catherine ryan hyde

Free Social Media Tips for Authors…Plus Advice from Anne R. Allen

I mention the word free in the title because I’ve heard there are companies who guarantee increased sales results if you pay them to show you how to work with social media in order to market and promote books. Or, some claim they can do it for you. From what I’ve heard, they promise to make you the next bestseller…for a fee of course.

The only thing I can say about that is that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. And, if these things actually worked wouldn’t everyone be doing it? Maybe I’m too cynical, but I’ve seen too many “too good to be true” scams over the years and I’ve learned through my own mistakes.

So when I see free advice being given by people I consider reputable, I try to pass it along. The articles to which I’m linking below are all things I’ve done (or have not done) in the past by learning them the hard way…mostly by trial and error…and there’s really nothing I can disagree with. I would also like to add that not every piece of advice will work for every individual author. In most cases you have to figure out a plan that’s right for you, and a plan you think you can handle without becoming overwhelmed. If you’re like me and you enjoy social media, it makes things easier. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll have to figure out a way to embrace at least something. While I don’t think social media overkill helps, I do think in this day and age of all things cyber authors have to build some kind of an online presence. In fact, I think that’s far more important now than book signings and traveling to events, for some authors.

How Do Authors Reach Readers?

Today we have a visit from one of my favorite online author-friends. I knew her even before her name was Roni Loren 🙂 Roni is an awesome blogger who always has something innovative and thoughtful to say at her blog for the Fearless Romantic. She’s become a bestselling author for Berkley Heat through her smart use of social media, so this is market-tested advice. My experience with Twitter and Facebook mirrors hers. I much prefer Twitter, but the readers seem to be on Facebook.

This is a guest post on Anne R. Allen’s blog I literally found by accident. I highly recommend reading anything on this blog about social media because Anne co-wrote an excellent self-pubbed book this past year with bestselling author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, titled, “How to be a Writer in the E-Age.” I reviewed the book here. And Anne’s blog is also one of the top 50 blogs for authors. In this case, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Is Social Media the Magic Bullet to Promote Your Self-Published Book?

I don’t think there is much of a difference between authors with small start up e-presses and self-published authors anymore, so that’s why I’m linking to articles related to self-pubbed authors. They’re all doing basically the same thing now: publishing e-books. When it comes to marketing and book promotion with small e-presses, you’re basically in the same position as the self-published author. Small e-presses are excellent if you’re not comfortable with the details and business end of self-publishing, or you can’t format, but you’re still going to have to do all the promotion and marketing on your own when the book is published, like it or not.

Eight Tips for Self-Published Indie Authors

It’s not about saying ‘Buy my book’; ‘Look at this review about my book; ‘Here’s why you’d like my book’.

Again, everything in this post can be applied to authors with small start up e-presses. And for those authors with small e-presses who think you’re too grand for reading anything relating to indie authors, take a closer look at what you’re actually doing. And like I said earlier, not everything is going to work for every author and you’ll have to figure out what works best for you. But I think this article gives a realistic approach, and doesn’t freak authors out too much.

Eleven Deadly Sins of Online Promotion for Writers 

This one is interesting because it talks about what not to do. And believe me, I’ve seen a few train wrecks with authors and social media.

Never dedicate every single social media post of your life to your writing. If you’re on social networks, be social. That is, act like a human being who does human being things—as opposed to an all-promotion, all-the-time automaton.

I’d also like to add that getting too political can be really annoying and offensive. During the last Presidential election I can’t tell you how many people I hid from my news feed because of their political rants. I really don’t care about your politics unless you’re actively involved in politics and giving up your money and your time. Unless you’re Barry Eisler, and you really know how to post about politics in a smart, educated, informed way like only Barry Eisler can do, I think it’s better to just stay away from it altogether. It stands to reason at the most basic level: you’re trying to get people to buy your books and that’s not going to happen if they don’t agree with your politics. In fact, they might hold it against you forever.

