Categories
Career changing Promotions

Your Elevator Pitch

Your Elevator Pitch

We have all heard of what an elevator pitch is. It seems like it is the kind of stuff for overly eager new sales associates looking to make an impression on the big boss between floors.

But there is more to it than that.

Someone has just turned to you and said, “You’re a writer. What’s your book about?”

Don’t just stand there! You’ve got to be ready.

Your Verbal Elevator Pitch

Try something like this on for size.

Imagine if animals started talking, and they told you what to do in a topsy-turvy world.

My book is about Alice; she’s a young girl, a little bored on a sunny afternoon, when she spots a white rabbit. The odd thing about this rabbit is, he’s wearing clothes and talking. She follows him down a rabbit hole, but then she can’t get out.

That’s less than seventy words, and the person asking has the basic plot, the name of the heroine, and a reason to want to know more.

Your Pitch in Writing

Yes, you need one of these, too. But but a written elevator pitch a little different.

Even if readers know you for writing sweeping, epic sagas, you should still write some short stories. They can be in your universe, or not, although it might help with both marketing and your own personal creativity if they can fit somewhere within your universe.

They do not even necessarily have to be sent out for publication, but they could be good for anthologies. Don’t knock that; this is exactly how a lot of people get their starts. In fact, if you are having trouble breaking in, or want to impress a publisher, try submitting to anthologies. You can get a published credit and impress the publisher of the anthology. There’s a win-win right there.

Point them there, if someone wants to read a sampling of your work. Don’t make them commit to a 100,000 word novel.

On Balance

Finally, have fun with it. Is your main character funny? What about quoting one of her best zingers, assuming you don’t need to explain the joke? Now there’s an idea for a pitch.

Categories
Career changing Promotions

Working With a Facebook Page

Working With a Facebook Page

How do you go about working with a Facebook page?

Keep in mind that Facebook is constantly A/B testing (e. g. checking to see if new layouts or color schemes, etc. will make you click more), so these instructions might be a little out of date after a while. This is what currently works. Caveat emptor.

Adding images

Working with Facebook Pages | Adventures in Career Changing
Working with Facebook Pages

Images are always helpful; use a measure of branding for your work, and always use images you have permission to post! If someone else created or photographed an image you are using, even if you now own the rights, it is a courtesy to link to them and give them a shout out. A lot of my father’s and husband’s photography is on my personal author page, and people like to see newer work from them. It’s just another way to acknowledge that this is a community and this solitary pursuit is far from being completely solitary.

Working On And Handling Updates

It’s all about the updates. You can schedule a few months in advance, so make a point of doing this. You can cover a lot more if you spread out your work and set it to emerge at various times; just look at your insights to get an idea of when people are online, and match to those times as well as you are able to.

Setting Up a ‘Buy Now’ Button

You will definitely want one of these. Right in front of your background image, there are three buttons. The one on the left (which is actually in the middle of your background) is a variable. Pull down on it and choose what you want to showcase. Select Edit Call to Action and enter a link directly to buy your work. Be sure it is a link directly to your work on Amazon or Smashwords or wherever. That is, clear away the extraneous junk on the URL. So for Amazon works, this is everything after the ISBN.

If you have nothing to currently sell, you can always upload a YouTube video and change the call to action to a call to watch a video on your site. There are other choices such as Call Now. So, use whatever works best for your needs.

Categories
Career changing Legal Promotions Writing

Swag for Independent Writers

Swag

Do you like swag?

Swag for Independent Writers | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Adventures in Career Changing
Swag for Independent Writers.

So, swag is necessary when you go on the road. Work a convention at a dealer’s table, or get your book into a library, and you may need a little extra something to give away. Hence here are a few choices.

Bookmarks, a Very Common Form of Swag

Maybe the best and closest kind of giveaway item is the humble bookmark. In one sense, it’s perfect because it relates directly to books and reading. And you can spend as much or as little as you like. Plus maybe you only want something straightforward, perhaps a section of your cover, often printed on one side on heavy cardboard stock. And that’s great!

Because you’ve got some real estate, consider some additions, such as your website or even a QR code for a discount off one of your books. However, I suggest leaving one side blank for notes. While that’s not strictly necessarily, it may end up cheaper for you, not to mention it having an actual purpose.

Bookmarks are particularly useful because not only can you put them in your own books, you can put them in library or bookstore books. Yes, they might be removed and discarded. However, you need to consider that these are loss leaders; you need to be ready to lose some cash on these.

Business Cards

These seem hit or miss. If you go to conventions and run a table or booth, you will need cards. And again, try to keep the back blank. Pro tip: use matte. Shiny card stock costs more and it makes it harder to write on the card. Because you want people writing on your cards. Oh, and don’t be stingy with them. Give them away. Meet someone? Give them a card. Someone stops by your table? Give them a card. Like bookmarks, these will be discarded by a lot of people. Accept that as a cost of doing business.

