Especially for Writers

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Posted in Misc. | 6 Comments

Working Your Facebook Author Page

facebook

Last October, I shared some tips about working your Facebook Author Page to appeal to your readers. Then I disappeared from my own author page for a while, posting sporadically, forgetting to respond to comments, basically violating everything I’ve ever said about keeping up with the page. This negligence is an annual event. As I’ve said before, the last quarter of the year doesn’t belong to me. October isn’t too bad, but the time period from the end of that month through New Year’s belongs MSB and family. The first two weeks of January are spent catching up.

During the first week of catch-up, I discovered my page had gone from almost 700 followers with a reach of over 1000, to almost 700 followers with a reach just above 200. Whomp! What a drop!

First thing I did was to hold a “First Monday” Giveaway, using an idea I stole from one of my favorite mainstream authors, Joe Finder. To enter the giveaway drawing, the participant needed to leave a message and tag a friend. I created ads for each book in the giveaway and posted regularly. By the end of the week, my reach extended to almost 4K. I wish I’d saved that graphic. It was beautiful! But I do have this one, showing what happened the following week:

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You can see the drop in reach after the giveaway. But the total page likes jumped. They went up through the giveaway efforts and other activities from the 680 I reported in October to 820. I went on a spree the following week and sent invitations to all my regular FB friends to “like” my page. Not all did, of course, but my total page likes increased to the number you see now.

This handy-dandy little chart is one of the reasons I like having a FB author (or fan) page. This overview shows me how many people clicked on my page (people engaged), how many commented or at least clicked “like” on a post (new likes), and how visible my page is in general (reach). But the other charts offered are just as handy. Try this one:

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This one lets me know that the silhouette of the handsome cowboy topped all my other posts so far this week, which is great, since my current WIP, Riding Herd, is a contemporary western romance.

Here is an overview of the month:

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The spikes represent my deliberate efforts with the give away and the “like” invitation spree.

Want to get more specific? Try this:

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The above charts those who see my page by gender, age group, and location, and the one below indicates how many were actually engaged with the page during this month:

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Many of the charts have buttons to push so you could get more specific. I can find out how many likes, comments, and shares I’ve received this week, and get the more specific information of the percentage increase or decrease over last month at this time. There’s a chart that shows how many organic, paid, and “un”likes I’ve had in a period of time. If you want to know it, FB provides the chart to tell it–except for the “who” in the matter. You can see who “likes” your page, but unless you have a phenomenal memory, you probably won’t realize who “unliked” your page.

As they say, knowledge is power, and these charts give me knowledge of who my followers are and what they like. These charts aren’t available on our regular Facebook pages, only when we open a fan page. Granted, there are tons of folks out there whose numbers would be considerably better, so don’t look at how tiny my audience is. Consider instead what you could do with this knowledge if you had it. If you had my charts, and you were trying to appeal to young women, 25-34 years of age, you’d need to revamp your posts. If your reach is below your follower count, you may want to put some life in your page.

If I’ve helped you decide to open a page based on this post, send me a note along with the link. I’d love to be among the first to “like” you!

Posted in Promotion/Publicity/Marketing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Hallmark 2, Author 0

hallmark 2

I had the entire weekend to myself. MSB and his brothers went off to the farm for the last hunt of the season, and I intended two solid days of writing on my WIP, Riding Herd. Two days! Can you imagine how close I’d be to finishing the novel, if Hallmark didn’t exist? Or if some channel somewhere hadn’t shown Tommy Lee Jones in Man of the House? Or UP showing The 5th Quarter?

Yes, I blame them–and the fact MSB didn’t take the remote control with him. I’m the victim here, I tell ya.

Not buying it? Smart.

hallmarkThree of the movies in their ad above played this weekend, plus another not in the picture, Perfect on Paper, plus Saturday’s debut Away & Back (terrific movie, by the way. If you didn’t see it, catch it next time it’s on). Actually, I could mark the weekend up to research. I don’t read romance, but I do love light-hearted romance movies like the ones Hallmark offers. Since a secret goal is to have one of my novels nabbed by the premier “date night” channel, I have to know what appeals to them.

Long time ago a friend wrote a post for AuthorCulture about how to get more writing time: get busy. Not “get busy writing,” but get busy living. A tight, hectic schedule works better for the writer than having all the time in the world, especially when her passion is writing. If it’s a hobby, something she’d like to do “someday,” then that someday will never come. She will always be too busy. She will always have excuses.

Having too much time is just as bad, because there’s always tomorrow, always “later.” I faced that this weekend. Instead of a long writing spree, I had a staycay–watched movies, worked on my latch hook rug, snacked so much even my pjs were tight last night. In the end, I wrote the same amount I write daily during the three hours designated to my WIP. If I were truly busy, I wouldn’t even have those three hours. Makes me wonder if I couldn’t double my count if I took on a few more projects during the day.

