Is Twitter a Good Tool for Authors?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Twitter is a part of social media and that, in itself, can be a useful device for authors. With Facebook, you often have local community friends to share your latest writing news and fun or not-so-fun things happening in your life. Instagram is a good place to also gather community friends and family and post photos and memes sharing your books and love for writing and reading. And Pinterest is just plain entertaining. The biggest thing to remember about social media is the word “social.”

Twitter is a bit different. If you go to the “about” page on Twitter.com, you’ll find these words…

Twitter is what’s happening in the world and what people are talking about right now.

I  find that true in my own experience. If there is something new going on and I want to know about it, I don’t go to Facebook or Instagram or even Pinterest. Twitter is my first stop because it’s all about breaking news and information going viral.

Twitter is simple. You join, set up a profile, and start tweeting. What’s a tweet? Simply a message you share with the world. One important part of this way to communicate is the use of hashtags. Hashtags identify messages on a specific topic.

Go to Twitter, type #write in the search box and it pulls up an avalanche of writing-related tweets. You need to add one to three hashtags per tweet for optimal effect. As a writer, some of my favorites are:

  • #amwriting
  • #amreading
  • #fiction
  • #writing
  • #WriterWednesday
  • #Fridayreads
  • #ACFW

So now you have a super simple introduction to Twitter. How can authors use this happening place to their advantage?

According to a Jeff Goins article I read, Twitter is a “networking event.” I agree. For me, my aim is to find people with similar interests and share information that I think might be helpful to them.

Note I did not say try to sell them everything I can.

The quickest way to be blocked from my Twitter friends is to constantly try to sell something. Or to be a single guy with a “fake” military pic or something romantic for the avatar. I’m not buying.

The Golden Rule works on all social media, just like in real life. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I keep my tweets very specific. I tweet about:

  • Writing
  • Reading/books
  • Acts of kindness
  • Faith-based topics
  • Sports/mainly football

If anyone follows me, this is what they are going to find. Not 10,000 totally unrelated subjects. I’m intentional in my use of social media, except Pinterest. I’m very ecletic on the boards I have but with Pinterest, it works.

Because of my intentional topics, I’ve found my messages often shared or myself added to lists. Both are positive and help spread word about yourself and subjects of interests you enjoy. People trust you and then and only then can you occasionally mention a book or products you have to offer and make a sale.

That part is the same on all social media.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here but if you want to know more about Twitter, go to Edie Melson’s blog and type in Twitter in the search box. She has a slew of interesting articles filled with helpful information.

Or better yet, follow Edie on Twitter. Tell her I sent you 😊

Click to tweet:  If there is something new going on and I want to know about it, I don’t go to Facebook or Instagram or even Pinterest. Twitter is my first stop because it’s all about breaking news and information going viral. #write #Twitter

Writing Prompt: Jill grabbed her phone and started to chunk it out the window. But it wouldn’t help. She wanted the book she’d written to go viral on Twitter but instead…

Motivated by Many: One Writers Perspective

By Cammi Woodall

This was a hard article for me. I am supposed to explain how an author inspired me. How do I pick just one? In Icebound, Dean Koontz wrote a scene of a man underwater struggling to break through the ice. I found myself holding my breath along with him! Stephen King’s imagery and turn of phrase has scared me, sickened me, enlightened me, and encouraged me. And who didn’t cry when Dobby died? How could you, J.K. Rowling?

I decided to fudge a little and write about three different ladies close to home who have inspired me.  Please forgive me, Jennifer and Betty (the blog administrators)!

In 2006, my sister and I took a class offered by our local Board of Education, called “As the Pen Spins”. It was a writing seminar taught by a great lady named Jane Carroll. To start the first class, we all had to stand up, introduce ourselves, and tell what we do.

I said, “Hi, my name is Cammi and I work in a bank.”

She challenged us to reintroduce ourselves and say, “My name is Cammi and I am a writer!”

