Five Reasons to Submit Your Work to Anthologies

I'm sure by now you've heard that Found: Short Stories by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, is a finalist in the 2017 Colorado Book Awards from Colorado Humanities.

And hopefully  you've also heard that I have an essay in a new anthology called Still Me ... After All These Years: 24 Writers Reflect on Aging.

Those two facts triggered this blog post designed to encourage all writers to think seriously about submitting your work to every legitimate anthology opportunity that comes your way. I came up with five good reasons to take on these extra projects even if you generally write only novel-length fiction.

1. Increases name recognition

The more often readers see your name, the more likely they are to remember and recognize it when they're browsing bookstores, online, and at the library

2. More people see your bio

That bio can include your most recent publications, the urls for your website and social media, and some tidbit of information to remember you by. For ebooks, the links are often clickable for speedy friending and following.

3. Many anthologies are entered into book award competitions

Found is a good example. Submissions were solicited from RMFW members only.

A second anthology on the finalist list, Sunrise Summits: A Poetry Anthology, was edited by Dean K. Miller and contains poetry by member of Northern Colorado Writers. The call for submissions went out to NCW members via the website, newsletter, and Facebook page.

4. Submitting to anthologies is good practice

If you have any hope of getting your work accepted for publication, it's important to learn to follow all submission rules and requirements. That includes tie-in to theme or topic, sticking to the correct genre, quality writing with no grammar errors or typos, proper formatting and style according to instructions, submitting only if you qualify (for member-only publications, submit only if you're a member).

5. New individual or group promotion opportunities lead back to that number one reason: increase name recognition.

With the release of anthologies, you may participate in book signings, blog book tours, social media promotions on Facebook or Twitter, book giveaways as part of the tours or separately on Goodreads.

Examples include the signing and book sale at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writers Conference in Denver in September for the authors of the RMFW anthology Found; the book sale and signing opportunities at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference May 5-6 for the poets in Sunrise Summits.

MC Book Tours handled the blog book tour for Still Me ... After All These Years which included this post on my own blog: "What? Me Aging?" And I'm giving away three copies of this anthology of personal essays on Goodreads as part of the promotion. The giveaway ends April 5th, so if you're interested, click here to get to the widget on my blog.

Anthologies That Want Your Submissions

Rocky Mountain Fictions Writers is seeking submissions from RMFW members only for the 2018 anthology: False Faces: Tales of Fakes, Frauds, and Facades. Find more information and the guidelines on the RMFW website. Submissions are open now and close on June 30th, 2017.

Tulip Tree Publishing has issued a call for submissions for the next Stories That Need to be Told. The 2016 issue of this anthology series is also a finalist in the anthology category of the Colorado Book Awards. The submission guidelines and award information are available on the Tulip Tree Publishing website. The deadline is September 6, 2017.

The top publisher of personal essays is, of course, Chicken Soup for the Soul. That publisher always has a list of potential and planned projects so periodically checking their list is a great idea. Here's that link.

And one more for good measure: Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer (no published work, traditional or indie) in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $1,000 and publication in the literary journal. More information can be found at the Ploughshares at Emerson College site. This competition closes on May 15, 2017.

Pay attention to the bloggers you follow, the writerly folks on Facebook and Twitter, and the organizations you've joined. Any of those places can be a source of information for anthology editors seeking submission.

Now it's up to you. Will you polish a short story and submit to False Faces, find the perfect topic at Chicken Soup for the Soul, or perhaps submit  a story to the Tulip Tree anthology? Do you know of another great anthology that is open to submissions? Have you recently had a piece published in an anthology? Let us know in the comments below.

Getting to Know You: The RMFW Q&A Project #10

The Getting to Know You Project was intended to introduce RMFW members with short responses to three questions, a photo, and a few social media links. This will be the last post in the series for now.

