Showing posts with label social networking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social networking. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Author, the Mailing List, and the Wide World of Email

At the start of the month, Dani posted about electronic newsletters and generated some great discussion in the comments. So, today I’d like to address some of the questions that came up—the “why” of mailing lists and newsletters. Tomorrow I’ll be back with more ideas on strategy, content, and frequency.

Why Do You Want, or Need, a Mailing List?

A mailing list is a valuable commodity and is evidence of a platform. If your statistics are good, you can use them in query letters to agents and publishers. If you’re an indie author, you can sell or trade advertising in your newsletters (never sell access to your actual mailing list, though). And that’s before you’ve even begun using it to market your own books. According to email marketing still generates more sales than other online communication options.

Why not...?
- Blogging, Instead of Email?

A blog is an excellent platform to build, but you have little to no control over whether a first-time reader will ever return to your blog. Even if he enjoyed your post, he might click a few links, read a couple more articles, and forget about you. But if you manage to convince that reader to sign up for your newsletter you can land your best headlines right in his inbox and bring him back to your blog until he’s a regular.

- RSS, Instead of Email?

Some people do sign up for RSS feeds and use either a reader or their email account to read blog posts. But it hasn’t taken off as well as it might have and many people still don’t know how to set one up or how to sign up for a feed. And, while some syndication systems do allow you to access the names and email addresses of your readers, you cannot use those contact details without skirting a very fine line.

- Social Networking, Instead of Email?

If you have a thousand friends on Facebook or a large Twitter following, you might be wondering why you can’t just use these platforms to communicate with your fans. Again the problem is that you don’t have any control over whether your friends and followers actually check in to their social networks, or whether they have filters to keep the noise down to only their IRL friends and family. Most people do check their email, though.

Yes, but, you may say, email can filtered, too. Disposable email addresses might never be checked. And that’s true, and a good reason that social networking works well in chorus with email newsletters and a blog.

The other issue with social networking is fickleness. Remember MySpace? The names and addresses in your mailing list database are under your control, not Facebook’s. You can back it up, and if your mailing company goes under, you can move your database to another one. If half your Twitter followers decide to move to Pinterest instead, you have to move with them or risk losing them—if you have no other means to connect with them.

And that’s where your mailing list comes in.

Elle Carter Neal is currently building up her own email mailing list (again) after mistakenly believing email correspondence would die out. Elle is the author of the teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin, due out later this year.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Have You Heard of This Publisher?

Recently an author emailed me to find out if I’d heard anything about a publisher called knowonder! – she planned to submit a story I had declined though I really loved her work. I’d never heard of knowonder! but poked around the Internet a bit to get a feel for them. After researching and giving the author feedback, I decided my process was worth a blog post. Here’s my vetting approach and something any author looking for a publisher can do to get a feel for a company before submitting.

Google the company name. In this day and age they should have a website as well as links to their social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest,  Facebook, and a blog. How do those sites look? Have they been around long? Are they active? They should give a solid and consistent impression across platforms.

Next look for a submissions page, and read every line closely. Knowonder! has a very concise submissions page, explicitly outlining what they seek. Their focus is read-aloud stories for 20 minutes a day as a literacy tool for children, so if you were submitting a story to them, you would be sure to read your story aloud first, and then have someone else read it to you as you critically listen to what you have written. How does your story sound? Would it pass muster with this company?

Now make sure all their other requirements are met by your particular manuscript. If not, revise and submit, or skip this company. With a publisher who is this clear about his needs, don’t waste time sending something you think might get noticed. No matter how good, they are building a book collection, and if you’re too much off-topic, you’ll be wasting your time and worse, risk alienating them because you can’t read instructions or are too dumb to follow them.

If you still think you might have a good story fit, do some more research in their About section and especially make note of what and how they will compensate you (should they state those terms online). Don’t be afraid of new publishing models that extend beyond the bounds of a normal royalty situation, and be sure to note digital products (including apps) and what the publisher is offering in the way of products.  (At this point in the process, terms will be fairly superficial. Don’t expect otherwise.) You can research and review further with your lawyer and negotiate later if you are offered a contract. But at least have an idea of what to expect.

