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You’ve worked too hard to quit now. Your story is nearly ready, but now it’s time to sell your novel. Learn the steps to creating a powerful proposal, secrets to pitching, the key elements to your marketing plan, a social media primer and how to create rabid reader fans. It’s time to ignite your career.

Create an Awesome Marketing Plan—Part 3: Internet Presence

OTM logo--marketing planA few weeks back, we began a series on creating an awesome marketing plan for your novel’s proposal. The goal is not only to wow agents and editors with your stellar marketing expertise, but also once published to be able to take this plan and put it into action.

Earlier posts include:

Part 1: Intro

Part 2: Media and Speaking Engagements

Today, we’re going to talk about the biggie:

Internet Presence

I helped teach a workshop recently during which one attendee proudly declared, “I’m not on the Internet.” Little hint: That’s not going to work in an author marketing plan. Not these days.

But even if your internet presence isn’t as hefty as you’d like it to be, it’s still important to let agents and editors know you are savvy about the online world and you’ve at least begun the process of carving out a place for yourself in that world. (Sidenote: My editor found me through my online presence–both Twitter and my blog. So it’s important to begin building this piece of your marketing strategy before you have a book contract!)

I’ll tell you, I’ve never had an agent or editor ask for my specific social media numbers but the first time I visited my publisher’s offices after signing contract, multiple people commented on my website. They’d read my blogs, even watched my vlogs and several people pointed out things they’d read in the bio on my website. One of the biggest things they noticed? The engagement on my website. The fun conversations happening on my blog.

So even if you don’t have incredibly high social media numbers, that’s not always the most important thing. It’s the quality of your content and the engagement of the followers you do have that really stands out, especially on the fiction side. (On the nonfiction side, yes, they are looking for BIG numbers!)

So here are the elements to include in the Internet Presence portion of your marketing plan:

Website or blog: Include how often you blog, what kind of topics you cover, what kind of traffic you receive.

Facebook: It’s probably smart at some point to begin a Facebook Page rather than depending on your profile, but whatever route you choose to go, include a sentence or two about your Facebook activity.

Twitter: If you’re on Twitter (which I would definitely recommend!), talk about how often you tweet, what kind of tweets you write, and your plans for growing your following.

Goodreads: I’d be hesitant to say anyone MUST be on any particular platform (although, Facebook and Twitter are pretty basic and obvious choices), but Goodreads just makes sense if you’re a writer. It’s where readers congregate! Before you have a book published, it’s a great idea to join the site and get involved in groups, conversations, etc.

Pinterest / Instagram / G+ / YouTube / etc: What other social media platforms do you use? Personally, Pinterest drives me up a wall, but I love Instagram. I’m just getting the hang of G+ and I’ve experimented with but never really hugely focused on YouTube.

As I noted above, I’ve never had an agent or editor ask for my specific numbers, but I’ve heard from more and more friends that their agents or potential editors are asking for these numbers. Personally, if you are asked to list numbers, I think it pays to then go beyond the number. Talk about what kind of engagement you see across your platforms, what kind of content you post, what your plans are for growing your online platform…let the agent or editor know you aren’t just posting willy-nilly, but you actually have a strategy for your social media content.

Klout: Sometimes agents or editors will ask for your Klout score. Klout is an app that uses your social media analytics to rank your online influence. Sometimes I think it’s a little too easy to manipulate your “Klout Score” but nonetheless, if an agent or editor asks for this score, you’ll want to provide it. You can sign up for a Klout account easily at Klout.com.

A savvy marketer knows the internet presence portion of your marketing plan should go beyond social media platforms. Here are some other internet presence blurbs to include:

Group blogs: Do you regularly post articles as part of one or more group blogs? Make sure to include that and if you’ve had some really great engagement, perhaps even include links to your most-read pieces.

E-zines and other online articles: Include any other online writing you’ve done for e-zines or popular websites. Also list online publications you plan to approach once your book has released.

Blog tours: Let the publisher know you plan to help coordinate a blog tour once your book is out. Many publishers will arrange their own blog tours through existing book blogger and review programs. But it never hurts to line up your own appearances, as well.

Connections: List any other strong internet connections you may have that could be beneficial when your book releases. This could be sites where you’d like your publisher to consider running web ads or doing giveaways, etc.

To sum up, the internet presence piece of your marketing plan is about so much more than a group of numbers. It’s about letting your prospective agent or publisher know you understand the importance of having an online presence, that you have a strategy and that you plan to do your part in growing your online exposure.

Do you have any questions about the internet presence portion of your author marketing plan?

Join us in two weeks for a look at how libraries and launch teams add an extra boost to your marketing efforts.

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Using Body Language to Write Stronger Characters

Sometimes I look up from writing a scene at my computer and my family is watching me.

One or two of them look concerned. Another one is muffling laughter behind their hands. And my husband? Well, he’s got the “she didn’t tell me she was a writer when I met her” look in his eyes.

Looking around the room, I realize I’m at it again: my brow is furrowed. I’m muttering under my breath. Maybe running my fingers through my hair. Or maybe I’m twisting my hands together in front of me. Or biting my bottom lip. Or trying to figure out how a person produces a crooked half smile … I mean, is that even possible?