Another thing I don’t like seeing is “cute.” It’s hard to really explain this one. You usually know it when you see it. The gag reflex kicks in. Seriously, there’s only so many times you can rescue that puppy or save that basket of kittens before people start to wonder. I guess this falls into the category of “keep it real.” If you don’t, it’s going to start to show sooner or later. Also, remember you’re dealing with people who live in different parts of the country…or world…not just in your own small town. In other words, you don’t want to sound as if you’ve just hopped off the back of a turnip truck to someone in New York or Philadelphia…unless that’s a goal you’re trying to achieve.

10 Topics Writers Should Talk About When Promoting Their Book Online

Create an account for your main character. This is especially useful if you write a series that evolves around a single character. Create accounts for your character and engage the character in public conversation—author to creation. The results can not only be entertaining but can also go viral very quickly helping you gain momentum with your social media endeavors.

This article isn’t for everyone, and neither is the advice. Just based on number one above, if I did this I would have so many main character accounts I’d never be able to keep up with them. And, I actually did try this once with a hetero romance book I wrote with a pen name for the Home Shopping Network, title “Loving Daylight.” I gave the main character his own facebook page and it was a huge waste of time. It was not only creepy, but because the character was a vampire I had to write facebook posts after dark all summer that year. I learned my lesson that time by trial and error. However, if you are an author with one or two books out, this sort of thing might work for you. On that I can’t comment.

Ask for opinions and input. One of the best ways to really engage your followers is to ask for their input for something like naming a new character. Your followers will be more than willing to pitch in with the possibility of having their ideas used and if you do use their ideas, be sure to publicize it—they will be the first person in line to buy your book!

I’ve seen this before and it might work for some authors, so I’m not saying don’t do it. However, I happen to come from the school where the author works alone and owns his or her work. In other words, I love hearing suggestions from readers and I love input as well. But I work alone. In the same respect I actually named the MC, “Wilbur,” in “My Fair Laddie,” after a facebook discussion with LGBT book reviewer, Amos Lassen. I didn’t solicit his opinion, and he wasn’t offering it. We were just discussing character names and Amos mentioned that “Wilbur” was a character name he’d never seen. And I thought it would be a perfect name for the MC in the book.

Social Media Mistake All Authors Should Avoid

The key, in the early stages of your career, is to focus on becoming an expert in only one or two social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, plus an author blog.

Quality, not quantity is the rule here: If you take time to learn how to become highly adept at just a couple of channels to begin with, you’ll be far more effective at attracting attention and growing your readership, than by opening up 15 different channels and trying to use them all at once, without developing any effective user skills.

From what I gather here, it’s more important to take it slowly than it is to jump into every single social media network and crash and burn. So far, Twitter and Facebook seem to be the most popular social media outlets, and they can be daunting at best for a beginner. I would recommend facebook over twitter for those who know nothing about social media. On facebook you get more freedom, where on twitter you have to come up with a way to express a limited amount of information. And it’s not easy getting followers.

Blogging can be an excellent way to connect with readers, too. But don’t expect miracles at first. Blogging takes time, and sometimes you’ll never figure out why some posts are more popular than others. I’m still getting over a thousand hits a day for a post I wrote two years ago and I don’t have a clue as to why. I guess that post resonated with people for some reason. Which is why blogging is such a great tool for authors. I get most of my hits through random search engines and I have no idea how I do it or why they find me. This blog is linked to more than a few social media outlets, but the majority of my hits come from all over the world and always through searches, not something I posted about on another social media outlet.

These are only a few articles that offer advice. I saw a few more in my search but didn’t feel comfortable linking to them. But, as I said, there’s no set pattern for anything when it comes to marketing and promoting books with social media. It seems to work differently for all authors and what works for one might not work for another. The secret is figuring out what works best for you. And that’s going to take time, so don’t try to rush it.

Review: How to be a Writer in the E-Age, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, Anne R. Allen, Introduction by Saffina Desforges


I finally had a chance to finish “How to be a Writer in the E-Age” this weekend and wanted to post a short review first thing this morning while it’s still fresh. Although a good deal of what I read in this e-book tended to be things I’ve already experienced as a published author in the e-age, there were a few things I didn’t know and will retain for future reference. I started writing for e-publishers about seven years ago when everyone was still laughing at the possibility of e-books going mainstream.

