Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

7 Ways to Make a Blog Host Happy

If an author or other creative has the opportunity to be featured on someone else’s blog, here are some tips to make the blog host’s experience as pleasant as possible—and get the guest invited back!

Whether for a book review, interview, guest post, showcase of a creation, or any other feature that recognizes a creative person or his work, there are ways to submit items to the blog owner that make his or her preparation of the post easier.

1. Create Word documents that are clearly labeled as bio, summary or description, excerpt, interview Q&A, etc. Email them and any requested images as attachments to your host. The email message should state what you are attaching, or simply say that you have attached the requested materials.

When I receive such materials for an upcoming feature, I set up a folder on my desktop labeled with the author or artist’s name. I place all necessary documents and images there within easy reach. The desktop folder serves as a constant reminder that the host must prepare the blog post for publication.

Don’t copy and paste any of your information into the body of an email because …

a. Emails get lost in the muck and mire of hundreds or thousands of other emails and require the host to search later on.

b. A host like me will copy and paste information into Word documents anyway to organize and save it in a folder. That means extra work for your host, which is not a good thing.

2. If a guest thinks of an additional small piece of information after sending the original email containing attachments, I don’t mind copying a sentence or two (if clearly marked as new copy) from an email and adding it to an existing, appropriate Word document. But, for example, if a guest must revise a lengthy article or summary, please send a new Word document of the same name as the original one. That way, the host only has to replace the document by the same name in the folder.

3. When emailing images, don’t send high-resolution files large enough for printing a poster! They take longer to load and use unnecessary storage space. A book cover image file around 300 KB is plenty big enough for digital use, although around 700 is still manageable. I often open larger image files in Photoshop and save them to a smaller size, but it would be better for the guest to do that before sending to the host.

4. Provide all materials to the blog host at least one week in advance of publication date or by the date requested by the host. In your email, ask the host to let you know when he or she receives the email. A response benefits both of you as a reminder that everything is received and okay for publication.

5. Remember to sign up for email notifications of the blog’s posts. That way, you’ll receive an email when your feature has been published, and the host won’t have to notify you personally or email you a link. Either the host or the guest might forget the date when it draws near. The guest can unfollow the blog later.

6. Forward the post email to friends and share the post on all your social media.

7. Encourage friends to comment on the post. Check a few times over the first week for comments and respond to them.

Of course, if a blog host requires you do something different from what I advise, do what he or she prefers. Just as when you submit to an agent, editor, or publisher, it never hurts to ask in advance for guidelines if they are not provided initially.

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Why Readers and Authors Should Use Goodreads Listopia

If you’ve used the site called Goodreads but haven’t used its feature known as Listopia, you’re missing a fun and easy way to find exactly the books you’d like to read. And if you’re an author, you should make sure your books appear on Listopia lists where new readers can find them.

Joining Goodreads.com is free, so do it if you haven’t already.

Once you’re on the Goodreads Home page, go to “Browse” in the menu and drop down to “Lists.” You’ll see a page similar to this one, with featured and popular lists. In the upper right hand corner, you can search for names of lists. I always search for “Teen” and “YA.”

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Farther down the page, you can search for a tag that a list-maker may have placed on the list when it was created. Search keywords associated with books you enjoy, such as a particular sport or art.

Be as broad or as specific in your searches as you like. When you find a list that interests you, peruse the books, which will be listed according to the number of votes they’ve received from readers.

Here’s a list that 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status is on, “Best Books for Christian teenage girls and young women.” It is currently 23rd on the list, with 7 votes. And look at what good company it’s in!

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Goodreads no longer allows authors to add their books to lists or to vote on their own books. But authors can create lists when they see the need for one, as I did for the list “YA novels with a hearing impaired teen character.” (At that time, I was allowed to add 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status to it myself.) I made some of the readers I know enjoyed the novel aware of this particular list, hoping they would vote for my book. A few did.

When you go to any single book’s Goodreads page, such as for 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, scroll down through its reviews until you see “Lists with this book.” This is the example from that novel. As you see beneath those two lists, you can find “More lists with this book…”

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If you like a book, you will find books similar to it by looking at its lists.

When you find a list that contains books you’d like to read and some you’ve read, other readers will appreciate your voting on the ones you’ve enjoyed. Votes help other readers decide which books to read next.

Authors will appreciate those votes, too.

Do you use Goodreads Listopia lists? In which way and how often?

 

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10 Things I Learned as an Author on Twitter

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

 

Wow, I can hardly believe it’s been almost six years since I joined Twitter—and five since I actually started using it regularly (shifting eyes from side to side).

As an Author Tweeter, abbreviated to AT for convenience in this post, I have some experiences and tips to share with you. Please remember that I offer these from an emotional point of view (notice the right side of the above brain), with no research into the scientific aspects of social media marketing. I leave that to technology lovers.

