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Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing

Think You Know Social Media for Writers? Here’s What You’re Missing.

Social media is all about being heard!

Or is it?

We tweet, we post, we comment, we update, we check in…and at the end of the day we still don’t see any significant increase in our followers, or in our book sales. What is going on? Do we just not get this whole social media thing? Are we not doing it right? We know it’s all about connecting and sharing, but we’re connecting with the whole internet universe, and we’re sharing all our stuff all the time. And we’re still asking…where are our readers? Continue Reading

The Next Step

SAMSUNGIt takes a while to write your first novel.

And it takes so much energy, enthusiasm, and old-fashioned hard work, that most writers can think about nothing else but the finish line until they achieve that glorious goal.

But what happens after the euphoria has worn off? What happens when you’re finished editing and revising and now you want to do something with your book, like put it out there into the world for other people to actually read?

It’s time to take the next step.

The challenge is that, in this modern world, it seems like there are about a bazillion next steps a writer could choose to take.

To make the most effective Next Step, consider the following 3 areas:

Publishing
Do you want to self-publish, or do you want to go the traditional route with a literary agent?

Presence
What social media platform(s) do you want to use and what kind of image do you want new readers to have of you?

Creativity
What is the next book you’re going write? What’s your next creative project?

When you decide on anything in each of these three areas your choice is going to lead you to more questions, more decisions to be made, and more learning and research to do. But you have to start with the big choices first in order to start building the roadmap of where you want your career to take you.

If you make thoughtful choices in the realms of Publishing, Presence, and Creativity, the three areas will integrate into a dynamic, effective whole that serves you and gives you back tenfold of what you put into it.

Think of it this way: If your writing career is a highly successful human being, this is how it would break down:

Publishing – Body
This is the physical product of your labors. The paper manuscript, or digital Kindle edition, of your book.

And even if it is digital, it’s still a physical manifestation of you as a writer out there in writing space. While you’re writing your first novel, you might tell yourself no one will ever see it but there comes a time when offering it to readers (no matter what form you choose) is the healthiest thing you can do. Just like you wouldn’t keep your body locked up in the house your entire life, your book needs to get out there for a little fresh air and sunshine too.

Next Step
Choose how you want to publish and then go after it full force. Google “how-to” guides and “how do I?” questions. Research how to write a query letter. Take notes. Then research some more options. Throw everything you have at it until you figure out what it is you need to do to get published.

Presence – Mind
Your presence is going to be the primary way you connect with new readers. People who have never heard of you before will see your Facebook fan page, or your blog, or reader reviews on Amazon, and based on those brief accounts they’ll decide if your writing is a match for their tastes. It’s very similar to when you meet someone new in real life and connect through conversation. If you hold similar views, or even just opinions the other person finds interesting, the likelihood of connection is much greater. If you make thoughtful choices about cultivating your Author Presence, those other great minds that think alike will be drawn to your flame.

Next Step
You may end up doing a book tour or speaking engagements to build your Presence, but in the meantime, our world is an online world. Research social media for writers and then get out there and play! Choose one or two ways to connect online that you feel comfortable with and start building your Facebook fan page, blog, or whatever it is you want to use to connect with your readers.

Creativity – Soul
It is really awesome that you finished your book…but you can’t take a break from writing. Not for more than a week. The fountain of your creativity has to be exercised on a regular basis to keep up a good, strong flow. Your creativity really is the soul of you. That’s why you’re a writer, an artist. Yes, it’s important to tend to your career and get your ducks lined up in a row, but you must never sacrifice the actual writing. You’re not going to be able to do much of anything without your soul.

Next Step
It’s okay if you don’t have an idea for your next book yet, write a short story in the meantime. Or some poems. Or try your hand at songwriting. ANYTHING. Just keep writing.

When you finish writing that first book, the next step can seem daunting. That’s because it is. Being a writer isn’t like showing up for a regular job every day. It requires extraordinary amounts of courage, patience, faith, and guts. But at the same time it’s like anything else in life, one step at a time. The key is to make the big decisions first—decide where you want to go and how you want to travel—and then take start taking your journey step by step.

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How to Build Your Agent List

SAMSUNGYou’ve finally done it! You finished your novel.

