Friday Roundup: How to Engage Your Readers

12-19-14 Engage Your Readers by Frances Caballo

Welcome to the Friday Roundup where you’ll find practical tips for marketing your books on the social web. This week’s segment includes summaries of four blog posts that will help you hone your social media marketing skills, and of course, your tip of the week on how to engage your readers I hope you enjoy the post!

Let’s start with your weekly tip.

This week’s segment includes summaries of four blog posts with awesome social media tips, and of course, I have your tip of the week.

Let’s start with your weekly tip.

We hear the word engagement a lot when we talk about social media.

But what is it really?

Engagement is simply another word for being social. You can engage your readers by taking time to socialize online.

If we were to tweet solely information about our books, write status updates about our blog posts and books, and pin images about ourselves, our books and our blog posts, we would turn social media into broadcast media.

But social media isn’t like radio or television. We come to it when we have time, and we use it to engage with others.

So don’t just tweet information about your books and blog posts. Thank followers for their retweets, share your readers’ posts on Facebook, and repin images from your contacts on Pinterest.

Make sure that you allocate fifteen minutes every day to read through your news feeds and respond to messages your readers are posting.

There are several apps that can help you to engage more with your followers. A few that I like are NutshellMail, SocialOomph, HootSuite, and Mention, which will track mentions of you across the Internet.

Now for the second segment of the show …

I scoured the Internet and found some great posts about saving time on social media and I know you’ll enjoy hearing about them. You’ll find links to these articles in my show notes on my Friday blog.

First up, let’s talk about the Social Media for Beginners and Pros Alike: A Free Social Media Marketing Resource Kit by the folks at Buffer.

By now you’ve noticed that I mention Buffer frequently in my podcasts. Buffer is a scheduling application. Buffer’s founders used content marketing – blogging – to attain the success they’ve realized, and their blog is among the best social media blogs on the Internet.

The folks at Buffer created a social media kit that includes checklists, spreadsheets, guides, and stock photos. The entire kit is free.

If you’re new to social media, or if you’ve been using it a while and would love to breathe new life into what you’re doing, grab this kit.

Next up is 10 Pro Tips for Writers Using Social Media by Matt Petronzio for Mashable.

In this post, Matt interviewed six authors who are also experts in personal branding. The writers shared their suggestions on how to use social media to promote yourself in the writing industry.

  1. Briefly, here are some of their tips:
  2. Sign up for the big networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Interact and engagement enthusiastically.
  4. Minimize self-promotion.
  5. Consider your personal comfort levels with the type of exposure you’ll have on social media and adjust your privacy settings accordingly.
  6. Don’t obsess over your number of followers.

Check out the post for all 10 tips.

Next, is a post by Rebekah Radice titled 3 Steps to Being Unforgettable on Social Media.

Rebekah asks this question: Do you inspire and captivate your social media community? Are your conversations dynamic, engaging and diverse?

According to Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate you have nine seconds to command attention.

That’s not much time at all, right?

Here are Rebekah’s suggestions for captivating people quickly:

  1. Develop a consistent look, feel, and message. In other words, keep your branding consistent.
  2. Captivate your readers with social media profiles that will entice your followers to buy your next book.
  3. Discover your sweet spot and everything else will fall into place. What one thing makes the rest of your life make sense? Find out what it is and nurture it.

Finally, I wrote a post called 56 Social Media Terms Writers Need to Know.

If you are confused by some of the terminology used in social media, this list of 56 words should help you.

I define the differences between first-, second-, and third-degree connections on LinkedIn and define the mostly commonly used terms and acronyms in social media.

Be sure to check the post for where I provide more detailed information.

Related Reading

Avoid Social Media Time Suck


Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.


Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Unplug, Daydream, Do What Inspires You

Do What Inspires You by Frances Caballo of Social Media Just for Writers

I’ve been volunteering for the Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue (GGLRR) for nearly five years, fostering rescued Labs and conducting home visits.

After I had adopted one of my fosters two years ago, my involvement with the rescue slowed considerably, yet I still take in the occasional senior dog.

Right before Thanksgiving, I decided to foster Sterling, probably a Lab-Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix.

All I know is that Sterling is your dream dog. He loves to play and chase the ball, and he also enjoys curling up at your feet if you’d rather spend a few hours writing or reading.

Basically, he follows his caretaker’s lead.

I’m telling you this story because while I was meeting virtually with my business coach, I hugged both dogs and said, “This is what inspires me.”

I surprised myself.

I keep reasoning that I need to stop volunteering now that I have a dog of my own and focus more on my business. The truth is that I work long hours every day and on weekends, and I need a respite once in a while.

The other truth is that I love dogs, and I especially love Labrador retrievers.

So I volunteer because I enjoy giving back to my community; I adore this breed, and because I want to give dogs a second chance.

Tug ToyIn Sterling’s case, his former family tied him to a pole and abandoned him near a parking lot with a sign that read, “Can you give me a new home? My family lost their home and can’t keep me any longer!”

Animal control picked him up, took him to an overcrowded shelter that might have euthanized him had GGLRR not stepped in.

Sterling is an awesome dog, and I’m glad he’s alive and in my life.

Do What Inspires You

Sure, the time I spend walking dogs, taking them to the vet (they always arrive either ill, malnourished or needing surgery) consumes time when I already am strapped for it.

