WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

 

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***This is PART THREE of a five part series to uncover some myths about becoming a published author. Make sure to come back next week and find out more insider secrets about the writing industry!***

 

5 Common Myths About Getting Published, Part Three

by Donna L Martin

 

The myths I’ve been uncovering are nothing new and you’ve probably already heard some of them before but it is always nice to be reminded of what is true and what might not be on the path to publication. When I started getting more serious about my writing back in 2010 I felt a bit overwhelmed with everything I had to quickly learn to improve my writing. Then I had to figure out the difference between agents and publishers as well as trying to determine just what they were looking for. By the time someone starting asking me what social media sites I was on and how many followers I had I wanted to scream! If you’ve ever felt like that just take a moment, take a breath, and realize you are not alone. While I was sorting everything out I ran across maybe one of the biggest myths of all…

 

MYTH #3. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HUGE PLATFORM BEFORE YOU CAN BECOME AN AUTHOR

 

While it’s true an agent or publisher will check to see if you have a website or blog and maybe even a Twitter or Facebook page, they know it takes time to build an “author platform”. Rushing to get as many followers as you can but having nothing to give them in return will only result in leaving a bad impression with your potential readers. There is a general rule of 80/20 when it comes to social networking where you are engaged with others 80% of the time and only promoting yourself or your books 20% of the time. It will also depend on which site you are using as to what you might offer your audience.

Here is a list of all the sites I currently participate in…some sporadically and some on a more day to day basis but all are set up to send me prompts of new posts I might need to be aware of. Probably while I sift through at least two to three hundred emails per day…;~)

WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com)…this is where my own blog, STORY CATCHER PUBLISHING (http://www.storycatcherpublishing.com) comes from. I switched from Blogger to WordPress last year for one simple reason…it offered me more support and expansion possibilities than any other site I had researched. There are advantages and disadvantages to any one of the sites so take the time to do your research to find which one is best for you. Here are some other free blog sites…

Blogger.com

Penzu.com

Squarespace.com

Tumblr.com

Webs.com

Weebly.com

Wix.com

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) …I have a personal account and a “fan page” listed under STORY CATCHER PUBLISHING (http://www.facebook.com/Donasdays). My personal account is for anything that interests me and the fan page is for my blog posts, videos or pictures I think my readers might enjoy, and anything writerly. I am also a member of about twenty Facebook communities which include wrters, readers, and people sharing other interests I have and I comment on all of those as often as I can…usually 3 to 4 times a week or more.

LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/story-catcher-publishing-b4a87a39/)  …I use this site for more professional contacts. I have a lot of authors, agents, editors, publishers, librarians, etc. on this account who want to connect with me. I also list my blog posts here.

Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/donasdays/) …I really enjoy fooling around with my Pinterest account and currently have many boards for people to choose from. It’s another place I can post my books, blog posts, and other things writerly as well as giving a chance to see some of my other interests.

Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18279692.Donna_L_Martin). My Goodreads account is full of books I’ve read over the years and is another place where my own books will be listed. I read the discussions but only comment occasionally.

Amazon (www.amazon.com/-/e/B00KA7DS02) …I have an account set up on Amazon through Author Central. It has links to my website and lists all my books.

Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/donasdays)…I list my blog posts, my books, share other writerly posts, and just anything that might interest me.

Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/martindonnal/) …this is my newest account and I’m just learning my way around it.

Some of these social sites I’ve used for years and others for just a couple of months. Yes, social networking takes time. Yes, it requires a lot of participation and some may think it only as a necessary evil. I’m very much a online people person, so I enjoy connecting with others. I love learning new things and participation in these sites give me the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of mindsets as well as other cultures.

From a business viewpoint it expands my platform. I have around 12,000 followers over the various platforms but it didn’t start out that way. While that is HUGE for me, in the publishing world I am still a mere speck on the social networking radar but that’s okay.

I may be tiny but I’m mighty and I’m continuing to get better at this whole social media thing so who knows what might happen over the next year? New authors don’t need to spread themselves so thin. Pick a site or two and get to know the people who hang out there. Comment, repost, engage…be present and allow them to see another part of you.

What social networking sites do YOU use? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments…

 

**************

 

donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Elizabeth H Cottrell

 

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ACTION CALL TO AUTHORS: Get Visible, Get Known, And Get Sales! Eight tips for building an author platform with online tools

 

by Elizabeth H Cottrell

Congratulations on getting that book written and published! Now “all” you have to do is get it out in front of people so they’ll buy it. Of course, many consider this the hardest part, but there’s no place to start except from where you are, and one step at a time will move you in the right direction towards your goal of increasing your visibility as an author and selling your book.