And then you revised it, and revised it again. Then you gave it out to first readers to get feedback. And then revised it again. You did a final-final spit-and-polish. And now you’re ready.

You are ready to start submitting queries to agents.

But how do you know who to submit to?

Building an agent list is the first step. Here’s how you do it…

List Your Must-Have’s
Must-haves include only the deal-breakers. “Accepts queries” is a must-have, for instance, because not all agents are accepting queries at all times. If an agent isn’t open to unsolicited queries, it’s obviously pointless to send them one. Another must-have is that the agent represents your category. If you’re shopping around a paranormal romance novel, don’t waste time on agents looking only for literary fiction.

List Your Nice-to-Have’s
This one will take a little more thinking on your part. Do you want an agent new to the field who’s aggressively building their client list? Or someone who’s got years of experience under their belt? Do you care if they’re male or female? Or where they are located? The relationship you’ll have with your agent is going to be a partnership. Ask yourself just as many questions about what you want as you would if you were looking for someone to date.

Add Anything that Gives You an Edge
Anything quirky, unusual or unconventional about your book should go on this list. If you’re writing experimental prose, for instance. Or if your novel is aimed at an LGBTQ audience. Or you’re the first person to do something amazing and you’ve written a memoir about it. Anything off-the-beaten path can be an advantage so make sure you get it on your list.

Now, using these criteria, you’re going to make these three lists:

A-List
B-List
C-List

Every agent that interests you will go on one of these lists.

Here’s how you know where they go:

A-List Agents meet:
All Must-Have’s
Most Nice-to-Have’s
If they are also looking for your particular quirky trait, they get an A-PLUS rating

B-List Agents meet:
All Must-Have’s
Some Nice-to-Have’s

C-List Agents meet:
All Must-Have criteria

Brainstorming your criteria and making your lists take time. However, once you have it all in place, it’s not that hard to add agents here and there as you do your research. When you start the querying process, you’ll really roll with your list on hand. And for those days when you’re feeling discouraged about looking for an agent, the list will take most of the work out of it for you. All you’ll have to do is send off the letter.

Make sure you know your category. Write an outstanding query letter. And then get started on researching agents and putting them into your lists. AgentQuery is particularly helpful in this process. Looking for an agent can be long and frustrating, but stay the course.

You will get there.

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5 Best Blogs on How to Write a Query Letter

SAMSUNG

Query Shark
by Janet Reid
You can read this blog, or you can get seriously interactive. The premise of Query Shark is that readers send in their query letters to be critiqued. Reid’s advice is blunt and straight to the point—and it’s very, very useful. Query Shark shows writers exactly what they’re doing wrong, and makes clear, practical suggestions for improvement. If you have a query letter that you’re looking for some feedback on, you should definitely think about sending it to Query Shark before sending it out to agents.

Author! Author!
by Anne Mini
Anne Mini is known for the length of her posts. This is not a breezy, five-minutes-of-info blog. However, reading Mini’s long posts counts as time well spent. She covers every detail of querying, how to work with agents, the fine print, and more. This woman is totally amazing and I highly recommend investing the time in reading what she has to say.

Nathan Bransford
Bransford used to be a literary agent, and he’s currently an author himself. He includes information on the query process, as well publishing e-books and what to expect these days from traditional publishers. He’s also friendly and down to earth. If you only have a few minutes a day to do your query research, Bransford is a good bet.

Rachelle Gardner
In addition to posts about agents and the querying process, Gardner includes helpful information about marketing and promotion, and the financial and legal side of things. She’s currently an agent with Books and Such Literary Agency so she has a true insider perspective. She gives readers the real truth about pursuing a career in writing, but she also comes across as a real person.

Absolute Write
Not technically a blog, Absolute Write offers articles and information for published and unpublished writers. The site is probably best known for its forums, where writers can discuss topics and ask questions of other writers. If you have questions about a specific agent, for instance, the forums might provide more information on him or her. But like any forum, it’s easy to waste a lot of time endlessly reading the discussions if you’re looking to procrastinate—something we writers are known for!

If you’re serious about getting your writing career off the ground, it’s time to bring in the experts. After you visit the blogs I’ve recommended above, do your own a Google search and dive into the results!

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Social Media for Writers

Heads on HaightI’m so sick of the phrase “social media savvy.”

