Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 5)

Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 5)

By JeffreyVromant (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve been talking about keeping your posts organized.  When you were setting up your blog, you made the decision about what types of posts you’d be making, how often you’d be posting, and where you’d be feeding the posts through to.  If you have an active blog, like I do, there will come a time when you need to start organizing the posts for others to find them.  And, tables are my preferred way.

There are several negatives to using tables, the biggest of which is that it puts another layer of choices between your potential reader and the information you hope they find.  If you are using your blog as a sale point, this can seriously impact your sales.  Recently I came across a statistic that every time you add a choice, you lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of your readers.  That is a rather substantial loss for anyone.  Before you decide to add in a list, table, or other selection point, you do need to take that loss of viewers into account.  Maintaining the tables can also be a big time hog, and so may not be a good option  – even if your posts, post series, or post material are a good candidate for the table format.

The positives for me, however, outweigh that negative.  Because I have so many posts, and I want them to be accessible all the time without anyone having to scroll, and scroll, and scroll, or search and search (hoping they hit the right search string).  The way I set up my tables lets me do that.  Depending on your blog’s theme, adding in tables may be an easy process, or it could take a LOT of work to make them look just right.

I won’t go into how to code the tables, though I’d be glad to discuss it should there be enough interest.  There are several wonderful HTML coding references on the web you can find with a quick Google search.  I’m going to stay on track for how to connect with your readers, future readers, and anyone else who comes across your blog.  (I hope.)

The only reason I bring up organization, is because there are some blogs that unless you know exactly what you are looking for, you will never find it.  And others are so easy to navigate that finding that tidbit of information you need right now falls right into your hand.  Organization is how that comes about.  That doesn’t mean the information you’re posting shouldn’t be engaging (which is a whole other subject I’m still figuring out), but it does mean the content you’re posting can be found easily.

When you are organizing your posts into some type of selection category – either through menus, tables, charts, word clouds, or what ever, you need to make sure the selection options are understandable and relevant.  In a way, this ties back with tagging your posts.  It would make no sense to post a book review under “interviews”, if the interview is the main focus of your post.  Even if there is an interview that is part of the post, not everyone will know that the first time they look for it.  It is acceptable to organize the dual-purpose post under both selection criteria, however.  It allows people to find it either way.  And that is part of making your content accessible.

And that brings me to the last point of this piece of the platforming story.

When you are posting, you CAN choose to have a post serve many purposes.  An example is when I host tour posts for T.J.’s Virtual Tours.  Most often, those posts have a bit about the author, some type of mini-interview, and either a group of reviews, or examples from the book that’s being toured.  A lot depends on what type of tour I’m participating in.  And, it is also a cross connection to other blogs, which helps with overall discoverability for me.

That is a lot of what platforming is – it’s getting yourself discovered.  And, having your content organized so others can access it easily makes that process a little easier.

I think I’ve dropped enough big pieces of information for you to think about for one post.  So, I’ll let you think, and see about following my own recommendations.  There’s a lot of content hidden around my blog, and while some of it I’m keeping “off the radar”, I need to do some maintenance so the rest of it can be found.  Happy platforming, and we’ll see you next time when I’ll dive into the concept of how your blog content can be used to expand your platform.

If you’ve missed the previous installment of the series, you can find it Here and the entire series Here

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Blogs, Author Platforms, Connecting (Pt. 1)

Blogs, Author Platforms, Connecting (Pt. 1)

 

Yes, I know.  I said I was going to start on the Sunlits “behind” the scene posts this week.  That is still on the table, I promise.  I’ll probably be alternating for a few months between this series, and the Sunlit series because I just can’t figure out when else to slide this one in.  Especially since I really need the series I’ve been reblogging on Mondays!  (My editor thanks you Susan.)

To kick this series off, I’m going to go back and revisit a concept I talked about waaay back in December of last year.  If you’re just discovering my blog, you can go here to read that post.  I’ll wait.

 

Ready to move forward?

Wonderful.

Now, as I said then, Twitter is the heartbeat of any platform.  Information you put up there is gone almost as fast as you hit enter.  There’s ways to help with that, and I’ll address those in a later installment.  If you are unfamiliar with Twitter, I’ll show you where you can find some excellent information later as well.

