Repeat After Me

Repeat after me… Other authors are not your enemy. Other authors are not your competition.

After going to several conventions one thing I’ve learned is authors are either best friends, or mortal enemies. While at one convention another author eyeballed me severely. I mean full on stared me down; burning a hole in the back of my head. The same author demanded that I be removed and placed with less serious artists (I assume because I had only released one novel at the time), and when that didn’t happen he waited for me to be in the middle of a conversation with a fan before coming between me and my display going through every single item on, around, and UNDER my tables. At one point this fellow author walked between myself and the person I was selling a book to. The entire three days was spent with him brooding over me, angry that I was breathing his air.
A couple of months after that event I was at another one, talking, laughing and playing with spectators when this same gentleman waltzed on up to me. He decided the third degree was in order as he was a patron of this venue and not a featured author.
“How many books did you sell?” Speaking about the convention in which we met.
I answered honestly – 6
“Then WHY are you still writing??? It can’t be that good!”
I then explained that the venue we were at was not my target audience and how my books have done extremely well at the current one we were standing in. I had sold the same amount from the moment the doors opened to the moment he stepped up to my table (3 hours later).
“Well, I sold 120 copies! I bet I could triple that number here!” This author writes YA fantasy adventure. The first convention was an anime convention, geared towards teenagers-not my audience, meh, you live you learn. The current one in which we were holding a conversation was a scifi-horror convention geared around adults, held in a casino, with a bar, not this other author’s target audience.
So instead of having a battle of wits I bought his book. Right there, right then, the Kindle version, right from my phone using the profit I had just made in front of his own eyes.
“There you go! You just got your first sale! And at a convention you didn’t sign up for!” I smiled. I was not being malicious, or wanting to have the final word. I was trying to show support. He huffed away. I spent the next three days greeting people, talking them through the book process, taking pictures, and having a blast. In any down time I read his book. By the time I got home, I had read and written a very nice review of his tale on both Amazon and Goodreads.

I was not his enemy.
I was not his competition.

Let’s be honest; marketing, selling, writing, deciding, publishing, meeting, signing…all of it is hard! Sometimes you feel alone. You should never EVER feel alone when another author is in your company. We all have the same goals, the same fears, and frustrations. Later, I found that a very common author request is that they be the only one on a floor, or in a row. Or in the very least be the only book of their genre in a row or on a floor.

Really????
I am not your competition.
I am not your enemy.

But sometimes you go to an event and find authors huddled together. They request to be grouped together. At the first convention, 6 authors who ALL wrote graphic novels band together to make a book nook. Once they all arrived and poked around everyone’s set up time, they found like authors and asked the director if they could all be together. To help and support each other.
“Why? Your in selling competition with each other.” They were asked.
All 6 replied with “No, we are all indie authors. If one of us makes it, it’s a win for all of us. We each know something the others don’t and we all might write the same thing, but each is written as differently as snowflakes. We are not each other’s competition, we are not each other’s enemies.”
Throughout the convention kids of all ages were taking the items for sale from all of these authors, reading them, talking to the authors about the process and these authors worked TOGETHER.
“Oooooh You’re into pirate fantasy! Check out the guy across from me, his stuff is wonderful! You’ll love it!” By the end of the convention every single one of those 6 authors had sold out, because they helped each other instead of fuming over sharing the same gravitational pull of a planet with a “competitor.”

Soooooo long story short; authors are not each other’s competition, authors are not each other’s enemies.

The 4 must have people in your writing career:

 

I’ve learned so much between the release of A Charming Nightmare and the upcoming release of Sister’s Lament.  The number one thing I learned is that ACN was done completely wrong.  I rushed it, gave myself a budget of zero, and I sought help from people who loved me.  This caused ACN to suffer; spelling, grammar, flow, and overall sales wise.

I’m going to tell you about the 4 people you need in your writing life.  I’ll explain why your BFF is NOT one of those people and why you should/shouldn’t pay those people.

 

#1 person in your writing life is your editor.  Forever and ever, amen your editor.