  1. Automation. Because I enjoy connecting with other ATs and people who share common interests with me, I don’t use any type of automation for my tweet scheduling, re-tweeting, following, or thanking. I discover something new to enjoy every day on Twitter, so I often adjust the tweets I’d planned to use, find new people to follow, and discover new ideas or information I want to re-tweet (RT). I prefer to personally choose all of those and to thank new followers and RT-ers, often by following them back, but only after I check out their profiles. (More on that farther down in the post.) For authors who have little time or patience for Twitter and would like to learn more about automation, take a look look at this informative site.
  1. Twitter Handle. How I wish more authors simply used their author names for their handles when setting up their accounts. I wrote about this in my post Is That You?
  2. Hashtags. Once I got the hang of using hashtags in my tweets, I couldn’t stop searching for those related to the content of my books and the audiences I wanted to reach. My #YA novels are about #friendship and much more. I always research a new hashtag I’m considering by typing it into the Twitter search window and seeing how many and what kinds of profiles are associated with it. Some of the most innocent hashtags may be associated with unsavory profiles, so beware. Following the advice I’ve received, I limit the number of hashtags I use in a single tweet to three. But sometimes I use four because I just can’t help myself. Other writers of Young Adult (YA) fiction should check out 30 Effective Twitter Hashtags for YA Authors.
  1. Re-tweeting Etiquette. If another Tweeter, particularly an author, RTs about my books, I quickly go to his or her profile and look for something good to RT in return. I don’t RT erotica or books with very gory covers, but I don’t often have to make that decision. Sometimes a good tweet to RT is right there near the top of the profile page, or sometimes I find one in their media list on the left. Which brings me to …
  1. Pinned tweets. I want to encourage each visitor to my profile to RT something of mine, and I try to make that as easy as possible. Every author should have a good, timely, and relevant tweet pinned to the top of his or her profile, ready and waiting for visitors. So many author profiles I visit do not have one, or they have a pinned tweet about an expired special price or “new” release from last year. I now make an effort to change my pinned tweet once to several times per week.
  1. Trends. I look to the left side of my profile page or news feed to see which hashtagged topics are trending. I’ve found some great tie-ins to my books that way, such as National (Whatever) Day. I immediately search to confirm if a hashtagged topic is appropriate for my book(s) and compose a tweet using it. Sometimes a topic leads to someone I can relate to, so …
  1. Who to follow. I could spend hours each day searching on Twitter for people who have interest in the issues or themes covered in my novels. Or in my hobbies or other personal interests. Half the time, the new people I find follow back. But I’ve learned to pay attention to when they last tweeted before I follow. If they haven’t tweeted at least once a month in the past several months, they ‘re not active enough for me.
  1. When to follow back. Unless I’m sure of someone’s identity, I don’t follow back without scanning a number of tweets. I can’t always judge by a pinned tweet or the first few as to whether it’s someone I want to follow. Experience has taught me to compare the number of followers to the number of follows of anyone. Too many times I have followed back to discover in a few days that I have been unfollowed. My rule of thumb for now is not to follow back if there are 15% or more followers than  follows. I make an exception for the famous.
  1. Blocking.  If you haven’t done this yet—trust me—you will. I block followers who have distasteful images or text in their profiles or who obviously are looking for a mate. But do …
  1. Interaction. I often demonstrate that I like a another’s tweet and sometimes reply to the tweet with a positive comment or an answer if a question was posed. This interaction is a great way to make a connection that may eventually call attention to my books.
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Creating My First Book Trailer

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When it comes to marketing my books, I’m not typically a procrastinator. But until a week ago, I did not have a single book trailer video for any of my three published books (including the one out of print).

I’d written some copy for one.

I’d thought about the tone I wanted.

I’d searched for images.

I’d talked to my husband about producing one together.

I even had a YouTube channel set up and waiting.

But still, no trailer.

What lit a fire under me to move forward was the offer of a fellow author to post our author group’s video trailers on Instagram.

Excited by that prospect, I inquired from other authors which program they used. (Is program the correct word? I’m not sure.) I also researched a bit online.

I soon learned that many used Animoto or Vimeo to produce their own videos. However, my husband and I have Macs, and iMovies was already available to us.

We selected a pre-fab theme from among many free themes with built-in music. We weren’t quite happy with our first try, because not enough time was built in for the text frames unless we used only a handful of words. And the built-in background and text color made it harder to read. My husband could find no way to change the colors.

After I cut back on the text somewhat and my husband figured out how to add a second or so to those frames without the music ending too soon, we were pleased.

Until you produce your own book trailer video, you can’t imagine the planning and coordination it involves. We learned a lot that we’ll apply to our next production–a trailer for book two.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s my trailer for 8 Notes to a Nobody. I hope you enjoy it.

