Thursday, December 1, 2011

Great Plot Resource

I stumbled across this site when researching the term "trauma Conga line" (don't ask why).

This is a FANTASTIC resource for plotting and character ideas.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends in the US (and military and their families stationed ovreseas)! I hope everyone has a great day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Idea generation.

One of the questions I hear a lot (and I'm sure other writers hear) is, "Where do you get your ideas?"

That's a tough question to answer, and yet it's also easy.


I went to a mystery writer's convention once and listened to Carl Hiaasen speak. His answer was since he worked for the Miami Herald, and he lives in Florida, he basically opened up the newspaper for his ideas.

That's not as simplistic an answer as it might seem.

For me, ideas can come from anywhere, whether it's a spontaneous thought popping into my brain (such as "Love and Brimstone," which came to me as a snippet of dialogue) or seeing something on TV that makes me ask the, "What if...?" question (such as how I got the idea for my "Good Will Ghost Hunting" series), or even reading something in the newspaper or seeing something on the news.

As a writer, the first thing you need to learn is how to ask, "What if...?" Because that is, literally, the basis of all your work. That's how you find your way. It won't give you the fine details, but it starts you on that journey.

Getting ideas is never an issue for me. I have way too many to ever write as it is, with more streaming into my brain on a daily basis. I keep a notepad or my phone (Droid X2) or iPad near me at all times so I can jot notes to myself. Sometimes those ideas become independent stories, and sometimes they are incorporated as plot points in existing works.

I love watching shows on the History Channel and Discovery Channel, because they air neat shows that, while the premise of the theories posed might not be something I'm interested in, there might be a nugget of an idea there I can run with simply by asking, "What if...?"

Keep an open mind, open eyes, and open ears. As a writer, those will be some of your most valuable tools.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


We went to dinner Sunday night at a place we frequent once a month with friends. A nice Italian restaurant, not cheap, but not uber-expensive either.

They'd redone their menus, and when I opened it, my eye immediately twitched at one heading...


Really? REALLY?


Okay, here goes.

  • Apostrophes are used to designate contractions (it's = it is, she's = she is) and sometimes possessive (that is Susie's dog, that is the Smiths' house).
  • Apostrophes are NOT used to designate plurals, unless it's a plural possessive, UNLESS...
  •'s the plural of a letter of number. (He received three A's on his report card.)
  • To designate omitted letters in some words. (I saw him runnin' like a scalded cat.)

So when you don't know if you're supposed to use dogs or dog's, for example, SAY the sentence out loud, and expand the word. Use the one that's correct:

  • It is the bowl of the dog. (dog's - correct)
  • It is the "dog is/bowl of the dog" bowl. (using dogs - incorrect)
  • There are five dogs. (dogs - correct)
  • They have five dogs. It is the dogs' bowl. (dogs' - correct, because there are more than one dog, and the bowl belongs to the dogs, plural.)

It/it's gets people.

  • It's hot. (It is hot. - correct)
  • Its hot. (incorrect)
  • It's five o'clock somewhere. (It is... - correct)
  • Its clock is wrong. (Its - correct)

If you can say "it is" instead of "it's" and it is correct, then you use "it's."

Monday, November 7, 2011

My advice? Ignore reviews.

I see a few topics come up from time to time on a regular basis from new authors, so I thought I'd blog about it. Topic: reviews.

When you're a new author, you bite your nails and pray the first reviews (professional or reader) come through positive. It's easy for a neutral or negative review to send you plummeting to the depths of despair.

Here's a secret: Reviews don't matter. At all.

If you truly want to be a professional author, develop a thick skin now, because the sad truth is that you will find plenty of people who seem to derive sadistic joy in leaving low ratings, usually without an explanation. Some will leave negative reviews explaining why, and most of those will be little more than barely-legible rants. Even sadder? Some of those reviews will come from review sites.

Good reviews will, at best, give you a momentary blip of an increase in sales. Negative reviews, especially if it's outlandish enough, will more often than not also give you a momentary blip of an increase in sales. (Believe me, readers will see through those snarky, childish slam reviews. You don't need to fight the battle for them, and it will only make you look bad because you cannot win.)

