The Poison of Jealousy

The Poison of Jealousy

 

This week I have been suffering with an affliction known as poison sumac. Not to be confused with poison ivy, sumac is a woody plant, and in my case it was a tree-size. I encountered it during a rescue mission on a 50-year-old-farm and because there were no leaves, I mistook the vile thing for a popular tree and promptly dug it up and then rescued a bucket load of daffodils scattered around it.

I told the doctor, all of my itching is worth the discomfort.

As someone who can dig poison oak without so much as a blemish, this affliction both surprised me and had me sitting at the doctor’s office begging for a shot.(and pills and cream). Back home, I sat on the couch I replayed a conversation with an author friend of mine. She is a veteran author who has written for several esteemed magazines and recently released a charming book. However, like me, she has encountered quite a bit of what I call jealousy.

This year, as an effort to encourage readers to shop local, sustain local booksellers in the community, and feed starving authors (including myself), I am writing a quarterly newsletter featuring up to four books. Featured authors do not know I am choosing them and I have not been paid to write about them. In most cases, I haven’t personally met the author.

I provide that backstory, because I recently learned that some authors have crossed their arms, pooched out their lips and are pouting. Yes, the jealous authors who-I’d bet money-don’t even know me, nor have they taken the time to know me.

Jealousy, you see, is like those tiny blisters on my arms. Jealousy starts small, with a pooched out mouth. Then it begins to itch. So we scratch it.

I included all four authors in the email mailing of my newsletter and those authors shared my newsletter with their readers. I don’t use a secondary carrier. Instead I paste the newsletter in my blog, AND, I send the newsletter in a personal email to the readers I have met during my years of traveling. (FYI: Your contact information is always safe with me).

Shouting out the books others have written is what I do. Again, I invest my time, for free. Here is an example of my blog posting last year featuring Susan, Jolina, Ann, and Karen. None knew of my plans. No compensation for my work. My newsletter is my gift, a valuable one, to my readers.

However . . .

Like the sumac blisters, jealousy festers. It collects and annoys until one either must scratch, or explode. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my newsletter sparked an email from an unhappy author.

Yes. It. Did.

Not from the authors I featured, but one I did not.

I am writing to her today. No one shared your name with me but you need to know this. Lean in close because this is important. You do not understand how badly jealousy is damaging your career.

There. I said it. You are sabotaging your career.

I am not “always” promoting one particular author. I am promoting authors who have written books I like.

Lean in again. Support others. Be nice.

Readers who know me trust my opinion. I read several genres and you-missus unnamed author- must understand that we authors are in a big ole gumbo pot together.

We are not in a competition. There are plenty of readers out there. That is why I pick several different types of books. I do not surround myself with people who read only what I read.

I want to grow. I want to be better every day. I want to be a better writer and a better friend. I want to make a positive impact on this earth. Most of all I want to help people.

Now I ask how did your remarks another author benefit you?

Did your remarks about another author make a reader want to buy your book?

Did your remarks make anyone want to help you sell your book?

Again, let me whisper. Stop it. Just stop.

Don’t scratch the jealousy blisters my friend. Treat them. Cure them. Stop scratching.

And yes, several people are going to think this blog post is harsh. But it is past time that rude and jealous authors be called out. Because here is the truth, I can be that author. We all can. Authors are afraid. We are loosing contracts. Publishers are dropping us. And readers mistakenly think that Amazon is making us rich.

It isn’t. None of my author friends are wealthy. None of them. Most have two jobs.

Jealousy is inside all of us, the fear that we aren’t selling enough books. We look at Facebook (which is you believe that hype you should really get a reality check), and we believe that we deserve the same sales as someone else.

We do deserve success. We have worked hard. And that is why I help others. Unprompted. Unsolicited.

If you are an author who has experienced jealousy, do your friend a favor, tell them to stop. Tell them how badly they are hurting you and their own career. Or, just forward them this blog.

 Perhaps the all-consuming jealousy is keeping you from attaining the success you crave. If you are wondering why aren’t my books selling? Here is one possible reason: your attitude toward others. You can’t act on fear, or jealousy. Instead, WRITE A GREAT BOOK. If you have a good book your colleagues will support you, IF you play nice.

