Greetings from Jocelyn Green! If you’re like me, the idea of blogging about your book in an attempt to earn sales is about as appealing to you as standing on the street corner holding a sign that reads “Buy My Book!” And yet, if done strategically and with finesse, blogging is a great way to prove your credibility as an author, connect with readers, and grow your audience.
In recent years, social networking has become a stronger and stronger vehicle for marketing our books. Recently, Jane Steen, a fellow ACFW member, partnered with me on a social networking presentation at our local ACFW chapter meeting.
I learned way more than I brought to the table that night as I listened to Jane’s presentation, and came home with new resolve to up my game in the world of Twitter, Facebook, and the myriad of other social networking opportunities we authors have.
The attendees at the meeting were a good cross-section of the various levels of knowledge, interest, and comfort levels that are probably represented by larger samples. Some came to the meeting with a lot of knowledge about Twitter and Facebook, while others had not yet attempted to get involved in those or any similar sites like Goodreads, Linked-In, and Pinterest, to name a few.
Is Social Networking Necessary?
Regardless, one fact stood out. No matter where you are in your writing career, newbie or seasoned veteran, if you have a book out there, you need to take advantage of what social networking can do for you. Jane listed several benefits for us:
- It raises your visibility
- It gives opportunity to network productively with other writers
- It allows you to connect with your current and future readers
- It gives you opportunity to show your expertise and your interests
- It can add layers to the world of your writing.
Deciding where to get involved can be overwhelming, especially if you are starting out from nothing. Be assured you don’t have to be on every single site there is. Pick three and stay with those, using what interests you to drive your site choices.
I’ve heard more than one person lament that they know they should be blogging because that’s what authors do, but they’ve tried it and hate it, or they haven’t tried it but feel pressured that if they don’t post every day, they aren’t doing it correctly. First, if you absolutely are uncomfortable with blogging, then do something else. But, if you want to give it a try, or maybe you are like me. You’ve had one for years, but the novelty has worn off, and you find yourself blogging only a few times a month.
Take heart. You don’t have to write a dissertation every time you blog. In fact, it’s better if you keep your posts to just a paragraph or two, but work to blog consistently. A friend of mine blogs every Tuesday and Thursday, and she’s let her readers know they can expect a new entry on those days. Another author I know blogs nearly every day, sometimes two or three times a day, but usually her entries are short. In either case, it works for those individuals. There is no right or wrong way.
You may be thinking you don’t have enough to talk about to keep a blog going. Do you have a hobby or other involvement (other than something polarizing like politics) that interests you? Author, Allie Pleiter, whom I mentioned in a post here several months ago, is an avid knitter and has a blog that is totally about knitting. She posts about each project she starts as it progresses and includes pictures. If she travels out of town, she tries to visit a knitting store in the town and talk to the people there. She then features that store in a blog post. Even though her blog is all about knitting, the followers of that blog, learn bits and pieces about her and her books. When a new book comes out, you can be sure many of them will want to purchase the book and read it.
Since Twitter made its first appearance a few short years ago, it has been enhanced quite a bit. For instance, by using a hash mark (#) next to a topic you are writing about and include it in the post, that post will be accessible to all who go to that topic using the hash mark and the topic name. For example, if you were on Twitter last night during the presidential debates, you may have noticed some of the people you follow making comments about the debate and including #debates in their remarks. That sent
their comments and everyone elses’ that contained that topic indicator to a trending thread where you could read dozens of comments made by others as the debate took place.
One feature that you can do with both Twitter and blogs, is to preschedule your posts. Most blog platforms have a feature where you can write a blog post then schedule it to post at some date in the future. Also a site called Hootsuite lets you see your
Facebook and Twitter updates all together and to preschedule posts. I have an account there, but never finished setting it up. Don’t be like me. Do it and use it. It will save you time keeping up with both of those sites. I plan to heed my own advice here.
At our meeting, Jane gave us an easy-to follow method she discovered for building your Twitter follower base fast. I’ll share that next time and talk about other social networking sites.
I recently saw a picture of a writer at work. Everything about her desk and surroundings was streamlined and clean. Not a pencil out of place, not a book up-ended. There were no sticky notes affixed to the computer screen, and no cork bulletin board groaning with mock-ups of book covers, flyers, and a scribbled-upon calendar. Even this writer's shirt looked as if it had just been ironed!
If this is you, I say, "Bravo!" or "Brava!" How you do it, I know not, but my proverbial hat is off to you for being so tidy.
As for me and my workspace…well…not so much.
Oh, please understand, I can find everything I need. In files on piles for miles. Nohing is dirty or smudged or ripped or torn, but everything looks, well, "in process." And, you know what? I like it this way.
When I'm working, I thrive in an environment that looks like it's working, too. I seem to have an affinity for visual reminders – the scribblings on the tiniest scrap of a Post-It note can forever be imprinted on my mind and come in hand at exactly the right moment. Color-coded folders call to mind if something inside is adminstrative or creative. And various notebooks with floral or patterned covers contain specific subject matter.
To the outside observer, all of this might seem unnerving. I understand that, for many, the workplace needs to be "just so." Recently I was at a doctor's appointment, and the physician spent several minutes rearranging the ophthalmologist's lenses so their stems were facing in the same direction ("They were offending my OCD," the doctor told me as I watched.) So, yes, I get neatness.
I just naturally don't DO neatness, at least not while I'm working.
Unless, of course, it is within my manuscripts or my internal organization. Then, I strive for utter clarity. So, specific projects have their own files,and these files have their place. Content within manuscripts is well-ordered and follows, one fact upon another, so that the beginning, middle, and end make sense individually and collectively. Those scribbled-over legal pads order my thoughts, and the Post-Its stack up just so to show the most important information first.
To look at my living room and kitchen, and then see my office, a person might surmise that different individuals inhabit them. The person with the desk overflowing couldn't possible be the same person whose magazines perch neatly on a coffee table near a neat and carefully-arranged kitchen.
Ah! But, they are! And this, too helps my writing. I can go from the scene of much creativity to a domestic locale that helps me relax, rest, and revive.
It's taken me ages to understand and become comfortable with the appearance of my "writing lair." Even now, in the back of my mind, I hear a voice say, "Pick up your room." (don't we all?!) But, I have come to realize that environment for the working writer is very important. We need to feel at home when we work, whether in a corner of the family room, at the kitchen table, or in a crowded cafe. If we support our need for the "just so" physical writing space, we can be more free with our imaginations. We just might turn out better work!
When my work-in-progress is over, edited, and accepted, I go full circle. I gather my papers, notes, and file folders,and tuck them away. I sweep clear remnants of the just-published piece. I record contact information I've collected, and update my email address lists. Before I know it, my office looks like the rest of my home – neat, tidy, clean…and just waiting for the next project to explode in a happy chaos of paper and possiblities!
Blessings to you in Our Lord, Jesus Christ!