I’ve been on Twitter a couple of months. It started like this.
Day 1 - no idea at all what to do or how to go about doing it.
Hashtags? DM’s. Lists. On and on with the lingo.
Days 2 – 9 - I waited and watched and still absolutely nothing happened. My mother told me a watched pot never boils so I walked away for a few days and checked back to reap the rewards that had befallen my patience.
Day 10 - I did something novel. I sent a tweet. Then another. Then the strangest thing happened. Someone followed me. I followed them back.
A thought occurred to me. The people who were following me – who were they following? Who was following them?
Then I discovered lists.
People on twitter – Tweeps I’ve since learned they are called – spend their time organizing followers into categorized lists. Lists are a gold mine of information if you are looking for people who tweet about particular topics. Between the list from people you follow and people who follow you, you can find thousands of tweeps with similar interests. Many of these people have great things to say.
Wow the floodgates opened. I started following other writers, bloggers, publishers, readers, and loads of other people who had interest that touched on mine. Many in turn followed me back.
Since then I’ve found a few things helpful and have a few things that I believe are best avoided.
First, stay active on Twitter. I’ve found it’s a truly a “What have you done for me lately?” proposition. You want to remain engaged with your followers. If not you’re dead weight on the timeline.
Oh and engage in conversations, but if things get too detailed on a topic, send a direct message. This keeps other followers from getting confused or from feeling neglected and at the same time you’re engaging your followers.
Give your followers good content. Good content includes information about your book or work in progress, but it shouldn’t only be about that. Link to your regularly updated blog, retweet interesting tweets, share insight. Keep the mix productive and beneficial to your followers. If your followers are engaged they will help support you, you’ll be followed by others and so grows the network.
Help spread the word for your followers. If you have someone you find interesting, tell your followers about them.
I believe you should avoid tweets that only promote your book or platform in a sales pitch fashion. I also feel that you should avoid saturating the timeline with too many things on one topic. It’s okay to recycle tweets, but after a few appearances on the timeline, those tweets, like extended house guests or 5-day-old fish, may start to smell a bit.
Oh, and just be nice and treat other people with respect or perhaps I should say twitspect.
At the end of the day all it takes is a little planning and a willingness to dive into the deep end of the pool. Engage your followers; let them know you are interested in what they have to say. Thank them when they mention you or retweet something you’ve done. When people thank you return the favor. It’s pretty simple. What comes around goes around. Help out and you’ll be helped out.
It is like the high school dance. It’s fun to lean against the wall and be entertained by what everyone else is doing, but the real fun is out on the dance floor.
So while you’re here why not read a chapter
from my book or even buy a copy of your own
. A portion of all proceeds from the sale of The Trust will be donated to canine related charities.
$#*$% ? I say $%#@#$# and *&$^%$ &%$% yes. If not some *&^$ person may not be *&^&% again.
I’ll hold off for now and allow you a moment to fill in the blanks, but suffice it to say simply because you see a mix of symbols doesn’t mean that the first sentence has to be X-Rated. But it easily could be.
The point of this comes from a conversation I recently had concerning the use of profanity and what exactly was appropriate language for books on the market today.
As the saying goes, opinions are like $#*&%$ - everyone has one. Keep in mind everyone has a hometown and probably a pair of pants.
I’m of the opinion, as with many things in literature, there is certainly that which is not only appropriate but, necessary. On the other hand there is that which I believe is for shock value and shock value alone.
For instance, if there’s a scene where every third word out of a character’s mouth is an F-bomb, it’s likely we have shock value. Or, say a character is given a profanity laced case of Tourette’s Syndrome with no other plot tie-in, then perhaps we have shock value.
However if you have a particularly seasoned police detective, some profanity, perhaps even at inappropriate times, is to be expected. Perhaps a man of the cloth has fallen from grace and will utter every profanity in the book; however he refuses to take the Lord’s name in vain. I believe these uses of profanity help create a full character.
