6 Sites For Authors To Make An Online Presence

Trying to create an author ‘platform’ has been daunting. The word itself is daunting. Platform. What the heck does a platform have to do with writing? I don’t know, so I won’t use it. Rather, I’ll call it creating an online presence.

No one told me where to be as a new author. The possibilities are endless. It was tempting to shrink back and hope readers would find me just because I’ve written the most amazingly awesome book ever! :) But, thankfully, I’m curious enough about new things that I decided to take the leap and jump in.

I jumped in big time.

I’ve tried many different websites, social networks, and even online bookstores to see where I reach the largest audience. Different websites attract different viewers, but obviously I didn’t have the time to be everywhere all the time. No one does. So I’ve worked to maximize my output while minimizing my effort.

So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

I have six suggested sites you should join if you are an author. At the bottom of each suggestions is the main audience the site reaches (so far as I can tell).

  • (NOTE: This list is obviously just my opinion. You don’t have to do what I say. )
  • (If you have any thoughts to add, PLEASE do. There are a thousand ways to skin a chicken, or a cat, or whatever the morbid phrase is. Share your ideas below.)

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6 Author MUST-HAVE Sites

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1) Website 

Have a website. Seriously. We live in the internet age. If you’re hoping to reach any reader under the age of 80, you need to have an internet presence.

A website is the BARE minimum.

If you have the skills (or are willing to acquire them), create your own. There are plenty of hosting sites that let you create a site for less than $10 a month (some are even free). Most have great designs to choose from. I use Wix.com and have been quite happy with it.

If you don’t have the skills or time to design your own website, hire it out. It’s worth it. First impressions matter, so don’t think you can scrimp on style and make up for it with your fabulous writing.

Everyone judges a book by its cover — those that say they don’t are lying. In this case, the book is your website, not your book. :) So make it professional.

Your website should include:

  1. Links to your books
  2. Your bio
  3. Contact info
  4. Links to other places you’re on the web (facebook, blog, twitter).

But be organized. Everything in that list above should be easy to find. Just because you happen to have accounts on twenty different sites doesn’t mean you should list all twenty in a row.

Then keep your website updated. Seriously. Seriously, seriously. It’s a pet peeve of mine to wander onto someone’s site to read out about their newest book and there’s no latest book listed.

If you don’t care enough to have up-to-date info on your books, why should I?

  • Website main audience: Anyone on the internet

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2) Blog

(Some authors use their blog as their website. That’s fine as long as it provides all the pages and links a good website needs to have.)

A blog is the best place for people to sample your writing style and personality.  It’s also where you talk more in-depth about your writing adventures, editing woes, and any upcoming events. If people enjoy your blog, chances are they’ll read your book(s).

Some popular blogging hosts are Blogger, WordPress, or Tumblr.

I recently switched from Blogger to WordPress. I can’t say which I like better.

Once you have your blog created, make sure you have a feedburner.com set up. RSS. It’s an easy way to make your blog more versatile. But then, don’t stop there. Start following other blogs. And don’t be a silent follower either. Weigh in on their posts, laugh, or just let them know you appreciate what they’ve shared.

Blogging is a powerful way to network in the writing community, especially for up-and-coming authors. I’ve met some amazing authors in the blogging world, people I now consider my friends even though we’ve never met in person. So get out there. Have fun.

  • Blog main audience: other authors and avid readers

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3) Facebook 

Again, if you’re hoping to attract readers in any age category less than 80, I would strongly suggest getting a facebook account. Most people (as much as 80% of US internet users) are on facebook. It’s a great way to reach out to the casual reader.

There are at least two ways to handle facebook as an author.

Option #1:

Use your personal account to double as your public account. Meaning, anyone can “friend” you and see what’s on your wall. There is even an option to “Follow” a personal page. In a way, this is the simplest way to do it.

The problem comes if you have reservations about the world seeing your personal stuff — which you should.