Mike Houtz

Website: http://mikehoutz.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.mikehoutz/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelhoutz/

1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I spent 15 years practicing medicine before deciding that raising my own children and pursuing a passion for fiction writing was a better life lived than 90+ hour weeks at the hospital ignoring those closest to me. After working on my first project, a medical thriller (naturally), I’m now currently seeking representation on my second novel, DARK SPIRAL DOWN, an international thriller. I just received a call that DARK SPIRAL DOWN is a 2017 Zebulon Award winner. The only thing better would be a 2017 Colorado Gold! I write when my two young sons are at elementary school. My office overlooks the front range just a mile away, the beauty never ceases to amaze. I’m still discovering my ideal writing method. I see the chapters in my head like a movie and type out what my mind’s eye captures. I’ve found careful plot outlining keeps me from getting "too" off course. I’m trying a slightly different tactic writing by the synopsis of my medical thriller, revisited, for my next effort (or, is that the first? I’m confused.).

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I spent thirteen glorious years performing all over the country as the lead guitarist for a cajun/zydeco band, Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies. I think my fellow classmates were stunned that I could balance intense medical studies with performing. Proof that if you love something, you will find a way.

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

I absolutely love watching my boys compete in their respective sports. One in fencing and one in lacrosse. We’re constantly on the road all over the country with their competitions. Unfortunately, it will all be over in the blink of an eye, and I know I’ll cherish those times for the rest of my days.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Diane R. Jewkes

Website: http://dianerjewkes.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianeRJewkes
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DianeRJewkes/

1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

Hi! I write historical romance primarily. I grew up loving history and reading romance so it was a natural progression when I decided to start writing. My first book, The Heart You Own, was published in 2012. I started writing it before the invention of Word (it took a long time)! My second book, The Heart You Need, was published this year. I live up in Conifer and have an office in my house where my two assistants, Albert and Rizzi, keep me company and remind me to take them out so I don't sit at my desk all day. I'm a pantster, so I get an idea, sketch out a rough plot and research my time period and place. I keep composition books for each idea with all my scribbles, questions and scenes. I like to write first, type later.

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I have a degree in journalism and worked on a small newspaper in New Mexico. In the short time I was there I covered 4 murders, got to submit reports on the Santa Fe Prison riot to the Associated Press and helped come up with the Deming Duck Race. I also had an entry in the first duck race. He was fitted out with a satin cape and little satin spats for his feet!

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

I love spending time with my children and grand-children and traveling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Patricia (Pat) Stoltey

Website/blog: http://patriciastolteybooks.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.stoltey
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PStoltey
Google+: https://plus.google.com/115494264819086899639
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1105939.Patricia_Stoltey

1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I write primarily crime fiction, including a historical mystery called Wishing Caswell Dead to be published in Five Star's Frontier Fiction line this November. Previous books were The Prairie Grass Murders, The Desert Hedge Murders, and Dead Wrong (a thriller finalist for the 2015 Colorado Book Awards).

I write because it's the only way to quiet my busy brain which is always thinking about stories and characters and settings...probably the result of all the reading I've done over the years. I'm a binge writer, so I create in bursts over a period of days...then slip back into periods of goofing off. I mostly write in my own little office at a desktop...a room cold in winter, hot in summer, and placed just beside and above the neighbor's garage where one of the grown kids practices on his drums. I write at the computer and usually have nearby a cup of coffee in winter or a glass of iced tea in summer.

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I spend at least one hour every morning reading for fun/learning while I get myself fully caffeinated and take care of Katie Cat's morning demand for lap time. Soon after, I spend at least twenty minutes with Sassy Dog in my lap at my computer while we watch cat and dog and other critters on You Tube videos. My husband and I are downright silly about our pets!

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

This is hard because so many things that used to bring me joy, like travel (especially flying anywhere) or cooking (especially since I'm always trying to diet), are no longer appealing. I think my happiest moments these days are those I spend at home, dressed in sloppy and comfy clothes, gardening or playing with watercolors or daydreaming in the sun, and just being. And I do love a good nap on the couch with Sassy Dog sacked out on my stomach to keep me warm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to Mike, Diane, and Pat for participating in the Getting to Know You Project.

Should We Continue the Getting to Know You (GTKY) Posts?

