Monday, September 29, 2014

Is Social Media Worth It?

Good Morning. Yes, this is another post about the dreaded question -- is social media worth our time and energy? Janice Hardy over on Fiction University had a guest last Thursday, Dario Ciriello, author, and owner of Panverse Press. His topic was social media presence for writers.

To paraphrase... (But you really should go read the article. And the comments.)

He said:
This core assumption is reinforced by agents, publishers, publicists, and other authors. Some agents won’t even take on a new client unless that writer has a Facebook following of at least 500 and a Twitter following in excess of 5,000. At minimum, you also need a website; but you should also blog, guest blog, and have a Pinterest page for your each of your books, right? 

He said:
"...there are two things—and just two—that will meet your readership’s core needs and leave you with far more time and energy to write: a website and an email list."

I agree. My website is my blog is my newsletter. I've been here nearly five years. People know where to find me. I stuck the email-this-blog-to-your-inbox-thingie on my sidebar. (I wish I knew how many people actually did it. I'm sure there's an analytics tab or something to find out.) However, if readers/fans want to know me better they can follow me if they want to. No pressure.

He said:
"Does your social media presence sell any books? What's the conversion rate, the ROI (Return on Investment), in terms of books sold? I'm not advocating others who enjoy social media abandon point is simply that I believe that in terms of actual marketing and book sales, the ROI is at the very least hard to measure; frankly, I think it's minimal... As far as I can tell, there's zero empirical evidence that the time writers spend on social media brings returns in terms of book sales.

And do any of us put a $ value on our time ? We should. Because if, as I suspect, one gets one sale for every dozens of hours spent blogging or on social media.... well, at that point we might be better off advertising or hiring a publicist. :)

Which is why I like Twitter. I'm on, I'm off. Quick. When I see friends or colleagues on Twitter, it's like running into them at the coffee shop. Sometimes 420 characters is all you need. My biggest regret of late has been neglecting to comment on other blogs. 

Unfortunately, I think that's the cruelest trick of them all. We start out on social media, build a friendship, a base, and then once we get "famous/comfortable/an agent/contract/publisher" we abandon them. We don't have time for them because we're working hard on the next book and the next and the next. 

He said:
Say you spend just an hour a day (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt) on Facebook, Twitter, your writing blog, etc. In a year that amounts to around 350 hours, which is the equivalent of ten thirty-five-hour weeks. And this doesn’t even address the effect that regularly fragmenting one’s time and attention has on the creative mind. 

If we want our work to be seen and read, we must hawk our own wares sometime. Who else is going to do it? I'm not advocating 35 hours a week, but at least 10. Quality, not quantity.

I Tweet in spurts. When I have time and the laptop, I'm more apt to make an appearance. Yes, I do Tweet about my latest book releases. But so what. Everybody else does too. Even those people who tell us not to do it. But how else are readers supposed to hear of it? (I don't think I'm obnoxious about it.) And besides, we can't all do commercials on TV like James Patterson.

I blog on Sunday (Anne Gallagher) and Monday (Piedmont Writer). I write my posts on Friday nights. I gather my topics during the course of the week and spend the late afternoon getting it all together. 

I'm on Goodreads, LinkedIn, and yes, I do have Pinterest boards for all my books. I like them. But I don't frequent the these places, and for the most part they're just static.

He said:
My issue with writers blogging, spending time on writer sites, and all the rest, is that other writers are typically not our audience. Yes, there are things to be learned, but I think the writer's business is to write. There must come a time when one has a good command of one's craft, understands the basics of markets, formatting, etc., etc., and really, how informed does a writer need to be? 

I also agree "...that other writers are typically not our audience."

However, here's my caveat. 

I spend most of my time alone. In a room, in the basement, with spiders. Sometimes I just need some contact with the "outside" world to reassure myself

a) I'm not alone.
b) I'm a writer. 
c) Somewhere in the world, someone else is doing the exact same thing I am. 

Which is why I'm in the basement in the first place. My family just doesn't understand my need for solitude.

I love my "job". I cannot imagine going back into the restaurant business. (Not at my age. Unless the pay was phenomenal.) Writing is what I have always wanted to do, and now I'm doing it. 

I've tried to not be social. I've gone into my cave and not come out for months. It didn't make a dent one way or another in my sales. So whether I'm on it or off it, it doesn't make a difference to the ROI.

However, in not being social I missed some things (blogs, articles, book releases, news) that I probably wanted to hear. I guess you have to trade one for the other. 

These days, I'm with Mr. Ciriello. Less is actually more. And if there's no ROI, then why bother wasting your time. However, it's a good idea to be seen occasionally. Besides, you might meet a new friend.

