Why Should I have an Author Page on Facebook?

This is a question that I hear often – mostly from authors who are just starting to build their social media profile.  Many will have already set up an author profile, so they wonder why a page is a necessary addition.  Many don’t know how to use it effectively and so it becomes a daunting thought.  Today I’d like to simplify it for you if I can.

  • You absolutely should have an Author Page on Facebook.facebook-pages-logoAs an author, in this modern age of digital connectivity, it is easier than ever for you to control your interactions with your fans.  We’ve already discussed my position on adding people as friends on Facebook as an author, but this is a great option for those of you who don’t want to add any “strangers” to your personal profiles. Having a page will allow you to maintain contact with readers while maintaining your privacy and in order to build your author brand and possibly generate sales, interacting with readers is important.
  • How do I know what to post?I would recommend that you search for your favourite authors on Facebook and find their author pages. “Like” the page and then spend some time looking at what they post and how they manage their page.  If it’s a fantasy author, do they focus solely on fantasy style posts? A murder mystery author who shares only relevant info? Or perhaps they share various things about writing and reading in general?  Most post a mixed bag of things. From pictures and links to advice and articles of interest. An example of things to post would be to post funny pictures, writing memes, author quotes, links to favourite recipes and even music on YouTube.

    One of my favourites writes with a view of a river, so she posts pics of the boats on the river. She’s also an avid gardener, so she shares pics of crop successes (and failures) as well as meals that she’s cooked and photo’s of her favourite travel destinations… as well as pictures that are relevant to her books. Inspiration for settings, new covers, character inspiration etc.

  • So how do I remind people that I’m also trying to sell books?There are a few different ways to do this that don’t boil down to “here’s my book, please buy it”. It’s time for you to get creative and to think outside the box.  Sure, you should share your book covers and links to buy pages etc, but there are many other ways to remind people that you’re a writer!

    When you’re working on a book, let’s say a romance set in medieval Scotland, you could post a picture of a sexy, topless man in a kilt with a comment that says something like “I’m working on my new release and I needed a hot Scot for inspiration… you’re welcome! #Scot #inspiration #Sexy”. This will make people smile, make them wonder what your hot Scot is up to in the book and make them look forward to hearing more! When you participate in blog tours or if you’re having a giveaway, you also share these links on your author page.

  • This is going to take up a lot of time. Shouldn’t I rather be writing?You’d be surprised. Once you get the hang of it, managing your page will take up remarkably little time.  There is a great feature which will also make your life much simpler… you can schedule your posts!!  This means that you can set aside a few hours and schedule posts for several days to come.
  • Do I really need another social media profile to manage?Another great benefit of the author page is that you are able to link it to many of your existing other social media outlets.  This means that you can schedule posts to your page and also post simultaneously to your Twitter feed, Tumblr page etc.  Many birds with 1 stone!  (Just be careful not to link your Twitter feed to your Page, especially if you Tweet a LOT!).
  • How often should I post?Ideally, the frequency for posting to your page should be around every 5 hours.  This keeps your page active without being “spammy”.

Once you get into it all, you’ll find that it’s rather fun to search for images, links for articles and if your page is about you as an author, the kinds of books you read and write, fun trivia etc, you’ll start to build a following of people who are fans of you and your work.

If you fancy some further reading, this is a great blog post to start with.

Until next time…

BM xx

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How do I know you? An author’s Facebook dilemma

MinionAdmit it… we’ve ALL been there! We log into Facebook, ready to waste – I mean, spend – some time trawling through our newsfeed and there it is… The “Friend Request”. Mostly, this is something which doesn’t even cause us to pause… we see, evaluate and either accept or ignore, but every now and again, something happens which makes us develop a twitch.

Every now and again we will get that weird friend request… and I don’t mean a request from a weird friend (been there though)… The friend request to which I’m referring is of course the total stranger.

The person who has selected us – apparently at random – from amongst the millions of potential profiles on Facebook. There is not only not a single friend in common, but they invariably live in another country and may even have a totally unpronounceable name. It’s like the Facebook equivelant of winning one of those great email lotteries… millions of Dollars from some dead dictator… you know the ones I mean.

What is it about your profile picture that made them decide that YOU were the lucky person they would pick? The truth is that you’ll never know… unless you decide to accept the request and ask them *grin*.  At this point, most of us hit the decline button and possibly even the block button (depending on how creepy this person seems).  But what do you do if you’re an author?