I would love to continue the Getting to Know You (GTKY) blog posts if we get enough volunteers. Here's one example of a member who was featured in the September 30, 2016 GTKY post:

Janet Lane

Website: http://janetlane.net/
Blog: https://janetlane.wordpress.com/ and RMFW Blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janetlaneauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/janetlaneauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15418008.Janet_Lane

2016_Janet Lane1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I write "History, made passionate in medieval England," aka historical romance and women's fiction. It's my passion because I firmly believe that "Amor vincit omnia" -- Love conquers all. I love exploring relationships and making the impossible, possible through my characters. My favorite reviews mention that my writing transports them to my story worlds and makes them care for my characters. I write from my home office at an elevation of 8,300 ft. in Morrison, frequently crashing my husband's home office (better view), and wherever my MacPro and I travel.

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I directed my community's annual musical production for 22 years, and I ran away from home at 6, 12, and 14. Oh, and my husband, John, and I were married at the Renaissance Festival.

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

Must I choose one? I love to ski, spend time with my family and new grandson, and play tennis. And I love good treasure finds at estate sales and consignment stores.

 

We also have openings for guest bloggers throughout the year, so consider volunteering for one of those spots as well. Submission guidelines for guest bloggers can be found on the website.

Contact me at blog@rmfw.org and I'll email you the instructions for the GTKY posts.

You must be a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers member to participate in these opportunities, but it doesn't matter if you're published or unpublished, a long-time member or brand new to the organization. We want you to have a chance to introduce yourself to the membership and get acquainted with other members.

The Greatest Blogpost Ever Posted

So this is going to be the last RMFW blog post that I’m doing for a bit. I told Patricia Stoltey and Julie Kazimer that I’m stepping down. I just can’t juggle it all.

So I promised Ms. Kazimer thatI would write the greatest blogpost ever. I thought about calling it “The Greatest Story Ever Told” but I think that might have been done already. Then I was going to call it “The Myth of Success” but that didn’t feel right, so then I was thinking “Go Into the Light, Carol Ann” but that would date me.

So whatever this last post is called, the point of it all is this: I am claiming success and I am making definite choices about what my goals are.

That’s been my problem for a decade now. I couldn’t make a choice when it came writing. I wanna write for the market. No, I wanna write the book of my heart. I want millions of fans and trillions of dollars and billions of groupies. Er, wait, trillions of fans, billions of groupies…no…anyway…

I am deciding that my main writing is goal is to only write books I’m proud of and publish them by any means necessary. And whatever happens, happens.

That’s what I’m choosing. But choosing is hard. Take me to a Vegas breakfast buffet with both donuts and waffles, and you’ll see me eat both. Dammit! But no, I’m learning, I have to choose.

I can’t work on five projects all at the same time. I can’t accept every opportunity to market my books. I am a limited resource. So I have to choose where my time goes. In 2017, I should have five more books on the market, three romances I wrote with Andrea K. Stein and two more books in The Juniper Wars Series. And that’s a lot right there. I can’t do more. I am being forced to choose.

And I’m choosing to drop some of my commitments to focus on finishing those projects.

And I’m choosing to think of myself as a successful writer.

It’s December, my friends, and darkness reigns. The days are short, the nights are long, but even before the Christós event of 0 A.D. (ish), human beings have celebrated the light in the middle of these long, cold days.

For my writing career, I thought the only light that counted, the only success, was a long day of blazing sunshine lighting up every corner of every continent. I thought that J.K. Rowling or James Patterson international success was the only light that mattered.

And so I counted myself as a failure.

But no more!

I have a flickering candle of a writing career, five flickering books lighting up my little corner of the world. I am truly proud of the five books I have published, and that is a success. And I’m celebrating that success.

And I think I’m finding the courage and contrariness needed to write a whole bunch more. I will light the world with candles, one uncertain flame at a time. I’m trying to go back to basics: to write what I love and to let go of expectations, and to do the work while enjoying the work.

And that is key…to do the work of writing while enjoying the work of writing.

Knowing that all the while, there are people who will not like my books, that will criticize how I use commas, or sniff at me because I am not traditionally published. Let ‘em. What other people think of me and my books is none of my business. That’s not my job.

My job is to write Aaron Michael Ritchey novels.

And so, I have to let go of a few things, but what a great achievement that is, that I’m busy enough that I have to choose what to work and and what to step way from.

But I am truly grateful to Patricia, Julie, and to everyone at RMFW. Without that mighty Colorado organization, my entire life would be different.

