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.”

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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

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Enduring the Feast and Famine of Writing

I write this during what I call a feast time. The feast time in the life of an author happens many times. It is a moment, perhaps only an hour long, where words come faster than mortal hands can type, or in my case, write. All reasoning escapes authors during this moment. We become excited, yet emotionally unstable. We embrace this time all while knowing deep in our soul that the feast-moment is fleeting. We fear the feast time almost as much as the famine. What if we can’t capture the words as they tumble through our brain? What if the characters hide and leave us with few words and even less hope.

Last week while suffering from self-loathing and immense self doubt I was certain, absolutely certain it was time to return to the “real world” and get a “real job.” My husband is certain of this as well, all the time. We have a son in college and a daughter waiting her turn. If you’re seeking sunshine and the words everything will be fine I’m not that kind of author. Writing is difficult. The journey, slow and methodical. If you are in this business for financial reward…well, (don’t stone me) you might be disappointed. Ten years ago I abandoned the corporate world, moved to Atlanta and “got serious” about writing. My journey from inspiration to publication transformed the confident women I’ve always been into one who anguishes and wrestles with words. Those awards I’ve won…well, somehow they make me more nervous than confident.

Let’s not talk about the past; let’s talk about today.

Today, I have two, yes two works in progress. Why two? Because the muse, that silent and elusive wench whispered another storyline in my ear at the precise moment I locked myself into the writing room bound and determined to either write, or die trying.

I create in a room without technology…if not I’ll spend all day on Facebook and blow every ounce of creativity I possess. I’ll end the day with self-loathing and spend the afternoon polishing my resume’.

Have I mentioned that I recently diagnosed myself with ADD? I didn’t have that before I became an author. Nope. I could sit for hours on a single project. Spend hours writing court briefs. Those days are long gone. Today I think about writing while folding the laundry, vacuuming, walking the dog… just to name a few. I write on sticky notes, used envelopes, my hand. I am a mess.

Meanwhile, back at the notebook, I consider actually writing. Pieces of pulp pressed flat, lined, and bound together with glue rest in my lap. I sit pen-perched ready to launch my protagonist, Carole Anne, on a certain course when this new idea descends in a tsunami of words. For a moment I fight the new idea. I am certain this new plot is a distraction sent from the evil one whose intent is to stand between me and certain success.

Did I mention that becoming an author also made me paranoid? The paranoids were never after me when I held a job in the real world.

Knowing that if I moved a muscle, if I eased out of my seat to grab the recorder two rooms away, my muse would give my story to someone else (writing also makes you superstitious). I did the only thing possible, I wrote. Fast. Using tiny strokes of the pen that consumed the least amount of energy, I wrote, and wrote joy filling my heart, while Carole Anne waited patiently, her story−for the moment−less important.

Carole Anne understands. She arrived the same way as the current story.

For the planners among us, those who must outline, or perish, that methodology is also acceptable. I’m not trying to tell you how to write, merely explain that the ebb and flow of writing (for me) looks like a train wreck mixed with a tornado.

After writing three front and back pages I had pressed enough of the story onto the pages for the Muse to reveal an outline. Oh it is a beautiful thing, this outline. I have never written an outline before. I would share it if not for the above referenced superstition. My muse does not like me sharing her secrets. The more I talk about my work in progress, the less she reveals. The less she reveals, the less progress I make.

Grammar kind of goes out the window during the feast time as well.

Now I need y’all to insert smack-dab in the middle of this word-flood an approaching critique group meeting. This meeting, designed to encourage multiple-personality writers like myself, takes place at the Book Exchange in Marietta, GA. Writers submit five double-spaced pages of their work in progress. We read, bleed upon the pages in a loving way, discuss characters, and (hopefully) make each other’s stories better.

I will probably miss the meeting. Prior to the first meeting we voted on the rules. My (now) fifteen pages of handwritten curled-up-notebook-page prose does not meet the pre-established typed (and for the love of humanity, printed) protocol. Nor do the tiny sentences written three lines high per each line. My writer friends understand. They know that I can’t stop, can’t interrupt the flood, the flow of words. They know that next week, the tide will probably subside and a famine arrive. Perhaps that is the best time to meet with my colleagues. Perhaps their support will sustain me during the famine.

When the famine comes, it arrives bearing nothing but self-doubt, loathing and a plethora of want ads for which I am qualified.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes and 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 loves to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

A Thank You From New York

For those who responded to my plea for books; those who boxed up their favorites and sent them to the libraries affected by Super Storm Sandy, I wanted to share an email. Below you will find a copy of an email I received from the library director. Please know that your contributions mattered and that many were touched by your generosity. While rebuilding is slow and even now, their internet connections are sporadic, I wanted y’all to know that you  made a difference. Thank you for being eager to help those in need and for sharing your love of books with others.

