10 Fun & Effective Ways to Grow your Following with Images


We're constantly being told that visual content is big news. all the social media networking sites are giving more and more space to visual content. As writers we're more used to creating written content though. So how can we include images in our social media marketing efforts?

This infographic (found at http://freshtakeoncontent.com/ways-to-use-images/) gives some good ideas to get you started:


OK, so you might not want to share recipes... unless of course you've written a cookbook or recipes feature in your novel... but the rest is valid for all.

In the comments below, tell me this:

What kind of images are you sharing to build your author brand and market your books?

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Which content works on Facebook


Facebook is the world's biggest social media site with over 1.23 billion monthly users and therefore a must have part of your online marketing plan. 


So what content works on Facebook?

Hopefully you have a fan page set up for your author brand (if you don't I highly recommend that you do it now). 

Some authors have trouble coming up with ideas for content to post to their pages and struggle with post reach. The below infographic gives some insight into which content works best on Facebook for brands.

Here's a few of the main points:
  • Good news is that you don't want to post too often. 1-10 times a day is enough.
  • Short posts work best. Keep it simple and be concise.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Surveys get good virality. Ask questions.


In the comments below, tell me this:

Do you have an author fan page on Facebook? What content do you find works best with your followers on Facebook? 


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To Avoid Writer’s Block

I am sure that you have heard the saying if you are a writer you should always be writing.  I believe that is one of the most truthful statements for writers.  Many authors have asked me how to avoid writer’s block.  This is a serious matter because if you make your living writing or intend to become a full time writer you cannot afford to have writer’s block. I have been a writer my whole life and writing in full time business for 8 years and know how difficult hitting the block is.  But over time I have learned to conquer that issue. I will be sharing a few tips on how to get that done.

Don’t Block Yourself

I stopped looking for writer’s block.  It is amazing what you can do if you tell yourself that I never get writer’s block.  I simply started saying I am a writer and writers write.  That reconditioned my mindset.

Look for Inspiration

When you feel the block coming start looking for sources of writing inspiration.  It could be as simple as watching a leaf fall from a tree and writing about what you saw and how it made you feel.  You might write about what happened at an event or about something new you experienced. Fight the block by writing about anything.  It will help your creative juices start to flow again.

Get a Writing Partner

Sometime talking with others that are also writers can help.  They can challenge you to keep moving or brainstorm with you to get you through the rut.

Start a Daily Journal

Journaling is really a great way to keep the writing momentum.  If you begin to do this everyday your mind will be in optimum mode. I have years of journals and they have been very helpful in my writing career.

Develop Speed Writing

This is the most powerful tool that I have used to avoid writers block.  Sit down at your computer and write whatever comes to mind for 15 minutes.  Do not stop writing until the 15 minutes is up.  The pressure of knowing that you are on the clock helps to pump up creative juices.

I hope that you find these tips of great value.  Good luck with your writing.

Linda Leon is the owner of www.bookmarketingprofessionals.com a full service author support and book marketing company.  If you need assistance please feel free to contact Linda at info@bookmarketingprofessionals.com.

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Creating Smarter Social Media Campaigns

By now you probably all know that you're missing out on the opportunity of a life time if you're not using social media to build your author brand and market your books. Are you using it successfully though?

It's not enough to just post content. You need to post the RIGHT content and connect with your readers. 

So how do you post the right content and turn your readers into fans? By thinking like a fan of course!

What makes you like Facebook page? What makes you click the "Get notifications" button so you see that pages posts in your newsfeed? What kinds of posts get you liking, sharing, and leaving comments?

This infographic (found at http://www.postplanner.com/secret-to-successful-social-media-campaigns-post-method/gives you a few things to think about to help you create smarter social media campaigns:

successful-social-media-campaigns

Also, check out The One Page Social Media Marketing Plan at www.JohnHaydon.com/Plan It's free!

In the comments below, tell me this:

What types of content are working best with your social media audience? How are you engaging your readers?

