Archive for the ‘ Networking ’ Category

How to Build an Author Platform in 30 Minutes a Day

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

I tried Grammarly’s plagiarism checker free of charge because my cat thought I was ripping off his diction. Can has verb disagreement now?


Recently, an old friend, who’s a fiction author, asked for advice on how to build up his name as an author in advance of sending a fiction collection around to publishers. On a related note, I received a Facebook message from a Philadelphia-area author, asking a similar question. In the writing business, we call that building your author’s platform: in other words, building up a network of potential readers, as well as building up a sense of who you are as an author.

While I have a lot of potential growing yet to do, I’ve been actively working on building my author’s platform for a couple years now. As regular readers know, I am also a work-at-home mom, which means I have to work my writing and career-building efforts into a day already packed with child care and housework. If you follow the advice in this post, you can begin building an author’s platform in 30 minutes or less a day.

Planning App

Reminders can keep you on schedule. I know I find them invaluable. I use GTasks (Google Tasks), primarily through the app on my Droid phone. It has a simple, no-fuss interface and allows you to schedule recurring tasks, such as “Post blog entry” for every Wednesday.

Author’s Photo

Alyce Wilson with ravenTake or have someone take a decent photo of you to use for your author’s sites. Rather than just taking an Instagram selfie, opt for a camera with a timer that you can use to take a variety of shots. The best author’s photos both look professional and show something of your character. I participated in a photo shoot for a friend at Edgar Allan Poe’s Philadelphia residence. She needed to work on portraits for her photography class, and one of my favorite recent photos shows me with the statue of a raven in the background. I’m going to be seeking another photographer friend’s help soon, since I’ve lost 20 pounds since that photo was taken.


Author’s Site

If you don’t already have an author’s site, your first task should be to create one.

Alyce's Web site

Remember: a Facebook page is NOT a substitute for your own author’s site, in part because its functionality is limited and always subject to change. At minimum, an author’s site should include: a bio page that includes highlights about your writing career and relevant tidbits about you, including a contact email (you should designate one e-mail for writing correspondence, ideally one you can access readily when you’re on the move, such as with a smart phone). You can also include a page with links to your online writings and/or samples or your work (although it’s fallen out of favor to include a complete resume, for security concerns). If you have any published books for sale, include links to them.

Nowadays, it’s also important to include a blog or bulletin board, which you can update at least once a week with thoughts on your writing, personal observations, or links to interesting articles. Keep in mind that anything you post will help to form your public persona, so try to refrain from such impulsive posts as complaining about a specific reviewer, for example.

One of the best places to start an author’s site is on WordPress, which offers free hosting if you don’t already have a hosting company. You can also sign up to get your own domain (which should be either your professional name or something that connects to your writing style or genre). To do this costs only $13 a year.

I use WordPress for this blog as well as for my BelatedMommy blog and online literary magazine, Wild Violet. In addition to the large variety of templates, which allow for almost any format, I love the ability to schedule posts in advance and to incorporate plug-ins to allow readers to share posts easily or subscribe to the blog.

WordPress is the best choice for people who have some familiarity already with creating web pages and blogging. For those with fewer Web skills, check out Wix.com or Biz.nf to create a professional-looking free website. While I haven’t tried their website creator, I would also point you toward Bravesites by Bravenet.com, which offers free websites created through templates. I’ve used Bravenet’s free mailing list manager for Wild Violet for many years and have had nothing but good experiences.

Setting up your author’s site may take several days, if you stick to the 30 minutes a day goal. However, once it’s set up, you can schedule one weekly update (preferably on a weekday) that will take you 30 minutes or less to write.

Social Networking

So many social networking sites exist that it can be decide where you want to spend your time. Which ones should you utilize, and how can you avoid becoming overwhelmed?

Alyce's Facebook page

A Facebook page is a good idea, simply because so many people are currently on Facebook, so it can be a good way to reach people like college buddies, family members, and new fans all at once. The process of creating a page is fairly simple; just read Facebook’s guide to creating a business page. Once it’s created, remember to post something at least a week. I primarily include links to my online articles and writings, but it’s also a good idea to post polls or other interactive posts. Facebook gives your posts higher priority on people’s feeds if they have interacted with you recently.