Dear Renea Winchester:

On behalf of the entire Queens Library community – our Board of Trustees, our staff and the 900,000 Queens Library cardholders who count on us to be there for them each and every day – Thank You for your immediate and thoughtful response after Super Storm Sandy.  Whether they were donations of food, blankets, generators, care packages, books, computers, or personally volunteering, your amazing kindness during one of the most devastating weather-related events in recent memory was truly heartwarming, and I am sure it will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of all those who benefited from your generosity.

 Thanks to the support of caring neighbors like you, the Queens Library served as a refuge and relief center in the immediate aftermath of the storm, despite the fact that our own facilities on the Peninsula were without electricity, or worse, destroyed by the flood waters. With your assistance, we helped thousands of people in the critical, first few days after the storm with meals, relief supplies, books, coats, and more.

 Queens Library’s response to the needs of the people of the Rockaways is just beginning. We are committed to rebuilding our damaged libraries and in doing so, helping to rebuild people’s lives. We are in the process of bringing interim library service back in every neighborhood of the peninsula where the library was destroyed. For additional information, to check on the progress of devastated libraries or to offer further assistance, please log on to queenslibrary.org or queenslibraryfoundation.org.

 Again, please accept our most sincere thanks for your invaluable contribution to those in need.

 Best wishes for an enjoyable and peaceful Holiday season,

Jen  

My Thoughts on Being Thankful…and Sending Books to NJ

I was recovering from surgery when Hurricane Katrina hit the south on August 29, 2005; physically unable to do anything but weep as men like Hardy Jackson from Biloxi, MS suffered devastating losses. You may not remember his name, but I know you remember his face. For those who have wondered what happened to Mr. Jackson, he has stage IV cancer. View his story here.

I remember my heart breaking, my resolve building that I would do something should another tragedy hit. However, when Superstorm Sandy came to shore on the Northeastern Coast I found myself unable to contribute. The Red Cross won’t accept my blood (I’m too short, and a cancer survivor); and, like many American families, struggling financially. Then a thought entered my heart, you can coordinate a book drive.  The one thing I have plenty of is books, not just the one I’ve written, but stacks of books from bestselling authors. For those who haven’t read the original post about the drive, you can find it here.

Since the original post complete strangers have come together. Authors, readers, book reviewers and complete strangers have sent books to libraries that were severely damaged. I was also shocked at the naysayers who said that the books wouldn’t be wanted. I had spoken directly to the COO of the library who was moved to tears that someone…anyone was thinking of them. I understand that insurance will cover some of the costs. However it is the end of the fiscal year and the particular library chosen was already operating on an anorexic budget. They needed books…now.

I should also mention that I have withheld the address from my blog to protect the library from unscrupulous people who have their own best interest at heart. Already someone offered free books but the fine print read that they expected the library to pay shipping. And, I was discouraged when the United Parcel Service who, when I contacted them via FB, would not issue a call slip for the book reviewer who had several boxes of books she was willing to donate. Still, we pressed on and books arrive at the library every day

In the posts that follow I will include images from those who sent me pictures of books. I know I will overlook or forget someone and I apologize in advance. If you didn’t receive the mailing address of the library, kindly send another email to me and I will  send you the address. Your books bring smiles. They bring hope, and for that I am very thankful.

Below are some of the authors and readers who have contributed with more images to follow later.

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Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Friend Bologna Sandwiches will be released soon. Learn more about her at www.reneawinchester.com

 

Southern Authors Ready to Send Books to Libraries Damaged by Sandy

Images from hurricane Sandy are in and they are heartbreaking. Our Northern brothers and sisters have been hit hard. Homes destroyed. Unimaginable loss. Desperation.  It is during these times that we feel helpless asking, “What can I do?”

Photo credit: Reuters/Adreeslatif

We empathize with those who have lost everything and those working hard to restore the area. We understand that compensation from insurance companies will come, but may not cover all the damage.  That is why many churches and schools are hosting food drives, delivering water, food, batteries and love-filled hugs. The Red Cross is boots-on-the- ground as are our military and regular everyday folk who just want to help. For those who can give financially, please do so either to the Red Crossarchitectureforhumanity.org or Because We Care Ministries who arrived in New Jersey days ago.  I mention these three charities because I personally know people who work there and because there have been reports of people with less than noble intentions are already taking advantage of folk. C’mon now. Let’s work together.

Today I write asking  my fellow authors and readers to participate in a book drive. Realizing that times are tight and some people can not write a check; I urge authors, book reviewers, and readers to give what they already have . . . copies of books. Plenty of helpers will rebuild neighborhoods, but who will help the libraries? Prior to this storm, libraries had already experienced deep cuts; they were doing more than ever with limited resources.  That is why I need your help.

