Tag Archives: social media for authors

How I Use Social Media as an Author

2 Aug

Social media is generally seen as a must-have nowadays for creatives. Some writers love it. Others hate it. I find most fall somewhere in between. Which is why I wanted to talk about it. 

Being online can certainly come with its pros and cons. I have days where I love the connections I make and the information that I learn—and I have days where I feel how much of a time suck it can be. (Not to mention the dreaded imposter syndrome.) That said, I learned a long time ago that you must treat social media like a job. That often means adjusting your approach, researching new options, and paying attention to stats. 

Here are the main platforms I use in the order that I prioritize them and why (and a few tips along the way). That doesn’t mean this will work for you. It’s just to show you why I chose the platforms that I’m on and how I utilize them to the best of my ability. 

First and foremost, I recommend utilizing a third-party scheduler. I use one for every single platform that I’m on. I typically use the one integrated into the platform, which is why I’m putting this at the top with no specific name. For Twitter, I use the “Schedule Tweet” feature. For Instagram, I use the Later app. For Facebook, I use the Creative Studio. And so on and so forth. Scheduling saves me a lot of time and effort (and it prevents me from spending all day online). I highly recommend it! There are third-party schedulers that will cross-post on multiple platforms, but I’ve found those to look clunky and less than ideal on certain places. (Ex. An Instagram link will post on Twitter rather than the photo.) 

Finally, I’d recommend having an easy-to-remember, relevant username that is consistent across all your platforms. I use @AuthorSAT. I could’ve been @Coffee&Cats23, but that name doesn’t tell people what my platform is about. Make yourself easy to look up, and connect all your platforms on your website.

Without further ado, here are the specific platforms I use: 

TwitterI’ve met some of my best writer friends on Twitter, and I’ve also come across hundreds of writing opportunities on there. If you’re a writer, Twitter is the place to be. That said, more writers are leaving Twitter than ever before, too, so that may change in the near future. For now, I really enjoy my interactions. I aim to tweet at least once a day, and I log in twice a day to respond to interactions or DMs. Overall, considering the trend of leaving Twitter, I think Twitter is a lesson in not putting your eggs in one basket. What’s in one day could be out the next. So make sure you have 2-3 platforms that you use throughout the year. Be authentic, and honor the 80-20 rule. (20% or less of what you post should be about your products.) 

InstagramI’ve definitely ramped up my Instagram as of late. (Like, really recently.) It used to be a place where I periodically posted what I was reading, but as of January 2021, I realized that I truly enjoy the photo-focused feed. I like to take photos, so it seemed like a natural fit. I also find it a lot easier to interact with writers and readers on Instagram, rather than just writers on Twitter. 

FacebookI admit, I neglected my Facebook page a lot in 2020, but now that I’m back on schedule, it only takes me a minute to copy and paste my Twitter/Instagram posts onto the Creator Studio in Facebook so that it shares on there, too. And that pays off! I’m actually getting a lot more interaction on Facebook than I ever expected. So much so that I’m considering spending a lot more time and effort on there rather than other platforms. This might be because I mostly focused on Facebook when my novels were releasing a number of years ago, so I have a lot of readers who’ve actually read my work on there. It’s hard to say. But I’ve enjoyed it, and I find it much easier to keep the page going with fun memes and book/writing discussions than other platforms that favor more independent content. 

WordPressObviously, I’m using WordPress right now to write this blog post. I’ve been on here since 2012, and my blog has gone from posting every other day to once a month to today’s schedule of every first and third Monday of the month. I love blogging. When I first started, a lot of others did, too. I admit, blogging has since fallen out of favor—and that might’ve been one of the reasons I stepped back—but at the end of the day, I love blogging, so I am going to continue to do so. Weirdly, statistically speaking, my views haven’t dipped much at all. It’s the interactions that have slowed down. It can be discouraging, but I am trying to give myself more room to do what I want to do, and blogging is one of those joys for me. 

MailchimpI have a newsletter that I send out four times a year. It used to be more, but with no book news, I think four times a year is enough (for now). My newsletter includes an exclusive sneak peek at my WIP, giveaways, secret writing tips, and a behind-the-scenes look at where I’m at in my writing career. I love this newsletter, and I look forward to the day I can send it out more often! Just need to get that book deal first. 😉 I recommend every author have a newsletter. It might not feel necessary now, but you’ll be grateful that you have one when you need to share exciting news and you don’t have to depend on social media feeds to favor you that day. 

GoodreadsAs a writer, I’m also a reader, and I love nothing more than tracking what I read. Goodreads has been that place for me. I don’t necessarily use it to interact with folks, but I do notice readers who follow me elsewhere liking and commenting on my reading updates. To me, it seems that readers enjoy seeing what authors are reading. It gives us something to fangirl over together, and to me, that’s precious. That said, if you are an author, I would discourage you from writing reviews, especially poor reviews. I only rate my favorite reads with five stars, and that’s it.  

PinterestI mainly use Pinterest for writing planning. I love nothing more than pinning inspirational pictures to secret boards for WIPs I’m still dreaming about. But I also use it to share blog posts. No matter where your content is, make sure you’re sharing it on other platforms. One of my biggest articles on this website is because it became a popular “Writing Tips” pin that still circulates today. If you can create custom images for Pinterest, even better. But I don’t have enough time for that. I just pin the image of the article and make sure to use good SEO. 

LinkedInI certainly use LinkedIn more in my library career life, but I also have my blog synced with my LinkedIn, so every post on here goes directly to that website. It’s a simple way to spread content without much hassle, and it works! I get a dozen or so views from there every time. Again, make sure you’re sharing your content on other platforms and not become siloed.  

