How do #authors actually find #readers? I’m stumped.

How do #authors actually find #readers? I’m stumped.

3 paperbacks

So far, since becoming a fiction author in 2013, I have spent time on most popular sites and established a presence on several, I have yet to find a lot of readers. I mostly find: authors (a LOT); those providing services to authors (even more); potential authors (a few); and, trolls (I block, but they do pop up).

I first published my ebooks via Smashwords which then distributed my ebooks for me to iTunes/iBooks, nook (Barnes & Noble), Kobo and many other affiliates globally. I then published to Amazon Kindle. As of last fall, I now have paperback formats available via CreateSpace (where I offer discounts; see below) and Amazon as well.

You may ask: what else have I done, so far? A LOT!…

—I belong to several dozen and am active in several Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ groups/communities and I am less active but do belong to a few groups on Goodreads.
—I have author and book pages pretty much everywhere they’re free to have and manage to update them regularly (I hope).
—I have posted my free ebook (see below) on dozens of sites that allow free books to be posted for free.
—My first Spanners Series ebook, This Changes Everything, is permafree.
—The second volume, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, came out about a year ago and the third one, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, released last December, so I have the supposedly magic number of 3 books out, now.
—All 3 are out since late 2015 in both ebook and paperback formats.
—I offer discount codes for the paperbacks on my own site.
—I participate in occasional sales organized by two Facebook groups (Clean Indie Reads #CR4U and Fantasy and Science-Fiction Network #FSFnet) I am actively involved in (several per year).
—I give free ebooks to reviewers and always follow their guidelines and wait to be invited before sending the ebook to them.
—I have had more than a few reviews for each book, but not up to 50 for any (yet).
—I actively sought readers/reviewers on BuView and got a few but not as many as who accepted my free ebooks.
—I never pay for reviews or participate in review swaps.
—I post interesting, varied non-fiction content (never all about my books or asking others please to buy my books).
—I re-blog.
—I re-share posts.
—I thank others for re-sharing (not always).
—I retweet (but not everything).
—My posts go up on many sites.
—My WordPress blog is cross-posted on Tumblr and on several other sites automatically.
—I re-post my own on Pinterest and StumbleUpon about once a month, to give them another set of views.
—I put most of my Google+ posts into Collections about once/month, which also gives them a boost in views.
—I do occasional reviews, usually outside my own genre (#scifi) and post my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and sometimes my own blog as well.
—I invite and host guest bloggers on my site.
—I guest blog/give interviews on others’ sites regularly.
—I have articles/reviews that have appeared on very popular sites, some of which have paid me for my posts.
—I have buy links, interview and review links and other links on my own site (look right; scroll down).

I am frequently on

Twitter.
Facebook with both an individual and a Spanners Series page.
Google+ with both an individual and a Spanners Series page.
Pinterest, with many Boards and not all related to my books, either.
YouTube (I have my own channel and a video talk show, CHANGES conversations between authors, since 8/2014 and posted book trailers, author readings).
LinkedIn.
—I started a Patreon #crowdfunding campaign over a year ago, but haven’t garnered much dough.

I am also on/use

Authors’ Database
Authors’ Den
New Book Journal
Koobug
Bublish

I am occasionally on

Goodreads.
Library Thing.
Shelfari.
BookLikes.
—and other many other author/book sites.
—I visit and comment on many blogs.
—I have been on and listen to/comment on a few Blog Talk Radio shows’ sites.
—I was on Authonomy (it closed, but I did get some great reviews from posting my WIP on that site) and am still on Wattpad with excerpts.
—I used the Pre-order function, with half-price discounts for all three ebooks, several weeks prior to each book’s release on Smashwords and Amazon and other sites.
—I post excerpts from my books while they’re in Pre-orders on my blog.
—At the end of each book, I post the first Chapter of the next volume in the The Spanners Series.
—I post a CTA (Call To Action) asking for reviews, followers and readers at the end of each book.

Started but stopped…

—I joined and posted for a while on Ask the Expert and Quora, but got too busy to keep doing that.
—I joined Reddit but I hated the way the monitors interacted with posters and the rules are too rigid, so I quit.
—I joined Medium and some other sites (can’t even remember them all) but hardly use them. Apparently I have followers, but unless my blog is cross-posted on a site, I don’t know what they are following.

I’ve learned to do/decided to do these actions and listings because I spent a lot of time researching prior to and since publishing my first ebook. I read and followed the instructions for “how to find readers” from many “experts,” but I still usually encounter the above categories of people. Not to say authors and others aren’t readers, but I’m looking for those who identify as such and not elsewise in the industry.

