Although Help Me Self Publish has only been in business since September 1st 2011, in a few short months I’ve had a crash course in the best ways to utilize Twitter. I fumbled around a lot in the beginning, but the following tools have substantially increased our followers and visits to the HMSP site.
- Buffer: Buffer has given me freedom. Before discovering it, I was tied to my Twitter account, sending out tweets, reading, sharing, and retweeting throughout the day. It was exhausting and worse, I was bombarding our followers with several tweets at one time. Buffer has solved this problem. My tweets can be scheduled during the most opportune times of the day when our followers tend to be online, too. And best of all, I can schedule my own time more wisely.
- Twitter Lists: Okay, I’m not currently following 1000’s of people, but I’m thinking and planning ahead as I expect to. Creating lists has made it so much easier to follow the people I frequent the most, as well as categorize the content Help Me Self Publish represents: Writing/Publishing, Marketing, and Inspiration for Authors.
- Triberr: When Mary first told me about Triberr a few weeks ago, and how she had met these amazingly supportive people and btw, her blog stats shot through the roof; I was a bit skeptical. But, then I was invited to join and it was everything she described. The people are wonderful, with lots of wisdom to share on blogging and writing, and our stat numbers immediately increased 3-fold bringing with it additional readership and exposure for HMSP. Triberr will help us achieve our goals at a much faster rate, as if we hit warp drive. (Hopefully, our dilithium crystals will hold out.)
- Write and Share Quality Information: Of course, no matter what tips and tricks you follow, none of them will do any good if you’re not writing posts people are interested in reading. Since my main goal is to sift through the noise for our followers, I don't worry about how many tweets I’m sending out, I try to insure that each one I’m passing along is something I enjoyed reading myself.
- Retweet, too: It’s a Karma thing. I tend to retweet over copying and pasting when my Buffer que is filled and/or the tweet is in a category I tend to tweet about less frequently, but was interesting to me none-the-less.
- Be courteous: Thank followers, retweeters, and make sure promotions don’t make up the bulk of your tweets.
Do you use any of the above tools? If so, what was your experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
"You know, it's a funny thing about writers. Most people don't stop to think of books being written by people much like themselves. They think that writers are all dead long ago - they don't expect to meet them in the street or out shopping. They know their stories but not their names, and certainly not their faces. And most writers like it that way - " Inkhheart
That was then...this is now.
Before I read the above quote last week, I knew the names of many famous authors, and the faces of only a few.
I would not have recognized Edgar Allen Poe had I strolled into that bar room in Baltimore, or J.R.R. Tolkein, unless I was privileged enough to take one of his classes at Oxford University, but I know their work as intimately as I know my husband.
There were only three authors whose faces I knew as well as their names. One is J.K. Rowling, and well...if you need an explanation, please get up from your friend's wireless laptop, chip away at your ice block front door, harness up your sled dogs and join us in civilization. The other two are J.A. Konrath (at least in profile with sunglasses) and Joanna Penn.
I think as a group, that Inkheart quote is correct - most writers are solitary creatures, and most readers know the words that moved them, not the author who imagined and wrote those words.
In the 21st Century, however this scenario has changed drastically for every writer who wants to publish her work and have it read, AND for every lover of the written word who wants to know more about her favorite writer. With the sudden ease of self publishing and the ability of indie authors to broadcast exactly what they want to say, unfiltered by publishers, we now have an amazing amount of electronically published works to devour. This basic, yet amazing change in publishing has made that Inkheart quote obsolete. If an author, indie or not, wants her books to be read, she must show her readers who she is - literally!
Monday, January 23, 2012 saw this change for me. I now know the names and faces, and have devoured the delicious work of 35 incredible writers (and counting), who have changed my blogging and writing life forever. In the hope that you can do the same, here is the cause of this wonderful transformation.
It's called Triberr.
