Making Social Work for You

An interview with Bestselling KWL Author Maggie Shayne

For self-pub authors, social media can be either a best friend or worst enemy. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr—all of these are valuable resources for writers as they attempt to spread the word about their latest works and connect with an audience. Without a clear social media strategy however, these same platforms can become a major source of procrastination.

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So what, if any, is the “right” way to make social media work for you? To answer this question we enlisted the help of Maggie Shayne, the self-pub author and social media dynamo behind the Immortal Witches trilogy and a handful of other dark and steamy reads.

What moves the dial? Does a “like” turn into a purchase, a fan, or an ambassador for you? Is this what writers should be aiming for?

What moves the dial is personal and sincere interaction with the fans. Don’t try to sell to them. Just be there, talking about normal stuff the way you’d talk to your friends and having a good time. Share challenges within reason (never become a public complainer, it’s unbecoming) and share how you deal with them, too. Let people know you’re a real human being with a life a lot like theirs, and that you care about them. You can’t fake that. That has to come from a real place inside you. You can’t measure the payback of this sort of thing in numbers of sales. I think long term, it’s more karmic. The more people smile when they think of you, the better your life is going to be. It’s about making other people feel they are important and worthy of your time. That’s what it is at the heart of it.

How much time do you spend on social daily? What social media platforms do you use?

I’m mainly a Facebook girl. I have a Maggie Shayne page, a Wings in the Night page. I also use Twitter quite a bit, and have been dipping my toes into Instagram and Pinterest. I blog at MaggiesBlissBlog.com . I spend anywhere from an hour to two hours online each day, but it’s fun for me. It needn’t be that time-intensive.

What is an effective social media strategy for an eBook author? What is simple timewasting?

For me, the most effective strategy is having fun. If you hate doing something, it’s never going to be effective. If you don’t enjoy social media, don’t use it. Everything in life is like this. If we trusted our gut feelings more, we’d be far better off. Have fun with it. That way if it works, bonus.

Who if any, are some other socially active authors that you think set a good example?

Susan Mallery. OMG, she’s the Goddess of Facebook. And Christine Feehan, who has her own freaking message boards, like a mini Facebook all its own at ChristineFeehan.net, these folks make me look like a rank beginner. (Not too rank, I hope.) ;)

Have you ever had a memorable interaction with a reader over social media?

A reader had a doomed pregnancy. She was told to have an abortion because the baby wouldn’t survive anyway, and if she tried to carry the child, she wouldn’t make it either. This reader read EDGE OF TWILIGHT, a book with a doomed pregnancy and a miracle ending. The way the book came to her, she was sure it was a sign. (I am, too.) Someone gave it to her to cheer her up, not even knowing the subject matter. Anyway, the mom decided it was a sign, and she carried the baby to term. Her little girl was born healthy. All are still doing well today. I treasure the email I got from her.

I’ve had lots of others. Readers email me for advice, or during challenging times for encouragement, and I’m always there for them.

maggieShayne_photoCheck out Maggie Shayne:

At her website: http://maggieshayne.com/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieShayneAuthor

On Kobo! View Maggie’s books: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/Search?Query=maggie+shayne

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/maggieshayne

 

Other Helpful Resources:

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/how-to-market-a-book

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Kabani http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/the-zen-of-social-media-marketing-1

 

Introducing Red Door Reads and WHO’S BEN SKREWD?

Who is Ben Skrewd? Who is Red Door Reads for that matter, you might be wondering. The 21 bestselling authors who make up Red Door Reads offer romance in all flavors and genres – contemporary, historical, YA, western, sports, etc. – with new releases popping up and topping the charts all the time. So that’s Red Door Reads. Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 3.09.04 PM

But WHO’S BEN SKREWD? Well, that’s a little bit of a story. You see, last year, a number of the Red Door authors met at the RWA National Conference for a chance to bond in person vs. online. This group of ladies were discussing what sort of project they could do as a group. They didn’t want to do a holiday theme or something that had been done already, but they did want something universal. Someone posed the loaded question, “So who’s Ben Skrewd?” Though, in all honesty, it might not have been spelled the same way. Or maybe it was. After all, the question wasn’t written down, but posed verbally. But we digress… Red Door Reads 'Ben Skrewd' Novella Banner

