Monday, May 1, 2017

Once You Have Social Network Followers, Then What?

This is a short post, but one that’s important for anyone who is purposefully using social media. What I mean by ‘purposefully’ is using social media to promote and sell your services or products.

One of my email subscribers asked me about Staged. It’s a social media engagement service that gets you Twitter Followers. But, unless you have the budget, it can get expensive since there’s a monthly fee.

I’ll call the subscriber John Doe for this article.

The other part of John’s question was that although the service did get him a lot of Followers on Twitter, how could he monetize them?

The first thing I asked John was if the Followers the service got him were targeted. In other words, were those Twitter users interested in what he had to offer? Were they potential customers?

On my own social media marketing, I’m picky about who I Follow. I only Follow targeted users. I do this because I want potential leads / clients. I also want Followers who can add to the targeted conversation in my niche.

So what do you do with those Followers?
Whether John gets Followers on his own or through a paid service, he still has to produce quality content that will lead those Followers back to his website. And, just as important, where ever he brings that traffic to must be monetized or optimized.

So, if John brings the website traffic to his blog posts, those posts must have a CTA (call-to-action). It might be a prompt to join his mailing list or to get a free consultation.

The same holds true for sales pages or product pages. If you’re bringing traffic to those pages, they must be effective enough to motivate the reader to take the desired action you want.

Bottom line, the size of your Followers isn’t as important as the quality of those Followers. It goes back to the blogging strategy of quality over quantity.

More on Writing and Marketing

Are You Living the Writer’s Life?
Writing Skills - Spread Your Wings
10 Ideas for Social Media Posts

Need help with your author platform?
Check out my WOW! Women on Writing eClasses.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bullying 101


Kids are cruel. That's a known fact. Kids who take cruelty to the extreme become bullies. The reality is that bullying is and will continue to be a part of every child's life. Even in institutions with an active anti-bullying program, kids go underground and carry on in any way they choose. You know, like when we were in school.


We as children’s writers want our stories to reflect the lives of young people. We can speak to kids' lives by including a bully in our story and showing how our characters react to her. 


What is Bullying?

The regrettable dynamics of bullying comes in the form of the viscous "bullying triangle" of the bully, the victim, and the bystander.  

Bullying takes on many guises. Its main intent is to hurt someone and is relentless in its delivery. Once a bully zeroes in on a target that he deems small, helpless and/or weak, he preys on his victim over and over by calling him names, recruiting cronies to gang up, and in the worst cases, the bullies can become physically violent. 

Often bullies are bigger kids who pick on kids who they think won’t stand up for themselves, and kids with few friends. But that’s not always the case. A short kid could be a bully as a means of defense against his size, and even a kid who has been bullied can turn into a bully to gain favor from his previous aggressor. As Kaitlyn Blais put it in Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies and Bystanders, edited by Stephanie H. Meyer, John Meyer, Emily Sperber, and Heather Alexander, “Every kid wants to be ‘cool, popular, and in.’ The problem is that you can’t be ‘in’ unless someone is ‘out.’” Kaitlyn stood up for a victim who turned on her and victimized her. She wrote that she learned from that experience that “there needed to be only one black sheep.” 

Inside a Bully’s Head

First and foremost, a bully hates himself. He is hurting inside. Why? His home life may be unhappy. He may imagine that he has an embarrassing flaw and feels self-conscious about it. So he picks a victim who appears weaker than him and lashes out. If he gets away with it, he feels a sense of power and as his behavior continues, he becomes hooked. Eventually, as confessed bully Michael Ortiz wrote in Bullying Under Attack, Michael lost control and any ability he might have had to tell right from wrong. The hate he inflicted on others replaced the hatred he felt for himself.
Target  Practice
The victim is led to believe that more harm will come to her if she seeks help, and anyway, she doesn't want to be a tattletale. Lacking the proper skills to defend herself, she takes it and takes it until her life spins out of control and she descends into self-pity and worse. In dire cases, the victim may resort to harming herself by retreating into her own lonely world, and worse--cutting and even suicide. If a child is fortunate enough to rise above her unhappy situation, she is often left with long-lasting scars. 
Enter an Audience and the Triangle is Complete
Bystanders witness the bullying--the presence of bystanders actually encourages the bullying. The bully loves to show off his skills, especially if he is egged on. And even if the bystanders remain silent, the bully believes that they are lending him support.

