About RachelintheOC

Rachel Thompson aka RachelintheOC is a published author and social media consultant. Her three books, A Walk In The Snark, The Mancode: Exposed and Broken Pieces are all #1 Kindle bestsellers! When not writing, she helps authors and other professionals with branding and social media for her company, BadRedhead Media. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut.

Buy Now : A Walk in the Snark * Mancode: Exposed * Broken Pieces

Combine Writing, Marketing, And Real Life. Now, Mix

Some fella I don’t know sent out a group email the other day, complaining that writing and marketing combined with real life is just too much, so he’s ‘deleting his book and shutting down social media and the blog’ until such time as he makes his millions to hire people to do it all for him.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I get it — it would be much easier to throw in the towel and walk away. But I couldn’t ever walk away from writing my books. My guess is, he got so overwhelmed that rather than hiring an assistant or consultant to help or teach him (which he may not have been able to afford anyway), or looking into some time-saving time-management applications, he threw up his hands and gave up.

Sigh.

Let’s deconstruct.

WRITING

The writing. The writing takes time (for most of us). We have real lives, we market our previous works, we attend conferences and travel to book signings … all of which is fun, exhausting, and cool (I mean, come on). However, it does take away from our writing time. Have you ever tried to write while squished in the middle seat on a small plane to Winnipeg during a storm?

I released my latest book, Broken Pieces (currently free on Amazon for a few days — no Kindle required) in December, 2012. 2012! That’s like 14 in publishing years. Yet, it still has legs and continues to win awards and pay my rent. I’m not bragging — it’s my third book and I’m honored and thrilled to have written something that resonates with so many people. But…what have I done for you lately?

Lots of consulting and marketing (more below), but I’m also writing for at least one hour per day on Broken Places, the next book in the ‘Broken’ series. It’s coming along, but I don’t see it releasing before fall. I’m not personally willing to rush it out to meet some imaginary ‘best by’ date. I know some authors who release a book every three months and good for them. Seriously. That’s just not me. It’s not how I work. And, as I always remind myself, it’s not a competition.

Kids, my business, my family, laundry and kitchen, burning dinner…it’s all pulling at me, just like it is with most writers. I’m not different or special — my point is, I have to protect my writing time. It’s okay to be selfish when it comes to my work if that’s what it takes to get to it.

MARKETING 

No doubt, marketing takes a huge chunk of time. Blogging, updating my websites (this one and my business site, BadRedheadMedia.com), promotions, advertising, reviews, guest blogs, all the articles I write (BookPromotion.com, Huffington Post, San Francisco Book Review, etc.), not to mention my business clients, combines to take me away from that ‘balance’ of marketing and writing.

What to do? After coffee, I check all the sites and my emails, put out any fires, and then shut it down for an hour (I’m always available to clients via phone). I just see no other way around it. Facebook in particular is a huge time suck — not because I love it (it’s fine, whatever), but because of the sheer number of notifications and interactions required to maintain an active presence. My personal favorite is Twitter, and Pinterest is a close second, but even that I limit myself to non-writing hours.

How do I manage it all? I use a combination of three sites: Hootsuite (I schedule in quite a bit), Pluggio (I love their dripfeed feature), and ManageFlitter (for growth and deleting fakes, eggs, etc). I’ve written about each one previously, but they all have free options for you to try out, and I can’t recommend them all highly enough. You need these programs to manage, grow, schedule, and interact across your platform in the most efficient (yet still interactive) way possible. Remember: social media is not one-way communication to sell sell sell your books. It’s a wonderful way to interact and build relationships.

I can guarantee that the fellow above did not use any kind of time management system to help to manage his social, which usually has the biggest learning curve and takes the most time. However, social is our generation’s ‘word of mouth,’ and is critical to any author’s success. So stop whining and get on it.

REAL LIFE 

I find that most authors have pie in the sky expectations of their first book. They want it to pay their house payment or rent, send their kids to college, and cover any and all advertising and marketing costs. Not even Stephen King of Anne Rice had that kind of success with book one — and they were picked up by large publishing houses and had lots of media support! Why does everyone think that one book will make them?

I never thought that. I figured if anyone reads me, great. If I can connect with folks and develop a fan base for future books, even better. Publishing a book isn’t a magical way into some nebulous millionaire’s club. It’s a means to an end: getting your work out there. If you’re using social media to ‘push’ your work on an uninterested, undeveloped fan base, you’re not helping your sales and you’re likely spamming, which can lead to account suspensions.

I have friends who have written 30 books, have made it to the NYTimes Best Seller lists, and still work full-time jobs as lawyers and accountants and cooks. Writing as a living isn’t easy — who said it would be? I’d like to meet that person and ask them.

NOW MIX IT UP 

Use your real-life experiences in a way that can help others. From a karma standpoint, isn’t that what this whole mortal coil is all about anyway? That’s why I started #SexAbuseChat (Tuesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST) with survivor/therapist Bobbi Parish. We’re opening up a growing dialogue with survivors and families of survivors. Some of them may or may not read my book and that’s okay — that’s not what this is about.

I’ve also been able to start #MondayBlogs (in November, 2012). I wanted one day devoted to bloggers (any topic is fine). Blog any day, but share on Mondays using the hashtag AND return the favor by retweeting others. It’s grown so dramatically, thousands participate each week and generate anywhere from 5-8,000 tweets on Mondays! These are my ways of giving back. I make no money, charge no fees, and everyone is welcome.

Point is, all of it is hard. All of it matters. None of it is easy. Adjust your expectations, fellow authors…and above all, keep writing.

The Dark Side Of Being An Author

‘If it wasn’t for all that you tried to do, I wouldn’t know how just capable I am to pull through, so I want to say ‘thank you.’ Thanks for making me a fighter.’ ~ Christina Aguilera (Fighter) IE_Cyberbullying

Know how you hear actors talk about fame? They say, ‘I only wanted to act. I didn’t want all this fame stuff.’ And we think, poor baby, right? All those millions, travel, stuff. It’s a real bummer. We feel like saying, ‘Shut up and be grateful!’ but I never do, especially when I see these celebs fighting for the privacy of their children.

I’m in no way famous. But as an author, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the dark side of having your name out there.

I wrote my first book. Then my second. Then my most successful, my bestselling third book Broken Pieces. I started a social media/branding/marketing business (using my 20+ years of marketing plus my creative side = fun for me), and I love it. I love every minute of writing, connecting with readers and other authors, networking, working with amazing clients, occasional travel to writing conferences, writing regularly for the Huffington Post, San Francisco Book Review, Self Publisher’s Monthly, BookPromotion.com, my own two websites, a weekly radio show with AudioWorld’s Bennet Pomerantz, and even more I can’t name because I’ll scare myself at my to do list!

I do all this because I love sharing the tips I’ve learned with other authors, and if they can’t afford to pay me, I can provide at least provide great, free resources to help them.

I’m thrilled that I’m able to make a living for me and my family on my writing and business. I’m still in awe that people say they love my work and that I have fans. How is that even possible? I’m truly humbled by it all.

And then…come the haters. The bullies.  The stalkers. The negative people who are, for whatever reason, upset about how I live my life or how I do business. I see this happen to my author friends all the time, too and I think…why? What is in it for the detractors?

Let’s deconstruct.