WattpadI’ve been on Wattpad for years now. My novel, Take Me Tomorrow, actually started as a Wattpad book, before it was published by a small press that later closed down. When that press closed down, I decided to put it back on Wattpad rather than try to get it published elsewhere. It’s a fun place to share stories that you don’t plan on pursuing traditional publication with. I now have Take Me Tomorrow and Took Me Yesterday (book 2) on Wattpad for readers to catch up on, as well as some Bad Bloods prequel stories that die-hard fans can check out. But again, I wouldn’t recommend posting any work that you plan on pursuing traditional publishing with. Only side stories. And those definitely come last on my radar. My books that I am pursuing publication with must come first. But having a piece that I can share with readers is really delightful since I’m in between publications at the moment.

Of course there are plenty of other socials out there. TikTok is on the rise, for instance. I actually have one, but I’ve only used it to watch. I also used to have a YouTube channel, and it’s still up, but I haven’t updated it in years. I just didn’t have the time, energy, or technology to make that platform what I wanted it to be. And that’s okay. 

I’m a big believer in being on the platforms that you love the most. I also believe you should be spending more time creating art than talking about it. So, writing comes before socializing online. But that’s just me. 

For those of you who love stats, I thought I’d share my biggest referrals to my website: 

My biggest referring to my website by far was Google, and then the WordPress Reader. After that, in order, I have Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, with others’ blogs scattered in between. Interestingly enough, these are a different order than what I prioritize. But that comes down to one fact: These are just referrals to my website. Of course WordPress Reader would be at the top, because my website itself is a WordPress site. That stat may seem interesting, but it doesn’t show how many people find me on Twitter and go to my Facebook or Amazon page, or vice versa. 

Basically, keep your stats in mind, but also trust your gut. You may not be getting the whole picture through behind-the-scenes numbers.

I actually wrote about this in July 2014, if you want to see how my socials have changed. Here’s that post. If I were to sum it up, I actually used to spend a lot more time online being social. Mostly because it was my day job at the time and I had books actively releasing. I didn’t like Twitter much, mostly because my timeline was full of spam in comparison to today, but I’ve definitely started spending more time on what I want to do rather than what I think I should be doing. 

How do you use social media as an author?

~SAT

Using the Later App as an Author: A review

3 May

I recently took a social media hiatus while moving, but during that time, I reflected on my social media use a lot. To be honest, I felt a lot better mentally and emotionally being off social media. (Not a surprise considering all the studies that have come out talking about the effects of regular social media use.) It’s not that I don’t like social media—I’ve actually met some of my best writer friends online—but reels of bad news, good news, all kinds of news absolutely uses up a lot of time and energy. I knew coming back that I wanted to change things.

For one, I wanted more time to myself. I wanted to get back to blogging more regularly again. I wanted more energy to dream up new book ideas, not tweets or Instagram posts. 

When I took a look at my social media use, I realized that Instagram—not Twitter—actually demanded the most of my time (and for the littlest return). Taking photos, editing them, then writing captions (along with viable hashtags) was just too much to handle on a regular basis. I didn’t like what I was creating, but I didn’t want to shut it down. I just wanted to adjust how I posted. 

I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if you could schedule your Instagram posts?

That’s where the Later app stepped in. 

Later is a desktop and mobile phone app that allows you to schedule your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn posts. For the purpose of this review, I will mostly be focused on Instagram, with a sprinkling of Twitter and Facebook. 

First thing’s first:

I downloaded the app and watched a couple tutorials. 

Pros:

I got my first big hiccup when I connected my Instagram. It was a personal profile, so it wouldn’t let me schedule photos to auto-post. When I changed my Instagram to a business account, Later didn’t notice this change, and I had to reach out for help a few times. But it eventually began working. 

  • You can schedule your Instagram photos and stories to auto-post any time, any day. This cut back on a lot of my free time and allowed me to stay in the moment a lot more. I always dreaded taking photos and then sitting there trying to post while the moment passed me by. It’s nice going about my day knowing that Later is posting my photo at 11 AM while I’m at work and don’t have the ability to check. (And I don’t have to wait until my lunch break to get something out!) I definitely think this feature is my favorite part, and I believe it will keep me posting more than I was able to in the past. 
  • You can use your phone or your computer. I actually used my computer the most, which helped because I type on my laptop a lot faster than on my cell’s keyboard. I scheduled three weeks of content on one Sunday afternoon. 
  • The preview feature on Instagram is so pretty! This is probably my favorite feature. I can preview the future on my Instagram through the app to make sure that my upcoming posts look good next to each other. If they don’t, I can quickly shuffle them around until they look aesthetically pleasing. I’m not *quite* using it that way, but I’m definitely planning on using this to sharpen the look of my social media in the near future. You can see mine from last month in the screenshot below. That said, there is a negative side, which I cover below.
  • There’s a calendar where you can check your timing: This helps if you want to make sure that you’re posting at different times on different days in order to reach new audiences. 

Cons:

  • The preview feature is beautiful, but it doesn’t show you how your feed currently looks. Instead, it updates based on what you’re adding from the top, so the sequence is off. I find this extremely annoying (and odd) that this feature is set up that way, because it’s supposed to be used in a way that helps you coordinate your photos. This oddity in design is definitely one of the biggest drawbacks for me. In order to see my feed the way I like, I often schedule three posts at a time and/or add extra fillers that won’t post so I can get my feed to look the same as my feed on the phone.
  • Unless I’m missing something, you still have to edit your Instagram photos in Instagram if you want a specific filter. The Later app has different filters. I find this design really strange. It would be nice if it could offer the same filters as the app you’re posting on. 
  • It’s not the best for Facebook and Twitter. You have to use an image in order to schedule posts, so if you just want to post a sassy tweet, it’s best to continue using the Twitter scheduler. 
  • If you do schedule through the Later app to post a photo on Twitter, it shows that in the sub-text of your tweet. (My post says Later app rather than Twitter web, if I had just scheduled it through Twitter.) This isn’t really a complaint, aside from the fact your followers will know it isn’t live, which might cut down on interaction. On my end, there didn’t seem to be any difference in how it showed up in the algorithm, which is nice. 
  • You can’t upload videos unless you pay. Not a huge deal breaker for me, especially since other scheduling apps require money far earlier than this app does, but it’s worth noting.
  • You also have to upgrade in order to schedule stories.

There’s a lot more features than just these, but this is what stuck out to me as a first-time user. 

Overall, my only other complaint is that there’s no way to take notes. I really want a place where I can schedule all my social media from one place and take notes, so that I can reference that as I continue to build my schedule. I’ve used Hootsuit and other planners in the past, but so far, I just haven’t found the *one*. 

Maybe one day!

Conclusion: 

I will probably use this app for my Instagram and continue to use individual scheduling for my Twitter and Facebook page. 

Do you use a social media scheduler? What are the pros and cons? What do you recommend?

Also, if you want to follow me on Instagram, I’m @authorsat. Comment on any photo on my Instagram and let me know you found me via this article, and you’ll be entered to win a query critique! Winner chosen Friday, May 7.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Authors, Add Extras to Books

23 May

Writing a book is long process often filled with notes, maps, character charts, soundtracks, and Sticky Notes. If a novel is 350 pages long, there’s probably a stack of papers twice that high that led up to the publication of it. Whether it was an editorial letter or a rewrite or a list of background stories, authors are constantly juggling the writing of the journey and the creation of it—two very different things when you consider not all world-building and character creating makes it into the final story. But that doesn’t mean your notes have to be thrown away. It doesn’t mean that they have to collect computer dust either. You, as the author, can share them, and readers might just love you for it.

I’m talking about extras.

What are extras? These are elements of your story that didn’t make it into your novel but aspects you can still share with your readers. Below are some ideas to try out.

1. An Overall Extras Page

All three of my series have an Extras page on my website. (Check them out: Bad Bloods, The Timely Death Trilogy, and The Tomo Trilogy.) What do I include on my overall Extras pages? Anything and everything. I link to articles that relate to the building of the novel, I share fan art by awesome readers, I create games and personality quizzes, and I list anywhere else they might find other fun tidbits about the book. This could be where you offer signed books or swag. It could be where you post a map (if that’s not in your book) and/or maps of particular rooms. You could include music or favorite quotes or super fans who’ve sent photos in with your books or you at a signing. I have calendars that show what dates my chapters take place on. I’ve included scrapbooks where I pasted pictures on the pages that reminded me of characters. I’ve even discussed how much particular characters have changed. Any notes that helped you build would be great for this kind of page.

Example extras: fan art, calendars, and maps from my pages.

Example extras: fan art, calendars, and maps from my pages.

2. Wattpad Shorts 

Remember that scene you LOVED like crazy but your editor convinced you to cut? (Let’s be honest. It needed to be cut. It didn’t move the story forward, but it was SUCH a great scene.) Well, this is what Wattpad is for. Not only is Wattpad filled with aspiring writers and avid readers you can connect with, you can also give more to the fans you already have by posting shorts either cut out from your novels or brand-new short stories that are simply related to your novel. I’m doing this with my new release right now. Since there are so many characters, many of their background stories were very limited in the novels, but I had written longer, detailed versions, and I didn’t want them to sit on my computer. I’m now posting all their origin stories, spanning them out over a series of weeks, and they can be read as extras—before, after, or while reading Bad Bloods—or read just for fun. Never let that cut scene you love go to waste ever again.

3. Social Media Websites To Think About

Like Wattpad, there are dozens—if not hundreds—of websites out there you can use to host extras for your novel. Did you listen to certain songs while writing? Create a playlist on YouTube or 8tracks so readers can listen, too. Did you make a Pinterest board for all of your characters? Great! Link to it. Let readers see a physical representation of your imagination. Try to make personality quizzes (Which character are you? Which couple from the book are you? How long would you last in my post-apocalyptic story?). Think of your content and have fun with it! After all, you wrote an entire novel about it.

So, again, just a little list to think about: Fan art, any notes you had, related articles, maps, calendars, soundtracks, Pinterest boards, personality quizzes, swag, signed books, and more.

The only thing I’d warn against is spoilers. Be sure to warn and label spoilers accordingly. And, of course, have fun!

Original posted April 6, 2013

~SAT

13245233_1046886115358569_5859558976763581283_nIf you sign up for the Bad Bloods Thunderclap, I’ll send you signed swag from The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods. All you have to do is sign up, take a screenshot of your support, and email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. What’s a Thunderclap? It’s an automated message that will release from your Twitter, Tumblr, and/or Facebook page the day of the book release to help me reach more readers. I only have to reach 100 supporters for the message to go out, so any and all help is appreciated.

maggieIn other news, the Bad Bloods Prequel was updated on Wattpad! Read Maggie’s story today! Right now, you can read the origin stories of Adam, Michele, and Maggie. Ryne’s story releases June 3, with more stories releasing every other Friday. (There might also be an origin story coming up that relates to Jessica and Eric in The Timely Death Trilogy, so…wink…wink.)

On top of that, you can officially pre-order both books in the Bad Bloods duology. If you pre-order November Snow, I will send you November Rain for review today! (And if you write a review, I will send you November Snow right after that.) This means you could read these two books RIGHT NOW just by preordering and sending me a receipt to shannonathompson@aol.com. All of this news (and more) went out in my newsletter on Sunday, so if you’re missing out on the latest giveaways, you should sign up here.

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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#WW The Truth Behind An Author’s Instagram

4 May

I have a confession. As an #authorofinstagram, I post daily pictures of my writing life that are more or less fictional stories themselves. Sure, my cats are real and that coffee was definitely mine, but not all of my posts are live (although a fair portion of them are), and the mood I describe might not necessarily be accurate.

Whaaaaat?

Don’t judge me. It’s called marketing for a reason.

When I post: #AmReading

reading

What I’m actually doing: Flipping through #bookstagram and #bibliophile to see what everyone else is reading so I can add more books to my already ridiculously long TBR list. Oh, and reading. I’m probably reading. I’m also probably reading indoors with pajamas on. Not in the fall leaves or the snow or whatever else I took a picture of me doing hours ago.

When I post #CoffeeAddict

coffee

What I’m actually doing:

Losing my mind. No. Really. I drink too much coffee a day. Sometimes, my fingers shake. (And it doesn’t even wake me up.) I’m an addict, addict. I drink it because I can’t function without it…which means every coffee picture you see is never my first cup of coffee that day. I’m like that guy from the McDonalds commercial who can’t talk to anyone until he has his coffee. I’m having a coffee right now. (Or am I?) Since coffee means I’m losing my mind, coffee also means that I’m about write, because writing and losing your mind go hand-in-hand.

What I post: #AmWriting  writing

What I’m actually doing:

Staring at what I wrote last week and wondering why the hell I thought any of it was a good idea. Oh, wait. That’s not that bad. Okay. We can just rewrite this, and then…OH! (Insert fellow #amwriting poster here) is writing, too! I wonder how their day is going. *messages fellow author, geeks out for ten minutes, forgets everything* And when I finally get back to writing, something funny better not happen, or I will stop to tweet about it. This is a vicious cycle. If I manage to stay focused, writing might be done in a coffee house—that sees me way too often—or in my office—where my cats see me way too often (hence why they’re in most of my photos, but we’ll get to them in a minute…)

When I post #Catstagram

catsWhat I’m actually doing:

They’re so cute, right? Right? They’re perfect little cuddly gremlins…I mean, cats. There is a reason I call my cats gremlins. As soft and furry and sweet as they appear on my Instagram—trust me—we have our moments around here. Between my desk’s wires (Boo Boo’s favorite thing to tackle out of the wall) and Kiki’s ongoing nemesis battle with Bogart (no, really, they fight all the time), I am constantly chasing them in and out of my office. They attack pens. They attack papers. They attack dangling headphone wires. And sometimes, they throw up on my feet. But hey, that’s love.

In the end, you witness a lot of pieces of my author life, but pieces are pieces. Writing is hard. Being an author is hard. It’s not all coffee and cats and reading and writing. We have our ups and downs and everything in between. Despite all of today’s truth, I do love this crazy, catlady, writing life, and I hope you’ll still enjoy it when I share pieces of it with you on Instagram. Yes, that is a link to my Instagram. Feel free to click it. 😉

~SAT

teaser11The first Bad Bloods teaser released! You can expect a new one to release every #TeaserTuesday via…you guessed it…my Instagram. I’d love to connect with you on there, so feel free to send me a message, and be sure to pre-order Bad Bloods by clicking the links below. It’ll only be available for 2.99 for a limited time, so take advantage of the CTP sale while you can.

Pre-Order Bad Bloods today!

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In other news, Clean Teen Publishing is about to host an AWESOME giveaway/release party THIS Friday on Facebook. Click the link to check out the CTP Marvelous May Reads Release Party. I will be there!

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safe_image.phpAlso, don’t forget, the first book in The Timely Death Trilogy is currently FREE! I wanted to give a shout out to Instagram’s Devyn T. for drawing some fan art. Feel free to send me your art any time! I love seeing it. In fact, it makes my day.

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#MondayBlogs How To Enjoy Blogging As An Author

18 Apr

In an ever-changing social media frenzy, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when starting out on social media or as you continue to grow your Internet visibility. One of the topics I constantly see discussed in the numerous forums I lurk in is blogging. Do authors have to blog? (No.) How many times should I blog a week? (As often as you want to.) But the main question I see is almost always the same. What should I blog about?

Blogging

It might sound strange for me—an avid blogger—to tell others that they shouldn’t blog if they don’t want to, but I am a firm believer in writing what you want to write, and I use that philosophy toward social media as well. Hate Facebook? Stay off of it. Love Twitter? Tweet all day long. As a reader myself, I can tell when a writer isn’t enjoying their story or their posts or if something is lazily thrown together, and I am no exception. I guarantee someone can tell if I am bored or half-interested in what I am doing. There is a connective energy behind words, and that energy will get through to the reader, positive or not.

Now that I have said that, I can admit I’ve had my moments where I didn’t want to blog. For those of you who are new to my website, I’ve been blogging on here since September of 2012. During my first two years, a post went up every other day—all of which were focused on reading and writing—but I’ve changed my blogging schedule almost every year. This year, for instance, I host guest articles or revamp popular past articles on Mondays (yes, I’ve covered this topic before, and you can read the original by clicking the link below this article), I discuss new writing/reading topics on Wednesdays, and I have fun on Saturdays by sharing what I’m writing, reading, publishing, baking, watching, etc.

I’ve allowed myself to morph my website as I grow and change, so I don’t lose that energy or love for blogging. Knowing when to change your focus and energy is going to help you keep your momentum up while also maintaining your voice. It’s always okay to try something new. In fact, I encourage it.

I encourage many things when it comes to blogging—one of which relies on planning ahead, writing posts in advance, and scheduling posts before necessary. That way, if you need to step away for a few days due to any reason, you can without disappearing completely and/or getting discouraged. In fact, I generally schedule posts about two weeks in advance. (As an example, this article was written and scheduled on April 5.) This helps me manage my life outside of blogging. I could write my entire week of blog posts in one day, which allows me to spend the rest of my week working on other things. If there happens to be a timely topic I want to post earlier, all I have to do is push all of my other articles back. Sometimes, before I know it, I have an entire month ready to go in one week.

But what do I write about?

Well…I write about what matters to me, and I encourage all bloggers to sit back and consider what matters to them. Do you love Pinterest? Talk about how images have helped you shape a character. Do you struggle with certain grammatical phrases? Discuss how someone can overcome writing faults. Did you just read a wonderful novel? Share your thoughts on the story. One topic I think helps beginning bloggers is to write a reaction piece to another blog post that inspired them and link back to that post. It helps connect you with other bloggers and readers while moving a discussion forward. And, of course, don’t worry about getting a ton of followers the minute you start. Blogging is about being genuine, having fun, and sharing your thoughts with others. It’s not about getting famous or a thousand reads in one afternoon. Worry about viewership later. For now, focus only on being you—your brand—and dedicating yourself to a schedule of topics you’ll enjoy discussing with others.

Topics are everywhere. Pay attention to what you discuss with your friends and family. Jot a note down when an article catches your eye, and write about it on your blog later.

Blogging—or any social media—doesn’t have to feel like marketing or work. It can be fun and uplifting. Simply let the words guide you toward discussions you care about, and more discussions will follow.

Original posted March 11, 2015

~SAT

12987154_1026069624106885_7090363803884438678_nClean Teen Publishing is hosting a #AskCTP Giveaway on Twitter April 27! I’m REALLY excited about this live author-reader Q&A, and I really hope you all can make it. You can even win a CTP Mystery Box, which includes 1 to 2 print books, swag, and more. And that’s not all.

If you love free stuff, Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE right now. Recommended to YA paranormal romance fans who want new creatures never seen or heard of before. One wonderful fan, Pau’s Digital Playground, created a fun cosplay as a member of the Light. In The Timely Death Trilogy, the Light and the Dark are supernatural, double identities that fight to the death. While members of the Dark have the powers to teleport, talk telepathically, and basically blow things up with magical bursts of energy, the members of the Light can create illusions, transport to another dimension, and transform at any point. (Members of the Dark are limited to the night.) Oh, and each sect has a descendent who wields a sword. Dun. Dun. Dun.

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#WW Pitch Competitions

4 Nov

Although many of you know me as an author, I work a full-time day job as an editor and marketer. I also give publishing advice and help writers with their websites. It was during this job one of my clients asked me if I had ever participated in a #Pitch competition.

If you don’t know what this is, don’t worry! I didn’t either. Not at first anyway. In fact, I embarrassingly admitted to my client that I once participated in the Twitter feed to talk to other writers without realizing a competition was going on. (This is actually okay, since it’s about making friends, but the Twitter feed is generally for those who have entered or plan to enter in the future.)

All of the Pitch competitions are different, but they generally have a theme, are run by a number of agents and mentors, and at the end, a couple of lucky authors get to skip the slush pile and apply to agents and publishers directly. Most of them you apply to via email (following all the rules!), and then you have daily discussions via Twitter while the agents are picking winners. That’s the basic rundown.

Now, after I talked to my client about this, I told them I would do some more research and figure out how to join the next one and what to do during it. Huzzah! #PitchSlam and #NoQS (Nightmare on Query Street) were taking place about a month in the future. (These events happened in October. Isn’t this time warp thing crazy?) I found the rules via the hosts’ blogs, and I relayed all of the information and deadlines. I told my client everything, but they still weren’t sure. They wanted personal information from someone with firsthand experience.

So…I joined.

At the time I was struggling with approaching my own publisher with my pitch for my latest manuscript, so I figured why not get advice from people in the industry? I was too close to the manuscript—much in a way that an editor can’t edit his or her own writing alone—and I needed help from someone else.

I entered #PitchSlam

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

I am going to start out by saying, I LOVED this entire experience. Not only was there an awesome theme surrounding Harry Potter, but there was also three separate days of events and support from the agents and the community. On day 1, 200 lucky writers received feedback on their 35-word pitch. On day 2, another 200 lucky writers received feedback on their first 250 words. I was super lucky. I was picked on both days, and by the end of the week, six mentors had helped me fine-tune my project.

I was through the roof. And from reading the feed, so were many other writers.

Pitch competitions are priceless. I made friends in the writing community I might not have ever made, and I learned a lot from those around me. I had fun, and I never once saw someone feel defeated by “losing.” Because there is no “losing” in these competitions. There’s just friendship, support, understanding, and teaching.

I highly recommend trying one out if you have a completed manuscript and you’re looking for an agent/publisher and/or honest/professional feedback on your work (or even if you just want to make some writer friends)!

Just to help you out, here is some extra information on upcoming ones:

  • Follow @Michelle4Laughs on Twitter for information on Sun versus Snow, a query competition coming in January. Info.
  • There’s another PitchSlam in March of 2016 as well. Info here. It’s a bi-annual contest. Here’s a list of the PitchSlam Profressors. Follow them for future updates.
  • News on PitchWars: They’ll have news on the next one after the New Year: Info.
  • Pitch Madness starts in February: Info

So get ready for the next one! I’m sure it’ll be fun. And of course, I wish you the best of luck. (And of course, be sure to follow those rules!)

~SAT

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

17 Jun

#WW The Joy of Progress Bars

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember when I used to have a progress bar on the right side of my website. I no longer have one, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. Since I no longer have on, my progress bar revolved around my current writing projects. Generally, I had two novels at once, and I included the status (ex. Editing) as well as the estimated release date. I have samples below, but I mainly outlined when my novels were being written, edited, and formatted until the release date. That being said, I loved having progress bars on my website, and I encourage every writer to at least try it for three months. Why?

1. It’s interactive with readers!

A progress bar keeps your readers up-to-date. Not only do they know where you are in your work but they can also talk to you about where you are. Everyone can be a part of the process now, and as a reader myself, I think it’s exciting to see all the steps as they happen. Want to know if I’m editing? Want to know if I’m reviewing edits? Now you know, and you can know where I’m at during every step of the process as the weeks pass. It builds up all that hype, and you can celebrate every milestone with your readers! This is actually the reason I started doing it. When I began receiving regular emails about my current status with my next novel, I wanted to find a way to keep everyone updated by just visiting my website, and it worked wonders for everyone! We could chat whenever we wanted about where we were at and skip the questions so we could go directly to celebrating progress.

Progress from June 3, 2014 - September 28, 2013

Progress from June 3, 2014 – September 28, 2014

2. It reminds writers of how far they’ve come

I definitely recommend progress bars to new writers because it will help you from getting discouraged. At first, it won’t seem like a lot, but when you see your bars over months right next to one another, you can see how much you are accomplishing, and that’s a great feeling! It can help you set goals and encourage yourself. But be warned. Some writers have the opposite feelings about bars. They feel discouraged, like they aren’t moving forward, and it sometimes puts too much pressure on writers, so while it works for many—it’s fun for me—it has also felt worse for others. So, figure out what type of writer you are. If you love writing goals, this might be for you. If you love keeping track of your word count, this might be for you. But if writing goals and word count makes you shrink away from your computer screen, I wouldn’t do it. I would just write.

So why don’t I have one anymore?

Well, I probably will again soon! Honestly, though, I deleted mine when my old publisher closed down because I knew I couldn’t update anyone. Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I will probably keep everyone updated on my writing progress with November Snow and other projects as we move forward. If you want to try one, I make mine via PicMonkey. It’s simple and free—and fun! I love looking back on mine, and I love looking forward to new ones.

What about you? Have you ever tried a progress bar? Would you ever consider trying one?

~SAT

The Please-Help-Shannon Poll

1 Nov

Announcements:

10620095_760175297362987_6507736429119474630_oSpecial thanks goes out to Omar Bula Escobar – former UN representative and author of “El Plan Maestro” – for translating and sharing a quote from Minutes Before Sunset yesterday on his website!

In my latest interview, I was asked if I have a message for my fans, and I do! Click here to read my answer on Mel’s Shelves. The interview is right below her review of Seconds Before Sunrise where she wrote, “I was drawn into this story and felt like I was there with them. I loved the ending and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story will go next!” Join the dark by clicking here before the last novel arrives this January.

A new poem – What I Wanted to Wear for Halloween – has been added to my interactive poetry series – now both on Wattpad and HelloPoetry. Comment, vote, or share for your chance to be mentioned on my YouTube channel!

The Please-Help-Shannon Poll

I am starting off November a little differently – with a small poll. I promise that it is small, and I hope that you take a minute to help me out. This poll has two questions that can affect my publishing discussions and the content of this website. Just comment below or shoot me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com.

What would you like to see published in 2015?

  • Death Before Daylight, book 3 of The Timely Death Trilogy
  • Take Me Yesterday, sequel to Take Me Tomorrow
  • November Snow rewrite and release
  • A completely new novel
  • Audio books
  • More poems
  • More short stories
  • Something else entirely – please feel free to suggest something else

What would you like to see on ShannonAThompson.com?

This can range anywhere from more guest posts to YouTube videos to topic suggestions to posts that have nothing to do with writing and reading. So suggest anything below! (If you suggest a specific post I use in the future, I will credit you and your website for inspiration.)

This is how I call for help

This is how I call for help

I truly appreciate all of your time and help. Things have been really hard in my personal life recently, so I’ve had to reevaluate a lot of things. Unfortunately, that includes my publishing life and this website. I won’t lie. There might be a major delay or a dramatic change in the near future, and I hope you do not despise me because of it. I truly am sorry – because quite frankly I feel as if I am failing you right now – but I am trying my hardest to keep up with everything, and your responses will help me solidify decisions I need to make. I truly want your input on those decisions because you – as well as the wonderful AEC team – are the reasons I am able to pursue my writing life.

If you can be so kind, please share the services on my page. The Author Extension Community offers a variety of affordable packages for authors and bloggers, including:

  • Content editing and proofreading
  • Review and interview requests
  • Social Media assessments
  • And more!

I know. I know. Shameless marketing. But I need your help, and I hope there is no shame in asking for it.

Thank you again, and Happy November,

~SAT

10 Things Authors Worry About

20 Sep

Announcements: 

The next section of my interactive poetry series on Wattpad has begun! You can read the first poem – The grave of my teenage daughter – by clicking the link. Remember to vote, comment, and/or share for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.

In other news, Star-crossed Book Blog reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and she included excerpts and viewpoints on the characters. Read the full review by clicking here, but here’s a small quote, “Noah was a mystery that I enjoyed unraveling. He was broken, dark and even though he never showed it, I couldn’t help but feel as though he was suffocating from having the weight of the world on his shoulders.” Click here to check out Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon.

10 Things Authors Worry About:

One of my more popular posts has always been Being a Writer: Pros and Cons. So much so that I even receive emails about it to this day – mainly from aspiring writers who want a little more detail about an author’s lifestyle. That’s why I got to thinking about this topic, and that is also why I thought it would be fun to share some of those pesky worries authors can go through on a regular basis. Honestly? I probably could’ve gone on forever, but here are ten topics I’ve had a giggle at to start the conversation:

1. Is my title catchy enough? – This is my first one because I dealt with this while writing this piece. In all honestly, this should be titled “things I worry about as an author” but…A. That’s too long. B. Using “I” is generally frowned upon because…A. It’s self-centered B. It subconsciously removes readers from the center of the piece; therefore, taking down your chances of being clicked, read, and commented on. (This is true. Google it.) And let me just point out that this is just a blog post. Titling a novel is even scarier! That’s when even more questions arise: does it make sense, does it represent my novel, will readers enjoy it, is it eye-catching, how will it look on a cover? Even worse: how will it look like on a spine or as a thumbnail? Just. Title. Me. (and by “title” I truly mean “hit”)

2. Can I stare at this picture of myself forever? – Generally in reference to whatever photo we decide to use for various purposes, including our websites, business cards, and book covers. I don’t care how awesome someone looks or how stunning a photographer makes you look, seeing the same photo day-after-day-month-after-year is really strange (and borderline creepy). It is almost like staring in the mirror too long. Eventually, you start thinking, “Do I really look like that? Is that how people see me?” Ah! I just want to hide my face in a book.

3. Are my characters (fill in the blank)? – Too happy, conceded, whiny, or – the worst one – flat. It’s this solid shadow of worry that is impossible to forget.

4. What am I doing wrong? – Okay. Okay. This is just a question that I’m sure everyone has about numerous things in their life, but I feel like this question represents so much for authors. Why are my rankings so low? Why haven’t I gotten more reviews yet? How can I connect further with my darling readers? Everything is lined with this “I know I can do better, but first I need to know what I’m doing wrong so I can improve” and it slowly becomes this obsession of Googling for advice and begging fellow authors for some sort of know-it-all secret, but it results in one thing: you’ll get better. And you slam your forehead on your desk because you know they’re right.

5. Ratings, Reviews, and Rankings (Oh! And sales!) – Even if we try our hardest to ignore them, they are often discussed within the writing community. I can admit that I try to pay attention to everything – especially the reviews my readers post, because I look at it this way: if they are going to take the time to read and review my book (not to mention send me a link), I am definitely going to take the time to read their thoughts. Thanking them is the least I can do. That being said, this combination of numbers and scales can be just as exhausting and discouraging as it can be enthralling and encouraging, so there’s definitely a careful line we have to keep in mind if we’re going to keep our minds on these things, and I definitely don’t recommend that every author pay attention to these things. It’s completely up to the author’s personal preferences, especially in terms of whether or not someone can just have fun with it. (But that’s a different discussion entirely…that I’m already planning on posting about in the near future).

for

6. What am I going to do in 2017? – Yes. 2017. I don’t know about many authors, but I think a lot of authors have year-long plans if not longer plans as to what they want to work on, release, and distribute next. While we’re publishing one novel, we’re probably already writing another one, and we might be writing a second one when we’re on break. It takes years to write and publish, so writers’ lives are generally planned out a year in advance. It can get overwhelming sometimes, especially when you want to fit in a new project or change directions entirely.

7. When will I write next? – As contradicting as this can be, a writers publication calendar can be set for a year or three, but finding time to write or edit or a number of other writerly things is entirely up to the writer and their personal life. Wait. I’m open from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. next Thursday? Not anymore. #amwriting

8. Am I reading enough? Am I writing enough? – Reading and writing go hand-in-hand into the sunset…while riding separate horses…that sometimes like the go in different directions. Balancing two passions can be hard, sometimes impossibly difficult, but we find a way.

9. Am I writing for fun enough? – Much like the above issue, it can go hand-in-hand with simply writing, but writing with deadlines can sometimes take that original fun out of it, and even authors need to take time to write something silly they never have to worry about releasing or sharing with four editors and the world.

10. Social Media – It was the best of nights and it was the worst of nights. I love it, and – sometimes – I do hate it. (Please don’t tell social media that.) It can be repetitive, and it can be so exciting that you fall off your desk chair and your cat leaps five feet in the air due to your sudden movements. Even then, your eyes can only stare at that little glowing screen for so long before you have to step away and remember what real-life colors look like without an alien illumination behind them. I can still love how it connects me with you all, though, and I enjoy speaking with everyone in the comments below, but I also worry about whether or not you’ll enjoy my next article, my approaching poem, or my non-HD video. (Sorry, a writer’s life isn’t always a rich life. I can’t afford HD yet, even though you all deserve it!) But I try to push my worries away, so I can fully enjoy the ride.

Let’s enjoy this ride together! Comment below, and we’ll chat about what you worry about as a reader or writer. Honorable mentions go to editing, mistakes that make it through editing, and other writer problems we all tweet about.

~SAT

Pros and Cons of an Author Blog

12 Sep

Announcements:

It’s Friday, so you know what that means: it’s also Poetry Friday! In case you missed it, I’ve uploaded a new poem to my interactive poetry series on Wattpad – How She Loved Me. This is also the last one of this particular set. Depending on your vote, one of the four will be read on my YouTube channel, so check them out before it’s too late by clicking here.

But – in other news – two fantastic readers sent me book reviews, and my latest interview was posted, so here we here:

Tranquil Dreams wrote, “Take Me Tomorrow is absolutely impressive. It’s engaging, intriguing and is an absolute page-turner.  I took every single second opportunity to resume reading whenever I could because I just couldn’t wait to see what happen next with Sophia and Noah as the story unfolded.” But you can read her entire review by clicking here.

For The Timely Death Trilogy fans, Read Watch and Think reviewed Minutes Before Sunset: “Do not skip over this book thinking that it is another paranormal romance, if you want to read a quick, interesting plot with a whole new captivating world of shades and light. The core of the story may be romance but the book is not all about it and that makes it worthy enough for me.” Her full review can be found here.

But you can also read my latest interview at Into the Written World. I mainly speak about Take Me Tomorrow, including information on the possible sequel, but I also discussed my passion for writing and reading, so be sure to check it out by clicking the link above.

Whew! Thank you for reading today’s news. Onto today’s post:

Pros and Cons of an Author Blog

On September 25, it will be my two-year anniversary of blogging here. Over time, I have blogged about many topics, but I mainly focus on writing and reading. Because of that, I have received many questions about my decisions regarding blogging. Ex/ how do you choose what to write about, do you think it’s a good platform for selling books, how did you get 17,000 followers, what do you recommend I do? All fantastic questions. (And one of the main reasons I write Ketchup posts and provide a social media assessment through the Author Extension Community.) But today I wanted to share some of those pretty pros and pesky cons for all those that are curious about how blogging can be uplifting but also a stressful adventure – one that I will gladly continue.

Pro: You can share your thoughts

That is the point of blogging, isn’t it? Having a blog is almost like having a public diary, one that includes carefully thought-out posts (instead of emotional ranting about personal topics). Even better, we can connect with others who share the same opinion or be challenged by those who do not. It opens streams of thought from one person to another, even people the entire way across the world. How amazing is that? On top of that, you are cataloging it over time, and in the future, you will be able to go back and see what you were thinking, how you changed, and where you began friendships with readers and fellow bloggers. This is when you realize blogging is beyond blogging. It’s family-building.

Con: People may not enjoy your thoughts, and they might be really mean about it.

This is also a reference to the ever-illusive-but-always-present trolls. I like to believe that I’m fairly open-minded. I don’t mind if someone disagrees with me or a commenter, but the second name-calling or some other form of incredible immaturity happens, I delete it. (You’d be surprised to know how many times this has happened.) Call it censorship. Call it what you want. But I don’t want my blog to be a place people reference when they talk about online bullying and harassment. This means that I take an extra fifteen minutes to monitor my comments so I can guarantee a safe and happy place for everyone to come to without worry, but it was very disheartening to experience it the first few times it happened. Now, my shell is tougher, and my group of readers are (probably) happier – even if no one knows it since I delete all the evidence of my troll-destroying.

Original image from ms. ileane speaks: October 2012

Original image from ms. ileane speaks: October 2012

Pro: You connect with supporters

Everyone always says that writers have blogs to sell books, but that’s bullshit. (Excuse my French.) It’s not to sell books. It is to connect with people. It is not to connect with potential fans of your novels. It is to connect with potential supports of you. (So you can support them, too, of course.) For instance, one of my readers might HATE paranormal romance, but they may have a cousin who loves it, and since we talk, they might tell their cousin about me, but no one is obligated. I don’t expect anyone to do anything at all. I’m simply glad that my reader is here, and I’m grateful for every discussion we share, whether or not it is about my books. In fact, I had this blog long before I ever spoke to my publisher, let alone had a contract, but – Ultimately, I blog because I love to blog, and I love people, and I love blogging with people and for people. It is my other passion. It is a part of me. It is even permanently on my iCalendar. In case you’re curious, my website notes are in orange.

Con: You connect with haters

Ugh. Trolls.

Pros: You created an enjoyable platform

Again, I must repeat myself – writers don’t blog every other day because they want to sell books. Writers blog because they like writing, and blogging is another form of writing. It’s an easy way to express ourselves and connect with others who are interested in sharing their thoughts. Of course, I’m not trying to speak for every writer out there, but writing novels can (sometimes) feel like work, so blogging can be a nice way to take a break but still be involved with everything. That being said, if someone is wondering about starting one for platform purposes, I do recommend writers try it, but I don’t think it’s the end-all-be-all of an author’s social media. It is just one way to tackle it. And my final advice is this: readers can tell if an author isn’t enjoying writing a novel in the same way they can tell if a blogging doesn’t care about their post. Blog if you love it. If you don’t, find another social media venue to try. You can find one you love, and it will work. Just trust that passionate gut of yours to guide you.

Pros: A never-ending array of topics await

There is so much to talk about! Like, so much. And this is coming from someone who strictly focuses on anything to do with writing and reading.

Cons: A never-ending array of topics await

But sometimes, I feel like there are so many things to talk about I cannot decide what to speak about next. This can be overwhelming, and there are other parts that can be overwhelming, too. The amount of time that goes into every blog post builds up, and reflecting on it can be…well…exhausting. But so can novel-writing. So it’s easy to remind myself of my love for it (which might be why I wrote this specific post in the first place).

On September 25, it will be my two-year anniversary of blogging here, and I love it more and more every day. I want to thank all of you for following me. Every time you read, comment, and share, I smile with gratitude, which is why I add this.

You are my biggest pro.

What are your pros and cons of blogging? Share your thoughts below,

~SAT

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