Friday, January 15, 2021

Amren's Thoughts, Opinions, and Experiences on Social Media

At the end of 2020, we asked what YOU, our blog readers, wanted us to cover in 2021.  Several of you provided suggestions and, for certain of those topics, we thought it would be fun for the OA team members to provide our own thoughts, opinions, and experiences.  This week, we're tackling how to use Social Media without spending hours doom-scrolling. 

I am not a social media butterfly (which seems to be a common thread among the OA team). I get along using Twitter, but almost nothing else. I deleted my Instagram a while ago for privacy reasons and I don't like to post photos of myself on social media, but I can't bring myself to use it for posting ~book aesthetics~ because I feel like I'm just...really bad at taking pictures?? 

So, while I can't really speak to Instagram or Facebook, I do have some suggestions about Twitter and Reddit. 

Twitter

I'm gonna start out by disagreeing with Dena, who suggested not getting involved with politics. If that's your jam, go for it. I like to engage with current events just a little bit, just enough to join the conversation, mostly because I don't want to get involved to the point where I don't fully understand what's going on. If you're completely disengaged from current events, that can put some people off. 

For some more concrete suggestions, I asked a writer friend how she is so engaged on Twitter and has so many followers (like five times as many as I have). She broke it down like this: 

  • She was lucky and started using Twitter right as writer-Twitter started to become a thing. (Not helpful, but it makes me feel less bad.)
  • Engage with hashtag games every day. There are quite a few hashtag games that happen weekly, or even daily. Pick one or two for every day of the week and engage with those. 
  • Occasionally also post stuff from your life, like selfies or photos of your cat. 
  • Follow people who follow you back. You can always cut down later. 
  • Don't promote yourself all the time. You're more likely to annoy potential readers than you are to attract them. 

Reddit

Reddit is a bit different from other social media sites authors tend to use, since most Reddit users are anonymous, but there are a couple options for getting your work out there. 

  • Free eBooks is a great place to advertise your novel (as long as it's, you know, available as a free ebook).
  • Writing Prompts can also give you some opportunities for self-promotion, if you're willing to write some short pieces based on a prompt. 
  • You can also create your own subreddit just for your work, although that's trickier and I've never tried it. I've seen people do this if they're committing to writing a piece of fiction every day (see the Writing Prompts subreddit above) so if that's up your alley, go for it!


Using social media can seem like a chore. If that's how you feel about it, you're probably spending too much time on it. Make a few rules or goals for yourself, like engaging with one other writer on Twitter every day, or writing a 500-word short story every day. Keep it simple! And remember, the longer you spend on social media, the less time you're spending on your writing. 

We hope you've learned some useful tips and skills this week! Go forth and conquer the social media sphere!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Kate's thoughts, opinions, and experiences with social media


For our new feature on Operation Awesome, the team is taking a week to share our thoughts, opinions, and experiences on topics we were asked about last year. 

The first we're tackling is Social Media. Specifically, we were asked how to connect with readers and librarians, which social media platform to use (such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc), and how to use social media effectively without spending all our time doing it.

I joined social media because everyone said it was essential as an author to be on it.  I joined Twitter and initially I really enjoyed it.  I found a lot of other authors, agents and publishers and learned a lot about the industry through my interactions.  I learned about blogs to follow, contests to enter and even found my agent through a Twitter pitch contest.

As a tool for selling books, I've never found social media that useful.  Probably because the audience for my books isn't on Twitter or Facebook.  I have teenage sons and both of them are on Instagram, but I just can't get the hang of Instagram.  It bores me senseless, so I rarely look at it and even more rarely post there.  I should probably just get over myself and learn how to use it properly, but I'd rather write another book...

Or blog.

I know blogging is kind of out of vogue, but I enjoy it.  I post three times a week or so on my own blog, and here at Operation Awesome once a week. Maybe I'm just long-winded, but I feel like I can express myself better through blogging than in a 140 character Tweet or a Facebook post that algorithms are likely to swallow up so people who might want to see it can't.

Basically, my feeling is that if you enjoy social media, use it.  Engage with people, get to know them, share knowledge and ideas.  But don't feel that it's something you have to do.  If you don't enjoy it, it becomes a chore and you are unlikely to want to keep doing it.  I feel like people know if you're posting out of obligation rather than a genuine desire to connect.  And that's how you lose followers and disengage readers.

Remember that most writers are also readers, so if your social media following is primarily other writers, share the books you love.  Buy books from fellow authors.  Boost them and you may find they boost you back when you have something new available.  If you're asked questions, answer them, even if they are ones you've answered 1000 times before.

So my advice is to find the things you enjoy and put your energy there.  And be yourself.  Share the things that amuse you and touch you and bring you joy.  I also suggest you stay out of politics on whatever platform(s) you choose as that world can become a cesspit very fast.  But that's a personal choice, and obviously if what you write is political, you may need to engage in that arena to build your platform. 

In the meantime, I will keep my author page on Facebook and my Twitter account, but I don't expect these to be the main tools in my arsenal when it comes to selling books.  When I find that, I'll let you know...  And remember that you don't HAVE to do social media.  If you loathe it, you probably won't do it well and that's probably worse than not doing it at all.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

J's Thoughts, Opinions, and Experiences on Social Media

 

Operation Awesome thoughts, opinions, and experiences on Social Media


For our new feature on Operation Awesome, the team is taking a week to share our thoughts, opinions, and experiences on topics we were asked about last year. The first we're tackling is Social Media. Specifically, we were asked how to connect with readers and librarians, which social media platform to use (such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc), and how to use social media effectively without spending hours. 


