UR Turn: Do You Use Pinterest as Part of Your Author Platform?

Pinterest is a quick way to share images and connect with like-minded people

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...So far we’ve talked about Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as possible social media platforms for authors. What about Pinterest?

Of the four of them, I’ve done the least amount of work with Pinterest. Maybe that’s because I’m a guy and most Pinterest users are females.

Nevertheless, I do have the beginnings of a Pinterest presence, and it’s growing little by little. I pin my blog graphics and have a board for book covers. Other boards have sayings and offer encouragement. My favorite board has a growing number of church signs, from the humorous to the profound.

Are you on Pinterest? Follow me on Pinterest and I’ll follow you.

My page is www.pinterest.com/peterdehaan. Please share your Pinterest page in the comment section below.

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Your Turn: Do You Use LinkedIn as Part of Your Author Platform?

LinkedIn is the Social Media Platform for Professional Networking

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...We’ve talked about Twitter and Facebook as social media hangouts that many authors use to connect with fans and engage followers. Another social media platform to consider is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the social media platform to make professional connections, for networking, and to find work.

Are you on LinkedIn? I’m there. Visit Peter DeHaan on LinkedIn.

If you’re on LinkedIn, what do you use it for?

If you’re not on LinkedIn, what made you decide not to?

Please share your thoughts below, and if you have a LinkedIn account, be sure to include a link.

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Your Turn: What Do You Like (or Not Like) About Facebook?

Being the world’s largest social media platform doesn’t necessarily make Facebook better

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...Last month I mentioned that Twitter is my preferred social media platform and the one I use the most. Though I’ve been on Facebook longer, I don’t find it as useful. In fact I find Facebook frustrating.

Aside from frequent changes that affect how things work is the reality that only a fraction of the people who like my page ever see the things I post. I suppose Facebook does this to motivate me to pay them to “boost” my post. Instead they’re motivating me to connect with people elsewhere.

Making the most out of Facebook is on my to-do list, but right now it’s far down that list. Maybe someday I’ll get to it—or maybe not.

Even so, I’d be honored if you’d like or follow my author page on Facebook.

Your Turn: In the comment section below link to your Facebook page or share your experience with Facebook.

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Your Turn: What Do You Like (or Not Like) About Twitter?

The social media site Twitter is becoming the go-to platform for many

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...I’m on several social media sites, but the one that I use the most and am the least confused by is Twitter. I’ve grown a following, tweet and retweet regularly, and engage a bit with my followers.

Twitter is the one social media site where I’m enjoying some traction. Once a day I spend time to schedule most of my tweets for the next day, but I also tweet some things on the fly. And on most days I invest a few minutes to interact with followers and find more interesting people to follow.

I view Twitter a lot like broadcasting. Though only a fraction of my potential audience will see what I tweet, the possibility exists for anyone of them to read my tweets if they’re looking at the right time (quite unlike Facebook). I think that’s why I’m growing fond of Twitter.

If you follow me on Twitter, I will follow you back.

Your Turn: In the comment section below link to your Twitter account or leave your Twitter handle.

What do you like or not like about Twitter?

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Was 2016 Your Best Year Ever or an Epic Fail?

We need a realistic view of our history to plan a reasonable vision for our future

Was 2016 Your Best Year Ever or an Epic Fail?My wife sometimes says I view things as though my glass is only half-full, that I’m pessimistic. I counter that I’m simply being a realist, but the truth is I’m not sure who’s right. Perhaps a bit of reality resides in both perspectives. So it is in viewing my past year as a writer.

As such, I share two perspectives:

Best Year Ever:

  • After years of talk, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. What a great experience.
  • I wrote two novels, the second one in about three weeks. (I’m still editing them both.)
  • My work as a commercial freelance writer really took off this year, with more clients, more work, and more income—all new records.
  • I grew my Twitter followers from 2,400 to 11,500, surpassing my year-end goal of 10,000. I’m enjoying good connections and engagement there.
  • I took LinkedIn seriously and made 100 posts to a growing audience of 2,300, which more than doubled in 2016.

Epic Fail:

  • I didn’t publish a book this year.
  • I didn’t win any writing contests.
  • I wasn’t published in any anthologies.
  • I didn’t accomplish my number one goal for 2016. (Which is now my number one goal for 2017.)
  • Work/life balance continues to elude me. (It’s even harder to achieve when you work at home.)

I could reasonably adopt either of these two perspectives as my primary view of 2016. While it’s easy to dwell on disappointments, missed goals, and wasted opportunities, a better outlook is to focus on what went great this year. Though I might need to reread this post to remind myself, I can truly say that 2016 was my best year ever, and I look forward to 2017 being even better.

