Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday Metrics

image from openclipart.org by firkin


If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  Last Week’s 6 week Review!  and 8 Steps I’m Taking on Twitter.   

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 86 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 245 posts, 405 profile visits, 101 mentions, and 79 new follows.  


Conversion based on profile views is 19%. I’m getting fewer over all views (not a stat I record here b/c I don’t know the value of possible eyes on a post) 54k vs 62k last week.  Still, the people who do see my Tweets seem to want to follow.  I think fewer views for actual follows a reasonable tradeoff.

  
My engagement is 2.5%. Three recorded weeks in a row at 2.5 (four if you count the one week I didn’t post).  My interactions have leveled out and going forward I expect 2.5%. 

I
 post about 9 times a day.  Clear success for me in spending less time on Twitter.


Blog Stats

I got 31 views last week spread across 13 posts.  I changed my “Featured Post” at the top of the page and created a list of links to my posts across both blogs organized by topic.  If I use these as reminders of all the work I linked to I can build traffic.  This blog is a little sleepy right now.  I’m looking at adding a couple of pages/resources, but there isn’t a lot to drive traffic. 

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 18 views this past week.  Important for fellow writers: November Call for Submissions is out on the NAWG blog and if you ever wonder where I get all those calls for submissions check out my page here Bloggers and Groups I Follow for Submissions.  Also, I updated NAWG’s Ongoing Call for Submissions page to eliminate dead links.  If you‘re looking for better organization categories divide the informationand only includes calls that pay $.01 a word on my personal blog‘s page.



So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?


Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Nov 5th, or go back further to reports on: Oct 22nd, Oct 9thOct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Saturday, November 10, 2018

I Have Trouble Naming: My Novel's Title



I’m terrible at naming anything. My dog’s name is Willow, and she’s called that because that’s what the shelter I got her from was calling her.  She was a puppy, and she hadn’t been there long enough she was responding to that name or any of that junk people say to justify keeping a name.  It relieved me that Willow was pretty and ubiquitous enough I didn’t have to come up with something else.  Poor thing would have been stuck with Spot, Shadow, or Puppy if I’d had to name her.

To no one’s surprise, my novel had no title during its first draft.  I called the draft saves “Portraits of Roxi Starr”....which couldn’t be the novel’s title because it’s boring and untrue, but it described the iterations I was working on, so go me?

Then I worked with my first beta reader on this project.  This person had a problem with my main character, Roxi.   She found Roxi’s personality abrasive (which yeah, that’s intended), but it went deeper than that.  The person didn’t like Roxi’s worldview, didn’t like her religion, and didn’t like the way Roxi expressed herself.

I think this person made the classic mistake of thinking Roxi was a version of me.  While I find Roxi is relatable and interesting, she is not me.  I put Roxi in a situation similar to ones I’ve been in, but Roxi handled them in a way I never would.   Where I always approach interactions seeking to avoid confrontation, Roxi escalates.  She likes to fight.  And sometimes that’s the right call, but most of the time, her outcomes are unsuccessful.

 Finally, I got fed up and was like “Look, you don’t like her, great.  People read books with unlikable characters all the time.  I need to know if you can follow her.  As a writer I’m saying ‘Here’s Roxi, here’s her life and now we’re going with this.  Follow her. ‘ Can you suspend your judgement on her as a human being and just follow her to see where the story leads?”

Follow me, ended up sticking.  Outside my argument with the beta reader, the book is about a fae stalking my main character.  He’s literally following her.  In the first draft, the reader was on a forced march to follow Roxi through her life.  In the second pass, I’m softening that element (and I think that might have been what my beta reader wanted) and better easing the reader into who Roxi is.  To do that, the reader is creeping along with our antagonist.  Following.

Roxi’s journey is physical through our normal world and into the Faery Realm.  Readers are passengers riding with Roxi.

Last, Roxi is sarcastic and sassy.  I could just hear her mocking some of her peers cheery social media chant of “like and follow me for more content!”  I always hear the title in meta mocking tones and sometimes I slip up and say my title with that element of self aware loathing.  “This is who we are, desperate attention seekers.  It is always a popularity contest, and it’s not even about liking, just F--ing follow me through the content.”   The ironic thing, I can’t tell you if these are Roxi’s words or mine.  We share a fear that to get other people to be interested in our story, we become that which we see is wrong in the world.  Both of us would bubbly announce “Hashtag fail fast!” the difference is that I would immediately turn away and leave the listener to decide if I were really cheery or if I was speaking in a sarcastic and self depreciating manner.  Roxi would stand her ground and stare at her audience until her disgust pierced through their skull.  She’s not funny and ambiguous, she makes a stand and is always ready to fight over it.

Talk to me.  How did you come up with your title?  Do you come up with titles easily?  Have you ever had a reader assume you were your main character?  Have you written a story where you were the main character?  And last but not least, what do you do to champion your book?  Do you market and how?  Do you ever worry you’re “selling out” or “shilling” for your book?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Monday Metrics

image from openclipart.org by gnokii


Sorry, I missed last week.  I was at work until 7pm, but I’m starting this up in the morning to be certain it posts!