Bystanders might:
  • Look the other way
  • Avoid any people or place where bullying might take place
  • Are afraid or embarrassed to speak up
  • Feel helpless themselves
  • Don't think they should interfere

    When Bravery Wins Out
    Enter the rare person who is willing to stand up for the victim, dubbed the upstander, in the excellent chapter "Understanding Bystanders," in Bullying: Prevention and Intervention--Protecting Children and Teens from Physical, Emotional, and Online Bullying, by Cindy Miller, LCSW and Cynthia Lowen.
     
    If You’ve Never Been a Part of a Bullying Triangle
    The closest I have come to a bullying situation was breaking up fights as a classroom teacher. Other than that, I have never became involved so I can’t speak from experience. But I have been hurt by girls who I considered my best friends. Granted, the scars couldn’t be as deep as the scars from a bullying situation, but there are scars. For two years I stewed over one friend’s hateful behavior toward me until I forced myself to stop and I finally got over it. The good news? I have a "well of darkness" to draw on in the portrayal of bullies and villains in my stories. I’m thankful for these experiences, for as writers, we draw on every scrap of personal experience and emotion we can.
    Please leave a comment if you’ve experienced bullying and let us know how it has affected you and your writing.
    Illustration: Courtesy of www.constantcontact.com
    Next month: What it Takes to Overcome Bullying   
    Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 7-11 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it and moving on to new writing projects. Follow Linda on Facebook.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Self-Editing for Our Best Writing


What you offer on your website will consistently draw readers to your site.  Our goal is to write a strong introduction with clarity, and focused content. To achieve our goal, we must become self-editors and put it into practice. 

Self-editing is tricky because we are familiar with the way we put words together in a sentence, our style. We are in-tuned to our message, and what we want to convey, but we surprise ourselves at times with wonky writing.  The point is to catch, and correct before release.

I have a few tips and resources to offer:
·         If you have a writing partner who edits your writing, even your posts, nurture the relationship.
·         To save time and money, self-edit or have your writing partner edit your work before hiring an editor.
·         I use online editors to help me analyze my pieces.  My favorite is ProWritingAid.  The free version is quite thorough, but a premium version is also available.

o   Copy and paste your piece and click to run an analysis. Follow the comments and choose how you wish to tackle each one.

o   ProWriting Aid:  https://prowritingaid.com/

o   Page Rater is my second go to online: https://www.paperrater.com/free_paper_grader

o   Hemmingway is good for style: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/


o   Grammarly is another option: https://www.grammarly.com/1

o   If you use Microsoft Word, a choice for extensive grammar checking is available via options – proofing – writing style.  Choose grammar & style, and click settings according to your watch-areas from the pull down menu.

Tips for growing a following:
  • Use visuals: many sites such as Pinterest are photograph-driven.
  • Add links to your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., pages with a brief intro.
  • Always include subject tags, labels, or categories for easy searching.
  • E-Newsletters and regular posts are an excellent way to promote your work and to recommend the work of others; an important part of book marketing.
I appreciate your feedback.  Please comment below.  Thank you much!  deborah



Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors.  Deborah writes articles, essays and stories. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  Careful editing preserves the artist’s voice as they share their journey. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley - Writers Blog.  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines.   

“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”
 



Monday, April 24, 2017

How to Re-motivate Your Writing Career


What do you do when the well runs dry? Give up in disgust? Refresh your ideas and ambitions? Learn a lot and start again?

If you can afford it, breaks give you time to rethink what you are doing, start from scratch or carry on regardless. Try answering these three main questions first.

 Why am I writing? 


Are you writing for love? Or to help others? Is this simply an ego trip or a serious attempt to earn a living? In other words, are you  being professional or is this just a glorified hobby?

Writing for your own enjoyment is now seen as a proven way of improving your mental health. Sharing your knowledge to help others was one of the initial ideas behind the Internet. But with rising costs, nowadays we really do need to consider the outgoings to support websites and expenses of hardware, software, subscriptions, paper, books and more books.

Yes, many people are earning good money writing about how rich you can become through books and articles, or giving courses on a hobby or passion. Many more are struggling well below the minimum living wage.

The trick is to write to market. Find a need, find where buyers are, and find how you can fill that need. Easier said than done. You could spend hours writing about grooming a dancing panda, but if no one cares, it does not matter how well you do it.

The research needed to locate your readers is arduous and takes time. A new helpful site on the block when it comes to writing fiction for Kindle is The Genre Report. It analyses  this market and produces graphs showing which books are making money, which have a chance of making money,  and which lines may fit your niche but have such a small readership, that they will never make more than a minimal part-time income.

