Saturday, December 1, 2012

Help! How Do I Sell My Book?! - Helpful Tips

Exciting News!

My new book just launched! Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus is now available just in time for the Christmas season. You can order it from your favorite bookstore. Just request it by title and my name. Or you can order it from Amazon. It's making its way to Barnes and Noble.com, but it wasn't there yet last I check so I don't have a link. But it is available right now for Kindle and Nook.


Cover Story:

One thing I love about being a writer/author is that people come up to me all the time saying either that they, too, are a writer and/or author or they want to be. That happened again this past month. At a church potluck my Pastor couldn't wait to introduce me to his friend who has a children's book out. It was fun to meet her. She asked a question that is another thing I hear a lot: Now that I have my book out, how do I sell it?

This is a huge deal for authors. No matter how big of a company you've published with, you're going to have to do most of the selling. If you self-published, you're going to have to do all the selling. Even if you don't have a book out yet, you need to figure out how you're going to sell it when you do and actually figuring that out before you publish it is good and before you write it is even better. That's because if you'll start thinking about it before you write it, you may find you need to tweak it to make it easier to sell. That tweaking may also make it more attractive to a publisher.

Many writers think that all they need to do is put their book on Amazon and it will sell. That is so not true. There are over 8 million books on Amazon. When someone goes there, how will they know to look for your book? If they walk into a bookstore, how will they know to look for your book? Or more likely, your book won't be on the shelves so they'll have to order it. How will they even know to ask for it? The answer is they won't if you don't get the word out and let people know your book exists. So how do you do that?

Here's a short list for you to begin thinking about and working through to help you sell your book:

1. Who is your audience? Who is your reader and/or book buyer? This is the first question you need to answer, and you'd do well to answer it before you write your next book.

2. Where is your audience, reader, or book buyer? Where do they hang out? Where can you go and find them? Especially, where are they online? Do they frequent blogs or forums? For example, if you've written a nonfiction book for Moms, they are probably hanging out at blogs for Moms and organizations for Moms, don't you think? If you've written fiction for suspense readers, where are they hanging out? My Deliver Me book has stories of unplanned pregnancy, giving a child for adoption, and more. People interested might be reading blogs about pregnancy or adoption. My new book about Christmas prophecies would interest Christians, people who like to study the Bible, people looking for a Christian devotional book to read with their family this holiday season, people curious about Christianity who wonder what we believe and why we believe it, and possibly book clubs.

3. Go there and join in the conversation. Read the blog. Leave a comment. Join the conversation in  a forum. But do not try to sell those folks your book! Instead, here's what you do:
  • Offer them something of value. Maybe it's an encouraging word. Maybe it's a piece of advice.
  • Offer a free give-away of tips from your book that they can print from your web site.
  • Listen to what they're saying.
  • Care about them. Don't just care about selling to them.
Once they know you care, and when they know you have something of value to offer them that will help them in their lives, then they'll be interested in what you have to sell.

I offer this ezine/blog because I truly want to help you meet your publishing goals and dreams. I also hope that you will like me and will buy my book, but I don't come here and write nothing other than BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK! If I did that, you wouldn't come back. Here I hope to offer you something of value, something that helps you in your life. If I can do that, I'm happy. Then if you buy a book from me, well, that's all gravy.

We've talked about it before in this e-zine (before it became a blog): Be a servant. Remember to always serve your reader. Give them what they need, what will help them. Don't always be asking for something from them. The people who are your readers/book buyers are more important than selling books. Keep the right perspective and the selling will take care of itself.

While you're doing the above, here are some more ideas that can keep you busy marketing your book:
  1. Write up five guest blog posts based on your book. Make them from 150 to 500 words. Add a brief bio at the end telling you are the author of your book and give the title, add links to your web sites and buy links to purchase your book. I've done this already with my new book and have had two appear this week so far with two more coming! Want to see some examples? Here is my guest post on Kathi Macias' Easy Writer blog. Here is my guest post on Christian EBooks Today.
  2. Go looking for blogs that use the kind of information in your guest posts. Contact the blog owner and ask if they'd like a guest post from you. You won't get paid for your writings; your payment is letting their entire audience know about your book. Do this enough times and your book will start selling.
  3. Write down what are the "features and benefits" of your book. Features are special things that you put in your book. For example some features in my new book Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus are: a Christmas story reading in the Bible, where the prophecy was originally given and how it was fulfilled, where to go to read more on the topic, a prayer, and application questions. These are included in every chapter. Features give your reader a reason to buy your book. What features are in your book? If fiction, did you include recipes? In your nonfiction, is there an index? Statistics? Resources? Book club discussion questions work for both nonfiction and fiction. If you haven't written your book yet and you don't have any features, what features can you add?
  4. What are the "benefits" of your reading your book? What will it do for the reader? How will it help them? How will it improve their lives? Will it save them money? Make them healthier? Make life more enjoyable? Help them with a problem? Inform them of something important? Will your fiction make them think or teach them about a time in history? The benefits of reading your book will give your readers another reason to buy it.
Here's a homework assignment for you. Keep some paper and a pen next to the chair you watch TV from. Don't watch TV? Then get some magazines or a newspaper. Or save some pieces of sales literature that come in the mail. Now study the ads. What are they doing? They are first telling you what their product is, then what it's features are, then what the benefits are and what those benefits can do for you, then finally a "call to action" or what to do to get it: "Click here." "Call now." "Find it in the dairy section."