If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  Last Week’s 6 week Review!  and 8 Steps I’m Taking on Twitter.   

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 79 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 281 posts, 458 profile visits, 96 mentions, and 89 new follows.  


Conversion based on profile views is 19%. My new followers list seems to have jumped, even as I post less and receive fewer retweets.  Does consistency, time on the platform, or something else tie in to this increased growth?

  
My engagement is 2.5%. I am seeing a steady decrease in interaction on Twitter.  I haven’t converted Twitter followers to blog readers, and it has me wondering, what is the end goal on this platform?  It’s only been 79 days, and I’m not giving up, but Twitter presence and friends/interactions with other writers/editors/bloggers/agents doesn’t seem to transform to a blog or book following.  

I
 post about 10 times a day.  I plan five posts and the others of responses or impromptu promotions.  What’s most interesting with this stat is I’m posting less per day and still increasing my views.  September I had 371 tweets and 41.1k views, October I had 358 tweets and 70k views.


Blog Stats

I got 38 views last week spread across 11 posts.  My consistency fell last week, and it‘s affected my posts.  Instead of writing anything new, I added a “Featured Post” at the top of the page, and created a list of links to my posts across both blogs organized by topic.  If I use these as reminders of all the work I linked to I can build traffic. 

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 18 views this past week.  Important for fellow writers: November Call for Submissions is out on the NAWG blog and if you ever wonder where I get all those calls for submissions check out my page here Bloggers and Groups I Follow for Submissions.



So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?


Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Oct 22nd, or go back further to reports on: Oct 9thOct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Real World Obsessions that Make it Into my Writing: Faith and Religion

image from openclipart.org by GDJ


Confession time!  I am a religious zealot.  I mean all in, no turning back, if we ever speak about my beliefs, it is full in your face I am right.  And I have crazy rules/beliefs (all religions do).  My zealotry rarely comes up in conversation because part of my faith is that I believe proselytizing is one of the most heinous and immoral acts a person can perform.  It falls under an act of mental and spiritual violence and is an anathema.

My passion for faith structures and a more open religious community is more seen in my writing than in my conversations.  In my short stories.  Magic/divinity works in direct and obvious ways on my fictional worlds.

In “The Undertaking”, I have my main character, Nimgauna, go on a spirit quest to find her personal power.  This short story is a metaphor for what I think belief should be about: finding your personal truth.  Religion should be a personal journey based on your experiences that informs how your view the world and how you respond to challenges.  Ideally, you have a great guide advisor who has your best interests at heart.  They suggest, they don’t make demands on the outcome of the journey.

“The Undertaking” explores other religious elements.  It asks if the ends justify the means, and what kinds of ways can people be the change they want to see in the world.

Another short story I wrote, “Blood Moon”, introduces readers to what a real and working coven of witches might look like.  The people I introduce in this minority faith run the gambit.  Some of them are elderly, others work professional day jobs, and at least one of them struggles with their mental health/ability to function in a normal society.  The story descends into a horror/fantasy.  Someday, I’d like to write a follow up about all the different ways we as a society should have intervened so the conclusion of “Blood Moon” could have been cheery instead of dark and angry.

“Blood Moon” speaks to the frustration minority faiths have in a Christian-dominated society.  Pushed to fringes, questioned, always playing an ambassador of their faith, and forced to find fellowship in the “other”, even if it’s an imperfect union.


My novel, “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” has the most religious elements of all my stories.  If “Pagan Fiction” were a genre like “Christian Fiction”, that’s how I would describe the work.  It explores so many modern interpretations of paganism, follows a practicing pagan, and has the ‘fantasy’ element of a fae stalking and trying to capture Roxi.  Fantasy is in quotes because I am mirroring a lot of classic mythology in the book.

Supernaturalbeings at work in our universe fascinates me.  “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” offers one look at what life might be like if these beings were more interactive with humanity.  It’s thrilling and terrifying.

Collectively, I spent months in researching folklore and different pagan beliefs.  I created a personalized religion for my main character, Roxi.  Devotion is her defining characteristic, and it forces Roxi to stand apart from everyone else in her world.  What does a person do when the beliefs they hold most dear isolate them from others?  Is her religion hurting or helping her?  I hope readers are asking these questions about Roxi and themselves.

So how do I sell a “Pagan Fiction” book to a Christian market?  Will the religious questing and pursuit come across to readers?  And even if people get it, will the minority faith structures be compelling?  Is it too liturgical?  I was eager to get into beta readers and learn what landed.  It felt like a big risk for me to write this “urban fantasy” where so little of the elements were fantastic.  The rituals and spells are all real and I portray the results so one might experience them in the real world (i.e. is that underwhelming to the typical fantasy reader).  The Gods and fae I portray are “real” in the sense that I extended their mythology.  I didn‘t give them new powers or different personalities/motives.  Every herb, gesture, and symbol has a wealth of history behind its choice.