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Interview with Kristi Belcamino

Purchase Links:   
Tell us about your latest book.
In Blessed are the Dead, San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter Gabriella Giovanni spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares, yet walking away unscathed. When a little girl disappears on the way to the school bus stop, her quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper, Jack Dean Johnson, who reels her in with promises to reveal his exploits as a serial killer to her alone. Gabriella's passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper may have ties to her own dark past: her sister’s kidnapping and murder. Risking her life, her job, and everything she holds dear, Gabriella embarks on a path to find answers and stop a deranged murdered before he strikes again.

Who are your favourite authors?
My favourite authors are the ones whose books I will buy unseen. In other words, if I hear a new book is coming out from Lisa Unger, Sara Gran, S.E. Hinton, Adriana Trigiani, or Edna Buchanan, I’ll buy it without knowing anything else about it. With that said, there are dozens of other writers I love and read.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
People can find me on my website, www.kristibelcamino.com on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter, and on Twitter, @KristiBelcamino. For a more personal interaction and early information about my books, they can go to my website and sign up for my newsletter. For the first few months, to celebrate having my first book published, I’m giving away all sorts of cool items, such as a brand new Kindle, bags of Ghirardelli chocolate, a Strand Bookstore tote bag full of all the authors who gave me a blurb, and more.

How long did it take you to write your book?
I started Blessed are the Dead on the September day my youngest started kindergarten and printed out my first draft by my birthday in late October. I spent another year revising the novel. Now, it takes me three months to write the first draft of a novel and about another three to revise it. I buy into Stephen King’s suggestion that writing the first draft of a novel takes a season. In my case, I wrote my latest novel in spring!

Where can a reader purchase your book?                                                   
For now, my book is available at all the usual suspects online: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and so on.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
I’m chomping at the bit to begin writing Blessed are those who Mourn, my third book in the Gabriella Giovanni Mystery Series. The first book, Blessed are the Dead, comes out June 10th. The second book, Blessed are the Meek, comes out July 8th.  I have a strong idea what the book will be about, but am excited to see where the characters take me this time.


Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
I’m extremely luck and grateful that my husband supports my writing career. When our children were old enough to attend school full time, he fully supported and encouraged me staying home and writing instead of going back into journalism full time.

What are you currently reading?
I was reading through some promotion materials for my book and saw that my publisher had told people if they like Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series, they would like my book, Blessed are the Dead. Of course, I was incredibly flattered by that awesome comparison, so I decided to go back and re-read the first book in Lippman’s series, Baltimore Blues.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton changed and influenced my life in more ways than I can count. Along with really opening my eyes to injustice in this world, it also showed me that a teenage girl could write a book.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not writing, I’m busy being an Italian-American mama, taking care of my two fierce little girls and spending time with my husband. We live around my husband’s big family and love to spend time with them eating and laughing.


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You’re a Self-published writer? Congratulations! Now learn how to Sell.

I really like that old Al Pacino movie, Sea of Love.

He plays a police detective and in one scene he’s musing with another cop about the strangeness of humanity.

“People are a piece of work,” he says. And I believe it.

How else can you explain that people won’t believe their own family doctor about the importance of getting their kids vaccinated, but will believe some quack who appeared on Oprah?

And tell me how otherwise intelligent, well-intentioned writers believe their books will be widely read when these same authors aren’t interested in selling them.

Selling. There. I said it again.

It’s like this: if you’re self-published, you’re either running your own business – and selling. Or you’re not selling many books. Period.

Don’t tell me about this guy or that gal who sold a boatload of books and doesn’t even know how to spell social media. Sure, the stories are out there and I hope one of them is about you. But don’t count on it.

A kid in my neighborhood comes to my door every time my lawn gets high. He rings my bell, looks up at me with an earnest expression and says, “I’ve got a new mower and I charge less than anybody else around.” The kid is in business for himself. And he’s a salesman.

It’s true in any business. And if you’re in the author/publisher business, it’s true for you too. The fact is, folks don’t readily fork over their cash, even if it’s just $2.99 for your Great American Novel. They’ve got to be convinced, cajoled, seduced.

