Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Making the Most of Campaigns and Blogfests

This is the last day you can sign up for Rachael Harrie's AWESOME platform-building campaign so I suggest you get over there NOW!

If you are planning on participating in this campaign or really in any blogfest, there are just a few points to consider before signing up:
  • Be available.  If you are going through the most hectic time in your life, don't sign up. Campaigns and blogfests are meant to help build relationships. You will not build very meaningful relationships if you aren't going to be available to participate. And it isn't fair to others who are trying to connect with you.
  • Fit the guidelines.  Read what the blogfest or campaign is looking for. If you write picture books only, don't sign up for a YA blogfest that is intended to build YA relationships. Again, they won't be meaningful relationships if you aren't who they're looking for.
  • Write meaningful posts.  It's like when you're planning to have guests over at your house.  Not your best friends, but new people you've never met before.  You clean up and bring out your best dishes, don't you? Same thing on your blog. New people are going to be stopping by at all hours of the day and night. Make sure you've got your best posts up, no filler fluff or off-topic randomness (unless that's who you are all the time). Broken record alert - you are building relationships. Let your visitors know what they're getting into, what they can expect from you so they'll want to return.
  • Give back. Don't just wait for people to come to you. Go visit them, leave a comment, say hi. No one wants to be the only one putting out in a relationship so make sure you do your fair share.
A big howdy hello and thank you to all my newest visitors, particularly the ones from the campaign! (WAVE!) These are just a few tips, do you have others about making the most of campaigns? Please share or just say hello in the comments.

Monday, August 29, 2011

FAMP: Get a Little Color, You're Looking Pale

Let me tell you a little secret:  readers like pictures. I know, we're all grown ups and our books don't have pictures anymore, but we are still drawn to reading material that has color. That's why advertisers are willing to pay more for a color listing.

That being said, it's a natural conclusion that adding color (pictures, variety in font color) to your blog will also draw people to read your posts. But here's the catch, when I say add color and pictures in your posts, I don't mean to your background.

If your background is too colorful, it will draw the attention away from the post - remember, the color should be where you want your readers to look. A background with a minimal amount of color isn't bad (like the one on this site, though this is even a little more color than ideal) but when you post a detailed picture in the background of your blog, a snapshot, for example, you really risk losing your readers.  Yes, it looks cool.  But did you bring people to your blog to look at pics or read your writing? Just sayin'.

The best tips for adding color that draws your readers:

  • Stick to using color in your posts, not your background.
  • Add a picture to every post...
  • ...but try to only add ONE picture unless absolutely necessary (too distracting!).
  • Use one or two primary colors (or dark colors) to liven up longer posts or draw the readers eye to important bullets.
  • Don't just add color arbitrarily.  Make it mean something or your readers feel like they were cheated. You told them "Read this, it's important" with the color and if it isn't then you kinda lied.
  • Don't add too many colorful badges and ads on the sides of your blog. It gets cluttered and the eye doesn't know what to do.
Of course, this is all From a Marketing Perspective. If you love your background busy and filled with design, keep it.  If you love your posts simple and white, go ahead and keep them that way.  Just know it's against my marketing advice.

How do you use color in your blog? Do you like to use pictures? What draws your eyes to a post?  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Saturday Savvy Sensation: Carol Riggs


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.

Facebook Friday: Friend Lists

Facebook lists are a beautiful thing. They are an easy way to manage your Facebook relationships, particularly if you are using your personal FB page to also act as your author presence.

The benefit: say you want to post something on your FB page that you only want certain people to see. You can choose which people see your posts (I show you how here) but that can be time consuming if you have a large group of people you want to select. Having a list makes it easy to choose the same large group of people over and over.

How to:  

Step 1

          On your FB profile page.
          1. On the left under your profile pic, click on "Friends".
          2. Click on the "Edit Friends" button on the right hand side.
          3. Select "Create a List".
          4. Name your list in the box that says "Enter a List Name."
          5. Select the people you want on your list.
          6. Select Create List.