So, if we’re not focusing on Twitter, what are we focusing on?

The heart and soul of your platform.  Author’s blogs are different from just about any other kind of blog out there.  They are a place for your fans and potential fans to get to know you – the real you.  Because of that, there’s a few things that need to be addressed.

One of the most common questions I hear is “I’ve got a blog, but how do I come up with content?”

Even when this isn’t addressed to me, I try to answer.  For me, content is easy.  But, I’ve got an established blog, established series, and a wonderful group of followers (who don’t comment much… OK, I don’t give them much of a chance.)  But, for an author just starting out in the blogging world, even assembling a blog post is a daunting task.

Here’s a few ideas to explore for your content:

  • Research – did you do research for your book(s)?  If you did, you’ve got a HUGE gold mine you can use to develop content out of.  You don’t want your blog to be “my book this”, “my book that”, and “look at my book!”.   Not only is this irritating for the reader, it also does not feel professional.  When you are using your research for content, here’s some things you may want to include in the article:
    • Is it interesting?
      • The information you were researching is something you’ve been interested in.  If not, did you become more interested in it as you were researching?
    • Is it something you’ve wanted to learn more about?
      • Sure, it’s important to your book, but try to explain your reasons about including this in the story.  Even if you are writing a brutal, grisly homicide rape scene (something I’m sure most of us would not be all that interested in, unless it’s to look at how it was solved), you could explain that you’ve had an interest in such scenes because someone you knew survived a close encounter to such an event, or you work in a crime lab (outside of writing.  I know, that horrid four-letter word “J. O. B.” )  And, that is why your were investigating this information.
    • The process of developing your characters
      • Watch out with this option – it can easily slip into “Hey!  You!  Go look at my book!”
      • This is a wonderful way of introducing readers, and potential readers, to your work.  You can set up posts where you are doing character interviews, the character’s back story that won’t show up in the book, or even a personality evaluation.  Have fun with this, but try not to mention your book directly.
    • It is something you are passionate about
      • You already love the subject, and so have gone out to happily burrow through the mass of information available to find out something new.  Highlight that new piece, how you found it, and if/why you went searching for it.  This type of post can talk about your book, but keep it focused on the development.
  • Personal Interests – These can get a little slippery when you try to link them to your writing.  So, while you are getting your blog up and running I would strongly advise – don’t link them.  Just write about what you are interested in.  As you become comfortable with the content of your blog, you can introduce pieces of how your interest tie into your books, but try to keep the book from screaming at the readers from the page.
  • How your book(s) developed.
    • BE CAREFUL with this approach.  Yes, posts in this type of thread are all about your book.  They are going to scream “Look at me!  Look at me!”  However, you can still use this approach.  Especially if you have other post types already in place.  Focus on the creation process, not the fact the book exists.  If you have a work in progress, this is a wonderful post style to use.  Some of the benefits include:
      • Talk about the challenges you are facing in your writing
      • What plans do you have for the way the plot is moving?
      • What are your plans for the characters?
        • Did the characters behave the way you had planned, or did you wind up having to alter things on the fly?
      • If you are close to publishing, you can talk about when the book will publish (and where).  This is a very specific post.  Use it ONLY when you have a book approaching publication.
      • Cover reveals – a wonderful time to talk about everything that went into the cover creation.
      • Teaser snippets – for those of us who write in a linear manner, there are times when scenes slam into our heads that are too good to forget, but just don’t fit where you are in the process.  Write them out on the blog.  It lets you preserve the scene, shares some of the work with your followers, yet does not get pushy.

If these don’t help get the mind running with ideas, I have a few more options:

  • Flash fiction – Yes, flash fiction works.  It’s tough, it’s creative, and it provides content.
    • If you feel up to the challenge, you can set up a regular post series of your flash fiction.  Kind of a serialized story.  Handy to fall back on when you need a quick filler post.
  • On WordPress (and I think some other blogging platforms as well), there’s a wonderful thread of prompts and challenges.  Pick one from the list, and run with it.
  • Poetry or art – Still creative, yet it gives the writing “muscles” a chance to relax.

