Social Networking

Facebook Party: A Great Way to Get To Know Your Readers

Quick intro

Janet Nitsick and I just ran a week long Facebook Giveaway Party. This was the first time I ever did something like this, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I see authors running Events that typically last for a few hours. Since my schedule is hectic with kids and such, I couldn’t set aside a specific block of time.  I needed to have at least one full day to be able to hop on Facebook and catch up with the discussions that were going to take place.  So Janet and I opted for 8 days.  Actually, 9 if you count the final day to “catch up” and tie up any loose ends.

As a disclaimer, I want to say that Facebook parties are not about selling books.  They are about mingling with your readers and giving something back to them.  They are a chance to get to know them, something that we don’t often do given the very nature of our work (which is to sit at the computer and write our books).  So if you do this, go in with the mindset that you’re going to socialize and hang out.  It is a relaxed and informal way to get to know your readers and for them to get to know you.  It’s a place where you can establish friendships.  If you understand this is the purpose of the Facebook party, you’ll have a great time.

Now having experienced this, I thought I’d pass along some things I learned about hosting a Facebook Party.

1.  Let people know you’re going to have it.

Yes, it sounds basic, but if they don’t know the party is going to happen, how will they to show up?  My method was to post the information on my blog and my Facebook timeline, my Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.  I thought about emailing people to invite them (and this is fine), but I decided not to do this because I have some authors in my friends’ list on Facebook and figured they’d be busy enough with their own stuff so why bother them with another email they didn’t need to wade through in their inbox?  But I see nothing wrong with sending out invites through Facebook to people on your friends’ list.

My advice is to let people know at least a week in advance.  Then follow it up with a reminder 1-2 days before.

2.  Plan out the party.

Are you going to have special guests?  Are you going to have giveaways?  What questions will you have to help break the ice?  On what hour or day will you do what?

To give you an example of what Janet and I did, here was our schedule which we came up with 2 weeks in advance of the party:

Day 1: We had Rose Gordon as a special guest.  We gave away some of her books to the giveaway winners and talked about how we met her and opened the discussion to any questions.  She also came in and mingled with the people there.  This was a special treat.

Day 2: “Romantic Memories”: On this day we posed the question to the group what their most romantic memory was.  All entrants were entered into the giveaway for the day.

Day 3: “Loving Those Heroes”: On this day we posted the question about the best qualities in a romantic hero.  Again, all entrants were entered into the giveaway for the day.

Day 4: “Small Treasures”: On this day we posted a question about something small (but meaningful) people owned, along with a giveaway.

Day 5: Another question with a giveaway.

Etc. until Day 8 which was the final day of the giveaway.

Day 9 was a wrap-up day so we could go in and answer any final comments that had come in late on Day 8.

Day 10: We deleted the group page, which officially ends the party.

3.  Allow for some impromptu moments.

This was more fun than I thought it’d be, and it was totally spontaneous.  Based on some discussions in the threads, we realized that some people either needed or knew someone who needed ereaders.  So we decided to run a giveaway on the spur of the moment that was for a chance to win an ereader.

Two other impromptu moments occurred.  One was when I invited Stephannie Beman to join us and talk about co-authoring books with me, and that turned into a very fun discussion.  Two, I invited my husband to join us and they got a chance to know something about him, which I think was fun for romance readers to get to know the author’s husband.

Impromptu moments are flexible and based on the discussions you’re having.  Sometimes they can be more fun than the planned stuff.

4.  International readers need more time to enter giveaways.

This was brought to my attention before the party began, thankfully.  Because one of my readers mentioned that people who live in other countries need a full 24-hours to get caught up on the party and giveaways, we posted every giveaway and question the evening before we picked the winners.  (We picked the winners using, by the way.  It’s a great site to go to for picking giveaway winners.)

Since ebooks are going global, I think it’s important we reach out to our readers in other countries.  It amazes me how many people in other countries read English.  I’m impressed by this because I have a horrible time learning other languages.  One of my readers in India told me that they’re encouraged to read fiction in order to learn the English language.  How cool is it that we get a chance to help them learn English?  You just never know who is out there reading your books, and I think these people should be included as much as possible into our giveaways and parties.  Yes, sending paperbacks can be costly so specify if you’ll only gift ebooks.  But I would encourage you to consider sending at least one paperback to an international reader.  A signed paperback is a special and unique gift to someone who loves your books.

  5.  Show up

Yeah, I know.  This is a “duh” moment, but you will only get out of a party what you put into it.  Set aside time to go there.  Try to answer all comments if possible.   I know real life can come in and prevent this, but try to answer as many as you possibly can.  I did very little writing during the week in favor of hanging out on Facebook and getting to know the people who took time out of their own busy lives to attend the party.  If they are willing to attend your party, then show them they’re important by showing up, too.  Readers want to know authors.  This is a relaxed way of doing that.  Plus, they get to know each other.  Who knows what friendships will form because of these parties?  Some readers seemed to connect really well, and I suspect they friended each other on Facebook and might become friends down the road.

