Blog like No One is Reading?

Seen on Twitter: “Dance like the photo’s not being tagged, Love like you’ve never been unfriended, Tweet like nobody’s following.” @postsecret from @bythebrooks (via @neilhimself).

Don’t you wonder what people have to say if they think no one will read it? Maybe that’s why some people quit blogging. If no one out there is responding, they’re not about to keep putting themselves out there. Blogs have great tracking features to tell you how many people read your post. Plus you can add feeds for subscribers to increase your readability.

But it doesn’t really bring in readers. What you write does. So is what you’re saying interesting enough to hold an audience? Only of people who personally know you? Not even then? Even if you have something interesting, humorous, or noteworthy, you might not capture the audience. Perhaps someone will repost one of your thoughts, but never come back again. [I am recently guilty of this.]

I just don’t read that many blogs. I haven’t yet found the time. It doesn’t mean I won’t find the time, especially if someone shares it directly with me, but my focus is toward writing: blogs slanted that way, books on the topic, books in genres I write, plus the writing and revision of my own work. It’s time consuming. I let it be that way.

Not that I don’t pay attention to my family. That’s where the rest of my time goes.

I’m not really under delusions about how many people read my blog. If I were WordPress would definitely burst my bubble. It’s not about what I’m trying to tell someone else, but it’s an expression of something I want to say. I think a blog ought to be something you want to do. I originally started one because it seemed like the thing writers do – they blog. Some do and some don’t. Some are successful and some aren’t. There is no one way to label a writer or a blog. The expert opinion is to do it if you like it, but that there are plenty of ways to reach an audience other than blogging if that’s the author’s preference.

It’s a long way to say: if you’re reading, thanks. It’s nice to know someone wants to read it. I’d probably still be blogging anyway – but it makes me happy.

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Strong Points

Have you noticed, as a writer, there does not seem to be a lot of separation of tasks? I mean, sure, we write, we rewrite, we edit, we polish, which all supposedly falls under the umbrella of writing. The writers I know often seem to be better at one side than the other as far as the writing and the editing go. Some people race through rough drafts with the ease of a knife through butter, and others can polish a sentence to the shine of a mirror in one pass.

None of that goes with the rest of what the writer has to do – be visible. Does it take an awesome writer to gain visibility? Answers may vary, but the short answer is no. You can say all you want about what makes a great writer, but those talents are not the same as the ones to get you noticed by your audience. All of that is about publicity.

Publicity takes different strengths entirely. You can’t be afraid to be noticed or to have people look at you. It’s silly because most of the writers I know are fairly shy people. A lot of them wouldn’t mind at all if you locked them in a tower and bounced their manuscripts off to be published somewhere – but it doesn’t really work that way.

Once you gain some notoriety, then there are both good and bad ratings of your work. Well, this gives the sensitive writer something else to be shy about. One always hopes there will be something good to say about the work in question, but someone out there is always willing to dash your hopes.

There are published books out there about the rejection letters other writers received. I think these books are supposed to be inspirational, but how much rejection is one supposed to take? Once the book comes out and an author waits for reviews, they might be good and might be bad. Plus, even financial success and movie deals won’t stop an amateur or even a non-writer from saying how the book could have been better or saying that the author isn’t good.

Do you ever stop and say, really? First, they tell you not to go into the field because it’s cutthroat. Second, they tell you to expect you’re getting better if you get a hand-written rejection. Third, even getting a book deal with a major publishing house and sharing your vision of character and plot with all the readers and getting your name to be recognized and you still need to deal with the naysayers? Does anyone know when s/he’s reached success?

I know if I believed everything they told me I probably wouldn’t keep writing and submitting my work. Part of why I do it is just to share them with people who would like to read them. In keeping with that goal, I’m posting a story on this site for free within the next week or so. Ironing out the last few kinks in the electronic formats with a copyeditor friend of mine. Don’t be afraid to comment whether you like it or not – partly I want to know that you’re reading it. If you want to send me feedback, please do so to my email. I would dearly love to hear from all of you.

Part of surviving the writing business is knowing where you’re strong and emphasizing those points. I’m not the best at promotion, but I am learning as I go and definitely figuring things out. Enjoy the freebie. I haven’t decided if I’m going to make it a regular thing, but that is definitely something I wouldn’t mind doing if the response is good. [A good response being a lot of people want to read it, not just a lack of death-threats for me to stop writing in my inbox.]

Happy reading.

More about Promotion

What a cool interview with Penny Sansevieri about promoting books!

She reminds us that social networking can be taken too far. (Can you imagine having a presence on 350 sites? I don’t think I could manage all those if I did it all day and never slept.)