Do you have an experience to share about producing a book trailer ?

 

 

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30 Effective Twitter Hashtags for YA Authors

30 Effective Twitter Hashtags for YA Authors

Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

It’s hard to remember to use the most productive hashtags when I tweet about my books. I’ve found a few sources that list hashtags for authors in general but none specifically for those of teen or young adult novels. So I created my own list based on experience in tweeting about teen fiction over the past twelve months.

Most of these hashtags have gained attention for me and perhaps will work for you. Some are just now catching on. Genre hashtags cross over from adult to teen/YA in most cases, so I included a few. Capitalization is irrelevant.

#YA (ob-vi-ous-ly!)

#YAlit

#YAfiction

#YAloving

#YAbooknerd (or #booknerd)

#IReadYA

#teenlit

#teenfiction

#teenlife

#ChristianTeen (or other religion + teen)

#booksforgirls (or #booksforboys)

#CleanTeenRead

#adventure

#dystopian

#mystery

#scifi

#teenromance

#boyfriend

#bullying

#dating

#eatingdisorder

#firstlove

#friendship

#teensuicide

#socialissues

#parents (or #family or #stepfamily)

#schoolproblems

#highschool

#dance (or the other arts)

#sports (or a specific sport)

Those are my current favorites! What are your go-to hashtags when tweeting about your own writing?

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeking My Niche

This post was first published on The Scriblerians blog, October 6, 2015.

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

I have one of those in my house—a niche. It’s carved out of the wall at the end of a short hallway. Not much fits there, but I placed a tall pottery vase that is flattened from front to back so it nestles in the space just right.

And boy, is it showcased.

Isn’t that what we authors are supposed to do? Find a niche for our work? An audience where it’s showcased rather than one of many similar, cluttered objects where none stand out.

I suppose those are extreme examples, but books can’t yell for attention like humans can. How do I find the audience(s) where my novels might catch fire, so to speak?

I’m thinking out loud now. Thanks for sticking with me.

My YA novels in the Bird Face series use humor and hope to address serious issues facing teens today. Each novel addresses at least a few. It’s the way I like to write stories, with my protagonist facing multiple issues and crises that are intertwined.

So, how do I find a niche for those books?

Right now, I’m looking for teens with particular challenges or areas in teens’ lives where certain types of stories or characters are lacking. Stories featuring a teen that is hearing-impaired are hard to find, for example. So are those with Catholic teen characters.

I wrote my first book because I care about kids who are shy or bullied. It’s fiction that contains elements of Christian faith, and the half-Cajun Wendy naturally became Catholic because all the Cajuns I knew were Catholic.

I wrote my deaf teen character Sam in my second book because I care about hearing-impaired teens. A good friend in my twenties taught at a school for the deaf, and she shared her experiences.  I grew up not understanding much about the hearing-impaired children I met, but I later worked around hearing-impaired adults, who referred to themselves as deaf and who became my friends.

Like an ethnic group, both hearing-impaired and Catholic teens like to see characters similar to themselves occasionally depicted in the fiction they read.

I’ve decided to try target-marketing to both Catholic teens and hearing-impaired teens (as I continue to market to all teens, Christian and non-Christian). I know, I’ve selected two niches, but I’m still figuring this out.

Anyway, that’s my plan for today.

Are you an author struggling to find your niche? As a reader, are you attracted to specific religious aspects of story or social issues in story lines?

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Enter to Win a Copy of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status on Goodreads

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FRONT COVER  If you’ve wanted to read the second novel of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, a giveaway of a signed print copy is going on right now on Goodreads.com. This giveaway is open to addresses in the U.S. and Canada.

You don’t necessarily have to read the first novel, 8 Notes to a Nobody, to understand the second. If you’d prefer to read the books in order, look for an announcement soon about how to acquire a free Kindle version of 8 Notes to a Nobody.

If you are not a member of Goodreads, here are some reasons to join–and these are only a few!

  • It doesn’t cost a thing.
  • It’s a great place to find out about books with topics or themes you’re interested in.
  • It’s a great place to meet authors, writers like yourself, and readers with similar interests.
  • You can keep track of books you’ve read and want to read.
  • You can rate or review books and see other members’ ratings and reviews.
  • You can recommend books to friends and receive recommendations if you wish.
  • You can be notified of giveaways for books on your to-read list.
  • You can search for giveaways and enter them.

So, what are you waiting for? Someone will win, and it could be you!

Goodreads Giveaway of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

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10 Things I Learned From My Facebook Party

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Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

… that might help with yours!

Last week I hosted a virtual event celebrating the release of the first two novels of my Bird Face series. The party was great fun, but as one author friend recognized, a lot of work.

