Friday, May 29, 2015

Linking Your Social Media Platforms

We’re told to be on as many platforms for social media as we can get our fist around. Not every social media is for every person and I would more encourage you to find two or three you really love and connects you with different people through each platform.

Are there ways to maximize your time?

Absolutely.

In this post I’m going to cover several of the larger social media platforms and how you can link each one to reach your audience in each market.

**Note: (and this is purely my personal opinion) if you have crossover audiences between your social medias that you’re sharing the same content on, I would advise against this. Seeing the same thing over and over, weakens your audience’s interest in what you’re offering. Just keep this in mind.**

**ALSO PLEASE NOTE: in offering these multiple ways to link your platforms, you stand the potential for limiting your reach, especially due to Facebook algorithms. This should never be a total substitute for going in and posting real time updates directly to your social medias, especially Facebook. Take this information with a grain of salt and don't assume that all your work will now be taken care of. :)**

Linking Facebook:

To send Facebook updates to Twitter see this link: https://www.facebook.com/twitter/ this will give you instructions for linking your profile page and each of your public fan pages you might have.

Linking Twitter:

Login and navigate to your settings (under edit profile which is found by clicking on your profile picture). Go to apps and it’s as simple as choosing an account and loading your password.

Linking Instagram:

You’ll have to do this from your phone’s app. Go to your profile and click the three dots in the upper right hand corner. Under settings choose Linked Accounts. Here you can connect Facebook and Twitter. If you have a picture you don’t want to post to one of these medias, just click off those options before it posts.

Linking Google+:

This topic is more complicated. But it can be done! I’m directing you to this resource that I found online for linking your Google+ updates into Facebook.

Linking Goodreads:

Go to the edit profile function. (Found under the drop down arrow next to your picture in the upper right hand corner). Click the “apps” tab and connect the social medias you want linked. Goodreads also has widgets you can add to your blog that are customized to your book lists.

Linking Pinterest:

Log into Pinterest. Visit your profile page—this is where you’ll see all your boards and pins. Click on the “wheel” in the upper right hand corner and choose account settings. Scroll until you see “Connect Your Social Networks”.

Linking Your Blog:

The easiest form of promotion. You write a blog post. It posts to Facebook. Get started here: http://www.networkedblogs.com/ But note: when you accidentally hit publish it does show up on Facebook, but you CAN remove it. :) If you have hooked your Facebook to Twitter, it will also automatically post there. However there is a pretty big BUT with using Network blogs and you can read that more fully here. You can do this, but be aware, that Network blogs does diminish your reach, especially if you're using the free version. If you pay a high enough price, Network Blogs won't route through their platform just to boost their own numbers (what they do on the free option plan). Facebook also limits your reach in using this platform to their social media as only Facebook can. There are positives: posting your blog automatically to Facebook and other social medias. But there are negatives, so weigh both carefully, before handing your blog link over.  

Host platforms for scheduling social media updates:

You can schedule updates across multiple platforms so you only have to load an update once and pick the publish time. A couple different options to research for which one best fits your needs are: Buffer, TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Edgar (though not free) to name a few.


So there you have it! A few tips to connect each of your social medias. Don’t be daunted by this, take it one at a time. And let me know of your success or failures. Of which I hope there is many of the first and none of the last!

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Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a country girl now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado, employed as an administrative assistant at Wordserve Literary.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The VALUE in VARIETY

When I started writing "seriously" back in 2007, I had this tunnel vision of what I expected to write.

I wanted to write full-length contemporary romance for one of the top-ten Christian publishers.

Nothing less. Nothing more.

Not picky, right?

It's amazing at how much the publishing landscape has changed in the last 8 years since I took that original leap at following my dream of being a published author.

There are SO many more choices and options than there were then, and more and more authors are seeing value in embracing the changing landscape and being on the frontline vs dragging behind, resistant to change.

And I'm not talking just about indie-publishing, even though that is a definite change.

