Authors and Facebook

by Shirley Crowder

I was very late joining the Facebook (FB) bandwagon. I had to have some of the youth in my church help me set up my account and teach me how to use it! So, I am by no means a FB expert, yet I know a few things that may help you, and thankfully, I have great friends who are willing to share their knowledge with you via me!

I love the way so many Christian writers are eager to help each other, which points to disciple-making—but that’s a topic for a different article!

Help your author friends publicize their books and blogs and they will do the same for you!

technology-2847357_1280After deciding whether you want to create a FB account, you need to determine if you want to use one account for personal and writing author posts, or, if you want to separate those. I only have one FB account. My friend, Harriet E. Michael, with whom I do a lot of co-writing, has both personal and author accounts. Everything you find online says an author needs an author account. If you are uncertain, contact some of the authors you know and talk through why they do or do not have an author account. The foundation you must remember as a Christian author—non-fiction or fiction—is that everything you say in books, blogs, social media reflects on Jesus Christ.

Click to Tweet: As a Christian author—non-fiction or fiction—glorifying God in and through everything you say in books, blogs, and social media is imperative. @InspiredPrompt #socialmedia #author

Prayerfully consider everything you post through the lens of God’s Word so that you do not reflect Him badly.

Prayerfully consider what image you want to portray and design your FB page and posts in line with that image.

Don’t forget to ask your friends and followers to pray for you as you write!

Here are some things I hope will be helpful—not that I do all of them!

For Consideration

Friends and Followers and Reactions. Be careful that you know those whom you friend on FB. In the same way, be careful about whom you follow or what posts to which you react.

What is the best day/time to post? You can do research online, however, my friends and followers don’t react and comment when the “experts” say they will. Do some tests and discover your own best time-slot.

Guests posts/bloggers. Ask fellow authors to write a post for your blog and share it through your social media. Use this as a way to introduce their followers to you.

Enlist a couple of friends who follow you on FB and ask them to let you know immediately if they find any typos, etc. I have many friends who help me with this! Sometimes we are so familiar with what we type or are doing it so quickly we do not catch our errors.

Ask your FB friends to share your posts. Don’t be afraid to study and write about a subject on which you are clueless (i.e. me writing this article).

Try to keep up with how FB changes will affect you as an author. This is where joining Christian writers’ groups will help. There are always some who understand these things better than me and are able to give me the “bottom line” of what I need to know.

FB Live. I have several friends who use FB Live. Author Ruth Buchanan attended a “social media” workshop and was told, “Just do it!” Ruth learned to schedule the FB live event in advance and advertise, and ask people to leave comments. And, to keep it short (2-3 minutes).

FB Ads. I suggest you look at other FB ads to glean some good ideas. The results for those whom I have heard from who have used FB ads are mixed—everything from “total waste of time and money” to “excellent results, will definitely be posting more ads.” Harriet and I have used FB ads with limited results, and we will likely use them again. Author friend Lisa Mayer has used them in the past and commented that she’s had “some mild success, but they did not get many reviews.” Another friend was very frustrated because “there was very little guidance” on how to set up the ads and how they work. Consider earmarking money for advertising through various venues.

Writing Prompt: Outline a plan for announcing a new book on Facebook. Begin writing FB posts to fit into that plan.

Click to Tweet: As a Christian author—non-fiction or fiction—glorifying God in and through everything you say in books, blogs, and social media is imperative.

Book Launch Party

Book Launch header picby Shirley Crowder

You have just hit send, and your galley edits are on the way to your publisher. Whew! You have about three seconds to relish the feeling of completion before you need to get back to the work of planning how to launch your new book once it is published.

While planning all the things you can do to help publicize the launch of your new book, consider planning a Launch Party aka Book Signing.

I felt a little awkward about throwing myself a Launch Party.

A wise friend told me to make it a time of praising the Lord for His leadership and the gifts, talents, and experience that enabled you to bring the study guide to publication. That, I could do!

Here’s what I did for the Launch Party. Hopefully these will get you thinking about things you can do for your Launch Party.

It is important here to tell you that the Lord has blessed me with so many very dear Prayer Warrior friends on whom I can call to help me accomplish so a myriad of things—including a Launch Party!

1.   Order Book Copies

Once you know when you will have the books in-hand, you can check venue dates and print your invitations. Remember to also have copies of other books you wrote on-hand. Consider offering a discounted price for those who purchase the book at the Launch Party.

