8 New Blogging Rules for Writers

9-1-14 400If you read Search Engine Watch you might have seen 8 Blogging “Rules” You Should Probably Ditch. It was a catchy title that easily tempted me to find out which hallowed blogging rules I could now drop.

Here are the “old” blogging rules and the corrections.

8 New Blogging Rules for Writers

1. Post Five Times a Day to Increase Traffic

I’d never heard of this rule, thank goodness. I don’t think I would have had time to write my books if I’d been focused on writing five blog posts a day. What I have heard, and I believe it still holds true, is that bloggers need to be consistent. If you can only add new posts once a month – which isn’t ideal – then stick to your schedule.

However, if possible, attempt to post once a week at a minimum. If you can squeeze in another post and write twice a week, that would be ideal.

Sign up for Google Analytics to determine how your posting frequency affects traffic. Does posting twice a week double your weekly traffic? If you post three times a week, does this triple your traffic or does it not have any affect? Review your analytics to determine how the frequency of your posts impacts your website traffic.

2. Leave Blog Comments

Apparently, Copyblogger no longer accepts comments on its blog. It instead encourages its followers to start a dialogue about a post on social media. Alternatively, followers can start a conversation on their own blogs and refer back to Copyblogger.

This doesn’t make sense to me. A blog post is the start of a conversation that continues in the comments. To take the conversation elsewhere seems to defeat the purpose of creating a community around the blog.

Copyblogger cited spam as a reason for its new policy and this is understandable. However, you can use a plug-in to quarantine those messages. Or you can do what The Future of Ink has done; they installed a Google+ plug-in for its followers. The comments then appear on the blog and on each follower’s Google+ account. CHECK THIS

3. Outsource Your Blog to a Professional

As someone who writes blog posts for clients, you might think that I am going to be biased and say, “Of course you can outsource your blog posts.” Well, I’m not.

It’s always best to write in your own voice and no one can do that better than you. If you have trouble fitting blogging into your life, then hiring a professional to write it for you is a better than not having a blog at all.

If you decide that you don’t have time to write your posts then I suggest that you work closely with the professional writing articles for you. For example, my clients and I discuss article topics and agree to an editorial calendar. Before writing the post, I check in with the client to ascertain I’m still on the right track.

After I write the post, my clients review what I’ve written before I add it to their websites. This is their opportunity to edit and revise it as they see fit.

4. Always Write 100% Original Content

Writing original content trumps repurposing, but that takes time. If you wrote a nonfiction book, rewrite and update the chapters as blog posts. If someone wrote an article about some great tools for writers, select the ones you like the best and write a post about them. Your content doesn’t always have to be 100 percent original.

9-1-14 blogging rules

 

5. Not Every Post Needs to Have an Image

This is a rule that needs to be tossed with the trash. Always use images on your blog and when possible, use more than one. We are increasingly moving toward a visual social platform so don’t get left behind by neglecting to include a variety of imagery with each of your blog posts.

6. Stick to One Type of Format

You might have noticed that I included a short video in one of my recent posts. Soon, I plan to start podcasting and will include a link to those recordings here on my blog. Use video, SlideShare and other forms of media on your blog to reach a wider audience.

7. Write a 500-Word Blog Post

I have never subscribed to this rule. My posts tend to run about 750 to 800 words. I’ve even written 2,000-word posts for Joel Friedlander’s blog, The Book Designer. The length of your blog post should be dictated by how long it takes to cover your chosen topic. Just like your book.

8. Don’t Publish Your Articles on Third-Party Sites

I have completely ditched this rule. As soon as LinkedIn made publishing an option, I started adding my blog posts. Within six weeks, I more than 2,000 people following my blog on LinkedIn. So if you write a blog, don’t forget to add it to this platform.

There is a caveat to this new rule and I suggest you follow the advice from Search Engine Watch: “Promote your content on reputable third-party sites, which provide a link back to where content was originally published, and also give an author bio tied in to your G+ profile. You can wait a week or two before giving your content for republishing. That’s enough time for search bots to know where and when the original article was first published. Include links within your article that point back to your site to drive traffic.”

What blogging rules do you adhere to?

Social Media Time Suck Final 200

Learn time-saving tips with this book!

About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

 

 

Blogging & Social Media Tips for Writers

8-29-14 blog-400This week’s Roundup includes two posts from Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard because we can all learn a great deal from this talented blogger. Don’t miss the post by Denise Wakeman on how to turn your written content into video. Content is king and video is a super way to deliver it. We have so much to learn from her. There are also great posts from Rachel Thompson — with social media tips for writers — and HubSpot. Enjoy!

How To Turn Your Written Content Into Video Content by The Future of Ink: When it comes to marketing, content is still king. Content drives sales of your products and services, and keeps your customers engaged in your business. However, content is also a hungry beast that must be fed – constantly. In order to stay visible and relevant, you have to continue to “feed the beast” and consistently crank out new content and material. That’s why it’s such a great idea to r epurpose your existing content and give your old material new life.

