Bird Face Wendy

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

The Real Scoop on Book Award Competitions, Part 1

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I struggled for years deciding whether it was worth the time and expense to enter book award competitions. My first publisher had made the decision for me and covered the cost of entering my first book, now out-of-print, in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. That book, the original Bird Face, won the bronze in the category Pre-Teen Fiction Mature Issues.

Fine and dandy, but with a new publisher and new books, entering award competitions was up to me. Which is often the case if an author has a small, indie publisher instead of one of big publishing houses. And really, does winning an award accomplish anything, especially if it’s not a Newbery or Caldecott Medal? Sales are the important thing, right? Shouldn’t an author concentrate on that?

Still, I entered the second book of the Bird Face series in the Moonbeams. (I didn’t know of any other appropriate competitions for my books back then.) Nothing came of that. Someone nominated my third book for the Grace Awards, and I entered it in the Carol Awards. Both of those are Christian book award competitions. It was a finalist in the Grace Awards. It didn’t achieve anything in the Carols, but a wonderful thing happened. One of the judges contacted me after the competition was over and told me that she had loved my book. That was so gratifying!

I was inspired. I started paying attention to awards that other novels written for tweens and teens had won. If I ever had a novel I truly believed could be a winner, I wanted to treat entering competitions like a science instead of taking a hit-or-miss approach.

The next novel published, The Other Side of Freedom, was my favorite. A coming-of-age historical tale set in 1925 Louisiana during Prohibition, it felt special to my husband and to me.

So I researched. I read articles and blog posts by agents, editors, and other authors listing book award competitions they recommended—or didn’t. Disagreement existed, of course. I didn’t take any one person’s word to heart for any particular book award contest, but rather looked for a positive consensus among several opinions. Then I considered not only cost to enter but available categories, prizes given, award presentation events, and previous winning authors I might have read. I noticed the cutoff for entries and compared that to the date for announcement of finalists or winners. Would they really have time to read all the entries and make a sound decision? The appearance of the awarding organizations’ websites played a factor but was not as great as the rest. (Note: Most organizations I researched had categories for nonfiction or separate award competitions for them.)

I spent a lot of time studying the book winners of various contests in categories where I thought my book might fit. Judging by Amazon samples and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, did those books appear to be well written? Winners included self-published, indie/small-press published, and those with imprints of large publishers.

I made the decision to enter as many book award contests for The Other Side of Freedom as I could afford. Some competitions I found were free, some had very small fees or early-bird specials, and the cost for some made me pause—quite a while. But I figured someone had to win those money prizes, cool medals on ribbons, glamorous trophies, and get their names and book titles in press releases and catalogs. Why not me? And if the competitions placed my book title in front of new eyes (meaning new potential readers), the cost was small compared to most marketing opportunities.

So, here’s the beginning of my list of those competitions I entered over a period of ten months and some details about them. Learn more by following the links.

Independent Publisher Book Awards (Jenkins Group, Inc.)  I entered the “IPPY” awards in one category, Multi-cultural Fiction Juvenile/YA, for which I had to mail one book and pay a fee. I also entered  the Illumination awards for books written with a Christian worldview in the category Juvenile/YA, mailed  two books, and paid a fee (I missed the early bird rate). Results: My book did not win in either competition. Notes: This group also conducts the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Author friends of mine have won in these at different times!

Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group) I entered two categories: Historical and Children’s/Juvenile Fiction. I paid a fee and had to mail three copies of my book. Results: First Place Children’s/Juvenile Fiction and Grand Prize First Place Fiction. Plus an awards gala, medals, trophy, and cash prizes!

Got you interested yet? It’s easy to spend hours, days, even weeks researching book awards.  I hope you’ll look into those mentioned above.  Then be sure to follow this blog to learn about ten more competitions I entered for The Other Side of Freedom. And what happened!

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How can I get my book published? 10 Points of Advice

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Perhaps every author who has one or more published books hears that question on occasion. Or the plaintive statement, “I need help getting my book published.”

My heart always hurts for the unpublished author in need because I remember being desperate for help and for answers myself.

The good news today, as opposed to when I was writing my first novel, is the Internet holds much of the information writers seek. The bad news is that a lot of time is still required to apply that information and get results.