Anyway, after a few chuckles, we all realized that everyone has had the feeling of “Ben Skrewd” at one point or another in their life. Story ideas began to flow, and it didn’t take long for half of the Red Door authors to decide to take those story ideas and create a novella series like no other. There are 11 different novellas in the collection, and it is comprised of stories set in 19th Century England to present day Milwaukee and Ireland. Heroes who are cops and some who are aristocratic lords. Heroines who slay demons and some who see ghosts.

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Each novella is as different and diverse as our membership, but each story has two things in common. One – A red door on each cover outside, and Two – a mysterious character named Ben Skrewd somewhere on the pages inside. And, of course, the novellas can be found here at Kobo. Naturally.

We have had such a great time working on this project together and might be planning something surrounding a certain unscrupulous beach house owner – though that’s another story for another day. Do stay tuned, however.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll all be able to join us as we celebrate the launch of WHO’S BEN SKREWD? For a short period of time, each Who’s Ben Skrewd novella is on sale for $0.99.

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And beginning this afternoon (April 15th at 2:00pm Central Time) we start celebrating our launch with a Facebook release party. (Confetti is most definitely allowed.) There will be all sorts of prizes/giveaways and the opportunity to talk to your favorite Red Door authors. Please join us – https://www.facebook.com/events/798282543534467/

Also starting today, we’re sponsoring slightly different kind of contest that runs through April 22nd. Each Ben Skrewd novella author has hidden a silhouette of “Ben” somewhere on our websites. Can YOU find all of the missing Bens? If so, submit your answers Here – for a chance to win an iPad mini!

 

 

Without further ado…

The Red Door Reads ‘Who’s Ben Skrewd?’ Novella Series – click each link below to buy the eBooks on kobo.com!

Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by Deb Marlowe, A Half Moon House Series Novella

 Hexed by Andris Bear, A Deadly Sins Novella

Dances with Demons by Lori Handeland, A Phoenix Chronicles Novella

Firebird by Linda Winstead Jones, A Columbyana Novella

In the Stars by Ava Stone, A Regency Encounter Novella

Her Muse, Lord Patrick by Jane Charles, A Muses Novella

 

Author Branding & Revamping Your Website & Image

Three years ago, almost to the day, I made the smartest decision I’ve ever made. Before you ask, no I did not decide to forgo a unicorn wrestling match (I know that was your first thought); no, I began my first website, E-book Revolution (http://ebookrevolution.com.au).

A very ugly Blogger blog that had all the finesse of a monster truck and kind of looked like a five year old had drawn a very boring picture with crayon on a brown paper bag.

E-book Revolution blog old

When I first started I didn’t really know what I was about. I was in my ‘teenage’ blogging phase, the years where you kind of know the stuff you like, and the things you want to talk about, but you hadn’t quite found the path that fit the personality. When I first started I knew I didn’t have the skill to blog about my fiction writing, but I was great at investigating, at pulling apart the things people did (often via instinct) and figuring out how they worked. Like a mechanic for ideas.

Back when I first dived into creating my author platform Amazon hadn’t opened its doors to Australian authors, Smashwords was just getting started and Kobo was a name I thought I heard once whispered in a dark alley by a leprechaun. Not really an expert at anything I did my best imitation of a triple somersault dive and descended into the depths of learning.

So the blog grew, with its cobbled together Logo in Microsoft Paint and font colours that didn’t quite match the theme. It grew from a site that explored how to throw off the oppressive cloak of publisher rejections, to a site that looked forward to digital experiments, taking control of your publishing, and (eventually) how to write a magnificent book.

In three years the blog had grown out of its teenage years, and the message it conveyed with its pixelated pimples of mismatched colour no longer fitted where I was. I now had a job in the publishing industry, I hold workshops teaching writers to be indie authors, I was being asked to talk around Australia, and I had a site that didn’t exactly scream professional. It kind of screamed ‘boring’.