20 Top Productivity Tools For Bloggers: Increase Your Productivity Immediately by Blogging Wizard: I don’t have time. Have you ever said this to yourself or to someone else? I’m sure most of us have at some point in time, even the best of us. It’s a self-limiting belief which stops us from being more productive. It’s not that we don’t have enough time, it’s that we need to find ways to do more with the time we have. In this post I will show you tools to help you become more productive. Whether you want to stay focused while writing, organize your time better or automate tedious tasks.

8 Blogging “Rules” You Should Probably Ditch by Search Engine WatchAs with everything digital, blogging is an evolving field. What was once an accepted blogging practice may just not work in today’s changed landscape. So it may be time to sit back and evaluate whether generally accepted blog best practices still apply to you or not.

The Most Effective Social Media Channel Is… by Rachel Thompson for BookPromotion.com: Easy: the one you like to use the most! Sounds basic and simple, but with all the advice flying around about ‘author platform’ and being everywhere at once (not possible, I’ve tried), what’s an author to do?

How To Make Every Piece Of Blogging Advice More Effective by Blogging Wizard: There’s a fatal flaw in the way we apply advice about blogging. It’s gotten to a point where the lines are blurred. We are applying advice, it’s not working and we’re giving up. Or in some rare cases we apply advice that does more harm than good. But the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that way. There is an approach we can take to help us focus our efforts and make the advice we’re given work for us. In this post I’ll show you how.

How to Get People to Read Your Entire Blog Post by HubSpot: Once upon a time, you wrote an article. It was a good one. It took you four and a half hours, required a ton of research, and maybe cost you a very late night. After you wrote the article, proofread it, edited it, added images, and published it, you felt good about yourself. Clicking the “publish” button gave you a huge sense of satisfaction. Then, you sat back to wait for the accolades, the reads, the shares, the engagement, the fame. Let me interrupt this fairy tale with a cold, hard fact. Most of the people that see your article won’t read the whole thing.

Avoid Social Media Time Suck Final by Frances Caballo

Does social media take up too much of your time? This book is filled with time management tips and apps to save you time.

About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

Marketing Advice from a Publishing Pro: Jane Friedman Shares Her Best Tips

8-25-14 Jane FriedmanI recently had the honor of interviewing Jane Friedman, the co-founder and publisher of Scratch, a magazine about writing and money, and former publisher of Writer’s Digest. She has more than 15 years of experience inside the book, magazine, and literary publishing industries. Below, Jane shares her views on author websites, blogging and marketing for writers.

 

How important is blogging for a writer’s success?

Blogging is mostly overrated as a book marketing and promotion tool, and few writers have the discipline or stamina to do it for the length of time required for it to pay off.

However, a blog is probably the nonfiction author’s No. 1 content marketing tool for their career—a career that presumably involves not just selling books, but also getting new clients, securing speaking engagements, teaching online classes, delivering new products, and increasing their profile as an expert.

Which leads to another question: What is “content marketing”? It’s where you use content to provide value, build your brand, and gain trust with your readership over time. A blog is a form of content marketing, and it’s generally the most well-recognized and understood by authors.

 

What are the elements of a successful author website and blog?

It should immediately communicate the author’s name and/or brand and give visitors a specific call to action within 5-7 seconds, before they leave the site. What’s a good call to action? It might be: read an excerpt of my book, listen to this interview with me at NPR, sign up for my newsletter, etc. Your call to action will change a few times a year, depending on your marketing initiatives or book releases.

Make your menu or navigation exceptionally clear to first-time visitors. Where can they find information about your books? How can they look at your blog or its archive? How can they contact you? Know what people look for when they visit your site, then make it easy for them to access it.

I have a lot more advice on this topic here:

 

8-25-14 WD logoWriter’s Digest seems to have flourished – at least digitally – under your tenure. What do you attribute that success to, aside from hard work? In other words, what can authors learn from your example there?

At Writer’s Digest, I focused on serving the audience authentically. If we did that well, the numbers and the sales followed.

 

Do you recommend that writers participate in online forums, and if so, why?

 Writers usually have two goals with this type of activity: being part of a writing community and being in touch with readers.

As far as the first goal, I recommend it insofar as it can be a valuable source of education, information, and encouragement. It might also have some marketing value, but you have to be careful that you’re not marketing to the echo chamber of the writing and publishing community, rather than building your readership of non-writers.

For the second goal, participating in online forums where your readers are can be invaluable to understanding and anticipating their needs, serving them better, and—yes—marketing to them.

 

What about blogging communities? Can they help authors grow their readership?

I have limited experience with or knowledge of blogging communities, but my general impression is negative. (Every time one closes, such as Red Room or Yahoo Voices, I feel more steadfast in my critical POV.)

do like multi-contributor blogs, into which I categorize Writer Unboxed, where I occasionally write.

 

How long have you been on Twitter? To what do you attribute your following?

