Today we are going to talk about three ways to get your name and your work in front of prospective readers. One of the most surprising and random of these venues is Pinterest. This strange site has been incredibly useful in attracting readers to my author blog. And, lets be real, NOTHING is easier than setting up a Pinterest account and getting started there.
What is this Pinterest? It’s like a scrap-booking site for things you find on the web. You ‘PIN’ things you come across on the web, and then your followers can repin them if they are as pleased with it as you are.
According to Wikipedia, the Fount of All Knowledge: Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own pinboards, or ‘like’ photos.
SO what does this have to do with your career as an author? I don’t know, exactly. But it works for me in that it drives interested people to my blog. I think the value is in the connections you make through pinning and re-pinning things that interest you. These things represent your interests, i.e. motorcycles, collecting silver tea-strainers, BOOKS, anything.
I have two boards: Writers’ Paradise and Vegan and Loving It (Mostly). AT the top of the page, you will see my bio and the link to my blog. You only get 160 characters to write your bio with, so use them wisely.
Quote from Pinterest’s help page: A pin starts with an image or video you add to Pinterest. You can add a pin from a website using the Pin It bookmarklet or upload an image right from your computer. Any pin on Pinterest can be repinned, and all pins link back to their source.
The important thing here is the part about ALL pins linking back to their source. My Pinterest boards are located at http://pinterest.com/cjjasp/
Next, we are going out to something called Wattpad: FROM WIKIPEDIA:
Wattpad describes itself as “the best place to discover and share stories.” It’s a YouTube for electronic text stories. The content includes work by undiscovered and published writers. Delivery emphasizes the mobile phone platform, using the free Freda ebook reader. According to Wattpad founder and CEO Ivan Yuen, “marketers can currently upload material for reading by mobile users at no charge.”
About nine in 10 users are readers rather than writers. Around four in ten users are U.S. based; traffic also comes from the U.K., Canada, the Philippines, Australia, and more. Approximately 75 percent of users access the site through their mobile device.
The most popular genres on Wattpad.com and the Wattpad mobile app include Romance, Paranormal, and Fan Fiction. The site is also home to Poetry, Humor, Science Fiction, Thriller, and others.
Get a Wattpad account and start posting short stories and poems that reflect your best work.
The first thing to know is that your User Name should be your Author Name with no spaces, as ALL your work is published on Wattpad under that name. Mine is: http://www.wattpad.com/user/ConnieJJasperson . I have several short stories out there and plan to post one a month for this next year. I have a bunch hanging around that just need a bit of polishing. I may serialize a novel there.
This is a GREAT venue to develop a fan base. Indie Author Shaun Allan published his book, Sin, one chapter at a time on Wattpad and in the space of one month he had over 289,000 reads!
Is Shaun’s success a fluke? I don’t think so. He has found an international fan base there, and his other work via Amazon, iTunes, and Audible sell accordingly. Do I have to say any more? I didn’t think so.
You Tube – why would I even mention this?
I have several book trailers posted on my blog and on the websites for my different worlds. These are short, 60 second or so, commercials for my books. Mine are embedded on my Facebook author page, my Goodreads page, my Amazon Author page, and on my websites.
The purpose is to give prospective readers an idea of what to expect if they buy one of my books. I have no data available to say if they work or not as far as generating sales go, but they may.
Facebook counts clicks on that link, and in the weeks since I embedded it on my page I get a click every now and then. My feeling is this: if a person who is interested enough to click on this link is wondering about your book, you have that one little foot in the door. Why not take advantage of it?
Book Trailers aren’t a requirement, but they are fun to make, and they cost me nothing. I get the music for free from my daughter, Margaret, who is a fabulous musician, or from Tom Cusack’s Free Music For Videos, to which I make a small, voluntary donation for the use of their music. Donations are not required, but I like to support the artists.
I make my own trailers using Windows Live Movie Maker, and using royalty free and/or Public Domain images. This is the link to the trailer for my Tower of Bones series, set in the World of Neveyah:
World of Neveyah Book Trailer Featuring ‘Sway,’ written and performed by Margaret
Dreamstime.com is an inexpensive source of royalty free stock photos. When you purchase from them, you also have a great record of the legal work for your own files.
It does take some time and research to locate images and music that
Make a short script using the blurb from the back of your book, keep it down to 30 or 60 seconds and voila! You’re a producer!
If you don’t want to deal with Windows Live Movie Maker (which is a hinky program at best,) a GREAT site for doing this for free or very cheaply is called ANIMOTO. Many authors go to this site for affordable trailers for their websites.
Pinterest, Wattpad, and YouTube – three free resources for getting eyes on your author name. Why not give them a try? You have nothing to lose, and if they don’t work for you as well as they did for others, you have lost nothing.
Sources and Attributions:
Connie J. Jasperson is an author and blogger and can be found blogging regularly at
Life in the Realm of Fantasy.
Wikipedia contributors, "Pinterest," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pinterest&oldid=766085139 (accessed February 27, 2017).
Wikipedia contributors, "Wattpad," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wattpad&oldid=767648661 (accessed February 27, 2017).
When the big five publishers want to market a book, what is the first thing they do? They begin building a brand based on the author's name because the one thing that links ALL his/her books is that author's name.
But in today's market, the indie author is not the only author with a limited budget for publicity. The newly signed author with a traditional publisher is also unlikely to rate a full page ad in the New York Times.
For all authors, there are several absolutely necessary steps to take, all of which are free.
They do take a little time if you are unfamiliar with them, so consider doing one or two steps each night for a week.
Remember, your author name is your brand. It is what any Google search for your author name will turn up. You must develop your brand though social media—and it costs you nothing.
If you intend to do anything at all, you should create a PRESS KIT folder that is easily accessible (mine is in Drop-box, but many people use Google Drive), with these documents in it, so you have them at your fingertips:
Your Author Bio: short, and professional is the key to a good bio:
Your professional photo, updated every other year or so.
Your List of Social Links (for example, these are mine):
Connie J. Jasperson Social Links and Media
I hear some of you saying you don’t like Facebook or Twitter—you don’t have anything to say. I am telling you that it requires very little work if you use some common sense. I use a service called Hootsuite to preschedule tweets I have made ahead. I have a document with premade tweets I can easily change up so the page doesn’t get stale, and I copy and paste them into the schedule using the Hootsuite scheduling function. You can also use it to preschedule posts to your author FB page, or to Instagram, or Linked-in. I spend about fifteen minutes on Sunday scheduling tweets because I have many things that post automatically to update my other social media accounts.
Keep your tweets and your Facebook posts light, and keep them short. This is where you let your prospective fans know what is going on with your work, and connect with prospective readers. For this reason, I suggest you make your pages look as professional as possible, with a good, not-too-busy banner. If you are a graphic designer, you will have no problem, but even a person who isn’t photoshop-savvy can make a simple, professional banner by sourcing inexpensive art work through the many Royalty-Free art suppliers. I use Creative Commons (free), or Can Stock and Dreamstime for good, pocket-friendly art that is legal for the use you intend. (Remember, they all have licenses, and you need to be able to prove you have paid to use that image, or it is in the Public Domain or Creative Commons. Also, you need to attribute it according to the terms of the license.)
On Facebook, occasionally post about things you are doing, such as word-count on a current project, the projected date of publication for the new novel, these sorts of things. Also, post
Because I have taken these steps, this is what anyone who searches the internet for my author name will see:
My author name is my brand. I am gradually building a fan base (slowly, but steadily) and anyone who is curious can easily find information about where to buy my books.
Connie J. Jasperson is an author and blogger and can be found blogging regularly at Life in the Realm of Fantasy.
Branding Irons Public Domain, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Branding irons-Dutch K, c, and k.jpeg
Screenshot 02-11-2017, © Connie J. Jasperson, All Rights Reserved
Contributed by AJ Downey
In an effort to maximize your new release’s Facebook post here are some helpful suggestions:
A HIGH RES IMAGE OF YOUR BOOK’S COVER
1) Like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover. Your book’s cover not only tells potential readers about your story but it also tells them about you, the author. If your cover lacks a professional appearance then the public will not be tempted to pick it up or take you seriously as an author.
*** NOW AVAILABLE ON KU ***
2) Display a flashy title for the post that makes your book stand out. eg New Release, On Sale for 99 cents!, Available on Kindle Unlimited (or a new platform it wasn’t originally available on).
#AJDowney #Angels #UrbanFantasy
3) Use hashtags even on Facebook. It makes your post searchable. Enter any of those words in a search and this will be the first post to come up. Hashtags are your friend no matter how much you hate them or how stupid you think they are. I personally love to hate them.
4) Attach a link to your Facebook Author Page. Don’t have one? Create one. Why? To garner more likes so people can follow what you’re up to.
Note: To maximize the effectiveness of a Facebook page's visibility is ridiculous. You need to make 4 posts per hour 24 hours a day minimum in order for your posts to be seen and not hidden - of course, that's unless you want to pay Facebook to boost your posts.
5) Include your website link where potential readers can learn more about you and your books.
6) It cannot be stressed enough. Always, always, always include a buy link. The best buy link you can use is universal buy link. Go to www.booklinker.net to create a free universal buy link. It’s easy. Sure, the link looks weird but it's a universal link meaning no matter what country you readers are in, they click that link it and it automatically takes them to that book's amazon page in the country they are in (versus a plain old amazon link that only takes them to the U.S. site.) This will boost your international sales!
7) Including the back blurb will get people hooked. First thing they will see is your cover, second will be what's special about your book then, if your hashtags are good, you'll get them to click 'read more' if they do that then they will read to the bottom of your post. If you can manage that, you've pretty much either sold your book or it's gone onto their Amazon wishlist for them to buy later.
This next step is optional but recommended.
Include an Excerpt
8) An excerpt is a great way to reel in your potential reader, so make sure you select a portion of your book that will draw your reader into your story and set that initial hook from your synopsis deep. If you’ve done it right, you will notice an increase in your book sales.
If you do post an excerpt, be sure to include the following information at the bottom:
Text Copyright © YEAR your name here
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
All Rights Reserved
by Connie J Jasperson
You want readers. More importantly, you want readers who will buy your books, and readers like to know the author whose book they’re buying has a track-record. But you’re an Indie, so you don't have a large publisher placing ads in the paper when you have a new release. How do you, as an indie, get your name out there and gain fans for your work?
You write short stories and submit them to magazines, anthologies, and contests. Every time your work is published, you stand the chance of gaining fans.
Plus, it’s nice to have a little cash in your pocket.
“But,” you say, “it’s tricky. They place so many limitations on what they want, and I might get rejected.”
Times have changed and so has the publishing industry. Despite the changes, writing short stories is still the way to get your foot in the door and not only gain visibility. Magazines that are respected and SFWA affiliated are springing up all over the internet, and they are accepting submissions.
Submitting to contests is good too. If you have a story that was a contest winner, you may be able to sell it to the right publication. Through the process, you will grow as a writer.
For the purposes of this post, we’ll imagine we are writing a story to submit to a contest where the genre is epic fantasy, and the word limit is 2000 words.
The theme for this contest is Truth and Consequences.
This means our story must adhere to that theme and word count or it will not make the cut, no matter how well it is written.
Our story is titled A Song Gone Wrong.
The Premise: Because he was a bit too specific when putting a local warlord’s fling with another man’s wife into song, our protagonist is now a wanted man. This means we have 2000 words to tell what happened.
Divide your story this way:
Act 1: the beginning: You have 500 words to show these plot points
Your task in the first ¼ of the story is to introduce your main character in such a way that his personality is clearly defined at the outset. You must place him in the setting by showing the scents and sounds of his environment.
Remember the theme: Truth and Consequences. Sebastian has told the truth, and now there will be a consequence he was unprepared for. His thoughts and observations are critical here, but for the love of Tolstoy, only place the most critical of them in italics. Nothing is worse than a wall of italics.
In a story this short, I recommend you keep to either first-person or third-person omniscient point of view. I say this because the character herself or an all-knowing narrator can best report the facts, interpret events, and relate the thoughts/feelings of the protagonist and keep to the number of words allotted.
Act 2: First plot point: You have 500 words to tell how
Again, what your character sees, smells and hears are the critical means of showing his/her environment. In a contemporary piece, showing a woman opening a bottle of perfume says a great deal about her, and does so in very few words.
In the example story, we are still keeping to the consequences end of the theme. Sebastian is horrified by what he sees, smells and hears, and his reactions tell the reader a lot about him. Does he regret being imprudent in mocking the nobility, or does his punishment fire rebellion in him? This is another place where you can use the circumstances to show his personality, and still keep the plot moving forward.
Act 3.: Mid-point: You have 500 Words to explain how
The whispered conversations between Noli and Sebastian will tell the reader the background because Noli will have information Sebastian doesn’t know. This is the point when the reader also needs to know that information.
And, this is the place where you set a final obstacle in your character’s path.
At the risk of repeating myself, I emphasize that when writing to a strict word count limit, you must choose your words carefully. You have to find words that convey the most about the situation but which do it concisely in one or two sentences. Everything the reader already knows must be said off-stage. On-screen conversations are critical as they will convey the personalities and the minimal backstory of the piece.
Act 4: Resolution–you have 500 words to show how
The fourth act is where you wind up the story, and end it in such a way the reader feels it has a satisfactory ending but wonders what happened next.
Once you know what has to be done at what point within the arc of your story, you can get a grip on the structure of it. This is true for any work, from 2000 to 20,000 to 200,000 words. After a few times of creating short stories this way, you won’t need to think about it. Once you know the length a given tale has to be, you can mentally divide it into acts and just write for fun.
I do recommend outlining for short pieces you plan to submit to contests, magazines, and anthologies. Usually, they have strict parameters for what they are accepting, so if you tailor that work to that particular publisher, you will have better success.
The difficult ones to figure out are publishers whose guidelines tell you the theme but give you no indication of what genre they are looking for. You have no idea if the person reading your work prefers hard sci-fi or romance, so it’s a crapshoot.
Once you have the story crafted to the best of your ability and sent in, forget about it, and spend your energy writing more short stories or working on that novel. Because you have no control over what a prospective editor likes or dislikes, rejections are more common than acceptance and shouldn’t be taken to heart. What one editor rejects, another will buy, so save it and submit it elsewhere.
In her article, Why You Should Aim For 100 Rejections a Year, Kim Liao writes that a friend told her to “Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”
I have found this advice to be true. Last year I wrote one piece of short fiction in varying lengths, every week. During NaNoWriMo last year, I wrote 42 short stories. Two have sold, and a third was a finalist in the PNWA literary contest.
Not every story I write is worth submitting, but many are. If I hadn’t written them and risked rejection, they wouldn’t have been accepted, and those that are not worth submitting have good ideas I can recycle and use in a different form later.
Write short stories and submit them. Expect to have them rejected, and celebrate the few that you do sell.
Connie J. Jasperson is an editor, and blogger. An author of epic fantasy, she lives in Olympia Washington in a house full of books and craziness. You can find her blogging regularly at www.conniejjasperson.com .
Nothing improves your writing chops more than writing every day. Deadlines can be daunting but say what you will about not being able to write under pressure—I think that is when I do my best work.
