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Friday, July 29, 2011

Kindle Kash Short Story Writing Contest


To celebrate the launch of my new writers guide Kindle Kash - a comprehensive guide to devising, writing, editing, publishing and promoting your own e-book on the massively popular Amazon Kindle platform - I am running another free-to-enter prize short-story contest on my forum at www.mywriterscircle.com.

As Kindle seems to represent the future of publishing, I thought it would be appropriate to make this a science-fiction contest. The rules are as follows...

1. Your story must be 1000 words or under. It should also have a title of up to 15 words (which do not count towards the 1000 word limit).
2. It must be set in the solar system, but not on Earth. Moonbase settlers, Mars explorers, asteroid miners, or marines on maneuvers near Jupiter are all welcome!
3. The story must include the word “kindle” (or “Kindle”) somewhere in it. This can be the e-book reading device or just a plain verb, but it must be in the story somewhere. Derived words such as "kindling" are not acceptable, however. Credit will be given to authors who incorporate the word in as natural a way as possible, without making it stand out.

The contest will be judged by MWC moderator and science-fiction fan/author Andrew Fairhurst ("Andrewf"). As well as following the rules above, Andrew says he will be looking for stories that demonstrate originality and quality of writing. He is also looking for science fiction with plausible science rather than outright fantasy, and says points will be deducted for making Titan a moon of Mars!

The prizes are as follows...

1st Prize - A copy of Kindle Kash, my latest writers guide for WCCL (see here for full details and sample content).
2nd Prize - An e-book copy of Voices, a five-star-rated sci-fi/horror novel by UK author David Robinson
3rd Prize - An e-book copy of The Festival on Lyris Five, my own illustrated science fantasy novella.
4th Prize - An e-book copy of Coronallium Conundrum, a humorous sci-fi novella by David Robinson.

The runner-up prizes are all available in Amazon Kindle or other e-book formats (including HTML and plain text) via Smashwords. Please note that The Festival on Lyris Five includes illustrations in the Kindle version only.

Thank you to my publishers, The WCCL Network, for donating the first prize, and to my colleague David Robinson for his two e-books.

If the first prize-winner has Kindle Kash already, or doesn’t want it for any reason, WCCL will be happy to substitute another from its writing range to the equivalent value (or less). See this blog post for a complete list of all the WCCL writing courses.

Stories must be submitted anonymously in the form of a forum personal message (PM), as explained in this forum topic. That means you will need to be a registered member of myWritersCircle to enter, but if you haven't yet joined, this is free and takes only a few moments. Just visit www.mywriterscircle.com, click on the Register tab, and follow the on-screen instructions. There is a maximum of two stories per member.

The closing date for this contest is Friday 2 September at 12.00 midday BST (British Summer Time). So you should have plenty of time to write and polish your story before submitting it!

Finally, copyright in all entries will (of course) remain the property of the author concerned. We do, however, reserve the right to publish the winning entries and runners-up on the forum and here on my blog. Also, as is customary with contests on myWritersCircle, all entries will be made available to MWC members in the form of a downloadable report, with the authors’ names not displayed. This is done in the interests of transparency, so that members can compare the other stories and see if they agree with the judge’s verdict.

I will post the results of the contest here and on the forum as soon as possible once it has been judged. Any queries, of course, feel free to post them below or on the forum. Once again, please check out this forum topic for the full contest rules and any updates.

Good luck, and happy science-fiction writing!

Photo credit: Atomium Escalator by Harold Hoyer on Flickr.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing Workshop in Italy from TLC Tours

Bolsena capella
My colleague Teresa Cutler-Broyles of InkWell International LLC TLC (Travel, Literature, Culture) Tours has asked me to mention a writing workshop she is organising in Italy later this year.

The workshop will run from October 7 to 16 in Bolsena, Italy, and will be limited to just eight participants. Here is an extract from the course description on Teresa's website:

We will start on Friday October 7 at our headquarters in Bolsena, Italy. Sixty kilometers north of Rome and located at the juncture of Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany, Bolsena is full of ancient ruins, winding narrow streets, and cool breezes off Lago Bolsena, the largest volcanic lake in the area. It lies on the pilgrim's trail and is the site of a real life miracle. The basilica is across the street from our home base.

Saturday morning starts out with a meeting on the terrace, followed by a workshop on travel writing with Tristan Rutherford, successful British travel writer. Tristan will discuss not only the techniques special to travel writing but writing skills in general. Through writing exercises and focused feedback he will show us how to add color, flavor and excitement to our writing, no matter what your writing field.

