Write2Ignite Conference is in the process of updating our website with the addition of e-store functions, in order to facilitate online payments for books, critique services, webinars, conferences, or other programs and products. In the process, we’ve discovered that our previous design templates appear to be incompatible with the e-commerce plugin. As we work through design adjustments, we know that our website appearance has changed temporarily in ways we didn’t design. Bear with us, please! And watch for future announcements about programming, resources, new bloggers, and our finished website and store design!
As a writer, I can get caught up in FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Each time a new blog post or newsletter alerts me of a webinar I must attend, a book I should be reading, or a social media task I need to engage in, I get panicky.
Which is the most important? What if I make the wrong choice?
There is too much to do in a limited timeframe. Authors have families, other jobs, people and pets to care for, let alone places we’d like to go – just like anyone else. How do we fit it all in??
Can I make a suggestion?
We don’t need to!
As far as I’m concerned, there are only seven things we authors MUST do . . .
READ. WRITE. CONNECT. CRITIQUE. SUBMIT. INSPIRE. MENTOR.
Sound easy? It is!
In addition, you must read in the genre you are writing in. And occasionally, to shake things up, choose a genre you would not normally read, or try an e-book or an audiobook. You’d be amazed at how a story gains another dimension when you listen to the words.
Join Goodreads, and find fellow readers who will share their favs. And you, in turn, can recommend yours.
For obvious reasons, if you are going to be a writer, you need to, well, write!
Every day, in some way.
It could be a letter. A blog post. A one-page prompt. An entry in your diary. Some creativity needs to flow from your pen.
I find having a weekly blog post forces me to write. Sometimes, being part of a challenge like NaNoWriMo brings out the creative juices. Or perhaps you work better with prompts. You can find prompts online or in a book. Take your pick.
Connecting with others is a must — readers, writers, and professionals (agents and editors).
How is that done?
Through Social Media — pick one!
Facebook: if you love to post links, ask questions, share your travel pics, post cute animal photos, and share FB posts with others.
Pinterest: if you love to categorize images in a visual file for future reference, collect images for your next book, or writing tips to use later.
Twitter: if you can be succinct, love to connect with professionals, use GIFs and images, and ask questions or participate in pitch parties, etc.
Instagram: if you are all about a single photo, love to go live, to inspire others, and can tell a story in one image, but don’t necessarily care to share.
Also, writers’ groups like 12×12 are a great way to connect. You will find your friend list and writing skills growing faster than you ever thought possible! Memberships to professional organizations like SCBWI and ACFW are a must.
Every writer needs a critique group. You can’t write in a vacuum. You need others to point out flaws in your writing, so you can perfect it. If signing a contract with an agent or editor is on your wishlist, then you need critique buddies to help you get that manuscript in shape.
The groups I’ve mentioned above will have critique groups to join as well as Word Weavers International, specifically conceived to help writers perfect their manuscripts in a friendly environment. They gather online or in person to encourage one another in their writing pursuits.
Of course, if you are going to be published, you need to submit! Here is a comprehensive guide to help you. Find the Writer’s Market 2020 here. The guide gives you tips of all sorts, and the categories are divided according to genre, subject, and type of publication. For those who write faith-based works, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide is a must-read.
And don’t forget the importance of writers’ conferences such as our own Write2Ignite and others like The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference. Each year, you have the opportunity to schedule appointments with agents and editors who might be waiting to publish your story!
I don’t know about you, but I need to get out every so often and be inspired. Since I am a historical fiction writer, nothing gets my little grey cells working more than a trip to a historical town or museum. When I visited Bath, England years ago, my daughter and I had tea at this famous bun shop.
When we finished our treats, I visited the tiny museum in the basement of the shop which you see below. There was a small sign indicating that the woman who started the shop was a Huguenot girl who escaped persecution and fled to England. That tidbit of info was all I needed to begin my story, which I titled “Because of a Bun: Soli’s Saving Grace”.
Just as the Brontë sisters mentored each other, and modern-day writers, too, as their classics wind their way into our hearts, we as writers need to find someone a bit farther behind us to come beside us on our journey. Have coffee with them and ask about their projects. Give them links to helpful resources. Offer to critique a story for them. They will thank you, and someday, do the same for another.
Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments below!
Jarm Del Boccio’s debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer, released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/ Purchase The Heart Changer HERE. Jarm loves reviews, as does any author!
Here’s a handy Teachers’ Guide to use with The Heart Changer as a unit study.
Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on the lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history. Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.
Here’s a sneak peek at our final conference keynote with a description in her own words. We’ve enjoyed sharing our conference presenters with you. We are looking forward to seeing you at the conference.
New Paradigm for Social Media
I would respectfully suggest that such a mindset is upside down. Social media isn’t an interruption from our calling—instead it’s a vital part of the call God has placed in our hearts. He didn’t look up on the day FB was invented and realize he’d forgotten that was coming. No, instead, it’s part of His plan.
It’s no mistake that we were born in this time and place. Like Esther 4:14 reminds us, we are called for such a time as this.
