Explaining Pens

“You spent HOW much on a pen?” Every pen person has heard it at least once. It can get a bit annoying to hear, mainly because you can hear the judgement in the tone nine times out of ten. If you aren’t a pen person, you’ve probably though it while reading my blog.

I used to just laugh it off and continue the conversation, but the tiny kernel of hurt remained. It seemed an unfair judgement. After all, I stay within my monthly budget. All my bills get paid. What difference does it make if I buy a semi-expensive pen? Semi-expensive in relation to the full spectrum of available pens, that is.

Granted, if you’re someone who’s spent their entire life using BIC ballpoints, it’s likely the idea of spending even $10 on a pen is too much. But we’re all different. We all have something we splurge on (when we can). The trick is to know what the person you’re talking to splurges on.

For example, I was talking to a friend the other day who was having the typical non-pen person reaction (basically, wow, that’s expensive). Knowing she’s on the girly side, I told her:

“Pens for me are like shoes and bags for other ladies”

It was really interesting to experience her near instant change in attitude with her new understanding.

“ohh got it 😉 they are like the jimmy choos”

I’ve had similar experiences with other friends, too. Once I can give them something to relate to, they understand me better and the judgement ceases.

How do you explain your pen habit/hobby to friends and family? Or if you aren’t a pen person, what’s your main habit/hobby, and how do you explain it to your friends and family? Leave me a comment to let me know. I’m really curious.

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Making Your Passion Your Job

“Do what you love and never work a day in your life.” How many times have you heard that? I can’t even begin to count. But, I’ve learned over the years that it’s mostly, if not completely, BS.

I typically try to keep my posts positive, but today I want to provide a cautionary lesson. More and more, recently, I’ve seen examples of people making their passion into their work and finding that those passions fizzle and burn out.

The nice thing about a passion that remains a hobby is that you do it because you want to. And when you don’t want you, you have the freedom to take a break. The moment you turn it into a job, you do it because you have to, and breaks aren’t really an option. Having to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do is a quick way to lose interest.

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Mistakes Were Made: Book Blogging

If you follow my blog, you’ve noticed a significant upswing in book blogging posts. This won’t be permanent. I’m actually planning to pare it down to one a week. But in diving into book blogging, I made mistakes. So I’m writing this to help anyone interested in diving into the world of book blogging. Okay, that’s getting annoying, let’s just call it BB.

Scheduling

The most important thing to keep in mind is scheduling. Keep track of EVERYTHING for which you sign up. And make sure you can keep track of what you have planned for any given week.

I use two separate schedules. I have single-month calendars in my notebook. It’s useful for me to see, at a glance, which days have something scheduled. I also keep a color-coded Google spreadsheet with relevant details that gives me a quick look at the status of various posts. My scheduling methods may be inadequate or over complicated for you, but make sure you have something to keep track of your post schedule. If you choose to have a written schedule, I highly suggest working in pencil or erasable ink.

When you’re scheduling BB content, keep in mind the amount of time it will take you to read the book (if you’re doing a review). Amazon has page counts listed, which can be helpful for planning. Don’t overbook yourself by falling into the “ooh! free books!” trap.

Assume you’ll get approved for everything, especially if you’re signing up for reviews. You MAY end up with less content than you planned on, but at least you won’t be stressed trying to manage everything.

Keep track of what has to be a top post. If you schedule more than one post a day, make sure they don’t both/all need to be the top post.

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Facebook Release Party Lessons

About a month ago, Sonya Jesus invited me to take part in her Facebook release party. I’d heard of them, of course, through open calls to participate on my publisher’s Facebook group. I hadn’t ever participated, though, thinking that they were for people who already had books out. The direct invitation, however, made me curious, and, with a bit of trepidation, I accepted the 5:30 – 6:00 pm time slot.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Facebook release parties, they’re a chance for an author to reach anyone in the world by making a public Facebook event page. On the day of the event, the author, as well as any people they have invited to participate, will post to the page with information about available and upcoming books, giveaways, teasers, videos, etc. The idea being that the more people who are involved, the more fans and readers will check out the event, and, hopefully, the book being released.