So where do you choose to have a presence, and why? She might not answer all of those questions for us, but each writer has different needs. No matter how much you promote, remember that next book is also important to keep working on. She has a presence on only 3 of those social media sites. I like that she reminds us that an abandoned site is worse than not having it at all.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Perhaps the difference is they were never on social networking sites.

Promotion for Authors

Before I was published, I had no idea how much of the promotion would be on my shoulders. I think I had a lot in common with other writers out there. Promotion wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t know what my brand was, or if I had a platform. What I knew was that I had stories to tell.

In the process of telling my stories, I can’t live in a vacuum. Sure, the story will be there, but professional development in the form of classes, critique groups, and professional memberships bring ideas for improvement. Those same avenues can help a beginning writer learn about brand, platform, promotion, and any other questions that come up.

One question a writer should ask: How do I want to be known?

This question takes you to a new thought process. It’s the start of everything else. If you want to be a children’s picture book author, yet your myspace page has indecent jokes all over it, you may need to rethink your image. On the other hand, if you want to sell erotica and your Facebook is covered with pictures of your two single-digit age children, you should address that disparity.

That isn’t to say you can’t have both worlds. Just that your professional image as an author needs to represent the part of you that your audience wants to connect with. It’s a little bit like a banker advertising he has a credit score of 2. Would you trust him? Would you invest your money in what he’s selling?

Take a look out there at authors you admire and aspire to be like. Do searches on them and see what comes up. Their pages are professional and deal with what they’re selling – books. (Or other products, but that happens when you take off, right?)

Preditors and Editors Reader Poll 2009

The results are in! The Art of Science placed 4th in the reader poll.

I’m really happy my book did so well. Thank you for all the votes! It really makes my day when someone loves my stories, and this even more so since it’s my first novel published.

I’m still working on the next project, and I’m hoping good things come of it.

Nomination!

Preditors and Editors has nominated my book for their reader poll!  Currently I’m tied for fifth place, and I’m so excited about it.

For my dedicated readers, especially those who love my book, I’d appreciate your support in this poll. There are other 4RV publications that could also use support. Last I saw 4RV topped the publishers list.

Poll ends January 14th. I’ll just have to sit on the edge of my chair until then. (Well, more likely chase the baby around the house, but you know what I mean.)

… not self-published

Really, I’m not. Which is why I was so surprised to read this: http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=262529

Most of the information is no surprise. I do reside in Des Moines, I am going to be reading from my novel on Saturday, but my publisher would be shocked to hear she doesn’t exist! (Right, Vivian?)

I sent a note to the paper, and I think I’ll also contact the bookstore. Just so my readers know: I won a contest at a small press publisher. I entered my manuscript in January 2008, and I found out in March that it won.

Since then, my small-press publishing company has editors who helped me improve the novel, and it was published in March of 2009.

It’s available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through my publisher’s website. And if you don’t want to order online, I believe you can walk into any Barnes and Noble and ask them to order it for you.

Meanwhile, I’m contacting the paper and the bookstore. I’m even thinking about writing a letter to the editor about self-published vs small press authors.

I’m also gearing up for a reading at River Lights 2nd Edition. I’m really excited to make an appearance at another bookstore!

Sequels

When I’m asked about The Art of Science, inevitably the idea of a sequel comes up. I haven’t given a lot of thought to sequels, but then, on my way home from my reading, a couple ideas surfaced.

So I suppose as I make notes for the next reading, the next appearance – I’ll also make notes about the next novel, the possible sequel(s). So many things circling in my head now, between the rewrite of the other one and possible sequels and the stories I’ve been working on here and there.

A “Real” Author

I’ve seen some of those thoughts going around – am I a real writer? I had a moment today where I felt like a real author. Part of it is being published, I’m sure. But today the moment came where I read part of my book to people in a bookstore. It’s amazing!

Yes, I write. That makes me a writer more than anything else. I know that. I have respect for a lot of writers that may or may not be published, simply because of what they write. I know I have a lot of weaknesses that I’m working on, one at a time.

But I love to share my stories with people. And having people take time out of their days to listen to part of mine makes me feel like a real author. I love it!

I’m also amazed at what people can find when they research the ‘real’ author.

Thank you to everyone who could make it to Prairie Lights today. For those who couldn’t – there are some signed copies out there for sale.

Prairie Lights

It’s so hard to believe it’s already tomorrow! I think I’m ready. How do you prepare for something you’ve never done before? I haven’t seen many authors do readings.

It’s on the website for the bookstore. I’ve informed as many people as I could get to listen to me (which is always fun). It’s great to be able to say that I’ve done what I could to pull this together.

And tonight, I’ll practice. I know what I want to read, but I don’t want to stumble in front of family, friends, and strangers!

Hope to see you there, if you’re in Iowa City.

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