Now you take your book, which is your product, and go and do likewise.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Are You NaNoWriMo-ing? Benefits of and Tips for Surviving National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo.org 
Cover Story:

Today National Novel Writing Month begins! Are you NaNoWriMo-ing? If you haven't signed up yet, hop on over to NaNoWriMo.org and sign up. It's free!

You're probably familiar, but if not NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. You'll be in good company. A lot of us are doing it, so check it out.

I've done NaNo for several years and I've learned a thing or two. Here are eight benefits you'll receive if you take part as well as some tips for surviving National Novel Writing Month:

8 Benefits for Participating in NaNoWriMo:

  1. Become a faster writer. NaNoWriMo taught me to write more quickly and I’m far more prolific.
  2. Learn what you need to do to get more done. After a family emergency put me behind like a spin-out on the racetrack, I had to really zoom to catch up. I set my alarm for 4:45 am and was in my office—coffee in hand—by 5:00. I wrote 7,000 words a day and made the word-count by November 30th.
  3. Learn what you need to successfully complete a writing project. I found I need a solid storyline, not just an interesting character or a vague idea.
  4. Accelerate your fiction-writing learning curve. No more moseying through learning fiction at a leisurely Sunday drive-pace. I sped through the learning curve at something closer to the pace of NASCAR (but far more reckless).
  5. Practice, practice, practice. I’ve written a couple really bad NaNo novels, but doing so taught me so much I don’t count them as wasted time at all.
  6. Make huge progress on one project—fast! It doesn’t have to take a year to write a book. That’s incredibly encouraging to me because I now can envision a shorter, but workable, time frame to produce that long list of books I’d like to write.
  7. Be propelled forward on your fiction-writing dream. I’ve been writing nonfiction articles for twenty plus years. But I always want to write long fiction. Finally, I’m making progress toward that dream.
  8. Become more attractive to an agent or publisher. I hope completing manuscripts quickly and therefore having more on hand to circulate might expedite my journey to book-length fiction publication.
7 Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo:

Dry eyes. Wearing writers. Adding 50,000 words on top of an already crazy schedule. Taking the plunge into National Novel Writing Month sounds daunting, and it can be. But if you'd like to give it a go, there are some ways to save your dry eyes and your sanity. Here are seven tips for surviving NaNoWriMo:
  1. Having a story line in mind before November 1 is helpful but not necessary. Grab an idea and go with it.
  2. Use Dragon Naturally Speaking or other voice-recognition software. Speaking and watching words appear on screen saves my dry eyes.
  3. Use your AlphaSmart or tablet computer while riding in the car or during down times when away from home. Or use paper and pen and hire a teenager to type it into your manuscript at the appropriate place later—but before the official word-count deadline on November 30th.
  4. Make notes in your text where you need to research or fix a plot problem or insert that great new idea you had...for the chapters ago. Don't stop to figure out a problem or do research. Simply write yourself a note right in your text. Putting notes in [brackets] makes them easy to find later using the search function.
  5. Make decisions quickly—like choosing names. You can always change it later.
  6. When you hit a snag in your story, type in, “What happens next?” Then write the answer. Still stuck? Type the question again and answer it again. Repeat until you’re rolling again.
  7. If NaNoWriMo causes too much havoc in your life and you absolutely can’t make it, let it go. If you’ve written anything, you’ve made progress. And the worst that might befall you would be NaNoWriMo’s infamous guilt monkey invading your sleep or the lost dream of posting the NaNoWriMo “winner” icon on your web site. But hey, you’re a writer. You’ve faced worse rejection.
My number one rule for winning ("winning" = making the 50,000 word county by midnight November 30th) NaNoWriMo is:

Never erase. Once you type a word, it stays!
You'll edit later.

As much as I’d like to, I couldn’t keep the NaNoWriMo schedule every month. I have to let too much other stuff (writing projects, cooking dinner, showers) go. But once a year? I’ve been there, done that, bought the t-shirt before. And I'm definitely doing it again this year. That's because this year I have extra incentive:

I just signed a three-book contract with Pix-N-Pens Publishing for a series of novels! This will be my first book-length fiction. I'm both excited and scared. Even though I've signed a contract, I haven't written any of the books yet. (Yikes!) So I'll be writing book one of the series this month for NaNoWriMo!

My New Fiction Series!

