WisRWA Calendar

Apr 05
2019
WisRWA 2019 Write Touch Conference
Mark your calendars for the 2019 Write Touch Conference April 5-7, 2019 at the Milwaukee Hyatt in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. The conference will feature Maya Rodale as keynote speaker, and Lisa Cron as one of the headliners.

Registration is now open. Click the events tab for more information.

Meeting Times

Jan 02
2019
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 Restaurant, 1951 Bond Street, Green Bay, WI

Let’s Dress Up: Rhythm, Rhyme, and Adding Pizazz

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Jan 12
2019
Chippewa Falls
10-12:30 at Deb's Cafe, 1120 122nd St, Chippewa Falls, WI

Deep Point of View

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Jan 19
2019
Milwaukee
10 – 12:30 at Red Oak Writing Studio 11709 W Cleveland Ave. West Allis

Safety Zone: A Panel Discussion on Diversity

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WisRWA Newsletter



Promotion

The Internet is Not Forever, and Other Useful Social Media Advice

Picture of Social Media Icons

“The internet is forever.”

Wrong. We’ve all heard this warning. I say it to my teenage daughter all the time. But this so-called helpful advice is not only not helpful to you, if you’re like most people, it’s probably detrimental to your success on social media.

Unless you’re talking about nudie pictures, (public service announcement: don’t post nudie pictures on the Internet) letting your social media strategy be guided by the fear that any of your posts will ever be fascinating to the whole world for all time is kind of like planning your three-year-old’s career as an NBA superstar. Sure, it happens to some people, but the odds of it happening to you are just so (to be polite) ridiculously small. And, in fact, your biggest problem is much more likely the opposite: getting anyone, anyone at all, to read and care about what you’ve posted.

My day job is social media marketing, and I spend a lot of time doing it. So, from my experience, let me suggest some better, more helpful advice.

