Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Author Advice

Authorial Decisions ~ WebSite, Social Media, Blogging…?


I haven’t featured Jane Friedman (author, digital media strategist, editor, publisher, professor, speaker) for quite some time… Authors, Websites, Social Media

I’ll be sharing excerpts from two of her articles…

The first one leans toward author websites, the second toward social media…

Jane tends to conflate blogs with websites, which is perfectly understandable; yet, be aware, a blog can be considered “social media”…

And, I must emphasize that no matter how much help any of the excerpts may be, not reading her full articles will be a great loss (especially if you’re a writer…).

So…

The first article is, What’s More Important: Author Websites or Social Media?

Excerpts:

“These days, I get more noticeable results from my website and blogging efforts, email newsletters, and in-person networking than I do from social media. Not that I want to give up social media—quite the contrary—but I could walk away from Facebook and still earn a living. Not so with my website—it’s absolutely fundamental.”

Then, there are these bullet topics, as reasons a website is important (each Ripe with juicy info.…):

* Being more discoverable through search
* Offering the media (and influencers) the official story on you and your work
* Securing high-quality email newsletter subscribers
* Understanding what social media use is effective
* Monetizing the audience you have

Then (especially for those folks who won’t read her full article):

“Thankfully, you don’t (or shouldn’t) have to choose between having an author website or participating on social media. Nurture both. Choose to make your website a proud and strong showcase for your work and what you want to be known for, and don’t expect social media to always be the hub for all your branding or reader discovery. You’ll be stronger if you have a multi-faceted approach, especially if and when social media fails you.”

Article twoSocial Media for Authors: The Toughest Topic to Advise On

Excerpts (again, stressing that there’s much more meat to chew at the full article):

“Of all the topics I teach, social media is the most vexed. Even in a small class of writers, I find varying skill levels and experience, and a mix of attitudes—and these two factors play a strong role in what people need to hear or learn. I believe a successful social media strategy is driven by one’s personality and strengths, as well as the qualities of the work produced—leading to a unique approach for each writer.”

Then, she throws a critical bombshell of Truth:

“Because social media is widely considered essential to book marketing and promotion, yet it’s constantly changing, it’s become a burden and source of anxiety for beginners and advanced authors alike.”

And, the following bullet points (again, each Ripe with juicy info….):

* Your social media following grows mostly when you produce more work.
* Use social media to micro-publish or to share your work.
* People break social media “rules” all the time and succeed.

So, I’ll leave you with Jane’s summation on social media; and, one last time, urge you to read her full articles:

“So what can I possibly say to writers to help them become better at it [social media]? Well, first, don’t take it all so seriously. Look for what you enjoy. Have a spirit of questioning and discovery. Follow a daily routine that works for you. Sustainable and meaningful social media practice isn’t so different from getting your ‘real’ writing done.”

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Book Deals and Author Platforms


Regular readers of this blog know I favor self-publishing; but, I’ve written quite a bit about the traditional route, too—they both have their challenges… 

And, one person who knows a lot about getting traditional book deals is Jane Friedman. This makes the 43rd time I’ve referenced her here…

And, as far as Author Platform, this is the 23rd post with that as a topic…

By the way, taking either of those last two links will show you this post at the top of a scrollable list of all the posts ( unless you first read this post after I’ve done a different post about Jane or platforms :-)

Regulars may be tired of me saying what I just mentioned in that last paragraph; but, my stats clearly show new readers arriving here nearly every day

Before I share a few excerpts from a recent article from Jane about platforms and deals, I’ll share a few excerpts about author platforms (for folks who know nothing about them) from one of my past articles—Building An Author Platform ~ One Critical Step . . . :

“The universe of Book Promotion gave birth to the term Author Platform and I’ve been amused ever since…

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with the term but there are plenty of folks who use it in funny ways.

“Some writers build a platform to promote themselves according to instructions from ‘experts’…

“Some build a platform for their books and then hide under the platform….

“Obviously, an Author Platform is constructed to Elevate the writer—raise them up above the Crowd—give them a place to deliver a Message…

“But, what many writers forget to do before building a platform is to choose a blueprint that They have drawn up and that makes the Platform serve their Own Purpose.

“That last sentence contains what I consider the most Critical Step in building your Author Platform.”

Now for Jane’s recent article—Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails (Jane begins by saying it’s for nonfiction; but, it’s perfectly adaptable for fiction…):

“Platform, in a nutshell, is your ability to sell books based on your visibility to the intended readership. If you’re a total unknown, then you may be turned down for lack of a platform to support your book’s publication….

“The dream-crushing cynic in me is tempted to say: Don’t force it, because it won’t work. You’re reverse engineering a process that—in the majority of cases—is destined to fail. Here’s why.”

Now, I’ll list Jane’s main bullet-points (explaining why building an author platform specifically to attempt to win a book deal will, almost always, not get you a book deal…) and let you go to the full article to read her sage advice…

1. You focus on superficial indicators of platform.

2. You focus on social media growth.

3. You put everything on a timeline that’s too rushed.

I’ll close with part of Jane’s Parting Advice:

“Platform building doesn’t stop if you do land a book deal. Your journey has just begun. The good news is that authors can build a platform by engaging in activities that are most enjoyable to them—because if they’re not enjoyable, you won’t continue doing them for the time required to see any kind of pay off.”

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#BookPromotion on #Wattpad


Last November, I was finally convinced to try WattpadWattpad

Then, later in the same month, I wrote about Wattpad being a special “social media” platform for writers.

That was early in the game

I had a relatively small number of folks I followed and there were some following me

I have four books there; and, will soon have a fifthone of my booksmy novel, was getting reads and comments and all was productive and fun

Then, last month, my novel jumped from 1,ooo to 2,000 reads and my followers jumped from about 300 to over 1,200.

