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Guest Post: 4 Top Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Writing by @BadRedheadMedia


Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Annie Spratt

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Annie Spratt

If you are a nonfiction or memoir author, one of the issues I hear from multiple authors (and experienced myself) is giving ourselves permission to write the hard stuff. Many people will never put pen to paper because sharing the intimate details of their lives or a particular experience is simply too terrifying a thought.

I’m here to tell you how to overcome that fear and start writing.

Let’s deconstruct.

Fear

What are you so afraid of? Most writers are terrified of sharing the truth of their experiences, for a myriad of reasons:

  • What will my family and friends think?
  • Will people judge me?
  • Will anyone believe me?
  • Will I lose my job?

And these are all valid. However, keep in mind that you can still write about your experiences and nobody has to see them. Just start writing. Get the words out. Journal, write a letter, share your story on your blog or as a guest post anonymously, whatever – just get it out of your head and down on paper. Nobody is watching you or hovering over your shoulder. Take those fears, lock them in a drawer, and put away the key. They’ll be there waiting when you’re done.

Vulnerability works in your favor when writing memoir and nonfiction.

An author told me the other day that she could write for weeks nonstop if she could just get over that fear of someone reading it, so keep this in mind: nobody has to read your journal or first draft. Do what I call the “word vomit” and simply release your mind dump. It’s so incredibly freeing. I’m giving you permission right now.

You’re an adult, and you are allowed to write like one. Own your story…which leads me to my next point…

Feel It

If, at some point, you take that word vomit and decide you do want to create a book out of it, the only way you’ll be able to connect with your readers is to dig deep into what you’re feeling as you write it. Harness your raw emotion. If you don’t feel it as you write it, we won’t feel it as we read it.

As I counsel my author clients (and remind myself): write what scares you.

Here’s my biggest tip as you write your initial first draft: do not self-edit. Those stories have been circulating inside you for years, waiting patiently for you to bring them out. Honor them and let them have their say.

write-what-scares-you-rachel-attribution

Structure

Real-life experiences (in my case, I write about surviving childhood sexual abuse and the after-effects) can be brutal, joyful, horrifying, and thought-provoking – often a combination of them all. Give your writing some kind of structure after your initial draft.

Once you allow yourself to write out your experiences, some kind of structure will usually emerge. Note: working with a professional editor helps immensely at this point.

In my own case, in writing my first Broken book, Broken Pieces, I discovered that surviving abuse isn’t a linear, chronological process. My editor and I decided that the best way to present the book was in pieces (as referenced in the title), so the reader would feel the same kind of frustrations and sense of discord I felt as I experienced it.

In the second book, Broken Places, I found my work centered more around mind, body, and soul, so that’s how we structured the book. I didn’t discover that until after I had written most of the book and released everything I felt. The lesson here: trust the process.

If you simply cannot move forward without a full structure, that’s okay, too. Everyone works differently. Nonfiction and memoir tend to be a more internalized process, so my advice here is to not hold back, whichever way you go.

Trust

Trust your voice. It may sound cliché, but the truth of it is, many people will give you feedback on your work but ultimately, it’s your name that goes on the cover of that book. It’s your work.

That said, I do believe it’s critically important to work with a professional editor (like Wendy, who’s awesome), or someone else who does this for a living; not Aunt Edna who used to teach English back in the day. Ask people to beta-read for you. Send out ARCs. Send your work to trusted critique partners.

Why is this important? Because readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers will buy, read, review your work, and leave reviews. You don’t want any surprises. Sure, not everyone will love your work and that’s okay, too – that’s their right.

Keep in mind, once your book is out there, you’re no longer invited to the party. Don’t take it personally – publishing is a business. Be professional and keep on writing.

 

The only thing stopping you from writing is some unknown, nebulous fear and it’s up to you to wrangle it. Remember, nobody will see what you are writing unless you allow it, but even you can’t see what you’re writing unless you start.

So, go.

__________________________________________________

Rachel-Thompson1Rachel Thompson is represented by literary agent Lisa Hagan, and is published by ShadowTeamsNYC.

She is the author of the award-winning, bestselling Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco Book Festivals), and the bestselling, multi award-winning Broken Pieces (as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed).

Rachel’s work is also featured in several anthologies (see Books for details).