Authors TODAY are looking at a lot more than just writing what they've already written.

Publishers are encouraging novella prequels or sequels to help promote their books and build readership. Authors are seeing value in indie-publishing their backlist or publishing those books-in-the-closet that would never see the light of day otherwise as they aren't considered marketable by traditional publishers. Some authors are choosing to be hybrids (raising my hand!) and others are ditching traditional publishing and going indie with both feet and not looking back. (and quite a few of them are making bank off that decision!) From short-stories to non-fiction to children or YA fiction, there are SO many more options available today.

A few example:

Jody Hedlund's novella Out of the Storm was a prequel published before her newest Lighthouse series was released. It's currently FREE on Kindle and includes a preview to the first book in the series, Love Unexpected.

Katie Ganshert has dipped her toe into indie publishing with her first YA novel, The Gifting!

Susan May Warren recently published 3 of her previously published novellas from her early days in a novella collection called Somewhere, My Love.

And a new trend over the last year that is quickly picking up traction are group novella collections! A great example is a team of indie-authors who published Splash! a collection of contemporary Christian romance novellas by 9 different authors - releasing June 23rd and available for pre-order now! They usually sell the collections for a small price of 99 cents, but the volume of sales on top of the exposure for marketing make this an interesting new idea! I myself am going to be a part of a Christmas collection come this holiday season!

There are so many other examples, but this was just a small sampling.

The point is -- your publishing experience doesn't have to be limited to one thing anymore. In fact, it is looking more and more like it SHOULDN'T be anymore too.

What about you? Have you thought about outside-the-box publishing options? 



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Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance, A Side of Faith, and A Side of Hope. She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at http://www.kristaphillips.com. She is represented by Sarah Freese of Wordserve Literary.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is It Time To Let Your Manuscript Graduate?




Tis the season for graduations! Is someone you know graduating?

I'm in the spirit, too. My daughter graduated two weeks ago, earning her Masters degree. While attending her ceremony I thought of a few ideas for writing to share with you. 

First, let me say, after I prepared this post, I noticed the group of professional writers group is chatting about this very subject this week. It's hot and ripe. So jump in and join me for the ride.

During the commencement, various department heads came to the microphone and announced to the president of the university: "I present you with these students who have satisfactorily completed the requirements for their degree."

Of course not all the graduates achieved 4.0 or higher GPAs. There were graduates who achieved a range of GPAs from 2.0-3.9, yet they all still met the minimum requirements for their programs and could now go out into the workforce with their degree. 

Many of us have keyed "the end" for our manuscripts, completing a rough draft. We've edited the work, submitted it to critique groups, maybe had a beta reader or two offer advice. This story child has gone through all the hoops. So why are we holding on to it? 


Conferring graduation on a manuscript means any of the following:

1. I am proud, happy, and thrilled that I have honed my craft. I have applied these lessons to my story. I have submitted my story to crit partners or beta readers and they all seem to give me the go ahead.
       
2.  I am super nervous about pushing that send button, but I think it's time. I will swallow a super power pill that will gives me the strength to send it on to an editor or agent...tomorrow.

OR:

3. If truth be told, I have edited this story so much, I don't want to look at it again. I know I need to set it aside and not look at it for awhile, but can't seem to do it.. 



All writers slip into a schlump at one time or another. Nit picking our story for--wait, how long has it been? No, not that long! Really? We torment the characters, plot, grammar, and anything else we scrutinize, desperately seeking the magnum cum laude product. 

The problem is, one story can weigh us down, stealing our thoughts and time. 

As writers, we need to consistently work towards the final product. Hovering over one manuscript while mold grows on the pages will not help our self esteem, improve our writing ability, or produce a writing contract, even if doing all these things seems like it.

How is your current story doing? Is it displaying any of these fixable ailments?