Just be nice, or as my grandpa used to say, “Be somebody!”

Stop scratching the itch, or soon you will be poisoned with jealousy.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com I would be honored if you’d download a copy of my work.

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Do Authors Need an Author Page?

Do Authors Need an Author Page?

Or, is a Personal Page Sufficient?

This week  I was discussing the pros and cons of creating an author page with  Amy Hill Hearth. Amy is a New York Times bestselling author who created an author page at her publishers insistence. In order to be honest with y’all, Amy and I were actually discussing the cons of an author page.  We really can’t ascertain any benefit. Anything that causes an author to manage two pages (personal and professional)  is inefficient and nonsensical.

Amy explains: The emphasis from S&S is never to have a page devoted to a single title. It should be under your name. We are supposed to be building our “brand,” that is, ourselves.

Publishers want their authors to tweet twice a day, blog at least weekly and have a social media “presence” on Facebook. For that reason, I have noticed several friends who are shutting down their personal page and opting for an author page. The problem is this: will people move with you? If they do will they be pleased with an impersonal author page? (most are not)

So I posted a comment on my wall stating that I would not create an author page (because I enjoy a more personal interaction with people). My sweet friend, Theresa Shadrix, explained that I didn’t need both.

Oh Theresa, my angel, tell us more!

She explained that if one sets their “permissions” on FB to allow followers, then there isn’t a need to create another page.

Not totally convinced, I visited Shawna Coronado’s Facebook page. Shawna is the knower of all things plant, marketing, and friendship. One little look and I was convinced. She has a friends section,  AND a following.

The reason authors are strongly encouraged to create an author page is that Facebook will cut you off at five thousand friends. Once you reach that number you can not add any more. Author pages accommodate an unlimited number of followers and are supposed to inform readers each time you post. To test this theory, visit some of the pages you have liked. Did their latest post appear on your news feed? Probably not. I have found that unless I have interaction with people on their wall, or visit their page,  I rarely see updates from pages I have “liked.” So asking people to “like” your page probably does not reach the target audience you intended. Why? Because when people “like” a page they rarely take the extra second to click the button “show in news feed.”

Be honest, you don’t do it either. You didn’t even know there was a drop down button. You were just asking for likes.

Shawna bypassed all of this which was why I sent her a message asking her about her decision. Here is her response;

I was speaking online to Scott Monty, who’s a famous SM expert that works as a VP at Ford. My complaint was about the fact I was double posting for a fan page and my own page and the whole “fan page” thing seemed ridiculous. He said, “It IS ridiculous. If you have your permissions set right you can just get subscribers and they can comment and follow you — you can leave comments or send them notes — SO the idea is more like a Twitter following.”

This idea I liked. It eliminated the double posting. My fan page was going nowhere because everyone wants to know the more personal side of me and I was posting all the personal stuff over on my regular page. Therefore, I closed down the fan page and kept up the personal/regular page allowing people to subscribe (“follow”) as they want to.

By the way, you should follow Shawna or at least visit her website.

Those who don’t want the burden of having two sites can make the transition in less than one minute.

Go to Account Settings  (top right of your FB page)fbcapture

Click Followers (on the left side of page).

Check the box to “Allow Followers.”

fbcapturefollowers

Answer a couple quick questions and you are done !

No more double postings. No need to create an author page and then transition everyone over to your author’s page. No more fretting that you have an author page with three followers. Readers can find you in one easy place and you can devote time to writing.

Thank you for reading. Oh, and don’t forget to follow me here.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

Social Media 101

Social Media 101

Today a friend posted this on her Facebook wall: Gentle hint for the day: While you need to sell yourself via social networking, overselling works in a negative way and turns readers off.

How true.

Today, instead of writing multiple posts to Facebook, WordPress, YouTube, Twitter (and anything else that is created before I have finished writing this blog posting), several companies offer programs authors can use to manage their multiple media accounts. This service allows you to enter one post. The program then, (for a fee) cross-posts the content to all of your accounts and, in theory, expands the author’s market.

However, I do not recommend subscribing to this methodology in order to sell books.