BULLIES

Last week, Bennet and I were honored to chat with Jay Donovan (owner of Techsurgeons) who specializes in helping people in bullying and stalker type situations, along with being a tech genius. You can listen to the show here (it’s only 30 minutes) and it gives really good insight into why people bully, the types of bullies (narcissists, psychopaths, etc) and how best to handle, particularly online.

Here’s what I learned: while it’s best to ignore a bully and not engage them directly, Jay does suggest letting others know that you are being bullied. There’s no reason to protect the bully, in other words. As someone who believe strongly in The Four Agreements, particularly to not take anything personally — I believe that what people say about us says far more about them than us.

Bullies typically have huge egos and very high self-esteem – as if we live in their kingdom and must obey their rules. Their favorite M.O. is spreading unfounded or unsupported rumors online.

What to do: whatever it is that you’ve always done. This latest person had an issue with something she assumed I’ve done on Twitter (something that I didn’t actually do), but rather than engage with her in a case of ‘she said, she said,’ I addressed it once on my Facebook wall so my friends and followers would know if they heard about it what the real situation is, and that was it. I wasn’t even going to write about it here, but others encouraged me to at least discuss the situation because so many others are dealing with it.

Remember, we cannot control what others say or do. It’s on us to be who we are and offer no explanation ‪#‎AuthenticityRocks‬

STALKERS

Stalkers are different. They tend to have more psychopathic tendencies — they don’t care that someone is freaked out by them because that is their goal — their emotional value system is completely missing. Stalkers generally have low self-esteem and if their connection to their victim ends, they feel as if their identity has been stolen from them and they’ll do whatever they can to get it back.

In my own experience with stalkers, law enforcement advises NO CONTACT. Do not engage them in any way, block them at every turn, fix your privacy settings online to as strict as possible, and never give out your real home address — have a PO Box for any mail having to do with your online life. Or hire someone like Jay to help you.

As for how these situations have affected me? I’ve become far less trusting — something that I’ve struggled with anyway for most of my life due to childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a neighbor. Though that is a completely separate issue, I’ve been burned more than once for trusting that someone online is as ‘normal’ as they initially seem.

WHY?

If you find yourself asking the typical, ‘Why me?’ question in the face of these situations, look closely at your actions. Did you do something that set somebody off? Perhaps, though I avoid flame wars at all cost. Sometimes, we never know if a single tweet or statement can set someone off. While I don’t believe in self-censorship, I also don’t believe in flaming others. As adults, it’s on us to take responsibility for what we have done to contribute to difficult situations.

However, we are never, ever, ever responsible for someone else’s actions or behavior. It’s not our fault that someone as an issue with us. We don’t owe anybody an explanation for our life choices, especially some stranger we neither know or respect.

There’s definitely a dark side to being online and if we’re not careful, we can be pulled into it. Don’t. Walk away. Surround yourself with support and help. Handle it privately (block people, remove yourself from groups, fix your privacy settings, etc.), and then keep doing your thing. I’m not into inspirational stuff (I feel we all have to find our own inspiration, and a trite saying rarely helps), but I do believe we should trust ourselves.

Above all, remember that if someone is trash talking, hating, or bullying you, they are teaching you a lesson in how NOT to be ‪#‎RiseAbove‬.

‘They can’t succeed in taking my inner peace from me. They can say all they wanna say about me. I’m gonna carry on.’~ Christina Aguilera (Keep On Singin’ My Song) 

(There’s a line between someone hating on you and actually libeling and bullying. Take action: StopBullying.gov has tons of great info!)

 

My Favorite Tools to Create Visual Content

You may have noticed that Pinterest and Instagram have gained more popularity. If you haven’t noticed, you need to! According to Social Media Today, photos on Facebook generate 53 percent more likes than the average post, (HubSpot survey).

I am the first to admit that I am NOT a graphic artist, but when I noticed authors sharing excerpts in a visual format, I wanted to know more. So I asked my followers (thank you social media) and here are the two options I ended up using:

1) QUOZIO

From their website:

What is Quozio? Quozio turns meaningful words into beautiful images in seconds. Then share ‘em on Facebook, Pinterest, email and more!

Quozio is pretty basic. You just type in a quote and it gives you a bunch of options for backgrounds. Here are a few I’ve created from both Broken Pieces and my WIP, Broken Places:

How-easily-we-forget Pain-isnt-always

 

These are just two examples. If you’d like to see more, go to Pinterest and follow my Poetry board. Once you create your visuals, you have the option to share to pretty much every site: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. It’s totally free and they keep all the picture quotes you create in an account for you which you can access at any time (I also recommend saving each one to your hard drive or cloud, just in case).

Once saved, it’s easy to upload to Instagram or any other site.

2) PINSTAMATIC 

If you’re not using Pinterest yet, you should be! It’s easy and fun. I spend a few minutes each day creating and sharing pins, and it’s also a wonderful search engine — someone, somewhere, has pinned something you are looking for.

Pinstamatic is designed to allow you to create similar pins above, but with more options (share a Twitter profile, FB, a photo, create a photo with a meme, etc). Click on the toolbar at the top to see all the options. I use the second from the left, the quotations marks, to create well, a quote. Here’s an example:

example of pinstamatic

I hope these options are helpful for you. I know their are lots of other applications, but these are the ones I personally use and find to be the most user-friendly. It’s an easy and effective way to share your work without being super ‘hard sell BUY MY BOOK!’ pushy.

Please share your thoughts and experiences below!

Want to join my street team The BadRedheads? Read more here and we can add you!

Read This Before You SELL SELL SELL Books On Twitter

nerd two at computer

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This title is a bit misleading, because I don’t feel authors should be using our streams to SELL SELL SELL. I am an author. I tweet a lot, mostly about topics that are of interest to me (Nutella, relationships, love, loss, sexual abuse, music, books, social media). I tweet my own books (well, mostly just Broken Pieces, my latest release, once in awhile my first two humor books) MAYBE a few times per week. Mostly, I refer folks to my bio where there’s a direct purchase link.

Lots of authors tweet nothing but links to their books. This is a mistake — it’s off-putting and annoying. Below, examples:

‘Here’s my latest book: It’s All About Me. Please buy, review, tell everyone you know!’ NO. #unfollow

I tweet a lot of music — what I enjoy, lines from songs (always with attribution). I got this yesterday: ‘If you love David Poe, you’ll LOVE my new single. Click here to view and share with your network!’ NO. #unfollow

Let’s deconstruct.

SELF-PROMOTION

When you first started on Twitter (for the sake of this discussion, I’ll use Twitter, but the principles apply to any social media network), you were probably a puppy: ‘woot! all these millions of people will now know about my amazing book! Tweet links, tweet links, tweet links!’ The mistake is: nobody cares. Nobody knows who we are.

We are raised to think we’re special, wonderful, unique beings. Unfortunately (or actually, fortunately in this case), social media isn’t ‘All About Me’ media, it’s ‘Social’ media. I’m not sure why some authors get this and some don’t. To be fair, authors aren’t the only ones constantly hawking their own work — I see musicians, artists, and many charities and businesses also doing the ME ME ME thing. To me, this just reeks of newbie-ness, of inexperience, and even desperation. And really, is that how you want to be perceived?

So, what to do? Gawk: watch what others do, figure out the lingo (Twitter’s HELP section is quite complete and there are millions of articles about how to use it on the net), learn. Focus on being your authentic, true self, not being an automaton spewing out book links.