Research

Because I’d never been part of a release party before, I wasn’t entirely sure of the protocol. So, I did what I always do: I researched. I asked some other authors about typical post content. I attended a couple of release parties and paid very close attention to the posts and engagement. And I made some unexpected discoveries:

  • You post, at most, once every 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Some people seem to treat release parties as a chance to outrageously pimp their own books. As in, every post is a link to buying their books with a picture of the cover or covers, with no real description of the books at all. I don’t know if this nets them any sales, but I noticed less interaction with those posts.
  • Facebook has polls. Yeah, I had no idea about this, and apparently they’re only available on event and group pages, because I don’t have the option to create one on either my personal Facebook page or my author page.

Preparation

Armed with some new information, I got to work creating posts. Since I don’t have a book available for sale yet (March 3rd, people *wink*), I decided to go for teasers. Hopefully they would entice people to follow me on various sites and buy my book once it’s available.

I hand lettered some book quotes (if this sounds interesting to you, check out my Instagram for #TeaserTuesdays). I also created the first teaser video for *The Most Special Chosen*, as this seemed like a great place to debut it (and hopefully get some views). And, of course, I had to provide a link to Sonya’s Author Spotlight. A poll (for interaction), giveaway (to get people to stick around until the end of my half hour), and links to my social media accounts rounded out my main posts. And let’s not forget an introduction and thank you post. Those are important, too.

I wrote up all of the posts so I could copy and paste them on the day of the party to avoid wasting time, or suffering from writer’s block. I’m very glad I did, as I edited everything a few times to have the best content possible.

Party Time

As the actual release party got closer, I started looking forward to participating. I expected it to be fun, and I hoped that people would be interested in what I had to post. At 5:20, I sat down at my computer, opened up the document with my posts, kept an eye on the event page, and prepared to have fun and be engaging. I think I succeeded at both.

It was fun to read people’s comments (especially the GIFs) and respond to them in return. And I can’t deny it’s exciting to watch the likes, loves, comments, etc. counts go up. My time went quite a bit faster than I expected it to, and I found myself almost sad when it was over.

I will note that I had a hard time keeping track of when to post things as Facebook shows “Just Now” for a few minutes after posting. My solution was to add time labels to the document where I’d written my posts. That way, I just had to ensure that the current time and the time label matched before I pushed “Post”. It made a big difference, and let me focus on interacting with people

Overall, It was a great experience, and I’m very happy, now, that I accepted Sonya’s invitation. I look forward to joining other release parties in the future.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, taking part in a release party is to gain exposure. And part of that is reviewing what you did and seeing what did and didn’t work. I think for a first time, I did pretty well, and gained about 10 new followers/likes on each of my social media accounts, which I don’t find too shabby.

The poll was (surprisingly) my best performing post, when I go by total interactions (comments, reactions, post interaction, shares, etc.). My giveaway post received the most reactions (17), while the introduction post received the most comments (12). So make of all of that what you will.

A couple side notes to interactive posts. I think everyone will agree that GIF comments are big right now. So I think I’ll look into requesting GIF comments in future posts. Perhaps one of those “pick your answer” posts would be good, too. You know, the ones where you piece together an answer based on your name, birthday, color of your shirt, etc.

My main takeaway from it all is that I should have more interactive posts in the future. I should ask even more questions, and encourage discussions and comments.

That said, do you have any questions for me? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. And if you need an additional participant at your Facebook release party, send me a message.

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Just Ask

We all need help at some point. No one can do everything entirely on their own, no matter what they may think or say. But sometimes it’s hard finding help. You don’t want to bug your friends. Or you’re worried about looking silly/stupid. So you plod along on your own, hoping Google will magically reveal the answer.l

Here’s my advice: just ask. Post something on Facebook, either on your feed, or in a group dedicated to the thing you need help with. Or try Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Call a family member (family can be blood relations, or super close friends). Talk to your neighbor. Ask a professor, or a coworker. Just ask.

You’d be surprised how often people are more than willing to help. It seems like they’re just waiting for a chance to pass on knowledge. As an added bonus, anyone who makes you feel bad, in any way, about asking questions, lets you know that they aren’t someone you really want to associate with.

And once your question is answered, return the favor. Answer questions for other people. Take time to respond to posts. Let your friends and family know that they can ask questions without feeling bad. The more you put good out into the world, the more good you’ll get back.

Now, I’m not saying there won’t be jerks, but if you practice a bit of due diligence to make sure you’re asking in the right places, they will be few and far between. And, for the most part, you’ll get a lot of great help and advice.

So set aside your nervousness, your fear, your worry, and reach out to someone, or multiple someones. We live in an age where you can connect with anyone in the world. Make use of that ability.

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