I have two thoughts to share in regards to connecting with readers.

  1. All (good) writers are readers. Build your connection with fellow writers and you've already found readers! Join up with those who write in your genre and, odds are, they'll be the ones who read that genre. 
  2. There was a hashtag #RR, which stood for Reader Thursday. (Some people have seen schedules where T is for Tuesday and R is for ThuRsday.) It was used like #WW, Writer Wednesday, where tweeters shared long lists of names to "shoutout" to connections and encourage others to follow them. (A more specific version of #FF Follow Friday.) 
    🌊 Those of us with older accounts got lucky and were able to use this. Sorry, but the trend has died. There are still "follow trains" for writers. These are met with mixed results. Some people don't follow back. (Sometimes because Twitter limits the number of follows.) Some will unfollow anyone who isn't "engaged" enough with them. And some people really hate being named in such a train.
    (I've gotten hundreds of followers from such follow trains πŸš‚ and made a few really good friends! And yes, I have actually bought books from several of those people. Click for one I reviewed on Goodreads.)
    So what hashtags might you search for now to find readers? Here are a few:
    • #TBR - To Be Read ~ If they have a TBR list, they're obviously reading, and therefore are readers.
    • #Reader ~ Sometimes a reader is looking to find writers and will use this hashtag.
    • #BookReview ~ If they're writing book reviews, they're obviously reading. For best results, search this hashtag along with the genre you write.
    • #Reading ~ Some people will tweet what they're reading. See if it's something similar to what you're writing.
    • #AmReading ~ Same as above. 
    • #BookBlogger ~ They not only read books, but blog about them.
    • #ReadaThon or #RAT ~ People who are reading a lot of books and talking about them. (One just wrapped up. #BoutOfBooks)
    Remember not to be creepy. Like their posts. Follow them. Retweet. Connect first, sell second. Actually, if you're doing Twitter right, your profile and feed will sell for you. They'll click to see who you are and already find links to your webpage and books. Having a pinned tweet for them to retweet is an excellent idea. (A lot of tweeters believe in reciprocation - follow for follow, retweet for retweet, like for like, etc. ⚠ Caution - Those who do not believe in reciprocation will get harsh 😠 if called out or asked about it.) Pinned tweets should be changed regularly so that your frequent retweeters always know what you'd like shared and have something up top they haven't retweeted for you already. 
    Expect about a 40% return on your Twitter time investment. Yes, that means if you engage correctly with ten people, about four of them will be equally engaging with you on Twitter. Sometimes you'll get lucky and find someone with a really engaged audience, all of who have become loyal to each other. My friend Stu (@Trans1110) had this. Sadly, he passed away years ago. 😭 (Yes, if you do a search, you'll see that he still gets shoutouts, despite being dead and having a suspended account.) 

Which social media platform should you use? The ones that you are the most comfortable with. That's not an excuse to avoid them! Give as many as you can a try. Really commit to learning how to use them well. Personally, I prefer Twitter. That's where I get the highest engagement rate. Facebook has complicated algorithms and rules that change constantly. https://www.facebook.com/business/help/NewPageExperience Oh look, there's an example. πŸ™„

I would also recommend the AllAuthor website. There are a lot of free resources, and even more paid ones. The original members all followed each other on Twitter, resulting in a follow boost in the hundreds. The people who run this site are excellent at promotion. 

As for using social media effectively, consider what social media savvy agents will look at when checking you out. The number of followers is important (once upon a time, the goal was 5000 on Twitter and 500 on your Facebook page). But equally important is how engaged those followers are. How often are you being retweeted/ shared and liked? Especially when you're sharing posts about books. 

Will your followers be useful in promoting your books? Or do you have a connection to thousands of people who really only share posts about sports and don't care about your horror novel? This, again, is where connecting with like-minded writers comes in handy. Writers who are interested in promoting each other. Writers who understand that promoting more than five books a day will feel like spam. 

The other important factor is knowing how many of your followers will translate into sales. 😍Whatever percent you think is going to happen, widdle that down. Sorry, the stars and hearts in your eyes are going to get crushed.🀩 Your 5000 Twitter followers might net you five sales, one of which will leave a review. This changes if you or your book are famous. Bestselling, movie-deal with an Oscar winner attached, type of famous. 

You can up the odds by knowing what creates sales. It isn't usually hard selling. What gets you to buy a book? https://operationawesome6.blogspot.com/2017/12/book-buying-motivations-2017-from-debut.html Good stories in a favorite genre -- the most popular answer in this year-long survey. So remember to mention what genre your book is when sharing it on social media! People want to read what their friends (or followers/ connections/ etc) are reading so they can share in the active fandom. The more someone sees their "community" mentioning a book, the more likely they'll check it out. 

That is why you see authors raving about someone leaving them a review, especially a follower they can tag. That author is aiming for the reader friends of that reviewer. Also, it's an assurance that someone has read it and might be willing to discuss it. Plus, that author has now engaged with the reviewer, deepening the relationship and increasing the odds the reviewer will read more books from them and post more about the author and book. (Obviously, this works better with 4 or 5 star reviews.) 

