The Importance Of Minding One’s Manners On Social Media.

The choice between being either the low point or a bright spot in someone’s day isn’t so complicated.

I was motivated to write this post by an experience I had a few weeks ago.
I posted a question on a blog post by someone who presents himself as a successful and popular author.  He probably is, but his response to my question was quite scathing. When I explained why I hadn’t read every blog post he had posted, he was so rude that I took screen shots. Of course, he had no idea that I took screenshots, but it made me feel better because I had evidence to support my increasing dislike for him and his condescending attitude. Who did he think he was, anyway?
screenhunter_410-mar-asshat-identity-concealed.jpg
ScreenHunter_410 Mar Asshat Identity Concealed 2
(I’ve concealed his identity here because I don’t feel like getting sued or anything like that.)
At this point, I made a decision to never buy his books, nor to help promote or encourage him in any way. I suspect several others probably made the same decision. When a friend went to read the exchange between us, he had deleted the whole thing, so I am sure he realised it wasn’t a good look for him. I highly doubt that it might occur to him to apologise for his rudeness, but I will never know, because I had promptly unfollowed his blog, deleted him from my twitter feed and blocked him on all social media.

Sure, my question might not have been the brightest or best he’s ever read. Even so, his response was condescending and made me feel really low. Who needs that kind of negativity in their life? I certainly don’t.

As an author who uses social media to build a following and hopefully sell my books, I can confidently state this is the least desirable outcome from interacting with others.
There is a valuable lesson that, whatever our profession might be, we can all take from this: never, ever, be an asshat to someone on social media. It’s far too easy to damage a reputation or a brand that you’re trying to establish and promote.
The choice between being either the low point or a bright spot in someone’s day isn’t so complicated. If people ask a question about your book, your blog, or your dog’s hind leg, simply be thankful they are interested enough to ask. Engage with them. Being friendly doesn’t cost anything, nor does it mean you have to pledge eternal friendship.
You will walk away with your integrity and your potential readership intact, if not a little more loyal towards you. As a writer, you can’t put a price tag on that.
*My original working title for this post was, in fact, “Why One Should Never Be An Asshat On Social Media”. I tidied it up a little. You’re most welcome. 

The Basics: Why Spelling and Punctuation Matter.

Make sure you’re sending the message you actually want to send to your audience, every time.

d-school-letter-grade
For the first time in a long time, I’ve recently abandoned reading a book. I’m usually fairly persistent, but I couldn’t get past the second chapter. It’s so full of basic errors, I’d be giving any of my students who wrote it a D.  That book – any book – has no business being for sale on any platform, Indie or otherwise, until it has been properly edited and corrected.

If I had a dollar for every time I have face-palmed over glaring errors of spelling, word choice or punctuation in someone else’s social media posts, I would be considerably richer than I am today.

As people who promote ourselves as writers, it’s crucial that we don’t make those mistakes.

I’m not talking about the occasional typo, and I’m not talking about the type of formatting error that can happen to absolutely anyone when converting a book to eBook format. I’m talking about really basic errors – missing punctuation, terrible sentence structure, shocking spelling. Of course, not differentiating correctly between “your” and “you’re” is always going to frustrate people. There will always be people who put apostrophes where they don’t belong and omit them where they are needed. The same is true for commas.

It boils down to the issue of credibility. If I cannot correctly construct a sentence to encourage people to buy my book, what is going to make people believe I could possibly write a whole book? A writer should be able to communicate their ideas and messages clearly and effectively, without frustrating the reader or making their eyes bleed.

Quite honestly, if someone’s social media posts are full of errors, I’m not going to be buying their book. I’m not even going to put my hand up for a free copy. And it’s not going to change my mind if people laugh it off and say, “It’s just Facebook… relax!”

I may be called judgemental  or overly critical. That’s okay.
As a reader and a frequent buyer of books, I’m entitled to be.
As a writer, nothing less should be expected.

proofreadingIf we want people to believe that Indie books are just as good as traditionally published books, we have to make sure they are. We must edit, and have them edited, as professional authors. We must promote both ourselves and our books as engaging, intelligent, and literate.  The example we set on social media is part of that, because that’s where we hope to find readers.

Please, folks, for credibility’s sake – in the interests of your own integrity – proof-read all your posts. Make sure you’re sending the message you actually want to send to your audience, every time.

Great Hashtags for Indie Authors

Following my previous post about how to use hashtags effectively, I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a list of hashtags that work well for Indie authors.

Hashtag_exampleMy aim in this post is not to give you every hashtag that writers use, but to provide you with a functional list of the most common, and therefore the most valuable.

