Newsletter Update

When Marcy and I decided to stop blogging at GWP and only blog at our own sites, we offered everyone here the chance to subscribe to a GWP style newsletter we planned to write.

Plans change.

Because I miss hanging out with my writer peeps here, beginning Monday May 28 I am launching The Candid Writer, a weekly newsletter that will bring you GWP style articles with a few extras. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, Marcy is unable to join me in this venture.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have decided not to automagically subscribe everyone who thought they had signed up for a newsletter from GWP. I have been blogging about writing weekly, but after this week my writing posts will appear in The Candid Writer only. Half of the great articles here at GWP are mine, so I hope you make the switch and subscribe for content available exclusively through this weekly newsletter especially for new and emerging writers that will always be free.

If you enjoyed GWP, I encourage you to subscribe to The Candid Writer.

Lisa

Don’t forget you can subscribe to our blogs too!

Marcy Kennedy’s blog

Lisa Hall-Wilson’s blog

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Do Writers Deserve to Be Paid for Their Work?

Two great discussions of interest to writers flew around the internet this week. So great in fact that I couldn’t choose between them to highlight for you.

Do writer’s deserve to be paid for their work?

This debate blew up after Seth Godin was quoted as saying, “Who said you have a right to cash money from writing? Poets don’t get paid (often), but there’s no poetry shortage.”

You can read the original argument-inspiring article Godin to Authors: You Have No Right to Make Money Any More, and also literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s respond on her blog with do Authors Have A Right to Be Paid?

Should writers avoid controversy on their blogs?

Kristen Lamb wrote an excellent post called Deadly Doses – Politics, Religion, and Our Author Platform suggesting that unless you’re a religious or political writer, you should avoid talking about religion and politics on your blog (or at least be very careful about how you do it).

This ended up sparking responses both in the comments and on other blogs about not just politics and religion in blogging but controversy in general. My favorite reply came from Amber West in her post The Controversy Over Controversy.

Marcy

Marcy’s Posts This Week

What Do We Mean By “Strong Female Characters?” – Do female characters need to deny all traditionally feminine qualities to be considered strong? The first in a series Marcy is starting.

Yoda Was Wrong – At the risk of a nerd lynching, Marcy argues that Yoda was actually wrong when he said “there is no try.”

Lisa’s Posts This Week

Mare-Milkers and War Lords – The Scythians aren’t a well-known people group, but their innovations revolutionized ancient warfare. In their day, they were the boogey-men of the Greek world. These guys were downright scary.

Reminder: As of the end of this month, Lisa and I will no longer be blogging here at Girls With Pens. Instead we’ll still be writing the posts on writing and social media that you’ve come to expect on our own blogs, and we’ll be creating a monthly Girls With Pens newsletter to bring you amazing interviews with industry professionals.

Sign up for our NEW free Girls With Pens newsletter!

Subscribe to Marcy Kennedy’s Blog by Email

Subscribe to Lisa Hall-Wilson’s Blog

Reblogging Etiquette

ReBlogging EtiquetteLately I’ve seen a lot of bloggers wondering what the etiquette should be around reblogging (blogging something previously posted on another blog).

Before I get into the tips, let me say that I think re-blogging can be useful. If you’re being reblogged, it’s an honor that someone found your content worthy of sharing with their followers, and it can extend your reach and bring people back to your site without the effort of guest posting. If you’re the reblogger, it can sometimes be a lifesaver in terms of getting content up on your site when your week has fallen to pieces. Plus, you’re providing your readers a service through vetting material for them and bringing them the best.

If done incorrectly, though, reblogging flirts with the line of plagiarism. You don’t want to flirt with plagiarism. She carries some really nasty diseases.

So how can we reblog in a professional, mutually beneficial way?

Ask First

Unless you know that the blogger doesn’t mind others reblogging their content, always ask first.

With all the social media options available, it’s not that hard to reach a blogger anymore. If Lisa or I don’t respond to a comment on our blogs right away, you can usually catch us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or through email. I know that we’ve entered an age of instant gratification, but patience is still a virtue.

You should do more than just ask permission though. Not all reblogging is created equal. Find out the format the original blogger prefers. Are they alright with you copying the entire post onto your site? Or would they prefer you copy only the first couple of paragraphs with a link back to the full article?

