All About the Authors

Helping edit, publish, and market your book.

Page 2 of 7

7 Essential Tech Tools That All Writers Need To Have

Laptop on deskIt’s now easier than ever for writers to take their work from an idea to a published manuscript. The advances in technology and rise of the Internet offer a platform for authors that’s creating a self-publishing revolution. Additionally, websites like www.AllAbouttheAuthors.com help guide you through the process.

There is also a vast array of wonderful apps and tech tools that support writers during all stages of their writing. These seven are essential for modern authors and will help you make your book into something that will take the world by storm.

Scrivener 

By far the most comprehensive tool on the market, Scrivener is a word processing app on steroids. It allows you to set up a personalized writing studio that includes a virtual cork board and summary tags. You can easily organize research, write documents, and edit them individually or as a group. 

The outliner tool allows you to create synopses and metadata for each piece of work so they can be easily navigated. This is perfect for those writing books because you can divide the manuscript into smaller sections while keeping a detailed overview of the whole project. It’s also great for freelancers who are working with multiple clients at once.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a fantastically useful online to-do list. Each point opens up an individual card where you can add additional comments, files, due dates and reminders. It also allows you to network with teams for collaborative projects and easily assign different tasks to members. 

Any author knows that the actual writing of your book is only a miniscule part of the process, so having a tool that can help you organize all of your marketing, liaising, planning and formatting as well is infinitely useful.

ExpressVPN

 For writers, your computer is the most precious piece of equipment you own. Due to this, keeping it safe and secure is an essential pursuit. One of the greatest dangers to a writer’s online security comes from the necessary evil of relying on public WiFi. Whether it’s having an intensive writing session in your local coffee shop or checking emails on the train, these notoriously insecure networks are hard to avoid.

Using a VPN such as ExpressVPN is a great way to secure yourself when out-and-about because it encrypts all of your data and allows you to browse without any risk. It also lets you bypass geo-blocking restrictions, which can be an added bonus when performing research.

 F.lux

 For authors, a large amount of the day is spent staring at a computer screen.  While this is when the magic happens, it also takes a nasty toll on your eyes. F.lux is a truly handy tool that, once installed, adjusts the tones and brightness of your screen based on time of day to help reduce the damaging affect.

It’s also great for those of us who find ourselves writing into the early hours of the morning. It does so by naturally dimming the lights. It encourages you to adhere to your circadian rhythms and sleep better. 

Hemingway

The Hemingway readability software is a wonderful tool that helps you clean up your manuscript after the first draft. Providing a user-friendly system that highlights words and phrases in different colors, you can get an objective view of how well your work reads.

Yellow highlights overly complex sentences. Red means it’s too long and meandering to understand. Other colors represent other areas of your writing that demand your attention. I’d never recommend you rely on this completely but it does provide a useful alternative perspective.

Cold Turkey

One of the greatest pitfalls for authors is distraction. We live in a world of constant connection to our friends, colleagues, and unlimited entertainment. This is why Cold Turkey is perhaps ones of the most useful tools in a writer’s arsenal.

Its bulletproof format allows you to schedule blocks on specific websites or even your work email. It is very difficult to stop, edit or uninstall the program once the timer has begun. This means you can easily get into an intensive writing session without anything drawing your attention away.

Writer’s App

 Creativity is something that can’t be scheduled; often you can find yourself in the most inconvenient situations when a moment of brilliance comes to you. Writer’s App is an easy-to-use planning software for novelists, which lets you jot down ideas for books in an organized and easily-navigable manner.

The user interface was presented as a work desk. Books are organized by title and, once opened, have sub-sections for plot, characters and others, or can be viewed by chapters. As simple as this app is, it truly is one of the most useful tools available for brainstorming ideas.

Do you know of any other tools that deserve a place on this list? Have you used any of the tools listed above and want to share your thoughts? Be sure to leave a comment below, as I’d love to hear your ideas!

About the Author: Caroline is an entertainment blogger for Culture Coverage. She’s written all throughout her life and is probably working on some project right now. She loves how technology has revolutionized the way we write!

