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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Posts Tagged ‘Business of Writing’

Blogging Made Perfect

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 12, 2014

So you want to write a blog. Or you already have a blog but want to increase your subscribers. What now? Here are tips on getting started and attracting followers.

Define Your Purpose.

Do you wish to share news about your work? Be recognized as an expert in your field? Build a community? Engage with readers? Have other writers look to you for advice? Share information relevant to a special interest?

Determine Your Goals.

Do you mean to increase book sales? Have a substantial number of followers? Get a number of comments on each blog? Have folks reblog your posts? Receive requests for guest posts?

Set Parameters.

How often do you intend to post? What days of the week are best? What time during the day will more people likely read your post? How long should each post be?

Brainstorm Topics.

When you’re writing a book, jot down blog topics related to your theme, research, and writing process. These will be useful either to show your story in progress or to provide fodder for blog tours when your new release comes out. Meanwhile, determine what readers want to know and address these topics. What information can you share with others that might be useful? How can your content add value to people’s lives? In what way can your personal anecdotes inspire others? Some authors set certain days for specific blog topics. For example, one day they might post recipes. Another day they might bring in a guest blogger. Excerpts, book reviews, or trivia related to a particular hobby or personal interest might fill in other slots. Or you might wing it, writing posts as they come to you. Just keep in mind the image or brand you wish to project.

Acquire a Site.

When you’re ready to start, register at WordPress.com or Blogger.com for a free site. Or add a blog to your website. Become familiar with the features and start posting.

Link Blog to Your Social Media Sites.

Not only should visitors be able to tweet and share your particular article around the Web, but your posts should be automatically tweeted and sent to your Facebook pages. Check your Settings for how to enable these features or ask your Web designer to add the proper Plug-In. Get Share Buttons at http://www.sharethis.com or http://www.addtoany.com Add your blog to Networked Blogs, http://www.networkedblogs.com. Some authors use Triberr to raise their visitors: http://triberr.com/landing/bloggers.

What Pages Should Your Blog Site Contain?

Keep in mind that visitors to your blog, if separate from your website, might not visit you elsewhere. So consider what tabs you’ll want to have. Here are some suggestions: Home; About (Bio); Appearances; Book Trailers; Books List; Contact (your email); Contests. In one sidebar, you can show your book covers. In lieu of this, you can use a rotating carousel or slide show from Amazon. Sidebars can also contain a Blog Roll, Search box, Subscribe button, Social Networking Icons, Live Twitter feed, and RSS feed button.

Include Photos in your posts.

Photos will draw more hits, but be careful of copyright issues. Upload your own photos. Buy photos at royalty-free sites or at least make sure you provide attribution. Many writers skirt this issue, but you do so at your own risk.

Tag your Posts.

Use tags and categories with keywords to drive traffic to your site. Tags are for individual posts while categories classify your topics.

Avoid Messy Code Issues.

Write your blog in Word or another word processing program to keep your files on your hard drive. Then copy and paste each blog to Notepad or Windows Live Writer. These eliminate messy code issues. Download Windows Essentials for free from Microsoft. This includes Windows Movie Maker (for DIY book trailers), Photo Gallery and Live Writer. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/essentials

Offer a Blog Roll.

Ask other authors for a cross-exchange of links. More links leads to more traffic.

How to Gain Followers

*Post often. Some people set themes, like “Recipe Monday” or “Guest Blogger Wednesday” or “Photo Friday.” Be consistent in your approach. If you prefer to blog randomly, still do so two or three times a week. Keep your material current.
*Have a clear and catchy headline.
*End your post with a question to stimulate discussion.
*Don’t use your blog solely to promote your books. You’re building a community of readers who want to get to know you, or else you are establishing yourself as an expert by offering useful material. Share new release info, reviews, contests and such sparingly.
*Comment on other people’s blogs.
*Invite guests who have a following.
*Always respond to comments and respect others’ opinions.
*Offer giveaways to commenters.
*Evaluate results. If you get a lot of comments on certain types of posts, steer your blog in that direction. Be responsive to readers. Note what engenders interest and what does not.
*Be careful what you put out there. This is a public post. Avoid politics, religion, and any mention of personal business or issues you don’t want to share.
*Always be respectful of other industry professionals.
*Link to other authors and favorite pages as appropriate to help spread the word about their sites.