If you are an author, please help me send copies of your work to Sandy victims. If you are a reader or book reviewer and have books in PRISTINE condition, you can help also.  I am one woman on a mission to give books to those in need. This little project is not a quick fix. Yes, I realize that people need homes, but they will also need books. I figure if students can send coats, authors and readers can send books. If we all do what we can then every little bit will help. This book drive is my “little bit.” My hope is that every person reading this post will send at least one book. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

When I mentioned this idea to local booksellers and my NYT author friends, I quickly realized that southern authors and readers were ready to ship tons of books to our friends up North. I have collaborated with George Eberhart, Editor of American Libraries Magazine who kindly helped me locate libraries in need of assistance. If you are inclined to help please send me your information and I will forward the mailing address of the library that is in need. If you’re an author, or library staff, my goal is to build a relationship that benefits readers.

For Librarians and Media Specialists along the coast: North Carolina, New Jersey, Long Island, Delaware.  If  Sandy damaged your library and you would like to add books to your permanent collection, please contact me using the address below.

Authors, readers, and book reviewers: Please follow the instructions and include all information requested  to add your title to the list.

Add your name to the list using the contact information below.

Please email me at: Reneawrites(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE, DO NOT SHIP BOOKS TO ME! Contact me through the above email.

Authors, please include the title, ISBN, CIP, Genre, URL link and, of course, contact information. Readers and reviewers, I just need contact your information.

From my heart to yours, thank you. Remember, every book counts.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes.  In 2012, she was named the Atlanta Pen Women Author of the Year.   She is passionate about literacy. When she isn’t writing, she shelves books at the public library. She is currently seeking representation for her third book In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches, and her first novel currently in progress.  Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com. To learn about Pen Women in your area click here.

In the Garden with Billy Book Trailer

Visit http://www.reneawinchester.com to learn more about Billy Albertson. Or on Facebook at In the Garden with Billy

Advice for Authors: How Book Trailers Increase Sales

I must admit, when I first started writing I didn’t understand the importance of having a book trailer. At the time I believed the word trailer and book didn’t go together. Unless I was speaking about Hollis Gillespie’s book Trailer Trashed.

Then I began spending time with successful authors. What I discovered is that most of them have a book trailer that teases readers. Authors offered readers a video snapshot into the story, book characters, or their personal lives as an author. In turn, readers were intrigued with their video and purchased copies of their work. Here are links to a few of my favorites:

Stephanie McAfee

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Karen Spears Zacharias

These trailers, or book videos if you prefer, have one thing in common, YouTube. Each is hosted on YouTube (for free). The challenge becomes finding an affordable videographer. Authors need only look at their local high school and colleges.

I first met Sean Pettit at the Roswell High School during an author signing. I was there listening to the beautiful and talented, Robin Mellom speak about her first book, Ditched. When she finished I noticed a tall young man in the back of the room with a gigantic video camera. At that exact moment by brain went. Ding. Ding. Ding.

Rushing toward him, I pressed my business card in his hand and said, “I’m an author. I’ve written a book about a local celebrity and need a book trailer.”

Sean took my card and said, “I think I can handle that.”

Just to be safe, I jotted down his email as well.

Before you spend a fortune, give local students an opportunity. High school and college students desperately need the experience. They are building their resume’. They need you. You need them.

Next I wrote a short script. Putting voice behind the visual isn’t required. A simple power point presentation will suffice. However, I wanted something that captured the soul of Billy Albertson. I just didn’t know how to make it happen. This was why I gave Sean carte blanche to work his magic. I must admit, giving him unconditional power made me a bit nervous. I really didn’t know how the video would turn out, but I trusted Sean to work his magic. He was the expert. He obviously knew a lot more about making videos than I did.

At this point, let me say that if you want to hire Sean, tell him that I sent you. He will get to your book trailer as quickly as he can. Like most artist with “the gift,” Sean doesn’t say much. He walked Billy’s property while absorbing important facts like lighting, sound quality, things necessary to make a video look great. More than that, he captured the essence of Billy Albertson. All I needed was a couple of children for the video, which I borrowed from my friend, Kelle Mcentegart. I think you will agree that Sean truly, he has a gift.

To view Sean’s creation click HERE. Please share the video and leave comments.

In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes is currently out of print. A few copies remain on Amazon. Or, if you want a personalized copy, please order through my website. For emerging authors who haven’t attended my workshops or read my book titled: Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author, all Indie Booksellers can order the book. It is also available on Amazon and through my website. Obviously, a book trailer for that is forthcoming.

Thank you for reading and as always, keep writing.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author. She just finished In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is now working on her first novel. Friend her on Facebook or find her on Twitter at ReneaWinchester.