I did not have the exclamation point in my voice when I stood up in class but much more of a question mark. Me, a writer? In my mind, that word conjured up the New York Times bestsellers list, contracts, agents, movie rights. I was a bank teller who scribbled ideas on scraps of paper and hid them away from the world. Who was I to call myself a writer?

Jane taught me that a writer is simply one who writes. Quantity doesn’t count, only the fact that you write and do not stop. Did you compose one line about the beauty of the morning sunrise? Did you write an article for your company’s newsletter? Did you pen a short funny story for your grandkids? Then, my friend, you are a writer. Stand up and say it out loud! Thank you, Jane!

Jennifer Hallmark, one of the moderators for this site, inspires me in several ways. She was in that first class with my sister and me. I can still remember her saying, “I’m really just interested in learning more about writing articles.” She has certainly done that in abundance, but Jennifer is also the proud owner of a book contract for a fictional novel. (I am not jealous, I am not jealous, I am not jealous!)

She has grown as a writer and gone down different paths to find her way. I never considered writing articles until she asked me last year to contribute to this blog. Now, thanks to her, I have a few articles posted here and am scheduled for more later in the year. This lady has definitely made me jump out of my comfort zone and find some new paths of my own! Thank you, Jennifer!

My sister Holly is a writer in a different situation. As a United Methodist preacher, she faces the challenges of caring for her congregation’s needs and helping them grow in the Lord’s way. Each week, she writes a sermon that is God-given and inspirational, and each week she teaches me something new. I face enough of a struggle writing an article occasionally for a blog so I admire the strength and courage she brings to her calling.

Holly also inspires me with encouragement and gave me my favorite compliment I’ve received about my writing. While looking over an article I’d done about Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption, she said, “You have such an easy style. It reminds me a lot of Stephen King. Not the horror, but like you are sitting here with me telling a story. I like reading your work.” Bring on the tingles of excitement, tears of joy, and the blush of embarrassment! A simple compliment but one I hold close to my heart. Thank you, dear sister!

Do you have an author who inspires you in your writing? I certainly hope so. But how about this? Go be that inspiration for someone. Give encouragement, offer to read, spread the word about their accomplishments. You never know what action you take will resonate with another and stay on their heart. Who knows? You could end up in an article!

Writing prompt “At least it is over now.”

She shook her head. “No, I am afraid it has just begun.”

Click to tweet: Go inspire someone, a writer. Give encouragement, offer to read, spread the word about their accomplishments. You never know what action you take will resonate with another and stay on their heart. #amwriting #motivation

Where Should I Spend My Book Marketing Dollars?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Hmm. That’s an interesting question. For the past 12 years, I’ve worked on perfecting the craft of writing, making connections, growing my blogs, and finishing my novel. The time for marketing is drawing near. My debut novel will release in June of 2019, so marketing is foremost on my mind at this time. (Besides my edits)

How should I invest money for the greatest return? Here’s a few of my ideas:

(1) Talk to my already-published author friends, especially those in my genre. People that have been there, done that, can share expertise to help me make decisions. Here’s what three authors have already told me . . .

Betty Thomason OwensOne way I will use to market a new release is through a paid blog tour. By paying for the service, the heavy work is already handled for you. The blogs will be scheduled and you’ll have help when the time comes for the tour.

  • What you get for your money: (1) A blog tour to generate publicity for your newly-released book. (2) Guaranteed reviews, though the reviews are honest, and not always positive.
  • What it requires from you: This is a 14-day tour, so it requires a lot of planning and work. You’ll need to supply books up front for the reviews, either Ebooks, or print, as specified by the bloggers. Total cost can run several hundred dollars, weighed against whatever sales are generated by the blog tours. For more information, contact: Celebratelit  
  • I also seek out venues like conferences, craft fairs, and other functions in the area. There is usually a cost to rent a table or booth, but the personal exposure is well worth the money. I almost always earn the cost back in sales. One thing to remember about these, always have takeaways, like business cards, postcards and/or bookmarks, and chocolate.