Index Your Blog

When your blog is a few years old, you might want to reblog an article. Keeping records of the topics, categories, and dates will help you retrieve these files. I suggest you write your blog in Word and save the posts by month and year. It’s imperative to keep your own blogs on your computer so you don’t lose them if there’s an online snafu. Then keep a separate file that’s an index so you can quickly search topics.

Blog Hops

Blog Hops pool you with other authors. Study your listserves for these opportunities or get one going with your author friends yourself. What is it? Each author posts a blog about an agreed upon topic with links to all the other bloggers on a particular day. Offering a prize for commenters will bring people to your sites, and hopefully you’ll gain new readers from among these other authors’ fans. Participating in a blog hop will broaden your exposure.

Blog Tours

If you wish to do a blog tour, determine if you want to do guest posts, author interviews, or have the site offer a review or book blast. Then solicit hosts by asking other authors if you can guest on their site. Make sure you study their slant and offer an appropriate topic. Write your guest posts and assign each one to a host. To attract readers, offer a grand prize drawing from all commenters, a prize on each site or a Rafflecopter contest. Publish your tour schedule on your website and broadcast it on your social networks. Be sure to show up the day of the posting to answer comments. OR hire a virtual tour company if you don’t wish to DIY: Goddish Fish Promotions http://www.goddessfish.com, Great Escapes http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/ (Free Cozy Mystery Tours), Bewitching Book Tours (Paranormal Romance), http://bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.com/, Buy the Book Tours http://www.buythebooktours.com/#axzz2OqJtoGjs , Partners in Crime http://www.partnersincrimetours.net/

What other tips would you add?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Marketing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Golden Palm Writing Contest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on August 5, 2014

Golden Palm Writing Contest

If you’re writing romance and need feedback on your work, enter the Golden Palm Contest sponsored by Florida Romance Writers. Not only do you get score sheets, but we have a hot lineup of editors and agents as final judges in every category.

Florida Romance Writers

Contemporary Category:
Editor:Leah Hultenschmidt, Grand Central Publishing
Agent: Beth Campbell, Bookends
Editor: Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks

Historical Category:
Editor: Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Jordy Albert, The Booker Albert Literary Agency
Agent: Dawn Dowdle, The Blue Ridge Literary Agency

Young Adult / New Adult Category:
Editor: Lauren Smulski, Harlequin Teen
Editor: Mary Altman, Sourcebooks
Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency
Agent: Laura Zats, Red Sofa Literary

Paranormal Category:
Editor: Peter Senftleben, Kensington Publishing
Agent: Nalini Akolekar, Spencerhill Associates
Editor: Angela James, Carina Press

Entry is $20 for Florida Romance Writer members and $30 for nonmembers. All entries are read by at least one published judge and the lowest score is dropped. Contest ends August 15th. All information to enter is on http://www.frwriters.org/contest/

 

Posted in Contest, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Agents and Editors: Do Your Due Diligence

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 1, 2014

 Do Your Due Diligence

My husband and I have been investigating local contractors prior to doing an update on our three bathrooms. Here are the results of our search. Stay with me, and I’ll relate this process to your writing career.

Contractor #1 has a modest showroom that offers a variety of product choices and designs. Their rep came to our house, took measurements, and made knowledgeable suggestions. He pointed out the electrical outlets that he said needed to be updated to code, and that would cost $150 for an electrician. He gave us a written estimate, and the pricing seemed reasonable.

We got the name of this company through ads in the unsolicited home circulars we receive. I looked the company up online. Bad reviews. Then I called an electrician as one of those outlets he’d mentioned failed. The electrician found the fault in the overhead light wiring, fixed it, put in a new dimmer switch at my request and charged only $85. He said the other outlet was fine and neither needed to be changed to be brought up to code. Uh-oh. If Contractor #1 wasn’t telling the truth about one item, what else might he suggest that would inflate the price? My husband was turned off by the negative reviews.