Belonging to a tribe is a basic human need. Triberr fills that need for writers, and it allows us to help each other. I don't look at another author as a competitor, like another maternity company is a competitor for MommyLoves. So having other authors read, comment and promote my work is the most amazing thing that could happen for my message and my books.
If you are an author, and you want your work read, promote others whose work you admire, and karma will take care of the rest...no really karma is a basic function of Triberr!
Here's to a new world for authors, and once you have edited and formatted your manuscript, send it out into the world by joining the tribe!
Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
"Facebook is where you lie to your friends. Twitter is where you’re honest with complete strangers." Scott Levy /FuelInternetMarketing and @FuelOnline "Social Media" is the generalized term used for all online chat/messaging/video communication, but not everyone is social in the same way. Facebook and Twitter are amazing communication tools for building a tribe for entrepreneurial authors, and each platform has a unique language and set of tools for success.
Before an author can use either effectively, the platform, message and purpose must be clearly established. If you write, publish and wish to promote your historical fiction novels, for example, you wouldn't tweet about the sci-fi mystery you just read. Similarly, if you write YA romance novels, you wouldn't post pictures of your trip to Washington D.C. with your in-laws on your Facebook page. The sci-fi mystery and Capital trip are best left to your personal social media accounts.
Whichever social media you use (preferably both) blatant self promotion will quickly get you "unfollow"ed! Stay true to your message and be consistent with your posts, and your subscribers and followers will know what to expect, and expect even more. Isn't that what every author wants...a ravenous audience for her work?!
- Facebook uses tags, photos, links and video to share "stories" with friends and subscribers. Status updates are called "stories," and should be thought of as such - short stories containing useful information for your subscribers. Two to three posts per day with anywhere from one sentence to two paragraphs each is an acceptable amount of interaction with subscribers to your page. The information should be in some way interactive with your audience. The more you ask your readers to interact, the more they will come back for more, and your list of fans and readers will build. You can even set up your facebook account to automatically feed to your twitter account, which brings your twitter followers back to your facebook page. Just remember the difference in tone between the two social media audiences, and be sure the first 140 characters of your facebook posts grab the reader to help them make the decision to click on the link.
- Twitter can be more difficult for many writers, because it forces them to edit themselves. No longer can we be verbose and completely descriptive. 140 characters wouldn't even contain most of the sentences in a fiction novel, but Twitter is probably the best preparation for anyone wishing to become an indie author in the digital age. No pictures or videos can be shared except through links, and mini links are preferred. Twitter will shorten full links in a post, but many savvy twitter users employ the help of services like Tinyurl.com to help them gain back some characters. Double or even triple the number of tweets over facebook posts are acceptable, and the wittier the better. Again interactive is better, but often tweeting the work, blogs and quotes of others is most popular amongst followers. Karma, people - what you put out comes back to you! Services like Buffer or TweetDeck help manage the stream of information available on this fast paced, busy social media platform.
Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Say Bump and Take a Left
After reading a great article someone retweeted on Twitter, I felt compelled to pass it along, too. However, I noticed the original author’s name or Twitter account was not included in the tweet.
How did this happen?
Well, if the person tweeting isn't the original author, it can take a little extra time and effort to include the actual author's name, especially if you have to search Twitter for their account and then confirm it’s the right person. (Often times, several people have the same name.) And then, for certain blogs that host a multitude of writers, you may even have to search the page to figure out who wrote the article.
So, why do I go to so much trouble to include the author, not just who tweeted it?
One. This is the author that wrote the cool article worthy of sharing. It’s just a good habit to credit that person and good Karma; as hopefully, I’ll get mentioned for the posts I write.
Two. Mentioning that author is a great way to introduce yourself to them and their potential followers. If I enjoyed their post, then there’s a higher likelihood of a quality connection between us.
So, after including everyone, what happens if my tweet is more than 140 characters long? Instead of dropping someone, I’d rather play with the title and shorten it as much as possible, or write a compelling comment. It may take a little extra effort, but it’s been worth it, as I’ve found many people worth following (with a few returning the follow) or even initiating the connection, which has been exciting.
