Four Reasons I’ve Stopped Using Facebook and Why Other Authors Should Consider It

Facebook blog post

I’ve been experimenting with Facebook for over a year since my debut YA novel, One Night, was released. I’ve always known that being on Facebook wouldn’t necessarily help me sell books, but I thought that at minimum I could connect with potential readers who might maybe buy my second or third book (or at minimum “like” my posts). I’ve discovered, though, that Facebook is basically a waste of my time as an author. I haven’t posted anything on Facebook for more than two months which is an eon in social media time.

Four reasons I’ve stopped using Facebook:

  1. No one sees my posts. My following is pretty small, but when I look at the actual reach of posts the number of users who see them is minimal, like 25 people (and usually those are my immediate or extended family members). I know you can extend your reach if you boost posts, but I don’t want to spend money on Facebook when I could use those dollars more effectively elsewhere.
  2. I don’t like the medium. There I said it. One of my author friends, Marilyn Brant, is awesome at using Facebook. She shares recipes, videos, and other tidbits from her life with the occasional mention of writing activities and it just works. A lot of her followers engage with her. She comes across as genuinely liking the tool. I have tried to be as charming as she is in her posts but I always feel like I’m reaching a bit.
  3. I prefer other social media channels more. I love Instagram. It’s easy to use and I get so much more engagement on my posts there. Plus, it’s fun. I’m also a fan of Twitter, where I’ve been able to connect with other authors and a few readers and drive traffic to my web site.
  4. It is a time-waster. When I do login to Facebook I find myself endlessly scrolling the feed, looking for what I’m not sure. Overall it has been a time suck or a distraction so I’ve deleted the app from my phone. I am happier now that I’ve done so.

What about you, are you still on Facebook? Talk about your experience in the comments.

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Happy Birthday, One Night!

Happy Birthday One night

A year ago today One Night made it’s way into the world. There have been some ups and downs, for sure, but all in all I’m happy about where Thompson’s journey has taken him. I can’t wait to share the next chapter of his journey with you in the upcoming sequel, One Love. To be notified when One Love comes out sign up here.

To view all special One Night content go here.

Thank you to all my readers for your support! 🙂

Some thoughts on the One Night sequel

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File under: just for fun!

Below is a near-verbatim transcript of a conversation I had with my husband recently about the sequel to One Night.

Me: I’m worried that people are going to be upset that Johnny’s not in this one as much. But Thompson’s away at college. There isn’t a logical way for he and Johnny to interact a lot.

Hubby: What if Johnny does a gig in Panama City Beach and Thompson goes there on spring break?

Me: That’s not impossible.

Hubby: Or…you write another book about Johnny after this and write five more books about both of them. And then at the end we find out that Thompson is actually a seventy year-old inmate in a Slovenian prison and the whole thing was made up/a fantasy in his head.

Me: I don’t think my readers would like that.

Hubby: Just an idea.

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What I’m Reading, Writing, and Watching this Month

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Hey all! Haven’t done a monthly update in a while, but watched a movie last night that made me want to do one.

What I’m reading:

  • Count of Monte Cristo, unabridged. Still. I am shooting for the end of the year on this one. If I finish reading it in 2017 I will consider that an accomplishment.
  • It Started With Goodbye by Christina June. A very cute YA novel about stepmothers and stepsisters. Some reviews call it a modern retelling of Cinderella. I do love the “fairy godmother” character of Blanche in the book.

What I’m watching:

  • The Prestige. My god. This movie is classified as science fiction horror or something awful, but it definitely held my attention. Two dueling magicians in the late 1800s, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, keep trying to one up each other and steal each other’s tricks. About once a year I see a movie that leaves me thinking, what the hell did we just watch? (In a good way). This movie came out in 2006, but is definitely my wow movie of 2017. It’s also a book that I now want to read.
  • America’s Got Talent. Or as we call it in my house, my weekly sob fest. I love watching creative peoples’ dreams come true. I’ve always thought it to be a shame that there isn’t a reality competition for writers, but know that it would be terminally boring to watch people in pj’s typing away at keyboards.