THE BIG SECRET

I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, and I’ve learned a lot about human behavior just observing interactions there. What I’ve found: the authors who make a real effort to connect with readers, bloggers, and reviewers (more below) sell far more books by NOT selling, but by talking with people and sharing great content.

What a concept: talking, connecting, interacting!  

To be clear, I’m not opposed to all self-promotion. We all have rent to pay. I share links occasionally to my books. I’m opposed to constant, unrelenting, hard-selling self-promotion, particularly when accompanied by defensiveness and attitude. At this point, I will simply unfollow you.

UNFOLLOW

Many authors start on Twitter (or FB, etc.) and follow other authors. That’s fine and all (we are, for the most part, supportive), but the authors who go into Twitter expecting something from their fellow authors will be sorely disappointed — most of us are so swamped with our own work, it’s all we can do to interact (‘make a friend, make a sale’), let alone read your books, review them, and promote them for you. That’s not OUR job, to be blunt.

Your job is to find ways to promote your work that are not obnoxious. I recommend relationship-building, advertising, promotional book groups (where you support authors and they support you on specific events — Facebook, G+, and LinkedIn have the most groups, I’ve found), blogging (participate in #MondayBlogs — share ANY post, retweet others. On Mondays.), guest blogging, interviews. None of this falls in your lap like a bucket of love from the sky — you have to find your opportunities.

This disconnect — this wanting others to do our work for us — this is where authors hit trouble. That and expecting others (anyone! everyone!) to turn our stream, which we’ve worked for years to cultivate, into their own personal commercial. It reminds me of drafting in cycling.

I’ve heard it all — rationalizations about how you don’t have enough time (pft. Use Hootsuite to schedule across your platform, interact live when you have time), that you have no money (pft, doesn’t cost anything to ask someone how they’re doing), or retweet (RT), follow, or list someone.

THE THING

Here’s the thing: Twitter (or any channel) will not sell books for you. What it does do is increase your visibility, and if done correctly, creates a reader base for when you need beta readers, or want to create a street team, when your book does come out, when you have a promotion, or some major accomplishment that you want to share. I’ve found readers, bloggers, and reviewers (whom I go out of my way to follow) are open to helping me because I’m not constantly barraging them with random requests — particularly when we interact the very first time.

Remember, this isn’t a sprint. You have time to build your base and connect with influencers. And by connect, I do not mean annoy the hell out of them.

WHAT TO DO

Share snippets of your work (a quote here and there), pictures, videos, blog posts (yours and others), news. Chat, be yourself. Don’t talk about your book constantly (or your lunch — that’s so over). You have an avatar, bio, header and a background on Twitter — four places where you can take full advantage, using links there. IF you have a promotion, politely ask your followers and author friends to share a tweet. Even tweet it yourself once or twice, max.

Bothering people to buy your books doesn’t work. If you think it does, fine. I will not be following you or helping you promote your work. I’m all about helping other authors — if you ask me nicely and send me Nutella (kidding!), I may RT you. If you ask me to read and review your book, I won’t. Not because I’m being a bitch, but because you need to be connecting with bloggers and reviewers who are FAR more influential than I. Plus, I have to be conscious of how many book tweets go out on my stream, how much promotion I’m willing to share. As should you.

How do you use social media as part of your author platform? I’d love your thoughts and suggestions!

P.S. Broken Pieces is on sale for two days only — $3.99 (reg. price $5.99) for the eBook — no Kindle required (free reading apps). Want to join my street team The BadRedheads? ? Here’s the form. Want to sign up for my newsletter? Click over there >>>>>>.

 

 

You’re An Adult. Write Like One.

ID-10062097

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

‘People who are most afraid of their dreams convince themselves they don’t dream at all.’
~ The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck

I’ve written more than once about having confidence in yourself not only as a writer, but as a person —  allowing yourself to tell your story. I had to reach that point myself in order to write Broken Pieces, and I’m still dealing with it as I write the next book in the Broken series, Broken Places.

Let’s deconstruct.

VALIDATION

Writers, especially newbie or young writers, are used to looking to others for validation: teachers, classmates, friends, family. I was no different. Like most writers, I started young, at age ten. I took many creative writing, poetry, and journalism classes in college. Then, once I graduated, I became a sales rep LOL (and hated it). For fifteen years.

I started writing seriously in 2008 (as in paid work). In our new online society, we receive validation in the form of comments on our blog, retweets, Facebook or Google+ shares, and book reviews once published. Sometimes the comments are positive, sometimes negative.

(I’ll cover reviews in a moment.)

The issue with looking to others for validation is that we aren’t trusting ourselves to know what’s good, and what to shred. We’re afraid to go too deep for fear that people won’t like what they see. In essence, we’re still acting like children searching for external approval.

I look back to college and think about how I studied: in my room, occasionally the library, by myself, tunes in, focused. I never did the study group thing — perhaps I should have — yet I still managed to graduate in four and a half years with a 3.4 GPA while working 32 hours/week. That lone introvert learned a valuable lesson — I learned how to learn. I learned how to trust myself. I learned when I was ready.

There’s a certain amount of detachment in that process — looking outside ourselves at our own behavior. Some would call that disassociation, a persistent friend I know quite well.

PERMISSION

Before we can get to the point of writing our stories and sharing in those various places, we have to first do a little work. Ask yourself what’s holding you back. Typically, it’s one of these:

  • What will my family think?
  • What will my friends/coworkers think?
  • What if people hate my work?
  • What if I’m no good?

Sound familiar? Every writer asks themselves these questions. The trick is not letting them mindfuck us. Sorry if that offends you (you’ll get over it), but I bought into all that for a long time, too. Some authors never get past it, or write under a pen name or fictionalize real-life experiences in order to protect the innocent (usually, I find it’s the guilty) but that’s another post. That’s a decision each of us has to make.

I know. I get it. I never addressed or even discussed my childhood sexual abuse (at the hands of a neighbor dad) publicly. The shame stayed with me for many years. I was nervous about ‘outing’ my family (none of whom were guilty of anything) — by outing, I mean labeling them in a public way as the family of that girl. The one who was molested.

Humor is my defense. In fact, it’s a form of disassociation. I even wrote two nonfiction humor books that have done quite well. But it wasn’t a perfect fit. Even I could tell that I wasn’t going there — I wasn’t blasting deep into the truth. And then I came upon this quote by author and professor Lorrie Moore in Elle Magazine:

The only really good piece of advice I have for my students is, ‘Write something you’d never show your mother or father.’  That sentence alone, just that, was very freeing to me. I could write my essays, my poetry, my stories, with the raw honesty I felt the work, and I, needed. Turns out I didn’t need anyone’s permission…but my own.

Further, Moore says:

The detachment of the artist is kind of creepy. It’s kind of rude, and yet really it’s where art comes from. It’s not the same as courage. It’s closer to bad manners than to courage. [...] if you’re going to be a writer, you basically have to say, ‘This is just who I am, and what I’m going to do.’ There’s a certain indefensibility about it. 

And guess what? If you are a writer — and you need to own that you are — you don’t owe anyone an explanation about what you write. Would you tell an artist what to paint? A musician how to play a song? No, you wouldn’t dare, and neither would your family and friends.

You are an adult. Write like it.

REVIEWS

Reviews are a form of validation — positive and negative. Part of that whole mindfuck of, ‘What will people say? What if they hate it?’ stops many writers. Too bad we can’t predict the future, right? See, here’s the thing. You want people to read your work. That should be the goal of any writer.