I want more people to read, review, enjoy and comment on my books: doesn’t everyone?

added TODAY (3/15/16): Share! #Booksales best achieved NOT on #TWITTER, FB, LI or G+! Use #Youtube! http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2016/the-authors-three-step-test-for-sellability/

How do YOU attract more readers?
How do you know what works among all the things you’re doing to market yourself and your books?

All suggestions and anecdotes welcomed, except forget recommending I go on Instagram. I hate that site.

Thanks!

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Please comment here: http://www.sallyember.com/blog or email me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

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My #SocialMedia Ground Rules: I Hope You’ll Adhere to Them; I Will Enforce

My #SocialMedia Ground Rules: I Hope You’ll Adhere to Them; I Will Enforce

Social media icons

Dear Social Media “Friends,” “Followers” and those who “Circle” me:

—Please do not privately message (PM or DM) me to promote ANYTHING or ask me to “LIKE” something or follow you. I will block you from then on.

—If you are an #author and want me to notice your books, write good books and let me find them. I don’t have much time to read much these days and I do not write reviews of most books. I’m trying to write my own!

—Please don’t request #bookreviews from me unless I know you and have reviewed your books already. I do not do swaps.

No Meme
image from http://brightestyoungthings.com

—Please do not become a “friend” or “follower” and then send me private messages in order to “date” me. It’s creepy. That is a horrible way to get connected. I will unfriend/uncircle you immediately.

—Please do not comment on my appearance, my photo, or my life in a private message if we don’t know each other. It’s also creepy. I will block you.

—Please do not “ping” me (put my name in your post) just to promote your…. whatever. See above.

—Please don’t ask me to vote up, promote, or review books I haven’t read. Do not send me “chain” posts or demand that I… Whatever. I won’t do it.

No-no-meme-
image from: http://www.fanpop.com

—If you keep posting (I give you one “free pass”) about Jesus, Mohammed, God, or your non-Buddhist religious books, I will mute and then “unfriend”/”uncircle” you. I’m not interested. I don’t want Bible verses (“Old” or “New” Testament), Q’ran passages, Vendanta quotes or anything else that is not Buddhist appearing on my pages, EVER.

—I will post quotes from Buddhist leaders any time I want. If you don’t like seeing those, mute or unfriend me, but please do not argue or post nasty comments about these posts.

—Please do not post pictures of anyone or anything else that is even a tiny bit NOT PG-13 on MY pages, ever, unless you’re making a salient point about sex-trafficking, abuse of minors or women, or health information.

—If you post “artistic” photos that are almost always pictures of half-naked people, I will mute your posts and probably uncircle/unfriend you; same if those are your usual book covers. My audience rating is to remain PG-13.

no-nudity
image from: http://www.downtownmiaminews.com

—In fact, unless we are actually friends and I know you fairly well, don’t post on my pages at all. PM/DM or email me and ask permission, being specific about what you want to post. Then, I will respond with “Yes, thanks!” or “No, thanks.”

—If I don’t like your politics but you are not offensively promoting them, that’s usually all right, depending on what they are. I’ll let you be. If I really hate your views, I can mute you.

—If you are hate-mongering, misogynistic, racist, classist, mean-spirited, name-calling and otherwise right-wing/ultra-orthodox anything and therefore, in my opinion, obnoxious, I will block you.

no isms allowed

—Please do not post rabid anti-Israel views on my pages, ever. My family is Jewish and some of them live there. Get a clue. I may not support all of its politics or actions, but I definitely support Israel’s right to exist. Intelligent, thoughtful discussions about Israeli politics and actions are welcomed; they are not always what I wish Israel would be doing, either.


Want to know what you are INVITED to do?

Curating Good Content: If you write or repost something you think I’d be interested in and it’s NOT an attempt to sell me your stuff, then by all means, “ping” me. I love learning/seeing new stuff on topics I’m interested in (which are MANY: check my previous posts. I will reblog/repost/share your great posts and give you full credit.

Connecting: If you are a reader of my books or posts, a sympathetic author, a meditator (especially Buddhist), a science-lover (especially quantum physics), a science-fiction fan, in harmony with me politically (feminist, left of liberal), or otherwise resonate positively with my writing, talk show and/or posts, please contact me to ask questions, offer suggestions, get to know me, especially if you live in or are coming through St. Louis, MO, USA!

good-friends-nice-greeting-image
image from: http://youthclubblog.wordpress.com

Chatting: Want to promote yourself and have a great conversation while doing it? Check out my talk show, CHANGES conversations between authors, and offer to come on as a guest. Info is on my website: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/

Cooperating: Want more exposure? Offer to Guest Blog something that is NOT purely for self-promotion. Use my email address for these inquiries, which is on my website’s
“Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame.” https://sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

Community-Building: To get to know me, join groups/communities I’m active in (not a lot of those, though: on Facebook are “Clean Indie Reads,” “Fantasy and Sci-Fi Net,” “Gutsy Indie Publishers”; on Google+ are “User2User LIVE!,” “Lights, Camera, HOA!” are a few) and post something besides self-promotional posts and I might become interested in you and your books.