This is where things get slightly trickier. Naturally, even authors would like to hit “decline”, but is that the best course of action? These days, social media has enabled us to connect with our readers in a way that wasn’t possible before. Yes, this also leads to a degree of loss of privacy, but is the trade-off worth it?  Many authors circumvent this problem by setting up a professional profile (not page) and adding friends to that profile.  This allows them to keep friends and family on their private profile and still connect with readers, but it isn’t always practical for an author to manage more than one profile.

So what to do? Naturally, every author must decide for themselves, but the advice I would offer is this…

See if you can see more about the person. Do they appear interested in your genre? Accept the friend request If you aren’t sure and take a few minutes to “check them out”. You can always unfriend or block them if they turn into internet trolls or become a bit creepy.

The truth of the matter is that if you are building your author brand and you have set up a Facebook in the name that you use for publishing, then it is reasonable to assume that new fans who are discovering your work or who have perhaps heard about you would add you as a friend. They aren’t necessarily going to be friends with any of your other friends and that is ok. After all, you want to be reaching new readers all the time and if you only reach friends of friends, then you’re paddling in a very small pond really.

What do you think?

Until next time…

BM xx

The Issue of Gender in Publishing

Male&FemaleSymbolI read a very interesting article today by Kristian Wilson (link below), that talked about the definite bias towards male authors in publishing and it really made me think about this issue and how it impacts on me as a female author and as a reader. A perusal of my bookshelves, both print and digital, reveal that although I have specific authors who I collect because I love their work, in general I am not swayed by the gender of the author if the cover / subject of the book have already hooked me.

There are a few exceptions to this.  I noticed that almost without exception, my Chick Lit and Romance authors tended to be female and although I had bought a number of books in these categories that had been written by men, I still spent the money more easily on a new female romance author than a male one.  Similarly, my Suspense and “Whodunnit” selection was populated by more male authors.  Then there were the ambiguous authors, those using simply initials and last name, making it impossible to know at a glance if they were male or female.  Even there, I tended to guess at the gender of the author based on the subject.  Strangely, this is something that seems to be confined to fiction … at least for me!

I will say that I know that my reading habits have changed a lot over the past nearly two decades as I found myself working more and more in the media and publishing fields. So why is it that this article struck such a strong chord with me today?  As a reader, my spending habits have changed and become more open to a less “gender defined” habit when it comes to selecting new books / authors, but as an author, I realise that the industry hasn’t changed sufficiently.  There are a number of genre’s that are “traditionally male or female” and I realised while reading her post that it was making me more uncomfortable as an author.  To consider my chosen profession and to be honest about the challenges facing me is something I do regularly.

Good writing, good editing, beautiful covers, marketing efforts, etc are all things that I’ve thought about and work on.  My gender working against me with agents and publishers was not something that I had contemplated as clearly.  I realised that we still have a way to go to resolve these issues in a real and meaningful way, but forewarned is forearmed!

To read Kristian’s original post, please click here.

My inner geek is yelling… “To boldly go…” And so, we shall!

Until next time…

BM xx

Written a Book-

Blog Tour – A Creative Journal for the Inspirationally Challenged

When two of my favourite authors told me that they had created a journal for the “Inspirationally challenged”, I was thrilled and I confess that I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy!  It’s not a novel, but rather a tool which will help in the process of writing one.  These two talented ladies have added writing prompts and fun tips and that makes this journal something really special!

—oOo—

CoverIt is a truth universally acknowledged that any writer, in possession of a beautiful idea, will have a bad day and need to mainline caffeine. Ok well, maybe not, but as writers ourselves we know that everyone has good and bad days. The most important thing is that you keep writing.

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Journal-Inspirationally-Challenged/dp/1514715619/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436801477&sr=8-1&keywords=a+creative+journal+for+the+inspirationally+challenged

Here is the Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25899505-the-creative-journal-for-the-inspirationally-challenged

—oOo—

Creative Journal Blog Tour

01 Aug – Books & More
03 Aug – Book Girl Knitting
03 Aug – Nat’s Book Nook
04 Aug – Paranormal Book Fairy
04 Aug – Room with Books
05 Aug – Night Owl Reviews
05 Aug – Pamaceeve
06 Aug – Romance Junkies
06 Aug – Savvy Authors
06 Aug – Up All Night, Read All Day
07 Aug – CA Milson
07 Aug – Undercover Book Reviews
07 Aug – Romance Reviews Today
12 Aug – Lynn Stevens

—oOo—

Monica Corwin

MonicaMonica Corwin is an outspoken writer who attempts to make romance accessible to everyone no matter their preferences. As a new Northern Ohioian Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and disliking Michigan. When not writing Monica spends time with her daughter and her ever growing collection of tomes about King Arthur.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/monicacorwin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6585416.Monica_Corwin

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Monica_Corwin

Website: www.monicacorwin.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Monica-Corwin/e/B00BMTJSXI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1436761918&sr=8-1

Decadent Kane

DecadentDecadent Kane, author of the trouble with elves series, writes paranormal romance with heat. She lives in Wyoming with a full house: 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 guinea pig, 1 rat, 2 kids, and 1 fiance.