I’ve been on Twitter since May 2008. I got in early, and I religiously wrote a “Best Tweets for Writers” column from 2009–2011 that helped launch my following. For a while I was a recommended follow by Twitter in the Books category. The growth is not the same as it was while I was on that list, but now the account has its own momentum no matter what I do. I tell the full story here: How I Got a Six-Figure Twitter Following.

 

Do you also post your own podcasts/videos/ or Google Hangouts?

I’m not currently doing my own podcasts, video, or Google Hangouts, though I accept invites to be a guest, and try to make sure my audience is aware when and where they’re available.

 

Books320What role does social media play in helping authors’ books to succeed commercially? Asked another way, I find that authors can be reluctant to use social media. What is your advice in the face of their hesitation?

Social media helps authors in two primary ways.

  1.  It helps you maintain connections with readers and nurture that relationship over many years. While you may use social media at times to directly sell, like during a book release, the key value is in being in touch or communicating with people who are fans your work.
  2. It helps you develop relationships with and reach influencers and others in your community who can help spread the word to their networks.

The question to ask yourself is: How, when, and where do you best engage with readers and others in the industry? There is probably at least 1 social network where that opportunity is richest and most meaningful for you. Focus on that network and do it to the extent that it energizes or inspires you. Forget the social media networks that feel like drudgery—that defeats the whole point of being there.

 

We know that email marketing is as important as social media. What advice do you give writers about growing their mailing list of avid and casual readers?

Make the email newsletter sign up very clear on your website; ideally it should appear on every page. Give readers a specific idea of what they will receive when they sign up for your list. Then deliver what you promise.

 

You once said in a blog post that writers must push their boundaries to incorporate new media into their marketing. (This isn’t a direct quote.) At what point do writers need to pull back so they don’t lose their focus on their writing goals?

When you find yourself going through a checklist of media initiatives, without any interest or enthusiasm, then it may be time to pull back and evaluate why you’re doing it, especially if you’re not seeing reader engagement. (Keep in mind that any new effort takes time to pay off—you have to show up consistently, find your voice, and improve. This can take 6-12 months for some people.)

I love to suggest writers experiment and question the mediums they may always default to; on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing what works—especially if it motivates you to produce more good work. You just need to be aware if you’re clinging to certain things because you’re afraid to change (while everyone else is moving ahead), or making good choices that build on your strengths and the qualities of your work.

 

8-25-14 tumblrI see that you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Goodreads. How do you manage your time on so many platforms? How much time do you spend each day on social media?

I only show up consistently (usually daily) on 2 sites: Facebook and Twitter. I don’t have any quotas, however. My biggest rule is: Any time I tweet or post, it’s not to put myself in front of people. It’s to share something of value or to entertain. Period. So if I don’t have something for 48 hours, then you won’t see me. I’m not going to come up with a bunch of posts to fill in the gaps; we all have enough to look at already.

I’m a casual user of Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr. For each of those platforms, I have very particular things I post, or certain triggers. E.g., on Pinterest, I mostly pin graphs and charts related to the media/publishing industry, whenever I come across one. That’s it—but it’s a very useful repository now. Tumblr is a kind of personal notebook, where I save quotes or clips from interesting articles.

So it’s not so much about managing my time; over a period of months or years, I establish a particular benefit of each channel, something that fits my purposes. They’re not on my mind, and only come into play when I find things that fit my use of those networks. It wouldn’t be sustainable otherwise. Overall, I probably spend 1-2 hours per day on social media, if you aggregate all the little minutes here and there—most of that being Facebook and Twitter. Most of that is consumption time, or staying informed about what’s happening, not posting time.

 

If you were to narrow your social media use to three networks, which three would you refuse to give up and why?

It would be difficult for me to give up Twitter given my long-term investment there, and its importance in the writing and publishing community conversation. It would also be hard to give up Facebook, since that’s where a good deal of my audience engagement happens. Together, Twitter and Facebook make up most of the social media referral traffic to my website. However, organic search traffic to my site is far more important than social media right now; therefore, Google Plus is the third network I’d be reluctant to give up, since I think it will continue to have an impact on SEO.

 

Do you think that certain social media networks are better suited to specific genres? For example, Facebook and Pinterest are ideal for romance writers. Tumblr and Twitter would be important for YA and NA writers. Nonfiction writers would need to have a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. Or don’t you agree with the premise that certain channels are better for specific genres?

I do think certain channels are better for specific genres or audiences, yes. Most importantly, the author needs to be comfortable and committed to using whatever networks they’re on. Hopefully there’s a good match between what the writer is capable of sustaining for the long haul, and where her audience is active and engaged.

 

How do you suggest that writers juggle their writing time with their social media and marketing efforts in general?

This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind these days, and I understand writers feel that they’re under tremendous pressure. So when I hear this question, what I hear is: how can I relieve the pressure? How can I alleviate any stress or anxiety I have about juggling these things?