It isn't just books and reviews that are worth sharing. Blog posts are valuable too! There's a share button at the bottom of this post. Or, you could copy the link and paste it in a post on whatever social media platform you use. What hashtags might you include to get the attention of your followers? If you use Twitter, you can tag me and Operation Awesome. @OpAwesome6 @JLenniDorner

Here are more ways to connect with me:


Follow @JLenniDorner on Twitter please WhatAreThey is the Facebook fan page of @JLenniDorner — Please click Like and Follow! Follow @JLenniDorner on Pinterest please Instagram of @JLenniDorner Please visit the blog of @JLenniDorner Please visit the author page of J Lenni Dorner on Amazon Please follow @JLenniDorner on BookBub Follow and friend author J Lenni Dorner on Goodreads please Please visit author J Lenni Dorner on Smashwords

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Suzanna's thoughts, opinions, and experiences with social media

 

For our new feature on Operation Awesome, the team is taking a week to share our thoughts, opinions, and experiences on topics we were asked about last year. The first we're tackling is Social Media. Specifically, we were asked how to connect with readers and librarians, which social media platform to use (such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc), and how to use social media effectively without spending all our time doing it.

Honestly, I have had difficulty with using social media. I use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I also have a blog through Wordpress. I recently acquired Snapchat. In the past I used Tumblr for writing and art.

Find what you enjoy about each platform. On Facebook, I enjoy the writing communities and connecting with my writing friends from my undergraduate writing program and attending AWP conferences through friendships and groups. My friends are readers and some are librarians. They often post what they are reading.

On Instagram, I share pictures of my artwork and occasional baking experiments. I enjoy searching for reference material with hashtags for projects. Acrylic pour painting is so fun to watch on Instagram and YouTube. It is easier for me to connect with artists on Instagram.

With Twitter I enjoy the limitations of 140 characters. I follow Matt Bell, one of my writing instructors in my undergraduate program, writers I have met through The Magnolia Review, and other people in the writing community. I enjoy the ease of retweeting and scrolling through the feed and celebrating people's publishing and writing news.

My best tip for Social Media is to check in the morning after email and once in the evening, occasionally at lunch for notifications and interacting with others. I once lived without internet for a year and only checked my Social Media when I was on campus twice a week. I wrote significantly more that year and made lists of what I needed to do when I had access to internet. So that is your fun Suzanna fact for the day.

While not considered explicitly Social Media, I also use Discord to stay in touch with my National Novel Writing Month region groups, and I also use Goodreads to track my reading challenges and see what my friends are reading.

What do you enjoy about each platform on Social Media?

Monday, January 11, 2021

Dena's thoughts, opinions, and experiences with social media

At the end of 2020, we asked what YOU, our blog readers, wanted us to cover in 2021.  Several of you provided suggestions and, for certain of those topics, we thought it would be fun for the OA team members to provide our own thoughts, opinions, and experiences.  This week, we're tackling SOCIAL MEDIA.  The specific sub-topics you suggested are:

1. connecting with readers and librarians
2. choosing which to use - Twitter, Instagram, others
3. use social media effectively w/o spending hours

Here's my thoughts, opinions, and experiences.

I've read that agents recommend authors participate on those social media platforms where their readers are most likely to be. Interact with your followers and have fun!  Do NOT simply market/advertise/sell your book with every post/tweet.  It's no fun to follow an account if all it does is try to take your money.

I write MG, and if you read the terms of service for most social media platforms, they require users to be at least 13 years old.  If a user is less than 13yo, the account must be private, or monitored by a parent, or the user simply cannot participate.

My research indicates that most 13yo [the upper limit for most MG readers, but we'll use that one for now] are on Instagram and SnapChat, both of which are primarily for photos and images but do allow text also.  I don't take a lot of photos, so those sites don't appeal much to me, although posting photos/images of how I envision the settings and characters of my current WiP sounds like it might be fun.  Something for me to consider a little further in the process.

Agents also recommend finding the social media platform that you enjoy, because unless you really enjoy it, it's a major time suck without benefit.  I like Twitter right now, so that's where I'm currently active.  @denapawling  Come visit me and I'll follow you back!

I'm on Twitter for several reasons, one of which is to follow industry accounts [publishers, editors, agents, etc] so I can be knowledgeable on what's currently happening in publishing.

I haven't even considered how to connect with librarians, so I'll be learning about that here on OA right along with all of you.

Finally, you asked how to use social media effectively without the associated time suck.  Well, honestly, I DON'T KNOW.  Yes, it can be a major time suck.  But here's what I'm doing.  Hopefully something here will be helpful to you, no matter which platform/s you use.

Rule #1:  Stay out of politics.

I have a blog and I post every Monday. More than once per week was a major time suck without associated benefit, so this is a good compromise position for me.

I don't use social media except for Twitter, and on "high news days" [which seems like every day right now], it can be hard to get off.  One benefit I have, is that my day job consumes all my time, which means I have no opportunity to check Twitter M-F 8-5.  I've allocated 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening for Twitter, which I realize takes that time away from writing.  For 2021, I have a goal of reducing Twitter to 20 minutes 2x per day.

I will follow back most folks who follow me, but my daily feed is limited to a specific list which includes only certain accounts.  The mute feature also works well for me.  So even though I'm technically following quite a few accounts, my daily feed has fewer than 100.  This way I have time to interact with people and read articles of interest.  Once each month I "clean up" by considering the accounts in my daily feed and determining if I'm receiving (1) too many posts/tweets from that account, and (2) benefiting [or having fun] from them.  If there are too many posts/tweets, or if I'm not really benefiting or having fun, I remove that account from my daily list.  I'm still following the account but I no longer see it every day.

