Posted in books, characters, creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Story Structure: 3-Act Structure

One of the most commonly taught and used story structures in the 3-Act Structure. In this post I’ll break down each act and what should be in it.

Act 1 – The Beginning

Act one compromises about the first 25% of the story and has three main parts.

  • Introduction: The introduction should establish who the main characters are and what their “normal” life looks like at that point in time.
  • Inciting Incident: The inciting incident presents a situation that will prove to be a catalyst for change and which will set the story in motion. In a romance novel, this is usually the meet-cute.
  • Plot Point 1: This first major plot point will introduce the central conflict and present a call to action for the character. The character(s) then react to the inciting incident and call to action, usually accepting the call and setting themselves on the path of the story and character arcs.

Act 2: The Middle

Act two compromises about the middle 50% of the story and contains the bulk of the plot.

  • Confrontation: During the confrontation, the main character faces the first obstacle to achieving his or her desire or goal. In a romance novel this is often something that will prevent a real relationship or keep the main character’s apart, either physically or emotionally.
  • The midpoint: At the midpoint, the main character faces the central conflict in some way. The realization causes a change in the character. This is often a revelation about the self, information about another character, shocking news, reflection on the main conflict, etc.
  • Rising action: During the rising action, the stakes must rise for the main character, building up to the central conflict he or she must face. This is usually achieved through subplots and new information about the central conflict.
  • The second plot point: This is the highest point of tension. It is a crisis that makes the desired ending seem impossible. This should use high emotion to engage the reader and make them concerned for the character. This MUST be believable enough to make the reader think a happy ending may not be possible. This should be big enough that it can’t be resolved easily.

Act 3: The End

Act three compromises the last 25% of the story and contains the worst moment for the characters as well as the resolution or climax and the final ending.

  • Pre-climax/darkest night: In this blackest moment, the character faces the possibly of not achieving their goal during a final clash with the antagonist and deals with the fallout of the crisis The character may realize a new goal that will help them move past the crisis (often alone).
  • Resolution/Climax: This is the final moments of the main conflict where it is resolved by providing an answer to the main problem/conflict. This is normally a single scene, but may extend to several scenes if the resolution/climax is complicated or involves interactions with multiple characters.The main conflict’s resolution MUST be believable and not a simple misunderstanding. The solution should be real and still have an element of risk. The benefits of taking the risk should outweigh staying safe.
  • Denouement:This final ending fulfills all promises to the reader. Make sure to tie up loose ends, answer questions, underscore the theme, in order to leave the reader satisfied.

There is, of course, room to make changes or try new tactics within a 3-Act story structure, but it is still important to make sure you hit all the main elements in some fashion.

Posted in books, characters, creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Story Structure: Overview

This series will talk about how to structure a story that keeps the reader’s attention and tells a story in the best possible way.

The Basics of Story Structure

Exposition/Introduction

This is where you will introduce the characters, establish the setting, and present the primary conflict. All of this generally happens in the first few chapters or the first act. The goal is to orient the reader in the characters’ lives before you begin adding any major conflicts.

This helps the reader connect with the characters so they will be invested in the outcome of their story. If a reader can’t connect with the main character(s), there’s a good chance they will stop reading. The setting should also be relevant and interesting, so they character appears to be existing in a real world (whether realistic or fantastical).

It’s also important to give readers a good idea of what the main problem is that the characters(s) is dealing with so they know what type of story they are reading and what the character(s) must overcome. This sets up the reader’s expectations for the rest of the story.

Rising Action

This section is where you should introduce the primary conflict and set the main storyline in motion. This should follow with the expectations you set up for the reader during the introduction. Succeeding events become more complicated as the story proceeds, creating stumbling blocks, tension, interest, and excitement.

Rising action isn’t a straight line, however, so problems and complications should be interspersed with moments of calm, reflection, or positive movement. The action will continue to rise overall, but with dips along the way. This gives the reader a break and allows time for reflection and thought.

Climax

This is the major turning point of the story. All the problems and complications established during the rising action will come to a head. There is high tension and conflict, and stakes are at their highest. The risk that things might not turn out should feel real to the reader, even if they know deep down that everything will turn out the way they are hoping.