And there are people who apparently have grudges against certain genres or publishers or whatever, and who will, on sites like Goodreads, leave 1- or 2-star reviews without any explanation. I'm talking if you look at their profile, they will rank a WIDE swath of books with 1's and 2's with no explanation whatsoever. (As opposed to people who will leave a reasoned review.) Apparently it's a childish sport they enjoy, and they think they're getting away with it, when the truth is, most professional authors ignore them, if they even see them. (So those of you childish tools who get your jollies doing just that, I've got news for you, you're just spinning your wheels. Hate to disappoint you, but your efforts aren't working.)

So here's the thing you need to do: IGNORE reviews. If you get a good review, fine, quote a snippet from it. Treat negative reviews as if they don't exist. Do not argue with them, don't fight them, don't respond to them. PERIOD. Believe me, I've seen plenty of author meltdowns that went badly, and the readers WILL remember a public author meltdown and blacklist you, but they most likely won't even see the negative review that was left in the first place if you ignore it. If they see it, chances are, they won't even remember it. OR, if it's outrageous enough, they'll buy your book just to see what the fuss is about.

That's a win, my friends.

So laugh off bad reviews. Seriously. Chalk it up to you have officially joined the ranks of professional authors and act professionally: ignore the bad. Do not live and die by reviews. Don't let them ruin your day. Do what I did, and eagerly anticipate your first bad review, because it means you've made it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Siglines: Simple is better.

I've seen this come up periodically, and a run-in with a truly obnoxious sigline the other day prompted this blog post.

What is a sigline? Sigline is short for "signature line," the close of your email. For example,

Tymber Dalton
email address

That is effective. And depending on if you're posting on email lists or not (and if you're an author, you should be), you might be limited by list rules as to how many lines you can have.

Let's start with what NOT to put in your sigline:

  1. NO graphics. They are annoying, and over half the time, they won't render anyway, especially on digests. Worse, they could render as html code, meaning they clutter up the list and make people irritated at you.
  2. NO long excerpts. By excerpts, I mean just that. No excerpts from reviews OR from your book. Period.
  3. NO animated graphics. (You'd think number one would make this obvious, but just thought I'd add it.)
  4. No ascii art or funky text or colors.
Now, those items cover 90% of poor sigline etiquette. So let's cover what you should do in your sigline:
  1. Mind your manners. If an email list says you can't have a sigline over five lines, then keep it short.
  2. Keep it short regardless of where you're posting. If your sigline is more than five lines, it's TOO LONG.
  3. Include your name, email address, and website. (Stick to the main website, all your other websites and social media should be included on your main website.)
  4. Keep it clean. Remember your audience might not all be appreciative of dirty limericks.
  5. Don't be political or religious. (We're talking promotions, not personal siglines. You might have your own beliefs, and that's fine, but don't go alienating readers who might not share those beliefs.)
  6. If you want to promo, keep it to one line, such as, "My new book, New Book, is available from my publisher at: link to webpage." That's IT. No book blurb, no excerpt. Do you like pushy sales people? No? Then why do you think your readers will like you being pushy while selling your book?
  7. Use plain text and plain backgrounds for your emails. Most of the time, it will render either incorrectly or worse, as a parcel of html code. Save the cutesy stuff for your personal emails, not for professional ones. Just because an email you send yourself looks good does NOT mean it'll look good to someone using a different email delivery system, especially if they're on digest.
I know some of you are whining, "But I have my banner in my sigline!" Or, "But I excerpted my great review in my sigline!" Tough noogies. Here's what happens when you post to an email list and people get it in digest form: you end up clogging their email inbox with a HUGE ASS bunch of crap. Especially if you post to the list frequently. So if you post, for example, five times in one day to an email list, and your sigline is coming in at twenty lines, that's one HUNDREDS lines people have to scroll through over...and over...and OVER again.

Get the picture?

Honestly, most people ignore or grumble about long signlines. They scan through them to get to the next message. If they get their email in individual post format, they stop when they get to the end of the email and hit delete. Most of the time, your long-ass sigline is only being kvetched about by people you've annoyed. So it's not an effective marketing tool if you're misusing it by cramming a lot of crap into it. 

So do yourself, and your readers and fellow listmates, a favor: keep it short, sweet, to the point, and no funky text or graphics.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grammar: Lie versus Lay

This is one of those age-old head-banging issues writers have been ripping their hair out over for...well, ever.