If you want to create your list based on interest or location or group, etc., do steps 1-3 above, then:

4. Select the "All Friends" tab. (It might say "Recently Interacted").
5. Choose the category you want from there. (SHOWN BELOW)



You can create several lists. Some ideas: 
  • Coworkers
  • Family
  • Writer Friends
  • Fans
  • Crit Partners
Have fun making different lists and posting selectively.  Really great tool.

Are you using Facebook Lists? How do you use them? Any ideas you can share with us to use them better?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WOC Marketing Posts

First, thank you so much for all the congrats and support for reaching 100 followers. It's truly been so enjoyable. And Sharon was the perfect winner because she had been having a pretty bad day until she got my email.

Next I have to tell you how glad I am that my older kids are back in school. Even though that means other things in my life will get busier, I have so much more time to do things, even with my toddler still at home.  Maybe it's not more time I've gained, but just more structure.

Which is why I finally have had time to give you a little recap of WriteOnCon. It's been a week, but here's a few highlights I'd like to share, mostly from a marketing perspective:

  • Author J.S. Lewis posted on Successful Marketing and Promotion with School Visits. I enjoy working with kids as well as writing for kids and his ideas are the kind I am actually planning when I am eventually (hopefully!) published. Very few authors will take up his advice so you are at an advantage if you do.
  • Excellent advice was given from Agent Sara Megibow On Platform.  Seriously read this one. She tells you what you should have on your website/blog BEFORE you query here. Yes, I said before. So get working on that.
  • Authors Lisa and Laura Roecker talked about Collective Blogging and Book Promotion. Great tips for online and in person. And a good reminder that you don't have to do everything alone.
  • Editor Liesa Abrams gave a very insightful post on An Editor's Perspective About What Authors Should and Should Not Talk About Online. Read it and check your own presence.
  • Finally, because it's inspirational, Author Beth Revis said Don't Give Up. It's also interesting to see how one writer works on her revisions.  But mostly it's just an awesome reminder about the value of failing.
One other item of business:
Do you see that picture to the right that says I'm a Platform-Building Campaigner? That means I am part of Rachael Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign.  Are you? Get over there and join! Sign-ups end August 31st!

I have ten minutes before my kids get home. I better jump in the shower.

What did you enjoy from WOC? I'd love to hear what really helped/touched you.  Are you part of the Campaign? Do you have kids you're glad are in school? Share it all!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

You get a bonus post from me because we are celebrating! I have noticed my followers creeping toward 100 and have been checking periodically - okay, obsessively - to see the magic 100th follower.

And guess what.

I missed it. The last time I checked I was at 99 and then this time, I was at 101!

So in honor of this special event that is literally only made possible because of you AWESOME PEOPLE, I have randomly selected a follower to receive a prize.

First, the prize:  A pdf version of legendary author marketing expert Kristen Lamb's book "We Are Not Alone.: The Writer's Guide to Social Marketing." Kristen says it all better than I do, which I shouldn't tell you, otherwise why will you return? Seriously, if you don't follow her, you should.

Now for the winner.  Drum roll please...

Sharon Bayliss of The Blue Word 

I will email you, Sharon, with your prize. I hope you learn lots. But still come back and visit me :)

Thank you so much, everyone, for following! I have truly enjoyed the journey to this point and can't wait for the next 100.  

Iframe Apps (aka Landing Tabs) Part 2


Monday's From a Marketing Perspective will not be brought to you today.  Instead I bring you part 2 of creating landing tabs on your Facebook Page.  If you missed it, here's part one.

(From a marketing perspective - having a landing tab is an ideal choice for your Facebook author page or book page. So technically, I could still call this FAMP.)

