Monday, March 31, 2014

Are you ready to promote your book?

The publishing world has changed dramatically just in the last decade. Authors are expected to do a lot more promotion and marketing these days, and that means getting comfortable with having an online presence, or platform. For a lot of us, however, social media and blogging and building a website are intimidating prospects.

Our own Robin Densmore Fuson has had great results promoting her writing through blogging, garnering more than 20,000 views as of March 2014. In the following post she wrote for her publisher, WestBow Press, in July 2013, Robin shares some of her hints and helps for blogging success. At our next Western Slope ACFW Prologue Chapter meeting we will be discussing developing an online presence, setting up a blog or a website, and ways to interact with social media to promote your writing. Bring your questions, suggestions, and your laptops to the Artful Cup in Grand Junction, 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 26. (Click the link for directions.)

"When I published my first book, one of the things that most frightened me was doing my own marketing. I discovered the best way to market my book was through social media, and that included a blog. There are many kinds of blogs, from how-to’s to devotionals. Whatever your interest is, there is a blog for you. 
5 Tips for Keeping Your Blog Alive and Generating Hits
1.)    Post often. For you it may be daily, biweekly, weekly or monthly. It is best to post at least once every week. This will bring your audience to your blog regularly, which will keep your name alive and may even cause you to come up in conversation. Sometimes, just writing a sentence or two, or posing a question for readers to comment on will help you to post more often. Don’t forget to reply to any commenting, even if they are not flattering or are negative.

2.)    Write exciting posts. While your posts may range from informative to a simple, light story, you need to make the blog fun to read and keep your readers’ attention. Asking you audience questions can help with this. Keeping their interest and having them ask for more is imperative. Don’t be afraid to add a human element by mentioning things about yourself. Have a critical eye and read your posts periodically to see if your blog is on target and not getting bogged down. One of my blogs is for children, so I have an 8-year-old read it to see if the verbiage is fine, and to see if she understands it and is entertained by it. Have someone from your blog’s audience read it and provide you with honest feedback.

3.)    Include pictures and a welcoming background. Pictures catch the eye and people are most likely to read your blog if there is a picture attached. It is also important to make sure your blog as a whole is easy on the eyes – choose lighter to mid-dark backgrounds with text colors that are easy to read. Also, you don’t want to clutter up your blog because if it is too busy readers’ eyes cannot take it all in.

4.)    Make your blog easy to maneuver. In other words, make it user-friendly. People don’t want to work hard at finding their way around your blog. List the posts and articles that are on your blog; older posts should be easily accessible. It helps if your blog host has set up the template to include a sidebar.

5.)    Use social media. Whenever you write a blog post, embed the link in social media posts on sites such as TwitterFacebook and Google+. You should post from your social media accounts every day, or at least every other day. You can use sites that help you manage your postings so you can schedule your posts in advance so that if you have a busy week of writing and can’t do social media every day, you have already taken care of it. On Facebook and Twitter, share and retweet other people’s posts and tweets. This will engage them and make them more likely to share and retweet your posts, including the links to your blog. When they do, always “like” or tweet a thank you each time. This helps get your name out there, and getting your name out there is very important to building and keeping your blog. Remember to include relevant hashtags in your tweets so more hits will come your way.Before I started my blog, I perused several different blogs looking for things I liked and things I didn’t. This helped me to tailor my blog accordingly. I currently host three blogs, two Facebook pages, my regular Facebook account, Google+ and a Twitter account. I have learned things that work well, and things that don’t work so well. Every author is different – make sure that you are doing what you are comfortable with, and what is right for you and your book. God bless you in your endeavor." 

Robin Densmore Fuson is the author of Rosita Valdez and the Giant Sea Turtle. She is married, mother of three and grandmother of 11. She discovered her passion of storytelling as a teenager, and from then on she has served the Lord through teaching in the form of storytelling. A few years ago Robin put her passion of storytelling into the written word and self-published her first book in a series of children’s chapter book for grades 3-6 in 2012. Connect with Robin on the Internet:
(For the original post, click HERE.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Breaking out of writer's block

Have you ever gotten "stuck" somewhere along the way in a story? You know, where your characters have run away with the you and messed up your outline, or you've fallen into one of those dreaded "plot holes" and you can't see your way out?

pothole photo: pothole P1000631.jpg

At our March meeting, Faye Roberts graciously shared her method for getting "unstuck." (Thank you, Faye!) The process she demonstrated has been rolling around in my head for two days.

She calls it "clustering," and it's probably familiar to most of us — whether you call it brainstorming or mind mapping or free associating — as a device for coming up with ideas before you start writing. I learned it in college English for writing reports and research papers. I've used it to write articles for the local paper. I've even used a variation of it at the beginning of a story. But I never considered applying this technique in the midst of a story to recover from sagging middles, missing muses, plot holes, or runaway characters. 

Instead of going back to the beginning and starting over (which is what I tend to do when I get blocked, and then I get discouraged) pick up at the point where you're stuck. Grab a piece of paper (there is actually brainstorming software available for those of us who like to do everything the newfangled way), and a pen, and start somewhere. The name of a character, the current setting, etc., and start asking questions.

What's wrong with Character A? What happened to get her in this situation? How does she feel about it? What can she do to solve the problem? And so on... Every answer will lead to more questions, and pretty soon, you've dug your way out of that pit with a pen! 

And that's the reason I love getting together with other writers. Sometimes you just need a little help, a little encouragement, a little edification, a reminder, or a new idea. That said, please check out our new calendar widget on the right for information on upcoming meetings. (The next one is on April 26, at 10 a.m., at the Artful Cup in Grand Junction!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

March meeting information!

If you can come, that's wonderful! If not, don't worry! I'm hoping we'll be able to have more frequent gatherings now that our annual hibernation period is coming to a much-needed close.

When: Saturday, March 22 at 11 a.m.

Where: The Artful Cup at 3090 N. 12th St. in Grand Junction, Colo. (Click the address for a map!)

Doesn't this look like a wonderful place to inspire creativity and imagination? I'm really looking forward to visiting this establishment. It's a coffee/gift shop housed in one of Grand Junction's oldest homes, and all proceeds go toward hospice care. We can drink coffee and be a blessing at the same time! 

What: Bring one writing-related question for discussion and/or future blog subject matter. (I need ideas!)

Please RSVP in the comments here or via email