As you review 2016, I encourage you to celebrate the mountains and not allow yourself to wallow in the valleys. Though everyone is at a different place as a writer, no one had a flawless year and everyone has something to celebrate. Focus on these things as you move into 2017.

May it be your best year ever.

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Your Turn: What’s Your Favorite Social Media Platform?

Social media is a great way to connect with others and share content

UR Turn, Help me finish ths post by sharing...Last month we started a new feature here on Byline where we end each month giving you a chance to share with our community. We started with an opportunity to post a link to your website or blog. And if you missed that, it’s not too late to add yours to the list.

This month please share your favorite social media platform and link to your page or profile. I’m also curious what you like about it.

Remember, each time you share a link you let others know about your online presence and increase the odds of a search engine, such as Google, recommending you in their search results.

So in the comments section below, please link to your page on your favorite social media site. Why do you like that platform?

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What to Do When You Hit the Wall

When our carefully constructed world of work comes crashing down, follow these steps to reconstruct it

What to Do When You Hit the WallWriters are often amazed at the amount of writing I do on a daily and weekly basis. They ask how I manage to consistently stay productive. Part of it is my stage of life, part of it is discipline, and part of it is illusion. The reality is I seldom feel like I am doing enough of the right things and that I am careening through life trying to juggle five items, while I’m only capable of three. I do this as I speed on a motorcycle…in the dark…without headlights. Then I hit a metaphoric wall, and everything stops. Okay, maybe this is a bit hyperbole, but you get the point.

Hitting the wall happens to me on occasion. This time it was a combination of over-commitment, too many deadlines, excessive optimism about my productivity, family priorities, time away from the office, and a strange sickness that required me to sleep more and robbed me of my concentration. It was like a house of cards, carefully constructed and most tenuous. My house of cards imploded. Kaboom!

Here is what I do when I hit the wall:

Pause: The first thing I do is put some things on pause. Exercise is one. Reading is another. Social media is a third. All are important, but none are essential. I can put them on hold for a few days.

Scale Back: What activities can I reduce? I don’t need to listen to as many podcasts as I do. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by what I’m not getting to, I merely pare back the quantity, unsubscribing from some and skipping episodes of others. I also curtail my TV watching and entertainment.

Eliminate: To make my writing life sustainable, I also look for things to eliminate. At one time I had five blogs, each with a different focus and strategy. A few years ago I stopped posting on two of them and just now stopped a third one.

Say “No”: I like to help people and don’t want to disappoint anyone. But I need to remind myself that sometimes declining requests is in my best interest or I’m of no help to anyone.

Reprioritize: If five things are a priority, then nothing is a priority. What is the one truly important thing in this moment? I do it and then move on.

Restore a Buffer: When new opportunities arise I try to squeeze them in. Before I know it, I’m living a life with no cushion. I need to re-establish some buffer to leave room for the unexpected – because surprises do occur.

A few months ago, I saw my wall looming. I took action to protect myself, such as scaling back the frequency of one of my newsletters, saying “no” to some new opportunities, putting one critique group on hold, and curtailing the amount of time I invested in Twitter. These were all good changes, but they were not enough. All these corrections did was delay the inevitable.

Today I am reconstructing my work and my writing life, striving for balance, sustainability, and a saner schedule. It will take time, but I will bounce back – hopefully with fewer projects and less stress.

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How to Always Know What to Write When it’s Time to Blog

Maintain an idea repository to jumpstart your creativity every time you sit down to write

How to Always Know What to Write When it’s Time to BlogEach week I create several posts for my blogs. I also compose posts for others (content marketing). In addition, I need to produce columns for my various publications. At a minimum, I write five new pieces a week, sometimes upwards of ten.

Yet I seldom struggle with what to say. I always have at least one idea waiting for me when it’s time to write, usually many. Here’s my process:

  • Keep a Running List: For each blog, client, or publication, I have an idea file. Sometimes I note a concept or a title. Other times it’s the first line or even the last. Occasionally there’s an anecdote to serve as the focal point for me to package. Then there is a bulleted list, the result of a quick brainstorm session during a moment of inspiration. Such is the case with this post.
  • Look For Fresh Ideas: Life and living provides a treasure chest of ideas. We merely need to recognize their value when we see them. This takes practice, as well as discipline. Reading provides creative fodder for me, too, as do podcasts and especially movies. The key in this, which I learned the hard way, is to seize these gems as soon as I see them. Trusting my memory has cost me too many good ideas.
  • Retain What You Can’t Use: Sometimes a piece doesn’t develop as I expect or I need to skip a thought or go in a different direction. Other times I need to cut a section. I always stuff these untapped nuggets into my file for another day.
  • Build on Feedback: Some people comment on posts. Others email me their thoughts and questions, and a few react in person. Each source of input provides the potential for a future piece, which I add to my list.
  • Tap Your Muse as You Write: Perhaps the most common source of inspiration occurs during my writing process. As I develop one piece, other gems for future posts pop into my mind. I stop writing immediately and capture them in my idea file. This happens with about half the pieces I write. Sometimes I receive multiple ideas in succession. I eventually use most of them.
  • Bonus Tip: Sometimes when it’s time to write, I simply ask myself, “What do you want to write about today?” Without even peeking at my list of ideas, another concept pops into my mind, and I can’t help but develop it. This saves all the ideas in my file for another day.