Ask an editor how they feel about the friends and family editing plan and they will cringe at the thought of a writer using a friend or family member to do their job, because you can’t afford a professional.  No matter how good your freebie editor is, it’ll show. Reason #1 not to take up mom’s or your college roommate’s offer to edit – they love you, they are some of your biggest supporters, they know what you meant and might skip over some vitals, they never ever want to hurt your feelings, and they are not professionals in the publishing industry (even the English teacher on your friends list IS NOT a professional in this industry).

With Sister’s Lament I made the financial sacrifice and hired a professional.  Instead of telling me ‘I knew what you meant’ she asked me to defend my wording.  If I couldn’t, she put a strike through it.  If she didn’t know what I meant with certain phrasing, she re-purposed the words into something that a total stranger could grasp.  She had the industry knowledge for page set up, experience for content suggestions, she knew the regulations and laws when it came to pop culture references, is an expert at character development, and had all the necessary tools to send me pages filled with red corrections.

editedpage-e1400881996817

 

#2 EVERYONE judges a book by its cover

I’m not saying to spend the money on your cover, cover art can be costly.  However, there are a ton of indie artists looking to get their name on a piece! Shop around, look at their style, or what else they have done to find a like mind in imaging.  For all of my covers I ignored my own ‘don’t use friends’ rule and gave free reign over cover art to my best friend.  I tried to stay out of her vision; keeping my input to a sentence “I want them all to be focused on hands.”  Off she went…not to say she didn’t ask for further instruction-more?  Less? Font? Here’s why I broke the no friends rule: my cover artist is an amazing artist-I adore her work, she’s also a very detailed graphic artist,  a small business owner, and she completely knows me, my style, and what I’m trying to say with a cover.  She treated our situation as if we weren’t each other’s favorite people, approaching each cover as a business deal.  She would tell me yes or no, and in the end I can’t argue with the outcome.  She managed to capture an entire story line in ONE beautiful image.

SL

Most of all SHE’S the visual artist.  You (more likely than not) ARE NOT.  Put your masterpiece in the hands of an actual artist-an indie or a paid professional-instead of frustrating yourself over stock photos that don’t quiet say what you want. Remember your cover is a FIRST impression of you and your novel, and everyone judges a cover.

 

#3 Grandma is not a BETA reader-your work will go on her fridge door no matter how it reads

For those of you who don’t know what a BETA reader is; they are the person you send an ARC (advanced reading copy) to whether it be in file form or printed proof. You can send them a chapter or an entire piece.  They will be your first readers, the first impression of the entire piece.  And their job is to say “I don’t get it”, “I love this!”, and “I hate that.”  They are not proof readers-those you pay for, BETA readers are the voice of your audience.

I didn’t use a BETA for ACN and it shows, some things were confusing for readers.  I missed the mark on certain points scientifically, or in solution.  If I had a BETA reader, they would have been able to tell me “Can you expand on this?”   And yes, your editor will do this for you, and they will do this very well for you-but two sets of eyes are always better than one right?  Especially if that second set of eyes is typically FREE and doesn’t have to watch out for the use of there, their, and they’re while reading.

For Sister’s Lament I sent a file to an acquaintance of mine.  Someone who loves books, and more specifically loves sci-fi.  He went through my polished piece pointing out things I didn’t carry over from book one that a reader may need.   He also made valid scientific points that I will address in ACN this summer when editing it for re-release.  My BETA reader didn’t overlook anything.  If a character needed developing he noted it.  BETA’s are there for that sole purpose, to find holes.  Why have a beautifully displayed piece, with immaculate grammar and punctuation, and yet have the plot as holey as a strainer, filled with characters you can’t see as real people?

 

#4 Proof Readers are your friend

After everything is said and done and you are holding a hard copy of your masterpiece DON’T be so quick to click the ‘Go Live’ button.  Instead turn to your proofreader and hand it all over to them.  A proofreader goes through a book’s proof with a skilled meticulous eye inspecting every inch cover to cover.  They are your final safe guard in making sure your work is market ready. If any there, their, their or misteak found its way passed your very talented editor and BETA reader, this is the person who will catch it.  If you forget a word in your copyright page, this is who will tell you.  If your paragraph cuts are off, they’ll tell you.  Think of your proofreader as the person holding the flour sifter looking for that one left over lump.

 

Those are the people you need in your life as a writer.  Each one is just as important to the success of your book as the other.  I will never skimp on them again, it does not help you to go without one or the other.