Also note how long the company has been in business, how large their collection, and if they are expanding their offerings (age groups or genres) which indicates growth for a young company.

Then search online for any kudos or complaints. I found a great review from Hip Homeschool Moms and only one comment at the Absolute Write Water Cooler which is generally positive.

Finally, find out how to order a book from them. If they ship their own orders, this will test how easy their order process is and how quickly they can deliver. Poor fulfillment can kill the success of a company – and author success – so get a sense of this before you submit. It’s a very small cost upfront, and as an added benefit, you get to see the quality of the publisher’s books first-hand. Knowonder! sales are processed through Amazon so that tells you a great deal about order-processing. However, if you don’t like Amazon, you might have a problem with this arrangement.

Have I missed anything? How do you approach the task of finding and vetting potential publishers for your manuscript?

Dani Greer is founding member of this blog. She spends her summer days with new writing and editing projects, waters acres of gardens, and often can be seen knitting yet another pair of socks. Visit her at News From Nowhere, Facebook, and Twitter.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Defining the Reader Part 2

Google Images
After you’ve thought about the qualities of your potential readers, you might want to stake out some of them before you begin to write for them. Here are some more ideas that might help you find out what your readers care about. 

Go out to coffee with a friend or acquaintance who typifies your ideal reader, and have an in-depth conversation with them about the subject of your writing. Ask them what they care about, in terms of your topic. What questions does he or she have? Does he or she have any objections to your position? What problems do they have that your writings might solve for them?  A good idea is to record these conversations (with their permission, of course.)

Or you might want to take surveys of your potential readership.  If you have an email distribution list, or a group of friends on a social networking site, or have joined clubs or other interest groups, ask these same kinds of questions of them.

Social networking sites can be very valuable for finding out what people are thinking. For instance, when I want to find out what my potential readers are thinking about a particular subject, I’ve learned that asking a question in my status line on Facebook or Twitter will bring me many opinions. Or I might ask that same question in a Facebook group that pertains to my subject.

Find out what your potential readers are thinking and wondering about. How will your writing help them? Ask them and find out!

Try to make your ideal readers as real to you as possible. You might want to browse through magazines and cut out pictures which represent who you are writing for, and put those pictures right by your computer, where you’ll see them. Or you can write about your readers – just a paragraph or two about who they are, what they care about, and what you want them to “get” from your writing, and why they would want to “get” it.  Anything that helps you visualize these people will help you write for them.

I sometimes have dialogues (imaginary) with my hoped-for readers. I talk to them as if they are sitting right in front of me. Even if my book is written in the narrative style, I’ll pretend that it isn’t, and address my reader as “you.” This makes them real to me.

Sometimes I even give them names, but don’t tell anybody.

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ten Ways to Get the Most from a Writers’ Conference

I recently attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference in Denver, so the benefits are fresh in my mind. In addition to the educational and networking opportunities at these conferences, there are often manuscript critique workshops and appointments to pitch your work to agents and editors. Here are my ten suggestions to get the most from any writers’ conference you attend.

1. Become a member of the organization sponsoring the conference. If that organization has a Yahoo! Group, join it as well. It’s the best way to make contacts before the event and find the volunteer jobs I mention in #3.

2. If you have an area of expertise useful to authors, send a workshop or panel proposal for the conference committee’s consideration. At Colorado Gold, some of the well-attended sessions were presented by unpublished writers or others with knowledge of e-books, e-readers, digital publishing options, police arrest tactics, blogging and social media, and publicity.

3. Volunteer to work before and/or during the conference. Volunteers assemble registration materials, work at the registration tables, moderate panels and presentations (which includes introduction, timekeeping, Q&A moderating, and room cleanup), gather donations for the hospitality room, and other duties.

4. If there’s a critique workshop included with the conference you choose, and if you have a manuscript ready for critique, sign up for the workshop, even if it costs a little extra. This is especially worthwhile if the workshop sessions are moderated by agents and editors, as are the Friday afternoon sessions at the Colorado Gold Conference.

