Celebrating book reviewing, book sales and surviving heat wave

Celebrate blog hopWhile I have things to celebrate today, my Wildblue internet service is not one of them. I just got told by them that I’m over my usage limit again— even though I gave up Facebook games in order to save bandwidth for my writing career. So I’m unplugging the internet when not in use and getting up early to use my off-peak bandwidth.

But there is good news in my life. First, I made two sales of my poetry book, ‘surly petunia’ on Amazon.com which is a good start there. As you may guess, poetry doesn’t sell well, and ‘quirky’ poetry even less. But I am encouraged.

Next, now that I have decided to devote my efforts to becoming one of the top Amazon.com reviewers in my genre, I am developing methods to create reviews more easily. Mainly I keep a legal pad handy when I read and note down the key points of the book including character names and such. Here are some of my recent reviews:

Shatterworld – Lelia Rose Foreman

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century – Peter Graham

The 8-Minute Writing Habit – Monica Leonelle

If you should happen to read any of my reviews — thank you! — and if you happen to think one or more of them is a helpful review for someone deciding whether to buy the book, please click ‘yes’ in the place at the bottom of the review where they ask ‘is this review helpful?’ That would be a big help to me.

And now, the final thing to celebrate— I am surviving the hot weather in spite of my lack of air conditioning. I bought an air conditioner unit but there are difficulties in installing it. It’s hard on me because of my poor health but I am surviving by drinking a lot of ice water and not doing much around the house. Today my big project, besides this blog hop, is doing the laundry. Some of the laundry. Well, maybe one load of laundry and some folding.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. If you don’t know about it— it’s a great way to get started getting more people reading your blog. Go to Lexa Cain’s blog to sign up, here: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

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IWSG: Book Review Reciprocity

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

The online world demands a lot of reciprocity. If you join a writers’ group on Facebook, and you want people to like and comment on the stuff you post there, you have to like and comment on other people’s stuff. If you want your stuff retweeted on Twitter, you retweet other people’s stuff.

But the biggest part of a writer’s dream is not about reciprocity— it’s about loads and loads of people liking your books and buying them and you not having to buy any books from all of THEM in return. That’s what you have to do to make it as a writer— sell to people including faceless strangers who only know you through your books.

Part of that dream these days is that a decent portion of your readers will write a review and that’s important. But real  writers not in the Stephen King category have another source of reviews, and that is a circle of writing friends— the kind of friends you can make in the writers’ groups I mentioned above.


Facebook Writer’s Groups

Aspie Writers (for writers with Asperger Syndrome and autism, new group, needs members.) https://www.facebook.com/groups/616192595221372/

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers https://www.facebook.com/groups/366357776755069/

These are two of the groups I’m in— do searches at Facebook to find ones right for you— look for ones with real interactivity going on, not just people posting their books for sale.


Of course sometimes you are caught in a no-reciprocity trap. You write a review for this one, you write a review for that one, you write 2 for that author and 3 for that one— and they never think of reviewing your book in return.

That’s where I am at with my poetry book ‘surly petunia.’ (The title is taken from the first poem I wrote as a serious writer of poetry— amazingly it stood up over time, mainly because it’s weird and funny. Or sad. I can never tell those emotions apart.)

The excuse I get is that it’s POETRY and they don’t know how to read POETRY and review POETRY because, I suspect, they’d rather read someone’s overweight & second-rate fantasy tome than read a few pages of POETRY.

So today, I am taking the Nuclear Option and adding a poem to this post. Don’t worry, it’s a short one. And it’s in my book ‘surly petunia.’ Which is here: https://www.amazon.com/Surly-Petunia-Nissa-Annakindt-ebook/dp/B00NZ96EYE


catbox thriller

red explosions lying on the sidewalk
where just anyone could steal them
how can you treat your mothers so?

and why oh why the denizens
of minor towns with hidden hitlers
chastely placed beyond white window curtains

and I walk by as if quite ordinary
spies were sleeping in my breast pockets
still with their heads on they look better.

(c) Nissa Annakindt 2014


This was a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. It’s a great way to build up your blog if you are a writer. It happens the first Wednesday of each month.