Elithius: The Red Captain (Book 1) Special Promotion

His parents abandon him when he’s thirteen. He’s left to care for his little brother and sister. Life is tough. Things can’t seem to get any worse.

But then Evil Itself breaks down the door. It kidnaps his siblings. And It leaves him bleeding out on the floor of his own home.

The Golden Lands, one of the Three Worlds of Elithius, is supposed to be a place of light, peace and happiness. But the Golden Lands hasn’t been such a place for John Hedekira, a jaded, hot-headed sixteen-year-old. Joined by his friends Faith Pinck and Bernard Tanner, John must rescue his brother and sister from their captors…before his siblings can be sacrificed to the ominous God of Death.

With a story that combines the feelings of Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, and Percy Jackson, Dominic Sceski brings to life a riveting tale of light versus darkness, magic, friendship, trust, betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption that will leave you on the edge of your seat and desperately yearning for more.

Don’t wait. Embark on the journey now. Enter Elithius!


My heart is pounding before I even open my eyes.  This is it.  A warrior from the rescue squad, he’s the one waking me up.  I tell him I’m ready.  And I am.  I’m ready for the battle.  I take a moment to splash my face with the water in the basin.  And then I turn around and look in the mirror.

I’m not sure if I know or understand the person I see.  He looks strong; he looks determined.  But there’s also something small about him.  Can he grow bigger?  Is he determined enough to do that?

Who will he be when this is over?

I strap my sword to my hip.  Then I stand before the door of my room.  I hesitate before exiting.  This is it.  It’s all happening so fast.  My hand goes to my chest and I feel beneath my shirt the pendant of the necklace Cassie and Luke gave me.  I clench it in my fist.  I’m scared.  Not about the battle, but—

I let go of the pendant.  Breathing deeply, I register the nervousness I feel in my stomach.  Cassie and Luke.  I’m scared.

Then I open the door.  The warrior from the rescue squad, Faith and Bernard are all standing there.  We all nod to each other.  With that, the warrior leads us on our way.


Elithius is Dominic Sceski’s newest literary creation.  Taking place in The Golden Lands, one of the three worlds of Elithius, John Hedekira, a hot-headed but determined teenager, must rescue his little brother and sister from the hands of Evil itself…before they can be sacrificed to the God of Death.  With a more intricate, deeper plot seeping through the background of the story and excitement springing from around every corner, Elithius invites readers to embark on a journey of mystery, magic, trust, betrayal, love, and heroism that will leave you on the edge of your seat…

…and desperately yearning for more.

 

You can find Elithius on Amazon as a Kindle edition or as a beautiful paperback

 

You may connect with Dominic and learn more about the world of Elithius on his Blog 

 

Or you may contact Dominic personally via email

Listen to the Muse (Pt 2): Guiding the Muse

4-27-12: Turning a page | Flickr – Photo Sharing! Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com

You’ve done it.  You’ve finally heard the muse, and words are starting to pour into your head and out of your fingers.  The story is shaping up, and you really like where things are going.  Then disaster hits.

Oh, not the disaster of the words stopping and the feeling of being unable to move forward, but the disaster of the muse taking you off into regions you really do not want to get into.  You are writing a science fiction tale, and the muse is dragging you off into fantasy land.  Or, even better, you are writing a horror thriller, and the muse suddenly takes that hard left turn into comicville.  That disaster.  Don’t tell me it hasn’t happened to you.  I think everyone has faced that at one point or another in their writing career.

So, today we are going to look at what you can do about this.  There are ways and WAYS of handling these unwanted hard turns.  Much of it depends on how much work you want to do in editing and revising after you are done filling all of those pages with words, words, and more unwanted words.

Bull Through

Personally, I have tried this one, and it didn’t go so well.  This is where you take the story, and you keep going the way you want to go despite the muse trying to drag you off into some tangent that you think you’ll have to edit out later.  For those who are plotters and have a solid feel for the story, this might work.

This method is more a case of driving your muse, than guiding it, but there might be times when you have to use it.

