Monday, November 28, 2016

Facebook for Authors: Release Parties

So, in the past six months, I've had the pleasure of taking part in two separate release parties on Facebook.

First was in July for my friend Karl Drinkwater's new release They Move Below.

Second was in September for Helen Treharne's release Hostile Relations.

Both events were fun and pulled in some new Likes to my own Facebook page as well as a few sales. They were a little different from each other though. Karl's was organized by himself, while Helen's was organized by a marketing company.

Karl's event was smaller, with only a handful of author's participating over the course of three to four hours. Everyone was present in the event, topics were chosen ahead of time, and full discussions continued for the entire event.

Helen's was a much larger event, stretching over 12 hours with almost a dozen different authors. Though, not every author was actually present for the release party, and instead scheduled posts through the PR company. Topics were more convoluted, and it was hard to come up with conversations starters, as there was no way of knowing if someone else had already planned to discuss a particular subject. Some of the authors who weren't present also scheduled posts that were nothing more than ads for their own works.

Now, I had a good time at both events, and I would encourage other authors to try one or two, whether you schedule it yourself, or work with a PR/Media company. It's a great way to bring different groups of fans together to discover new works from authors they might never had heard about otherwise and depending on your level of involvement, it can be a lot of fun.

I just want to drop a few tips if you want to set-up a party yourself, or if you get invited to one.

Check with the organizer about whether or not other participants have specific subjects they plan to go over. Then you can choose subjects yourself which aren't already going to have been discussed, or even talk to the other participant to see if there's a sub-topic they don't plan on touching, so you can have some overlap without reusing an entire subject.

Have your posts planned out ahead of time, if not written out entirely. Time is generally limited, with participants granted about an hour. Four posts is reasonable, giving 15 minutes for people to comment and discuss them before the next subject pops up. This should include an opening, and a closing post, which will likely include a quick bio and links to more information about you.

Take advantage of the different kinds of posts Facebook allows, including images, polls, and links. Granted, this may require the event organizer to give you permissions on the page, which is another reason to let them know what topics and posts you're planning ahead of time.

Choose topics and posts that invite discussion. Don't just drop in a meme promoting your own work with review quotes. People get bombarded with ads all over the place. This is a good chance to interact with people, so don't waste it. They're more likely to give you a chance if they see you making an effort to get out there and being personal, not just dropping ads for your own work and bouncing.

Stick around and participate. Just because your hour is up, doesn't mean the fun is over. With other authors sharing stories, links, and ideas, you might learn something you didn't know before, or get hit by a feral plot bunny. You might even make some new friends, opening the door to participating in more release parties or other events.

So definitely jump into one of these if you have the opportunity. They're usually free unless you hire a media company to run one for you.

Also, feel free to check out both Karl's and Helen's works! Click on the links to their pages at the top of this post, or click on the pictures of their covers here!

~ Shaun

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Facebook for Authors: Author Page vs Book Page

Facebook is easily the biggest social media website available these days. Some people eschew the place as a complete waste of time and energy, which, it can be if you're not smart about how you use it.

One of the first questions a lot of authors have when getting on Facebook is what kind of page to make. Some people prefer making pages for their specific books, while others make pages identifying themselves as writers or authors. To be honest, there are pros and cons to both approaches, which I'm going to go over here.

Book page

So, what are the pros of having a Facebook page specifically for your book?

Having a page for a specific book gives the page a specific focus. If your book is about demonic possession, you don't get distracted and post things about aliens, bigfoot, or serial killers. You post things about demons, possessions, hauntings, ghosts and the like. You post excerpts and reviews and sales for that specific book, or if you have other books in the same vein, or even in a series, you post those.

If you have multiple books, you have multiple pages, which means more ways for people to come across your work.

If people are looking for your book, they can search up your book. Many people remember book titles before they remember authors, and so when they tell their friends about this great book they're reading, they tell them the title, usually. So having a page for your book means it will come up quicker when people go to look for it. You don't have to worry that a search will bring up your name, which might be skipped over as they look for the specific word or phrase that is your book's title.

There are cons to a book page though as well.

A specific focus means other subjects would be out of place. This means a short list of subjects available for content without deviating from the subjects your book is about.

A book also gains age over time. After a while, it becomes harder and harder to find fresh content to post on a regular basis. Wait long enough and all you'll really have to share are bits of new reviews, if you're that lucky.

Author/Writer page

The pros to an author/writer page mostly address the cons of a book page. Since the page is about a person, not a specific book, everything about that person is up for discussion. Genre news, anecdotal stories, new releases, short stories are all clear for the page, along with all the news you would post on a book page. So excerpts and reviews are all okay too.

There are cons to an author/writer page.

Having only a single page for all your stuff means less ways to find you than if you had multiple pages. As well, you're relying on people enjoying your writing enough to make sure they note your name, as well as the book. As I said above, people will usually remember the book before they remember the author, and it takes two or three good works before people start looking for you specifically.