Collaborating: To get my attention, comment on my blog, follow my blog, comment on my posts, participate/view my talk show, CHANGES, buy my books and write reviews (or do that for Volume I, which is free), offer to help “crowdcreate” my two Volumes (VIII and IX), THEN email or PM me. https://sallyember.com/spanners-2/

logoAuthorsDen
art by Aidana Willowraven

Crowdfunding: To support getting my ebooks into print, my videocasts into podcasts, my next two book covers and my ongoing support of other authors, my blog and my writing, AND get at least a free ebook or reduced-price editing/proofreading/writing tutoring services, please visit and donate to my crowdfunding campaign! I even sing a song for your consternation pleasure! : http://www.patreon.com/sallyember


I know many won’t see this, but it’s worth a try.


Where to find me:
http://www.sallyember.com  main website, which has ALL links to books, other sites, reviews, interviews, CHANGES episodes, Guest Blog posts of mine on others’ sites, and more

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW  Amazon Central author page
https://www.twitter.com/sallyemberedd Twitter: @sallyemberedd
https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber Spanners Series’ page on FB
https://www.facebook.com/sally.ember Sally’s FB page
http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember Pinterest Boards
http://goo.gl/tZKQpv Spanners Series’ page on Google+
http://www.google.com/+SallySueEmber Sally Sue Ember on Google+
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqnZuobf0YTCiP6silDDL2w/videos Youtube Channel
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7237845.Sally_Ember Goodreads page  

Won’t Retweet, Won’t do Review Swaps, Won’t “Vote Up” Reviews: Why I Don’t Automatically Play Along with Many Writers’ Groups Anymore

Won’t Retweet, Won’t do Review Swaps, Won’t “Vote Up” Reviews:
Why I Don’t Automatically Play Along with Many Writers’ Groups Anymore

As Holly Near sings in her iconic relationship-gone-sour song, “Started Out Fine,” it “started out fine; we were moving ahead.” [Great song: go watch her sing it!]

Holly’s “Started Out Fine” on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qhxkd6Gn0E

When I first decided to become an independent author and self-publish after having gone the trad route with nonfiction and made a few attempts to go the trad route for fiction, I knew next-to-nothing about the social media circus I was about to join. I was starry-eyed, optimistic, eager and trusting.

I would get reviewers. I would network. I would make online author friends. I’d become part of communities I would find online. Yippee!

Oy.

Sure, I had a Facebook page, I had opened (and never used) a Twitter account, and I was listed on LinkedIn, for professional purposes (but hardly ever used it).

social-sites

I had found Authonomy http://www.Authonomy.com and Wattpad http://www.Wattpad.com and decided to post excerpts on these sites, hoping to begin to get readers, reviewers, friends, colleagues.

My niece set up my first website, Sally Ember, Ed.D., and I began to “blog my book,” posting excerpts there and on Facebook for weeks prior to publication (catching up with both excerpts sites, above, before release day).

I researched and decided to go with Smashwords, first, with a pre-order period (several posts about Pre-orders are on my blog, http://www.sallyember.com), then publish to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) when my first ebook went live.

That was the entirety of my social media presence in the summer of 2013, a few months before I hit the “publish” button on my first of the ten volumes in The Spanners Series. Some of these endeavors resulted in my finding exactly what I was looking for: a community of indie and/or self-pub writers, many of whom were also somewhat new, volunteering to review, comment, enjoy my excerpts and then my book! I was so delighted and grateful!

Some of these new connections invited me into groups I’d previously been unaware of, but I happily became quite active in them, for a while. These groups had members who were (and ARE) so supportive, showing me a variety of ways to be involved in cross-promoting one another’s writing.

At first, it was all sunny skies and rainbows. My ebook was gaining visibility, I was making online friends, gaining more reviews and having a good time. Mutual respect, support, encouragement, laughs, tips, ideas and more were flowing around groups and quite helpful to me. I even had some to share back to them. Awesome…for a while.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
image from: http://www.dreamstime.com

The clouds rolled in all too soon. Has any of this happened to you?
“Sure! I’ll ReTweet [RT] glowing praise for your book(s) [even though I’ve never read anything you’ve written]!”