They’ve got to be sold.

You have a website? Great! That’s one step in the process. WordPress and a free template will get you started. You don’t need to spend a fortune. Facebook is not top of my list, but it’s free and if you know how to use it, it can be effective. Twitter’s great too. Here’s a hint, though.

Don’t try too hard to sell.

What? Didn’t I just say that selling was important? Very important? Wasn’t that me?

Yes, it was. But I also mentioned seduction. It’s one of my favorite sports.

Do you run up to the gorgeous woman at the club and tell her she’s the woman of your dreams, that you want to take her home to see your Momma right now and that your car is just outside? Think that will work? I tried it a couple of times when I was young. I thought it might actually work one time. But no.

 Sending tweet after tweet urging people to buy your book isn’t selling. Ditto on Facebook. Being too obviously self-serving seldom works well. Bat your eyes a little. Look troubled and interesting. Then people will become interested in you. Maybe they’ll check out your Amazon offering. Maybe they’ll stop in at your website.

Do you like irony? I do.  It’s ironic that many of the authors snapping their whips on the social media to drive you to their website are at their worst once they get you there. How many times have you stopped in at an author’s website and it’s practically impossible to find a way to buy the damned book? Click on a picture of the book and you get a bigger picture of the book. You’ll find book titles with no links to a buy site. I see it all the time.

When you’re using the social media to sell books, be a pal, be a buddy. Offer helpful suggestions that will interest your audience. Get personal on Facebook and tell your fans what books you like and why. Mention your own regularly, but infrequently.

Selling is really taking action to get the sale. It doesn’t mean you have to call people at dinnertime. It doesn’t mean you have to go door-to-door with a suitcase full of books.

Look for a forum where you can interact with the masses. Goodreads isn’t a bad place to start. Try a blog tour. And on Twitter and Facebook, make sure you reply to every query or kind word. Become engaged. Your potential readers will love you for it.

And they might just buy your book.

Dennis Anthony has been a newspaper reporter, sailor, military  officer, television news producer, public relations executive and publishing company owner. He and his wife live in Pensacola, Florida, but try to spend as much time as possible at their cabin on
Lookout Mountain in Alabama. Debunker: Independence Day is his first published novel.



Twitter:  @DennisAuthor

GIVEAWAY

Dennis will be awarding an eCopy of Debunker: Independence Day to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 



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Rafflecopter: The easy way to do a giveaway

Giveaways can be a great way to create some buzz about your book and encourage engagement with fans and potential readers. When it comes to setting up a giveaway I nearly always go with Rafflecopter. It makes doing a giveaway super easy to do.

Screenshot from Rafflecopter.com



What is Rafflecopter?

For this answer I'll let Rafflecopter do the talking and use a quote from their website.

"Rafflecopter is the world's easiest way to run a giveaway online. Rafflecopter allows you to customize and embed an entry form on your site that incentivizes your audience to perform tasks in exchange for entries into a sweepstakes. Customize your widget and place it anywhere HTML is accepted, whether it’s on your Wordpress blog, your Facebook page, or both. Provide the promotion details, plug in the prize, and you’re off and collecting entries.
The more entries completed by entrants, the better chance they have of winning, and the more interaction your promotion receives, helping you grow your community."


How much does it cost?

The basic version of Rafflecopter is completely free to use and gives you unlimited giveaways. You can embed it anywhere and have it pick random winners from the entrees.

There are paid subscriptions available too if you want to take it to the next level and add things like photo's of the prizes, remove Rafflecopter branding, etc... You can find out more about those here: https://www.rafflecopter.com/pricing/


Where can it be used?

Anywhere you can embed code. Rafflecopter is super flexible as it allows you to embed the giveaway code for the widget anywhere. This means you can use it on your website, blog, or even share the link via any of your social media channels.

You can even do a Flash Facebook Giveaway using the features on site as a way of giving back to your fans.

What prizes can I offer?

Any prizes you want to. It's completely up to you. 