I’ll be back though, when I come up with something I just have to share with ya’ll.

Until then, come gather around. It’s dark, but we have light.

For that’s the great promise of Christmas, that there will always be light even if it’s just a single candle burning.

Multi-Tasking or Single-Tasking: What Works Best for You?

I always have a lot going on at any one time, in my writing life and in real life. Yes, I do see a distinct separation between the two lives, even though one tends to muddy up the other from time to time.

When I'm writing, I'm a writer. I put on my writerly cloak and think writerly thoughts. That's my plan for today. Except for the laundry, of course, but it’s Monday. I always do the laundry on Monday.

When I'm doing real life stuff, I forget all about the writing part and get crazy. Yesterday, for instance, I read the paper and then a few chapters of The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille, rode the exercise bike twice, talked to my mom on the phone, and watched the Broncos beat the Chargers on television. And I paid a lot of attention to Katie Cat because she's very demanding.

Katie Cat waiting for me to move the laptop so she can claim my lap

When I'm being a writer, I'm also being a blogger and social media junkie. My husband often comments on the number of tabs I usually have open when I'm at my computer. There's email, this blog, my personal blog, a Google calendar, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and sometimes Goodreads and amazon.com.

And I subscribe to a number of blogs that I follow regularly.

So....when I read Leo Babauta's post several weeks ago on Zen Habits, I felt he might be talking directly to me. The post is called "I'm Returning to Single-Tasking." In the first of six excellent points, Leo says he's going to have only one tab open at a time. Multi-tasking is out the window. Single-tasking is in.

For me, this is an amazing new concept. How about you?

In the past, when I’ve gone into busy writer mode, the one thing that always got sacrificed was reading time. Or I try to read at the same time I’m watching television shows that don’t require a lot of concentration. If I move to that single-tasking philosophy, which I’ve been trying and kind of like, I’ll keep at least 30 minutes free in the morning for pleasure reading. It almost gives me a chill of pleasure to think about it. What a wonderful way to start the day.

Anyway, back to my plan for today. A little bit of time outside to enjoy the balmy 40+ degree day, do that laundry, quickly finish my morning computer tasks online, and then spend many hours on manuscript revisions. Taking Leo Babauta's advice to heart, I will close all my browser tabs and focus on the book during that revision time I’ve set aside.

Tell me something about your writing habits. Do you muddle about with more than one project at a time? Or do you focus on just one and get it finished before you move on to another? What are your browser tab habits? Do you have any new plans for tackling your projects in 2016 so you're more productive?

What if You Want to Quit Writing?

By Patricia Stoltey

Recently I've read quite a few blog posts by discouraged writers, Yahoo! Group posts from writers who are tired of the struggle, social media updates that read like the last whimper from someone who's given up.

Back in the old days, when we took on a job, we were expected to stick with that employer/career for a lifetime  (assuming the job was a good one and there were opportunities for advancement, of course). In an odd way, that decision has also applied to those in creative fields--painters must paint forever, writers must churn out more words--even when a day job is necessary to put food on the table and maintain shelter.

But times have changed. Job hopping is normal. Changing careers in the middle of the stream is a growing trend. Our work lives are more like this: Try something new, master it or not, decide it's not the ideal life you thought it would be, and move on.

I'm hearing a lot less of "I write because I have to write," and a lot more of "This is a monumental waste of my time."

There was an article in the Los Angeles Times by Carolyn Kellogg last year about Philip Roth ("Philip Roth has quit writing fiction. He means it. Really.") that should make all of us think about what our writing means to us and why we keep flailing away when the process is not going well.

"What does Roth do instead of write? 'I swim, I follow baseball, look at the scenery, watch a few movies, listen to music, eat well and see friends. In the country I am keen on nature,' he says. He added, 'Barely time left for a continuing preoccupation with aging, writing, sex and death. By the end of the day I am too fatigued.'

Of course, Roth is over 80, has published more than 25 books, won awards, and has earned a joyful retirement. He retired and he doesn't miss writing fiction, just as many of us retire from real world jobs and don't miss them at all. Roth stuck to his writing until he had accomplished great things and could enjoy his remaining years.