If you are interested in using my editor (Carmilla Voiez) you can find her guidelines and rates at:

http://carmillavoiez.wixsite.com/carmillavoiez/editing-services

For proofreading services you can contact Benjamin Franke at Bfranke.acnbooks@gmail.com

Cover artist??? Get your own I’m not sharing!! But Goodreads has a pretty good list to start your quest!

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/837698-book-cover-artists-illustrators

There are also artist communities online. I recommend joining one or ten and finding work that speaks to you and your story. Become part of that community. Rate and review their work, join in discussions, and soon a professional relationship will develop. www.deviantart.com is just one of those communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building a Successful Website (pt.3 of 3)

So for a couple of weeks now we have been building a website.  Today will be the last installment of the 3 part series.

 

But Wait There’s More!

Be more than just a book peddler.  Even book stores offer up things outside of printed pages.  Start a blog on your journey into writing, or things that you have learned along the way.

ACNBooks for example: we started off simple, one book to rule them all…

No, simpler, a novel.  That turned into a series, from there a website about the books, with cute little posts giving you an inside look at my daily life, and links to interviews as I did them.  Today ACNBooks is MORE so so much MORE and growing yet.  Expanding into the realm of everything an Indie author, singer, or artist needs.  We’ve turned A Charming Nightmare the book into ACNBooks a meeting place for authors and readers alike.  A sharing place for people to learn as they go, to lean on each other, to bounce ideas off like minds, and to be heard through podcasts. We’re constantly expanding, with so many off shoots and pages planned leaving no stone in the indie world un-turned. Making a completely interactive site for readers and writers alike.

All from one scifi book…

Let Me Tell You Something

Studies show that websites with blogs get up to 68.23% more followers than stale, here I am with nothing to say sites.  It shouldn’t be hard, we all have SOMETHING to say.

Geeks rule on blogging: Don’t obsess over it, thinking you have to write every single day, or every single week.  The more you “ugh I have to write my blog” the harder it’ll become. Here at ACNBooks we have a schedule:

  • Daily-write down ideas.  Whether it’s during your daily Instagram picture or sitting down to lunch an idea will come to you.  Write it down.  One or two words and file it for the “monthly” portion explained below.
  • Every week or every other week-post an entry from the ‘monthly’ catalog.
  • Once a month: Get yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or one of those microbrewery beers you love so much and write what the Geeks calls “a shit ton.”

I spend an entire day drafting blogs.  You think you’ll run out of ideas, but one blog will lead into another which leads into another, and so on and so on.

If your blog ideas need research do it. Sometimes I spend my once a month researching not writing. I save those notes, the incomplete thoughts and the following month I turn them into an entry.

Usually at the end of one day a month I have enough blog entries to last us 5-6 weeks.  From there it can be on anyone’s to-do list to go into our shared drive to the file labeled Blog and pick from a wide variety of topics. Luckily for us, we have a couple of hands writing entries so it’s not all reliant on me.  You can do the same idea once you generate an audience. One of the things I’m most looking forward to is an author or reader take over.  A blog post submitted by a fan, and approved by an ACN team member to go up in place of my thoughts for a week.

  • And as always throughout your entry encourage comments.  Ask what would you or what do you do style questions.  Engage with your readers!  A lot of times a comment discussion will encourage more readers to join in the conversation (I mean let’s face it most of the time we skip right over the article to get to the comments).

 

Where in the World is ACNBooks?

It’s my calendar.  Where will M.K.F. be this weekend?  Indie Beginnings is setting one up to show viewers who their upcoming guests will be.  We share things like:

  • Latest News/Events: interviews, blog mentions, reviews, and other media coverage.
  • Appearances: book readings and signings, speaking engagements, interviews, conferences, conventions. Sometimes we include links to the events, sometime they’re just mentions “Hey Syracuse, M.K.F. will be in town this weekend signing advanced copies of Sister’s Lament!” Your audience will find you from there, because I’m sure you’re posting the event on Social Media.

We also list anything we do that is above and beyond books on this calendar as ACNBooks Gives Back. Example one weekend a year we close the office and go judge robotics for First Lego League.  That week is all about kids and their robots, where to find us and the list of events we’ll be there to judge.

