Wait, Does RSVP Really Mean “Respond, Dammit?”

Remember learning that RSVP meant “répondez s’il vous plaît?” And, if you learned that as a kid, do you remember how cool and
sophisticated it made you feel? I sure do. Not only was it French — the most romantic of the romance languages — but it was like I had been given yet another key to open another secret grown-up door. And, in this case, I was picturing a very swanky, high-class door. How cool was that? All I had to do to become part of the club was to communicate. Usually in writing. Even better, am I right?

All I had to do to become part of the club was to communicate. In writing. Click To Tweet

Do You Care About Getting Your Stuff Read?

So what does RSVP have to do with writing? Not much — if you don’t care about having your stuff read. But if like many of us, your goals include getting your beautiful book babies in front of readers, then you are probably engaged in far more marketing, outreach and networking than you ever dreamed possible. You may still not be seeing the connection but, trust me, I’m getting there.

You post on Facebook and Instagram. Or Pinterest and Twitter. You interact with readers and other writers. You re-tweet and re-post in support of good people, products, or ideas but, when it comes to your own work? You’re frequently committing professional malpractice.

I’m going to break one of the cardinal rules of online communication. I’m going to (virtually) shout at you. Ready? Click To Tweet

And, to make sure you don’t miss it, I’m going to break one of the cardinal rules of online communication. I’m going to (virtually) shout. Ready?

When someone offers you an opportunity for increased exposure? RESPOND, DAMMIT!

What forms of increased exposure, you ask?

  • You’re offered an interview? RESPOND.
  • Someone asks for your author photo? RESPOND.
  • A reviewer has requested a copy of your book? RESPOND
  • A Twitter chat leader invites you to co-host and needs a bio for the promos? RESPOND
  • And what do you do when one of your contacts asks for a high-resolution copy of your book cover? Let’s hear it from the tenors, now: RESPOND.

And, for the hundreds of other opportunities that might come your way? Let’s hear it in unison, loudly, for the people in the back… RESPOND DAMMIT!!!

And Here’s a ‘Respond Dammit’ Don’t

And here’s what you shouldn’t do: DO NOT WAIT.

Believe me, I am well-aware of how busy a solo practitioner (aka indie author) can get. And, I promise you that I’ve dropped the ball on more occasions than I can count. That’s probably why I get so agitated about it: I always hate to waste a good mistake.

What no longer works is an e-mail auto-responder — or slotting these things for “later, when I have time.” You’re not going to have more time later — and email is not where many of the requests will come from. (It is, however, useful for longer communications, such as the Q&A for an online interview, but more about that in another post.)

Believe me, I am well-aware of how busy an indie author can get. And I've dropped the ball too many times. Click To Tweet

But… HOW to Give a Fast Response?

So how does a busy, perhaps traveling, author make sure she’s able to respond? The answer, my friend, is in the cloud. Not only do I keep author photos, bios, and book covers on my desktop, I’ve got them stashed in various locations in the cloud: on a private page of my website, in a documents folder in my iCloud, and in the DropBox folder that comes with my Amelia Indie Authors membership! (shameless plug).

Why does a fast response matter so much? As stated before, you’re busy. We know that. But so are the people making the request. And the longer it takes for them to assemble the pieces they need to reference (or feature) you, the less of a priority you — and your beautiful book — become. And, if you sit in virtual limbo for long enough, the initial idea becomes untimely. Or irrelevant. And it takes more work to figure out how and what to do with you. You’ve gone from being an interesting addition to a mildly annoying loose end. And that’s surely not your intention. Or your wish.

So how about looking at those requests as invitations? Invitations to a more grown-up, professional place in the writers’ community; invitations that come with an RSVP.

How about you just RESPOND, DAMMIT?

Merci beaucoup. 

 

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Not only does Andrea Patten speak French, she is our Director of Operations, currently tasked with keeping all of the plates spinning. In her “spare time,” she does her level best to keep up with her dogs — and her own writing.

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pink neon sign says, "discover, embrace, be you."

Hashtag WritingCommunity: Emma Lombard on Building an Author Platform

 

Photo of writer Emma Lombard in her post on social media and followers

When I ventured into the Twitterverse, I was terrified. Having witnessed how quickly situations could turn toxic on social media, I didn’t want to involve myself in this world. But a huge part about being an author is putting yourself out there and social media plays a big role in that these days.