This is often a moment of crisis that leaves the reader wondering what will happen next. If you are writing a romance, the reader expects there will be a happily ever after ending. You likely won’t get the reader to really think a happy ending is out of the question, but the goal is to make them doubt the how of how that happy ending will be reached. This heightens a reader’s investment in the outcome and deepens the connection with the characters.

Falling Action

After the climax, the story begins to calm down and starts working toward a satisfying ending. Characters decide what action to take to resolve conflict. These decisions and actions should be realistic and somewhat surprising. Easy and predictable resolutions tend to fall flat and disappoint readers. Make sure all the loose ends are tied up, explanations are revealed, and the reader learns more about how the conflict is resolved.

Resolution

At this point, the main conflict is resolved and the book ends. The story, however, should have the illusion of continuing on beyond the page. This is true even if the book is a standalone and will not have a continuation. Give the reader a chance to imagine how the characters’ lives play out. This adds to the satisfying quality of the ending.

Posted in books, creative writing, memory's edge, new release, reading, romance, writing

Excerpt: Memory’s Edge Part 2

Before I move on to the next themed blog series, now that I’ve finished the Marketing Primer series, I thought I’d share an excerpt from Memory’s Edge: Part 2. This is the book I’m currently working on hoping to finish in the next month.

By the time lunch finally arrived, Gretchen was exhausted on every level. She only dragged herself out of her chair to lock the door. Before she could accomplish the task, she saw Desi sprinting down the hall and opened the door for her. Her friend crashed into her, throwing her arms around her and squeezing her hard enough to hurt.

“I am so mad at you! You know that, right?” Desi demanded when she finally pulled back. “I called and called and called!”

Yanking her friend into the classroom, Gretchen locked the door behind her and headed for her desk. Desi plopped down on top of a nearby student desk and glared at her friend. Gretchen collapsed in her seat. “I want to say I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t face talking to anyone.”

“I was so worried about you! John too! It was like I suddenly lost you both!” Her hands flew up dramatically. “How could you do that to me?”

Seeing the tears in her friend’s eyes broke Gretchen down. “I’m sorry, Desi. I know it wasn’t fair, but I just couldn’t. I still haven’t talked to my parents, either. I couldn’t even go home.”

Desi huffed. “Thank goodness Carl at least had sense enough to let everyone know you hadn’t gone off the deep end. I would have banged down your door if he hadn’t texted to say you were alive and as emotionally stable as could be expected.”

“If you had tried to bang down my door, you still wouldn’t have found me.”

Seeming a little surprised by that, Desi asked, “You’re still staying at Carl’s?”

Gretchen looked away from her friend. “Do you remember what the inside of my house looked like before we left for New York?”

Desi sighed as realization set in. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. I hadn’t considered all the wedding prep scattered everywhere. Of course you didn’t want to go home to that.” She reached forward and squeezed Gretchen’s hand. “Have you heard from John yet?”

Looking up at her, Gretchen stared in confusion. “Why would I? He’s not coming back. He has his old life back now.”

“Yeah,” Desi said, “but what about all the wedding stuff, the catering business, his clothes and things, everything he left behind.”

Blinking away tears, Gretchen said, “It’s not like he needs any of it now, and I’ll deal with the wedding stuff eventually on my own. It’s not his problem anymore.”

Wincing, Desi asked, “So you looked him up too?”

She didn’t want to admit it, but Gretchen nodded. “I can’t even comprehend how much money he and Corey have. There’s nothing he left behind that he can’t buy again.”

“Except you.”

Gretchen glared at her friend. “It was the right choice.”

Propping her elbow on the desk, Desi dropped her chin into her palm. “I know, honey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be hurt by his choice.”

“It was my choice as much as his. I’m the one who said goodbye and left the stage.”

“Because you knew what choice he had to make and did it for him so he didn’t have to.”

“It was the right choice,” Gretchen whispered as tears spilled down her cheeks.

Practically laying herself out across the desk, Desi ignored the fact that she was wearing a skirt and hugged her friend fiercely. “Sometimes right choices hurt worse than wrong ones.”

Gretchen clung to her friend for several long minutes before finding enough strength to pull back. “Thank you.”

She smiled and sat back up. They were quiet for a long time before Desi spoke again. “It’s going to be so weird without him here. Jake was so upset when he realized John wasn’t coming back.”

