Twitter Pitch Fest with The Knight Agency!

Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01-300x237The Knight Agency celebrates 20 years in business in July, so to kick things off with a bang we’ve announced our first ever Twitter Pitch Fest. The pitch fest takes place tomorrow, June 29th, from 9am to 5pm Eastern Time under the hashtag #TKA20. You’re welcome to pitch us any genre that we as an agency represent, as long as you have not already submitted it to us through normal channels. TKA agents will “like” your Tweet to indicate interest. Full details, including how to follow up on agent interest, are available on TKA’s blog here.

I’m currently seeking projects in the following genres: Women’s fiction, single-title romance (including contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal), historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and young adult and middle grade fiction. In addition, I’ve updated my Wish List with some things I’d especially love to see.

We’re all very excited about this Twitter Pitch Fest, so I hope to see many of you out there participating!

Writers and the Social Media Dance

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse for writers, especially those who feel ill at ease when it comes to tackling new technology. But even as it morphs and changes, with new platforms rising to prominence and others becoming less popular, as an overall concept, it is undoubtedly here to stay. And as more and more of the burden of self-promotion falls on a writer’s shoulders, social media remains one of the most important means of getting the word out about new releases, book giveaways, readings, and other bookish events.

The downsides of social media? It can take a lot of time, especially when you’re new to a platform and still trying to get the hang of how to use it. Even once you’re experienced, each form of social media has its own way of sucking you in and eating up hours that might be better spent in writing. Social media can also backfire spectacularly if you say or post the wrong thing; word spreads at monumental speeds online, and never faster than when you’ve put your foot in your mouth. Plus the internet is forever. Deleting a poorly phrased Tweet or taking down a blog post is very much like closing the barn door after the horse has headed for the hills, and in this case the horse loves to gossip.

But the upsides are equally obvious, and not the sort of things a writer can ignore. Social media lets you connect with readers, reviewers, and industry professionals. It lets you talk about your project and build excitement, show off great cover art, announce signings, and squeal publicly when your book hits a major milestone. But it also lets you engage in a community that knows where you’re coming from and what you’re up against, which means you can garner a great deal of knowledge by paying attention to other writers and their experiences through social media.

If social media intimidates you, or if you think you’re fine with just one corner of the internet — your blog, a simple Facebook page — there are still ways to interact that won’t leave you scratching your head in confusion or feeling completely overwhelmed. Here are a few simple tips for tackling new forms of social media and building your online presence:

Start small. Don’t try to master them all at once (though if you have a common name/pen name, you might consider signing up at the same time in order to make sure you can get a consistent handle on all the major platforms). Choose one and play around with it for a couple of months and see how it goes. Keep in mind where your ideal audience likes to hang out. Many YA authors have blogs through Tumblr, for instance. Do a little digging to see where you might want to begin.

Pay attention to how others use the platform, both the good and the bad. Follow a few writers you like on Twitter and see what percent of their Tweets are promotional and what proportion are chatty/sharing more general knowledge/helping out other writers, etc. See how often writers update their blogs or Facebook pages. What do writers share on their Goodreads page? Observe what works, and also what seems to annoy.

Remember your manners. Just because the other person is somewhere behind a far-away computer, doesn’t give you the right to be mean. Try to respond to others in the same way you would in person; the internet doesn’t need any more trolls.

Don’t repeat yourself across platforms. Once you’re engaging in several forms of social media, try not to post the same thing on all of them. Determine what each platform is good for in terms of your own goals, and then stick with those. Twitter might be great for chatting and driving traffic to your blog when you have a post, whereas you might use Facebook for contests/giveaways, and Instagram to post cover art and photos of your work space, books you’ve bought, etc. Keep the medium in mind, and remember that you want your fans to follow you on more than one platform. If they constantly see the same thing everywhere you post, they’ll be less likely to engage with you in multiple places.

Take advantage of the ability to schedule things ahead. Depending on the software you use, you can schedule posts for your blog ahead of time. A number of Twitter platforms, such as TweetDeck and HootSuite, allow you to schedule Tweets days in advance. Tumblr lets you set up a queue for posts. This way you can remain present in social media, even if you’re traveling or under deadline and can’t take the time to post live.

