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.

To be the first to know about new posts, sign up for my email list.

Advertisements

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

the-update-1

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.

If you’d like to get all my updates, sign up for my email list.

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?

img_20160924_165544

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

To get more posts like these, sign up for my email list.

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

To be the first to read new posts, sign up for my email list.

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

Deanna_speakingGCHS

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.

What I’m Into This Month

the-update-1

It’s that time again to talk about what I’m reading, writing, and watching this month.

What I’m reading:

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Unabridged, people! This is not my usual read, but my husband ADORES this book and can’t wait until I finish reading it. It is interesting and in general I’m familiar with the story, having seen an adaptation starring one of my favorite actors Jim Caviezel. But it’s much longer than an average book. I just hope I finish by the end of the year.

What I’m watching:

  • The Wolfpack, a documentary about a group of brothers who grew up sheltered in an apartment in New York who have a passion for movies. Completely fascinating and available on Netflix right now.
  • Newtown, another documentary (apparently they are my thing this month) about the town of Newtown, CT and how they’ve dealt with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. I make it a point to not get political on my web site, but this is really an eye-opener about how we need some reform to gun control laws. You will need tissues for this one.

What I’m writing:

  • A companion to One Night that follows Ronnie and Thompson into college. Tentatively titled The Only Thing. Thompson finds himself in another romantic predicament. More details coming soon.
  • I’m also editing my YA novel that’s set in Serbia. Why set a novel in Serbia you ask? My husband in Serbian and Serbia is a beautiful country that often gets a bad rap in the media.

If you want to be the first to know about new book news and read a preview of One Night, sign up for my email list.

P.S. I am giving away a signed copy of One Night over at my friend Melissa’s blog, So About What I Said. Be sure to enter and check out her great web site!

 

Upcoming events

author-fair-photo

Hey all, I have a lot of events going on next week – an event bonanza as I’ve been calling it LOL. Where you can find me:

To be the first to know about events, sign up for my email list. If you’d like information on my public speaking or booking info go here.

What I’m reading, writing, and watching this month

the-update-1

Okay friends, it’s been a while since I’ve done a post like this. My apologies.

What I’m reading:

  • House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier. It’s women’s fiction about a woman who buys Ray Bradbury’s old house in southern California. It’s a great read and can I give a shout out to Nicole here who graciously answered some questions for me recently about her publishing experience! Such a lovely person.
  • My Beautiful Life by Mina Dobic, a true story about a woman who cured her cancer by eating a macrobiotic diet. Fascinating. Thanks, hubby for the book recommendation!
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, contemporary YA about a girl who’s forced to live with her stepmother across the country. Just got this for Kindle on sale for $1.99.

What I’m writing:

What I’m watching:

  • We are binge watching Caribbean Life at my house. It is one of my greatest ambitions in life to live by the ocean one day. When I’m by the ocean I feel like I’m home!
  • I am sad and relieved that the first season of This is Us is over. Tuesday night has been my weekly cry session since this show started. I think it’s because the show feels too much like real life!

Five Keys to Successful Author Events

Or, what I learned from my second event as an author 🙂

This past weekend I participated in a Local Author Fair at a nearby library. I learned a lot and wanted to share these tips in the hopes of helping other writers.

  1. Bring a buddy who is good at pimping your book. In my case this was my mother. She talked my novel up to anyone and everyone who walked into the room and touted my book to the other 14 authors in attendance. I don’t know if that led to any sales but at least she helped spread the word.
  2. Make sure your table looks amazing. Some of my fellow authors had great books, but their displays didn’t convey as much. I brought a tablecloth, giant print out of my cover made at Fedex Office, magnets, postcards, an easel to prop my book on. Your table needs to sell your book. author-fair-photo
  3. Network with other writers. I shared a table with the lovely Lina Chern, a crime writer, and basically interviewed her at length about her publishing experience when not selling my book. I also grabbed a business card from another author who said she might know a good critique partner for me.
  4. A more general pitch is better when trying to sell your book. At the start of the fair when someone stopped by the table and asked what my book was about, I gave them a blow-by-blow of the plot. Heartbroken teen boy meets Elvis impersonator and quirky friendship and adventure ensues. After I said this, a lot of people gave me a blank look. When I generalized my description, though, to: “It’s a YA novel but it’s not too angsty and it has a sense of humor and it’s set in Hawaii” I got a WAY better response.
  5. Remember that it’s one sale at a time. It’s easy to get discouraged when a lot of people walk through the room and only a fraction of them actually purchase. The hope is some of the readers who do buy your book like it and tell all their friends about it. And when a teen girl stops by, reads your back cover and says, “This sounds sick!!” the struggle will be worth it.

To be the first to get these posts, sign up for my email list.

Authors, if you have any other tips I’d love to hear them via comments 🙂