Hopefully something here was useful for you.  Here are a few links of other ideas to consider:

Book Bub
How successful authors use social media

Book Bub
Social media tips from literary agents

Self-Publishing School
Social media for authors

Do you use social media?  Which one/s do you find most fun/interesting/useful?  Why?  Let us know in the comments!




Friday, January 8, 2021

Flash Fiction Friday 55 #FlashFiction

It's Flash Fiction Friday! In light of current US events, for this week's contest, write a short piece based on the word resist.


[Image: Text "RESIST" with raised fists]

Prompt: Resist
Length: 2000 words
Deadline: Sunday, January 10, 2021, 2am Central Standard Time

Leave your entry in the comments, please. As always, the winner will get a badge and bragging rights!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

O'Abby's Vacation

 O'Abby is on vacation this week and doesn't have much internet access.

This is where she is vacationing:


It's a small place called Kaiteriteri which is in New Zealand's South Island.  The biggest city it's near is Nelson.  

Kaiteriteri is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park which is one of New Zealand's "great walks".  During the summer tons of people walk the Abel Tasman track that we barely ever go there to tramp anymore.  But there are plenty of other tramps you can do nearby, plus kayaking, mountain biking, swimming, boating and all kinds of other things.

So O'Abby will be back next week to answer all your writing-related questions, hopefully a little more tanned and relaxed than she was when she left.

Have a great week!


X O'Abby

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Pamela Harris

Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6


When You Look Like Us by Pamela Harris


1- What is your favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movie?

Gah, do I have to pick just one?! I seriously could watch any of his movies a thousand times, but I constantly find myself leaning toward old school Leo--like Romeo and Juliet or The Basketball Diaries.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Read your story out loud. This helps with voice AND dialogue.

3- What most motivates you to read a new book?

Ugh, I hate being THAT person, but usually it's buzz. If I see/hear people mentioning a book a lot, I'm curious enough to at least check out the synopsis to see if it's for me. Aside from that, there are certain authors that I'm reading whatever they write, like Tiffany D. Jackson or Courtney Summers.

4- Super Bowl LV is scheduled for Sunday, February 7. Would any of your characters be excited?

Umm, my main character might be depending on who's playing--though he might be more interested in who's playing the halftime show. I have minor characters who are die hard Steelers and Cowboys fans, so they'd be all about it if one of them were playing.

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book with coffee or wine?

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Pamela Harris #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books


6- When you teach future counselors, what's the most important lesson or tip you give them?

Without a doubt: practice self-care. As counselors, we're prone to carry our clients' problems home with us. That's why we need to engage in "me" time to decompress, whatever that looks like. I find this lesson is just as important for writers!

7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

I'm @pamharriswrites on Twitter. And I'd love to give a shoutout to my cousin, @KeeKeeHockaday --an up and coming YA writer, and @RacquelHenry , the writer of this amazingly cute holiday novelettes.

8- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?

I'm pretty new to IG, but there are a few that have caught my eye. @tomestextiles takes beautiful pictures with books. @Bookcrushin has been amazing in supporting me early on. Oh, and @jeanellnicole is a Black bookstagrammer that supports Black and Brown writers. There are much more I'd like to include, so I hope I don't upset anyone!

9- Are you a Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser, and how did you adopt that style?

I used to be a hardcore plotter, but I've found that having everything planned out beforehand just contributes to my procrastination in getting the first draft done. Now I'm more of a Plantser--if I have the first few scenes outlined, as well as an idea of how I want the story to end, I'm usually good to go.

10- What does your basic writing schedule look like, and how often do you write?

I WISH I could write everyday. But I have a toddler AND a newborn at home, so now I squeeze in writing for about an hour or two on the days my mom is able to come over to babysit. I usually prefer to write in the morning before my brain has to switch gears to my full-time job, but now I just adapt to when ever I can get it done!

11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: Tiffany D. Jackson @WriteinBK
Title: ALLEGEDLY
Love because: Tiffany's unapologetic in writing unreliable narrators and twists and turns in such an authentic way that as a reader you're like: "GAH--why didn't I see that coming?" I knew after reading that book that I would read everything she was going to write after that.

I interviewed Tiffany D. Jackson when this debut book came out! June 21, 2017

12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

Ooh, great question! I definitely want them to feel moved in that they want to know what happens next. Maybe a little angry about what the main character, Jay, has to endure while trying to find his sister. And, oddly enough, maybe hopeful.

13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?

That's tough. I've always thought I wanted to sell a ton of books, but I'd be happy enough to have this book get into the hands of the RIGHT readers. You know, kids who want to see stories with characters that look like them and live like them. Though, I also won't be completely against the idea of selling a LOT of books. 😊

14- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?

Yikes! Writing is probably the most creative thing I like to do. If I had to think long and hard about it, I do enjoy taking pictures now (especially of my kids). And coloring has this calming effect on me.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks

I always like to call WHEN YOU LOOK LIKE US a modern-day noir, in that it's set in my former 'hood. The main character is Black and lives in public housing, While the story's definitely a mystery, the obstacles Jay faces definitely stem from his identity.

16- What method do you feel is the best way to get book reviews?

I actually try to avoid reading reviews about my book just for my own mental health, but when I am alerted about them, it's typically because someone has posted/linked to it through their IG page.