There is a very simple answer: Don’t take it all so seriously, and detach from the crazy-making activities. In a moment of silence, I bet you know what you should be doing, so acquire the discipline, structure, and tools to make it happen.

 

For Indie authors interested in finding an agent or publisher, what do they need to have in place aside from a killer manuscript?

It’s immensely helpful to point to a growing and engaged readership devoted to reading just about anything you publish. Be able to demonstrate your efforts to cultivate and nurture that readership.

 

What marketing advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Get your website established, even if it’s just a shell, and begin improving it and getting better at honing your online brand, one day at a time. This is your home base for the entirety of your career. Get comfy.

Visit Jane’s website to learn more about her.

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 200About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Creative Book Marketing Tips from the Pros

8-22-14 600 2Today’s Roundup includes a range of book marketing tips from industry experts. I hope you enjoy the selection.

Why a Newsletter is a Marketing Must and How to Double the Number of Readers You Get by The Future of Ink: Electronic newsletters have been around for as long as I’ve been in business; prior to that, I can remember getting them in the mail. Newsletters seem very 1990’s don’t they?

How to Promote Yourself and Your Books on Social Media by Terrible Minds:  In my experience, most authors dislike self-promotion. Some downright despise it. And they detest it for good reason: becoming a marketing or advertising avatar for your own work feels shameless. It feels adjacent to the work — like it’s something you didn’t sign on for.

5 Creative Ways to Market Your Book by Author Marketing Experts, Inc.: Are you ready to take your exposure and your book sales up a notch?

5 Tips From a Bestselling Author (and Former Luddite) on Overcoming Blog Phobia by Problogger: There’s no such term as “blog phobia” as far as I know, but the condition is very real, I assure you. I know authors who quake at the mention of blogging, as I once did before I got a handle on it. My professional writing career began in an era when authors were expected to do only one thing: write a kickass book. And maybe go on tour if there was a marketing budget for said book. My first novel,Garden of Lies, was a New York Times bestseller and my publisher sent me on a cross-country tour that was a blur of TV appearances, print and radio interviews, and book signings.

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 200About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

4 Time-Saving Content Curation Tools for Writers

Frances Caballo - Social Media Just for WritersCreating content for your social media profiles needn’t take more than 10 minutes each morning.

Really.

Once you have your favorite content scouters (my word) in place, you’ll find that the content will appear before you almost magically. My scouters are the tools I use to help me pinpoint the content that furthers my brand, keeps me updated, and will provide my followers with the information they want to read.

Scouting for Content on the Web

Below are four content curation tools that you may want to start using.

Swayy

Once of my favorite content curation applications is Swayy. After opening an account, tell Swayy what your keywords are and the app will deliver your content to you every morning via email.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.41.06 AM

You can also use Swayy to schedule your content, a definite time-saver. As you can see, Swayy provides the options to share content on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. I can add hashtags and even opt to share it later.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.44.29 AM

In addition, when I click the Calendar option, another window opens and I can schedule my content on any day and at any time I wish.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.45.32 AM

 

ContentGems

Similar to Swayy, ContentGems will provide a comprehensive summary each day of the content that relates to the keywords you selected. This is an example of just some of the information ContentGems sent me this morning.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.53.28 AM

Similar to Swayy, you can also share content via this application. When you select Share via ContentGems, you’ll have two options as noted in the screenshot below.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.56.29 AM

If you use Buffer to schedule your tweets, ContentGems will add your tweet to your queue. When I select Buffer, this window appears with the option to share the information now, later or schedule a tweet at a specific time.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.59.48 AM

 

Twitter Lists

Twitter lists aren’t an application but they are important to your content curation strategy. Once your following and follower count grow, it will become difficult to sort through your news feed to find the Tweeps you rely on for great content.

You can solve problem this by creating a Twitter list. I created a short video to show you hot to start creating your own lists.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

If you have problems viewing the video, you can paste this URL into your browser to see it: http://www.screencast.com/t/w9QiwmW6m

LinkedIn Pulse

Pulse is a wonderful tool for vetting your LinkedIn newsfeeds. Through its content platform, LinkedIn users are now sharing entire blog posts on LinkedIn. Some of this content may be items you’d like to share with your own following. Pulse will send you stories of interest based on whom you follow on LinkedIn. You can choose to see the suggestions on a weekly, daily or as the new content appears on LinkedIn.

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 12.35.50 PM

Similar to Swayy and ContentGems, you can elect to post the content directly to your profile by clicking the arrow.

What are your go-to strategies for finding great content while saving time?

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 200About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Web

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Beta Readers, Book Covers and Great Websites for Indie Authors

8-15-14 400The post on the best 50 sites for self-published authors was published in June but I just discovered it last week so I’m including it in the week’s Roundup. You’ll also find posts from Joel Friedlander, The Next Web and one by Anne R. Allen on how to find beta readers, always a timely topic. I hope you enjoy this week’s picks.