Even with the average person sometimes a single well-placed expletive can be amazingly effective in conveying a subtle difference in mood or tone that, I believe, is difficult to otherwise create. To avoid such or, even worse, to write around this, would simply not be true to the character.
But wait you say! Won’t you alienate your audience? Well, I believe you have to know your audience before you can alienate them. However, if you are not true to your characters or your story, you may not have readers to alienate.
I write thrillers and mysteries. I don’t believe my readers would enjoy too much graphic language or even too much blood and gore. I don’t believe they want me to discuss politics or religion. I do believe they want believable characters.
However, if, on occasion the language in a book mirrors that which you may hear in real life, I believe that not only does my audience accept, but also expects it. To do otherwise I believe I run the risk of losing readers.
I believe if a character limps then the reader needs to know it. If a character is a seasoned police officer but tends bonsai trees for relaxation, the reader needs to know it. And if a specific word conveys the emotion or adds to the tone of a scene, I believe the reader should have it.
Really? I say completely and affirmatively 100% yes. If not some loyal reader may not be loyal again.
Oh yes, the translation of the first sentence?
You just read it.
As long as you’re here, why don’t you read an excerpt
from The Trust or even buy a copy of your very own
. A portion of all proceeds from The Trust will go to K9 nonprofit organizations
. Feel free to comment!
Writing can be a minefield.
A minefield that can hit you square in the checkbook in more than one way.
I’m not talking about editing mistakes, character flaws or even plot inconsistencies. I’m talking legal problems that can arise from your writing – and it may not always be from the words on the page.
This blog will highlight a few legal issues that could cause problems but the real goal is to get people thinking about the legal pitfalls that can be lurking on the next page.
However before we begin, my lawyers make me say that nothing in this blog is intended to give any legal counsel. And, hey, everyone’s situation is different so please don’t look at this as anything other than something to get you thinking about issues. If you do have questions about these issues, your situation or anything else related to legal matters, consult with an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.
If you’re a writer the term copyright shouldn’t be a new one for you. Simply put, copyright addresses who owns a particular piece of writing. While you as a writer own the copyright to your work, at some point writers should consider registering a copyright with the US Copyright and Patent Office.
One area where I worry about copyright is on Twitter. There’s a Twitter event know as Sample Sunday or (W)ork (I)n (P)rogress where writers share a portion of their writing for all to see, read, review and perhaps to be stolen in whole or part without the writer’s permission. Proper copyright would be of great use in this situation.
Generally libel is the publishing of some falsehood about another person. Social media is yet again an arena where I have concerns. Also, it is not unusual to see passages, even in fiction that could give rise to this. Be careful about your status updates, tweets, comments, etc. Once the words are out there they are tough to take back and if they do come back they may bite.
Many writers, particularly new writers, don’t understand that taxes are an area of which they need to be keenly aware. However, in being aware of this issue, taxes can be a good thing or a bad thing. As a writer, you still have to pay taxes on money you earn, but there can be a lot of expenses a writer can deduct. Having a good accountant can really help.
It is not unusual for writers to organize a business for purposes of their writing. There are a variety of business organizations you can use such as sole proprietorships, LLC’s, corporations and others. However it is not always one size fits all. Check with an accountant or an attorney and you can select the appropriate one for your needs and also understand the differences between the entities as well as the numerous advantages each may offer.
There are countless of other legal issues that can take a writer by surprise.
How do limited rights work? What happens if someone steals your writing or even just an idea? What happens if a publisher or an agent violates your contract? What if a publisher or agent alleges you have violated an agreement? Bankruptcy? What if….?
When problems occur, you have to be prepared to address them and sometimes quickly or you could be stuck with some unpleasant results.
This doesn’t mean you need to run out and retain an attorney, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to look around and be prepared. Look into some seminars or conference presentation related to legal issues for writers. Check out writer’s associations who may give recommendations. Even if you just ask other writers what they are doing, this will be a step in the correct direction.