Thankfully, there are ways to make things private vs. public, even on your personal account. I know several authors who do this quite well.

The bottom right hand corner of your posts has a drop-down menu that lets you choose who will see your post/picture/link. If you only want your closest friends and family seeing the picture of you sunburned in a skimpy bathing suit on the beach in Hawaii, just designate it for friends when you post. Anything author-ish can be made ‘public.’

To me, this is still too much invasion of my (and my family’s) privacy. Or maybe it’s just too much work. So I’ve chosen the other option.

Option #2: Create an facebook author page

Pages are free and easy to set up, and it uses your same facebook login to keep life simple. Once you have an author page, it’s easy enough to switch between your personal and public page in the upper right hand corner (another drop down menu that says, “Use Facebook as…).

Not only is an author page a great place to post news, links, and pictures for my followers, it also allows my family and friends, who aren’t necessarily the most enthusiastic fans of my book, to avoid constantly hearing about it. I post maybe one in twenty book-related posts on my personal wall.

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(Does that make sense?)

One last note on facebook pages. Because I have an author page, I changed my privacy settings on my personal page. Now people can’t find my private account unless they’re a friend of a friend.

*demonic laugh*

Just kidding.

I did this so when people go to facebook looking for Rebecca Belliston the author, they won’t end up finding Rebecca Belliston, the frazzled mother/wife/homemaker/crazy-lady-next-door.

  • Facebook main audience: anyone on facebook (nearly 80% of US internet users)

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4) Twitter 

Twitter is a beast that took me some time to love. But I love it now.

Personally, I think Twitter is in its early stages of popularity, where facebook has leveled out. For now, my posts on Twitter are mostly seen by other authors and public figures. Not many casual readers. But that’s okay.

Since networking is important to me, Twitter is great. I love chatting with cool people.

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Plus I love the immediacy of Twitter.

When the fire broke out on the mountain behind my parents’ house, I heard about it first on Twitter. Of course, I called my parents to make sure they were okay. They were, but they were busy scrambling to pack up their house. I was stuck 1600 miles away, helpless. So for the next two hours I watched the live progression as people snapped fire photos on their phones and uploaded them to Twitter instantly.

Twitter is better than the news.

  • Twitter main audience (at least for now): more established authors, other public profiles, and teens

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5) Amazon’s Author Central

I didn’t know this existed until a few months after publication of Sadie. Since then, I’ve used it regularly.

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Amazon’s Author Central lets you, the author, control things about your book on Amazon. Synopsis. Editorial reviews. Not only that, but you can track the sales week to week (not all, but some).

It also lets you link your blog and twitter accounts to your Amazon author page.  Even if you are not a fan of Amazon, the reality is it is the world’s largest online retailer, as well as one of the largest book sellers.

So get an account set up, and maximize the info on there.

  • Amazon main audience: book buyers

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6) Goodreads

My last suggestion is to become a Goodreads Author. Goodreads is a website for readers to rank books they’ve read, as well as share favorite books with their friends.

Many authors don’t enjoy reading the negative reviews on Goodreads. Quite frankly, neither do I. However, what better place for an author to be than surrounded by a bunch of readers?

Goodreads has some great features for registered authors, including the ability to add videos, events, quotes, or even linking it to your blog.

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  • Goodreads main audience: avid, book-loving readers

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Those are my six suggestions.

Being in so many places can feel overwhelming. But if you set it up correctly, it’s actually easy and fast.

For example, after I publish this post, I’ll share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and probably Pinterest just by clicking the options at the bottom of this post. That takes me less than a minute. Then, because I’ve set it up to do so, this post will automatically show up on my Amazon and Goodreads pages.

Basically, I write one post here and share it six places, reaching all those different audiences in less than a minute.

Easy as pie.

You might think it’s redundant. It’s not. At least not completely. Many of my followers only follow me in one spot. My blog followers aren’t always facebook or twitter followers. People have their preferred method of getting information. I’m trying to make it most convenient for them.