  1. Use fewer words. You know people do it. You probably do too. You see a wall of words, lengthy and dense, and you move along without reading it, even if you know it’s probably interesting. tldr is an abbreviation the kids use these days for “too long; didn’t read.” The attention span of the average social media user is approximately a nanosecond. Or less. Even if your high school taught the 12-sentence paragraph, as you’ve long suspected, your high school was wrong. Keep your sentences and your paragraphs short. Use lots of white space. And, lead with your important thoughts, so your readers see them before they stop reading.
  2. Go back and cut out a few more words.
  3. Don’t post without explanation. Tell people why you’re posting this picture, or sharing this person’s post. You’ll engage with them more if you let them know why you thought they’d like something or find it interesting. Social media is a chance for your readers to hear your voice, maybe understand a little of what you’re thinking, maybe respond, and to feel connected with you. So, connect.
  4. Avoid “saminess.” And, yes, before you say anything, that is a real word. Probably. Social media platforms all have top-secret formulas for deciding who, and how many people, will see which posts in their feeds. This is called your post’s reach. One of the things most heavily penalized is saminess. Same pictures. Same words. Sometimes you need to repeat yourself, promoting a new release, for example, but it’s important to find different ways to present it on subsequent posts.
  5. Vary the types of posts as well. Promotional posts typically get the lowest reach, but are the most important to you as an author. Build up the size of your audience with different types of posts, such as interesting informational or educational posts that your readers will find useful, and engaging posts that touch their emotions. No, it doesn’t all have to be your original content. It can be shares. And yes, sometimes this means kitten pictures and hamster videos. These kinds of posts help you connect better with your followers. And then, when you do promote, there will be more people to see it, and they’ll be more inclined to care.
  6. Avoid “selling words,” or be prepared to pay. Using words such as “on sale” or “sale price” or “to purchase” or “for more information” flags the top-secret formula that you’re advertising something. Posts with selling words have the lowest reach, because the platforms want you to sponsor or boost these posts (i.e. pay for them to be delivered to more people’s feeds.) Sometimes, that’s actually a good idea. You get to choose how much money to spend. The amount you’ll pay to get a decent reach is gradually rising, but this is still a relatively cheap way to advertise. Plus, boosted/sponsored posts let you reach people beyond those who have liked or followed you. For your first experience, start with a small amount of money, maybe five or ten bucks, and experiment with how it works. Pay attention to audience selection. You can choose your audience by age range, gender, geographical area and interests. The more you filter your audience, the smaller it will be. On the other hand, the more you filter your audience, the higher the likelihood that your post will be seen by someone who might actually be interested.
  7. Use pictures with every post you can. For many people, posts without pictures might as well be invisible.
  8. Pick the platforms that suit your style or appeal to your preferred market. There are too many to use them all. Google “social media statistics” to find out which platforms are currently popular with which gender and age group. Then get started. If you don’t yet know which ones suit your style, then just pick a popular one and try it. Feel free to change your mind after you’ve gained some experience with it. Follow other authors, and pay attention to what they’re doing, especially if you find a post engaging, or it gets a lot of likes, comments or shares, which means other people are engaged by it. If it’s working for them, give it a try.
  9. Don’t worry about making every post perfect. Take some chances, and find your voice. Just as in writing, where we have to turn off our editor on the first draft and just write, let yourself make mistakes starting out on social media. If you’re embarrassed later by something you’ve posted, you can go back and delete it. If you notice a typo later, you can go back and edit it. There will be awkward first efforts. Post anyway. That’s the best way to get the hang of it, and to develop your social media style. Remember that early on, not many people are paying attention to what you’re doing anyway, so try things. You’ll make mistakes. Take that as a given, and do it anyway.
  10. Likewise, don’t wait for the perfect topic. It’s great to post big exciting news of success, signing an agent, scoring a contract, finishing a manuscript, or releasing your next book, but you don’t wait for big news to post. Readers are interested in behind-the-scenes glimpses of the writing process and the life of a writer. It might be where you’re at in your current book, the amazing fabric you found at the quilting store, what you’re currently reading, something you learned at a workshop, an interesting post you saw on someone else’s feed, or even the color of the sky outside your window. The important thing is to provide content that someone would care about. Not sure yet what that is? Don’t worry about it. Give it your best shot. Let yourself make mistakes. You’ll figure it out. And remember, as long as you haven’t posted nudie pictures, the internet isn’t forever. It won’t be long before your awkward misfires (or even your perfect, golden flashes of genius) are buried under hundreds of subsequent posts, deep down the rabbit hole of your timeline.

by: Kristin Bayer

By night, Kristin is a playwright, and an aspiring romance author. By day she’s a digital marketing consultant and a mom. Find her at her website or on the bleachers at her kid’s game.

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Phyllis Piano: Ten Things I Learned as a New Author

While long-published authors put my meager knowledge to shame, I did learn a lot in the last year. Needless to say, getting attention for a novel with all the competition for attention is a tough assignment. Here are the most important things I learned during the process of getting my first novel published.

Writer using computer and taking paper notesThe writing is the fun and easy part.  Right now, I am still promoting my first two books, editing my third, writing my fourth and partnering on a non-fiction project.  There is so much work involved in all these that has nothing to do with writing—there’s a web site, social media (see below), PR plans, book events and planning, essays to help promote the books (you are reading one), “tip sheets” to help sell your book; meeting with book clubs……I could go on and on.  You must use every skill you have—and develop new ones—to promote your book to the widest audience.

It’s a year-long process after writing your book. Lots has to happen from the time you finish your book until it is published.  For me, the process began when I sent my final manuscript to my publisher in December, 2015. There are two windows for traditional publishing: spring or fall.  As time was short to accomplish everything, we chose the fall cycle for my first novel.  Even with that, the final title of my book had to locked down by March 1 with the cover design well underway.  I know more about the cycle now and released my second book in August of this year because the timing fit perfectly with the PR plan.  Choose the most advantageous time to publish your book.