N.B. The prize doesn't have to be a copy of your book. Whilst it's automatic to think of giving away a free copy or copies of your book as the prize, don't limit yourself to just that. If you offer a print copy as the prize make it a signed print copy with a personalised dedication to the winner. So much more special than a standard copy sent from the printer. Also consider other prizes like book swag (bookmarks, keyrings, magnets, etc...). Think about the topics covered in your book and see if you can come up with a prize that's related to the book in some way. e.g. does you book feature a fashion obsessed character? Giveaway a scarf like the one she wears in the book. Does your character use a magic ring? Giveaway a ring that looks like the one in your book. Does your book have lots of illustrations? Giveaway a framed illustration signed by the illustrator. You get the idea. Don't think "just book". Think "connected to the book".

How do I pick and contact a winner?

I'm going to use the Rafflecopter answer for this one too as they sum it up so well on their site.

"Choosing a winner with Rafflecopter is easy! Rafflecopter gives you the tools that help you a) randomly select a number of winners from your entrants pool b) help you verify the winners' entries & c) announce the winners directly on the widget. 
a) After your giveaway ends, sign into your Rafflecopter account and find the giveaway's 'entries' tab where you'd normally moderate entries by clicking on 'pick a winner' or moderate. Clicking on the 'ADD A WINNER' button will generate 1 random entry from your entry pool. For 5 winners, click 'add a winner' 5 times. The # of winners you choose isn't correlated with the number of prizes in your giveaway.
b) To verify the winners' entries, view your entries by clicking on the 'SHOW ME THE ENTRIES' button. You can sort entries by IP, name, email address, etc.. To contact your winners for the first time, we recommend simply emailing them at the email address provided. You can also download a list of your entrants into a .csv format that will include your entrants' name, email, entry option info, IP address, timestamp, etc.
Download this list from the bottom of your giveaway's entries tab by clicking on 'EXPORT ENTRIES TO EXCEL', which will email you a spreadsheet. We recommend contacting your winners via the email address they provided.
c) Finally, when you've completed choosing your giveaway's winner(s) and you're ready to display them directly on the widget, click the 'DISPLAY WINNERS' button."

Do you use Rafflecopter when doing your giveaways or do you use another tool? Are you running a Rafflecopter giveaway at the moment? Share the links in the comments section below and tell us about how you're doing giveaways as part of your marketing plan.


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Test Driving Createspace

It was a simple question posted on a Facebook author’s page.  Has anyone used Createspace to publish their books?  I never heard of Createspace before.  I was immensely curious about what it could do. 

Since 2011, I’ve published three novels under the Kyle Taylor name and several other works under another name.  Of the half dozen titles, two were published via a boutique publishing company.  I’m ambivalent over my experience with the publishing house.  They’re a mom and pop sort of operation. They provided me with cover design and editorial services all free of change.  The contract I signed basically splits half of my profits from ebook sales compared if I self-published.
 
What didn’t I like about the arrangement?  I had a lousy time with the art directors, for one.  I never felt they understood what I was looking to portray even with a lot of communication.  While I enjoyed working with one of their editors immensely – he was very instructive and made me a better writer -- the other editor was extremely difficult and did a poor job. I also didn’t feel they did any sort of promotion for my books. I shouldered it all.  Finally, there was always that gnawing question in the back of my mind, were the publisher’s sales figures accurate – or was I getting scammed? 

So Createspace seemed like a great idea.  It could potentially give the small-time author just what we’re looking for – control. I could design the complete book just the way I wanted while not getting ripped off in the process!

Createspace will let you upload completed manuscripts that if you follow their guidelines, will look wonderful.  For my latest book, Wildflower, I used Art Deco style fonts for titles, subtitles and chapter headings – and the font came out lovely.  Their online previewer for the book’s contents is very accurate and true-to-life.

Uploading the covers was a bit trickier.  If you’re a really good art director, you can layout your book in advance. If you follow the guidelines, you can upload the cover, spine and back all in one stroke.  Createspace also offers generic templates for you to use.  If you want to blow a lot of money, you can access their in-house art directors.