You know how it is. Do you ever have enough time to write books and blog and market your books?
Add running a business to the equation and we can both understand how busy we are, right?

But I love dogs. I love giving dogs a second and third chance, and I love getting them healthy and ready for a family that we carefully vet.

Don’t Be Afraid to Unplug

People think that because I work in and write about social media that I’m always online.

No way.

Today, a Sunday, I didn’t post anything on any of my social media profiles – not even Facebook. I did thank people for retweets and took a quick glance at my Facebook news feed but aside from that; all I did was check email.

The Fear of Missing Out is always there. What if Twitter changes its platform? What if Facebook makes a huge change? There’s always the pressure of what if …?

What if I miss a big change in social media? I’ll get over it, and I’ll be able to catch up.

Or I’ll be online when the next big change happens because something is always changing on social media.

I don’t stress about it anymore.

And I make more time to take long walks most days because the dogs need it, my body craves it, and my brain rejoices in it.

Walking the dogs always inspires me. When I’m walking, I hear birds chirp, notice a little water in our drought-ridden creeks near our home, feel the sun on my face.

It’s while I walk that I always come up with new material for blog posts and ideas and titles for books.

Whenever I’m sitting in front of my computer, and I feel stuck or don’t know what to do next, I step away from the computer.

I may do some pushups, squats, or leash up the dogs for a stroll.

Or I stare out the window or go to the gym.

When I walk, I let my mind wander, and as it does, ideas come to me.

A 2010 Harvard study on daydreaming concluded “a wandering mind linked spacing out with unhappiness.”

Harrumph to that!

I am so glad scientists recently debunked that study. An article on the Huffington Post titled How Daydreaming Can Actually Make You Smarter noted:

“In a radical new theory of human intelligence, one cognitive psychologist argues that having your head in the clouds might help people to engage better with the pursuits that are most personally meaningful to them. According to Scott Barry Kaufman, NYU psychology professor and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, we need a new definition of intelligence — one that factors in our deepest dreams and desires.

“We all have goals and dreams in life — things we want to accomplish out there in the real world,” Kaufman tells The Huffington Post. “And while the kinds of skills that are measured on IQ tests are important … there are so many more characteristics that come into play in helping us to reach those dreams and goals in a long-term way.”

In addition, according to a 2012 study daydreaming may seem passive but on the contrary, it can involve a highly engaged brain state.

That study noted that:

“… daydreaming often leads to sudden connections and profound insights because it correlates with our ability to recall information in the face of distractions.”

Furthermore, in a 2011 study neuroscientists discovered that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with creativity.

So you can stop feeling guilty about not writing, not marketing your books, not doing whatever your brain tells you that you “should be doing.”

Take an hour or longer, walk the dog, go to the gym, or sit and stare out the window. Daydreaming may be just as important to your creative process as writing itself.

Related Reading

Blogging Just for Writers

Avoid Social Media Time Suck

Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.


Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Friday Roundup: Book Marketing Tips for Indie Authors

12-12-14 Book Marketing Tips by Frances Caballo

Welcome to the Friday Roundup where you’ll find practical tips for marketing your books on the social web. This week’s segment includes summaries of four blog posts that will help you develop awesome marketing strategies for your books, and of course, your tip of the week. I hope you enjoy the post!

Let’s start with your weekly tip.

Have you heard of AuthorRise? It’s a cool app from a San Francisco startup that tracks book sales from Amazon with an author’s social media use. It will tell you whether your social media activity generates sales.

Right now, the app only tracks Twitter but AuthorRise will add other social media networks over time. Presently, the app is free to use.

AuthorRise offers a great feature called Flyers. A flyer is a template that you can use to share content and promote your book across all of your social platforms.

Once you create a Flyer, you can tweet directly from AuthorRise and the Flyer will show up as a Twitter Card. The great thing about Twitter Cards is that they give you more real estate in someone’s feed than just a plain-text tweet.

Now we know that images have a far greater impact than mere text. More people are likely to retweet a message with an image and on Facebook, people are more likely to share images. That’s what makes Twitter cards so powerful.

You can create a flyer whenever you write a new post, article, or even when you receive a great review. Buy buttons are automatically added to each flyer.

Soon, you’ll be able to track your flyers so you can find out who opened them, who’s reading your content, and who’s buying your book.

Awesome information to know, right?

So sign up for AuthorRise, connect your books on Amazon, and create a flyer.

I wrote a complete description about Author Rise on Joel Friedlander’s blog, The Book Designer. Be sure to check it out.

Now for the second segment of the show …

I scoured the Internet and found some great posts related to author marketing strategies. You’ll find links to all of these articles in my show notes on my Friday blog. Okay, now for the blog posts:

First up is a post from Publishers Weekly titled Advanced Marketing Tactics for Indie Authors.

This post is awesome and describes a number of strategies Indie Authors can use to market their books.

First up is preorders. If you’ve attended any writers conferences recently, you probably heard Mark Coker discuss these.

According to Mark, he has evidence that books that make pre-order copies available ultimately sell more books. Smashwords now offers this feature.

Now let’s discuss metadata. Metadata is the information authors input in a chosen distributor’s system, such as CreateSpace, Smashwords or IngramSpark. The information encompasses the book description, category selected, price, author bio, blurb, etc.

The third strategy is keep writing books. Nothing sells your first book better than writing the second one. And then the third one.

There are more tips in this post so you’ll need to check it out.

