Tuesday, September 22, 2015

J is for Just Write It

J is for Just Write It

Welcome back for another installment of my A-Z blogging. Today I am continuing my pseudo tirade against indie writers (not really- please don't hate me).

For so long in my life (all 34 years of it), I told myself that although I wanted to be an author, I needed to wait. That's not to say that I didn't write, I just never finished anything or polished anything. I showed my stuff to a select few. Submitted a short story to my high school lit mag. But all-in-all, I never intended to truly pursue publication.

Why not, you ask?

I told myself I wasn't ready.
My skills weren’t good enough.
I needed to become a better writer.
No one would buy my stuff.
I didn't have the time to finish what I started.

The excuses went on and on, until finally about two years ago I had an event that shattered my world. I lost my job and my security and safety assumed in the traditional workforce shattered. As I found myself looking for work, my mind kept going back to my writing and I realized, I had been putting off my dreams of becoming an author for nothing. My precepts realigned; I had a paradigm shift in my thinking.

I saw my writing in a new light. I had so much I wanted to share, but I had believed that it needed to take a back seat to life. Now I see it as a natural element and extension of myself. I still have a day job to pay the bills, but my writing is more than a passing hobby now it is a genuine piece of my life.

I've talked before about how Entertaining Angels was a "testing the waters" moment for me. That one act emboldened me to continue down this path. To Tread the Narrow Path's serialization was my next step. In between, I've submitted to an anthology, and gotten involved with upcoming publications. My next move is to finish work on Lighthouse and pursue publication on that.

Two years ago, I started moving in the right direction. As an indie writer, I know the pitfalls that pop up in your head. Internally, you have to fight against all the doubts and fears. You can overcome your own insecurities by making yourself better. Read books on writing. Find some quality friends to read over your work, and listen to their advice. Find a good editor that will tear your work up and down, and listen to their critique. Better yourself as a writer and just keep writing.

This should be your mantra

Externally, being an indie writer/author is distracting. I've mentioned before how beneficial online writing groups are, but they can be dangerous as well. A problem that I've seen some groups fall into is the members end up talking about writing more than they actually write or hone their craft. I've seen people stress and sweat over the name of a character instead of getting words on the page. If you are going to become a member of an online community, be sure they build and strengthen your writing and it's not just a bunch of writers standing around patting each other on the back.

So, I guess, my advice is that if you are sitting around with your dream of writing resting on the back burner, do something about it. To co-opt Nike's slogan, "Just Write It." Get off your rear and finish your story, let people read it, find a good editor, and get it out into the world. Just write it.

#writermeme #justwriteit

Ok, as kind of a post script, this goes for any dream you may be putting off until tomorrow. I'm not saying that you need to act recklessly with your life/job/family, but following your dreams may not be as hard as you think. Just do it and see what happens.

Thanks, and as always, if you enjoyed what you've read, be sure to like, share, +1, etc…


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I is for Insight

Continuing with my A-Z blogging challenge, I bring you I for Insight (as in Facebook Page insights)

They are pretty confusing

So, I might step on some toes or maybe even lose some readers with this post, but it's something that's been weighing on me for awhile.

When I first created my Facebook Page, I was in a rather large Facebook group dedicated to writers of fantasy. Even though I am no longer a member of that group (I've moved on to others that fit my needs better), the experience was mostly a great one. I connected with amazing writers and found books that I have enjoyed immensely (like this guy, this book, oh this one, and this one- to name a few). I would not have connected with these amazing writers otherwise.

When I was first in this group one of the biggest group endeavors was the one day a week that everyone would share their social media links to get others in the group to like their stuff. This is how I got the first hundred plus "likes" on my page. At first it felt great. Over one hundred people were my "fans" so to speak, and I was ecstatic about having that many people that cared what I had to say.

After a while though, I began to look at the people that liked my page and began to wonder what was it we were really doing. The only followers I had on my fan page were other indie writers like myself. I liked their pages, they liked mine, and we were all happy. But what was I really accomplishing? Who was I connecting with? Were these the people that were going to read my stuff? Were they going to engage with me on my page?

I felt like a bunch of us were just sitting around liking stuff on each other's pages but not really producing any significant groundswell of fans or support. Don't get me wrong. I love my writer friends that like my page and engage with me on it, but that shouldn't be my goal. I should strive for my page and my content to engage those that I want to see as fans.

I started promoting myself less and less to my fellow writers. I started to reconsider what I posted here on my blog, on my page, and really on social media in general. I started to think of my public persona as a brand and I had to consider what kind of brand I wanted to be perceived as.

Did I want to be a shameless self promoter- every other post on my page a spam post shouting, pleading to the interwebs,"Buy my stuff! Love me!" 

Or did I want to have fun with it and craft an online public persona that would attract fans, not from my writing circles, personal friends, and family, but true fans. Those that liked the page because of what they saw, not because I had spammed a Facebook group weekly for a year with a plea to like me.

So, I began to craft my brand. I started sharing on social media the things that I cared about. Which means, a lot of comic book stuff, some science fiction, geek culture, etc... I made my page an extension of what I liked and wanted to share with everyone. And you know what happened?

I started to see likes come in that had nothing to do with the writer circles that I was running in. I had people clicking my "Shop Now" button on my page. I had people that were following my page because they were interested in what I had to say, not because I begged them to like it.

The last two hundred or so likes on my page have been like this, and I have loved to see the shift in the insight metrics on my page. My reach has gone from 10-50 impressions per post to 100-300 impressions. My shop now link is active on my page as well, and I don't even have to plug my book with every post.

I'm having fun with the page, I'm sharing what I like, and it's not really that much effort. 

I guess I'm saying this to all my fellow independent writers out there- you don't have to shamelessly promote yourself. Find your niche, your brand, and craft a public persona that will draw people to your organically. You will see the reach of your page or blog or twitter expand in a natural way from the ground up and not artificially inflated.

That being said, all of my writer friends that like my Facebook page, please don't go and unlike me now... We have so much fun on there together.

Want to expand your reach? Just be yourself and share what makes you happy.

So, now that we've gotten that out of the way, do you want to buy my stuff?

Thanks for reading. I hope you've enjoyed. As always if you enjoyed it, please be sure to like, share, subscribe, plus 1, send by carrier pigeon, etc...