So for the two-day weekend, Hallmark won. Hallmark 2, Author zip.

Posted in Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Especially for Writers

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Posted in Misc. | 14 Comments

Writing Lessons from a Dental Hygienist

Dentist ChairI love my dentist. He’s a great guy, a fellow Aggie, and a huge fan of Aggie baseball, just like me. I love his assistant. She’s an author, too, and we chat like old friends whenever we’re together. I even love my new hygienist, although I just met her this week, and our discussion didn’t really expand further than the shape my teeth are in (pretty good, thank you very much, although I can expect trouble with my old fillings in the future).

What I don’t love is dentistry. I hate having my mouth open that long without words coming out or food going in. I hate having other people’s fingers in my mouth. Not a fan of metal objects poking around. Hate clamping down on the X-ray duber. Hate choking on my spit. And I totally despise having my lips stretched like Play-Doh all over my face.

While I love visiting with everyone from the dental professionals to the office managers (next time, let’s do lunch!), what I love most about the dentist’s office is leaving it.

Usually, all I ask of the hygienist is to check for cavities and scrape off the tartar. I bypass the flossing (I can do that myself) and the polishing (I get the same polished feel with my electric toothbrush), so I can get out as quickly as possible.

However, yesterday, my new hygienist taught me why I should get my teeth polished: the gritty material used for the process scrapes off filmy residue. Brushing and flossing do a great job of cleaning the teeth, but there’s always a thin veneer of–whatever, I forgot–clinging to the enamel. She said it’s like looking at your windshield and thinking it’s clean until you run your finger over it.

What to do? Load up your toothbrush with the gritty stuff and polish, polish, polish.

I entitled this post “Writing Lessons from a Dental Hygienist.” Can you see where I’m going with it?

When you’ve finished writing your novel, you need to brush it with Crest and floss it with a waxed string. That’s the first edit, which checks all the big stuff–POV, characterization, description, story arc, character arc, dialogue, theme, plot, and on and on and on. What needs changing? What needs tweaking? What needs ripping out? What needs to be included? Is it clear? Is it gripping?

Finally, go through it one more time with the gritty stuff. Do your sentences flow easily? Does your thought process follow a logical procession? Have you chosen the strongest possible words? Have you word-painted a picture for your reader to see?

Line by line. There is no electrical device to speed up the process. Fortunately, though, by this time much of it will have been caught and corrected during the first edit. But now’s the time to polish off that final veneer of not-quite-rightness.

Then rise from the chair and stroll in the sunshine.

 

Posted in Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Villainy

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Posted in Writing, Writing Tips | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

News and Opportunities in January

Again, this is the edited version. You know the drill! BTW: If you have any or know any news for January/February, be sure to let me know! (Click on the image for more information):

New Releases:

Fiction

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Due out Valentine’s day, but available now for pre-order!

sylvia

Another in the Mysteries in Malawi Pre-teen Series

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GoodReads giveaway from 1/14-1/31.

her nerdy cowboy

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ever locked

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Devotional/Self-Help/Nonfiction

Hosea Bible cover for Linda Yezak

(Another in the “Bible Study for Busy People” series by Margaret Weston)

Discounts and Giveaways:

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Love Inspired authors Jessica Keller and Belle Calhoun teamed up for quite a giveaway. You really need to see this for yourself. Check out Jessica’s blog, Jessica Keller. These giveaways close on January 27!

Lost and Found

Yvonne’s is a Goodreads giveaway, good till the end of the month.

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Delia’s is a short story, available for free only on the Pelican Book Group site.

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99c Kindle Special!

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Webinars:

Young Christian mom, Heather Bixler, is holding an online Bible study at the end of the month:

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Services:

caroleCarole Cudnik is currently running an editing special for ACFW Genesis entrants—special rate for the 16 pages you need to submit.

Price: $35

What’s included: One comprehensive content/copy edit round (incorporating the sample ‪‎Genesis‬ score sheet) of the 16 pages you’re submitting to the ‪‎ACFW‬ contest, followed by a proofread after author corrects first round edits. Check out her FB business page (the pinned post).

Hope you found something of interest. If not, maybe next time!

Posted in Saturday Week in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Review: In the Heart of the Dark Wood, Billy Coffey

Billy CoffeyWhat do you put your faith in? Allie Granderson put hers in a plastic compass. Zach Barnett put his in a cowboy hat. Marshall Granderson drowned his faith in a bottle.

This coming of age story is chock full of symbolism, but the central theme is that faith in anything other than God is in vain. But Billy doesn’t sugar-coat the Almighty. He tells us God has sharp edges.

In the Heart of the Dark Wood is a hard read. Even though Billy guides his readers through the thoughts and emotions of his characters, he doesn’t allow us to sit back and relax. He wants our minds and senses fully engaged.

