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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Get A “Real” Job

i-have-a-real-jobEarlier this week one of my friends – a fellow author – posted a status update on her wall that is all too familiar to anyone who runs in our circles.  The lyrics vary, but the tune remains the same… “You should get a real job”. In this particular case, my friend had made the cardinal sin of posting a status along the lines of “I wish I could get one of these…”. This post was innocent, one of many and of the type that I post often.  On this particular day though, one of her friends read this post and immediately took it as an open invitation to voice an opinion.

Had the opinion been “Me too”, then this would be a vastly different blog post.

No, this friend took it upon themselves message her with the advice that perhaps she should stop hanging out at home with her young daughter and “get a real job” and as for that “writing” thing that she does… well, if she had a “real job”, then she would have the money for things that she wanted. So if she would just “get a real job”, she wouldn’t have to wish for things.

I’m going to give you a moment to decide if you’re as outraged as we were or if you’re ok with that.  If you’re ok with that… I would suggest that you stop reading here and move on.

Still with me?  Well, then you can imagine that my friend had a response that was less than calm.  She has been fortunate enough to have a loving husband who is more than happy for her to remain at home with their toddler.  Her writing career, while hardly bringing in enough to retire on, is growing and while they’re not wealthy, they are happy, healthy and doing ok. If she wants to say “I wish” about a luxury item, that’s her right and none of your business!  Would she have suffered the same treatment if she had been working full-time and said the same thing??

Of course, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs on the planet as was proved by this great video, so I won’t go into that.

real jobWhat I’d like to address today is the fact that so many people look at authors and say that what we do is not a real job. Don’t even get me started on my job! A lot of what I do takes place in the digital world, via email or on social media and this immediately makes a lot of people around me assume that I’m not really working.

After all, who gets paid to be on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube?  ME!  Me and hundreds of other people who know how to use social media for more than just catching up with friends and family and cyber stalking supporting our favourite celebrities.

Only someone who has never written more than an email could possibly think that writing a novel is not work. Considering that many people would agree that mental work is often more exhausting than physical labour, why would those same people say that writing isn’t taxing?  Is it because we enjoy writing?  Well, if you enjoy being an accountant, does that mean that you don’t have a “real job” either??

Writing is not a hobby or something we do to kill time.  It is something we are passionate about, something we invest hours, days and weeks in and something that we hope one day to be able to earn a living at.  We spend incalculable numbers of hours in research, writing, revising, and then promotion and marketing. Most of us do this while holding down a day job which pays our bills, but every now and then, one of us will be afforded the opportunity to pursue our chosen career full time and believe me… we do NOT waste that time.

My advice in this situation comes from my dear Mom… “If you don’t have anything nice to say, rather say nothing at all.”

And to the person who had the nerve to offer this advice to her… If my friend had wanted an opinion on her wish, she would’ve asked for one. And believe me… between raising a toddler and working on her latest novel, she is working plenty hard enough to satisfy even your high standards.

What do you think?

Until next time…

BM xx

New Newsletter News: Kirsten Blacketer

I have to say that I love getting newsletters from my favourite authors and just this week I discovered that one of my best Historical Fiction authors is launching her newsletter and I cannot wait!! Her books are always a great read and I am a huge fan of her Facebook page too, but the idea of getting behind the scenes info and advance access to news via her newsletter is exactly the kind of excitement that an author newsletter should create in the reader!

Author Kirsten Blacketer

More about Kirsten Blacketer… Stick her in the middle of a chaotic home with two children, a hyperactive dog, and a camouflage wearing husband, and she can cook and clean with the best of them.  But when the sun goes down and the children are nestled in bed fast asleep, she tucks away her pots and broom and like Cinderella she transforms.

Her characters creep forth from the dark recesses of her mind taking their places in the castles and forests built from her words. No simpering heroines linger there with forlorn gazes turned to the horizon, waiting for their Prince Charming. They straighten their spine, arming themselves with blade and bow, prepared to do their part in defense of their honor and destiny. She breathes life into the women she believes our ancestors to be, showing how they lived and loved with passion and grace.

Never bored by the tales still left to tell, she battles the ever sarcastic muse in her quest for romance.

http://kirstensblacketer.com/

After you check out her great website, please do yourself a favour and sign up to her brand new newsletter… I promise you won’t be sorry!!

Kirsten Blacketer Newsletter Subscription

Are there any authors you would like to recommend to me?  I would love to hear from you.

Until next time…

BM xx

The Need to Read!

book-759873_1920There is a curious thing that happens to me… ridiculously often actually. Something that is almost shocking to admit… I run out of time to read!!

I know, horrifying!

How is this possible you wonder? Well, there is the usual stuff, you know, cooking, cleaning, work, sleep. Then there is the fact that a large portion of my job is dedicated to being online at not-necessarily sociable hours of the evening / night. None of that is enough to deter the truly determined though and that is where my shocking confession comes in. I just don’t always feel like it.

There, I said it! I’ll give you a moment to recover. You see, I love to read and I read really quickly, but I also really love to ENJOY the books that I read and that isn’t necessarily something that happens when you’re “fitting a book into your schedule”. So I set aside special time to go through my TBR pile. I get as far ahead of my work as I can, carve out a few days and then make sure I have a steady supply of tea or coffee, snacks and a comfy spot to just chill out. And then I just tune the world out. My phone is on silent, there’s nothing but the book and I.

Of course, there are times when I’ve committed to reading for review or as a beta reader and then I make the time.  I enjoy those books just as much because it’s something that will help that author.

There’s another situation that arises when I least expect it.  I will be busy working, having gone weeks without reading more than a snippet here or there (because seriously, I always have at least 1 book on the go at any given time!!) and then suddenly I will feel a burning desire to drop everything and escape into another world.  I’ve never been a substance addict, but from everything I’ve seen in movies, that’s what it’s like… if I don’t get my “fix”, I feel like I’ll go nuts.  And then reading becomes a guilty pleasure… like an extra slice of cake *grin*.

So… what are your reading habits like? Do you ever have this problem?

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-

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

Finding Inspiration

inspire

One of the things I tell all new authors is that at the very least they should have a blog or a website in addition to a Facebook page or profile.  Having a blog provides you with a place where you can talk about your books, connect with readers, share your passion for gardening, whatever takes your fancy.  It’s a place where relationships are forged and your “brand” is going to be built.  Granted, it’s not the only place where this will happen, especially if you really enjoy interacting on social media, but it is an important place.

This is the same advice I gave myself when I decided to formalise my freelance services and form The Book Mistress.  I knew I’d need a blog and I had every intention of posting daily.  I hear you chuckling.  To be honest, it was a lofty ambition because there are times when doing the work takes up the time or when life just throws things your way that will stop you from blogging.  The truth is though that you should try to blog as often as you can or at the very least, commit to blogging on some sort of schedule that your followers and fans can rely on.  For example, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesdays and Saturdays.  Figure out what works best for you and stick to it.

The other tip is to find things that inspire you.  Blogging as an author needn’t be only about your book or your characters.  You can share tips, behind the scenes snippets, and deleted scenes with readers.  You can talk about your notebook collection, your passion for porcelain or share your favourite recipes.  Remember that you’re trying to build a connection with your readers, because if they’re going to spend their money on your work, it helps if they like you *grin*

So I’m going to be making the time to blog more often too.  I’ll be sharing books I love, reviews, the occasional interview and some tips and advice. Possibly even recipes for cookies and other treats from time to time.

I’ll take my inspiration where I find it.  I hope you will too.

Until next time…

BM xx