The Indie 50 – The 50 Best Sites for Indie and Self-Published Authors from August Wainwright: This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now and kept putting it off. Having now finished the list, I completely understand why I’ve been procrastinating for so long.

What is a Beta Reader? Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Getting and Giving Feedback on your WIP from Anne R. Allen’s blog: The term first came from fan fiction, and it means a person who reads your work-in-progress (or “WIP”) when you, the writer or “alpha,” are ready for feedback—before it goes into final draft to be sent to your fanfic page, editor, or agent.

5 Keys to Book Cover Success from The Book Designer: So, you survived the gauntlet of rewrites, the flood of red ink your editor poured on your pages, and countless sleepless nights you spent worrying about how to tie the story together. Finally, you put the last period at the end of your tale’s final sentence with a heavy sigh and a hopeful cheer. Congrats! You have a manuscript.

What really happens when someone clicks your Facebook Like button from The Next Web: We talk a lot about reversing the decline in organic Facebook reach and succeeding with Facebook marketing. Maybe we’ve been overlooking a quick win right under our noses. The Facebook share button could be a huge opportunity to delight a reader with a seamless sharing experience, one in which you can control the look, feel, and message of what gets shared.

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 200About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

 

Photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc

Twibel—Something New for Indie Publishers to Worry About?

8-11-14 facebook-140903_400

I am so pleased to have a guest post by Helen Sedwick. Her new book — Self-Publishser’s Legal Handbook – covers a multitude of issues that Indie publishers face every day from how to start a business to retaining freelancers (designers/web design professions, etc.) to protecting your nest egg. I hope you enjoy today’s post by her.

Guest post by Helen Sedwick

Suppose you hear something wonderfully scandalous about a local politician and blast it out to your 10,000 Twitter followers and 4,000 Facebook fans.

You are the first drop out of the Internet hose, and your post goes viral. Two days later, you learn the information is wrong, painfully wrong. Could you be liable for defamation or twibel, a newly-coined word for libel on Twitter and other social media sites?

It happens.

Rock singer Courtney Love has been sued twice; once for tweeting that a fashion designer was “a drug-pushing prostitute” and another time for saying her attorney had been “bought off.” Kim Kardashian was sued for tweets calling the cookie-diet doctor a liar.

In the race to be first to post on the social mediasphere, who stops to fact-check? In a culture that confuses rudeness with humor, how easy is it to cross the line? With more than 400 million tweets per day are defamation lawyers enjoying a bonanza?

The good news is defamation claims based on social media postings are rare, even for deep-pocketed celebrities. But the law lags behind technology.

The potential for litigation is high because careless or malicious postings can ruin reputations. At the extreme, cyber-bullying has lead to tragedy.

To reduce the risk of ending up in the courtroom, social media users should keep some common sense rules in mind. 

What Is Defamation?

A False Statement of Fact

Against

An Identifiable Living Person or Company

Which is

Published or Disseminated to at least one other person

And Causes

Reputational Harm

And if involving a Public Figures,

Was Made with Malice 

         (knowledge that the statement was false or a reckless disregard for the truth)

In the United States, the plaintiff (the one filing the lawsuit) must prove all these elements. In the United Kingdom, France and other counties, plaintiffs have an easier time proving defamation and recovering damages.

8-11-14 SelfPublishersLegalHandbook_3dDefamation Risks as Indie Publishers

Ten years ago, defamation claims were almost exclusively brought against publishers, journalists and celebrities; they were the only ones with enough reach to cause reputational harm.

Today, every blogger, tweeter, poster, and other social media user has the power to reach millions. As far as the law is concerned, Indie authors are publishers and have assumed all the risks and responsibilities that come with that role.

Since few of us have fact-checkers, editors and lawyers watching our backs, take the time to verify sources before posting potentially damaging information. Otherwise you risk harming someone’s reputation and wallet, including your own.

Context Is Helpful But Not Bulletproof

Here’s a recent headline from the internet:

ExxonMobil, Chevron Locked In Bidding War To Acquire Lucrative Pennsylvania Senator

If you read this headline in the Wall Street Journal, you would assume this is fast-breaking news about the real crime. However, since this headline appears at The Onion, readers understand it’s satire and not a true fact. Therefore, it is not defamatory.

Similarly, political big mouths Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh routinely broadcast shocking accusations and viscous slurs. They get away with these remarks by arguing everyone knows it’s hyperbole, entertainment, and opinion, not statements of fact. Same with shock jockeys such as Howard Stern.

In defamation cases, context is important because it determines whether readers will assume statements contain facts. If a statement is not seen as fact, then it is not defamatory no matter how offensive. Opinions are protected speech in the U.S.

The good news is tweets and online comments are usually not considered statements of fact, but off-the-cuff remarks, opinions, hyperbole, and (too often) sales pitches. Readers follow twitter feuds and comment rants for voyeuristic entertainment, not real-life information.