Gretchen instantly felt bad for not considering the impact of John’s leaving on anyone else in their life. Desi had gone through several boyfriends while John lived with Gretchen, but he and Jake had become very close over the last several months. Desi cared about him like a brother as well. And her parents…despite Gretchen’s mother warning her about the potential heartbreak loving John would cause, they both adored him and loved him like a son. They must have been as heartbroken over losing him as they were knowing she was hurting over the loss.

“I need to call my parents when I get home,” Gretchen said tearfully.

Desi smiled sadly. “We’re all going to miss him. I know it’s not the same for us as it is for you, but we do understand some of what you’re going through. Stay with Carl as long as you need to, but know we’re all here for you, okay? Whatever help you need to sort things out, all you have to do is call.”

Gretchen reached over the desk and hugged her again. “Thank you.”

They pulled back from each other and Desi sighed. “I better get going. I have to prep for my next class. Pottery week…” She shook her head at the impending mess and stood. “Call me later, okay?”

Gretchen nodded and watched her walk out. Another half a day to go. Then two more days until the weekend. Then one more week until spring break. She could last that long. Maybe by then she’d be ready to start putting her life back together.

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, writing, writing advice, writing tips

Marketing Primer: In-Person Marketing and Events

Setting up in-person events takes making connections and planning in advance.

Types of Events

  • Book signing (new releases, special events)
  • Speaking engagements (author talk, informative lecture)
  • Community organization events (any event that allows vendors)
  • Writing groups (guest speaker)
  • Art collaborative events (art walks, art fairs/festivals)
  • Craft fairs (schools, senior center, maker markets)
  • Community festivals (seasonal, renaissance, kids)
  • School or library talks (information presentation, career day)
  • Informational presentations (conferences, comic cons, literature events)

Setting up a book signing

Book signings are not limited to book stores, but if you do want to hold a signing at a bookstore, focus on local and independent stores. Chain bookstores often don’t work with indie authors because of buyback restrictions and they may not take consignments either.

Local stores are more flexible and offer better royalty splits on books sold during a signing or on consignment books. A 60/40 split is common with many indie bookstores when books are excepted on consignment.

If you wat to branch out from bookstores, pitch libraries, restaurants/cafes, or a business related to the book’s theme. When working with a for-profit organization or an event center, you will likely need to rent the space or give a percentage of sales to the venue or owner.

Be sure to book your signing 1-2 months in advance. Venues or organizations who hold regular events need plenty of time to fit you into the schedule. It’s also important to give yourself enough time to make sure you will have books available.

Speaking engagements

You don’t have to wait for someone to ask you to speak to their group or organization. Prepare a presentation and pitch yourself to groups.

Author talks or informational presentations are great options when you don’t have a new release or something to celebrate but still want to stay active in the community. Pitch yourself to bookstores, libraries, charity events, schools, Comic Cons, writing conferences, or festivals.

Have a topic ready to pitch. Write out a 100-word synopsis of the content and have a sample ready for consideration. Don’t just talk about your book. Focus on the issues your book deals with or pick a writing or book related topic you feel comfortable speaking on.

Charge a speaking fee or ask to sell books in lieu of payment.

People do not buy goods and services. The buy relations, stories, and magic.

Seth Godin

While marketing can be intimidating and time consuming, the more you focus on building relationships with readers, the more success and satisfaction you’ll experience.

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing

Marketing Primer: Long-Term Marketing

A solid long-term marketing plan is a big factor in determining success.

Daily Marketing Tasks

Social media posts should be going out daily, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it daily. Schedule a full week in advance to free up time by using services like Buffer, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or Sprout Social. Which will work best will depend on which social media platforms you plant o use, how far in advance you want to schedule, and your budget.

Once you have your posts going out, make sure to engage! Respond to comments and messages, like and thank shares, and follow/friend as you see fit. Join conversations about books and publishing as well.

If you’re going to blog, always be on the look out for content ideas and plan your schedule. Even if you aren’t going to blog weekly, you should always be gathering topics and ideas.

Starting pinning on Pinterest and engaging with followers by liking/pinning their pins. Posting around 5 pins per day has been shown to help grow traffic on Pinterest.