Next is a short, informative post by Paula Krapf, 5 Keep-It-Simple Marketing Tips For Indie Authors.

Over the past 15 years, Paula has accumulated a vast inner database of marketing expertise to propel my books into bestseller status. She shares some of her strategies in this post. Here they are:

  • Know your bumper niches – Entice those demographics that are close to the demographics of your ideal reader.
  •  Calendar it out – In other words, create a calendar of holidays that relate to your book.
  • Three Niches + Calendar = Simple Marketing – Select your main niche, add two bumper niches, and focus one group a month.
  •  Surprise people – Find out why she chose not to pre-promote early December book releases. She had great results.
  • Trust yourself – Trust your gut when it comes to taking someone else’s marketing advice.

Next is 7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers written by Sabrina Ricci and Digital Pubbing.

These are her strategies:

  •      Write the best book you can.
  •      Then write another.
  •      And then another.
  •      You get the idea.

What’s impressive about this post is the list of tools Sabrina includes. She lists everything from free promotions, crowdsourcing websites, free and paid advertising, how to land interviews, how to garner reviews, blog tours and more. You’ll love this list.

Finally, I wrote a post titled How to Stop Wasting Time and Focus Your Book Marketing. I hope you’ll check it out.

If you’d like to learn more about using social media as a marketing tool, be sure to check out my newest book, Avoid Social Media Time Suck. You can pick up the eBook for a mere $2.99.


Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

10 Tips for Authors Using Social Media

12-8-14 Social Media Tips for Authors


Recently, Mashable wrote a post focused on social media tips specifically for writers that I found intriguing.

If you’re not familiar with Mashable, the website keeps its readers up to date on all things techy, from equipment to programs to social media.

In its recent post, Mashable polled six authors who have expertise in branding and asked them to share their best suggestions. Here’s what they said as well as my recommendations and comments.

10 Awesome Tips for Authors Using Social Media

1. Sign Up for the Big Networks

In other words, sign up for Twitter and Facebook. If you write romance or erotica, I don’t suggest rushing to LinkedIn.

I also consider Pinterest and Google+ big networks and as you gain confidence with Twitter and Facebook, venture further into the terrain of the big networks.

If you published a cookbook or another type of image-based book, you need to be on Instagram. And if you write YA and New Adult novels, I would suggest you join Tumblr. That’s where you’ll find most of your readers.

I don’t recommend that you join all the big networks at once. Ease into social media. And don’t worry about RebelMouse or Medium. You may never need to join those networks.

2. Interact and Engage — Enthusiastically

I wholeheartedly agree with this advice. Keep the social in social media by allocating time each day to communicate with your friends, fans, followers, connections and readers.

Like your fans’ posts, reply to comments they left on your Facebook page, retweet messages from followers, and generally comment on or share your readers’ content when appropriate.

I do, however, disagree with Allison Winn Scotch’s advice to only post a few times a week on Facebook. If you do that, you will lose your place in your fans’ news feeds.

Try to post twice a day on your Facebook page. If that seems unbearable, then post at least once daily. And use applications such as Mention, Newsle and NutshellMail to keep up with what your connections are doing and saying.

In addition, sign up for SocialOomph, which will schedule your posts but and notify you daily about replies and retweets.

3. Minimize Self-Promotion

I love this suggestion. The golden rule, which I’ve repeated many times on this blog, is to promote your content 20 percent of the time and your friends and colleagues’ content 80 percent of the time.

Stick to it.

4. Consider Privacy and Comfort Levels

I also like this piece of advice. Not everyone is comfortable with having their profiles easily accessible on the Internet.

For a variety of reasons – from divorce to stalkers – some people want to remain somewhat private. Determining how publish you should be on social media is a highly individual decision.

I suggest that you be as open as you can without creating risk in your life. Facebook has strengthened its privacy controls and on Twitter you can protect your tweets.

Be as available to anyone on the Internet according to your comfort level.

5. Find a Happy Medium

This tidbit of advice runs contrary to what Guy Kawasaki suggests. He recommends that you make waves, stir up some controversy, and enjoy the conversation.

I say it’s important to be mindful of your brand. Do you want to be known for inciting a riot or writing killer literature?

Having said that, I also think it’s okay to express our support for an issue we care deeply about. However, it’s important to do this with care and in a manner that isn’t intended to be combative or polarizing.

6. Make Valuable Connections

I agree with this advice. In addition, I think it’s okay to follow people on Twitter who will never reciprocate with a follow. I don’t care that some of the people I follow will never follow me. That’s not the point. I follow them because I value what they have to say. Period.

7. Keep Up Appearances

In other words, don’t abandon an old website or Twitter account. If you’re not using a social media profile, it’s better to delete it then let it just sit there, appearing abandoned.

However, I also think it’s important to make a commitment to social media. Once you create your social media profiles, create an editorial calendar and commit to publishing content on a regular basis.

8. Aspiring Writers vs. Seasoned Writers

This is what I have to say on this topic: Who gets to describe some writers as “aspiring” and others as “seasoned”?

I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. Does that make me an aspiring writer because I don’t have a publisher?

This section of the post is infuriating in some ways because it perpetuates the myth that if you self-publish you haven’t arrived at the gala.

Like I said, hogwash.

Social media is a great leveling field in marketing. Presumed seasoned writers have nothing over self-published authors.

9. Don’t Obsess Over Number of Followers

I like this suggestion. It’s also true that publishers look at the numbers, so where’s the truth? I don’t know.