When I'm talking lie versus lay, I'm obviously not talking "lie" as in "you lie like a rug." (Meaning to tell an untruth.) Which...well, that phrase is wrong, because it would be "you lay like a rug." Of course, you could say "you lie like a dog," which technically would be true, except dogs tend to be pretty honest.

Some of you are snickering right now, and some of you are ready to strangle me.

Okay. Let's get started.

LIE - People and animals "lie down" (present tense) or, in other words, they recline.
LAY - You must "lay" something down (the book on the table, for example - again, present tense).

So, if it's something that can put itself down prone onto a surface, it will "lie down."

BUT... (Yeah, you knew there had to be a catch, didn't you?)

Past tense of LIE is LAY. "This morning, before lunch, I lay down for a nap." (I know it doesn't sound right, but it is.)
Past tense of LAY is LAID. "I laid the clean laundry on your bed."

The past participle tense of LIE is LAIN. "I have lain in bed for three days with this damn flu."
The past participle tense of LAY is LAID. "I have laid the clean laundry on your bed, now put it away, you damn slob!"

Here are some links to help you out:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Edit Process: Of Tires and Pastry Chefs

(This started off as a reply to a fellow author on one of my publisher's private author email lists. They had written in asking for help dealing with their first edit, because they were freaked out about what they had to do and how much editing they had to do to it. After writing this reply, I figured it would make a good blog post. LOL)

I don't want this to come off sounding "bad," because it's meant to be helpful and to help you (and any other newbie authors) not to stress out. LOL Okay? I just wanted that disclaimer up there so you don't think I'm trying to be sarcastic or a bitch. (I can be both of those things, sometimes at the same time, LOL but I don't want you to think I'm trying to in this case. *smile*)

First of all, if this is your first edit, RELAX. What you have to realize is houses will contract books where the story and/or "voice" appeal to them. Mechanics and house style can be taught. Voice and the ability to tell a can't teach that. Either you can do it or you can't. You can help a writer hone their abilities, but someone is either a writer or they aren't. Simple as that.

Even a writer such as myself, with over twenty-five titles to my credit, learns something from every edit. I also have twenty-plus years of editing and non-fiction writing behind me, as well as twenty-plus years working on honing my skills.

Treat your edits like a learning experience. Learn from them. Are there times you should stand your ground on something? Yes, but a lot of times, the editors are right. If you have beta readers who all agree the point is fine, but the editor doesn't, then it might be a case of the editor just didn't read it the same way. Or if you like something, but everyone tells you to change it...consider changing it.

Never view your book as your baby, your masterpiece, a work of art, or something "precious." If you do, you're setting yourself up to be a diva and on the short road to being blacklisted. I've run across newbie writers who insisted they didn't want to change "perfection." Most are either not published, or haven't published subsequent books. I'm NOT saying you're being like that, I'm saying that to give you perspective.

Your book is your COMMODITY. It's a mass-produced PRODUCT. Do you think someone sits at the Goodyear tire factory and loves every tire that comes off the line? No. They get the work out there as fast as possible and done right. Yes, the creation process of a book is slightly different, but think about the people who designed the tire and created the original mold for the tire. Did they sit there freaking out every time they hit a bump in the road in the testing process? No. They figured out how to fix it, make it better, so it could go into production to the masses the best it could be.

Then they probably started work on the next one.

Now then, yes, it's an artistic venture. If you don't like the tire analogy, think about a pastry chef for a large catering company. He (or she) will want to make a beautiful dessert that's pleasing to the eye and other senses. It's gorgeous. But they send it out knowing it's going to be devoured. They don't hold onto it. They don't do anything except work to make their work better.

Now, I'm not saying you won't get emotionally caught up in your work in the creation process. You SHOULD. That's what separates a good writer from a great writer. BUT...



When it comes to the edit process, you have to be as vicious as that pastry chef tossing out ingredients that will detract from the final product. They might want to use blueberries in it, but blueberries, no matter how much they love them, might not work well. So out they go.

Now, if the pastry chef makes a sample for a customer and the customer wants changes, does the pastry chef say, "Well, why did you hire me if you want changes?" The customer knows the pastry chef can deliver, but they have ideas the chef could and should listen to to make sure there is a good working partnership.

