Time for a new week and there is a lot happening this week. I was just talking to my daughter about one of my favourite songs (okay I was singing it off-key as I unloaded the dishwasher).
Good songs like good characters in a book, or a great and intriguing plot stay with us. Sometimes I think we happen on a song or a book or even a painting at just the right time and that's why it resonates with us and the person next to us couldn't care less about it.
I'm writing a new series of books and one of the characters is a lyricist. That means I've been writing my own song lyrics that I hope will speak to someone. Of course I hope the whole book does too, but writing lyrics is a different skill. It's fun to do new things especially as I've been writing a long time now.
When Any Way You Build It releases in April It will be my 12th novel, I've had another two pieces in anthologies...that's a lot of novel writing so song writing that's a refreshing change.
Here's one of my favourite songs for you. It's not really a classic but it's a classic at our house. The other week I met my husband in town for lunch and this was playing at the burger joint so I guess it is a classic for someone else as well
Quickly before I go I want to let you know that Any Way You Dream It is #free right now so you might want to grab a copy if you haven't read it yet. And I've also set up a Fun, Flirty Fiction group for readers over on Facebook so if you want to join just click here.
Where is my tribe?
Social media is an interesting thing - some people love it, some people hate it. I get both points of view but at least for now it isn't going away.
I'm on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn . I find each of these has a place.
I'm not entirely sure I'm using Twitter properly and I'm quite certain I'm not making the most of the other three. It's a little bit like I'm standing in the library and I know the perfect book is inside but no one has taught me how the books are catalogued so I'm wandering around a lot scratching my head. I do find what I need usually but I'm sure there's more that I could utilize if I only knew how.
Facebook however I feel like I get. you all know I have a Facebook author page but that's not what I'm here to talk about today.
Today I'm talking about Facebook Groups and how great they are for writers. There are two sorts of Facebook groups that authors can utilize groups the first is where other writers (and sometimes readers) of your genre or with similar interest gather to support each other and share information. The second are groups where authors can promote their books to readers.
Let's talk about the first and what invaluable resources they are. I'm a member of several groups and the sorts of information and support available varies. What you need will determine what groups are good for you.
For instance I started the #1000wordsaday Facebook group. We have just shy of 250 members whose aim is to write #1000wordsaday. Pretty simple. We start a daily thread and share our numbers and cheer each other on. Writing can be lonely having people who "get you" makes it less so. That's all that group does. And that's enough.
I'm a member of several other groups for romance authors, indie authors, chicklit authors, #NaNoWriMo and they provide a variety of opportunities and information depending on the group but here are some examples:
- People will help you pick your next book cover
- Recommend promotional opportunities
- Put together a short story collection or box set
- Help you write your blurb
- Cross-promote your book
- Run an online party
- BETA read your books
- Help you if you're having issues with uploading a book
- Marketing advice
You get the idea right? Depending on the group, where you are on your journey and what you need to know you can find people to help you. That's pretty cool.
A note of caution - not all groups are created equally and some of the people in some groups can be negative at best and nasty at worst. I don't stay in those groups. I do not engage. So there can be some trial and error but I've met lovely supportive writers from all over the globe this way and the advice I've received is priceless.
The second lot of groups are pretty much groups where readers go to find new release, free and discount books. Again these are not all created equally and some are populated almost entirely with other authors and some are populated with people who like to share porn so choose wisely. They really can help you sell books if you know which ones to choose.
I mean literally - where are they located, the people who read your books?
hen you do an author marketing plan you're asked to look at the demographic of your readers and who your ideal readers are.
I'm pretty sure most of my readers are 28-50 year old women but where are these people residing? In order to target my advertising, branding and social media I should try and work that out.
So with that in mind I thought I'd try and find out.
One thing I did this week was a little experiment - I asked people on my Facebook page their location. I wanted to know where they were on this amazing planet of ours.
The results are :941 people saw that post and 14 people liked it.
In case you were wondering for me that's pretty good. I have around 1100 people who have liked my Facebook page but some posts are only seen by a handful of people most weeks I have a couple of posts at least that reach 300 or more people, ( If just in case you don't understand not all of those are the people who like my page - some are my twitter followers and some are followers or the various hashtags I use).
Now let's break this down:
32 of those people that shared their location:
USA - 24
UK - 3
Australia - 5
Other - 3 (India (a travelling American), South Africa and Fiji (my very Australian husband))
So let's look at that...
I'm an Australian author but look at that number there...only 5 Australians and only 1 of those actually lives near me and is known to me.