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I commend those who are able to self-publish because I certainly don't have the initiative to figure out the ins and outs of the industry myself. I knew that I wanted to have a support system of professionals who knew what they were doing--which is why I sought an agent. My agent helps me determine which route my projects should take after that.

18- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

I would love to be a career writer. I wouldn't necessarily quit my current full-time job (since I love counseling and training counselors), but I'd love to have a new book out every other year or so and to gain a strong readership.

19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?

What's your favorite mystery (be it book, TV show, or movie)?

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

You can find information about me and my books at http://pamharriswrites.com.
My IG handle is @pamharriswrites .
Twitter @pamharriswrites
Also, WHEN YOU LOOK LIKE US was lucky enough to receive 2 starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal!
Finally, I'm lucky enough to have the amazing @getnicced and @AuthorJ_Elle to join me for my virtual launch, which you can find out more about here:
https://braveandkindbooks.com/pages/events


When You Look Like Us by Pamela Harris

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Kindle Challenge

Reading Goals Chart with Editable Pages. by AMC | TpT 

(Image source)

It was a wonderful surprise to open my email from Amazon with a Kindle Challenge. My goal is to read 35 books in 2021 and track my progress on Goodreads. So far I have finished one electronic book from the library. I am intrigued with the Kindle Challenge quests. It reminds me of earning badges during National Novel Writing Month.

 

My Badges are as follows:

Bronze Reader: Read 7 days in January

Silver Reader: Read 15 days in January

Gold Reader: Read 30 days in January

Goal Setter: Create a reading goal for 2021

Easy on the Eyes: Register a Kindle E-reader device

I’m a Fan!: Follow an author

Book-in-Hand: Purchase any Kindle eBook from Amazon

Kindle Unlimited Reader: Borrow any title from Kindle Unlimited

Series Starter: Start reading any series title

Quitters Day: Read on January 19th, the day most people quit on their New Year’s resolutions

Finisher: Complete any Kindle eBook in January

Overachiever: Earn all available badges in Kindle Challenge


I shall give an update in February of my progress. What are your reading goals for January 2021?

 

 

Monday, January 4, 2021

OA Recommends - The Insecure Writer's Support Group #IWSG

Operation Awesome Recommends

We're beginning a new feature here on the Operation Awesome blog.  Introducing "OA Recommends".  Every month we'll introduce you to a different writer-oriented website. These are sites with which one or more of our team members has had positive experiences. We hope you'll check them out and let us know what you think!

 


To kick this off, we're going with The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Alex J. Cavanaugh, the founder, was kind enough to answer our questions.

IWSG


1- Are there any big events or exciting news for the IWSG in 2021?

Oh yeah! We kick off on January 6 with the announcement of the winners of the IWSG Anthology Contest. Then on January 20 is the #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event on Twitter. (Details here - https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-twitter-pitch.html ) Beginning of May we announce the next IWSG Anthology Contest and the release of Dark Matter: Artificial – an IWSG Anthology. Plus we might have something else going on in the spring…

2- What should someone know when thinking about signing up for the IWSG?

If that person is a blogger, understand that it’s a once a month commitment to post. They can answer the monthly question or talk about something else writing related. If they sign up and join the other IWSG social sites, they will get prompts and discussions and support and help… All sorts of good stuff! Plus they are eligible to enter our annual anthology contest.

3- Is the Insecure Writer's Support Group about helping writers feel more secure, accepting that insecurity is part of being a writer, or both?

Probably both. It’s letting writers know that insecurity is all right—we all feel that. But the support is there so we don’t feel quite so insecure.

4- What are some of the biggest changes the IWSG has experienced over the years and have your original site goals changed?

Wow, have they changed! The IWSG began as a monthly bloghop. Then a website. And we went to Facebook with a group there. The annual anthology contest was a big deal. Many thanks to my publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, for being willing to publish the book every year. We did a couple of our own books as free giveaways as well. Then we got into the Twitter pitch scene. Plus a newsletter, Instagram… It just amazes me how it grew. I never imagined all of this!

5- What is the origin story or history of the site?

Well, the full rundown is on our About Us page - https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/about-us.html But the idea for the IWSG came from a comment from a fellow writer, Rusty. In response, I told him he needed an insecure writer’s support group. The idea stuck and I thought it would make a good blog hop. The first Wednesday in September 2011, we began!

6- Your site has several awards and recognitions. Would you list a few of those and tell us how you won them?

2017 – Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers
2018 – UK Writer’s Hub 50 Best Blogs for Writers
2017-2020 - The Write Life – 100 Best Websites for Writers
We won those solely because of our followers and their devotion to our site.

7- What is the most beneficial aspect of IWSG for writers who are new to the site?

Probably the database. We keep it updated, removing dead sites and adding new ones. Whatever they need to know about writing, publishing, and marketing is there. The monthly hop plus Facebook and our other social sites give people a chance to ask questions and get quality answers from other members.

8- With all the websites for writers out there, why should someone take the time to be on yours; what makes the IWSG unique?

First I would have to say our members. They are so supportive of each other, coming together to give advice and guide others on the right path. Most writing sites are just sites people visit for information and links. We also offer a community writers can get involved with, feel like they really aren’t alone.

9- Would you please list the links and ways people can find the IWSG and book club?


Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. He’s the author of Amazon Best-Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Welcome to 2021!

