Who are you (what do you write, what are your personal stats)?
I write under a pun name, Sher A Hart. I write pun-filled fantasy adventure for teens. My first book in the Earth One series is middle grade, and so is the next. The third may be YA.
By personal stats, I hope you mean my followers because my chocolate stats have led to weight stats I don’t want to divulge because of body bulge.
Anyway, my blog has 587 GFC, 55 NB, and one Blog Frog you can’t see because she hopped away. No, I don’t have a Blog Frog widget because I didn’t even know it existed until recently. I’m just over 1300 on twitter. I’m slow because I check every bio and tweet stream to make sure they’re clean. If someone’s @handle piques my interest, I may follow his, her, or its blog too. That’s how I ended up following a tp-roll, a dog, some feet, and other humorous tweeps. I don’t follow eggheads unless I know the person behind the handle from somewhere else. So please, put up a picture and a bio. The bio is helpful for listing.
Where can we find you online (blog, twitter, facebook, etc.)?
A writer’s name, in my case a pun name, should be his or her brand. One of the reasons for branding is to make it easy for people to find you. So my name is part of every platform. I’m on Facebook and Google+ as Sher A. Hart and twitter as @SherAHart. My website is at www.sherahart.com, and my blog is at http://sherahart.blogspot.com. I may switch to Wordpress to see which does better. I would like to hear from someone who knows from experience.
When did you begin your online platform building?
I started my website first, in early 2010. My first blog entry shows as March 2010, but I think something happened to a few earlier entries. I started a Blogger blog that same summer, but I didn’t get serious until the summer of 2011. That’s when I ran my first monthly contest for chocolate and books. Really, I can’t have one without the other.
What is your message, if any (is your blog about anything specific, for example)?
Cover the world with books and chocolate! Wait, no. That’s just my monthly contest theme.
Before I started writing, my charity work was all physical, hurricane cleanups, church work, Boy Scouts, school volunteering, etc. When I started writing, I wanted my blog to encourage others writers to work for a cause. If you’re going to write, you might as well try to do some good for someone besides yourself. “Care for a cause and have pun doing it” was my first blog description. I later added “There’s a whole world of reasons to write for right.” I wanted to expand and clarify the idea of helping others by writing for a cause. Also, the world in my blog’s background is Earth, which happens to be very similar to Earth One in my book. Serving others does not require neglecting yourself; in fact it does your body and spirit a world of good.
How have you built your followers? What have you done that has been the most successful?
1. Rachael Harrie’s Platform Building Campaign: These are free and you can meet a lot of writers who will follow you back if you follow them and comment on their blogs.
2. Blog Hop Book Giveaways. These are not free, but I give away books I read, so the extra cost is postage. An unpublished writer isn’t going to find enough readers just among other writers. We need readers as followers too. My son says I’m a sellout. I think seeking followers who read the same kind of books I read is good business because they might buy my book someday. Besides, media rate postage is very cheap as advertising costs go.
3. Twitter. I resisted too long because I thought only narcissists and social butterflies used twitter. I love the #hashtag search and list powers not available on FB. I don’t love that I get caught up in reading interesting links and stay on it too long.
What have you done that has failed?
I tried blogging on my website. Nobody came, or I couldn’t tell if they did because I didn’t know how to add follower widgets like GFC or NB. Of course I would have lost GFC anyway. But now that I know how to add follower widgets, I don’t feel the urge to restart my website blog. One blog is enough for me.
I also included too many puns in my first book. I’m still weeding out the clunkers. To a lesser extent, writing my main character in third person was a failure because it was difficult differentiating a split personality when both were “he.”
How much time do you spend blogging? Reading blogs? Commenting on blogs?
Well, let’s add another failure. I don’t keep track individually, but the total is too much. Blogging, reading and commenting, combined with twitter and other social media, should take less time than writing. Since I lose track of time, I ought to use an alarm, except I would forget to set it. I’m better at using a calendar. Knowing I want to return pages to a critique partner or post a blog by a certain date keeps me on track.
What else should we know about you?
I’m a Mormon, and I read that more of us write SF and fantasy than any other religion. I always liked to play dress up as a child and pretend to be someone else. As an adult, I made a Queen Borg costume that won first prize at a Star Trek convention. But I’m not a Trekkie so much as a generic Science Fiction and fantasy lover. Thanks to your advice, I now have a search box on my blog’s sidebar where you can type in “Queen Borg” to see the winning costume along with the second, third and tie for fourth place costumes I made for my hubby and two oldest sons. You can type in “about me” to find out all kinds of other strange stuff, but don’t type in “Aso Adobo” unless you have a strong stomach.
Any additional advice for our readers?
I stop reading a lot of indie books within a couple of chapters because they need serious editing help. When I tell the author about all the errors, the general response is, “I can’t afford to hire an editor.” Now I have some evidence besides bad reviews on Amazon that it’s not just me that thinks these books are too hard to read. Go here: http://theselfpublishingreview.wordpress.com/ and then decide if you can afford not to hire an editor. Head hopping is one of my pet peeves. Telling me what every character thinks totally ruins any mystery, and I’m not just talking about a mystery book. Head hopping kills the mystery of romance too.
What makes you unique?
I read while I’m walking. Most writers know they want to write from an early age, but I didn’t want to write until gardening became too difficult because of sciatica. I sure didn’t expect my third choice hobby to become first choice once I started.
Sher, the more I read about you, the more I adore you. You don't know how many times I said, "Wow!" and "Me too!" when I was reading your answers, but it was a lot. I so admire your wanting to help the world, your religion, and your sense of humor. (I think I will not search for Aso Adobo on your blog, by the way, thanks for the warning). Thanks so much for being here. You've been so sensational!