Tell me -- What do you do for social media? If you're published, do you think it has a Return on Investment? 

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

I Have Been Writing

Stephen Summerville
Good Morning. I have been writing. With gusto, and zeal, and non-stoppedness. I added 13K to #Summerville last week. (If you missed me on Twitter, I posted my word count every couple of hours.) I also wrote and delivered a short infomercial for the PTO meeting last Thursday night. (I volunteer at Monster's school as the Gift Card Coordinator, hence the PTO.) For this job I wrote a new order form, a "we regret to inform you, your services will no longer be needed" letter, and a four page outline for the Oversight Committee report I have to file by October 1.

I'm also working on a short "lecture" series for my other blog Anne Gallagher Regency Romance Writer. I
 discuss how I wrote my series, and things I learned along the way. I don't know if you're thinking about a series, but we're all writers. Take a look, maybe I missed something. Add your experience.

I have to tell you, though, I am loving working on this new book, The Seduction of Mr. Summerville. I can't remember when I've ever been so in love with my characters. Bella is so deliciously bad, and Arianna is so not. Stephen and Edward are ready to kill each other, Reginald wants to kill Olivia, while she's laughing her ass off in the corner watching Reginald's downfall all play out. And Constance remains in hysterics. It's such a soap opera. Which is why I have such a high word count. I hate to leave it.

I have also been cleaning my house, rearranging furniture. Last weekend, I flipped part of the living room to make room for the dining room. Yesterday, I flipped my office into the dining room. The living room went into the den. I swear that has been the catalyst for my sudden efficiency with a pen. Keyboard. Whatever.

Okay here's the thing... I have been so sick since I came back from vacation. I've had pneumonia, and bronchitis, and sinus infections that two doses of antibiotics couldn't get rid of. So they gave me these horsepills full of some kind of penicillan, and corticosteroids. I have been high as a kite since last Monday. Is it any wonder why I stayed up until well passed my bed-time working. And then tossing and turning when I finally did force myself to lay down. Whew. Three days on speed. Yeehah. I couldn't take it any more. That stuff was messing with my head. And I had to give a speech to the PTO at large.

(My infomercial was a huge hit. Several people said they hadn't realized how funny I actually was.)

I have also been cleaning my files and folders and saw all my other projects in the contemporary romance realm of my writing, which has long been neglected. I have several that I'd like to finish up, and publish this spring. If I can. I have no idea what they even look like now, which is good, in a way, fresh eyes and all. So it should be quick. But I'd like to get my personal "back-list" off my back, clear out some of my old files before I buy a new computer. (Goes with moving the office.)

Anyway, I am feeling much better, now that I stopped taking the steroids. At least I can sleep. However, I haven't been able to get back to Summerville since Friday. It's a shame too. Bella and Stephen were finally going to have their confrontation conversation.

Tell me -- Do you think physicality improves your writing? Have you been writing? Have you been moving furniture? What are you working on?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Frenzy of a New Book

Good Morning. Sorry I'm late to the party, but I've been very ill. I can't seem to shake this whatever it is I have. All I know is that it's sucking the life out of me.

However, I've also been writing like a maniac again for the last book in the Reluctant Grooms series. I'm hoping to have it out by Christmas, with the first draft finished by the end of September.

Ha, you say, how are you going to do that?

Well, by not cleaning my house for one. Being sick makes it easy to leave everything but the kitchen and bathroom. Am I right?

Also, by finding other people to take my place volunteering at school. At least for a couple of days.

And by telling Monster, she has to forage for her own food. (Okay, maybe not really forage, but you get the gist.)

I have to tell you, I have not had so much fun writing a new book in a long time. I can't quite put my finger on why though. Is it because it's the last one and I'm excited it's almost over? Is the plot for this one better than all the others? Is the happy ever after going to be better?

I don't know. I think it might be because it IS the last one, I get to really do it up, clown around, use crazy plot devices and tricks, and the characters are just having a ball. So much so, I hate to close up the computer at the end of the day.

Tell me -- How do you feel about starting a new book? Is it a chore, or does it make you cartwheel?

Oh, and I never announced that LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING, and THE LADY'S SECRET are out and available across all channels. I announced it on Twitter last week, but I don't think I ever made it to the blog.

Amazon/ NOOK KOBO itunesUS Smashwords

 Just in case you wanted to take a look.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Best Layed Plans

Good Morning. I thought the title of this post would get your attention. It's about misspelled words, or homonyms if you will. You see, while I was on vacation, I read like a maniac. New York authors who make the big bucks and have tons of editors. And I found several misspelled words. (Which was kind of fun in a weird OMG kind of way.)