The name of my new fiction series is called: 

"Springs Eternal"

The three novels will be:

Hope's Diner
(releasing Spring 2013)

The Search for Hope
(releasing Summer 2013)

Finding Hope 
(releasing Fall 2013)

This month, during National Novel Writing Month, I'll be writing hard on Hope's Diner.

Here's what I have so far:

            It’s Mellissa Campbell’s last day in town and she has a special gift to deliver. She parks her Harley and steps inside Hope’s Diner. But Hope, the owner who has run the diner for decades, is gone. And nobody knows what happened to her.
            Everyone in the town of Springs Eternal knows if you’re discouraged, you go to Hope’s Diner. Hope always knows how to give you, well, hope.
            Now the town is suddenly without Hope. Springs Eternal is already dying. The seed packaging factory is closing—today. A drought has dried up the spring the town was named for—for only the second time in history. Hope always seemed to know what to do to keep hope—and the town—alive. What will happen to the town? What will happen to the townspeople? And most importantly, what has happened to Hope? Will they be able to find her? Will she come home? What will they do without Hope?


More News! I have a New Nonfiction Series!

The name of my new nonfiction series is the "Prophecies Fulfilled" series with the first book in the 3-book series releasing this month, just in time for the Christmas season. It's titled Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus. Would you like to see the book's cover? Please click on the "Coming Books!" tab at the top of this page for all the news about my newest book. I hope to have ordering information soon, including a pre-publication opportunity. I'll post it just as soon as I have the information, so please stop back by during this month. Thanks!

So that's where I'm at right now. What are you up to? Leave me a comment.

Also leave a comment letting us know how your NaNoWriMo is going.

I hope to see you zooming along with me on your word-count during November. May you make great progress on your writing project this month and may you avoid the NaNoWriMo guilt monkeys!

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 2012: Are Print Magazines Making a Comeback?

NEWS!

Write for Love Inspired Suspense!

"Love Inspired Suspense is looking for new authors, and we're running a fast track submissions period..." 

If you've ever dreamed of writing for the Christian Romance side of Harlequin Romance, this may be your chance. They are having a "Fast Track Event." For this event you don't need an agent to submit and you'll hear back on your proposed novel within a month: by November 26th. But hurry! You only have a couple of weeks to get this done: you need to submit your first chapter and short synopsis (two pages or less) between October 15 and 26. For more details, click on the "Writing Opportunities" tab above.

~ ~ ~


Cover Story: Are Print Magazines Making a Comeback?


Do you know what showed up in my mail box this week? A copy of Today's Christian Woman magazine.

Yeah, I mean it showed up in my MAIL box -- that metal box on a pole out by the street in front of my house. Not my inbox -- that overstuffed cyber thing that collects more digital magazines and other stuff every day than I can read in a lifetime.

I was shocked. Why? Because Today's Christian Woman magazine went out of business a few years ago.

Are print magazines making a comeback? It seems all the world has been going digital. Newspapers are going under. It seems print-anything is so...so last century. And yet . . .

I think it was earlier this year, or late last year, that I started seeing commercials on TV for new magazines. I wish I would have made a list of them. Okay, it wasn't really a lot -- maybe three or four magazines -- but still I remember saying to my husband that I thought print was on its way out. And suddenly "everybody" (okay, well three or four organizations) were starting new print magazines.

(Please, don't anybody tell the environmentalists! All that paper and ink and stuff.)

Personally I love print magazines. As a reader, when I want to relax with a magazine the last thing I want to do is read it on my computer or any other reading device. I spend pretty much all day everyday working on my computer. My eyes are dry and tired. I'm dry and tired. And I just want to take a magazine out on my back porch in the sunshine, or near the fireplace on a cold day and enjoy it. Honestly, taking my computer just ain't the same. I can't see the screen in the bright sunlight, especially with sunglasses on or when my photo-grays turn dark.

I love print magazines as a writer too. I've built most of my writing career on writing for magazines since 1990 or so. This is how I made my income. When print magazines started dying, the little income I made went with them. Sure, there are still some print magazines, especially within denominational churches. I'm very grateful for them. But many have either gone out of business or gone digital. With the digital versions, many take content from freelancers like me but almost none pay. (Please don't get me started on the whole "why does everyone expect writers to work for free?" thing.) Gratefully, I've found some online markets are starting to pay a little now.

With so many print magazines ceasing publication, I began looking for other avenues to make income and for my writing, including self publishing, e-books, screenwriting, and books. Now that I'm starting to get some huge balls rolling in those ares, wouldn't you know the opportunities for print magazines are coming back?! So many opportunities -- so little time and energy.

While I didn't make a list of the magazines I saw starting months ago (darn it -- still wishing I had), here is an interesting list of new magazines:

I'm pleased to see the resurrection of Today's Christian Woman. The former magazine was owned by Christianity Today and the web site shows it still is. If I remember right, someone on staff at the former TCW (was it Ginger Kolbaba?) started an online magazine called Kyria after TCW ceased publication. Kyria existed since at least 2009. I don't know if Kyria was ever printed. Now it seems Kyria has turned into the new printed Today's Christian Woman (of which Ginger Kolbaba is the editor).