Blogging regularly offers me that mix of self-imposed deadlines combined with the opportunity to riff on my favorite subject—the craft of writing. Much of what I have learned over the past four years has come about through researching topics for my blog.
I wasn’t always an Indie. In 2011, I signed up for a free WordPress blog under duress. My former publisher (Lord Voldemort) forced me to. He swore it would help get my name out there, and give me a regular platform for my opinions. That blog is long gone, and those posts were pathetic attempts to write about current affairs as a journalist, which is something that has never interested me.
And, although I hate to say it because we parted ways rather messily, (Lord Voldemort) was right about blogging. But, it wasn’t until I stopped trying fit into the mold he had designed for me and began writing about my interests that I learned to love the craft of blogging. That is also when I began to grow as a writer because I have to work hard to proofread my own work and then publish it. If I am not vigilant, it posts with “warts and all.”
I don’t like warts in my work.
Blogging has made me a “thinking” author, as well as a “pantser.” I can write using the “stream of consciousness” method, or I can write it several days in advance by putting together a quick outline about whatever is interesting me at the time. I just do the research, and the post begins to write itself.
I have made many friends through blogging, people all over the world who I may never meet in person, but who I am fond of, nevertheless. My author blog is where I develop seminars on the craft of writing. I find that talking about my obsession helps me organize my thoughts.
But it only works if you are passionate about what you are discussing.
Real life regularly intrudes on my writing life, so I also write about the difficulties of traveling while vegan, the challenges of having two children with epilepsy, the dysfunctionality of growing up with a father suffering battle-related PTSD.… you get the picture. Whatever I am thinking about, I post a short piece on it.
Having a blog on your website and updating it at least twice a month is a good way to connect with your readers on a human level. Fans will enjoy hearing what your writing goals are, and want to know where you will be signing books. Also, they love to know what you are reading.
I do recommend publishing short pieces—flash fiction. Little off-the-cuff pieces of less than a thousand words are fun to write and often find their way into your larger work, as they are a great way to brainstorm ideas. At the bottom of each flash-fiction piece, I post a disclaimer that it is copyrighted, such as:
Once I realized that I could talk about whatever I wanted, Life in the Realm of Fantasy was born. My first posts stunk like last week’s garbage, but they were a beginning. With every post I wrote, I felt a sense of accomplishment, and the next post was better.
Now I spend Sundays putting my blog posts together and look forward to the time I spend here, exploring the craft of writing.
Life in the Realm of Fantasy has evolved over the years because I have changed and matured as an author. Four years ago I would never have felt comfortable publishing my poetry. Now, I regularly post short works and poems on Fridays, some bad and some worse—but all them exercises in creative writing.
At first, it took courage to lay my work out there because letting people see my work unedited by my editors made me feel like I was a teenager all over again, getting ready for the prom and hating my hair. I feared the flaws I saw in it.
Now I feel more like I am sharing it with my friends, and I feel good about it.
To repeat myself ad nauseum: If you really want to grow as an author, you must write. If you want your name out there on the internet as an author, you must blog.
If you are wondering how to get started, please check out my post, #amwriting: Blogging is writing too. There, you can find detailed, step by step instructions for getting a free blog, and getting started on either WordPress or Blogger. I blog regularly on both platforms, and they are not too hard once you learn the ropes.
Getting Your Name Out There: Why indies should write short stories
By Connie J. Jasperson
I’ve always been an avid reader, and one of my favorite things to talk about is what I am reading. Right now I’m reading several excellent anthologies, one of which was published recently by a collective of Northwest Indie writers, several of whom are NIWA members. Each of the stories I’ve read so far have been well-written and the anthologies were edited well. The cover art was awesome, but what was inside the book is what really intrigued me.
When I think about it, over the years most of the works that stuck with me as a reader have been short stories.