Alyce's Twitter Page

Twitter, with its microblogging — or instant update — platform, can be a valuable tool for connecting with writers, publishers, magazines, and others. For this reason, it’s worth joining. Read through Twitter’s Getting Started Guide for some tips. My advice: download an app like Tweetdeck, which makes it easy to schedule tweets in advance. Spend a few minutes in the morning scheduling tweets, keeping in mind that, just like conversations should be 50/50 listening and talking, you should retweet other users’ tweets or share links to articles and other web content at least as much as you share or promote your own work (and probably more). You ever have that blind date with someone who talked nonstop about him or herself without letting you have a word to talk about yourself? Don’t be that person! Some authors even schedule a whole week’s worth of tweets in advance, scheduling at least four tweets per day, including both links to interesting articles and promotions for their own work. I’d highly recommend following @Mashable immediately and reading their many articles about social networking and Twitter.

LinkedIn can be a good way to connect with other writers on a professional basis. You can do this by searching for LinkedIn groups that connect to your writing specialty. Make sure you read through the recent posts to see if a given group really connects with your interests. The best advice for this site, or for similar networking communities, is to spend 99 percent of your time interacting with people on a personal basis. Offer feedback on writing when asked; participate in conversations; pose writing-related questions. These connections will then be far more interested in your writing endeavors than they would be if you simply jumped into a conversation and shouted out, “I have a new book out!” That would be annoying at a social function, and it’s just as inappropriate here. Here’s a guide to how to use LinkedIn effectively. Stop in at least once a week to read and comment on the groups where you’re a member. You can also post links to your writing via your LinkedIn feed using apps such as “AddThis”  plug-in, available for multiple browsers. I use it with the Google Chrome browser and love its easy functionality.

Other social networking sites that you might consider using include Tumblr, which is primarily a blogging/link sharing platform; Google Plus (Google+), which has become sort of the “anti-Facebook” and is therefore a way to connect with people who aren’t on Facebook; and Goodreads, which is a reader/writer site that  allows you to list and promote your own books, as well as share reviews of other books and participate in communities. If you are maintaining a blog, either a personal blog or an author’s blog, seek out writing communities. Remember, though, that you’ll only get out of it what you put into it: you need to both post and comment on other people’s posts if you want them to remember you. This is why it’s best to schedule some time once a week to actively read and post on your preferred networking sites.

Don’t feel that you need to join all of these sites. Spend your time on the sites where you feel the most comfortable and build connections. You can always add more sites later if you want to broaden your reach.

Submit Your Writing

Of course, one of the best ways to build your author’s platform is through having your work published. If you want, you can buy a membership to the excellent writing markets produced by Writer’s Digest (Writer’s Market, Poet’s Market, Novelist and Short Story Writer’s Market, for example). Keep in mind: you can write that off as a business expense on your taxes (as you can any expense related to your writing career, such as web domains or the cost of postage for submissions).

For some free markets, visit: Poets and Writers, Duotrope, Ralan.com (SF), and WritersWrite, which are among the best comprehensive free guides. You may also want to join a free mailing list or two, such as offered at FundsForWriters.com and WritingForDollars.

You might also find it useful to put a short story or a handful of poems up on Smashwords as a free ebook, which could attract new readers.

Summary

Building your author’s platform takes time. My best advice: remember that it’s a gradual process and that whatever small steps you take can help you build more connections and introduce your to more potential readers. In order to keep from getting overwhelmed, set just one major task for yourself each day. After you’ve gotten your site/blog set up and have joined the social networking sites you wish to join, set a timer to spend 30 minutes or less on the site(s) where you’re focusing your energy that day.

Over time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how opportunities start to come your way, thanks to the foundation you’ve built.


This post was sponsored by Grammarly.com, the automated proofreader and personal grammar coach.

Looking for Philly Story Ideas

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

As a writer for Yahoo! Contributor Network, I have a regular beat to submit stories of interest to the Greater Philadelphia area (i.e. the five counties: Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Bucks). I am looking for the following: feature ideas, upcoming event info and possible interview subjects. In particular, I’d welcome ideas related to family-friendly activities, since I’m thinking of writing a series.

You can look through my existing portfolio to see what sort of stories I’ve written in the past. Pay particular attention to the Philadelphia-area stories, since I’ve also done a lot of entertainment writing.

Please e-mail me with any of your suggestions.

Here’s more info from Yahoo! about what sort of stories they’d like me to write.

Submit unique, well-written, and compelling local content of metro-wide interest in your area. Submit only when you have a submission that meets all guidelines and expectations. Only professional-sounding bylines are acceptable.