After an afternoon with Tristan we will have dinner on the lake in Bolsena.

Sunday starts out with another focused workshop with Tristan, learning writing techniques that will enhance your writing not only during the tours we take for the workshop but for your writing far into the future.

Sunday afternoon and evening will be spent visiting the town of Bolsena, sailing on the lake, and we will have dinner in a nearby town. The islands and lake shore are spectacular, and worth an article if you'd like to put your new travel writing knowledge to the test.

Monday we will have a great short story workshop with Annie Kirby-Singh. We will also begin our exploration of the nearby Tuscan and Umbrian countryside.

On Tuesday we will visit with renown Italian novelist Sanda Petrignani in her home, and enjoy wine and cheese overlooking her small vineyard.

On Wednesday we visit writer Clara Sereni. Her work covers a number of genres and she will talk to us in a question/answer session about how to succeed in a variety of venues.

On Thursday, photographer Pasquale Comegna will be our host and guide through a nearby town, and those who wish to can take a photography workshop with him. He runs workshops throughout Italy, as well as publishing his photos in many of the leading national magazines.

On Friday we will visit Vetralla, where Mary Jane Cryan - an Irish writer of Italian history - will discuss her work, and techniques for writing history. In Vetralla we will also spend an afternoon in a cooking class in a centuries-old villa with chef Fulvio Ferri, and eat on the terrace overlooking the entire town.

We will of course visit many of the small towns nearby, including Civita, Montelpulciano, Montefiascone, Rome, Bomarzo and Viterbo, and others.

On Saturday, I will do a quick workshop on writing for both online and print publications; you might see your work published almost immediately on lifeinitaly.com.

We post more details as they come available; please check back to see what has been added!

Thank you to Teresa for the information. It sounds as though it will be a wonderful, inspirational ten days, and I'm only sorry I won't be able to make it myself!

For more details of the workshop, including prices and how to register, click here to visit the information page. You can also view the course brochure in PDF format by clicking here.

If you have any comments or questions for Teresa, as ever, feel free to post them below.


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kindle Kash Is Go!

It's taken a little longer than expected, but I'm delighted to reveal that the Big Day has finally arrived...

KINDLE KASH IS LAUNCHED!

Kindle Kash is my latest production for The WCCL Network, who also publish my other writers' guides such as The Wealthy Writer and Write Any Book in Under 28 Days.

It's a complete guide to devising, writing, editing, publishing and promoting your very own e-book on the phenomenally successful Amazon Kindle platform.

Kindle Kash explains everything you need to know in easy-to-follow, step-by-step style, with screengrab illustrations to make everything crystal-clear. Even if you've never published a word online before, with Kindle Kash you really can create your own Kindle e-book - fiction or non-fiction - and start earning a steady stream of commissions from Amazon!

Who knows, maybe you'll even end up another Kindle e-book millionaire like Amanda Hocking!

To answer one query, however, Kindle Kash is NOT to be confused with certain other guides doing the rounds, which purport to show how to make a fortune publishing copyright-free "PLR" content on the Kindle. Amazon is cracking down hard on people who do this, as the publication of multiple, poorly-written books with similar content and titles gives the Kindle Store a poor reputation. Quite apart from any question of ethics, as a money-making system it simply will not work. Kindle Kash is for real writers who want to see their work - be it fiction or non-fiction - published for the Kindle - and want an easy, non-techy guide to help them achieve this

If you don't know what to write, though, Kindle Kash will help you identify "niche" topics of interest to potential buyers. It will also show you how to plan your Kindle e-book, write it and edit it, all in the shortest time possible.

On the other hand, if you have a book ready to go already, you can skim through these chapters and get straight to where I discuss formatting your e-book and publishing it for the Kindle - and then, of course, how to promote it for maximum sales.

And as you might expect, I have a special offer for anyone who orders Kindle Kash via my own site. I'm giving away not one, not two, but THREE extra bonuses for anyone ordering this way (in addition to the bonuses being offered on the WCCL sales page). Take a look now for full details: http://www.nickdaws.co.uk/kkash.htm (will open in a new tab/window). All Kindle Kash links in this blog post also go to this page, incidentally.

I'm really excited that Kindle Kash, which I spent the best part of a year working on, is now available to purchase. I hope it will help many writers to benefit from this new publishing platform that is taking the world by storm.