Tee Shirts

These can work really well if you have a fantastic and memorable cover design, or a great catch phrase. Imagine a tee shirt which has your cover on the front and your catch phrase on the back. You can make people into walking billboards this way. Be ready to give a lot of these away, and maybe even use them as contest prizes. Most people will not purchase these unless you become really famous. Again, this is a cost of doing business.

Toys and Action Figures

Funko Pops lets you design your own male and female characters. But volume is an issue here. And so is the startup cost. The blank figures in that link are almost $10 apiece. Hence a large run of these may not be in the cards – so take advantage of their rareness and play on the scarcity aspect when giving these away or selling them.

For other types of action figures, look at prices and consider what you want to settle with. If the figure doesn’t end up looking a lot like you, how will that make you feel? If the answer is ‘terrible, of course’, then you might want to do something else with your swag budget.

Swag: Some Takeaways

Giving away swag may seem counterintuitive. After all, you want to make money, rather than spend it. But if you are new on the scene, it can be a great way to get noticed and show how you’re different from all the rest.

Categories
Career changing Promotions

Demystifying Facebook

Demystifying Facebook

How can demystifying Facebook help you, the independent writer?

Reviews

There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write one.

It’s not just for Candy Crush anymore.

Demystifying Facebook for Independent Writers

Like other small business persons (for that is what an indie author is, right?), you have two separate lives on any social network. One is as an individual. You have friends, you have opinions. You might play games or write about politics. Or you might post memes or videos. You have fun, you express support or sympathy. And, let’s face it, you give and receive attention.

Your other life is as a writer. A writer who might need help marketing. Maybe a writer who might to bounce ideas off other authors. A writer who might need some help with a plot, or at least a sympathetic ear. You might want to talk to others who have been where you are. Plus you might want to connect with people who can help you improve your craft. Those are beta readers, cover artists, and editors. They might be writers you admire, or even publishing houses which interest you.

Demystifying Facebook and Socializing

As a writer, there is no reason for you to stop socializing online. On Facebook in particular, hanging out with other writers is a great idea.

But Why?

Because writing is, by definition, a solitary pursuit. Even collaborators and co-authors don’t trade the article for the noun for the verb for the adjective for another noun, or sentence for sentence or paragraph for paragraph. Instead, collaborators will generally write their own portion of a work and then give it to their partner, as the partner does the same. They beta read for each other and combine the pieces, whether those are chapters or sections or the like. The details may differ, but it’s pretty inefficient to hang out together for the actual writing process (although they may get together to discuss plot).

Hangouts for Indie Writers

For independent writers, you have a few places on Facebook where you can hang out.

  • NaNoWriMo group online – if you compete to write 50,000 words in November or April, then this is your scene. The group is large and generally friendly, although there are sometimes stretches of people stepping on toes. It’s best to hang back at the start and see how things go before you plunge in. There are also groups for local NaNo groups.
  • Wattpad – if you belong to Wattpad, check them out on Facebook. While this is a games page, you can still get a handle on who is who. Befriend fellow Wattpadders? Why not?
  • Queer Sci-Fi and other specialty genre groups – do some research; these can have varying activity levels.
  • Services trading groups – your mileage will vary. Some are more active than others. And some might be more spammy than others.
  • Advertising groups – these tend to be bottom-feeding. If they are just a bunch of ads, and no one is liking or replying to the ads, then you know how effective they are.

Have I missed any groups? Add them in the Comments section!

Of course there is a lot more to demystifying Facebook. I’ll get to it soon. Stay tuned!

Categories
Career changing Promotions

Writer Giveaways

Giveaways

So giveaways can be helpful when you are first starting out. Because people do not know your writing, they might not be inclined to spend too much on your work. Rather than pricing down to nothing, do one better: give your book away as a prize. Amazon, in particular, makes it easy. And on GoodReads, this kind of a promotion costs you even less.

Prizes

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Giveaways
Do you ever run giveaways?

A lot of the internet is gamified these days. So, what do I mean by that? Essentially, instead of simply telling you that your LinkedIn profile needs work, that site gives you a completion percentage. And it also pits you against your fellow job seekers. So never mind if they have your qualifications. The competition starts even if you don’t want it to. And this kind of competing tends to spur people to action.

Hence you can provide your work as a prize for really anything. I provide it as one of the prizes for the 24 Hours of G & T Fundraiser, and I’ll even send a signed copy if the winner is in the United States (where the shipping costs less; otherwise, I try to order my work directly through whichever Amazon applies to them and then pay the exchange rate). So if you have some sort of event, there’s no reason you can’t raffle off your book. Do it for charity, even. Just, get it out there, and into the wild. The more copies out there, the better.