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), Feminine Collective, IndieReader.com, 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly,

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live weekly Twitter chats, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish (Tuesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST), and #BookMarketingChat, co-hosted with author assistant Melissa Flickinger (Wednesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST).

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Author Contact Information:

Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Twitter (Business):
@BadRedheadMedia
SexAbuseChat:
@SexAbuseChat
BookMarketingChat: @BkMarketingChat
MondayBlogs: @MondayBlogs 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Goodreads
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619475.Rachel_Thompson
Author Newsletter: 
http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: 
http://eepurl.com/koN8r
Full-size Author Photo Link: http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o158/Froze8/RachelThompson_

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Filed under Editor, Emotion, Guest Post, Life, Memoir, Nonfiction, Real Life, Writing, Writing Tips

Guest Post: The Creative Struggle of (Not) Writing with an ADHD Brain by Melissa Flickinger


  1. A thousand ideas are formed when I am nowhere near a computer. In my mind, I can form complete blog posts, plan out entire story plots in vivid detail, and create poetry. Of course, this all happens when I am doing things like washing the dishes or folding laundry. By the time I get to the computer to write my thoughts down, the words stop flowing.

2. Staring at the blank screen becomes frustrating, so I attempt to force myself to write something – ANYTHING – down.

3. I begin to re-evaluate my decision to become a writer. Why continue to torture myself with day dreams of ever finishing that novel (which has been my New Year’s Resolution for the past three years, BTW). I can’t even write a blog post – I have forgotten how to form complete sentences and I am too distracted to form a solid topic. I should be cleaning, cooking, exercising, listening to music… ya know, anything but writing.

4. I quit. I turn off the computer and walk away before I throw it across the room. Time to go out for a walk and clear my mind.

5. Out for a walk, three miles away from home: I just had a great idea for a blog post!

______________________________________________________________________

13288266_1715753882007533_1321014121_oMelissa Flickinger is a book marketing manager and author assistant. She co-hosts #BookMarketingChat, lead by author and social media expert Rachel Thompson, each Wednesday 6pm PST/9pm EST on Twitter.

Melissa studies Creative Writing and Human Relations and is a lover of all things pumpkin. She enjoys long walks along the Mississippi River and black coffee. She lives with her family in Southeastern Iowa.

Blog: M.L. Flickinger
Facebook: Facebook
Twitter: Twitter

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Filed under ADHD, Blogging, Guest Post, Life, Mental Health, Writing

This is Why Your Books Aren’t Selling: 4 Ways to Improve Now by @BadRedheadMedia


 Your Books Aren’t Selling

“My sales are awful, and I’ve done everything. I give up.” 

I heard this from three authors this week, and it’s not an uncommon sentiment right now. As an imprint director, book manager and book marketing consultant, my first questions are always:

  • What do you mean by everything?
  • How do you define “awful?”
  • What do you mean by ‘giving up?’

Let’s deconstruct four ways to improve on that!

1) What Is ‘Everything’ RE: Book Marketing?

Your definition of ‘everything’ and my definition are probably quite different. When I asked one of these authors what he’d done, he said he’d:

  • placed a few Facebook ads,
  • sent out a bunch of tweets during his free days,
  • placed a FreeBooksy promo (cost: $45). That’s about it.

To me, that’s barely scraping the bare minimum of ‘hardly anything,’ but in his mind, that’s more than he’d ever done! When I asked him what he had achieved in his marketing plan, he replied: what marketing plan?

I asked this author some of these questions, to which he answered, “no.” How about you:

  • Are you consistently on social media building relationships with readers, sharing great content, blogging and commenting on other bloggers’ sites?
  • Do you know what your keywords and branding are? 
  • Have you optimized all your social bios? Are your graphics high quality, hi-res, and consistent?
  • Growing your followings through targeted keywords? Not spamming links, but interacting and networking? 
  • Have you bought your domain, and optimized your website for SEO and SMO? Do you know your Alexa Ranking and Website grade?
  • Are you advertising?
  • Are you approaching book bloggers (politely) for reviews?
  • Participating in weekly Twitter chats and blog memes like #MondayBlogs and #LinkYourLife?
  • Do you belong to Facebook Groups where you can share ideas and partner up with other writers to promote each other? 
  • Do you regularly visit the Help Sections of all the social media channels to learn how to use them correctly? 

If the answer is no to any or all, you have work to do. You’re not doing everything, and you know it.