Write local features or news stories that aren’t being reported by other news outlets or go beyond coverage by other media. Think about the stories that local readers need to know — answer questions for them, tell them something new about their area, reveal and explain local controversies, solve local mysteries, etc. Think outside the box!

Find unexpected and compelling local stories — don’t tell readers what they already know or what they aren’t likely to click on to find out more. This content must be objective — opinion pieces are generally not accepted.

Don’t rewrite other coverage — all submissions should be originalunique, and go beyond other coverage.Search Yahoo! News before writing to ensure that your topic hasn’t already been covered.

Write with authority. Be detailedspecific, and authenticCite authoritative sources for all factual claims and information (no Wikipedia or other user-generated sources). Include all essential information, such as websites, locations, contact information, hours, pricing, etc. as applicable. Proofread carefully.

Final Days of Indiegogo Campaign

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Please boost the signal:

These are the final 8 days of our Indiegogo campaign to raise traveling expenses for our son to be the ringbearer in the wedding of a couple we regard as family:

http://igg.me/at/ringbearer-illinois/x/1412553

We’ve got fantastic perks at all levels that should appeal to gamers, readers, writers, art lovers, and anyone who might require editing or Web services. In addition, there are some truly unique perks, such as a personalized poem and a personalized story from writer Kevin Saito. Check it out! Help us Get the Ringbearer to Illinois!

2012 Holiday Bazaar

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Holiday Bazaar! I did something like this on my personal blog a few years ago, and it went fairly well. You are welcome to participate and list your books, games, crafts, and other handmade gifts, as long as you follow the rules below.

RULES:

1) If you aren’t already following me, either follow my Twitter account (@alycewilson), or “like” my Facebook author’s page, or friend my personal blog on LiveJournal, or subscribe to this blog by typing your e-mail into the “subscribe” box on the right-hand sidebar.

2) Begin the comment by giving your real name and/or screen name and telling me how you’re connected to me (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.). This is one of the ways I’m screening out spammers and will also help other visitors to connect to you. Feel free to list your home page in this section.

3) Give a brief description of what it is that you’re selling, i.e. book, hand-made crafts, artwork, CD, photography, etc. In order to qualify for the bazaar, it must be something you have a direct connection to. You can promote your friend’s book, if you like, but be certain to mention your connection.

4) Include one or, at most, two links to the place where your gifts can be bought. If you have an Etsy store, it’s best to include the link to the entire store than to link to multiple items. If your items are all in different locations, it would be best for you to create one blog post that has all the links, and then link to that post. That’s because my spam detection programming automatically flags posts with too many links.

5) Promote this post so that other people can shop, join and share! I’ve created a TinyURL you can use: http://tinyurl.com/cyonxb6

And that’s it! If you have any questions or if you think your post has accidentally been culled by the spam filters, e-mail me. I’ll post a sample comment below.


In other news, this is the final week (ending the close of Monday, December 3) of the America’s Next Author contest. I’m trying to at least break into the Top 10 this week, and hopefully grab the judges’ attention to be a possible Wild Card. I’m guaranteed a spot in the semifinals if I place 1st this week. Please read and vote for my story: http://www.ebookmall.com/author/alyce-wilson

The vote totals were zeroed out for the beginning of Round 8, so even if you already voted, please stop in and vote again. Voting for me is NOT a condition of being included in the Holiday Bazaar! In fact, I won’t even know whether or not you voted for me unless you tell me.

WIP Mini Blog Hop

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

I was tagged by P.J. Bayliss in the ‘Next Big Thing’ Authors Tagging Authors… also known as the WIP Blog Hop.

P.J. Bayliss has nearly 1,000 Twitter followers (@YrMonAmi) and has nearly as many blog followers, as well. I have been grateful for P.J.’s generosity and friendliness since we connected on Twitter.

Here are the rules:

  • Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you
  • Post the rules for this hop
  • Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog
  • Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them

My Questions:

  • What is the working title of your book?

1) Belated Mommy 2) Felix and the Dreamworld Bandits

  • What genre does the book fall under?

1) Parenting/humor 2) Children (ages 3-8)

  • Which actors would you choose to play your characters for the movie rendition?

1) I would love to see Amy Poehler as a 30-something mom trying to find her way as a parent 2) Jared Gilmore, who plays Henry on “Once Upon a Time”

  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

1) A collection of humorous and insightful personal essays about the challenges and rewards of being an older parent. 2) A collection of short stories about a boy who explores the dreamworld with his best friends, a robot and a dinosaur.