It relieved me when the feedback came in.  My beta readers said “this is a deeply religious and theological book.” In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been concerned.  “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” wasn’t too narrow for readers to relate, and I could use my book to have conversations with other people I’d never dreamed of expressing.  It was magical.

Were their issues in the first draft of “Follow Me: Tattered Veils”, you bet.  Pacing, pacing, pacing.  A lot of setup in the front and all rollercoaster drops in the back.  It also turns out people want a little more exposition, or they want it in different places than I’ve dumped it.  The whole front third needs to be re-written and the most liturgical part of the book, a pagan meet up where many practicing pagans share opposing views, needs to transform because it’s not doing what it needs to do and it introduces too much that doesn’t matter in my book.

Can you read this book and never think about religion?  Absolutely!  “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” is currently 76,000 word book and explores a lot of themes where religion is just one, but you can read it as straight fantasy about a woman being stalked, abducted, and attempting to escape the clutches of a creepy obsessive fae creature.  What’s cool about Roxi being pagan: she’s an informed combatant.  She knows fae folklore, so she knows where to be wary and she has ideas of what’s waiting for her on the other side of the veil.

Talk to me.  What parts of your personality show in your writing?  Do you embrace those elements or try to downplay them?  Do readers notice themes and elements in your story, or is it a secret author Easter Egg?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

9 Things That Make a Book Good (For Me)



1. Compelling female characters.  I prefer a female protagonist or antagonist, but I accept a strong supporting character too.  They don’t have to kick ass (though that’s cool too); they have to be themselves without fear or shame.

2. Believable complex characters.  Ideally, I want diversity of gender, race, and ability.  I realize not every story allows for this, but I am always looking for it.  I like both large and small casts, but whatever happens, keep it character centric.

3. Choice.  I want characters to choose things.  If your character is the chosen one or doesn’t have agency, chances are good no matter what else you have that’s working, it doesn’t work for me.

4. Female authors.  This is controversial.  People should be judged through the quality of their work and not from the circumstances of birth.  Here’s the thing: I want the female perspective, and it‘s hard for men to master that view.  This is not a dig.  I bet women don’t capture the “male” experience. I tire of following a male lead who sexualize every woman he sees.  And there are female authors who do the reverse (and I tear them apart for it) but women sexualizing men is an annoying eye roll where men sexualizing women can make me few panicky.

5. Good writing.  I prefer poetic prose but I appreciate any style that compliments the tone and theme of the piece.  I read a book with marvelous technical prose.  It’s a style I admire from a far most days.  Here, it fit the story so well I reveled in it.  I also enjoy direct terse writing when it fits the story.  An example: I read a story set in Victorian times and the writing jumped from a more formal tone that matched the Victorian setting to an informal modern vibe, and it threw me out of the story.  I like both styles, but GOOD WRITING in this case would have been to pick to one of those styles and to stick to it.

6. Good pacing.  I want to be engaged the whole time.  I don’t want to be overstimulated in some places and bored out of my mind in others.  Sounds simple, but it’s a surprising art to keep writing balanced between description, down time, and action elements.

7. Passion.  I want the writer to be into whatever they are writing and I want it to come through on the page.  This applies to series books (or things written by Stephen King) but sometimes you can see the will to keep writing drain out of the author.  Like they started strong with a premise they wanted to explore and lost steam.  The book wanders aimless.  This relates to pacing, but is its own category.  I’ve read books where the pacing works but it feels like the author didn’t care.  They wrote the simplest version of the story, but not a version of the story they loved.

8. Fantasy or science fiction genre.  I read other genres but a straight mystery, historical fiction, or other sub genre without the weird elements that exist in fantasy and scifi is a harder sell.  When I read off genre, it takes more to hold and keep my attention.

9. A plot.  It’s low on my list because I love character studies, but I think it’s easier to study character when they are doing something.  Now I don’t need epic sweeping drama.  It could be a trip to the store, but I want to know what the goal is and I want it to be clean why that’s meaningful to the characters in the story.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Monday Metrics



If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  Last Week’s 6 week Review!  and 8 Steps I’m Taking on Twitter.   

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 65 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 330 posts, 509 profile visits, 116 mentions, and 63 new follows.  


Conversion based on profile views is 12%.  I’m down one point, but since I was on vacation last week and rarely online, I expected all my metrics to drop.

  
My engagement is 2.5%. On Tues, Wed, and Thurs I spent about 40 minutes on Twitter.  Thursday most of my time was pushing through feeds to make sure I had planned posts through Sunday, not on replying to others.  I never even looked at Twitter on Fri, Sat, and very little on Sunday.  Can’t engage if you’re not present.