Hopefully no one ever has any problem legal issues other than how to best invest millions of dollars in royalties, but there are a lot of attorneys out there who bank on the fact that you will ultimately need their help and will spend your money with them.
Be aware and think ahead.
As long as you’re here, why don’t you read a bit of The Trust
or even buy
a copy of your own.
As I look around my office the argument could be made I’ve robbed a bookstore or at least was about to open one. There are all descriptions of books literally cascading from the shelves. The Nook has started storing the overflow.
These books range from novella to epic novel and all lengths in between.
Sometimes for motivation I stare at these books and think of the time put into each one. The countless hours required crafting the stories and tales in my office is immeasurable.
However each and every book in my possession, down to and including my own
, started with a single letter on a blank page. Even before that each book likely began with an “Ah Ha” moment when it all came together for the writer.
Unfortunately I’ve had several “Ah Ha” moments since I finished my last book.
Fortunately one idea is a bona fide work in progress, but I’ve quickly realized that grandiose plans can sometimes be too much.
Put simply, grand plans a finished book do not make.
I’ve talked to a number of would be writers about their great ideas, but alas, it doesn’t appear these ideas will ever be anything more than just that – good ideas.
There has been much written on how to motivate ones self to write. There are scores of programs, how to books, seminars, websites and even iPhone apps
which are designed to motivate. I’ve found a great many of these tools useful, but at the end of the day, they will not make characters magically appear on the page.
Let’s talk about weight loss for a moment.
I equate starting writing to beginning weight loss. If you drop a great deal of weight in a short time, you feel great, but statistically that weight is going to come back. If you pump up your normal word output the product likely won’t be there.
The net result in each situation? Initially you feel great, but end up where you started only to feel worse than before with no progress.
If you want to keep the pounds off, slow and steady beats the quick each and every time. From what I understand 1-2 pounds a week has the best chance of achieving lasting weight loss. The same is true with your writing.
I’ve started to apply the same principal to my writing in an approach I call the bite size novel. It only requires two things.
Write 5 days out of 7; and, write 1 to 2 pages per day.
Watch the math.
My first novel came in at 100,000 words. Let’s say I’d written 1.5 pages, with a page being 700 words, per day. That is 1050 words per day.
To reach 100,000 words, I would need 95 days. Let’s also say that I write 4 days a week or 18 days out of an average 30-day month. Based on this schedule I would go from the first character to completion in just over 5 months – yes, two books a year. If you write more frequently just adjust the formula to see how quickly you can have your novel done. Spoiler – Write seven days and week and you have a novel in just over 3 months.
This approach also builds in the idea of self-motivation in that if you start seeing progress, the progress will manifest into increased motivation.
I am certainly not the first to realize this - really it’s basically common sense.
But I am happy to point it out.
So I say this. If you are struggling to get going on the book you have long thought on, try this approach for a month and if it doesn’t produce results, contact me and I’ll help you brainstorm some ideas to kick start your novel.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and as long as you are here, why not read an excerpt
from my book or even buy a copy
“But why is the Rum gone?”
Or so said Johnny Depp in one of his pirate movies. I’m certain, for his character in any event, the rum was his muse or at a minimum his motivation.
However, the Bacardi I‘m talking about is not actually a distilled spirit, but you could call this Bacardi a muse. Of sorts.
Bacardi is one of my Australian Shepherds. He’s also very supportive of my writing; however, I feel his support has more to do with the fact that on the days I write I’m home at his beckon call. But regardless of the reasons, I’ve learned a number of lessons from Bacardi that have proven most beneficial to my writing.
Bacardi’s self-appointed job is to let the neighborhood know when a cat is in his yard. Frequently the cat alarm is sounded in the wee hours of the morning. However, when he sounds the alarm he sounds it with 150% conviction.
I’m rarely thrilled when Bacardi starts barking at 3:48 am, but I’ve learned that if you have a job the time of day shouldn’t matter. Bacardi barks at cats, he never misses the chance to do it and he always gives it his all. I write, I can always go back to sleep or back to work, but if I don’t stop to write, and, like Bacardi, give it my all, I feel I’ll be the lesser writer as a result.