Mary Granderson, Allie’s mother and Marshall’s wife, was killed in The Storm described in When Mockingbirds Sing, but her body was never found. All that they buried was one of her pink shoes–not enough evidence to prove to Allie her mother was never coming back.

Before she died, Mary gave Allie a plastic compass to wear around her wrist. The needle never moved, until one traumatic event occurred. Then it led Allie into the woods.

Twelve-year-old Allie didn’t go alone. She brought her friend and classmate, Zach Barnett, with her. Zach knew how to survive in the wilderness because he frequently went with his father, and his dad had taught him everything about surviving. But by the end of the first day, the woods swallowed them, and they couldn’t find their way out.

Not that Allie wanted to go home. She was on a singular mission to find her mama. Zach shouldered the responsibility of keeping her safe. Sam, the Beagle pup, used his nose to guide them both.

The three went into the dark woods chock full of mission and courage. Five days later, they came out . . .

Posted in Reviews of exceptional books | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Small Presses

Blank book coverI read an “inkwell” article in Writer’s Digest recently that took me a bit by surprise. This article, “Sizing Up Small Presses” was published last February (I’m a bit behind in my reading), and encouraged authors to consider publishing through a smaller press as an alternative to either self-publishing or landing the emblem of one of the bigwigs.

According to the article, “authors earn their money primarily through royalties–roughly 10 percent on print sales and up to 25 percent per digital purchase.”

I’ve been with three small presses now, and my experience is a bit different–particularly on print sales. With the exception of one of the publishers (who pays quite a bit less than 10% on print sales), I usually earn considerably more in print sales and a tad bit more on digital sales. If I ever decide to go with a small press again, this percentage will be the first thing I look at.

Next, the article mentioned the advance: “$1000-2000 is a common range,” or the advance is non-existent. I’ve never earned an advance anywhere near that high. Usually, the advance paid is just enough to qualify the publisher with certain organizations, like ACFW, so the authors would qualify to enter contests, like the Carol Award.

Even though my experience doesn’t match up with what Robert Lee Brewer quoted in his article, it’s interesting to see something that would indicate a standard in the industry.

There are non-monetary things to consider when looking at small presses, too, not the least of which is the status of the press. Is it truly small, or is it an upstart? If you’re looking at an upstart company and are willing to give them a try–after you’ve thoroughly investigated them (and any other small publisher) on Preditors and Editors and every other way available–be sure you can get the rights back to your book should the company go out of business. Even if the company doesn’t go out of business, how long will your book be under contract? What is the expected print run? After they release it, will you be able to keep your cover art?

How many books has the company published? Do you like the covers? Are you familiar with any of the authors? Where are the books distributed? What are the price ranges? (40% of a 99c ebook doesn’t provide much of a royalty.)

Read through the opening pages of some of the company’s books on Amazon. Do you like the format? Do they seem well-edited? Should you hire a professional freelance editor before you submit to them? That’s your name on the title page–you want your work to be polished.

What is the company’s marketing plan? These days, authors bear most of the burden of marketing regardless of the publisher size, but even small companies have a support system.

The good thing about being with a small publisher is that someone objective validated your work. Someone said, “Yes, this book is good enough for us to risk our resources on.” Even though self-publishing is becoming far more acceptable than it once was, it is still a great boost and career-starter to be able to announce that you’ve been traditionally published.

But it definitely isn’t a way to get rich quick. Well, publishing in general won’t change your financial status overnight, until you happen to have that one story that defies all odds. Most of us don’t.

What are your goals? Why do you want to be published? If my burning desire is simply to get my stories out there, I wouldn’t bother with a publisher at all. I’ve already proven that I can earn back the money I’ve invested to get my book out there.

I’ve been traditionally published three times and self-published twice. Personally, I like the objective validation that comes with being traditionally published. But I don’t know that I’ll bother with a small house again (well, depending on which one it is). I like having control over my work. If a major company isn’t willing to invest in my works, I may continue to self-publish until I can produce what the biggies are looking for.

But isn’t it great? Regardless of the publication path you choose, it’s wonderful to know that so many routes are available. It’s a writer’s dream world!

Posted in The Business | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Guess What I Got?!

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I promised in my article, “Merry Christmas to Me” that I’d post pictures of my best-ever Christmas present. Well–here ya go, my 14′ x 34′ cabin!
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I love this cabin. It’s a shell right now, so I’m like a kid with a dollhouse, planning how we’re going to finish it out and decorate it. We’ll have a few years to work on it before we live there while our house is being built on the farm, and I’m looking forward to each stage. What I’m really looking forward to is showing y’all what it looks like in the spring. It’s such a beautiful area. Can’t wait to see it surrounded by green again!

Posted in Writing | 8 Comments