Here is what we have:

FamilyBR Cabinet  Shower Wall

Contractor #2 has a ritzy showroom with high-end sinks, cabinets, toilets and accessories. A receptionist greeted us upon our entry and asked if we’d like coffee or a soda. Then a salesman came to guide us around and ask about our needs. Right up front, without viewing our measurements, he quoted a remodeled shower at $10-15,000. This wasn’t for anything else we needed and seemed extraordinarily high, nearly double what the first guy had quoted. We weren’t changing the configuration, just redoing the walls and fixtures. Glancing at our casual clothes, he didn’t bother to have us fill out a customer form but gave us his card.

How did we learn about this company? It was recommended by a friend, who knew another friend who’d used them and was happy. They lived in a waterfront condo on the Intracoastal and no doubt had funds to spare. Clearly this company, with its high overhead, catered to wealthy customers. My husband didn’t care for their arrogant attitude.

Here is what I want:

P1000928   P1000927

Contractor #3 has a showroom in a quiet back street downtown but not in a great area. The office is tiny with a few choice cabinetry samples as well as a narrow choice of hardware and sinks. You have to order your own tile but they would install it. We were referred to the owner by a friend who’d used her services and was pleased with the results. The lady in charge wouldn’t give us a quote until we gave her our measurements and picked samples of styles we might like. Her base quote was within range of what we’d like to spend. When I looked them up online, I found a basic website but not much else.

Contractor #4 we discovered by viewing their name on a truck in the neighborhood and seeing their workmen in action. I found their website and got the address. Where was it? It turned out to be a mail box in the local UPS store. No physical presence. As I walk around the block, I see their logo trucks in front of the neighbor’s home. They’re obviously working there. But no physical office or showroom? That’s always a warning sign for me.

So what’s our choice? We’ve asked Contractor #3 to come out with her installer and see our layout before giving us a more accurate quote, and that won’t include the cost of the tile. But so far, she’s the best of the bunch.

Which one, if any, would you choose?

So how does this lengthy dissertation relate to writing? You need to be just as careful when researching agents and editors. Do they work for a reputable firm? What can you find out about them online? Can your fellow authors provide recommendations? Who’s worked with this person or publishing house, and were they happy? Check over at Editors and Predators for warnings about unscrupulous persons to avoid. Google them online and see what pops up. Look for them on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and other sites. In other words, do your due diligence. Don’t accept someone who looks good, like that company with the ritzy showroom. They might be perfect for certain clients but not for you. Check the approved publisher list of a professional writing organization in your genre. And determine your criteria before starting your search. If you get any negative vibes, listen to them. Here are some additional resources:

http://aaronline.org/
http://www.agentresearch.com
http://www.agentquery.com
http://pred-ed.com/
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com
http://www.querytracker.net
http://www.savvyauthors.com
http://www.sfwa.org/Beware


Tomorrow I’m at the Kill Zone speaking about “Avoiding Info Dumps.” Be sure to visit!

 

 

Posted in Business of Writing, That's Life, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Social Media Tips

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 28, 2014

Humanizing the Web with Marc Ensign

Marc Ensign

At a recent meeting of the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, nationally acclaimed social media expert Marc Ensign advised us to be a Dick and follow the Ten Virtues when it comes to social media. He described his neighbor named Dick who welcomed him into the neighborhood and was always looking after Marc’s interests, sharing his resources and time very generously. From studying Dick’s manner, Marc decided this approach could work on social media as well. His philosophy is akin to Do Unto Others as you would have them Do Unto You. Be kind, generous, and giving, and you’ll help to save the Internet. Here are his Ten Virtues, subject to my interpretation and the accuracy of my notes:

Be Engaged with other people. Listen intently to your connections. Build relationships. Market the people around you. Listen to them and comment on their sites. Like aspiring authors’ posts and websites. Help others get their message out. Connect and give people what they want.

Be Valuable by helping other authors who want to get published. Mentor them, tell them how you did it, and offer tips. Add value to your relationships. Make it about “let me help you” and not about selling.

Be First to offer help before you’re asked. “Let me give something to you first.”