It is a new website, it is in beta. And for that reason it is still free to use. If you're into working with Kindle at all, it is a time saver and very useful. A couple of sections are open when you reach the website but you need to sign in with Facebook to release the full menu for the reports. I, at last, found a niche in which I can confidently start work and hopefully make an income. Watch this space.

 Have I a list? How am I building it? 


My email inbox, and I'm sure yours, is flooded daily by messages promising to increase  followers,  email lists,  income. Much of it is no better than spam and my heart breaks for people who really believe the hype that they could make six figures in a month. Very few of us are going to become the super-rich. Many of us, if we're not too greedy, will earn enough to keep the wolf from the door. But it doesn't happen immediately. Don't be deluded. We're in it for the long haul.

Funnily enough many people have brought the business of email lists to my attention this week. The best piece of writing I have seen on this subject  is from Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  A writer and editor who has built her reputation over the years. She is, for me, well worth following. The comments are interesting, too.

How do I manage to do everything? 


It takes hard work to master Scrivener and Dragon. I hit them with determination on the days when I feel jaded with writing and am making headway. Scrivener's outlining mode helped me batter a new synopsis into submission. An achievement indeed. My word count, using my old Dragon Naturally Speaking, jumped from 20 words a minute yesterday to 40 words a minute today. Yay!

How do I know? Through the joys of using a website called 750words. Initially it seemed wrong to try doing morning pages without actually writing in a notebook. But for those of us who love gimmicks, the little badges for achievement bring their own joy.

I've collected the beginning  egg, a turkey for five days in a row, the lovely flamingo for ten days in a row, a hamster for concentration (yep, babyish but it works for me :-)) and help in analysing what I'm doing. The daily statistics even show whether you're using sight, sound, and touch in your writing. Not totally serious but interesting.

This site is free for the first month, then $5 a month. If you find yourself falling behind in your word count, it might be worth a look.

I'd love to know how you'd answer any or all of these questions, so please use the comments box below and let's discuss the best strategies for re-motivating ourselves when we feel worn out.


Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : http://www.authorsupport.net .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)




Saturday, April 22, 2017

To Find Opportunity, You Must Knock on Doors


By W. Terry Whalin

From my years in publishing, I've discovered a basic principle: If you want something to happen, you have to be knocking on doors to find that opportunity. For example, as an acquisitions editor, I've found some of my best projects meeting with authors face to face at a writers' conference. I understand the value of this personal contact with writers. While I've been speaking at different events for many years, the invitations to speak at these events does not happen organically (without any action on my part). From my experience, the directors of conferences are pitched many times from many more qualified people than they could possibly use at an event.

What is the difference maker so one editor is picked to be invited and another is not? I believe it is a combination of things—a personal relationship with the director or decisionmaker at these events. Also it is necessary to be knocking on the doors in a gentle way but letting them know of your availability and willingness to speak at their event. In the last few days, I've pulled out some resources on my bookshelf that list forthcoming conferences, then I've sent emails to these leaders. In a few cases where I know the people but haven't been to their event in several years, I've picked up the phone and called them. Will my actions pay off? I know many will fall flat and never garner a response.  I'm a realist with my expectations—yet I also know that some of them will succeed and garner an invitation to their event—maybe not this year but next year.

While I've been writing about getting speaking opportunities, the actions for a writer are exactly the same if you are looking for writing opportunities. What types of writing opportunities are you looking for? 

In recent days, I've been working on some book proposals and writing projects. Yes I've written a number of books over the years but most of my efforts have been in my work as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. I've been knocking on some doors of opportunities with agents and editors to find some writing projects. Like my knocking on doors for speaking opportunities, many of my emails and calls have not been returned and feel like they are going into a black hole. Yet I persist and continue to pitch and look for new opportunities. Why? From my experience, I know some of these pitches will actually turn into writing assignments and future work.

Here's several actions for every writer:

1.Learn how to write an attention-getting query letter. Every writer can learn this important skill of writing a one page pitch letter. It will be a valuable lesson for writing for magazines or getting the attention of literary agents or editors.

2. Learn how to write an excellent book proposal. Get my free book proposal checklist or my Book Proposals That Sell or take my Write A Book Proposal course. It will take effort but it will pay off in getting more attention from literary agents and book publishers.

3. Continually work at fostering and strengthening your relationships with others in the community. Help them in any way that you can—and you never know where that help will lead to future opportunities.