On the News Tonight…

A Press kit or media page should also be on your website, to a degree. I’m currently trying to learn how to create a press kit-soooooo…

If anyone has anything they can put in here for me I’d love to learn from you!

A Little Something Extra

This is my favorite part! Where an author or an artist can be themselves. A behind the scenes so to speak.  We love doing little added bonuses like:

  • Photographs, sketches, illustrations of characters and locations in your book, and other meaningful images. They can be your own or fan drawn.
  • Memes, page shares, story shares, that little something in the T.A.R.D.I.S that makes it bigger on the inside. Show off your fans! Dedicated some time and space to those that have dedicated to you.
  • Podcast-insert shameless plug for Indie Beginning here-
  • Are you holding a contest, game, or giveaway?????
  • My favorite things: from book reviews, to products, and shout outs.  Speaking of this have you checked out www.burialgrounds.coffee yet????
  • Include sneak peeks, additional content that isn’t in your books, main character bios, extra chapters, alternate character point of views, and any other bits that didn’t make the cut. Your readers will love it!
  • ACNBooks Gives Back-yes, we do, and often.  Out staff are busy busy people! They share things like costuming an upcoming high school musical, to donating Catch and Aylin to com (Good Reads. Great Deeds).

A final note from our Geeks/nope…not saying it…not calling you Overlords: Know when to say when.  This is a ton of information.  It can be overwhelming at times, and not all of it works for every single website goal you might have in mind. Too much is never a good thing, all you have to do is make sure you feel like your site represents the very best you.

 

If I forgot anything please feel free to add it to the comments! I’m sure I left about ten thousand things out!  We would also like to see you take on anything listed, what has or has not worked for you?

Building a Successful Website (pt.2 of 3)

Last week we started a 3 part series on building your author page.  Today we will continue with this idea and expand on some simple ways to get website followers:

It’s All About ME!

About pages are among the most frequently visited pages on the internet (Forbes magazine 2015). Your readers want to know more about you, and this is the place to tell them.

  • Stray away from selfies as your author photo, or that amazing vacation picture of you with Goofy from 15 years ago.  Yes, I know, you looked on point in that car selfie this morning! And yes I see that your mirror shot really shows off just how adorable your new haircut is, but again, think of how your readers will look at you and your site without something more professional.

Not to say you can’t have fun.  Indie Beginning kind of broke the geek rules on this one, they chose a more professional set up image for their hello page; but decided to be less formal and more personal in their ‘meet the hosts’ entry.

  • Keep readers interested with a brief author bio. A short glimpse into your ‘normal’ life. What led you to writing, why you write the kind of books you do, what do you love about it?
  • This is not a place for you to advertise a website we are already on, or a link to your book’s amazon or social media page.  Web builders have special little links you can add to the bottom of each page for that (see them down there? The look like a little bird, or an f? How about the Amazon or Goodreads link in the sides? Can you see that?)

Another about us page that shouldn’t be ignored is your sites about this site page.

  • Keep this simple as well, simple title: About Us
  • Be direct, what this site is about. (The ACNBooks about us page is currently under construction, trying to simplify the words that I wrote.  Writers tend to see opportunity for poetry in everything. This is not that opportunity).
  • Strengthen your credibility/celebrity with some reader quotes (more on this below).

 

Geeks rule #4: Update, update, update.  These two about pages are often forgotten about.  Once or twice a year update them!  Spice is life…

***Additional Geeks note***If a visitor gets to your about page, they’re interested. Ask them to join your email list.

Hello@acnbooks

Why do authors make it so difficult for readers to contact them? No one wants to sift through a sea of blog entries or articles to find you!  Who has time to peruse a post dated back in 2014 just to get an email address?

Geeks rule #5: You want to interact, don’t play hard to get.

  • Have a contact tab in your main menu that leads to a page with your preferred ways to be contacted. You don’t have to list every possible way you can be found (no one needs to call my mom Wednesday nights, because that’s where I’ll be for dinner), stick to the best ways.
  • If you use a contact form, make sure it’s simple and you’re only asking for the info you require to get back to that person.
  • When entering your email address, use: yourname[dot]comto avoid spam harvesters (you know who they are – they’re the reasons why we now have to specify “I am not a robot” when clicking on certain pages).
  • You can also encourage your readers to get in touch with you via the social media platforms you are most active on.
  • Provide multiple ways for people to contact, follow and Like you. It’s not your reader’s job to find you. It’s your job to be where your readers are.