 

 

Hashtags for connecting with other authors:

 

  • #AmWriting
  • #AmEditing
  • #WordCount
  • #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
  • #WritersLife
  • #PoetTues
  • #IndieAuthors
  • #NaNoWriMo
  • #WritingPrompt
  • #Creativity
  • #WIP (work in progress)
  • #WritersBlock
  • #WritingTips
  • #WriteTip
  • #WritersTellMe
  • IndieAuthorsBeSeen

Hashtags for identifying and connecting with other bloggers: 

  • #blog
  • #blogger
  • #blogging
  • #bloggerswanted
  • #bloggersrequired

Hashtags for connecting by genre:

 

  • #Romancehashtags_o_2430667
  • #SciFi
  • #KidLit
  • #PNR  (Paranormal Romance)
  • #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
  •  #MemoirChat
  • #FlashFic
  • #Romance
  • #Horror
  • #FanFic
  • #YA
  • #History
  • #Poetry

Hashtags for connecting with publishing colleagues:

  • #GetPublished
  • #BookMarket
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PromoTip
  • #SelfPublishing
  • #SelfPub
  • #Publishing
  • #AskAgent
  • #AskAuthor
  • #AskEditor
  • #EBooks
  • #IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)
  • #BookMarketing
  • #PubTip

Hashtags for connecting with readers:

  • #books
  • #bookworm
  • #FridayReads
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #MustRead
  • #ReadingList
  • #WorthReading
  • WhatToRead
  • #StoryFriday
  • #TeaserTues
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #free
  • #kindle
  • #nook
  • #iBooks
  • bookslover
  • bookspecials
  • bookpost
  • IndieBooks
  • IndieBooksBeSeen

Hashtags for Instagram only:

  • #writersofinstagram
  • #readersofinstagram
  • #poetsofinstagram
  • writerscommunity
  • #readers

Your own hashtag:

In addition to these, you can also make a hashtag for your own book or brand.

However, if you’re going to do this, make sure it’s unique to you or your book so that you don’t get lost in a haze of brand confusion.

You can see here that #jvlpo was good, but not good enough.

ScreenHunter_416 Apr. 12 15.39

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, #jvlpoet was completely unique to me. I did this same search on both Twitter and Google when deciding on my domain name, jvlpoet.com.

ScreenHunter_417 Apr. 12 15.39

 

How To Avoid Hashtag Hell.

Many people still wonder how to use  #hashtags effectively.

Hashtags can be enormously helpful in getting your message or product seen by more people on social media.
However, if not used the right way, they can easily turn into a millstone around your social media neck.
Today I’m offering a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way, in the hope of clarifying when and how to use hashtags to your advantage.

ON TWITTER     

  1. Keep it simple.
    Use up to four key hashtags ScreenHunter_416 Apr. 11 14.46per tweet.
    This way, your message is not overwhelmed by hashtags, and your tweet will look clean and uncluttered.
  2. Keep it relevant.
    Occasionally I might add another specific hashtag if my tweet is relevant to a specific event that is going on.

    For example, during Women’s History Month in March, I added either #CelebratingWomen or #WomensHistoryMonth to my tweets that were relevant – but not to all of them.

    Adding those tags to a post about spelling or writer’s block simply wouldn’t be appropriate, and would definitely look opportunistic rather than professional.

    Similarly, given that April is #NationalPoetryMonth, I’ve added that to my tweets inviting people to read my poetry on my blog, but not to the ones where I’m offering advice to authors learning to use social media.

  3. Keep it useful.

    Using hashtags that nobody is looking for is a waste of time and effort.

    Using the search bar near your profile menu and Tweet button, you can type in key words to see which hashtags are the most popular.

    ScreenHunter_413 Apr. 11 13.29

    The hashtags that come up will change as you keep typing – see from the illustration here the difference between typing ‘book’ and ‘bookw’.

    ScreenHunter_413 Apr. 11 13.30             ScreenHunter_415 Apr. 11 13.31

    This is a handy way to see what is most popular among the relevant terms that you could choose from.

ON INSTAGRAM AND TUMBLR
2017-04-11 13.54.31

  1. Keep it organised.
    Comment on your image or video, give your website or link, then use hashtags. It keeps things tidy, easy to read, and attractive to the eye.

    It also means that even when the feed condenses your post, people see the most important things first – your content, your message, and your website.