Want to write a guest post for All About the Authors? We welcome guest posts from authors and those who are experts in the book industry. What is your writing process? Where are you in your publishing journey and what advice do you have? Have you successfully marketed your book and do you have tips to share? All About the Authors wants to hear from you! If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to All About the Authors, please send your information and topic idea to allabouttheauthors@gmail.com with the subject line “Guest Post” or comment here.

 

Take a Break, It’s Good for You

A lot of times the advice writers get is to write, write, write. Write in journals, write blogs, and if you’re writing a novel, stick with it and write some every day. While it is important to keep to a schedule, and set aside a time every day to write, I’m here to say that once in a while it’s a good thing to take a break.

Celebrating the Fourth of July, a holiday weekend that I took as a true holiday, without doing any writing, I was inspired to write about that break for this blog.

I’m not saying put your computer away and forget about writing, or give in to the writer’s block that’s kept you from starting the next chapter of your book. I’m just saying that once in a while, a mental break can be a good thing.

Here are a few things you’ll find after a break:

  • You can look at what you’re written in a new light. That chapter or paragraph you were struggling with all of a sudden find its way.
  • You might find you’re inspired to write with a fresh outlook, and the words come rushing out.
  • It’s easier to edit what you’ve already written when you take a few days to step away from it. The material isn’t as close to you and you can look at it with fresh eyes.

The amount of time you stay away is totally up to you. It might be you just need a day to get away from the computer and give yourself some time for something else. Maybe a three-day weekend to spend a holiday with your family will give you the energy you need. Or maybe you need to put away your novel and let it sit for a few months, coming back to it when you’re energized and refreshed.

Once you’re had that break, get back to the other piece of advice writers get: write, write, write. The way to get better is practice!

One Author’s journey from manuscript to publishing

This guest post is written by James T. Crouse who has just published his debut novel, Broken Eagle, a hard-hitting story with a military-legal-aviation theme.

The journey of publishing my first novel has reached the stage which allows for reflection, which I hope will be interesting but more importantly useful to others.EXTRA PIC COVER jpeg

As long as I can remember, I have written. Letters to the editor in my teens, an editor’s sports column in my high school newspaper, and poetry in my 20’s.  Then law school and my litigating career, briefs and memoranda of law, then a highly acclaimed aviation law casebook.

But I still had an itch.  Hearing something on the radio, I would mentally compose a full op-ed piece in five minutes. I concluded that I could do this forever but if I really wanted to send a message, I had to go deeper. Novels were the answer.

For two years I played with what would become Broken Eagle, then I joined the North Carolina Writers Network. At my second conference, fate smiled on me and I met the terrific Betsy Thorpe who became my trusted editor and friend.  Betsy and I worked for over a year and she gave me tough, fair and helpful criticism. We “finished” (I thought) Broken Eagle. I quickly got a great, experienced agent  who pitched the manuscript as a best seller.  Then followed over a year of rejections with no uniform theme.  According to the editors at the big publishing houses, Broken Eagle was deficient in many ways.

I was not going to quit—didn’t get that gene. I learned all about self-publishing, engaged in more editing, copy editing, book and cover design, submitted to publishers, submitted eBook formats, formed my own publishing company, developed a website, and now it’s marketing—a 24-hour a day effort.  An audio book is coming. In all of this, Betsy guided me and assembled the necessary people, including the terrific Lisa Kline, another editor who has become my friend.

I am now beginning to reap the rewards.  My beta readers wrote glowing blurbs.  The people to whom I have gifted the book have repeatedly commented, “I can’t put it down.” Press releases are out and reviewers are reading.  I sent marketing copies to bookstores, retail chains, military exchanges, media personalities, law schools, aviation museums, professional organizations and others.  Several interviews have been given, articles have been written in professional newsletters with more planned.  Book readings and signings are scheduled with more to come. Friends are talking to friends, recommending the book.

So let me reflect for a moment about what I have learned in the process.

  1. Write from the heart. You know the adage that you will only be successful at something you care about.  That is especially true in writing.  The whole process takes so much effort you better REALLY want what you have to say to get to the public.