Summarizing your book in one paragraph is the hardest thing to do.  I failed at this, miserably!  My friend and established author, Kris Radish, stepped in to help me. It is so hard to tell the story of your book in so few words without giving away key elements, but it is exactly this summary that attracts readers to your book on every platform there is, especially Amazon (more on that below). Work hard to create the fewest words to describe your work. Your short book summary is its biggest selling point.

Amazon is the big gorilla.  I certainly knew this before becoming an author, but I now have personal experience with the biggest name in books. I learned that establishing an Author Central page on Amazon was critically important, and I did this by “claiming” my book as part of my page creation.  My husband is English and we have tons of family and friends in England, so I wanted to make it easy for them to purchase my book, so I claimed my book on Amazon UK as well. Amazon can change the price of a book any time they want, and they did bring the retail price down on my book as part of the pre-sale. Amazon is king, so take advantage of it, but understand how it works.

Social media is king.  As publishing is so fragmented, using social media to get the word out about your book isn’t a “nice to do,”  it’s a “must do.”  This means as a writer you must develop new platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. and connect your own web site to social media tools.  Luckily, I knew a bit about social media through professional and personal experience, but I learned a ton more because of my book.  Get familiar with social media and use its power to promote your book every day.

Friends and family rule.  They know you and want to help, so give them the tools.  I did mailing lists of all the folks I know in cities where I did book events; I sent a customized email to key friends and family about the book and how to buy it; I asked a few friends for their early thoughts and asked them to review my book on Amazon or Goodreads.  I used Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to keep contacts informed of good reviews and awards and issued calls to action.  You’ll be surprised at some of the folks who step up to help you. The people who know you well are best suited to help promote your book.Two women sharing on their phones

Be bold.  To get your book out there, you have to take some risks. Unfortunately, many don’t work out, but if a few do, you may hit the jackpot in promoting your book. I sent my book to some well-known authors, reporters and others in the movie industry, and this hasn’t paid off in a big way yet.  A few months before my book came out, I sent an email to a small, local magazine about publishing a notice about my first novel.  They did a whole story with a sidebar about the book, and I ended up on the cover!  Make a lot of shots on goal in promoting your book, as you never know which one will result in great exposure.

Incorporate what you know and love into your book promotion.  I spent more than thirty years in corporate communication, so I wrote an essay that was published in an industry newsletter about how my career helped me become an author. I love to cook, bake and travel, and, of course, write, so I incorporate all of these into my book promotions, connecting across social media platforms.  Make promoting your book fun for you.

It’s never enough or totally done.  Here’s the bad news:  promoting your book is never over, you just move on to the next one.  Here’s the good news: my publisher tells me that it takes two or three books before an author can get established, so each subsequent book brings attention to earlier works, which can result in additional sales. Never give up on bringing your work to the world as your efforts today could pay off well down the road.

It’s all on you.  Whether you are working with a publisher or self-publishing, you are the one who needs to do the lion share of the work to get your book out there. You must do something every day to bring your work to the world. I was lucky that my publisher had great people who taught me about the book business, but at the end of the day, it was up to me. Quick story:  I had my screening mammogram recently and got into a conversation with the technologist, and she bought my book!  She asked me to talk to her son, an aspiring fantasy writer, and I did. Engage and put yourself out there; you are the best ambassador for your work.

Phyllis PianoPhyllis Piano spent more than 30 years working in Fortune 500 companies, serving as an officer and chief communication officer in several. Her first novel, Hostile Takeover: A Love Story, was published in October 2016, and received the Gold Medal in Romance at the 2017 Independent Book Publishers Association Ben Franklin Awards and first place in Fiction: Romance at the 2017 Independent Press Awards. Her second, Love Reconsidered, was published in August, 2017, and was a finalist in the 2017 Best Books Award.

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