Book Review: The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

I had been hearing about the birthing pains of The Art of Social Media for some time. Peg went to school with my husband and as a result is one of my Facebook friends so I’ve been able to vicariously watch the book’s progress as it developed. Of course, I was intrigued.

art of socialAs a little bit of author background, Guy was the special adviser to the CEO of the Motorola business at Google. Peg is a social-media strategist and director of digital media for Kreussler Inc. Both of these people live and breathe social media and they know their stuff.

A few weeks back, I reviewed a book on social media specifically for writers. It was a good non-overwhelming start into the basics of what a writer needs to do in order to be visible on the internet. The Art of Social Media is the next step. It’s what you need to do to take your social media presence beyond basic and to the next level.

The Art of Social Media is organized into 123 tips for marketing and promoting what it is you want to “sell” using Social Media. As writers, and as writers who fervently desire to be published, you’re going to need to know this information at some point, so pay attention.

Peg and Guy have many effective suggestions and tips based from actual experience. In fact, there are so many suggestions that you might feel like you’ll never have enough time to do your social media, as well as do your writing.

But here’s the thing, you don’t have to do it all. You need to pick and choose what will work best for your platform and don’t do what won’t. To that end, you need to know what’s out there to use because as we all know, you can’t use it if you don’t know about it. Peg and Guy do an outstanding job of explaining what tools are available and how best to use and manage them. Some of the tips are common sense (or at least should be) like “Don’t Swear.” Other tips give you a bit more to chew on, like the tips for managing Pinterest and SlideShare.

The book was originally written as an ebook that contained many hyperlinks (up to 6 on a page) that if clicked, will automatically take you to the reference on the internet. This obviously doesn’t translate well to a hardcopy. Although it would be fairly easy to locate the links (using searches and going to websites) for some this might be an unforgivable annoyance. If that’s you, purchase the ebook and stay away from the hardcopy.

Chapter 12, though, ties everything together and, in my humble opinion, is worth the price of the hardcopy just so that you can have the list in front of you. It’s titled “How to put everything together.” In the chapter the authors spell out what needs to be done for a non-fiction book release, starting with Building the Foundation, Amassing your Digital Assets and then Going to Market. It is a detailed step-by-step online marketing plan.

Here’s another tip, this very same plan could also be used for a fiction book, a series of magazine articles, or virtually any product you’ve created that you want to sell to the world. That chapter is a gold mine for anyone who plans to self-market.

If you tried to use every tool in the book, I’m afraid that you might be spending too much of your time doing social media and not your writing, however, if you followed some of the guidelines, especially those for sharing blog posts on various platforms and cleaning up your biographies – you’d pretty much be guaranteed to increase your numbers.

And like it or not, in the end it’s your numbers that potential publishers will find truly impressive.

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Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

 

#CrimeBake Report

Two weeks ago I was on the verge of co-chairing the New England Crime Bake. My other co-chair was Steve Ulfelder, a wonderful writer and an even better guy. I thought I would report back. Here are my random thoughts on how it went, what I learned, and why this all volunteer run conference works.

Picture by Marian Lanouette

Picture by Marian Lanouette

First, if you are going to have a conference, make sure the Guest of Honor rocks. S/he should have time for everyone, a big smile, and a great personality. An excellent bonus is if they are are good writer. Let me give you a suggestion–choose Craig Johnson. He couldn’t be nicer, is a wonderful writer, tells great stories, and was nice to everyone he met. Boy Howdy, did that make it all a lot easier.

Second, you can never be too prepared for an interview. On Saturday during lunch I did an author interview with him in front of the entire conference. It went well. I’d read his books, perused articles about him, and thought through my questions with my friend (and fellow committee member) Rhonda Lane. I talked about them with Craig beforehand, so he sort of knew what to expect. I also listened to his answers, and tried to have a conversation. Now part of this goes back to my first point, pick a good guest of honor. But the Crime Bake committee values preparation, and it shows.

Third, surround yourself with great people. Steve and I had public faces over the weekend, but there are over a dozen people who spend months working on this conference. It is an honor to work with them all. PS, our own Lisa J. Jackson (who wrote about conference burnout earlier this week) is the registrar.

SinCNE boardFourth, use the time. We had a Sisters in Crime New England board meeting early Saturday morning. We have several board meetings every year, but we are rarely in the same room together. Not only did we get work done, but we got to have a meal together.

And fifth, smile all the time. Even when you are so tired you can barely stand up, keep smiling.

Believe it or not, I’m already looking forward to next year.

P.S., over at the Wicked Cozy Authors, we have some more Crime Bake fun to report.

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J.A. Hennrikus is a short story writer, Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series (debuts in 2015), and Julie Hennrikus is an arts administrator. They all look alike.

