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Welcome! Books, movies, music, original stories, interviews, writing, libraries, literacy, humor –all with the YA reader in mind, are just a few of the topics you’ll find here. New to the blog? Say hi! Like it? Follow away! Thanks for visiting.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is published? part VII

This is going to be a brief one simply because it is still a WIP.  I took on the task of finding out if RedRoom and Scribid were good places to go and network.

It turns out, simply creating profiles etc. are more work than I thought they'd be.

I found THIS article about the CEO and Founder of Redroom, Ivory Madison, which is somewhat comforting thSat all the work I've been putting into RedRoom will be worth it.  My experience thus far has been mediocre.  The interface is clunky, the uploading is slow and the ease of navigation isn't the best.  BUT, I believe if I stick with it, there is a good chance I'll get my name out there among my peers, authors, publishers and most importantly, readers so I will stick with it.

I THINK scribid may have the same potential.  What I don't like about either is that they offer a link to my facebook account, but the link ties to my personal account and NOT my author page, which is infuriating.

So, I've got more work to do on this topic.  I've also decided to add the Writer's Digest community to this list.  I will get in there and see what that's about and hopefully have a more insightful observation of all three for next time.

Another topic for a future post will be Creating A Calendar To Manage Social Media Marketing.  It is insanely easy to forget what you have where and how often you need to take action in those places.  I've got a method that may help.

So.....For next time,

WD Community

If you feel so inclined, check them out yourself and let me know your thoughts.


Visit my PAGE and tell everyone you know to check it out!  Read my first chapter, follow my blog and get hooked!  My novel is coming late spring/early summer!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Books about writing...and why they're a waste.

Boy that title sounds pompous, doesn't it? In my world, it happens to be a statement based on experience.

When I'm asked if there is a book out there they can read to help them get started (becoming an author), I typically ask in reply, what is it you're looking for?  Motivation? Subject matter?  An 'insider' tip that will help you break into the field? Information on the process?  The mechanics?

At this point, I usually get nods from start to finish, an emphatic YES on one particular subject or a glazed over look.

The truth is there are TONS of books out there on fiction writing. Here is the proof.  I just went to amazon and searched three words, fiction-writing-books.  There were 30,868 results.  (Screenshot below)

Crazy, right?

Most books written by successful authors about writing and specifically fiction authors and how they write are...well...about how THEY write, not how YOU write.  You know how you write not bestselling author X or CEO of publishing company Y.

If you need a book for inspiration then I truly believe you shouldn't be writing at all.  Writers are creative, right? Inspiration lies in the world around you -or how your twisted mind perceives the world around you.

That being said, there are books out there that touch on subjects that do touch on the process and mechanics and are worth reading -multiple times, actually.

The first and probably most well known is called The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White.  If you've been writing for any length of time, you already own this book or have heard of it.

  The second, less well known, although the author is world renown, is called simply On Writing by Stephen King -yes THAT Stephen King.

I've read On Writing cover-to-cover at least half a dozen times first because, like most of his work, is thoughtful, witty and honest.  Take this excerpt, for example from the second foreword.

This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.  Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do --not why it works when it's good. Not why it doesn't when it's bad.  I figured the shorter the book, the less bullshit.

Many people have many things to say about Stephen King but one unarguable fact remains. King is a master storyteller.  Tying stories of his life together with explanations on process, mechanics and even touching on what to do once you've finished a project, On Writing is the most easy-to-read, easy to understand book on the topic I've found.  It contains priceless lessons for writers of all levels, not just beginners.  Of all King's pieces of work, On Writing has had the most influence in my life. 

So, are books about writing a waste?  Most of them.  These two certainly are not.  Buy them. Now, in fact.  You can download Elements of Style for FREE!  But as a fellow author, I hate to see anyone's work given away.  

One of King's best pieces of advice is to write. Everyday put aside time to write.  Write whatever you want but write!  Give yourself a word count goal (I think he shoots for 3000) and stick to it.  I shoot for 1000 and probably will until I make a living writing.  

If you write because you want to be the next Stephen King and live the 'high life' you will not succeed.  You must write because you love to write.  If the passion is not there, the reader will see right through you.  If you love to write, writing everyday isn't a drag, it's uplifting, exciting and sometimes scary but always enjoyable (except for those times when your brain stops working and you can barely get a sentence out from your brain and down to your fingers). 

Until next time, J. R. Wagner

Don't forget to visit my PAGE

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Issuu, an excellent tool for all authors (established and aspiring)

It's funny, I use Issuu to post documents in this very blog and have never given them their due credit.