Advance Review Copies

Now, Amazon has been cracking down on this a bit so proceed with some caution. However, no one is stopping you from giving away your book for free. The issue arises when writers provide a copy of their work in exchange for a review (generally referred to as “an honest review“, as the intention is to get the truth out of the reviewer and not bribe them to shower you with unfounded praise). Hence instead of doing an even exchange, your best bet is to simply provide a copy and ask that someone review your work if they see fit.

Spoiler Alert: for most people, if they have a free copy of your book and they liked it at all, they’ll usually leave some sort of a review. This is even if it’s just in the form of stars.

Impulse

Furthermore, you can always give things away on an impulse. Or during the promotions day at various writers’ Facebook groups, I will offer my book for free. All a person has to do is show me their receipt for purchasing another group member’s work. To make my life easier, I limit the time, usually to just one week. I ask if someone will review both our works if they want to. And then I send the book and leave it. By the way, I’ve gotten three reviews this way. That might not seem like a lot, but I have also made some friends. And that helps in ways that go far beyond promotions and marketing.

Takeaways

Consider opportunities for giveaways, prizes, and gamification of your work. Yes, yes, I know you want to make money from your work. I get that; I really do! But sometimes you need to lay out some of your own funds to make it all work. Don’t be cheap about this. When the time and conditions are right, give away at least a few copies of your work. Because nothing builds goodwill and relationships better, or faster.

Categories
Career changing Promotions Publishing

PitMad on Twitter

PitMad on Twitter

So have you ever seen the #PitMad hashtag on Twitter? Also, why should you care about PitMad?

What is #PitMad | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Adventures in Career Changing
What is PitMad?

So, let’s take a look at what PitMad is.

What is #PitMad?

PitMad is a quarterly pitch session on Twitter. So essentially what you are doing is tweeting about your work, but it is only on specific dates, and agents and publishers are watching.

In addition, it happens in March, June, September, and December.

Getting Ready With PitMad Hashtags

So do yourself a favor, and create your tweets now. As in, today. You want to know what to tweet, and you want to be able to fit both the #PitMad hashtag into your tweet, but also the hashtag specific to your genre. So, according to Sub It Club and Brenda Drake, the hashtags are as follows:

Main Hashtags for PitMad

  • #AC – Action
  • #AD – Adventure
  • #BIZ – Bizarro Fiction
  • #CON – Contemporary
  • #CR – Contemporary Romance
  • #E – Erotica
  • #ER – Erotic Romance
  • #ES – Erotica Suspense
  • #F – Fantasy
  • #FTA = Fairy Tale Retelling
  • #GN = Graphic Novel
  • #H – Horror
  • #HA – Humor
  • #HF – Historical Fiction
  • #HR – Historical Romance
  • #INSP – Inspirational
  • #LF – Literary Fiction
  • #M – Mystery
  • #MA = Mainstream
  • #Mem – Memoir
  • #MR – Magical Realism
  • #NF – Non-fiction
  • #P – Paranormal
  • #PR – Paranormal Romance
  • #R – Romance
  • #RS – Romantic Suspense
  • #S – Suspense
  • #SF – SciFi
  • #SFF – Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • #SH = Superhero
  • #SHRT = Short Story Collection
  • #SPF = Speculative Fiction
  • #STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
  • #T – Thriller
  • #TT = Time Travel
  • #UF – Urban Fantasy
  • #VF = Visionary Fiction
  • #W – Westerns
  • #WF – Women’s Fiction

Age Categories

So, per the Pitmad site, you must use an age category. And here they are:

  • #A – Adult
  • #C – Children’s
  • #CB – Chapter Book
  • #MG – Middle Grade
  • #NA – New Adult
  • #PB – Picture Book (this is the youngest age category)
  • #YA – Young Adult

Added Hashtags (Optional)

  • #DIS = Disability subject matter
  • #IMM = Immigrant
  • #IRMC = Interracial/Multicultural subject matter
  • #LGBT = LGBTQIA+ subject matter
  • #MH = Mental Health subject matter
  • #ND = Neurodiverse subject matter
  • #OWN = Own Voices
  • #POC = Author is a Person of Color

Older Hashtags (Not Sure If They Are Still Being Used)

  • #AA – African American (might not be used anymore?)
  • #CF – Christian Fiction (might not be used anymore?)

So there do not seem to be particular hashtags for Zombies or Vampires or the like, but that may change in the future.

What Are The Rules?

