Open Book: Quick Ways to Get Your Blog Read

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The writer…the teacher…the marketing guru in you emerges in a spanking  new blog.

I was told that if you write, the followers will come.  True to some degree; however, your success will be measurably better if you write coherently and have something interesting to share (your opinion or some newsworthy mention).   Well written blogs may not always be successful blogs.  It certainly helps, but writing skill needs more to get follower retention.

To increase your followers, here are easy ways to get the word out:

1.  Your blog address is now as important as your name and phone number  in your marketing materials.  Blog address should appear on everything from business cards, signature email address, and stationary — everything printed.

2.  Write as if you were talking to your best friend.  Your voice should be conversational, but to appeal to the widest spectrum of people, refrain from using street language.

3.  Write about something that interests you.  Blogging is not a sprint, but more like a cross country run.  Pace yourself.  Don’t start off with writing a blog daily, because you will burn out.  (If this is a journal or a record of your daily musings or your day job, this might not be such a chore.)  Writing about something your passionate about comes through in the writing.

4.  Be consistent about your blog entries.  Once a week?  Twice a week?   Just think about your followers.  Would you want to read a daily blog everyday, when so many other things compete with your time?  It is best to be consistent, say maybe on a Tuesday and or Thursday.  ( Mondays are horrible, because everyone starts Monday morning with a slew of emails from the weekend.)  Too much is annoying… too little and your followers may totally forget you. 

Bottom line: Post regularly.  Two a week is minimal to help establish an affinity to you.

Blogging Tip: If you love writing blogs, store your extra blog entries, because you may not have time or go on vacation or you will have a brain freeze one day.

5.  Boring blogs don’t attract readers. Interesting ones grow by word of mouth. 

6.  Your blog entries should be more than a litany of  other people’s links.  They want to know about you and what you know that can help them make their life easier…or humorous enough that for a split moment they forget their lives totally.

7.  Comment on other similar blogs, maybe referring to a blog you wrote on the topic.  From you blog, include links to them and ask them to link back to you.

8.  Register with blog directories, so that people searching for your topic will find you.  (ie. technorati.com)  Link to your facebook page, your twitter account.

9.  Bookmark your posts on digg.com, yahoo.com, del.icio.us.com, reddit.com and stumbleupon.com.

Okay, after reading this blog, I realize that it has taken me 15 minutes to collect my thoughts and notes, another 30 minutes to write it, and maybe another 30 minutes to promote the blog using my suggestions.  Just saying, if you want to get the most out of blogging, you will be investing about 2 hours give or take each time.

Open Book: How to Put a Writer's Press Kit Together

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

 

What do you want your image to  be?

One way to craft your image as a writer is creating a press kit.  Simply, a press kit is a collection of one-page documents that highlights your newest publication, a little bit about yourself, and other related accomplishments. 

The book market is fierce. You are your own brand. You are the corporation, so you must think like a CEO. The way you introduce yourself to the market is critical to your success.

While the publishing is changing rapidly, you can still control the information about you to some degree.  One of the best ways to do this is with a press kit. 

Creating a press kit on your website blog will save you lots of time and money.  However, I suggest you might consider having a few hard copies just in case.  Sometimes you are invited to a meeting or conference and the opportunity to promote yourself might be more convenient if you can hand them a folder.  Even though you write down your website or refer them to the website address listed on your business card, your opportunity may just never get around to looking it up.

Whether online or hard copy, here’s what might go into a press kit.

1.  A one page bio covering who you are, your education, your experience (such as teaching and public speaking engagements) and a list of your work.  If your publication list is lengthy, create the list on a separate page. Be sure to include a headshot on page one of the bio.

2. Depending your press kit goal,  you could include  one page of reviews.  If they are long, edit it and use quotes with attribution and occupation.

3.  Include a postcard or graphic with the promotion of your latest work or clips.

4.  A well written resume.  It should not be just a laundry list of the positions you have held.  In the summary, help steer the reader visualize you as the kind of writer you are by connecting your experiences and your writing skills in the Profile Summary.

5.  Don’t forget the well designed business card.  Be sure to include all contact information.  A tag line, if you think of one.  And your URL address.

Presentation is key, so carefully edit and proof every sheet.  The folder should be of decent stock, so it looks professional and not like a book report for high school. 

If someone is reviewing your book and does not know anything about you, having a press kit available will make it easier for the reviewer to get the information right. It will save them time and it will save you time.

Your press kit available online will help the media find information about you more easily.  I recommend the information sheets be in a PDF format, so that the viewer sees the documents exactly as you created them.  Different browsers can skew formats and type fonts. 

 A downloadable photo of you allows the reporter to include it at the last minute. 

The easier you make your information and photo available, the easier it is for others to help you spread the word that you are out there with your new book. 

When you have completed your press kit, wait a few days and then look at it in its entirety. What dominant image of you as a writer comes to mind?  A fresh look at it will let you know where you should tweak it. 

Give the press, the reviewer and anyone else that is willing to promote you a reason to support you.  Let them get to know your real unique strengths and talents.  Let them know your personal story.  The personal touch  is always more interesting.

Help them help you.