If your goal is to look to total strangers (you neither know or respect) for validation, you are already setting yourself up for failure. If you don’t consider yourself a success unless you have awards bestowed upon you along with heaps of praise, you will be sorely disappointed. It CAN happen, but I know this to be true: you have to define your own success. Will you only consider yourself if a success if you get all five-star reviews? If you can pay your rent with your royalties? If you sell thousands of copies? Those are all THINGS.

All that’s great, and entirely doable. But if that’s ALL that defines you, if that’s the only way you will feel successful, you’re missing it. Change your paradigm: what if success means that you have connected with others in similar situations? What if success means ten people read your work and love it — and one of those knows someone who knows someone who can get it made into a movie script? What if you connect with a local community (i.e., sexual abuse survivors), and become an advocate?

Reviews are a way to learn how people interpret your work, and who is your demographic. Nothing more. People will love your books, people will hate your books. Prepare yourself for that.

A FINAL WORD

Not writing your story the way you really want to is an excuse — you’re feeding your insecurities. Acknowledge them. We all have them. Then tie them up with a string, put them in your desk drawer, and sit down to write.

They’ll still be there when you’re done.

 

Questions or comments? Please leave them below. Also, if you’re a print person, Broken Pieces is now available in print from Booktrope on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and I’m not sure where else yet.

Why Authors Should Avoid Discussing Politics and Religion

ID-100160815

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many people disagree with my stance to avoid discussing politics and/or religion on social media (unless it’s a key part of your branding/book/blog).

And that’s cool. We all have to do what seems right to us, and we curate content that we find interesting. And shouldn’t social media be the one place we can really connect with like-minded folks? Didn’t Obama use Twitter and Facebook during his elections to really develop a diehard following? Don’t many of the various religious leaders and political parties use social media now?

Whatevs. Here is why I say to avoid those hot-button topics. Let’s deconstruct.*

*Examples are taken from real life as well as some clients, and in no way represent my personal ideology of worshipping fez-wearing purple aliens.

RELIGION/POLITICS

The most intense and inflammatory flame wars I’ve seen surround these two topics. The second you say something derogatory about say, our President, you out your personal beliefs as a (used for example only) diehard right-wing conservative Republican, or at least a disappointed Democrat.

Or maybe you could care less about politics but making a comment makes it seem as if you are extreme in some way even if you’re not. If your book is about politics, great. You’ve just connected with the demographic who will buy it — and alienated those who are offended by your personal politics or beliefs. I have a number of very conservative folks buy my books — and I’m certainly not their ‘normal’ demographic, am I? (A ‘left coast’ Jewish breadwinning female.)

My books have nothing to do with religion or politics — so I rarely if ever share anything political or religious on social media (or my websites). I believe we need to connect with readers at a basic human level — love, loss, relationships are my topics so that’s what I focus on. You as an author have to decide what is best for you, and your marketing and sales. I just caution you to be conscious that being a writer and having a public persona means this is your JOB. It’s never a good idea to get into discussions of  ideology on social media. Avoid if you can.

FOCUS/BRANDING

If you focus on topics of interest that are somewhat related to you and your book, you will know exactly what to share on social media or as blog topics. The first activity you need to do (and I do this with clients, also), is figure out what five or so keywords (or key phrases) you are interested in, write about, are intrinsically drawn to. When we’re passionate about something, we are authentic — our interest is true. From there, you build your brand (or focus, if the B-word scares you).

I have one client who wrote a book about his experiences with the federal government. He has some very strong political opinions and is passionate about it also — and his book delves into politics. So for him, politics is a natural topic that cements his branding.

Another client writes YA/Paranormal, and is a conservative Christian. She found that by talking about her religious experiences or sharing those kinds of quotes was alienating her fan base — primarily because she’s not writing Christian Fiction. So…she stopped. She sticks to more YA and Paranormal type subjects and her following has grown exponentially. (She keeps her personal Facebook wall — where you friend people — strictly family and friends, using her page for book-related topics.)

TRIAL AND ERROR

Nothing we do in marketing is set in stone. If you pick your five words or phrases or topics and they don’t seem to resonate, change them. One client is a teacher, so he likes to connect with other teachers about educational-related topics. He also writes pretty racy erotica. The challenge, then, is: how to merge his daily interest in education with the edgier topics? We finally decided to have him use a pen name and keep that writing platform separate from his ‘real-life’ accounts. He’s a good, normal guy who writes racy stuff — however, he didn’t want anyone to think poorly of him with regard to teaching (and teachers have to be so careful these days anyway, particularly a male), so this has worked out beautifully.

In fact, just recently he decided to abandon the personal accounts (simply due to time constraints), so we shelved those accounts for now and rebranded his keywords strictly for writing and erotica.

This is just my opinion as both an author and social media consultant for hire. Above all, I believe in polite, respectful discourse.

Feel free to disagree, yell at me, or tell me I’m an idiot. I’ve heard it all. Bring it.

Did you know: Broken Pieces just won its seventh award? Top Honorable Mention with the London Book Festival! And Booktrope just released it in print on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Read it and see why. 

Welcome To The Jungle. I Mean, The Holidays.

‘Once a year the holidays come swinging at your head. Feast until you’re full of pain again.’

~ Jonatha Brooke 

Welcome to the Holidaze.

ID-100220641

Christmas Biscuits by Grant Cochrane via
freedigitalphotos.net

It’s December 1st (as I write this) and I’m already tired.

As a young mom (my kids are now 14 and 8), I used to look forward to all their darling pre-school performances, plays, and holiday feasts. All the kids were so cute in their fumbling attempts at performing songs they barely knew the words to and dance moves that made us all laugh.

Now that they’re older, I begin to dread fall. I love the leaves turning and the colder weather (for those of you who haven’t kept up, I moved to Northern California last year), lighting candles and chimneys burning, wearing sweaters and boots (it’s a girl thing). It’s wonderful. What I don’t love is the mad rush to create a big deal out of every single little tiny minute detail of our kids’ lives.

Let’s deconstruct.

EMAILS

If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. In an attempt to get with it, my second-grader’s school now sends us ‘event notices’ from Shutterfly for EVERYTHING: ‘we will be sharpening pencils on Tuesday at 10am. Please make a note of it.’ Okay, I exaggerate but honestly, doesn’t it seem that way? I love that they want to keep us informed of what’s going on with our kids when we’re not there, but really? ‘PE this Wednesday.’ Yes, I know. It’s been PE day at his school since it opened. We KNOW (and we’ll still forget the change of clothes).

PERFORMANCES

Kids have been doing school performances in every country since man started walking upright. You and I did them and our parents dutifully came and oohed and aahed. It’s our job as a parent to attend, enjoy, and make a big deal. And we love it! We do.

I especially love when I catch my boy doing dance moves or singing their assigned song when he thinks nobody is paying attention. Those candid moments are like little peeks into his psyche and it’s so adorable, I almost squee (and I hate that word).

What bugs me is when we do get there finally, for the long-awaited performance, traffic is a nightmare, parking is non-existent, and families are saving 25 seats in front for ‘immediate family.’ We all want to see, parents! Oh, and don’t forget the mom who takes 20,000 pictures of her child, blocking everyone’s view, while we all stare at her ass (she really should NOT be wearing those jeans) instead of being able to see our own darling kid (not to mention that there’s a professional photographer and videographer who will be selling tapes of our darlings for $29.95, plus tax).

