Bird Face Wendy

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

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.)

Debra Butterfield 1-Thm (533x800)

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 available at Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/debralbutterfield   and at 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…”

listswiththisbook

 

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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Behind the Scenes—12 tasks for book authors before the release

Before I was published in early 2014, I wished someone had told me all the little things that a book author must do between the time the manuscript undergoes editing and the finished book is released to the public.

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FRONT COVER

Right now I have two books of my series about to release at once, and I’m acquainted with what to expect in the final weeks beforehand. But in the middle of it all, I thought—duh!—new authors out there might want to know, too.

Not everyone’s experience will be the same as mine, and I’m not taking into consideration either self-publishing or publishing by a big house, but here’s what I’ve learned the average author contracted by a small to mid-sized publisher should do.

  1. Approximately six weeks or more before release: Make a list of trusted individuals who might read your book in advance and give an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads, and possibly elsewhere. Contact them as soon as possible and let them know when you expect an ARC (advanced reader/review copy) to be available in e-book or print, as the case may be. Then if they agree to read and review, don’t forget to send the book! (Your publisher may arrange advanced reading and reviews for your book, and you can scratch this one off your list.)
  2. Approximately five weeks or more before release: Plan a launch party—actual, virtual, or both—and solicit help from family or friends to be with you for the duration of the party. Who do you wish to invite as guests? (Not every one of your 500 Facebook friends, because that doesn’t work.) Will you give away door prizes at an actual party and equally desirable and interesting giveaways at your virtual Facebook party? Start some lists of guests and giveaways for both types of parties. If you can schedule your Facebook party for the day of release, great. An actual party can come later.
  3. Approximately four-and-a-half weeks before release: Purchase, gather, ask for donations of giveaways and/or door prizes for your parties. As much as possible, choose items related to your book or story. If you write YA, ask friends who are authors of YA if they’d like to donate their books to be part of your celebration.
  4. Approximately four weeks before release: Give your final approval to the cover. I’m skipping the part beforehand when you and the publisher or designer discuss options back and forth for the design.
  5. Approximately three-and-a-half weeks before release: Update your website, blog, Facebook author page, Twitter profile, LindedIn profile–and any other sites you use to promote yourself–with your final book cover image and a blurb about the book. This is when you might do a cover “reveal” on your personal Facebook page and Pinterest, too. Where applicable, include a link to your publisher’s site.
  6. Approximately three weeks before release: Proof the galleys and make notes on a document in the manner requested by your editor or publisher, citing the number assigned to each line of the galleys that requires a correction or other change. The galleys were e-mailed to me, and that’s how my publisher asked me to handle corrections. (With my first publisher, there were no galleys. I proofed a print-on-demand paper copy that was shipped to me. )
  7. Approximately two-and-a-half weeks before release: Proof the e-book, looking for formatting issues and any errors you missed in the galleys. My publisher preferred I make notes of changes on a Word document, citing the chapter and paragraph to direct her to the error.
  8. Approximately two weeks before release: Start creating Tweets if you haven’t already, because you don’t want to rush to do that when near the finish line. Chances are you won’t write those sparkly Tweets when you’re under pressure. You can add the purchase links when they become available.
  9. Approximately one-and-a-half weeks before release: Prepare text that you can copy and paste onto your Facebook event/party page as needed to remind guests and post information about giveaways. Remind assistants who will help you monitor the party, take notes, and keep lively comments going. You will need moral support during the Facebook event—and bathroom breaks.
  10. Approximately one week or more before release: Announce your Facebook party wherever you choose. Send Facebook invitations. Tweet and blog about your upcoming release! Ask friends to re-post and retweet your information.
  11. Approximately three or four days before release: Update or create your Amazon and Goodreads author pages for your new book. (You can create the Goodreads author page earlier than this, once you have an ISBN number for any of your books, but your publisher needs to list your book with Amazon before you update there (or create the author page if this is your first book).
  12. Approximately one day before release: Set up purchase links on your website or blog so buyers can find where to buy your book online. Mention other places that readers might find or ask for your book. On your Facebook author page, use the Call-to-action button to direct visitors to where they can buy or learn more about your book. If you will be selling directly from your site, I assume you set that up months in advance but can activate it now.

I’m sure to have forgotten something, but please forgive any omission. If you wonder how I recalled what I did remember and when it happened—some of which I’m doing now or will do in the next couple of weeks—I keep a calendar. I recommend you do too, if only to look back and see all that you’ve accomplished!

What details would you like to know about anything I’ve mentioned? How about what I may have forgotten?

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