God is perfect with His Plan, Preparation, and Place
- in His plan for us
- in His preparation of us
- in the time where He’s placed us
This is the vantage point from which I teach social media and marketing. I share the mechanics and equip those in the class to navigate this fast-paced paradigm where we live. But I do so from the foundation of why, so when the who, what, when, where, and how changes, we can keep focused on the part of the plan that matters.
Today we welcome guest blogger Maddy Wilson, Write2Ignite’s new social media adviser specializing in Instagram.
Instagram, in my humble opinion, is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to access a teenage audience. But upon first glance, if you haven’t grown up around the social media giant, it can seem daunting.
I got my first Instagram account when I was twelve, in 2011. It wasn’t a personal account, but a “fan account” for a band that my friends and I liked. Over the course of the three years that the account was active, our little One Direction fan-page surpassed all of our expectations. At its height of popularity, it boasted over 20,000 followers, which was an extreme number for its time.
Nowadays this social media “influencer” is a culture that has branded its own version of celebrities with the likes of Tana Mongeau, Huda Kattan, Zach King, and Kylie Jenner. These people aren’t necessarily celebrities by past generations’ standards, but collectively, they have 163.2 million Instagram followers.
These are the people that teens are looking to. These social media influencers are aptly named, because that’s what they do. Sure, Tana and Zach create YouTube content, and Huda and Kylie both have makeup brands, but their main wheelhouse is Instagram. They get paid millions upon millions of dollars by brands to advertise their products. They are the people that the media watches to see what’s new.
Knowing that teens look up to people who have millions of followers, small groups may think Instagram success impossible to reach. But the truth is, you don’t have to have millions of followers to make Instagram effective, especially not in a smaller portion of the app like Bookstagram, which is what book bloggers and readers have dubbed the “book side of Instagram.” Here readers come together under hashtags like #reading and #writer and #amreading to share their love of books.
Here are five key tips every person who is trying to conquer Instagram needs to know.
It’s so important that your account is active. Follow other brands and like posts by bloggers and authors. Comment and share posts. I’ve found that Instagram “stories” are useful for interacting with other accounts. You can share a post that you like to your Instagram story by clicking the arrow in the bottom right corner of the post and clicking “add post to your story.” Customize that story with GIFs and stickers and words as well. Being active on your account is insanely important for growing your following and connecting with people. Some of my teen author friends post once a day, but I personally don’t think that’s needed. A post every two days would suffice, as long as you’re keeping your account active by liking, following, and commenting.
The aesthetic of your account is also important. People, teens especially, love to look at aesthetically pleasing pictures and accounts. I love @miss.ravenclaw.reads and her aesthetic, and especially @olivia.j.the.wordshaker. Both of their accounts are beautiful. If you’d like to start a theme with your account, clean out the pictures and videos that you’ve posted and start fresh. Instagram themes are all pictures that have the same filter or lighting. Some accounts have a “checkerboard theme” where they post, say, a picture of a book, then a quote, another picture, and another quote, and alternate like that. Overall, it just makes the account more pleasing to look at and makes the person looking at the account more apt to follow.
Consider getting a Linktree account. It’s a single place where you can put in links to your website, your Facebook, and anything else you may have, rather than putting it in your bio where people can’t simply click on it. Part of the aesthetic of your account is in how your bio looks. Here’s an example of a bio that would make the Write2Ignite account more accessible to teens:
“We’re Write2Ignite, a Christian non-profit focused on connecting YA and kidlit authors to the writing tools they need to hone their craft. Come join the fun!”
Hashtags are how your pictures get seen, but you want to be careful which ones you use. Some hashtags get more attention than others. Use only tags that are relevant to the picture rather than a set of tags over and over again. Instagram catches accounts that repeatedly use the same hashtags, like too many pictures, or comment too much. Instagram will “shadowban” those accounts, meaning that they can’t like or comment or post anything. Another thing most accounts do is separate the caption from the hashtags with spaced-out ellipses so readers don’t have to see the tags–most teens consider them an eyesore and think that they make the caption look cluttered.
For example, if you posted a picture of a quote from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas with a picture of a candle behind it, you could use hashtags like #reading #candle #readers #writers #throneofglass #sarahjmaas and just be done with it. But if you really want the picture to be seen, use things relevant to the book. Here’s what I’d caption the picture as:
“This week, we’re loving Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas–the perfect book to get lost in for rainy days like this. What are some of your favorite quotes from @sarahjmaas?”
Here ere are the tags I’d use:
#reading #amreading #sarahjmaas #throneofglass #acourtofthornesandroses #bookstagram #feysand #rhysand #nightcourt #vscobooks #bibliophile #becauseofreading #igreads #writer #amwriting #teenauthor #youngauthor #youngadultauthor.
You can insert 30 tags before Instagram blocks your post or shadowbans you. In my caption above, the third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth hashtags were all copied from other accounts who used the #throneofglass tag. All I did was go under the #throneofglass tag on Instagram and copy the hashtags that a fan account used. Hashtags that pertain directly to the book will get your post seen more than it would have been had you just used more basic hashtags.
