Social Media & Upcoming Madness (aka NaNoWriMo)

We’ve all been told how important it is to network and promote.  Saturday’s meeting was informative and inspiring.  Sadly, Sonny wasn’t there so I have no pictures to share.  If you missed the meeting, Carol has kindly posted an overview complete with slides (if the slides malfunction, that’s my fault).

We did spend a fair amount of time talking about Twitter, and I wanted to add a few hashtags that have developed with the writer in mind: #writing, #amwriting, #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List: agents post what they’re looking for) and #RBWL (Reader Blogger Wish List).  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our own K.T.’s #writemotivation hashtag, where writers congregate to cheer each other on in achieving goals.  More information can be found at her blog, The Scribble Muse (kthanna.com).

If you want to interact face-to-face, our next write-in will be this Thursday at McAlister’s Deli on Rock Road from 5-ish to 9-ish.  Write-ins are informal – show up when you can and stay as long as you are able.  You can write, solicit opinions, get help with craft, discuss a sticky plot point – the possibilities are endless.

We borrowed the concept of write-ins from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Many of the Board members are NaNo enthusiasts, and are planning to participate in this year’s adventure (and NaNo is always an adventure).  The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words, the length of a short book.  For most genre writers, that’s a heck of a start.  You can write short stories, poems, essays, or flash fiction if novels are not your thing.  If you’re thinking of joining us, you still have time to sign up at nanowrimo.org.  We are going to create a forum on the website for those KWA writers participating this year (stay tuned for more details).

Keep on writing!  Lisette

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!

Ten Things Your Author Website Should Contain

The key to online visibility for an author/writer is a superior website. It is the foundation on which to build your writing career. A quality website can bring notoriety, popularity, respect and brand recognition. Conversely, a poorly-crafted URL may give you little notice in the digital world.

Following is a list of the ten items a writer’s website needs:

  1. Biography of the author
  2. List of books written by the author
  3. Calendar: dates where readers can meet and interact with the author
  4. Photos of the author, plus past events, appearances, speeches
  5. Links to purchase books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other websites
  6. Subscribe to e-newsletter
  7. Links to the author’s Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest fan pages
  8. Link to book trailer(s)
  9. Author’s blog
  10. Contact page: where readers can write a fan letter or request an appearance

Some authors like to have their latest book or a main character take the lead on their website, like Lee Child (www.leechild.com), whose character, Jack Reacher, is the focus, or “The Passage” book trilogy, by Justin Cronin (www.enterthepassage.com). Others opt for a themed website, like Janet Evanovich’s (www.evanovich.com) site, that exudes a decidedly mysterious feel, or Kansas Writers Association’s own B.D. Tharp (www.bdtharp.com). Ms. Tharp writes hen lit, or adult women’s literature, and her website is warm, homey and female-friendly.

Your website doesn’t require an artsy design; however, it must have solid content. A basic template with great information will draw your readers in. “Your website is like the frame around a picture. Many authors spend more time on the frame than they do on the picture,” according to Thomas Umstattd, Jr., CEO, Author Media.

Purchasing the latest version of Dreamweaver does not guarantee you will be up to the job of URL architect. Website builders don’t come cheap, if you’re hiring one. There are some economical ways to do it, if you aren’t married to a computer genius. Helpful sites like (www.AuthorWebsites.com) and (www.elance.com) offer ranges of services to construct and host your ideal site.

A simple, well-kept author website can build a loyal following, as well as your own confidence. Researching like-genre sites may help you find ideas to use (or not!) as a template. The most important thing to remember is focus on your readers.

“When you type in an author’s name, his/her website is first thing that comes up. To be the first result that pops up in a Google search is reason enough to have a website.”–Annik LaFarge, author of The Author Online: A Short Guide to Building Your Website Whether You Do It Yourself Or You Work With Pros

Is Book Country Really that Helpful?

For about a year now, I’ve been trying to do this online program for critiquing unpublished work. It’s called Book Country under the label of Penguin. This is a program that promises that you’ll get honest and supportive feedback on your current WIPs and maybe even pick up an agent or publishing contract.