Per Ms. Drake and PitchWars (run by the same people), the rules are:

  • You can only pitch complete, polished manuscripts. This means, no works in progress allowed!
  • So, you can’t pitch anything already published, no matter how many changes have been made to it.
  • Keep the feed clear, so don’t favorite or retweet your friends’ pitches. But you can always reply and just take the #PitMad hashtag out.
  • Also, don’t tweet agents or publishers unless they tweet you first.
  • Plus be courteous and professional, of course.
  • In addition, if you can’t be there, use HootSuite or TweetDeck to schedule your pitches.
  • You can only pitch three times during a dedicated #PitMad day and the tweets have to differ somehow, even if it’s just a difference of a period.
  • But if you have more than one MS to pitch, you get three tweets per MS.
  • Finally, if you are invited to submit a manuscript, be sure to put PitMad Request: TITLE in the subject line of your email when sending your request. Plus, of course, follow all other submission guidelines for the requestor.

What Is The Schedule?

It’s March, June, September, and December. Times are 8 AM – 8 PM, Eastern Time.

For 2020, the dates are:

  • March 5
  • June 4
  • September 3
  • December 3

Note: all of these are Thursdays.

So you’d better get crackin’!

Categories
Career changing Personal Promotions

Longest Night Watch 2

Longest Night Watch 2

The Longest Night Watch 2 is the second indie author anthology dedicated to fighting Alzheimer’s. All of the writers are independent authors. And we all hate Alzheimer’s.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Longest Night Watch 2
Thank you for checking out the Longest Night Watch 2!

In the United States, 5.4 million Americans have the disease. That number will rise in the next few decades as the population continues to age. We are not doctors. But we are writers. And so we are offering this work. All of the proceeds go to research. Because we don’t keep a dime of it.

Who Are We?

The team consists of: Amanda Parker Adams, Andrew Barber, AR Harlow, Becca Bachlott, Brittany Tucker, Carol Gyzander, Cayleigh Stickler, D.R. Perry, Debbie Manber Kupfer, Fiona Teh, Georgette Frey, and Janet Gershen-Siegel (that would be me). Also, Jennifer Stibbards, Joshua L. Cejka, Kate Post, Katelyn Scarlett, L. Anne Wooley, Michael J. Medeiros, Michael Walton, R.R. Virdi, Ryn Richmond, Skye Hegyes, Thomas E. Harper, Trine Jensegg, Virginia Carraway Stark and the team of The Longest Night Watch.

So this is our second time doing this. Last year, we all came together because of Sir Terry Pratchett’s death. That book was a success. Therefore, now we are going to see if lightning will strike again.

This Year’s Urgency

Last year, it was Terry Pratchett. But this year it was Gene Wilder. And now we have also learned Terry Jones of Monty Python is afflicted. Because this disease shows no mercy. As much as we love these entertainers (and Jones is a medieval studies scholar), Alzheimer’s just plain does not care.

But we do.

My contributions

For this year, I added two stories. Cynthia is about the decline as witnessed by a rather unexpected narrator. Wilder Bloom was written rather quickly and was, of course, about Gene Wilder.

Where You Can Get The Book

Right now, the book is listed on Amazon (currently it’s Kindle only, but that will change) and on GoodReads.

How You Can Help

Please buy the book, and leave a review. Even bad reviews help, as they put our link in more places. So you don’t have to love the book. That’s okay.

And so we thank you.

Oh, and there’s a third…

Categories
Career changing Promotions

Creating a Facebook page

Creating a Facebook page

How do you go about creating a Facebook page?

Adventures in Career Changing adding a Facebook page
Adventures in Career Changing adding a Facebook page

Pages versus Groups

Why do you want one over another? Why does it matter?

Groups, as might be expected, allow for more discussion. However, everyone is on a more or less equal footing in terms of presenting content. And if that is what you want, then of course that is perfectly fine. However, if you are looking to essentially market your own wares, then a group is not going to help you very much. Instead, your own messages will be lost in the shuffle of everyone else’s content and messaging. As the administrator, though, you can eliminate any discussions you do not wish to see. This can get tedious, plus you lose the entire discussions.

With a page, you are the site owner/administrator. You create the content, which others react to, which can include commenting, and those comments can include links. If you want those comments and links gone, you can eliminate them – an activity which is also bound to become tedious. But at least the generalized discussions would remain.

Look and Feel

We have all noticed branding for our favorite commercial ventures, whether it is the shade of green for Starbucks and its products, or the use of a mascot/spokes-character like Flo from Progressive Insurance. Or it could be the backward ‘R’ in the Toys ‘R’ Us store signage. For your Facebook page, your website, your Twitter stream, and your background image, it pays to brand these items. Branding can be subtle, such as a color scheme, or more sophisticated, with the creation of a special logo for your page.

How to Create a Facebook Page

Facebook is constantly changing the means of performing tasks, as it is continuously A/B testing (e. g. it tests which layout or color scheme, etc. gets you to click more).  Currently, the way to make a page is, click on Pages on the left side of your feed and then click on Create a Page. Then select the page type. Select Artist, Band, or Public Figure, and pick either Author or Writer. Add your name and then click Get Started.

Seriously, it’s that simple.

Now go make an author page!