There’s nothing like attending a few Facebook parties to get a feel for their dynamics before you make the decision whether or not to host one. I popped into several as I geared up to create my own. I recommend you visit a few—to participate in or simply “lurk”—and pay attention to the following.

  1. If you’ve selected a location city in your true time zone for the Facebook account that is associated with your event, the time zone for your party will be correct. I didn’t have a city designated beforehand, and my first party notification showed up with the wrong zone. If you don’t want to give your exact location on Facebook, choose another one in your time zone. You will see a time zone indicated on any Facebook event page you visit.
  2. Choose the day and time period for your party carefully. I had to consider a number of things. School had started, so teens and teachers were busy during the middle of the day. Football season had kicked in (no pun intended), and high school or college games might be scheduled on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday evenings. The Friday of the week I chose happened to be 9/11, so I didn’t want to use that day. I chose Thursday and decided to start the party right before lunch (mine), which would be morning on the U.S. west coast and lunchtime on the east. I hoped that would catch interested stay-at-home parents, home educators, and people on their lunch breaks. (Someone dropped in for a while before heading to work.) The party hours extended until 7 p.m. to include people after school and after some day jobs in most time zones.
  3. Choose the length of the event to suit yourself and anyone helping you. There’s nothing wrong with a short party of two hours. Mine was long for more reasons than I mentioned above. One reason was that I recently moved and didn’t know when I’d make the acquaintance of enough people to invite to an actual party. Another was that I no longer work a day job, so I figured I might as well make the most of a virtual party.
  4. As discussed in Behind the Scenes—12 tasks for book authors before the release, have at least one giveaway. In addition to your books and books from other authors, consider some unusual items that relate to your story. Either hint about the connection or come right out and say it. The most popular giveaway at my party was an art print donated by a book illustrator that related to my character’s love for animals. If your party is short, you may have time for only one or two giveaways. I had twelve. Remember—for any giveaway that you are responsible for shipping or mailing, the cost for that might be more than the value of the giveaway. But for me, having fun with my party’s attendees was more important.
  5. Make the criteria for entering each giveaway you planned interesting but not too exclusive. I scared myself during two of them. One novel being given away was about twins, and I asked for comments to be about twins the person commenting knew. I wanted the comments to be entertaining, but it took so long for anyone to comment, I wondered if perhaps not many people knew or remembered twins. Another novel was about angels. I’d heard a lot of guardian-angel stories in my life and thought that sharing a true-life guardian angel story would be a good criterion for commenting and entering the giveaway. Again, participation was minimal. Sometimes the criterion for a giveaway was simply to express a desire for it. Sometimes including a photo gave the commenter an additional entry.
  6. How do you schedule the giveaways? I struggled with this the most. In the initial planning, I thought I’d have each giveaway run two hours but overlap. Then reality set in. I was afraid I would lose track. I was glad I decided to have one contest (with me as judge) that ran most of the party but have the other giveaways last one hour each (except for a special one that extended to two hours). I did run two one-hour giveaways simultaneously when it seemed appropriate. For example, during a giveaway for boys, I also ran one for girls. However, I made all giveaways start and stop exactly at any given hour. So a giveaway might read like this—2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
    GIVEAWAY blah-blah-blah, and state how to enter.
  7. There may be lulls in participation activity, but there may be times when you need someone to fix you a snack because you’re afraid to tear your eyes away from the screen. I experienced a 30-minute period of no activity during my lunchtime (contrary to what I believed would happen), so I made sure to stretch and take care of personal matters.
  8. I cannot stress how important having prepared posts ready and waiting on a Word document was. It allowed me to play with the timing and wording of giveaways in advance. And I was able to copy from the document and paste each new giveaway onto the Facebook event page in a second as an old one was ending. I was able to easily repeat later in the day a giveaway that had no activity earlier. It happened to be the one for the art print, which became wildly popular by evening.
  9. Obviously, you must picture your giveaways so people know exactly what they’d receive if they won. I had a folder on my desktop containing all the book covers and other images I needed for my posts. So … copy and past the necessary text, attach the correct image(s), and voila!
  10. On everything but the contest, the names of the entrants were written on squares of paper, folded up, and placed in a “hat,” which was actually a bowl. I used two bowls at once because of the way I structured my party, but you might do something different. The winning name for each giveaway was drawn from the hat/bowl. This worked fine. I announced the winner immediately in a comment on that giveaway’s post and asked the person to message me with the needed e-mail or physical address, as the case may have been. For winners who did not contact me by the end of the party, I messaged them. If a winner was a friend of a friend, I also messaged her for help.

In the end, my party was worth the effort. Not only did I attract new readers to my books but also to the other authors’ that donated theirs as giveaways.

If you’ve hosted a Facebook event, how did it go? What can you share that you learned? If it was a book launch party, I’d love to hear if you experienced anything very different from mine.

Cynthia

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