If only it were that easy…

I know I’m not a perfect writer, and I don’t know of anyone who is, especially the well-known names. So I already know that my writing is a process, and it will continue to grow and improve as I continue to write. With that being said, I have noticed some things about the Book Country experience.

The problem that I’ve been having so far is there are a couple of people who, no matter what you do, give a near form response for a critique. These formulaic responses can also borderline on the personal. There’s no time limit to give a review, so it can take weeks and months before I receive feedback.

Another issue is the star system that they have to rate books. You can earn anywhere between one and five stars–one being very rough draft, to five, being publish ready. Many WIPs I have read barely made it passed the three star mark and have gone on to earn agents and publishing contracts. The stars don’t reset when you upload a new draft of your work, and I’ve found that many people have voiced their thoughts of not wanting to spend time on a critique if the WIP is less than three stars.

The star system is flawed and the reviews are heavily subjective.

The idea of this concept is appealing, and it seems like a really good way to get eyes on your work and get help on improving your story. But there is always that fine print to look at.

It has come to my attention through a few reputable sites that some major publishing houses and agents won’t look at your work or be able to work with you if your work has been placed on a site like Book Country. This makes this program geared towards those who are looking into self-publishing. Look carefully through the Terms of Service. For more information regarding this, visit The Passive Voice.

So, is the feedback honest and supportive? Maybe. I suppose. But then it’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle of writing the book to everyone else’s standards than your own. Especially when you get some pretty snarky reviews.

My advice is to join a critique group locally and land a few beta readers. This way, you know you aren’t feeling like you’re in the midst of a competition and belittled by harsh criticism. The people you give your work to are more likely to give you the more supportive side of feedback and tell you how to improve your writing— not insult you. Whereas, Book Country is a glorified program set to bring more traffic to Penguin.

Samantha LaFantasie writes fantasy and is currently working through the revision of her first manuscript, Heartsong.  She’s been a KWA member since 2012 and says, “I love writing. It is therapy for me… I get lost in my writing.” Want to read more from Samantha? Visit her blog.

Promotion Tip: Hosting Guest Authors

Writing a book may seem like a daunting task, and it is, I’m not slighting that at all. After the book (novel, novella, even an article) is finished, next comes yet another complicated task: getting it published.  Of course, during this part of your being-an-author process, you start or continue working on the next project.

After you have found a publisher or decided to go the Indie published author route, then you need to dive into the world of promotion. Trust me, your publisher really wants sales, but they are only willing to do so much to get the product sold. Their biggest part is finding outlets to make your book available (their website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, Bookstrand, etc.). All of that is great! But now YOU need to promote your product anywhere and everywhere you can.

One of the ways I promote my books and myself as an author is to take part in a blog tour or finding blogs to appear on. In the last 3 months I’ve done blog posts at 14 blogs. I have another 11 lined up from now through the end of September. It can be time-consuming to come up with slightly different information about yourself as an author, coming up with a short blog post on a topic somehow related to your book, or finding yet another way to share information about your latest release. Yet I love the challenge and it pays off in getting new readers interested in checking out my various books.

Now I’m taking this blogging thing a step farther. I’ve added Tuesdays and Wednesdays with Starla Kaye for guest authors to my website’s blog. I started promoting this a week ago to my fellow romance authors, my four publishers, and two promotion services I work with. My calendar is full from June 21-August 31 and I will start taking reservations for September 6-the rest of the year.

My point about this is not to brag on what I’m doing, but to share what I’m doing. Having a blog is important as it draws people to your website or your blogsite and gives them an opportunity to look at what books you write. Hosting other authors who have an established fan base that follows them around where they blog can also be valuable to you. Yes, you get that pleasure from helping someone else. You also get a chance to have others who might not ever have seen your books or come to your site to learn more about you. I strongly recommend you consider hosting guest authors on your blog, authors that write in your genre. You are welcome to check out my newly redesigned website and see how I have set up the calendars and more.  Starla Kaye