What if you haven't achieved as much as you'd hoped, or worse, you're just beginning and are feeling overwhelmed and suicidal?

Back in 2012 Chuck Wendig at his Terrible Minds blog posted 25 Reasons You Should Quit Writing. The whole writer angst thing is part of the writing process, part of the of the writing life. But Wendig's #24 reason to quit writing is:

"I don’t think you like writing very much. Mostly you just complain. Boo-hoo pee-pee-pants sobby-face wah-wah existential turmoil. Writing is hard, publishing is mean, my characters won’t listen to me, blah blah blah. I don’t get the sense you really enjoy this thing, so why don’t you take a load off?"

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is an organization of writers at every stage of the craft from beginner to published to winning awards. It will be the rare member who doesn't periodically cycle through stages of whining, feeling rejected, dumping projects, and wanting to quit. Most of us will cycle back into productivity and optimism.

And some will quit. There lies the truth behind today's blog post. Some will quit. Maybe at 25 after two years and no writing success. Or at 80 after a successful award-winning career. It's not the end of the world if you quit writing and do something else. It's not the end of the world if you take a five-year break and write more when you're older.

I played at writing during my real world working years but didn't get serious (if you can call the way I do it "serious") about it until almost five years after retirement. I think about quitting almost every week. Sometimes twice in one day.

So how long have you been writing? How often do you feel like quitting?

What Will You Lose if Your Computer Crashes Five Minutes from Now?

By Patricia Stoltey

This afternoon my geeky husband had a breakthrough (after a visit to the even geekier guys at our favorite BB store). Just in the last two hours he has retrieved all of my missing files from the bad hard drive and put them on both his computer and my external hard drive. Now I'm ready to start putting the folders in their new home. I am humbled, and I have learned my lesson.

Let's hope you have a good backup and recovery process in place.

My desktop hard drive quit about a week ago, It was sudden. No warning shots across the bow.  No flailing around for a day or so before collapse. Everything was fine the day before when I turned it off. When I tried to boot up the next morning, it was dead.

We didn't miss a trick. My husband is a geek retiree who knows lots about PCs and hard drives and all that stuff. He spent a whole day trying to bring that baby back to life long enough to do one more safety backup to my external hard drive.

When he wasn't watching, I tried some other non-geeky stuff.

Nothing worked.

DeadSo...the good news:

1. I backed up to my external hard drive a few months ago, and I save important documents to flash drives. Most of my writing docs should have been safe except the really old ones. I have printed copies of the old stuff.

2. Most of the downloads from my cameras were done before I backed up to the external hard drive, so most of my family photos are safe.

3. My new desk top computer arrived Saturday and I spent the weekend installing software and getting all ready to carry on...

But....the bad news:

1. I haven't been able to find anything on that external hard drive except the photos and a few things from the desktop. So far not one single solitary Word or pdf document. Thankfully, I have the truly important documents in two other places: flash drives and as email attachments in folders in my internet email account.

So heed my warning....

Backup options -- you probably know all about all of these, but that won't help if you're not backing up on a regular basis.

1.  Flash drives (thumb drives). Buy these at any office supply store and almost everywhere else. The little gadgets plug into a USB port and hold a lot of data. They're small and easily lost. I use the ones that have a little loop at the end so I can put them on a string or key chain. They also don't have much room for file names or identifiers on the outside so you might want to add tags to each one with that key chain loop.

2.  An external hard drive for regular backups of all files. They're available from retailers that sell computers. If you don't set up automatic backups, you do have to remember to plug the drive into the USB port and manually save. And then I strongly suggest you immediately take that drive, connect it up again, and see if the files you wanted to save are really there....and to find them.

3.  Online cloud backups offered by your computer's manufacturer or independent companies. These will charge a fee but most of them are pretty reasonable. Dell has it. Carbonite and Mozy are companies that come to mind.  Google "cloud backup service" and see what you find.

4.  Your own personal cloud which is a piece of equipment (like a bigger external hard drive). You can schedule regular wireless automatic backups.

So come clean. If your computer crashed five minutes from now, what would you lose?

Your Book…Or Your Critique Group’s?