I resurrected my Twitter account in 2018 (dormant since 2010) and I most fortuitously tripped across the #WritingCommunity.

Tentatively Venturing into Social Media

I spent months fumbling my way around Twitter, feeling insecure and unsure about what to do – or more importantly, what not to do. I didn’t want to step on any Twitter toes. I started posting Twitter Tip threads that garnered a lot of thanks and praise from those still learning themselves. I ended up with so many Twitter Tips threads that I decided to put them together as my first blog, TWITTER TIPS FOR NEWBIES. It has turned out to be a big hit with folks, as have my follow-up blogs in the series.

I’m no expert in social media, in human relations or in the publishing industry – I have a little more knowledge than some folks and a whole lot less knowledge than others. I share my own experiences. Sometimes, all folks need is to know they are not alone on their journey and that others are experiencing similar challenges.

Sometimes, all folks need is to know they are not alone on their journey. Click To Tweet

 

Figuring Out How Social Media Ticks

I research blogs and online marketing sites for advice. Social media is an evolving platform, so I figure that reading the most up-to-date news about its functions from those in-the-know is the way to go.

Interestingly, I found some marketing websites better and easier to understand than Twitter or Facebook’s help sites. The best sites for me are the ones with pictures or videos. Bless all those guys and gals who know how to record this info and upload it!

One thing I like to do on Twitter is to boost those who have fewer than 1,000 followers. I don’t do this to encourage folks to play the numbers game. I do it because Twitter analytics don’t seem to give any traction to the posts of those with fewer than 1,000 followers. This came from my personal experience – I found that once I tipped over the 1,000 mark, I popped up on people’s feeds and they interacted with me more.

One thing I like to do on Twitter is to boost those who have fewer than 1,000 followers. Click To Tweet

 

Taking Care Not to Be Overwhelmed by Social Media

pink neon sign says, "discover, embrace, be you."

One huge job for me is screening new followers on Twitter to decide if we’re compatible. I don’t blind follow (I made that rookie mistake in the beginning). As part of my daily Twitter housekeeping, I do a quick screen for bots – they’re easy to spot – and I block them instantly. For everyone else who’s a real person, if they interact with me on my feed and I see that they are following me, I screen them for compatibility and if we’re a good fit, I follow back.

This process keeps me supporting and following new folks while not being overwhelmed by a large number of followers. I realise I’m in a fortunate position and I can only thank the lovely peeps in Twitter’s #WritingCommunity for making this happen.

I’ve taken my time about building my author platform, only extending myself into new areas once I was comfortable with a certain niche. I began with Twitter, then branched out to blogging and my most recent endeavour is my Facebook author page.

 

Should Writers Have a Large Social Media Following?

Hoo boy! This is a loaded question with so many varying opinions, including from editors, agents and publishers! From my understanding, it is essential to have a decent social media following if you are planning to self-publish or if you are going down the traditional publishing route with non-fiction. The jury is still out in my court whether a large following is essential if you’re planning to be a traditionally published fiction author – some agents say you do, some say you don’t.

From my understanding, it is essential to have a decent social media following if you are planning to self-publish. Click To Tweet

I think folks need to do what they are happy and comfortable with. Not everyone is comfortable with having thousands of followers because they don’t feel they can connect with that many people, while others feel it’s important to have that broader base to work with when it comes to their marketing strategies.

barefoot person sitting on a big pile of books readingHowever, I will add that I’ve not yet seen a hard-sell marketing campaign on Twitter succeed in any sales; but I have seen dozens and dozens of books bought by folks who have a relationship with authors. The key factor, whether you have 100 followers or 100,000 followers, is positive engagement and interaction, which is integral for building those relationships.

 

Lift Others Up


Genuinely engaging with folks online (aka, your potential readers) takes time and energy but if you are planning on building a supportive following, you need to put the work in – it’s like anything in life really. If you are only in it for the numbers, most people will spot you from a mile away. I believe you
earn your true followers through engagement. Having thousands of empty followers isn’t going to make people buy your books, read your poetry or sign up to your blog.

Genuinely engaging with folks online (aka, your potential readers) takes time and energy but if you are planning on building a supportive following, you need to put the work in. Click To Tweet

I’m not on social media to compete with other writers, I’m here to share in their journey and share mine with them. By lifting other writers up in Twitter’s #WritingCommunity, I have been lifted, supported and loved tenfold by so many wonderful folks.