“Of course, if you read and review my book, I’d be delighted to read and review yours [until I read a few that were AWFUL!]!”

“Please be assured that, if you vote up my book’s good reviews on Amazon or my book on Goodreads’ Lists or put my book on your “shelves” on Goodreads, I’ll do the same for yours [even though… {PICK ONE: I’ve never read these other writers’ books OR I don’t like the genre and would never read them OR I have started to read them but couldn’t continue because they were AWFUL}]!”

“Oh, great! I’d love to be part of this ‘review each other’s blog’ swap. Oh, what? You’re assigning me to an erotica site when my brand is PG-13?!?!? No can do. Oh, it’s required? Oh, you’re now calling me names, like ‘prude,’ and telling me I’m being ‘judgmental’? ‘Bye, then.”

thunderheads_canisbay
image from: http://www.artcountrycanada.com

Struck by scolding/lightning one too many times, I dropped out each of those writers’ groups that had absurd or untenable “member responsibilities.” I eventually dropped out of all but a few groups.

Whew! Relieved!

<strong>My integrity has been restored by establishing for myself some great ground rules:
1) I am not on “Tweet teams” which require members to RT every and all Tweets.
2) I do not do “obligatory” reviews or “swaps.”
3) I do cross-promoting only after I’ve gotten to know/read and respect the other person and his/her writing enough to put my name on a public recommendation.
4) I don’t “vote up” any reviews or books unless I’ve read and agree with the votes.
5) I don’t vote for book covers or books for voting-related rewards unless I actually believe they deserve to win.

The best part of being “older but wiser, now” about how writers use social media? If you see my name on a book or blog review, a promotional Tweet, a shared or reblogged post, you can rest assured I believe in what I’m sharing/promoting.

When I haven’t read the work of the authors and don’t know their blog or them at all except as members’ names, I only share or RT general promotions for the GROUP. That’s the way I handle all that social media group cross-promotion pressure, now.

Also, when an individual requests any of the actions I now refuse to take, I gently let them know I don’t do those actions and some I send to the ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) Ethical Code, which I signed and promote on my blog, GLADLY: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/11/alli-launch-ethical-author-code.html Go read it. Sign it. Share it. We all should!

ALLiEthicalAuthor_Final-Outlines-300x173

So, however you respect my taste and/or me, you can follow my recommendations or leads as you wish.

All the best to you!

Part I: Letter to my Earlier Self, What I Wish I had Known for #Indiepub #Ebooks 1 and 2

Part I: Letter to my Earlier Self, What I Wish I had Known for #Indiepub #Ebooks 1 and 2

This was originally posted on 11/24/14 as a Guest Blogger on http://www.thebookcove.com/2014/11/author-sally-ember-edd-what-i-wish-i.html, when I was still writing Vol III and before I had written enough of these posts to make a series of “Open Letters.”

Now, there is a series, and I am re-posting them in order, one per week.
(The Book Cove posted one per week, November through December.)
This is Letter One of four, total.

As I get ready to release Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in my sci-fi/ romance/ paranormal/ multiverse/ utopian The Spanners Series, I consider what I wish I had known for ebooks 1 and 2 of this series, my first launch and second foray into being an indiepub author after having been traditionally published.

I decided to write a series of letters to my pre-publication self, since I believe in simultaneous time. I know that this letter and all the subsequent ones are already written and I am already reading them before I publish Volume I, This Changes Everything, and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever. I’m sharing this information with the public here (again).

Follow that? It helps to be a sci-fi or quantum physics fan, for sure.

Here is Part I of my tips for my earlier self and therefore, all new indie authors who are about to publish their first ebook (or even afterward). There will be a series of such letters advising myself. I need a lot of help!

I appreciate the The Book Cove Reviews for allowing their blog to be the place these letters first appear. My tips had a chance to reach a much wider audience on that site. I hope many budding and newer indie authors besides my earlier self found them helpful when these letters were first published last fall, 2014!

What I Wish I had Known for #Indiepub #Ebooks 1 and 2:
An Open Letter to my Earlier Self

Part I

Dear Earlier Sally,

So, here you are, in December, 2011, writing your first sci-fi novel. You don’t know, yet, that you’re going to become an “indie” author, or even what that is.

Let’s recap what a sorry state you’re in, as an author, and see what, if anything, we can do to rectify this ignorance that could short-circuit your incipient writing career.