By now you should have created two images for your Facebook page: one for non-fans and one for fans. Now let's go install the app itself.
  1. From your Facebook page, click on your profile image. 
  2. Click on the button that says "Add Profile Picture"
  3. Click on select image and upload the image you want your fans to see (the second image). You can change this back later.
  4. The picture you want your fans to see should,  now be your profile picture. Click "View Page". 
  5. Click on your profile picture again. And then again so you are looking at your image like the image on the right.
  6. From here, right click on your picture and select "properties".  This doesn't work in Google Chrome, by the way. I did it in Internet Explorer. You should get a box that looks like this:

7.  Do you see that long bunch of mumbo jumbo after the word "Address" in the picture above? You need to copy that address and paste it somewhere until later.  Make sure you copy the whole thing. It should start with http and end in jpg.  Mine looks like this: http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/312554_181606861909148_165666926836475_364009_726800_n.jpg

You can now put your Facebook profile picture back to what you had it as before if you would like.

8. From Facebook, search for Iframe Apps or click on the link here. There are many apps that will make a landing tab, but this is the easiest as far as I'm concerned.

9. Select to add the app to your page.  If you have several pages, you'll need to choose which page to add it to. Your page should look like this:


10. In that big white box, copy and paste the code that follows in red:

<style type='text/css'>
#wrapper {
width:520px;
height:500px;
margin:0 auto; border:0; padding:0;
position:relative;
}
</style>
<div id="wrapper">
 <div style='width:520px;'>
 <img src='COPY YOUR PICTURE ADDRESS IN PLACE OF THESE GREEN WORDS' /> 
 </div>
</div>

11. In place of the green font you should paste that address I told you to get earlier from your profile picture.

12. Almost done! Click on fan gate.


13. Upload your non-fan picture.  This is the image you want people to see if they have not liked your page yet.  

14. Click the box "Enable fan gate".

15. Go back to your Facebook page and click "Edit Page".

16. About a third down on this page you should see the words "Default Landing Tab".  Select "Welcome".

17. Hit save and you're done!

You won't be able to test your page yourself because you are an Admin to your Facebook Page. You can log out of Facebook entirely and then search for your page and you should see your non-fan page image. 

Whew, that was a lot of steps. I promise I won't get this technical on Facebook again. But now you have a great Facebook app that authors usually only get when they have a publisher designing their FB page. Aren't you super cool now?

Did I lose you? Please ask any questions in the comments below. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Facebook Sunday: Iframe Apps (aka Landing Tabs) Part I

I must begin this post by saying I'm not a loser. I'm saying that to convince me, not you. The last time I did the handy little trick I'm about to show, FB pages were set up completely different. So I spent several hours (not exaggerating) learning how to do this again. I finally figured it out but it was a stressful process (ask my kidlets - I think I screamed at them way too many times throughout the process!) But on to the post...

One reason I set up The Write Advice on Facebook was so that I had a FB page to use for demonstrations on this blog. The trick I'm going to show you is probably my favorite FB page app, but has lots of steps to setting up so I hope I don't get too technical on y'all.  I promise it's worth it.

Have you ever gone to a Facebook page and seen a cool advertisement-ish pic or info instead of their wall? For example, if you are NOT a fan of Elana Johnson's Facebook page for Possession, then you will see this when you go to her page:

If you are a fan of her page already, then you will arrive at her wall:

You can also try looking at American Express, Coca-cola, or Pepsi.  All of them, if you have NOT "liked" their page, will take you to what is known as a landing tab. (If you already are a fan of every single example I have given you, then go to one of them, scroll down to the left hand side of the page and choose the option "unlike".  You can easily "like" the page again when you're done seeing what I'm talking about.)

Landing tabs are super cool because, think about it, do you really have the same message to share with your fans as you do with your non-fans? The marketing answer is no, you do not. People who are not yet your fans should see your sales pitch. The people who are already fans should not. If you have an author or a book page, I seriously recommend adding a landing tab.

Now, here's the how. It's lengthy so we will be doing this in 2 posts. 

