Let me repeat: It’s a Business

Writing is a business word cloud

Writing is a business not just art. Success hinges on more than your well-written words. Unless we view it as a business and dig in to learn how to run it, then our words will always be a hobby and few people will see them. That was the theme of many of the classes and workshops I attended at a recent writer’s conference.

Don’t stuff your ears

It’s been the trumpet call for years and yet writers resist the call. We stuff cotton in our ears and say I just want to write. My words have value. Let’s not sully them with marketing and social media forays.

I’ve been struggling to do what I can to build a platform. Every time platform was mention groans of frustrated echoed in the room.

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Groan worthy moment

I just discovered the reason I couldn’t post on Instagram on my laptop. Instagram is a mobile app only. That means I can read and follow on my PC, but it limits posting to my cell phone. (Sigh!!!) I’ve still got a lot to learn.

 

Cross-pollination

The key tidbit I took away from the conference was cross-pollination. Writers need to add speaking, coaching and teaching to their toolbox. I’ve been writing for years and speaking on occasion. Expanding my speaking platform makes sense. I’ve made a list of how I need to go about making that happen.

animal bee bloom blooming

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Another part of cross-pollination is writing articles from the content of your books. Write on the same theme in a variety of venues. My heart is to help others. This blog and articles I publish are how-to and helping pieces about writing, and a few other topics near to my heart. My novels have characters who need help to find healing and open their hearts to love.

person holding black pen

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Dreaded paperwork

Another piece of the business of writing is having a tax advisor who knows what you need to sell books at venues in your state. Some authors feel awkward charging customers sales tax. You are selling a product. If you don’t charge it, then it comes out of your pocket. The IRS will not be happy if you don’t pay taxes. You must understand what paperwork they require for your income tax at years end too. What can you claim as a deduction and where to send your sales tax?

Hire help

You can hire accountants, tax advisors or marketing gurus to do these things. My marketing gal does most of my social media, creates memes and tracks results. I choose to do some of it myself too. Numbers and I have never been friends. My tax guy is outstanding, and my hubby keeps the books for free.

Ask others

I wasn’t shy about asking other authors what resources they used to run a successful business. I’ve a lot of work still ahead as I navigate building my writing career. Longing for the days when publishers built careers won’t sell books or grow my income. It’s up to me to make it happen. And that is a tough steak to chew. But chew it I will.

How do you run your writing business? What new things have you taken on to make it a success? Comment below so we can encourage one another.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to Jubilee Writer is you want to receive more writerly insights, and author reviews in your email when they become available.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Three Free Marketing Platforms For Novels

social-icons

graphic from iconion.com

Again today I want to share a few tidbits from the writer’s conference I attended last week. No matter how often I attend a conference I always something to learn. Last week was my tenth consecutive conference. The industry is constantly changing. Besides writing skills, workshops including marketing skills. The internet has ushered in new ways and creativity in marketing.

More and more marketing is done by the writer, not their agent or publisher. So, we need to learn it, use it and find ways to do it cheaply. The biggest marketing tool you can use—and it’s free—is social media. I took a continued class on the subject taught by best-selling suspense author DiAnn Mills.

Wow! So much to learn.

The number one social media tool is Facebook. Twitter following a close second. And if you write YA, Instagram is the go-to media. YA readers apparently think Facebook is for their parents.

All of these are free to use. You can grow your following and get readers excited about your books.

The key is not to talk a lot about your book.

I saw that. Your eyes popped for a moment while you scratch your head. Why use social media to market your book if you’re not going to talk about it.

facebook-icon

graphic from softicon.com

Facebook

The formula is 1 to 5. For every five posts only one should be about the sale of your book. The other four should be about your reader. Memes of fun things. (A meme is a cartoon or photo with a quote on it.) Comments about your life.

Author of The Final Ride, Linda Yezak posts silly things about her coffee addiction. And Shelley Arnold, author of The Spindle Chair, shares her cooking fiascos. Others post word-for-word humorous dialog that took place with family members or co-workers. Sharing sales of other authors’ books or favorite books is another option. You don’t need an author’s page to do this. Although if your goal is over 5000 followers, you will need one. (Or if you want to separate your author life from posts only for family and friends on a closed group page.)

Twitter

graphic from softicons.com

Twitter

Same formula applies. However, Twitter gives you an opportunity to reach all your followers with the same sorts of things in 140 characters or less. Twitter unlike Facebook, has no algorithm that selects which of your followers get your posts at any given time. So, Twitter is a better promotional tool for announcing book signings and speaking engagements. Don’t understand Twitter? Google has lots of how-to info. And You-Tube has step by step instructions.

instagram

graphic from iconarchive.com

Instagram

All I know about it comes from watching the young people in my life share photos. I don’t write YA so I’m not adding that to my marketing arsenal. I want to focus on the best tools for my genre. Women’s Fiction and Romance readers are found on Facebook and Twitter.

This is only a small portion of what I learned about using social media for marketing. I’m still digesting all the information. Later I’ll post some other insights as I perfect them myself. (Maybe not perfect. Rather, figure out. J )

How is marketing through social media working for you? Which of the social medium platfrorm do you enjoy using? Share in the comments.

Want to receive this blog in your email. Subscribe in the right hand column. Please and Thank you.

 

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.

 

If you’ve thought about subscribing or even if your toying with the idea. Do it today so you don’t miss any of the upcoming conference tips delivered right to your email.