Email Sign Up/Updates

This I will come back to and fill in once ACNBooks figures it out.  It’s currently being added into my manual by our Geeks.  So stay tuned! Or you can comment with how this works!

“I loved this book!”-Douglas Adams

  • Reviews can go a long way, they’re not put there just for your Goodreads or Amazon book page.  We all have them right?  In the upcoming weeks I’ll explain just how powerful a review is, and how to get them.
  • When you do get them use a short statement clip from a couple on your site. You don’t need the entire quote (reviews on Goodreads tend to be very long, take snippets from them, not the entire thing.)  Usually one sentence, or a handful of words is enough (try not to make them longer than 2 lines per review on your site).
  • A perfect location for your reviews is your About page or Homepage.

#SocialMedia

We did an entire article about the importance of social media, so for Social Media and your website I’ll only put in a couple of notes:

1-use the widgets provided by your web builder.  WordPress has some amazing free tools to help link your social media to your site.  They are pretty and easily recognized around the world.

Or you can create one (or so I’m told…remember I’m not tech savvy).

2- Now that it’s there, link them together.  So anything on your website immediately gets put on your social media formats.

 

Next week the ACN geeks will give you their final tips on your author site.

Building a Successful Website (pt. 1 of 3)

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We’ve discussed Social Media, but how about your website?  Is it just there solely for the purpose of being there? To hold links to a bazillion places your masterpiece can be found? Is it just one big advertisement, being ignored by you while you try to perfect your #hashtag skills?  A digital business card? Or is it a living breathing extension of you?

If it’s not the latter, it needs to be.

Your website is your office. The “big brain” between you and your readers.  Social media, well…they’re the employees.

If the brain is working smoothly, then the employees have all the tools necessary to do their job.

An active website (interactive meaning more than just www.acnbooks.com taking you somewhere; it means there is updated content on that site) visit can translate directly into books sales.

Even if you are on social media or diligently promoting your work in person through venues and signings, everything you do will be in vain without a website. Why invest so much of yourself in writing your book, publishing it, and bragging about it if it’s a dead end?  No central office guiding the masses. Today, websites are bigger than any Target or Barnes and Nobel’s, it is a huge drawback if your readers can’t easily locate you with a few quick key strokes.

Remember* you cannot be everywhere, but your website (that extension of yourself) can!

Designing a website requires skills – skills I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t have (unless it’s guiding myself through a purchase on Amazon I don’t speak computer; not one single syllable of HTML or TEXT coding).

Hence our ACNBooks “geeks” who I can’t give enough credit to.

Not to say you need a squad of tech lovers at your fingertips; they assure me that building a website is extremely user friendly (if that user isn’t M.K.F.).  And where you may get lost, website hosts – such as ours here at WordPress – are extremely helpful in guiding you to your vision.

The “geeks”, as they call themselves because no one here at ACN will refer to them by their preferred name Overlords, did however compile a list of website do’s and don’ts.  I use it as faithfully as I can, though there are times that I play the “Creator” card!

Over the next couple of weeks, we will review the geeks list and give some do’s and don’ts when it comes to your website.

 

 First Impressions Mean Everything

You’ve all heard of the phrase “never judge a book by its cover”? No one follows it. First impressions matter. They will judge you by is your website.  It is tempting to just get something up quickly, that requires little/no cost, but don’t.  Don’t just toss something up there I mean, cost wise…cost is always a factor, so let’s get that out of the way first.

Shop your site.  Ours here at ACNBooks runs about $100.00 a year. Which was nice, in the beginning.  Today though we are finding it limiting. We’re no longer a toddler; we are learning how to walk, so we need to upgrade to a business level.  But as an author, you don’t need the 10,000 options. So shop around for what is going to best fit your goals.  Don’t necessarily pick the most popular name (the number one in a Google search engine).

Geeks rule #1 in First Impressions is: Your website is how people are going to see you!  It shows off WHO you are and WHAT you represent.  If it’s tossed together, last minute from your cell phone while waiting in line at Dunkin Donuts for your mocha peppermint latte to finish steaming. It’s going to look that way to anyone who clicks on it.