Why does the format of the reblogging matter?

Comments – While I can’t speak for every blogger, I like to try to reply to comments on my post. If my post is appearing in full someplace else, chances are good I won’t be able to monitor the comments there as well as on my own site. With a guest post, you’re able to plan in advance. With a reblog, unlike with a regular guest post, I haven’t planned the extra social media time into my day to be able to check and reply to comments on two (or more) sites where my content is appearing.

Site Stats – If you’re a writer who’s blogging as part of building a platform, your site stats matter. They can influence whether you get an agent, whether people take you seriously, and (if you choose) whether you can eventually sell ad space on your site. The click-through rate for a post reblogged in full is much lower than for a partial repost with a link.

Common Courtesy – A good blog posts takes me 1-3 hours to write, depending on the complexity of the topic and the amount of research necessary. While I’m happy to share and to help, I’ve made significant sacrifices to produce my content, and I believe that still gives me the right to decide when and how it’s used.

Credit the Original Source

If something goes viral and you find it four people down the chain, go back and reblog from the original site. It’s respectful to the owner of the material, and it’s kind to your reader who won’t want to go back through a chain of sites to find the original source to see if they have more excellent content to read.

What if you follow the chain to a dead end? Part of being a responsible writer is doing your research and exercising due diligence. Run a Google search, and see if you can locate the original poster on your own.

Add An Introduction/Conclusion

If you end up reblogging the content in full, add an original introduction or conclusion telling people not only where you found the content but also why you thought it was worthy of reblogging. What’s the point that resonated the most with you? What do you disagree with?

Have you tried reblogging? What other pieces of etiquette do you think should be observed? Do you think reblogging is a great new trend that can benefit everyone or no better than plagiarism?

Marcy

**Remember that next week will be our last full week of posts here at Girls With Pens, so be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter (space is limited) and subscribe to Marcy’s blog and Lisa’s blog to continue receiving posts on writing, marketing, social media, and all the other goodies you’ve come to expect from us.**

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Facebook Timeline Mashup

Timeline got you down? Don’t have time to learn all the new tips and tricks? I can’t beam the info into your brain, but since I appreciate you all so much I’m sharing my research. I’m sure there a few more articles published in the last couple of days, but this is a good start regarding Facebook’s Timeline for pages.

Don’t let Facebook Timeline leave you bloodied and defeated – rise up!

Timeline Brand Guide from Mashable – Quick overview. Did you know you can only fill out your page’s milestones until 1800?

Have a social media plan for Facebook. Excellent idea, Mashable. Great resource.

Hats off to Mashable, they were all over this! Read why you need to pay attention to the newsfeed!!

If you don’t know what Edgerank is – read this. Learn about Edgerank – it’s important! This wasn’t changed by Timeline – but it’s a foundational kind of building block you should know about Facebook.

Mashable again – I’m beginning to think I should be getting paid for this (I’m so NOT getting paid to do this – I wish) Learn about Timeline’s real-time analytics. Yes, your Facebook page has built-in analytics that give you fan demographics, interaction graphs, etc. Important tool. (Only the analytics still haven’t hit the real-time part they promised…but that’s another post.)

Here we go – Hubspot jumps into the ring with this fabulous post about getting started on Timeline. Lots of great practical tips here – if you only read one of these – make it this one.

Techcrunch weighs in on the death of the custom landing tab. This may be for more advance Facebook page users – good stuff though. Jump in.

Another great post about how the newsfeed works from Techcrunch. Did you know on average you’re only reaching 16% of your page’s fans? That’s not great. Read this to find out how to do better at reaching more of your fans – and their friends.

A great post from Author Media about 10 ways to increase the number of Facebook Fans you have – the right way (which is not the quick and easy way – be warned). This is a less technical look at the topic from the article linked directly above.

Author Media rounds out this mashup with a great post on what these changes mean to authors, and how authors can best make use of them.

So what? I can read all these posts – doesn’t help me. I want to see this in action. I thought you might say that. There are a number of authors using Facebook to reach large audiences, and have active Facebook communities. I’ve listed a few here. Lurk their page (you don’t have to like what they write) and see how they’re connecting with fans. I’ve tried to have a number of different genres reflected in the list.