FOOD

If you know me at all, you know I don’t cook. I don’t bake (my mother will insist I used to bake cookies but I think she’s getting old). I burn. So when it comes time to bring homemade ‘special to our family treats,’ I do what many a working mom or dad do: I go to the store and visit the bakery. Hey, those people work hard to make homemade stuff for us (in their large, industrial warehouse kitchens). The ingredients are all the same.

(Hey, I bought them with love.)

I have nothing but respect for people who cook and bake. I’ll happily eat whatever you make. So will my kids (unless it’s got too much garlic — kids don’t love that, especially in cookies. Just sayin.’) I don’t try to keep up because I simply cannot. Besides, keeping up takes too much damn time — time I’d rather spend with my family watching the same old Christmas movies in our cozies.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something else (I’m hurrying to write this as we head to the mall — I know, right? — for our Christmas pictures…and I’m Jewish), so feel free to add your favorite annoying moments. And just in case you think I’m a scrooge, I will remind you that while my tongue is planted firmly in cheek as I write this, I’m no different than any other parent — I enjoy the lovely wonder and joy of the season.

Just not all at once.

 

Don’t forget — please donate even $1 to purchase Kindles for our troops — and you’ll be automatically entered to win a Kindle! All monies go directly to the Ebooks For Troops organization. Thank you! (Drawing on December 21).  

 

If you haven’t read Broken Pieces yet, it’s FREE Monday and Tuesday this week! Go to Amazon, download, done. Buy for a friend. If you don’t have a Kindle, that’s okay — they have free apps for computer, tablet, cloud, and smartphone.

When Everyone Says You’re A Dumbass, Guess What? You’re A Dumbass.

ID-10097894

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I wasn’t going to even bother with this whole scenario that occurred on Twitter yesterday, but several of my followers were honestly so shocked by this, they asked me to write about it. So here ya go: 

I received another mass tweet from someone I’ve never met, who doesn’t follow me, telling me to purchase his poetry, retweet his tweet, and get others to support him.

Normally, I just unfollow these folks – it’s obvious they don’t ‘get’ the social in social media. But for whatever reason, his aggressive manner rubbed me the wrong way. So I tweeted him back: ‘you might want to interact, engage, perhaps follow people, not just spamming the same link to hundreds.’

He was not pleased. He decided to tell me how Twitter works. Yea, I know.

(I’m thinking maybe he didn’t read my bio. Not that I say I’m sort of guru, because I’m not. But because maybe he would see that I own a media company and was really just trying to help him.)

Let’s deconstruct.

WHEN EVERYONE SAYS YOU’RE A DUMBASS, GUESS WHAT? YOU’RE A DUMBASS

Growing up, my older sister used to say this: if enough people say you’re an asshole, you’re an asshole. Being young, and a sibling, I disagreed – ya know, just to be contrary. Anyway, back to the guy: multiple people engaged in the conversation, and to a one, we all suggested that he spend time interacting, curating interesting content, being generous to others, and connect with readers — as opposed to making his timeline singularly self-focused.

Instead of taking the advice of other authors, he insisted that there was something wrong with US – that he has every right to spam links (he called it advertising) etc., and we have no business making suggestions that he try a different tactic. (Hint: read the Twitter Rules on spam). He even went so far as to say how sad it is that authors won’t support each other, a ‘subtweet’ jab directed at me. Whatevs.

Sigh. I directed him to my @BadRedheadMedia stream, where I give out hundreds of free tips weekly. To authors. To support authors.

JOE WILSON TV

One lovely new friend suggested I watch this hilarious (and stingingly honest) video (Stop Spamming Me With Your Work On Twitter) from @JoeWilsonTV. Every author, musician, actor, screenwriter, and businessperson needs to watch this video and take it to heart. (In fact, I love it so much, I just asked Joe’s permission to use the clip for this post — I promised not to spam it. And he laughed. Score!)

What I loved about Joe’s video was this: I’m not (he’s not, you’re not) the Twitter police. Do whatever the hell you want. But if you want to sell some damn books:

  •  Stop spamming us with your links. Once every few days is plenty. 
  • Don’t rationalize your spamming because you look like a dumbass
  • We support you when you’re not being a dumbass – when you are, not even your mother wants to be around you or read your books.

POINTLESS

I ended up blocking this guy (after I wished him all the best. What.), because he just kept going on and on about his amazingness, his right to spam, but mostly because he didn’t bother to admit or consider for a moment, that perhaps, just maybe, he might be oh, just a tiny bit mistaken in his marketing efforts.

Actually, the main reason I blocked his ass was this line: my own stats prove that Twitter sells my books.

This is patently false. Nobody has those kinds of stats — not because Twitter isn’t effective for book sales – it absolutely is – um, we think. But because there’s no way to check click-through rates to one’s book link (unless you’re using a customized link shortener like bit.ly – which he isn’t),  because Twitter nor Amazon provides us ANY data about that. We also don’t know how many clicks from Twitter (or anywhere) result in sales. All we know: our sales and rankings (updated hourly) on Amazon.

Listen, it’s just Twitter. Use some common sense – if you wouldn’t do something in real life, don’t do it on Twitter.

If this guy wants to actually sell some books, I suggest he take free advice from people who can and want to help him. Maybe he’ll learn a little something.

I know I did. I learned my sister is always right. Dammit.asshole card

 

 

If you’d like to read a free sample of my third release, Broken Pieces, here’s the link to Amazon. It’s also available on Barnes and Noble. The print version will be out before Christmas from Booktrope. 

 

 

 

 

 

Shards (Excerpt From My Upcoming Book BROKEN PLACES)

I’ve had several requests to share a piece from my next ‘Broken’ book, Broken Places, titled Shards.

If you haven’t read Broken Pieces yet, read a free sample here. It’s currently only in eBook format on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but the print version will be out soon from Booktrope. The book is currently ranked #2 on Amazon’s Women’s Poetry list and #5 on Abuse (paid lists).

broken glass black bkgnd

 

SHARDS 

Why aren’t you here for me? As I cry alone in the shadows between what I need and what you give, shards emerge, cutting through this glittering fog of lust.

Even the sun and moon fighting for your clear, sea-blue eyes aren’t enough to make you see. Maybe you do. I can never tell.

You hold back, you pull me close, your eyes raging as you enter me, an anger I cannot soothe, a space I cannot fill.

Though I try to be the woman you desire, I realize I never can. Because I already am, and it’s not enough.

Enough for me, I tell myself, gathering my things. You don’t deserve, me.

Feel this? This is my anger at what could have never been. At myself for believing you were enough for me. Knowing fully, with rage-filled goose-bumped clarity, why you aren’t here for me.

Taking your language into my soul, feeling it separate from sentences to words burning with flight, til all I have left are meaningless letters pushing fire through my veins.

Words can draw blood if you’re very, very careful.

 

So that’s it for now. I hope you enjoy it and would love your feedback. Meanwhile, I’m collecting names for betareaders — want to get the very first copy when it’s ready and give me feedback? Please sign up for my newsletter over there >>>>>> and add ‘betareader’ in your copy. Any questions, let me know! 

Need help with your social media or book promotion? Contact me at BadRedheadMedia.com.

3 Reasons Why Your Twitter Following Isn’t Growing

Nobody is following me! writer frustrated

My Twitter growth is going backward, not forward.