So as it approached the blog’s third anniversary I decided it was time for the outside wrappings to look like the inside, and starting on the 4th of April I am running a week long website relaunch to celebrate, complete with a shiny new digital home, logo, and seven days worth of prizes! In fact it’s going right now! (http://ebookrevolution.com.au)

In the wake of these months of hard work I’ve done what I do best, broken down the process so that people can see how it works.

So here are my five tips on author branding and revamping your website and blog:

1: Why You Should Rebrand

It doesn’t matter how careful you were at picking your original template and banner art, how much time you spent agonising over the whether you wanted your headings fuchsia or fluoro green, chances are that if you’ve put together your author platform more than two years ago, times have changed. Not only have design trends changed, but what interests you, what entertains you, what you talk about while blogging, and what you share, has morphed into an entirely new polka-dotted beast.

You may write in more than one genre now, or you may have found the topic you first started with didn’t strike a chord with your audience, but as soon as you started posting pictures of My Little Ponies in compromising positions your website statistics skyrocketed.

Writers do not stay static; we trade in ideas and imaginings.

So the question you’ve got to ask yourself is, does my site still match my message and who I am? Because if it doesn’t, then you may find you’re not attracting the size of audience you should.

2: What Does That Involve?

Basically asking yourself a stupid amount of questions. Get a piece of paper and go back to your original posts: What did you talk about, what were the themes, what got the most interest from visitors? Then compare it to your posts and social media sharings over the last six months: What themes and topics do I cover now, what do people care about in 2014? How does that change in tone and topic match the images and colours on your website? Does your current status, celebrity, or career level, reflect in the layout?

The ultimate are-you-ashamed test is to ask yourself if you would be happy paying $10,000 to stick you logo or website banner three stories high on the side of a building. Does the thought make you twitch? Then that tells you how you feel about your logo today. Hand your logo or website banner around to family, friends, and people you meet in the park walking your dog. Ask them what they think when they look at it, what is it saying to them, does anything turn them off?

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                  Old logo                   New Logo

Finally, articulate in a paragraph what you are about now, and what your message is. Start going through Google images and websites of authors similar to you and start collecting all the images that appeal to you in a document. This is what you’ll use for your base line rebranding.

3: Recreating Yourself

Sorry guys, but this is where you have to come out of the world in your head and take part in some good old fashioned collaboration.

You are not the best judge of you!

Unfortunately writers are not the most subjective bunch of creatives (helloooo editors!) and we need professional help and a fresh perspective. Rebranding involves revamping your website, logos, and tag lines. You saw my old blog above, and below is an image of my new website.

E-book Revolution New Blog

I had already pulled together images of sites I admired and my new tag line (E-books, marketing and digital experiments – helping you bring your stories to the world ) from the previous step before I began approaching designers. There was a web designer friends had worked with in the past who made amazing WordPress sites that you could add to and run without any need for all those silly ‘maintenance fees’ that IT companies charge these days. She was the one who linked my pre-existing book cover to my new logo, and once the logo and highlight colours were decided she then moved on to make sure that the website matched the lot.

She was so amazing I actually invited her to write a post on Author Branding for my website relaunch. You can read it here (http://ebookrevolution.com.au/?p=759) and it will be live from Saturday the 5th of April.

You may find that you can get an all in one package like me, or that you need to hire a graphic designer first before bringing the logo to the web designer. Either way make sure you get a list of fonts and colour hues used so that when you are doing a sneaky alteration in Microsoft Paint, that you get it right.

4: Reconnecting With Your Audience:

Take your new stomping ground as an opportunity to have fun! What have you always wanted to add but never done?What information do you have already that you can now repurpose and help you connect with a new audience. Make it easier for them to do their crash course and then join you at the level you are now?

When I first started E-book Revolution I talked about really basic concepts and step-by-step processes to help authors get up and running in the digital space, but three years on I am way passed those beginner topics and rarely cover them. What a missed opportunity to connect with a new person! I am missing out on a whole audience who, if I pointed them to those original articles, would be up to speed and get so much more out of what I post now. Just because they didn’t happen to dive in the deep end at the same time as me.

