Day 2: So far, this is fun. (Talk to me on day 10-something. ha!)
If you're interested in participating in upcoming topics, see my question list at the end of today's (long) post.
Listening to my publisher, Karen Syed, at Echelon Press, is like listening to the trainer at the gym. They both repeat things over and over. And guess what? Sometimes it gets in through the cobwebs and sticks.
One thing Karen harps on repeatedly is Promotion and Using the Internet.
There are tons of tools available for writers and authors - social networking sites, book groups, author groups, email groups, the dizzying amount can have you pulling your hair out. With publication of Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, I soon learned that dirty little secret most writers don't truly comprehend - you can expect to spend more (and more, and more…) time online promoting, posting, answering emails... argghhh!
Unfortunately, you soon find tons of new sites or people send you links for others. You can't be on them all. Some sites I simply put my basic information on and don't follow actively. It's too daunting to do them all. A lot of this stuff may be old hat, but I hope I've come up with a few things that are new to you.
Pick the Best
Tools like Bookmark are timesavers that allow you to easily take your latest blog post and repost it on other sites. Most blogs have RSS feeds also and let you add subscription links so your readers can link to you. On Delicious, you can post your bookmarks and grab from others.
Social networking is like a big herd - be online long enough and you'll be able to hear the crowd of footsteps leading to the next hot site. The current big thing (of the moment) is Twitter, my site is twitter.com/chrisverstraete - broadcasting your news or what have you in only 140 characters. Simple, though I know I could care less that someone is brushing their teeth or just ate a whole pizza. Posts hopefully should be meaningful, useful or creative. I've found that too many marketers clog it up with constant boring ads.
A new one I discovered and heard mentioned is Plurk, which I may try next. The interface is appealing. It looks fun.
I also use Facebook and Myspace, though I tend to be more active on Myspace, maybe since it was my first site, so I'm kind of loyal. And it just seems easier to use sometimes.
A fun site I came across is Link Tiles. Fun little tile pix (see my cover for Searching For A Starry Night with the Dachshund under Prose or click tags like book or mystery.) Neat idea.
Another more business-oriented site is LinkedIn. Writers can use a number of sites, such as Author's Den and Book Place.
Writing and Hobbies
If you like to share your writing or hobbies with like-minded souls, then there are online communities and email lists galore.
Pick a hobby or interest and Yahoo Groups probably has a group for it. For writers, groups like BlogBookTours, which initiated this month's Daily Blog Challenge, provide inspiration, information and sometimes a good kick—in-the-butt. (** Check the BlogBookTours blog for links to all participating blogs.)
Readers can share books, review them, talk to other readers and put "bookshelves" on their websites or blogs through sites like GoodReads.com or Shelfari.com.
Tired, yet? Ha! That's just the start. I’m sure I've missed a few and more sites pop up every week, it seems.
The result is the more sites you are on, the more your name, book title, etc. is picked up and spread around. It's cheap promotion - and it costs nothing. Yes, all this posting, tweeting, linking and what-not can be a major time-suck. But it also beats the lonely-author-in-the-attic (home office) routine. Just pick what you like and ignore the rest. So get posting, but make it interesting and creative!
Use Common Sense
In the fever of posting or trying new things, remember to not let your common sense get lost in the shuffle. Don't put anything online you don't want someone to see or know. Don’t post personal information like your address, phone, or birth date on any sites. Most sites don't need that information and there's no reason to give it to them. And never ever post a social security number anywhere. Glitches happen; things can show up online without you knowing it, or sites can be hacked. A business can post an address if it's necessary, although a p.o. box may be a good idea if the extra cost isn't a problem.
** If you have a favorite site or heard about something new, feel free to share it. I'd love to hear if anyone has had any special experiences as a result of posting online or being active in any of these groups? Please share them!
Upcoming Topics - Please contribute!
If you'd like to participate in the blog in coming days, please email me your answer to the following questions, plus your name, book title and website link (and send a small book cover jpeg if possible). (Send to: chrisATcverstraete.com or go to the website contact page)
* What's the best writing advice you ever received? How did you use it (or not?)
* What's the worst writing advice you ever received? What did you do instead?
* Opening sentences - what's your favorite and why? How'd you change it to get it to what it is now? (include name of work and publisher, and link if online)
* Meet What's His/her Name:
How do you make your characters come alive? (give me a character, tell me about them and their "quirk.") What's the best thing a writer can and should do in characterization? What did you do?
* Writing Rules -
Which rule did you break - why and how? Give an example. (include name of work, publisher and link)
* Unsticking Writer's Block -
How? What do you do it? Does it exist?
* The Best Writing Preparation
How to avoid procrastination? What do you do when it's time to write?