I
 post about 12 times a day.  I plan five posts and the others of responses or impromptu promotions.  I am trying to add more links and references to my blog and the NAWG blog.  Progress is slow and my visit results are not encouraging 😒


Wed and Fri both got over 3,000 views.  My low days are Monday and Tuesday with 1,500-ish views.  I need to make a graph of the day(s) of the week I get the most views.  10 weeks seems like enough time to spot a pattern.

There are no standout Tweets this week.  A few hits the 800-900 views, but none of them broke records. I think I’m getting the hang of keeping consistent audience attention instead of having single stand out posts


Blog Stats

I got 38 views last week spread across 5 posts.  I neglected the blog while on vacation.  I didn‘t promote my Saturday post “My Complicated Past With Writing Prompts” on either Facebook or Twitter and this shows self promotion changes the numbers

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 14 views this past week.  My goal with this blog was to build a following, and it seems like we have a few people who arrive no matter how much I promote the blog.  I had an auto scheduled post that dropped while I was traveling.  No one checked it out, but Tuesday, I’ll start its promotion.  It’s the next in my Kindle Unlimited Series, where I explore all the great things in “Dragon Ridden Chronicles”.



So talk to me!  How do you keep your social presence when you go on vacation?  Do you see a change in your numbers during that time?  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?

Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Oct 15th  or go back further to Oct 9thOct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Saturday, October 20, 2018

My Complicated Past with Writing Prompts



As a lifelong writer, I’ve used a lot of writers’ prompts in my time.  The short story: good ones rock and bad ones make you question the others’ intelligence.

Have I ever used a prompt?  Yes.   Prompts have helped me out of writers’ block and sometimes I even have a cool story to show from the experience.

Can prompts help cultivate a daily writing habit? Yeah, but all things considered, I’d rather journal or do daily gratitude as a daily practice than a writing prompt a day.

Would I recommend a prompt to other writers?  Maybe.  My knee jerk reaction to prompts is that I hate them.  They often feel forced, and often I read on and want to defy whatever suggestion it makes.  I assume others hate these things as much as me though a friend pointed out that this might just be my issue.  Most people like when some work is done for them.

All of that said, I’d enjoy creating writing prompts for others.  My favorite part of writing is creating ideas.  I enjoy forming some of them into a story too, but I’ve got more ideas than I have time to make stories.

What do you think about writing prompts?  Do you use them often?  Are they life savers or creativity drains?  Talk to me.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Metric Monday!



If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  Last Week’s 6 week Review!  and 8 Steps I’m Taking on Twitter.   

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 59 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 343 posts, 510 profile visits, 123 mentions, and 69 new follows.  


Conversion based on profile views is 13%.  Same as last week and I’m expecting this to be my steady growth rate, barring a new strategy to increase engagement or attention.

  
My engagement is 2.8%. I post plan, and I am trying to spend less time on Twitter while maintaining a sense of presence.  I kind of think my “engagement” can’t go up when I’m not in there making the connections. Days of high engagement involve a lot of personal real time responses and conversations happening on Twitter.  I think might be too much for me to manage regularly.  While I’ll always respond to people who talk with me, my social level and my time constrain me from reaching out more and hosting more conversations.

I
 post about 12 times a day.  I plan five posts and the others of responses or impromptu promotions.  Planning posts is work, and it’s hard to balance what I see on my feed with what I want to share/promote/say.  I’m not great with a single line, but I wonder if I should try a few original tweets anyhow.


I broke 4,000 views on Sat.  My views for the week are good overall, high 2,000 two days and mid 3,000 one day, which I thought would be my new all-time high view rate.  

I have a single tweet that has 3,362 views.  This tweet picked up conversation, and I heard about other writers’ processes and what they like about writing.  It was cool.  


Blog Stats

I got 100 views last week spread across 9 posts.  Sitting at week 3 with about 100 views.  This blog is for recording my writing process and giving personal feedback about the process of writing and self promoting on social media.  While it’s an interesting individual study or work, it doesn‘t lend itself to easy “evergreen” re-usable content.  Thank you guys for being interested and checking out the blog every week.

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 13 views this past week.  Officially I can not take credit for our numbers.  I dropped “Halloween Spirit”, my own spooky October flash fiction story for our writers group challenge, and it did not catch like wildfire.  What did I learn?  Objectively, Chris has a more engaged personal network than I do, more friends, family, and acquaintances than I have.  Some of his friends came out and read my story to support our blog and I’m confident no one (except Lionel) I know read my story.


  Also, if we’re being honest, Chris has the better story. Seriously, “The Ghost Strikes at Midnight.”, is a more traditional and engaging ghost story than my off brand pagan summoning ritual.  He’s character focused where I’m event focused, and his story is better for it. 

I want to recommend to fellow writers our October Open Calls for Submission.  

So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?


Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Oct 9th, or go back further to reports on Oct 1st Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The 7 Resasons Why I Read Kindle Unlimited



1. It costs me $9.99 a month.  I’d like to have a grand speech why unlimited is superior but bottom line: it’s the second cheapest way for me to read.  (The first cheapest way to read is a library which is free)

2. I’m getting my money’s worth.  So far this year I’ve read 41 books for about $100 or $2.40 a book.  Last year I paid $120 for 24 books which was a more expensive $5 a book but still a manageable habit.  My goal is to pay less than $5 a book.  I remember old school days when most my paperbacks cost $3.99.  I went to a bookstore and near had a heart attack with modern pricing.

3.  It’s transports a lot of reading options for a light travel weight.  If there’s no wifi I can carry 10 books at a time and if their wifi, I can keep swapping books as I’m done reading.  There’s a little girl in me who used to dream of carrying all the knowledge in the world in her backpack, and she loves this magic Kindle device.

4.  Most of the Unlimited selection are independent authors and I want to read small press or independently published works.  No shade meant to authors, publishers, agents, or the public but I am disappointed with what most people think is popular.  I had this awkward transition from YA books into normal literature where I “outgrew” the style or type of story YA offered but the options in the world around me were bad.  I stopped reading at all for a while, lamenting that no one “got it”.  Seems most of the “in crowd” still don’t get it, so I like looking at the fringes.

5. I’d like to be published one day and it will be through a small press or independent.  Looking at Kindle Unlimited can feel like research days.  What’s working there?  What’s popular?  Can I get a long with/ get the attention of the authors who see success?  Could I collaborate?  So far, it’s a lot of watching without notice, but I’m learning more every day. There are some wonderful gems in Unlimited.

6. I’m more likely to give a book at a try on Kindle Unlimited.  I know the books aren’t technically “free” more like pre-paid, but the subscription service tricks me into believing the books are free.  Some of my best finds are things I wouldn’t have picked up at the book store because the summary is “too risky”.  While it’s true, I’ve slogged through many bad books on Kindle Unlimited, I’ve slogged through tons of paid for bad books or library bad books too.  It burns me less on Kindle Unlimited.

7. Finding good books on Unlimited feels like uncovering a long lost gem.  Maybe because some books lack professionalism, finding one that’s amazing on all fronts feels like winning the lottery.  It’s not as rare occurrence as that simile makes it sound.  My Goodreads review score for the year is sitting at about 4 stars (meaning most books are good books).  There’s just something about digging into small markets and seeing real work and passion executed at a high level that’s thrilling no matter how often I see it.  These writers did it.  They’re amazing without the publishing machine behind them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Weekly Metrics




Sorry this is late, my job has a new policy that I “can’t” leave until the work “is done”, a policy that was sprung on me Monday.  Blindsided, I ended up forced to work until 6:30 due to poor staffing and high sales traffic.

If you are new, today is all about the numbers, not about my plans.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  Last Week’s 6 week Review!  and 8 Steps I’m Taking on Twitter.   

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 42 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 336 posts, 505 profile visits, 128 mentions, and 68 new follows.  


Conversion based on profile views is 13%.  It seems like my new growth rate is stabilizing.  Last week I spoke of losing 5 followers, but this week I went up a little over 20 followers in just the week.  
I have done nothing different, so maybe the first week of a month is slow?
  
My engagement is 3.0%.  It wobbles, but I don’t know I’ll break 3ish. I post plan, and I am trying to spend less time on Twitter while maintaining a sense of presence.  I kind of think my “engagement” can’t go up when I’m not in there making the connections. 

I
 post about 12 times a day.  I plan five posts and the others of responses or impromptu promotions.  Planning posts is can feel like pulling teeth.  Sometimes my Twitter feed is just not that interesting. 


I broke 2,000 views for the second time on Thurs and Sun.  My views on the rest of the days remain strong, well over 1,000 view mark.    


Blog Stats

I got 97 views last week spread across 5 posts.  Sitting at week 2 with about 100 views, so I’m seeing something cool.  It’s no secret, this blog is for recording my writing process and giving personal feedback about the process of writing and self promoting on social media.  I don’t know if that kind of content is helpful or engaging to others, but I sensed there was a niche for it and it’s rewarding to see growth here.

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 62 views this past week.  I would love to take the credit, but I believe Christopher M. Palmer kicked off our October success with his flash fiction “The Ghost Strikes at Midnight."  I‘m trying to capture that lightening in a bottle with my own flash story scheduled to drop Oct 10th!  I still want to recommend to fellow writers our October Open Calls for Submission.  And I still want other writers to share how they choose a genre.  



So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?


Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Oct 1st, or go back further to reports on Sept 24th, Sept17th, or Sept 10th.  

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Does being Critical in My Reviews Hurt me as a Writer?



Reviewing books and movies as a writer is awkward.  I'm a critical person with strong opinions.  These traits make writing and sharing reviews a natural extension of my blogging content creation.  It allows people to "get to know me" and provides entertaining/relevant posts.  People love to watch other's judge.