1. Needs a well-rounded plot.
2. Needs deeper characters.
3. Needs layering.
4. Needs a dynamic beginning.
5. Needs the perfect ending.
6. Needs believable dialogue.
7. Needs narrative that flows.
8. Needs more or less words.

Of course there are more items that can fit on this list. You know what they are. If this is the case. Keep working on your story!


Photo Courtesy



But if your story is showing the signs of the high school senior who is aching to leave the nest--bored, anxious, tired of the process then you need to either send the story on for consideration or set it aside. Whether this story is perfect, it's ready to graduate.

And it's time for you to write a new story.




I know. I know. You don't have a new idea. Or the idea that tweaked in your mind last week is too small. This, too, is an easy fix. You, my friend, are in need of a writer's brainstorming session. 

Here is your prescription: 
1. Pray - God has tons of ideas!!
2. Pray - Ask God to send you a brainstorming partner
3. Set aside your shyness and ask someone to help you brainstorm (the one you think to ask will most likely be a result of number 2.
4. Do whatever jumpstarts your brain: jog, go for a drive, read a book in your genre, start writing, make a list, eat chocolate, etc.

One of three things needs to happen today:

1. Your story needs to advance on the page in some way.
2. Your need to prepare the materials to send your story to an agent, editor, etc.
3. You need to start a new story and set this current one aside.

Which will it be?


I can't wait to read your comment!

Photo by Mary Vee
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If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes young adult mystery/adventure Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

4 Tips to Plot a Romance Novella {with Jessica R. Patch}

This is my (Laurie's) last day of maternity leave! Last but not least, because I think she's rather swell, I've invited author friend Jessica Patch again to talk about novellas. She's written some pretty fantastic ones, and, well, I want to be just like her. Here's Jess...

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Thanks, Laurie, for having me back at the Alley. I love hanging out with you lovelies! Today, I’m talking about how to plot a novella and make it feel like a novel. I try to keep up with reviews, threads, and conversations readers have when discussing novellas. Hearing a reader say, I wanted this book to be longer, doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, it can be great if it’s because they loved it so much they didn’t want to stop reading. Writing a novella can be fun and a challenge. I wrote my first novella partially to see if I could! I’ve written three more since then.

How can you pack in character development, unrushed romance, and a fully developed plot (and keep the pace steady) in about 30K words? Here’s how I did it:

1. Create two main characters and give them goals. I discover who my characters are and what they each want externally and internally. Here is where you can break rules. At least I did. In my Christmas novella, Knox didn’t start out with a goal or dream. He thought he was doing just fine in his little world. Until Eden came in with her goal and shook it up. Audrey, in Just the Way You Are, dreamed of owning her business but was content for the moment working in the florist shop, until her bosses sold the business and Pastor Gabe asked her to help him build a prayer garden. His goal was trying to find a way out of Audrey’s friend-zone. The goal can be super simple. The conflict is what will make it feel complex.

2. Stick to the main plot. Sorry, but there isn’t room for subplots in a novella. You need all the word count to devote to an unrushed romance, a fully developed character arc for each main character, and a steady plot to reach their HEAs. I grabbed notecards and began brainstorming scenes that would drive the plot forward, cause conflict, create romantic tension, and develop their arc as well as the spiritual thread. I jotted down scene ideas for the main characters until a story took shape and they reached their goals and HEA. I had about 50 scene ideas, but I only used maybe 8-10. Remember to keep them together in every chapter!

3. Outline to stay on point. Pantsers are freaking out right now. Don’t! I’m mostly a pantser, too. But I’m finding that you can’t get away with that forever. Not if you go the traditional publishing route. Stretch. Grow. Find what works for you like I did. You can do this! Okay here’s how I did it. Once I had my key scenes, I used Power Point to create virtual note cards and I outlined the book. I don’t do it in chapters because that’s too much math. I just get the scenes on the virtual note cards then I go back through and layer in a romantic and spiritual thread. Romance in red. Spiritual thread in green. It’s usually one sentence or two. Example: Gabe notices Audrey’s generosity and detail with the flower arrangement she brings to the house and it moves him. When I actually write the scene, “moves him” gets shown not told, but for an outline that’s all I need. Example from the same scene: Audrey sees Sierra bring the ice while she brings a flower spread that takes up too much room and wishes she had thought of that and been more useful. Comparison/insecurity begins. By outlining like this, I can keep my scenes on point and fully develop each thread.