My publisher is small and not associated with any of the big-name publishers or their imprints. And I know nothing about self-publishing or about writing and publishing non-fiction books. But I’ll share what I feel might be helpful in getting a first novel published.

  1. Read blogs by experienced people in the publishing industry. One I recommend is Jane Friedman. She shares her knowledge about getting published in fiction and non-fiction, traditionally (large or small) and through self-publishing. She even delves into fiction genres and sub-genres.
  2. Join one or more writers groups in your city or state. All the better if they are chapters of larger organizations like Romance Writers of America, Historical Fiction Society, American Christian Fiction Writers, or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. If dues are not easy for you to pay, select only one group with a local chapter that has published authors as members. Don’t be afraid to ask if they do. You will learn from many of the members, but the published author will have even more to offer.
  3. Take advantage of critique groups available through the organizations you join. They may work in person or online only. The goal is to learn from one another and to share information from outside sources during critiques. In other words, why did something in a particular manuscript not work well? What would work? Critiques should not only tell you what is wrong with your writing or story but how to fix it. Leave the group if it doesn’t supply what you need, and find another one.
  4. Learn to write a good query letter and a short synopsis of your book. Look for information online (such as Jane Friedman’s blog) on how to do both. Practice. Ask for help from your critique group(s).
  5. Seek Facebook groups of writers and authors in your genre—and also groups labeled “indie” if you think you might want to self-publish. You’ll get the inside scoop on many aspects of writing and publishing your genre, and it won’t cost you a dime. (Note: Be sure you know which genre you are writing.)
  6. Read novels similar to yours. Know how to compare your story to those. What is it about your book that is similar to another one? What is different? Often, an agent or acquisitions editor asks for such comparables. If not in the initial query, in a full proposal if it is requested. (Proposals contain a lot more than can fit in a query letter. Research what to include in a proposal in case you must provide one.)
  7. Research the publishers of books similar to yours or those you enjoy reading in your work’s genre. (Check the books by authors in your favorite Facebook groups, too.) Visit the publishers’ websites, and look for their submission guidelines. Do those publishers accept queries directly from an author, or do they only work with agents? Sometimes you can learn an author’s agent by reading the acknowledgments in his or her book. Whom does the author thank? Sometimes you’ll see a whole name you can look up to see if that’s the agent.
  8. Before you query anyone, be sure your manuscript is finished. You must have a whole story—beginning, exciting middle, and ending. And not just the first rough draft. The whole manuscript might be in the second round of critiques and doesn’t need to be completely polished yet, but be sure the first few chapters are! What if you query a publisher or agent and receive a fast response requesting sample chapters? They’d better be as good as you can make them, or you won’t be asked for the whole manuscript.
  9. While in the query process, keep submitting chapters of your manuscript to your critique group(s). There’s always room for improvement. But don’t discard old versions of your manuscript. Rename new versions in case you want to return to an earlier one because you prefer the way a particular sentence or scene was originally written. (That happened to me.)
  10. If you receive any feedback from an agent or editor you’ve queried, seriously consider it. Take the advice and learn from it. The fact that they took the time to give you a personalized reply means your work might have potential. Then improve your work and query some more.

AND, especially if you are a young writer in your teens or twenties . . .

Keep reading advice on writing by your favorite author/agent/editor bloggers. Read books on the writing craft. Most libraries carry some on self-editing, story structure, dialogue, characterization, setting, description.  Purchase used books online that you can refer to again and again. One of my favorite authors of self-help books for writers is James Scott Bell. If you can afford a magazine subscription, you can’t go wrong with Writer’s Digest. If not, be sure to visit the website for helpful articles.

Many authors advise attending live writers’ conferences, which can be costly but often pay off when an author connects in person with an agent or publisher. I’ve attended only one conference, after I was published. I’d wanted to attend a number of them, but it just didn’t work out for me. Online conferences are available, too, at which you can pitch your project. Bottom line: It is possible to acquire a publisher or agent—or learn how to successfully self-publish—even if you cannot attend conferences.

 

 

 

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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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What to Do When Your Motivation Takes a Vacation

(Motivation—everyone needs it, no matter what kind of work you do or dreams you have. Enjoy this guest post about motivation by editor and author Debra L. Butterfield.)

