Archive for the ‘ Publicity ’ Category

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Promotion Fun

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Joy and happiness! It’s Black Friday, the day that retailers entice shoppers into their stores with deals, hoping to make up for the entire rest of the year.

Well, if you’re one of those shoppers, have fun and good luck! And when you’re done, put your aching feet up, pull out your laptop and hop on over to Amazon to pick up a Kindle copy of my book, “Dedicated Idiocy: A Personal History of the Penn State Monty Python Society,” at bargain basement prices.

(And if you don’t have a Kindle device, don’t worry. Just search for “Free Kindle Reading Apps” and download one of Amazon’s apps for smartphones and PCs.)

From today (Friday, November 29) through 6 PM (EST)/3 PM (PST) tomorrow (Saturday, November 30), you can nab a copy of that silly, colorful look at my shrimp salad days for just 99 cents. Then the price will step up incrementally to $1.99 and $2.99 before finally returning to the standard price of $3.99 on December 3.

The sooner you get there, the more you save! Give yourself the gift of laughter. You deserve it.

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.

America’s Next Author: How to Vote

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The voting for Round 2 of America’s Next Author will begin soon, and my story will be eligible for votes.

In the meantime, I’ve done some research into how voting works, and here’s what I’ve learned. According to a guide on how to vote for America’s Next Author, there are three ways:

1. Quickvote: This is the box on the right side of the page where you can select your impression of a story and then click VOTE.

2. Share stories on Facebook and Twitter. This also counts towards an author’s ranking.

3. Leave reviews. This counts towards an author’s ranking as well. Plus, leaving four or more reviews might win you an iPad!

From reading other information on the site, however, they are looking for reviews of at least a few sentences. If you leave a review of just a couple words or a short sentence, such as “Good job, Alyce!” it could wind up being thrown out. In their FAQ on author ranking, the contest organizers state:

Low quality reviews will not be taken into account for the final results. For example, if someone were to quickly write four 5-star reviews with one line of text, or four 1-star reviews with short complaints, those would not count towards rankings or win an eReader.

The takeaway: please write reviews that actually mention aspects of the writing, and make them at least two sentences long. It will help me, and if you also review three other writers’ works, you could win an iPad.

The more that you can share the link to my story on Facebook and Twitter — and encourage your friends to do the same — the better off I should be in the rankings.

Top prize for this contest is $5,000, which if I win it, will go towards a four-door family-sized vehicle to replace our hatchback. No more hitting my head while putting my little Kung Fu Panda in his car seat!

ETA: Voting is now open! Visit the Alyce Wilson author’s page to vote.

Standing Strong in International Competition

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

I’ve been sending out the following press release, thanks to a fellow contestant, Whipchick, who wrote up a template for the Top 30 contestants to send.

So far I’ve sent it to the Delaware County Times, Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia Inquirer & The Daily News, New Jersey Star-Ledger, Milton Standard-Journal, Sunbury Daily Item, Williamsport Sun-Gazette, and the Bloomsburg Press-Enterprise. I also plan to send it to The Penn Stater and am open to other suggestions.

Alyce Wilson with Raven

For immediate release: July 9, 2012
Contact: Alyce Wilson
Email
Author photo: http://flic.kr/p/ctssjw

LOCAL WRITER FINDS SUCCESS IN INTERNATIONAL CONTEST

Anyone can enter. There is no prize. And more than thirty grueling weeks into The Real LJ Idol, Alyce Wilson is still writing alongside contestants from the UK, Australia, Sweden, Canada, and across the USA.

“Winning mainly means bragging rights,” says Wilson, a Philadelphia-area freelancer and stay-at-home mom who joined the contest “to keep my writing fresh and to challenge myself. In addition, I’ve made a lot of contacts in what is essentially a virtual writing community.”

Created and moderated by a Florida writer, Gary Dreslinski, The Real LJ Idol is structured somewhat like a reality show. Each week, a prompt is posted, and the competing authors write pieces inspired by it. There’s no restriction on form or content – entries have included personal essays, science fiction, horror, poems and songs. Some writers, like Wilson, try to write something different each week; others become known for a specific genre or unfold a novel chapter by chapter. Anything goes, as long as they survive the voting rounds.

“Standing out from the pack is essential,” says Wilson, “so I try to take a creative approach to each topic. Over the course of the competition so far, I’ve written everything from personal essays to skits to poems, and I’ve even produced a video. I enjoy changing it up.”