4. Write tight. Less is more. What might be several paragraphs of good narrative in a full-length now becomes one paragraph or a series of sprinkles. You can scale down without losing anything. Dialogue has to move the plot forward (as with any novel), so make it count!

You’ll be amazed how much you can pack into novella, still keep your voice, and give readers a great experience. They might say the book was too short, but it won’t be because they felt it was undeveloped.

Have you written a novella? What tips would you add?   

Click here to join Jessica’s newsletter to receive her next two novellas (releasing this year) FREE! 

Hope Under Mistletoe and her newest novella,  Just the Way You Are, are available on Amazon

Blurb for Just the Way You Are

When Pastor Gabe asks Audrey Gilbraith to use her mad florist skills to help him design a prayer garden, she’s all in, especially since it helps take her mind off the fact she’s about to lose her job and her apartment. But working closely with Gabe without falling for him is complicated. She’s not pastor’s wife material, and she has the past to prove it.

Gabriel Brookson wants out of Audrey’s friend-zone, but when he pursues her romantically, he ruffles more than a few feathers in his congregation. How much is he willing to give up for this wonderful, quirky woman, and will Audrey accept him if he risks it all? 

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Jessica R. Patch lives in the mid-south where she pens inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. 

When she’s not hunched over her laptop or going on adventurous trips in the name of research with willing friends, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, watching way too much Netflix with her daughter, dominating her son at board games, and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she'll probably never cook. 

Her debut novel with Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense will release in January 2016. She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Blank Page...and other Writing Paranoia


If you’re a writing, there is a good chance you’ve felt the nudge, sting, or shove of self-doubt. Maybe with a little fear sprinkled in for good measure.

I know I have! On both sides of publication, writers have a tendency to doubt their own abilities, worry about the general acceptance of our words on paper, and question our calling.

And, of course, those tiny doubts escalate into a tidal wave crashing down on us, leaving us with enough paranoia to star in a Stephen King film!

Today we are going to talk about a few of the paranoia we may face as writers.

Below is a list of some top diagnostic paranoia for writers. Don’t worry if you can’t find your particular paranoia in the list, I’m only chatting about three today. There are many more (saggy middle, overused words, etc) – enough to satisfy any constant worry-er or justify any need for chocolate.

1.       Blank First Page

Who’s been there? You’ve finished your novel, edited it until it shimmers and now it’s time for…the next story. (gasp)

 Whether you have an idea for a new book or not, the empty page can evoke one of two emotions. Sheer delight or utter panic. Starting something new, delving into a novel storyworld and characters can be exciting, but it can also bring a sense of anxiety with it.

If your first book has done really well, then you feel the added pressure of making the second book as good or better than the first (and usually under deadline). If your first book hasn’t been picked up by a publishing house, you have the added pressure of trying to ‘make it better’ and your mind spirals a frantic struggle of ‘what do publishers want? How can I improve my craft? What if I do all this work only to have it rejected again?

 
Hope Note: “He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it”(Philippians 1:6) – God has started a story in your heart, a desire to create words with meaning, and He has the power, ability, and love enough to see the end result of what He’s started in you.

 
2.       Tell-Tale Signs

You know that verse in the Bible from 1 Corinthians which says “now let me show you a more excellent way”?? Well, with that idea in mind, let’s chat a little about the show vs. tell controversy in writing. ‘Telling’ in and of itself isn’t the “kiss of death” in your scene. There are times when telling must happen, but a ‘more excellent way’ shows the action through our words.

Simple examples?