What am I doing wrong?  Nobody likes me. I must not be funny enough. 

Any of these statements sound like you? I hear these daily, especially from authors who want to sell more books and a) aren’t sure Twitter will do that for them (more on that in a moment), or b) Have a Twitter stream but no idea what to do with it or how it relates for marketing and selling books.

Let’s deconstruct.

FOLLOWING 

The number one way to grow your Twitter following is so obvious, people often miss it: follow others. Follow people back. Pay attention. I’ve always aggressively followed people — typically I follow 500/day on my @RachelintheOC stream, and 300/day on my @BadRedheadMedia stream. Following begets following. It’s really not a difficult concept, but so obvious most people either don’t know or forget to do it or just aren’t sure how (I recommend using ManageFlitter).

What’s difficult for most people is how to go about following that many people, how to keep track of so many (more below), and if it’s even worth the time. Right?

You can read the same articles I can about whether Twitter (or really, any social media) is worth it, but what I can share here is my personal experience: 90% of my blog traffic comes from Twitter. And while Amazon doesn’t provide any sales or click data, I do know exactly how many people are clicking over to my book Broken Pieces on Amazon from Twitter — even though Twitter doesn’t provide that data either.

How? Easy: I customized and shortened my book’s link from Twitter to Amazon using bit.ly. I can tell you exactly the number of clicks per day, week, month, or year. The only information missing from that equation is how many purchases are made from those clicks. Looking at sales data provided by Amazon, I can tell you this: I still have no idea!

But I can see that I had 100 clicks on Tuesday, and I sold 10 books on Tuesday. Does that mean they all came from Twitter? Nope. Maybe. Who knows? But I do know for a fact that people are heading over to my site (and I have a bit.ly link for Broken Pieces for my site that’s different than the Twitter one). Make sense? If you mind feels boggled, come back to this. And really check out all the bit.ly offers (no, they don’t pay me to say any of this). I just really like the tool.

SLIDING GROWTH 

I usually find that when people’s numbers are sliding backward, it’s one of two reasons:

  1. They aren’t following people back or
  2. Their content is too random, scattered, unfocused.

If you’re going to participate in social media with the hopes of growing a following, you absolutely must follow people back. Don’t get caught up in the numbers and ratios. All that will sort itself out as you grow. Yes, there’s a ratio limit cap at 2,000 (you can’t follow beyond 10% of who is following you), but it’s easy to move past that using ManageFlitter to dump eggs, inactives, and nonfollowbacks, as well as utilizing Lists – you can list over 1 Million people without following them. Cool, right?

With regard to content, this is a bigger issue, but for now, let’s discuss what you are sharing. Do you have some sort of theme (beyond hawking your books)? You need to discover what is most interesting to you (cooking, wine, books, bicycles) and combine that with whatever it is you’re selling (book, music, service) in a way that’s natural and not forced or hard, and most importantly, connects you with readers. And remember, above all else, treat others on social media how you wish to be treated, and go from there. Be generous, give back, stop making it all about you.

WHAT DOES LIKE HAVE TO DO WITH IT? 

I don’t have to like an author to purchase their book (though I make an exception for Jonathan Franzen, who is such a pompous ass I swore I’d never purchase another one of his dirges again in this lifetime, but I digress). As an avid reader, I want good books. I don’t care if the author prays to purple aliens or wears rainbow tube socks (though I will question their fashion sense but again, I digress). As with many readers, I’d love a chance to interact with a famous author. Twitter allows us to do that. It’s the ‘great equalizer’ I like to say, because you can engage in discussions with practically anyone, famous or plain old regular folks like you and me.

You don’t have to be funny. You just have to be yourself. Decide which parts of yourself you want to share, and share those parts. Ask questions. Do what people do in regular conversations — listen, ask, engage.

Make a friend, make a sale.

 

 

Do this tips help you? Please let me know what works (or doesn’t work) for you.

Interested in learning more about my services or books? Click here. 

Also, don’t miss out on my newsletter for book and biz updates! Fill out that form over yonder >>>>> Lots of cool stuff coming up! 

 

 

How Much Can Indie Authors Realistically Make?

ID-10057261

A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers ~ Plato 

Two friends have told me this week that they’re disappointed in the sales of their first book, because it’s not enough for them to quit their jobs and write full time. I also read articles on Writer’s Digest and another one by David Vinjamuri (IndieReader) about the success of indie authors. And because we met with our accountant today, I have some hard numbers I wanted to share because, well, I truly don’t pay attention beyond my daily sales and it’s a good reality check.

Over the past eighteen months, I’ve made $36,000 in books sales (that’s gross, not net). That seems like a pretty good number (to me, anyway), and something I never thought I’d see. (2012: $14,000; 2013: $22,000 thru August).

Yet, is it, really? Let’s deconstruct.

BOOKS

I have three books out (A Walk In The Snark, Mancode: Exposed, and Broken Pieces), eBooks only at this point, though Booktrope signed me for print so I look forward to having that out soon. I’m also finishing up my social media for authors book and working on Broken Places, the ‘sequel’ to Broken Pieces. Pieces sells more by far than any of my other books; it’s also the best reviewed and winner of five awards. That helps.*

*Note: All three of my books have been edited, proofed, formatted and designed by professionals.

GUESTIMATED BREAKDOWN

I tell you this NOT to sound like I’m bragging, because, to be honest, there are many authors out there making way more than me. However, it’s worth breaking it down to look at the reality of that amount:

  • $36,000 divided by 18 months = $2,000/month. That is my monthly rent. Nothing else, just rent.
  • $2,000/month divided by 4.16 (my 70% royalty from Amazon) = sales of approximately 480.7 books monthly, which is right on target.
  • I still have to pay taxes on that, so say for the heck of it since I have no idea, let’s deduct 20%. That’s down to $28,000.
  • I pay $500/month for Google AdWords x 12 months, so deduct another $6,000 — down to $22,000.
  • Add in expenses like Hootsuite, ManageFlitter, Pluggio, and other various and sundry costs to run any author platform effectively, and deduct another $2400 so we’re down to –let’s call it $20,000.
  • Be sure to subtract the content editing for all three books, formatting, proofreading, and graphics, and deduct another $7500, so down to $12,500.
  • That’s about not quite 6 months of rent. As the breadwinner for a family of four, I still have my day job (BadRedheadMedia.com)
  • Add in travel to conferences, conference fees, and award entry fees and forget it — I’m lucky to still be in the black. So final total is $7,000, or 3.5 months of rent.

I’m not complaining.

My point is this: I’m making a decent living on the sales of three books, but not enough to make a decent living doing nothing but writing.

I share this not to discourage anyone, but to make any aspiring author or gosh, any author anywhere, realize that writing one book will not take care of you for the rest of your life. That is a myth and I’m not sure why most authors have this dream of a movie and Oprah’s couch, when the reality is that less than 1% of writers will ever achieve that (a number I pulled out of the air but seems about right), and those who do have likely released ten or twenty books by the time they’re an ‘overnight success.’

In an informal poll on my Facebook wall, I asked if some authors would share their total gross sales for one year. Authors offered up these numbers: $200 so far from one author (who was indie but is just now starting as a traditionally published author), a few more between $500 and $2000, a few similar to my numbers (anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000), and one standout, author Steena Holmes (who has now been signed by Amazon) made $185,000!