An elfess in human form, Decadent enjoys dipping her fingers into the human realm where she took pen to paper and began the tales of the trouble with elves. Her obsessions include reading, Dean Winchester, and honey.

She will devour your soul with glimpses of the feral ridden drow elves, with their dark skin and soul consuming. She’ll sneak morsels of naughty thoughts to you via goblins, and seduce you into stepping inside the elven realm where females disappear when lust takes over among other elfish troubles.

Beware the sprites.

Follow the wisps.

But never look a drow elf king in the eyes…

FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008217340227&fref=ts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7461653.Decadent_Kane

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DecadentKane

Website: http://decadentkane.blogspot.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Decadent-Kane/e/B00HAO0VVW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1436761842&sr=8-2-spell

Ten Things Not To Say To A Writer

hashtagUnless you’ve been living under a rock (and really, that’s no excuse), you will have seen posts on either Facebook or Twitter this week about the trending topic #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter.  I confess, some of them were hysterically funny, but mostly, what struck me, was how accurate they were.  Sitting down for coffee with a few authors we started to compare notes on which ones were our favourites.  After all, we’d all had vastly differing author journeys and so it would follow that we’d heard totally different things.  As it turned out, we had all heard essentially the same things, only the wording differed *grin*

So what was it about this particular hashtag that resonated with so many writers?  I think it was the fact that we were able to see that it didn’t matter whether we were published or still writing, a multi-millionaire or self-published dreamer, we all had common ground! Here are some of my favourites from Twitter…

“Writing is so easy. Your life must be like a vacation all the time!” @Samantha_Eaton3

“You’re a writer? But I’ve never heard of you…” @cristela9

“I always thought I’d write a book after I retire, once I have some time to kill.” @i_Author

“I heard that writing books is really just a formula. And there’s software that does it all for you.” @janmoran

“Why should you get paid? You like writing. I don’t get paid for my hobbies.” @LIanaBrooks

“I wish I could sit at home all day, writing, but I have a real job” @Author_Devika

“Are you still doing that little writing thing?” @gabesingin

“Writing YA is easy, right? I think I should try it. I need some money.” @ashposton

“Self-published, so you’re not really published then?” @chadh1234

I could totally have included almost all of them, but these (or variations of them) seemed to be very popular and when we’d finished giggling and commiserating – round about our third glass of wine – we started to wonder what it was about being a writer that made people think it was ok to say these things to us. Don’t get me wrong, I love to get feedback from people and I really enjoy talking to readers or potential readers, but why do people think that being a writer is just a hobby? What is it that makes people discount so blithely the hours of time we’ve spent working at our craft?  For craft it IS!

Yes, it’s certainly true that everyone “can write”, but equally true is the fact that while everyone can string words together and possibly even in a pleasing way, not everyone has what it takes to create worlds, characters and stories that reach people, that touch the heart, move the mind and build fandoms.  Not everyone has the discipline required to make the time to write – and believe me, if you consider how many authors hold down full-time jobs, raise families and STILL manage to complete book after book, it really does come down to making time to write!

WritersIn the end we agreed that like most creative endeavours, writing is seen as somehow “less”.  Less than working in an office certainly. Artists, photographers, writers, we all seem to get asked the same kinds of questions and this #TenThings hashtag certainly shed a lot of light on that.

Ultimately, seeing that we’re not alone in our experiences was not only entertaining, but also strangely cathartic. It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting out, self-published, have a publishing deal or fortunate enough to do this full-time… we are ALL working hard at something we love, something we’re passionate about.

So by all means, say what you want.  Ask the silly questions.  Put down the dream I’m pursuing.  You may well end up in my next book or fade into obscurity.

Either way, I’m living my passion and your approval isn’t needed.

Until next time…

Domino xx

Write What You Want to Read

IMG_8391There is something about this quote that really resonates with me.  It is the kind of advice that is deceptively simple and yet manages to be quite profound at the same time. It’s certainly one of the most honest pieces of advice that you can give to a writer – whether they are brand new to the endeavour or long established – and what it boils down to is this…

Write what you want to read!