Yes, I have a Twitter account. You can follow me at ReneaWinchester. Here you will find monthly, never daily tweets. Why? First, I am busy writing and leading workshops. Second, Twitter and other social media outlets have morphed into a commercial machine. Shortly after activating my twitter account, I decided to unfollow someone. Each day, her tweets consumed my screen. Links to this, copies of that. Could your retweet this? Please check out this link. I do not know how it was possible for this person to perform her daily activities. Her behavior was annoying and rude. So what did I do with Suzie over-tweeter?

You got it, I stopped following.

The same will happen to you when you cross the line from informing readers about your work into the category titled blatant self-promotion, or BSP. BSP is an atrocious illness that attacks many fledgling authors. BSP can damage your writing career faster that a sentence ending with five exclamation marks. Yes, I realize that someone said, “you must get a Twitter account, and a Facebook account, and a YouTube account.”

Did they tell you why?

Did they really explain why? Or did they just say, “start tweeting everyday several times a day.”

Let me be honest, a tweet that says, “A new review of my book is available on Amazon,” will kill your writing career lightning fast. If you are guilty of doing this, stop it. Stop it now, please.

The purpose of social media is to build your (good) name and expose readers to your work. Social media is your chance to make an excellent first impression. Somehow, someone misinformed authors that social media is a race to accumulate the most followers, tweets and Facebook friends. Let’s embark on a mission to set the record straight. You do not need to tweet ten times a day, and follow it up with a few dozen Facebook postings.

No. No. No.

If you flood readers with too much content, they might remember your name but odds are they will not buy your book?

Why not?

This might sound harsh, but you appear desperate and rude.

Can we slow down the BSP train? When I asked this friend (who is a famous book reviewer) what triggered her Facebook announcement. She said, “I am drowning in self-promotional tweets and posts of reviews. This is nothing but ads for them.”

Heed her words Dear Ones.

Sympathetic and eager to teach these fledgling authors that their behavior is offensive, she invested her valuable time and sent the offenders messages. She offered a gentle nudge to go easy on the tweets. The BSP continued…daily, times ten.

Weary, she solved this problem. She no longer receives their tweets. She is no longer a Facebook friend, and she probably won’t review any of their future books.

This is the result of flooding readers, and reviewers, with too much of what you believe is a good thing. Trust me, once someone clicks the unfollow button, the damage is done.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author. She was recently named the 2012 Atlanta Pen Women Author of the Year. To learn more about her books, or to schedule a workshop or individual consultation visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

Name Dropping is a No-No

Name Dropping is a No-No by Renea Winchester

Disclaimer: Names have been changed to protect the victims

After speaking with a colleague whom I will call Betsy, I was shocked to discover she has a “stalker” (of sorts). During a conference Betsy met Name Dropping Nancy. The two had a grand time. They chatted as authors do, and discovered mutual interests. As an aside, authors are always eager to speak about their work, share ideas and extend the hand of friendship. Unfortunately, Betsy had no idea that Nancy’s sole purpose for chatting was to gather information.

The problem began when Nancy began contacting publishers saying that our beloved Betsy sent her.

Yes…she did.

The situation escalated when Nancy (who didn’t understand that unanswered emails = “no.”) began calling the publisher.

Yes…she did.

The situation redlined after Nancy received a “no” from the publisher, and instead of accepting the response, continued to press. She didn’t understand that with every dropped-name, sent email and interrupting telephone call she soiled her reputation.

Mercy!

Nancy called, and called, and evidently called a couple more times. Miss Nancy rang the phone so many times that the publisher of a major magazine called Betsy and said, “you are going to have to tell her to stop calling.”

Imagine for a moment Betsy’s surprise. She paused, replayed the conference sifting through the faces she met, uttered conversations and exchanged business cards until she recognized Name Dropping Nancy. That is how well she knew Nancy.

Dear Ones, how do we solve this problem? First, if you are Nancy, or related to her, stop it. Today.

Now Betsy, who doesn’t really know Nancy from —as we say in the south— Adam’s housecat, is in a terrible situation. Nancy and her pushy can’t-take-no-for-an-answer must stop. What is Betsy to do? She doesn’t have time to deal with this, but Nancy is persistent.

Apparently, this happens a lot. Two authors strike up a conversation, share tips, exchange cards and poof, next think you know it’s “Betsy sent me.”

For those new to writing, here is how networking really works.

