Friday, January 30, 2015

On Being An Out Writer

A few days ago, I was relaxing with a few friends of mine, and they asked me how my life has been, and what I have done in the last year.  I can say it has been a very life-changing year for me, and for the person I've become.  One of the biggest changes was my willingness to be open, and to be honest.  Most of my readers on Living a Life of Writing will recall I made the personal choice to 'be out' in the writing community.  I had expected some people would not be pleased, but even I didn't expect the backlash from this post.

Because of this post, I was put into a position where I had to look at what some had said.  Some, I could dismiss very easily, and others were very hurtful.  I can understand this is still an issue which causes division.  I expected the inevitable loss of followers, but I never expected to feel like a complete failure as a writer and a human.  I had to think long and hard about where I wanted to go as a writer.  I had to be comfortable with who I am, before I could become a better writer.

Part of the challenge of being a writer and a lesbian is I am judged not only on my writing, but on who I am as a person. I am not only responsible to myself, but my writing is given more scrutiny and is open to more criticism than if I was simply a "writer" (there is nothing about simply being a writer, it's more based on the idea people see your work and not you.) Social networking has both helped and hindered my ability to become better as a writer.  Your ego can take a hit time and again because there are always critics, and should they know facts about you, they can be even more deadly.  Having some networks in place helped a lot.

With Twitter and Facebook there were some, but not a lot of relationships I developed that helped me through this difficult time.  I wanted to quit writing, and I wanted to quit a lot of things.  Judgements can hurt the soul, or it can force a person to look and see if there is a grain of truth in what people have said.  The reality is there is a grain of truth to what the people who argued I wasn't a great writer.  I looked back at one of my first postsand found myself laughing, a good heartfelt laugh at this rather overly positive post.  I was rather naive in thinking the creative journey of a writer wouldn't change me as a person, and I have to say I'm glad I was wrong.  All good things, like being naive, must end, and over time it did.

This naive mentality ended completely when I posted that 'coming out' post, it proved how much I had changed as a person. I wasn't just a writer, I was someone whom people hated, and made it clear this was exactly how they felt- it was painfully hard, and it helped me.  On reflection, it forced me to become a better writer.  It forced me to see the depths of pain, and it forced me to confront the truths I tried to hide from others.  I had 'come out' to close friends and family many years before, and in general, most didn't care or get mad at me.  I expected much the same reaction from my readers.  In a way, I had to prove to my readers I am a good writer.  I also had to prove time and again I am willing to fix mistakes, because there will be those who will (and have) said my writing is good, but they don't want to critique- because of who I am.  Others see no problems in ripping me down to my soul to see me fall.  Being a writer is like that, you take the good with the bad, and you grow- with a lot of pain.

Being a writer who is 'out' just simply means more of my views are judged and looked at differently.  Some people assume I write and then lead a very different life from other writers- that it is something I will give up on- a phase if you will.  I don't, but I've learned the concept of becoming a better writer. I am who I am, but I can always be better in many different parts of my life.  Part of being out means facing the truth about yourself as a person and a writer, you've got to be 10X better otherwise you will give up too easily.  There are many times when my lack of communication has come back to haunt me, but there are as many times when I can see my communication has improved when I accepted parts of myself I wouldn't normally try to understand.

Being out does not mean I have no friendships with men, rather they take on a new meaning for me.  As a writer, I have to ask questions, and learn and grow.  I've learned the art of seeing the world through different eyes - and with my male friends, who are more open to 'telling it like it is', because they understand I am just me, a writer, a friend, a part-time counsellor, a lesbian, and a human, - I will always be learning and growing.

Being a writer who is out means I have to grow and be better as both a writer and a person.  This is what I was able to tell my writing friends that day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How Can You Promote Your Book Without Over Promoting It

Writers have something special going on with their readers, for example: when you visit a blog, and find so many writers who have a small blog, but no real relationship with anyone, because everyone has something to say. It's great to see comments, and it's great to develop a relationship with a potential reader, without them promoting their books.

Beginning this journey starts with the proper care and cultivation of your blogs, by encouraging relationships first, offering the best you can offer at all times, and by being honest and open. People are smart, and if you have done a poor job of communicating, now is as good a time as any to fix it, both as a writer and a person. What readers want is to find something special for them.   What you need to do as a writer is take a long hard look at what you have offered your reader so far.  I mentioned that I had to go back and look at my blog- I was wrong in thinking that there wasn't a problem.  What I didn't understand was that there is more work now because I had waited. Similar to my choices about publishing.  I have to be passionate about rebuilding a lot of relationships.  I can't sit back and think about how I'm going to promote my book if there are problems behind it.

In one of the writing magazines I buy, I was reading about the relationship between a reader and the books they read.  The idea is to describe the book, in order to tell readers about it, but without actually promoting it. Readers can and will do the work for you when they love something- a book or a blog- because they trust you and feel confident in what you have to say. So if you are finding that nothing seems to be going your way in terms of selling your book after all the promotion you have done.... It is time to cultivate relationships.

Ask your audience what your book means to them, appreciate every answer good or bad, and find beauty in a bit less. A book will be successful as long as it has a relationship with its readers.  As long as you push out of your comfort zone.  It's about people- it's about you being human.

I believe that the relationship between writer and reader is at the heart of great promotion - getting the readers to love your book, that they develop a relationship with the author. This is what promotion is all about - relationships. Often these relationships will encourage the sales of the book for the author, and in the end increase the value of the author in the publishing industry.