Today, I have 3,200 reads on the novel and nearly 2,000 followers

What happened was Wattpad decided to Feature my book.

Suddenly, being on Wattpad is “work” yet very welcome and productive work.

Back in November, my novel was being read in around 10 countries.

This map shows the situation now (countries with reads shaded blue, with darker blue being more reads):

Notes from An Alien at 7 months + one Week Featured on Wattpad

Do I recommend Wattpad for writers who don’t yet know how to promote their book; or, are either tired of or frustrated about their promotion efforts to date?

Perhaps

It depends on the writer.

One way to find out if you’re the kind of person who can do promotion on Wattpad is to sign-up for free; then, read How To Get Reads, Votes, and Comments – A Guide by Katherine A. Ganzel.

Here’s my profile on Wattpad.

And, here’s the novel that’s still being Featured :-)

Plus, you can read the interviews I have here with other Wattpad authors
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What Is a #Bestseller, Really? And, Should an Author Try to Write One?


I have 10 posts here tagged Bestsellers (including this one…)…

The one most folks would associate with the normally understood meaning for “bestseller” might be, Bestsellers . . ., which includes this quote:

“…the definition wasn’t just something like: books that sell a lot of copies.

Here’s my dictionary’s entry ~ “A book that has had a large and rapid sale”

Then, there’s that other post of mine called, Want To Be A Bestselling Author? ~ Don’t Read This Blog . . .

Here’s an excerpt from that one:

“Who made it seem success wasn’t merely the next stage, from which further action becomes possible, but rather a pinnacle of achievement that leaves all other contenders breathless on the sides of the conquered mountain? So, who did that? Businesspeople? Fundamentalist religious folk? Football coaches?”

Which, for me, raises the issue of whether having a bestseller is a rational goal for an author

Then, there’s that post of mine called, So Ya Think Your Book Will Be a Bestseller?

Excerpts:

“…I continue to attempt to market my first novel…

“…I shrivel at the kindly meant enquiry, ‘How are sales?’

“…my lovely novel, my first-born, has not sold as many copies as I thought it would.

“I am lucky to live in an era where I have access to the free marketing potential of social media. I realise that. Yet I have still to work out how social media sells or, indeed, whether it does at all.”

Those quotes all come from Kate Evans‘ article, The Measure of Success in Indie Publishingdefinitely worth a read

Finally, there’s that one I did called, Why Trying to Write a Bestseller Is Bad for Your Mental Hygiene.

And, excerpts:

“If you persistently scan the writing blogs and the publishing news, you’ll find an overabundance of articles telling you how to write and market a book so it will become a bestseller.”

“Nearly all those articles are bunk…”

“I hear a few readers saying, ‘Alex, how in the world can you write such generalizations?’.”

I go on to explain; then, later:

“I feel that beginning the process of writing a book with the dream of it becoming a bestseller is going to make the writer, consciously or subconsciously, write in an imitative fashion—trying to write to the folks who like bestsellers—killing any true originality and honest creativity…”

I’ll share some excerpts from Ursula K. Le Guin‘s article, Up the Amazon with the BS Machine:

“Best Seller lists have been around for quite a while. Best Seller lists are generated by obscure processes, which I consider (perhaps wrongly) to consist largely of smoke, mirrors, hokum, and the profit motive. How truly the lists of Best Sellers reflect popularity is questionable.”

“If you want to sell cheap and fast, as Amazon does, you have to sell big. Books written to be best sellers can be written fast, sold cheap, dumped fast: the perfect commodity for growth capitalism.

“The readability of many best sellers is much like the edibility of junk food. Agribusiness and the food packagers sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we come to think that’s what food is. Amazon uses the BS Machine to sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we begin to think that’s what literature is.

“I believe that reading only packaged microwavable fiction ruins the taste, destabilizes the moral blood pressure, and makes the mind obese. Fortunately, I also know that many human beings have an innate resistance to baloney and a taste for quality rooted deeper than even marketing can reach.”

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Can You Talk Back To A Famous Author?


“You can’t teach people to write well.”

I barely scratched the surface on this topic back in September in the post, The “Self”-Education of Writers . . .

That quote about not being able to teach someone to write well is from an article by Kurt Vonnegut back in 1967—Teaching the Unteachable

I thought of putting a few more snippets from the article here but then saw a thread on Google Plus about it.

So to get you in the mood to either agree with Kurt or argue with him, I’ll put a few of the comments from that thread here:

Brian Meeks 19:33
I loved that article! Thanks so much for posting it. I live near, and work (occasionally) in Iowa City. That may be part of why I liked the article, but mostly I just enjoyed…what else…the writing.
I especially enjoyed the bit about poetry writers v. prose writers.
Great find!

William Morton 19:49
KV’s essay is flawed from the first line forward. I would reference the work of Betty Edwards. KV was a cranky old fart. People can be learnt to write better.

Amy Knepper 20:15
to Monika Ullian — Considering I married a preacher and I’m approaching middle life, there were several points I thought were jaded and condescending. I got a chuckle out of it though. At least I can recognize it (and my local writers guild is full of the same combination of people).

Renee Bennett 21:23
I’m minded of a comment from somewhere (sorry, don’t remember who at the moment) that very cynically divided writing groups into two classes of people: those who wanted to write, and those who wanted to have written.

Torah Cottrill 21:39
Best quote: The idea of a conference for prose writes is an absurdity. They don’t confer, can’t confer. It’s all they can do to drag themselves past one another like great, wounded bears.

Check out the thread on G+ for more… [Edit: since I first wrote this the thread responses have grown :-) ]

So what’s your take—Can creative writing be taught??
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