10. Don’t Force It

I agree. Be natural. Post what feels right and what best positions your brand and your books.


Related Reading

Blogging Just for Writers

Avoid Social Media Time Suck


Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by signing up for her newsletter. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web






Friday Roundup: Image Resources for Indie Authors

12-5-14 How Are You Using Images?

Welcome to the Friday Roundup where you’ll find practical tips for marketing your books on the social web. This week’s segment of Resources for Indie Authors tackles the topic of marketing your books and blog with images. Keep reading to learn more.

If you joined Pinterest in the early days and opened a personal profile, you need to upgrade to a business account.

Wait, you’re not a business you say? Of course, you are. You’re in the business of writing and publishing books and if you’re an Indie author that means you’re also forking out some big bucks for editing and design costs. Right?

You can write for the joy of writing and not worry about recouping your costs or making a profit but if you want to be profitable in your publishing pursuits, then you’re a business. And, therefore, you need a Pinterest business account.

The best part of having a business account on Pinterest is the app’s analytics program. Similar to Facebook’s free Insights feature, Pinterest’s analytics will tell you the number of impressions, repins and clicks your images generate.

For example, you have a blog, and you create images for your blog, right? When you pin an image from your blog to Pinterest, the URL for that post becomes attached to the image. Then when users on Pinterest click on your image a second time, they navigate directly to your post and discover your blog.

And they learn about your books.

I recently checked my analytics and guess what? My most repinned images are images I created for my blog.

I presently have 59 boards and 4,513 pinned images. Now, most of those images are related to either social media or all topics related to writing, books and authors.

I do have a few boards just for fun because, after all, I decided to make Pinterest my “fun” social media profile.

It’s important to space your pins during the day and with two apps you can schedule your pinned image the same way you schedule your tweets. VitalTag and Hootsuite work together so that you can plan your pins throughout the day. You’ll find links to these apps in my show notes.

Roundup of Posts I Discovered

I scoured the Internet and found some related to marketing with images. Research indicates that our brains process images 60,000 times greater than text. This research explains why it’s so important to tweet images, post images on other social media accounts you have and include images on your blog.

First up is 4 Ways To Create Shareable Images Without Using Stock Photography from The Branded Solopreneur.

Are you always looking for free stock images for your blog? Well, this post is a great reminder that we have other resources we can use.

For example, we can choose to stop looking for stock images and worrying about copyright issues simply by creating text-based images.

Hey, before you dismiss this theory I encourage you to check out the BufferSocial blog. The folks at Buffer have abandoned the search for appropriate stock images for their blog in favor of text-based images they create.

They’ve discovered that since they started focusing on text dominant images, engagement on their Facebook page has improved.

With this theory in mind, The Branded Solopreneur recommends four types of shareable images that don’t include stock photography:

  • Screenshots
  • Patterns with text
  • Icons with text
  • Shape overlays, such as the kind you’ll find on the free app, Canva.

Next up is a post by Rebekah Radice titled How to Use Pinterest to Boost Blog Traffic Dramatically.

Rebekah explains how Pinterest has become an integral part of her blog promotional strategy. In fact, over the last two years she’s seen her Pinterest traffic skyrocket due to her pinned blog images.

These are her suggestions for using Pinterest to increase traffic to your blog:

  • Make your post pinnable by creating images that will intrigue Pinterest users. You can use PicMonkey and Canva to create fabulous images that people will think a graphic artist created. Seriously.
  • Create a memorable brand experience. Rebekah cites research from psychologist Jerome Bruner, who discovered that people remember 10 percent of what they hear, 20 percent of what they read and a whopping 80 percent of what they see or do. So when you create images for your blog post, be consistent in your color and font choices so that they are consistent with your brand.
  • Size your images for multiple platforms. Rebekah is currently sizing her images at 735 x 1200 pixels, but as she notes, that size will change as the networks tweak their platforms in the future.

Be sure to check her blog for the fourth tip.

Next let’s discuss the blog post 5 Visual Content Tools for Writers (Plus Where to Find Free Photos).

As writers, we grow attached to the paragraphs of text we create. But do you know what draws the eye to a page more than the lines of black text we write? Images.

Pictures of sandy beaches, fields of red poppies or a rising full moon will trump our words any day, regardless of how beautifully they’re written. That’s why it’s important to include images in our Facebook updates, tweets, blog posts, and other social media content.

If you want stock images, then Flickr, Pixabay, PhotoPin and Unsplash are great sources for free images.

In this post, I cover the extra steps you need to take to ensure that the images you find on PhotoPin are indeed royalty free.

As with all stock images, it’s important to credit the photographer.

Finally, I wrote a post titled 15 Pinterest Tips for Authors.

Writers often wonder how they can make the most of their Pinterest accounts. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Create a pinboard for your blog and upload the images that you post there.
  • Do you have trouble getting your writing started in the morning. Create a pinboard of visual writing prompts and share them on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Repin images that represent the venues where characters in your novels and stories live and travel to.
  • Find images that represent the clothing your characters wear and the meals they enjoy.
  • Create a pinboard of your favorite books, author quotes, and quotes about the writing process (and include your own!).
  • Create a pinboard of book covers written by your colleagues.
  • Do you love bookstores? Create a pinboard of beautiful bookstores from around the world.
  • Writers love libraries, right? Create a pinboard of libraries from around the world.
  • Create pinboards that represent the stories you’d like to write.