  • You still think you’re going to write query letters, try to find an agent, seek a publication “house” and become a published author the way you’ve seen it happen with your previous nonfiction books and countless others’ fiction books. You haven’t even considered not having a print book and haven’t even read or seen an ebook at this point. You have no idea how much this industry is about to BOOM!

    ebook sales to 2013

  • In fact, even though you’ve heard of Kindles and other ereaders, you’ve never seen one and don’t know anyone who owns or uses one, yet. You’ve never heard of or seen anything about Google+, “author platforms,” or blogging by authors. You think those who blog are self-centered, boring, unemployed journalists or stay-at-home workers who have time to surf the net and write drivel about their lives that you can’t imagine anyone wanting to read.
  • You aren’t on or aware of most of social media. For example, Twitter: you have no Followers except by accident (you now have 7). You never tweet, retweet, or favorite anyone’s tweets. In fact, you never read and respond on Twitter at all. Furthermore, your Facebook activity is conducted strictly to stay in touch with friends and family, people you actually know. You belong to no Facebook groups except those that include people you know and have a specific purpose (your high school reunion group, a meditation group).

    Social media icons

  • Additionally, even though someone told you to sign up for and join Goodreads, you almost never visit it and have no idea what it’s for. You also believe that people who use it are just sharing book lists and books they like. You never read or write reviews there or on Amazon and rarely buy books from online stores; you prefer bricks-and-mortar bookstores when you buy books and mostly use lending libraries.
  • You don’t consider yourself a book marketer and have not the faintest idea what book marketing entails, nor do you want to know. In fact, you plan to have all that done by your publisher and perhaps your agent (you’re a little fuzzy on who does what and when). You believe that their experienced and intensive marketing efforts will succeed in getting you/your book on TV, radio, and in print reviews and ads which will make your book rocket to best-seller status very quickly, since you’re sure it’s that good.
  • You’ve ever heard of or used any Google+ Communities, Hangouts, or Circles.
  • You have never heard of Metadata and wouldn’t know how to apply that to your ebooks, either.

    Metadata topics

  • You do not know about most of nor do you belong to any in-person much less virtual writers’ groups, authors’ groups, marketing groups, review sharing groups, or any professional writers’ groups of any kind.
  • You’ve never heard of ALEXA, Google Page Ranks, Google Authorship or KLOUT scores and you don’t know much about having an online presence. The extent of your knowledge is that you check Google every now and then to make sure nobody else is using your name or is saying bad things about you online.

Oy, vey.

Can your writing career be salvaged? Can you become a published author and have ANYONE know it? How will your book get reviews? How will you acquire any followers, much less readers? Will you sell even one book to anyone outside your friends and family?

How and when will you ever figure out that you need to create and maintain a website, build and improve your author’s platform, join and become active in online and virtual communities/groups, become KNOWN as YOU, your brand, online, as a sci-fi author and blogger, a creator and curator of useful content?

Writing Community

Tip #1: Forget the query letters, hunts for agents/publishers and all that trad pub jazz. Indie is the way to go. Ebooks are rocking the readers. Believe me. I know.

Tip #2: You may have noticed that I’ve actually decided to write these letters to you to offer a kind of road map to your salvation as an author. If you read and research each of the words or phrases I’ve put into BOLD in this letter, for example, those are the dots you have to connect, the work you have to do, to create the best future for your books and for you as an author.

Do a lot of it NOW, before you publish, and then keep doing more. That is key!

Stay tuned for Part II and subsequent Parts to this intraself communication which will contain advice for many indie authors as we continue on this journey of educating this indie author, earlier Sally: YOU!

Get to work!

Present Sally
http://www.sallyember.com
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW

10 Criteria for Joining #Online #Groups/#Communities for #Writers

10 Criteria for Joining #Online #Groups/#Communities for #Writers

What is the value of social networks in easing the loneliness of the solo writer? How do online groups/communities provide opportunities for sharing ideas? How do today’s writers, especially for those newly published or about to seek options in publication, benefit from building communities of virtual friends?

There are now thousands of online groups/communities a writer can join. Some are only available via membership in existing social media sites, such as Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. Others are stand-alone groups that have their own websites and memberships but may also host a page on any of the other social media sites to attract and inform potential members and continue to post info to members regularly.

Then, there are the groups, chat rooms or fora one can join, lurk on and/or contribute to on Yahoo, KindleBoards, Smashwords, Bublish, Authonomy, Jukepop Serial, Wattpad, and probably hundreds more, Add to that specific professional sites’ groups, such as Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, etc., plus international groups and marketing sites and it makes one’s head spin.

