Two Meetings and Half a Dozen Books

I belong to two local chapters of Romance Writers of America, and this month the meetings fell as close together as they ever do, West Houston last Saturday morning and Houston Bay Area last night.  Both meetings featured interesting speakers on topics that I have yet to tackle myself.

On Saturday, West Houston heard from Alyssa Goodnight, who showed us how she is using the combined impact of several social media channels to promote her new release, Austentatious.  She has tied together input to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Goodreads, Pinterest, and her website, and claims that it takes relatively little work to maintain her online presence.  I could only watch in admiration–looks like a fulltime job to me.  And I already have one of those.

Last night Joan Reeves gave Houston Bay Area a very interesting talk about some of the technical and legal challenges involved in independent publishing, including copyright laws and piracy problems.  Check out Joan’s blog for a wealth of information on the field, and check out her popular ebook releases while you’re there.

This has been a busy month for West Houston authors, with a whole stack of new releases:

  • Real Vampires Hate Skinny Jeans is the latest in Gerry Bartlett’s very popular Glory St. Clair series.
  • How To Ravish a Rake, by Vicky Dreiling, is the third in a trilogy of charmingly funny Regency historicals.
  • The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek is the first in a new series by Jane Myers Perrine.

  • The Quakers of New Garden anthology includes “New Garden’s Inspiration” by West Houston author Claire Sanders.
  • Wanted: Undead or Alive is the latest installment in Kerrelyn Sparks’ NYT bestselling Love At Stake series.
  • The Kingdom is the second in Amanda Stevens’ Graveyard Queen series, to be followed next month by The Prophet.

I bought books for myself, and an extra copy of Jane’s book as a thank you gift for my neighbor.  Books make terrific, thoughtful, and affordable gifts.  Go out and buy one for someone you’d like to say “thank you” to.

Inching my way toward a platform in cyberspace,

I’m taking the cautious path.  One social media site at a time, and the important word here may be time.  Time to set the planks up, and time to tend them.

I’ve just finished reading a helpful book on the subject, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, by Kristen Lamb.  This book from Bob Mayer’s Who Dares Wins Publishing offers to guide the social-media-challenged writer onto WordPress, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.  It does all that and more.

I’ve been here on WordPress since April, and I may well venture onto Twitter soon.  I’m still hesitant about Facebook, and MySpace, while Lamb says it is essential for the Young Adult writer, may be one plank farther than I want to climb on my platform.

Long before she gets to the instructions, Lamb covers a wealth of information and advice on the uses and usefulness of social media for writers.  (I was happy to learn that I’ve gotten off on the right foot with my baby steps, using my own–and only–name for what little I’ve done.)  She piles on more information on marketing and branding than most of us could absorb in one reading.

And before she gets into the nuts and bolts of signing up for accounts (or polishing existing ones), Lamb covers content, from head shots and bios to topics and tags, and networks, what they are and how to build them.

Lamb advises establishing all the planks of your platform at the same time (even if you leave your fledgling Facebook fan page unpublished for a while) and bolting them firmly together, and she gives detailed instructions for doing so.  She ends with a much-needed section on time management.

I do have a complaint or two about the Kindle edition.  The illustrations are unreadably small at their normal size and fuzzy when zoomed, and the table of contents is not hyperlinked.  I plan to use the book while setting up more of my own planks, but I may grumble while searching for the information.

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