Marketing in general—and book marketing in particular—is changing daily, and while that can feel overwhelming, I want you to remember people are still people, and they still prefer to buy things from people they “know, like, and trust.” In some ways, that’s no different than it was in our grandparents’ generation, but now we have some fantastic new tools to get the job done. Your mindset should not be on selling your book, but rather on building an army of true fans who’ll be ready to buy your next book before it’s even out. (See Kevin Kelly’s seminal article entitled “1000 True Fans.”) This is the essence of relationship marketing.

It’s important to spend some time reflecting on your audience or target market. Who are they, and where do they “hang out”? The answers to these questions will help you prioritize your marketing activities. A friend who served on a bank board with me used to say, “If you want to hunt ducks, you’ve got to go where the ducks are.” So true! If you already have a blog, Google Analytics can help you identify where your followers are coming from. Facebook Page Insights is becoming very useful for telling you where your page visitors have come from.

While there are many offline ways to promote your book, this article will focus on ways to harness the power of the Internet to gain visibility and book sales.

What’s an author platform and why do I need to build one?

An author platform is one thing your grandparents would envision differently, and of course we’re not talking about a stage built of wood. Your author platform can be thought of as a rocket launch pad from which you’ll send your books out into the world. But mostly, it’s your brand—a brand built with readers and potential fans one relationship at a time, using many different techniques:
1. Creating a web presence with a website and blog

2. Building your email list of true fans so you can stay in touch with them

3. Responsive and regular activity on your favorite social media platform

4. Posting your biographical profile wherever you can

5. Activity in relevant forums and groups and commenting on appropriate blogs

6. Regular cultivation of reviewers, bloggers, and journalists

7. Learning from your peers

8. Turning your readers into ambassadors

We’ll talk about each of these in more detail shortly. Some will appeal to you more than others and could be considered optional. Some are pretty essential. All can make a difference, and I’d suggest you do all of them at one time or another.

But I’m an author, not a marketer!

Sorry, but unless you’re a blockbuster best-selling author, you’d better be both. Don’t let the idea scare you. Just think of every present or future reader as a present or future friend, and you’ll grasp the right mindset for relationship marketing: making authentic connections and nurturing them until they become true fans.

 

Isn’t my publisher supposed to market my book for me?

If you’re one of the relatively few published authors who actually have a publisher, they may promote your book through ads and media. But more and more, they rely on authors to work their own connections and relationships to promote their books. In fact, many publishers will only sign on new authors who bring an existing author platform with them.

Start marketing your book before it’s finished.

Whenever possible, build buzz before your book is even available. Start talking about your book on your social media channels. You can even create a Facebook page for the book to get conversations started early. Some authors are brilliant at getting their fans involved in contributing ideas or even direction and content for their book. When John Maxwell wrote Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, he used his blog to ask for stories and input from his readers for months before the book was published. He didn’t include everyone’s comment, but he did list every person’s name insider the cover. He even included a thumbnail photo of them.

Action steps to build a robust author platform:

 

1. Create a professional website/blog and keep it up to date.

 

If you don’t have a website already, I highly recommend you consider a WordPress.org website. While you still have to purchase hosting and a domain name, WordPress itself is free, and it offers a very robust content management system that makes it easy to create pages and blog posts and even sell things from the site. You simply must have your own “digital real estate” that you control yourself. More importantly, with just a bit of WordPress experience, you can add and change content yourself without having to hire a webmaster to do it for you. It’s usually worth getting some professional help with the set-up so it doesn’t look homespun, but why be at a webmaster’s mercy for ongoing changes if you don’t have to?

Your website and the content you put on it will allow the search engines to find you and become more visible online. Use keywords in your headlines, pages and posts that match what your target market is looking for.

Make sure your website content “sounds” like you. I’m a fan of Craig Johnson’s Longmire books, and his website http://www.craigallenjohnson.com/ has several features that help the visitor get to know him. There are lots of pictures and an “Interrogation” page that consists of an interview with the author that is very revealing of his quirks and personality.