Keep a running list of links, stories, pictures, etc. that you can share as content on social media. Also curate a list of posts that get good engagement and reshare them every so often.

Answer all messages and emails you receive, even if it’s just a quick thank you.

Review analytics of posts and ads daily so you know what’s working and what’s not.

Research new information and opportunities. Never stop learning because the marketing world never stops changing!

Weekly Marketing Tasks

If you are going to blog, blogging is a good way to keep fresh content rolling in and keeping your website relevant in search results.

Small focused promotions also work well on a weekly basis. These may include small giveaways ($5 gift card, ebook, bookmark, etc.), contests with small prizes, newsletters, questions posed to readers on social media, etc.

To break up your promotion submissions, send a few each week. Rotate through your books if you have more than one. Keep in mind any upcoming promotions you have as you submit and plan accordingly.

Review ad performance over the past week and make changes or turn off ads that aren’t performing well.

Cross promote with another author through newsletter or social media post swaps.

Send out relevant email blasts if you have news that wasn’t included in your last newsletter and can’t wait until the next schedule newsletter. Don’t overuse this!

Pick a day to sit down and schedule daily posts for the next week.

Monthly Marketing Tasks

Plan a medium-sized focused promotion, such as a giveaway with a slightly bigger prize ($10-$20 gift card, paperback book, etc.), offer a book for sale or make a special offer with purchase, or hold a contest.

Send out your regular monthly newsletter (if that is the schedule you choose), and include all relevant updates from the previous month and news about what is coming up in the next month.

Seek out reviews from fans, bloggers, services, etc. Set a realistic goal for how amny reviews you want to get each month through direct interaction.

Focus on one book or series each month. Plan your social media posts, review offers, free books, Pinterest board activity, character interviews, etc. around the book or series you are featuring that month.

Incorporate any holidays or events into your posts and promotions. If you want to include listing sites or ads, plan these well in advance if it’s around a holiday.

Plan the next months ads and create the graphics you will need so you aren’t wasting time later trying to create or purchase them at the last minute. Review monthly analytics and make adjustments as needed.

Yearly Marketing Tasks

Schedule 2-4 big marketing pushes for the year. These may be centered around a new release, holiday, event, birthday, etc. If you can plan a few outside of times when everyone else is engaging in marketing pushes (holidays), you’re likely to get more interest.

Be as creative as possible with events, posts, and prizes. Try new tactics and evaluate whether or not they worked.

Plan your release schedule for future books and, if possible, spread them out evenly throughout the year. Be realistic, though!

Set goals for the next year for growth and plan for how to reach those goals.

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, new release, publishing, self publishing, writing

Marketing Primer: Marketing a Book Launch

Launching a new book typically takes extra marketing and a specific plan in order to make it a success. In this post we’ll discuss what extra tactics you can take to launch in each of the three phases of planning a book launch: pre-release, release-day, and post-launch marketing.

Pre-Release Marketing Planning

Start as early as possible with your pre-release marketing! Plan out what promotional materials (physical or digital) you plan to use and have them prepared as early as you can so you can start sharing them.

Gather reviews for release day by recruiting book bloggers, beta readers, or review services. Remember that you should NEVER pay for reviews. Keep track of everyone who agrees to provide an honest review and follow up with them on release day. Ask them to send you a link to their review so you can share it. Thank reviewers who follow through and keep a list of those who don’t so you can decide who to send review copies to for your next releases.

Another pre-release marketing option is to make a book trailer. This can be posted on YouTube for long-term availability and shared on social media in marketing posts. Video consistently get more interaction on social media than pictures and text.

Setting up your book as a pre-order is another marketing option. This requires you to have your book files and cover ready further in advance, but it gives you a link to use in your marketing as well. It allows readers to buy your book when they are interested instead of hoping they will remember to purchase it after it releases.

Blog tours are not as popular as they once were, but they can still be useful for boosting visibility. They are not typically helpful for revenue producing, so evaluate where your budget can be best spent before paying for a blog tour.

If you plan to host any in-person events, set these up several months in advance and make sure your book files will be ready early enough to be able to order copies of your book in time for the events.

