We're going to move away from the Author Platform now and talk about How to be a better novelist.
I read a great article on turning writer's envy into inspiration and wanted to share a few of the highlights with you in this post.
We've all been there, reading the most amazing, inspiring text and wishing we could be even so much as half as good, then realising with that horrible sinking feeling that we're never going to reach that high bar. It's simply not attainable to us.
But stop right there! You're allowed a marginal amount of wallowing in self pity before you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to your craft.
Don't let envy eat away at you!
Yes, it's a natural emotion, but why not harness its energy and turn it to your advantage?
Everybody has a unique voice and you shouldn't try to write in a voice that isn't your own. By all means follow the market trends and advice, however stay true to your originality and stay true to your instincts.
I strongly believe you can't be taught to write - you've either got the flair for it, or you haven't - but you can be taught to write better and hone those natural, inbuilt skills.
Writing isn't a race or competition either. I personally see it as more of a journey - a journey only for me. People will always try to measure your success with how many book sales you've made blah blah blah, but I reach the pinnacle of my success when I finish writing the story. It's all to do with how you feel about your achievement, not how other people feel about it. Manage your expectations of yourself.
Finally, study the work that inspires you and learn the techniques these writers use to capture the scene, the emotion, the whatever it is that's gripping you. I'll often dig out different books when I'm writing this scene or that scene so I can embrace the greatness of the writer and try to apply it to my own writing.
Strive to be better at what you do, but for gawd sake don't waste time beating yourself up!
Remember this definition of success from Maya Angelou: Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.
Really excited about Zeemaps - you can add pins to mark where you've been, little annotations, pics and videos... and then print it if you can find a piece of paper big enough hehehe
I've started a map of my travels, dropped it onto my website and will be continually updating it. You can follow my progress here.
I'm still learning how to best manage my time with my blogging and social media platform building. It can get disheartening when you're spending hours upon hours writing content but your website traffic and blog traffic remain low. Worse still, you haven't touched that manuscript in a very long time and the vision of becoming a serious writer and freelancer is quickly diminishing under the author platform and brand building pile.
I think it will always be a juggling act so be prepared for that, but there are little things you can do to start to turn things around if you want to see better results and be encouraged. The following is from my personal experience. I started an experiment three weeks ago with the aim of increasing my website traffic and I'm pleased to report it's going very well.
Using Hootsuite - to give me the option to track those all important shortened URLs and the traffic they might produce - I began by scheduling tweets with a link back to my website content every hour. The tweets are divided into three (three different subject matters) so each one reoccurs every three hours. This is personal preference. I have a thing about threes! I know this is controversial social media practice but I'm about to change it up so bear with me. I reasoned that I could reach all of my target audience across the globe by dividing up like this and tweeting every hour. Also I am looking to get traffic all over my website, not just to my blog. I want people to see the different things I write about and I want people to get to know me.
So one week went by and my website traffic skyrocketed into the hundreds again and I began to gain more Twitter followers. I schedule a week's worth of tweets at a time to keep it manageable. This takes about an hour and a half depending how prepared and focused you are. It's mind numbing work but well worth it. The second week I changed the content and for the third week coming to an end today, I changed the content once more. Going into the fourth week, I will be tweeting some of my favourite recent articles from other writers keeping to my "threes and hourly" schedule. I've picked these blogs to follow and they now sit on my Blogger page. This is another benefit of using Google's Blogger platform. Make the integration work for you. I believe you should be able to do "dot to dot" with your social media so maintaining your author platform becomes seamless.
It helps to have a regular blogging schedule too so you are always producing new and fresh content - and more importantly, you're still writing and not just being a scheduling monkey! This gives you more to tweet about and more to share through your social media. I blog here on my website and I'm currently working on my blog over on Blogger to see where it leads me - whether I can gain a bigger audience for my work, whether the stats can help me and whether Google+ is something I want to venture into.
Going back to my hourly tweeting schedule, I know I can't always be tweeting links to content because social media is supposed to be just that - social. My next step is to build relationships with fellow bloggers in my areas of interest - writing, travel and photography. I also want to have a "product" that I can offer for free here on my website and over on Blogger. That "product" will be the basis of Phase Two of this experiment!
One final word - I have my website linked up to Google Analytics. You can only link one website / blog to Google Analytics but, for me, that's ok because Blogger has its own Stats so I can still track my blog's progress through there. Anyhoo, one important thing I've already noticed is that I don't get a very high percentage of returning visitors to my website. I'm hoping by bringing the "social" into my media and offering my "product" I can turn this around.
I've been sorting out my Blogger blog these last couple of days. After checking out the "Dynamic" range and not being able to decide which template to use, I decided on a "Travel" template. We have the World which I love to explore, a notepaper style for the main blog and I've added some Google Adsense ads for revenue. Really happy with the facelift, but there will probably be a few more tweaks before I'm done!
Much like Twitter, to get the most out of Google+ and be inspired by great content as well as sharing your own great content in the subject areas that matter the most to you, you need to search out the best people and groups to follow - and in Google's case "circle" them.
Remember, you can then share your circles with other people and they can do the same for you - social networking at its easiest!
The obvious starting point is Goggle+'s search. Here you can type in keywords, phrases and even hashtags to find people who are commenting and posting about the topics you are interested in. Also check out the excellent "Communities" feature.
Here are a couple more interesting ways to find people for the more serious user:
Circle Count - this ranks users according to how many followers they have. It also measures the influence of a person, useful if you are searching for an expert in your chosen field.
Recommended Users - again this is good if you are looking for influential / high profile people to follow.
When talking about Google+ in yesterday's post, I hinted that it would be a good starting point for finding potential clients and freelance writing work. Just to see how effective it really is, I searched "freelancing writing jobs" and up popped The WM Freelance Writers Connection. See what they are all about here. It's a really great concept - and they have regular job posts. This is just one of many you could be connecting with...
In conclusion, Google+ has a real social networking business feel about it, so if you're hesitating and thinking one more social media to maintain for the author platform is definitely going to be one too many, take a deep breath and give it a go. You can always back out later if it isn't working for you.
I still prefer Twitter (as I keep saying) because it's fast and easy, but Google+ is worthy of consideration if you are looking to take your author platform to the next level. I'm going to try a little experiment to see if it helps me get down to the serious business of finding paid freelance work as well as making acquaintance with real industry professionals. I shall report back soon!
Google+ is being tipped as the next big thing ahead of Twitter (and Facebook) which is why I'm going to post about it today.
I'm still learning having only recently set up my profile, but here's what I know so far...
Yesterday I had a Poplar Hawk moth perched perfectly for a photo. The side profile is the most fascinating because its body is so thick and arcs. I got an easy overview shot with my iPhone first and then did my usual Instagramming bit. Then, for a bit of fun, I decided to go in with the new SLR and macro lens. The settings were arranged on AV (aperture priority) for me by my trusted adviser - F stop 8 and ISO 400 with the lens automatically adjusting itself. I seriously don't know whether I would have had the patience. Macro photography is definitely an art. On my own, I'm pretty sure I would have plumped for the auto setting. Even with help - and a tripod to keep the camera perfectly still - I got the depth of field hopelessly wrong. Sometime the head was in focus and other times the wing, but never at the same time. For me, that's frustrating photography. I like to know I've captured the shot because you rarely get a second chance. Take a look at my efforts below.
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.