One last note:

Because it’s possible to be in so many places at one time, try to be consistent.

I use the same picture of me on EVERY site. I use the same color scheme when I’m allowed. You might recognize yourself everywhere you go, but your readers will get whiplash if you and your designs are different site to site.

The only thing that isn’t entirely consistent site to site is my bio. I tend to change that up depending on the audience.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What are yours?

What sites do you love? Which do you hate? Which are a waste of time? Which are easy to use? I say this often, but I learn something new everyday in the writing community. So if you have more ideas, please share!.

6 websites for authors to create an online

8 Steps to Create Visually-Appealing Blog Posts

The Importance of White Space

I took a graphic design class in college that talked about the importance of white space.

  • White space is the area of a page (post, letter, document) without graphics or writing

It doesn’t have to be white either. Just empty. The extra space below this sentence is white space.

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As I browse the internet and read different blogs, one thing I notice is a lack of white space. People have so much knowledge they’re excited to share, they often cram it into one tiny little space, as if they’re trying to save virtual paper.

Why is that bad?

  1. It’s not real paper. No trees will be hurt if you spread things out. “Don’t waste paper” and “Save the planet” don’t apply here.
  2. If a reader opens a visually overwhelming page on a day they already feel overwhelmed, they’ll think, “I really don’t have time to be on the internet,” and they’ll close your post.

Not good.

On the flip side . . . popular blogs seem to offer their readers some breathing room within their posts. It’s as if they’re saying, “Sit down, relax, and stay awhile.” The reader doesn’t even know why they’re still reading when it seems like they already know this stuff. But trust me, the presentation is as important as the words themselves. 

So how is it done?.

8 Easy Ways to Create Visually-appealing Blog Posts

1. Use short sentences. Short paragraphs.

Forget your English teachers. Blogs need this more than the average writing. One author I follow rarely uses more than two sentences per paragraph, which makes his posts skimmable. That might not sound like the goal, but it is.

2. Put extra space between graphics or paragraphs.

Just adding an extra space or two can highlight your point.

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3. Include pictures in your post.

We all like pictures, plus a graphic is required if someone wants to ‘pin’ your post to Pinterest for later reference. Another goal.

Pinterest

4. Use headings.

Change the font size. Go bold sometimes, or use the occasional italics. If the average reader spends five seconds on your site, what do they see?

5. Once your post is written, zoom way out and blur your eyes.

Is there enough white space, enough breathing room? Then readjust and split paragraphs as needed.

6. Use bullets or numbered lists.

People love these, and it adds natural white space.

7. Try a different color.

Though it’s technically not white space, it still catches the eye. 

8. Watch others.

Notice how other bloggers maximize white space to minimize the strain on your eyes.

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Conclusion

In just a few steps you’ll attract more readers without changing any content. Sounds easy enough, right?

It is..

  • I could show you how this post looks like without the white space, but you wouldn’t want to read it anyway. :)
  • This white space concept flows into writing books as well. Depending on the age of your reader, you’ll need more white space. Middle grade readers, for example, need more white space than an adults..

What tricks have you used to make your posts (articles, letters, etc.) visually appealing? What have you seen others do?

,8 steps to create visually appealing blog

Editing is Like Mulching–Plus 2 More Questions

(editing)

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Hey everyone, how’s your Monday going?

Personally, I’m sore and exhausted. We had a long, busy, hard-labor kind of weekend. Yet…I’m a happy camper because my yard is mulched–or at least the front yard is. And the garage is kinda sorta cleaned out (I just have a few last things to finish).

Neither of these projects were on my to-do list for Saturday, but sometimes life throws these kind of projects at you. The mulch came about because we have awesomely nice neighbors who ordered too much and gave us their leftovers. Yes!  And the unplanned garage reorg was because our huge shelf broke. No!

Both of these Saturday projects remind me of writing–editing specifically.

Here’s how.