Suzy Parish-My favorite way to spend marketing dollars involves little to zero investment dollar-wise. Research charities to see if one has a mission that falls within the parameters of the theme of your novel. Develop a relationship with the CEOs of that charity, send them a cover letter explaining how your novel dovetails with their mission statement. Offer to promote their charity alongside your book, after sending them an ARC for their approval, of course! This can develop into a beautifully mutual relationship with Christ, the ultimate benefactor. Sales might benefit also!

Janie Winsell-There are wonderful marketing ideas for authors, but narrowing it down to my favorite is hard. I had to ponder this question and really look at all of my marketing research to come up with an answer, but I have finally come to the conclusion that giveaways are the best way to get attention for your book. You can give away a five-dollar Starbucks card or even a fifty-dollar Amazon card. You dictate how little or how much you spend, which is great. People respond better to marketing that gets them something for free.

Let’s say you want twenty people to like and share your post with the link to your new release, what better way to achieve your goal than by promising a giveaway of your book once you reach your target. Then, you have twenty people see your book, share your book, and twenty more of their friends do the same. Selling books is all about visibility. People have to see it to want to buy it!

(2) Read multiple blog posts and listen to podcasts. There are great sources of information out there. Here are three of my favorites:
(3) Make a plan. I’ll take the ideas I think I can work with, the ones that feel right and put together a strategy.  What do you think of these?
  • Local launch party
  • Blog tour
  • Book signings
  • Conferences
  • A social media blitz
  • Giveaways
  • Research charities
(4) Follow through. When the time comes, I’ll schedule my plan into my calendar and see what works. I’ll save all my information of how each marketing idea worked or didn’t so I’ll have it for my next book launch. It’s never too early to plan ahead.

Click to tweet: Where should I spend my book marketing dollars? Here’s a few ideas. #marketing #amwriting

Writing prompt: Please share (in the comment section) what your favorite way to spend marketing dollars, the one that works best for you.

Successful Marketing of a Collaborative Work

By Jennifer Hallmark

**Previously published on the Seriously Write Blog.

Congratulations! You’ve been asked to join a book compilation. Maybe a friend needs your short story that’s been sitting stagnant in that file folder for a short story collaboration. Or perhaps you’ve been asked to write a novella to go with a series on, let’s say romantic suspense. Or maybe like me, you’ve been asked to contribute to a book with nine other authors, each adding her style and character to make the story unique.

One nagging fear floats in the back of your mind, keeping you from sending that email with a resounding “Yes, I’ll do it.”

Marketing.

To many, marketing is the hardest part of being a writer, whether you write novels, articles, or blog. The thoughts of marketing a book that’s not totally yours can seem daunting. It can, however, be done and actually even be enjoyable.

Yes, I said enjoyable.

Let’s take Unlikely Merger, the third book compilation I’d been privileged to take part in. Here’s the blurb:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

It proved to be a great story. How could ten women and a publisher work together to make Unlikely Merger successful? The key was simple.

Teamwork.

Tracy Ruckman, former publisher at Write Integrity Press, said it like this:

“During our collaborative projects, we stress the importance of cross-promotion. Collaborations give authors a chance to focus their marketing on each other instead of themselves, and their efforts benefit everyone involved.”

It’s the golden rule of book compilations.

Or as it says in Matthew 7:12 in the Message Bible: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them…”

Our contributors invited each other to write blog posts. We shared each author’s social media updates: Facebook posts, tweets, Google plus, and more. We belonged to a closed Facebook group where we encouraged each other, shared prayer requests, and talked about the book.

In short, we esteemed one another better than ourselves. At the end of the day, each person was lifted up and everyone had a good time. Best of all, marketing had become a learning experience that we can carry to our next project.

Which for me was another compilation called Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage, which released in December of 2015.

It proved to be another opportunity to enjoy marketing. With a team.

The secret of significant and successful marketing.