Now. Looking at the lists above, it certainly seems like there are more pros to a book page than an author one. It's important to remember though that the pros and cons are not equal. It doesn't matter if you have multiple pages that can lead people to you if those pages are updated infrequently, or are even inactive. Whether author or book pages, they need to be active, the more the better. A good page should have a post at LEAST once a day, if not two or three. After all, if your pages slip due to inactivity, it's more likely your post won't be added to people's feeds. In the meantime, the more posts you make, the more likely you'll get Likes, Comments, and Shares, which is how people get led back to your page.

You should also take into account your time constraints. It takes time to find content and post it, even if you take advantage of the ability to schedule posts ahead of time. If you're scheduling two or three posts a day, expect to spend more than a few hours searching up and aligning stuff, and that's just for one page. It can really turn into a full-time job just keeping your social media up and running, and that's a lot of time which can be better spent writing your next book, or short story.

So I personally think an Author/Writer page is the better choice, just in terms of time needed to keep it active, and flexibility in posts. After all, it's going to be pretty tedious if you have to create a new page every time you release a new book.

But that is just my opinion. Feel free to look at my page and decide for yourself! 

~ Shaun

Saturday, July 30, 2016

HANNAH is loose!!

HI EVERYBODY!! Been a little while, but I've not been idle! Well, not TOO idle, anyway. Some nine months after my last post on the subject, my next book, Hannah, is finally out and available on Amazon!

This has been a looong time coming, and if you want the whole story, I explained it throughout my time on the blog here through my series "Building a Book". There's a blog post re-walking the whole path here. 

Nevertheless, releasing a new book is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It's such a relief to be done. Yet, now comes the public feedback. The reviews, the ratings, the "OMG! DIS BOOK ROXXS!!" and "OMG!! DIS BOOK IS DA SUCCCKKK!!" 

And, of course, there's the whole "What do I work on next?" Well, we'll see. In the meantime, hop on over to Amazon and grab a copy of Hannah!  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Turning Down the Blog

So, it's been a few weeks since I posted on here. That was a conscious decision to start with, and now I've got a few more things weighing heavily into my time.

I'm writing this post basically to say that I'm not going to be posting regularly on here for a while. I wouldn't say I'm burnt out, particularly, but I've kept this going for about three years fairly regularly, and topics I haven't already covered are getting pretty thin and I don't feel like enough time has really gone by to revisit a lot of them. Meanwhile I don't want this blog to turn into a more writing business or review blog.

I want to make it clear though, I'm not planning on letting it die. I still plan on doing reviews as I play games, see movies, and read books, and when a particular subject pops into my head I'll do posts on that too. As well as letting everyone know when I have new works out or I feel like dropping a new short story for all you lovely people to read.

This is just the way life is sometimes though. What you really want to do just has to fall to the side for the things you have to do. The bright side is that the other drains on my time right now will be giving me a better chance to improve my writing and get more of it out to the reading public.

So, fret not! I'm not going anywhere, I'm just turning down the volume on my blog here for a while. New posts will still pop up occasionally, so feel free to make sure you're following me on my Twitter and my Facebook so you'll know.

Catch ya'll soon, people!

~ Shaun

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

31 Posts of Monsters: OOP Monsters

This post isn't about a singular creature, or even a singular place. OOP stands for Out Of Place. The cryptid application is mostly of creatures that are not known to live in an area, but are seen with some frequency. These differ from regular invasive species in that OOP animals generally are never caught, or verified outside of infrequent eyewitness reports.

Name: Various. All OOP animals are real, known animals, just in places they're not supposed to, or known to live, in. See also Alien Big Cats.

Size: Per the animal seen, though sometimes species are said to be bigger than normal, which is attributed to large amounts of food and a lack of predators or competition.

Threat: Again, per animal. Many of the OOP animals commonly seen though are predators, and/or dangerous to people. This includes large cats and primates.

Indeed, large cats are one of the most commonly reported OOP animals. This includes panthers and cougars in the UK, and lions in the US. Cats are known to be resourceful, and quite good at hiding, so it wouldn't surprise many if they elude capture for quite some time. The infrequency of the sightings would also indicate individuals much of the time, as opposed to breeding populations.

Much of the evidence is through blurry photos, eyewitness sightings, and half-eaten corpses of prey animals. Traps set out catch nothing, and even methods that are tried and true for the species don't seem to work. So the animals remain a mystery.

The other commonly reported OOP animal is primates, specifically chimpanzee's, which have been reported in the Everglades, in New York, and the mountains above Hollywood. (Why isn't THAT surprising?) Keep in mind that chimps may not be as smart as we are, but they are much stronger, and more vicious. They can easily kill a human if the mood strikes them, so are every bit as dangerous as a rogue cougar.

This even extends to the popular Alligators in the sewers myths, where animals have sometimes actually been caught.

Let's not forget the always terrifying Sharks in a narrow hallway.

Movies and books have used this trope quite a bit, as well. Lake Placid is about a crocodile that ends up in New York. Alligator is about a reptile in the sewers of Chicago. It's the basis for the episode Devil Monkey in the series Lost Tapes. Many stories go horribly wrong when they put an animal in an environment it's not supposed to be in. Like when King Kong breaks loose from his bonds in New York city.

So, there you go. Just keep in mind, absence of proof is not proof of absence.

~ Shaun