2.    Venue

There is a wonderful chapel in our area that a dear friend owns and rents out for weddings, receptions, parties, etc. It was perfect for my Launch Party.

3.    Invitations

LuanchPartyINVI have a dear friend whose print shop is well-known in our area for producing wonderful invitations of all sorts. I kept mine simple as you see in the picture. I mailed some, hand-delivered others, and secured the jpg of the invitation to email to some folks and put on social media.

4.    Food & Drinks

sjc-cake-food tableI emailed some of my closest friends and asked if they would bring food items. I didn’t want a lot of different things, just a lot of a few things. We had sweet and salty and even healthy. Since I live in the south, sweet tea was a must. We served unsweet tea, lemonade, water, and coffee. Nothing fancy. A crew of friends came early to get everything laid out and ready to serve.

5.    Cake

If you are blessed to have a wonderfully talented baker/artist friend, you can have an awesome cake made! I wanted a Bible as the foundation of the cake as it is the foundation of our books. And, I asked that the Bible look tattered and well-used which you can see below.

Cake cu

On top of the Bible I wanted Harriet’s book on prayer and then Study Guide on Prayer (new book) on top.

Be sure to note the purple bookmark in the Bible, as well as the purple quill pen and inkwell.

6.    Decorations

White lattice and a little lace (as you saw in the picture above) made a great backdrop for the food/drink tables. Each table where people would sit had a centerpiece comprised of candles (the venue had on-hand) and purple paper flowers. A crew of friends came early to get everything decorated.

7.    Giveaways / Door Prizes

Each person was given a number for the door prize drawing. I gave away copies of all of my books and Harriet’s and a few other things. Before the drawings (we drew several numbers every half hour), I welcomed everyone and talked about the book or read excerpts.

As each person left, they took home a book cookie with the study guide title on it, These were made by another dear friend.

cookie pic

8.    Book Table

A friend manned the table and sales for me. I discounted all the prices. And, if someone brought their copy of Harriet’s book on prayer that the new study guide goes with, they received an additional discount on the study guide.

9.    Book Signing

A podium made a great place for signing books and having pics made with my friends.

signing podium

10.   Pictures

Ask several people to take candid pictures throughout the event. You may also consider purchasing some disposable cameras, placing them on the tables, and encouraging your guests to take pics.

 11.  Enjoy yourself!

With the right planning, you can spend your time visiting with your friends, signing books, and having your picture made a gazillion times!

Writing Prompt: Include Launch Party plans as part of your total plan for your new book. It will bless you and all those who are able to attend.

Click to Tweet: Make the Launch Party a time to thank the Lord for His grace that enables you to write, for a publisher who is willing to publish your book, for all the Prayer Warriors who have consistently prayed for you during the process.

Journaling: A Good Practice – Part 2

bible.jpgIn Part 1, we looked at the types of things to include in your journal. Today, I want to share my biblical reasons for journaling.

The Bible is filled with passages telling us to recall or remember who God is, two of these are: This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope (Lamentations 3:21 ESV) and Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth. (1 Chronicles 16:11-12 ESV).

In the Old Testament, people built altars to signify and remind them of God’s work in their lives or the lives of His people. In addition to the Bible, my journal serves as a reminder of God’s work in my life and the lives of my family and friends. Numerous times throughout the year, and before stepping into a major new beginning, it is my practice to read through my journal entries.

These entries remind me of God’s faithfulness, mercy, grace, and love that has enabled me to walk through every situation I encountered.

Page after page of entries are filled with the names of new and long-time friends who have blessed my life in so many ways. Many of the entries mark the passing of a dear loved one from this life to everlasting life with the Lord. Sadly, other entries mark the passing of a dear loved one whom I am not certain knew the Lord as his or her Savior. Those entries always serve as an impetus to be more faithful in sharing the Gospel with people. While reading these entries is sobering in so many ways, they always remind and encourage me of how the Lord answered my prayers and how He provided for my every need—often before I even knew I had the need!

From time-to-time, I come across tear-stained pages with words that express my sadness, loneliness, hurt, brokenness, or depression. These entries also express the cries of my heart for the Lord to give me a passion to know Him, a heart to serve Him, and eyes of love to view people.