By Patricia Stoltey

Yes, I’m piggy-backing on Mary Gillgannon’s excellent Friday post called “Your Book…Or Your Editor’s?" She raised some important points about picking your battles and keeping an open mind about suggested editorial changes.

Going into a book contract without a little flexibility along with confidence in your story and characters is a risky business. You can’t work well with your publisher’s editors unless you have both.

As the member of a critique group, or even with a single critique partner, you may face similar challenges as you submit chapters to your group for review. Getting through the first round of critiques, especially if you’re submitting first draft quality, is not so bad. You wouldn’t be part of a critiquing arrangement unless you’re open to constructive criticism, suggestions, and even an occasional round of laughter at a huge mistake. Right?

By the end of the first draft, you will have a bunch of character notes, corrections (some big, some nit-picky), suggestions, alternate plot ideas, and timeline errors that must be considered during the revision process.

Whether you revise as you go, or put it all together after the first draft is written, there is now a big decision to make. Will you submit revised chapters to the group?

My own process is to submit basic first draft quality writing to my group because I want them to have free rein in picking on anything and everything.

If I do decide to submit revised chapters, it’s usually because I’ve made big changes. And if I only want “big picture” observations, I say so. I also tend to discourage line-by-line editing because it’s a waste of the critique member’s time. I go over my manuscripts so many times after the critique group’s contributions, and I make so many changes, that most outside editing is lost in the shuffle anyway.

There are risks involved when you submit revisions for critique, so it’s important to:

1. Define your novel’s genre. There are structural differences for romance, for traditional mystery, for thriller, for horror, for YA.
2. Know if your novel is plot-driven or character-driven.
3. Understand your novel’s theme or message.
4. Decide if you’re open to big changes to plot or character during the next revision.
5. Tell your critique group ahead of time what you want…and what you don’t want.

If you take revised work back to your group but leave the options open, you may receive suggestions for major plot changes, deleting or changing characters, or using structural techniques that don’t really apply to your genre.

What happens then?

You might have a crisis of confidence and feel your novel is absolute garbage.

And start making random changes to absorb all those great suggestions.

And end up with a mess.

More experienced writers tend to work through this stage with their critique groups and learn when to implement and when to reject suggestions. Writers new to the craft, or just new to critique group dynamics, may need to go through a learning phase before they understand that suggestions are just suggestions, like the results of a brainstorming session.

If you know and understand what you’re writing and why, you’ll learn to trust your instincts when absorbing feedback from a critique group or critique partner. And you’ll learn to guide your critique partners before they examine your submission so they don't waste time on comments you’ll only ignore.

In the end, it’s your book. Take control.

The Goodreads Connection

By Patricia Stoltey

So far in my series about blogging and social media I’ve discussed blogs and Twitter. In addition to blogging, I try to use a limited number of social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google+ so far).

I’m signed up on Library Thing, however, and may get busy over there once I figure it out. I understand that’s where an author finds a lot of librarians. We love librarians!

Regardless of your social media interests or lack thereof, there are good reasons for choosing a site or two to establish a presence. But no one author can do them all. That would be crazy as well as a monumental waste of time.

Today I’m going to focus on Goodreads. I haven’t been active there long, but my limited experience proves there’s a solid reason I should put this site at the top of my priority list. That reason? Because Goodreads is where readers hang out.

1. Authors can create and be approved for an author site and add all of their book editions and covers. You can check out my Goodreads page here.
2. Readers can enter giveaways for ARCs and printed books. So far, I’ve done one ARC giveaway and one hardcover giveaway.
3. Readers can read and leave comments on my blog posts within Goodreads because I opted to add blog posts to my author page.
4. Readers can ask questions and get personal responses.
5. Readers can recommend books to others.
6. Readers can mark our books as “Want to Read.” When they do so, they will be notified if there’s a new giveaway for the book.

In my experience as a reader, if I mark something “Want to Read,” I might buy it or borrow it from the library, but I’m also likely to post a short review once I’ve read the book. Not all reviews are good ones. So be it. Every book does not appeal to every reader, so I take the bitter with the sweet.