  2. Keep it useful.
    You can use more hashtags on Instagram or Tumblr, as this helps new people find your content.  You can use up to ten, but no more. Nobody wants half their feed taken up by dozens of hashtags that look as though they were chosen by a rabid squirrel who just couldn’t stop.
    2017-04-11 13.50.18
    As you are typing on Instagram, using a hash symbol # will cause tags to come up in a list as you type. Instagram is handy in that it gives you feedback on how many times that tag has been used. Here, #poems is good, but #poetry is way better so that’s the one I chose to use.
  3. Keep it relevant.
    Don’t use the most popular hashtag of the hour if it’s not related to the content of your post. Use the tags that will find the best audience for your content: those most likely to be interested.
    2017-04-11 13.50.31
    Once again, Instagram’s numbers on how many times a tag has been used are really helpful here. It can help you choose between terms like “writer” and “writersofinstagram” to get greater reach for your post.
  4. What seems convenient isn’t always best. 

    It can be really tempting to send your post from Instagram to all your other social media accounts.  However, that’s not always the best thing to do.

    Don’t share directly from Instagram to Twitter unless you’re under that 140 character limit.
    A longer message will get cut off, leaving your tweet looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. Nobody wants that.

    Don’t share directly from Instagram to Facebook if you want your post to look professional. A bunch of hashtags look completely out of place on Facebook. They’re not really needed there at all.

737f57eed5461fb1c11cc1d318708671_hashtag-memes-facebook-meme-hashtag_311-311

 

 

The Value Of Commenting On A Blog.

Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.

blogging

Something many people don’t understand is the value of leaving a comment on a blog.

It’s easy to read a post and move on, and even easier to like a blog post without reading it.

But stop and think for a moment. How much more valuable to the writer, and other readers, if you actually bothered to respond. Isn’t that what you’d hope for when writing your next blog post? Nobody wants to invest time in writing something that people are just going to skim over.

Not only that, but you will gain more from the post and from the interaction with others than you realise.

You might gain new ideas or perspectives, or you might just end up feeling a little better about life.

It doesn’t have to be a long or complicated post. Even just saying “thank you” or “I liked this!” does the trick.


However, commenting on a blog post is more useful than just propping up the ego of some blogger who hopes to be discovered one day.

Leaving a comment on a blog post doesn’t have to take more than five seconds, but it can make a huge difference to the blogger by helping them, and whatever they have to say, to become more “discoverable”. 

Leaving a comment on a blog directly affects the ranking and therefore the visibility of that blog on both the platform – such as WordPress or Blogger – and consequently on the web. Rankings and visibility affect which posts are chosen to be featured on the highlights pages of blogging platforms, such as the ‘Discover’ page on WordPress which pick up the posts that have had the most interaction and engagement, not just the ones with the most likes or views.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 09 19.40

One of the author support groups on Facebook to which I belong has been conducting an experiment over the past few weeks. We’ve made a deliberate effort to read, like and comment on a selected blog post by each of the others.

Those posts have consistently attracted more viewers beyond that initial group. These new viewers also seem more willing to read, like, and comment. This boosts the visibility of the individual post and of the blog overall, and helps to attract even more viewers.

In short, it’s a highly valuable snowball effect in drawing attention to both the post and the blog. 

Let’s face it. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to do for someone.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Why You Should Always Have A Pinned Post.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any other social media where you can pin a post, you should.

Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Whether on Twitter or Facebook, or any ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.29
other social media where you can pin a
post, you should.  Frankly, I’m surprised
at how many people don’t.

Here’s why.

It is an immediate way for people to see what you’re about – your book, your favourite charity, an upcoming event, social justice issues, whatever it is. 

It also serves as an easy way for people to share your posts and get your message out to even more people. Some of those people will share your interest, and either share your post or follow you. Some will do both. 

In short, it’s a great way to get more attention with minimal effort. 

If you have a good number of new followers on a regular basis, you can change your pinned post each week or each month to give followers and “click-throughs” something new to share on your behalf. 

It’s also a great way to get feedback on the effectiveness of your post.

The stats at the bottom of a pinned tweet tell me how many replies, shares and likes that post has had. Clicking on the little graph icon at the far right gives you even more detail about how far your post has travelled.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 07 15.32

It can get you more followers and more shares. 

There’s another thing to consider, too. If people click through to your profile and all you have is shares or retweets, they can easily decide you don’t have original thoughts to share and lose interest. Given that they’ve been interested enough to click through to your profile, that’s probably a bunch of shares and prospective followers that you’ve missed out on. 

To pin a post is easy.

On both Twitter profiles and Facebook pages, each post has a little down arrow at the top right-hand side. Click that, and choose “pin etc”.

That will remain your pinned post, and always appear at the top of your profile, until you choose to pin something else there. 

 

 

 

How To Write A Bestseller.

The question I hear most from aspiring authors is, “How do I write a bestseller?”

The question I hear most from aspiring authors is, “How do I write a bestseller?”