Release-Day Marketing Plan

Release day (week/month) sales within the first 30 days are important for rankings retailer sites. This is a prime time to focus on ads, promos, and social media marketing. Watch ads closely to see which are working best and turn off or adjust those that aren’t in order to keep your marketing as effective and efficient as possible.

Send out an email newsletter blast to your subscribers on release day, and then a few days to a week later as a reminder or only to those who didn’t open the first email. It’s a good idea to also ask readers to post an honest review when they finish reading as a way to help you reach more readers who might like your book. It often helps to mention that a review doesn’t need to be more a few sentences so readers don’t feel intimidated.

Host a release party (virtual or in-person) to celebrate the release. Digital options include Facebook parties, livestreaming a reading or Q&A session, Twitter chats, live YouTube video, or utilizing TikTok or Instagram. In-person options include a book signing, author reading, or party with friends and readers.

You can also schedule (or have a PR company set up) blog features, radio or podcast interviews, or media appearances. Traditional media is less effective for launch marketing than avenues such as podcast interviews and live social media appearances.

You can also off incentives for readers to buy your book, such as giving them a free gift like a bonus short story or signed bookplate or digital authorgraph. Be sure you check Terms of Service on retailers regarding incentives, especially in relations to asking for reviews. Amazon is very strict about this.

It’s also important to update all of your social media and website with links and graphics, including cover art if that hasn’t been updated already. Update your social media bios with a link to your book. You may only do this temporarily if your regular link is to your author website or something specific you are promoting.

Post-Release/Launch Marketing Plan

The goal of post-launch marketing is to continue the momentum you’ve built in the previous two phases. This takes consistent marketing for several months that is focused on your new release, but not as robust as during the launch period.

In the months after a release, make use of free social media group posts and paid ads as your time and budget allow. Schedule newsletter spots with companies that permit new releases. Once a month, remind your newsletter that you new release is now available to catch anyone who hasn’t opened your newsletter recently but might be interested in your new book.

Share positive reviews, blog posts, and pertinent links you cultivated during the previous two phases. Continue to seek out reviewers and build your reviews up on retailer sites. Utilize your street team members to share and post about your new release, what they liked about it, or to recommend it to likeminded readers.

The key of post-release marketing is to keep the book fresh in readers’ minds by incorporating it into what you’re already doing with your others books. If this is your first book, blend in updates on your next project while still promoting your book to keep readers excited for more!

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing

Marketing Primer: Non-Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising is not the only option available to authors to market their books. Here are a few other avenues to consider.

Listing Sites

Listing sites offer spots in their newsletter for authors to advertise new releases, special pricing, or free books. Newsletter ads provide short term results and benefits, with a period of additional sales at a higher price or sell-through on other books in a series. This period after the initial promotion is where most of the revenue is made. These types of ads range from inexpensive to very expensive depending on the size of the service’s list. Big lists like BookBub can be very effective and produce a longer period of additional sales.

Banner Ads

Banner Ads are advertisements put in a prominent stop (usually the top of the page or sidebar) on a website. It’s important to check a site’s monthly or daily traffic before purchasing an ad. It’s almost important to make sure the price is promportional to the amount of traffic. These types of ads are moderately expensive, but also generally effective. The results are largely short term.

Review Services

Reviews effect buyer confidence, so it is important to seek out reviews for your books. Amazon Terms of Service prohibit paying for reviews or exchanging products in return for reviews, with the exception of providing a free book in exchange for an honest review.

Paying to have your book included in a review service listing is a viable way to increase your reviews and does not violate Amazon’s TOS. These services can be rather expensive, depending on the service. Service with large reader bases will cost more than smaller services. These types of services can be very effective at increasing reviews and provide long term results.

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing

Marketing Primer: Getting Started with Promotions

Maintaining a consistent schedule of promotions helps authors remain in the forefront of readers’ mind.

Before you start scheduling promotions, make sure you make quality promotional graphics ready!

Preparing Promotional Materials

Give readers something to remember you and you book both in-person and online. This starts with high quality graphics and professional design. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. Using graphic editing software like Canva or Book Brush allows anyone to create eye-catching graphics for print or online use for a reasonable monthly fee. There are also design services that are very affordable (many are authors running side businesses).

Physical materials you may need for in-person events and sending or selling to readers may include: paper bookmarks, business cards, post cards, book plates to sign and mail, banners and posters, and flyers.