You’re looking at a project, like I was Saturday. You’re feeling overwhelmed. You know it has to happen, but where do you start? What to fix first?

So you start digging through the junk, the dirt and mud. You pull out the weeds, the old boxes, and start chucking anything that isn’t growing or working anymore. In editing, this is the most painful part for me. I’m a word hoarder. I should probably go to therapy for this, I know, because I can’t bear to let my words go. But I have to get rid of the stuff dragging my manuscript down to get it to the next level. 

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I ripped out a bunch of other plants and weeds, and left these beauties behind. Funny, I could barely see them before.
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Once the big stuff is done and cleaned, you get to the next layer of putting things back into place: moving plants, sorting bikes. That kind of stuff.

In editing, this one can sometimes throw me off because there’s always the ripple effect when you move a scene, but I’m rarely disappointed. In yard work, sometimes a plant isn’t working simply because it’s in the wrong place in the garden. In the garage, sometimes things aren’t functional shoved behind four pieces of plywood. Find a more useful spot. The same thing goes for scenes. A simple move and suddenly a previously off scene shines.

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We thankfully saw the shelf when it was still sagging. My car could not have survived if it and all the junk collapsed on it.

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With things cleaned up and in the right spot, then comes the pretty. The finishing touches. Mulch in the case of my garden, finally organizing touches in the garage. In editing, the finishing touches involve the words themselves. Don’t just say something, shout it! Don’t just eat a donut, devour it. This by far is my favorite part of the writing process. I can spend days, weeks, or years even tweaking to get things just right. 

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Digging, rearranging, and mulching has completely changed my front flower bed. I love it.
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So that’s my two cents on editing. I won’t be walking anytime soon, but hey, now I have time to edit.
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It’s worth the effort. It’s worth the effort. It’s worth the effort!

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.This post goes right along with the last two questions I have for all you writing nuts out there.

#9) Editing is like __________ (fill in the blank–no cursing please :) And mulching or cleaning the garage are already taken.)

#10) I write because ___________

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PS: If you’re wondering what these questions are, I’m working on my 100th post that will feature yours and my favorite things about writing. In case you haven’t answered them yet, the other 8 questions are:

#1) Favorite writing tips?

#2) Most overused (annoying) words in writing or reading?

#3) Favorite website/blog for writing advice?

#4) Favorite authors?

#5) Favorite books on the craft of writing?

#6) Coolest author (or other public person) website?

#7) Most useful editing tips?

#8) Best part of writing?

Make sure to add your ideas to those who have already answered. The more the merrier. The 100th post will be Wednesday, barring no other foreseen Belliston catastrophes (knock on wood).

Want Another Follower?

(blogging)

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I made the switch from Blogger to WordPress last week and overall I really like it better. However, I’m still learning the ropes. I plan on writing a post next week on why and how I made the switch, since several people have asked.

I’m also still working on that 100th post. Sorry. It got pushed to the back burner in the switch (and my mania about this new manuscript). I’m going to have a few more questions for you guys next week to go along with it, too, so be looking for that.

But mostly, I’m posting right now because in the switch over, I lost all the blogs I follow. I’m slowly going through and re-following, but since I’m searching for you anyway, I’m wondering if you can make it easier on me.

So…

If you have a blog on writing, reading, music, religion, politics (I’m pretty conservative), or something funny, let me know in the comments below. I’ll hop over and follow. Same with Twitter. 

I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve learned from everyone this last year. People are so generous with their knowledge. I’m soaking it all in. You guys are the best!

Hope you have a great weekend.

UPDATE:  The wonderful Cassie Mae recommended I use Google Reader, and guess what, it’s all there! Yay! I told you I learn so much from you guys. However, if I wasn’t following you before and you’d like me to, still comment.

Guest Post: The Key To Happiness…

(blogging)

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Second post for today, but there’s a lot of great stuff going on. The very nice, very lovely Rachelle J. Christensen asked me to guest post on her blog. She asked me to pick a favorite quote and explain why I love it. Here’s what I chose.