Clark was angry.

Clark slammed his fist against the desk, sending the Spock bobble head into a frantic shudder.

Now, it’s pretty obvious the better choice. The second is not only more visual and descriptive, I also tossed in a little characterization for good measure. Learning to write with more active verbs and ‘action’ descriptions is the ‘better’ way, but writing a few telling lines here and there should not leave you stressed. Find the best way to describe what you need for your story. If telling? Tell. If showing? Show. :-)

Hope Note: “Now I will show you a more excellent way. Love….” I Corinthians 12: 31b-13:1a

God has given us the best example of show vs tell in all eternity. Through Christ, we see the example of perfect love – in his life, death, and resurrection. Though Jesus told people of his work, the Bible never records him telling anyone that he loves them. He talks of God (The Father) loving them, but doesn’t say it himself. Instead, he shows us. His sacrifice, patience, and grace speak more than words, and because of His love in creating this writing gift in us – he will help us ‘show’ the story He’s written on our hearts.
 
3.       Hole-y Plots, Batman

Besides #1, this is often my greatest paranoia! :-) Getting through a book with a full-proof plot can be a daunting task.

This is where a solid critique partner or group comes in handy! Why? They’ll ask the important questions and help you check for holes. Are all the loose ends, including important aspects of subplots, tied up at the end? Is there a point near the end where one of the main characters begins a lot of monologing (to explain situations that happened earlier) OR do you suddenly have a lot of ‘telling’ instances to make up for information not given earlier? Are the events in the novel logical?

Or if your character suddenly diverts drastically from his/her personality in choices or acts without proper motivation, that should bring a full-blown question-mark to your mind about possible plot holes.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the possibility of plot holes, become proactive in both your writing and editing.

Know your main characters’ motivations for what they do…and make sure you keep asking “why are they doing this? Why does this have to happen to propel the story forward?” with each and every scene.

Keep it logically consistent and relatively plausible. When we start having to ‘stretch’ our story beyond what’s fitting, then we might want to check for holes.

Use that crit partner or group! It’s vital to get some other eyes on your manuscript who can see your story from a fresh perspective.

 
Hope Note: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12: 1b-2a – but I’d read the whole chapter if I was you)

Writing a novel is like a marathon. It takes time, planning, pacing, endurance, energy, focus, direction, and maybe a few cheering buddies along the way. But just as God is the author and finisher of our faith, He will give us the necessary skills, awareness, and people to help us make it through the panicked moments if we are willing to listen and learn.

 
Don’t forget what God tells us about paranoia!

1 John 4:18a “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”

When we remember to whom we belong, who has equipped us, and how much HE loves us – his peace will not only calm our spirits, but give of wisdom to learn from others, grow in our skill, seek advice, and learn to revise well.

 
What are some writing paranoia you experience in your writing world?
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Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction whenever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids with special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015. You can connect with Pepper on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com, Facebook-  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham or Twitter at https://twitter.com/pepperbasham

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kiss and Tell: Spontaneous Smooching!


 
Dr. Love is on the block this fine Friday! And I’ve noticed it’s been a while since we’ve had a kiss-a-thon. I think I’m having withdrawals. You too? Our last Kiss-and-Tell session was a wildly successful scrimmage of fabulous, sweet, steamy, playful, and passionate kissing scenes pulled from your stories. What fun!!!! I mean, come on, who doesn’t crave a kiss scene from page one, right?

OF COURSE, we have to wait and build the tension, ect. But that right there is my current problem. I’m picking through the initial pages of my WIP, setting up the plot, getting acquainted with the characters, establishing their chemistry, and already I’m itching for a lip-lock between the two! I can just picture it! And I want that kiss. Badly!

So, since I’m so incredibly patient by nature, I went ahead and penned a few kisses that are what I like to call spontaneous smooches. These are dreamed up, out of order quips and clips that will hopefully fit into my story as it progresses. In other words, the mood struck, so I wrote. Be a shame to waste a perfectly good make out session but hey it happens. Oh, how I suffer for my art.

