Molly Jo Realy Explains Why Authors Need A Swarm

BUZZ.Bio.PicToday I have asked Molly Jo Realy, my fantastic editor to come and talk to us about creating a Swarm. Among her awesome skills is helping authors create a following on social media. Some called it a tribe. Molly Jo calls it a swarm. Let’s find out why.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your very busy life to pay my readers a visit. I’ve set out some brownies on my kitchen table, which is my favorite place to conduct interviews. Take a seat and help yourself. I heard you prefer coffee so I had my hubby make you some.

Thanks, Cindy. It’s true, I’m a coffee addict. Thanks for noticing.

First, explain what a swarm is and why writers need them.

Well, for starters, the word “Swarm” sort of just came to me. I was writing a blog post on the Do’s and Don’t’s of social media and I titled it “To Be or Not to Be”. It was at this time I also reconstructed my monthly newsletter and named it “Here’s the Buzz.” So the bee theme fell into place and once I realized that, it was a no-brainer to recognize my people as my Swarm.swarm of bees

A swarm of bees works together for the good of all and to support the Queen Bee in her goals. Other than the Queen, bees don’t really have a multi-tier hierarchy. They help each other and spread sweet nectar and pollen to keep their world going and growing. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

Bees communicate because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to build hives, discover new fields, or survive.

I’m not a Queen Bee by any means, and it’s my Swarm who keep me flying. They share my passion for writing and help create a social media buzz by telling others about my books, editing, mad ninja skills, and whatever else I share that they want to pass on. They communicate with me, telling me what works, what doesn’t, what I can do better. They are my foundation, my support. No Queen Bee is worth anything without a strong Swarm around her.bee-square

Why should writers bother with social media? Isn’t promoting our books the job of our publisher?

Not at all. First, most authors of our caliber are contracted through smaller publishing houses which rarely have their own marketing division. When a publisher signs you, they expect you to come “pre-packaged”, that is, with your own networkers and supporters. Your first source of honey is going to be your own hive. We are the first generation of writers to have instant access to the world via the internet. It’s integral to our flight that we know how to use it efficiently, and that includes interacting with and being responsible to our Swarm.

I’ve heard you have to post a lot and often on Facebook, Twitter and all those other social media sites in order to get noticed. Is that true?

Yes and no. 100% of any Swarm is found via a mix of Facebook and Twitter. All other sites are a good boost, but I recommend picking and choosing an amount you can regularly interact with. Some busy bees can manage many, others might want to fly closer to home. Remember the key word here is social. If you have a Swarm, you need to care for them. This means letting them know they’re good for you and your environment.

bees in hiveOn average, post three to four times daily, each day. And follow up. If a worker bee replies to your post, how long do you think he or she will stay in your Swarm if you constantly ignore them?

My sites of choice are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, for daily Swarming, and I visit Pinterest and Google+ a few times each week.

Also by sharing with your bees daily, it’s not such a heavy load.

Toss out a freebie or contest now and then. Post questions, quizzes, polls. Share their stories and reviews. Appreciate what they do on your behalf. If a bee tags you in a different hive, say thanks for the honey.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Remember that even an angry bee can be beneficial, if handled properly. Let’s face it, sometimes bees sting. But that’s few and far between. The trick there is to acknowledge the hurt and move forward. Sharing someone else’s bad review of your book can start your Swarm buzzing on your behalf.

How do you keep the interest of your swarm and grow the numbers?

There are different analytic insights you can track on Facebook, your blog, etc., to notice which of your posts get the most interaction. Find your focus, and make a bee-line for it. Don’t fly all over the place, but direct your Swarm. My blog offers a plethora of topics, but the underlying theme is Faith, Family, Food, and Fun. There are subtopics like editing tips, social media buzz, Pinterest-worthy crafts. On Facebook and Twitter, I post short links, curate from other sources (foodie articles, Pinterest shares, writing and editing sites). Find the theme(s) that tie what you write with the people you want in your Swarm. Nature will take its course from there.

After you’ve told everyone on social media to buy your book what more is there to say?

First, I must say, never, ever, ever “tell” someone to buy your book. Your swarm should be with you from the beginning stages. Bees don’t move into a pre-built hive. They build it according to their Swarm specifics and the Queen Bee’s plans.

So start your Swarm early. Build your social media sites while you’re still writing your book. Share the flight. Some days you’ll have blue skies and tail winds, other days are stormy and all you’ll want is shelter. Let your Swarm be a part of the process. When your book is ready, your Swarm will be your first readers and buyers because they’ve taken the journey with you.

This doesn’t mean to spill all the beans. You don’t want to post chapters online or reveal the whodunit prematurely. You can definitely create a buzz with before-and-after actions. Share their reviews. Ask them to help set up book signings and author events.

