Books & Beer host J.C. Hutchins and Lynette Young

Books & Beer w/ J.C. Hutchins & Lynette Young

Books & Beer w/ J.C. Hutchins & Lynette Young

Our weekly Books & Beer video chat takes a big step this week with our first Hangout On Air!

If you don’t frequent Google+ you may not be aware of our weekly chat session, where we crack open a tasty beverage and discuss all things digital publishing. To date we’ve had open discussions, but with the Hangout on Air function we get the ability to stream the discussion to our Google+ page and record it for later. We’re kicking this off in style tonight with two guests discussing their own from-the-trenches digital publishing tales!

J.C. Hutchins is a 15-year writing veteran and successful New Media storytelling pioneer and marketer, best known for his innovative use of written fiction, podcasting, video and fan-fueled crowdsourcing to create thriller stories.

Lynette Young is a social media coach, social technology specialist, and a strategist for businesses regarding implementation services. She’s deeply involved in the social media and technology front, and is currently writing her first book.

The discussion will last about half an hour, during which we will watch our Google+ page for comments and input. After the discussion, we will open up the Hangout for another half an hour for anyone who wants to join in. We will post a video of the discussion with J.C. and Lynette after it concludes.

Books & Beer is co-produced and co-hosted by Evo Terra & Jeff Moriarty, publishing pioneers and craft beer enthusiasts. We Hangout every Thursday, at 6:00 pm PT/9:00 pm ET, and all you need is a free Google+ account and a webcam to participate.

Join us for a half an hour of good fun, lively discussion on the realities authors face in a digital world, and great beer!

Update: Here’s the link to download the show. Or you can just watch it on YouTube!

4 Ways Authors Need to Prepare For and Adapt To Facebook Timeline

Fake Protest Part Deux 2011 by Sheila Dee

Fake Protest Part Deux 2011 by Sheila Dee

I’m stealing a page — literally — from Jay Baer. Luckily, he’s a friend and will probably forgive the intrusion or be flattered by the mimicry. On Sunday, he published 14 Ways Facebook Betrays Small Businesses. His post is less scathing than it sounds, but it is a warning cry. I’m taking his post as inspiration, giving you the 4 Ways Authors Need to Prepare For and Adapt To Facebook Timeline.

First of all, the info below applies to those authors who’ve opted to engage on Facebook with a Page, not a Profile. As we have discussed before, authors reluctant to join the social space of Facebook may be better off with a Page. And if you’re one of those who took my advice from months back; sorry. Your world just changed. Here’s how:

  1. Cover image
    You need one. Not just a nice profile image. But a gigantic, 850×315 pixel shot that shows you at your best as an author. What, you don’t have one of those? Well… tough. Get one. Maybe from a signing you did. Or make a collage of your book covers. Whatever it is, it needs to look great. And it needs to be 850 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. And don’t make is salesy: Facebook has prohibited including things like your website, price-points for your books, or any sort of call-to-action. It’s intended to be an image that represents you as a brand. Leave it that way.
  2. Pin, for the win!
    The new vertical timeline flow is a little strange, and looks totally different from the “wall” you’re probably used to seeing. One of the neat things you can do with your timeline is highlight a post. It takes up twice the space of anything else posted, making a very clear landmark. Use this for the dates when your books were published, or any other major milestones in your career as an author. Pinning is something special that moves a post to the top of the page. This is only for serious stuff, and anything pinned goes back to its normal timeline position after 7 days.
  3. Be on the lookout for Direct Messages
    People (and by that I mean Profiles) can now send direct messages to brands (and by that I mean Pages). So a “fan” could send you a direct message and expect a response from you. Yikes! Couple that with the fact that Facebook’s notifications of these events to Pages currently is less-than-optimal, and it means regular policing of these messages so you don’t look like you’re ignoring your fans. I anticipate Facebook will provide a fix for this soon, so that you are notified when someone sends a DM to your Page. But for now, that doesn’t happen. Check your Page at least daily for new messages. And don’t trust Facebook’s built-in notification system. Log into Facebook. Select your page. Visit the Admin panel. And _then_ check for new messages. Don’t leave your fans hanging!
  4. Be active!
    Activity now displays for every page to anyone who happens to look. Fans can see how many of their friends like your Page, and have easy access to how often you’ve been engaging. Or not. This means you have to be posting often — daily is good — to make sure that you have solid engagement. If not, the page may look abandoned. And who wants to fan a page that isn’t interacting? Answer: few.

So take note, authors. Facebook has changed the game. They will again. And so will the other social properties in which you engage. Or should be engaging. They don’t do this to penalize you. They do it to benefit them. And as long as their users see benefits as well, they’ll continue to do so. So stop lamenting. Stop pining for stability and uniformity. Embrace change, for it is the only constant in this world.

And go get your Facebook Page set up for Timeline. You have until the end of the month. Then Facebook is gonna do it for you.

