Watch Your Tone or Writers on Social Media

broken computerRecently, I told a fellow-writer after reading his Facebook posts, “So, is your goal to sell books?” Every post he hoped would create discussion turned toward an undesirable direction. He is learning what all authors struggle with on social media. What can they post that gets many responses without setting off hate bombs?

My husband, who is a writer, loves a good debate on FB. He enjoys discussing history and current events.  Lately, however his “friends” have reverted to name calling because he stood on the opposite side of an issue. The last draw was when a gentleman with a PHD in History refused to read a book my hubby suggested that explained a statement he’d made regarding American History. (I’m being vague to protect all parties.) Based on my husband’s post the “friend” stated my hubby wasn’t smart enough to teach him anything, referring to my college graduate hubby as dumb. (And no, my sweetie, did not defend himself.) Instead, with a heavy heart, he stopped posting. He plans to remove hate speech posts in the future.angry-woman

 

Another relatively innocent post ended with the “friend” getting on her discrimination soap box and insulting my husband unjustly. My daughter got offended with the way this individual demeaned her father. She made some strong points only to receive the same wretched hate speech in return. Broke my husband’s heart to see his daughter so upset and placing herself in the line of fire for her dad’s sake.

My point

Be careful what you post on social media. If you write non-fiction and a little controversy related to your book subject may up your readership, be careful. If you write fiction, I’d tread very lightly. This past presidential election found a few fiction authors being told by readers they’d never read another of their books. I heard of one reader who threw all the author’s books away because their political views were different.

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Why I avoid posting hot topics like the plague

Not only do I not want to lose readers, I find people pick up unintended tone. This same daughter reacted to a text message I sent her because she thought I was mad. I’d asked a question—no tone—just a question. I had to reassure her I wasn’t mad. I’ve read hastily written emails at work that captured an unintended attitude.

When I write my novels, I want my readers to sense a tone. The characters mood needs to be clear on the page. Readers need to experience the heroine’s angst toward a situation or the hero. It makes for great fiction.  However, that doesn’t always translate well in the world of social media. I don’t take hours and days to write and rewrite my blogs before I post.

Watch your words

An innocent statement about something on the news can explode into hundreds of angry posts from people who aren’t even friends on your page.  Because a friend of a friend saw the post and made a comment. This has happened to my husband a few times. He’d posted a comment on something in current events and after a few scathing commenters, he left the conversation. Two days later the debate continued on his page between his friends on opposite sides of the political arena and many people he wasn’t friends with on Facebook. He removed the post because the thread of words increased in tone and went to a dark place.

 Yes, I express my opinions

I have opinions on many things outside the writing world. Things I prefer to discuss or debate in person. Face to face, I can see their expressions and ask questions for clarification. I have lovely friends who disagree with me on various issues, not to mention family members. That’s fine. We share our thoughts on a given subject without resorting to vile name calling. I find I gain a deeper understanding of their position. Interesting food for thought.

But on social media the darts fly. They not only wound the heart but can destroy your book sales. How many celebrities, politician and even teachers have post inflammatory things online in the heat of the moment that ended their careers.

I’ve made a few errors in judgement in my wording on posts and had to eat crow. Not something I ever want to do again. To avoid the backlash, I don’t respond to posts that irritate me.  The more I respond to a friend’s posts the more posts I receive from that friend. Which is how the Facebook algorithm works. Negative attitudes and hurtful words don’t look very professional or welcoming to people checking out my page.  I want people to find my posts interesting and encouraging.

My goals for social media

  • Keep in touch with the people I care about: family. former classmates, friends far away, other writers.
  • Engage my readers with posts that are fun, informative and welcoming.
  • Pass on useful links.
  • Oh, and sell books. 😊

How do you engage with your followers on social media in a positive way? What subjects have your learned to avoid?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Prepared to Make the Sale

DSC_1194I’m in the throes of beginning book sales. While the internet sales go forward I recall what it was like to sell product when I was in an MLM.  I failed to follow through on some of the marketing ideas offered. But the key ones were always having your product and catalogs with you. Adopting that mindset I have a few questions for anyone who’s got a book on the market.

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Do you keep a box of books in your car? How about a bag of books at work? A basket of books on vacation? You should. If you have your books with you and someone asked what you do and express an interest you’re ready to close the deal.

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Are you comfortable asking to have a book table anytime you are asked to speak?  Step out of your comfort zone and do it.

Have you looked for places to sell your books? Craft shows, festivals, art fairs, anywhere vendors sell their wares. Your books should be there. If you don’t believe in you who will.

Looking for and creating open doors is another way to get your name out there as you sell books. Don’t rely on online sales only. Diversify your opportunities. There are still lots of people who love paperback books and often when they meet an author will buy their books. I just arrange a book signing and a mini-workshop about writing at my local library.