Writer Networking & Camp Nanowrimo

CampNanoAre you familiar with National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo? It is a November writing event where participants try to write a 50000 word novel in 30 days. Many participants have gone on to be published authors.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a July offshoot of the November NaNo.  While the general goal is still the 50000+ word novel, you can commit to less. For example, I’m doing a 17500 word novella instead.

It helps in doing NaNo to have NaNo goals. Some people have as a goal they want to finish a novel for the first time. Others are trying out writing in a different genre.

A less noted goal is that of writer networking. It really helps for writers to learn to network with other writers. In Camp NaNo, the chief networking opportunity is that participants are grouped into cabins. You can find a group of people to form a cabin with on the Camp NaNo site. Or if you are in a FB writing group you could use that as the core for your cabin.

I ended up in a Catholic cabin. Mainly because I’m Catholic and find it distracting dealing with anti-Catholic bigots while I’m trying to write. YOU might find a group based on your religious faith (or your atheism), your politics, your genre, or your nationality. If you have Asperger Syndrome, you might start a cabin with only Aspies, but remember that Aspies lack social skills and so you might be better off in a cabin based on something else.

Especially for a person with Asperger Syndrome, it can be hard to learn the social skills you need to do writer networking. Here are a few rules. Learn them, live by them.

  1. Remember that networking is not all about YOU. Take an interest in other people’s writing project and their progress. Don’t talk about your own work all the time.
  2. Keep your messages on the Camp NaNoWriMo cabin message board short. Long messages may annoy other people.
  3. Think of yourself as a REAL writer. Because you ARE one, so long as you are firmly committed to doing the work required to produce work and increase your writing skills. Don’t tell other writers ‘I’m no good.’ They might believe you.
  4. Don’t be negative about the other writer’s work. Find something nice to say about it. Or at least beg off by saying you don’t read much science fiction erotica (or whatever the genre is.)  Remember, don’t critique the work of other writers unless they ask for it— perhaps by joining a critique group with you. And even in a critique group, mention positive things as well as negative.
  5. Don’t be the thought police. If someone says something you believe should not be said, you shouldn’t go after him for it. Even if what the person said was ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ or ‘homophobic’ or conservative/’right wing.’ Appointing yourself to the thought police just cuts off communication with other people.
  6. Don’t swear. Or use sexual words/imagery. It just puts people off and makes you look vulgar and/or ignorant.
  7. Don’t stray off topic unless the other person does so first. And get back on topic quickly.
  8. In polite society, we don’t talk religion or politics on social occasions. If you are not in a cabin based on your faith/nonfaith or your politics, be polite.
  9. Have fun. Networking with other writers isn’t a chore. It’s a new way to have fun.
  10. If you have Asperger Syndrome, don’t talk about any of your Special Interests (obsessive interests.) If another person shares an interest, you may respond on the topic, but limit each post to a short one— three sentences or less. Remember, going on about a topic that the other person isn’t as interested in makes you a bore.

So, are you going to do Camp NaNo? Have you set up your account or your cabin yet? Let us know how it works for you!

How to please the 2 main reader types on your FB author page

facebook-like-iconBig ‘news’ today about Facebook— it is leftist and doesn’t give a fair shake to conservative news stories on its ‘trending’ feature. I think that all conservative Facebook users other than a few people’s great-grandmothers knew that. But— back to our series about improving your Facebook author page.

To write posts that please your readers, you have to understand what kind of people are clicking ‘like’ on your author page. The two major groups are these:

  • People who have read one of your books and sought out your author page to find out more about you. These fans are your true fans— they really like one of your books and probably will buy another book from you.
  • Other authors with fan pages who ‘like’ your page because you are an author, too, and they want to network with you, or get you to ‘like’ their page, or get you to share some of the stories in their feed. And, oh, buy their books.

The first group is going to be easy to please so long as you keep writing books and giving them information on your upcoming books that other fans might not know. They want to feel that THEY are your friends, in an internet sort of way, and the best way to keep these fans buying your books is to treat them like friends.

The second group is more of a hard-sell. They are not interested in YOU or YOUR BOOK, they want to get you interested in buying their book. You have to win them over into being interested in your book. How?

First, ‘like’ all those author pages right back, with your personal account, ‘liking’ as your author page, or both. Then, check your news feed and when those authors have posted things about their writing life, post a short comment or at least click ‘like.’ Just doing that once to twice a month for each author actively posting on their author page can get you some attention.

Next, if one of these authors has really BIG news about their writing, particularly a new book coming out, consider sharing that big news on your own author page. DON’T do this at the peak time for your own original author page posts— you don’t want to compete with those posts that are most important on your page.

Instead, schedule the someone-else’s-news shares for a couple hours after your peak time. You can get in the habit of posting regularly at that time as well, sharing other author’s news or writing about what books you are reading.

Third, make sure your major posts— the ones aimed at your true fans— regularly give information about on what genre you write and what your books are about. Instead of saying ‘Bell Tower’ got several new reviews, say ‘my murder mystery ‘Bell Tower’, or perhaps give your book’s storyline (One sentence summary. ‘My book Bell Tower, a story about a ballroom-dancing hunchback who is framed for the murder of a mime, got several new reviews today.

So many writers don’t do this, they use their book title as if everyone knows about that book. Bad move. Most people don’t, and some of the ones that do may forget. To win new readers, you need to keep that basic information out there.

If you still aren’t getting attention from any of your fellow authors, go nuclear. Read their books. Many authors frequently announce on their author page when a book of theirs is temporarily free in ebook form. When such an announcement is made, and the book is in a genre you are willing to read, download it, read the first chapter, and then, as a comment on the post when the author announced the free ebook thing, announce that you downloaded it, read the first chapter, and say something positive about it.

Since many of the authors who read your page are indie or small press authors concerned about their book sales, you will have won a friend, especially if you write a review on Amazon.com promptly after finishing.

The preceding seems like you will be spending more effort winning over other authors with Facebook pages than with pleasing your true fans. Effort-wise, that may be true, but your author page should look as if your main focus is pleasing the true fans. Because they are what your writing life is all about.


Stuff I read online:

Lifezette: Trump v. Clinton … and Bush by Laura Ingraham
Dave Dubrow: SJWs and Content Creators: Ideological Purity Required
GirlZombieAuthors: Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, The Reward

Get more visitors to your Facebook author page

facebook-like-iconSo, you have a Facebook author page. Your next task is to set about getting some visitors. Here are some ways to get started doing that.

  1.  Add original, quality wall posts daily/Mon-Fri. Original means stuff you wrote yourself, not shares of things from other people’s Facebook page. Quality? At minimum it should be correctly spelled, grammatical and understandable. Your blog posts, syndicated to your Facebook page, count. Other people’s blogs, memes, updates generally do not.
  2. If visitors comment, interact with them— comment back, at least with an emoticon or LOL, and ‘like.’ You want visitors to your page to feel like you are their friend.
  3. ‘Like’ other authors’ Facebook author pages AS YOUR PAGE. From time to time, share some of these pages on your wall with a comment or two about the author. You can also share them on Twitter. I have a list of FB author pages that you can use to get started. https://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com/facebook-author-pages/ More FB author pages will be added in time, so keep checking back.
  4. Interact with the Facebook author pages you have liked regularly. You can find the pages feed for your FB author page on the left side of the page under your profile pic, where it says ‘See Pages Feed.’ Read some of the pages, ‘like’ stuff, comment on stuff. Don’t overdo it by commenting on one page all the time, spread the love around.
  5. ‘Like’ and interact with other FB pages that relate to your genre, category or ‘brand.’ For example, a zombie fiction author might ‘like’ a few of the more active The Walking Dead fan pages, and interact there. If your fiction has a lot of conservative/libertarian political content, find a couple of related political FB pages and post some pithy comments there from time to time.
  6. Join some good FB writing groups. After you have interacted for a while, ask for the links to others’ FB author pages, suggesting that members can all ‘like’ one another’s pages. Be sure you do this on a day that you can keep checking back with the group so you can keep ‘liking’ pages.
  7. Be sure and ask your friends and family to ‘like’ your FB author page. That’s usually good for a few new ‘likes.’
  8. Be patient. Post original, quality content every day for a week and you may feel like no one notices. Do it for a month and your page may feel a little more interactive. Do it for a year, and who knows what might happen?