Whine and Beg

Another attempt at making the muse go where it doesn’t really want to… right now.  Another method I have tried, and had blow up in my face.  Not nearly as spectacularly as the Bull through, but still pretty bad.  The story wound up unsalvageable for me, so I recommend caution if you decide to try this one with your uncooperative muse.

Bargain with it

“If you go this way, I’ll incorporate that bit.”  This one works fairly well for the loosely plotted and organically written stories.  In this method you listen to where the muse really wants to go, and you compromise.  You nudge the story in the direction you really want to go, yet you also incorporate pieces of the path the muse wants you to take.

This one can be a good way to get a completely stalled out story moving again.  Especially if the reason you’ve stalled out is because you and the muse are in a death match staring contest.  I’ve used it in the past with good results.  And, I’ve also usually wound up going back and editing in the rest of the path the muse wanted me to take.  So, be ware if you decide not to follow your muse lockstep.  (Although crossing genre lines is a good time to demand a compromise situation.)

Nudge things along

This is the mildest arrangement you can have, and is often best used with purely organically written stories.  In this scenario, you let the muse lead you down the path to wherever it wants to go.  However, along the way, you keep putting up little bread crumbs for possible branch points that will take you back to the destination you want to get to.  If used properly, it can enrich your story by adding unexpected elements, and scenes you would not have dreamed were relevant, yet you find out just how relevant they are later in the work.  If it is used improperly, it can derail a story by adding massive amounts of padding that have to be revised out later.

Use with caution, but this one is one I would strongly recommend to be your first go to method.  Just because the muse leads you to a spring of ideas does not mean you have to drink from the pool.  You are always free to drink from your own water bottle, and save the new ideas for another time.

There is one last method to guide your muse, and I have yet to figure out how to make it work.  That is when you distract it.  Things have ground almost to a halt, and you start up another story.  With two going, you hop over to the one you really want to finish first, the one you are having the most difficulty getting the muse to cooperate on.  With the second story underway, you sneak in some time to work on this project in the middle of your new one.  Supposedly, because the muse is turning out inspiration for the second project, you can harness that for the difficult one.  I know several writers who can do this – they have no difficulty keeping multiple projects running simultaneously.  However, when I try, I wind up tangling the projects together so bad I cannot separate the two afterwards.

And, if all else fails with moving forward, there is always the option to just sit back and not write anything at all.  Wait out the muse’s absence or temper tantrum.  I’ve been faced with this three times now in my current project.  I could have bulled on, and if I were closer to the end of the work, I might have tried to.  However, being in the middle of the story, I did not want the narrative to unravel on me, so I put it down, and walked away for a few days.  When I came back, I tried writing more on it.  Still didn’t have that “spark”, and so I left it to sit and mature some more.  When the muse returned, I can say they were not amused.  Now, I’m dealing with a sulking muse.  Oh, well.  I’m back to getting a little progress each day.  I can live with that.

What do you do when your muse tries to take you in unwanted/unexpected directions?  I’d like to hear about it in the comments below.

Plans, ideas, disruptions

Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And now I lay me down this oath to keep
A prayer, a wish, I need that’s steep

To one above, I swear this now
I will not forsake the pre-order vow

By end of month, this work to you
I will up load for other’s view

And if I fail, my promise keep
Then ever more the depths I reep

So with this prayer I solemnly give
I pray for all to know I live.

Amen

 

This has been running through my head since Wednesday, January 13,2016 when I got word back on the latest manuscript going out for publication.  There were a few big-ish problems, and it was recommended I delay the release.  I double checked with Amazon, and discovered I was caught in a double bind – if I delayed, I would not be able to set up another pre-order for twelve months, and if I didn’t get the final copy uploaded by the 21st, I would find myself in the same place.

I have worked feverishly on correcting the problems pointed out in the early chapters, and have gone through to verify there were no other major upsets lurking in any of the later pages.  If all goes well, I should have the final notes in from all the readers by Monday, which means with a little luck, a LOT of late nights, and no major new issues cropping up, my prayer will be answered.

Beslynx Spiritwalker’s novella WILL go out on time!  Now, if you will excuse me, I still have 30 or so pages to finish self-proofing before I enlist the aid of the next round of read/critique partners.  Blessed be!