I polished this process over time. First it was to minimize frustration over lost ideas; then for the sake of efficiency. But now it has become necessary for me if I am to meet all my commitments and make my deadlines.

Do you use a variation of an idea file? What process do you use to generate ideas? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

How Big Should Your Author Platform Be?

When it comes to a writer’s social media following, how much is enough?

Unless we’re a big name A-list author, publishers want us to have a humongous platform from which to sell books. They expect us to have a large following. Even though the publisher will make some effort to sell our books, this largely falls on us. And if we self-publish, the marketing and promotion of our books is all up to us. We need a platform to do this, the bigger the better.

I’ve heard publishers talk about how many Facebook likes or Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+ followers they want their authors to have. The figures are staggering. The amount of zeros they tack on to the end of these numbers overwhelm me.

The marketing guru at one publisher once said she wanted authors to have 50,000 Facebook likes and 100,000 Twitter followers. For those who did public speaking, she wanted them to be in front of 100,000 different people a year. That astounded me. (By the way, she has since left the industry.)

I don’t do much in the way of public speaking. I’m a writer for a reason.

And though I have a presence on each of the above social media platforms (plus Goodreads), my numbers are miniscule. However, I’ve recently gained some traction on Twitter. I’m following people and they’re following back. I’m tweeting and retweeting. And I’m having some personal interaction with my followers.

My number of followers grows by a couple hundred each week. This isn’t easy, however. I spend at least an hour a day on Twitter, sometimes closer to two. And that’s using certain tools to help me. (Hootsuite and Manageflitter, if you’re interested.)

As I stumbled onto a Twitter methodology I inched my way past 1,000 Twitter followers toward the end of last year. I set a goal to have 10,000 by the end of this year. This week I hit 5,000 and am on pace to reach my goal by the end of summer. When that happens, I’ll probably just keep at it.

Given all this, I asked myself a question: How much is enough?

Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller this question about money. He said “Just a little bit more.” I feel this same compulsion with social media. Yet I still don’t know if publishers will be impressed or if it will help me sell books.

What are you doing to build your platform? How concerned are you over the size of your following? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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How to Build a Fan Base

Every writer needs avid supporters to help get the word out about his or her books

When it comes to marketing our book we need a group of loyal followers. They are apt to buy our books and will be excited to tell others about them. We need a platform.

Most writers cringe at the word platform. That’s probably why some people use other words. One person says tribe and another prefers community, while others say street team. I prefer the word fans, which is short for fanatic. Yes, we all need fervent followers who are committed to our writing, our work, and us. But how do we find them?

Model What We Seek: To have a fan, we need to be a fan. Think about it. Look to serve instead of being served. Give without expectation. If they reciprocate that is a bonus, and we have found a new fan.

Share Freely: We need to give to our fans. This might be our time and attention. It might be personal messages via email, Facebook, and Twitter. We can offer them a nice discount on our book or even share advance copies for free.

Avoid Insincerity: No one likes a sleaze. Don’t become the used car salesperson of books. Avoid high-pressure tactics, false pretenses, and artificial limited time offers. We should avoid doing to others what we hate being done to us. It’s that simple. And if we are to error, lean towards humility.

Thank Profusely: We need to show our appreciation. We can do this with words and with gestures. We salute them: privately and publically. We let them know how much we appreciate them.

Reward Generously: We can recognize our fans in the acknowledgment section of our book. We can mention them on social media. We can let them read our next book before anyone else. How about sending them an autographed copy with a personal note?

Many book promotion gurus claim we only need a thousand ardent fans for a successful book launch. Though that’s a lot, it feels attainable. However, I’ve heard success stories from authors who only have a couple hundred. And I listened to a podcast interview of one successful author admit she focuses on about forty true fans. She lavishes them with attention, and they propel most of her releases into best-seller lists, and she makes a full-time living from her book sales. Finding forty followers is doable.

Cultivating fans is all about being nice. Everyone can do that – and every author should.

What do you do to find fans? How do you keep them? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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