If you are a blogger as well as a fiction writer, if you are a new and/or indie pub author or just one of millions who has no outside PR firm hired to market your books, you NEED groups/communities to get your “brand” known, find readers, attract followers and fans, get “pingbacks,” improve your ALEXA rating, your KLOUT or SNAP scores, get a Google Page Ranking for your website….

Don’t you?

How does a busy writer wade through all these opportunities to decide where to plant one’s online presence “flag” and still have time to write? The discerning writer who actually wants to protect your time and keep writing while marketing effectively can use these 10 criteria to choose your online memberships.

10 Criteria for Joining #Online #Groups/#Communities for #Writers

Join-us-banner

image from: http://www.tabularasa.com.au

DECIDE whether or not to:

1. PAY or stick with FREE memberships?
Some groups are free; some start out free or have a free level but change into/have paid memberships that provide additional services or opportunities to those who pay. If you have an unlimited budget or find yourself drawn to one or more of these groups and can afford it, go ahead and become a paid (upper-level) member. Some of these groups’ upper levels really do offer services to authors that are useful; some just say they do but when you read carefully, the “services” are not much more than occasional tweets.

Beware of those that over-promise, do not deliver, or are vague about what paid membership avails members of before paying. Research them: search for the group’s hashtag or tweet handle and then privately message someone [not the leader] about specific ways that being a paid member benefits him/her.

So far, the most I have paid to “belong” to any group or purchase any “marketing” service was $15 and it wasn’t worthwhile. If you do join a group and pay your fees or dues, make sure you’re getting what you pay for and only renew if it’s worth it: no automatic renewals!

pay dues

2. Participate in “review swaps”?
As a newbie desperate for reviews for seemingly invisible books, I found these groups to be so tempting. They seemed so supportive. They offer REVIEWS, sometimes in great quantity, sometimes with rankings and votes as well. But, free or not, these review “exchanges” come with several “prices,” and I personally decided the prices were too high.

For one, I am not comfortable providing pre-arranged and necessarily positive reviews (usually these swaps require/request a review rating of 4 or higher) for books I haven’t yet read in order to get the same for my own books (which the “reviewers” may or may not fully read). I “got into trouble” for daring to critique the books I read for being under-edited, overwritten, poorly constructed, badly plotted, shallow, etc.

Second, and much more chilling: if you join these groups and participate, you run the risk of having any or all of your reviews summarily removed from Amazon for not being inauthentic (some rightly so).

Third, some social media sites (Goodreads, for one) monitors members’ activities and sends messages to those members it believes are abusing the site, such as by “buying” or “trading” votes on Listopia, for example, or providing “fake” 5-star reviews to numerous members’ books. If you even get accused and especially when caught, you will discover that most sites’ TOS say they can suspend your account permanently and remove your books’ reviews, rankings, votes, etc., often with no warning and no recourse.

banned from Amazon

Although I joined some of these groups initially, I found out all of this later. Then, I removed myself within a few months of joining. I never paid to join.

If you are comfortable with the risks and conditions, go right ahead and participate.

3. Participate in Blog Hops and other “required” activities?
Some of these are great and worth doing. Others, not so much.

Look around, visit a few, comment, see what happens. THEN, decide.

4. Join a “Tweet” team or use group hashtags when posting?
This is highly recommended by some, disregarded by many. When someone posts nothing on Twitter but lists of others’ handles and the group’s hashtag, NO ONE CARES. Don’t do that.

But, if your group actually retweets, comments, replies, shares, ENGAGES with each others’ tweets or posts, that is worthwhile and those groups are worth joining.

5. Become a regular responder/poster or stay in the “shadows” (read/lurk but don’t comment, “LIKE,” +1 or post)?
I highly recommend lurking/reading many days’ or months’ worth of posts for some “Boards,” Communities or Groups before posting yourself. Get the “culture” of the group: the tone, the topics, the length, the repartee, the purposes. See if these resonate with you and your “brand” or style. If yes, go right ahead and join in the conversation. If not, move on.
Do not join a group to argue, criticize, lambast or attack.

Remember: the internet is “forever”: if you get into a “flame war,” readers/fans and publishers (and employers) can find it years later. Perhaps use a pseudonym for controversial posts.

Zooey Deschanel quote about trolls

6. Become a “help offered,” “help requested” or both type of participant?
You can become a resource to others on many sites (Quora, Ask an Expert, Reddit, etc.) or request help yourself.

Respect, assistance and expertise are admired. Whining, complaining, false information or bragging: not.