I’ve used it on resumes, I’ve used it at parties, and yes, I’ve even used it on my social media profiles.

But I’m sick of it.

To me, it sounds like shorthand for, “Don’t worry about me! I’m not some old geezer who’s scared of computers! I have totally got this!”

But really…social media is pretty confusing.

There are dozens of different social media tools, and each tool has its own etiquette, its own community, and its own language. As a writer, I’ve heard I’m supposed to be on all of them. I’m supposed to write my blog, set up a Facebook fan page, tweet every hour, pin cool things on Pinterest, build my brand on Tumblr…but when will I have time to write?

Unless you’re 14 years old and you grew up with an iPhone in your hand, trying to be present on every social media network is signing up for a course in insanity.

Here’s my strategy: Pick one or two social media resources and start there. Pick something you like and have fun with, and ignore all the rest. Dabble around and then pick your poison.

Here’s a cheat sheet on some of your options:

FACEBOOK
The granddaddy of them all, Facebook has sheer numbers to recommend it. I’ve heard users have been declining in the past year or so, but there’s no denying that it’s still very, very big.

Pros
If you have frequent events going on to promote your work (like book signings or lectures), Facebook lets you set up invites and keep track of RSVPs. Likewise, a Facebook Fan Page can also be helpful as a landing page to showcase your writing to new fans.

Cons
Navigating between your personal Facebook page and your Fan Page can get confusing on the technical side. Facebook is also notorious for making people with privacy concerns uncomfortable.

TWITTER
Whether you call it micro-blogging or a media platform, users of Twitter have made expressing yourself in 140 characters or less an art form.

Pros
It’s easy to directly connect with other writers and readers on Twitter. Just send them a tweet. And the practice of following complete strangers isn’t weird, so you have countless possibilities to make friends and connections in the writing world.

Cons
Because of the never-ending stream of tweets, a lot of folks find Twitter too overwhelming. Also, tweets are public—to anyone and everyone—so some writers might feel like the pressure is on to always say something good.

PINTEREST
Pinterest splashed onto the social media scene as a digital billboard concept that allows users to pin pictures and videos revolving around a theme. It’s slick and enticing, and the majority of its users are female.

Pros
If you’re writing about anything heavily image-based, like fashion or food, Pinterest allows you to connect with your audience instantly through visuals. And if your audience is primarily female (think: paranormal romance or chick-lit genres) Pinterest could help you scoop up new readers.

Cons
If you’re not that interested in focusing on the visual, Pinterest can end up feeling like a burden and a time-suck. And there’s definitely a competitive element that arises in trying to keep up with Joneses—it’s actually called Pinterest Stress.

TUMBLR
Tumblr is known for being the “anti-blog.” Instead of trying to attract a large audience of strangers, most users set up a Tumblr to share with a smaller circle of people who they probably know in real life. Most Tumblr users are also under the age of 25.

Pros
If you’re a young 20-something artist or writer Tumblr is an interesting social media option. Because so many young people use it to express what’s actually going on in their lives, it can help you easily keep a finger on the pulse of your local artistic community.

Cons
If you’re over 30 you will probably tire of Tumblr quickly. The content is aimed at the younger crowd, and it’s unlikely you will find many people you actually know using it.

LINKEDIN
LinkedIn bills itself as a social networking resource for professionals. Your page is basically built around your resume, as well as professional accomplishments and connections.

Pros
If you have some really kick-ass names in your Rolodex, LinkedIn can help you shine. Likewise, if you have a long and impressive career, LinkedIn can help you showcase it. Because of the emphasis on companies, organizations, and professional connections, this site works best for journalists, publicity and content writers, and freelancers.

Cons
If your credentials have nothing to do with writing (say you’re writing your novel during the day, but at night you drive a taxi), LinkedIn probably won’t get you very far. It’s also not a site that encourages you to link up with strangers as a best practice—the people you know on LinkedIn you usually know in real life, even if it’s only over email—so it’s not ideal for gaining new audience members or making new writer friends.

Consider your social media goals—what do you want to get out of this? Consider the kinds of people who would be interested in reading your books. What social media sites are they hanging out on?

Pick two sites and sign up. Dabble. Play. If you like it, stay. If it doesn’t speak to you, move on.

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