First:  Create the images to use for your landing tab.  You will need 2 images: the first is your actual landing tab.  The second is the image will see immediately after liking your page.  If you are not a fan of The Write Advice, you can see what I'm talking about by going to that page. You see the image on the left.  If you "like" the page, you will immediately see the image to the right. The next time you come to this page, you will see the wall.















You can create your two images using any photo creator you desire.  Photoshop is, of course, excellent.  But if you are really not very graphically savvy, you can make your landing tab with simple graphics and text in Publisher or even PowerPoint.  

I did mine in PowerPoint just to show you how easy it is. I created one slide for each picture. To get the scale right, I only used half the slide. Here's what my first slide looked like in PowerPoint:



After you've made your slide you must save it as a PNG.  To do this, select "Save As".  Name your file. Then hit the button beneath the name and it will open up to a list of different files.  Select PNG Portable Networks Graphic.

Ok, that's your homework, folks. Folks with a Facebook page anyway.  Go create your two images and come back Monday. On Monday I will show you the next steps in place of Monday's FAMP.

Remember this can only work with a Facebook page. Not a Facebook personal profile.


Do you have a Facebook author or book page? Are you planning to have one? Did I just teach this to a whole bunch of readers who have no intentions at all of having a Facebook author or book page? Gee, maybe I truly am a loser!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Savvy Sensation: Theresa Milstein

Today's Saturday Savvy Sensation Award goes to substitute teacher and YA writer, Theresa Milstein.  Theresa writes paranormal/fantasy YA. I met Theresa through Deana Barnhart's Blogfest last month. Well, Theresa can certainly tell you about herself and her fabulous blog better than I can, so here she is:



LB: Who are you (what do you write, what are your personal stats)?

I write children’s books, mostly YA contemporary fantasy.  I’ve been writing for about five years.  I have a short story “Daisy” included in the 100 Stories for Queensland anthology.  This October, my short story “My Moment” will be part of the Tiny Dancer anthology.  I’m waiting for the release date of Fang Tales, which will include my vampire short story “Allured”.

LB: Where can we find you online (blog, twitter, facebook, etc.)?

My blog “Substitute Teacher’s Saga” is at http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com
Find me on Facebook: Theresa Brown Milstein
I’m also on Google+: Theresa Milstein

LB: When did you begin your online platform building?

I began blogging in September 2009 because I was about to begin substitute teaching, and I figured the best way to get through it was to vent about each and every painful subbing day.  At some point, I wrote more about writing than subbing, and the majority of my followers were writers.  It took me a long time to understand platform.  I’m slow.

LB: What is your message, if any (is your blog about anything specific, for example)? 

My blog is about writing, teaching, and life in general.  If something happens to me and I think, I should write about this, I turn it into a blog post.  I rarely do interviews of book reviews.  Whether I’m being humorous or dealing with something hard, I try to write from the heart. 

LB: How have you built your followers –

What have you done that has been the most successful?

My follower count was pretty low until Nicola Morgan had a Blog Birthday in January 2010.  We were invited to link our blogs and tell a little about them.  Then we were supposed to comment and follow at least 5 other blogs.  Some of the followers I gained back then, I now count as friends. 

I had my own version of the Blog Birthday with a Halloween Haunting, where I told people to haunt other blogs.  There have been a few opportunities like that around the blogosphere.  Rachael Harrie  http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/ periodically has a Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign to get other bloggers together.  I think I gained at least 50 more followers from being a part of her last one. 

LB: What have you done that has failed?

When I first blogged, I didn’t focus on writers’ blogs.  Often, those people didn’t follow me back.  It also took me months before I realized my blog wasn’t linked to my profile, so when I followed other blogs, people couldn’t easily find my blog to follow back.

LB: What else should we know about you?

For me, blogging is more than platform.  My posts let me express my humor, frustrations, anxieties and accomplishments.  I try to maintain a certain amount of privacy, but every once in a while I cross the line.  And when I do, the outpouring of support has been uplifting. 