  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will likely seek an agent to represent both books; hopefully, I can find someone who will handle both nonfiction and children’s books.

  • How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

1) My goal is to blog the book and complete it in roughly a year.  2) Felix is my current NaNoWriMo project, and I hope to have a pretty decent draft by the end of the month.

  • What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

1) Anything by Erma Bombeck, one of my earliest inspirations 2) The Winnie the Pooh stories

  • Who or what inspired you to write this book?

1) As an older mom — I had my son at age 39 — I often feel left out of the parenting advice market, and I wanted to fill that gap for other moms, dads and guardians. 2) I’ve been telling my son rambling bedtime stories to put him to sleep, and I wanted to write a book that would appeal to kids and parents alike.

  • What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest

1) I’m seeking input from other parents in the 35+ age bracket, so please e-mail me if you’d like to contribute ideas! 2) I’m hoping that one of several talented artist friends of mine will add illustrations.

In addition, I’d appreciate it if you’d read and vote for my story at America’s Next Author: http://www.ebookmall.com/author/alyce-wilson

I wish to tag the following authors:

Sally Wiener Grotta – Twitter: @SallyWGrotta

Joseph Ephraim – Twitter: @FreelanceJoe

Nina Amir – Twitter: @NinaAmir

J.L. Manning – Twitter: @JL_Manning

Robbie Cox – Twitter: @CoxRobbie

Fantastic Poetry

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

I’m scheduled to speak on the Philcon “Fantastic Poetry” panel. Here are some of the poets and resources I hope to mention.

A friend of mine recommended “If I Should Have a Daughter” by spoken word poet Sarah Kay. In that YouTube video, she first recites the roughly 4-minute poem, which draws on images such as Superman and science, and then talks about her career in poetry and her work with young people. Strictly speaking, her work is not firmly in the realm of fantasy, but I recommend going to Sarah Kay’s site and reading “Peacocks,” a short short that has mythic overtones.

I found a wonderful resource in the site Poems of the Fantastic and the Macabre, which traces the history of the fantastic poems from Medieval times to the Modern era.

If you’d like to hear work performed by one of the best-known fantastic poets, Edgar Allan Poe, consider going to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire’s “Poe Evermore” performances, held annually in November.

The site Fantastic Poems not only includes some entertaining poetry by Adam Rulli-Gibbs but also provides his definiton of fantastic poetry: “Science fiction or fantasy poetry, as each of the above, should, whatever appears within it, be about people and their perceptions. So you will find poems about love, goals, good vs evil, wonder, Christmas, frustration, exploitation, preconceptions and the rest.”

If you’d like a list of poets to check out, Wikipedia’s Speculative Poetry article has a substantial list of speculative poets.

The Poetry Foundation site is a great resource. If you go to the Mythology and Folklore category, there is a sampling of fantastic poems. Some even are accompanied by audio recordings.

The Science Fiction Poetry Association provides both a guide to speculative poetry (with examples from back issues) as well as benefits for speculative poets.

If you want to either read or submit fantastic poetry, you can search the guide to magazines offered by the Speculative Literature Foundation.

My fellow panelist, Catherynne M. Valente, who is herself a respected speculative poet, suggested seeking out the following.

Philcon Schedule

Friday, November 9th, 2012

I’ve received my Philcon schedule, and while it is light, it’s actually exactly what I wanted:

Fri 11:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
GRIMM AND ONCE UPON A TIME (1080)

[Panelists: Patricia M. Cryan (mod), Kathy Sands, Patricia Wake,
Alyce Wilson, Wayne Zimmerman]

There are currently two TV programs which treat fairy tale
characters and their stories very differently. Explore the
differences in the two shows and the ways in which they use fairy
tales as their basis.

Sun 12:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)
FANTASTIC POETRY (1129)

[Panelists: Darrell Schweitzer (mod), Catherynne M. Valente, Alyce
Wilson, Catherine Faber, Robert C Roman]

A survey of the field of fantastic poetry. Where would be a good
place to start?

I’m very excited! If anyone watches “Grimm” and/or “Once Upon a Time” and cares to share insights about them, either in the comments or through a personal message, I’d be happy to hear them. Also, if you happen to have any favorite poets who write fantastic poetry. That’s the one that’s going to take more research for me.

As always, if you intend to be at Philcon, please message me so that we can set up a time to meet!