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY

So, let’s stop talking numbers and get practical: what can you do right now to increase your sales?

Take a look at your overall platform — what are you doing well? What could you be doing better? Whose website/blog do you love? Start there. Then look at:

  • Website and/or Blog: If you’ve designed your own site and aren’t getting a lot of visits, be sure you’re using WordPress.org (not the free .com) for better SEO and Google Analytics to see your REAL visits. Many folks are using Blogger (as I did for years) and blogger seems to inflate the number of views and hits (not sure why). I saw this for myself when I went from blogger to WordPress. What changed is that my visibility is higher now, I average about 300 views daily, and I now offer a limited number of ad spaces because I’ve got the Alexa ranking to back all this up.

 

  • Social Media: I’ve written about social media for the last three or four years, some here but mostly over on BadRedheadMedia.com, BookPromotion.com, and San Francisco Book Review. All I will say here is that the majority of my sales that don’t come from word of mouth or advertising come from social media, so you at least need to be active on Twitter, Facebook (a page), and Google+ (also a page); Pinterest is worth exploring also.

 

  • Advertising: Google AdWords is absolutely worth the investment only if you know what the heck you’re doing. Mostly people don’t. I didn’t — I make my husband do it (read free tips at TheAdWordsGuy.com) since he’s into all the analytical stuff — ugh. Fortunately, he’s become so adept at it, and so many folks are interested in it, he started a business a few years ago doing nothing but that. But you don’t have to hire him or anyone — read, do the tutorials, learn, then do it.

 

  • Book Blogger/Reviewers: If for no other reason, you should be on social media to connect with readers as well as book bloggers and reviewers — not in a creepy BUY MY BOOK! kind of way, but really connecting. Most authors don’t know how to get reviews so rather than buying a book (here’s a great one – written by reviewer Barb Drozdowich) or connecting with people who do know, they randomly hit up strangers (who are usually not their demographic anyway). Waste of time.

 

  • Time Management: You cannot do all marketing or all writing. There has to be a happy medium. Take advantage of applications like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, ManageFlitter, Pluggio, or BufferApp (I use a combo of many) to schedule in articles and blog posts, while still live interacting as a reward for hitting your daily writing goal.

 

  • Business Plan: Most successful authors have a business plan of some sort — from formal to one page. Even if it’s just an outline, know beyond what word count you want to achieve daily and dig deep: how many books do you want to sell daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly? What activities are you doing to sell? Always be learning, changing, updating — this is a changing industry. You have to keep up.

Like most authors, I write because I love writing. Just having one person read my work and reaching out to me is a success. This article in no way discusses the enormously gratifying feeling of hitting PUBLISH and seeing your work in print which is a huge deal! Write because you love it, not to make a quick buck because as you can see, it’s not the cash windfall many authors expect.

You need to manage your expectations and keep writing, keep marketing, keep connecting.

And keep your day job. At least for now.

 

Interested in learning more about my services or books? Click here. And a hearty thank you to the many authors who shared their sales numbers with me for this article. 

Also, don’t miss out on my newsletter for book and biz updates! Fill out that form over yonder >>>>> 

As Naysayers Cleave To Old Ideas, Indie Authors Keep Moving Forward

ID-10044884

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Professor Trelawney: See? Right here. You may be young in years but the heart that beats beneath your bosom is as shriveled as an old maid’s, your soul as dry as the pages of the books to which you so desperately cleave. 

[Hermione gets up and leaves, angrily

Professor Trelawney: Have I said something? 

~ Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling 

I’ve read some derisive articles lately targeting indie authors. While I understand why the bias still exists (‘self-published authors are ruining literature! Self-published authors purchase all their reviews and awards!’), I always wonder at the motivation behind these types of articles, especially when they are allegations with no proof sources whatsoever.

Is the person(s) making these claims (and without a shred of proof, aren’t they really just opinions?) a failed writer? Are they drowning in envy that an author they have personal issues with, for whatever reason, is successfully selling books and has maybe even been picked up by a traditional or hybrid publisher? Are they just angry people with no other outlet?

Who knows? Who cares?

My point is this: writers write because we have to write. That’s what I want to address today, so let’s deconstruct.

DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS

I get emails and tweets frequently from people who want to know specifics of my success: exactly how many books I sell every day (on average, about 20, sometimes more, sometimes less), if they can quit their day job after they publish (don’t, I haven’t, and I have three books out), and wanting to know the reality of making this their life (different for everyone).

I don’t have all the answers, of course. But it’s more than that: every writer I know, who has had a modicum of success, writes because they absolutely must. It’s no different than a musician making music or an artist painting — it’s in our blood. We as authors must decide what defines our success, nobody else!

  • Is it putting pen to paper and creating something out of nothing? That’s huge!
  • Is it selling 20 books per day? Are you not successful if you sell 1 per week?
  • Winning awards?
  • Getting picked up by a publisher?
  • Is it sharing expertise?
  • Is it writing about difficult subjects?

What bothers me most about articles like the ones I mentioned above (and am purposely not sharing here) is that they are trying so very hard to quash someone’s dream, and who gives them the right to think they even matter? They don’t. If you want to write, write. My only suggestion is to ignore this babble and do your thing.

IGNORE (BUT ACCEPT THAT THERE WILL BE) THE HATE

It’s very easy to get sucked into the negativity. I have, you have, we all have, so we know. Instead of wasting our time with the haters, focus instead on the positives. For example, I received such a beautiful fan letter from a reader this week who shared how Broken Pieces resonated so deeply with them as a fellow survivor of childhood sexual abuse. The letter was so touching, I cried. That, for me, means more than my awards, my sales, all of it. That is my success.

But hate can be destructive and pulls the wind out of many an aspiring author. And guess what? Once you release your book, there will be more haters.

And we are no different, even though we think we are. I HATED Mr. Caucasian privileged who thinks he’s better than well, anyone, writer, Jonathan Franzen’s book The Corrections with everything I am, but others love him. I think, as readers, it’s sometimes difficult to separate our dislike for an author from the material itself, and that’s human nature. It’s our job as readers and writers to rise above that, or at the very least, separate our feelings about the work from who created it.

We will write books people will hate. Fine, whatever. Keep moving forward.

CHANGES IN PUBLISHING

In this terrific article by my author friend (and NYU branding professor David Vinjamuri) in Forbes this week:

EXLUSIVE Bowker data (released in advance of official reporting) shows that self-published output has grown by 422% over the past five years, and is up 58% in the last year alone. 

Does that mean it’s ALL bad? Certainly not. More self-published authors than ever have been signed by one of the Big 5 (formerly the Big 6), more self-published titles are hitting the national top bestsellers’ lists, and more authors than ever are entering the market.

That can certainly be both positive and negative. Some of it is crap. But so what? If you don’t like it, return it or give them a bad review. Creating a book isn’t easy work, as any writer will attest. This vengeance some people have toward tearing down authors makes me extremely sad, when that book could be an author’s greatest work.

Self-published authors haven’t cornered the market on crap. Those who treat it like a business, who hire professionals to edit, proof, format, and design graphics, who connect with readers at a more meaningful level than ‘Buy my book!’ — these authors are more in tune with what the market will dictate and how to make it work for them — and are more likely to sign with a publisher…or not. That 70% royalty is nothing to sneeze at.

