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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Learn What You Don’t Know

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Marketing tip #4 Learn Stuff

To quote Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS) when he tells his agents to investigate. “Go! Learn stuff!” They need to do interviews, research facts, and revisit the crime scene and evidence. This same directive applies to marketing. When it comes to marketing “we don’t know what we don’t know.” And for me, there is a gob of stuff I don’t know.

I just spent time building my author page on Amazon. Once you get in there it is a step by step process. Clear instructions and examples helped me put all the components in place. Then I came to the part where I could add my blog address. I know my URL. It’s http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com. But the site asked for my RSS. Without it, my blog post would not be part of my author page. What is an RSS and how do I find it? I didn’t have time to email a friend and ask for instructions. As I pondered this, the words of a young member of my critique group came to mind. You can find anything on YouTube. Thank you, Erin. So, I googled “how do I find my blog’s RSS.” Voila! I clicked the first reference. A blog about it with a—wait for it—YouTube link at the bottom to find your RSS for WordPress blogs. The RSS for WordPress blogs is simply—feed. You add a forwardslash and the word feed. Other blog servers have different RSS that must be added after your URL. I didn’t bother to learn those. Sorry! I’m sure there’s a YouTube video for those as well.  So, my URL with RSS looks like this. http//www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com/feed. I learned what I needed to know.

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Learn what you don’t know

Educate yourself about any social media you don’t know. I’ve used Facebook for years. Twitter is fairly new for me. I’ve been reading blog posts about hashtags to figure out how best to mark my posts. Twitter is an awesome place to market because your tweets go out live to every one of your followers and on feeds that match your hashtags i.e. #amwriter. You can retweet the same thing often because unlike Facebook people usually don’t go back once a week to scroll through what they missed.

I accidently got a Pinterest account. How can you accidently sign up for one? I needed a picture for my blog. Signing up gave me access to all those Pinterest pictures from various boards. Now I have Pinterest and their admin constantly emails me boards I might like to pin to my site. I need to learn more about Pinterest and create some boards myself. It is easy to use. My sister loves it. Other authors swear it is an awesome tool.  That brings me to the next point.

Make time to learn stuff early on

The learning curve for new things for some of us is long. I do better if someone talks me through steps while I do them. But I can follow step by step instruction, it just takes me longer. Learning how to create a blog site and figuring out how to reach more people has been a big learning curve for me. Blogging is part of my marketing toolbox. I have been using it for a few years. Years before my novel got a contract. Years before my novel is due to come out. This is key. Don’t wait until your book is out to learn stuff. That is like reading about CPR while your spouse is having a heart attack. Your novel may die before it has a chance to be part of many reader’s libraries.

 

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Be proactive

Ask marketing questions and do what can be done long before your book is published. I couldn’t create an Author page on Amazon or Goodreads before I had an ISBN number for my novel. But I could create a reader page on Goodreads and post lots of book reviews. Goodreads is a great place to engage with other readers. My Facebook friends who are avid readers follow me on Goodreads. Now I’ll build an author page on Goodreads and those same readers may follow me as a writer.

Pay for what you don’t know or don’t want to learn

There are wonderful people out there who can design bookmarks, flyers, and postcards for advertising in no time. Then there is me. I would rather pay for someone to do it for me than do it myself. As I journey through marketing my novel, Secrets and Charades, I will pay for others to do some of the work for me. Research which marketing people are right for you. Ask around for referrals. Learn stuff.

Share what you know

Gibbs always gathered his team for a briefing. Each agent shared what they found out and all the pieces were put together. Share the stuff you learn. Even if it’s little. There is always someone who doesn’t know what you know. Don’t be a negative Nellie. Be sure the things you bring to the cooperative marketing idea table are truly helpful. And if you must warn someone of a bad experience, package it in carefully chosen words. The right attitude may set the stage for you to be offered an opportunity to share stuff in a speaking or teaching venue in the future.

Tell me what you’ve learned about marketing along the way that made a difference for you? What services would you rather pay for? How do you learn stuff? I’m anxious to hear your answers.

 

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Be like Bull in Developing Your Characters

bull-posterThere’s a new show on CBS that parallels the writing life. Bull stars Michael Weatherly (NCIS) as a psychologist who specializes in trial science. The science of getting in the heads of jurors to help present a case you can win. Bull and his team take on cases of innocent people (of course I suppose trial science can be used to help the guilty get off.) and analyzes what is needed for those individuals to be found not guilty when the media and initial evidence points to their guilt.

Dr. Bull preps the defense counsel on what questions to ask during jury selection to find jurors who will be sympathetic to his client. After the jury is selected he hires people to be a mirror jury. Each juror’s personality, convictions, and worldview are matched to the real jurors to create a fake replica jury. Bull’s team have mock trails to discover what the outcome would be based on various scenarios.  What is in the background or character makeup of each real juror that could influence the verdict and how can they present the case and the client to these twelve to gain their confidence for a not guilty verdict. Fascinating stuff.

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As a writer, we create characters we want our readers to sympathize with. Otherwise, they won’t read to the end. We need to dig deep as we create our characters and find out what is their underlying motivation. They must be more than one-dimensional. If your heroine had an FB page what would she post? How are your hero’s finances and do your characters love their jobs? We need to get into their heads. Did the protagonist have a wonderful childhood or is there a family secret that taints his view of the world.

Bulls team digs into the background of each juror and based on that information creates a profile on how they would probably respond to various pieces of evidence and information shared during the trial. A recent episode was a malpractice trial. The doctor was a brilliant physician but an egotistical jerk. The patient was suing because a lifesaving hysterectomy prevented her from ever having children. She felt it could have been avoided. The sympathy of the jury squarely with the patient.

Challenge of winning over the reader

Of course, Bull’s team discovered the special machine used to do the surgery was the culprit that caused the excess bleeding that led to the doctor’s decision. The challenge was to get the jury to look beyond the doctor’s arrogance to be open to the idea the manufacturers of the surgical equipment were at fault. The doctor had to allow himself to be vulnerable on the stand. The dramatic scene with the doctor admitting he only has one talent—being  a surgeon—but he lacks people skills in every area of his life. It wins the jury to his side.

Our characters must win over our readers. The cranky old guy should reveal how much he misses his son who died in the war. The addicted mother needs to share with her daughter what pushed her over the edge. The fiancé admits his fear of being a father because his dad was abusive.

Keep up with social media and current events to create believable characters

Research into each juror helps Bull craft questions for the lawyer to bring the desired result. We writer’s need to know what our readers want. What questions are we seeing on TV and social media? What is trending? Those are the things that make for fresh plots. Things that address real or perceived needs. Settings and situations that make the reader curious. A friend of mine has her character building a tiny house. Another author explored negative mothering that left the heroine struggling with self-worth.  Reality shows are all the rage and those settings can make for interesting plot twists whether romance or murder. Again, the types of characters populating these settings draw the reader to follow your story to the end.

Each episode of Bull ends on a high note for the client and a takeaway lesson. Our novels need the same sort of conclusion. And if our characters are relatable to our reader the conclusion will meet the felt need. And just as I look forward to the next episode of Bull, your readers will anxiously await your next novel.

How do your characters mirror life?

How do you build character’s your readers relate too?

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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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Three Free Marketing Platforms For Novels

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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