 

 

 

 

Open Book: 3 Great Reasons for an Unpublished Novelist to Blog

August 22, 2011 1 comment

People blog for many reasons, but for the unpublished novelist, blogging is a no brainer.

I can’t remember which self-help guru wrote that if you want to be a novelist, you have to do what novelist do. If you imitate the behaviors of novelist, you will one day be that novelist.  One of the behaviors all published authors seem to share is blogging.  Here are the three great reasons why you need to start if you haven’t already.

1.  Name Recognition – Your friends and family might know you are a budding novelist, but you will need a few more thousand book buyers when your novel is finished. Establishing a platform before your first book comes out will give your book a sales foundation.

2.  Expertise – Blogging is a wonderful way of validating your writing through your expertise.  For example, say that your novel is about a mother of a young boy who joins the Confederate army and is wounded inAntietam.  What if you blog about the Civil War?  What if you create a following of historians with your historical interpretations, suggested readings, and new findings about the topic?  Couldn’t you see yourself having a dialogue with some of your followers?  Wouldn’t it be great if your loyal followers retweeted your blog to their loyal followers? This is called viral marketing.

Your Civil War expertise gives your readers the confidence that you will be able to tell a Civil War story with confidence.

3.  Website, Blogging and Marketing – You can shamelessly promote your first novel on your website.  You can blog about it.  You can hop on related websites and leave a link to your new book to increase more widespread viewing and inevitably sales.

Today, a website is equivalent to yesterday’s business card.  However, unlike the painful process of handing business cards out one at a time, now you can reach thousands of people from all corners of the globe in a few minutes.

 Your website will reveal much more about you than merely the standard business card contact information.  From the tone, the style, and the format, your personality will emerge.  The viewer, a complete stranger, might make an intellectual (and sometimes an emotional, depending on how open you are about your personal life) connection with you.  This translates naturally into greater book sales.

And for the website, blogging keeps your site fresh.  If you understand your audience, you can select topics that you know that will keep them coming back.

It might be prudent to keep in mind that even though your candor or attempts at humor might increase your click rate, the energy expended in placating someone else’s bruised ego means less time working on your novel. You just don’t know how your life will move forward with an angry mother —or worse yet, an angry mother-in-law.  So, innocuous storytelling can have consequences.

Open Book: How to Transfer a Library e-book to Your NOOK

August 7, 2011 Leave a comment

While I do not consider myself a tech person, I am not a newbie either.  However, when I first tried to transfer a library e-book to my NOOK,  I was having some difficulty.  I looked on the Barnes and Noble website, the library website, called BN and my local library.  Everyone was  helpful, but not quite enough. So, I thought if I was having issues, others must  too. 

The problem I found was that BN’s emphasis was not in downloading free or  borrowed  books.  They want to get you to buy a BN book, so their explanation of transferring a library book was glossed over.  “Oh, it’s just like buying a book,” the BN woman said. 

 “Not quite,” I thought as I scrolled and clicked on the NOOK menu screen.  I then went to the library for help.  The librarians were gracious, but didn’t really understand the process themselves.  Obviously, they were still reading hard texts.

I won’t bore you with my errors, but I finally succeeded.  The instructions on how to transfer a library e-book to your NOOK are as follows:

The Set Up

1. On your computer, go to your library online.  Click on the tab or icon that will open up the ebook library selections. 
2. The library page will have a login icon/hyperlink that will bring you to the login page.  If you haven’t already registered, you will need to do this before anything else.
3. Then, view the library ebook  choices at the library site.  The library site  may provide you a link to another site or take you there directly.  My library site took my to “Maryland’s Digital eLibrary Consortium.”
4. Pick a book that is either in a pdf or epub format.   Add it to your cart (look for a link near your book selection).
5.  Click on “Proceed to checkout.”  In Maryland you can only borrow 4 books total at any time. Borrowing library ebooks are usually for two weeks.  There are waiting lists.  My screen then shows the book, the lending period and the devices the book will transfer to.  Click “confirm” to checkout.
6. When you checkout, another box will ask if you downloaded Adobe Digital Editions on to your computer.  You need to do download this software to acquire the book.  Follow directions to do so.

The Transfer

1.  You can now transfer the book.  Under the image of the ebook, click the “download” button.
2.  Click open and the epub/pdf will transfer to the Adobe Digital Editions software on your computer.
3.  When you open the Adobe Digital Editions on your desktop, you should see the image of the ebook you borrowed.  If not, you need to authorize the computer you are using.  To Authorize: In Adobe Digital Editions, click on the drop down menu Library.  Chose Authorize Computer.  All it wants is a valid email address (The same one that you used when you downloaded the software).
4.  Connect your NOOK to your computer.  You will then see that your  NOOK will show up on the left side of the Adobe Digital Editions under Bookshelves.
5.  Drag and drop the ebook on to the NOOK at the left.  Wait a few seconds for transfer.
6.  Then, disconnect your NOOK from your computer by clicking on the safe removal tool at the bottom of screen in the navigation bar.
7. Check to see that your NOOK has the ebook transfer. 

This seems like lots of instructions, but if you do it once, the process will seem effortless going forward.