If you have any questions or comments about Kindle Kash, please feel free to post them below and I will do my very best to answer them!


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Google+ for Writers - Initial Impressions

I recently joined Google+, Google's latest attempt to gain a foothold in the hugely popular social-networking arena currently dominated by Facebook and Twitter. Here's a link to my Google+ page.

In this post I'll be setting out my first impressions of Google+. Bear in mind that I've been in the service for less than a week, so I'm sure I still have plenty to learn!

As others have noted, Google+ is something like a cross between Facebook and Twitter. It offers much more flexibility than Twitter, with its 140-character limit. I've also found it simpler and more intuitive to use than Facebook.

I've discussed some of the main features of Google+ below.

Circles

In my view circles are the "killer app" in Google+. They help you organize your contacts in a straightforward, intuitive way.

You can have any number of circles: Google+ provides four by default - Friends, Family, Acquaintances and Following - but you can easily add more if you wish.

You then allocate your contacts in Google+ to one or more of these circles. People you know well and are happy to share personal information with will be in your Family or Friends circles (or both). People you don't know personally can be placed in your Following circle - you will then be able to see their public updates, but you don't have to share any private info with them.

The beauty of Google+ is that you can choose which circles you want to share each update with. So you might want to share personal news - details of a forthcoming family wedding, say - with Friends and Family only. For non-personal updates, on the other hand, you could set sharing to Public, then everyone will be able to see it. You can also set sharing to Extended Circles, which is where everyone in your circles can see the update and everyone they have in their circles as well (a bit like Friends of Friends in Facebook).

It's easy to move your contacts from one circle to another using drag and drop. You can also make circles on the fly - for example, if you want to create an ad hoc critique group or even a writers circle (LOL) you can add the people involved to a new circle called Critique Group or whatever. Then any comments you post to that circle will only be seen by members of that group. Naturally, the other members would need to create a similar circle on their own Google+ pages.

Of course, much of what you can do with circles in Google+ you can also achieve in Facebook by tweaking the privacy settings and/or using Facebook Groups. This is a fiddly, time-consuming process, however, and there is no quick and easy way to change the sharing status for any particular update. With Circles, Google+ provides a more elegant, intuitive approach, and one that I personally much prefer.

Another thing I like about Google+ compared with Facebook is that it removes the awkwardness of wondering what to do when you receive a Friend request from someone you don't know. In Google+, anyone can follow your public updates, and there is no expectation that you will automatically add them to your own circles. The updates of anyone following you will appear in your "Incoming" stream, however, and if you enjoy reading what they have to say, you can of course add them to your own circles. You can choose to read the contents of any stream - Friends, Family, Incoming, etc. - just by clicking on the relevant menu item.

Sparks

Sparks is a kind of article search engine you can access within Google+.

When you click on Sparks in the Google+ menu, you will see a selection of suggested topics - Cycling, Fashion, Recipes, etc. Clicking on any of these will bring up a list of related blog posts and articles. More usefully, you can also search for "Sparks" on any subject by entering it into the search box at the top of the page.

I tried performing a search for "Freelance Writing" and got a list of recent articles related to this topic, including several I enjoyed and saved for future reference. You can save any search and have it pinned to the Google+ menu for quick reference in future. I've done this with my "Freelance Writing" search.

Sparks falls somewhere between a standard Google search, a blog search and a Google Alerts feed. It's hardly earth-shattering, but a very nice additional feature.

Hangouts

Hangouts is Google+'s live video chat service. You can do a public Hangout (where anyone can join) or simply invite one or more of your circles, or even just a single person. The most people you can have in a Hangout at any one time is ten.

I haven't tried Hangouts myself - video chatting isn't particularly my thing - but everyone who has tried this service seems to be raving about it. From what I gather, it's simple to set up, and one of the easiest ways yet to arrange a video-conference. If you have friends and family across the world (and they all have computers with webcams) this could be an ideal way of keeping in touch. I can see a lot of commercial companies in the video-conferencing field having a thin time of it in future.

Overall...

There are lots of things to like about Google+, but for me the highly-flexible circles feature is by far its biggest selling point.

I also like the fact that on Google+, unlike Facebook (or Twitter), you can edit updates after you have made them (no more embarrassing typos!). Sparks is another neat feature I can see myself using to research blog posts or just seek out ideas and inspirations. Hangouts isn't something that immediately appeals to me, but I can imagine plenty of people for whom it will.

