Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Keeping in Touch with Readers

As authors, we hope to connect with readers through our books, through the characters we create. Increasingly important, however, is to connect with readers on a more personal level. But how do we do this?

One of the best and worst creations for authors is social media. Why do I say that? Because it is a fantastic platform to reach out to new and existing readers. BUT it is also an ever-changing landscape, a minefield of new updates and tools, an almost impossible challenge to conquer.


As well as social media, there are a few other platforms we can use to keep in touch with readers, such as book signings.

How do we know what works best? What do our readers prefer?


Recently, I undertook a small survey to understand how my readers like to keep in touch with their favourite authors. I thought it might be useful to share the results with you.

I must qualify the outcome of this survey by telling you it was a small poll, run through my Facebook reader group. As such, it is likely to favour Facebook over other social media outlets. However, the reason for me running the poll in my Facebook reader group is that I get more interaction from that group than via other platforms.

So, here are my findings…



The question I put to my reader group was: How do you stay connected with your favourite authors? (Please tick all that apply)

The options provided were:

Facebook author page (Rank 1)
Facebook reader group (Rank 1)
Instagram (Rank 2)
Goodreads (Rank 3)
BookBub (Rank 4)
Other (e.g. book stores) (Rank 4)
Twitter (Rank 5)
Book signings (Rank 6)
Snapchat (Rank 7)
Author blog/website (Rank 7)

The results:

An overwhelming majority of readers preferred to connect with authors via Facebook. There was no difference between the number of readers who preferred a Facebook author page or a Facebook reader group. Although, I will note that visibility within reader groups tends to be higher than the visibility of posts placed on professional pages (this is due to Facebook’s settings).

The second most popular way to connect was Instagram. This was around half as popular as Facebook.

The third preferred method was Goodreads, with 25% of readers saying they use the tool to keep abreast of author updates.

Tied, in fourth position were BookBub and Other. Those who selected 'other' preferred book stores and recommendations (options which are less tailored to specific authors).

Fifth position was taken by Twitter. I found this a surprising but useful insight, as Twitter is a forum I have always tried to work with but have never found much success.

Sixth position was taken by book signings.

Hanging in the bottom were Snapchat and Author’s own blog/website.

My take away from this is to concentrate more on Facebook, Instagram and Goodreads, and relax a little when it comes to the other forums. (Both for reason of sanity and efficiency. We can’t do it all!)

I don’t profess to be a scientist but I hope this is helpful for some of you.

Laura x

If you are considering setting up a Facebook reader group, or would be interested in joining one, please feel free to check out my group, Laura Carter’s Chic Cats (www.facebook.com/groups/carterschiccats). I do give readers insight into my WIP, as well as sneak peeks and giveaways, but more often we discuss other books that we are reading.



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Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Not Easy Being Green: Motivation 101 for Writers

Remember when you were a kid and your mom warned you that you wouldn’t always get what you wanted? You were determined to prove her wrong. And she ended up being right anyway.



Not one of my favorite life lessons. But over the years, and maybe especially because I am a writer, I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to wait for things you really, really want. Sometimes you have to work a lot harder to earn them. And sometimes you have to stop thinking like a spoiled brat (which of course you aren’t) and edit your expectations—or even completely rewrite them.  

Two years ago, I attended my first Left Coast Crime writers conference in Portland, OR. I loved every minute of it—especially being introduced to so many amazing authors and their books. I swore to my new BFFs that I’d be back for the 2017 conference. Destination: Hawaii! (cue Tiny Bubbles)



Well, to make a long story short, that didn’t happen. I spent the conference weekend not in balmy Paradise, but home in freezing New Hampshire, working on a manuscript that’s due in 15 days—not that I’m counting or anything—and trying very hard not to be jealous.



But the truth is, I wasn't. (I mean, okay, maybe just a little.) That’s because two of my West Coast cozy mystery writer BFFs, Ellen Byron and Marla Cooper, were nominated for Lefty Awards—Ellen for Best Humorous Mystery and Marla for Best Debut Mystery—and I was over the blue Hawaiian moon for them. Here are their books, by the way:


Plus, I got to attend in spirit, thanks to the miracle of social media. I heard about the awesome panels, the food, the exotic cocktails, the broken Starbucks machine, the welcome luau on the beach (with fireworks!), the whale watches, the convos at the bar. It was the next best thing to being there.