That’s why I wrote Broken Eagle, and in the future will write about the wild horses of Corolla, the flawed aircraft certification process, pollution in the Gulf of Mexico, and the selling of government. Since I can remember, injustice has inspired me to take action. My decision to become a lawyer was fueled by this same motivation.  Representing the families of people killed or individuals injured in aviation disasters and other accidents has only reaffirmed the goal of telling the stories of people harmed by the negligence and intentional acts of people, corporations and governments that often act with impunity.

No group is more unfairly affected than our military men and women.  When the products they have no choice but to use injure or kill them, they find out that they have far fewer rights to recover for their injuries than their civilian neighbors.  Trying to get redress, they face a phalanx of laws, rules and court decisions that greatly narrow their paths to recovery.

So, it was time to tell this story. And others.

  1. Gird Yourself for a Struggle. It’s not life or death, but it seems that way. Editors’ comments sting, publishers tell you that you’re not good enough, copy editors cut the soul out of your manuscript, and the technical requirements of publishing and marketing are like learning a whole new language. Listen to all and work with them to get better—but fight for what you want. Talk to them.
  2. Beware of the Charlatans. I can’t tell you how many books I bought about writing, editing, dialogue, character, setting, marketing, etc. Only a few were instructive and helpful. It reminds me of infomercials preaching how to make a million dollars in real estate. By convincing you to buy their program, they make a million dollars–but it isn’t in real estate.  If I get another opportunity to write a guest post for this site, I’ll give you my thoughts on the best writing guides I found.
  3. Be Creative. Think outside the box in all you do—writing, editing, finding an agent, publishing, and marketing.

Good luck!

For more information about James T. Crouse and his book, visit his website at  http://www.jamestcrouseauthor.com/ ; on Facebook at http://facebook.com/pages/Crouse-Law-Offices-Personal-injury-lawyers-Aviation-Attorneys/208503709164424; on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CrouseLawFirm; on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/crouselaw, on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-crouse-552a0526; and on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30374373-broken-eagle?from_search=true&search_version=service

Want to write a guest post for All About the Authors? We welcome guest posts from authors and those who are experts in the book industry. What is your writing process? Where are you in your publishing journey and what advice do you have? Have you successfully marketed your book and do you have tips to share? All About the Authors wants to hear from you! If you’re interested in submitting a guest post to All About the Authors, please send your information and topic idea to allabouttheauthors@gmail.com with the subject line “Guest Post”. 

Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult?

Recently, I had a client come to me with the first draft of his novel. He’d told me it was a Middle Grade novel, meaning one written for readers from 8-12 years old, in grades running form 3rd– 7th or 8th grade.

As soon as I read past the second chapter, though, I knew this book couldn’t be a middle grade book. The book had multiple narrators, many of them adult, although two main ones were in their early to mid teens. There were violent war scenes. There was a threat of rape. There was swearing.

I had to write a very tough editorial letter, outlining the reasons why the book could not be a middle grade book, and giving direction in how to make significant content changes in order to make the book middle grade, or how to expand the word count and turn the book into an adult book. He took my advice very graciously, and is now lengthening the book so that it meets the requirements for an adult novel.

The author had thought he was very close to being able to submit to publishers, and now has a lot of work ahead of him. It would have been easier if he’d done a little research about what the parameters are for different age groups. Here’s a little help to those who are looking for guidance:

Middle 41ZC4ElC6wL._AC_US160_Grade Novels, written for those 8-12, word count from 30,000 – 50,000 words. Usually one to two protagonists in that age range, although can be a year or two older, usually in third person but can be first. No sex, no graphic violence, no swear words. Usually a coming of age book, focused on friends and family. Examples: Percy Jackson books (author Rick Riordan), Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Harry Potter books (J.K. Rowling), When You Reach 51VlKD1aucL._AC_US160_Me (Rebecca Stead)

Young Adult (aka YA) novels, written for those 13-99 (these books have many adult readers), word count from 50,000 – 80,000. Usually one to two protagonists, aged from 13-18. Voice third or first, but usually first. Limited profanity, there can be sexual content but not graphic details, no horrific violence. Usually YA books are about finding your place in the world – where do I fit in? The Fault is in Our Stars by John Green, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbowsky, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

New Adult (NA) – written for those 18-99, this is a new genre, not entirely fully endorsed by the reading and publishing world, wherein the protagonist is in college or just graduating and in the new world of work, with her first apartment and job. Length – 60,000 – 80,000 words. First or third person, usually single narrator. I don’t yet have a stand-out, easily identifiable New Adult book to reference for you, but would welcome any suggestions from NA readers, as judging by the books on Goodreads for this genre, there’s a lot of romance overlap.