Are there any downsides? That remains to be seen. I can't say I've found any particular drawbacks yet, but it's still early days (the site is still officially in beta/testing mode). The spammers are yet to make any real inroads!

The main problem I see right now is that updating Google+ as well as Facebook and Twitter will add to the already considerable amount of time I spend on social networking. OK, it all helps to raise my profile and that of my books and writing courses, but clearly a balance has to be found. I'm hoping that more applications will appear that allow updates to be posted simultaneously to Google+ and the other main social networks. There are one or two already, I know, but nothing yet that offers the selective posting facility I'd like. And I'm certainly not planning on dropping Facebook or Twitter any time soon.

Those are my first impressions, anyway - if you'd like a much more detailed guide to Google+, I recommend this one from the good folk at Mashable.

So are you in Google+ yet, and if so what do you think of it? Do you think it has great potential as a writer's tool, or is it simply another time sink? I'd love to hear your thoughts - please post them as comments below!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Automated Grammar-Checking Tools: the Pros and Cons


Today's guest post is by Kody Carling, who works with the online grammar-checking website Grammarly.com.

Kody has some interesting thoughts on the pros and cons of automated grammar-checking tools.
* * *
Various methods exist to help writers refine and polish their work. These range from the traditional methods of peer and editorial review to spellcheckers and other automated tools.
Online grammar-checking tools are one example of an automated resource writers can use to improve their work. However, writers sometimes fear that in the long-term use of these tools will have a negative impact on their writing skills. For example, some writers feel that their spelling skills (and spelling skills generally) have decreased over time due to the use of spellchecking software.
To get to the bottom of this, let's take a closer look at the positive and negative aspects of using automated grammar-checking tools.

Pros: How can grammar tools help you become a successful writer?

  1. In every chess game, there is a front line of defense. Grammar-checking tools are like the pawns in chess: they are programed to find the easy errors. If these errors go unnoticed and appear in the final draft, the writer could be judged as slothful or not detail-oriented.
  2. If you are using a word too often, most grammar checking tools will pick up on that, and suggest synonyms for that word. This will remove a potential source of irritation for readers, and help your writing flow better.
  3. The modest cost and time spent using grammar-checking tools has to be listed in the "pros" section; while some tools are free with your word-processing software, better online tools are available for a small fee. Can you really put a price on reputation? Running these tools will take the average user less than ten minutes.

Cons: If used as the last line of defense only, grammar automated tools can be harmful.

  1. One of the main problems with grammar-checking tools built into word-processing software is that they are only programmed to find very common errors. More often than not, these tools do not find the complex structural errors in paragraphs. When writers rely on these tools they miss grammatical mistakes that should have been caught.
  2. Grammar-checking tools may find problems that do not exist due to differences in writing styles. These tools cannot normally distinguish the writing style being used; they are strict and inflexible, and this could limit your ability to write creatively.
  3. For the average writer, grammar-checking tools can be intimidating and damage confidence. As human beings we do not like to make mistakes, so seeing all of the errors the tools find can be discouraging - even if on reviewing the "errors" we find that many of them are not actually mistakes at all.

Conclusion

Automated grammar-checking tools should be used as a first line of defense, and should be run more than one time in the writing process. You should not stop there, though! You should also include peer reviews, writing labs, and studying grammar rules on your own.
Your reputation as a writer depends on writing grammatically with a minimum of errors, so remember to take your time, review your work, and use tools to help you improve your writing skills.
Kody Carling is an inspiring blogger and online marketer who works with Grammarly.com. Follow him on twitter at @k_carling
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Thank you to Kody for a thought-provoking post. I do agree that grammar-checking tools can be helpful to a writer, but their advice should never be relied upon (or treated as gospel). There is really no substitute for learning the basic rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation yourself - perhaps via my own course Essential English for Authors.
Kody has kindly arranged for me to receive guest access to Grammarly.com, so I will be reviewing this online grammar-checking service on my blog soon.
If you have any comments about grammar-checkers, as ever, please feel free to leave them below.
Photo Credit: Pause for Thought by Brett Jordan on Flickr.

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Ten More Top Twitter Follows for Writers

In this post a few weeks ago I set out ten recommended 'follows' for writers on Twitter. The list attracted a lot of interest, so I thought I'd post another ten today.

As with the first list, these are people (or organizations) whose tweets I especially look out for, as they regularly share useful, interesting and sometimes entertaining info and links. I've included brief descriptions and/or their Twitter bios as well...