 

It pays for digital authors to be social

Being online and engaged in social media is more than just an activity for your spare time. Authors who build their digital following not only raise their personal visibility but create a powerful network they can use to promote their work. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and your personal blog are just a few of the tools out there that you should be considering:

Some authors are realizing that this social aspect of their work can be a powerful engine: Earlier this year, author John Green — who writes fiction for young adults — showed that it is possible to hit number one on the bestseller list with a book that hasn’t even been published yet. He was able to do this in part because he had already spent the past couple of years building up a following on Twitter (where he has over a million followers) and on YouTube, where he posts clips of himself reading from his books. The simple mention of a sequel to a book was enough to push it to the top of the bestseller list.

via Do authors have to be social? No, but it helps — Tech News and Analysis.

And this doesn’t mean you can just post junk – you have to have a plan for your social media strategy just like you have a plan for your book!

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 http://gpluspic.com/ 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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Digital Author Events In Phoenix – November 2011

We’ve got our next digital publishing seminar slated for late January. But you don’t have to wait that long to learn from us. This month, there are two events where we’ll be presenting on various aspects of digital publishing. We think that both of these events make a lot of sense for authors to attend, even beyond what you’ll learn from us.

Podcamp AZ | November 12th – 13th

Podcamp AZ bills itself as a Relevant Media Unconference. It’s free to attend. And you should go.

It’s put on by volunteers (full disclosure: I was one of those volunteers the first three years) and caters to the DIY aspect of creating, producing and releasing media in many sorts. While the conference isn’t specifically about publishing, the skills discussed will be very relevant to any author trying to take control in the world of digital publishing.

ePublish Unum is a sponsor of Podcamp AZ. If you attend, you can signup to win a prize-pack of some free 1-on-1 consulting time from us. Jeff is going to talk specifically about digital publishing, and I’ll be working it into the conversation of all the sessions I’m leading. Register here.

SMAZ | November 18th

SMAZ, or Social Media Arizona, is a business-focused event. And if you’re not treating your life as a digital author as a business, you’re doing it wrong. You’ll learn from and mingle with business people in the valley who are much more than hobbyists when it comes to promoting and interacting. No, this isn’t a digital publishing conference. But business-minded authors will find the event invaluable.

ePublish Unum is a sponsor of SMAZ, and Jeff and I will be presenting on the business-side of being a digital author these days. Register before November 1st and you’ll get a hefty discount.

 

As a digital author, it’s important for you to get outside of your comfort zone and learn from lots of people. Sure, attending conferences, workshops and seminars specifically about digital publishing is important. But sometimes you learn the most when you get less specific. Both Podcamp AZ and SMAZ are smart events with plenty to teach you and others.

Go. You can thank me later.

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Author contact info – Do you make it hard for your readers to interact with you?

Just for the record, you do not want to open your mailbox one day and find this waiting for you:

Dear Author,

I know it’s odd to receive a hand-written letter in 2011. Strange as it is for you, you have no idea the trials and tribulations I went through to send it. I had to go buy a stamp. Yes, they still make stamps. Then I had to go to my mom’s house and ask her for an envelope. Then I had to call my 4th grade teacher from 30 years ago and ask her how to actually fill out the information on the envelope that the post office needed to traffick this letter to you.

Why did I do all of this? Because finding your email address was an impossibility. I checked your blog. I checked your Twitter account. I checked Facebook and LinkedIn. They all link to each other and a dozen other properties. But nowhere on any of those properties did you bother to leave a good email address for you.

So you get a letter. Because it was easier to track down your physical address than figure out your email. And with all this effort, I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say to you. How ironic.

 

Sincerely,

An ex-reader who’s moved on to easier pickings.

Want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Follow these easy steps:

  1. Search for your name on Google.
  2. Click the top search result that you own. And by “own” I mean “are able to make edits to”.
  3. On that site, find your email address. What? You can’t find it? Add it. Prominently.
  4. Go back to #1 and repeat for the rest of your owned pages.

Worried about spam? Stop. It’s almost 2012. There are ways to obfuscate your email address, but the best line of defense is getting a decent email program that fights spam. I’m a Gmail user and rarely have to deal with it. And my email has been public and exposed in un-obfuscated ways for years.

I also suggest a bit of investigation on the social media property you engage with most of the time. What links are you providing for someone who wants more information? You should have a common landing spot for all that stuff, and that landing spot should have an email address for you. Not a contact form. An email. Again, it’s almost 2012. Time to get savvy about this stuff and stop making it hard for people to get in contact with you.

No, I don’t want to send you a DM. No, I don’t want to message you on Facebook. Those are fine methods of communicating, but they pale in comparison to the original killer app — email. Do it. Now.

And you do know we’ve got a kick-butt author’s conference coming up in a few short weeks, right? It’s a day-long intensive that will give any author a comprehensive look at the digital publishing world. This post is the type of thing we’ll cover — real-world ideas, tips and techniques that you can walk away with and implement immediately. Because the future isn’t going to stop knocking on the door. Make plans to attend, or forward the link to an author you know who needs to be there!