The bottom line is to do your research, read a lot of books in the age range that you are writing for, and hire a professional editor to assist you. Just as you would not attempt to play baseball without a coach, you should not attempt to write without an experienced coach as well. Find an editor who can be honest, encouraging, and insightful.

 

 

 

The Wonder of a Workshop

groupIt’s been 10 years since I attended my first writer’s workshop, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a pretty small workshop, with the three basic genres you find at most workshops: fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. The real draw for me was the faculty. One of the three was Sherri Reynolds. I had heard her speak while I was a college student, and read some of her books. I was in love with her passion and excitement for writing, and knew that I would be inspired just being around her.

I was probably an anomaly at the workshop. I wasn’t really “working” on anything, so to speak. I haven’t written a novel, I don’t write poetry, and at the time I wasn’t even trying to write short stories. But I was making a living as a freelancer doing editing and writing jobs, and I figured the workshop would be a great way to improve my writing skills, as well as serve as inspiration and also some practice for when I did find time to start writing the fiction I’d always dreamed about.

It was a short three-day conference, but the experiences I took away from it were priceless. I’ve attended a few other one-day conferences here and there, and every time I come away armed with inspiration and great feedback and advice. Here are a few reasons why I think writer’s conferences and workshops are a good investment.

  1. You get a chance to be around other writers. For most of us, writing is pretty much a solitary endeavor. And it can sometimes get lonely. Attending a conference gives you a chance to be around other writers, where you can share your ideas and frustrations with a group of peers who understand, because they’re going through the same thing.
  1. The feedback. Need I say more? Whether you get feedback from the faculty or other attendees, or both, it’s always good in helping improve your writing.
  1. Networking. If you’re working on something that you hope to one day get published, attending a conference is a great way to meet other writers and make connections that can help you out down the road. You might meet someone who knows an editor or an agent that would be helpful, or other writers who could serve as reviewers for your book once it’s published.
  1. Fresh ideas. As I said at the beginning of this list, writing is often something we do alone, and because of that it might be harder to find ways of doing what some professions call continuing education. Writers workshops and conferences are a good way to get out and find out what’s new in the publishing industry, new trends in the writing world, and even fresh ideas when it comes to style and tone.
  1. A chance to try something new. This might not be true for everyone, but it was for me. In my work I mostly write non-fiction. But I attended a workshop in the fiction genre, to experiment and go outside my comfort zone. It was exhilarating. Some people might not want to do that, if you’re a poet and need to focus on your poetry, it’s fine to stick to one thing. But the opportunity to try something new exists.

It’s pretty easy to find a conference that’s affordable enough and close enough to make it worthwhile to attend. Poets & Writers has a great database that you can use to find something near you. And if you can’t make it to a conference, you can join a local writer’s group. You get a lot of the same benefits there, free, local and on a regular basis!

9 steps to success with your radio, print or TV interview

Think you’re ready for your radio, print or TV interview? It might look easy but taking the time to prepare will make all the difference in your comfort level and success. Here are 9 key steps to success:

  1. Prepare

One of the first steps in a marketing program is preparing a media kit. If you have one, you’ve probably created a sample question-and-answer sheet to add to your media kit. These Qs and As will give you a great starting point for your media interview. Make sure to go over the information and send this to the reporter or host.

  1. Research

Just like with writing, research is a critical. Read, watch, and listen to interviews with the media outlet or outlets you are most interested in or which are on target for your book. Become familiar with the interview format, the types of questions usually asked, and the length of time for responses. Your responses need to be succinct and on-point. Also, find out whether the interview is live or pre-recorded. That gives you more flexibility in the length of your answers. If the interview will be published via print or online, you might ask for a list of questions that you can respond to. This gives you more time to prepare your answers.