Virtual materials for social media promotion and digital advertising may include: teasers, quotes, digital autographs, posts to save/share, videos, book trailers, social media banners, 3D cover art, or logos.

Unique promotional materials can make you stand out. Consider options such as book-themed jewelry, ribbon bookmarks, book plates, mugs, t-shirts, pens, etc.

Personal materials you want to have prepared include: live reading selections, Q&As, chat sessions, etc.

Setting up Cross Promotions

Cross promotions are all about help other authors while expanding your readership. Here area few ideas to consider getting involved with:

Newsletter Swaps: You agree to feature another author’s book in your email newsletter and they share yours in their newsletter. The author with the smaller newsletter gets the most benefit, but both authors are exposed to new readers. This works best with the features books are in similar genres.

Combined marketing pushes: These are especially common and effective around themes or holidays. All authors promote a group of books, usually with a single landing page. This can work for free or paid books.

Guest post/Interview trades: Share guest posts, promos, or interviews on each others blogs/websites. This increases your general exposure and opens you up to new readers as well.

Multi-author events: Join other authors in celebrating a theme, holiday, or just to have fun. Consider hosting Facebook parties, Twitter chats, a group sale, an author panel Q&A.

Box Sets: In a box set, each author contributes a book and all the books are sold as one unit in an ebook format. All authors MUST agree to promote and share any advertising costs. Be sure to vet the other authors involved before signing a contract.

Free Marketing Avenues

Next week I’ll discuss paid marketing options, but don’t forget about the many free avenues available for marketing a book. Free marketing opportunities are often time consuming, but can be very effective. Here are a few ideas to consider:

Facebook: Join some of the many marketing groups and share links to your books. Post to your author page on a regular basis. Make sure to keep promotional posts to 25%. Run a giveaway on your author page for an ebook or signed paperback. Host a Facebook party to celebrate a new release, book anniversary, your birthday, etc.

Twitter: Use the Pinned Tweet feature to highlight a buy link or promotion. Tweet daily with interesting content and occasional promotions. Follow readers and authors and start book-related conversations.

eBook Submission Sites: There are a wide variety of submission sites, many genre specific. While many do charge a fee, there are some that are free to submit to. It can be time consuming to submit individually, but can gain you new readers and sales.

Cross-promote: Team up with other authors to share each others posts, tweets, pins, or links. Some author groups do this regularly, such as ChickLitChatHQ on Fridays.

Free ebook offer: Offer readers a free ebook, novella, excerpt, etc. on a permanent or temporary basis. Many authors use a free product as a reader magnet to increase newsletter subscriptions.

Video and Audio: Make use of YouTube for Vlogging, book trailers, author readings, or a weekly check-in or chat. Start a radio show or podcast to talk about books, writing, or whatever you’re interested in.

Creative Marketing

The more creative your marketing efforts are, the more memorable they will be. Try to match marketing to the theme or a unique feature of your book(s).

A great example of this was the launch of “The Girl on the Train.” On release day, the publisher deployed dozens or more employees onto subway trains with copies of the book. They rode around on trains for several hours reading copies of the book and engaging in conversations about it.

Other examples include “The Liar Society” authors and promoters wearing pink wigs to match the hair of the main character, a photography-themed book author ran a camera giveaway and Pinterest contest, an author/musician offered a free digital music album with purchase of his book.

Don’t be afraid to try new ideas!

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media

Marketing Primer: Utilizing Social Media

Before we delve into how to use social media effectively as an author, here are a few reminders about the purpose of social media to guide your planning.

The purpose of using social media is NOT JUST TO SELL BOOKS. The purpose is to interact and cultivate fans and a community of readers.

To do this, it’s important to share useful information, use humor to make people laugh, inspire people, share the LOVE for other authors so it’s not about you all the time, share the status or progress of projects to keep readers informed, build reader interest in your project with teasers, quotes, and sneak peeks, reward loyal fans with first looks, giveaways and prizes, share your writing-related (or personal) news and events, and show your personality and share your interests with your readers.

What to Post of Social Media

Follow the 25% rule: Promotional, Informational, Personality, and Giving Back. Only 1 out of every 4 posts should be promotional.