And the best chefs are never so egotistical to refuse to learn from others. They can carefully weigh the options and perhaps take some suggestions and discard others, but they will do that with consideration.

Now, all that bullshit aside... *LOL*

What it sounds like is you have a good case of raging page blindness going on. Take a deep breath and shut down the file for a while. Go work on something else. Go read something else. Go DO something else. Whatever works for you.

The most successful writers know that their job is a balancing act. They learn to keep emotion involved in the creation process, then ban it from editing, being as cutthroat as necessary to make the final product the best it can be.

Take editing as the humbling and ego-adjusting process it rightfully should be. Learn from it. Use what you learn in your writing and self-edits to fix these mistakes in your next book. One book you might learn how to eliminate extraneous uses of "was" or how to fix head hopping. The next edit might teach you to get rid of filler words. Whatever it is that is your particular weakness(es), use the edit process to learn to better your craft.

Because, in all honesty, that's what professional writers who can claim this as their "evil day job" to the IRS do. :) So congrats, you're doing what a lot of wannabes never get to do -- learn the reality of life as a professional writer. :)

Also, you can take a look at the "You are Not a Special Snowflake" post I did a while back.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Software: Programs for Writers

I make no bones about the fact that my preferred software for writing my initial drafts is SuperNotecard by Mindola. Great for fiction or non-fiction, and they have a screenwriter version as well. But what other software is out there for writers? Here is a list of some other software. I haven't used most of them, but at least it's a start for you to research what options will work for you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Combating Writer's Block

Mental constipation has long been the bane of any writer's life. There are times when the words flow so swiftly we feel we can't keep up. Then there are days where we feel we need a mental enema to unstop us.

Sorry, hope you weren't eating when you read that.

Personally, I have a bunch of different things I do when I get hit with writer's block. The first, and for me the easiest, is I switch to another project. I usually have a minimum of five projects going simultaneously at any given time. Sometimes, switching to another project helps get my mind flowing.

Another thing I will sometimes do is take a break. Go work out, read, watch TV, whatever. Sometimes, block is my brain's way of saying, "Enough already! I need a time-out!"

Since I also love Tarot cards, sometimes pulling out a deck and playing with it for a while will help jumpstart the brain. I love the archetypical images on the decks I own, and sometimes seeing them laid out will give me ideas, or at the very least help clear my mental palette for a while and allow my brain to focus on whatever the issue is.

Jumping to another scene in the same book will also frequently help me.

What will work for you? Only you can decide that. Here's list of links, some funny, some serious (some both) with information that's helped other writers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Resources: Writing Books

One of the things I want to use this blog for is to share with you books that I personally find invaluable as writing resources. Here is the first list, and I've embedded the links.

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition This book takes Joseph Campbell's work on myth and mythic structure and lays it out in an easy-to-understand format, showing the reader how it applies to modern works of film and story. If you find your story lacking a certain something, this is a great resource to apply things you might know on a gut level to active use.

Plots Unlimited: A Creative Source for Generating a Virtually Limitless Number and Variety of Story Plots and Outlines If you find yourself stuck, or needing some extra plot assistance, this book is a great way to jumpstart your creativity.

What Would Your Character Do? A great book to help flesh out your characters and eliminate "cardboard" characters from your writing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Writing Exercise: People Watching 1

Here's a short writing exercise for you to help you with creating character backstories. Next time you go somewhere in public when you have a few minutes to spare, whether it's the mall or airport or out to eat or wherever, pick someone that catches your eye.

Now figure out why they caught your eye. Was it their clothes? Hairstyle? The way they acted or walked?

Now, take one minute, in your mind, to conjure up their backstory, based just on what you saw. It can be as complete as from their childhood on, or just how their day has progressed up until you saw them.


Put yourself in that person's place...and have them look at YOU. How would they write YOUR backstory, that of a perfect stranger, in that one minute?

Have fun with this and don't overthink it. Some writers have a tendency to fill out these horribly complex character sheets with everything including favorite color, etc. But the characters are...blah. No life to them. A character is not just a set of facts and figures you can pull up out of a spreadsheet. They are their reactions to certain situations, their emotions. They are shopping trips to the mall and trying to make it through TSA without a full body cavity search.