Writing short stories and submitting them is important if authors of any stripe, indie or traditionally published, want to get their names out there. Millions of readers subscribe to online magazines, and also millions still get their reading material in hard copy form. Readers all over the world are reading works written in English, especially in Asia and Europe.
Having your work accepted and published is more than just balm for the ego—it establishes your credibility as a writer and your author name shows up on google searches in more places.
Something to think about—it is through writing short stories that people like Anne McCaffrey and Isaac Asimov first began to find acceptance in the publishing community.
In the 1950s and 1960s, magazines focusing on speculative fiction were popular and at that time, there weren't many authors writing in that genre. People didn't have the internet, but they did have limited free time and short attention spans. Not only that, thanks to the space race, they wanted science fiction.
Magazines offered surprisingly high-quality short fiction in lengths that fit into the busy lifestyle of the time. My father subscribed to four magazines as did my mother. Magazines or books would arrive in our mailbox each week, as my parents were also members of the Science Fiction Book Club and the Double Day Book Club. This meant that besides the eight magazines, four new hard-cover books would arrive at our house every month.
Frequently, those books were anthologies of short stories.
Times have changed and so has the publishing industry. But writing short stories is still the way to get your foot in the door and not only gain visibility, but you will grow as a writer. Magazines are springing up all over the internet, and they are accepting submissions.
It is a good idea to begin putting together a collection of short pieces in a variety of genres and in as wide a range of topics as you can think of. The following is a list of on-line sci-fi/fantasy magazines, and many in every other genre are also accepting submissions:
Fantasy Scroll Magazine
Asimov's Science Fiction
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Analog Science Fiction and Fact
The ones I've listed here are only the tip of the iceberg—there is opportunity out there for indies to gain both visibility and credibility by publishing short works through traditional routes.
But what if you don’t write speculative fiction? I writ in any genre I am in the mood for. Much of my published short work has been mainstream, although my novels are epic fantasy. But here is a good list of places accepting more mainstream work. Some may not be accepting submissions, but many are: BookFox Top 100 Journals Accepting Online Submissions
I hear the Ghost of Rejections Past wailing in the background, "But what if I get rejected?"
Rejection happens. I could wallpaper the inside of an outhouse with them. Step back, take a good look at the story, and if you still think it’s your best work, shop it to a different magazine. Every story I’ve ever sold was rejected at least once before it was accepted elsewhere. Sometimes, the place you submitted it was not the right market for that particular story. Read their guidelines carefully so you aren’t trying to submit a fantasy to a magazine like Analog—they won’t accept it, and won’t tell you why.
The thing is, magazines are not the only reason you need a backlog of short stories--consider CONTESTS. Many are free and have reputable histories. The Write Life posted this article on 27 Free Writing Contests.
Not all contests are free, and not all contests are reputable. Exercise "due-diligence" here. I enter the Lascaux Review contest every time a new one pops up, simply because it is highly reputable, is one of the friendliest to indies, and has a reasonable entry fee, usually $10.00.
Yes, that is cheap, and I know that entering contests can be far more expensive. I hear you asking if you must pay to enter and can't be guaranteed a prize, why should you do it?
It will develop your writing chops. Because you must write to the parameters of the contest, you grow your writing muscles each time you exercise them. Being forced to work within the confines of an arbitrary external limit forces you to become more creative if you are (as I am) of a naturally rebellious nature.
You have to use common sense here. If you can't afford it, don't enter that contest. Find one you can afford and see what you have that fits their needs. Every contest has rules and limits for the work they want to see in their submissions.
Writing short stories forces you to write more: more often, more widely on a wide range of topics, and more creatively using a variety of style. Using and building these writing-chops can only grow you as an author.
And the best part is, once you have a back list of articles and short stories you can draw on, you have an edge. When a submissions open for a contest or an anthology, or for that sfwa affiliated magazine you’ve been dying to get your work into, you will have an entry all proofed and ready to submit.