Here are some other website features than can help with the site’s “stickiness” and increase your visibility:

· Blog: If you think you can post regularly to a blog (minimum monthly but better weekly), it can be become a very effective way to increase your visibility. This is a great place to answer reader questions (or imagined questions). You can also use it to provide your back-story for your book. Don’t forget to list your blog on Kindle so Kindle users can subscribe to it there: https://kindlepublishing.amazon.com.

· Email opt-in box: See #1 below for more on this. In addition to an opt-in box in your sidebar, you might also want to create a whole landing page that incorporates an opt-in box along with an invitation to your readers to get free updates or a special offer. You can use a link to this page in your Facebook or other advertising.

· Video: Video is a powerful way to get people to build that “know, like, and trust” factor more quickly. Think about it. When you go to a website and there is a short welcome video from the author, especially when it’s sincere and warm, you start feeling good about them and more interested in what they’ve written. You begin to feel as though you know them personally. Virtually every cell phone, camera, and computer now has video capability, so you no longer have to spend lots of money to create a simple, effective video. Lou Bortone is my go-to guy for video marketing information and training.

· Media Page: Make it easy for an interested person to get information about you, especially journalists or bloggers. This might be on your Contact Page or it might be a separate “Media” tab of your menu that takes a journalist or media representative to lots of information they might need to write about you. This could include biographical facts, recognitions, high-resolution photos, quotes, and excerpts.

· Extra value content: Some authors use their website to enhance the value of their book by adding more content just for readers. For fiction, this might be an author interview about the book. A short prequel or sequel can be enticing, as can some additional background information about your characters. For nonfiction, your website could include additional information, charts, and graphs that further elaborate on the topic of your book. Give readers a URL for this information right at the end of your book.

Here’s a useful article called “Ten Author Websites That Really Do The Business” by Simon Appleby. It spotlights ten effective author websites. Besides looking at the sites, read the comments for each one to see what the article author considers pros and cons.

 

2. Build an Email list

 

This should be a high priority for anyone with an online presence. Denise Wakeman, co-founder of The Future of Ink website, considers it among the top five essential elements for selling more books. As she stated in a recent article,

“Without an email list of qualified prospects and customers, you will always struggle to sell your book. The people who give you their email address are telling you they value what you offer and want to hear from you.”

Here’s her complete article: http://thefutureofink.com/sell-more-books/.

A reputable email service provider will not only save you time and headaches, but it will also ensure you don’t run afoul of spam regulations. You can create customized lists if your wish (e.g. a separate list for each book you write), and the tools offered by your provider will make it easy to send messages, newsletters, or updates to your followers. I started with MailChimp for free. Since I also do affiliate marketing, I have since moved to Aweber. Other reputable email service providers include Constant Contact, KickStartCart, and InsfusionSoft.

The email sign-up form (a.k.a. opt-in box) usually appears in your website/blog sidebar. WordPress makes this very easy with its sidebar widget functionality. Sign-ups increase if you offer a free digital download in return for your prospect giving you their first name and email. This could be an excerpt from your latest book or a short report on the topic of your book. This is sometimes referred to as “ethical bait.”

 

3. Get active on at least two or three social media platforms.

 

As I write this article, the “big four” social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, but Pinterest and Google+ are not far behind. YouTube goes hand-in-hand with the others, because it is the best place to upload your videos and then get YouTube’s embed code to place them on your website or talk about them on your other social media platforms.

Don’t get involved in more social media platforms than you can handle, because it’s very important for you to monitor them and respond to comments and questions from fans and readers. Learn how to “listen” to what’s being said about you, your book, or the topic of your book. This article “4 Steps to Create a Social Listening Strategy” by Sandy Carter on SocialMediaExaminer.com can help you get started.

Never underestimate how thrilled your readers will be when they can actually have a conversation directly with the book’s author. I write a lot of book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Often an author will leave me a message thanking me for my review. I’m always impressed and appreciative when they make this kind of effort. They’re paying attention and they’re hustling. You should be too.

Consider creating a Facebook Page for each one of your books. This is the perfect place for fans to come and ask questions about the plot or the characters, and this is where you can start conversations with your fans that make them feel you are accessible and likable. I’ve listed an article by Wes Locher in the Resources section below on other ways to use Facebook to promote your book.

4. Post your biographical profile wherever you can

 

Every social media platform offers the ability to create a detailed personal profile. Here’s your chance to shine! Be real and don’t be afraid to be authentically quirky. If drinking a glass of red wine puts you in the mood to write, tell your readers. It helps them know you and like you.