When you're creating characters, sometimes we overthink them. Use short exercises like this to "blast" a character into creation instead of trying to spend years concocting them like some role-playing character sheet (roll D-12 for patience...).

Happy Writing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is this place?

Just what I need, right? One more blog? Heh. This one is different. I wanted a blog just for writing-related issues. I'm always asked for advice by newbie writers, and believe me, I do not mind in the least. But I've always thought hmm, maybe I should write more of this stuff down so I have one place to put it.

This is that place. I'll be copying over older blog posts I've made on writing, as well as adding new ones on a regular basis. I'm also working on a series of writing how-to books for romance/erotica writers. Let's face it, the average writing book doesn't really address more *ahem* sensitive topics.

So keep an eye out for things to come (haha) and don't forget to hit the Join This Site button. Feel free to leave ideas for future articles in the comments.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Promo on the Cheap

I know I’ve harped on promotion before, but it can be overwhelming for an author, especially a new one, to effectively do it. There are so many avenues out there, free and that will cost you, that it’s mind-numbing to make a decision.

Rest assured, you can do a lot of effective promoting without spending more than a few dollars to register a domain name.

1. Get a website. Preferably, your pen name in .com, .net, and possibly .org if it’s in your budget. (I recommend for domain registration.)

2. Get a Gmail address for your pen name. Use ONLY that email address, for fan mail and publication. (This will help keep your private email private.) (Free.)

3. Get a blog. If you aren’t able to make a website, then go to Blogger ( and register one there. (Free.)

4. Go to (or wherever you registered your domain at) and POINT them (forward them, depends on the terminology) at the blog address. It will take probably up to a couple of hours to take effect.

5. There are HUNDREDS, if not thousands, of free Blogger templates out there you can use to customize your blog. If that’s beyond you, you can use one of the pre-installed templates.

6. BLOG your ass off. Not just about your upcoming release, but about whatever. (Seriously, I recommend staying away from politics and religion.) Try to post at least once a week. Use tags in your posts. When should you start promoting if this is your first release and it’s not even out yet? You should have already started getting your name out there.

7. Don’t just copy/paste your text from Word into your blog. Make SURE you go back and preview it to make sure there are paragraph breaks, no typos, etc. (PROOFREAD your blog!!)

8. Facebook. Set up a PAGE and promote THAT. (Once you get over 25 followers, you can change the name of it to an easy url.) Don’t promote your profile because as of now, you’re limited to 5,000 friends. The pages are better suited for author promotions. Use the NetworkedBlogs app to set it up so your blog posts automatically post to your Facebook account. (Free.)

9. Set up a Twitter account for your pen name. (Free.)

10. Use the TweetDeck application (Free) to post to your Twitter and Facebook page at the same time. (Wise use of time. There are other applications too, like HootSuite, and others.)

11. Go to once your book is available there and set up an author page. (Free.) Set your blog RSS feed and Twitter feed to post to it. (See where I’m going with this?)

12. – Ditto. (Free.) Set it up to pick up your blog RSS feed.

Okay, so far, all this (except for the cost of registering your domain name) is FREE. Totally free. And you can set many of these things up to cross-post automatically. You blog, and it can post to Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads. You can post a Tweet and Facebook update at the same time. You can also install apps on your blog to post your Tweets automatically, so you have that option as well.

Do you see where I’m going with this? If you set as much up to cross-pollinate, so to speak, it will allow you to promote not only for free, but in one fell swoop. This is all stuff I’ve talked about before, but it’s now easier than ever to accomplish it.

There are also smart phone apps for many of the applications, so if you’re on the go you can post updates.

I don’t want to hear you say, “I don’t have time to promote.” Once you get just these things set up, you can literally cover a wide swath of promotions in just a few minutes of time every week. Think of what you could accomplish if you spent an hour a week? Ten minutes a day for six days a week. How cool is that?

I’ve also talked about things like email lists (Yahoogroups), but you can also participate in Facebook pages and groups. There are reader sites like,,,,,,, and many others. (And that’s just for romance, not counting non-romance sites out there.)

Yes, some of those sites have advertising packages, but many of them have discussion boards…FREE.

