep in touch with other writers, musicians, artists, you will be able to expand beyond the box and even beyond your dreams.

H.B. Berlow studied filmaking and creative writing at the University of Miami in the 1980s and was involved in the Boston Poetry Scene in the mid 90s.  He has been a member of KWA since 2007.  He was recently the featured writer on Keyhole Conversations, Writers Who Cook.  His novels, Kansas Two-Step and Quick, are available at Amazon, Smashwords, and Lulu.  H.B. also blogs at The Tikiman Says

Can You Pitch?

Our July Program on The High Concept Pitch really educated members on the Dos & Don’ts of ‘pitching’ our work to readers, agents, and publishers.  HB Berlow led the program.  Then several participants whipped up their own “pitches” on the spot.

The following excerpt is from HB’s article in the August  KWA newsletter.  For full text, access the newsletter as a PDF by going here.

The primary purpose of the Pitch is to convince somebody of importance that your work is worthwhile.

For the professional Pitch, there should be some basic elements for the potential agent or publisher to be made aware of.

Identify the Genre and the time period, especially if it is not contemporary.

Beyond the conflict/basic story, you have to be able to identify exactly what about your novel is different from others in the same genre. A murder mystery contains a murder and the discovery of the perpetrator. Is your story different because of the “detective” or because of the “murderer?” Is there an element, like illness or familial relation that causes this to be unique? This element is the Hook.

There should also be a Comparative. Show how your work is similar to successful works of your genre. You must be careful not to identify it so closely to that greater work so as to avoid sounding too haughty or egotistical.

Even more difficult is the Elevator or High-Concept Pitch.

Whereas the standard Pitch is three or four paragraphs and closely resembles a query letter, the High-Concept Pitch is everything mentioned above…but in one sentence.

There are two reasons why crafting a Pitch is so important. The obvious is that you may encounter someone who could make your publishing dream come true. That will be a rare opportunity but a golden one as well. Make sure you are ready. Additionally, it will force you to focus on your work, identify its absolute essence. We love our work, as we should. Too often we gush over it until it resembles Niagara Falls. It would be better if it resembled a softly flowing brook.

Finally, be enthusiastic and energetic about your Pitch.  Someone who listens to you and recognizes that YOU are not into it will not be into it EITHER.

Samantha LaFantasie put together a great list of internet resources:





Don’t Revile the Rewrite

I’m gearing up to talk about Editing and Revising this Saturday at our monthly meeting (you ARE planning to attend, aren’t you? There’ll be snacks, and air-conditioning). Funny thing about writers: Mention rewriting or revising, and you’re guaranteed an eye roll, a groan, or a slump in even the squarest of shoulders.

Why do we feel so defeated by this step in the writing process? I have a few theories.

  • Writing is more than arduous. It’s bloodletting. Once we’re finished, we want to be done. All done. Do painters splash thinner over large patches of their canvas two or three times before they declare their work complete? No. Why do we have to?
  • It’s a division-of-labor thing. Why do we have to go find our own mistakes? Isn’t that why God made editors?

But that’s just not the nature of writing. Pencils have erasers. Keyboards have delete keys. And there’s a reason: We can make it better.

I am primarily a journalist. I get assignments (i.e., other people’ story ideas), I interview and research, and I write a story. I’m usually up against a deadline and don’t have much time for refinement. So I actually envy those of you who specialize in fiction and have generally open-ended timelines. You can go back, reshape, rethink, reimagine. This is a luxury.

More than once, I’ve had an article appear in print only to notice a minor typo or error (yes! I admit it!), or a missed opportunity for a great turn of phrase. And the forehead-smacking begins. It’s like thinking of a great comeback long after your nemesis has left the room.

Editing and revision is a discipline, one of those things we have to develop as a skill and a habit. Your story is a treasure. Rewriting is the tool that helps you find it. Sometimes it’s a pickaxe, and sometimes it’s a featherweight brush, but either way, it will help you unearth the gems hidden inside your first draft and polish them until they gleam.

Hope to see you this Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Rockwell branch library (address and map link are at right). Bring a work in progress, or something to write with, and we’ll conduct an exercise or two to illustrate the benefits of the rewrite.

Erin Perry O’Donnell

Freelance Writer and KWA Webmaster

Share a Story at our May Workshop

We’re peeling back the layers of fiction genres and sub-genres at our monthly meeting this Saturday, May 21. But we’re also making time to let our members strut their stuff. You’re invited to bring something you’ve written and read it aloud. It can be a short story, poem, essay, or a scene from your novel. Just keep it brief enough so we have time for everyone who wants to participate.

We love talking about writing but we love hearing what our members can do too — maybe more. It’s one thing to know your fellow writers struggle with the same issues you do. But we can’t just talk about the process all the time. Sometimes, we want results! How did you resolve that point-of-view conflict? What moved your dialogue from static to snappy? Let us be inspired and moved by what you actually have written. And if you’re just a little too shy about public speaking to step up the podium, consider letting someone else read for you. This isn’t a critique session per se but you never know, you may get some feedback that you needed.

Children’s Authors Wanted for Panel

KWA Member Carol Martin is looking for three or four children’s authors to hold a book talk/panel discussion at the Ark City Public Library in April. This event is sponsored by the Cowley County Writers Guild.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please email Carol at cjmartin62@yahoo.com.