Similarly, online reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon are considered opinions because of context. One hotel lost its case when it sued TripAdvisor for listing it as the “dirtiest hotel in America.” The court found no defamation because readers understood this was eye-catching exaggeration, not fact.

There have been exceptions. TripAdvisor reviewers have been sued for saying they were bitten by bedbugs.  A British reviewer has been sued for defamation and blackmail for posting a negative review after a restaurant refused to give him a free meal in exchange for a positive one. Since bad reviews can ruin a small business, I expect more lawsuits will happen.

Before you make potential damaging statements, rephrase them as opinions. Instead of saying “the restaurant served horsemeat” (fact) say “I suspect horsemeat would have tasted better” (opinion). Instead of “Bob is a crook” (fact) say “Bob reminds me of a rattlesnake who neglects to shake his tale” (opinion).

Bloggers face a higher risk because blog posts are more considered and researched. The more your elaborate on the subject and the greater your credibility or clout, the more careful you need to be.

Hyperlink to Your Sources

Hyperlinks are the Internet’s equivalent to footnotes. If you are posting negative information, include links to your sources. Defendants have successfully fought off defamation claims by convincing courts that they relied on credible sources. (Hence, no malice.)

When Using Humor, Don’t Be Subtle

If you have a strong opinion to express, consider using satire and hyperbole. The more ridiculous, the better. In one famous pre-Internet case, Miss Wyoming sued Penthouse Magazine and writer Philip Cioffari over a satirical piece portraying a beauty queen with such strong sexual powers, she could make men levitate off the ground. A local jury awarded Miss Wyoming $26.5 Million, but the judgment was reversed. The Appeals Court recognized the satire; levitation, while fascinating, was not factual.  

We Are All Public Figures Now

Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Suppose you get into a tweeting feud and are called derogatory and insulting names. Do you have a claim of defamation? Don’t count on it.

By tweeting, posting, and commenting in the social mediasphere, you are putting yourself into the public spotlight voluntarily and will be considered a public figure at least with respect to your social media statements. Public figures have a tougher time winning defamation cases because they have to prove malice on top of everything else. It’s an uphill battle.

Watch the M.E Factor

As an attorney, I am often asked, “Can someone sue me?” Anyone can sue you. My rule of thumb about litigation risk is the M.E. Factor; money multiplied by emotion. If a lot of money is involved, then a lawsuit is likely even if there is little anger or emotion. But if someone is angry, offended, or feels threatened, then they are likely to sue regardless of a small financial stake. Don’t assume no one will go after you because you have no money. If you get someone peeved enough, you may awake one morning to a process server banging on your door.

 Consider Other Consequences

Even if you are not sued, careless tweets may come back to haunt you. Employers review social media profiles of current and prospective employees. Professional, social and family gatherings may take on a noticeable chill. You could lose followers and potential customers.

The internet would be boring if no one took the risk of generating provocative and controversial content, but pause to think before you hit enter. Don’t post something you would not say in a crowded room. Think thrice before sending anything between midnight and 4 AM. Social media is not a private conversation. Your words will be heard around the world.

8-11-14 HelenSedwick_300For more information on the intersection of legal issues and social media — or for additional information about legal issues that Indie publishers can encounter — visit Helen Sedwick’s blog and check out her book, Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. You can also find Helen on Google+ and Twitter

Disclaimer:  Helen Sedwick is an attorney licensed to practice in California only. This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.

 

 

 Social Media Time Suck Final 200

 

Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

Blogging, Video and Bookselling Tips from Penny Sansevieri

8-8-14It’s August yet it feels like fall here in Sonoma County, which is located about 55 miles north of San Francisco. The mornings are dreary, the dew is heavy, and lately we’ve had very little sun. We’re definitely feeling the dog days of summer. (I love dogs, by the way.) However, these posts did brighten my week and I hope you enjoy them too.

26 Ways to Bring Your Blog to Life from Entrepreneur: We all want more engagement on our blog posts. I mean traffic numbers are nice, but when no one comments or shares your posts, you just feel so alone. (Is anyone listening to me!?) User interaction is the soul of a blog. Not only does it help build your confidence, but it could help turn your blog into a cash cow. Here are 26 ways to bring life to your blog.

How to create a video with PowerPoint from Build Book Buzz: Confession time: I view creating videos as a necessary evil. It’s not something I look forward to, and that’s not just because good hair days don’t come around very often.

Never Sell Your Book: Tip #16 of 52 Ways to Market Your Book from Author Marketing Experts, Inc.: So you’re all ready to promote your book. You’ve got a great press kit, a polished bio, and a letter-perfect press release. Now you’re ready to sell, sell, sell, right? Wrong. One of the biggest mistakes authors make is selling their book. Remember it’s not about the book; it’s about what the book can do for the reader.

Twelve Things You Should Do on Your Personal Google+ Account Right Now from KISSMetrics: Like it or not, Google+ is becoming more important in the digital marketing landscape. Google+ is not just a Facebook redux. Instead, it comprises a huge part of the social milieu of your online existence. Google+ has subtly creeped into your emailing, browsing, article writing, creating Google+ business pages, and a variety of other activities across the web.