The important thing is to get out there, build a relationship with your readers, not just shoving your books in their faces, but getting to know them, letting them get to know you, interact with them.

Now get out there and promo your ass off! :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Promo is NOT optional!

Being a writer means editing is a part of life. It boggles my mind when I hear newbie writers who haven't even been published, or who have only published one or two small articles or short-stories, whine about the editing process. Since I'm currently working on edits for two of my publishers, I thought it a prime time to address the issue of working on edits.

Let me write you a reality check: I have over twenty published titles to my credit thus far, most of them full-length novels. I am the FIRST person to welcome editorial input, even when my editors usually tell my my copy is fairly clean to start with. (That is the result of twenty-five years of work on my career, and lots of experience writing non-fiction on tight deadlines.)

No, it's usually not possible for a writer to catch ALL typos and mistakes in their manuscript. I am the first to admit I need more than one set of eyes going over my work. You will never catch me standing on a hill and screaming that no one should touch a word of my stuff, because that would mean I'm delusional. (If that ever happens, catch me and make sure I take my meds.)

But when someone gives you feedback, don't get all huffy and outraged. Even if some of the feedback can later be discounted, LOOK at it. The sign of a PROFESSIONAL writer is they approach edits...well, professionally. No, not all comments can or should be used. But if you have several people telling you something needs fixing, FIX IT!

I've had editors who were fantastic, and some not so much. And everywhere in between. No matter what, I put myself into professional writer mode when approaching edits. You have to.

No writer is perfect, and I am the Queen of Imperfection. Any writer who looks down their nose at critiques/edits without actually considering what's been said is doomed to fail in their career.

Yes, sometimes I've had editors tell me things that I stood my ground on, and I was proven right later. But there are plenty of times I've taken their advice, or used their advice as a starting point to make revisions. Use edits as a learning experience, not an adversarial encounter. I learn something from every edit.

For a newbie writer to start out slamming an editor without giving serious weight to their comments (I've heard this gripe too many times to count) is to be a writer not serious about their career. You don't get to be a diva until you put the time, effort, sweat, and sales figures into it. If you can draw in the readers and make your publisher money, only then can you even think about the diva card. (And even then, I STRONGLY recommend not going there. It's just plain tacky.)

Remember my earlier post: You are NOT a special snowflake, sunshine. Now shut up, go take your meds, and read your editor's comments instead of thinking you're the universe's gift to readers. Those of us who label ourselves professional writers won't show you a bit of sympathy.

Writing the book is the EASY part. Once you turn that puppy in, that's when the hard work--including editing--starts.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Author Tools: Amazon

Okay, a quick blog post for today. Did you know you can take advantage of the author pages on

You can set up your bio, link multiple pen names into one account, edit book info (great if your back copy blurb is one mashed paragraph as sometimes happens), add pictures, and link your blog RSS feed so it shows up on your author page automagically. You can also easily access customer reviews, see your sales rankings, and more.

And don't forget product tagging. You should be tagging ALL your books with the appropriate (key word there, no pun intended) tags. For example, if your book is a steamy menage about cowboys, then you definitely want to tag with your pen name(s), erotica, erotic romance, cowboy erotica, things like that.

Do NOT tag with generic tags trying to get more hits. It won't work. The more specific the tags, the better. The more people who agree with a tag, the higher up in the ranks it will travel.

And play with tags -- you can have discussions set up by topic. For example, click on your pen name tag and voila, you'll see where you can start discussions. (Or, hopefully, fans will.)

Remember, do NOT spam Amazon discussion forums with pleas to buy and review your book. That will get you boycotted by people (NOT what you want to happen). Participate as a fellow reader and recommend books that aren't yours. If a discussion is applicable to your book, then by all means (if that forum doesn't frown on self-promotion) mention your book.

Do NOT under any circumstances mention your book if it has little to do with the discussion! I cannot emphasize that enough!

This free set of tools is invaluable. Don't overlook it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How NOT to use Facebook if you're a writer.

Lately, there's been a pretty aggravating trend of writers not using Facebook the way it was intended (as a pretty good social networking site) but as...well...

A $2 whore.

This trend seems to be predominant amongst newbie and self-published writers, although it's not exclusively limited to writers. I've seen plenty of self-help gurus and others doing the same thing.