Paulo Coelho – 7.7m fans

Neil Gaiman – 477k fans

Frank Delaney 1,187 fans

Karin Slaughter 27k fans

Ted Dekker 157k fans

Laurell K Hamilton 238k fans

Kelley Armstrong 15k fans

Finally…

A behind the scenes interview with author and Snowflake method creator Randy Ingermanson about his new book Oxygen

The Most Underestimated Key to Success from The Matrix – “There Is No Spoon”

Ever wished for a do-over? What moments in life would you really want to live again?

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Have a question about Timeline? Leave it in the comments, or start a discussion on our Facebook page. Still  hating Timeline – tell us why. 🙂

Lisa

6 Reasons Authors Should Love Timeline

I’ll admit, Facebook’s changes are hard to keep up with, but I’m excited about Timeline and have 6 reasons why authors should be happy about some of the new changes.

We have a BIG announcement to make regarding GWP. It’s at the bottom – make sure you read (or skip) to the bottom to get all the details.

I spent the weekend tweaking 3 of the Facebook pages I’m responsible for, and there are some cool new features writers and authors should be embracing not cursing. Yes, it’s an investment of time, but an overhaul this big is only going to happen…once a year? lol Not my point – this change is worth the effort.

Plus – here’s the kicker. Reportedly, Timeline will be offloaded on your page whether you want it or not March 30 so you’re better to learn about the changes and take advantage of them.

A screenshot of a few of the new Timeline features

1. When creating a new Facebook page, you no longer have to bow down to the 25. Previously, I had to beg family and friends to please Like this new page for me so I could hit that magic 25 fans number to get a custom url. Don’t have to anymore. You can get a custom url with only one follower – you! Yay!! (Don’t know if this is due to Timeline or not – but still awesome)

2. The custom landing tabs game has changed. Previously, you could go to a site like Wildfire, Lujure, Tabsite or others, and drag and drop a free or paid upgrade custom landing page – you know, that page you first land on before you like a page that says “Like” with a giant arrow or offers a free download of a song or ebook for ‘Liking’ our page. Gone! Sort of.

Timeline makes the wall the default landing page. Boo. That’s disappointing because landing tabs were said to exponentially increase the number of likes on a page. Tabs are still there, but you can’t make anyone look at them anymore. We changed our custom welcome tab into a Meet Marcy and Lisa tab that’s more of a visual bio page. Experiment to see what works for you. Timeline now allows you to change the thumbnail for the landing page – so those of you with Mailchimp subscription forms no longer have to stare at the chimp (eep eep – I don’t want your monkey face on my Facebook page!).

The new design makes your photos and fan counter the top two tabs by default – you can’t change those. There is room for 2 more on that first line. Users now have an extra click to access any additional tabs so think through which ones you want front and center.

3. Facebook is apparently the largest photo sharing site on the web. Everyone posts photos of all sorts on Facebook. Timeline taps into all that photo sharing goodness by making everything more visual.

Utilize this visual nature. People love to share photos and funny pics. If you want to post a quote – make a quick jpeg of it with a non-copyrighted photo (there’s a variety of programs that will let you do this – you don’t need expensive Photoshop software – Paint, Powerpoint, etc.). Consider telling your author story in pictures. Post a photo often because a huge majority of fans never visit your page – they interact with your posts as they appear on their newsfeeds. Make use of the extra real-estate photos are given to get noticed.

4. The cover photo. There are rules for cover photos for pages – learn them. I don’t always understand Facebook’s rules, but if you want a turn on their playground you have to play their way.

Cover photos may NOT include:

  • Price or purchase info (no discount offers or buy this here or there stuff)
  • No contact info like websites, email addy, mailing info, etc. Put it in your About section
  • No ‘Like’, ‘Share’, ‘Get It Now’, or ‘Tell Your Friends’ call to action stuff – OR an arrow pointing to any of those features.
  • Cover photos can’t be false, misleading, or infringe on 3rd party rights (duh)

The best cover photos employ powerful images that pull people in. Use a portion of your book cover, a shot of you at a book signing or speaking, a promotional photo. But follow the rules.

5. Milestones. Timeline is a lurker’s dream – indulge your fans and give them some fun milestones to nose through using compelling or interesting photos. On your personal profile this is called a life event. This isn’t required, but seems to me like a valuable tool. Some companies have documented their entire history – like Manchester United. I found out Coca Cola first became known as Coke in 1941. It was fun browsing the classic Coke ads, and learning a bit about the company history.

I’m pretty annoyed that you have to publish your Timeline before it lets you add your Milestones – but there it is. Tell your fans about your publishing or writing journey in a visual way with photos.

Customized content from personal profile now appears on pages you visit

6. I didn’t post that on my page! Moment of panic – where did that post in the right-hand column come from? Well, Facebook put it there. Timeline will now pull statuses you or your friends have posted about whatever page you’re visiting and place it on pages so it appears like a built-in recommendation. At a glance, you can see how you or your friends have interacted or commented about this page. Cool – right? I think this is great.

7. This is a bonus afterthought. Timeline for pages allows fans to message you, like a friend would message you on your personal profile. The default setting for this is ON. It’s a simple box to uncheck in the admin panel (now found above the cover photo), but think through whether you want fans to be able to send you personal messages on Facebook or not. For companies, this could be a great way to deal with customer complaints or other issues they don’t want to plaster on the wall – but authors generally don’t have an HR department so I’m on the fence about the functionality of this feature for writers right now.

What do you think about Timeline? Do you think any of these features will be helpful on your author page? What other features are you excited about?

Lisa

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Marcy and Lisa

The Pinterest Problem

How many of you are on Pinterest? How many of you are thinking of joining the newest social media trend?

I joined only two weeks ago and fell instantly in love with the beauty of it. I’m a very visual, hands-on person. No other social media site lets you collect and share images in the same way. For writers, it provides an opportunity to create inspiration boards for our novels, promote each other’s books, and drive traffic to our blogs. It seemed to be the best of what social media has to offer in that it was both fun and functional.

Unfortunately, Pinterest’s terms of service have caused some concern across the web this week. According to the terms of service, if you upload your own work, you’re giving Cold Brew Labs complete and irrevocable rights to use, sell, or modify your work as they see fit. Without compensating you. Anytime someone wants all rights to my material, I get nervous. Especially if they’re not going to pay me for it.

But I don’t upload any of my own pictures or artwork, you say. This is an equally big problem.

Check out what you agreed to in Pinterest’s terms of service: “Neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.”

What this means is that if you don’t have the express permission of the person who does own the copyright to the images you pin and they decide to sue Pinterest, you’re 100% responsible.

If you want to do a little more reading on this (and believe me, I will be) here are a couple helpful articles I’ve come across.

Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards

Why Pinterest Is No Longer of Great Interest

Now, for a happier note, what have Lisa and I been up to this week…

Marcy’s asking Do You Believe in Second Chances? Tolkien did.

Lisa shares her recipe for Soldier Cookies, the ones she used to send to the troops in Afghanistan.

Marcy

Connect with Marcy on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Connect with Lisa on Twitter, subscribe to her on Facebook, or join her circles on Google+.

And don’t forget to subscribe to Marcy’s new blog Life At Warp 10 and Lisa’s new blog Through the Fire.

Those Who Can’t – Self-Publish. Really?

A lot of people put ‘write a book’ on their bucket list. Thanks to Amazon, Smashwords, and fee-based publishing companies, having a book with your name on the spine is easier than ever. There’s never been a better time to be an author, never been more options, but simply being published means very little now.

When everyone is special, then no one is.

The Author Is Now In Control
Authors are entrepreneurs. Gone are the days of the solitary writer holed up in a writing cave never interacting with readers. There’s no longer a stigma attached to self-publishing, the stigma is attached to books that do poorly. Your book must earn respect now with sales and Amazon rankings determining value, not the name of the publisher on the spine. Indie and self-publishing avenues (digital especially) have leveled the playing field. But with privilege comes responsibility. For the first time writers have choices – you can traditionally publish or self publish or both, but either way the burden of responsibility for success rests with the author.