Unless you’re a one-and-done writer, you’ll always have a need for your Swarm.

What if I don’t have time to deal with social media because my life is squeezed between my job and writing deadlines. Any suggestions?

I again recommend picking your location. Some hives are big, some are small. There are scheduling applications like Hootsuite that you can use to preschedule posts.

Besides social media are there other ways to create a swarm?

Most definitely, although it may be less noticeable as social media enables us to reach many people on a larger plateau quickly. Having said that, some Swarms are physically located. Ask your family and friends to join you for a potluck to update them on your writing progress. Find small groups where you can present your works: book clubs, church groups, writers meetings, craft fairs.

Is there anything more you would like to add about swarms that I forgot to ask and you feel is a need-to-know?

Remember to take care of yourself and your Swarm. And remember that bees move on. If you start with sharing recipes on Facebook, it’s not that sticky to change your post themes. Keep the sales pitch to a minimum (one in six posts). The rest of the sharing is meant to build relationships. Have fun with your hive!

If all you want is to sell books, just take out an ad in Sunday’s paper.

Molly Jo, you’ve been so helpful. Why not tell us a little about your writing projects and your editorial service and how my readers can contact you.

In addition to writing and editing, I’m the producer of the Firsts in Fiction Podcast where we talk weekly about writing fiction. I enjoy helping others develop a social media presence, cooking, and sharing life online.

My work in progress is NOLA, a location mystery set in New Orleans. It’s about a woman who’s so fed up with life she takes a trip and winds up in New Orleans where she gets caught up in a possible murder. She has to choose between returning to what she thought was a life worth escaping, or staying and embracing the chaos of new love and old wounds.

Thank you again. This has been fun, and the brownies were excellent.

You can contact me through the links in my bio.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this Beeutiful interview. I Beelieve we have all benefited from your wisdom.

About Molly

Molly Jo is a writer, editor, social media ninja, and producer of the weekly Firsts in Fiction podcast. She is the founder of New Inklings Press and author of The Unemployment Cookbook: Ideas for Feeding Families One Meal at a Time, and other books available through her website and on Amazon.

Her current work in progress, NOLA, is a location mystery set in New Orleans and is scheduled for publication in late 2016.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and her blog, Frankly, My Dear . . .

 

If you have any specific questions about social media or would like to share your experience please leave a comment below. I always love to hear from you all.

 

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Blood for Blood’s Creator-An Interview with Ben Wolf

Ben Wolf  is his own hero and villian.

Ben Wolf is his own hero and villian.

Today I welcome Ben Wolf, owner and founder of Splickety Publishing Group, to my blog. I met Ben Wolf at a writer’s conference a few years ago and have watched his career grow from there. After reading his debut novel Blood for Blood I wanted to invite him to take a seat in my very cluttered office to share a little about how he decided on his theme. For those of you who have not read my book review let me give you the one second recap: A vampire gets saved. Kind of weird yet intriguing at the same time. Hey, that kind of describes you, Ben. Let me clear off that chair over there and we can get started.

Tell my readers a little bit about yourself. The normal along with the weird.

Hi, Cindy. I’m both the hero and the villain in my own story, which makes for some interesting sword-fighting duels in my sleep. As you said, I’m the founder/owner/Executive Editor of Splickety Publishing Group, your source for the best flash fiction in the world. When I’m not working on Splickety stuff, people pay me small fortunes (emphasis on small) to freelance edit their writing, whether it’s nonfiction, fiction, or just about anything else.

I’m also the author of Blood for Blood, as you said in your delightful introduction. And yes, a vampire does get saved. The story focuses on what happens to him after that experience, specifically on how he tries to stop becoming a vampire and how other Christians treat him.

It’s obvious to anyone who meets you and follows you on Facebook that you write and love speculative fiction. How does this genre fit in the Christian market?

For readers who don’t know what spec fiction is, it’s anything weird: super heroes, vampires, aliens, fantasy, sci-fi, Steampunk, paranormal, supernatural and much, much more. As to its place in the Christian market…most of us are still trying to figure out exactly what that is. Right now the Christian market is dominated by romance and other inspirational genres (including historical). Suspense/thriller/crime/mystery stories are also up there, probably ahead of speculative fiction.

But that’s rapidly changing. Very, very rapidly. We’re poised to take over, and it’s going to be amazing. Within the next 10 years, I anticipate that you’ll see more and more Christian spec fiction (or just spec fic in general) on your bookshelves, and more on Amazon.com and other online retailers as well. The younger generation doesn’t go in for romance stories like previous generations have—they grew up with spec fic in pop culture, so that’s what they love. That’s what they write, that’s what they read, and that’s what they’ll be buying.