I have no information on the inside scoop on how all this came about and I'm not seeing any explanation in the issue that just appeared in my mail box. I'm curious because I try to keep up on things, so how did I miss the magazine was making a come-back? I see some friend's names on bylines of this first issue, so obviously they knew about it! But I didn't. (Insert sad face here.) Nevertheless, I'm pleased to see the magazine miraculously appear in my mail box.

If you're interested in writing for the new printed Today's Christian Woman, you can find their Writer's Guidelines here.

Interestingly, I'm wondering if we're also seeing signs of increase in book publishing. I'm sure you recall the manuscript contests earlier this year from Pix-N-Pens Publishing and its sister imprint Write Integrity Press, when they were looking for book-length manuscripts to publish about "hope" and for Christmas. And now Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense is searching for new authors and manuscripts (see top of this post). (Just please, please, please be careful if you pursue any book opportunities so you don't get taken by a self-publishing company that looks like a traditional publisher (like Thomas Nelson's WestBow Press).
I don't think the national or world economy is improving, and I don't see any reason for it to improve in the future unless the coming presidential election makes a difference. So I can't explain why there seems to be a sudden upswing in print magazines and print books. Perhaps it's simply that everyone cut back so much for so long that now there's a hole and a hunger that needs filled. Whatever the cause it's good news for writers. I hope you find ways to take advantage of it and get your own writings out there. If you're writing good, positive content, the world surely needs it.

~ ~ ~


Get Ready for NaNoWriMo


Sign up now for National Novel Writing Month and get a lot done in a short time. Whether you're the outlining type or not, get your story line in order during October: make notes, make an outline, or get the story worked out in your head. But don't write a word of it! That has to wait until November 1.

~ ~ ~

Next Month:

I'm not sure. Maybe we'll talk about the benefits of National Novel Writing Month and how to not only survive it but and thrive.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 2012: Make Your Own Book Trailer - Easy and Free!

Announcement: My new book is out!



I'm so pleased to show you my newest book! Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ released in August from Pix N Pens Publishing.

GTO features twenty true stories which depict challenges grandparents face in influencing their grandchildren with their Christian faith plus how they are overcoming those challenges. Includes stories about when the grandkid's parents are not walking with God; long-distance relationships; non-traditional, blended, or single-parent families; and partnering with the parents.
Includes resources, discussion questions, "Grandparents in the Bible," "Points to Ponder," "Steps to Take," "Scriptures to Study," and "One Way to Pray."
306 pages. $15.99. Order from your local bookstore. Also available now at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and all online outlets. On Kindle and Nook.
A great resource for Christian grandparents. Makes an excellent gift for National Grandparent's Day on September 9th, 2012.

Cover Story: Make Your Own Book Trailer - Easy and Free!

With the release of a new book, I was thinking I needed to have a book trailer for it.

If you don't know what a book trailer is, it's a short advertisement and teaser, like a movie trailer. You can find lots of them on YouTube.com if you want to see some examples.

I'm constantly thinking when I'm writing this e-zine/blog that a large portion of this audience may not think the topic of the month applies to them. But I hope you think otherwise. Even if you're not writing books, use your imagination (You're creative! You're a writer after all...) and think how you might use this idea or technology to get you closer to your own writing goals. Or use it just to have fun. For example, this month even if you're not a book author and have no desire to be one, you might use this same idea to make a video of your photos for your family. Or if you're a magazine writer or blogger, use it to "advertise" where your writing can be found so readers can find you! If you're a magazine editor (and we have some of those in our readership), why not make a video to advertise your magazine and draw in more readers? Anyway, on with the topic...

My first book trailer was for Deliver Me, and I had it professionally made. See my Deliver Me Book Trailer here. It cost me several hundred dollars, and that's with me doing my own voice-over. I'm not at all sure it has helped sell enough books to be worthy of what it cost. However at the time book trailers were a lot newer idea and making them yourself wasn't as easy. So with a thousand other things to do, and no idea how to make one myself, I forked out the bucks.

Recently, in and article titled "5 free and easy ways to promote your book" by Erika Dreifus in the September 2012 issue of The Writer magazine (page 37), I read about www.Animoto.com. I'd never heard of Animoto, but I checked it out.

Like most things these days, you can have a free account and do limited stuff. You can do more if you pay. I decided I would sign up for the free account and make a trailer (a short video) for each of my three books before I paid anything. It took a couple of hours to read and play and figure things out, but by then I had a short trailer for my new Grandparenting book. I also had partly made a second trailer for my first book, Dear America. The next afternoon it took me no time at all to make a third trailer, this one for Deliver Me.

Here's the first trailer I made for Grandparenting Through Obstacles. It runs about 30 seconds, so if you want to take a moment to watch it please do. But then keep reading below it because I want to tell you more...