A Leveled Playing Field
Traditional publishers have always offered distribution, something authors couldn’t get anywhere else. The cover art, editing, interior design are all services that many publishers are outsourcing anyway, but with digital there’s no longer any need for distribution. Barry Eisler made publishing news a few months ago when he turned down a BIG (I mean, never have to write again big) deal from St. Martin’s Press. He was then approached by Amazon to publish with them first digitally and then in paper at a much higher royalty rate. He didn’t need either St. Martin’s or Amazon for distribution – he already has a substantial platform, but Amazon offered direct to consumer marketing he could tap into. At the Writer’s Digest Conference (WDC) in New York, Eisler claimed he’s made more on the book published with Amazon, than on any of his traditionally published books. Self-publishing was the smart business decision for him.

Writing Is A Business
Traditional publishers typically offer 17.5% royalty rates, but with self-publishing authors keep upwards of 75% royalties. Writing is a business and the business is connecting with readers. Traditional or self-published doesn’t matter because the self-published or indie author can hire an editor and the same cover designer as the big publishers, and put out a comparably packaged product. But not all books are created equal – and whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, failing to connect with readers will be reflected in customer reviews and sales numbers. Just putting a book out there doesn’t mean anyone will buy it – or find it in this crowded marketplace.

Read more about The Business of Writing with this exclusive GWP interview with author and writing teacher James Scott Bell.

A New Business Model
A new business model is emerging. Previously, a traditionally published author would put out 1 new title a year (or less than that), and then build a speaking and teaching career beneath the writing career. Indie publishers are telling new writers to publish 3-5 books a year to keep readers coming back. Writers must be entrepreneurs. Many of the successful independent authors have a team of writers writing for them – their name has become a brand – almost like a fashion label. But this also opens up markets where previously there were none – like short stories and poetry.

In Summary
If you don’t have a top-notch product (book), don’t have great packaging (interior design, cover art, binding, cover copy), and a social network who will share and recommend your work – you’re playing the author lotto (and the odds aren’t in your favor).

The average self-published title sells 80 copies. You can’t live off that. But the good news is that those are all things you can control through hard work. It’s a lot of trial and error, learning from what didn’t work as much as what did. These authors spoke of testing titles with Facebook ads, and monopolizing a word through Google ads. It’s a serious, purposeful business model being planned up to two years in advance.

Being traditionally published gives you instant credibility with retailers and to a certain extent readers, but that’s overcome with reader reviews, blogger reviews, Amazon rankings, etc. This is a really exciting time to be a writer. Authors no longer need the brick&mortar bookstore, the agent or New York publisher to be a success (whether publishing digitally or not) and that’s changed a lot of things.

Read more about self-publishing from these successful authors:

Debora Geary – paranormal author
LT Kodzo – YA author – Christian market
KC May – sci-fi/fantasy author

Lisa

Subscribe to Marcy’s new blog Life At Warp 10 and Lisa’s new blog Through the Fire.

Connect with Marcy on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Connect with Lisa on Twitter, subscribe to her on Facebook, or join her circles on Google+.

The Business of Writing with James Scott Bell

Marcy and I had the privilege of meeting James Scott Bell at the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference in California last year. He gave us a free critique (part of the conference) and helped set us on a new path to publication that landed us in New York at the Writer’s Digest Conference. And who did we find there? James Scott Bell. He was a guest speaker, so we had a chance to reconnect. Much to our great delight he remembered us. He graciously agreed to give this interview on the business of writing.

Thank you so much, Jim! And to our readers, enjoy. 🙂

Lisa

LHW: You’re a successful author who’s sold a lot of books, but in support of the writing career you speak and teach at conferences, tweet, blog, give interviews <grin>. What myth would you most like to dispel for new writers about the successful writer’s life?

JSB: That it ever gets easier. In fact, in some ways, it gets harder. Or should. Your standards go up with each book. You know more, you set the bar higher. And you want it to, if you’re a real writer. I have a number of bestselling author friends, and they all feel this way. It’s nice to have a career doing this, certainly. But it’s work, too. Don’t think it’s ever a fluffy ride on a cloud.