You just never know what will happen if you show up somewhere.  I have developed friendships because of social media.  Even if we’re at a computer (or other device), we’re still human and can develop friendships in the most unlikely places.  Case in point, I will get a chance to meet Lauralynn Elliott next week at a writer’s conference, and I met her because she has been commenting on this blog for years.  And Stephannie Beman and I met through LiveJournal when it was popular and now co-write books together.  I met Rose Gordon through the forum we had (for a very short time) on this blog, and she and I became friends and met last year at a conference.  We will see each other again next week.  Then there’s a reader (Judy) who emailed me and became my friend and now edits my books.  I’ll be meeting her, too.  These are four people I would never have known if I hadn’t been on social networking sites.  You just never know what the future will bring if you simply “show up” somewhere.

Categories: Marketing & Promoting, Social Networking

Developing a Strategy for What You Write and A Publishing Schedule

Your goals for writing should help you develop a strategy for what you write and establishing a publishing schedule.

If you are writing solely for yourself, then there’s no need for you to read further.  You are free to write whatever you want and publish anytime you want. :D

If, however, you are writing for yourself and others or for others, then this post is for you.

The first step is to figure out what you are going to write.

This depends on who you are writing for.  Who is your audience?  Pick some self-published and traditionally published books that are selling well in the area you want to write.  Then list down common things that are in all or most of the books.  For example, let’s look at romance.  The most basic element in a romance is the happy ending.  Dividing it down to Regencies, I’ve noticed scandals do pretty well or there is a rake who will be reformed before the book is over.  Those aren’t the only common elements in popular Regencies, but there is definitely a preference for those things that Regency lovers enjoy.  Another thing you might look at is heat level or violence level.  Is it PG, PG 13, R?  A Christian romance noted for its G or PG content will not appeal to the romance reader who prefers R content.  This is why you not only look at the overall genre but you break it down into subcategories within the genre and pick out similarities in those.

Once you have listed 3-5 common elements that you have noticed in the books you want to write, think of ways you can incorporate them into your book.  This is not taking someone else’s idea and rewriting it.  This is taking basic components that can’t be copyrighted and making a plot around them.

For example, if you decide to write a Regency, then you’ll want to pick out a couple of things that might make the story more likely to appeal to your target audience.  (Understand, of course, that doing this doesn’t guarantee a certain number of sales but it might help your book be more appealing to your audience.  There is never a guarantee of sales, no matter what you do.)  Anyway, back to the Regency example.  Let’s say the writer picks out 3 common things: a scandal, a rake who will be reformed, and a happy ending.  The writer then sits down and picks out, “What will be the scandal?” Then the writer decides, “Who is my rake?  What made him that way?  How will the heroine reform him?” And finally, “How will these two get a happy ending?”

All I did in the example above was take the common trends in popular books in a particular genre and apply elements in it that I could incorporate into my own story.  This way, I do have a unique story, but I am also keeping my audience in mind.  So I’m able to write for myself and for them.

The second step is to figure out a publishing schedule.


Unless you’re publishing books, you’re not going to have the chance to make money.  This doesn’t mean you sacrifice quality or skimp on editing.   What it means is you get serious about writing.  The only way a book is going to get written is for you to sit down and write.  And yes, I know this is easier said than done.  There are days when I don’t get much more than a couple sentences down.  Sometimes I have to sit down for 15 minutes and write down anything because writing is like pulling teeth and I have to force it.  It’s not fun.  But I’ve learned the muse is fickle and you can’t wait until you’re “in the mood” to do it.  This is why I reward myself for writing on those days with a something I like.

Write whenever you can.

I understand how hard it is to write when you have no set routine.  As much as I’ve tried to set a routine, I just haven’t been able to do it.  Just because I work at home, it doesn’t mean those around me leave me alone.  I am bombarded with stuff all the time.  Some people can do a routine and do very well at it.  Others just write whenever they have a moment to spare.  I am the “moment to spare” kind of writer.  I start first thing in the morning and stop in the early evening.  Throughout the day, I’m taking care of the family, doing the chores around the house, and trying to work in emails and blog posts.   Write however and whenever you can.

The next book is the best marketing tool you control.

Depending on how fast you can write and get a book edited, you may not be able to publish as often as another writer.  That’s fine.  Do the pacing that works best for you.  Just understand that if you’re not getting a book out, it’s going to be harder for people to remember you for when your next one comes out.  Social networking has its place, but I still think the best marketing tool an author has is the actual book.  The percentage of people who buy and read books is higher than the percentage who pal around with authors on a social networking site.

