Friday, January 17, 2014

Goodreads: Participate, Navigate & Generate

Authors have different takes on Goodreads. Some dislike it, don't understand it and just aren't willing to use it. Some have discovered its hidden secrets and use it as another source of social networking.

I admit that it took me awhile to navigate the site, find all the different ways to use it and make it a useful tool. But, now that I have, it's become part of my media toolkit. I don't spend a lot of time there but I do visit it a few times weekly.

Even before I was an author, I used Goodreads as a reader. I interacted with some authors I enjoyed reading, especially when I wanted to know more about when another book was being released in their series. I also used it to track books I wanted to read and those I'd read. Putting a rating on Goodreads whenever I read a book was second-nature as I kept my growing "Read" shelf up-to-date. I don't think I was alone in this. Many voracious readers gravitate towards Goodreads. So, shouldn't authors too?

Here are the top 12 ways to utilize goodreads as an author.

1. Participate in the site as a reader, not just as an author.
Authors are readers too. List the books you’ve read and want to read. Write short reviews on your favorite books. Be genuine. Notice I said "favorite books". I urge you to think carefully about whether you’ll post reviews that aren’t positive. I make it a policy to only post the books I've read and enjoyed. It's a way to promote those authors while sharing books with others that I liked - a great way to make connections.

2. Friend lots of readers.
Become friends with as many others as possible in the genres of your interest. But don't use them to spam - there's a book recommendation feature on Goodreads that I recommend you NOT use for your own books. Make friends to see what others are reading and share interests. Reading their reviews and posts will give you information on current readers' interests.

3. Join Groups and be active.
Join groups in the categories you read/ write. The groups are similar to Yahoo groups or Google+ hangouts. There is ongoing discussion between members - often a lot of interaction, particularly in the larger groups. There are hundreds of groups on Goodreads, for all different interests. Don't just join author groups - be sure to join groups with readers. Then remember #1 - participate as a reader, not just as an author!

4. Connect Goodreads to facebook.
You can connect to facebook and find your facebook friends who also use Goodreads. You can also allow Goodreads to post your activity to your facebook profile. It's another nice connection to show what books you enjoy as a reader to those who follow you on facebook.

5. List all your books on Goodreads.
They might already be there but they might not. There are a variety of ways books get put on Goodreads - there's even a group of people "the Librarians" who have extra permissions to edit, etc. Excited readers may add a book by ISBN if they can't find it but to be sure that your books are listed as you want, be sure to list them yourself. Include all pertinent information. The more information you include, the easier it is for a reader.

6. Join the Goodreads Author Program.
Through the Author Program, you can create an author profile and then utilize all the other promotional tools they offer. You can host/ advertise events (launch parties, blog tours, book signings, etc) from your profile as well as be able to upload book trailers, excerpts, and create polls or quizzes for your readers.

* Since the site is for readers, here's a place they are likely to look for you. Having a presence here is important. It’s the perfect place to connect with readers who enjoy the genre of books you write. *

7. Link your blog to Goodreads.
You can host a blog directly on Goodreads, or for those who already have a blog, you can connect it to Goodreads so that your posts show up on your profile (see #6). It sometimes takes a day for them to go live but having that connection will draw more interaction to your blog.

8. Create a Goodreads widget for your website or blog.
Goodreads makes it easy to embed a variety of widgets on your site to attract readers to your Goodreads profile. You will be able to choose to promote a shelf (for instance, your "want to read" shelf) or your profile. The directions are simple to follow and its just a matter of cut and paste.

9. Check your Goodreads inbox.
Sometimes readers will try to connect with you through Goodreads because they give you an inbox. I make it a habit to check it weekly so I don't miss an opportunity to "talk" with a reader.

10. Do giveaways.
This is only available if you have print books. Goodreads “First Reads” giveaway program is widely used and is a effective way of getting your book exposure on Goodreads. Once you set the criteria, Goodreads runs the giveaway and you are only required to supply the book once a winner is selected. Having a giveaway will increase those who place your book on their "want to read" shelves and will also lead to more reviews. This is great because the more reviews a book has, the more visibility it gets.