BUT, as a writer I always wonder what I'm supposed to do with books I didn't care for.  Do I write a scathing but honest review? Do I pretend I didn't read the book?  Do I lie?

Does it matter if I enjoy the writer but this one book or series of books was a flop?  I don't know the rules, it's all speculation.

Does writing a bad review close artistic doors on me?  Do I hurt feelings, appear snobby, elitist, or difficult?  Does having a positive review with critical elements also damn me?  None of my reviews are sunshine and roses.  Most of them acknowledge a pacing element, character inconsistency, or social concern I didn't care for in a work.  Does having any feedback for a writer make you "the enemy"?

They say reviews are for readers not for writers.  Except there are reviews I wrote more for a writer (not the writer the book) than for the reader.  I advise against cliche X or I point out the line the writing goes to hell or I suggest a stronger editor.  Little industry moments where I'm no longer speaking as a consumer but as a creator.  Sometimes I grandstand on a writer's social responsibility not to shoe horn certain groups of people into a role.

My policy on reviews has been to write them and post them, but only cross promote positive views.  I am at a crossroad in my NAWG Blog series where I feature the good writers on Kindle Unlimited. I want to cover a writer who has some amazing work but also some disappointing books.  I don't know how to cover her.  I want to gush about one series she wrote and the first three books of another series, but the other 6 books I didn't like exist.  From a good to bad book ratio she has a 50% rating BUT her good books are so much fun and her bad books are "meh" not offensively bad.  And I want to talk about that too, how sometimes writers swing and strike out.  An audience sticks around because your hits are so epic and we know a batter can't have 100% home runs, sometimes it's a swing and a miss.

Or I have another author I plan to feature who does an amazing job with a large ensemble cast and who did well in most elements of the books BUT I think how she portrayed the LBGTQ community is problematic.  Pros: she represented the community and the character's gayness was not a big deal.  I loved how she dropped in "yeah so and so doesn't like boys" in a medieval fantasy setting and everyone was just like "oh, ok then."  The society is still burning witches and afraid of women but if you're a lady who likes ladies, that's fine.  It was refreshing how much no one cared who the characters might want to sleep with.  Cons:  She killed the only gay man off, the "villain" of the piece is a manipulative lesbian, and the most "heroic" of the lesbians is only a lesbian because a past boyfriend beat her, when she finds the right man, she goes back to being straight.  Honestly, I don't think the author consciously plotted these elements out, it feels like unconscious bias, but am I not supposed to talk about it?  And I'm not saying that all LGBTQ characters have to be amazing, but she had four characters representing the community in a cast with twelve characters and all of them had cringe-y stereotyped baggage on them.  She made an obvious effort toward inclusion, which I applaud because no one looks at a medieval work and says "why isn't the LGBTQ community represented?", but the effort was undermined by an unintentional inclusion of stereotypes. 

It's stuff like this that makes me shy away from promoting fellow authors or digging into their works.  If it was me, I'd find the thought and attention flattering even if the conclusions highlighted some of my work's failings.  But other people are not me, and I've seen how what I thought was a positive highlight is viewed as a hit piece.  

I waste a lot of time and energy worrying over the pros and cons of sharing my thoughts.  And while I consider, I write other positive reviews and these two authors, whose works I like better than some ones I'm promoting, languish because I also have critical thoughts.

Talk to me.  If you're a writer, what is your review policy?  If you're a reader does a positive review with critical elements help or hinder you?  Does a review detailing writer minutiae disinterest you?  

Monday, October 1, 2018

Monday Metrics: Pour Those Numbers on Me!

image from openclipart.org by Scout


My week review posts are too long, so I’m breaking it up into straight numbers and progress updates/plan adjustments.  Today is all about the results.   See the action plans I’m using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  Last Week’s 6 week Review!  and 8 Steps I’m Taking on Twitter.   

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 45 days. In the last 28 days I’ve had 340 posts, 600 profile visits, 108 mentions, and 75 new follows.


Conversion based on profile views is 12%.  This is a 7% drop in follow (I saw that 6 people had unfollowed me went from 525 total follows to 519).  What does this mean?  I’m not sure.  Could be that I’ve grown as far as my audience/interest allows.  Could be I had a lousy week on Twitterverse.  It’s something I must check in the long term.

  
My engagement is 3.2%.  It wobbles, but I don’t know I’ll break 3ish.  

I
post about 12 times a day.  I plan five posts and the others of responses or impromptu promotions.  Planning posts is still tricky.  Feels like I have little to “say” or I keep censoring responses.  Maybe I need to get back to being off the cuff?  


I broke 2,000 views for the second time on Thursday, but my following Friday, Saturday, and Sunday views were  under 1,000 (which I’m considering bad).  I wonder if people staid off Twitter because of the Judicial Court Trials or if my Tweets were subpar? I have 4 Tweets with over 1,000 views.  My engagement stats are all over the place. I can’t make sense yet over what people like and what they pass on.