I so wish there had been a book like this back when I first started to consider writing for e-publishers. Until that point, all of my publishing experience had been with small traditional LGBT print presses. And because the LGBT market wasn’t strong back then I made a point of trying to get my short stories into as many anthologies as I could each year. It wasn’t mainstream publishing and the money was terrible, but I loved what I was doing and it was considered legitimate.

When I started to look into e-publishing I read more than one questionable thing about it…or I couldn’t find any information at all. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about it myself. So I played it very safe in the beginning and submitted short stories to several e-publishers just to see what it was like. These manuscripts were released as e-books and I found that I loved working with e-publishers. They were just as professional as all the print publishers I’d ever worked with in the past and in some cases even more thorough. And, best of all, it didn’t take a year or more to get a book released. That in itself was a novelty to me. The world’s slowest industry in the world was now starting to pick up speed.

The moment I started to read “How to be a Writer in the E-Age” I knew it was a winner in every sense. The information is not only valuable to new authors, it’s relevant to published authors who might be thinking about making the switch to e-publishing, too. Or for established authors who are interested in self-publishing and have been on the fence about doing it. I found nothing in this book that can be disputed either (not always the case with writer’s manuals). From the introductions to the last page it’s filled with realistic information that shows writers what the writing experience is like now.

One thing I’d like to point out that I liked in particular was that there are no preachy comments, and this book isn’t pushing any one particular way to be a writer…or whether or not traditional publishing is better than e-publishing. There are many aspects of publishing talked about in this book and that’s something I don’t see often (the authors even read the same publishing blogs I’ve been following for years). In other words, it’s not about hating literary agents and hating those big bad mean publishers and it’s not about how spectacular self-publishing is and how it’s going to change life as we all know it as writers and readers. The book talks about self-publishing in an objective way, which is something I don’t see often these days either.

A while ago I read a writer’s manual written by one of my all time favorite authors, Rita Mae Brown who was one of those authors that changed publishing in the 1970’s, and I thought that was the best writer’s manual I’d ever read. But this book on writing and publishing took what Brown had to say to another level and brought it all up to date so new writers will know what to expect and how to deal with all the changes that are happening in publishing now. But more than that, because it’s an e-book and we can now do things like this with e-books, there’s a feature I’ve never seen before. When you buy this e-book you get updates every six months that will allegedly deal with more changes in publishing as they happen. And the changes seem to be happening on a daily basis now.

As a side note, the book is affordable and worth every penny invested. Trust me, I paid far more for books and manuals on publishing fifteen years ago and got far less information.

"Writing in the E-Age," Writer’s Manual, and Hunter Parrish on iTunes…


I posted about Catherine Ryan Hyde’s and Anne R. Allen’s new writer’s manual titled, “How To Be a Writer in the E-Age,” last week and wanted to follow up today with a short post. I bought the book over the weekend and I’m halfway through it.

So far, not one complaint. I have to admit that although I haven’t learned anything new, what I have read in the book validates a lot of the things I’ve been doing for the past seven years in e-publishing. In other words, I wish there had been a book like this around seven years ago to help me figure things out instead of learning them all the hard way.

And what I’m liking most about the book is that it covers all angles and even mentioned a lot of the literary agent blogs I’ve been following for years now. It’s not against “trad” publishing; it’s not pushing self-publishing either.

One of my blog readers left a comment the other day mentioning that he’s not comfortable with self-publishing yet. I know a lot of people who feel that way and they have good reason, too. But books like “How To Be a Writer in the E-Age,” help validate self-publishing and they show that self-publishing is no longer regarded in the same way it was ten years ago. It’s not vanity publishing anymore either. It’s not something people do when they get rejected and can’t get published. I have over 94 published works listed on Goodreads with publishers and I decided to self-publish this past year. A lot of authors who have previously worked with publishers are doing it and they all have their own individual reasons. And those reasons have nothing to do with being against traditional publishing.