In general, the world of publishing is busy with lots of activity, emails, manuscripts, proposals and pitches. If you wait passively for someone to reach out to you, then most likely little will happen. Instead I encourage you to be proactive in your approach and be knocking on different doors to find the right opportunity. I believe these opportunities are out there—but you have to be knocking to find them.

---------------------------
W. Terry Whalin has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, a New York publisher. Terry has an active twitter following (over 200,000) and lives in Colorado.

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Writers have to be pro-active to find the doors of opportunity. Get ideas here. (ClickToTweet)

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Friday, April 14, 2017

How to Write Better Endings to Your Stories


Many writers have trouble coming up with the perfect ending for a story.

And the perfect ending is really important because it is often the ending of a story that people remember most.

That’s because a good ending ties everything together and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

To write good story endings, keep these tips in mind:

1. A good ending is made possible by having a good beginning and a good middle.

If you're having trouble with the ending of your story, go back and look at your beginning and middle.

What is the BIG thing your main character is trying to do or solve at the start of the story?

Is it clear throughout the story that your character is trying to solve this problem?

Everything in the beginning and middle of your story needs to relate to this problem.

When it does, it will be much easier to come up with the perfect ending.

If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to create the perfect ending to your story.

Try this: Write down, in one or two sentences, what the main conflict is in your story. If you have trouble doing this, you probably need to get clearer about the main story problem.

2. Your ending should come about because of the actions and events we see in the beginning and the middle of your story.

For example, don’t have some character we've never seen before suddenly appear at the end of the story to help the main character solve the problem or solve it for him.

This won’t make for a satisfying ending.

If you want to have another character help the main character at the end, we need to see this character in the middle of the story, not just the ending.

Also remember that the ending needs to come about because of action or actions the main character did or did not take.

Things can’t simply happen to the main character by chance.

And someone else can't simply step in and save the day for your main character.

Things need to happen because of actions and decisions the main character makes throughout the story.

3. Make sure you have plenty of conflict (rising action) that leads to the climax and ending of the story.

Endings tend to fall flat if there isn’t plenty of conflict in the middle of the story, with all sorts of decisions and actions the main character faces before he’s able to solve or resolve the overall problem.

4. Good endings evoke some sort of emotion in the reader.

To write endings that do this, start by reading other published stories in the genre you wish to write.

See how they ended and how you felt at the ending.

Make a few notes about how the authors evoked these emotions.

You’ll have to practice writing endings that cause readers to feel emotions, so take your time.

When you have a clear problem that is evident throughout the story, and plenty of conflict throughout the story as the main character tries to solve this problem, it is much easier to create the perfect ending to your story – an ending that evokes emotion from your reader and leaves him feeling satisfied.

So follow these tips until you come up with an ending for your story that is just right!

Try it!


Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

Monday, April 10, 2017

10 Ideas for Social Media Posts

Social media marketing is a must in this day and age. It's important to have an online presence in addition to your website to stay on top of the minds of your readers and clients.

I am frequently asked which are the best social media networks for writers. The easy answer is: whichever sites you are most active on. If you spend time on a social media platform personally, you are more likely to drive conversations on it professionally.

For those who want a tangible answer, I say, LinkedIn is a must, since it is a professional network. It's also less cluttered, so it's more likely your posts will be seen. Second is Facebook. It is hugely popular, continually evolving, and prioritizes the user experience.

Now that we have the where, here are 10 things you can post on social media.

Links:

1. To A Blog Post

2. To Relevant Industry News

3. To Media

4. To Your Upcoming Events

Images:

5. Where You Are and What You Are Doing

6. A Relevant Quote Graphic

Videos

7. A Quick Tip

8. A Live Video of You Speaking or Teaching

Text:

9. An Update of Your Latest Project

10. Questions for Your Audience.

Here are some author-friendly options:
- What are you reading (fiction, non-fiction, or both)?
- What are you writing?
- Where is your favorite place to read (or write)?
- How do you find inspiration?
- What is your favorite piece of advice?

Whether or not it's an question post, whenever you share something on social media, include a question at the bottom that encourages them to comment (see below).

One more thing. Unless you have a a huge news site (and unless you are referring to Twitter) you really don't want to publish on your social media platforms more than once or twice a day. The idea is to stay active, so you are on the minds and in the feeds of your friends and fans.

What do you think? Where do you posts and what do you post?Please share your thoughts in the comments. 

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

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