If it’s a broadcast Interview, practice in front of a mirror or webcam or with a friend. Remember to relax and pause for a deep breath if you need more time to respond.

  1. Help your host

Sometimes, short answers are better because they allow the host to ask another question, take another phone call, or go to a commercial. But, other times, the host will ask an open-ended question that allow
s you the flexibility to expound on your answer. You’ll judge the pacing when you research the show you’re being interviewed on, and by asking the host in advance.

  1. Express yourself

Readers appreciate a relaxed, authentic approach and want to know your story. And, on a radio program, listeners will “hear it” if you stand and mossmiling-phone-operatort importantly — smile. Try to match the host’s energy. Your passion – or lack of it — will really come across to the audience.

  1. Find a quiet spot for your interview

Most interviews will be arranged in advance. If it’s handled over the phone, be sure that you arrange to take t
he call in a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. Also, practice your interviews in this space. You’re the expert and the radio host will usually attempt to make you comfortable and at ease.

Take your time and have your talking points in front of you. Make sure to answer questions in a way that presents you and your book in the most positive and interesting way.

  1. Practice makes perfect

With practice, you’ll relax during interviews and put yourself and your book in the best light. Think carefully before responding to questions, and answer with your practiced responses but avoid sounding canned.  The audience will pick up on rote answers so just be natural.

If you feel yourself becoming shaken and nervous, take a deep breath. It’s perfectly fine to tell the host or reporter that you don’t know the answer to the question if you don’t. Just respond that you’ll be happy to find out and get back with them. This gives you another reason to be on the show again!

  1. Be honest and avoid hyperbole

It’s easy to get nervous and misstate information about your book. Be cautious about this because your audience will know if you’re exaggerating or hyping your book. The host and audience appreciates real, in-depth information about you and your book. That’s why you’re on the show. And, if you make a mistake, don’t sweat. Everyone makes mistakes and you’ll improve with experience.

  1. Don’t depend on the host to make the plug

Make sure to mention your book title and where listeners can get a copy of your book such as your website, local bookstores, etc. and ask them to follow you on social media. Also make sure to talk about an upcoming book signing or author talk.

  1. Follow up after the interview

Everyone appreciates a thank-you as a follow-up to the interview via phone or e-mail. This is also a great opportunity to assure that the reporter, editor, or producer who interviewed you has all the information they need to complete their segment. If you have a publicist, this is usually SOP – standard operating practice.

Get Paid to Write

picture-dollar-signI have had conversations that go like this for years now:
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a writer,” I say.
“Oh, what kind of writer?”
“Well, I write to pay the bills.”

I say that as a way of saying to people, you probably haven’t read anything I’ve written. I haven’t published a best-selling novel or a self-help book that has changed people’s lives. I haven’t even had articles published in well-known magazines such as The New Yorker or Redbook. But I have been working as a freelance writer and editor for 10 years, getting paid to do what I love, and enjoying almost every minute of it.

Many writers have dreams of writing the Great American Novel, signing a lucrative contract, and living off royalties for the rest of their lives. But most of us are realistic enough to know that rarely happens. And while many writers also have other types of jobs to pay the bills, careers like teaching, nursing, banking, or countless other nine-to-five-type jobs, you can make money by writing. It’s just a matter of persistence and patience.

Here are some ways to get paid for writing, while you work on that big novel you’ve always dreamed of.