With the free account at www.Animoto.com you are limited to about a 30-second video. If you want a longer video, you'll have to pay. But really, you can buy the next level for $30 for a whole year, so that still sounds like a deal to me. (It says $5 per month, which is $60, but then offers half off for a year.) (BTW, I'm not getting any commission from them. I just think this is a good and useful--and FUN!--web site and wanted to share it with you.)

I'm sure you're probably thinking I'm a genius for building all that fancy stuff with all the boxes flipping around and the pretty colors, but--though I hate to dash your image of me--Animoto did all that for me. They have a bunch of 30-second videos all set up and waiting for you. You just choose some photos and text and music and it's all done!

The tricky part is that with the free account and only 30 seconds, you only get about 7 or 8 "slides" (meaning a slot for a photo, video, or text) and then you're done. So while I set out to tell what was in my book, I found I didn't have the time or slots for that. I ended up simply saying basically my book title, buy it here! This will take all the tight-writing skills that you've accumulated.

I know what you're thinking. I just mentioned you can insert photos, text, and video. Yeah! Cool, huh? I used a piece of Animoto's stock video in my Dear America trailer. This one runs 34 seconds. Watch it here:



The video clip originally 5 seconds and bounced two of my other slide out because it took up so much time. But then I discovered I could edit it to 3 seconds and fit my photos back in.

While Dear America has been out for ten years, it was just released on Kindle for its tenth anniversary in March 2012. I've never had a trailer for it. Because it was written after September 11, 2001, and has that theme running through, I really wanted to let people know about it for this anniversary of September 11th. The book talks about getting through grief, knowing God in the hard times, and more that are timeless topics. I really wanted a trailer for it to advertise it this September, and now I have one.

The first thing you choose with Animoto is the style of video you want. (The colorful unfolding boxes in the Grandparenting trailer. This Dear America style is called "Air.") After that you get to choose your music. After I signed up for the free account and began making my first video, I was delighted to discover the large selection of Christian music available. All three of my short videos feature Christian songs.

Once of the nicest things about Animoto is that they've already taken care of all the licensing for you. Unlike royalty-free music sources on the web, I could use some very popular music through Animoto.

The last step in making a video on Animoto is choosing your photos and inserting your text. Like the music, they have a selection of photos you can use, or you can upload your own. I found the upload process a little temperamental, but I was able to upload my book covers from Facebook. I didn't want to mess with trying to find royalty-free photos, so I used what Animoto has on their site. These were quite limited. For the Grandparenting trailer I would have liked to have photos of grandparents with grandchildren but they didn't have any so I ended up using baby pictures. It works, though it doesn't fully communicate the theme of the book as I wanted it.

I also used some of the same baby photos in my new Deliver Me trailer which you can see here. It runs 38 seconds.


I was also able to upload the "2012 Book of the Year" logo for this video, which I thought was a good way to let people know the book won that award.

Once you have a few photos selected, you have precious little room for text so you're going to have to be brief! But it's a good exercise in figuring out how to communicate what's really important quickly and powerfully. The text boxes limit you to just so many characters, so it can be a challenge to make things fit.

The Animoto program will limit you to how much you can add to your video (unless you pay--then you can make longer videos). When you have too many photos or text slides to fit with the 30 seconds of music, it tells you. You simply drag and drop the pictures and text to move things around. Then you can play it to see how it looks. Then you can edit and drag and drop and rearrange and then play it again. When you're satisfied, you "publish" it. At that point you can put it on YouTube.com and other places.

So once you have a book trailer, what do you do with it? You can get links to put in your e-mails or Twitters. And you can embed it in your web site and blog. Next I'd like to figure out if I can put all my videos on a thumb drive and have them play continuously on my netbook computer. If I can figure out how to make that work, I'd like to have my little netbook sitting on my book table at signings. Wouldn't that be fun?

One more tidbit of information that will help you: You may noticed I've put all three of my new book trailers on this blog at the right, but they are much smaller. When I embedded them there, they were too large for the column I had them in. What to do? Here's the answer: When you embed the code into your blog, you can see the HTML code. (That's what you copy and paste.) I know enough about HTML code to have recognized the "height" and "width" numbers. Those are pixels. I simply changed those numbers to reduce the size of the video so it would fit in the column. You want to reduce the height the same amount as the width to keep it proportionate. How? First I divided each number by four and put those numbers into the code. That made it really tiny (one fourth the original size). So I tried making it one third the original size (divide each by 3) and that fit pretty well. It makes the text really small, but what can you do? If the video catches their attention, viewers can see the larger ones elsewhere on this site.

I hope you'll stop by Animoto.com and trying it out. I had a lot of fun with it and I know I'll be making more videos there. I have new books coming out--one for Christmas! (Please visit my new "Coming Books" page!) So I'm looking forward to making videos for those!

Have fun with Animoto! And if you make a trailer, share the link to it in the comments section below so we can all see what you've created!