Now you’ll notice in my list above that I focused on what readers can do on Goodreads. That’s because readers are the people we want to connect with on Goodreads. Once my author page was set up and my blog available on site, I tuned in to the reader side of my brain and began looking for the things that would help me find the books I want to read, and the things that would most likely help the authors I admire.

Every time I visit the site, I find another “Want to Read” book to add to my list. If I read a book and like it, and can honestly give it four or five stars, I also leave a ranking and short review.

And one of these days I’ll figure out what I need to know to do an author event. There is a lot more to learn on Goodreads, and if it’s like other sites, it will continue to change over time. I think an author can even buy ads on Goodreads, judging by the header and sidebar content.

I may have just scratched the surface for promo opportunities. I wonder, is there a “Goodreads for Dummies” book out there yet?

Come on everybody, let’s tweet now!

By Patricia Stoltey aka @PStoltey

Geesh! I can already hear the groans.

You hate social media.

You can’t stand the thought of adding one more site to your daily list of “must” visits.

And you would prefer to bury your head in the sand and make this whole business of marketing, networking, and engaging go away, especially if it involves blogging, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, PInterest…..and Twitter.

Last month I posted about the benefits of blogging for authors in “To Blog or Not to Blog? Good Question.”

This month I want to urge you to try out Twitter, if you haven’t already done so. This is my Twitter banner. Isn't it pretty?

Twitter_Banner 1smallIf it turns out Twitter is not your thing, so be it. But I like it best of all the social media sites so far. Here’s why:

Lots of authors and readers and agents and editors hang out on Twitter.

If you have a blog, Twitter is a great place to link to your blog posts, especially when you’re promoting your guest authors. It’s also the perfect place for you to spot the blog posts you’ll want to read (especially literary agents' blogs).

There are only 140 characters in a tweet, so long rants require more work.

Facebook and Google+ allow the user way too much space to post long, drawn-out updates you don’t have time to read.

Unfortunately, a few less-than-savvy authors use their 140 characters on Twitter to say “Buy My Book” over and over and over. I promise you, this does not sell books. And....you can ditch them from your lists.

Photos can be attached to a tweet (think book covers and more).

This is where Twitter starts to get interesting. A member of my critique group just had a new horror novel released, and he explained his Twitter philosophy recently on my blog. One of the ways he helped promote his book was to create colorful and creepy flyers that he could post on social media accounts along with a link to a buy page. Because he has built a huge network of Twitter friends, he can post one flyer one time and watch the information get rapidly sent around the world. A lot of those folks in his network are horror writers with a fan following. You can read his full post here: Creating a Twitter Book Promotion Campaign.

Photos are a relatively new feature for Twitter and a successful one. If you establish a pattern of posting certain types of photos (haunted houses, Provence, cute kittens) related to your books, it helps reach an interested audience.

You can build lists that limit what you see to exactly the people you choose.

Although I need to do some fine tuning with my lists, I built one for Colorado authors, another for blogger friends, and one for literary agents.

I can follow someone else’s public list, and others can follow mine.

I can make a list that groups political and/or news accounts together so I can look them when something big is going on in the world, but I don’t need to follow the accounts and see them in my Twitter feed every day…that would be way too annoying.

There’s a way to build a series of tweets on the same topic.

The hashtag-plus-topic-title groups tweets together so a reader can select that particular heading and see all related tweets in one place. Writers often post messages under the hashtag #amwriting. I use #RMFWBlog when I post the links to our blog posts. #Bookgiveaway announces an opportunity to enter a contest.

Our own Susan Spann, author and attorney, uses the hashtag #PubLaw for her Wednesday series on legal issues for authors. Those of you who are on Twitter can type #PubLaw into the search box and you'll be able to see all those tips together in one place.

Finally, Twitter is another wonderful way to make new friends.

Take the time occasionally to engage others by responding to their comments or questions. Throw out the occasional silly tweet or fun question and see who responds.

Even though a lot of people like to make fun of those who post updates or tweet about food or the weather or what their crazy cat did today, you’ll find those are the little things that say, Here’s a real person and he/she wants to connect with other real people.

This tweet got me some attention recently: “I scroll Twitter and Facebook and see books I want to read, then look at the books all over my house, then buy another one anyway. #books”

So come on. Give me your best 140 characters (or less).