That told me a lot.
Firstly - my friends, neighbours and relatives either:
a) are not seeing my Facebook page (more on that later*) - probably
b) are genuinely not my audience and don't care to read my novels - sadly also probably true
c) a little of both.
Secondly - My Facebook page for whatever reason reaches a lot more Americans than Australians. And where do I sell more books? America. ( I know every person who visits doesn't intend to buy books but I'm just looking at who I'm even reaching, because if I'm not reaching people they're definitely not buying my books. Also anecdotally I know fewer Australians read on devices so that is a factor but let's just use what we have).
That's not true for most Australian authors I know so that's kind of interesting - most Australian authors especially independent ones seem to sell more to the Australian market.
I guess the question now is what do I do with that information?
1. Skew my marketing towards American readers
2. Try and get more Australian readers
3. Do both of these things using segmented marketing.
I guess I need to work that out
Authors do you know where your readers are?
* While I've been writing this blog post I asked my Facebook friends who also like my Facebook Author Page if they've seen my page this week. 60% said they hadn't , 40% said they had and the others weren't sure.
Excuse me? I'm a person not a brand.
I have lots of author friends who are new to social media and they're not sure where to start. Quite frankly I give them the same advice I give to teenagers.
The first piece of advice anyway and that is (drumroll) don't put anything on there you wouldn't want a close family member to read. If your relatives are fine with explicit language and shots of your butt then you're going to have more scope than I would but remember, you can't take it back. So like that fifteen year old girl you better be sure that cleavage shot won't come back to haunt you.
The second piece of advice I offer is to know what your brand is?
I know what you're thinking - I'm not a brand. Lego is a brand. Starbucks is a brand. Pepsi is a brand. You think you're just a person but an author is a product and you need to brand yourself effectively. You need to do this so that people know what to expect from you and also to help you stand out in the crazy marketplace.
You need to think about what you write? An author who writes literary fiction is going to have a different brand than someone who illustrates children's books. The sexy romance author is going to be different to the horror writer.
Let's take me as an example - I figure if you're here you know who I am . I write chicklit and romantic comedies. These books are supposed to be an escape from the everyday hum-drum of life. I call it fun, flirty fiction and I imagine my readers on buses, on beaches and lying in bed at the end of the day. So my brand is fun and flirty and about escaping from the stress of the day to day. And most of my readers are women because of the genre I write.
So apart from things related to my novels and books in general I also post mainly about the following things. Coffee (because I like it and I like to escape with a coffee), sometimes wine or cocktails (again I like wine), friendship (my novels have a strong friendship component and women value friendship) and the beach (because that's where I escape to). Another part of my brand is where I live. I'm an Australian author living on Sydney's Northern Beaches so I often post things about Australia and Sydney. That's me...if you look at my Facebook and Twitter and blog you'll find those images and topics reappear.
I don't write really sexy romances so I don't share pictures of bare-chested men. I don't write historical romances so I don't share vintage dresses and houses - knowing your brand helps you exclude topics as well. People aren't confused when they visit you on social media if you're consistent.
The advantage of knowing your brand is then when you're looking for content you can search for things in those areas. It gives you a place to start in your daily quest to find new and hopefully engaging content.
So ask yourself this - what's your author brand?
(In part 2 I'll give you some good examples of authors who I think nail the branding).
9/20/2015 5 Comments
Social media questions you were too embarrassed to ask.
The truth is social media has it's own rules and language and if you're not across them the whole idea of participating in social media is daunting. The language of social media is dominated by terms and language and many, many acronyms and abbreviations that confuse people.
I've met lots of people lately who are new to Facebook, don't "get" Twitter, think Instagram is for young people and have no idea clue what in the known universe Pinterest is. Some of these people want to know but feel silly when they ask and some of them NEED to know but can't get simple answers.
I'm going to do a series of simple blog posts that help answer some of these questions. These are questions that people ask me in real life and I try and explain in simple language.
So let's get started.
What the heck is a #hashtag?
Here is my simple explanation - if the internet is a giant eyclopedia then the #hashtag is a way to look through the index of knowledge and find something.
If you are on Twitter or Facebook for example and you want to look up pandas you search #pandas (see just pop that hashtag in front) and you will find all the posts by people who have used that hastag ie people who want to share their panda info with you.
See what I did just here and what I found (such cute pandas)
And it works the same way on Twitter.