Don’t forget these important places for establishing your presence with a profile.

Author Central on Amazon: Besides a place to put biographical information, there is a great deal of functionality here too, including the ability to add RSS feeds for your blog or other sites.

Goodreads Author Program: There is a great deal of interaction between authors and readers on this site. Read the instructions about it on Goodreads to learn how to take advantage of it. 

Google – if you use Gmail, you already have a Google account, but if not, create one. Make sure you’ve filled out all the profile information. When your Google name appears, it is clickable and goes to this information. 

Even places like TripAdvisor and many other commercial sites offer you a personal profiles when you register with them. Whenever you get a chance, let people know you’re an author and how they can learn more about you. You may also find some directories in which to add a listing by searching for “directories for book authors” in your search engine’s search box.

 

5. Find forums and groups in your field and comment on relevant blogs

 

This may be more useful for nonfiction books, but if you can find a forum where people are discussing topics related to your book, you may have an opportunity to add value to their community and become known for your expertise by the forum members. Use Google or another search engine to search for “forum+your topic or niche.”

It’s extremely important to abide by forum rules. While most will prohibit direct promotion, many do allow you to create a signature that shows up every time you write a post. Here’s an example:

Jane Doe
Contributing author, Book Title

Facebook and LinkedIn both have hundreds of groups you may ask to join. In both cases, log in first, and then use the platform search box to enter keywords such as “book marketing” or “book promotion.” In LinkedIn, you can select “Groups” from the drop down box to the left of the search box. Most groups will require you to request to join.

Commenting on other blogs can be a surprisingly effective strategy, especially if it’s done thoughtfully and respectfully, without pushing your book. Be sure you have a Gravatar.com account that links your thumbnail photo with any emails you might use when you register at a blog. When you leave a comment, not only will your picture show up, but your user name will be a live link to whatever website URL you have entered in your registration. If your comments are interesting and thought provoking, readers may become interested enough to click on the link and learn more about you.

 

6. Cultivate reviewers, bloggers, and journalists

 

Every time you are mentioned in an article, a blog post, a Facebook post, or a tweet—either positively or negatively—it increases your visibility to an entirely new group of people. It makes sense to cultivate relationships with those who have their own large audience and who can help you spread the word. Reviewers, bloggers, and journalists are at the top of this list.

In #5 above, I mentioned the importance of leaving comments on other blogs, including blogs that review books. Bloggers love to get substantive comments that add value to the conversation about their post. If you become a regular commenter, believe me, most bloggers will notice.

In #4 above, I included links for getting on listed on Amazon, Goodreads, and Shelfari. These links also include information about how to leverage those sites and their easy access to readers and reviewers to get more visibility.

Here’s an outstanding article by Penny Sansevieri called “How to Get Reviews by the Truckload on Amazon.” She gives quite a few very clever and different strategies for approaching those who write book reviews on Amazon.

Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound, has several blog posts about what to do—and what not to do—when pitching to journalists and bloggers: http://publicityhound.com/?s=journalists.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great way to learn about journalists who are looking for information or people to interview for an article they’re writing. It’s free to sign up, and you can select getting notices in specific categories. These are usually quite time-sensitive, so check them regularly.

 

7. Learn from your peers

 

 

This overlaps with other items on this list, but it bears repeating. Don’t reinvent the wheel when you can learn what has worked for others trying to do the same thing you are. Interact with peers in groups, forums, and online webinars. I’ve listed some terrific resources below that will get you started.

 

8. Turn your readers into ambassadors

 

Many authors forget to do one simple thing that can make a big difference in sales: ask the reader who has just finished your book to tell their friends via social media or word-of-mouth. Right then…while they’re thinking about it.

Virtually all the strategies I’ve discussed in this article can contribute to building relationships with your readers and turning them into true fans. Then they become an invisible sales team, telling others about you while you sleep!

 

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed!

This may all feel like more than you can do, but don’t let it discourage you. Not all of these things will be relevant to your particular situation or suit your particular personality or modus operandi. Just do something—take baby steps—on a regular basis to build your author platform, and a year from now, you’ll be amazed at the results. Of course, if you decide to take massive action, you’ll get results even more quickly.

And remember, whatever effort you make to build your author platform will help position you to get much faster results when you publish your next book!

What tips for building an author platform can you share with readers of this blog? Please comment below.