LHW: You’ve stated elsewhere that new writers need to focus on craft first – without a good book the rest doesn’t matter. But, at what point in an author’s early career should they begin thinking about the business behind the writing? How does one plan for that? What are the key items to think through, and consider?

JSB: A writer should think about this being a business from the very start. Know how the business runs, what publishers and agents and readers look for, what sells and does not sell. Learn how to plan at least two years ahead. Set goals for finishing projects and getting them out there. Learn about production–editing, cover design, copywriting and copyrighting. This approach establishes its own momentum. You can be doing things every day toward your goals, and there’s a power in that.

At the same time, never think that business knowledge and marketing can cover a multitude of writing sins. One still has to be able to consistently deliver the goods, and that means learning the craft by writing, revising, studying, getting feedback, and more writing.

LHW: You have a wide range of new ‘products’ being offered through ebooks, traditionally published fiction and non-fiction books (at my count you released 9 books in different formats on Amazon in 2011). You’re speaking and teaching at writers conferences, and Donald Maas just announced that the two of you will be doing a new workshop together in the fall. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom talk about publishing lately. In your opinion, is this a good time to be a new writer/author?

JSB: Never a better time to be an author! Ever. Period. Because of choices. It’s always been hard to get published traditionally. And yes, it’s harder at this moment because of the shakeups in the industry. Not impossible. New authors are getting deals. But we have the independent route now that means there’s a real alternative. There wasn’t before. Yes, you could pay a lot of money to self-publish in print, but 99% of the time you couldn’t sell enough to make any real dough. Not only has indie publishing been a boon for books, but also for short stories and novellas. The latter market was virtually non-existant. Now it’s back, better than ever.

Yes, it’s a great time to be a writer.

LHW: A lot of indie authors are telling new writers they must be prolific and produce new content often, 3-5books a year, to be successful. Not many traditionally published authors can manage that kind of output. Looking ahead, what do you predict will be the key factors for a successful writing career? Being prolific? A wide range of ‘products’? Social media clout?

JSB: I love being prolific, but I don’t think you need to put a number on the speed of production. Consistency is a better word. A writer who wants to succeed at this needs to establish a consistent rate of production (I always use a weekly quota of words), and plan projects out in advance (I have enough for at least five years hence). The “keys” to success are quality and consistency, which is why I advocate a systematic studying of the craft of writing for the rest of your life. Some writers sniff at craft study, but they are fooling themselves and others. Would you want your brain operated on by a surgeon who doesn’t keep up with the medical journals? Make craft study a part of the “quality control” of your business–and all writers are in business for themselves.

Social media certainly has a role to play, but if one gets obsessive about it, the ROE (Return on Energy) just doesn’t add up. Recent studies have shown that books are not sold in great numbers via social media. Create relationships with readers in social media, but always remember the best thing to do is write excellent books and let word of mouth take over. Concentrate your energy there.

LHW: Any advice for emerging authors about the business of writing?

JSB: Learn business principles: goal setting, time management, marketing fundamentals, quality control, pricing, copywriting, sales. You can get good books on all of these and study them when you can. I wrote a book, The Art of War for Writers, which covers a lot of this territory, but you can go deeper into each area.

The most important things a writer can do are, in order of importance:

1. Write

2. Keep improving what you write (study craft, get critiques)

3. Sell what you write (via marketing and business principles)

And try to enjoy the ride. I blogged about a new definition of success for writers, where freedom is the operative word. Freedom and responsibility. It’s exhilarating to hold them in your own hands.

JAMES SCOTT BELL is the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure, and numerous thrillers, including Deceived, Try Dying, Try Darkness, Try Fear, One More Lie and Watch Your Back. He served as the fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine and has written highly popular craft books for Writers Digest Books, including: Revision & Self-Editing, The Art of War for Writers and Conflict & Suspense. Under the pen name K. Bennett he has written the zombie legal thrillers Pay Me in Flesh and The Year of Eating Dangerously. He lives and writes in L.A. His website is www.jamesscottbell.com

What do you think? Is this a doom and gloom time for writers, or a world of new opportunities?

Use Your Facebook Profile To Market Your Writing

People hate it when Facebook changes anything – but not all change is bad. I posted a series about Facebook for writers in June, but decided that with the new Timeline profile rolling out this week, it was time for an update.