5. If pitch appointments are available, and you have a completed manuscript, sign up. If it’s your first time, don’t be afraid. There will probably be a Pitch 101 session at the conference. If not, ask another attendee to help you prepare. Do not pitch your book to editors or agents at inappropriate times, but don't be afraid to chat with them during social events.

6. Study the program before you go to the conference so you have a good idea which workshops and panels will be most useful to you. At Colorado Gold, sessions were ranked beginning craft, advanced craft, special interest, etc. to help attendees decide.

7. Arrive at the conference with a smile. Pay attention to people. If you see someone wandering or sitting alone, start a conversation. Listen. Exchange business cards. Make a point of talking to at least one new person at every session you attend.

8. Find out where your conference hospitality room is and make an appearance there each day, even if you don’t stay too long. While some rooms will be non-alcoholic and open all day, others will be small and noisy late evening events with a bar. Either way, editors and agents may be present. Be on your best behavior.

9. Colorado Gold provides a book of handouts with the conference registration materials, which is helpful for note taking. Be prepared to take additional notes during a workshop or panel.

10. When you get home, follow up on the contacts you made. Read your contacts’ blogs and leave a comment, or e-mail them. If an editor or agent invites you to submit a partial, follow through.

The next conference I’ll be attending is Northern Colorado Writers’ Conference, to be held March 25-26, 2011 in Fort Collins, Colorado. This conference is for all writers, not just those who write fiction.

Remember what I said in #2 about presentation proposals for those who have special expertise in a writing-related topic? Here’s your chance to follow through. The director of the NCW conference has put out a call for presenters. I hope to see you in Northern Colorado in March.


Patricia Stoltey is a mystery author, blogger, and critique group facilitator. Active in promoting authors in several genres, she also helps local unpublished writers learn the critical skills of manuscript revision and self-editing. For information about Patricia’s Sylvia and Willie mystery series, visit her website and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook (Patricia Stoltey) and Twitter (@PStoltey).

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Social Media: Doing Your Homework

The definition of social media is evolving. The Wikipedia version is constantly under discussion and is dynamic, changing as fast as the various components of social media change. To get to the bare bones, however, we can say that social medial consists of internet-based applications accessible to a variety of content producers and a wide audience of consumers/readers. You, as producer or consumer, can participate in social media and social networking in a variety of ways (blogger, Wikipedia contributor, photo sharing exhibitor, podcast producer, internet forum contributor/reader, corporate marketer, and so on).

Finding resource materials on the use of social media seems easy when you take a look at booklists. I’ve consulted:

Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans (Wiley Publishing, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2008)

Blogging for Dummies by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley (Wiley Publishing, Indianapolis, Indiana, 2008)

The Twitter Book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein (O’Reilly Media, Inc., Sebastopol, CA, 2009)

A search on “social media” at one of the online bookstores will return a long list of recently published books on these topics and more. Buying a book to learn the basics is fine, but be aware that books go out-of-date quickly as the sites they cover add new features, redesign old ones, and install new profile and security features. There are up-to-date internet articles that can help you learn as you go. I watch these blogs for articles of interest:

Mashable: The Social Media Guide
Mashable has guidebooks on Twitter and Facebook



cnet News

Inspired Mag has a list of 10 Essential Social Media Blogs

Here’s a list of 200 Social Media Blogs from NOOP.NL

There’s the Facebook blog
And the unofficial Facebook blog

The Twitter blog
And Twitip: Getting More Out of Twitter

Reading books for the basics is fine. There will be a steady flow of new titles, many of which will be added to your local library. But it makes sense that the most current support for your social media questions is online. Try the sites listed above, or conduct your own search on a variety of topics. To work on this blog post, I searched on “social media,” “social media marketing,” “social media blogs,” “Twitter blogs,” and “Facebook blogs.”


Patricia Stoltey is a mystery author, blogger, and critique group facilitator. Active in promoting Colorado authors, she also helps local unpublished writers learn the critical skills of manuscript revision and self-editing. For information about Patricia’s Sylvia and Willie mystery series, visit her website and her blog. You can also find her on Facebook (Patricia Stoltey) and Twitter (@PStoltey).

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