Be Welcoming by putting people at ease, sharing ideas, introducing new options. Welcome everyone even if they disagree with you. Talk about it with them. Make it a conversation. Be open to hearing what people have to say.

Be Humble. Your purpose should be bigger than yourself as an author, than being on the bestseller list or having a high Amazon rating.

Be Authentic. Be true to yourself in all that you do.

Be Generous by helping people and giving information away. People will see you as a resource. On your website, offer free articles and other resources. Your philosophy should be “Let me give to you” rather than “Let me give to you and see what I’ll get from it.”

Be Transparent to appear more human. Talk about what problems you’re having in your writing. Like, “Here’s what I’m doing with this character. Why isn’t it working?” or, “Why isn’t this book selling?” Let people into your life and into the scary stuff of your career.

Be Perceptive by being aware of what’s going on in other people’s lives. Follow up on people’s blog posts by returning later and inquiring about an earlier issue.

Be Awesome. Reach out through your blogs, comments, and sharing. How can you be awesome for someone else?

It’s all about caring, giving, and sharing yourself without being concerned about what you’ll get in return.

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Marc Ensign has been featured in/on CNN, the Huffington Post, Inc 500, Forbes, New York Post, PR Daily, Jezebel, and ProBlogger.

Website: http://www.marcensign.com
Twitter: @MarcEnsign
http://Googleplus.marcensign.com
http://Facebook.marcensign.com
http://Linkedin.marcensign.com

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Technology, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Teamwork for Cross-Promotion

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 27, 2014

Teaming up for Cross Promotion with Nancy J. Cohen, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Erin Mitchell and moderated by Maggie Toussaint

This is my last recap of panels from SleuthFest 2104. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Cross Promotion

Erin says cross-promotion works best when there’s something in it for everyone. When you have an audience, you have something to bring to the table. Readers are a good resource. Ask them questions and engage them directly. Know where you can find them. The purpose is to build your brand. Write some valued content and distribute it into various venues.

I discussed my lifeboat team, Booklover’s Bench. We’re a team of seven multi-published authors who have a website together where we offer monthly contests, behind-the-scenes glimpses of our working life, excerpts, profiles, and more. We cross-promote by offering prizes for each other’s contests in some cases as well. Measurable results include increased numbers of names for our mailing lists, added Likes to our Facebook author pages, more followers on Twitter, additional Likes on our Amazon author pages, and having our books placed on Goodreads TBR lists.

I’m also a regular blogger on The Kill Zone, a blogging site with 11 mystery/thriller authors where we offer writing instruction, publishing advice, and marketing tips along with our musings on The Writing Life.

Libby cautions that you should be careful and must really like the work of people in your group. Some may be more invested than others. Personalities are important. She belongs to a group of suspense writers, both hybrid and traditionally published authors who’ve moved on to self-publishing. They have done a round robin story together, two anthologies, and a how-to write crime fiction work. They’ve tweeted and shared posts on FB for each other. One advantage of a sizable group is that they can negotiate terms with online book retailers.

Her group invested money to hire a website designer who also maintains their site. They also paid for a cover designer on the anthologies. Their income helps counter expenses. They have rules for dissolution in their LLC’s operating agreement or for dissolving the LLC in the future. This helps members take their commitment seriously.

Libby recommends the following blogs:

The Passive Voice

Digital Book World

Joe Konrath

Kris Writes

The Dames of Dialogue

Indie Chicks

Nancy J. Cohen and Maggie Toussaint

Maggie and Nancy from Booklover’s Bench.

This concludes my SleuthFest report. I hope you have enjoyed these summaries and will consider attending in person next year! Keep watch for details at http://mwaflorida.org/

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What is the Best Publishing Path?

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 10, 2014

“What is the Best Publishing Path?” with Marty Ambrose, Doug Giacobbe, Julie Compton and moderator Joanna Campbell Slan at SleuthFest 2014.

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

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Julie said, “What you think you want before you get published is different from what you realize you want after you get published.” What she really wants now is for readers to read her book whichever way she can get it out there.