 

What the Pros Have to Say

That’s my rookie two cents’ worth. Here’s what the publishing pros have to say about building your social media platform as a writer:

  1. A great Twitter thread from Megan Manzano (@Megan_Manzano), YA Editor & Book Blogger – Agent Apprentice @CorvisieroLit – 1/5 of @WriteCraftQuest and #Pitchwars Mentor: tips and tricks to help build your social media platform
  2. A one-hour-long vlog from @WriteCraftQuest – A collective of #editors supporting writers on their publishing adventure @Maria_Tureaud @SouffleLumiere @Megan_Manzano @Justine_Manzano: Social Media Dos and Don’ts for Writers

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Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa – calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years – before settling in Brisbane, Australia nearly 20 years ago. She writes historical fiction and keeps platform-building authors on their toes as the #WritingCommunityMum

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silver-colored letters spelling 'dream', a white notebook with a grid cover, pen and laptop on a wooden surface. hand on laptop.

What Happens When You Follow Directions?

By Dr. J.

a writer's workstation featuring letters that spell dream, a white lined notebook, laptop and a pen

When you begin a new part of your life like writing, and it involves everything you know nothing about, what do you do?

If you are the former academician like me, you begin research. Learn about what you want to do. Find experts. Get guidance. Make a plan. Execute. Let’s see what happens when you follow directions. That’s what I did.

LEARN ABOUT IT 

I attended a local writers’ group where I met Andrea Patten. When I talked with Andrea, I was days from completing a basic writing course with a New York editor for my writing genre erotica and erotic romance. The editor suggested I use three specific websites where I could share my work and become known in the writing world. 

What did that mean? 

First, it meant I’d be writing for readers. And second, I needed a website to link my stories to the other locations. How do you get all of this up and running? Andrea consulted with me to lay the ground floor of my author platform. That makes an author visible to the world

Andrea consulted with me to lay the ground floor of my author platform. That makes an author visible to the world. Click To Tweet

CREATE THE WEBSITE

The first part of the plan was securing a website. Even though I knew it was essential to have a site, I did not understand how to go about creating it. A guide is vital. There are things they know I didn’t. Frankly, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. Andrea broke down my needs in bite-size portions. 

You can’t learn everything at once. For me, this was a world I had never lived in before, not writing, not IT, and not, social media. As a retired sex therapist, I had steered clear of all social media locations.

The first step in securing the website was to buy my website domain name-DrJAuthor, a combination of my pen name and my new identity. Given my writing content, it was helpful to learn that some hosting sites were better than others for my needs. I settled for HostGator and their built-in Weebly Website Template. Andrea had recommended Bluehost and WordPress, but I liked what I saw with HostGator. Notice, I didn’t follow directions. 

After that, I created a picture that would be my visual recognition, my avatar, to be used on my website and other places. Once the website was in place, social media platforms were next. I learned that my name and my avatar needed to be consistent across all locations in the digital world.

That was my smooth start until it wasn’t smooth anymore. A year and a half into my website, HostGator did not renew its contract with Weebly and I lost a way to create my website content or access my old content. Luckily in a short time, I made many author friends talented in many areas. One such person is Mischa Eliot who in one weekend, rebuilt my site in a WordPress location. If only I had followed the directions of my author platform guru.

But the good news is, even if the names aren’t available, your avatar will identify you for readers. Click To Tweet

CHOOSE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

After the website, I tackled four social media sites. It seemed overwhelming. Check out my names. Facebook: DrJAuthor; Twitter: DoctorJAuthor; Instagram: drjauthor_; and Pinterest: drjauthor. I put those forward specifically to show that sometimes even with your best efforts, it doesn’t go as planned. What did you notice? The ideal would be to have the exact name match — then it is always easy for folks to find you. But the good news is, even if the names aren’t available, your avatar will identify you for readers.

a person writing on a piece of paper with a notebook, phone and cup of coffee nearby

If I had a full list of all the digital places I would end up, then I could have checked them. But sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. If you are good at planning, you can secure all the names at the same time for the future. Notice I only listed the ones I started within my first year. I continue to grow my platform to other places.

LET IT WORK

There is so much to share. While Andrea Patten has been the spectacular guru on “all things start-up,” I attended Nancy Blanton’s workshop on Author Branding. Did you notice my purple essence? It’s always about learning more. My branding will be my next discussion.