I will post a final review of this book when I’m finished reading it. But right now, even though I’m only halfway through, I would recommend it to anyone who is just starting out as a writer and needs good solid advice. There’s also some kind of a deal that when you buy the book you can sign up for electronic updates every six months, which I’ll also post more about in the review. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this done before (but don’t quote me). I’m assuming that as publishing changes and evolves, new updates will cover more information as it crops up, so to speak.

Now, the reason why I’m posting about Hunter Parrish’s new music on iTunes has to do with the way we are now buying and listening to music. It is a lot like the way we are reading and buying digital books. Hunter Parrish is best known for his part on the TV show, “Weeds,” as Silas Botwin. I recently read where he’s released his own music on iTunes and it looks as if he’s self-publishing them on his own. I could be wrong about this, so don’t quote me here either. I couldn’t find any information stating it as a fact. But my point is that if Parrish is self-publishing his own music in iTunes, he’s not the only one who is doing it. I’ve posted before about many talented artists who are doing this now. And in many ways it’s reflecting the same thing we’re now seeing in digital book publishing.

I remember an old friend who wanted to break into the music business. In those days, the best way to do it was to find a DJ (or talent agent) who would be willing to play your demo tape. It was virtually impossible to get a good DJ (or talent agent) to do this, and very few people were able to break into the music industry. Well it was the same way with book publishing until recently. Only instead of getting a DJ (or talent agent) to listen to you, you had to get a literary agent (or editor) to read your work. Again, virtually impossible to do.

The music angle is explained well on this web site:

Just as technological innovations have changed the way that customers buy music, technology also has changed how artists distribute music to their fans. In 2010, one-third of all music sales consisted of digital tracks, with the remaining two-thirds made up of CDs and other physical media [source: Jones]. This enormous digital market has removed one of the largest barriers for musicians trying to enter the market — money. Artists who once needed the support of a major label to release an album can now self-release music online, or even produce CDs at very little cost.

And here’s more about Hunter Parrish and his newly released music:

Hunter Parrish may be best known for playing the enterprising and hunky offspring of pot-dealing mom Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) on Showtime’s hit series Weeds, but as it turns out, the actor also moonlights as a singer, releasing his first EP Guessing Games on iTunes today.

Kindle Direct Publishing at London Book Fair This Week


Had I planned earlier, I think I would have gone to the London Book Fair this year. I’ve always wanted to go, and I would have been able to meet a few people from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). But I didn’t even officially decide to publish with KDP until December. For those who read this blog you know I’ve been talking about indie authors for a long time and I’ve always been curious about it. It just took a while for me to make the decision…which had to do with many contributing factors in my career I’ll eventually discuss at a later date. It should also be interesting because this year Hong Kong is taking part for the first time.

In the most recent KDP newsletter, here’s what it says for those of you who are going to the London Book Fair:

As we’d previously announced, KDP will be at the London Book Fair April 16-18, 2012. If you find yourself in London in the next few days make sure to stop by our booth (EC2-W905) to meet us and best-selling KDP UK author Rachel Abbott. We will be hosting several sessions focusing on KDP and Rachel will also be signing copies of her UK Kindle best-seller, Only the Innocent, on Tues 4/17 1-2 pm at our booth. Check out our sessions:

Digital Zone session at Digital Theatre 2
A “how-to” discussion of reaching the growing Amazon Kindle audience and a demo on how to publish your book using KDP.

Tues, 4/17 11-11:20 am

Meet Rachel Abbott at the KDP booth:

Tues, 4/17 3-5 pm

In more KDP news, one of the most recently featured books on KDP was written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, the author of “Pay it Forward,” and “Jumpstart the World,” also an author I’ve written about here on the blog several times long before I even knew Hyde was self-publishing with KDP.

Featured KDP BooksWhen I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

When Nathan McCann finds, and saves, a newborn baby abandoned in the woods, he asks the baby’s grandmother to someday bring the boy around to meet him. She agrees, but by the time she brings young Nat around, the boy is an angry 15-year-old with a police record and dreams of becoming a professional boxer. And she doesn’t just introduce Nat to his namesake, “the man who found him in the woods.” She washes her hands of Nat and leaves him with Nathan. Now Nathan must learn how to be both a father and a friend to a troubled kid who doesn’t want his help, doesn’t trust anyone, and doesn’t understand his own heart or the possibilities of his young life.