If you’d like to learn more about Pinterest and how to save time on social media, you can purchase my book Avoid Social Media Time suck on Amazon or read about it here on my website.

Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by Clicking Here. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web





How Hurry Kills Good Books

1Today’s guest post is by Blake Atwood.

The Tyranny of Hurry in Writing and Publishing: A Plea for Patient Writing

In Story, Robert McKee’s modern classic on storytelling, he says what I believe many writers—and especially self-publishers—need to hear: “Too many struggling writers never suspect that the creation of a fine screenplay is as difficult as the creation of a symphony, and in some ways more so.”

Though composing a screenplay differs from writing a novel in significant ways, what McKee prescribes holds true for creators of all kinds. To do good work—even great work—we ought to be more patient with ourselves and our creations.

The tyranny of hurry has hurt more books than it has helped. Why? The ever-churning, swirling tide of commercialism and technology keeps pushing us into an inescapable vortex of “more, more, more, now, now, now.” We’ve gone overboard for quantity over quality. For writers today, and particularly those seeking to establish careers as self-published authors, we’ve unintentionally stolen the tenured professor’s mantra: publish or perish.

It would be too easy to blame blogging, social media, email and our other forms of shortened communication avenues for our culture of hurry. While I’m certain they bear some responsibility, they are not the final arbiters of how we as writers ought to use our time. They provide (sometimes necessary) distraction, but the way we communicate through those modes shouldn’t replace the carefully considered, thoughtfully worded ideas and stories we relay through our books.

It’s my fear that the astounding ease-of-access self-publishing has granted to all writers has caused us to go mad with hurry. We rush “product” out of our digital doors and into the wide arms of the waiting world so we can validate ourselves as writers. We may take part in Nanowrimo, pat ourselves on the back for writing 50,000 words in thirty days, then publish that slush pile of words the very next month. We may be able to get away with a hurried first draft, but rushing any other part of the process is a blueprint for poor sales and insecurity as a writer.

We may go from manuscript to published book without a single other soul having read our words—one of the most dangerous games you can play when it comes to publishing. (Everyone needs an editor.) We write and write and write, thinking we’re telling a compelling story, yet we fail to realize that the only reason the story is compelling is because it’s our story. (Some writers need a developmental editor.) We refrain from letting those close to us read our words in fear that they’ll reject us in some way, but we have no qualms about releasing our words to the wider, faceless public.

To be blunt, don’t do this.

Don’t let the allure of an Amazon author page detract you from producing your best possible book.

Don’t allow the naive illusion of making millions cause you to rush your publishing schedule.

Don’t permit your ego to outvote the feeling that your book isn’t quite ready.

Don’t bow down to external pressures when your internal barometer keeps wavering.

Essentially, don’t rush what represents so much of you. Like the finest of wines, your book may need to rest for a significant period before it’s uncorked for mass consumption.

McKee goes on to say, “Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound material badly told, the audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly.” When a writer makes an effective use of their time to properly build their book, they can make even the most mundane seem sublime simply by the art of their craft. Sometimes finding the right word may take days, months or even years. Sometimes a book requires its author to live a little longer before unlocking itself. Sometimes, as Austin Kleon writes, “Creative people need time just to sit around and do nothing.”

Your book doesn’t have to be a masterpiece so long as it’s an honest effort on your part to produce something that helps or entertains another person. Your book doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be produced with patient professionalism. Your book doesn’t have to be written in thirty days, ninety days or five years. However, long it takes to write a polished version of your book is how long it will take you to write a polished version of your book.

But there’s a fine line between patience and perfectionism. Creators and writers know their works will never be 100 percent perfect, but they have to know when their work is ready to ship. Unfortunately, there’s no set formula to know when that time is right. It’s more a feeling than anything else, but it does seem to be more clearly felt the more often a creator has to cross that threshold. In other words, there’s a particular moment in time when you may have to exercise a quick reflex in order to pull the trigger finally on publishing your book. (Even then, marketing begins—another ongoing process where it literally pays to be patient).

In Journal of a Novel, one of my favorite books about writing, John Steinbeck says, “You can’t train for something all your life and then have it fall short because you are hurrying to get it finished.”

He knew a thing or two about the writing life. We would do well to remember—and slowly act upon—his words.

Have you ever hurried part of your writing or publishing process? What was the result?

12-1-14 BlakeThis article is an adapted excerpt from Don’t Fear the Reaper: Why Every Author Needs an Editor, now available on Kindle for $0.99. Blake Atwood is an author, editor, and ghostwriter with





Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by Clicking Here. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

Friday Roundup: Resources for Indie Authors

11-28-14 Indie Author ResourcesWelcome to the Friday Roundup where you’ll find practical tips for marketing your books on the social web. This week’s segment of Resources for Indie Authors tackles the topics of social media marketing, how to stay focused an off the Internet (when you’re writing), and how to be productive.

Some people wake up two hours early and dedicate their mornings to their writing and marketing before heading off to work. Others like to write in the evenings.

Whatever your writing schedule might be, there’s always a temptation to distract you. If your main source of interruption is the Internet, here are some applications that can help you.

I read that Jonathan Franzen obliterated the Ethernet card in his laptop and locked himself in a drab room to avoid distractions that would divert his attention away from the manuscript for his book Freedom: A Novel.