Your book is not only your new baby it’s your new business. Treat it like one.

What have you done to prepare to make the sale?

 

 

 

Don’t Leave Money On the Book Table

bank-2029480_640Today I’m going to share a simple marketing tip. It’s sort of a no-brainer. Yet, many writers struggle with it. Last week when I had my book launch I’d read a discussion on Facebook which brought the topic to mind. And as a former MLM sales person I remembered the phrase. “Don’t leave any money on the table.”

My fellow authors were discussing the use of the Square vs the PayPal App on their phones to take debit and credit cards. The idea can be a bit scary if you’ve never done any banking on your phone. You younger writer probably do it without a thought. But for those of us who prefer to see the check deposited at the bank, this is a definite step out of our comfort zone.

The nice thing about the Square or PayPal there is no monthly fee. It’s pay as you go. You use the app and there is a small fee. I have a PayPal account. But I didn’t want to add it to my phone. Why? No idea. I purchased a square. Which is actually free. You get you $10 back after the first use. The phone store I purchased it from explained they had to have a price on it for inventory purposes.

 

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Why did I choose the square? My hair stylist uses it along with a few authors I respect. The recommendations of others is everything.

It is easy to install and easy to use. Be sure to get the Wi-Fi password of the location you’re at before you begin selling books. Or have a hotspot app on your phone for the same thing. This would be true using PayPal app as well.

These apps hold your money and transfer it to your bank after a few days. So, no one can steal any info or your funds.

Keep in mind you’re not only an author but a business owner. Don’t leave money on the table. Once a potential buyer has your book in their hands they need to purchase it. If you don’t take cards and they leave your table, even with a bookmark reminder, they may not ever buy your book.

The reason I recommend either the Square or PayPal is the no monthly fees. Some of you may have found another way. Back in the day when I had a mail-order book business and went to homeschool conventions to sell books I had one of those manual credit card machines. A big hassle. And the automated ones you see in stores and some vendors at craft shows use them have larger fees than these two simple phone apps.

You may be more comfortable with the older technology or the manual method. Either way be sure you give your perspective reader every option to purchase your book.

And I’d like to address one final argument for those of you who refuse to take cards because you don’t want to pay fees. Would you rather sell five books at full price or 20 and pay a small fee?

What device do you use when you have book signings and other events?

 

Creating Memes to Promote Book Sales

I’ve been experimenting with memes. You know the words displayed in an artist frame. When I think of memes I think of comments added to the grumpy cat photo, funny kid’s pics and favorite actors. Recently, we’ve seen a lot of minion memes.

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This an example of a meme you  find all over facebook.

Statistically, people stop to read words placed on a meme more than words alone. If I want my Facebook friends and twitter followers to take interest in my book I need to engage them now. Memes are a fun and actually easy way to do it.

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I created this meme on Pic monkey. I found the picture on pixabay.com and the quote is my own.  You can change font size and color so it is easy to read.

I was surprised how easy. If you take lots of pictures or in my case, my husband takes lots of pictures, then you can search through those to start your creation. You can use free photo sites like pixabay.com and morguefile.com to find pictures. Or you can create colorful backgrounds for your quotes. Word is too painful to use to create anything artistic. Word Publishing or PowerPoint programs work pretty well. There’s a bit of a learning curve at least for me. My hubby uses them with ease.

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This is a quote from a blog post. Putting key phrases from blogs either as a meme on the blog or social media draws attention to your work. There is something missing can you tell what it is? Created with Picmonkey.

I like Picmonkey. It’s a great website. I use it for preparing photos I want to post, but you can also create memes for FB, twitter or blogs. The site has FB and Twitter templates. You can customize the size. Create collages and more. Choose between the free and paid versions. It’s easy to use. The free one is great. I am a subscriber now because the fee gives me more options. There’s a free trial available and step by step instructions.

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This meme has my website at the bottom. The missing component to the previous meme. Also be sure to give correct to the person or book the quote is taken from.  Created with Picmonkey.

My plan involves posting quotes from my novel nearer it’s launch date. For now, I can post memes with favorite quotes, verses and the occasional words of wisdom I create myself. There’s lots of background art to choose from to help set your meme apart. Great for me who has only a small amount of artist flare in my left pinky finger. The backgrounds help your Pinterest boards look fantastic. You can resize, sharpen or crop a photo. With the paid version you can create invitations, business cards and more.  So Cool!

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This is a picture I found that reminds me of my heroine Evangeline in Secret and Charades. This quote does not appear in the novel. I wanted to show how easy it is to add text to pictures with Picmonkey.com

Tell me how you create memes? Feel free to post your meme in the comment section and share what program you use. Together we can make this meme experiment easy for everyone.

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Navigating the Confusing World of Rights and Royalties

Understand what rights you are selling and read the fine print on a contract.

