Categories
Career changing Publishing

Teasing Your Work

Teasing Your Work

Teasing is a subtle art. It is a lot like a fan dancer’s moves or a shy person’s come-on.

Teasing should feel like a movie trailer because that is exactly what movie trailers do.

Teasers are usually a bit longer than blurbs and are meant to generate excitement. They often end with a question, but they don’t have to. Think of how films are teased if you’re stumped for ideas.

She was spoiled, rich, and beautiful, until the Civil War ended it all. Scarlett O’Hara has lost nearly everything. But there’s a rich man who’s interested, and he might
even love her. Can she win Rhett Butler
and save her beloved land, Tara?

Revealing too much

Don’t get too obvious! You do not do yourself any favors by spoiling your own book. Notice how the above teasing for Gone With The Wind does not go past maybe the middle of the film? And how it never mentions Ashley or Melanie Wilkes, the burning of Atlanta, or Scarlett’s first two husbands? I deliberately left the teaser off at just about when the first big reel ends. It used to be, in the theater, Gone With The Wind would have an intermission, the film was so long. This teaser ends just about a minute after intermission ends.

Revealing too little

This is another problem. If I just said Scarlett was a wealthy woman living a life of luxury on the brink of the Civil War, that would feel a bit incomplete. I can go a little further, plus adding Rhett Butler’s name to the teaser brings in the male main character. Marrying Rhett is one of Scarlett O’Hara’s main character drivers, whether it is to secure finances for her family or due to love on her part. Bringing Rhett into the conversation means the listener or reader gets an even better idea about who Scarlett is, and what motivates her.

Practical Teasing Practice

Can you write a teaser for a classic work? Try it in the Comments section, and let’s see how you do!

Categories
Career changing

Starting a Twitter stream

Starting a Twitter stream

How do you go about starting a Twitter stream? Should you plunge right in, or hang back?

Twitter Stream
Starting a Twitter Stream isn’t Hard

Your Account

You need a name! Let’s say you’ve taken my advice (or decided this on your own), and gone with an account just for writing. If you want a personal account, you make a second one.

Fine, but you need a name. How about a word like writer or author somewhere in there? You can’t go beyond 15 characters. Fortunately, you’ve got both letters and numbers, so you could conceivably add wr1ter or auth0r if you liked. Go as short as you can while remaining coherent and unique.

Your look

Settings are important in Twitter as they are with every social network. Twitter moves them on occasion (every large site does beta testing, where they experiment with different layouts and looks to see what you’ll click on more often – this is normal); currently, they are under your profile image. Add a profile image and make it a head shot or at least a picture of the cover of your book, if you have one. Don’t keep the egg!

A background image is nice but not strictly necessary; Twitter has some pretty decent generic images if you are unsure of how you want things to look.

Who do you follow?

Spend a little time chasing hashtags. #amwriting, #amediting, #PitMad, and #MSWL are great for getting started. Know an author you like is on Twitter? Then follow him or her! Publishers and agents are also good choices, as are your friends from NaNoWriMo or Wattpad or the rest of the writing community, even the fan fiction writing community. Follow people who put words together into sentences and stories. Applaud their efforts and read what they have to say. It matters.

More to come later!

Categories
Career changing Promotions

Demystifying Facebook

Demystifying Facebook

How can demystifying Facebook help you, the independent writer?

Reviews

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

Libraries – How to Get Your Book into Them

Libraries

Getting into Libraries

Libraries are the unsung heroes of the American (and other countries’) educational system. They are where people look for jobs, listen to lectures, or teach themselves all sorts of things.

They are also a marvelous home for your newly-published book.

Connections

First of all, you probably can’t just write to or visit every library in creation. While writing is something of a number game, it won’t do you much good to just launch your book at every single library out there. You need to have a plan.

The best and easiest plan is to go with a library where you have some sort of a connection. Did you grow up in Cleveland, go to college in Dallas, and are now settled in St. Louis? Then try your local library from when you were growing up. Don’t try every single Ohio or even Cleveland library. The same is true of Dallas, plus you may want to try your alma mater. For St. Louis, do yourself a favor and get a library card before you even start. They want to know you, at least a little bit. So go and let them at least know that much about you.