11. Advertise on Goodreads.
I’ve heard positive stories about the outcome of the Goodreads advertising program though it is a big investment. Advertising starts around $500 a month. Authors who've used it do say that it delivered on sales. NOTE: Since I haven't done it personally though, I can't speak from experience. I mention only as a suggestion to look into.

12. Check the Stats.
I love statistics because it gives real data on success. Goodreads gives us this tool. Since our goal is to get our books in reader's hands (aka, on their shelves), we need to know if what we're doing works. As an author member, Goodreads gives updated stats on how many people have added your books to their shelves, how many have reviewed them, your average ratings, etc. Track that data to determine how well your promotional activities on Goodreads are doing. Then make adjustments.

The key to using Goodreads as an author is to learn to navigate the site, participate in a social format and use those interactions to generate sales.

Are you on Goodreads?

Why? Why Not? Share Your Experience.

Paloma Beck is a Romance Author living a life of contradiction... she's a happily married carpooling mom writing erotic romance. It's almost naughty! Paloma writes full-time and has three series in the works with others on the fringes. Her books span both the contemporary and paranormal romance genres. 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Newbie World: Do I Really Need Social Media?

(This is the first in a series of advice for newbie authors. Caveat: I, myself, am a newbie, but having been through many of these issues and questions myself, I hope I can offer some insight!)

                We’ll be talking about some of the best advice on each social media platform, as well as some general “rules”, should you choose to engage.  Most first-time writers are struggling with not only the pressures of finishing their novel and finding a publisher, but also being told by everyone around them that they “must” have a social media platform. And, should one be lucky enough to find a publisher, then the publisher will most certainly require (at the very least): a website, Twitter handle, and Facebook page. This is a lot of pressure for many of us, especially as writers tend to be observers of life, and not necessarily wanting to be the full-time salesperson of our books.  

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be. In fact, you shouldn’t be asking your new readers, fans, and friends to “buy your book”. Harlequin asks its authors to limit any sort of buy links to a 1:9 ratio; one “ask” per every nine content-laden posts or tweets. In my personal opinion, it should be even lower. For example, Diana Gabaldon tweets about what is going on in her life and engaging with her fans, and has a very devoted online following (who then does go out and buy her books!). 

People want to connect with their authors as people, not as an author in an ivory tower. So decide what you are comfortable sharing – kids, what you ate, your dog’s antics? Also, start slowly on each of these media. No need to be on all at once, or even all of them, period. It is better to be very engaged on one than spread thin on many. 

Additionally, start to think of your brand or platform. Your story is your platform; the reader wants to engage on the current story AND the next one. Social media is just the tool through which we tell it. (some great advice: )

Of course, the writing of your best possible book is still where you need to focus your energies. A good rule of thumb is to spend anywhere between 10-30% of your writing time on marketing (including social marketing) tools.  With all of that said, let’s get down to brass tacks!

Disagree? Have more tips? Leave a comment!
Also, if you’re a fellow newbie, ping me and let me know what else you’d like to know about, either via comments or Twitter. Looking for more blog ideas for next month! 

Erin writes paranormal romances as Erin Moore and has only just begun to learn all about marketing them! She loves Twitter for its brevity, and tries to find her way through all of the other social media on a daily basis. She manages two monsters and one unruly husband in Atlanta, main-lining chocolate and tea. Look her up on www.AuthorErinMoore or, of course, on Twitter: AuthorErinMoore.

Friday, January 10, 2014

There is a Point Behind Point of View #MFRWorg

We hear a lot about Point of View (POV) and how some well known authors seem to be able to ignore the rules with impunity. Since we are not those authors (yet) it’s a good idea to understand POV in all its glory.
From what I’m seeing in contest entries as well as writing sent to me for evaluation, POV isn’t clear to everyone. As I explained to a new author, when we’re in deep POV, all the character should “see” is what they would actually see with their eyes. We don’t “see” our emerald green eyes with a gleam of humor. Nor do we “see” our lustrous black waves pulled into a stylish up-do. After a few paragraphs of that I find myself waiting for the artificial “Don’t hate me because I’m so beautiful.”  In addition to a poor use of POV this also shows a character I find unsympathetic. Right along with the heroines who deplore their awful long blond wavy hair, overly large breasts along with tiny waists and legs just tooo long. At that point it takes a lot for me to keep reading.

We do see this kind of description in many books, as a short cut for authors to gain the reader’s attention. Far better to let the reader learn what the character looks like through the reactions of interaction with other people. “Inevitably, his eyes strayed to my right cheek, then he looked away, no doubt appalled by what he had seen.” What? What did he see? Tell me more! And you have another reader hooked, at least for now.

As far as ‘head hopping’ also known as ‘flying POV’ or in too many of my first books ‘feeling like you’re watching a tennis match,’ it can be a problem even for experienced writers, especially in first draft. Most of the time it’s caught during edits but every now and then it slips through and we find a published book with the heroine experiencing the hero’s excited libido. Does it matter? In my opinion, yes, especially if your goal is drawing in your readers with deep POV. It’s difficult to relate to thoughts and emotions when they keep hopping from character to character.

When the heroine tells the hero to get something from the refrigerator, she’s not going to be seeing the empty shelves or take out containers unless she’s standing right behind him. She can react to his muttered comment with a personal vision or memory of what he’s looking at, and remind herself next time she needs to go through those containers BEFORE they turn into science experiments. This gives you an opportunity to build more character depth: how is he going to react, how is she going to respond.

Deep POV, keeping your character limited to what they can personally see or feel, is much harder to write but Easy Reading, stories that draw a reader in, comes from Hard Writing, spending a bit more time on those pesky craft details so your great story shines through.

Mona Karel is the writing alter ego of Monica Stoner, who wrote Beatles fan fiction and terribly
earnest (read just not very good) Gothics in her teen years. She set aside writing while working with horses and dogs all over the US, until she discovered used book stores and Silhouette Romances.  Shortly after that she also discovered jobs that paid her for more than her ability to do a good scissors finish on a terrier, and moved into the “real” working world.  Right around then she wrote her first full length book.  It only took her twenty seven years to be published.  She writes looking out the window at the high plains of New Mexico, with her Saluki dogs sprawled at her feet. Distraction much? ?  Sometimes these silly dogs take over her life, but there is always room for one more set of characters in one more book.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Moderating the MFRW #Facebook Group - Screening Requests #MFRWorg

Back in May, shortly after I had joined the MFRW staff as one of the assistant newsletter editors, founder Kayelle Allen put out a request among the staff for someone to moderate the MFRW Facebook group. Of course it immediately occurred to me that since I seem to spend excessive amounts of time on Facebook anyway, I could fill that position, both to justify some of said Facebook time and also because, well, I’m already there.

As part of our new series of blog posts from the MFRW staff, I’ll be posting about the ins and outs of moderating the MFRW Facebook group on the fifth of each month. In my first few posts, I’m planning to talk a bit about the behind-the-scenes responsibilities and practicalities involved in being a moderator. After I’ve covered that, I’ll chat a little each month on the group’s stats and/or notable goings-on during the month in question.

NOTE: You can use these posts to moderate a facebook group of your very own!

One of the main responsibilities I have as a moderator is screening requests to join. MFRW is a working group geared toward helping authors and others in the literary community learn more about promotion and marketing. While the Facebook group notably allows promotion, the main MFRW channel, its Yahoo Group, does not; members of MFRW, as I interpret it, are considered to be peers in learning rather than a main audience to which to actually market.