I decided to design my own covers and backs. I uploaded them piece by piece.  The most significant problem I had was adjusting the front cover to sit just right on their template.  It was always just a little off even with their aligning tools, which are unsophisticated. Tweaking the layout just a bit sometimes meant reworking the original artwork instead of just playing with it a bit once it was uploaded.

Createspace will allow you to select a glossy or matte finish to your book. You can choose white or cream paper.  You get to price your book as you want. There are informative FAQ’s and the help staff actually answer your email.
I found the royalties for the print version of the book were about double that from the publisher I worked with. Ebooks have the usual Kindle royalty structure. Seventy percent of the sale goes to me.

It’s thrilling once you put all the elements into place on Createspace, and get a very reasonably priced proof a week later in your mailbox.  The quality of the printed books is quite nice, even better than the quality from the publisher of my two previous books. 

Createspace gives you the peace of mind that you are in control.  You aren’t going to get ripped off by a publisher. You can see your book sales daily. It’s all upfront.

Createspace works the best for small-potatoes writers like me who are capable enough to design their own books.  If you’re a decent editor and know how to format and art direct your work, Createspace can be a really fun part of the publishing process. It could allow you to earn more money per book too.  
On the other hand, if you’re shaky with these things and start hiring the Createspace design team, you could quickly blow through a lot of cash, which may not be worth it.

If you’d like to check out my latest book published using Createspace, here is a link:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494839598/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Kyle Taylor is the author of three novels: Wildflower: The Dramatic Life of Barbette, Round Rock’s First and Greatest Drag Queen, Exposition and Billion Dollar Dreamer. To learn more about Kyle you can check out his web page: http://www.billiondollardreamer.com/

GIVEAWAY

The author will be giving a $25 Amazon gift card to the commenter who leaves the best question or comment. I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:  http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2014/04/virtual-book-tour-wildflower-by-alan.html




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Ideal writing space

There’s the physical aspect of the ideal writing space, and the emotional one.

I am a Human Factors engineer, which is a discipline in the Industrial Engineering department. Part of my training was in safety engineering and ergonomics; to pay attention to the environment surrounding the worker, and try to manipulate it in a way that is most conductive to the worker’s safety and productivity. So when I imagine the ideal writing space, my mind automatically checks a list that includes adequate lighting, noise level, proper posture, air quality and temperature, etc…

However, once the technical stuff is out of the way, I start to really pay attention to my surroundings. The key point that matters is what makes me feel comfortable, emotionally. It could be sitting at a desk for hours, facing a window overlooking the ocean—my favorite and rarely happens, or taking up the kitchen table with family members mingling about, or spreading on the floor in the living room with the TV on, or lounging on a lawn chair on a nice breezy afternoon. It doesn’t matter. The ideal writing space is whatever is ideal for me during a creative cycle. And depending on the subject matter, sometimes sitting in an uncomfortable chair, or in a painful position, helps bring forward a negative emotion that is needed for the kind of scene I am trying to express. Feeling trapped, for example, is an emotion that I tap into when I am least physically comfortable. Even skipping a couple of meals to get that urgent feeling to grab something is something I often do. I don’t think I could write about something emotionally disturbing if I am reclining in a Lazy Boy chair with my feet up, feeling cozy and secure. The same holds true for the other side of the coin. If I am writing about something uplifting and easy going, then I choose the most physically comfortable position or location, put on music that brings me happy memories and go for it.

Lilas Taha is a writer at heart, an electrical engineer by training, and an advocate for domestic abuse victims by choice. She was born in Kuwait to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father, and immigrated to the U.S. as a result of the Gulf war in 1990. She earned a master’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. There, Lilas met her beloved husband and true friend, and moved with him to Sugar Land, Texas to establish a family. She is the proud mother of a daughter and a son. Instead of working in an industrial field, she applied herself to the field of social safety, working with victims of domestic violence.

Pursuing her true passion for creative writing, Lilas brings her professional interests, and her Middle Eastern background together in her debut fictional novel, Shadows of Damascus.

Author Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/LilasTahaAuthor


GIVEAWAY


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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