You can use Anti-Social instead. This tool will block you from your temptations whenever you sit to write.

Suppose you want to spend the next three hours writing. Just turn on Anti-Social, http://anti-social.ccschedule it for three hours, and the app will block you from distracting social media websites. Presently, this application is available only to Mac users, and it costs $15.

Do you want to be more productive in your writing, marketing and publishing? Coffitivity is a great app for Apple and Android devices.

Coffitivity works on the premise that some background noise boosts productivity. Check it out on your PC or Mac and select a range of background noises from Morning Murmur to University Undertones to Texas Teahouse.

To stay focused on your projects, here are some additional apps.

Now for the Friday Roundup of Other Resources for Indie Authors

I scoured the Internet and found some great posts related to author platform building. You’ll find links to all of these articles in my show notes on my Friday blog. Okay, now for the blog posts:

First upis a post from Chad R. Allen titled 5 Brilliant Things Writers Can Do to Overcome a Small Platform.

In this post, Chad answers four questions that Indie authors often ask:

  • How big a platform is big enough?
  • Am I out of luck if I don’t have much of a platform?
  • What should I do if my platform is still smallish?
  • Do I really have to be a superstar to get published?

Chad says that in the beginning, it’s important to measure your hustle – in other words how many times a week you’re writing new blog posts and how often do you write in the morning.

The next step is to focus on your email list. What would happen if social media disappeared? You would lose all of your connections to readers. That’s why it’s important to start building an email list today.

These days, authors are trying to increase the numbers of their followers before approaching a publisher. Hogwash, Chad says. Just mention in your queries how much your platform has grown.

Finally, building your platform is a third of the publishing success formula. Take the time to improve your writing and develop your concept for your next book.

Next up is a post from Sherrey Meyer, Writer: She recommends five people and two websites that every Indie author should follow to continue their learning curve about publishing and marketing.

The five people she mentioned are Dan Blank, Gretchen Louise, Angela Ackerman and Rebecca Publisi, Joel Friedlander and yours truly.

The websites are Writer Unboxed and Writers Digest.

Next, is an interesting post from the folks at focusalot called 65 Accomplished Writers & Marketers Reveal Their Secrets to Productivity.

Like the title says, the author interviewed 65 authors and compiled their tips on how to stay focused on your goals.

Now, there are plenty of distractions on the Internet, as we all know. So you might want to take a peek at this post to see how other authors keep their focus.

Marketing strategist and author David Meerman Scott has a great piece of advice for nonfiction writers: He says, “I never think about writing a book. That’s too difficult. Instead, I write 150 blog length pieces, and that is the basis for a book.”

Also, he writes in the mornings and never schedules a meeting before 11am.

Several writers say that writing is their passion, and when they don’t write, they feel out of sorts. Molly Greene says that she tries to write 1,000 words every morning and another 1,000 words every evening.

I love Jeff Goins answer the best: “I write because words make a difference. It’s a scalable way for me to create an impact in the world.” Nice.

Be sure to check out this post.

Related reading

Blogging Just for Writers

Avoid Social Media Time Suck

Social Media Just for Writers


Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by Clicking Here. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web

5 Tweets to Stop Sending Today

11-24-14 10 Twitter StrategiesTwitter has been around nine years and in the social media sphere, that’s a long time.

Its founder sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006 and within four years it attracted 106 million users.

As of July of this year, Twitter had 284 million monthly active users who send 500 million tweets ever day.  (Source: Twitter)

Of those users, 80 percent use their phones to tweet, which points to the growing need to be mobile-ready.

Maybe it’s my funky mood today but I find it surprising that despite Twitter’s history and wide usage users still send me promotional direct messages. BTW: I don’t read direct messages.

For today’s post, I decided to break my rule and take a look at the list of recent direct messages (DM). Below you’ll see their messages. (Note: I’ve deleted usernames and URLs to protect the privacy of these people.)

“I’d be so grateful if you could check out and rate my eBook.”

“Do you love eBooks? Download mine.”

“Thank you for following. Like me on FB.”

“My campaign is 51% funded. Link is in my bio.”

“I use TrueTwit. To validate click here: URL.”

“Connect with me on FB.”

“Connect with me on Google.”

“Please check out my books.”

“Please buy my books.”

“Please read and review my books.”

“Check out my website.”

11-24-14 5 Tweets You Never Want to Send

Stop Sending These Five Tweets

I’m not saying that you can never tweet about your books, Facebook page, blog or newsletter. What I suggest is that you space those tweets apart and never send them as a direct message as part of your “thanks-for-following” tweet.

For example, I send tweets about my eBooks once every six weeks. I send other tweets about my books once every three weeks.

I also tweet about my new blog posts. However, the  majority of information I tweet consists of images and blog posts I didn’t write that I hope writers will find interesting.

If I tweeted about my books more often than that, people like you would get bored with me.

Here are five tweets to stop sending today:

  1. Stop using the TrueTwit validation application. You’ll never grow your tribe if you use this app. If you are worried about spammers, use ManageFlitter to weed them out.
  2. Don’t send direct messages to your new followers. In fact, stop sending direct messages unless you’re trying to contact someone you know to convey your email address or phone number.
  3. Don’t ask new followers to like your Facebook page, read your book, read your blog, or review your website or book.
  4. Think twice before sending someone a thank you for following. In the early days, I did this but I don’t anymore. I think your time could be better spent doing something else, like a writing a blog post or working on your next book.
  5. Don’t send ten tweets in a row. It’s not nice to flood someone’s timeline with a day’s worth of messages in the span of a few minutes.