 We made it, friends!

[Image: Gold text "2021 Happy New Year" with glitter]

Now that we've reached 2021, it's time for some New Year's Resolutions. I have some personal goals - I really want to learn to do a chin-up this year - but I also have some professional and writing goals. This year, I want to get better at using social media as a writer and be more involved with Writer Twitter. And hey, if I can finish my current manuscript, that would be nice too.

Do you have any writing-related resolutions? Drop them in the comments!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

 It's the last day of 2020 and I know most of us will be glad to put the year behind us.  There probably won't be a lot of celebrating the incoming year for most people - at least not together - so perhaps it's time for some reflection on what we might want to achieve in 2021.

It's very tempting to make grand resolutions like "This year I'll get an agent" or "this is the year I will finally be published".  But these goals are largely out of your hands.  When making resolutions it's important to make sure they are achievable or you will give up within a month of making them.

Instead of saying "I'll get an agent," resolve to query widely.  Maybe even give yourself a number of queries to aim for: "I'll send 100 queries before I quit querying."  If you're lucky, you won't have to send 100 because someone will love your book enough before you reach that number.

Or resolve to write a certain number of words per week, or hours or days.  These are things that are within your control and you can achieve.

Whatever goals you set yourself, I wish you luck with them.  And all the best for the New Year.  It can only be better than the last.

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on the story I posted for Christmas.  It's so gratifying to discover people have read and responded to your work.  So here's another story for you, very different, but perfect for a night where people often see in the New Year with fireworks.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ten Year Summary of Writing #DebutAuthors

Operation Awesome #20Questions in #2020 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6


The debut authors interviewed in 2020 answered this question:


It's our tenth anniversary! How far has your writing come in the past ten years and where do you see your writing career ten years from now?

We have come from wanting to write a novel, to writing one, to getting an agent (actually, quite a few), to getting the right publisher, and finally seeing our first book in print. These sound like career goals, but they were also writing goals. We were very conscious of how we had to develop our writing all along the way, and winning awards, getting short stories published and responding to criticism from agents and editors were so important in becoming better writers. In ten years, it would be wonderful if we had ten published novels and a well-developed career. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anything else when we think ten years ahead.
- Jim Kroepfl and Stephanie Kroepfl

My writing has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. I went from writing news articles and web copy to writing fiction. I used to be so self-conscious of my fiction that I did all my writing in secret and didn’t try to connect with other writers at all. Needless to say, that didn’t work out.

My own personal writing style has improved over the last decade as I’ve found and developed my writing voice. I’ve learned so much about writing craft and what makes a great story. I understand why some novels succeed and why others end up as a DNF.. I’ve also learned that Twitter is a great place to build real writing friendships.

In another 10 years, I would love to have my entire Krador Kronicles series published. I have a few other books in the works that I would love to write and get published as well. At least 5 published works over the next decade seems like a great goal to shoot for.
- Kari Veenstra

Happy Anniversary and congratulations! The past ten years of my writing life have been the best, I think, because I have found treasured mentors who guided me to improve my craft. Of those ten, the past seven years have been the best, because in the summer of 2012 I met my Writing Sisters. We are eight writers who have helped each other not only improve our writing, but have helped each other through real life difficulties. We have become sisters in all but blood.
- Julie Holmes

Ten years ago, I was in Africa doing my first electrification of a hospital torn by fourteen years of civil war. Writing was the furthest thing from my mind. In ten years, I hope Power From the SON has grown and is providing multiple electrical systems per year, and I can spend my time promoting by writing and speaking about our work and encouraging others to follow their quest.
- Stephen H Vincent

Hugely! I have gone from writing stories for my family, writing on an academic level at university to completing a complete dark fantasy novel. In the next ten years, I hope to have my first series of books under my belt as well as having a collection of short stories published.
- Michael Dennis

Wow. Ten years ago, I was writing plays and radio stories. I didn’t have the guts to write prose. Now, it’s all I can think about.
Ten years from now, I plan to have a shelf full of books with my name on them and invitations to Book Festivals around the world.
- Kitty Felde

Congratulations on your tenth anniversary!
In the past ten years, my writing has made much amazing headway. My first professionally published fiction piece was in 2008, and it was flash fiction in a journal that no longer exists (Oak Bend Review). In 2011, I had an academic article published in the peer-reviewed Popular Culture Review. In 2013, I self-published Pivot, which ultimately received over 65,000 downloads and multiple awards. At the World Horror Con, I met individuals who were willing to help me revise my work and query agents. I was fortunate to find a wonderful agent in and around 2016 and land a book deal with California Coldblood Books by 2018. I signed a contract with Brilliance audio in 2018, as well, and Emma Galvin – the amazing voice actor who voiced Winter’s Bone and the Divergent Series – voiced Pivot. This blew me away. Both Josh Malerman and Weston Ochse wrote wonderful blurbs for the book. So, too, did Publishers Weekly and ALA Booklist. Finally, I received my MA in 2013 and MFA in 2019.
- L. C. Barlow

Happy 10th Anniversary! That’s quite a landmark. In some ways my own writing has come a long way in the last ten years, from dreamy first drafts to a finished novel about to be published. I’ve also self-published a book of poetry (https://trafford.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000163671) and co-written and directed a successful amateur musical (‘Honeybees: The Musical’ - the world’s first lesbian field hockey musical) which sold out performances in Brighton, Eastbourne and the legendary RADA Studios (formerly the Drill Hall) off the West End of London. These days my ‘mainstream life’ is very busy though, with work and parenting taking up a LOT of hours, so in an ideal world in ten years time, I will somehow have carved out enough time to write full time and have a few bestsellers under my belt allowing me to travel the world guesting at book festivals (that’s every writer’s dream, right?)!
- Cat Walker