(photos courtesy of author Eleanor Cawood Jones)

Marla even brought along her ukulele and wowed everyone at the Reader Connections:



On Saturday night, I tried to stay up for the Lefty Awards live. Honolulu is 6 hours behind EST, so I didn’t quite make it. At 2 am, though, I rallied, stalking the Twitterverse and waiting for texts with the results:



Due to an unusually long salad course at the awards dinner, I unfortunately dozed off again--but woke up Sunday to the news that Ellen had won for Best Humorous Mystery. Yay!



As I type this, the Left Coast Crime 2017 attendees are packing their bags for home. Have to admit, I’m feeling a bit of post-conference letdown. But I’ll see many of these very same writers in Bethesda, MD next month for Malice Domestic.  By then, of course, this ms. will have been completed for 26 days (again, not that I’m counting). No way am I missing another chance to hang out with my favorite writer and reader peeps.



And next year, Mom, I will be at Left Coast Crime 2018, because I’m feeling lucky. That’s right, folks:  It may not be quite as exotic as Hawaii, but Reno, here I come!


So what's especially motivating YOU right now, writers? And have you ever felt a tiny bit green? 'Fess up in the comments below!






Friday, March 17, 2017

ST. PATRICK'S DAY









     It’s St. Patrick’s Day in my home town of New York City and on-lookers crowd 5th Avenue in celebration. You don’t have to be of Irish extraction—the parade in honor of St. Patrick is enjoyed by all of us. Shamrock green berets, coats, sweaters and ties are worn and snacks of cupcakes decorated with green icing, scones, Irish Soda Bread, and green bagels are devoured. Dinner, of course, is corned beef and cabbage. (It’s also the day of my mother’s birth and its always been a special day in my family—I’m sure the Saint would not mind sharing.)
     In honor of the day, I thought we might talk about all the authors Ireland has gifted to the world. St. Patrick, himself, led a life that reads like a tale of adventure. Born in Britain—ruled by Rome in the late 4th century A.D., he was seized by pirates as a fourteen-year old and brought to Ireland where he was enslaved and given the task of shepherding sheep. During the six years, he spent as a slave, he dedicated himself to spiritual development and, after hearing a voice telling him a ship was waiting, he fled and made his way to a port 200 miles away. After many quests, he returned to his home and family. He later went back to Ireland as a Christian missionary.
     Legends claim St. Patrick explained the Holy Trinity with the aid of a three-leafed plant—the shamrock—a symbol of his day. He is also said to have banished all the snakes of Ireland--banished when they attacked him during a 40-day fast and driven into the sea.
     Many folk tales of ancient Ireland were written by the Irish author Lady Gregory in two books—her forward was by W.B. Yeats. Then there are James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and four men who won the Noble Prize for Literature. W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney and George Bernard Shaw.

     Today we have a cavalcade of fine authors. Romance—there’s Colm Toiben the author of Brooklyn. A book with people who stepped from the page bringing me hours of enjoyment. I was sorry when I reached the last page. The solution—read more of his work.
     Small town life in Ireland with its romance, emotions, pleasures and troubles was introduced to me by Maeve Binchy. Think of Circle of Friends and Firefly Summit.
     Into Gothic thrillers? Bram Stoker’s Dracula—scary and a must-read for generation after generation. In Gaelic, I learned, the phrase “Droch Ola” means bad blood.
     Mysteries—Tana French who won the Anthony, Barry and Macavity awards for best first novel and gives us many hours of engrossing, psychological spell-binders. Then there’s William John Granville who wrote the literary book The Sea and, as Benjamin Black, the best-selling Christine Falls and The Silver Swan, and P.D. James who features the poet Adam Dalgliesh in her crime novels. No wonder our bookcases are crammed, our night tables over-flowing and our eBooks everywhere.
     Which books by Irish authors fill your shelves?