7. Join as yourself, your brand/books/website, your pseudonym?
EVERYTHING you post becomes part of your brand unless you use pseudonyms. The intentional and judicious use of pseudonyms is recommended, particularly if you write in vastly different genres (children’s books and erotica) or want to comment on controversial topics but not affect your brand.

If you become a “content curator,” offering information, help, creative/fun posts, and these are consistent (or at least not contradictory) with your brand, go for it! Join groups and comment/post frequently as yourself. Get to know/be known by the members, become a fan /follower of theirs.

I belong to several groups whose members and I are becoming virtual friends. We support each other’s efforts.

encouragers-wanted

image from: http://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com

These are the groups worth joining and continuing to be active in and are valuable even when you have little time. If you comment here with one of yours, I’ll share some of mine!

Dump the rest.

8. Join any genre-specific or topic-specific groups?
If you are a “genre” writer, then, YES: join one or more of these groups.

I belong to sci-fi, romance, paranormal, ebooks, indie pub, fantasy, “clean” indie, female-oriented, YA, speculative fiction, blogger, author, writer, marketing, science, tech, G+ HOA help and many other groups that I interact with, enjoy and learn from weekly.

Be sure to read and follow each group’s posting guidelines carefully to avoid getting disliked, kicked out or otherwise censored.

9. Offer any giveaways, have contests, provide guest spots yourself?
If you have print books or swag, go right ahead and offer it/them. I highly recommend that you think of what you have to offer and start offering (e.g., free PDFs of writing tips, samples of your writing, free passes, discount coupons) whenever you can.

I have a blog (http://www.sallyember.com/blog) and an almost-weekly Google+ Hangout On Air (CHANGES HOA), so I can and do offer guest blog opportunities and guest starring spots. If you’d like to propose a guest blog topic and date and/or be on CHANGES, get in touch with me here: sallyember@yahoo.com

I am also a series ebooks novelist, so I offer the first book in The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, as “permafree,” which is highly recommended for newbies to do, once we have subsequent books for sale.

When you are doing many other types of writing and interacting regularly with several online groups/communities, you can occasionally plug your own books! Like, NOW!

logoAuthorsDen

10. Enter any contests or pay for reviews or marketing?

When a group’s entire purpose is to further its own ends and fill its coffers with entry fees, service charges, etc., these make me suspicious. But, I am naturally cynical.

I decided early on not to pay to enter any writing contests, not to pay for reviews, not to pay for “members’ services” and mostly not to pay for marketing. These are my decisions and not everyone agrees with them.

Some individuals offer a combination of free and for sale services/marketing, so you can decide which you want to participate in/join. I have met several great people and had excellent experiences in some groups in this way: I participated in their free activities and then did not continue when the next steps required payment since I couldn’t afford or did not need those services at that point. I do give these “helpers” regular “shout-outs” and thank them publicly for all they do/have done, actions which I hope make up for my lack of financial support to them.

The professionals left me alone when I asked them to do so. The ones who wouldn’t stop emailing and kept on when I asked them to stop or when I told them I wasn’t buying got relegated to spam and ignored.

You have to decide for yourself. However, if you are considering paying for any of these, please research the contest, reviewers, PR person, etc., thoroughly.

Writing Community

It’s bad enough not to win or not to get what you paid for; it’s worse when you’ve paid a lot. BEWARE!

If/when you find groups worth joining, please comment about them here.

Best of luck to you all!

Being #Single vs. Social #Isolation: Benefits and Costs of #Solitude

Headlines and talk show jokes pervaded last week, screaming about the latest research in the USA claiming that being #single is now the “norm” for adults for the first time. What are the benefits and costs of this #solitude? What about increasing social #isolation, especially for #Seniors?

from Bloomberg news, we get these insights and facts:
“Single Americans make up more than half of the adult population for the first time since the government began compiling such statistics in 1976….[That is] 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly job-market report.”

single stats

image from: http://www.nbcnews.com

More specifically: “The percentage of adult Americans who have never married has risen to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976, while the proportion that are divorced, separated or widowed increased to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent…”

Among other results of this change, “this exaggerates income inequality…” This worries and affects me and should concern us all in the USA. When so many for so long are un- or under-employed, living on fixed incomes that are unable to cover necessities and bills, we are ALL living in economically unstable situations and we ALL pay.

Singles Bloomberg graphic

image from: http://www.bloomberg.com

For their full article:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-09/single-americans-now-comprise-more-than-half-the-u-s-population.html

From another source, we get these “spins” on the topic: http://www.feelguide.com/2014/09/11/the-united-states-of-bachelors-single-people-now-make-up-more-than-50-of-u-s-adult-population/

“The United States Of Bachelors: Single People Now Make Up More Than 50% Of U.S. Adult Population” and “…there’s new research which indicates that being single can have enormous benefits on your wellbeing.”