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Sometimes it takes all the willpower I can muster to put my butt in the chair and write.

By day I’m a freelance editor/writer and by night an editor for CrossRiver Media. I’m single and my children are grown, but I still have all the household chores to do.

Work, eat, sleep. Work, eat, sleep. My motivation wants to hop a train to Denver, and leave me behind to the comfort of the couch and a mind-numbing DVD.

Because I’m self-employed, I can give in to this lack of motivation for a day. I justify it by telling myself I deserve a day off. But then a day becomes two and sometimes three.

Do you ever have days like that? Weeks maybe where you lack the motivation to work toward your dreams? I’ve come to realize that “me time” keeps my motivation at home where it belongs.

What Causes Lack of Motivation? 

The day job and family responsibilities can sabotage our motivation faster than a rattlesnake can strike. Here are several other possibilities:

  • Work-life imbalance
  • Physical illness/hormone imbalance
  • Depression
  • Clutter
  • Overwhelm
  • Discouragement
  • Trying to accomplish too many goals at once or perhaps one goal with an unrealistic time frame?

The list could go on and on.

It’s easy for me to work all the time. But that imbalance is one of the first things to trigger a slump.

If you’re feeling unmotivated, take your lunch hour or some time before bed to think about the cause/s. Knowing why will help you take action to fix it.

Sunshine, fresh air, and music motivate me. For that reason, summer is my favorite season, and I take my work outside when I can. I have a quiet time with God every morning as well. Focusing on His goodness and the many blessings He brings lifts my spirit and keeps my motivation intact.

Our culture lauds workaholism, but God didn’t design us for all work and no play. We need to feed our soul with things we enjoy. Take a moment right now and write down 5-10 things that motivate or inspire you. Incorporate those things into your life to spark your creativity and motivation.

How to Move Forward 

Too often we don’t create until we feel inspired or motivated. Consequently, nothing gets created. Instead, develop a habit of regular writing (creating your art), be it daily or weekly. The act of creating will ignite your excitement and motivation.

  • Create a 90-day goal—just one goal.
  • Devise a plan to accomplish it.
  • Review your plan daily/weekly.
  • Work the plan.

Seeing progress toward that goal will inspire and motivate you to keep moving forward. When you’ve accomplished that goal, set another and establish a plan to reach it.

(I like it! Baby steps—that’s how I work best toward a goal. Be sure to check out Debra’s website and published works. She’s an editor I recommend.)

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About Debra L. Butterfield

Debra is the author of 7 Cheat Sheets to Cut Editing Costs, Abba’s Promise, Carried by Grace: a Guide for Mothers of Victims of Sexual Abuse, and Mystery on Maple Hill (a short story e-book). She has contributed to numerous anthologies. She is a freelance editor and editor for CrossRiver Media Group and blogs about writing at DebraLButterfield.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebraLButterfieldAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebrasBlog

Books are available on Amazon.

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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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Recreation for Re-creation

Credit: sw_lynne-warren, Snapwire

 

If you are dedicated to your career, you’re probably stuck in your office, in the store you manage, or in front of a computer more than 40 hours a week. A problem always seems to exist that requires your immediate attention.

But this time the answer eludes you.

It happens a lot to writers, too. Sometimes our focus can be so I intense that we don’t see the big picture, and we lose the creativity needed to find a solution.

As sports-columnist character Ray Barone said in the sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond:

“Sometimes you have to stop thinking about it so you can really think ABOUT it.” 

Ray was trying to pull a fast one on his wife, who popped in at the newspaper where he worked, but he spoke the truth in his own deceitful way.

We sometimes need to step back and view our work from a distance, perhaps as an outsider. Place some space and time between our problem or project and ourselves. Think of something else.

I can’t fill my time with nonsense, you might say. I don’t have time for a break. When this job is done, then I’ll relax. 

But recreation leads to re-creation, or creating anew. When we return to our problem or project, we might see it in a new way. And often, we are excited to get back to work.

The filler is sometimes the fanner of the creative flame. The break is sometimes the boost to our brains.

So eat a relaxing meal in a restaurant instead of fast food.

Volunteer for a few hours for the enjoyment of it.

Take a walk or go camping, and listen to nature.

Visit with family or friends.

The answer you seek might be out there somewhere.

 

 

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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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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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