What You can Do to Promote A Book More and Better: Not enough promotion is a killer to writers, and not enough can mean that while you might have a great following on social media, or on your blog, that doesn't necessarily translate into sales unless you have a relationship with your readers.  My editors for Living a Life of Writing are brilliant, and have made a number of suggestions which have helped me build readership here on the blog. We've had our ups and downs, but they've pushed me to be a better writer, and to focus more on rebuilding and communicating better.  They've also pushed me out of my comfort zone in terms of finding ways to help other authors.

One way is by guest blogging.  If I love a writer, I'm more inclined to let them guest blog on Living a Life of Writing. On a well-written guest blog, you can write about your experiences as a published author, especially if you self-published. Not only is it enlightening for the blog reader, but it offers a link to your blog, or your book.  You can also suggest the blog owner go to your website and guest post there.

You might get lucky and get a big marketing push from your publishing company, but this is just as likely not to happen, so be prepared. One book I love is: 1001 Ways to Market Your Books  because it gives me ideas- about 1,001 of them.  The best one is "be seen but don't be seen badly".  This to me means don't promote yourself or your book the wrong way, because there is such a thing as too much.

Too Much Promotion of A Book: Readers are savvy, they know when they are being sold something they might not want- which is why you need to develop a good relationship with your reader, where they know you'll tell them about other books you love.   Communication is more important than a sale, especially if you want to be seen as a good writer.  Some of the best authors promote other writers' works.

An example of too much promotion are writers who make a point of telling the same people time and again how great their books are-- oh and did they mention that they've published a book. They always have multiple copies in their over-sized bags, and they simply cannot have a conversation without mentioning their book. Or worse, only talk about their book, and without listening to anything the other person is saying.

There is nothing wrong with this style of promotion. However, the problem is that people do get bored of a one-sided conversation and frankly, the word "salesman" comes to mind. It seems that they see potential buyers but not an audience. Money and not relationships. They see only one thing, and that in itself can be fatal.  If they stop and think for a moment, they might see where it all fell apart.  Stop and ask questions, be human, and if you can't remember things, write it down.

Book promotion is a fine art. All writers need to promote, but sometimes it can alienate the very audience that they desire- because they didn't build the trust or foundation they needed. It is important that promotion comes into play, but if it seems that nothing helps sell the book, more promotion is not the answer.  Rebuilding a relationship with your readers is.  If this means apologizing and going back and fixing things, this is something you'll need to do, be it on your blog, or in real life.

While some might not recognize a marketing plan, they do recognize when there is a push to sell something. When you find you are left out of plans, this means you've gone too far in promoting yourself or your book.  Take a step back with a human perspective. Communicate and build strong relationships with your readers and your networks.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Increase Traffic and Money to Your Blog

Do you want to improve traffic to your blog? Would you even like to make money with this blog? In this case you need a good deal of luck as well as a great blog with a lot of well-read older blog posts that people will still go and read.  You will need to have affiliate programs which earn you money, but the key is getting the readers you need and the ones you want.

The simplest explanation for why you're not making money on your blog is: you don't want to take the time or the effort to do it. You need to get your blog noticed, and you need to write on a regular basis, and you need to go back and edit your blog.  You also need to learn about proper keywords. You need a good-looking blog - you need to get the search engines to notice you, and you need to have some sort of social networking sites- and followers- to get the traffic you want. I lost you there didn't I? If you want money you have to be willing to do the work.

I'm pretty sure I've sent my editors into a panic over the last few days- not only am I being critical of my book, but I'm looking at my blog in a different way.  It's been a while since I've looked over my blog from the perspective of a reader - and I have concluded it's a decent blog, with good traffic, but it could be something more.  The key was going back as far as I could.  No comments appear in some of my older posts, and it's no wonder, most of them are short and don't give back to the reader.  There is a lack of interest on my part, and it shows to the reader.  There is a difference between good and great.  If you want to make money, there is a difference between a relationship with your reader and just being a 'writer.'  Anyone with sense can write a blog post. Anyone who is willing to pay the price can make a blog great, and like a book this takes time.

When starting on a blog, or going back and dealing with older posts which are costing you dearly, you need to do a few things to jump-start your business-- this goes beyond writing and publishing a book. You need a bit of Internet knowledge and a lot of Google knowledge, and a basic idea of how you are going to maximize your posts so that they will make you the most money.  Then it's time to sit down and fix it up. With nearly 1,300 posts I estimate it will take about 1,000 hours to bring Living a Life of Writing back to its former glory.  I have to increase traffic, but I also have to care about my readers- they are the ones who help me, not the other way around.href="">it's as true with a blog as it is with a book.

If you want to make money from home the first thing to do is to get organized, and create a plan where you set some goals for the future.  Most people talk about pillar articles, and these are older blog posts that still have readers coming to read them.  My first goal was to go back and fix these up.  They are the ones that help to build my blog.

Next were the blog posts around these 25 posts. I've built these up and corrected some mistakes- because even though they were published years ago, updating them is critical to my writing reputation.  My view is the readers need me to care. I was reading the book Writing Magic and I found it to be exactly what I needed for this blog, and my book.  The only way you will increase traffic and sales is if you connect with your readers- and they can connect with you, by word of mouth- and in this sense the social networking sites will be of value to me.

The next goal is to increase traffic to my blog.  Social networking sites are a must, and I have to take care to once again build relationships and communicate my intentions in order to be better to the readers I have.

Money is earned when your readers see value in your writing.  This means making better connections and communicating very clearly what I intend.  The only way to increase traffic and to improve my blog's earnings is to rebuild the trust people have in my writing and in my own life as a writer.  It's about maintaining a blog and improving upon it and myself.

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