Note to authors: It’s helpful if you include your @Twitter name within your articles, so people can credit you, too.
How do you search for people to follow? Do you focus on quantity or quality? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
A recent post from Stephanie Chandler on why she doesn’t send promotional blasts to her email list, sparked a realization: To have successful online communications in the social media arena, we really need to use the same regard as when talking to people in-person.
Sales Blasts. When chatting with a friend or relative, or even meeting someone new, would you consider starting every conversation with a sales pitch? Some people do. I’ve met them in the mall. Even if they don’t begin the conversation trying to sell me something, it’s pretty obvious where the conversation is headed after the “fake” one-liners that try to sound like genuine interest. Most people are turned off by this approach, but many forget it’s just as annoying to their social media followers to see a constant stream of messages selling a product or service.
Remaining Impersonal. Although it’s impossible to become chummy with everyone we meet online, the basic social media rules do suggest opening ourselves up now and then and revealing our personal lives, thoughts, fears, or challenges we’ve overcome. The online world is inherently impersonal, yet we all hunger for human connections and feeling like we’re not alone in our life experiences. Opening up seems easier one-on-one with our personal contacts, but we can also reap the benefits of sharing our humanity with our online contacts, too.
Engaging with Others. Putting yourself out there then leads to responding to others. You wouldn’t ignore someone when communicating in person; so if someone is reaching out to you online ~ or you feel someone has written something of interest to you ~ comment, reply, or send a personal message. Social Media interaction benefits you as much as it does the receiver. As long as it’s genuine and isn’t communicated with an ulterior motive - like a sales pitch - your message will resonate with your audience.
Do you agree? Do you find success online by using similar communication styles as you do with people in-person? How is it different? We’d love to hear from you.
Help Me Self Publish
Several years ago, a multilingual friend of mine expressed his frustration with the English language, calling it too limiting due to the lack of word choices that best described what he was trying to say.
Unfortunately, I’m not multilingual, so I wasn’t able to relate to him. Perhaps part of the problem is that our culture has changed from one of learning and using language as an art form and increasing our vocabulary so that our writing has more complexity, richness, and poetic tones. Today, we’re faced with sound bites, taglines, poor grammar (if any grammar) and snippets of partial words, all thanks to texting and social media.
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with these new communication tools, but I believe books like the Harry Potter series have something really important to teach us. J.K. Rowling has become the first billionaire author, and although adults love her works, they were originally written for prepubescents. Even though it belongs to the fantasy genre with lots of action and adventure, The Harry Potter Series still maintains a form of writing found in timeless classics such as Winnie the Pooh, or Alice in Wonderland. Many books written with a casual tone can become popular, but will they really stand the test of time, or just flicker out like most trends? Especially, when the lifecycle of a trend is becoming increasingly shorter, I wonder if these casual-toned books are destined to become outdated before we’ve even finished reading them? The overwhelming popularity of Harry Potter tells me that both adults and children alike are starving for not only a good story, but one told in a way that allows them to expand their minds with a meatier palate, not just consume mental junk food.
My friend made his statement about the English language before the Harry Potter series was published. I'll have to ask him if he still feels the same.
Do you find your speech and writing changing with the current trend toward a casual use of the English Language?
Help Me Self Publish
Newton's First Law states, "Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it."Bear with me. This is not a Physics lesson. Well, maybe it is ~ Was Newton talking about physical science
or human nature?
In plain language ~ an object at rest stays at rest, unless a change is forced upon it ~ likewise, an object in motion stays on its course unless a change is also forced upon it.We have all been there, stagnant in our job or relationship, wishing to strike out on our own, or bring back that "spice", and certainly not devoid of ideas for changing our lot in life. So, why don't we just make that change without first feeling compelled to do so by some outside force - like a new boss who happens to be insane, or the threat of a divorce from a spouse?