On Twitter people also use #hastags to follow certain things that interest them. Kind of like putting a bookmark in that encyclopedia so you can find new information. Here's a picture of my own Tweetdeck page (Tweetdeck is a platform to look at or sort Twitter information). As you can see each column represents a #hastag.
So that's it...a #hashtag is a way to categorise and look for something on social media.
Today I'm sharing something very different but very exciting with you.
See this book here with the funky cover? Well guess who made a small contribution to it?
Did you guess me?
Now look at all the other cool people who contributed.
I quote the back cover.
John Birmingham, Linda Jaivin, Marc Fennell, Clem Bastow, Lindy Morrisson, Justin Heazelwood, Elmo Keep, Dan Hunter, Angela Bowne and others fire up the copyright debate like never before.
So I'm one of the 'and others' and very proud to be one.
This is a wonderful book that looks at the issues we face in the digital age when we all want to download it, read it, watch it and listen to it anywhere, anytime. The book examines how we deal with this now in terms of copyright and the affects it has on the individuals who created the original work.
My piece is here called One Click For Chicklit .
Edited by the very talented Phillipa McGuinness and published by New South Publishing It is available in all good bookshops.
I am thrilled to have been included in this wonderful book.
There is a panel discussing the book at the Sydney Writer's Festival so if you're planning to be there you should put the event in your diary.
EVENT NUMBER: 111
EVENT TITLE: Copyfight
DATE: Friday, 22 May 2015
VENUE: Sydney Dance 2
Meanwhile, go grab a copy!
As part of #ChickLitLove (oragnised by the wonderful ladies at @ChickLitChat) I'm taking part in some fun events here on the blog and on twitter this week.
Today in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day we have a Q&A with Allegra from Mr Right and Other Mongrels. Although a true romantic Allegra hasn’t exactly been lucky in love so let’s get her thoughts on romance, shall we?
1)What three qualities do you find most attractive in a partner?
I find stability very attractive, I had kind of a bumpy childhood so I like a bit of consistency in my men. I’m big on loyalty because I’ve been burned before and I’m not looking to go through that again. Finally I like some good old fashioned manners and courtesy, that might not be fashionable but then I’m not really the most fashion forward girl on the planet.
2) What’s your idea of romance?
Romance is walking hand in hand on the beach under the moonlight. However, once you get past that initial blush it is also about showing up, remembering the details and creating a life together. I’m kind of a hopeless romantic. I want a happily ever after, but I’m not exactly expecting one.
3) Who's your favorite on-screen couple (Film or TV)?
You know I did have quite an obsession with Carol and Mike Brady for a while. It was a pity he was gay and she was dating her eldest son off screen, that kind of ruined it. Still, on screen, I loved the way they had such a united approach to their kids and family, plus their colour coordinated flares gave them a touch of something special.
4) What's been your most embarrassing moment in regards to the opposite sex?
One embararssing moment? You want me to choose just one? Seriously most of my encounters with the opposite sex are embarassing…can we please talk about something else?
5) What was your first impression of your partner or crush? How accurate was it?
You know I’m very embarassed to say that I didn’t recognise him when I saw him the second time (or the first, apparently everyone in Australia but me would have instantly known him). Admittedly I was quite focussed on having a panic attack and getting away from the humiliation that caused the first time I met him so I did avoid looking at him and eye contact. Still, he’s so cute and my goodness that smile, I don’t know how even I managed to forget that face.
6) How have you coped with break-ups in the past?
WOW, do we have to talk break-ups? My last break up was very, very awkward. I caught my boyfriend sleeping with someone, I can’t even tell you who, it’s too awful (if you read the book you’ll understand why). So I just kind of went into a bit of a funk, swore off men and made a nice neat life for myself that revolved around my friends and my business.
7) Which hot actor would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with and why?
I like old movies, anything vintage works for me, so I think Cary Grant and I would probably have a fine time on a deserted island. I don’t think we’d last long but we’d look stylish as we went.
8) What is the craziest thing you've ever done for love?
I haven’t really done anything crazy for love yet but I have a feeling Teddy Green, who is also in Mr Right and Other Mongrels is going to have me going all kinds of crazy.
9) PDA: How much is acceptable?
I’m not really all that good with PDA’s for myself. I mean you may go right ahead and snog whomever you like where ever you like, I grew up on a commune so I have seen it all before and I’m not here to judge. Personally when I’m in a relationship I’m more of a hand holding in public and peck on quick kiss on the lips girl, I think some things are just between the two people involved.
10) What is the best relationship advice you've ever gotten?