Resource:

I know there are other ways to make book trailers too. After they saw my Animoto efforts, somebody shared this article with me, but then you have to get your own photos and find royalty-free music. Still, I may give this a shot sometime when I have the time and energy: Create Your Own Book Trailer Free

Please Check Out:

  • My new "Coming Books" Page. (Click the tab at the top.)
  • My new "Dianne's Events" box in the column on the right at the top.
  • And don't forget to check out the "Writing Opportunities" Page. There are some exciting opportunities there.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

August 2012 - Twitter and Paper.li

The Zine/Blog article is late! That's because I've been excruciatingly busy working to make a July 31 deadline for two projects. I made the deadline (even around a wonderful vacation), but I didn't get this e-zine (now a blog) article written. I burned out yesterday. So, it's August 2 and I'm just now getting to the Zine. Sorry to keep you waiting.

(Maybe in a future article I should address excruciating deadlines. Or burnout.) Anyway, here's the article for this month.

August 2012 Cover Story: Twitter and Paper.li:

Last month we talked about Making the Most of Twitter including how to write effective Tweets, the 3 Parts every good Tweet needs, and programs that will schedule your Tweets for you.

Another exciting program I've learned about since then uses your Twitter Tweets to create an online newspaper! Some of you many already know about Paper.li. (http://paper.li/).

I had seen a few Paper.li's, but I didn't know much about them. Then recently author and speaker Linda Evans Shepherd set up a few of these papers and taught me more about them. I so appreciate Linda! I've known her since my very first writer's conference more than twenty years ago. Linda has written more than thirty books and has been a mentor to me for all those twenty years I've known her. Let me tell you what I've learned from Linda about Paper.li in the past couple of months, and I'll use her Paper.li's as examples.

Paper.li is a daily newspaper system that picks up links off of Twitter to create the newspaper. I haven't set one up yet, but it seems you can put in the Twitter handles of the people whose Twitters you want to include. So, for example, Linda set up The AWSA Daily and included the Twitter handles of the members of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. That includes me! ;-)

So now, Paper.li searches the Tweets from AWSA members searching for links, and when it finds them, it compiles them into a newspaper!

Is it legal? Yes. Is it plagiarism? No, because the paper doesn't use your whole article, it only picks up the first few sentences (within fair use) and then links to your article. So people who want to read your article are taken straight to the source.

How to get in: Just a Tweet will not do. You must include a link to an article to get into the Paper.li newspaper. It will pick up photos in the articles you link to also.

Please note that the creator of the Paper.li newspaper has absolutely no control over which Twitter links of yours get picked up. And when they are picked up, they cannot be removed. So don't put a link in your Twitter that you might find embarrassing later and you'll have nothing to worry about. (But, honestly, you shouldn't be doing that anyway, right?)

You don't have to be informed that you're Twitter handle is in some one's Paper.li. I first started seeing Paper.li's a year or so ago when my articles starting showing up in one about Colorado writers. I think maybe someone sent me a link to the Paper.li. Yeah,I was surprised. I had no idea why...or how...I got in that paper. Now I know!

You can subscribe to Paper.li's. They're free. Here's another one of Linda's. Look for the "Subscribe" button in the upper right corner: The Shepherd Post. As a matter of fact, why don't you subscribe for a while so you can see how this works? You can always unsubscribe if you don't want it any more.

You can choose whether you want your Paper.li's to come out daily, twice daily, or weekly. I believe all of Linda's are daily papers.

I can hear that questions you're asking: So how can I use this to benefit my writing? Here are several ideas:
  • Getting more exposure for your online blogs and articles in an obvious answer, but there's more.
  • You can make your own Paper.li's. Create one for your organization, a topic that is your passion, or the topic you write on. Then your own writings will get featured in your own Paper.li.
  • Create a Paper.li that serves people on an issue that is close to your heart. Another one of Linda's Paper.li's is all about suicide prevention: ThinkingAboutSuicide.
  • Do you need ideas or resources for your writing? Then subscribe to Paper.li's on topics that interest you and have a daily feed of resources.
When you find you've been included in a Paper.li, use it's Twitter link to Tweet a link to that issue. Retweet when other's Tweet your favorite Paper.li or one you're featured in. And use the Facebook share button to send a post to your Facebook account.

Remember, for Paper.li to pick up your articles, you must Tweet it and include a link to your article. Paper.li searches for links, and picks them up at random.

Whether you want exposure for your own writing, need information coming to you to use for your own writing, or see other uses for Paper.li, it is a great resource and it is great fun to see your articles featured in them! Start a Paper.li...and have fun!

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NEW TWITTER RESOURCE:

Since my last article I came across another program to help you with your Twittering. I haven't used this one myself yet, so I can't vouch for it, but you can check it out on your own. Manage Flitter identifies Twitter Followers who only Follow you for a short time (perhaps to get your Follow) and then drop you.

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Helpful Article:
I recently read this article and thought you might find it helpful: "Are You a Rookie or Professional [Writer]?"