Don’t miss the next post in the series, ‘like’ my Facebook author page and be kept up-to-date. https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/

Seven Bad Ways to Help a Fellow Writer

writeitI think most writers agree that it is a good idea to help other writers out. Christian writers, following the teachings of Jesus Christ, would even want to help out those curmudgeonly writers who never help out other writers, following the Golden Rule: ‘Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.’ (Matthew 7:12 — NAB-RE translation)

But not all ways of helping other writers are, well, helpful. Some are not doing the person you help much good. Here are some ways that don’t help at all, and should be avoided.

Bad Help Type 1 — When asked for an honest opinion of a work, you give only flowery compliments— even though the work is filled with things that are clearly errors such as misspellings, misuse of apostrophes, grammar errors, incomprehensible sentences, and minor characters that are called by different names in different scenes. These sort of errors are not a matter of opinion and taste— they are things that the writer is asking you to tell him, by asking your opinion of the work. The right thing to do is to let the author know that there are problems in his work.

Bad Help Type 2 — When asked for an honest opinion of a work, you blast them with every blessed thing you think might be wrong with it, usually with more than a little sarcasm. No matter how many clear errors a writer has made, no matter how hopeless you think it is that this person ever write something publishable, you are not appointed by God to crush his dreams. Point out the problems in the work gently. Don’t let your own tastes in writing get in the way— if a writer writes an Amish romance and you personally can’t abide Amish romances, don’t take the genre and its conventions as a writing error! Tell the writer at least one positive thing about his novel, and suggest something he might do to improve his work.

Bad Help Type 3 — Imagine that a 13-year-old writer has finished a novel and is wondering about self-publishing, and asks your opinion. Even if the novel is pretty good, and not just pretty good for a 13-year-old, if that 13-year-old persists in writing, he will get good enough that by age 21 he will be embarrassed by that first publication. Young writers such as this should probably be submitting to ‘real’ publishers for a few years before venturing into the self-publishing world. Because the problem with self-publishing is that the first few things you publish are how the reading public is going to judge your work. You don’t want to be dragged down by a first publication that may seem pretty immature a few years down the line. The same holds, of course, for writers of any age who are taking their first ‘baby steps’ as a writer.

Bad Help Type 4 — ‘Doing for’ the other writer instead of doing it for himself. For example, your writer friend has a completed and edited version of his novel and after being turned down by the one publisher that would even consider conservative Catholic science fiction, wants to self-publish. But he doesn’t know how to format the manuscript for e-book. But instead of walking him through it, you snatch the manuscript, saying ‘here, I’ll do it.’ This is a different situation than if your granny wrote a memoir and needs help getting it into self-publication. This writer friend intends to be a professional. He needs to have a way to format his work for e-book by himself. (I’d recommend buying the writing software Scrivener. It formats your manuscript for e-book for you.)

Bad Help Type 5 — Writing a review of a fellow writer’s book without reading the book first. The writer in question needs reviews from people who are willing to actually read the book. Phony reviews— perhaps especially if they are 5 star reviews— tend to stand out. They don’t help your writer friend. And they don’t help your reputation as a reviewer either.

Bad Help Type 6 — Reviewing erotica or ‘erotic romance’.  People who insist on writing pornography are doing a wrong thing. They are throwing away their chance to be considered a real writer. I mean, even in our sex-mad corrupted culture, when have you heard of a book like ‘Trailer Park Trollops’ or ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ getting a National Book Award? Even if the person who wrote the book is a friend, you should not feel an obligation to read something offensive in order to review it.

Bad Help Type 7 — Passing on bad book promotion advice. I read once of a self-published book on how to write, self-publish, and promote a novel. It evidently suggested participating in the book forums on Amazon.com, writing 5 posts a day plugging your book. A reviewer of that book pointed out that self-promotion of books is not permitted on the Amazon.com forums. There is a lot of bad book-promoting advice out there generated by desperate self-published authors who know little about book promotion. Don’t spread the bad advice around.

I believe it is an important thing for writers to network with other writers. Even writers with Asperger’s Syndrome, like myself, who often don’t have the social skills that make networking easier for neurotypical writers. And we need to help other writers out. But only when the help given is actually helpful.