Geek rule #2: Yes you are the brand, however your website shouldn’t be for you…it’s for your readers, meaning that within moments of a blog or updated entry people will see it.  Think of these simple questions provided by www.yourwriterplatform.com before you click the go live button:

  • Will people know what I write within seconds?
  • Does the voice, tone, attitude and mood of the site resonate with my ideal reader?
  • Will they understand the page they are on and what it’s about?
  • Will they know what to do next?
  • Does the site appear credible?
  • Is it clear why they should buy my book or subscribe to free updates?
  • What does the site provide the reader?

Most importantly Geeks rule #3: BETA test/read, ask someone to look over your work.  Not so much for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but to make sure it flows or is perceived as you meant it to (I do this a lot….as I have ‘resting bitch face’ when typing, I didn’t think that was a thing, but I’ve been told several times that for as happy as I am in person, my entries read as if I am sarcastically slapping someone.)

Other website suggestions www.yourwriterplatform.com:

  • Don’t be scared of white or blank space.  Filling every single nook and cranny will do nothing but remind people they need to clean out their closets.
  • Make sure your site is polished, legible (go for clear, not clever) and spell checked, a reader doesn’t want to spend the afternoon trying to decipher the meaning behind the Shakespeare you wrote.
  • Keep navigation easy and clear, so your readers can find the important stuff.
  • Use color wisely.  All too often I have gone to author sites to be blinded by the light-the neon colored backgrounds, and yellow writing in front of it.  I have also gone to sites and found my eyes straining after 3 seconds trying to read black text over grey backdrops.  Stick to two or three different shades, simple, ones that are easily seen (grey over white seems to be our M.O.)
  • Avoid anything unnecessary like Flash, animated backgrounds, or music. If your site takes a long time to load, or doesn’t work on a mobile device, you will lose a large number of visitors to your site.
  • Keep elements consistent from page to page.
  • Is your site branded for the long haul? Or is it book/genre specific? Currently we are bragging about A Charming Nightmare as our featured book, but I’m still writing, after the ACN series is out in completion my next adventure with Lilith is the complete opposite of the science-fiction based ACN.  And that’s OK, my site is ready for any genre I write.

Next week we will further step into your website.  Break it down. I will be looking to you for guidance, as I’m still learning web words and their meanings.

Until next time!

-M-

Social Media

#Truestory.  Social media is the leading way to get yourself out there. Whether you are an Instagram god/dess, a “like” grabber on Facebook, or Tweet master social media is hands down going to take up as much of your time as a book signing, or writing your next piece.

Social media.jpeg

But #letsbehonest in what works and what doesn’t. Keep in ind you are now a business entity.  Which means new etiquette.

Rule #1: You’ll need to lead a double life…or in the very least get split personality.

tenor

Everyone tries to separate their work from their home life.  Follow the same rule in your social media; it is after all where you work.  Readers will follow like minds, or they will stray away from those who hold strong opinions.  Your author/book page should be Sweden.  Neutral to whatever debate the world is in; no matter how strongly you personally feel about the subject.  It’s a public space. Yelling from every corner of your page that cherry pie is the authority over vanilla cake – and there is no ‘if’s, and’s, or but’s about it – will not sit right with everyone in this world.  Earth has over seven billion people living on it, and among those billions of people you are bound to come across a vanilla lover or a pecan pie supporter or two.

On that note…you are your own person, and you most certainly are allowed to have opinions.  Make yourself your own wall to post your rants and standings on.  Something to share with your friends.

#2 A thing called Too Much Information

This goes along with your double life.  Over sharing on your author/book page, and (vice versa) oversharing bookish things on your personal.