 

Resources for book marketing

 

Book Marketing Made Easy website: D’vorah Lansky is both an author and a book marketing wizard. She brings in experts to contribute to her blog and does terrific industry expert interviews that are informative and helpful for authors trying to increase their visibility.

The Future of Ink website: Founded by Denise Wakeman and Ellen Britt, this site offers a wealth of information from industry experts on all aspects of digital publishing, book marketing, book production, and much more. Use the categories or search box to find exactly what you want. 

Robley, Chris. “The 6 Best Book Marketing Blogs.” September 12, 2013: http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs/

Sanderson, Karen R., The Word Shark. Karen’s blog includes some excellent advice on branding and platform: http://karenrsanderson.wordpress.com/category/branding-platform/.
Social Media Examiner website: http://socialmediaexaminer.com: “Your guide to the social media jungle.” Founded by Michael Stelzner, this searchable site has everything you ever wanted to know about how to use social media properly and effectively. Guest bloggers include industry experts, and their training events are always value-packed.

Author’s Note: Some links are the author’s affiliate links, but she only recommends people or products she has used herself, and in no instance would your purchase cost more than if you used a regular link.
elizabeth

 

Elizabeth is a writer, author, and master connector and encourager. She is founder of Heartspoken.com and SmallBizSpoken.com, where she spotlights the power of Connection in both personal and professional life. Her freelance writing and services are featured at RiverwoodWriter.com. She is a former leprosy researcher, a bank board member, a community activist, an Extra Class amateur radio operator, and a note-writing evangelist. Become a better Connector and opt in to receive her future Connection updates by using the easy sidebar opt-in boxes on any or all of her sites.
URL links is:

http://heartspoken.com

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna M McDine

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Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. Besides sharing the same first name, my next author and I share the same passion for writing as well as the challenge of not letting social networking get in the way of our stories. You can connect with Donna M McDine on her website, (www.donnamcdine.com), or through her blog (www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com). 

 

Social Networking Enough Already…When It Hinders Your Writing
By Donna M. McDine

 

As a society we are bombarded with technology at every angle. Often times overloading our brains with too much information. No matter what type of business world you travel in, it has become a constant buzz of checking our email and voice mail at a frantic pace, and hanging out on social media networks to the point that our face-to-face communication suffers.

Personally, I’ve come to the decision I need to turn off the technology to rejuvenate my creative juices for my writing. When I say turn-off, I don’t mean completely, but with limitations. I always write my first draft of an article or new manuscript long hand with my favorite pen. In my case, my Graf Von Faber-Castell pen. Yes an indulgence but oh so worth it! Using this method to write away from my computer greatly reduces my temptation to check email every 30 seconds and surf various social media networks.

Over the years I have forced myself to get to the task at hand and write first, marketing second (yes, I know many feel social networking is a form of marketing, but when you spend the majority of your time socializing with peers and not connecting with your readers what’s the point?), researching publishing markets and blogging (which is a form of social networking) and in my opinion instrumental in developing one’s platform. How to build your platform is a topic for another day.

It’s wonderful to connect with people through social networking whom you most likely would have never met otherwise, however if you allow social networking to become your “job” you risk valuable writing time that could result in the next “big” book!

Yes, utilize social networking but with responsibility. Do you want to concentrate on honing your writing skills and writing the best manuscript possible or have hundreds of thousands followers on your social networks with no concrete publishing credits to show for your efforts? You decide what’s important to you. I made my decision to get out from behind my computer and engage in-person with members of my community who are instrumental in getting the books in to the children’s hands, librarians, teachers, parents, after school program directors, etc. The end and continued result is my business relationships have soared.

Good luck and expand your outreach beyond your computer!

 

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Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. With four early reader children’s picture books to her credit, A Sandy Grave (January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) and a fifth book in the publishing pipeline with Guardian Angel Publishing her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, New York State Reading Association and Family Reding Partnership.

 

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The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the excitement of adventures especially at the beach. But what is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach? Suggested age range for readers: 8-12

 

WRITERLY WISDOM: Hazel Mitchell

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Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. I met my next guest blogger back in 2013 when I first came across her blog Turbo Monkey Tales and I’ve been a fan ever since!

 

Social Media – Made for Illustrators!
By Hazel Mitchell

 

I often hear writers say, “Illustrators have it easy on social media”. Sorry writers. I guess it is much easier for us to engage with folks instantly – we have all these beautiful illo’s we can share, to catch the eye of the viewer and make it easier for us to interact. It IS like the internet was made for us!