Follow the directions. Five things created. The website and four social media places. Do the work. Write blog posts. Be social. Make friends of readers and writers. Click To Tweet

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author photo of Dr. J, Author

Dr. J. arrived at her writing career after being a condom packer, sex educator, sex therapist, and finally a college professor of human sexuality. Using her vast knowledge and experience of sexuality and the mind, she continues her education efforts to integrate positive sexuality into the human experience through her stories. She writes romance and erotica. Living the island life, Dr. J. plays petanque, knits, and supports all the visual and performing arts of the area.

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flowers, keyboard, pen, journal in geometric arrangement on white background

Scattered I Was – A Blog is Born

by Trienah Meyers

blog desk with pink rose, above a white laptop keyboard sitting next to a teal notebook and post-it, along with a golden pen

I don’t remember why, but I decided to try writing blog posts. Scattered I was. I had three streams of ideas but the first one, I think, was about my now-deceased dad and his penchant for wandering our home without his pants. This gave rise to a stream of being the “sandwich” between parent and child, all needing care. And I started writing blog posts about Torah portions because I had been writing them for presentation in temple at a time when we didn’t have a full-time rabbi. And of course, there was food. So clearly, scattered I was. 

And then there was the election of Barack Obama to his first term as president. There was a veritable storm of commentary by the “losers” that their votes didn’t count. As a constitutional democracy geek, that was just not ok. So I wrote an op-ed piece which became a blog post.  It inspired me to write randomly about all manner of things that had meaning to me.

As a constitutional democracy geek, that was just not ok. Click To Tweet

These streams, sometimes active and sometimes defunct, either through laziness or life intrusions, stayed separate and random.  This made it very hard to get people to follow my blog or be interested in my posts. This was dispiriting and sometimes made it difficult to go on writing unless something specifically inspired me greatly.

blogger's golden metal fountain pen

And then the magic happened. I reconnected with an old friend who, miraculously, was mentoring authors. She also happened to be a social media wizard. She shepherded me through creating a single website that contains all my blog posts and people can search the site for whatever they are most interested in.

And then the magic happened. I reconnected with an old friend who was mentoring authors. She also happened to be a social media wizard. Click To Tweet

Then, after learning how to create a Facebook “author” page (rather than a personal page) I learned how to connect my blog to my social media. Finally, I’m learning to use Twitter in a way that increases my presence – this is an ongoing process and my resistance has been a bit high.

The bottom line is that I went from a being good writer with no focus and no following to a blogger with a good website and pretty good social media skills, all thanks to Amelia Indie Authors.

headphones on desk

Turn Your Book Into a Podcast

Did you know that you can increase your reach and create top of mind awareness for your book and blog by creating a podcast?

More reach means the potential for more book sales, blog visits and exposure for your business.  Podcasting is an excellent platform you can use to get your stories in front of more people and gain credibility as a writer.

Once you’ve set up the structure or bones of your podcast, all you need to do is learn how to set up a recording studio, record your voice, edit the audio file and upload your podcast to iTunes. When you move past the initial learning curve, podcasting is a breeze. And while podcasting isn’t for everyone, those who are willing to create quality content and make a commitment to show up can attract a responsive and supportive following.

Podcasting is an excellent platform to get your stories in front of more people and gain credibility as a writer. Click To Tweet

The good news is that you can easily repurpose the chapters of your book and blog posts for your podcast. You can generate interest in your book or blog by recording each post or portions of each chapter. You can reinforce interest with a call to action at the end of each podcast (a short audio bumper) giving thanks and inviting listeners to visit your website for a free gift. Every invitation is an opportunity to grow your list.

Podcasting allows you to serve up useful and supportive information with your unique voice. An added bonus is you will remain in front of your listeners — who are potential customers — on a regular basis.

I began podcasting in 2008 by recording my blog posts. This was a great way for me to see if I enjoyed podcasting, plus I always had content to record. I was committed to writing a blog post each week, which made it easy to commit to recording a podcast as well. My freshman podcasting experience fostered the birth of Anxiety Slayer in late 2009. Since then, the Anxiety Slayer podcast has several thousand downloads each week, over 5 million downloads since our debut, and a huge subscriber base.