  • Use a Freelance Website. Sometimes you see them referred to as content farms, these companies that specialize in matching up freelancers to jobs. Warning! These are usually very low-paying jobs. (Hence the moniker content farm.) But if you have the time to fill out the applications or proposals, and don’t mind working for pennies in order to get a few paid gigs under your belt, it’s not a bad place to start. It’s at least worth a look.
    Some examples: Upwork, Demand Media Studios, and iFreelance.
  • Network. As with any job, who you know is important. Networking is one of the best ways to find writing jobs. Talk with other people who are writing for magazines or blogs and ask them if they would refer you. Make use of your LinkedIn profile to let people know you’re in the market for writing jobs, and also message people who you think might need some writing done to let them know you are offering your services for hire.
  • Join Associations. Organizations like the Editorial Freelancers’ Association and the Non-Fiction Authors Association are a good way to network. Some post jobs or allow you to post a profile available for people looking for freelancers. They also offer classes and support for freelancers.
  • Query. The good old-fashioned cold call is still one way to get jobs. Invest in a recent copy of the Writer’s Market, it’s a great place to find editors and contact information all in one place. Then get your ideas together and start emailing. You never know when that emailed query will turn into an actual paid job. And sometimes a regular position as a contributing writer!

Get social in just 30 minutes a day!

Tina Siadak - Wedding Shower 5-3-16 010All of us are working on so many things every day that it’s hard to carve out time to connect with our friends and followers through social media. Let’s face it, some people enjoy social media more than others, and some are just better at it. But, for those of us hard pressed for extra time, what if it’s possible to build our online conversations in just 30 minutes a day?

That’s right, begin each weekday (or whatever time works best for you) with a 30-minute social media program. You’ll find that your social network will build quickly over time and hopefully, using it will be more fun.

Use the channels that are most familiar to you and your fans. And, those that fit your demographic e.g. women ages 25-55.  For example, if Facebook is a good tool in reaching your fans – one that you use frequently — this is a good place to start. I use Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email marketing. If there are others that work well with your book topic such as Pinterest, use those in lieu of these or in addition to your preferred social media.

Here’s a look at a five-day social media plan using just 30 minutes a day:

Monday

  • Brainstorm ideas for Facebook and Twitter posts that your fans and readers will find interesting and that relate to you and your book. Remember that you want to start conversations that others will respond to. Next, draft a few. (10 minutes)
  • Begin writing a brief blog post (300-500 words) about one of the ideas you came up with (10 minutes)
  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections. Also, build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they reach larger networks. (10 minutes)

Tuesday

  • Finish your blog post and post it if you haven’t already. Definitely use a picture if you have one or can find one without copyright issues. Make sure that you include a link to the post on your social media posts to gain greater readership. (10 minutes)
  • Respond to comments from readers (5 minutes)
  • Draft an email newsletter in Constant Contact or Mail Chimp with good information about your book topic that augments the information you’ve posted on your blog and that’s meaningful to your reader community. For example, if your book is about hiking in North Carolina, include a meeting of a hiking group or a newly discovered trail. (15 minutes)

Wednesday

  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections; build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they are reach larger networks. (10 minutes)
  • Respond to any comments on your blog (5 minutes)
  • Go through your Facebook and Twitter feed to respond to those in your network – be interested in them and they’ll be interested in you! Add new posts of your own. (15 minutes)

Thursday

  • Finish and send your email newsletter and then send out social media posts with a link to the sign-up page on your blog or website. (10 minutes)
  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections; build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they are reach larger networks. (10 minutes)
  • Go through your Facebook and Twitter feed to respond to those in your network. (10 minutes)

Friday

  • Respond to anyone who’s commented on your blog post or Enewsletter. If they express interest in your book, let them know the publish date or if already published, where they can get your book. Pre-orders prior to publication rock! (10 minutes)
  • Connect/follow with those who have connected with you on Facebook and Twitter and search out new connections; build the trending topics/hashtags into your posts so that they are reach larger networks (10 minutes)
  • Add new fans to your mailing list or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database so that you can send them announcements about exciting upcoming events or happenings. (10 minutes)

Are you ready to give it a try at least for two weeks? If you get in the social media habit, I think you’ll be amazed at the results. Just remember to check your messages, especially on FaceBook. Your connections and conversations will grow exponentially but you have to keep them going. Bon chance!

 

Facebook for Writers

fblogoFacebook can be a great marketing tool. It’s a good way to build a network with other writers, to build relationships with people who are or will be reading your work, and to promote things like book signings and events. It can even help sell books, but don’t depend on it for a lot of direct sales. Using Facebook for marketing is all about building relationships and drawing traffic to your website, and that’s where you sell the books.