Just in case this doesn’t make the cut I thought I’d kick off this Kiss-and-Tell session with a very rough, off-the-cuff kiss scene that I wrote on my phone at about 1 am last week simply because I wanted my characters to get a-smoochin’ and I couldn’t sleep without that goodnight kiss!

And I’ll need full audience participation to make this fun! Post up a past or current kiss scene in any stage of revision. It doesn’t have to be polished or perfectly thought out it just has to include some semblance of a lip-on-lip action! I can hardly wait to read them!

Alright pucker up, people! There’s no better way to kick off the weekend than by getting your kiss on!

MUAH!

 

I’ll be brave and go first… Here’s some banter and a smooch from Livi Lux and Aiden Reid in my WIP Lady Luck

 ...

“Pfft! New Yorkers are always touting their grit but I'm from St. Louis. Serial killers, rioting, the east side. I think I can handle a little island stroll. Besides, I took a class in Krav Maga, last year. I’m basically a butt-kicking machine. Don’t mess with me." Huh. What do you know? The whole ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ thing? Actually quite satisfying.

Satisfying. But perhaps not entirely convincing if Aiden’s amused expression is anything to go by.

"Oh, so you had a face-off with Vivaldi? Took a gander across the Ead's bridge and enjoyed an afternoon tea with the EL6 crew?"

"Don't be condescending. You might be pretty but that dress does nothing for your figure."

"Pretty?" Aiden growls like a sexy-beast, a playful glint in those steely grey eyes. 

I bat my eyes. "Does that wound your masculine pride, sweetiekins? Retraction. Follow-up. Rugged. You look very rugged in your condescending dress."

He laughs, so full and warm and easy I’m shivering. Figure that one out. And then he's shaking his handsome head. "I always seem to be doing that with you."

"What, cross dressing?"

Stepping forward, he traps a lock of my golden-red hair, rubbing the strands between his thumb and forefinger. "Laughing. Smiling."

He leans in, twining the hair around his knuckle and gently tugging me closer, his words a whispered brush of contact. "Kissing."

And then he's doing just that. Kissing. Which somehow seems too simple a word for what he's doing to me.

Dang, it's just... It's... Wow. It's wow and so much more than wow the words may not exist to expound upon it. Surely as a journalist I could find some. But nope, his lip-lock is literally reducing my vocabulary.

Mmm. I hum into the stupefying kiss, fully surrendered, and add a little wow of my own. 

"Wow." He murmurs against my lips, cupping my face and stroking my cheek with his callused thumb.

Yep, still shivering despite the balmy island climate. And before I'm rendered completely inarticulate I echo my agreement. "My thoughts exactly. More wow, please." 
 
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
 
Amy Leigh Simpson is the completely exhausted stay-at-home mama to the two wild-child, tow-headed toddler boys, one pretty little princess baby, and the incredibly blessed wife of her hunky hubby.
She writes Romantic Suspense chalked full of grace that is equally inspiring, nail-biting, and hilarious. And a little saucy! Okay fine, a lot saucy. :) She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and now uses her Sports Medicine degree to patch up daily boo-boos. Her greatest ambitions are to create stories that inspire hope, raise up her children to be mighty warriors for Christ, invent an all-dessert diet that works, and make up for years of sleep deprivation. 

She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

5 Ideas for Author Newsletter Content -- A Guest Post by Sarah Forgrave


Ashley here! I am so excited to be hosting my dear friend and former Alley Cat (though once an Alley Cat always an Alley Cat, right?) Sarah Forgrave on the Alley today! Please welcome her back to the blog! :) I know you'll enjoy her insight!

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5 Ideas for Author Newsletter Content

Has anyone else noticed that Facebook and Twitter can be fickle? With the ever-changing social media landscape, it can be a headache for authors to find and keep our audience. 