13 Ways to Impress an Agent from Books & Such : You’ve been trying to crack the code for getting an agent’s attention, whether in a query or a face-to-face meeting. You’ve been searching high and low for the secret to making an agent sit up and say “Wow!”

 

About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

 

p align=”center”>Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

 

photo credit: A Guy Taking Pictures via photopin cc

Marketing Tips from New York Times Bestselling Author Sharon Hamilton

Social Media Just for Writers by Frances CaballoSharon Hamilton is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She didn’t rise to fame by chasing literary agents or signing a deal with a New York publishing house. Sharon is an Indie author whose dedication to writing and marketing has propelled her career to heights she might not have imagined possible when she began writing romance novels in 2008. To say that Sharon is a prolific writer would be an understatement. In the Seal Brotherhood Series alone she’s written eight novels and novellas. She’s also written two books in the Golden Vampires of Tuscany Series and two erotic romance novels. Finally, her stories are included in eight anthologies. To learn more about her success, keep reading.

 

You’ve been tremendously successful and prolific in your relatively short writing career. What do you attribute your success to, aside from your masterful writing?

I work hard at making it a business. You have to release new products every year, at least 3 – 4 times a year, or more. You need to be visible. But not just visible saying, “Buy My Book;” visible by giving content and value to the relationship you’re cultivating with the reader.

 

How important is blogging to your success?

At first, it was the only form of social media I did. I learned to get comfortable with it, be prolific at it, and then to join other blogs as either guest or regular hosts. It helped introduce me to a community of like-minded writers, and their followers who became some of my fans.

Dee Dee Scott coined the phrase “Grogging” or group blogging. It’s a good way for an author to learn to cooperate with other writers, play fair, pool resources (it takes a lot of work to consistently blog), and use the power of other authors to get introduced to their readers. I interviewed people I admired or thought were interesting. I watched their blog posts and learned how to post pictures, boost, spread the word, etc. I learned by hosting some good authors first.

 

Sharon Hamilton, AuthorWhat role has social media played in helping your books to succeed commercially?

Well, since I am an Indie Published author, social media is the only way to get my book out to the public. That’s a good and a bad thing. Good that we have the same access to media for free, basically, and bad because it can suck a lot of time I would love to spend writing. But it is as important as the content, to be involved in social media, and if a writer isn’t, then his or her wonderful book won’t be discovered, except in unusual circumstances. I just know I’m not that kind of lucky, and probably anyone reading this isn’t either!!

 

My hunch is that Facebook is probably the most important social media network for romance writers. Do you agree, and if so, why? To what do you attribute your success at attracting 13,143 Facebook Page Likes and nearly 5,000 friends?

Facebook allows fans access to the writer (or the writer’s staff as is sometimes the case), which is unbelievable, if you think of it. We are so lucky to have this. I’ve done Facebook parties, where we’ll do a blast from say 6-10, invite guest authors for ½ hour “chats” with fans and readers, contest giveaways, etc,. to increase traffic. I think I’ve gotten as many as 1500 on my Rafflecopter giveaways when people were asked to answer a question or sign up for our newsletter, or “like” my page. Believe it or not, for the first 3 years I was a writer, my FB page didn’t get very big very fast. In the last year, with the new releases, it has really soared in hits. That’s because a lot is going on.

The biggest increase in my page occurred when we took a Cruise from Italy to Brazil, and I posted just about every day about something on board ship, or on land. People still talk about that. I think I got maybe 25% of my “fans” that way. I had people tell me they felt like they’d done the trip too.

On a limited basis, I try to interact with the fans. I don’t make a comment on all of them, but some I do.

 

8-4-14 CrusinforaSEAL 300When did you start incorporating Navy Seals as characters in your books?

I was writing mostly paranormal, because those were the only romance novels I’d been introduced to. But when an editor said, “Wait a minute. I don’t want vamps or angels. Give me a hero (before I could argue with her there were heroes as vamps and angels).” She said she wanted a military guy, a sports figure of some kind. Para rescue. I threw it out there, “Navy SEALs.” She asked me if I thought I could do that, and I said, “sure.” I wasn’t, of course.

They are the perfect type of hero. Generally stay quiet, not wanting attention to him. He protects the innocent. He doesn’t do it for the money or even the glory. He does it because he is the guy that can “get ‘err done,” do the things other men can’t. He’s filled with an honor to serve, just wired into his DNA. The training sorts out all the ones who aren’t of that ilk. Not just the physical strength, but also the mental strength that makes them so relentless, they don’t quit.

 

What triggered the Golden Vampires of Tuscany series?

