Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert

Operation Awesome Spotlight #20Questions in #2021 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6


Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert


1- How has the global pandemic impacted your travels and nomadic lifestyle?

By April 2020, campgrounds (even the free ones without amenities, which is where we always stay) and facilities started closing. My husband, dog, and I were in Florida at the time. The logistics became tricky, so we decided to abandon our lifestyle for the time being, drove to Massachusetts, and stayed at my in-laws over the spring and summer. They could use our help because of the pandemic. We ended up spending six months there, staying six feet apart and avoiding the main part of the house. Mid-October, the three of us hit the road again, heading west.

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

Hire a professional (copy) editor before publishing your book!

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

Recommendations from others – fellow authors, bloggers, friends, family.

4- What was the most surprisingly delicious food that you ate while on the road?

My husband’s mushroom burgers, made from scratch, which he cooks on the stove of our 19ft campervan and serves with homemade aioli on a bed of mixed greens, served with jasmine rice. They are to die for!

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book at a fun location?

This photo was taken near Madera Canyon in Coronado National Forest, Arizona
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge


6- What similarities and differences does PLUNGE have compared to Cheryl Strayed's WILD?

It’s been a long time since I read WILD… As far as I remember, both are written by a straightforward, impulsive woman who struggles with and overcomes the punches life throws her. The differences have to do with the writing style and voice of the authors. PLUNGE is written in the present tense and incorporates distinctive elements from the novel: foreshadowing, flashbacks, and suspense. Also, Strayed tried to escape from her troubles by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in her coming-of-age tale, while my decision to embark on adventures is a lifestyle.

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

My Twitter handle is @LiesbetCollaert Twitter author friends: @vallypee , @pokercubster , @sgc58

8- When did you first know you wanted to publish a book someday?

I’ve always been passionate about traveling, from the moment I hitchhiked to Italy from Belgium at age 17 to today, age 45. I’ve also always loved to write. After my first year of backpacking on my own in South East Asia when I was 25, I played with the idea of writing a book. But it wasn’t until three years later that I actually started jotting down an outline and notes about a year-long RV trip in Latin America. Nothing happened with that either, since I dove into an eight-year sailing adventure soon after. Once that one finished, I suffered from travel burn-out. The relatively stable lifestyle of house and pet sitting throughout the US for three years allowed me to finally start writing a memoir, which turned into Plunge.
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

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

Probably a plantser. I’m a bit of a weirdo. In real life, I like to plan as little as possible and follow the “see what happens” approach. Yet, I am also very organized and prefer to make to-do lists and shopping lists to achieve my goals. When I wrote my memoir, part of me wanted to (and did) put “everything” down I could remember, as a first draft. On the other hand, I made a chronological outline with chapter titles as guidance. Interestingly enough, after five years of work on Plunge, those titles remained unchanged.

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

Whenever I have time and the logistics allow it. On the road, it is difficult to stick to a schedule as life’s distractions, problems, and chores come first. Today, for example, I planned to work on this interview in the morning. But we ran out of propane. So, in order to keep cooking meals and taking hot showers, we had to drop everything, pack up the van, and drive to the closest town 40 minutes away to take care of our needs.
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

My perfect work environment is a free, level campsite in nature, where we can spend a few days in a row, where the dog can be walked, where the solar panels soak up plentiful sunshine to provide electricity, and where my husband can be outside, so I can use our table/desk and don’t feel too cramped in our 80 square foot living quarters. 😊

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!

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to read the last five years, what with my own writing projects, blogging, paid jobs, and life on the road. I do remember really enjoying
Author name: Hillary Custance Green @HilaryCustanceG
Title: Border Line
Love because: I love it because of its originality: the unusual premise (suicidal protagonist), unique location (Slovenia), well-developed characters, and excellent writing.
My review of Border Line: https://goodreads.com/review/show/2134813121


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

Intrigue, awe, understanding, reflection, zest for life.