Well who knew? Nanowrimo – here I come

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Healing wishes being sent to my friends on a regular basis

 

I didn’t know I was going to do it until this past weekend. A friend of mine left town and asked me to house-sit until she came back.

I love house-sitting for her for several reasons:

  • She keeps a fantastic stash of cookies (yup, I broke that ketogenic diet right in half this weekend)
  • She’s got great pets that make me laugh
  • I don’t know how to work her TV set (she has about a half dozen remotes that must be used in a highly specific sequence) so I can’t waste time watching shows

This all means that I get to read and write uninterrupted (expect for the occasional cookie run) the entire time I’m there. While munching on a handful of goldfish crackers, I was thinking about some friends of ours who had gotten into a horrific car accident (sending positive prayers to you guys constantly.) Their accident was so random, so out of the blue, so not their fault.

You just never know.

It got me thinking. What are the lessons I’ve learned that I want my kids to know and what if I never get around to telling them because I’m too busy?

I started listing bits of advice this mama hen has gathered throughout her life that she’d want to share with her chicks. When I looked at the list (it currently stands at over 200 items), I realized that I could match pretty much every lesson up with a story from our backyard chicken flock.

Ah-ha! That would make for a great book (if only to give my kids.)

But how on earth was I going to find the time on top of all of my other writing assignments to get this project done?

Enter Nanowrimo which starts when the clock strikes 12:00 a.m. on October 31.

I didn’t do Nanowrimo last year and I certainly didn’t *think* that I was going to do it this year (too occupied with other writing is my  standard excuse), but in this case, Nano is the prefect kick in the butt for what I want to do. I have the stories, they all exist in my head – and because I hate to lose, the incentive is there to find the time to get them out and onto the screen.

Nanowrimo will be the gift of “getting it done no matter how busy I am.”

So while I wasn’t planning on participating in a writing challenge this year, you can count me in. Nanowrimo gives me the perfect opportunity to write all those stories of life lessons for my kids – because you just never know, right?

How about you? Anyone else going to take the Nanowrimo challenge?

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

 

From Grammarly — Who Writes Better: Men or Women?

Grammarly (www.grammarly.com) conducted a study with 3,000+ participants to settle an existential question that has been plaguing mankind for centuries (or maybe a few years here and there):

“Which gender has the better writers?”

They published the results to the question above in an infographic (below) and I got permission to share it here with you. I thought it would be fun for some discussion.

 

Grammarly_MenvsWomen_Writers_infographic

 

The results for characters question splits out equal from both perspectives — I think it’s only natural that we include bits of ourselves in our writing, since that’s a person we know best!

Pronouns & Determiners are pretty evenly split, too.

What do you think about the plot vs character and long vs short sentences? Would you put yourself in the majority in those categories?

I would for the first – I like (try) to develop my characters and have the plot follow. For sentences, I do my best to write short active sentences, but there are times when long works better!

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From their website: Grammarly’s online grammar checker is the most accurate tool for grammar correction on the market. 

Disclosure: This is an online tool you have to pay for (minimum is $29.95/month); I’m not a subscriber, but it can’t hurt to check it out when you have a minute or two if it’s something of interest — they do offer a 7-day free trial period. Remember to read all the Terms and Conditions!

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LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She enjoys sharing writing resources when she finds them. You can connect with her on Twitter,FacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Writing a Fundraising Letter

I have to write a fundraiser letter for an organization I work with. As I sit here thinking about what to put in the letter, I thought I’d share some of my personal guidelines when writing such a piece (after all, writing a fund raising letter is simply another writing assignment, right?)

This is from a fundraiser to which I gladly donated.

This is from a fundraiser to which I gladly donated.

Write to your audience

You need to write to your audience, not above or below, but to. Sure, you will more than likely have some readers who will fall outside of the “average reader”, but for the most part, you want to hit the critical mass and so you aim for them. The organization should have statistical information on their current supporters, that information was collected for a reason, use it.

Use “you” and not “I”

When someone reads a letter asking for money and support, they don’t want to hear about you. They want to know how this will impact them. Essentially they want to know why they should even be bothered with the organization. Rule of thumb here? It’s not about you (the writer) it’s about them (the readers.)

Tell a story that involves a real person or situation

Everyone loves a story. Try to include an example of how the organization is working or improving the lives of others. Once you include a story of another person’s journey you have made that very important human-to-human connection with your reader.

Clearly explain the benefits

Everyone needs money these days, so be sure to clearly explain what a donation would help accomplish (and just having extra money is *not* a benefit.) Will it help patients with medical costs? Supply people with clean water? The more specific you can be with the benefits, the more people can visualize how their money will be used and the more willing they are to donate.

Also, mention if people will receive something if they donate – people are often more willing to contribute if they know they will get something in return.

Be clear about what you are asking for and when

Are you asking for money? Then say so. Don’t beat around the bush, say “we are looking for a financial donation from our supporters by this DATE.” Be sure to include a date so that people don’t put your letter down with the intention that they’ll get to it someday. Those are the letters that get lost.