I don't have the answer, because I needed to break both my legs when I was 8 months pregnant to initiate a change
in my life (talk about an unbalanced force)!Are you an object at rest that is not happy with its perch? If so
, how will you get yourself moving? Are you an object in uniform motion in a boring straight line that can't take a right or left turn unless someone forces you? If so, how will you 'Take a Left' toward your dreams?I said before that I don't have the answers, but I certainly have the questions, and that is the first step to making change in your life,
because Newton's First Law is just that - A Law! That means that it applies at all times. So, if you get up from your restful perch, you will keep moving in the direction you choose, and if you take a left turn in life, you will continue on that path. Take a leaf from Steve Jobs
when he met his wife-to-be, "If this was to be my last night on earth, would I rather spend it in a business meeting, or with this woman?" Question asked, and choice made!I guarantee that once you move, you won't stop.
In fact, I will go one step further...once you move down one road, you will discover many new forks in the road with amazing new possibilities, and you will have difficulty choosing which way to turn! Ask any entrepreneur, ask any student for that matter ~ once you discover "your passion" you actually discover your potential, and many "passions" shine brightly before you.I dare you to pick just one!How do you choose? Whichever shines the brightest as you contemplate where it will take you - that is the road you take. When you reach it's end, or another fork, you will need to make another choice. Look again at Steve Jobs. When he was asked to leave Apple did he just sit home and sulk? No, he certainly did not. He went out and helped create another little company called Pixar...ever heard of it? I'm sure he had a multitude of roads laid out before him, and Pixar's lamp shone brightest of all.
If you have ever thought of writing a book, or if you have a dusty manuscript that has been neglected, now is the time to shine some light on that particular road, and think about Self Publishing
!Just remember that when Newton's Apple finally falls on your head, and you
get up from your perch or 'Take a Left' turn, you won't be able to stop without being struck by some unbalanced outside force...wait a minute...isn't that how you started moving in the first place?Mary Kathryn JohnsonAuthor ~ Entrepreneur ~ MomEverything MommyLovesSay Bump and Take a LeftMary's Blog
The HMSP team launched our website before creating our Facebook and Twitter presence. Although we were fortunate enough to buy the Help Me Self Publish domain name, we didn’t originally plan on marketing the name beyond it being a great obvious search result. Since Mary’s company, MommyLoves, owns the site, we thought it made more sense for us to have a name that related, especially for anyone linking to us from MommyLoves. So, we chose ML Self Publishing for MommyLoves Self Publishing. We found this beautiful photo of a bridge and our tagline was born: Guiding you over the bridge to Self Publishing.
Then we created our Facebook page. On Facebook and then Twitter, focusing on the Help Me Self Publish brand and bolder colors, made more sense. It would be easier for people to find us. (Why would they be looking for ML Self Publishing?) And the bridge didn’t make sense when we didn’t have the luxury of an entire web page to introduce our services. The photo of a book and our more succinct message, "Publish Your Book on Your Own Terms,"* seemed more appropriate.
And it worked. Our main communications were coming from Facebook and our Twitter followers grew, so initially more people were interacting with us via social media, then by our website.
But, we had a problem. When you clicked to our site from Facebook or Twitter, it looked like a different company. Our brands didn’t match.
How do you marry two different themes? First, if you have two different names as we did, you have to choose one and go from there. So, we decided to go solely with Help Me Self Publish and leverage the name and it’s searchability, as well as the branding we had already created via Facebook and Twitter. But, we didn’t want to completely lose the bridge theme, as we had named our blog, “Crossing the Bridge.” and believe that authors truly "Cross Over" when they self publish. By removing the bridge photo from our title/header image and simply using it within our main introduction paragraph and our ID along the bottom, we were able to utilize the bridge, without compromising the consistency of our image.
The lesson: In order to properly brand any product (even if that product is you), make certain that brand (your name, theme, color-scheme, and image) is consistent everywhere it’s seen.
*Since it's original posting, we have simplified our tagline even further to: "Your Story on Your Terms."
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