...Jimmy slid the car around the corner, I think we were doing seventy by then, and when he saw the train, slammed on the breaks... (brakes)

...The huge cat beared its teeth, and we all froze... (bared)

I know I should not point out the mistakes in others, but I'm a writer. Hey, it's what I do.

Imagine my horror, when I sent my latest novella to my critique partner and she pointed out these little beauties...

If Edward thought about Arianna in any possible light, Bella was sure to distinguish the flame. (extinguish)

There was no reason for him to be hurt in such a manor. (manner)

Ewww, I said. Just ewww. I should have known better, but I was in writing mode, fast and furious trying to finish the book so I could enjoy my vacation. Yes, I did read it over before I sent it off, but I think because I wrote it, and had read it 20,000 times already, I just didn't see it.

Can we say the same about New York authors? I don't know. Don't they have gatekeepers, people who check and double check? Or does New York not care anymore if the author makes the company a bazillion dollars a year?

Which begs the question -- why should self-published authors care about that kind of thing if New York doesn't?

My answer is -- because we should. Because we have the "stigma" of being self-published and even today with the rise of ebooks in popularity, we should put out the best product we can.

Tell me -- Have you ever cringed when reading one of those? What are some of your best misspelled words?

Happy Labor Day!

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

PS -- If you'd like to see what I've been working on over vacation you can find it here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

Good Morning. Today is Monster's first official day of school. Yay! 4th grade. I cannot believe how time is flying. Over the summer, I finished writing two novellas, and started the last novel of the series. Again I say Yay!

I also learned a few things and as with every beginning of every school year, I have written the requisite WHAT I LEARNED ON MY SUMMER VACATION essay.

1. After five years I finally had all the elements of creating perfect meals, gas stove, gas grill, farmer market organic vegetables and locally caught seafood. I indulged a few times and realized playing with food is a creative talent that I should indulge in more often. Unfortunately, without people to eat said food, it's not worth it to cook. Half of it went down to the beach for the sea gulls.

2. I way over-packed, including extra shoes, dresses, and beach cover-ups, however, wore the same 3 outfits the entire time I was there. (out of the 8 pair of shorts I brought with me, only two still fit. I've gained back all the weight I lost before I left so I could fit into those shorts. Ironic, or sad, either way.) (As for the dresses, I thought I might meet someone and have like a date. Uh, what in god's name was I thinking.)

3. Five weeks is too long to be away from home. I missed my bed, I missed my animals (3 dogs and a cat) I worried that by the time I got back all my houseplants would be dead (which they weren't thankfully). You can only go to the beach so many times before it gets boring (and you get sun poisoning -- which I did the first day we were there -- and then again the last week we were there). I also did not realize that the more I shopped, the less room we would have in the car on the way home. Needless to say, I have to return to Pennsylvania to my brother's to pick stuff up.

4. I read more while I'm on vacation. Truthfully, this is the first time I've read in about two years. I used to read a book a day, almost 6 per week before I began writing. Now I don't read at all. And I can honestly say that New York editors aren't all that. Nora Roberts had typos. In all three books I read. And she used the wrong character's names. And had grammar issues. And run on sentences. And long boring paragraphs of useless description. And she used adverbs and adjectives so much I thought I was at a circus. What that taught me is, A) she's either a very crappy writer, B) New York doesn't care as long as she keeps bringing in the big bucks C) rules are totally meant to be broken.

5. Writing is something that I must do quietly. I tried to write in places people were not meant to write in. I tried to write in bed. I tried to write at the beach. I tried to write in the bathroom. I got nothing but frustration. So I gave up. And then lo and behold, a beautiful day presented itself. Monster went to the beach with the kids across the street. I set the laptop out on the deck, and bam, just like that hit 3000 words. I took a break in the afternoon, and added another 2000. As I looked everything over at sunset, I heard Amazing Grace being played by bagpipes. Yes. Bagpipes on the beach at sunset and 5000 words. I would have to say that was the best writing day I've ever had.

So yes, cooking, sun tanning, beach going, reading, shopping, writing, all the elements of a wonderful vacation.

So why do I feel so drained. I need a vacation from my vacation.

Tell me --  How was your summer? Did you go away? Did you get any writing done? What did you do?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Lady's Secret is Finished

Where I am going to sit for the next 5 days and
burn to a crisp
Good Morning. For those of you who keep track, my last novella for my series is finished. I worked on it for 12 hours yesterday, and wrote the end last night at 7:39 pm. It came in at 44,378 words.You must think I'm nuts to do something like this and I am, but I was on a roll. My vacation ends Saturday and I wanted to actually be able to spend time and enjoy it, so I pushed myself to finish it. Besides Monster has been camping all weekend with my brother and his family so I had no one asking "Can we go to the beach?" every five minutes.