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

I really hope Plunge will inspire as well as entertain the reader. If he/she can somehow gain something from the book (on a personal or global level) or is affected by its contents (physically or psychologically), I have reached my goal as an author.

14- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge


Photography – I just wish I had more time for it.

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

Plunge is written by and is about a woman (me) who does not stick to the usual social norms and who breaks free from society by preferring a less than ordinary life. She chooses experiences over material goods, simplicity and nature over gadgets and suburbia, flexibility over routine, new horizons over the familiar, and primitive conditions over unlimited resources. Furthermore, the book is “brutally honest,” showing the good as well as the bad, without glossing over negative experiences, feelings, and personal flaws.

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

  1. write an outstanding book that sells itself, because readers are excited to spread the word, in person, on social media, or with reviews.
  2. add a note in your book’s back matter about the importance of reviews, encouraging readers to share their opinion about your book in a short review.
  3. gift ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) in exchange for an honest review to ferocious readers in your genre during the early stages of publication.

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

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

To be honest, not being able to get the attention of an agent or a publisher within one year of pitching Plunge. That being said, my gut always told me I should go the self-publishing route, because of my personality, dedication, and work ethic. I’m a perfectionist and like to make decisions myself. By self-publishing, I am right where I want to be. I can execute changes, promote as much – or little – as I want, am happy with how everything came out, and feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.

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

Make a difference in the lives of my readers. Inspire them. Entertain them. Just like in real life, I have only one major goal: have no regrets.

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

What is the most important, attractive quality you look for in a book? What is it that makes you pick up and read a particular book?

I will pick one winner out of the commenters who answers my question, that person will receive a free eBook of Plunge. (I will need your email address.)


Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

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

Blurb of Plunge


Tropical waters turn tumultuous in this travel memoir as a free-spirited woman jumps headfirst into a sailing adventure with a new man and his two dogs.
Join Liesbet as she faces a decision that sends her into a whirlwind of love, loss, and living in the moment. When she swaps life as she knows it for an uncertain future on a sailboat, she succumbs to seasickness and a growing desire to be alone.
Guided by impulsiveness and the joys of an alternative lifestyle, she must navigate personal storms, trouble with US immigration, adverse weather conditions, and doubts about her newfound love.
Does Liesbet find happiness? Will the dogs outlast the man? Or is this just another reality check on a dream to live at sea?
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Liesbet Collaert #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Plunge

Bio


Liesbet Collaert’s articles and photos have been published internationally. Born in Belgium, she has been a nomad since 2003 with no plans to settle anytime soon. Her love of travel, diversity, and animals is reflected in her lifestyle choices of sailing, RVing, and house and pet sitting. Liesbet calls herself a world citizen and currently lives “on the road” in North America with her husband and rescue dog. Follow her current adventures at http://roamingabout.com.

Social media links


Facebook: https://facebook.com/liesbet.collaert/ & https://facebook.com/roamingsabout
Instagram: https://instagram.com/roaming.about/
Twitter: @LiesbetCollaert
Blog URLs
http://roamingabout.com
http://itsirie.com
Amazon Author Page
https://amazon.com/Liesbet-Collaert/e/B073C9F8TW


Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary by Liesbet Collaert

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

How to Think about Fantasy Stories

 

(Image source)

I return to the best advice I have ever received about writing: Read 100 books of whatever you want to write. I have read well beyond 100 books in the fantasy genre, and it is always thrilling to find someone who does something new with the genre. But how do I write a fantasy novel that may be enjoyed by readers other than myself?

As a writer, I have spent years reading books, blogs, and interviews by published authors to figure out how they do it the actual writing, the editing, and then the publishing. While this is an ongoing education process, I am always amazed how I return to the journey and Campbell's description of the Hero's Journey. Not every story fits in this mold exactly, yet some kind of change occurs in every story. I enjoy imagining fantasy and science fiction worlds that I may pen someday. 

These are some resources that I have found useful in writing my National Novel Writing Month fantasy novels over the years.


Worldbuilding: Patricia C. Wrede Questions

Blogs: Mythcreants

Books: Save the Cat!; The Writer's Journey


Story Grid

Worldbuilding, Myths, and Magical Creatures

Global Genre

Obligatory Scenes and Conventions--Christmas Carol Example


How do you think about fantasy stories? What are some of your favorite fantasy stories?

Monday, January 25, 2021

Ghostwriters

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ghostwriter_digital.png

Last December, we asked YOU, our blog readers, to suggest topics you'd like us to address in 2021.  One of the topics you suggested was - More light on the services that ghostwriters offer.

Let's start with preliminaries.  A ghostwriter is someone who writes a book, blog post, business plan, article, or other written work for someone else who is the named and credited author.  Sometimes, the credited author has an outline or submits a rough draft of the final product, and the ghostwriter finishes the project.  Other times, a ghostwriter will spend several months to several years researching, writing, and editing a work of nonfiction for their client.

If writing an autobiography, the ghostwriter will interview the client/credited author, interview friends and family members, review news articles, speeches, awards, etc by the client, then write the book.

Sometimes the book will include a credit for the ghostwriter in the author byline like - BY [FAMOUS PERSON] "with [name of ghostwriter]".  Sometimes the ghostwriter is thanked in the acknowledgement section but that's the only mention.  Sometimes there is no mention of the ghostwriter at all.  And sometimes, the ghostwriter is required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The Hardy Boys and the Nancy Drew children's mystery books were all written by ghostwriters under a common author name - Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene.

A ghostwriter can be paid per word, per page, a flat fee for the whole, a percentage of royalties or sales, or a combination of those.

Famous ghostwriters
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/12689/your-favorite-authors-are-frauds-6-famous-ghostwriters

Famous people who used ghostwriters
https://www.thewritersforhire.com/10-famous-people-who-used-a-ghostwriter/

Famous ghostwritten books
https://www.commonwealtheatre.org/famous-ghostwritten-books/

Five attributes of a successful ghostwriter
https://www.writersdigest.com/there-are-no-rules/the-5-attributes-of-a-successful-ghostwriter

How to become a ghostwriter
https://www.writersdigest.com/get-published-sell-my-work/how-to-be-a-ghostwriter
https://kindlepreneur.com/how-to-become-a-ghostwriter/
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/280519
https://www.freelancewriting.com/ghostwriting/how-do-ghostwriters-earn-money/

Other information about ghostwriters
https://reedsy.com/ghostwriting/book-ghostwriter
https://smartblogger.com/ghostwriting/
https://www.lisatener.com/ghostwriter-contracts-fees/
https://scribemedia.com/business-ghostwriting-guide/
https://www.ghostwriter-needed.com/expensive-cheap-ghostwriters.html

Are you interested in ghostwriting?  Tell us in the comments!



Thursday, January 21, 2021

Dear O'Abby - What happens to my books when I die?

 Dear O’ Abby,

I am a published author with three novels published and a fourth coming out later in the year.  I also have at least five completed (but not entirely polished) manuscripts in my hard drive and several more that are in various stages of draftiness.  I would be utterly mortified if any of those drafts or unpolished manuscripts were to be published after I die or became too dippy to fully understand what I was doing.

Sorry if this is morbid or weird, but I was wondering about how to protect my work (and my author name) when I die. 

Yours,

Mortal


Dear Mortal,

With COVID-19 still rampant in much of the world, I imagine this is something a lot of people are thinking about, so thank you for sending in such a timely question. 

It is important that all artists consider their creative work when they are writing their wills.  Even if you are not a household name now, or even at the time of your death, there is no way to know if your work might strike a chord at some time in the future.  In his lifetime Van Gogh bemoaned the fact his paintings never even sold for the cost of the paint he used…

And if that happens, suddenly your unpublished horrors have value they didn't previously have and every Tom, Dick and Harriet will be sniffing around trying to find the lost [insert name here] novel.  Just think how many artists' letters, diaries and other personal papers have been published over the years.  Personally, the last thing I want after I die is for my diary or letters to my friends to be published in any way, shape or form.