It’s highly likely that you’re already on Facebook. According to Facebook’s stats, in December 2015 there were 1.04 billion daily active users. Something I find even more interesting is that 24 percent of non-adapters use someone else’s account. So even people who say they aren’t on Facebook are on Facebook!

The question for writers is, how do I set up my Facebook presence? Do I want a personal profile page, where people can “friend” me and feel like we’re having personal, private, friendly conversations? Or do I want what Facebook calls a Business page, something separate from my personal profile?

For writers, you have a choice. Some choose the profile for their “author” page, mostly because they don’t really want to have a private presence on Facebook anyway, and that way they only have to worry about one page. But I recommend using a business page for your author site and your writing presence on Facebook. Here are the reasons I feel a business page is better than a personal profile for writers.

  • Keeping personal separate. Having a business page helps delineate your personal life from your work life. Even though as writers we do share some personal things with our writing network/base, like where we are in our writing, how we’re suffering from writer’s block, or the interminable search for an agent, it’s not really the appropriate place to post things like your kid losing his first tooth or your favorite crockpot recipe. It’s nice to have a personal profile page for those family posts, and a business page for your other posts.
  • Analytics. Facebook’s business pages are equipped with analytics so you can see, in real time, how many views each posts gets. It also tracks the likes, shares, and comments of each post, so you can see which ones garner more interaction.
  • Unlimited number of likes. A personal profile page only lets you have 5,000 friends. There is no limit to how many likes you can have on a business page. So hopefully someday we’ll all be as successful as Diana Gabaldon, who has over 571,000 followers.
  • The Facebook Scheduler app. I’m not a huge fan of scheduling Facebook posts, because I think they need to be in the moment and relevant, but there are times when it comes in handy to schedule a few posts ahead of time. With a business page, you can use the Facebook app, which allows you to schedule posts ahead of time without sacrificing the number of views that post might get.

It’s really a personal preference for writers whether you want to launch a business page or not. But if you’re hoping to really build your brand and reach out to a lot of people, a business page is the way to go.

Learning from the Books We Read

My book group just finished reading and discussing A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman. It was loved by everyone in the group. This is a feat not normally pulled off by most of the books we read; usually the split is 60/40 enjoyed the book to not. We laughed about Ove’s misadventures, and all but one of us cried for the last sixty pages of the book (a happy cry).

51QnGhuWWSL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_

Every book you read as an aspiring author should be teaching you something. If not, toss it aside and save it for when you’re truly taking a break from thinking too much. I did not know what lesson A Man Called Ove was going to teach me when I started out, but I happily found many. Ove has adorable chapter titles. Great original characters with background stories. Short chapters that keep the story moving. Chapters that alternate between past and present.

At the beginning of the book the author shows us a thoroughly unlikeable character, and it seemed that Backman’s goal was not only to have him change through inciting events, but also to have the reader realize that our first impressions of Ove were shallowly drawn. My goal as both a reader and writer was to figure out how the author accomplished his tasks, and to learn from him. For instance when I’m writing fiction, I have a tendency to rush my main character’s story out all at once, and Ove teaches that you can take the whole book to get to know a character’s backstory.

When I am stuck with a place in my novel, I do two things. 1) I highlight the area where I’m stuck to return to later and keep going with my writing so I don’t get stuck; 2) I pick up another book to help show me the way out of my problem. For instance, I think my weakest muscles as a writer are conveying the feelings of my protagonists as they work their way through their story, and I find descriptions incredibly hard to write. So when it’s my time off writing, I’ll head to my bookshelf to select a few books that I think might help. Flipping through the pages, I’ll see how the writer had her character react to something frightening, or sad, or loving. For descriptions, I’ll generally turn to some classics. Pre-television/movies, these authors had long passages of description to describe the landscape, a house, a person’s clothing. Although I don’t think we should be writing 19th century descriptions anymore, they are inspiring.

“The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.”

—Ernest Gaines

Pick up A Man Called Ove and see if you aren’t inspired. (And set your tissues nearby.)

 

« Older posts Newer posts »