I'm very excited about this little book. It has a lot of good stuff in it if I do say so myself. Evil sisters, Prince Charmings (2 actually), wicked father (sorry, no step-parents in this one), intrigue, sexual tension, oops, sorry, we're calling that desire and longing these days. What's cool about this novella is that I've tied it into the other novella LADY OLIVIA'S UNDOING. If you read one, you'll see elements of the other in it and vice versa. It's pretty clever if I do say so myself. And these are the pre-quels to the last novel in the series.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that, and now I'm going to enjoy the last 5 days of my vacation. Because as you know, it's been a doozy so far.

And if you don't follow me on Twitter, you should. @gallagher_anne

I've been having a lot of one-sided conversations with myself. It'd be nice to talk to people.

Tell me -- Have you ever worked like a maniac to finish a book/book/novel/story? Did you bum ever fall asleep while you wrote? (That was my challenge -- my bum kept falling asleep)

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

I Have Been Dreaming

Good Morning. As I clicked the "schedule" for this post, I saw that I only have TWO weeks left to vacation, instead of THREE! OMG, where does the time go. And, as I watched the morning news, the weather lady said Tropical Storm Bertha will be on our doorstep within the next couple of days. I do not want to tell Monster that she may not get in any beach time until later in the week.

45 ft. down -- at the Coast Guard Station
Point Judith, Rhode Island

Anyway, I have been dreaming. During the night, as it were, not day - of which I am generally most fond. My dreams at night have been mind-blowing to say the least. I have not had such "real" dreams in a very long time. You know, the kind where you do NOT want to wake up from. The kind you wish you could live in forever. The kind, when you do finally wake up you roll over once more to see if you can get back into it, but to no avail, and then you feel like crying because the life you had in your dream was sooo muchhhhh betterrrrr than the one you are currently living in.

Yeah, those kind of dreams.

The first dream was in answer to a question I had asked myself before trying to sleep. I had just finished reading a book (contemporary romance) where the male protagonist was hot. Soooo hot. I liked the book very much, I liked the writing very much, I liked the male character (and the female MC, but this is not about her). Anyway, as I drifted off to sleep that night, I asked myself the questions -- Why can't I write a character like him? What is the secret? How do I get my writing to THAT place?

Ellis -- love him
So, I slept. And in my dream I was with my character Ellis Smith, Marquess of Haverlane from THE LADY'S FATE. Yeah, I know kind of wacked, but go with me. This book was the first novel in the series that I had published. It is, however, not the FIRST book in the series it is in actuality, the THIRD.

However, it has always been my best seller. Even when I have published other novels THE LADY'S FATE has always managed to outsell anything else. And I have always wondered why.

In my dream that night, the answer finally came to me. I was in love with Ellis when I wrote the book. Totally, irrevocably smitten. I had his image so clearly in my mind during every single scene that I wrote, I couldn't help it.
(Mind you, I had only ever seen the actor from this picture once, in a British drama about a zillion years ago, and even though he's quite famous now, I still can't tell you his name.) He's always been Ellis to me.

I also loved Violet as I wrote it, not in that way, but as a writer who's dug deep from the recesses of her own memory and imprinted her feelings onto the page through her character. (wow, that was kind of deep for me.) Anyway, as I was BEING Violet, and falling IN LOVE with Ellis as I was WRITING, I guess it made an impression on the pages. Hence, the obvious outselling other of my novels.

When I awoke from this rather bizarre dream, and as the answer clicked into place, that made me think about my other stories -- why they sell, or don't, and how I felt about the characters as I wrote each of them. Was I in love with them as well? I can honestly say, yes. And no, some not so much.

However, what's really weird, is -- each of the leading male characters from my other novels is based on a man I have known and loved at some point during my life. In each of the stories, each of them has the flaw that broke us up in real life to one extent or another. (I'm a writer who draws from her experiences) EXCEPT FOR ELLIS. He is totally and without reservation, completely made up.

Mind blowing isn't it? Well, maybe not to you, but it certainly was to me.

Perhaps I need to go on vacation more often? Or just eat pistachio ice cream before going to bed.

Tell me -- Do you ever dream about your characters? Do they speak to you? Give you the answers to questions you didn't even know you wanted? Or do they generally leave you alone?

Anne Gallagher (c) 1014