Under every post, Instagram gives you the option to promote. Promotions basically put ads in Instagram stories and on people’s feeds, starting at $5 for a one-day campaign or in the thousands for campaigns stretching over multiple months. It’s a great way to advertise and connect with people who may be interested in your nonprofit organization.
Above all, teens want something they can relate to. That’s why my fan account with my friends prospered as much as it did: we were just three eleven-year-olds with this giant Instagram account, goofing around and posting pictures of band members we liked. People could relate to that. By promoting your account, using emojis and “text lingo” and making your account seem more open, you’ll be sure to catch the eye of teen readers and writers.
Are you just getting started with Instagram? Here’s a wikihow page that can help.
Maddyson Wilson is a young adult fiction author from the Piedmont of North Carolina. Her debut novel, Doubt The Stars, came out in November of 2017. Her second novel, Don’t Blame The Reckless , is set to release on July 12th, 2019 with Zenith Publishing. When not writing, she can usually be found with a coffee in hand and “Fall Out Boy” blaring through her headphones. You can find her on Instagram @maddywritesbooks.
Maddy is Write2Ignite’s new social media adviser specializing in Instagram.
We hear it so often we want to scream, “Enough, already!” Yes, we know we need a growing platform. It’s why we spend hours on social media, trying to grow our lists of friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and Instagram. And it’s why we wrack our brain attempting to come up with clever posts and memes that will generate lots of likes and hopefully go viral.
After all that work, oh look! I gained 5 friends and 3 followers! Or perhaps I have 3,000 followers, but the Facebook algorithm displayed my post on a mere 25 feeds.
So what should you do? Give up?
Don’t give up on social media. But do rearrange your platform priorities.
Here are five benefits of growing your email distribution list:
- You own your list.
Social media platforms such as Facebook own their site. They can—and do!—change their algorithms to suit their needs. So although you may have 3,000 “Likes” on your author page, Facebook might release your post to the newsfeeds of 50-100 of your followers, if you’re fortunate. To ensure all your followers see your post, you’d need to “boost” it (aka pay) for your post to be seen.
- Email is more popular than social media.
More people have email than are on social media. Which means you can reach more people by email than by all the social media accounts combined.
- Email behavior is trackable.
You have a wealth of information available through your email newsletter provider. Open rates, click-through rates – it’s all available. This information will help you craft future emails that are more targeted.
- Segmented lists mean more personalized communication.
Based on how you segment your list, you can personalize your email communication. This will encourage increased open rates. Or you can personally target subscribers who have not opened your recent emails to encourage renewed interest.
- Email newsletters will help grow your social media accounts.
Include links in your emails to your social media accounts to help grow your followers!
So as you work to grow your platform, don’t stop your efforts on social media. But do make building your email newsletter distribution list your new priority!
Ever feel like Sisyphos? In Greek mythology, the gods punished Sisyphos for his greed and deceit by assigning an impossible task. He had to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down when it reached near the top. And he had to do it for eternity.
Gaining traction for social media author pages often feels like a Sisyphean ordeal. Just when we think we’ve reached our goal—whether deciphering Facebook algorithms or reaching a new level of followers—the standards change. The proverbial boulder rolls back down the hill and we have to start again.
For example, first we needed engaging posts. Then we were told the posts needed images. Now the experts tell us static images are not enough. Videos are the way to engage our followers.
Social videos can do more than entertain. They can educate, tell a story, promote an event, highlight a testimonial, or provide a summary of your publications.
Still, many of us lack the time, money, or technical know-how to create engaging videos week after week, myself included. But I recently discovered Lumen5, a free app (there’s also a paid version with additional features) that enables me to create video stories with ease from my blog posts.
The first week I tried Lumen5, my Facebook engagement statistics achieved a significant increase. Weekly reach jumped 288%–from 861 to 3.35K. By the 3rd week, my weekly reach jumped to 5.8K. People engaged increased 164%, from 100 to 264 and then to 645. Even my Page “likes” increased. People I did not know shared the post and then became followers. All in the first 3 weeks! And that trend continued with subsequent video posts.
Using Lumen5 is easy, even for a non-techy like me:
- I uploaded my blog link (or you can copy and paste your content from Word):
- Select a format by clicking on one of the three options. I chose landscape…
- …And click on a theme:
- Then I scrolled through the content and clicked on the significant sentences I wanted included in the video. Each time you click on a new sentence, it’s automatically paired with a new suggested visual slide.
- I went back and swapped out some of the photos for ones that were a better match. Click on Media and choose a different suggested image or use the search feature for more suggestions. Or upload your own photo.
- You can also edit the text, reposition the text on the image, and highlight particular words for emphasis:
- Then choose music to accompany your video. I chose a calm selection to fit my content.
- Finally, preview your video.
- You can always go back to edit it further before you select Finish.
Here’s the final result:
Give it a try! Then share a link to your results in the comments!
(Note: this post first appeared on Blogging Bistro.)