One nice thing is that you can now read the book at your computer or on your NOOK.  Happy reading.

Open Book: Grammar Rules You Can Break

August 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Did you ever write a sentence and wonder if it was acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition?  Or begin a sentence with a conjunction?  Or write the way we talk?  Me too.  Even though I have seen magazines, printed articles, and newspapers write in an informal style, bucking up against Strunk and White’s Elements of Style somehow seemed incorrect.  (I have to admit that my elementary education had brainwashed me as far as grammar rules and the mighty diagramming sentences tool.)

A couple of days ago, Erik Decker posted the blog The writing rules you’re allowed to break  http://www.prdaily.com/writingandediting/Articles/9060.aspx.  You don’t have to wonder any more whether you are the writing rebel.  Decker lists 5 common rules of grammar that have gained flexibility over the years.

1. You CAN end sentences with a preposition.           
2. You CAN start a sentence with or, and or but.
3. You do not have to start a sentence with a dependent clause.  You can end with one, if it makes more sense and doesn’t form a misplaced modifier (a dependent clause should be adjacent to the noun it describes).
4. You CAN use incomplete sentences sparingly.
5. A sentence DOES NOT always have a subject, verb and an object.  A paragraph is not always contain three to five sentences.        

These bendable rules are nothing new to the slick, contemporary magazine writers.  

However, one writing rule you CANNOT break is that every successful writer knows his audience.  (Decker should have added a sixth rule…You CAN use the pronoun he in a sentence to refer to an individual.  For a decade or so, it was a political taboo to choose a gender. The only way around this is to either reword the sentence to avoid using pronouns reflecting gender or adding the words “he and/or she” everywhere in an article.  Both options halted the flow of thought and sounded awkward.  So kudos to society for allowing the use of either one gender or the other.)  If your audience are professionals, writing along the accepted grammar rules is expected.  Anything less might decrease your credibility. 

For the details of the permissible writing rule changes, click on Decker’s blog:     http://www.prdaily.com/writingandediting/Articles/9060.aspx.   

Open Book: Airplane Mode for the Nook Made Easy

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment
My mom had a hard time with the concept of Airplane Mode on her new NOOK.  She is not the only one.  Below is an easy explanation of airplane mode.
 
If the airplane in the upper right hand corner of the screen shows, it means that the NOOK is in airplane mode.  It is ON. (Logic dictates, the pilot doesn’t want to have his passengers’ electronic frequencies interfering with his radio reception, therefore, airplane mode ON means that your NOOK cannot, is not receiving or transmitting and therefore, not interfering with the airplane’s frequencies.)
 
AIRPLANE MODE: ON
No 3 G reception.
No Wifi.
No buying books or surfing the web.
No reading email.
 
AIRPLANE MODE: OFF
3 G reception.
You have the option of turning on Wifi.
Barnes and Noble welcomes you and your credit card to buy books for your NOOK.
 
How do you turn airplane mode on and off?
 
When your NOOK first comes up, the bottom screen offers you choices to select what you want to do.  Scroll the images to the left by gently moving your finger lightly across the bottom frame from right to left.  Tap on the image that says Wifi.
 
You will then be able to tap on the airplane mode choice when you want to toggle between off and on.
 
Tips for Easier NOOK Usage
1.  When you are not using the Internet, you should put your NOOK airplane mode on ON.  This will preserve the battery.  I’m not sure if Wifi on vs. 3G on uses more power. B&N tells me that Wifi does. 
2.  Saving battery charge = airplane mode ON
3.  You will be able to read the NOOK whether the airplane mode is on or off.
 
 

How to Plot by Example

July 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Are you a writer who can sit down and have dialogues and scenes stream onto the computer screen with little regard to structure?  If you are, and are happy with your results, you are one of the lucky writers with a gift.  Most writers need to craft the plot through scene summaries and outlines.

I am not so gifted.  I need to plot to make my stories come together in the end.  For many years I let my writing drift.  It was easier and fun, but always when I read it back, the only salvagable sections were description. 

One day a couple of years ago, I found a talented blogger, who writes about the technique of novel writing.  If you feel like a hamster running the wheel when you write, check this website out.  www.storyfix.com.  Currently, Larry Brooks is deconstructing the novel The Help.  He shows us how to plot by examining Kathryn Stockett’s plotting strategy and how this is a major factor that catapulted her novel into recognition.  (I read that she had many, many rejections in earlier drafts, but she did not give up.)

He has a book out called Story Engineering: 6 Core Competencies.  You can see a preview on his website.  You can get a better idea by rooting around in his blog archive, because Brooks does an excellent job describing the core competencies individually.

Okay, I took a hiatus from blogging.  You would think when I unexpectedly became unemployed I would have time to blog more.  Instead I used the time to figure out what to do.  I spent most of the day doing job search activities in a very dry market.  Blogging sounded interesting as a public journal on personal impressions when I first began the journey.  I had envisioned it more like the journal I wrote as a pre teen.  Months later, my thoughts have evolved.  My goal for this blog is to make it more content rich.  In the next few weeks, I will be examining the topic blogging for money.