Famously, Terry Pratchett ensured his unpublished work could not be published post-humously by getting the manager of his estate to destroy the hard-drives it was stored on with a steamroller.  While this was a great dramatic statement, you don’t need to go to such extraordinary lengths to ensure your cringeworthy drafts or immature first novels don’t ever see the light of day.

The most important thing is to ensure your wishes are clearly expressed in your will.  If you are published, you need to outline who will receive any royalties after you die and what you would like to happen to those published books if and when your publisher allows your book to go out of print.

You also need to make clear your wishes for any unpublished work that your family and friends might uncover.  This won’t necessarily mean they won’t publish (or try to publish) your embarrassing drafts if they think they might be able to make a buck out of it, but at least your wishes are on record and anyone wanting to protect your memory can use this in any ensuing legal contest in relation to the publication.

It would be useful to name a single person to manage your creative work rather than leaving it as part of the estate that may be apportioned between a number of people.  It may be that this is not a family member, but someone who does not stand to directly benefit from publishing your work.  It may be you have some works that are closer to being ready to publish than others, books you might have been close to sending out, maybe, or even in the process of querying.  You might be happy for these ones to be published after your death, while others are not even close. 

But someone needs to know.

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is have a will and to include anything and everything you want to control after you die as a part of it.  Anything not specifically mentioned in your will is fair game.  If you spend a large portion of your life working on something like writing, surely that thing is important enough to mention in your will.  

And one last tip, if you do have some writing you wouldn't mind publishing, maybe save that in a separate folder, something named "ready to publish" or something useful like that.  That way, if you do pass away suddenly, there can be no questions about what you thought was good and what you probably don't want seeing the light of day.

Hope that helps!

X O'Abby


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Megan E. Freeman

Operation Awesome Spotlight #20Questions in #2021 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6


Alone by Megan E. Freeman


The book is the number 1 New Release in Stories in Verse.
Alone by Megan E. Freeman


1- The dog in Alone is a Rottweiler. Why that breed, and will the dog survive?

George, the rottweiler in the book, is based on a real rottweiler I knew years ago, also named George. And yes, he absolutely survives.
George, the rottweiler in the book #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Megan E. Freeman


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

Once you’ve written a draft, go back through and question every. single. word. Do the same with every punctuation mark and capital letter. Make sure each is critical. Distill.

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

I’m usually motivated by the premise of the book, but sometimes it’s an author I love or the recommendation of a reader friend. Sometimes I line up several books I’m excited to read, and then choose based on the first sentences. I go with the one that grabs me in that moment.

4- What was the best part of your Zoom online @BookBarDenver launch party on Jan 12?

I loved seeing so many friends and family tuning in from around the world. It’s definitely a highlight of the pandemic that we are able to connect virtually via technology. I can’t imagine how an in-person event could have been more wonderful.
#NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Megan E. Freeman

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book with some wildflowers?

Nothing blooms in Colorado in January, so here’s a picture of my book with the amaryllis bulbs I’m forcing on my kitchen windowsill.

6- Have you ever had to survive on your own?

I’m lucky to have a large support network, so even in the hardest times of my life, I’ve never been alone. I’ve experienced the existential angst that all humans are subject to, but it was usually short-lived and I’ve always had people I could turn to.

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 @meganefreeman , and I’ll shout out to fellow #the21ders middle grade debut authors Kate Albus @katealbus , Alysa Wishingrad @AGWishingrad and Andrea Wang @andreaywang . Go pre-order their books!
Hopefully they'll sign up to be interviewed too!


8- When did you first know you wanted to publish a book someday?

I first wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school. We made and “published” books out of cardboard and contact paper for an annual Young Authors Festival and I loved everything about it. When I was ten, I even dropped in on editors at publishing houses in New York City to let them know to watch out for me. I was very audacious.

9- Are you a Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser, and how did you adopt that style?
#NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Megan E. Freeman

Every project is different and I’ve done all of the above at different times with different stories. I love the improvisational nature of letting a story tell itself, but I also appreciate plot structure when looking down on a project from 30,000 feet.