Likewise, if you are looking for volunteers or material donations, go ahead and ask. Don’t waste anyone’s time by being vague and hoping that they’ll understand what you are getting at. Trust me – it’s not rude to ask for what you need in a fundraising letter.

Make it short and simple

People don’t have much time. A fundraising letter that goes on for page after page is one that is likely not going to be read. Keep it short, get in there, introduce yourself, explain the benefits, identify what you are asking for, and then thank them for their continued support. In and out – it’s the way to go.

Additionally make it easy to read

Long, dense paragraphs are tough to read. Keep your paragraphs short, include white space, use headers and include a graphic or two. These days a lot of people skim documents, you can use this to your benefit by grouping your information and using techniques like bulleted lists.

Fundraising letters are just like any other writing assignment. You’ll do fine if you pre-plan, organize, and do your homework.

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

 

What Are You Doing to Build Your Business?

If you want to make a living as a writer, there’s one thing you must do – take action.

Take any action that will lead to generating an income from writing.

Stop stalling and do something. Now. Today.

Believe me, I know how easy it is to procrastinate:

  • To plan plan plan so no detail is overlooked
  • To read yet another well-intentioned best-selling book on how to be a successful entrepreneur
  • To organize the office, the desk, and the file cabinets
  • To work toward the moment when you can finally say ‘I’m ready’

It’s incredibly easy to do anything, but take action building the business.

It could be fear of failure or fear of hard work. Who knows.

Take Action!But to make a living at writing, it’s absolutely imperative to constantly – and that means daily – find some task that directly leads toward earning an income and to complete that task. 

It’s absolutely possible to generate money from writing. But you have to work toward it consistently.

Do you want to write for magazines? Then submit queries consistently.

Do you want to write for newspapers? Then pitch ideas to editors on a regular basis.

Do you want to write for businesses? Submit proposals on a regular basis.

  • Make phone calls.
  • Send LOIs (letters of intent).
  • Network with people you want to work with or for, or can help you make those connections.

Just so you know, rejection comes to everyone. Use the rejections to improve the next query, the next pitch, the next proposal, the next phone call, the next letter, the next interaction.

Know that every step you take toward building an income stream gets you closer to your goal.

Take a moment to evaluate your actions.

Are you in constant motion toward building a writing business?

 

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She consistently reaches out to new potential clients for projects of all sizes. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook,  Google+, and LinkedIn.

Worthy of attention

broken heartYears ago, I read an essay about how a person would make a point of always complimenting each dog to its owner as they passed by.

“What a good dog you have.”
“Such a handsome fellow.”

They did this because after doing so, the owner would often reach down and pat the dog. It was a way to give the dog some love from a stranger.

To this day, I always compliment people on their dogs and yup, those dogs get a little more attention.

Everyone likes to feel that they have something that’s worthy of attention.

Eventually I figured out that if this worked for dogs, it would probably work for other things. There’s not a baby out there that I won’t say to the parents – how strong she looks, what beautiful eyes he has, or simply what a clever looking child you have there.

The parents smile and usually pat the baby or hold it a little closer.

Compliments are a gift, I’m not saying you have to be insincere (that’s not a gift, that’s a scam), what I am saying is that if you can find something positive to say about a situation, a person, or an animal, go ahead and say it.

Yesterday I received this comment on my blog post about telling stories:

The things I love most about your “stories” are that they are so real and believable. They are stories about the simple, ordinary things in life that we often ignore or miss in the hurried-up hustle and bustle of today’s world. They often take me back to the yesterdays of raising my six children and often call up memories of even earlier times when I was growing up in the country in East Texas with my five siblings, in the days of chicken yards, gathering eggs, running from the rooster, or sometimes encountering a long chicken snake in the hen house, one of which didn’t like the fact that I got to the eggs in the nests before him and slithered down out of the rafters as I was stepping out of the little house. He dropped down over my shoulder and into the egg basket. Needless to say, in my surprise and horror, the basket, eggs, snake and I went in all different directions. Before I could regain my senses to run, my dad came running into the chicken yard with his gun, thinking I had encounters a different kind of egg stealing critter that often raided the hen house. When he saw the snake and the fact that it was harmless to humans, except a 9 year little girl, guess who got a spanking for over-reacting and breaking all the eggs. I love your stories because they help me find my way back “home” through my own memories and stories of my own, but also the stories my mom and dad used to tell of their childhood. Keep telling us the stories, Wendy, and God bless you.

You can’t imagine how much this meant to me. When we write, we expose our creations, our babies to the world. We’re nervous and wonder how they will be received. When I sat down to write this morning, it was easy to smile and hold my work a little closer because everyone, myself included, likes to feel that they have something that’s worthy of attention.

 

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Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.