If, in fact, a colleague has suggested their publisher, agent or hairstylist, they will call or send a message FIRST. After they have opened the door, then you may proceed. Any other contact automatically and immediately illuminates every warning bell and whistle imaginable. Sending an email saying, “I met Best-selling Betsy at a local festival and she said I should contact you,” when Betsy has no idea you are using her name is (blunt warning) professional suicide.

I mean serious irreparable damage to your career.

Mercy.

How many other authors have had this happen? I would love to hear your response. Feel free to post, link to FB and tweet. We all must do our part to silence Name-Dropping-Nancy.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author and In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. Her books are traditionally published and available in bookstores upon request, and online through the usual outlets. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com to learn more.

Questions from Workshop Participants

The most common question I receive from workshop participants is, “How do I get my book in bookstores?”

While ultimately the decision to shelve your book depends on the owner, here is a simple tip that worked for me.

Send readers to their store.

If you want a bookseller to consider your book, they must know they can sell it. (Step One: Write a perfect-error free book about interesting subject matter). 

An aside: I once visited a pitch session with an agent. A pitch session is where you meet an agent and tell them about your book. If they like your “sales pitch,” they request a copy of your manuscript. Anyway, the woman beside me was pitching her book which featured a talking racoon. After the author described her book as the next Art of Racing in the Rain, the agent kindly explained she wasn’t interested and couldn’t sell the story concept.

“So, can I send you the manuscript?” the author asked.

Dear ones, you will not be like that lady. There is a thin line between assertiveness and career-ending pushy behavior.

All of the booksellers I know have owned their store for years (read decades); this means they knows what their customers read. Take a moment to consider this chart from Publishers Weekly:

Understanding how readers find books is crucial for author's attempting to reaching them.

While I am on that subject let me ask this question, “do you spend money in the store you have approached?” Do you have a relationship with the owner?

Good. Keep shopping at the store.

People also  try a variety of methods to trick booksellers into stocking their books. A common technique is having a friend pose as publicist or agent. This is the BIGGEST mistake an author could ever make. For those who have yet to read my book, you will soon learn that everyone knows everyone in this business. Pretty-pretty please with sugary sprinkles on top,  do not do this to yourself. Do not take your book  into the store, (or have your momma, g-ma, preacher, sister, brother or another obscure relative shove self-published pages under the owner’s nose) and then proceed to tell them you have written the best book since the Bible. Certainly, do not call a bookstore and tell them I sent you. Lawhavemercy.

This is exactly the behavior that will ruin your career, before you even have a career.

You are a professional. You will research and understand how to approach a bookseller before actually doing it. Understand that not every store will stock your book. Not every store stocked my first book. This is the nature of the business. Once you read Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author you will realize the value of their shelf space and the pressure to turn books around quickly.

Dear ones, there is no “fast track” in the writing world. You  must earn your place on the shelves of bookstores with time, patience and a following of readers who adore that perfectly flawless book you have written. Some books never get into the bookstore. They still sell well. They still have a following of readers. Many factors determine the success of your book; professionalism is one of them.

Hope to see you soon.

Hugs,

Renea Winchester

www.reneawinchester.com

Let’s Talk Politics

Tis the season for negativity.

How quickly we have gone from the season of Thanksgiving to one of discord. We are bombarded at every angle: as we sit down for dinner, attempt a little couch time, try to read the daily newspaper.

While some people revel in political “discussions,” most are turned off by the constant bombardment of negativity.  Really, am I so unintelligent that someone must twist my arm, spoon feed me, and then maybe even clobber me over the head until I vow to vote for the person they think is right for the job?

Voting booths still have curtains and screens for privacy…right?

Painfully Honest Tip

Before adding your opinion via Twitter, Facebook or on any social media outlet, pause…ponder…and please, please do not post.

Unless you have penned a political expose’ covering one of the candidates, your readers do not need to know your political leanings.

Your readers do not care.

Your opinion will not sway their decision.  However, offering your opinion may change how they think about you?

So what? You ask. I consider it my right to voice my opinion. You may be thinking, Renea Winchester, who do you think you are telling me that I can’t discuss politics?

“Just a regular gal trying to help you sell books, that’s all.”