What I’m writing:

  • One Love, the sequel to One Night, is with an editor. I am excited about this one. It still involves Thompson and his romantic issues, but it’s different than the first book.  More details coming soon.
  • Still tinkering with the YA novel set in Serbia. I’ve heard that if you’re at the tinkering stage it’s time to let it go. We’ll see.

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Four questions to ask yourself before scheduling an author event

During the last ten months of promoting my YA novel One Night I’ve learned that not all in-person events are worth my time. As an author it’s tempting to take advantage of every opportunity that’s presented to you, but events are not always worthwhile. Even for bestsellers. Late last year, I went to a book signing that featured two New York Times bestselling authors – one of whom has a movie adaptation of their book coming out — and there were nine people there. Nine. One of whom was my husband who had to be dragged by me. Not all of the people in attendance bought their books either. It was brutal! I’ve encountered similar situations at events I’ve done. Having done several events the four questions I ask myself now before committing are:

What is the expected foot traffic to the venue? My email list isn’t that large, not all my readers are local, and people are busy. What is the usual number of people (casual drop ins) that come to the event? Get an estimate from the event organizer before agreeing to anything.

Are attendees going to be in spending mode? I’ve noticed that at library events patrons are not as willing to cough up money for a book. The library is a wonderful place, but people are not in spending mode when they go there. They are normally there for the free access to books, movies, etc.

Will I be paid? If I’m compensated fairly for my time I usually don’t care about the above two questions.

Is there going to be a lot of upfront effort on my end? For example, will the venue provide a table, chairs, etc. or am I expected to bring that along? Will the event organizers help promote the event, or not?

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Are author events a great way of getting the word out about your books? Of course. But not all are created equal.

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How to Balance Writing With a Day Job

One of the questions I get asked most often is: how do you find the time to write? People seem to equate finishing a novel while working a demanding full-time job with pulling off a miracle, but I’m here to tell you there’s nothing miraculous about it! I make time to write because it is important to me. I juggle balancing writing with my day job, spending time with my family, cleaning, working out, and taking care of my puppy. Among other obligations. If you’re having trouble fitting writing into your life I suggest checking out Jessica Abel’s book Growing Gills. It will help you prioritize tasks and organize yourself so you can carve out time to work on creative projects.

My writing week in a nutshell (also seen in the infographic below):

  • 1.5 hours spent on word output/active writing during my train ride to work
  • 1 hour (sometimes 2-3, depending) spent editing another project on Saturday or Sunday morning
  • 1.5 hours on marketing – throughout the week, when I can or on the weekend
  • 35 minutes on social media – 5 minutes per day or one 30-minute session on the weekend

I have worked at this pace for several years. At this rate I am able to finish 1.5 books per year. Would I love to write more? Yes. But I think I’m doing alright if I do say so myself 🙂

Writing life info graphic

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Help our friend Mila

Dear readers,

As some of you may have gathered from reading my posts or following my Instagram feed, my husband is Serbian. We have started a Go Fund Me campaign for his best friend’s daughter who lives in Serbia and has cerebral palsy.

Mila

Mila is a sweetheart (we spent a lot of time with her and family last year and will see them again this summer) but has trouble doing many things on her own such as holding a glass of water, sitting up, etc. I hate being hit up for money as much as the next person but this is definitely a good cause. Mila needs treatment and surgery that will hopefully help her do these small things a lot of us take for granted. Mila’s twin sister Lena is totally healthy, but Mila is 100% dependent on her parents.

To read all the details please visit this page- https://www.gofundme.com/milaklikovac

Anything you can do to help spread the word is appreciated!

Thanks!