Regarding self-publishing, Doug said that you have to get involved. “Get out there and push it. It takes a commitment to make things work. You’ve got to take the time to work it.”

Marty suggested you get an agent at the conference if you want to go the traditional route.

Regarding agents, Julie said to find someone who is forward-thinking and who will support you if you decide to self-publish.

“The whole game has changed in regard to agents,” Joanna advised. “This is your career and your book, and you need to be in the driver’s seat. Be wary of giving away your rights to gain a publisher, or it might come back and hit you in the face.”

Ask yourself why you want to publish your own work. Is it because your manuscript has been rejected? If so, you need to hire an editor.

Joanna mentioned that you might need three types of editors. First there is the concept or story editor, followed by a copy editor, and then a galley proofreader.

Doug cautioned that if you have a book, don’t just slap it up on Amazon. If you’re going to do it right, it takes time and commitment, and it will cost you.

Marty suggested you examine what it is about writing that you absolutely love. You can get caught up in the marketing, so go back to basics and rediscover what you love about storytelling. Regarding marketing, she takes the grassroots approach into colleges, the community, and women’s clubs where she collects names for her mailing list. She also does online marketing.

“It’s a business,” Julie said. “You are not just writing now. You need to take the time to learn the craft and business of writing. One of the advantages of self-publishing is that your book is available quicker.”

No matter which route you go, you’re going to have to learn marketing because you’ll do it either way.

Suggested blogs to follow: The Passive Guy, Jane Friedman, Hugh Howey, and Joe Konrath.

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, Self-Publishing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 9, 2014

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Go there, Like my page, then click on Photos. Next click on Albums and then SleuthFest 2014.

“What I Wish Someone Had Told Me” with Spotlight Speaker Hank Phillippi Ryan at SleuthFest 2014

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Approach your writing one page at a time. Just do it and follow your dreams. Be ready for the 40,000 word slump. Somewhere in the middle, we all have a slump. “I’m just not sure if I can finish it.” You will if you want to. So how do you get rid of this panicky self-doubt? You don’t, but know that you are not alone. Power your way through your first draft. Just tell the story. You can fix it later. Go word-by-word. Everyone has doubts. But it is never that bad, and it might even be good. So before you crash and burn your manuscript, make a copy. Also remember when you first had the idea for the book and fall in love with your story again. You’ll have renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

Don’t waste time seeking the Holy Grail. There is nothing. There is only your way. If it works for you, that is the right way. If you stall, there is another way. There is always another way.

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Get yourself into the real world and put yourself in a community where you can talk to people about the same things. You are not alone. You write alone, but we are all here with each other, and we all have the same goals.

Don’t underestimate how hard it is to take criticism. Listen with an open mind. You don’t have to do it the way they suggest.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail? There is no writer’s block. Open your mind to see what’s wrong. Don’t panic. Listen to your inner voice.

Don’t rush. Wait until your book is ready before submitting. Then get ready to be rejected. Every “no” means you are one step closer to a “yes”. Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence.

Be careful of the Internet. Write first. Ask yourself, What is the most important thing for you to do today? Don’t forget to celebrate at every turn. Be happy. We all want more, but be happy with the journey as it’s full of wonders.

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Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

“Why Write a Series?” at SleuthFest

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 8, 2014

We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Go there, Like my page, then click on Photos. Next click on Albums and then SleuthFest 2014.

“Seriously Series” with Joanna Campbell Slan at SleuthFest 2014

In choosing what to read, knowing a book is part of a series might convince you to buy it since there’s a certain degree of success involved. If you really love a book, you’re also happy to know there are more to come in a series. So readers gravitate to series for many reasons. “The richer the world you create, the richer the experience for your readers.”

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What returns readers to a series? It feels like you’re revisiting an old friend. This offers a sense of comfort. Plus you know what you’re getting. Familiarity is at the heart of a series. Characters, setting, and occupation may be recurrent.

“You create a universe and populate it.” Do a street chart and a floor plan. Sensory details make the story rich for readers. Have a timeline for your characters. Determine the timing between stories, character ages, grades, and birthdays. “The best part of being an author is when readers believe your characters are real.”