Given this orientation of MFRW, we want members of the Facebook group to have some connection to the writing/publishing/literary community. My job is to check the profile of each person who requests to join to see if there is evidence of such a connection. Something as simple as listing “Author” in the employment section suffices; we’re not screening for a particular number of publications or level of proficiency or any such criteria. (I will admit I love it when this evidence is there, as it makes my job considerably easier and more efficient…all I have to do then is approve the request. ;) )

When I check a profile, I first look at the employment section to see if something relevant (such as “Author” or “Writer”) is listed there. If not, I next move on to the “About” section and look for a website I could visit to find evidence of a literary connection. If that’s not there, I look at the profile pictures to see if they happen to be book covers with the requestor’s name on the cover.

As soon as I encounter evidence of a sufficient connection, I check the number of groups the person is in. If it is fewer than several hundred, I approve the request. I do this because membership in hundreds or even thousands of groups is considered to be a warning sign that a profile may be a spam account, simply seeking to join groups indiscriminately to post bogus or questionable links in as many places as possible. (This is also why I don’t use the other groups a requestor is in as evidence of a literary community connection; if a group doesn’t moderate join requests, there’s no reason any member of such groups couldn’t be a spam account.)

For a number of understandable reasons (such as having a pen name), some people do not display indications of their writing on their Facebook profiles. Many authors have also noticed that Facebook does not allow one to join a group via a “page,” including an author page (which I personally find perplexing, but obviously I’m not in charge at Facebook). And of course, some people have their profiles set to mostly private viewing in general, which I also find understandable. Thus, if none of the aforementioned indications is on a profile (and the requestor is not in hundreds or thousands of groups), I move to the next step of the process: sending the prospective member a message, which I’ll talk more about next month. :)

Thanks for following along, and happy new year to all!
Emerald is an erotic fiction author whose work has been featured in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, and Logical-Lust. She serves as an assistant newsletter editor and Facebook group moderator for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW) and . Find out more at her website The Green Light District.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Understanding YouTube Upload Options for Authors #MFRWorg

MFRW Author Blog 
This is the first in a series of posts by Marketing for Romance Writer staff members. The staff consists of volunteers who give their time to help others learn how to market their books.

Authors who want to upload a video to YouTube often face a confusing array of choices. Here are the basics you need to know for each section. Choosing the options listed below may net you better results than using the default settings.

YouTube Basic Settings Section

Name your video something catchy (a default like "wmv46" is not very attractive). The name of your book is fine.
Use your book's blurb here. We suggest you also add any licensing info (such as your music) and a link to your author site.
Tags (for Book Trailers)
Do not use commas. Separate with simple blank spaces. For tags that consist of more than one word, use quotation marks. Below are tags recommended for book trailers. Use these exact words, substituting "Author Name" for your name (in quotes), your publisher name, your title, and your genres. Try to pick one word genres. It is better to have paranormal and romance than to have "paranormal romance" -- because it will gain you a wider readership.
  • Author
  • Novel
  • Reading
  • "Author Name"
  • Publisher
  • Title
  • Genre1
  • Genre2
Public (anyone can search for and view - recommended)
Standard YouTube License

A sample YouTube video

YouTube Advanced Settings Section

Comments and responses (select the following)
  • Allow comments: Approved
  • Users can vote on comments
  • Users can view ratings for this video
  • Allow video responses: Approved
Choose: This content has never aired on television in the U.S.
Allow Embedding
Leave blank unless you want your address listed online
Today or the day you finished the video
no preference is fine
This section may not be visible to you unless you have monetized your channel. If you have, follow your guidelines.
Embedding Options (suggested)
Choose: This video may be shared in a G+ Hangout. On the YouTube channel, after selecting the video, click Share, and look for the orange G+ Hangout button.
Don't forget to select the Share link and add it to other information you keep about your book.

Kayelle Allen
To share just the video, press play, and click the share button. Uncheck the "share with playlist" option and copy the video link provided. That will be your url for sharing your video.

That's all there is to it. Once you have uploaded your video, share it everywhere. Put it in your newsletter, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other social media. Add it to your blog and webpage. You'll find many uses for it. Good luck!
Post by Kayelle Allen, found of MFRW, owner of The Author's Secret, an author support company.