Podcasting has helped me gain credibility as an author and coach, grow my following and sell a lot more digital products. Plus, it is a lot of fun!

More on repurposing your writing…

After I finished writing my first book, Life On Your Terms, I decided I wanted to create a home study program called Life On Your Terms Accelerator series. Extrapolating the workbooks from the manuscript was simple because I had already written actionable exercises to
promote interaction with my readers. Then I took things one step further and recorded all of the individual workbooks. When I was finished, my new offering included my book, 10 workbooks, and 10 MP3 audios that could be edited and repurposed for podcasts. Can you see how you might be able to do something similar?

Creating a podcast can also bring new life to an older manuscript. Click To Tweet

Creating a podcast can also bring new life to an older manuscript. If you’ve already written a book and you’ve moved on to new material, chances are your first book isn’t getting as much attention as it once was. What if you were to bring that book back to life by recording a podcast series? In the information age, we all know that content is QUEEN and the more ways you can creatively repurpose your valuable content the better.

How does podcasting create more interest in your book or blog?

  • You create an additional delivery platform
  • You build a relationship with your listeners
  • You regularly invite listeners to your blog or website for a free gift or special offer
  • You gain credibility by having a podcast on iTunes

How to structure your first three podcasts

  • Podcast Number One: An introduction or kick-off interview to let listeners know who you are and why you created the podcast along with what they can expect when they listen in. This is the perfect time to introduce your book or blog.
  • Podcast Number Two: A portion of the first chapter of your book or the blog post you want to begin with. You can use the material you’ve already written or you can summarize the subject of a chapter, article or blog post and share whatever it is that you want to teach that day.
  • Podcast Number Three: Summarize the prior podcast and continue the story or this may be the perfect time to introduce the next chapter, blog post or interview.

Creating and maintaining a podcast is one of the most effective ways to reach more people, grow your list, and sell more books: simply by repurposing your content.

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Shann Vander Leek is known to her community as a Transformation Goddess, Teacher, Producer, Voice Talent, and Author. Please leave her a comment and visit her website.

Getting Started with Facebook

SmartInsights.com tells us that ten years ago, 7{f1791e21317150ef16b724493368daace7010ce61c13caaf39cf91ea8f458df6} of the US population used one (or more) social media sites. In the past decade, that figure has jumped to more than 65{f1791e21317150ef16b724493368daace7010ce61c13caaf39cf91ea8f458df6}. That’s right, well over half of the US population is active on social media.

The largest and most well-known social media site is Facebook, currently with more than 2 billion (yes, with a “B”) active users. Three-quarters of US social media users visit at least once a day.

Several of you have let me know that you don’t care for social media and especially dislike Facebook. And, while I feel your pain, that’s an awful lot of prospective readers to walk away from, isn’t it?

Trienah has asked me to teach her about establishing an author presence on the world’s largest social media site so we’re going to have that conversation here — within this post and its comments. Watch this space. (And feel free to join us in the comments.)

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Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple

As we soft launch the Amelia Indie Authors site, the team needs to communicate about a variety of things. For example, Nancy and Andrea used this post to make adjustments to our desired site colors. (Some of the selections in the original palette did not translate well to fonts.)

Next, our wonderful virtual assistant will be making a few font changes for easier reading. Since we (currently) use a WordPress template, there are *two* places to make such adjustments. And, one of the honchos did not keep detailed notes when first drafting the site. We hope this post may help our intrepid VA track down the correct menu to use to make the adjustment.

Stay tuned.

heading 1=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

heading 2=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

heading 3=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

Heading 4= The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

Heading 5=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     
Mark Twain
Heading 6 = The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     
Mark Twain

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Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple: Designing Our Site

As we soft launch the Amelia Indie Authors site, the team needs to communicate about a variety of things. For example, Nancy and Andrea used this post to make adjustments to our desired site colors. (Some of the selections in the original palette did not translate well to fonts.)

Next, our wonderful virtual assistant will be making a few font changes for easier reading. Since we (currently) use a WordPress template, there are *two* places to make such adjustments. And, one of the honchos did not keep detailed notes when first drafting the site. We hope this post may help our intrepid VA track down the correct menu to use to make the adjustment.

Stay tuned.

heading 1=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

heading 2=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

heading 3=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

Heading 4= The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     

Mark Twain

Heading 5=The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     
Mark Twain
Heading 6 = The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.     
Mark Twain

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