Keep track of places as you write. If you have a fake town, get a map of a real town and change the names. Use it as a model for your town. In your story bible, put a snippet of background on each character, locations, stores in the town, along with stylistic notes such as the chapter heading. Include a style sheet for grammar and special items, such as how to put in craft instructions or recipes. This story bible may also include social issues, time of year, and more.

“Novels are about people. You don’t have a novel about scrapbooking. You have a novel about a character who does scrapbooking.”

If you have a scene that doesn’t go anywhere in a long novel, consider writing a short story. Short stories are also good for side issues, like pre-wedding details or for exploring secondary characters.

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Poll your readers and ask what character they would like to see more prominent in your next story.

“Every strength overused is a weakness” in your character. Try to give each person a personal problem to overcome. What are they trying to work out? What are they worrying about? Make the characters different ages because then they’ll have different issues. Everybody has angst. Every now and then, your character’s mask should slip so the reader gets a glimpse of what’s there.

End every book with a cliffhanger. Solve the mystery in this story but start a new one. Ask yourself, what seed can I plant now that will bear fruit in a future book?

“The first line sells that particular title; the last line sells the next book.”

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Joanna is the author of the Kiki Lowenstein mystery series and the Jane Eyre Chronicles.

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Preparing for a Conference

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 21, 2014

How long does it take to prepare for a conference? Soon I’ll be heading to SleuthFest in February, Lake County BookFest in March, Malice Domestic in April, the Florida Library Association Convention in May, and Mystery Writers Key West Fest in June.

It can take me several weeks to get ready for each event and another couple of weeks to decompress and get caught up upon my return home. That’s a lot of time lost, not to mention money for gas, lodgings, registration fees, promo materials, etc. However, it’s time and money well spent from the benefits you receive by meeting other authors, booksellers, fans, and industry personnel.

FLA2013 Mystery

Conferences necessitate a lot of preparation, especially if you’re going as a speaker. Aside from determining your particular goals for this event—i.e. attending specialized craft sessions, learning about new publishing options, meeting editors, making new author friends, greeting fans—there’s the physical prep. Here’s a checklist of things to consider.

  1. Prepare for your talks. If you’re a panelist, it can be easier because you might not have to do much prep other than jotting down some notes about the points you want to get across. Moderator-run panels in general mean more work for the moderator but less work for the panel guests, unless you are each expected to present your material for xx minutes.
  2. If you are conducting a workshop on your own, you’ll need to compose or update your material and get copies made of handouts.
  3. If you’re speaking on different topics, assemble each handout in a separate manila envelope to keep them organized.
  4. Order business cards unless you have them already. Consider updating them with QR codes or with your social network URLs.
  5. Design, order, and pack brochures, bookmarks, and/or postcards about your books. Bring along display containers so they don’t get strewn across the tables.
  6. Design, order, and pack swag for the promo tables or goody room. These are items such as magnets, pens, door hangers, candy, and other giveaways.
  7. If you are driving, toss a box of extra books into your trunk in case the on-site bookseller doesn’t get your books in time or is unable to obtain copies of a particular title.
  8. Bring a checkbook in case the bookseller offers to sell you leftover stock at a discounted price.
  9. Pack a book or two to display at your presentations and panels.
  10. Consider giving a couple of books away at the Q&A sessions for your talks.
  11. If you’re donating a raffle basket, either get your materials to the coordinator ahead of time or bring the basket prepared and ready to go.
  12. Bring a signup sheet for your newsletter to put out at signings.
  13. Print out the conference workshop schedule and highlight your appearances. List these on your website and other online sites and include these papers in your suitcase.
  14. Bring a highlighter along so you can go through the conference schedule and mark sessions you want to attend.
  15. Print out contact info for friends you want to meet at the conference.
  16. Decide which outfits to wear to the different events. Business attire for daytime, dressier clothes for evening? Don’t forget matching shoes, handbags, and jewelry.
  17. Determine what gadgets to bring along: iPad or Laptop? Kindle or Nook? Camera to take photos for your blog? Charging devices?
  18. Pack a notebook to take notes. Later, write blogs about the sessions you attended to share your knowledge.
  19. Include Sharpie pens for signing books and ballpoint pens for note taking.
  20. If you belong to a professional writing organization, bring along chapter brochures to hand out to potential members.