Photos from Awesome Readathon VIII

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Awesome Readathon was as advertised.Reader #1 ReadingReader #1 ExplainsReader #1Reader #2 - Lois JohnsonReader #2 - Lois on ParisReader #2 - Witness to ParisReader #3 - K.B. IngsleeReader #3 - K.B. Ingslee ReadsReader #3 - K.B. Ingslee Makes an AsideReader #3 - K.B. Ingslee Reading 2Reader #4 - Steve FullerReader #4 - Steve Fuller Reads Novel ExcerptReader #4 - Steve Fuller ReadsReader #5 - Alyce WilsonReader #5 - Me!Reader #6 - Lucas MangumReader #6 - Lucas Reads about ZombiesReader #6 - Lucas on ZombiesReader #7 - George MosleyReader #7 - George Reads Board Game IntroReader #7 - George on MonkeysReader #8 - Fran GroteReader #8 - Fran Grote Reads

Awesome Readathon VIII, a set on Flickr.

The Readathon went extremely well. I got a good response to my piece and got to network with some awesome writers! There are more photos in the album of the other readers.

Via Flickr:Lucas Mangum’s Awesome Readathon VIII at Between Books on Saturday, October 13, 2012.

How to Select Poems for a Reading

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

When I gave my first poetry reading, I was in grad school. This was, astonishingly, roughly 15 years ago now. Although it was my first time at the podium, I’d attended many poetry readings and picked up some public speaking skills both through the undergrad student radio station and from holding leadership positions in various clubs. Using what I learned, I selected a group of poems that went over very well with my audience, and I avoided some of the pitfalls I’d been strike other readers.

With that in mind, here are some quick Dos and Don’ts:

  • DO choose a variety of poems that showcase your work, alternating between different types. I like to think of a poetry reading as a spoken mix CD: I choose pieces that are more “upbeat” to follow pieces which are more “mellow.” Remember that even poetry audiences like to laugh.
  • DON’T choose poems that take an excessive amount of explanation in order to enjoy them. Make the most of your limited time by keeping your explanations simple.
  • DON’T read poems that are difficult to parse from one reading alone. Listeners cannot go back and read something over again.
  • DO read poems that make use of vivid language, clear imagery, and striking word use. They tend to go over best with an audience.
  • DO read your poems aloud ahead of time, to get comfortable with them and to make sure they will work well as “read aloud” poems.
  • DO read poems directly out of any chapbook or book you might have published. It may encourage listeners to seek out those books following your reading.
  • DO bring some alternatives with you, in case you change your mind. If you’re reading on a program with other poets and writers, you might be inspired by what the other readers are doing to work in a poem that fits. Or you might decide to pull a poem that’s too similar to something another poet read.
  • DO stay close to your allotted time limit. It’s better to leave them wanting more than to overstay your welcome.
  • DON’T over-think things. It’s natural to be a little nervous (I always am), but remember that the crowd voluntarily came out to hear poetry and, generally speaking, will work with you.

Following such rules, I have successfully read for a wide variety of audiences. Since poets and writers seldom get to meet their audiences, it’s a great opportunity to be seen and to see how an audience responds.

    Writers Coffeehouse – February Meeting

    Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

    After being a member of the  Writers Coffeehouse Yahoo! group run by Jonathan Maberry for two or three years, I finally managed to make my first meeting. The group meets the last Sunday of every month at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 102 Park Avenue in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. It just seems that I’m doing something the last weekend of almost every month!

    The meeting space was packed with about 50-60 participants when I arrived, but I found a place next to a friend, writer Mark Wolverton. The discussion was definitely worthwhile, and I took copious notes on writing advice, conferences, and other opportunities. Topics included: how to find a book cover artist; creating a public version of oneself as a writer; using Twitter to promote your work and make contacts; the current state of the publishing world; finding an agent; and pitching your work at a conference.

    I got some great feedback to a question on my mind: how to balance a writing career with being a stay-at-home mom. Unlike many mothers, who might get an opportunity to write in the evenings when their partners come home and can assist with baby care, I do evening transcription work. Finding the time to write in the daytime while I’m also the primary baby care person has been a challenge these past eight months. I was encouraged by the support of my fellow writers/parents, who assured me that I should go easy on myself, reduce my expectations, and enjoy this special time that, after all, will only last for so long.

    Following the regular meeting was a Query Letter Writing Clinic run by Jonathan, which was very enlightening, even though I could only stay for an hour. Hopefully, I’ll get to attend more Writers Coffeehouse meetings in the coming months. It’s easy to isolate yourself when you’re a writer, but it was great to connect with other writers in person!

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