LB: Any additional advice for our readers?

Use your blog to build relationships.  I’ve found beta readers and friends.  I’ve met some of these friends in person.  I’ve received invaluable advice.  I’ve stumbled upon wonderful opportunities. 

It’s a generous community out there, so give as much as you get.  

Theresa, thanks so much with sharing your wonderful thoughts and advice! Rachael Harrie is having another of her platform building campaigns starting this Monday, August 22.  You only have until August 31st to sign up.  Will I see you there?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Facebook Friday: Facebook Sunday?

Wow, it feels like forever since I've posted anything on this blog! But I have been very much consumed with WriteOnCon fabulousness this week, and today I find I have to actually work at those places that earn me a living.

Anyway, today I am just not ready with a Facebook Friday post.  But I do have something really cool I want to share with you about Facebook, and don't feel like waiting until next Friday to post.  So come back Sunday and I will have amazing FB advice that you just can't live without. Seriously.

If you are dying to have some FB info today, then visit here for some Facebook Trivia or here to take a FB quiz.

Meanwhile, how was WriteOnCon for you?  Please share your favorite advice.  I'd love to hear wha you got out of it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

At WriteOnCon


This week I'm at WriteOnCon.  Get over there and love it if you aren't there already. I'll be back Friday.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gone Travelin'

Today I've ventured over to Emily R King's blog, Get Busy Writing to be part of her Mentor Monday. So get busy getting over there and checking us out!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Savvy Sensation: Karen Cioffi

This week's Savvy Sensation award goes to published author Karen Cioffi of Karen Cioffi - Writing and Marketing.  As the title says, her blog is a great companion to mine. Please stop by to get some amazing tips from someone who's been there. 

LB: Who are you (what do you write, what are your personal stats)?

Hi, Laura, It’s so wonderful to be interviewed for your site. My name is Karen Cioffi-Ventrice, but for the writing world I go by Karen Cioffi. I’m not sure what you mean by my personal stats, but if you mean personal information, I have two daughters, two very young grandsons, and a husband who puts up with the crazy hours I spend online and writing. I live in NYC and gave up an accounting career due to multiple sclerosis. So, I put down the pencil and took up the pen.

I’m a published author, ghostwriter, and an editor for 4RV Publishing.

I have two children’s books published:

Day’s End Lullaby (a children’s bedtime picture book)
Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure)

I also have a few nonfiction e-books, including:

How to Write Books for Children: Writing, Publishing, and Marketing Children’s Books
How to Attract Customers With Informational Marketing
How to Create an eBook and What You Can Do With It
Writing, Marketing, and Publishing – You Can Do It!

You can learn more about my books at:

LB: That's exactly what I meant by personal stats. Thanks! Where can we find you online (blog, twitter, facebook, etc.)?

My websites and blogs include:
http://karencioffi.com (my central site)

And, you can connect with me at:
GooglePlus: Karen Cioffi-Ventrice

LB: When did you begin your online platform building?
I began my online platform the end of 2008, after attending my first Muse Online Writers Conference. It was inspiring and one of the workshops in particular motivated me to create Writers on the Move (then called VBT – Writers on the Move, or something like that, I can’t remember the original name).

Around the same time I also became a member of Suzanne Lieurance’s children’s writing group and that also helped me realize the importance of creating and building visibility.

LB: What is your message, if any (is your blog about anything specific, for example)?
My blog is about writing and marketing. It also touches on ghostwriting, freelance writing, and has the occasional book review. I also have a free monthly newsletter, A Writers World, that offers writing and marketing information, along with writing and marketing information, links, and training/workshop opportunities,  publishing and contest opportunities, bragging rites, a feature article, and more.

The goal of my site is to help new writers and those already in the trenches move forward in their writing and marketing endeavors.

LB: How have you built your followers –
What have you done that has been the most successful?
My most successful marketing strategy has been article marketing. Taking advantage of online article directories other article marketing opportunities helps broaden your visibility reach.