Five Great Tweets to Send

Now that I’ve got that off my chest let me share with you the types of tweets that are great to send.

  1. Tweet about your new blog posts. I create rotating tweets using SocialOomph and space them apart at 30 hours. Each tweet that I send is different, and the tweets stop after a few days. This way information about my new blog posts is appearing on different days and at different times of the day.
  2. Promote your colleague’s new blog posts. I’m always on the hunt for information that Indie authors can use to promote their books. I rely on a number of bloggers and some of them are Joel Friedlander, Penny Sansevieri, Jeff Bullas and Adam Connell.
  3. Let followers know if they have a fantastic Facebook page, blog or website. True praise is awesome to receive.
  4. Tell your followers about a book you read and loved.
  5. Send images. My retweets have skyrocketed since I began to consciously tweet images at least once daily. Select a theme that is appropriate for your niche and send one at least once daily.

What would you suggest tweeting?

Related reading:

Avoid Social Media Time Suck

9 Twitter Apps You Need to Know


Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by Clicking Here. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web



Friday Roundup: Twitter Tips for Indie Authors

12-12-14 Twitter Tips for Indie Authors

Welcome to the Friday Roundup where you’ll find practical tips for marketing your books on the social web. This week’s segment of the Friday Roundup focuses on Twitter Tips for Indie Authors.

Let’s talk about hashtags. They can be confusing to users new to Twitter, but they’re actually quite simple.

A hashtag is a word preceded by what some of us still know as the pound sign, #. When the word and the pound sign join they form a hashtag, and that becomes hyperlinked and thus searchable on Twitter.

Hashtags can help you to expand your online readership by attracting users who are searching for the genre or topic you write about. Likewise, they can help you find people who love to read.

They are also useful for tracking mentions of your books when you create unique hashtags.

But hashtags can be tricky, too. You don’t want to overuse them, yet when used appropriately (two per tweet), they hold the potential to improve the chance of someone discovering your tweets—and your latest book—through Twitter’s search function.

For example, if you want to find a new thriller to read, you would type #thriller in Twitter’s search bar. If you were looking for a romance novel, you would type #romance in the search bar.

There are numerous hashtags that writers can use including #bestseller, #eBook, #Free, #Giveaway, #Kindle, #ShortStory, #amwriting, and #amediting.

To see a longer list of hashtags for authors, check out my post Grow Your Twitter Tribe – and Find New Readers – with Hashtags.

Now Here’s My Friday Roundup

I scoured the Internet and found three fab posts on using Twitter. I think you’ll like them too.

First up is 20 Fundamental Don’ts of Twitter For Business by YFS Magazine.

Don’t let the word business in the title dissuade you from considering these recommendations. You’re an author who wants to make money from your books and therefore – guess what? – you’re a business.

This post does what it says: It lists twenty fundamental Twitter tips. Here are my favorites:

  1. Don’t keep your tweets private or be hard to fine. If you’re using the TrueTwit validation tool, discontinue your account. You’ll never grow a tribe while using that tool.
  2. Don’t direct message everyone. Never direct message anyone unless you’re trying to send someone your phone number privately or email address.
  3. Don’t spam people relentlessly about your books.
  4. Never write your tweets in all caps. This is considered shouting.
  5. Try to keep your tweets to 110 characters. This will improve your chances of being retweeted.

Next up is The Great Twitter Debate: Should You Follow Back? by Writer Unboxed.

This is a huge topic among Twitter users. Should you follow people who don’t follow you back?

The answer, I think, is it depends. Are you interested in what this person tweets about? Do you enjoy her or his images, blog posts, and other tweets?

The author of this post suggests that you follow people who offer you value plus some of the people who follow you. The goal of this policy is to “be welcoming but not just another follower. Balance inclusiveness with a presence that signifies quality and importance.”

Check this post for other points the author made as well as the 42 comments left on this blog.

Next is a post by Cynthia Boris for the Marketing Pilgrim blog titled Call, Configure, Commerce: The Twitter cards of the Future.

As Cynthia explains, Twitter cards are ad units with some kind of media or functionality attached to the tweet. Images and video are the most popular options. But there’s a learning curve to using them because you need to add metatags to your website in order to be able to create the cards.

This might be a job for your webmaster to help you with the HTML coding. My opinion is that they are worth the trouble. For more information about the cards, read Social Media Examiner’s blog post 8 Types of Twitter Cards Businesses Are Using.

Twitter plans to roll out a feature called Quick Promote. This is being designed for smaller marketers, like authors, and will work similar to Facebook’s promoted posts. Twitter promises that Quick Promote will turn any tweet into a paid promotion.

Finally, here’s a post I wrote: My Fave New Twitter Apps. Actually, I have more than just two favorite Twitter apps but when I wrote this post I had just begun to use Swayy and ManageFlitter.

The founders of Swayy describe their product as “a personalized content discovery platform” that helps you to discover the perfect content to share on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first. I was at the time and Twylah’s BrandBuilder but after trying Swayy, I was a convert.

The morning after setting up my account, I received an email with links to killer content. By the second day, there were 25 pieces of content on my dashboard. I was stoked.

Even with the free account I’m able to access analytics. The three stories I shared in two days generated 32 links clicked. Oh, Swayy not only finds great content it will schedule the content for you too.