The past ten years has been incredible for my writing. I used to think writing was all about creativity and used to just write cool stuff. But over the last ten years, I focused more on the non-creative part of writing, such as grammar, sentence structure, story structure, word choice, specificity, archetypal design, and character development. This sounds crazy, but a lot of writing is almost mathematical. It’s not as fun, but its essential if you’re going to take yourself seriously. And for the past three years, I’ve focused on the infrastructure and entrepreneurial side of writing, which includes blogging, social media engagement, website design, publishing, contracts, video editing, and content creation. Yeah, also less fun than creative writing lol. My hopes are that the foundation I’m laying today will put me in a position ten years from now, to write better books at a faster pace and with a waiting audience. I want to become the best possible writer I can. I feel like I’m only just getting started.
- Douglas A. Burton

Oh wow, the last ten years have meant *everything* for my writing! Though I’ve written stories and poems since I was young, I began seriously writing my first novel about ten years ago. That novel was a totally different genre, has some serious problems, and will probably never see the light of day, but it was the sign to myself that I was ready to do this for real, and take a writing career seriously. STARS is my fourth novel, and many years and hundreds of rejections later, it’s now going to be on shelves!
- Sarah Allen

Well- Ten years ago I was nine.
- Ruby Walker

Congrats – that’s a big anniversary! Ten years ago I was in the MFA program at Purdue University, honing my craft and finding my voice and wondering if I would ever publish a book. I am so proud of where I have come since then! Ten years from now, I hope to have many more books out in the world and significantly more daily writing time since my 17-month-old daughter will be at school most of the day!
- Dallas Woodburn

Ten years ago, I was not writing. I was in the middle of a really difficult period in my life, and I was basically in survival mode. I've been writing for about seven years now, and I've come so far - partly from constant writing practice, and partly because I've become an obsessive reader.
Ten years from now, I hope I write more confidently and judge my first drafts less. I hope to have several more published books under my belt (fingers crossed)! Maybe I am dreaming small, but my goal isn't to become a full-time writer or a bestseller. My goal is to write steadily, and to produce stories that could only have been written by me. Stories that are my own particular brand of weird.
- Samantha Vitale

I think my writing has come a long way! Looking back on my early manuscript drafts (which I still have!), I think I’ve gotten a lot better about controlling the pace of the story and writing dialogue. I have a really cool concept in mind for a new book series, and hopefully 10 years from now you’ll be reading it!
- D.C. Payson

It’s come a long way in ten years! I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I think I wrote my first novel about ten years ago when I was in school. It was... pretty bad, but I knew I wanted to keep writing. In ten years I’d love to have a good ten more published books under my belt, if not a few more. I just don’t want to stop, basically.
- Chris Durston

Writing my first book took me seven years. I call this my “Seven Year Itch”. With it published in 2020, I can proudly say that the first draft of my second novel, a free standing story about an immigrant family, is now complete.
- Vee Kumari

I have only been actively considering myself a writer over the past two years. Before that, I wrote comics in script format, along with the occasional poem or flash fiction story. A few years ago, I never would have thought I’d be able to finish a novella, let alone a novel. I’m proud of myself for my progress, while recognizing I have a long way to go.
I want to work on my technical abilities over the next decade, but also just get much, much more practice in. Having been a professional artist, I know that practice is one of the best teachers, and I simply haven’t had as many years and I’d like under my belt. Ten years from now, I’d like to be able to write faster, with greater ease, and with greater confidence. Career wise, the usual I think! I’d like to have more published books under my belt.
- Rue Sparks

Well, it took me more than 7 years to write and publish my book `Joshua Garland – The Legend of the Kids’. Not because it’s an incredibly long novel, but life just got in the way of making it a quicker write. In that time my writing style did evolve. Similar to what I said in one of my earlier answers, I just learned the value of using less words to be more effective. This was in part thanks to a number of beta readers who provided me with this piece of advice. I plan to use this style in future projects.
- Ramsey Damouni

Congrats! Let’s see, ten years ago was about the time that I, in the face of getting laid off, going through my most stressful phase as a stay-at-home dad, and probably other horrible things I’m blocking, decided to double down on my goal of publishing a novel. I still did journalism to make money, but fiction proved far more fulfilling over the course of the decade—and it still is!
In the next ten years, I’d love for the chance to publish other middle grade and YA stories I have in mind.
- S.G. Wilson

Ten years ago I had sold only one or two stories, had a massive stash of rejection letters (some from SF/F/H heavyweights like Gordon Van Gelder, John Joseph Adams, and Ellen Datlow), and had most of my success in other people’s worlds. I’d gotten the most attention from Harry Potter and Transformers fan fiction and the most money from a single licensed BattleTech short story. Ten years from now, hopefully I’ll have completed the Wastelands series (I can finish the series with six books if I want, but the complete plan is three trilogies and a darker coda novel a la Beowulf), have many more books in the Long War, and am able to do this full-time. Per my earlier comment, a TV or film adaptation would be great to have by then.
- Matthew W. Quinn