Blog Stats

This blog continues to put in work.  I got 94 views last week spread across 10 posts.  It’s not brag worthy, but this is a personal blog with more impressions, personal plans, and results.  I don’t expect it to be a traffic generator.  There’s value and casual interest in how a fellow blogger/aspiring writer is doing, but I don’t think there’s much interest when I don’t have name recognition.

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 18 views this past week.  We have 15 hits on my latest collection of Open Calls for Submission in Oct.  I’m pleased it’s gathered attention but disappointed my post asking how writers choose a genre for their book didn’t garner more attention, even though I’ve promoted it a few times.  





So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?


Still need a number fix?  Compare this week to last week Sept 24, or go back further to reports on Sept 17th, or Sept 10th.  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

"Making of A Wannabe Writer Pt 3

image from open clipart.org by Arvin61r58


The Writing Cooperative have a great post "Making of a Wannabe Writer". I recommend anyone undertaking a large writing project read their article and answer the questions they present.

Today, I am sharing my responses to their tips and tricks. It should provide readers better insight into what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and whether I'm meeting those goals.  

A formatting note: The number points from the article are in bold and some editing may occur in the expansion of the main point so I can emphasize the parts that resonate with me.  I will provide my responses in italic purple for clarity.

Some Essential Daily Hacks

...make it a point you write everyday. It may be rubbish, not readable at all. But it will help you get into the habit of writing first of all. It will make you disciplined.

Doing that.  Next please.

    Make sure your writing is effective. Once written, read it to yourself and try to evaluate if it’s lame or really compact piece.

    This is a struggle for me.  What is effective?  Are general impressions posts "effective" are those millions of tips posts that seem to copy and paste each other "effective", is sharing my experience and coming to some conclusions "effective"?  I don't know.  

For me, I'm looking to approach problems in innovative ways and I want the blog to connect to other's individual struggles.

In my creative writing, everything is in review all the time.  It's frustrating to think a few months ago I was "done" with a piece I've since unwound and stitched together another way.  At some point there has to be an end to tinkering.

While you are into writing, Minimize all distractions- that includes your phone! It is probably the greatest killer of discipline!
.  
My phone isn't my problem, the internet is.  It's hard to not pop in and see how Twitter is going or to pause one blog post and check in on my other blog, or to freeze mid research and writing an impromptu something or other.  

By the time I'm ready to write, my alarm is going off, letting me know it's time to go to work.  

Another work in progress for me it seems.
Don’t procrastinate or worry about being a great blogger/ writer; just write your heart out.

Check.  I have no illusions that I'm a great blogger.  I'd like to be a consistent one, and one that's accidentally helpful.  

In the best of worlds, I'd like to be a blogger who finds her audience for her creative writing and has the opportunity to help other writers find their audience.
During the initial days, it’s better if you just forget about earning. Focus on followers. Bring out quality articles and keep the followers growing steadily.

No problem there, earning isn't even a twinkle in my eye.  No Adsense turned on.  No call to subscribe.  No books, pamphelets, shirts, bags, or mugs for sale.  I take the audience finding and building phase seriously.  There will be no considerations to monetize until I'm getting at least a couple thousand views (a number chosen for how impossible it seems right now) and even then, I think a good indicator for when to sell something is when the audience asks for it.  Like if someone wanted me to curate and publish certain blog posts.  Or if I managed to create a good catch phrase.  Or if I had an anthology published.  
Know well what you write. Have an in depth knowledge and if possible, some personal experience too.
Agreed.  I'm very careful to only post and publish things I have personal experience with.  It's why the blog has to be about my plans, efforts, and results.  I can only speak about what I know works.  

On my Twitter, it keeps me from recommending random books in my feed or posting all those generic "Get Good Quick" posts.  I'm reading them, thinking on them, and even trying some parts, but I am skeptical of them until I see results and worse, I'm bored with them.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

6 Week Review



It’s been six weeks since I started my: “Jess Donegan is Here” Campaign.  Time to see where I hit the mark and were I need to adjust.  Check out my weekly updates starting most recently with 9/24 numbers, 9/17 numbers9/10 numbers9/4 numbers/evaluation, 8/29 numbers/evaluation, and 8/21 numbers/evaluation.

First thing I’ve changed is how I report.  I started by reporting numbers and making plane each week. Right away, I saw these reports were too long and very little changed.  Instead, I report my numbers once a week and will talk in depth about those results every other month or once a month.

Overall growth on Twitter is good.  Need to Maintain the course (check out my 8 steps here).  No course change needed.  The plan works for me because it’s flexible.  Some days I don’t even have to look at Twitter and other days I can swing by and make one on one mentions.  I am slipping out into political water, and I must watch out for that going forward in my campaign.  I’m undecided on if politics has a place in my Twitter persona.

This blog and the North Alabama Writer's Group blog exist.  Go me?