First, it's free.  Did I mention it's free.  By the way it is FREE!

Once you create a profile the user interface is very easy to use.  The uploads are fast and the results are eye-catching.

Essentially you take a document you'd like to publish and make a PDF from it.  Once in PDF form, you can upload it to your profile in Issuu. The more documents you 'publish' on Issuu, the larger your library becomes. Now for the cool part.  Issuu allows you to share these documents on dozens of sites. (I mostly use it for facebook)  Also, it will give you the embed code, which you can paste into places (like this blog) and it will link back to that document in the Issuu reader.

The documents read like a book -page turning, audio (if you add it) and more.  All my Entries from the Lost Journal are uploaded from Issuu along with my sample chapter of The Never.  Take a look!

I recommend it to anyone and everyone who has documents to share and manage.  They also have a community (facebookesque) where other folks who publish documents, magazines, photo books and creative mostly where one can do some networking. So go register and start uploading!

And no, I am not being paid by Issuu for this entry.

Last thing: Visit my author page and show your support!

Here is an introductory video:

New entry from the Lost Journal

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is published? -note

Click-Throughs On Facebook Rise 18.5% This Summer

Interesting article that relates back to parts 1-5 of this thread.

Entries from The Lost Journal...with a new entry!

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is published? part VI

Well, it is time to move on to other sources on the internet that can help increase your following.  My page following has increased its following by 4x's since I've started writing (and following my own instructions) this blog.

A quick google search led me to The Savvy Book Marketer  website.  One click on marketing tips and I come to a long list of what look like great sources of information.

I clicked on the first one that drew my eye, fiction marketing, and was directed quickly to a page full of hype that ended with an ad for her book explaining all about fiction book marketing. So I clicked on resources and, once again found a nice list of information and every link leads to something for sale.  Can I blame them? No.  Is it frustrating that nobody wants to throw me a bone? Yes.  Onward...

I found a magazine..Social Media Marketing Magizine, which is a bit too broad for our purposes at the moment. Then I found this, a 'free' ebook from scribd that specifically touches on social media marketing for authors. There was some good introductory information that can be useful including a link to RedRoom, which I've never heard of but intend on visiting. It also mentions scribid, which hosted the free ebook.  Surprisingly, there was nothing at the end pitching the sale of the author's book.  It was just straight-up free information.  A rarity these days.

So, the mission going forward will be to research RedRoom and scribid and see what they're about and how effective they can be.  I apologize for the lack of actionable information this go-around.  The next entry should be full of goodies.

Until then, visit my page, tell your friends, tell your friend's friends and I'll be sure to share the love!

Here is a shot of my page today!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is published? part V

A quick followup to part II, which focused on facebook ads.  Since October fourth, that particular ad had netted me 57 new followers.  Of the 60 people who clicked on the ad, only three decided they didn't want to 'like' my page.

Enough about paid ads.  Here are some things that are completely free that you can do to increase traffic to your page.  I'm assuming you've reached the point where you know what genre you've targeted.  Knowing that, you can search for other pages with the same interest.  Lets use en example: Horror.

As you can see, several other pages immediately come up.  If it has the little molecule icon as a picture, they're no good because they're not regularly updated and the information is fed by wikipedia so skip them all together (I know, it's tempting when thy have 96,000 likes but there is no following there.)

If you find one that looks promising, click on it.  Check out the page.  Do they allow others to post on the page?  If it is only the moderator posting, the answer is no.  Even though you may be able to post on their wall, your post will be removed before anyone can see it.  The other thing to look at is the page's likes (on the left).  Click see all and look through their favorites.  This is a great way to expand your potential network because pages generally 'like' other pages related to their own subject in some way.

I would try and get as many relevant 'likes' as possible.  For time's sake, lets say you reach 30.  Now you need to start trolling those pages for opportunities to insert yourself into their conversations.  Every time you post, they see the link back to your page (as well as everyone else looking at their page, who most likely will be interested in your page because it is a related subject)  I would avoid 'spamming' where new authors drop in, leave a post on their wall saying something like 'come look at my new book" and never say anything again.  Try and build a rapport with the people who post on these pages.  The more they see your name involved in the conversations, the more interested in your page the readers will become.  Soon, those who like their pages will like your page and so it spreads.

Remember to share the love.  If someone mentions your page on their wall, reciprocate.  This can have a snowball effect sending your number of followers through the roof. The more work you do here, the more results you will see. Yes, it takes time and effort for it to happen but in the end, I believe these followers are more likely to purchase your book than those who simply click on an ad and 'like' your page.

Sell yourself, you're a writer so when you post or converse you need to write like a writer.