Click to tweet: The key to significant and successful collaborative book marketing is none other than the Golden Rule. #kindness #marketing

Writing Prompt: Allie stared at the email. They wanted her to write a romance novella for a box set? Did they not realize her love life was…

Research: The Inspired Prompt Way

Research. We’ve spent the month of March dissecting this topic from all angles. From how to start, to research on the road, and current events research, a way to gather information should be coming clear.

I’ve asked the Crew to share their go-to source when it comes to research. Here’s what they said:

Harriet Michael: As a Christian nonfiction writer who writes a lot of Biblical pieces—devotions and essays to a Biblical theme, my go-to resource is Bible Gateway where I can look up passages, do word searches, find commentaries, and find passages in all translations. Here is their link: https://www.biblegateway.com/

Jennifer Hallmark: Sometimes when I write, I just can’t think of the right word so I use an online thesaurus. Even if I don’t find what I need, it often gets my creativity flowing so I can move forward in my writing. Their link is http://www.thesaurus.com/

Kristy Horine: I find the Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org to be a great resource due to its interlinear concordance, cross references, language explanations, and access to commentaries. It has an app that is free that can be downloaded to your phone.  In addition, www.biblestudytools.com is helpful in the commentary area.

Another source is www.thoughtco.com. This is not a Christian-based resource, but it sure is fun for those strange and unusual questions like if brain cells regenerate, or the difference between racism and prejudice. It is based on the idea that we should be lifelong learners and seeks to teach just that. Plus, it has a really neat daily email you can sign up for. And, for numbers: www.barna.com and www.pewresearch.org

Betty Thomason Owens: I attended a class on researching at the Mid South Conference. The instructor gave us the Library of Congress website. It’s huge. You can find articles, photos, and lots of other interesting studies and stories and books. https://www.loc.gov/  I also love History.com  https://www.history.com/ and the Smithsonian.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.

Gail Johnson: I use the Bible, Webster’s dictionary, and the Strong’s Concordance. Also Bible Gateway and the online versions of the dictionary and thesaurus.

Bonita McCoy: I love  Biblehub.com because it gives you the verse in several translations. I use it for my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog. Also the good old library for articles for the Inspired Prompt site and my Courageous Writers blog.

Fay Lamb: My research varies on what the subject happens to be. If it is medical, I will look up medical research on various sites, but I also look for journals of people who have undergone medical procedures. I also use slang dictionaries for slang for certain times. I even have a surfers’ slang dictionary.

Tammy Trail:  I tend to look for historical societies. There is a blog I like to catch up with too, Colonial Quills. Lots of historical information there for me. I use the Colonial Williamsburg website also. For writing related information, I love Seekerville.

Carlton Hughes:  Like others, my research varies depending on the subject. I’m mostly writing devotionals now, so usually I’m searching for a specific scripture on Bible Gateway. Blogs like Novel Rocket are good for general advice on fiction writing.

Shirley Crowder:  I use Blue Letter Bible — lots of commentaries, words studies, etc. https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Karen Jurgens: I use Google for whatever I need to know when I’m writing about Paris and other parts of the world. I study maps of the city, and I use reference books I’ve purchased while visiting. For example, I bought lots of historical books and maps of Cayman Island when I vacationed there a couple years ago. I always write about settings I know personally or have visited.

Cammi Woodall: Started in September of 1998, Google is the world’s largest search engine. You know how I know that? I googled it! When you can use your search engine name as a verb, you know you are doing something right. I love other sites like AskJeeves.com or Yahoo.com, but I always come back to Google. In one research session, l learned that the world’s oldest church is the Dura-Europos house church in Syria, arsenic poison will still show up in your fingernails 6 to 12 months after ingestion, and a ten-gallon hat really only holds three-quarters of a gallon. Who knew? Google did! And now I do, too.

Thank you, Inspired Prompt Crew! As you can see, there are research sites galore for the fiction and non-fiction writer. Do you have a go-to site that’s not listed above? In lieu of a writing prompt, we’re asking you to share that in the comments below…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their go-to source when it comes to research for writers. #research #Google