Singles Fox Graphic

image from: http://foxnewsinsider.com

Clicking on that link brings us to this headline and the real link for its list. http://www.feelguide.com/2014/02/17/the-top-5-scientific-reasons-why-being-single-is-good-for-your-mind-body-and-spirit/

“The Top 5 Scientific Reasons Why Being Single Is Good For Your Mind, Body, And Spirit” [with its own sources for each of the points in the article; link below this list, here]:

  • 1. Healthier Heart: “…rates of heart disease were lowest among those who had never been married. The difference between those who had been married the whole time and those who had been single the whole time was not significant, but those who were ‘remarried,’ “divorced,’ and ‘widowed’ — all statuses that can come from getting hitched — were significantly worse off.”
  • 2. Fitter Body: “…the ones who had never been married exercised more each week than those who were either married or divorced.”
  • 3. Stronger and more Diverse Social Network: “…’married people are less likely than single people to help, support, visit, and maintain contact with friends, family, and neighbors’…The same is true for partners who are unmarried but living together…. once people get married, they have less contact with their siblings….Single people…may have more emotional energy to share with friends, siblings, parents — and themselves.”
  • 4. “No Settling“: “People who can embrace being single are less likely to end up settling for unhappy partnerships, feeling stuck and unfulfilled.”
  • 5. Enjoy the Benefits of Solitude: “…[T]he solo state has been linked to ‘freedom, creativity, intimacy, and spirituality.’ Singles — especially those who live alone — may have more time for solitude and its many psychological benefits.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-its-better-to-be-single-2014-2

One of the correlations to being single, and in my and others’ opinions, a chief reason that being single is more popular, feasible and enjoyable now than ever? The use of social networking sites, especially via internet accessing devices such as phones and tablets, is higher than ever and rising among adults in the USA. Can’t be a coincidence.

Social-Network-Demographics 2014

image from: http://www.linkedmediagroup.com

I am astonished by these stats, which are the highest for FACEBOOK: 76% of adult females and 66% of males online use Facebook! In the age group of 30 – 49, that total is 79%! Even in rural and suburban areas, that figure stays around 70% and higher. In older age groups, that percentage is still quite high: among those ages 50 – 64, 60% are using it, with 45% of Seniors using Facebook.

There has been a meme going around that shows various faces or graphics with these words: “I just spent the day on Facebook instead of being with people” or words to that effect. Truer than ever, now, for most adults, it seems.

Singlehood may be beneficial for many, especially women (many research studies have pointed this out repeatedly in recent years) but social isolation is not beneficial and is increasing, with extremely negative results for Seniors (mostly women) in the USA.

social-isolated-seniors

image from: http://nassembly.com

Being alone does not equal being lonely. Being single does not equate with being unhappy. Okay. Got that. I and many others could fill many blog posts with personal stories of poor relationships’ escape stories, relief at being single, joy in alone time, happiness while on our own.

I have been saying for years that my “chooser” must be broken and therefore, I’m finished with choosing an intimate partner and happier being on my own than in another wrong relationship. If a suitable partner finds me, that might work. But my being the chooser? not going to happen again. I therefore firmly agree with the “not settling” part, above, for myself.

In a major life change spurred by many factors (personal, economic, familial), currently, as many of you know, my mother and I started sharing her condo a few weeks ago. This takes care of many of both of our social and other interpersonal needs just fine. We have our own time and our together time. We help each other and we leave each other to our own devices. We are fortunate to have rhythms and personalities that mesh well.

But, there are actual social and other needs for many adults in the USA that require interaction and assistance from live humans that are largely going unmet, especially for Senior women. What are we as a nation going to do about this? Comments and suggestions, here, please.

Senior woman alone

image from: http://www.goodtherapy.org

Reblogging: “10 Tools to Make Your Social Media Management Easier” by Andrew Jenkins

“Execnote” “Nimble” “Commun.it” “Pocket”

If these sound like foreign terms, you’re not alone. Indie authors and many others doing our own marketing and outreach are inundated with tasks, content, tweets, posts, blogs, podcasts and videos until we’re ready to explode.

We have to get our social media to be more manageable, don’t we?

Let Andrew Jenkins explain and provide reasons for you to learn about and start using these social media management tools!

Thanks, Andrew!

Social media icons\

http://arcompany.co/10-tools-to-make-your-social-media-management-easier/

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