My answer is always the same: “You can’t. Nobody can do that. All you can do is write the story you want to write in the best way that you can. What happens after that is up to the audience.”

It’s a sad fact of life for writers, but there’s no proven formula for producing a best-seller.
J.K. Rowling must hear that question an awful lot too – that’s my assumption, but when you see an American news service running headlines like “JK Rowling gives ‘words of wisdom’ to emerging writers” you can safely bet that she’s answered the question a few times.

Her advice is good. Write what you’re passionate about. Don’t be discouraged by rejection. Keep going. Make it as good as it can be. And then keep going some more.

To that, I would add: Make sure you’ve got your word choices, punctuation, and paragraphing right. Don’t settle for a mediocre cover. And don’t be afraid to go Indie and self-publish: that’s how Charles Dickens and Walt Whitman started out, too.

In fact, some of the very best books I’ve read over the last 12 months have been Indie books. I honestly believe that people who dismiss Indie books as “not good enough” are missing out on some of the best books available.

If you’re an aspiring author, listen to advice from those who know.

It can be disheartening. I can be really hard, even when you know you have put a great book out there, and people don’t seem to be catching on that you’re a literary genius. These things take time.  But if you keep going when others give up, sooner or later, someone is going to notice you and, even more importantly, your book.

ScreenHunter_411 Apr. 05 18.24

 

National Poetry Month.

Since 1996, April has been a month of celebration of poetry, which also means a celebration of great poets.

I’m all for that.

National Poetry Month 2Since 1996, April has been a month of celebration of poetry, which also means a celebration of great poets.

I’m all for that.

Many people haven’t read any poetry since they were in school. I’d really like to see that change.  There are some beautiful classic poems out there, but there are also some fabulous poets writing magnificent poetry these days, too.

The real power of poetry is the ability to read something and understand someone else’s perspective in a beautiful, profound way. I can read something someone has written from the depths of their heart, and relate to it and know that I’m not the only person who ever feels that way. I write in the hope that someone will read my poetry and have that same experience.

Who of us hasn’t been moved by the powerful words in a song? And what’s a song except poetry that has been given music?

I encourage you to pick up some poetry and read it today. There’s plenty to choose from on my WordyNerdBird Writes blog, which you can read for free.

Or you could pick up one of these great books by clicking on the title link. There’s nothing priced over $3 for the eBook among them. That’s less than a cup of coffee each… bargain!

promo nova cover                    leaf cover image

Nova                                                  Leaf

Promo Stained Glass Cover                         Lyra Shanti Sediments

Stained Glass                                   Sediments

Denise Dianaty The Dance Plays On                    Kevin Cowdall Assorted Bric-a-Brac

The Dance Plays On                  Assorted Bric-a-brac

Shelby Leigh It Starts Like This

It Starts Like This

140 Characters

Inspired by Kyra Leary, I’m going to add a new regular feature to my posts here.
The “Top 140” will feature the best of what I find when trawling twitter.

You’ll thank me. You’ll want to follow them, too!

PS: If you’re on twitter, follow @jvlpoet and @LearyKyra. They’ll brighten your day. Honestly.

Libro Illustrato by Kyra

What would you do if your universe only had 140 characters? I’m not talking about characters from a novel, play or movie. I’m talking this…

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51 characters. A swat at the keyboard and BAM – 51 characters.

This universe I speak of is called Twitter. Oh you don’t tweet? I understand. It’s not easy. It’s an art form that many minds just cannot comprehend.

For example, you might want to tell the world about your trip to Italy so you boot up your laptop, log into Twitter and type:

My 2 week trip to Italy. In Florence I saw the Statue of David. Next we went to Rome and waited in line for 3 hours just to enter the Coloss…

I’m sorry, your 140 characters have been depleted.

Tweeting makes you think. It forces you to condense your life into meaningful little morsels instead of long-winded mush.

Indie authors…

View original post 235 more words

Stained Glass

Promo Stained Glass Cover

I’ve just released an eBook titled ‘Stained Glass’.

‘Stained Glass’ is a collection of 22 poems for and
about women, by a woman who is striving to live,
love, work and make sense of the world she lives in.

‘Stained Glass’ is poetry that reflects the light and shade of life, and all the colours in between.

The poems celebrate the strength and extraordinary resilience of women through the exploration of diverse issues, including love, loss, social expectations, self-awareness and personal integrity.
In rare moments the glass is rose-coloured; elsewhere, the window is astonishingly clear.
There are 7 brand new poems in this collection.
Some of these poems – roughly one-third – are in ‘Leaf’, and others – another third – are in ‘Nova’.
‘Stained Glass’ will be permanently priced at 99c, and is available on AmazoniBookskobo and other digital stores.