Wins:
1. Creating content
2. Posting across both blogs
3. Sticking to the niche identified
4. Our Writers’ Group is talking about self promotion and considering what we could do to reach out to other creators around us.  I’ve captured Chris and am recruiting Ashley.

Needs Improvement:
1. Traffic
2. Self promotion
3.  Time.  It’s only been six weeks since I’ve been pushing the blogs
4. Cross platform promotion

What I’m Doing:
1. Made a list of all the posts I have and the categories they fit in and I plan to schedule 1 Tweet a day to promote my writing.
2. I will suck it up and go to Facebook.  My original plan was to start that aft 30 days of blogging but I backed out because it overwhelmed me.  Then I thought “who needs Facebook” but the thing is I might.  So I will make a general “hello” post and from then on post when an article first drops.  
3. Going through older posts and creating back links.  I have a lot of series posts, and I’m not maximizing people’s love of crawling relevant threads.
4. I’ve had a lot of luck on Google+, maybe it’s time I pursued that again? Will test after Facebook campaign is part of the routine
5. Working on a guest blog post for @arimehglen. With luck this may lead to more guest posts? Will keep an eye out.
6. An Oct scary set of shorts
7.A “Creatives we are Thankful for” article for NAWG where ere acknowledge local talent and reconnect ourselves to local writers and publishers
8. Dec Merch launch.  Need to push this even if the audience is not there yet.

Creative Writing

My time management has been shitty.  I’ve needed to turn a lot of my resources inward because I need help with my day job.  Speaking of which: are you looking to hire a writer because I WANT to work with you!

I’ve been telling the writers’ group I’m not writing.  That’s not 100% honest.  I’ve written a couple of pieces about women choosing a brutal death over life.  Since I noticed the theme in my writing, I’ve stopped all new works until I’m in a better head space.

 I am also working on edits to my novel “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” but the group doesn’t seem interested in reading it and I don’t want to talk with them about the same things repeatedly (which is the editing process, going over it until it’s memorized).

I am hoping I’ll have more time for my book now I have a resume out in the world and I’m hoping my writers’ workshop will take on beta-ing draft #2 of my novel.  We had our first meeting this past Sunday and the group leader, Megan Beam, seemed interested in the premise, so I hope she’ll have feedback for me.

I’ve been enviously reading other writers’ posts on creating a calendar for their projects.  I don’t have enough time to break it down the way they do.  But I am still reading different time management techniques.  I enjoy batching similar tasks.  In a world where I could find 3-5hrs a day, I’d enjoy blocking my time.  I’m still trying it on a small scale but results will be slow in coming.

Reviewing

In the next few months I plan to further integrate my reading/reviewing with my writing.  I have a few pieces coming out to link the two.  I think my GoodReads presence is a waste staying separate as it is now, bit I haven’t found the right plan to rope the two in....yet.

Talk to me.  Tell me about your own plans, how are they going?  Is there something key I’ve forgotten or HAVE to try?  What’s the most important part of your routine?  Do you have success on a social media platform I’m not using/considering right now?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Metric Monday



My week review posts are too long, so I'm breaking it up into straight numbers and progress updates/plan adjustments.  Today is straight plans.   See the action plans I'm using to earn these numbers in previous posts.  Last Week's Tuesday Tell All!  and 8 Steps I'm Taking on Twitter.   I owe you all a blogging strategy, a creative writing strategy, and a book review plan.  Still working on that.

Twitter Analytics
I’ve been active on Twitter for 38 days.  Twitter Analytics gives the last 28 days for review.  From here on out, I’ll be comparing my current stats from stats where I was active on the platform.  I have 465 “lifetime” Tweets, but over the last 28 days I’ve had 364 posts, 601 profile visits, 95 mentions, and 116 new follows.


Conversion based on profile views is 19%, up a little but overall remaining steady.  I think I'm starting to settle into my niche and my growth may begin to slow.

  
My engagement remains a steady 3.3%.  

I post about 13 times a day.  I plan five posts and the others of responses or impromptu promotions.  Planning posts is a bit of a slog.  I didn't even step on Twitter Tuesdsy.  


I broke 2,000 views on Saturday and my top Tweet has 1,753 views and engagement of 3.3%.  It’s another Tweet from @wrtrstat in this one I asked if people write for fun or to explore themes.  I got three or four conversations from it and I tagged it in some writing circles.  


 
Blog Stats

This blog continues to put in work.  I got 53 views last week spread across 8 posts.  It’s not brag worthy, but this is a personal blog with more impressions, personal plans, and results.  I don’t expect it to be a traffic generator.  There’s value and casual interest in how a fellow blogger/aspiring writer is doing, but I don’t think there’s much interest when I don’t have name recognition.

The North Alabama Writers’ Group blog has 5 views this past week.  This is my fault.  I've got some great content on the blog but I haven't promoted it as I should.  



So talk to me!  What are your numbers?  What’s your social media strategy?  Are you counting anything else in your life and what does success look like?