When he’s not barking at cats, Bacardi’s favorite activity is to run around his big back yard. His favorite time to do this is first thing every morning. After his run he can get to the more important tasks of the day (more on this in a moment.)
It occurred to me that this is what I needed to do with writing (after making sure Bacardi has had his turn in the yard, of course.) I get up and I write. Writing is what I love and Bacardi taught me to make it the first thing I do everyday. The rest of the day will be waiting for you.
After the cats are cleared and the yard has been patrolled (and after a bite to eat of course), Bacardi takes a break. Normally, as is the case as I write this, this break consists of a nap, but Bacardi’s philosophy is spot on. There’s simply no need to run yourself ragged 24/7. Work hard barking at cats or running around the yard, or writing, but take a break every so often. It will give you more focus to bark at cats, or even to write.
When I walk into the house after any period of time away Bacardi is so excited you would think it was the first time he’d ever seen me. One day I realized that just because something is familiar doesn’t mean you can’t get excited about it. When I’m editing my writing, it may be the x to the nth degree time I’ve looked at it, but I always try to follow Bacardi’s lesson and get excited about it and throw myself into it with exuberance.
Finally, Bacardi has a couple of places around the house he likes. It may be a window to look for cats or it may be under the table in the dining room for a nap. He can also be a bit mischievous so if he gets too quite for too long I take a moment and go look for him to make sure trouble is not afoot. Usually I can find him in one of his normal haunts; however, sometimes I have to go look for him. On these occasions, I usually find him in a new spot with a dog bone or just napping. Point is, be like Bacardi. Don’t be afraid to stray from the normal or to break the routine. I try to do this with my writing and feel this has been on of the most important lessons Bacardi has taught me.
Well, that and that I probably spend too much time watching my dog, but I’m pretty sure that I will be okay as long as he doesn’t start talking to me.
So while you’re here please feel free to read an excerpt
from my book or even buy a copy of your own
Oh, and by the way, that's Bacardi smiling at you at the start of this post.
I haven’t done a review in a couple of weeks but had a great experience this week I thought would be great fodder for a review. Particularly given that on Fridays I try to do entries designed to give writers some tools, or at least thoughts, to help with some aspect of their writing.
I also like to give thanks where it is deserved.
Add to that the fact that many of my recent posts have been marketing related, this seemed particularly appropriate.
There's a great site called Novel Publicity
. The name says it all. They provide a large and varied number of services to assist authors in book promotion – at all stages of the game. Pretty much whatever you need for promotion they have it. While this may sound like a paid promotional blog, I really was that impressed with the experience I had.
They have a team of professionals who clearly have an understanding of and love of the written word. Plus they respond to questions very promptly (even when some of the answers could be found right on their website. What can I say, sometimes I get lazy).
One of the services they offer is called a Twitterview
. Follow the link to get the skinny on how it works but the nutshell is a modern day, high tech version of 20 questions.
In each Twitterview the first 5 questions are always the same, the next 5 are crafted for the specific person being Twitterviewed, the next 5 are generated at random (randomly picked by the Twitterviewee from a bank of questions) and the last 5 are from the audience.
The Twitterviewee logs onto Twitter at the appointed time and a moderator generates the questions and keeps the interview going. The answers are provided 140 characters at a time, in real time, by the Twitterviewee.
The Twitter character limit forces you to be very succinct and thoughtful in your answers. It also keeps you on your feet. It can be fast and furious, but it is a blast.
The audience questions are a load of fun. Primarily because the audience is really paying attention and is keenly focused on the author and the interview.
Novel Publicity does a great job promoting the event to ensure maximum exposure. As well, when it is over a graphic transcript is posted on their site. Read mine here
While Novel Publicity charges for their services, many of their services, Twitterviews included, may be obtained gratis though you do have to do some work - generally winning a contest.
One of the ways you can win a Twitterview is by having a winning entry in a flash fiction contest
. What better way to practice your writing than to do it with the possibility of winning free publicity. That is just a win-win proposition!
Point of all of this, in addition to saying thanks to the folks at Novel Publicity for a great experience, is that this is an example of what you find when you are active in social media and network with the masses out there.
The options are never ending and it is literally a situation where around the corner there is yet another opportunity to expand your brand and further your reach. It only takes you as the author taking those few steps.
As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to comment. Oh, while you are here why not read an excerpt from The Trust
or even buy your own copy
News flash! Writing a book
is just the first step of the process. How’s that for obvious?
Make no mistake, it’s a huge first step, but the first never the less. The real task is how to spread the word to the masses.
So what do you do?
The easiest way to sell your book is to have lots of money. Hire a marketing professional and undertake a national campaign. See, easy answer, but, for me (and I would imagine most indie authors) the national campaign slush fund is dry.
Where does that leave the average indie
We have to be good writers and great marketers. We also need to realize a few things.
First, no matter how good your book is, unless people read it, well, no one is reading it.
Second, there are a lot of authors out there in the same boat as you.
Next, good writers are working their tails off to sell their book. This I promise.
So, back to the initial question. What is the best way to market your book on little to no budget.
Realize there isn’t a single surefire method rather a number of different techniques that can work well together. Oh, be wary of anyone promising quick sales for a fee. Think SCAM.
Most things I talk about below are free (free from $$$ anyway, time is another thing). So try these ideas.
1. Talk about your book. Tell everyone you know, even strangers. Not only should you tell them, but ask them to tell others about your book. Ask them to buy it.
2. Set up a website. This may take a small investment, but if you want to do it for free that is certainly possible. Once the site is up, see step number 1. (Yes its redundant, but it’s okay if it sells books.)
3. Set up a Facebook “Like” page and a Twitter account.
4. Use said Facebook and Twitter accounts regularly. Don’t overload, but give good content and updates.
5. Interact with friends you meet on Twitter and Facebook. Even other writers. Not every writer will buy your book, nor will every blogger/reviewer. However writers, bloggers and reviewers have readers and they do buy books.
6. Email a lot. Perhaps the most overlooked (and least expensive) marketing idea is to include a custom signature in your emails. Link to your website and give a brief blurb about your book. I send hundreds of emails a week and I’ve been surprised at how many sales have come from this alone. I promise the return is better than from mass adverts.
If you have a good product and stay with it, I am sure you’ll be surprised at the results.
Finally, realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Blog about your book or experience as a writer. Offer to speak at civic groups or schools. Join writer’s sites such as Redroom
. Check out local book clubs and ask to speak to them. Get out, spread the word. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. Think sustained grassroots. Once you start to sell some books then you can hire you own marketing firm!
In 1994 a band from South Carolina, Hootie and the Blowfish
, released an album called Cracked Rear View. It went on to sell more than 10 million copies and was the best selling album of 1995. Prior to this, Hootie, on their own, sold tens of thousands of copies of their self released EP. It got the attention of the major labels and propelled them to the top. They did all of this without Facebook, Myspace, Twitter or really any social media at all.
Think what you can do now.
As long as you’re here, why don’t you read a bit of The Trust
or even buy
a copy of your own.
I love music. I’ve been a guitar player for years.
I love to write. I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I’ve been a guitar player.
I always thought I’d have a CD/album/whatever you want to call it out before I ever even thought about publishing a book, but things don’t always turn out the way you want. Not that I’m disappointed. I continue to work on my first musical release, but while I do, I have a novel out that people are reading and seem to like. (For the curious it’s called The Trust
The book is a mystery/thriller set in Charleston, South Carolina. When I wrote it, I wanted to blend in my love of music which, I found, wasn’t the easiest thing to do.
I could have taken an interesting approach and have provided a “Suggested Listening” preface to each chapter, but I thought that a bit transparent. I also avoided the temptation to any sleuthing musicians.