Humans love to look at pictures. This world we live in revolves on visual media. Before we read the written word, we are more likely to look at pictures and then have an instant impression of the written content. It’s how we learn to communicate from an early age. To read the signs around us.

That’s what we do when we read a picture book – flick back and forth between the story and the illustrations. As illustrators we are ALWAYS telling a story.

Luckily the internet is geared towards posting pictures.

FACEBOOK – probably the biggest arena for social networking. It’s a reality that posting a picture with a short description will get you more ‘shows’ on the newsfeed of your personal/business page. And don’t forget the wonderful TIMELINE BANNER. A great way to showcase your work FREE. Here’s the thing … don’t just stick your book covers on Facebook, with a link to buy. (Only do that OCCASIONALLY!!) Share interesting stuff that your contacts can connect with. Sketches you did in your spare time, process, photos, research as well as full blown finished pieces. Be a REAL person and people will look forward to your posts. Reply to poeple who are kind enough to make a comment. It’s rude not to.

TWITTER – now lets you post photos and many more opps to display your art. As with Facebook, make your posts interesting, not hard sell. I try to reply to tweets … if it’s too much, slow down on posting.

LINKED IN – you can now link and post photos here, as well as join groups and share work.

PINTEREST – has to be one of the most visual spaces on the internet these days and growing. Share images with friends, keep boards of your work and subjects you are interested in.

YOUTUBE – Video is even more interesting – if it moves, we are more likely to spend time watching. Try your hand at making a video. Even with a webcam or slideshow you can achieve a lot. Could be your process, a look at your studio, a book trailer, your portfolio! Be creative. Check into Webinair if you want to run interactive sessions or work shops.

INSTAGRAM – Online photo sharing/editing with great sharing abilities!

FLICKR – Cool place to store your images, share with other people and create galleries.

ETSY – sell prints and signed books here.

MAIL CHIMP (and other mail services) – keep in touch with a newsletter and illo’s.

There are other places to post your images: Google+, Myspace, Illustration Friday, Illustration Mundo, Behance, and any number of portfolio sites.

As an illustrator you will certainly need a website. If you’re starting out, this is going to mainly be a showcase for your illustrations. You’ll direct people there from any promo information (physical and online). If you are published it will begin to morph into a place where people can see your books, find out about your visit schedule and news, maybe a place to sell prints.

These days a blog is sometimes used in place as a website – and is often FREE. A plus for sure! See WordPress, Tumbler, Blogspot to name a few.

Blogging is still a great way to connect with people. If you are posting an image on line you might want to link back to your blog post and enlarge on the process you use, or give more detail about the image.

RULE ONE – Make sure that in some way or other anything you post on line links back to a blog, a website or information that ensures the viewer can discover more about your work.

RULE TWO – Make use of any tags and metatags available to you when posting images.

RULE THREE – Your job is to make great illustration and story. Social networking is part of your marketing strategy. That most of it is FREE is a bonus. WORK SMART!

RULE FOUR – If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. It’s not a requirement.

So. How can you make the most of the opportunities available? And why? If you are a new illustrator then your reason for posting may be to get your work out there. The more places people can find you – the more likely you are to be found. What you are doing here is also playing the search engines. The more times your name appears online the more pages will fill up when people search for you. Simple, right? It’s about building a presence online. If you’re a seasoned professional, you want to be more visible and bring your books and work to a larger audience, to let people know about your appearances and visits. Decide what information you want to put across and who you’re targeting. Are you looking to build connections with the children’s book industry or with readers, or both?

There’s a lot you can do. Maybe you will just choose to do one part of social networking well and that will be your focus. That’s great! With so many ways to connect with the world, one of them is sure to float your boat.

It’s not for everyone. My own experience is that as well as getting my work into the professional arena, I have learned so much from fellow illustrators and writers. I have found opportunities and workshops that would otherwise have passed me by, and at times talking to likeminded people has proved indispensible in an otherwise isolated profession. Remember – give something back.

RULE FIVE – Embrace the good in social media!

RULE SIX – None of this is compulsory!

 

Hazel Mitchell 2012

 

Hazel Mitchell is an award-winning children’s illustrator. Originally from England, she now lives in Maine, USA. She still misses fish and chips and mushy peas, (but is learning to love lobster). She has two dogs, two horses, a cat and several snow shovels.