LB: What have you done that has failed?
While I wouldn’t exactly say failed, I don’t think my social media strategies are as effective as they might be. But, this in part is because I don’t invest enough time or focused time on using Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook.

There are just some many things that need to be done as a writer, and so many marketing avenues to take, that we often find ourselves behind the eight-ball, struggling for more time to do what we should.

LB: What else should we know about you?
I’m a professional ghostwriter specializing in business and health related content. I also specialize in children’s books from picture books to middle grade.

LB: Any additional advice for our readers?
Here are a few quotes I think will help writers and marketers, and hopefully your readers:

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." ~ Stephen King

"A writer who never gives up is called Published."~ J.A. Konrath

“Don't let your learning lead to knowledge; let your learning lead to action.”~ Jim Rohn

“It’s not what you’ve done that matters - it’s what you haven’t done.”~ Mark Twain

Laura, thank you so much for having me as a guest today. It’s been delightful!

Great to have you, Karen! Beautiful quotes. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Facebook Friday: The Write Advice

I am so excited - I mean, really, totally excited - to give to you today's Facebook Friday, something I've been working on for a few weeks now. And I think this is a fitting announcement on the heels of my Wednesday post, "Be Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself."

I'd like to present a new Facebook Page to you called The Write Advice. This page streams the blog posts from five bloggers, giving advice on writing, publicity, and platform building. All this "advice" will show up in your Facebook news feed, providing you with crucial writing advice without having to go to different blogs. At this time, The Write Advice features the following blogs:

I invite you all to take a trip to The Write Advice, check-it-out, "like" the page even, and enjoy the advice you receive. 

Since we're talking about writing and Facebook and advice, let's hear from you:  Do you know of a Facebook  page (or have one of your own) that you'd like to share with us? Do you know of or have a blog dedicated to writing advice? Tell us in comments.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Be Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself

Three items on the agenda, today, but not too long of a post because I am in Glenwood Springs, CO for a couple of relaxing days.  Though not very relaxing, really, because I have my husband and kids with me.

Each of today's topics have to do with being something bigger than just you. When you step outside of your own little author world, you are opened to a community of people who are often amazing, inspiring, and just as enthusiastic about you as you are about them.  If you find an opportunity to join with others in this manner, your world increases exponentially - which is beneficial to you as a person as well as you as an author trying to gain awareness and recognition.  Here's my three attempts at being part of something bigger:
  1. In conjunction with my Saturday Savvy Sensation series, I am now giving an award to my savvy picks.  Michelle Fayard receives the first award, of course, and is very much deserving.  You all saw how she responded to your comments - that's one of her best traits!  Michelle, feel free to pass on this award to anyone as you see fit because we are moving to be part of something bigger than us:)
  2. I have recently joined author, Gennifer Albin's WrAHM, a community for write-at-home-moms.  I urge you moms to check it out and join yourself.  Gen posts WrAHM stuff on her blog as well as having a Facebook page.  Join us, we're small, but mighty!
  3. You have to come back Friday for my last one.  I'll give you two hints, though: it has to do with Facebook and being bigger than yourself.  That's all you get for now.
What are you doing that's part of something bigger than you? Do you think it's important to be part of the bigger community? Feel free to share some ideas of your favorite community spots in comments.

Monday, August 8, 2011

FAMP: Choosing a font

Designer, Joe LaRue
Today I am honored to share the marketing perspective of designer Joe LaRue. Joe has many years in the visual business and has created everything from print to websites to film to stage direction. If you are needing any type of design work including blogs, websites, book covers or book trailers, Joe is the go-to guy. I encourage you to check out his stuff, just cuz it's great! 

And here he is...

Greetings everyone! Laura has asked me to share a few thoughts about how to use fonts - so I’ll share with you a few basic principles that I apply to every project I do, whether it’s designing a blog template, a brochure, logo, or book layout. 