Admit it! If you’re a writer, you’ve done it too — acted out a character’s facial expression or posture, trying to figure out how to best write emotion so that you show, don’t tell.

The challenge goes beyond not wanting to look crazy to our family — although there is that. It’s wanting to move beyond the  descriptors we’ve read before and come up with something fresh.

You can only read about a character chewing on their thumb nail (nervousness) or rubbing their hand on the back of their neck (frustration) or standing with their hands fisted on their hips (defiance/anger) so many times before you think “Been there, read that.”

Last week, when I found myself waving my hands in the air — and yes, looking up and seeing my family watching me with that “oh, no, here she goes again” look — I abandoned my solitary game of charades and tried something different:

I googled the phrase  body language for frustration.

  • One website showed a basic image of — you guessed it — a man rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. This, it turns out, is a very common signal for frustration. But the website also listed other ways we express frustration, including:
    • vigorously scratching your hands or face
    • tapping your hands against your lap
    • shaking your foot repeatedly
  • Another tumblr post by Reference for Writers worth checking out is 41 Emotions as Expressed through Body Language
  • And then there’s this Body Language Cheat Sheet from Writers Write.
  • You can also type in a phrase like angry body language or sad body language and than click on the “image” link and explore the different images — some of which will be highlighted with descriptors to help you better understand body language.

The point is this: Don’t settle for the first facial expression or posture or hand gesture that comes to your mind. Odds are, you’ve written that before in a previous scene or chapter.

When I read through my manuscripts — fast drafts to galleys — I weed out the repetivive body language, along with the repeated words and repeated plot points. Nothing needs to keep showing up over and over in your manuscript — unless a particular action is there for a reason, like a character who has a  bad habit of chewing their nails.

Are you using body language to build strong characters?

[Tweet “Use body language to create strong characters @bethvogt #writer”]


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Thank you! in typewriter

Social Media Minute—Eight Social Media Updates You Should NEVER Share

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Social media is all about connections. It’s a digital community where relationships are built. IN this community, the relationship building takes place in much the same way as in a physical community. The foundational component is sharing—sharing lives, sharing thoughts, sharing hopes and dreams. But with all this sharing, there are still things we don’t need to know about one another.

I hate to say this, but I’ve seen all of these irritating updates show up in one or more of my social media feeds. My reaction on seeing these has ranged from mildly irritated, to what-was-she-thinking shock. I’d love for you to make note of these, and avoid them completely.

8 Social Media Updates You Should NEVER Share

  1. The stream of consciousness updates: Now that I’m up, I’m having coffee. Back from the shower and trying to decide what to wear. Dreading the mountain of laundry staring me in the face. Trust me, none of us care. So quit clogging the feed with visual noise.
  1. The cliffhanger update: You’ve seen them, they’re those thinly veiled attempts for sympathy. I’m so angry I could spit. Why do people have to go out of their way to do rotten things. Crying in the corner…. Ninety-five percent of us are just irritated by these updates. The other five percent can’t resist the ploy and ask for more information. If you need to vent and can’t do it online, call a friend. (Just FYI, this also applies to those photos you might post of you doing something dangerous. The image to the right is one I found of our son while browsing my FB feed. It’s a good way to give your mother gray hair, not to mention a stroke.)
  1. The I’m on vacation updates: I’ve heard of so many instances where the homes of vacationers have been burglarized all because the family posted updates about their travels. Telling large groups of people your house is going to be vacant is an open invitation for a robbery. Be smart, share your vacation photos and stories after you get back home.
  1. The vicious rant update: You’ve heard me say over and over again that you should never post anything negative about anyone online. That’s what I’m talking about here. It’s hard enough to mend relationships when you just speak the words. Putting them in writing will ensure you’ll be fighting this battle the rest of your life.
  1. The Unverified pictures of missing/ill/ abused/dying children update: There is a lot of junk floating around social media. For some reason, certain sick people use emotional updates to further their own gains. They sign up for accounts under false names and use the likes and shares to build a presence online. When we don’t take time to check whether or not an update is true, we clog the feed and further the nefarious schemes of these lowlifes. (to verify an online story, visit http://www.snopes.com/info/whatsnew.asp)
  1. The let me break it to you here update:We’ve all seen these, too. Glad to be alive, just totaled my car. Wow, look at this cool cut on my hand that’s dripping blood in the shape of a cross (yes, one of my boys sent this one). There are others, but you get the idea. Trust me, social media isn’t the way to break bad news, even if the end result was no big deal.
  1. Specific information and pictures of the children in your life:This one is serious—life-threateningly serious. We live in a world that preys on children. I can’t stress enough the importance of censoring what you share about them online. This means being smart about everything from embedded geo codes in photos, to what schools they attend, and what activities they’re involved with. Be smart and keep the kids safe.
  1. The invitation to play a game update:Now I admit this one is my personal peeve. But you might be surprised by the number of people who share my irritation. If someone I know chooses to play games, that’s fine. I’m not making any judgments here—I enjoy a good game of mahjong and 2048 as much as the next guy. But please don’t clog my feed with invitations to join you. If you need more lives and the only way you can get them is to invite friends to also play, be courteous and check with those friends first.

These are the list of things I never share online. I’d love to know what you’d add to the list.


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