So next time I'm going to touch on some non-facebook ways to draw a following (back to facebook).

Until then...good luck and keep writing.

Visit my page early and often for prizes, wiring samples and more.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is published? part IV

Following up on part III...the ad I placed on facebook is still running.  According to the stats I've gotten 19 clicks and 13 connections meaning out of the 19 who actually clicked on the ad, 13 ended up liking my page.

So, is this method effective?  I'd say so.  Especially considering I've spent a hair under $4.00 for the ad so far.  But, I don't plan on using facebook ads alone to generate a following and neither should you.  I also can't afford to run the ad until I reach the number I'm shooting for (1000).  So, what's left?

Tons of stuff, actually.  Have you considered making a video trailer for your novel?  Increase your exposure by drawing youtube viewers to your page! I went as far as making a 'teaser' trailer with text and some basic effects and am working on a full-length trailer with actors (volunteers of course).  That being said, I have an affinity for filmmaking and understand that not every writer does but if you're writing fiction, you have creativity and imagination.

This is what I came up with.  Simple text with cool sound and effects (I think anyway).  If effective, your trailer should spark the interest of potential readers enough to want to follow your page.  HD video cameras are insanely cheap right now and it is amazing what one can do with a simple editing program.  If you have the wherewithal , I highly suggest giving it a shot.

Create a storyboard. What is a storyboard, you ask?  Basically a series of images you'd like to see in your trailer.  I draw like a four-year-old. I'm okay with that.  The purpose isn't to be pretty, it is simply to give you a solid projection of how you want your trailer to look. Below I'll paste a video on storyboarding if you're interested.  You can get blank templates for storyboarding here.  When you go to shoot your trailer, the storyboard will direct the angles of the shots and help make the entire process much smoother.   When you have your volunteer actors all gathered around you waiting to do something, winging it generally produces bad film. If you know what angles you want, where you want the actors to be in relation to the camera etc. BEFORE you're on location with everyone, things go much smoother.  Trust me. Okay, I'm digressing.

Video trailers are great tools to get people interested in your novel (potential publishers like them as well).  When you're done, stroll on over to your potential agent or publisher's page and post a link to your trailer.  Why not?

Here is the storyboarding video.  I'll be the first to admit it is a bit on the slow side...but it helps.

Next time we will talk about getting your Author Page exposure within facebook with your target readers for FREE!

Just a reminder, I am implementing this for myself as I go, sometimes just before I write about it.  If something doesn't work or you have suggestions that I haven't mentioned, feel free to comment.

Until next time, visit me, tell your friends to tell their friend's friends and I'll be sure to share the love.

Oh, and for a laugh, here is a funny video I made.  I think all Star Wars fans need to get at least one of these out of their systems before they die.

RIP Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Backing up your work -Confessions of a back-a-holic

I'm taking a brief hiatus from my other thread to talk about the importance of backing up your work.

Everyone backs up, right?

Fast, easy and free: email it to yourself every time you change a file.

Slightly more expensive but much more dependable: Buy some flash drives (more than one), number or letter them and use them on a rotation to back up your files. Keep a backup log with the date and the drive # or letter in case you need to go back. I have drives A-E. Also, if you can leave the drive off-site (out of your house somewhere) Put it in your school locker, your desk at work, anywhere other than the same place as your computer.

Slightly more expensive, automated and dependable: Find an online backup service to do it for you. Currently, I'm using Carbonite. I think I paid around $120 for THREE YEARS of service.  It automatically backs up files that change.  Those files are customizable and the interface is easy to use.

Finally, expensive, local and probably most dependable: An external drive for your computer that mirrors your changes as you go.  Right now I'm using a Lacie d2 2TB, which is super easy and I have to give it virtually zero thought.

Here comes the confession:  I use every method mentioned above every day.  Why?  Well, if my house goes up in flames after being hit by a rogue meteor? I've lost my external drive but I have my flash drive, Carbonite and my email.  If the zombies come, burn down my house, set off an EMP all I'm left with is my flash drive, which contains all of my work.  So, as long as the zombies, the meteors and the EMP's keep at bay, I'm good to go.  But I rest easier knowing a lifetime of work isn't gone if they do.

Speaking of zombies, The Walking Dead season 2 is coming October 16th at 9. (love that show)

Come visit me, say hi and check out my work.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A new entry from the Lost Journal! (a creative outlet for yours truly...nothing more)

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is published? part III

Facebook... When taken advantage of, facebook is arguably your greatest tool for creating a following, direct advertising and a handful of other helpful things that will enable you to be successful in getting your name out there.