1. Understand the feeling a font evokes. Though it’s one of the most overused fonts, Trajan has been used on countless book covers and movie posters because the letterforms suggest instant credibility. Due to its overuse, the font is often ridiculed, but still pops up everywhere - most recently it can bee seen starring in the opening credits of ‘Cowboys and Aliens.” It’s important to choose fonts that flow with the message being conveyed. Serif fonts generally feel more formal, while sans serif are cleaner, though perhaps plainer on the page. The nice thing about messing with blog templates is that you can test different fonts and see how it affects the overall feel of the page before committing to it. It’s also very easy to change the different type categories in a blog. I will often test 5 or 6 different looks before one pops out as “the one.” 

2. Don’t use too many different fonts. Most graphic designers have it beaten into their heads that they should never use more than three fonts on a project. There are of course exceptions, but this is a pretty good rule to stick with. Generally, you will want to choose a display font (for headlines and main titles), a body text font, and a ‘highlight’ font (for sub-headers). Picking three fonts is easy, but choosing three fonts that look good together is much trickier. 

3. Have fun with the display font. The display font should be the most distinctive - in the Harry Potter books, this is the signature font used for every chapter heading. On Laura’s blog, it’s the curlicued font ‘rodeo’ used for her title at the top. But imagine if an entire Harry Potter book was set in the display font - the reader would quit after chapter 1. 

3. Choose contrasting fonts. Picking the subheader and the body text fonts and having them look good together can be challenging. Here is a really detailed guide (29 considerations!) for matching fonts, but the easiest way to go is to contrast a serif with a sans serif font. Fonts with similar weight, but from two different categories often look good together. Sometimes the easiest and safest bet is to use two versions of the same font, but in contrasting weights (bold, thin, book, ultra bold) and widths (narrow, condensed, wide).

4. Set your rules for usage, and never waver. Design consistency is important! Don’t suddenly start using your subheader font as a headline, or your body text font as a subheader - fortunately blogger and wordpress make it easy to be consistent with these rules.

5. Break the rules! These are just basic guidelines - and there are always exceptions. The key factors in designing your look should be readability and appropriateness to your message. Test many options and seek feedback on what works. 

Thank you so much, Joe, for teaching us a thing or two. All fonts look the same to me, so I am much in need of this lesson myself. 
How's your font? How much time did you put into the font you used on your blog/website/book cover? How did you decide in the end?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Savvy Sensation: Michelle Fayard

Michelle Fayard of Bird's-Eye View
Welcome to today's very first installment of the Saturday Savvy Sensation. I am so excited to share my first guest, Michelle Fayard of the Bird's Eye View.  Michelle is quickly building her followers and has many great techniques.

From Michelle's profile page:
Pre-published author Michelle Fayard has more than 20 years’ experience as a writer and editor, and her nonfiction articles have been published internationally. She has worked as both a public-relations specialist and a newspaper reporter. A Chicago native who also has called Kansas City, the mid-South and the Gulf Coast home, Michelle lives in Northern California with her husband, Marcelo, and their 12 rescue cats, where she writes historical YAs and nostalgic to quirky PBs.

And now I give you Michelle:

Laura B Writer: Who are you (what do you write, what are your personal stats)?
Although I started off writing quirky to nostalgic picture books for a series of online college classes, my true love is historical young adult novels. In April I completed my first book, The Underground Gift, which is set on the Kansas-Missouri border on the eve of the Civil War. The idea first came to me five years ago following a comment from our Kansas City Realtor, who asked if I knew about the possible role coded quilts played on the Underground Railroad. In July, Tamar Rydzinski of The Laura Dail Literary Agency  asked to see the first 50 pages, and Allie Maldonado of WiDo Publishing asked for a full.

LBW: Where can we find you online (blog, twitter, facebook, etc.)?
I blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and whenever there’s late-breaking news, at Bird’s-eye View . I also tweet  and have a Facebook fan page.