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” – James Matthew Barrie  (This was quoted by Elder Uchtdorf in the Oct 2008 General Conference.)

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READ THE REST OF MY GUEST POST HERE.

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And if you haven’t checked out my giveaways for the LDS Authors Bloghop, check it out here. Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

I made the Switch!!!

(blogging)

I just switched from Blogger to WordPress, so excuse my dust while I get my feet back under me. Thanks for your patience. You guys are awesome!

If I can make this work, I’ll let you know how I did it, since a few people were interested in switching as well. Until then, if you could comment below and let me know if your old subscription to my Blogger site redirected you here, that would help. I’m really hoping it worked. *crossing fingers

Blogger vs. WordPress–Lots of Questions for You…

(blogging–this post has two parts)

Part A)

I’m still working on 100 things for my 100th post and need more ideas from you. So the two questions for today are:

1) What are your favorite writing books? For example, Self-editing for Fiction Writers

2) What are your favorite author (or other public people) websites?

I don’t know about you, but I’m into website designs right now, checking out all kinds of people, and not just authors. I love seeing how their websites reflect their personalities. I love seeing all the options for sharing who you are. Some of my favorites are James DashnerWill Smiththe Script. Which ones do you like?

*** And if you missed the four other questions, you can answer them below as well.

3) Who is your favorite author? 

4) What is your favorite writing tip? 

5) What is your favorite website for writing tips? 

6) What words are most overused in your (or other’s) writing?

Part B)

I’m thinking about making the switch from Blogger to WordPress. ARGH!!!!

I’ve tried Blogger now for about eight months and I have to say, it still drives me crazy. I should be able to do more than I can, and I don’t think all of that is due to my ineptitude. I’ve played around with WordPress for about a week. There is still a lot I can’t do, but I’m thinking I’ll figure more out with time. However, I’m too cheap to buy the ability to customize it. Then again, some of my favorite blog designs I’ve seen recently are on WordPress. Yeah. Can you tell I’m torn?

Any of you out there use WordPress? Did you switch from Blogger? Do you use the custom template or make do with the available ones? How did you keep your followers, or did you? Or is there a better blogging site out there? Help!

Here’s my potential blog on WordPress. Check it out here and tell me what you think.

It would be ironic if my 100th post ends up being in a new blogging platform–or maybe that’s the perfect time to make the switch.

Thanks for answering all the questions. I know I asked a lot but I LOVE hearing from you guys.

Have a great one.

I Need Your Help…(Favorite Writing Advice and Pet-peeve words)

(blogging)

Yesterday I realized I was nearing my 100th blog post. CRAZY! Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess. Seems like I only started blogging last year. Oh wait. I did. :)

I was thinking about this 100th, and thought it would be fun to have my 100 favorite writing nuggets in some sort of list form for all of you. However, when I started making the list, I decided it was a little ambitious. While I have lots of favorite websites and authors I follow, coming up with 100 was a little daunting (or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep last night). So…here’s where I’m hoping you’ll jump in because I know you know more than I do.

Over the next few days, I’ll be asking you guys about your favorite writing things. I’ll break them into 10 categories, with 10 items each, which will eventually get me to 100 things for my 100th post. :)

I have the first two categories right now.

1) What is your favorite writing advice in 20 words or less? You’re welcome to add more than one, so long as each are under 20-ish words. One of mine is: Great books aren’t written, they’re rewritten.

2) Overused/unnecessary words in writing, either your own or your pet peeve when you read it in others. I’m assuming there are a lot so after I get all of yours I’ll try (somehow) to find the top 10 so we can all avoid being someone else’s pet peeve–which is always a good thing. Some of mine are just, sothat, and had.

Please weigh in. The more responses the better. Tomorrow I’ll be asking the next two questions. :) I’m excited to see this 100 list once we’re done.