So why is this advice so very important – perhaps more so today than in decades past?  The truth is that with the sheer volume of books being released every MINUTE of every day (the statistics are scary), it’s important that you remain true to your “voice” as a writer.  You could certainly try to write for the buying public, and by all means, if you can do it successfully, find the genre that is selling best and contribute, but for most of us, that would spell disaster.

At the end of the day there is no magic formula for either literary or financial success.  The buying market is fickle and as changing as the wind and truth be told, they can tell if your heart is in it or not.  Ultimately, it is your passion for your subject, your characters and the story you are trying to tell that will either speak to a reader or not.  And if you cannot guarantee that your buyer will love the book, then at the very least you should love it!

So… ultimately, when you embark on a new story, make sure it’s a story that you want to tell, one that is driving you forward so that it can exist.  Put your heart into it and hope that your reader will follow.

I can’t wait to see your book on the shelf (be it digital or otherwise).

Until next time…

BM xx

Amazon vs Reviewers

indieIf you move in author / publishing circles, then there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the blog post from Imy Santiago that I’m about to share a link to here. Her post deals with the fact that Amazon removed her review, claiming that she “knows” the author.  As she rightly points out, in Indie publishing circles, there’s a chance that many authors have met online or been in touch even in passing at some point. That’s one of the things that makes being an indie author so attractive… the sense of community. Let’s be honest, if we examine our social media lists, most of us are “friends” with or follow authors, especially authors we enjoy reading.  If you’re in any book groups on Facebook, you may even have had a chance to speak to these authors.  Does this make your review any less valid?  No.

So… reading this blog post of hers and thinking about her experience made me wonder what our community of authors can do in the face of ever changing policies, payment options and “big brothering” from retailers? It’s not only Amazon that is changing the face of publishing though.  The other day there was rumbling about another outlet removing romance titles from their listings because of how it was influencing their experimental payment options.

As an author and reviewer, this is a very interesting (and by interesting, I mean quite unstable) time.  As an author, I am in danger of being underpaid for my hard work depending on if I opted in to a certain option or not and as a reviewer, if Amazon has even a slight suspicion that I might “know” the author of the book I’m reviewing, they can just decide not to post my review.

Right now, as an author I am waiting to see how those new options work out.  My circle of awesome colleagues and I are sharing, researching and keeping each other abreast of any news and as soon as I have enough factual information, I can make an informed decision. As a reviewer, I can review under either of my author profiles, my “real world” profile or as The Book Mistress.  This should help me to stay ahead of the strange Amazon spynet.

One thing I will not do, is stop reviewing.  Reviews help to sell books, they help to promote authors & they help to find loving homes for great books!

I’d love to hear what you think.

Until next time…

BM xx

Social Media

social-media-logos_15773Let’s be honest, you don’t have to be an author to love social media.  At least to a degree *grin*. As an author though, social media is less about mindlessly being social and more about figuring out how to make the most of your social media “leverage”.  Yes, that sounds quite mercenary and it really isn’t meant to.  You see, authors have had to adapt or die (as it were).

Before the rise of eBook publishing and the age of the internet, you’d find that most authors were published by well established publishers who had an in-house marketing or publicity department that would assign a proportion of their annual budget to promoting your book.  They would invest in traditional print or radio advertising, perhaps some marketing material (posters or the like) for bookshops and then they would arrange signings and tours for their authors. Even smaller publishing houses tended to follow the same path and so your journey as an author could be fairly predictable.

Fast forward to today and your journey as an author is very different. Even those authors that are published by the larger publishing houses are encouraged to engage with their fans through various social media channels.  For the author published by smaller, independent publishing houses the social media journey is a “must” rather than a “nice to have” and for those authors who self-publish, it’s an absolute non-negotiable.

Why is that?  Well, in an average day, people are bombarded by information from thousands of sources. In order to stand even the smallest chance of being heard in all that “noise”, you need to be one of those sources. Authors can no longer afford to simply write and wait for sales to come to them. We need to take control of our voice.  Modern readers like to feel connected to their authors and at the end of the day, they are far more likely to part with their hard-earned money if they feel like it’s going to a human being they care about rather than some faceless “writer”.

Let’s be honest though, social media can be extremely overwhelming. It seems as though there is something new every time I turn around and it’s almost impossible to keep up.  Even if we only tried to post to every social media platform that currently exists without worrying about new ones, we’d never have time to write!  Yes, there are tools that can assist in posting to multiple platforms, but even those require time to be set up.