For those who are interested in looking into more about KDP, here’s an interesting piece from the newsletter about the Owner’s Lending Program. I opted to do this with “Chase of a Lifetime,” and so far I’m happy with the results I’m seeing.

In the month of March, KDP Select-enrolled authors earned an impressive $2.18 per book borrowed. From our recent press release: “Every time a customer borrowed an independently-published book in March, the author earned $2.18. That’s more than many authors earn when their books are sold,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content.

Early sales data indicates that inclusion in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library not only generates additional revenue from loans for authors, but actually increases customer purchases of authors’ work as well.

KDP will also be at BEA this year (Book Expo America), which I’ll post when I hear more about it.

Chase of a Lifetime on Kobo, and Amazon Indie Publishing from Catherine Ryan Hyde & Barry Eisler


While I don’t want to bore everyone to death with details about the technical process involved in self-publishing a book on Amazon, I did want to show that one of the things I thought was important was to edit/proof my book downloaded to an actual e-reader. I wanted to see how the e-book would look on one of my own e-readers. I have five and I started with the basic Kobo e-reader with e-ink. I don’t want to assume anything, so I’ll also be testing the book out on every type of e-reader to be sure it looks the same on the most basic to the most recent tablet. And, this is editing that’s more like triple checking because the book’s already been extensively edited and copy edited down to the last line…both before and after conversion. And, “Chase of a Lifetime” is a 60,000 word full length novel, not a short story or novella.

The one problem I found while I was checking things out last night on my Kobo was that the copy editor I hired made changes, got them wrong, and I had to go back and line edit each small thing. They weren’t large. It was more of a matter of style than anything. But since I’m in charge this time and I get the final say, the copy editor isn’t going to do anything to my book I don’t like. Another problem I’m finding is that things like indentations and page numbers tend to get screwed up during the conversion process. But it’s being figured out as I write this post.

Overall, I’m happy with the way the book looks on Kobo. I wanted to be sure people who own Kobo products could download the book on Amazon, too. I won’t get into mobi files or epub files because I doubt people want to know about this. Until I started this Amazon project I didn’t want to know those details. But if I can download a .99 Kindle e-book to my Kobo, iPhone, or Nook, I would imagine anyone else can.

I also want to link to a great post I read yesterday. I was having one of those “what the fuck did I do now” moments with regard to Amazon publishing. So I did a few searches to see how other authors view the process and found a great interview/post between author Catherine Ryan Hide and Barry Eisler. For those who don’t know, Mr. Eisler walked away from a slick deal with St. Martin’s to pursue self-publishing, and CRH is the bestselling author who wrote “Pay it Forward.” The post helped calm me down and took away all my second thoughts (well, not all, but I’m working on them). That may sound dramatic, but I’ve always depended on the collaboration with a publisher and doing it alone for the first time ever after doing it with a publisher for twenty years can be scary. I’m also glad I found this post by CRH by accident. I’ve been a fan and I’ve read her book “Jumpstart The World.” It’s one of the best YA books I’ve ever read with LGBT content. It made me feel much better to know that someone I respect and admire is speaking about the Amazon indie self-publishing process, too.

I’ll keep posting more about the process of getting “Chase of a Lifetime” out next week. I’m shooting for a release of early next week. But I’m not committing to anything yet until I know the book is up and ready. But it will be up for sale sometime next week. It will be on Amazon for the first ninety days, and then I’ll decide whether or not I need to start distributing it anywhere else. I know there’s this mindset that all books should be distributed in as many places as authors can get them. (I’m a huge fan of sites like ARe and 1place for my purchases.) But I also know that most e-book sales do come from Amazon. At least that’s been my own personal experience, not hearsay. At the very least, I will probably try to get it up on the most popular romance sites where e-books are sold.