If you missed my earlier posts about Facebook, you can find them here:

Top 5 Reasons For Authors To Join Facebook
Pimp Out Your Facebook Page – Tips and Tricks for creating an author fan page
Carpooling With Fans On The Facebook Freeway – Attracting fans, and keeping them interested

What changes affect you as a writer?Lots.

Subscribe

Because of a number of factors, like Facebook limiting personal profiles to 5000 friends, authors/writers were advised to get a Fan Page where marketing tools and stats were built in. And this is still true. But, a few weeks ago, Facebook rolled out a subscribe feature on personal profiles.

This is super! For people, like me, who like to share things and have conversations but don’t really have anything to sell yet or the interest in managing another page, allowing subscribers is the perfect work around. Anyone can subscribe to your public posts without affecting your 5000 friend limit, comment and share your statuses as they pop up in their newsfeeds – but depending on your privacy settings don’t have access to everything on your profile. I think this is a more authentic way of demonstrating the ‘level’ of relationship instead of friending everyone.

3 Principles of Facebook Fan Pages via Jane Friedman

Should you use your personal profile to attract readers? A little dated, written in January of 2011 – but still lots of great stuff (this was written before you could subscribe to profiles)

To learn more about the subscribe feature, check out this post from Facebook.

Lists

Facebook has always had a list feature where you can organize your friends into various lists and set the privacy for each list. Rumors say Facebook has made this feature much easier to navigate due to G+ *shrug* – don’t know that it matters. Now, with built-in list suggestions such as close friends, acquaintances, and family, this is a fairly painless process. I had a strict friends only policy for my profile, but when people I’d connected with online started friending me, I created lists and tweaked the privacy for each list. Now, I can post to everyone, friends (close friends and acquaintances), close friends (excluding acquaintances), just family, public, etc. This is a time consuming prospect, I won’t lie to you, but worthwhile. (Have I started reorganizing my G+ circles? Not a chance 🙂

Privacy

For those who have allowed subscribers, you’re faced with tweaking your locked down privacy settings. Changing your default privacy setting to public makes everything you’ve ever posted or been tagged in public. Instead, keep your default setting at friends only, and choose which statuses to make public going forward.

*It just makes good sense to double check your privacy settings every 6 months or so with Facebook.*

6 Must-Do Facebook Privacy Tweaks via PC World

Timeline – The New Profile

About 6 months ago, Facebook rolled out a new profile and page look with the photo banner across the top. Timeline is the newest profile overhaul, with a forced roll-out this week. Facebook is very visual. According to Mashable, 250million photos are shared on Facebook every day making it the largest photo sharing site. Timeline, with its magazine blog style, caters to this visual audience in a big way.

Timeline catalogs every status update, photo share and tag, and places it on a linear timeline. So all those photo tags, and status updates you’ve been glad cycled out of everyone’s newsfeeds are about to revisit your profile in a big splashy way. If there is anything there that doesn’t put your best foot forward, you may be wise to update to Timeline early and sort through it all because lurkers everywhere are ecstatic about Timeline (future employers among them).

For a great example of how an author is utilizing Facebook’s new Timeline profile and the subscribe feature check out YA author/former editor Nathan Bransford.

Timeline Tips and Tricks – A quick survey of the different features new to Timeline.

GalleyCat does it again with this fabulous post on how writers can utilize the new Timeline to promote their work.

Timeline features that benefit writers

Cover Photos

The cover photo is a really great opportunity to showcase what you’re about. Be aware that the cover photo does not replace your profile photo, and if you have your profile privacy locked down it won’t be visible to the public. Why not use the cover photo space to highlight your blog or website address, your twitter handle, your facebook vanity url? Share a favorite quote, or use Photoshop to create something that really reflects you as a writer – or an upcoming project?

5 Sites to help design a cover photo

Creative uses for cover photo designs – Some of these are truly clever – fabulous art.

And here’s a post that gives you all the exact dimensions for creating your own custom cover image.