How to Prepare for a TED-style Author Talk in Less Than 10 days

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When an event organizer contacted me to fill in for a last-minute cancellation who was supposed to give a TED-style author talk as part of a weeklong writing festival at a local high school I panicked. There was no way I could pull off a talk like that in less than 10 days. That was the sort of thing that took months to prepare for, possibly a year. I was worried because this would be the largest crowd I’d ever addressed. There would be at least 200 people in attendance but there could be up to 500. Plus I had to be onstage for 35-40 minutes. Since the crowd would be made up of high school students the odds were good that I’d connect with some of my target audience there: teens who love John Green novels. Even though the thought of this speaking opportunity scared me, I knew in my heart that I had to do it. What I did to pull it off and how you can, too:

Watch other TED talks for inspiration. Understand your talk probably won’t leave people with as big of a “wow” feeling due to the time crunch you’re under, however, make a note of which talks capture your attention and why. Try to bring some of that X factor to your own presentation. The talks I gravitated toward included some very personal stories so I knew I had to include some in my own talk.

Make a quick list of all the possible story lines you can tell about yourself as a writer. Keep each story to one sentence/phrase. My ideas were:

-I am old enough to have paper and email rejections

-I started writing women’s fiction but was supposed to be writing YA

-I’ve met a few bestsellers—some randomly, some on purpose

-I quit writing at least 10 times

-I struggle to call myself a writer and share my work

-I know the journey is unpredictable but worth it in the end

I decided to go with a combination of the last two ideas because they were the most upbeat and inspirational. It also had a natural narrative arc.

Once you decide on your idea, figure out how to make it visual. Audiences remember speeches better if there are visuals involved. Studies have shown that people process images 60,000x faster than text. Since this was a personal journey story I decided to include a lot of photos: myself at five years-old since that’s when I started writing; my senior yearbook photo to represent the time I started writing my first novel; images of my college newspaper where I worked as an editor. During my speech I also talked about sources of inspiration and showed pictures of my dog, Cuba. I could see smiles form on attendees’ faces as that slide went up. Images are great in terms of jogging your own memory, too, and reminding you what you need to be speaking about at a given moment.

Do not write a script for your speech. Jot down notes and phrases but don’t try to plan for everything that will be said. The best talks allow for some ad-libbing. Plus if you write a script for yourself you will stumble if you don’t remember to say something exactly as you wrote it. I took an executive speaking course last year for work and saw this happen time and again. Someone tried to remember a script they had written instead of having a more natural conversation with the audience.

Don’t make it a sales pitch. Talks like these should be managed like your social media accounts. Be helpful. Be yourself. Be genuine. Tell the audience what makes your personal story unique. Tell them what obstacles you encountered. If there are logical places to mention your book by all means try to work it in. I mentioned my novel, One Night, when I got to the sources of inspiration section of my talk (One Night is set in Hawaii and I shared some of my favorite Hawaii vacation photos). But don’t make it a blatant “buy my book” pitch.

Practice as much as time allows. Ideally you should run through your talk at least three times if possible. Time yourself to make sure it fits within the time frame you’re given. If you mess up during practice, just keep going. Pretend it’s the actual day of the talk where you won’t be able to have a redo. If possible practice in front of someone, or at the very least, your dog.

Wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks. Whether that is a red dress, a suit, or a leather jacket. Wear something that instills confidence and makes you feel like you’ve earned the right to be up on stage. If you hear a Beyoncé song in your head when you put on an outfit that’s the outfit you should wear.

I was a nervous wreck before my big talk, going so far as to Google “author visits gone wrong,” but in the end it went well. I had a lot of fun doing it. The audience was engaged and students asked thoughtful questions. Afterward, a few students came up to me to commend me on my performance. One girl said, “You know, we’ve had a lot of boring speakers come and talk to us, but you were actually interesting.” Her compliment made my day.

Author’s Note: this post originally appeared as a guest post at Writer Unboxed. To be the first to get new posts, sign up for my email list.