Chances are your best friend, grandma, third grade boyfriend/girlfriend, and the bag boy at your local market are not just your personal social media friends, they also follow your page.  Why bombard them with things twice over?  I’ll be honest in saying I completely do this…share everything that I posted on ACNBooks to my personal wall even though I know fully well my personal audience is also tuned into ACNBooks. A tidbit here and a tidbit there can generate followers through shared “likes”, but which page would I rather collect the likes and shares from?  Mine or ACN’s?  ACN’s likes and shares will draw in new followers.  My personal page will draw in cute emojis from my mom.  Or, more than likely, get me or my page hidden by my biggest supporters, I know I would hide me. It’s annoying, something I need to give up for lent…maybe there’s a 12 step program …

And that goes for the vice versa.  While posting pictures from your personal life once in a while will give your audience a glimpse into the life of M.K.F. Sharing too much personal stuff can have the same effect.  Your audience will realize that it’s the Marie show on every channel. Yup, nope, don’t care for that show…it’s always on re-runs.

#3 Lost in a sea of advertisements

Are you part of groups such as; ‘We love authors’, ‘Kindle Books’, ‘Book Club’, etc etc?  I know I am…and I know I’ve started leaving these groups.  Let me tell you why they are an AMAZING idea with horrible outcomes.

You get lost.

Completely lost.

Readers tend to hide or ignore these groups.

When asked how many avid readers use social media groups to find new books every single one of them said yes.  When asked what type of group; every single one of them said groups that do not allow authors to advertise, or ones that only allow authors to advertise once a week.  Why?  Well because the groups that allow authors to go on and on about their new 5 star novel found on Amazon are too much.  It’s the used car dealership of online advertising, always on no matter what channel you go to.  It completely fills their feed every 3 seconds a new novel is born.  With that math, your book is lost in a sea of others screaming to be heard, and you may sink below the volume before your potential reader spends her average 15 seconds scrolling down any given page.

#4 Not everyone is a potential friend

While you can’t control who follows you on Twitter or Instagram (for the most part), you can pick and choose who gets to be part of your inner circle on your personal FB account.  At least twice a week I get friend requests from total strangers.  Most of the time generated from a signing I’ve done, or something ACNBooks has posted or #hashtagged.  Be wary of letting these people into your inner circle – not that they are bad people – but more like they are your audience.  Last time I checked audience members weren’t privy to anything unscripted when it came to a look behind the scenes.

But don’t just ignore or deny their request either.  Ignoring will leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.  What I have is a very nicely scripted response to un-known friend requests saved on both my phone and laptop for when the occasion arises:

“Thank you very much for your interest in M.K.F, however the page you have sent the request to is meant solely for personal friends and family of the science fiction author.  So not to bore you with pictures of fuzzy kittens with unamused faces why don’t you hit that like button on ACNBooks!  M.K.F. posts more frequently on that page than her personal one.  You can also keep up to date on all ACNBooks news while you’re there! Here let us help you with a link below to all the places we would love to see you in!

https://www.facebook.com/ACNbooks/

https://www.instagram.com/mkf_acnbooks/

https://twitter.com/ACNbooks

#5 The #hashtagegame

#hashtags are probably my weakest skill in the social media game.  But I have some rules that I try to stick to when playing the #hashtag game.

-Don’t always assume the most popular # will get you the most likes.  Just like joining certain Social Media groups the larger the number of times a hashtag has been used, the more likely your picture or post will get lost in a sea of others using it. The most popular hashtags out there right now are #love, #nofilter, and #thankyou. That doesn’t mean wipe them off your list of usable ones.  It means pair them with something that has a few hundred or thousand, that way you’ll be seen somewhere.  I tend to use: #readmore #readinglist #onemorechapter #characterswelove #bookworm #amreading #amwriting #shouldbewriting the most.  These ones tend to generate the most reactions as well.

-Create a hashtag to be your signature.  We use #ACNBooks and #ACNgivesback a ton, it’s called branding.  Now, 9 months into our journey #ACNBooks is used more frequently, by more strangers (yay we have friends, not just staff!!)

-Don’t be too obscure or cryptic in creating a hashtag.  Think simple.  Something people will remember and not too long. #reallylonghashtagsaretoohardforpeopletodecipher.  Really cryptic hashtags never get remembered or associated with its intended audience.

-Keep in mind:

Twitter doesn’t want posts to be all about the tag. #Incorporate them in your #tweet. And while we’re tweeting can I give my personal advice? You’re an author; it’s annoying af to c ur tweets whn they look like this.  Oh, your message won’t fit in the character limit if you don’t abbreviate? Hmmmm you’re a writer! Get creative with words! But you’re also a professional, use your words!