Life Events

In the status bar, you can now add life events under a few different categories. This is optional. You don’t have to add any life events if you don’t want to, (the Facebook police won’t care) but why not post the articles or books you’ve published? Been to a conference, why not put that on your timeline? Shortlisted or won a contest – add that too. If agents and editors are lurking anyway (and if they’re interested in you they are) – give them something worthwhile to look at. Life events are automatically highlighted by Timeline so anyone scrolling through your history will be sure to see it.

Fan Page Rabbit Trail

Developers are constantly creating new apps for marketing on Facebook. Odyl has a specialized app to promote your books on Facebook – they claim some Big 6 publishers, and best-selling authors like Janet Evanovich , Bret Easton Ellis, James Rollins, and Ted Dekker as clients. This app helps promote books by offering interactive puzzles, quizzes, polls, sneak peaks, excerpts and other things. (don’t know if it costs anything)

What do you think of the new Timeline look? Have you already upgraded? What creative ideas do you have to make use of this to help market yourself as a writer/author?

Lisa

**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

Navigating the Marketing Maze – Guest Post by Grace Fox

Today Marcy and Lisa are pleased to welcome special guest poster Grace Fox to share some insider secrets on marketing.

Grace Fox is the author of five books including Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation. She’s written hundreds of magazine articles and speaks internationally. She’s also just a super nice lady.

Take it away Grace . . .

Moving from Fear to FreedomMarketing—the word strikes dread into the hearts of many authors. We’d rather spend our time and energy doing anything but slogging our way through the self-marketing maze. Cut us loose to research, write, edit, revise, tweet, blog, check our Amazon stats, sweat through a book proposal—anything but market.

And yet the latter task is non-negotiable for us. So what’s an author to do?

First, we need to understand the difference between marketing and publicity. Steve Laube, president and founder of The Steve Laube Agency, says marketing is “all about creating multiple impressions” whereas publicity is “all about meeting the author.” He says marketing can be done through ad placement, reviews, contests, banner ads, and more. Publicity is done through radio, television, and social media. The difference, he says, is that authors “feel” publicity because they are involved. They do not “feel” marketing, per se, because they are not present.

Armed with that clarification, we need to look at our options and then develop our marketing strategy several months prior to the book’s release. Here’s a list of ideas for authors with limited time and money:

Write articles that pertain to your book’s topic. Assuming your articles are published, your byline will contain your name, your book title, and your website address. This is free exposure, and hey, you might even receive payment!

Make a list of influencers—people who have a wide following—and offer to send them a copy of your book. Ask them to recommend it to others if they enjoy it or find it helpful.

Visit and phone bookstores. Introduce yourself to the manager or the person who orders the stock. Tell them about your book’s topic and who the intended audience is. When I introduce Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation, I say that its content is relevant to women such as those going through divorce, dealing with cancer and other illnesses, single moms, military wives and moms, and women facing significant transitions. Inevitably, the person’s eyes light up and they say, “Wow—thanks for those ideas!”

Brainstorm. What organizations or ministries might find your book useful? Find their contact information online and make a cold call. Tell them about your book, explain why its topic is relevant to their demographic, and offer to send them a copy. Tell them you’ll follow up in a few weeks. Keep your promise, but don’t be too pushy.

Develop a list of potential readers’ names and email addresses. This is critical! These are the folks to whom you’ll send regular newsletters that contain useful information for them plus info and updates about your book. How do you collect their names and addresses?

  • By placing a box in an obvious place on your website homepage (and other pages, too) inviting them to subscribe to your newsletter. Check out mine at www.gracefox.com.
  • By offering a doorprize when you speak to groups. The prize slips should include a place both for names and email addresses. Be sure to let your audience know that, when they give you their email addy, they’re giving you permission to send them a newsletter or you’ll be deemed a spammer.

I’ve used these methods and more. Unfortunately, one size does not fit all. Each marketing endeavor looks different depending on the author, the book, and the audience.

Remember—you can’t do it all. Pick what works best for you, and do it well. No matter your book’s genre or the size of your marketing budget, however, you’ll find more helpful information on these sites:

www.bookmarket.com/tips.htm

www.bookmarketingworks.com/news_copy

www.writerswrite.com/bookpromotion/

www.writing-world.com/links/promotion.shtml

All the best as you navigate the marketing maze!

What’s your biggest fear about marketing?

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