NPC1

And the countdown begins. What else would you add to this list?

To see my upcoming conference appearances and virtual blog tour, go here: http://nancyjcohen.com/appearances/

Posted in Business of Writing, Conferences, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Building Reader Loyalty

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 11, 2014

Barbara Vey was the guest speaker at the February 2014 meeting of Florida Romance Writers.

Barbara Vey1

As Contributing Editor for Publishers Weekly, Barbara Vey brings readers and writers together with her popular Beyond Her Book blog. An avid reader as well as a blogger, Barbara spoke about how authors can build and retain their readership.

“Think in terms of one reader at a time,” she advised listeners. Here are her pointers for gaining and retaining readers. Any mistakes in paraphrasing or interpretation are mine.

Find a common ground with your readers and form a community. How can you do this? By branding yourself. Be consistent with your brand. Use your author name and brand for everything.

“You are your product. You are a business. Act like it.” Avoid religion, politics, or anything controversial so you don’t alienate people.

“Be prepared when you go out in public. Carry copies of your books, bookmarks, and business cards. Talk to people everywhere, i.e. restaurants, bookstores, airplanes, the supermarket. Ask folks what they like to read, get a discussion going, and then mention you’re an author.”

“Visit and comment when people mention you online in tweets, posts, etc. Show that you have noticed and are paying attention.”

If you get a good review or a reader makes a positive comment on your work, be polite and say “I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. Thank you.” But don’t go near a negative reviewer.

Be seen on Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. Talk about fun and interesting things rather than your books all the time. On Facebook, focus on your Author page and not on your personal page.

For unpublished writers, “the time to start marketing is before you publish your book.”

Re advice others will give you: “Listen to what people say and then pick what applies to you.”

Barbara Vey2

“Be yourself. Talk like you’re talking to friends. Be friendly, ask questions, reply and retweet.”

Don’t have someone else do your posts and lie about it. If you have an assistant, for example, have them identify that they are posting on your behalf. Don’t let them pretend to be you.

Use hashtags during TV shows, sports events, elections etc. and tag people with the @ symbol.

Don’t use foul language or talk politics/religion, or you’ll always offend someone.

Map out your plan of action for the day and do what needs to get done.

“Follow people who are fun and who say interesting things” to learn what they do.

Comment. Like. Share. If you Like someone’s FB post, you’ll keep seeing their posts in your newsfeed.

Help each other out. Link to websites in blogs when you mention someone. Everyone MUST have a website. Make sure your About page shows something interesting and unique about you.

Post daily, share yourself, and ask readers their opinions.

“Giveaways are huge.”

Promote others. If you promote them, they’ll promote you. Barbara especially loves the romance community because “everyone helps everyone else.”

If you build your community, readers will come and they will stay.

“If you want to be successful, consider this a career.”

Tell people about your writing and let them make the decision about what they read. Don’t make assumptions, like a guy won’t want to read your book. You never know what will appeal to someone.

What do Readers want?

“Series that pull you in so the characters become like your family.”
“Respect for the reader.”
“Consistent writing.”
“Authors must have a warmness, or at the very least, politeness.”

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An avid reader, Barbara consumed a book a day before taking on the glamorous life of a roving reporter. Traveling all over the United States to Barbara Veyconferences from Romance to Thrillers, Mysteries to Horror, Historicals to Comic Con, Barbara has even broken through the barrier into the entertainment industry by covering Red Carpet Events and interviewing the likes of Richard Dean Anderson, Joshua Jackson, Joss Whedon, Chris Evans and others. But her love of Romance keeps her grounded while she offers readers a place to step away from life’s daily trials to take a positive journey through the world of books.

Website: http://barbaravey.com/
Blog: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/
Reader Events: http://www.readerevents.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barbaravey
Twitter: @BarbaraVey

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If you’re a reader, what do you want from an author?

Posted in Business of Writing, The Writing Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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