My wise agent once advised me to think beyond social media and begin building an e-newsletter. But the age-old question inevitably cropped up: What should I write about?

As I’ve navigated these waters, I’ve honed in on five items that are valuable additions to any author newsletter.

1)   News – (Insert “well, duh” here. :)) This can include recently published articles, upcoming book releases, book signings, or special pricing deals. For the pre-published author, this might include project completions or agent signing news. Don’t forget to share personal news too! If you’ve just gotten married or had a baby or moved to a new house, your readers will love the inside peek at your life.

2)   Photos – Just like web content, you want your newsletter to be visually appealing. Consider investing in a subscription to a stock photo website for access to thousands of photos that can convey the mood you want. Also include personal photos. When I visited Alley Cat Ashley this spring, I included a photo of us in my newsletter. Not only did I get to share a personal side of me, but I got to introduce my readers to a fabulous writer.





3)   Items of interest to your brand – I know, there’s that ugly “B” word. To demystify it, think about unique aspects of your writing that your readers would find interesting.

For instance, author Dani Pettrey writes “Armchair Adventures,” and her newsletters often include a snapshot of a compelling adventure story that relates to her latest book release. In my newsletters, I include a Healthy Habits Corner with nutrition and fitness tips, since I’m a fitness instructor and incorporate health and fitness into my fiction. For a novelist who writes World War II books, interesting history facts might be shared.

Recipes can be a great addition too, particularly if they fit into your brand. Any recipes I share are healthy and simple, Dani might share a trail mix recipe, and a WWII writer might share a recipe that was popular during that time period.


Whatever you share, the goal is to make it interesting, valuable for the reader, and something that sets the tone for your writing in general.

4)   Giveaways – This might include package giveaways related to your books. For instance, Dani Pettrey gave away a Land & Sea Package during the release of her book, Stranded, which centered around an Alaskan Cruise. The package included fun items related to the book’s setting and theme.

You might also give away books (by yourself or authors similar to you) or gift cards. In each quarterly newsletter I send, I give away an Amazon gift card to one of my subscribers. It’s a simple way to say thank you to my readers, and it’s a fun surprise for the winners too.


5)   Free content – At first glance, this might sound the same as giveaways, but they’re distinctly different. Giveaways can include non-book items, and they are a prize given to a limited number of winners that are drawn at random. Free content, on the other hand, is given to ALL subscribers and would involve something written by you.

For example, earlier this year I wrote a romantic e-short exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. Now whenever someone new subscribes on my site, they automatically receive the short story in their inbox. I enjoyed the process of writing the e-short so much, I have another one in the works for later this year. It’s been a great opportunity for me to give readers a small taste of my writing while waiting for my full-length novels to be published.


If you don’t have fictional content to offer, there are other possibilities for free content. Playing off my health and fitness theme, I could offer a healthy meal toolkit exclusively to newsletter subscribers. Author Beth Vogt offers a list of her favorite inspirational quotes to blog subscribers.

Whatever is unique to you that would add value (and, of course, fits within your brand) can be a great incentive to draw in new subscribers and keep current subscribers engaged.

And really, that’s the ultimate goal behind newsletters – to find new reader friends and keep the current ones excited about your work.

By offering unique, relevant content that enriches their lives, you’re building a relationship that will rise above the ever-changing waters of social media.

Enjoy the ride!

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Have you started an author newsletter? What do you like about other authors’ newsletters you follow? Any content ideas you can add to my list?

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Sarah Forgrave is a work-at-home mom whose work has been featured in Guideposts’ A Cup of Christmas Cheer, as well as the webzine Ungrind and the Pearl Girls™ book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith. When she’s not writing, she enjoys teaching fitness classes, shopping the produce section of her local grocery store, and hanging out with her family in their Midwest home. To read Sarah’s free romantic e-short, “Running to You,” you can sign up for her newsletter on her website. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and her not-so-secret addiction—Pinterest.