Painfully Honest Message

Readers have a right to not purchase your books. If they are gagging on your political rhetoric, odds are they will not reach into their wallet and buy your book…even if it is a great book.

Remember, many a friend has been lost over politics. As an author, you should be trying to build (and maintain) relationships not alienate readers.

Before launching into a career damaging revival for democracy ask yourself another question: Am I conducting myself in a professional manner?

Truly, I hope that you are.

Do you endure political memos from your boss?  Does he sit beside you at lunch and yammer on about the latest polls? Does he withhold your paycheck unless you promise to vote for “his candidate?”

I hope not.

Yet I am continually amazed at authors who would be wildly successful if they would just (to use a couple of idioms) get out of their own way and stop shooting themselves in the foot. For those who think I am apolitical let me avow that I am not. Not only do I attend the local government meetings, I take my children with me. I am a patriot descended from patriots.  I phone and write my representative. Still, voting is a personal matter. (Amen?)

I do not care who you vote for, of greater importance is that you vote (insert overuse of exclamation marks!!!!)

For a perfect example of public content I shall direct you to Jolina Petersheim. Her entries provide joyous content. While I have never personally met her, she purposes to write content that delights her readers. I have a sneaking suspicion that she just might be a registered voter.

Dear ones, aspire to do the same.

Be like Jolina.

Purpose to write positive content.

Purpose to make readers fall in love with your words.

Purpose to take the political high-road as often as necessary.

Your readers will love you for it.

As always, thank you for reading my blog.

Renea Winchester is the author of: Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author FREE to Amazon Prime Members.

$ 2.99 for Kindle Owners

And, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes, the book that launched me on this journey.

Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com or visit her at one of her workshops.

Standing Out Among Other Titles

Trivia time.  Without looking, guess how many titles are on Amazon?

Insert Jeopardy music.

Can readers find you?

According to Amazon, there are 8 million titles available either in print or electronic format. Instantly, the question becomes how can anyone find my book in the midst of so many titles?

Not to repeat myself, but you cannot create a nationally recognized name for yourself , which translates into sales outside of your home state and wider recognition, if you do not first invest the time to create a local name. Take heed, emerging authors, I speak directly to you. Authors who successfully sell eBooks incorporate many tactics. A few examples are: creating a web following, establishing a powerful social media presence and generating word-of-mouth advertising. All are done before publication.

All over night success stories takes years to create.

Why in the world would you invest years of your life, to pursue publication, only to expend energy doing the wrong things. It did take you years…right? Please tell me that you aren’t self-pubbing an unedited rendition of your NaNoWriMo assignment; or worse, submitting a smoking-hot manuscript to a power agent. Pretty please, tell me that you have paid an editor, had complete strangers read your work, let the manuscript cool, re-read, prayed, meditated, corrected and re-read (out loud) the entire manuscript before sending it to an agent, publisher, or printer.

Please, tell me you understand the difference between a printer and a publisher, and that you are not going to put your name on something that isn’t ready. Books take years (plural) to ripen. You do not want to know how many emerging authors email me in a panic. Whether they have found me after attending one of my workshops, or by referral from another author, the stories are always the same. They paid $ 5,000 for 50 copies; $20,000 for a thousand copies; they have books to sell (now); they are in crisis mode. As my mother says they have, “got the cart before the horse.” They have self-published, loaded their trunk with a shiny baby and now suffer new parent angst.

Dear author, I am not equipped to solve this type of unsolvable, yet simplistically preventable catastrophe. Unfortunately, no one can. The best I can offer is that you consider my words now, before making an irreparable mistake.

I see you.

I want your work to stand out, in a good way. Because if you don’t do the research before publishing, odds are high your work will not get the recognition you think it deserves.

 Further, if you have caught a second wind after completing NaNoWriMo, join a critique group. Join a local authors guild. Find a reading group. Take the necessary steps to polish your work first. The world should first meet you as a confident author, not a desperate one.

 You can stand out in a crowd, either in a good way, or a not-so-good way. The choice is yours.

Renea Winchester is the author of Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Her first book titled: In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes, earned a SIBA nomination and a Georgia Author of the Year nomination. She is an award-winning author who believes in the value of community and relationships. Her work has appeared in various magazines, anthologies, and literary journals. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com