So in the new version of my website I have resource sheets (http://ebookrevolution.com.au/start-here/) that list all of the most popular questions and blog posts on Marketing, Publishing and writing, so that writers who are starting out can find what they need, and those who have followed me from the beginning don’t have to read what they already know.

5: How to Gain Traction

Make it a party! When I originally started the blog I posted every day for 31 days straight. I wanted to build up momentum (and obviously had some unfulfilled need to punish myself) and that was the best way I could think of to do that. And it worked surprisingly well, I got over half the subscriptions to my newsletter because of that first, month long sprint. But as the three years went on that momentum slowed, in part I think because of the DIY feel of my site, which three years ago was fine, but these days was neglectful.

The website revamp was the perfect opportunity to reconnect, recharge and take advantage of the connections I’ve built over the past three years. So my recommendations for gaining traction include:

  • Like launching an ebook, extend the launch of your site over the course of a week. It is only through multiple connections that you can make an impression.
  • Have some great content, not only from yourself but people within your network. Use the launch as a way to build connections with your colleagues as well as your audience. Building a community, and presenting quality information helps you build trust for the years ahead.
  • Give people who don’t know you a reason to drop by! Information is all well and good but giving away prizes that are relevant to your audience is even better. At my launch I am giving away multi-media courses, a set of 6 writers guides from Chuck Wendig, a Kobo ereader, and a swag bag of books on indie publishing by some of the best indies around, just to name a few. All appropriate for my audience; writers and independent publishers.
  • Don’t just let them all go once the launch has ended! Don’t do all of this work and hope that people will continue to visit your site. Get people to sign up for a newsletter, that way you have a way of contacting them directly. I give away a free 1hr crash course on the E-book Revolution and a workbook on Writing a Killer Blurb to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. Not only do they get some great free information, but I am able to contact them in the future about any new book releases or events.

Emily_Craven_1Emily Craven is an author, speaker and innovator and runs the website E-book Revolution where she discovers writing, publishing and new ideas. Her website relaunch is running from the 4th- 10th of April with some great prizes for indie authors, check it out (www.ebookrevolution.com.au). Emily is the author of the non-fiction book ‘E-book Revolution: The Ultimate Guide To E-book Success’ (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/e-book-revolution-the-ultimate-guide-to-e-book-success) , and the comedy ‘The Grand Adventures Of Madeline Cain’ (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-grand-adventures-of-madeline-cain-photographer-extraordinaire) written as though you are reading the main character’s Facebook Page.

 

 

 

Halifax Author Event

KWL Director Mark Leslie Lefebvre will be connecting with authors at the first annual Halifax Author Event.

It will be taking place on Saturday April 5th, 2014, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. at the Lord Nelson Hotel – 1515 South Park Street, Halifax, NS

Authors that will be in attendance include:

Donna Alward, Paul W. Bennett, Barbara DeLory, Devonna Edwards, Richard Foot, Genevieve Graham, Deborah Hale, Jennifer Hatt, Judith James, Janice Landry, Mark Leslie, Victoria Levack, Jim Lindsey, Bruce MacNab, Jennie Marsland, Francis Mitchell, DC Rhind, Shawna Romkey, Julia Phillips Smith, Gail Stroeher, Steve Vernon

 We Look forward to seeing you there!

Halifax Author Event

Opening Up To Indie Authors

When The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) was founded in 2012, the idea was to create an association that not only provided education, support and promotion for self-published authors — but also to campaign on their behalf. The Open Up to Indie Authors campaign is our latest author advocacy programme, aimed at book fairs and conferences, award bodies and libraries, festival and event organisers, retailers and reviewers, and anyone who acts as a bridge between writer and reader.

And at self-publishing writers too.

Such author-publishers have now proven their commercial and creative worth. Many ALLi members have sold more than 100,000 copies, and some have sold millions. They are also publishing books of niche reader interest and outstanding literary quality too.

Agents and publishers are waiting in the wings to jump on the latest self-published hit but if we look to the wider world of books, we see self-publishing writers largely excluded on dubious grounds.