Voting is open to the public most rounds, with the lowest vote-getters “going home.” Many stick around to write for the “Home Game,” to vote, and to engage in the community as “beta readers” who give requested feedback on drafts so other writers can improve their entries before posting.

A record-breaking 367 writers signed up when the contest’s eighth season began in October; fewer than 20 are still in the running. Some of the entrants were already professional writers (Wilson has published a book of columns and essays, “The Art of Life,” available at her personal Web site AlyceWilson.com, and is a featured contributor at Yahoo! Movies and Yahoo! Television), but many are talented hobbyists. Writers in Europe and New Zealand carefully count time zones to make the submission deadline every week.

In Season 5, Wilson’s first time participating in the contest, she placed fifth out of nearly 200 participants (some of that work appears in “Art of Life”). In Season 6, under a pen name, she made it into the Top 25 out of roughly 240 but was cut, ironically, the week her son was born. She found out the results while she was in the delivery room. “It was a disappointment, but a bit of a relief, with my new responsibilities,” she admitted. Now, she’s learned to juggle childcare with writing, which she feels has helped her reach this stage in the competition.

Past winners have landed professional gigs, such as Season Six winner Ellie DeLano, now a columnist for “Women’s Day.” Wilson says, “Looking back at my entries to date, I’ve created a range of pieces I never would have written otherwise. Whether I win or not, I’ll still consider that an accomplishment.”

Wilson’s work may be read here: alycewilson.livejournal.com. The weekly contest postings can be read here: therealljidol.livejournal.com.

Blog Tour Contest Extended

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

I’ve decided to extend my Blog Tour Contest to May 31.

Check out the original post on my personal blog for information on how to enter a contest to win a free copy of my book!

Blog Tour & Contest

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Spring is almost here, and I’m kicking off my “blog tour.” Just like a book tour, that means making appearances in other people’s blogs. As an extra incentive, I’m going to hold a contest. Anyone who includes a mention of my book, “The Art of Life,” (with the links below) in his or her blog will be entered into a contest to win a free, autographed copy of my book.

Alyce’s bookstore: http://www.alycewilson.com/books/

Excerpt from the book: http://www.alycewilson.com/2010/11/the-art-of-life-available-now/

Those who make a simple mention will receive one contest entry. Those who do a more extensive entry (such as an interview with me, a longer piece that relates to my book, or a “guest blog entry” written by me) will receive two contest entries. Those who mention me in multiple entries will receive one contest entry per blog entry. I will, of course, give entries to the few people who have interviewed me already.

To enter, post your entry and then share the link with me, either through posting a comment or by sending me a private message (wildvioletmagazine@yahoo.com).

The contest runs until April 30, after which point a winner will be selected randomly. Feel free to also share information about this contest with friends, family, coworkers, or random people you meet on the street.

Thanks and good luck!

Interview by Phil Giunta

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Author Phil Giunta has interviewed me as part of his authors series. The conversation got into my background as well as into my motivations for writing. I found myself articulating deep thoughts about my beliefs about poetry, and I’m happy for the opportunity to work those out and express them.

Check out the interview and tell me what you think!

Kindle Version of Essays/Columns Book

Monday, January 10th, 2011

The Kindle version of my book is finally live! There’s even a nice free downloadable sample to view (which for some odd reason didn’t work well for the poetry book, sharing only a contents page).

This took me a lot of focus and work over the past two weeks, since I had to manually redo all the formatting in HTML. Thanks to a friend, who recommended downloading Kindlegen, I was able to generate a Kindle-compatible .MOBI file to check each of my changes. So ultimately, I am confident it should look and act exactly the way I want.

Please pass the word to any of your friends who own a Kindle that they should download the free sample!

Kindle Version of Poetry Chapbook

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Got a new Kindle for the holidays? Check out the newly-released Kindle version of my poetry chapbook, Picturebook of the Martyrs.

We’re going to work on a Kindle version of my essays book, The Art of Life, but that will take a little longer to prepare. In the meantime, the print version is still available from my Createspace store. Don’t forget, the $5 discount is available until the end of this month. Use this code upon ordering: 3UBEBLQH

Cyber Monday Sale Extended

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I have extended the Cyber Monday sale on my book of personal essays and columns, The Art of Life, available from my Createspace store. Throughout the month of December, you can save $5 by using the following code upon checkout: 3UBEBLQH

If you’d like to read some excerpts, I have posted “Traveling Music” and “The Sun Also Rises.”

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