The other app that I still love is ManageFlitter. You can use the free version of this tool to unfollow Twitter users and to use some features to grow your account.

If you’re willing to pay $12/month, you have access to additional features. You can:

  1. Unfollow users who aren’t following you back.
  2. Unfollow people who don’t use an image for their avatar.
  3. Unfollow fake accounts you are following.
  4. Block accounts that are fake.
  5. Whitelist followers you never want to unfollow. (I love this feature.)

This app saves me a ton of time. Of course, other apps I like are SocialOomph and Hootsuite, which are scheduling applications that also provide great analytics, and TwitterCounter, which keeps track of my follower count and lets me know who my new followers are each day.

If you’d like to master Twitter, sign up to receive a free copy of my eBook Twitter Just for Writers.

Related reading

Avoid Social Media Time Suck


Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by Clicking Here. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web


18-Point Checklist for Selling Books

11-17-14 18-Point Checklist for Selling More

Do you want to sell more books, right? Every author does.

Indie writers regularly contact me wanting to know how they can maximize sales of their books.

Some think that a social media campaign will do it. Others think reading gigs or blogging opportunities will do it.

The hard truth is that there isn’t an easy answer.

So You Want to Be an Indie Author?

Being an Indie Author is a tough job. After you write a book, you have to coordinate editors, graphic design professionals and book cover designers. Then you have to convert the book to an eBook or pay someone to do it.

Next, you have to upload it to Smashwords, Amazon and/or IngramSpark. Or you have to deal with BookBaby.

But wait, it’s still not time to uncork a bottle of bubbly because next you need to craft a marketing strategy.

Whew! It’s a lot of work, eh?

The Definitive Checklist for Selling Books

Book marketing requires a multi-prong strategy that consists of the following:

  1. Define your audience. Before you can even begin to market your book, you need to clarify exactly who your readers are. If you say everyone, you’re marketing to no one because your audience is too widely defined. Let’s look at some examples. Michael Hyatt knows the age, sex and income level of his ideal audience. Romance writers tend to know the exact demographics of their audiences. You need to know this information too.
  2. Purchase your ISBN numbers. Don’t buy them from Amazon or BookBaby. If you use the cheap ISBN numbers that publishing companies sell, they will be the publisher of your books. When you buy the numbers from Bowker, you are a publishing company and your company’s name will appear in the book.
  3. Determine which social media networks your ideal audience uses. If you write romance, you’ll want to be on Facebook and Twitter and if you have time, Pinterest. If you write nonfiction, you need to be on LinkedIn. Study the age demographics of each social network and the gender differences to help you decide which social media networks you need to use.
  4. Once you know where you’ll be spending your time online, regularly start posting. On Twitter, post a minimum of three to four tweets and retweets daily. Post at least once daily on your Facebook page, Google+ profile, and LinkedIn account. Pin images several times a day. If you need help managing your social media, check out my book, Avoid Social Media Time Suck. You’ll find great tips on what to post and when to post as well as strategies for saving time. Make a commitment to your readers by allocating time every day to be social: Like, share and comment on their posts too. Always endeavor to share valuable content that your readers enjoy.
  5. Ask your designer to create a cover for you before you finish your book. I usually nail down a cover six months or longer before I release my books. And I let my readers and Facebook fans and friends select the best cover from a sampling of five. By doing this, you will build momentum for your book.
  6. Talk about your book in your social media posts. You could write, “I just finished my first draft of ________!” or “I’m sending my manuscript to the editor today!” This type of messaging will also help to build momentum.
  7. Hire a web designer to build an author website using a quality theme.
  8. Self-host your blog on your website. Don’t use Blogger or (Note: is separate from, which I do recommend.) Commit to blogging at least once a week.
  9. Include on your website the options to sign up for your newsletter and your blog. Make sure that you capture the email addresses from both of these sign-up forms. Your best fans will subscribe to your blog and newsletter, and once you have their email addresses, you can communicate directly with them. Make sure that you offer something for free to entice signups.
  10. Join Goodreads, review books, add your blog posts, join a group, and organize several giveaways.
  11. Some authors sign up for Kindle Direct Publishing Select in order to offer their books for free. There are many stories on the Internet about how doing this can boost sales. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t always work. What you can do instead is forego KDP Select and schedule several days on a quarterly basis when you lower the price of your eBook to $.99 or $1.99. Then promote the sale price on social media, on your website and in your newsletter. In addition, use a company such as BookBub.
  12. Communicate with your newsletter subscribers on a monthly basis, always providing them with information they need and want to know.
  13. Join a blogging community.
  14. Make some promotional videos.
  15. Enter contests and announce your awards.
  16. Sign up for AuthorRise, a free application that tracks your social media with your book sales. AuthorRise also enables writers to create promotion flyers. Be sure to check it out.
  17. Write another book. Second books improve the sales of first books.
  18. Be patient. Book marketing isn’t easy, but it’s always worth the effort. During those periods of burnout, you may want to hire someone to carry the load for a while, and that’s okay. Just don’t give up!

What is your favorite strategy for boosting book sales?

Related Reading

Avoid Social Media Time Suck 

Blogging Just for Writers

Twitter Just for Writers


Frances Candid Shot 12-5-13About the Author: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. You can receive a free copy of her book Twitter Just for Writers by Clicking Here. Connect with Frances on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web