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

My writing schedule depends on what I’m working on. I do something related to writing and/or publishing every day. I email my writing partner every weekday and we set daily goals that we hold each other accountable to. When I’m in a generative drafting mode, I set word count goals that I strive to achieve. When I’m revising, sometimes I set page count goals. Other times I set a goal related to how much time I’m going to spend working on something. Small, measurable goals are hugely helpful to me.

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!

Right now I’m loving all the books coming out from #the21ders debut group. So many great new MG and YA titles and such a rich variety of genres and topics. You can browse them all at https://the21ders.com
Author name: Kate Albus @katealbus
Title: A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON
Love because: It’s a wonderful story with darling characters you can’t help but adore and root for, and Kate gives us a deeply satisfying ending.


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

Maddie, the main character, feels the gamut of emotions from excitement to fear to fury to serenity. I hope that readers can experience all of that vicariously through her at different points of the story. Part of what I love about fiction is the ability to feel things strongly in the safety of a fictional construct.

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

I hope it makes young readers hungry to read more books. I hope it inspires them to play and explore the “what ifs” in their own lives. I hope it fires up their imaginations.

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

I love to mess around in my sewing room. Sometimes I quilt. I go through phases where I’ll get excited about a sewing project and work on it intensely for a short period of time. I also love to go for hikes and walks in nature. I live in a beautiful place, and I find being in the natural world very inspiring.

15- diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks What's your favorite book with a diverse main character?

Impossible to pick favorites, but I recently loved Trevor Noah’s fantastic memoir BORN A CRIME and A.J. Sass’s debut novel ANA ON THE EDGE. I also had the good fortune to read an advance reader copy of PAWS by Kate Foster, and I’m really excited to read LIST OF TEN by Halli Gomez.


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

For ALONE, I reached out directly to the community of kidlit book bloggers and reviewers and was warmly received. The ARC sharing groups on #MG Twitter were great about reading review copies, posting reviews, and passing them along to share. That’s been huge.

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

I’ve wanted to be traditionally published since I was a kid, and I trusted my agent to help determine which publishing houses would be the best fit for submissions. Finding a good steward who would champion the book was more important to me than the size of the press.

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

I accomplished it on January 12 when I published ALONE, my first novel for children. I hope I’ll be lucky enough to do many, many more.

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

Everyone should answer this question from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day” that Maddie reads in ALONE:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

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

I really appreciate the chance to join you on the blog today. Thanks for all you do to support authors and readers!

ALONE by Megan E. Freeman


#NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Megan E. Freeman
Available from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin


Perfect for fans of Hatchet and the I Survived series, this harrowing middle grade debut novel-in-verse from a Pushcart Prize–nominated poet tells the story of a young girl who wakes up one day to find herself utterly alone in her small Colorado town.

Megan E. Freeman attended an elementary school where poets visited her classroom every week to teach poetry and she has been a writer ever since. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction, and her debut middle grade novel-in-verse ALONE is available from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin. Megan is also a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, and her poetry collection, Lessons on Sleeping Alone, was published by Liquid Light Press. An award-winning teacher with decades of classroom experience, Megan is nationally recognized for her work leading workshops and speaking to audiences across the country. Megan used to live in northeast Los Angeles, central Ohio, northern Norway, and on Caribbean cruise ships. Now she lives in northern Colorado.

Twitter @meganefreeman
Instagram megan_e_freeman_writer
Facebook https://facebook.com/meganefreemanwrites



Alone by Megan E. Freeman

Monday, January 18, 2021

Today is MLK Day

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Civil_Rights_March_on_Washington,_D.C._(Dr._Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._and_Mathew_Ahmann_in_a_crowd.)_-_NARA_-_542015_-_Restoration.jpg
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the US, which is designated as a "Day of Service" to encourage people to volunteer to improve their communities.

Americorps

Here are some books by and about MLK

Book Riot

Bustle

PBS Kids

What are you doing today for MLK Day?


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?