Choose Your Own Digital Publishing Adventure | Books & Beer

CYOABCOur guest, Tim Coe, is a Chicago-based accidental writer of interactive genre fiction. Interactive, in that his readers decide what happens next in the story. Today, he’s leveraging a Google+ community to power the overall experience, and is building a powerful connection with his audience.

Tim has learned some interesting things along the way, as it’s not  easy to give the audience real and meaningful choices, yet keep the story from going off the rails. Tim is also still trying to figure out what’s next in his own adventure in getting these books published. We offered up a couple of ideas, and maybe you’ll have some of your own when you listen to this sixteen minute episode of The Books and Beer Hangout.

Of course, no show would be complete without some tasty craft beer. Tim enjoyed a Revolution Repo Man Rye Stout, Jeff returned to a BooBoo Squad Gut Shot Stout, and Evo found another Knee Deep Simtra Triple IPA. Cheers!

The Books & Beer Hangout is broadcast as a Google+ Hangout on Air and on YouTube Live! Circle ePublish Unum on Google+ to watch live, and to join The Books & Beer Hangover right after the show to chat with hosts and participants live!

Can’t see the video embedded above? Download the video or watch it on YouTube.

Google+ Communities for Authors | Books & Beer

building-communitiesThe Writing Discussion Group has almost 10,000 members and is the largest GPC (Google+ Community) focused on writing books. So much for the ghost town claims. Even our modestly-sized Digital Publishing community is pushing 2,500. The opportunity to get good information and connected to super smart people in the writing/publishing world is very real. John Ward joins us on this episode of The Books & Beer Hangout for a 15-minute chat on the ins and outs of starting, joining and maintaining successful GPCs focused on writing and publishing. Among other things, you’ll find out:

  • Why sharing to GPCs is better than sharing to circles
  • How to keep your community on track
  • Going niche without staying small
  • How to grow your community quickly
  • The need for and amount of moderation required for a successful community
  • The great need for even more communities for authors
  • How to get active and involved with existing communities
  • How to grow your own personal network with good engagement in GPC
  • Check out The Siglerverse as an example as a community focused on a single author

And there was the obligatory drinking of beers. Tonight’s choices were a Traquair 2020 & a Bell’s Hopslam.

The Books & Beer Hangout is broadcast live every Thursday night at 6P/9E as a Google+ Hangout on Air and on YouTube Live! Circle ePublish Unum on Google+ to watch live, and to join The Books & Beer Hangover right after the show to chat with hosts and participants live!

Can’t see the video embedded above? Download the video or watch it on YouTube.

Tips for Authors starting out on Google+ & Facebook

branding iron by Martin Kelley

branding iron by Martin Kelley

If you’re an author wondering if you should join social networking sites like Google+ or Facebook, or how to engage with people once you’re there, this post is for you. If you’ve already fully embraced either (or both) platforms, then keep on keepin’ on!

Which is a better social platform for authors: Facebook or Google+?

It’s a popular question right now. Projections that Google+ will hit 400 million users by the end of 2012 (still only have the size of Facebook!) are simply adding fuel to the fire.

Unfortunately, I can’t answer which is better. Sorry. Like so many things in life, it depends. In this post, I’ll make a case for why you should approach both properties differently. To wit Authors need a Facebook Page and authors need a Google+ Profile.

On Facebook, Authors need Facebook Pages (not Facebook Profiles)

Many authors can’t find a healthy mix of personal and professional content sharing, especially with the barrage of input from existing friends, family and mindless games. These challenges and more make it difficult for reluctant authors to find a firm place to start.

When you set up a Facebook Page, many of these problems disappear. An Author Page will look and feel a lot like an author Profile, but with some key differences. Like:

  • Public only – By design, everything you post on your Page is for the masses. Know that, and you’re never in danger of over-sharing embarrassing personal stuff. That happens a lot on Profiles. Oops.
  • Your wall, your content – The wall is the lifeblood of Faceook. A big portion of users like to post things on other people’s walls. As an author, you probably don’t want this. A Facebook Page makes it very easy to prohibit anyone posting anything at all to your wall. That keeps you completely in control of the content.
  • Everything in its place –  Your bio. Awards you’ve won. Books you recommend. Yes, there’s a spot for personal interests, but nothing about your favorite band or TV show. Ah, specificity!
  • Multiple user management – You can assign someone rights to help create, manage or maintain your Page, without giving them access to your personal profile. That’s a huge win for your privacy and security.
  • Branded events – Perfect for the things you do as an author. Book signings. Release dates. Classes. Lectures. If it’s a physical event with a physical address, you can use events on your Page to invite people — and ask them to spread the word.
  • Engagement on your terms – No “instant messages” to contend with. No showing “available”. No inane requests to join the latest time-wasting craze.
  • Likes, not friends – Pages aren’t allowed to like Profiles. So there’s no feeling of guilt when you don’t follow-back a fan. With a Page, you can’t!
  • Prestige by association – Pages can like other Pages. So like your publisher (if you do), the company that does your ebook conversion, bookstores that carry your work, etc..
  • Unlimited likes – Profiles cap out at 5,000 friends. So if you get popular, you may have to go this route. Because there’s no limit to the number of people who can like your Page. Millions? Sure.

It took some time for me to warm up to the idea of authors creating their own Pages on Facebook, but now I think the idea has merit. Oh, and be advised that you can’t create a Facebook Page for yourself until you’ve made a Profile. So make one with the minimal amount of info, and then spend your time on your Facebook Page!

On Google+, Authors need Google+ Profiles (not Google+ Pages)

Google+ is an “identity service“. I didn’t call it that. Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, did. Even though they’ve recently released Google+ Pages for business… those pages really aren’t designed for actual people. Where the benefits of Facebook Pages led the prior list, the reasons authors should choose Google+ Profiles over Pages are largely negative. Things like:

  • G+ Pages can’t circle Profiles – A Page can circle all the other Pages it likes, but a Page can only circle-back Profiles. It’s very difficult for content to  get shared beyond those who already have it circled. With a Profile, you can circle as many (up to 5000) Profiles and/or Pages as you like. Your action of circling probably notifies the other Profile/Page. They might circle you back.
  • G+ Pages can’t share un-circled content – If you made an outstanding post on Google+ about digital publishing, I’m physically unable to share that information on the ePublish Unum Google+ Page unless you’ve already circled us. Sharing of content is baked in nicely to Google+ and a great way to build engagement. But Pages are rather stymied from this action.
  • G+ Pages can’t make un-circled comments – Track all the hashtags you want to find great content where you’d like to engage. Your Page cannot reply unless the person who made the post has your Page it their circle. But with a Profile, you can comment on (just about) any post. A great way to show your expertise!
  • G+ Pages have Hangout limitations – Hangouts are one of the coolest features on Google+ right now, and a huge differentiator for them. But Profiles have more options than Pages on Hangouts, like sharing documents. And (as far as I understand it currently) On Air Hangouts, which combines the multi-user video chat with a YouTube-esque broadcast. Pages don’t come with those options. Score one more for a Profile.
  • G+ Pages have limited biographical data – With a G+ Page, a single “Introduction” text box exists. But a Profile gets a lot more personal. Your full CV. Where you’ve lived. Bragging rights, even! Sure, you can put most of this in the Intro section of a Page, but it feels a lot less like a person than a… business. Yes, your business is being an author. But you’re a person first. At least on Google+.

Even with all that, there are some excellent opportunities G+ Pages provide authors. Like creating Pages for your books or characters. That’s something you really can’t do on Facebook. And you probably wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) want to. More about those opportunities later.

Bottom line

I like Facebook. I like Google+. And I’d love it if every author really embraced both platforms. Maybe that will come with time, but time is something precious to most authors. I’m hopeful that these tips will steer you, the reluctant author, in the right direction when you decide to make the investment in time on one or both of these social channels. It’ll pay off. Promise.

Ready for more?

Jeff and I are proud to be presenting at the Indie Author Publishing Conference in Phoenix on February 25th. If you register now, you’ll save $15. Take a look at the planned content and see if it’s for you. If so, be sure and say hi to us when you see us, OK? And ask lots of questions. We’re here to help!