These naysayers who put down indie authors remind me of Professor Trelawney’s comment to Hermione about cleaving to the dry, soulless pages. Bitching about change doesn’t make a case for it — it just makes you look like a whiner.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Also, if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter (I never share emails with anyone), please fill out the form over there >>>>. Finally, Broken Pieces and my two humor books are are available on Amazon.

Stop Worrying What Others Think And Write Your Damn Story

girl at computer

‘How do you share intensely personal stories without worrying about what people will think?’ someone asked me in the comments of the article I wrote recently for SheWrites. I get asked this a lot, and I think it’s jumping ahead a step.

Back up to first getting there: you have to give yourself permission to write the hard stuff. You can’t think about, ‘What will mama say?’ because last I checked, none of us wants to become our mothers (no offense to moms). Write for you, not what someone else will say. You need to give yourself some tough love!

You are allowed to tell your story, unless for some reason, you’ve been ordered by a court of law not to, or if you fear for your life. Even then, I believe it’s okay to fictionalize your story, or take a pen name, but I’m not in that situation so I can’t share that particular experience. If you sharing your story will put your life or someone else’s at risk, definitely weigh your options and consider a pseudonym.

Let’s deconstruct.

PERMISSION

One hurdle many authors have to get over is worrying about what their family will think. Every family is quite different, but most are so busy with daily life, the fact that there’s a writer in the family means little. I always laugh when I read reviews that say ‘the author must have gotten her family members to write glowing reviews,’ because — as most authors will attest — our families could give a flying sack of rat crap about what we do or don’t do. Few read our work. Even fewer review it. Mostly, they just want to know: are you on the New York Times Bestseller list yet? (No.) So, how about them Yankees? (Crickets)….

Writing a book (or a blog or articles) is very lonely, very individual work, which is why most writers love it so much, given our introverted nature (for some, not all, obviously). The positive aspect of this is that there’s nobody standing over our shoulder saying, ‘Oh my god! You can’t write THAT!!!’ Right? So get over yourself. Write anything you want. Fiction, nonfiction, whatever it is — get out of your own way.

In fact, try just for fun, to write the exact opposite of who you are. I have one client who’s an Ivy League MBA in a large accounting firm who writes erotica under a pen name and he’s doing very well.

BOOKS

As I discovered through my own process of writing about difficult topics in Broken Pieces, it’s hard to let all that crap go. What will so and so say/think/feel? But you know what? It’s our story to tell, nobody else’s. I decided to share stories of my childhood sexual abuse in a way that isn’t a trigger (I hope) for other survivors, but that makes people uncomfortable because there’s no way to sugarcoat the subject. And I didn’t want to. If my book isn’t for you, don’t read it. I give plenty of warning that it’s not unicorns and rainbows. You owe it to yourself to write your story. Nobody else. YOU.

ARTICLES/EXCERPTS

Leading up to the publication of your book, I suggest you reach out to readers (always, every day, constantly), reviewers, book bloggers, and other writers or publications who are interested in reading about the topic you are writing on. I do many guest posts and interviews because I reach out to people and connect with them. I feature many authors here on this blog who share incredibly stirring stories of real life. That’s what fascinates me, and it gives them a chance to discuss difficult topics they may not be able to write about on their own blogs.

As for my business side, I draw from my fifteen-plus years of sales and marketing, plus all I’ve learned since I began writing professionally in 2007, and put that into articles that can hopefully help others or answer some  questions, as well as drawing on experts.

Bottom line: you want people to read your work, so stop hiding from yourself. Once you clear that hurdle, write your damn book already.

 

Interested in learning more about my services or books? Click here. 

Death To The Auto DM (Automated Direct Message) on Twitter

Thanks for following. Please like my Facebook page, buy all my books, clean my kitchen, and hold my wig.ID-10077804

Okay, I didn’t really get that tweet from someone, but I might as well have. The auto DM (direct message) has become the ‘cockroach of Twitter’ (says Kane Consulting), and I couldn’t agree more.

HISTORY

When Twitter started, and throughout its phenomenal growth since 2006, active users discovered quickly that’s it’s virtually impossible to keep up with new followers, thus the birth of the autoDM — a message generated by a third-party program (for the record, Twitter doesn’t recommend them and suggests you unfollow people who do it).

The trouble with the ‘Thank you for the follow,’ DM is that people decided to make it a marketing and/or selling opportunity (as in ‘I don’t know you, we’ve never met, but will you like my Facebook page, read all my books, RT my entire timeline, and fold my laundry?’), which sound pretty ridiculous. But the requests people make in DMs have become so aggressive and outrageous, it’s almost the same thing.

UNFOLLOW

Can AutoDMs help or hurt you? According to Optify, in a study they conducted, AutoDM use led to a 245% increase in unfollow rate. Ouch. So, if you have an autoDM set up (usually through sites like JustUnfollow or SocialOomph), go in and delete that mofo.

REASONING

There are numerous reason to NOT autoDM people, but let’s review the main ones:

  • It’s lazy. Listen, I’m a busy girl. I run a lot of streams. As much as it pains me not to be able to thank every single person (and bot and spammer) for the follow, somehow we all get by. As a follower, I prefer you not thank me. Crazy, I know. Rather, do something else, like: retweet me, introduce me to someone you think I’d like, share my books, read my blog, join my newsletter mailing list, etc., all activities which are other-focused.
  • It’s impersonal. We don’t know each other, so when you ask me to like, buy, review, etc and we’ve only just not met, it tells me this: you are not only lazy, but you don’t give a shit about me, my interests, or who I am. People are on Twitter for all kinds of reasons — rarely, however, to do stuff for you, the person they’ve never met and aren’t likely to, ever, in real life, especially if you send them a request to do something.
  • Shortcut. Companies decided to try to make automated DMs more ‘personal’ by allowing you to customize a message, and even add in the follower’s first and/or last name. This makes the autoDM even funnier and the automation more obvious. For example, my business name is @BadRedheadMedia. So I get DMs that say, ‘Welcome to my stream, Bad,’ which makes me laugh every time…after I unfollow, of course.

BOTTOM LINE

If you’re not sure what to say on Twitter, gawk (observe) for awhile. A good guideline is: 1) be yourself and 2) ask yourself this question: would I say in real life what I’m saying here? If the answer is no, then don’t do it!

I’m sure you’re probably a very nice person who thinks that thanking people is more important than not thanking them. And for the most part, I get that. But you need to savvy up: there are many ways to thank people (as I mentioned above) and think about this: wouldn’t you rather someone retweet you or leave a blog comment than send you a message asking you to do stuff for them?

Twitter (and for that matter, all social media), is about relationship-building. It’s not about the hard sell. Those who do nothing but request you do stuff for them are likely not selling many books or creating a dedicated fan base. Have a little self-awareness and recognize that this practice not only hurts you and your credibility, but can create issues as you attempt to grow your account.

(And don’t even get me started on TrueTwit validation — an automated DM that asks me to confirm that I’m not automated. Run away.)

What say you?

 

Want to sample eight bestselling authors’ books before buying? Check out this free sampler from#HerBooks. If you like, you buy the individual books — if not, it’s a free downloadbook club picks

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! Just enter your email address over on the right hand side of this page >>>>. It’s easy, and I won’t share your email address with anyone. Redhead’s honor. 

Need personalized help? Check out my BadRedheadMedia.com services page. New feature: ads! No more than 8-10 per month on each of my blogs. See Advertising  for details!