Again, not uncommon. Here’s the thing: art is work, to paraphrase Patti Smith. You’ve taken what, six months to two years to write your book, pouring your heart into this work. You’ve (hopefully) worked with a professional editor, graphic designer, formatter, and proofreader, and now that your book is live, you expect to sit back and watch the sales roll on in.

Wait, what?

2) Marketing Your Books is Not An Option

Why? Where does this outrageous expectation come from? I just do not get it. Writers are not dumb. Why do they think marketing is an option?

In what job in the world do you do zero work and make money?

A few tweets and an ad here and there does not create a consistent author platform, which is what this author needs — what every authors needs. This is how we meet readers, bloggers, and other influencers. This is how they find us, where the all-important word-of-mouth storm begins to swirl.

I suggested he rethink his author platform completely, create a robust marketing plan which he then implement, and lose the expectation that writing books is all about, and only about, selling books. One book will very, very rarely create an entire career for an author — and even those who do achieve those heights (Donna Tartt, The Secret History, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation) still go on to write more books, eventually.

I’ve worked with many authors who feel their job is only to write, and expect to do zero marketing; they feel that once they sign with a traditional or hybrid publisher, the publisher will do all their marketing for them. Big Fat Lie. The reason I have a business is because I have many traditionally published clients who are signed by those big publishers and guess what? They hire me to help them market and do their social media because their publisher does so very little marketing, if any, for them.

Do the work.

Photo source: Unsplash.com

Photo source: Unsplash.com

3) Define ‘Awful’ and Now Improve

One author sells twenty books every day and is upset because she used to sell fifty. One is distraught because she’s only selling five per day and she used to sell ten. Another has sold ten in six months. Your definition of awful is going to be different than anyone else’s, and depending on Amazon’s latest policy or algorithm change, awful can mean different things to different people.

It’s always good to keep an eye on your daily sales, but we can also become obsessed with it. My advice, take it or leave it from one who knows (I have five books out myself), is to check your sales once weekly — no more than that. This is enough to give you an idea of what’s happening during that period of time, analyze any trends, and adjust your marketing efforts. (If you are in the midst of a promotion however, feel free to check them more often, of course.)

4) Should You Ever ‘Give Up?’

  1. There is no ‘Sell By’ date on books anymore, really…especially eBooks. If you look at my third book, Broken Pieces, released in 2013, it’s currently in the #1 spot on Amazon’s paid Women’s Poetry list — and it’s been sitting pretty there since November for a few reasons you can read about here.

If you choose to give up, that’s ultimately your choice. I hear from authors all the damn time who give me every excuse as to why readers aren’t reading them, but when I ask them the questions in that list above, the answers are always ‘no, I haven’t done any of that, but…’

Oh, okay.

I can tell you this: as the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, the books that sell the most are where the authors are doing everything on that list above — they interact with readers, build their platform, generously share others’ posts and content, blog consistently, and have a clear, strong message. Take a look here at H.M. Jones, Lindsay Fischer and Lisa Douthit — their books are fabulous, all have built strong advocacy platforms (for postpartum depression, domestic abuse survivors and wellness, respectively), and they do the work. If you’d like to learn more about all the amazing Gravity authors, please visit our website!

Writing and marketing ourselves, our brand, goes hand in hand — it’s not one or the other. Writing more books will help gain you visibility, of course. The most successful authors are prolific, having at least five to ten books out — so keep at it. We are authors first. You don’t need a degree in marketing to market, just as you don’t need an MFA to write. You simply need to improve upon what you’re already doing.

It’s really not as difficult as some folks make it: step up, be smart, do the work.

***************************************

Rachel-Thompson1Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope.

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington PostThe San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, IndieReader.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish. She is also the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life. Read more about the Gravity authors and their books here.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Award-winning bestsellers Broken Places, and Broken Pieces, Mancode: ExposedA Walk In The Snark (published by Booktrope)

Media consultant, Huffington Post Books blogger, creator #MondayBlogs #SexAbuseChat and #GravityChat on Twitter. 
 
Director, Gravity Imprint (stories of trauma and recovery), Booktrope 
Social Media Director, Authorbytes
Twitter – @RachelintheOC and @BadRedheadMedia 

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Filed under Blogging, Booktrope, Gravity Imprint, Guest Post, Marketing, Writing