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Follow Me here:
  • @DianneEButts
  • @GParentObstacle

Next month for September:

I have no idea. We'll see.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 2012: Making the Most of Using Twitter

Welcome to the July issue, the first issue posted exclusively on this new blog! If you've made the move with me from the private e-zine list to here, I'm so glad you made the move! If you just found us, welcome! Please feel free to invite your friends.

For 5 years I've published a monthly newsletter for writers (primarily, though not exclusively, Christian). In each monthly issue I've had many sidebars and columns, which you will now find in the two columns to the right or on the Pages  via the tabs at the top.

Each month the main article has been called the "Cover Story" which will now appear on the first of the month (hopefully) in this main column of the blog.

July 2012 Cover Story: Making the Most of Using Twitter: 

Twitter is one of those things I use and enjoy, and then I totally forget about it. Do you do that?

I recently came back to Twitter, and only then realized how long I'd been gone! I can't even tell you how long it had been since I'd Tweeted. And that's too bad, too, because as writers we need to use every avenue possible to reach our audience.

Now please don't think I just said that we need to join every social media that comes along. I don't think that's a good idea because there's just too much and it's impossible to keep up with. But I do think we need to join some of the biggest ones, and then use them as much as we can to promote our books as well as our print and online articles.

Most writers I know find it hard to do that kind of promotion. And it's no wonder why. Many people have told me it's "prideful" to promote and I've receive a lot of negative comments from certain people. No, it's not prideful. It's necessary. If we don't promote our writing, most people won't know it's out there.

It used to be our writing went to a print magazine with a certain subscriber list and they saw (or had the opportunity to see) what we wrote and that was that. End of story.

But today many of the print magazines have gone digital on the internet--whether in addition to the print edition or as the only edition. No longer is there a dedicated subscriber list only. Now we have the opportunity to let many more people read our work. But first they have to know it exists. Then they have to know where to find it.

If you're writing books, those same two things apply: first your readers hae to know your book exists. Then they need to know where to find it.

Letting people know these things is not "prideful," it's just good sense.

So how do you do that? Thank goodness for social media...like Twitter!

3 Parts to a Great Tweet:

I think one of the reasons I stray way from Twitter and forget about it is because I haven't really known how to use it. But I took a workshop at the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference in May taught by Amanda Luedeke, a literary agent at MacGregor Literary, and she gave some great tips on using Twitter. I'm sharing a few points from my notes of her workshop with her permission. Here's what I learned:

Amanda said there are three parts to a great Twitter Tweet:
  1. Call to Action: The Tweet must ask the reader to DO something. Go somewhere. Visit a link. Buy a book.
  2. Hook: A Tweet must grab attention. It must never be boring!
  3. Link and/or Hashtag: A link gives your reader a place to go. If I understand what hashtags on Twitter do, a hashtag (#) marks a set of words for searches on Twitter and marks those words for trending. If a lot of people are using the same #words, it can show up in the Trending column. From my notes, Amanda said hashtags build credibility and broaden your reach. Amanda said to add a #followedbywordswithnospaces onto your Tweet. And if you see a #trendingissue that fits your topic, jump in on it.
Examples of all 3 Elements in Tweets:

I've taken note of the #topics on others' Tweets and I'm learning from them. For example I've seen #Kindle, and so now I add that on whenever I Tweet about my Dear America book that is now on Kindle. Like this:
Great for those who lost a loved one: Dear America on #Kindle http://amzn.to/DearAmerica
That Tweet has what I hope is a good hook. It has a link. And I could have put the hashtag at the end but I wanted to put the word Kindle in anyway so I just put the hashtag there.

Here's another try from me:

In an unplanned pregnancy? Discover Deliver Me at B&N http://bit.ly/sWWaZR #Pregnancy #Christian
I'm still learning lots about Twitter, but I hope this helps you improve your own Twitter activity for more promotion of your work and book sales.

How to Schedule Your Tweets:

Another thought I've had that I wish to learn about is how to schedule our Tweets, so that we can have them automatically go out and don't have to sit at our computers Tweeting all the time. I've found several free services by Googling. I haven't had time to check them out, but here are two I have my eye on:
  • HootSuite (The free account.)
  • Timely Which says it figures out when is the best time to schedule your Tweets to get the most exposure based on the content of your Tweets.
I hope this helps you with your Tweeting. If you have other suggestions for a great use of Twitter, or if you know of a great free service for scheduling our Tweets, please do share by leaving the info in a comment. Thanks!

Follow Me here:

For more info like this, follow Amanda Luedeke. And besides my original Twitter account, I have a new Twitter handle for my new book releasing in August. I'd love it if you'd follow me:
  • @AmandaLuedeke
  • @DianneEButts
  • @GParentObstacle

Next month for August:

Let's talk about Paper.li and how you might use it with your Twitter account to get more exposure for your books and/or other writing or products.