Understand what rights you are selling and read the fine print on a contract.

Today I promised to share about rights and royalties. Right here in the first paragraph is my disclaimer: I am no expert. So, do your research before signing on the dotted line. Rights and royalties can be a bit confusing so hang in there. Publishing rights cover a multitude of art forms from music lyrics to artwork to e-books. Obviously, because this is a blog about writing, I will be focusing on writer’s publishing rights. So let’s begin.

All rights: After publication you may not resell your manuscript. This may seem reasonable at first blush. Read the fine print carefully. All rights can also cover your article appearing on the web or used in an anthology or portion used in other publications. Ask yourself if you are comfortable surrendering all rights for the price offered.

I had the experience back in the 80s of accepting an all rights contract for radio scripts I wrote for a ministry. They turned them into to narratives and these stories are still circulating today. I was thrilled to get my name out there and was naive regarding payment. So, at the time I was content. Now, however, I would be less likely to take a contract like this unless my goal is strictly building writing creds. We all need writing creds.

All rights on a book can include the novel itself, movie, international, e-book and audio rights. Be sure you have an agent or a contract lawyer look over the terms of the contract before signing. They know what to ask to protect your work and get you the best deal for future residual income.

First rights: You are offering the publication the first option to publish your work. First rights means the rights revert back to the author to resubmit it to another periodical. The publisher may have a clause in the contract instructing you to wait a specific time period before submitting it elsewhere.

Reprint rights: This is the resubmitted piece I mention in the first rights definition. There is no limit to the number of times you can sell reprint rights. Be sure to indicate this is a reprint in your query letter and where it appeared. Some publishers will not take reprints and unpleasant problems arise if you fail to mention this.

E-book rights: Although most book publishers are including these rights in the initial contract asking for all rights, some are not. If you retain the e-book rights, you can self-publish the same book as an e-book yourself or sell the e-book rights to another publisher. I’m sure you can see why most publishers keep those rights. You can also publish a backlist title in e-book. A backlist title is a book you already published, perhaps now out-of-print and the rights have been returned to you.

Movie-rights: This is a fun one. Movie rights can mean nothing in a contract if your novel is never optioned for a movie. But if it is—be sure you have an agent ready to negotiate those rights. By the way, optioning for movie rights is not the same as a contract for making a movie. It means I’ll pay you a little something to hang onto the idea of making your book into a movie. They hang onto the option for a few years until they decide to do it or circular file the idea.

How does a book author get paid?

There are three ways a writer can be paid for their book.

  1. Flat fee: a set amount of money paid on contract signing that you get to keep. The amount doesn’t change no matter if the book is a best seller or a flop.
  2. Royalties: a small amount paid to you for every book sold
  3. Advance against royalties: Money paid to you on signing a contract with a promise of more royalties should the book do well. They have a standard based on marketing research on what those sales numbers would be.

Advance against royalties is the most desirable. Here’s how that works. If the target is 20,000 (This a number I pulled out of the air) you will not receive a royalty check until after 20,001 books are sold.

Many small publishers only pay royalties. There is no advance, you receive royalties starting with book one. Royalties are usually paid semi-annually or annually. Some publishers may pay more often.

There have been a few sad occasions when publishers have demanded their advance back if a book sells poorly. Again, an agent or lawyer would catch those points and probably negotiate a better deal.

If your book never sells beyond the publisher’s established minimum expectations you will never see royalties.

What are residuals?

Residuals are continuous payments for your work. As long as your book is selling. These can come from international sales (books translated into other languages for example.)

Seek Legal help if you don’t understand your rights in a contract.

The key to insuring you don’t get tripped up over royalties, advances and rights is to have an agent. Unless you are a contract lawyer or an agent, don’t negotiate the contract on your own. Agents will be able to wade through the pages of information and point out areas of concern. Smaller manuscripts such as articles have smaller contracts you can usually understand without a lawyer. But then again, as I mentioned earlier, I had to consult a lawyer.

I know it is hard, but don’t be in such a hurry to get a contract for publication that you sign on the dotted line without paying close attention. Another example: a script that is purchased on spec can be tied up for years. At the end of that time it may never be produced.

The greeting card contract I signed took two years for the publisher to decide whether to use my verses. After two years they returned them to me. That was two years I couldn’t submit my work elsewhere.

I am learning to weigh which rights I am truly comfortable giving to publishers on any given project. I am more agreeable to small or no compensation from start-up publications than from well-established ones with a readership in the thousands especially if they sell advertising. If they want all rights that is a deal breaker.

Educate yourself as much as you can and seek advice from others more experienced. Again I place my disclaimer here: I am no expert.

So go forth, submit, and decide which rights are right for you.

Do you have anything else to add regarding royalties and rights? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

 

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