If you’d like to talk to say ‘hi’ please email me hazel-mitchell@hotmail.com

Publishing clients include Charlesbridge, Makinac Island Press, ABDO, Kane and Miller, Freespirit, Beacon Publishing, Reading A-Z and SCBWI.

http://hazelmitchell.com

http://www.hazelmitchell.com/blog/

http://lookbackincandour.wordpress.com

http://turbomonkeytales.blogspot.com

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hazelmitchell/

tweet me @thewackybrit

 

 

WRITERLY WISDOM: Donna L Martin

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Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers.  I take the stage this week with a look at social media. You can find me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/donasdays), Twitter (www.twitter.com/donasdays). or on my website (www.StoryCatcherPublishing.com).

 

Choose The Right Social Media For You
By Donna L Martin

 

I can remember when I first started writing professionally during the winter of 2010. There was so much to learn and one of the things I kept hearing was “You’ve got to build an author platform.” But what exactly did that mean?

Eight years later I don’t feel quite so ignorant about the plethora of social websites a new or established writer have to choose from. Below, I’ve listed ten of the most commonly used platform building websites an author should consider.

 

1) Blogging…a type of “online journal” supported by sites like Blogger or WordPress where writers can connect with “followers”. Blogging gives the most flexibility to write about whatever might be of interest to you, not just about the writing itself.

 
2) Facebook…a social media site where you, and millions of others, can connect with friends, family, and potentially unlimited followers from all around the world. You can even create separate “author” pages to promote your books as well as “fan” pages to encourage interaction amongst your readers.

 
3) Google Plus…a fairly new social website, Google Plus began in 2011 and is used by more than 100 million people per month with a total of over 400 million active users.

 
4) LinkedIn…this site is promoted as a professional networking social website. Writers can connect with other professionals, join discussion groups, post resumes and clips of their work, as well as go job hunting themselves.

 
5) Pinterest…one of the newest social sites, Pinterest uses “pinning” and “bulletin boards” to connect it’s 10 million monthly users with similar interests. It can be used to give readers insight to a writer’s other interests as well as a way to showcase a writer’s work.

 
6) Quora…this is a very useful site for writers, especially of the nonfiction variety. You can post your own research question and allow others to answer it or you can showcase your own expertise in a particular subject by replying and connecting with over 100,000 monthly users.

 
7) Reddit…registered users of this social news website submit copy or links to be voted on by other users. The larger the vote, the higher the rank, which determines the story’s position on the site’s pages. Not really set up for posting blog entries.

 
8) Tumblr…this social site is known for it’s picture sharing. Page views are in the billions as teenagers and young adults “reblog” and “like” posted images.

 
9) Twitter…writers who can condense their message into 140 characters or less will find this microblogging site perfect for them. Writers can use it to keep their followers updated with the latest info about their work and to connect in other ways.

 
10) YouTube…this extremely popular social network is used primarily for video production, vlogging, movies and music. With over 800 million unique views each month, writers can tap into an almost unlimited source of potential new followers if they understand the video technology.

 

Looking at this list, a new writer might be tempted to throw their hands up in frustration. Some writers struggle to make time for writing at all and now they are expected to become multiple social media participants as well?

Here are some questions to ask before deciding which social websites to join:

1) What do you want your online presence to do for your platform? Do you want to connect with potential readers? Maybe market your latest book? Even generate additional monthly income? How you honestly answer these questions determine which social media avenue will help you the most.

2) Are you trying to be an expert in a certain area? Your content on a new blog could showcase your expertise. If you’re an illustrator, a Pinterest account or WordPress website can spotlight your best work for future clients to view.

3) Who are you, anyway? The person you are as a writer or illustrator IS your brand or product you are trying to sell to the world. Blogging gives you the most freedom to express yourself through your posts while sites like You Tube provides a way to be even more expressive.

 

Bottom line is you don’t have to jump onto every social networking site out there. Decide what type of platform and message are you really trying to create before you choose one of these sites or maybe one I haven’t listed. Maybe a Facebook fan page to begin with while you visit some blogs or LinkedIn accounts to get a feel for how things work. Agents and editors who are interested in your work will google your name to see what your platform consists of, but one or two strong sites are much better than a dozen poor ones. And since you will have to find the time to devote to whichever site(s) you participate in, there is only one person who can choose what’s best for you!

 

Author Profile Pic

 

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, My Journey, My Journal, is scheduled to be released by Expert Insights Publishing in the Fall 2018.