I’ve seen some interesting things in the way of music in books. One author made a reoccurring theme the existence of a list of his 100 greatest albums of all time. It wasn’t a key part of the plot, but it was something the characters revisited a number of times through the book.
As I read the book, I simply had to know the list but all I got was teasers.
The story was compelling, but what I remember most is that in the final scene when the loose ends were being tied up one of the characters offers up to the main character an envelope. The envelope contained the list and the book ended with albums 1 through 100. Neat use of music in a book without a single note being played from the page.
As neat as this approach was, I needed and wanted something else.
So I came up with something different.
One of the scenes in the book takes place in an empty, abandoned bar. There’s a storm, literally, coming and our main character is getting ready to open a door not knowing what is on the other side.
I wanted to create a certain feeling and as I was writing this section of the book, I started to hear music in my head so I transferred it to the page.
The main character is alone in the bar, he hears a song from down a long dark hall. The music is repetitive and unnerving, but he knows the song which is actually a bit comforting. Comforting yet disturbing at the same time. The song repeats, heightening the tension as the main character makes his way down the hall towards the front of the bar.
Suddenly he’s knocked unconscious.
He awakes, tied to a chair in a spotlight. He’s still in the bar. The song continues and amps up the tension and since the same song is playing, he has no idea how long he has been out….
When I wrote this, blending it all together allowed the main character to be comfortable but confused. Familiar, but unsettled. He knew the song, knew it was repeating. It was playing when he was knocked out and was the first thing he heard when he awoke, but he had no idea how long he had been out. Confusion all around and exactly what I needed.
I was able to accomplish this and, from what the readers tell me, I was able to create a good deal of suspense and the tension by weaving in a simple song.
If it wasn’t for music and being able to literally play a song from the written page, I would have had to tell the reader what they were supposed to be thinking; however, with a little music, I created a feeling that will be there for everyone that reads my book (a lot of people I hope) but that will be a feeling that each reader will (hopefully) interpret for themselves.
So as long as you’re here, why don’t you read an excerpt from The Trust
or even buy
a copy of your own. Visit my blog – The Trust Blog
Since I’ve been kicking around in the blogging world, trying to spread the word about my debut novel, The Trust
. I have been amazed at the people I’ve met who have been amazingly great about helping a new author like myself along. Since I spend so much time trying to promote myself, I thought I’d add an extra blog entry this week to say thank you to some folks who have gone above and beyond for me.
Rich Evens is the force behind the blog, R. A. Evans Writes
. He does reviews and blogs, but one of the neatest features he has started is his 7 Deadly Questions
section. Guest authors taking part are given a mix of questions – some chosen by Evans, some picked at random from a bank of questions and also questions submitted by blog readers. You can follow Evans on Twitter at @raevanswrites.
Holly at Full Moon Bites
has reviews, featured author interviews and a good deal of other information. One neat section of her blog is the Featured Series
where she focuses on reviews of series giving a good overview of ongoing works. She also does a great job of keeping readers up to date on what she will be doing with upcoming reviews. Follow her on Twitter at @fullmoonbites.
David Wiseheart is the producer and coordinator behind the Kindle Author
blog. He has guest author interviews, in depth author information, and excerpts from different works, all of which relate back to the Kindle and Kindle Authors. Check out one of his author interviews
. Follow David on Twitter at @kindleauthors.
Lesa Holstine keeps things running at Lesa's Book Critiques
. The focus is on reviews of mysteries, but she has frequent guest posts and has a tremendous database of insightful reviews – she has been at it a while and the blog product shows it. Follow Lesa on Twitter at @LesaHolstine.
Check these folks out. Follow them. Read their blogs. Overall, get in the game and reach out to bloggers, reviewers and other writers. You’ll only reap the rewards.
If you don't mind, tweet this blog and let your followers know about these great people!
Oh and while you’re here, why not consider reading an excerpt
from The Trust or, gasp, even buying
a copy of your own.