So what would I tell a new author about social media?  Well, there are some basic guidelines that I have shared in the past.

  • Have a website or a blog: Having an online presence in this digital world is essential.  You don’t need to invest a lot of money in having a site built, you can use one of the many free website building tools or simply set up a blog through Blogger.com or WordPress. Figure out what works easiest for you.  Then figure out how often you can update the site.  You need to have fresh content that returning visitors or fans can read when they come back to your site.  It doesn’t have to be every day, but it should be regularly.
  • Facebook: Facebook can be fun and useful for you to stay in touch with friends and family.  It has just as much usefulness for an author. You can set up an author page on Facebook that will allow your fans to “like” you and stay in touch.  This should definitely be updated far more often.  The recommended frequency is roughly 3 – 4 posts a day (or approximately every 5 hours).  Share interesting articles, information regarding inspiration you found for characters, pictures of your writing area, gardening achievements… you name it.  Anything that interests you or contributes to your writing journey could be fun for your readers to see.
  • Twitter: What can you possibly say in 140 characters or less?  You’d be surprised! Best of all, you could also set up your Facebook page to automatically post to your Twitter account.  This means that you’ll catch two different types of audience with 1 post.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is another interesting and great way to draw attention to your work in a visual way.  It’s also fun for you!! You can create boards for each book and pin images of pictures that inspire characters, locations, story ideas, covers and even links to the graphics in your blogs which will lead people to your blog / website.  You can also pin the cover from Amazon or other sales websites which will allow people to click on that “pin” and buy your book.
  • Goodreads: This is an amazing place to reach a dedicated community of readers.  As an author, you have a lot of functionality on Goodreads, including being able to blog there, offer give-aways and more.  It’s worth setting up a profile even if you’re not terribly active.  This is a site dedicated to lovers of books and there’s really no better place for an author to be!

Is there more to social media than these 4 elements?  YES!  There is Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, YouTube etc.  I think they all have their merits and if you want to swap out one of the others (Twitter or Pinterest) and use one of these or even use them in addition to the ones I mentioned above, that is great.  You need to do what you feel comfortable with.

My greatest advice to authors is to investigate all the various options that they’ve heard of.  See what makes sense to them.  What they feel is manageable and what is too daunting to even try.  Start small.  Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works for you.

In future blogs I’ll try to expand on various individual forms of social media.  If you have any questions or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…

BM xx

Beating the Blurb

Author TipsAsk any group of authors what terrifies them most about writing their book and I can almost guarantee that at least one of them will sigh and say “the blurb”.  For whatever reason, writing a 400 000 word book is less intimidating than a 3 or 4 paragraph blurb.  To a non-writer, that will sound silly, but I can testify to the fact that there is something scary about trying to boil your whole book down to a few sentences.  I always envy the people who say that it’s “so easy”, but that’s just the luck of the draw I guess. It got me thinking though, perhaps there are some tips and tricks that we should all be aware of?

One of my favourite questions is “why do we need a blurb?”  The truth is that writing an amazing book and investing in a great cover is only 50% of the battle.  After all, it’s a bit like dating.  You can look great, but if your pick up line bombs, you’ve blown it.  Your blurb is your pick up line.  It’s the first way you flirt with your reader after your cover has sparked their interest.  It’s the way to prove that you have substance.  So what should you include and what should you rather leave out?

Things to remember:
– Keep your blurb short and to the point. Don’t waffle. Think about your words carefully.
– Introduce your characters in a way that makes the reader want to know more.
– Use any conflict in the story to create intrigue, make readers want to read further.
– If it’s relevant, include information on your book writing or professional status (Award Winner, Best selling author of, etc)

This to skip:
– Don’t just say “my book is amazing”… let the reader decide.
– Don’t compare yourself to other writers.
– Don’t give away the plot of the book, no matter how tempting it is.
– Don’t use phrases that have been done to death like “In a world” or “Far, far away” etc.
– Don’t just give a summary of chapter 1

Remember that your blurb is selling your book.  The story starts somewhere, with characters in a situation.  Find a way to describe this as simply as possible.  Next, there’s bound to be some sort of hurdle that they have to overcome.  This is the moment when they’re on the right track “until…”.  Naturally there’s bound to be the chance to resolve it all and finally, you need to tell readers more about the tone of the book. Is it serious, a mystery, a fun chick lit read?  All these factors together can turn a browser into a buyer.

So go ahead… flirt with your reader.  And don’t forget… like all flirting, practice makes perfect!

Until next time…

BM xx