I was an Anne Rice fan, but, IMHO [In My Humble Opinion], she made a mistake by not letting them have a sex life. I love her work, and she is such a great writer. But I found them sad characters. At the time, I was a critique partner with Tina Folsom, and since she was doing vamps, I decided I’d try one. I wanted something different. They don’t go to ground. They can live in the sun, have mortal children, can only mate with their fated mates, although they can sleep around a bit. When they meet their fated mates, they instantly know it. Children are rare and special. I have a whole hierarchy in their world, rules.

 

How do you manage your time? You are a prolific writer and your have an active online presence. How do you juggle your writing with your book promotion?

I’ve had two virtual assistants since April. They help me with some of the social media stuff, and have helped me maintain a better street team than I’d have time for. They organize blog posts, FB parties, mail outs for prizewinners. I’ve been to six conferences this year already, and they have come to two of them, which helped out a lot.

Good book on Time Management: Manage Your Day-To-Day, by Jocelyn Glei. They talk about building a routine, knowing what times you are most productive and keeping out everything else at that time so you can write. For me, mornings are precious. I no longer have critique groups, doctor of dentist appointments, or meetings in the morning. The morning has to be protected for me, or I’m up half the night trying to finish something.

If you do a little every day, you don’t have to jam. But jamming once in awhile does good things too. Really stimulates the creative ideas, but you can’t run on coffee all the time. You have to slow it down sometimes. A good fitness routine changes what’s done, maybe not when it’s done, but what workouts, so the body is “tricked” into peak performance. Work when the least amount of time can do you the greatest good.

Never be a writer who “doesn’t feel like writing” and then doesn’t. Do it every day. Who cares if you like it or not? Your fans await.

 

8-4-14 seamydestiny300Are there any other marketing elements that you feel have contributed to your success?

The Facebook Parties are great to do. Already touched on it. Having a Street Team has really helped me spread the word to people I wouldn’t normally know about. They become my Outliers. Make sure you have a clear message and a brand that identifies you.

 

What do you mean by Street Team?

I have a group of like 100 women, who are fans, and who are on my Street Team. When I post something on the team loop, a lot of them post it to their social media sites. Some are bloggers, too. I don’t pay anyone to review or to blog. They get swag, and stuff from me for just being there. Most successful authors have them.

 

What marketing advice would you give a new romance writer who was just starting out?

Just try one thing at a time until you get fairly comfortable with it. As usual, setting it up takes the most time. Using it falls from that. Don’t try to do too much. Start slow and don’t listen too much to anybody who is a “guru” and their advice. Do a gutcheck and make sure it works for you too. Not all the advice you get is going to work.

 

Social Media Time Suck Final 200About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Email Signups, Content Curation and How Creativity Helps Us Thrive

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the most important elements to a successful writing career is deciding what you should write about. If you want to sell books, you need a market, and if you want a certain demographic to read your book, the book needs to be unique or fill a need. Nina Amir wrote a great post on this very topic that you’ll want to read. Jason Matthews wrote a post for Joel Friedlander that every Indie Author will appreciate. Jason explains how to use Amazon’s search engine to better position your book for sales. What a great topic! I thoroughly enjoyed reading Forbes’ article on how creativity helps us thrive. We knew this was true – right? – and now we have the proof. I hope you enjoy the selection below. (By the way, I took today’s image while traveling in Portugal six years ago.)

5 Subtle Writing Strategies That Drive Email Signups from Copyblogger: Your email list is a group of readers who have chosen to get information from you. They want to hear from you, and you want a large email list that is full of potential clients or customers.

Always Have an Amazing Link to Share from Buffer Blog: Inside the Buffer product, we aim to solve the problem of “what should I share next?” by providing the content suggestions for you—25 of them, each and every day, hand-picked by Courtney and our suggestions team.

How to Fill a “Hole” on the Bookstore Shelf from Write Nonfiction Now!: Maybe you’ve heard the adage that if you’ve been searching for a particular book and haven’t found it, that’s the book you should write. Or if you’ve been wishing someone would tell a particular story, that’s the tale you should tell. And, if there’s a hole on the bookstore shelf waiting for a book readers want and need but that hasn’t yet been published, that’s the hole you should fill when you write your book.

The Innovation Turbo-Charge: How To Train The Brain To Be More Creative from Forbes Magazine: The data is overwhelming: creativity is far and away the most important skill needed to “thrive” (and this word is being used in opposition to “survive” here) in today’s world.

39 Things to Remember While Struggling to Build Your Writing Career from Writer Platform: When you’re knee-deep in the tangle of learning something new, it’s easy to get lost in trivialities.

Playtime with Amazon’s Search Engine and Selling Prompts by Jason Matthews via The Book Designer: If you feel any dread when it comes to keywords (or metadata), you’re not alone. Many authors have a limited understanding of these digital entities and struggle to add elements to their books to assist with Amazon’s search engine. Fortunately there’s good news for those who recoil when it comes to keyword research; this can be fun. Think of it as a game where you play around and experiment with Amazon’s search engine.

 

Social Media Time Suck by Frances Caballo of Social Media Just for WritersAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the San Francisco Writers Conference. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

 

 

Image by Frances Caballo