Facebook: Posts that work well on Facebook include behind the scenes photos, quotes, fill-in-the-blank questions, true or false questions, open ended questions, blog posts about writing craft or in-progress projects, newsletters, announcements, teasers, sneak peeks of works-in-progress or new releases, live videos, excerpts, humorous memes, book/publishing-related articles, and personal interactions.

Twitter: The types of tweets the work well on Twitter include blog posts, interesting industry-related articles, quotes from famous authors, industry news of interest to other authors and readers, newsletters, announcements, Vine/YouTube videos, event updates, questions you would like readers to answer, Twitter chats, and impromptu thoughts to share with readers.

Pinterest: Pins that work well on Pinterest include product/book photos, writing guides, links to your ebooks, videos such as book trailers or author talks, infographics, quotes or tips from you or famous authors, blog posts, curated content geared toward writing or publishing, “life hacks,” instructional articles or videos, and arts and crafts.

Instagram: Because Instagram is very customer-centric it’s important to add value to images by providing specific price details when applicable. You can also share customer created pics, pics of YOU in day to day life, pictures of your non-writing interests, contests announcements, and product-centric pics. Focus on IN THE MOMENT pictures to share.

YouTube: This is a great platform to share book trailers, author readings or talks, updates or projects, and live Q&As with readers.

When to Post on Social Media

Here are some general suggestions based on research. Your personal schedule should be modified to accommodate individual account analytics and your personal time and energy available.

Facebook: 1-2 times/day, 3 times/week. Check your “Insights” to see when your fans are online most often to select posting times. It’s also important to review what types of posts fans are interacting with most as well.

Twitter: 3-30 times per day, spread throughout the day. You’ll typically see more engagement on weekends. Follow industry leaders and interact often.

Instagram: 1-2 times/day, 3 times/week. Check your insights for best posting times and pay attention to what types of post garner the most engagement.

Pinterest: 3-10 times/day. You’ll typically see more engagement on weekend mornings.

Blog: 2 times/week. Focus on producing HIGH quality content. Early mornings are typically the best times to post, especially early in the week.

YouTube: 1 time/week works well for most channels. Create a specific schedule and stick to it. Frequency varies depend on topic/brand. Research other authors and publishers working in your genres and see what they are doing.

Scheduling Posts

Scheduling your posts can be a huge time saver and help you stay on a consistent posting schedule. Most social media platforms allow scheduling through their own app or a third-party app. Some third party apps allow scheduling for multiple platforms/accounts.

Hootsuite:Works with most social media platforms. You can try it our with a free account, which will have limited options. The unlimited paid account unlocks all options, but is one of the more expensive services.

Buffer: With their free account, you can use up to 3 accounts and schedule a limited number of posts. Their paid plans allows for more accounts and unlimited scheduling.

TweetDeck: This is only for Twitter, as Twitter doesn’t allow scheduling from it’s app. This app allows you to easily manage multiple Twitter accounts and lets you set up different groups and trends to follow on the dashboard.

Tailwind: There is only a paid account option, but it allows for scheduling posts on Pinterest and Instagram. It will also suggests best posting time and gives # suggestions for each post.

Facebook Business Suite: This dashboard connects your Facebook and Instagram-linked account for scheduling, messaging, and analytics. You can only connect one Instagram account to a Facebook page.

Use Analytics to Update Your Marketing Plan

Most social media platforms offer at least basics analytics. These give you information on likes, comments, shares, visitors, referring sites, time online, top fans, popularity of content, fan location, and more.

Review your analytics regularly and update your posting times and content type accordingly to what fans/followers are liking and interacting with most. Track the effectiveness of changes or new tactics and continue to adjust over time.

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing

Marketing Primer: Getting Started with Social Media

With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Get involved, but don’t over do it.

The Point of Social Media Marketing

It’s not just about selling, it’s about building a community of loyal readers. Social media can connect you with readers all over the world. Building a community of like-minded readers will keep them engaged and interested for longer.

Social media allows you to go to where buyers already “live” instead of trying to make them all come to you. Find out which platforms your “ideal” readers use regularly and start interacting. Don’t spend precious time on platforms that aren’t a good fit for the type of community you’re trying to build.

Social media provides opportunities for interaction and relationship development. It’s more than just serving ads to users. Take the time to interact, comment, answer questions, share engaging content, and invest in the long term.

It also allows you to show personality and express yourself to readers. In the digital age, readers want to hear from authors. They want to learn about their lives and writing and find the intersections. It adds more layers to their reading experience and provides community.

Choosing Social Media

How do you decide which social media platforms to use? Define your ideal reader and examine which platforms they are most likely to be using. It’s also important to consider your own skill and preferences as well. If you dislike using a platform, you’re unlikely to interact on it consistently.

Facebook Pages (NOT profiles): Facebook is the most used platform. It provides opportunities for building long term communities and relationships. It is easy to start and carry on conversations as well. The Facebook audience is mainly adults in the 18-49 age group, with slightly more female users.

Twitter: Ongoing conversation is an important aspect of Twitter. It’s interface is geared toward “in the moment” types of conversations. It’s also a good platform for news and updates. Twitter is popular with both men and women in the 18-49 age group, and nearly half of users are on the platform at least once per day.

Instagram: Instagram is mainly a visual platform geared toward creatives. It offers author/creator/business accounts which give different statistics and options to users. Because it is owned by Facebook, it’s easy to link accounts and simplify posting and messaging. Instagram has an easy conversation style. It’s main user groups skew toward a younger audience, with 18-29 year olds being the largest age group.

YouTube: This is also a visually-driven platform. It provides opportunity to express style and personality. In general, video gets the most interaction on social media. Authors can make use of this platform with book trailers, readings, Q&As, etc. YouTube is popular with pretty much everyone.

Pinterest: Another visual platform, it is also informational and filled with users ready to make purchases. Pins are shareable between users and the board format easy to use. Users can easily follow specific interests and save pins to their own boards. The platform is very buyer-centered and has high conversion rates. The user profile is mainly female and popular in the 18-64 age group.

Setting Up Author Profiles

Author profiles on book-related sites are similar to social media, but require less ongoing interaction. They do allow you to connect with more readers and may open up promotional opportunities as well.

Amazon Author Central: This not only allows you to set up your public profile on Amazon, it also gives you access to sales reports and the ability to manage your books. Create your account, claim all of your books and update or fix any necessary information, track sales of paperbacks, fill out your profile details, connect social media accounts, look into the ability to utilize paid ads. You can also get followers on your Amazon profile.

Goodreads: Creating or claiming your author account allows you to manage your public profile and start collecting friends and followers. Be sure to add your books to your profile, connect a blog (if you have one) and connect your social media accounts so interested readers can easily follow you. You will also have the ability to host giveaways, though they are a bit pricey at $119.

BookBub: Create or claim your author account and start collecting followers. BookBub offers paid ads and features, as well as newsletter spots. Newsletter spots are very effective, but also more expensive than many other newsletter promotions.

My Book Cave: Create an account and set up your author profile. Add all of your books as reader magnets in order to see stats and give each book a content rating. MBC offers features and promotional opportunities and listing-building magnet promotions. Magnets are a good way to build your email list and collaborate with other authors.

LinkedIn: Create your account and set up a professional profile. Be sure to list your work and education experience, then list all of your books as publications. You can also list any writing or literary awards you have received. This is a great place to make professional contacts in writing and publishing. You can also publish blog-style articles directly on LinkedIn.

Another reason to set up these profiles is that Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, and MBC will often send out new release alerts to your readers/followers for free!

Setting Up Accounts and Profiles

Fully set up all accounts with an author pic, bio, social media links, books links, contact info, and “verify” where available. Use the same profile picture on all accounts for consistency and recognizability.

Customize where possible to stand out from others. This is different on each platform, but make sure to add custom cover photos, customize background images, choose unique colors when possible, and get rid of any tabs or features that don’t apply to you and your writing. On Facebook you can customize tabs, choose what your call to action asks and leads to (buy now, sign up, contact, etc.), and you can add one landing page to your profile (book link or website).

Update images often. Always use professional looking graphics, and only use images you own the copyright to. If you update a profile photo, be sure to update it on all platforms.

Pin posts/tweets to top of the page and update them often. This is a great place to highlight announcements, new releases, questions you want readers to answer, or giveaways you’re hosting.

Next week we’ll talk about how to make use of your social media accounts!