Be sure to also see on this new blog:
  • Several new and exciting "Writing Opportunities." Now on a Page. Click the tab at the top.
  • My exciting news concerning the "Books of Hope" manuscript contest. See middle column at the top.
  • Also, I'm so pleased about my new book comng out, releasing in August. More info on that under the "Dianne's Books" heading in the middle column. I've also put a Page up with information on all my books.
  • I have a new 3-book nonfiction contract coming for my "Days of Hope" series. More info on "Dianne's Books" Page.
  • There's lots more to see so please poke around this new blog, invite your friends to stop by, and use the Share buttons at the bottom of this post to send it to your Twitter and Facebook contacts!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Welcome to this new Writing Blog that Used to be a Writing Zine!

In May of 2007,  I started the Dianne E. Butts About Writing e-zine (electronic magazine) as a free service to subscribers, delivered by e-mail. The subscription list has grown to almost 500 subscribers. While the zine was for all writers with an emphasis on how to get published, it is especially geared toward writing for Christian magazines and book publishers because that is where my expertise is.

I've been writing for Christian (and occasionally general market) magazines since 1989 and was first published in 1991. I currently have around 300 articles printed in addition to many online articles. I've contributed to nineteen books by other folks and have published two books of my own. My third book will be published less than two months from now in August 2012 and I've just won a publishing contract for a three-book series--probably to begin releasing in 2013.

Besides writing, it seems I have always had a knack for being able to share what I've learned with others in an understandable way. A teacher at heart, I love helping others get started--whether in writing to be published or in knowing the Bible and Jesus Christ. I had so many people asking me about how to get published, and I was repeating the same information so many times, that rather out of "self-defense" I started this e-zine called Dianne E Butts About Writing.

For a delivery service and e-list service, I used the very affordable (read "free"), e-list service, http://www.bravenet.com/,  for the past five years. However their needs have changed and there is less support for free users like me. I've also encountered more technical problems uploading and delivering the zine in recent months. In addition, because Bravenet is supported by ads, the ads in my zine have caused many e-mail programs to reject delivering the zine, and so I've received 40 or 60 bounces each month while my subscribers did not receive the e-zine they wanted. So with my thanks to the kind folks at Bravenet.com for their many years of service, I feel it is time to make a move.

I've decided to "go blog"!

Moving my private zine to a public blog will mean a lot of wonderful things:
  • While the e-zine has been provided free to subscribers via e-mail, it has been, in a sense, a private list since people had to subscribe to receive it. 
  • On a blog, more people can find us and benefit from this zine.
  • I expect to have fewer technical problems and more support should I run into problems.
  • I'll have more flexibility in updating columns, such as the "Writing Opportunities" and "Dianne's Writing News." Rather than having to wait for the first-of-the-month zine, I can update immediately. And you can visit and look for updates any time.
  • All the columns will be available to you at any time that you need them, including "Writers Conferences," Writing Opportunities," and "Dianne's Products for Writers," (and you won't have to go searching through your inbox for the latest zine or wish you still had one you deleted).
  • You can still have this zine delivered to your inbox if you wish by using the e-mail subscription box. (It may take me a while to figure out how that works. Please be patient with me!)
For the past five years, I have published the Butts About Writing zine monthly, near the first of the month, and I expect to continue posting the main zine only monthly. In the past I have rarely published another notice, and only when some piece of news, such as a writing opportunity, couldn't wait until the first of the next month. While I will continue to do my best to respect your time and not fill your inbox with frequent postings, I do think I will enjoy posting a little more often when I find a new "Writing Opportunity" or have "News" that I would like to bring to your attention.

Each month you can expect to find:
  • one main article usually on a publishing or book marketing topic, although I occasionally veer into other areas such as film, for those who desire to see their written stories on the screen.
  • possibly one or more shorter articles called "Sidebar(s)"
  • plus many other columns posted on Pages at the tabs along the top or in the columns to the right.
Pages and columns include:
  • "Writing Opportunities,"  
  • what's happening with my writing in "Dianne's Writing News,"
  • quotes,
  • links,
  • products to help you in your writing,
  • and more.
The products I offer include pamphlets that I've created (soon to be e-books) to help writers and workshops I've taught, such as:
  • the "Basics for Beginners" pamphlet
  • "Conquering the Dreaded Query Letter" pamphlet
  • "How to Market Your Reprints" for article writers
  • "Ten Tools for Marketing Your Book" workshop on CD
  • "Writing for Publication" taped seminar
Plus much, much more--so be sure to poke around the site.

Whether you're a long-time subscriber to the previous private list or a new friend that just found this blog, I welcome you and I hope you will find many useful posts here to help you in your writing journey and pursuit of publication.

Please feel free to invite your writing friends or writing groups to discover this blog and subscribe to receive the posts by e-mail. You'll be able to Tweet or post to Facebook your favorite posts, and I hope you will.

I'm looking forward to this new and continuing adventure with you!

May God bless your writing endeavors!

Sincerely,
Dianne