The best relationship advice I’ve been given – I just don’t know. I think it is follow your heart, but I don’t exactly trust my heart so it’s quite hard to know where to follow it to.
It is hard to grow up in Australia and not associate Christmas with the beach. Christmas means the start of the summer holidays. It means long lazy days by the sea. It means sunburn, barbeques and late nights sitting out under the stars. It means mosquito bites, sand in your swimmers and icy cold drinks.
When we were kids we were fascinated by the idea of a white Christmas. All the television shows and movies had snow and mountains. People drank egg nog (what was that), built snowmen and sat by the fire.
I suppose even now I think of a winter Christmas as romantic but seriously what can be more romantic than cocktails and prawns on the beach?
In fact I fantasise about taking my family to a gorgeous island in the Whitsundays for Christmas not unlike the one that Cassie visits in Hearts Afire. (Of course it would be inappropriate for me to flirt with a sexy fireman while on vacation with my husband and daughter I know that).
In reality my real Christmas looks an awful lot like one that Allegra from my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels might enjoy. I think it's probably equally romantic. We will spend the day bobbing on our boat on Sydney Harbour while children jump of the back and we feast on prawns and turkey and ham (and of course some champagne!)
I imagine if I lived in the Northern Helpisphere that would be a very exotic and romantic way to spend Christmas. In fact many young single visitors to Australia spend Christmas Day on Bondi Beach http://sunburntchristmas.com.au/
I kind of like to imagine that somewhere in that crowd of people are two people who will find each other and forge a beautiful relationship...or will find each other, get separated and spend a while finding their way back together in the spirit of a true epic romance.
Don't forget to enter for your chance to win 26 e-books and $100 Amazon GC.
If you leave a comment here and tell me about your most romantic Christmas or the destination you think would be most romantic you can win a copy of Hearts Afire and a $5 Amazon GC.
My first indie book has now been out in the big wide world 22 months. I guess that makes that book a toddler. It certainly has fallen over and scraped it's knees along the way, more than once. I suspect it's also resentful when I give it's younger siblings my time but that may be another post.
When I had my daughter (back in the day!) I joined a mother's group. They were like a support group for me. They got me out of the house and I could talk about my daughter and the trials of motherhood without boring my friends, who for the most part didn't yet have children. (Ok I'm sure I did still bore them but hopefully a little less than I would have and as they largely went on to have their own kids I must not have scared them off the idea!)
Anyway, when I released my first novel I did a similar thing. I found groups of people online who wrote what I wrote, or reviewed what I wrote and started to build a lovely network of people around me with whom I could discuss writing and books and writing comedy and writing chicklit and writing contemporary romance.
If you follow my blog at all you'll probably see that I've done cover reveals, interviews and guest posts from lots of wonderful authors. I've been involved in group promotions and give-aways as well.
Lots of these people have reciprocated and hosted me or retweeted my sale days, new releases etc,
So every so often (it'll be like totally random) I'm going to just alert you to the books of some of these people.
I'll just pop a cover or two up here as suggestions of nice people who write books who might appreciate you downloading their book and having a read. They won't all be women's fiction but lots will be because that's who I write for and who I seem to mostly have connected with.
If you read and enjoy their books let me know - or even better - let them know. Authors love that!
It's a funny thing being a writer in the 21st century. You can still be the lonely, conflicted isolated person in a loft, wearing a beret, drinking red wine and feeling angst all alone. The difference is you no longer have to.
Thanks to the internet there is really no need for any writer to feel lonely. The opportunities to connect are almost boundless.
You can find readers, editors and cover designers all on the internet.
You can join discussion groups with other authors on Facebook that cover your genre, writing style or nationality. You can hop on twitter, follow other writers and getting chatting. There are author forums and loops. There are online critique groups. You can pitch to publishers and agents online sometimes as well.
There are so many ways to connect in fact that many authors have to unplug and lock themselves in that garret just to get any real writing done or to finish that project before the dreaded deadline.
One of the things I love about the internet is that it lets you stay connected with people years after you meet them. Today I'm meeting a friend for dinner I met at during a writing program back in 2008. Even though he lives interstate I've been able to follow his progress, buy his books and easily keep in touch thanks to the internet.
I have other friends from my writing group who no longer attend regularly due to work commitments. Thanks to the internet I can stay up to date with their journey as well and the same is true for people I've met at writing conferences.
What this creates is a community. It's nice to feel a part of a community (Sorry Margaret Thatcher but I believe in community!) It certainly makes the journey less lonely as you share your triumphs and failures with people who know what they feel like from first hand experience.