Lately, I've been SWAMPED with "friend" requests. The problem is, now I'm seeing a lot of these aren't "friend" requests, but people who have scoured friend lists of other Facebook users and decided to add me too. Which poses a problem for me, because while I don't really want to be "friends" with people whose book/product I have no interest in buying, I also don't want to not friend someone who is a genuine reader of MY work.

Also lately, another annoying (downright RUDE) trend has occurred: people who I accept their friend request proceeding to post what is tantamount to an advertisement on MY Facebook wall about their book/product/blog/whatever.

Eh, no. That's the fastest way for me to unfriend and block you (as well as delete the post you put up on my wall).

That's the equivalent of me walking up to your house and slapping a big-assed advertisement on the wall without asking you first, then saying hi, howya doing? and walking away. Would that piss you off?

It should. And I'm not alone.

So being the helpful thing that I am, I decided I was long overdue to post a helpful blog entry about how NOT to use Facebook. I wish this was stuff I knew when I first joined Facebook, because it would have saved me a lot of grief now.

Also, keep in mind that fellow writers are NOT really your target audience, bunky. So going through and prevuing other people's friend lists to friend people isn't helping you. We're too busy pimping our own books to buy yours usually. Especially if you're pimping something like a children's book and I'm an EROTICA writer.


In fact, I just weeded down my friends list, removing people who obviously had "friended" me to up their friend count, not because they were interested in my works. (For example, a ultra-conservative religious right-wing politico probably isn't interested in my Pagan, liberal, GLBT-friendly beliefs and writings.) And yes, I'm guilty of not checking out people's profiles before I accept their friend requests because until recently, I didn't realize this was a problem. Which put me in the position of not knowing if someone is friending me because they're a reader, or because they want to sell me something. And I don't want to risk alienating a reader, but I don't want your fricking spam either.

1) Don't be a whore. Facebook isn't about getting as many friends as you can because--wake-up call--unless Facebook has changed something recently, you are limited to the number of "friends" you can have. Instead, you should...

2) Use a fan page. When posting Facebook links, post THAT link. Keep all your book/product-related posts there to drive people genuinely interested in that to your fan page. Share the fan page link on your profile on a frequent basis if you've already accumulated a large number of "friends" who might or might not be your target audience.

3) Have a private Facebook page ONLY for family/friends and keep it PG to G-rated. I've had friends who've had to unfriend me because they worried my book cover images weren't appropriate for some of their friends/family. I couldn't even friend my own son because I'd set my profile to 18-and over only. For my private profile, I ONLY accept friend requests from relatives/friends I actually know.

4) Don't post just stuff selling your book. Post funnies, quotes, stuff going on. Link your blog to your Facebook fan page so it also posts there.

5) Ditch the apps. Seriously. It's a HUGE complaint I hear from others. Save the apps for your private page. I personally block ALL new apps regardless of who they come from as soon as I see them because they clog my feed. It's also not professional.

6) Do NOT post a link/picture/video to your own stuff on someone else's page without asking them first. That's RUDE. When someone does that to me, I immediately remove the post, unfriend the person, and block them from future contact. I'm not alone there either. Not the best way to make sales, eh?

7) Groups are a pain in the butt IMO. NEVER add someone to your group without permission. PERIOD. If you have a group, especially if it's languishing, try using a fan page instead. Go easy on the event invites and messages. Try to use a separate opt-out newsletter and drive people toward that instead.

8) Don't send me a private message asking me for money or to donate to your project or whatever. I'll delete it and unfriend you. (I had a guy looking for financing for his film project hit me up this morning, which finally drove me over the edge to write this post.)

9) If you have interests you like to post a LOT about, consider a fan page for those and keep your book fan page specific to that so you don't bore the crap out of your readers. Or if you write erotica and non-erotica, set up a fan page for the book/series/pen name/whatever. Nothing says you can't cross-promote as needed, but people reading children's books might not be interested in your erotica. This does not conflict with tip #4, but you need moderation when posting about non-book stuff.

10) Try to stay away from controversy. Yes, it's your page and I'm not saying don't be true to yourself, but remember you're marketing. Try to avoid politics/religion when pimping your books. (I don't always succeed here myself, but I try.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad