Today's fabulous Savvy Sensation Award goes to Carol Riggs. Carol is repped by Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She writes YA novels and lives in Southern Oregon with her husband. She's also an artist with a Studio Arts degree (writing and illustrating your own picture books anytime soon, Carol?). She is a great example of perseverance - it was her 14th novel, Shapers, that got her an agent. See? Don't Give Up! And now, Carol...
LB: Who are you (what do you write, what are your personal stats)?
I am a YA writer who writes a variety of contemporary, magical realism (which is contemporary with a magical twist), light science fiction, light fantasy, and dystopian fiction. At the end of April 2011 I gained representation from agent Kelly Sonnack of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency for my light sci-fi novel, SHAPERS. We are in the process of revising it before going on submission to editors.
LB: Where can we find you online (blog, twitter, facebook, etc.)?
When did you begin your online platform building?
In earnest? June 2010. The first year of my blog was written more like an online journal, and it bored even me. Then I got serious and decided to social network rather than talk to myself. I went from 30-some followers up to the 330+ I have now, a year later. I changed the focus of my blog at that time, and realized that finding bloggy buddies was a mutual thing--I had to venture forth and be a follower of other blogs. I couldn't just wait for others to come to me. I joined Twitter in February and Facebook in July.
LB: What is your message, if any (is your blog about anything specific, for example)?
My blog now focuses on writing tips, using random pieces of advice that I've learned during the last 10 years of writing. I also do first-page critiques for anyone who sends me a sample, for a public post. Many people find this useful, to see not only what I have to say, but what other writers have to say in the post's comments. I concentrate on young adult or middle grade critiques, but I've done a few adult posts as well.
LB: How have you built your followers:
What have you done that has been the most successful?
I gained the most blog followers by joining in on two very huge blogfests. The first was a Jolly By Golly blogfest at Christmas time, and the second was Rachael Harrie's second annual Writer's Platform Campaign (formerly called Crusade), which she developed to help writers build their online platforms. Blogfests are great ways to meet other writers and readers in record time, and expand like-minded contacts.
LB: What have you done that has failed?
Fail: making my blog an online journal, and waiting for others to follow me. And trying to read my blogroll from my Blogger dashboard; it's SO much easier to log into gmail and click on Google Reader! I also thought I couldn't "follow" more than about 40 blogs--mistakenly thinking I had to read every single post. While it's not possible to comment on over 450 blogs that I follow, I set aside a block of time on Wednesdays and Saturdays to read/skim the posts and try to keep up with most of the news.
LB: What else should we know about you?
I keep writing because I love it, despite having accumulated 300+ rejection slips and written 15 novels. Keep going, everyone! Don't give up.
LB: Any additional advice for our readers?
Be yourself, and don't write blog posts or make comments on other blogs just to gain followers. Enjoy the relationships, because it's about more than numbers. That's what social networking really is.
LB: What makes you unique (can be anything - can you put your leg behind your head? are you a trivia sensation? etc.)?
LOL, I certain can't put my leg behind my head! I'm an artist with a Studio Arts degree, and I had thyroid cancer at 18. No recurrence of the cancer since then, but the experience made me re-evaluate my life at the time.
Thank you so much, Carol, for sharing with us! Enjoy your Savvy Sensation Award (you deserve it!) and feel free to pass it on to someone else if you like.