Have I mentioned that you should visit my page, 'like' it and tell everyone you know about it? Another incredible feature of facebook is their advertising capabilities.  I happened upon a coupon for $50 of free advertising and was stunned at the targeting capabilities of facebook advertising.  It is simply amazing.

I don't get paid by facebook or anyone else to write this (FYI).  When you place an ad, you create what you want people to see -the picture, the text -today I'll use 'I am New Author trying to generate a following BEFORE my book publishes.  Please help and join my revolution!' Keep in mind, you only have 135 characters to say what you want to say.

Now for the amazing part, the targeting.  You can pick the countries you want to target.  I shoot for all the english speaking countries. Then you can pick the age you want to target.  Obviously this will be the age range of your target readership.  To the right is the estimated reach, which will change as you go.  Right now I'm at around 135 million people.

It gets better. Precise interests is where you can narrow it down to virtually anything you want including specific facebook pages.  So, if I want to target people who read a specific author...say, J.K. Rowling, I can do exactly that.

For connections, I always put 'people who are not fans of J.R. Wagner'. Obviously you don't want to waste advertising on people who already like your page. Advanced demographics; sex, in a relationship, work etc. are things I don't target -I select all.  Why limit?

Name your campaign and set your budget. I always pick lifetime budget -my first time I picked per day and set the dates/times and facebook assumed I meant two days so I spent twice as much as I wanted.  Lifetime budget won't let you exceed your budget (the campaign stops when you reach your budget)

Set your pricing. I always pay for clicks because that's what I want from the ad.  The bid amount is a cool thing.  The way facebook advertising works is if anyone else has chosen to advertise on the same page as you, the bid determines who gets to show up on that page.  I suggest using the range suggested by facebook as a conservative start.

All that's left is to place your order.  You can run multiple ads at the same time, stop ads, pause ads -the flexibility is incredible.  The reporting will tell you how many people saw your ad, how many clicked on it and much more.

In the end you can end up spending just a few dollars on an ad or a few hundred depending on how big you want to go.

Facebook ads are great but certainly not the only way to generate traffic to your page.  There are many other free methods to do this.  I will touch on them next (and I'll keep you posted on how my ad worked)

Until then...come visit!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is ever published? part II

Step #1, you need to get your name out there in the social media circles. If you don't have a facebook profile, make one. Once you have a profile, make a page. The page is where the magic will happen. Make sure you tell your friends early and often to 'like' your page. This is where I (for lack of a better suggestion) will keep a tally of my following as we go. The number of 'likes' will correspond to the number of people who are following my progress and therefore (hopefully and in most cases) buy my book when it is released.

The more eye catching your facebook page, the better. There are tons of websites out there that tell you how to do it yourself and also tons of websites that want to do it for you(for a fee). You can also specify where you want new visitors to go when they arrive. This is called the landing page. This is your chance to get them hooked. I am currently using Pagemodo, which is free and seems to work easily.  The interface is user friendly.

Now, you want to drive as much traffic to your page as possible.  The first, easiest and cheapest way is to post often on your profile page and entice your friends to take a look at your author page. Make sure to tell them to 'like' it.  If you have friends with websites, ask them if they'll link your page in their site.  The more external links the better.  Here is my link, which will hopefully drive some of you over to my page. Remind your friends that your author page is out there and needs your help! ...I better do this now!

Unfortunately, I'm running out of time right now.  I'd still like to cover driving more traffic to your page and driving the right kind of traffic to your page...until then.

J. R. Wagner

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Creating a following BEFORE your novel is ever published?

Yes, that's right. The literary market these days is so unstable, uncertain and uncomfortable with taking risks on authors (especially first time published authors) that, with each passing day it becomes more and more difficult to find an agent or publisher who will even look at your manuscript.
Is it the end for all of us first-time authors? What can we do? The answer comes in three words. Build a following.
An agent or publisher picks up your query letter, glances it over, likes what she sees but your genre is too risky right now. She's had dozens of submissions (and rejected them all) in this genre, some of which she's liked but it just isn't worth the risk to take on a new author when she isn't confident the book will sell. Then she sees something at the bottom of the query letter that changes her mind.
Between my blog and my facebook page, I've managed to generate over 1000 followers.
In her mind that's 1000 book sales, which isn't a bad run for a first time author in the fiction market. What if that number were 2000 or 5000 or 10,000? Think she'd be interested then?
It's a new world for writers. Follow along with me as I research and implement the fruits of my research. Through my experimentations, I hope to be able to pave the way for all new writers looking for a path to publication. Let us begin...