LBW: When did you begin your online platform building?
I started March of this year, once I realized a former newspaper reporter whose average article was only 15 column inches long really could write something comprised of tens of thousands of words—and fictionalized words at that. (Although some would rightly say news journalists engage in fictionalizing all the time!)

LBW: What is your message, if any (is your blog about anything specific, for example)?
My goal is that my blog always will be more about and for my followers than about and for me. To that end I run book reviews and author interviews on alternating Tuesdays/Thursdays and have a new Books by Blogging Friends  page, which includes a mini review as well as links for more information. On alternating Thursdays I run guest posts by other bloggers, and on the alternating Tuesdays I run what I call Bird’s Words, a series of writing and social media tips.

LBW: How have you built your followers? What have you done that has been the most successful? What have you done that has failed?
Whenever someone leaves a comment on one of my posts—whether it’s on my blog or a blog I’m guest posting on—or follows/subscribes to my blog, I write a personalized reply then send an e-mail message letting that person know they have a response to their comment. I also follow their blog and leave comments on their posts. As I’m following these blogs and the blogger mentions one of their favorite friends, I try to comment on and start following that blog as well. I want people to know that their comments are more than just a number on a counter; they are the life and soul of my—and any—blog. I also try to have blog content that will attract and retain bloggers I haven’t gotten a chance to meet yet. So far, both methods have been equally successful.

LBW: What else should we know about you?
I am grateful for all the years I spent in the newsroom working with incredibly gifted writers and editors who challenged me to ask questions and love listening to the answers then sharing what I learned with others in an inspirational way.

LBW: Any additional advice for our readers?
From adversity comes strength. Never stop believing in yourself. If you’ve ever asked whether you should keep on keeping on, ask yourself which would hurt worse: The pain of rejection or the pain from denying your muse? And, as my mom says, housework done properly will kill you. Get out there and be creative instead; it’s cheaper than paying a psychiatrist. Amen to that!

Thank you so much, Michelle, for sharing your amazing journey and techniques. I encourage you to add Michelle to your follow list if you haven't already.  She's a real gem!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Facebook Friday: 2 Status Tricks

The two tricks I am sharing today may be already known to a lot of you, but there are enough new Facebook users that I think these are useful.

First Trick - Hide people from your stream:  This is especially nice when you use your personal facebook page as your author page and you have a lot of people you don't really know in your stream.  Really simple to do.

  1. Move your mouse over the upper right hand side of any status and an X and a text box with the word "Remove" will appear. 
  2. Click on the X and you will be given the following choices:
  3. Choose one and Poof! the status is gone.
You can also use this strategy to hide all those games your friends play.  If you do these steps on a game status, one of the options will be "Remove al posts from blah blah blah".  Blah blah blah is the game, such as Farmville.

NOTE:  If you have a fan page, it's not a "Remove" X that shows up, but a Settings wheel and you only have the choice to remove the post or hide the post, not hide all by a person.  You can also view your hidden posts at any time by clicking on that option under "Wall" on the left side of your fan page.

Second Trick - Post status updates that can be viewed by only certain people: If you have something you'd like to post, but you only want your writer friends to see it, for example, use this option.

  1. Type your status update.
  2. Click the lock on the bottom right of your status box. 
  3. Choose "Customize". 
  4. From here you can hide from specific people or lists of people or make visible to specific people or lists of people.


NOTE:  If you do this on a fan page, you only have the choice to customize location.  This could be helpful if you were going to a city for a book signing and want to let everyone in that area know but keep it from everyone else.

Hopefully these status tricks make your Facebook life a lot easier.

And now for something completely different:  Join me tomorrow for a brand new series called Savvy Sensations.  This series will highlight other bloggers who are out there building a following.  I think it will be very beneficial.

So do you use the Facebook tips suggested here?  Did you already know about them?  Do you think they're useful? Let me know, I love to hear from you!
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