Remember that the key word is social. Yes, you want to share your news and promote your work, but first and foremost, you want to be a member of the social media community, whatever platform you’re using. Engage with people. Ask and answer questions. Comment. Share your excitement about non-career things, like that great movie you just saw or the new recipe you tried. Be a person, not a sales drone.

No doubt social media will continue to grow and change, as will how writers use it. But the sooner you become accustomed to using social media platforms in general, the easier you will find it to adapt with the technology. Start now, start small, and take it one step at a time. And for those of you already adept at using social media, keep your eyes open for the next big thing.

Friday Links

Happy Friday! And for those of you here in the U.S., happy Independence Day weekend! Please make sure you stay safe in the midst of all your revelry.

As for my plans for the weekend, there’s a BBQ with friends on my calendar, but in the meantime I plan to be lazy and catch up on both sleep and my personal reading. It’s been a crazy few weeks and that’s about all my energy levels will allow. However, I’m leaving you all with this week’s links in the event you have a quiet moment or two and want something entertaining to check out. Enjoy, and happy weekend!

How to Write a Series: 8 Novice Mistakes to Avoid – Ever wonder how authors juggle series writing? This might give you a few clues.

10 Captivating Short Stories Everyone Should Read – Some great classics, a few of which you may have read before, but all worth checking out or revisiting.

Women Writers on Twitter: In Their Own Words – A number of women writers discuss their experiences with Twitter.

Travel Journals – A peek into Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s travel journals from 1960, 1961, and 1982, for a breath of summer adventure and some inspiration.

Where to Start with Brazilian Literature – A nice round up of titles for anyone looking to read more books in translation or just farther afield.

The Art of Boosting the Signal

Some days it feels like you sign onto Twitter and everyone you follow is selling something. You know what it’s like: daily deals, freebies, new releases, tie-ins, giveaways. They want you to check out the sequel to the book you haven’t read yet, download their new widget counting down to their pub date, or spread the word regarding their starred review. And that’s all well and good. Everyone does it, and chances are excellent that you will, too, if you haven’t done so already. People expect a certain amount of sales in with their socializing when they frequent various forms of social media, and in many cases that very type of word-of-mouth is what lets us discover our next great read or app or website.

The key to marketing yourself and others using social media is to keep things minimal and meaty. By that I mean, only Tweet about your book a very small percentage of the time and also limit how often you’re being sales-y on behalf of your friends or people you support/admire, and when you do go into marketing mode, make sure you include something of substance. You want to get mileage for those 140 characters, so do your best to include something of genuine interest and don’t confuse your followers.

How often have you seen a Tweet go by that’s nothing more than a link? No information, no context. Why would you click on that? Perhaps if the person Tweeting the link is someone close to you and you know they’re directing it at you specifically, you’ll click without a second thought. But in most cases, that link is going to just scroll on by. Likewise, how often has someone sent out a Tweet with a meaningless title, link, and a “via” followed by a Twitter handle? Chances are that Tweet was generated from a website where the person Tweeting wanted to share the post and used their on-page Tweet button. If the post’s title is vague and the Tweeter didn’t add their own description, it’s almost as bad as sending out a link on its own.

It’s tempting to send a Tweet out quickly and move on, but if you’re genuinely trying to share a post or convey your enthusiasm for someone’s new release, take the time to work in a few words that give your followers the proper message. If you’re reTweeting something that’s vague, take a moment to modify the original Tweet for clarity. Did you read the work you’re Tweeting about? Did you love it? Say so. Maybe it kept you up reading all night. Or you read slowly to savor every word. Are you talking up a friend’s webinar or book signing? What makes them knowledgable or entertaining? Share that information to make the Tweet stand out.

When it comes to marketing your own project, make sure you stress your own enthusiasm that it’s going out into the world more than you beg people to buy it. You love your book and hope others will as well. Encourage anyone who gives it a try to let you know what they think. Engage your followers. Start a conversation. Also, remember that Twitter doesn’t need to be a final destination. Use Tweets to link to blog posts or free chapters or tie-in short stories on your website. Limit your announcements regarding these items to a couple of Tweets a day, spacing them out to allow people in different time zones to get the information, and make sure you Tweet about plenty of non-promotional things in between.