Which is where our Open Up to Indie Authors campaign comes in. Our aim is to challenge and debunk some of the popular myths that may stop players like libraries, reviewers, bookstores, festivals and prizes from embracing self-published work. And to provide ways they can incorporate self-publishing into their shelves and schedules.

Take the often mooted “problem” of discoverability, the idea that the number of books published has grown to such slush-pile proportions that it’s hard to discover good books among bad. Unpicking this argument takes but a simple change of mindset: from scarcity thinking to abundance thinking; from commercial imperatives to creative.

Trade publishing has long worked from a scarcity model, grounded in commercial principles. Now we write and read within an abundance model, grounded in creative principles.

In an abundance model, excess and redundancy are no cause for concern.  It is true self-publishing is enabling more poor-quality books to be published than ever before but what’s important in an abundance model is not how many bad books are enabled — they quickly fall out of visibility — but how many good books are enabled.

The fears surrounding discovery often come from those who are invested in an older order, who don’t seem to understand how it now works for readers, who are increasingly buying and researching books online. Online algorithms are very effective — and getting better. Book search through categories and keywords offer tailored discovery that is far more nuanced than browsing a bookstore.

Readers can access book descriptions, independent reader reviews, and samples before they decide to buy. In short, good books are actually easier to find than they have ever been.

And when viewed through a creative, rather than critical or commercial lens, we see a publishing world that is colourful and chaotic and kaleidoscopic and all the richer for it. The challenge here is not so much discoverability, it’s actually enabling the publishing industry to acknowledge and reflect that truth.

The Open Up to Indie Authors campaign includes a petition, a hashtag (#PublishingOpenUp), lobbying of the industry, education seminars and a guidebook,

The guidebook Opening Up to Indie Authors by Debbie Young, ALLi’s blog editor, and Dan Holloway, an ALLi community builder, aims to do three things:

  • equip self-published authors with the information and attitude they need to collaborate successfully with other players in the books and literary ecosystem.
  • tackle the challenges of incorporating self-published books into literary organisations and events.
  • raise awareness of the high quality and professional standards offered by the best self-publishing authors — and encourage their inclusion.

Opening+Up+To+Indie+Authors The guidebook is the first of its kind and the launch marks another publishing first for The Alliance of Independent Authors. In association with Kobo Writing Life, the self-publishing wing of Kobo Books, and harnessing their links with retail partner bookstores all over the world, we are simultaneously launching this guide in bookstores around Europe, the US and Canada as well as across the UK and Ireland.

To be able to work with Kobo Writing Life (KWL) is a publishing pleasure, and has allowed ALLi to launch our campaign on an unprecedented scale.

We greatly admire the close links Kobo has fostered with their global retail network and directly with people like you; and their ability to transcend the borders of online and off. We see in Kobo a huge success story of how the industry does not need to be divided and how we all benefit when seemingly disparate strands are brought together.

Come to our launch: If you are attending London book fair we’d like to invite you to the launch at the Kobo Booth, Earl’s Court 2 on Tuesday 8th April, 2.00pm, where you can purchase copies of our guidebook, Opening Up To Indie Authors, with 50% off.

Find us at Author HQ (at London Book Fair), on Tuesday 8th April, from 1:00 –2:00 pm, where Diego Marano, Kobo Writing Life Manager, UK, will lead a conversation with Orna Ross, Founder & Director of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and author Ben Galley entitled “Breaking through. What independent authors know about reaching readers.”

  • Join ALLi If you are a self-published author, we’d like to invite you to join ALLi so you can avail of this opportunity.
  • Read An Indie Author: If you are a reader, we look forward to bringing you an exciting range of books in all genres through this campaign.
  • Sign Our Petition: Finally, if you agree that all other things being equal, a self-published book should be treated equally, we’d like to invite you to sign our petition: .

 

 

The One Big Book Launch – Ensuring Good Books Get Read

CompletelyNovel-Logo-White-400x64has teamed up with Literally PR to offer authors the chance to launch their books at a highly publicized event on April 30th 2014.

Sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, Scrivener and Moo.com, the One Big Book Launch will see ten authors launch ten different books at the same event in London, sharing publicity, readers and celebrations. The event is the first of its kind, and is currently accepting submissions from authors who have had a book published since 1st December 2013.

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Submissions close on 30th March – so get your entries in fast! Books are being judged on quality of writing and commercial potential by a team of judges from CompletelyNovel. All chosen authors will receive a table at the event to sign and sell books, a chance to talk about their book on stage, five reserved places for friends and family, an author pack containing exclusive offers and discounts, and the chance to celebrate the release of their book at a top London venue with catering and two hundred guests. Also attending the event will be members of the press, literary scouts and publishing professionals.

Author signups are now OPEN – Click here to sign up before 30th March See you on 30th April!

CompletelyNovel is a friendly publishing platform, specialising in POD self-publishing and advice for writers.
Authors can publish print copies of their books using CompletelyNovel’s easy-to-use online tools, for as little as £7.99 a month, and keep 100% of their book royalties. Click here to find out more.

My Writing Life: Liliana Hart

20130211_at_150300Liliana Hart is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author in both the mystery and romance genres. After starting her first novel her freshman year of college, she immediately became addicted to writing and knew she’d found what she was meant to do with her life. She has no idea why she majored in music.

Liliana is an avid reader and a believer in all things romance. Her books are filled with witty dialogue, steamy sex, and the all-important happily-ever-after’s her romantic soul craves. Since self-publishing in June of 2011, she’s sold more than 2 million eBooks all over the world.

We asked Liliana a few questions about reading, writing, and publishing.

When did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, jotting down quick stories in spiral notebooks that my mother still has in a box in the attic. But I didn’t discover romance novels until I was sixteen years old. I’d been reading Mary Higgins Clark and Dean Koontz, so my fascination with suspense started early. But when I was 16, my dad brought home a box of garage sale novels and inside was TRUST ME by Jayne Anne Krentz. My dad specifically told me I shouldn’t read that book because it was inappropriate. So being a 16 year old girl, I immediately snuck it out of the box and read it under my covers. From that point on I made twice weekly trips to the bookstore to find more “inappropriate” books. By the time I started my freshman year in college I’d decided I was running out of books to read and that I’d just have to start writing my own. I haven’t looked back.

What’s your favourite book? What was your favourite book as a child?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Where do you get your story ideas?

Everywhere! I do a lot of people watching and eavesdropping. Story ideas are everywhere. I also read a lot. I love to read epic fantasy and big plot books, and then I’ll brainstorm on spinning them into stories romance readers would love.

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View one of Liliana’s Latest Books

 What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

To ignore the rules. Just tell the story. The story is the only thing that matters. If you tell a good one, then readers will find you.

Where do you usually write?

Huddled on the couch wrapped in a blanket with my headphones on.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

I’m a huge reader and genre really doesn’t matter to me. I’ll read anything and everything except for hard sci-fi. Probably my most read genres are historical romances, thrillers, and epic fantasies. As far as guilty pleasures, I’m not going to lie, I love 1980s bodice rippers. Those books are amazing.

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Want to Pre-order Liliana’s Next Book

What made you decide to self-publish?

Ultimately it was because I had stories to tell and I wanted people to read them. I’d gone through the traditional hoops for several years, but things weren’t happening the way I wanted them to. I knew I could write and that there was a market for the stories I wanted to tell. So I started self-publishing and have loved every minute of it. Now I love the control and the freedom it gives me to tell the stories I want to tell without limits or rules.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

Ha! There are so many! I’d say the biggest thing is to keep producing books. Every book will sell more books. It’s the best promotional tool there is. I think once you have the product, then things like social media and connecting with readers becomes really important. The #1 most important thing to my career is my readers. I’d be nowhere without them and I know that. So I answer every email I get and I respond to tweets and Facebook posts.

The only rule of craft I live by is to tell a great story. You can fix the prose and sentence structure if the core of the story is there to begin with.

Check out Liliana Hart:

at her website!

on Facebook!

on Kobo! View Liliana’s Books

on Twitter!

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