5 Quick Tips For Perfect Google+ Profiles for Authors

Google+ for authors

Google+ for authors

I’ve been playing pretty hard with Google+ for a while now, and sharing my thoughts as-they-happen over on my personal blog, A Simpler Way. My ideas are ever-evolving as this new social channel continues to change, so be advised before following any advice I might share over there. It may be short lived.

Over here, I’ll try and focus on the ideas that are fully baked. Of course, Google+ could (and probably will) change things that affect my shared suggestions. But I don’t expect to have to post complete retractions over here when I’ve changed my mind for the umpteenth time.

I’m terribly excited about the opportunities Google+ presents to independent authors and publishers. I think anyone betting against Google on this on is a fool. Though Google has made several failed attempts at social, I’m convinced this is the one that will stick. So come join me.

Like all social media sites, your personal profile is the nerve-center of your presence on Google+. It’s easy to get wrong, and luckily not all that hard to get right. With that, here are my five quick tips to give you, the professional author, a perfect Google+ profile*:

  1. Use an avatar banner. This is your best chance to make a good impression on someone who finds your Google+ profile. Don’t just randomly upload five photos of you or your books. I suggest using and hunting for a picture that works well. Play around with several and find the one that looks the best.
  2. Fill out your profile completely. Make smart use of bold and italics in your Introduction. Adding links in here is good idea, too. Bragging rights, occupation, employment… add in all that stuff. And don’t forget the Other profiles and Contributor to sections on the right side.
  3. Hide tabs you don’t need. If you don’t have any uploaded photos (other than your avatar banner) or videos, don’t show those tabs. Ideally, you’ll start getting great photos and videos from signings, book covers, video trailers for your books, etc. When you get those and start loading them to Google+, you can uncheck the box and start showing those tabs on your profile. (Oh, and kill the “Buzz” tab. Totally failed experiment that is soon going away.)
  4. Show off your +1s. Enable this tab on your profile. Of course, you need to be proud of what you are giving a +1 to, so be advised. Be selective, and make sure that the +1 is the default action when you see something that you want to be associated with. This is you giving “juice” to web content. Share those +1s with the world.
  5. Make (at least) 80% of your posts rich media posts. Posts with photos and videos go farther. They are more compelling and engaging. Learn to use the bold and italic formatting shortcuts to make your posts pop. If you need, create an empty circle called “test” and post things there first to see how they look when shared.

I’d love nothing more than to end this post with some examples of authors who have a perfect Google+ profile. But I can’t. Of the dozens I follow, none of them are hitting all the marks. Does that mean I’m terribly picky? Perhaps. But I think it showcases a great opportunity for you to do better. There’s ample room to make a big splash on Google+. So go do that. And then let me know so I can add you to my list of perfect profiles on Google+.

I’m on Google+, and so is Jeff. When you add us to your circles, be sure and shoot us a message telling us you’re reading the blog, have attended one of our classes, or just stumbled across us. That we we get you in the right circle. More on that in the coming weeks!


* – Jeff always gets twitchy when I talk in absolutes about social media. To be fair, there is no one right way. There are many right ways. There are also many wrong ways. If you have an a well-thought-out idea that doesn’t quite jive with what I’ve said; groovy. I promise not to hold it against you.

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Rowling releasing Harry Potter as DRM-free eBooks

P Harry Potter

Image via Wikipedia

I’m one of those few people who is not a fan of Harry Potter, but I can’t help but respect and watch the empire that J.K. Rowling has built around her books. Her new effort – Pottermore – extends her Harry Potter world into the digital space, but the thing that caught my eye was that she is not making a big-name deal with, but instead releasing the books in an open source, Google eBook format:

…Rowling will be self-publishing the digital copies of Harry Potter on Pottermore, a move that could leave proprietary readers reeling from the loss of potential earnings.It seems Rowling will be taking Potter to Google, and publishing all of the books through open-source Google eBooks purchasable through Google Checkout in DRM-free ePub and PDF formats.

via Pottermore + Google = eBooks for Everyone.

She’s not the first author to do this, but she’s by far the one with the most clout. If this encourages readers to explore open source options with their Kindles and Nooks, it might lead to them to wander further afield from the controlled storefronts that currently dominate.

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