By far, the most difficult entries for me to read are those that remind me of my grievous sins of omission and commission. They reveal my selfishness, anger, failure, greed, and so many other sins. Yet, most of them have been marked with references to later entries that describe how the Lord forgave and restored me. There are, however, some entries with no such reference, which means I must stop to repent and ask the Lord to forgive me for that sin.

Each year’s journal is a continuation of the story of God’s redemption of and faithfulness to His people and to me.

God is not faithful to us because of anything we do or have done, but because of His great mercy and love for us (Ephesians 2:4).

Reading through these entries also brings to mind the parable about the faithful servant and the evil servant in Luke 12 (NKJV). This parable ends with verse 48, to whom much is given, from him much will be required. This verse reminds us that God will hold us accountable to use the gifts, talents, abilities, experiences, knowledge, and understanding He has given us.

Some entries remind me of ideas or illustrations for teaching, counseling, or writing. Other entries remind me of people I need to check on or for whom I need to continue praying.

Thankfully, you and I do not have to depend upon ourselves and our own strength to accomplish the things God sets before us, because as Christ-followers we can rely absolutely upon Him to equip and enable us to serve.

Writing Prompt: Take time to prayerfully consider the ministry opportunities, which include writing, the Lord has placed in your life, and how you can use your God-given gifts, talents, abilities, experiences, knowledge, and understanding to serve Him.

Click to Tweet: Each year’s journal is a continuation of the story of God’s redemption of and faithfulness to His people and to me. #WritingPrompts #journaling

Journaling: A Good Practice – Part 1

journaling.jpgJournals take a myriad of forms these days. For some, their social media posts are their journals. Some prefer handwriting their journal entries, others prefer to type them. I have an elderly friend who can no longer see well enough to write or type, so her grandson set her up to make voice recorded journal entries.

Journaling is a must for those who aspire to be writers—recreationally or professionally.

My dad, a Navy Corpsman attached to the 3rd Marine Division on Iwo Jima and Guam during WWII, kept a journal of names, injuries, scene descriptions, sketches of the islands, and stories that he used as a basis for a book he wrote over 40 years later.

I have kept a journal since my late teens and strongly encourage those I know to journal, particularly when they are in the midst of major changes and/or struggles. We always think we will remember the details, but we don’t. Most of the devotionals and blogs I have written are based on my journal entries.

I was encouraging one of my counselees to journal, she replied, “Journaling isn’t for me! I don’t have the patience, time, or inclination to learn how to do something new!”

I responded,

“Make your own rules! Your unique personality will shine brightly through entries that reflect the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical aspects of your life.”

Writing Prompt: I was at the grocery story and over heard a lady say …

Following are some of the things I shared with my young friend about my current journaling practices.

Recording the following in my journal during my daily morning quiet time:

  • Prayers confessing my sin with notations of Scripture referencing an aspect of God’s character.
  • My feelings: anxiety, fear, sadness, excitement, happiness, depression, ambivalence.
  • At least three things for which I am thankful—these often surface while reading past entries that remind me of God’s mercy, grace, faithfulness, and love that has enabled me to walk through every situation.
  • Scripture I read in my quiet time. Any words or phrases that stand out to me and related passages that come to mind. Ideas for further study, teaching, counseling, and writing.
  • Prayer requests—my own and for others. Leave a little space to record how and when the request is answered.
  • Spiritual, emotional, mental and physical areas in which I need to improve.

Throughout the day as thoughts and ideas come to mind, I may record some of the following:

  • All sorts of things that happen.
  • I try to record related Scriptures. (Writers, these are good fodder for devotionals, articles, and even books!)
  • Ideas for study, teaching, and writing.
  • Add to my “want to read” list.
  • Names of people and ways to encourage them.
  • Decision-making charts.
  • Ministry evaluation.
  • New people I meet and pertinent facts about them.
  • Goals, plans, dreams.
  • Brain download of random thoughts, ideas from the day.

Before I go to bed, I pull all the things I have written, emailed and texted to myself into my journal. And, I usually think of things I need to add!

Don’t get bogged down with how you journal or what you put in your journal—just start journaling!

Don’t miss Pt. 2! Find it here tomorrow morning.

Click to Tweet: Make your own rules! Your unique personality will shine brightly through entries that reflect the spiritual, emotional, mental, and phsycial aspects of your life. –Shirley Crowder on Journaling: A Good Practice (Part 1) #InspiredPrompt #journaling