Blood for Blood Cover

Blood for Blood centers around a vampire. Why vampires?

Vampires, in their traditional form as set down primarily by Bram Stoker in Dracula, are diametrically opposed to everything that Christianity stands for. My friend Matt Sheehy, also an author, suggested to me that a vampire getting saved would be hilarious because of all the various vampire taboos he’d have to face as a result. I did a 10-part blog series on the particulars of what my main character Raven endures after he becomes a Christian and why vampires are vexed by Christian principles.

Beyond that, I wanted to explore the question of whether or not a vampire even could be saved. Traditionally, vampires don’t have souls. Therefore a vampire can’t be saved. However, we serve a God who is capable of doing the impossible. He raised Jesus, Lazarus, and others from the dead, and in Psalm 23 King David talks about God “restoring his soul,” so add a bit of fiction to it and hey, maybe this could actually work out.

An Italian evangelist was a surprise to me. Not your stereotypical minister. Talk a little bit about him and his goals.

Luco Zambini is the Italian evangelist in the story. He sort of takes Raven under his wing and tries to help him walk in his new faith. It’s unusual for an Italian in this time period to be non-Catholic, but not impossible, so Luco is an example of an exception. The fact that he’s Italian comes into play when Raven accidentally eats pasta sauce at Luco’s house that contains garlic.

Long story short, Luco’s intention is to prove to his congregation and his family that Raven is capable of genuine change because God is capable of inspiring that change. It’s his hope that Raven’s soul will be fully restored and that he’ll be able to walk in daylight again, just like normal humans do, and just like raven used to do when he was a human.

I found your theme compelling. This coming from a non-vampire reader. Psalms 23:5 is your focus scripture. The restoration of a soul is a wonderful thing. But taking it to the extreme of a soulless man was genius. Now that I’ve totally stroked your ego tell us what this verse means to you personally.

Thanks. My ego and I will sleep well tonight. For me, Psalm 23 (the entire chapter) was something my parents recited with me every night before bedtime when I was a kid. On some level, it must have stuck with me. The imagery of King David’s poetry is powerful and loaded with meaning beyond just the beautiful prose when you understand the context of some of the things he’s saying.

Suffice it to say that we all venture into that valley of the shadow of death at times, and we all need the Lord to guide us, me included. Psalm 23 is a great reminder of that.

This book is written with the new adult audience (young people in their 20s) in mind yet I haven’t seen that decade in a while and I enjoyed it. Pretend you’re speaking to a room full of people my age and share with us why we would find value in reading this story.

I’ve got two things to say to you on this matter: Blood for Blood may be geared for the “new adult” age range, but the principles of a good story are all there: a solid plot with believable characters, compelling conflict and tense interactions, and twists that you’ll never see coming. Tosca Lee, a New York Times bestselling author, said it best: “Action, humor, romance… Ben Wolf goes for the jugular and dares to ask: is anyone beyond the grace of God?”

As for reason number two, it is beneficial to know what folks of all ages are reading. If you’re not in that new adult range and you’re a YA reader, this book will still appeal to you. If you’re older than that new adult range, then you probably know some younger folks who would get a kick out of this book and other books like it. If you’re a parent or a grandparent to someone in the new adult or young adult range, then read this book to screen it for your loved ones, or just get it for them because it’s bound to be right up their alley.

It’s been great visiting with you and before you go can you share with my readers about Splickety’s magazines and how they can subscribe. Don’t forget to mention the anthology. And please feel free to promote yourself shamelessly.

Ben's Pic 2

Splickety always has some sort of deal going on, and right now so do I. Subscribing to Splickety’s magazines is as easy as visiting our website, clicking a few subscribe buttons, giving us your info, and then paying via PayPal. But there’s a better deal going on that isn’t currently on the website.

Right now, you can get a digital copy of my novel Blood for Blood AND a one-year digital subscription to Splickety’s magazines for $19.95 if you email me with the code B4B1995 at 1BenWolf@gmail.com. I’ll then provide instructions on where to mail the payment (or we can do PayPal) and we’ll make sure we get you signed up.

Normally the subscription alone costs $24.95, and Blood for Blood sells on Amazon for $4.99, so you’re saving about ten bucks with this deal. As Cindy said, our first-ever Splickety anthology is coming out soon as well, and that’ll be available for purchase soon after the new year rolls in.

If you’re looking for an editor, for consulting, or for a great public speaker, check out my website at www.benwolf.com, contact me, and we can talk about those things at your leisure.

I want to add how much I enjoy Splickety magazines. Great flash fiction coming to your email or mail box every month.  As Ben suggested check it out.

If you have any questions for Ben about his writing process, writerly things or vampires leave a comment.

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