Instagram loves a good hashtag, 30 of the little # symbols when advertising.  Just don’t overdo it on every single post or it becomes as annoying to read as that UR you are using on twitter.

Facebook is all meh on the hashtag situation.  They’ll incorporate them when they remember there is something else in the world to do besides sharing feelings.

#6 Timing is everything

200_dThere is such a thing as too many posts and on the other end there is such a thing as not enough.  So how do you decide what is right for you.  For the most part I post for ACNBooks once a day, the same thing on every social media site ACNBooks has.  Indie Beginning might ignore you for a day or two and then go a mile a minute catching you up on everything in the world of podcasting and I.T. (yes, our Geeks – their word not mine – like to share, in small doses from the safety of their cubicle, no actual peopling necessary).

So it depends on your target audience.

But let’s be honest once again; 30 posts a day will land you on a spam list.  It’s like a hit list for businesses (and yes I know you are an author, but author is just a fancy word for small business owner).

Here’s a sweet little suggestion from me to you.  Use a generator.  No, it doesn’t write witty and interesting posts for you, it just times them out.  Facebook has this (there is also Hootsuite and Flacone.io to name a couple others).  Every Sunday morning I sip coffee and write about a bazillion thoughts and then Facebook will ask me if I want to publish this right away or schedule it.  Schedule please.  I tend to schedule things in the following:

Monday-something cute or funny to get you through your day.

Tuesday-advertisement

Wednesday-let’s learn something new together

Thursday-what does ACNBooks have going on over the weekend?  Where can you find us?

Friday-I’ll send you a link to something new on ACNBooks.com

Saturday & Sunday-free for all (I like to play games with my readers/followers, but be ready to commit your entire weekend to that.  They really REALLY like to play along).

Now that those are scheduled it doesn’t mean you can’t post more if something comes up. Nor does it mean you can’t have an “oh, shit” moment and decide a post needs to be deleted.  But added bonus, my social media pages are linked so whatever goes on one automatically gets copied to the rest.  Easy peasy, all done!

#7 If it’s on the internet it must be true!

lincoln.jpgResearch, research, research.  Just because at first glance it causes a reaction, that doesn’t mean that it’s the entire story. Just because it sounds right, doesn’t mean it is.  Just because you found it on Google doesn’t make it so.  Verifying (double checking) is as important to you as ‘measure twice, cut once’ is to a carpenter.

If you are called out, be humble.  Accept the mistake, don’t start WWIII over a mis-credited quote (FYI-Anon is a person…it by no means is an abbreviation for Anonymous).

#8 Play Nice

Social Media is just that; social.  Encourage readers to participate in games and discussions. Play with other businesses and pages.  You’ll find new followers in the oddest places such as them watching you play back and forth with another entrepreneur.  I know confusing right? Here’s my example: Indie Beginnings is an ACNBooks production Podcast. We are very close to the hosts of this show (by close I mean VERY close, we share an office, and a last name.  Can’t get much closer to someone than marrying them.) Indie Beginning has its own social media which we constantly share, or go back and forth liking each other.  ACN’s audience started migrating to like Indie Beginning and ACN gained new followers loyal to Indie Beginning.

The same happened between ACNBbooks and Burialgrounds.coffee (one of our sponsors, and dearest of friends).  We played together on their opening night and in return people flocked to Burial Grounds Coffee Co. and coffee fans from all over clicked ACNBooks to see what we were all about.

Our total views and engagements charts skyrocketed almost instantly.

All because we were playful.

 

 

#9 And Finally…

HAVE FUN! If you enjoy it, it shows.  If you have fun, it shows.  Nothing should ever be serious all the time. If you tend to write posts like an owner’s manual, guess how they’ll read to a viewer…like an owner’s manual.  If it’s written like the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, then Adam and Barbara are just going to toss it aside and summon Beetlejuice instead (because let’s face it, that guy is a lot more fun than scrolling through stereo instructions).  Encourage participation.  Social Media is just that…SOCIAL.

I have yet to figure out anything in the world of Pinterest (besides pinning some amazing recipes or some really cool shelves that will never get built).  Nor has ACNBooks ventured into the world of Tumbler or Snapchat so if you have experience we would love to hear about it!