Twitter can provide a great platform for marketing your work and helping the spread the word about other people’s projects you’ve enjoyed, but it’s up to everyone to make the experience is painless as possible. Take the time to craft your Tweets, be considerate of your followers and avoid flooding their feeds with endless promotions, and you can help keep the Twitter conversation entertaining and enjoyable for all. Happy Tweeting!

 

Friday Links

I’m officially off the grid for the weekend in an attempt to catch up with approximately 8 million things. But before I vanish, some links to keep you entertained. Have a wonderful weekend, get some writing time in (especially you NaNo folks), and enjoy!

24 Quotes that Will Inspire You to Write More – Take your pick; something’s bound to push your buttons.

Prize-winning Animation Lets You Fly through 17th Century London – Very cool, whether you’re interested in the period or not.

50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers – Your definition of tough may vary, but regardless, if you’re looking for some good challenging reads, you could do worse than peruse this list.

Call Me Twitterer: Literary Twitter’s First Tweets – Check out some  of the first tweets from these bookish folk.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling – A great chart of TV tropes that provide an excellent overview of the elements of storytelling.

Friday Links

Another very quick week. I always feel like time seems to accelerate when we’re this close to the holidays. It’s like a mad rush to the end of the year. Which means there’s lots to be done, so I’ll keep this short.

I’ve got a great assortment of links for you this week. There should be something of interest to just about everyone. I hope you all have wonderful weekend plans ahead, including a bit of reading and writing time. Enjoy!

YA Historical Fiction: Windows to the Past for Readers of the Future – Really interesting look at YA historical fiction in the current market.

Jeannette Cheney Talks about Killing Your Darlings – Over at Lucienne Diver’s blog; an up close look at what happens when you commit to improving your writing, even if that means taking out the bits you loved.

Only the Literary Elite Can Afford Not to Tweet – A look at how Twitter has become a major marketing force for writers.

Should Literature Be Useful?The New Yorker looks at the impact of recent studies claiming reading literature improves your brain, and asks if “improvement” is the only reason to do something.

Download Some of the Best of Tor.com 2013 – The publisher’s site offers a free downloadable anthology of some of the best short fiction they’ve posted this year.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, and happy holidays to those of you in the midst of celebrating various things.

We’re in the last few days of the March Madness Challenge. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and that you manage to sneak some more words in before April rolls around. In the meantime, I have a pretty broad range of links to share, from some industry news to some thoughtful reads and couple just for fun. I find them pretty interesting, and I hope you agree.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend, and good writing time!

The Importance of Endings – On why even a good thing should eventually come to an end.

Amazon to Buy Goodreads – Just what it says.

I’m Comic Sans, Asshole – Just plain funny, as only McSweeney’s can be.

Top Ten Most Prolific Authors on Twitter – If you’re looking to liven up your feed, add a few of these folks.

Curious Cat Walks Over Medieval Manuscript – Inky paw prints on a 15th century manuscript, presumably from a 15th century kitty.

Friday Links

Autumn is upon us, despite the lingering heat here in Southern California. I find myself itching for time to curl up with a good fall read. Something spooky, maybe, in anticipation of Halloween. Alas, there’s far too much on my plate right now for personal reading, but I have found a few links to share, so I hope these keep you entertained over the weekend. And if you do find time to grab a scary novel off the shelf, well, think of me… Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Stephen King! 8 Fun Fan SitesBook Riot has a list of sites appropriate for fans of King in honor of his special day.

New Twitter Profile Tips for Writers – Take advantage of the latest upgrade of Twitter with these useful tips and ideas.

Join Marley Gibson’s Quest to Bring Cheer to Teen Cancer Patients – TKA author Marley Gibson, herself a cancer survivor, has started a foundation to help bring cheer to teens suffering from cancer. Please see how you can help, even if just by spreading the word.

We’re All Just Lying Machines: A Conversation about Gillian Flynn – A great chat over at The Millions about the author of the recent bestseller, Gone Girl.