The Approach

I’m going to give you three approaches.

With the book

Take your book with you, in a purse or tote bag or backpack. Ask to speak to whoever is in charge of acquisitions. Go to them, book in hand, and explain how you are related to the library. E. g. “I grew up down the street, on Parkland Road.” or “I just got a card three months ago.”

Now explain what you’re doing. “I’m a first-time author. This is my book. It’s about ____.

At minimum, tell them the genre. I find it’s helpful to tell them either where it’s shelved elsewhere (is it science fiction or fantasy, for example). Also tell them whether the work has any triggers or heavy sex or violence scenes. Mention if it is LGBT-friendly. This isn’t just a courtesy to help keep small children from taking out works with explicit sex scenes. It also helps the library decide how they are going to display the work and what they are going to say if anyone asks them about it.

Then give them the book. Yes, just hand it over. Make sure it’s a perfect new copy. Do not give them a signed copy. Why not? Because those can potentially be stolen. In addition, the library has to think ahead. Your book will probably end up in their book sale, and maybe even in less than a year. A pristine copy is easier for them to sell.

Without the book

No book? No problem! Come over with a business card instead. Again, ask to speak with whoever is in charge of acquisitions. Explain who you are and what your book is about. Hand over your business card. And if you’ve got the ISBN handy, then write it on the back. But also get their address of where you can send the work. Don’t make them ask for it. You have to do all the legwork here.

On the phone

This one is similar to when you go in but don’t have a copy of the book with you. Again, ask to speak to whoever is in charge of acquisitions, and explain about your work. Make it clear the book is free to them. Then ask for their shipping address, and whose name should it be addressed to. And the best part about this approach (or if you need to mail the book for any reason) is, you can just have Amazon ship it to them and send it as a gift.

What do you want in return?

Pictures. Yes, really! Tell them you will do this if they take pictures of your book on their shelves and send the images to you. Explain you are going to use them in your marketing campaign. And then do so, making sure to thank them profusely and link back to any libraries which help you out.

Takeaways

You just sold another book! Never mind that it was to yourself. You still sold one, and that counts for Amazon’s rankings system. Plus your book now is in a position to be seen by others. And the librarian knows your title. Finally, I have personally found talking to librarians to be easy. Because you’re not really selling. Instead, you’re giving them a donation. Libraries want authors to succeed.

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!

Categories
Book Reviews Quinnipiac SEO Social Media Class

Optimize by Lee Odden, A Book Review

Optimize by Lee Odden

Optimize by Lee Odden was not an unfamiliar concept. I have read about search engine optimization on countless websites and in any number of books already.

Optimize by Lee Odden, A Book Review
Lee Odden presents on SEO through blogs and feeds (Photo credit: toprankonlinemarketing)

But I don’t think I ever truly understood it until now. Lee Odden has taken an almost mysterious concept and made it comprehensible. I definitely liked Optimize.

SEO, According to Lee Odden

Google doesn’t have a lot of options for its spider bots when it comes to reading your content. It can read your text. And that’s about it. While there are, I am sure, plans to try to make it so that Google can better read flash, PDFs, PowerPoint slides, Images, and Videos, the truth is, it’s currently pretty much all letters and numbers.  That will eventually change, but right now that’s it.

Hence Google doesn’t know that the picture you added to your blog is an image of, say, Dame Judi Dench. It needs a caption. Sounds obvious, right? But I wasn’t doing that, not with this blog and not with my writing site or anywhere else.  Oops. And that caption should be obvious, in order to serve the search bots, and informative and conversational, in order to serve your human readers/audience.

Who or What Should You Optimize For? Bots or People?

Both. And fortunately, they don’t conflict. Hence if you add keywords, tags, or categories to your webpage, blog post, etc., then if you can reiterate the keywords, etc. within the content, you’ve got it made. And you need to look around wherever you are posting, and use every available square inch for your optimization efforts. This does not mean that you cover every single pixel!  Rather, it means that, if you have a space for a caption, use it. If you have a space for tags, write them. Blogs have categories. So make them meaningful, and use them. Hence I finally feel I get it. And that is a wonderful feeling.