Ten years ago, I was writing scripts, having decided to try that when I was struggling to write books. I made a bit a headway but wasn't happy. In 2016 I came back to novel writing. I plan to publish a new book every two months, all going well, so in ten years I plan to have a lot of books self-published. I also plan to write books in fantasy and contemporary fantasy and submit them to agents and publishers.
- L.P. Peace

How far? About a million miles. Ten years ago, I was halfway through Summer of L.U.C.K.'s almost twenty-year journey. Around that time, I worked with a development editor, which was invaluable. Then, four or five years back, I discovered the online writing community and found wonderful opportunities to have my work evaluated and mentored. Finally, I connected with critique partners and Beta readers. And I queried widely, with many agent requests and more agent rejections. Eventually all this feedback helped me bring Summer of L.U.C.K. up to standards that attracted a publisher. Looking ahead ten years from now, I hope I'll have written and published a collection of books beyond the three that are contracted by INtense Publications. Happy anniversary, by the way! Ten years is an outstanding accomplishment.
- Laura Stegman

Happy anniversary!! Congratulations! Ten years ago I was just starting my writing journey in earnest. I was a junior in college and had just finished the rough draft of my first full length manuscript. A billion revisions, five new manuscripts, two agents, and one publishing team later, and here we are! In ten years from now I’d love to be getting better and better with each book I write. I hope to be someone’s favorite author someday.
- Kit Rosewater

I've been writing short stories and poems since 3rd grade, but this is my 1st children's book and I hope to have a thriving series as well as a few books for young adults in the future.
- Dr. Tinita Kearney

Ten years ago I was 16, so my writing has come a long way! I have always loved writing and hoped to publish a book, so I am excited to have brought this goal to fruition. Over the next ten years, I plan to continue writing books that expose how key policy issues affect people’s lived experiences. One of my strengths as a writer is my ability to connect the personal with the political, so I intend to continue this focus over the next ten years.
- Kelsey Freeman

Happy anniversary! Ten years ago I was writing about technology trends in the Silicon Valley. Ten years from now I hope to have completed 2 more novels featuring interesting women and rich plots set in early California.
- Wendy Vooranger

Congratulations!! That’s such a momentous milestone. For me, I won my first attempted First Line Fiction short story contest in 2010, and then set writing aside for quite a while. I have more life experience behind me and the tools to take an idea, you know, full scale. I still like that short story I did, but I can definitely see that my depth as a writer has changed and my complexity of prose is significantly better. With age comes wisdom I guess. Where do I think I’ll be in ten years? I haven’t thought about it before. I write to get the stories out of my head, and I doubt I’ll ever stop writing. So I’m just hopeful that it’s a field of dreams situation: if I write it, ‘they’ will read it.
- Kismet Scott

Kudos!

My writing has come quite a ways. I’ve become more brave in my writing (like publishing my first book!) Writing has been a sacred, personal practice for me my whole life, so publishing was a very vulnerable thing for me to do, and something I’m glad I did. In ten years I see myself with several books, journals, workbooks and more available. And an amazing circle of readers and writer friends along for the journey.
- Aimee L. Morgan

I started writing Adverse Effects roughly ten years ago. Since then, I’ve learned through working with editors and beta readers, as well as dabbling in other genres like fantasy and young adult, how important the first few pages are to hook the reader. I struggled back then to make the character as important, if not more than, the plot, whereas now I understand how to engage the reader in the character’s inner world and to give each character a unique voice. In ten years, I hope to have established a solid franchise with characters crossing over into each other’s stories, weaving a web of thrills and intrigue for readers.
- Joel Shulkin MD

Ten years ago, when I was thirteen, I would sit with my paper tablets on the picnic tables at lunch and scribble fantasy stories down. The margins were full of drawings of dragons, gnomes, and elves. One of my projects from a decade ago is still actually in the works. I mean, it’s evolved past the point of recognition, but I still work on it from time to time. I write mostly YA now, but I think it’s always going to be a middle-grade project, kind of a present to my thirteen-year-old self. Something I would have wanted to read back then.
I’m terribly impatient about my ideas, and whenever I get an idea for something, I have to start sowing the seeds for it immediately. So I have about four or five projects in all sitting on the back burner. I’ve got my middle-grade fantasy inspired by Celtic mythology, a 1920s urban fantasy, a comedy-mystery-romance novel about an illegal theater, and a fantasy space-opera. I hope that the Drifters’ Saga is complete, and that at least a generous handful of those side projects are also afloat in ten years. It’s really crazy to think about.
- Sophia Minetos

Happy Anniversary! I used the past ten years to hone and improve my writing and will use the next ten years to hone my writing, explore my creativity and produce many books.
- Stella Oni

I am worse at embodying voices other than my own. I am a little better with empathy in my own life. Maybe that give and take are related.
- Kari Flickinger

Oh my goodness I've come so far in the last 10 years. I started getting really serious about my writing at the tail end of 2009/early 2010. I was a baby writer wondering if my ideas were worthwhile and learning to hone my craft. It's when I joined my local writers guild and started working with critique partners. Since then I've written several manuscripts, been agented, published, and met so many amazing people in the writing community.
As for the next ten years, I hope there's many more books in my future. I hope to find another agent and look forward to lots more writing!
- Jamie Krakover

Ten years ago, I was still talking about wanting to be an author. Today, I’m a published author. In ten years, I plan to have a huge backlist and an even larger following of readers.
- Glenda Thompson