How often to publish depends on your situation but try to keep it consistent.

I read a blog post years ago that said you need to publish four books a year to maintain a living as a writer.  I don’t know if that’s true or not.  It would depend on how well your books sell.  A book that hits the top 100 paid in any store is going to go further than four books that only sell one copy a month.  But my thinking is that having a couple books out a year will increase your chances of getting noticed and retaining your current fan base than if you only did 0-1 book a year.  Something new helps remind people you are still out there and will keep them searching for new books.  Email lists are good for that, too.

I would suggest whatever publishing schedule you choose, that you make it as consistent as possible.  Some people write an entire trilogy and then publish one book a month.  Nothing’s wrong with that.  Some people publish every six months. That’s fine too.  I tend to publish whenever I have a book ready, and since my average is six books a year, that’s doable because of how many I have going out annually.  If you only publish once a year, maybe choose a particular month so your readers get used to looking for your newest book around that time of year.  Maybe you can send out teaser scenes or character interviews once a month to remind people you’re working on the next book in the meantime if you don’t publish frequently.

Categories: Book Promotion, Business Plan, General Writing, Genres, Schedules & Routines, Social Networking

Some Tips For WattPad Users

I’ve been using WattPad for the past couple of weeks, and I thought that an article about it would be fun to write. Also, I found out this blog doesn’t have an article on WattPad yet, so I thought I’d break the ground and do a piece on it.

Throughout this article, I will try to give some sound advice on using WattPad and possibly getting some success through it. If any WattPad users have any additional tips they would like to…well, add in, please let us know. I’ll do a follow-up article with your words of wisdom.

So, first things first: What is WattPad? WattPad is a website where writers can upload and share stories with the public. It’s been in operation since 2006 and it’s been nicknamed the YouTube of storytelling. Writers can upload stories, gain feedback, create covers, and enter contests with their short stories or novels.

What sort of work is published on WattPad? Just about anything is published on WattPad. Novels, novellas, short stories, poems, non-fiction pieces, of all types and genres. Science fiction, fantasy, and YA stories tend to be the most popular, with horror and romance in a close second. There’s also a sizable amount of erotic fiction on the site, though I haven’t personally browsed that in any great detail. And technically erotica isn’t allowed on the website, but I won’t tell if you won’t.

Is it possible to get success through WattPad? Depends on what you mean by success. It is possible to spread your work to other writers and readers, maybe get feedback, and learn something from other writers by both reading and being read. And it is also possible to get the success that every author only dreams about (there’s an example of that in a recent issue of TIME magazine), but like anything in fiction, that is very hard to achieve and what can cause it is very difficult to predict.

How do you spread your work through WattPad? Tags and categorizing your work is very important, because it allows people with similar interests to search out and find your stories (and on that note, make sure to also rate your short stories appropriately. At the very least, an R-rating might deter some nine-year-old from reading a wildly inappropriate story). Also, networking with other authors, commenting on their stories, and even recommending works to authors you make friends with can be very helpful.

What are some ways to keep your readers interested in your work? Besides having interesting work, there are a couple of ways. One is to post frequently new stories or updates. Another is to post a novel on the site, but to do it in serial form. Posting new chapters on a regular basis keeps our readership up and it keeps them wanting to know more (especially if you end every chapter on a cliffhanger).

Should one copyright their work before posting? Well, that depends. Copyrights cost money and take time to process, so if you don’t mind waiting and shelling out money for the fees, then by all means get copyrights. At the very least, you should get copyrights for novels or for works you plan to sell in the future, and do it before you post it on WattPad.

I should also mention that WattPad allows users to post whether a story is copyrighted or not, so take advantage of that when you post a story. It could be seriously helpful.

If you publish a story on WattPad, can you put it on your resume as a publication? Again, that depends. This is a website where anyone can upload a story, so whether or not you want to include uploading stories onto an author’s YouTube on your resume is up to you. Some authors are comfortable, some aren’t. I know a few of both. If you are comfortable with it though, then only do it for stories that you’ve never published before in any way, shape, or form. And if you’re shopping for a publisher, definitely don’t do it!

What are these contests through WattPad you mentioned earlier? Wattpad holds a number of contests throughout the year. Most are small, but there are some big ones, including the Wattys, which are held once a year, and the Attys, which are for poetry and were started by author Margaret Atwood (yeah, she’s on the site. How cool is that?). The contests are open to all users with a WattPad account and who follow the rules of those contests.

If you are a regular WattPad user and have any other tips you’d like to mention, then please let us know. If I get enough tips, I’ll do a follow-up article on the subject with your tips in it.

Categories: Author Platform & Branding, Blogs & Websites, Book Promotion, Copyright, Digital & ePublishing, Marketing & Promoting, Publishing Trends, Self-Publishing, Short Stories, Social Networking, The Writer & Author | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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