Rating

Review: 5/5 stars.

Categories
Career changing

Advertising on Facebook

Advertising on Facebook

Have you tried advertising on Facebook? It’s easier and more affordable than you might think.

Keep in mind that Facebook is constantly A/B testing (e. g. checking to see if any 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 has worked in the past. It might not any more. Caveat emptor.

Getting Started

About half the time, Facebook will just come to you and suggest you start advertising. I can’t say what their algorithm is for selecting a post to promote, although they usually suggest a popular one. If they are not suggesting a post you want to promote (e. g. you would prefer to promote another one), or you are new to promotions and there are no suggestions, or you just want to see how to start one from scratch, go to your Author Page and go to Publishing Tools, then, on the right, pull down on Help and click Advertiser Support. This will get you to the Facebook for Business page. In the upper right corner, click Create Ad.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll choose Boost Your Posts as our campaign.

Selecting an audience for a post

Audience is important; you do not want to just send to everyone, as even failed clicks are going to cost you money. You will do a lot better with targeting as that will help assure a greater percentage of your clicks are meaningful and helpful. Click Set Audience and Budget. You can choose an audience from demographics, or from preferences or from lookalikes, who are people similar to those who like your page. If you are just getting started, and a greater percentage than normal of your likes come from friends and family trying to help you out, do not use this option!

Select a location by navigating around the map and dropping a pin in your preferred location. The age ranges are also pretty self-explanatory. You can even exclude some people.

Setting a budget

Start small. You can always add. The minimum is generally $1/day. I prefer what Facebook calls a Lifetime budget, which sets a total. It’s a lot easier to rein in than a Daily budget, I believe.

Scheduling

Go to your analytics and take a look at when more people are on than usual. Select those days and times for your ads! Next click Select Ad Creative. I recommend allowing everything unless you absolutely know your targeted audience is not in a particular area.

Choosing which post to promote

Choosing a post to promote (if Facebook has not done so for you) is easy. Select a popular one, representative of your brand. If you have a limited time offer, that could be perfect. Just make sure your ads don’t run after the offer has expired.

Good luck!

Categories
Book Reviews Content Strategy Quinnipiac Social Media Class

The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott, A Book Review

The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott was a fascinating book that I had as required reading for Quinnipiac University’s Social Media Platforms course (ICM522).

The Premise

World Wide Rave Spotted In Ireland David Meerman Scott
World Wide Rave Spotted In Ireland (Photo credit: Krishna De)

First of all, the premise is, like a lot of other books about the Internet and social media marketing, that marketing has become less of a one-size-fits-all/push system. Instead, it has instead evolved into a far more balanced bilateral conversation.

And perhaps the most interesting part of the book consists of the rules themselves, which are in Chapter 2, on page 31 and are as follows –

The New Rules

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

  • First of all, marketing is more than just advertising
  • In addition, public relations is for more than just a mainstream media audience
  • You are what you publish
  • And people want authenticity, not spin
  • People want participation, not propaganda
  • Instead of causing one-way interruption, marketing is about delivering content at just the precise moment your audience needs it
  • Furthermore, marketers must shift their thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy of reaching vast numbers of underserved audiences via the web
  • In addition, public relations is not about your boss seeing your company on TV. It’s about your buyers seeing your company on the web
  • Marketing is not about your agency winning awards. Instead, it’s about your organization winning business
  • And the internet has made public relations public again, after years of almost exclusive focus on media
  • Furthermore, companies must drive people into the purchasing process with great online content
  • In addition, blogs, online video, e-books, news releases, and other forms of online content let organizations communicate directly with buyers in a form they appreciate
  • And social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow people all over the world to share content and connect with the people and companies they do business with
  • Finally, on the web, the lines between marketing and public relations have blurred

Because customers are talking back.  And companies and their marketing departments had better start listening.

Rating

Review: 5/5 stars.