TheLCW - This is the Twitter account of the London Comedy Writers. Although I'm not a Londoner, nor particularly a comedy writer, I still find this a very useful account to follow, as they post info on a wide range of writing contests and opportunities (not just comedy, and not just for Londoners).

TonyEldridge - Tony Eldridge is an author and book marketing expert. As well as links to many interesting articles on his Marketing Tips for Authors blog, he also regularly shares links to other useful and interesting resources for writers.

Bookmarketer - This is the Twitter account of Dana Lynn Smith, book marketing coach and author of The Savvy Book Marketer Guides at www.SavvyBookMarketer.com. I recently reviewed Dana's excellent Twitter Guide for Authors and Facebook Guide for Authors.

JFBookman - This account belongs to Joel Friedlander, a California-based blogger, author and book designer. Joel generously shares links and information, especially in the field of book design and formatting.

Self_Publish - This is the Twitter account of Christian author, entrepreneur and speaker Shelley Hitz. As the account name indicates, Shelley regularly shares links and information of interest to self-publishing authors.

JAKonrath - This is the account of thriller writer and self-publishing phenomenon Joe Konrath. Joe posts links to a steady stream of fascinating and inspiring articles about self-publishing (and publishing generally) on his blog at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com.

Markcoker - Mark Coker is the founder of leading e-book self-publishing and distribution site, Smashwords. Although he doesn't tweet as often as some of the other folk listed here, what he says is invariably worth listening to.

Inkyelbows - inkyelbows is the Twitter account of Toronto-based writer and illustrator Debbie Ohi. She shares useful links and information on all aspects of freelance writing and freelancing generally.

NovelEditor - This is the Twitter account of freelance fiction writer and editor Beth Hill. Beth tweets mainly links to her excellent articles on the craft of fiction writing (and editing) on her website, The Editor's Blog.

GrammarGirl - Grammar Girl is writer and podcaster Mignon Fogarty. She tweets (and blogs/writes/podcasts) on all aspects of grammar, punctuation and English usage. I see she has an impressive 161,415 followers, which says it all really. If you're a writer who cares about language, you should almost certainly be following her.

Clearly, your writing interests may not correspond exactly with mine, so some of these people may be of more interest to you than others. Still, I highly recommend checking them all out by clicking on their Twitter IDs. If you like what you see, you can then click to follow them.

And, of course, you are very welcome to follow me as well - here's a link to my Twitter homepage. You might also be interested in following the Nick Daws Writing Jobs Board account, which I run in association with Donanza.

I hope you find this list useful. If there is anyone else you think I should have added (including yourself!), please post their details in a comment below.


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Monday, July 04, 2011

How To Create Audio To Promote Your Writing


Today's guest post comes from Morgan Barnhart of the audiobook recording website eBook Voice.

Not surprisingly, Morgan is an enthusiastic advocate of using audio to promote your writing. In this article she sets out the basics you need to get started...

* * *

You're a writer. Maybe you have your own blog. Maybe you've written several e-books or even self-published through POD. Maybe you're writing a novel online, where you publish a new chapter each week.

No matter what you write or how you write it, sometimes simply getting it out there in the written word isn't enough.

The internet is filled with blogs, writers and ebooks, and it's time you took your marketing efforts to the next level in order to stand out from the others. And one great way to stand out from the crowd is by using audio to promote your work.

You may have thought about using audio, but don't know where to start or even how to get it out there to the masses. Well, luckily, you've stumbled across this post! You're about to learn exactly what you need in order to produce audio, as well as avenues to publish your audio and get it out to the masses.

Also, if you don't feel like reading this post, listen to it here!

Mywritingblog Audio for Blog Post by ebookvoice

[Note from Nick: If you are receiving this blog post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to play the audio on the embedded Soundcloud player.]

How To Record

Tip: I do not recommend using text-to-speech!! It sounds extremely amateurish and listeners will quickly click away if they hear a robot talking at them. They want a real human voice to get that real human connection.

Step 1: Microphone

Most writers don't have the funds to hire a professional voice actor/actress. While a professional voice-over is highly recommended (since they know what they're doing and you can just outsource it to them), in the beginning, you'll probably be creating your own audio to save on cost. In order to do this, you'll need a microphone. A Logitech desktop microphone is recommended for beginners.

Step 2: Software

Then you'll need something to record into. Using the audio software that came with your computer is not recommended. I suggest downloading a free audio program called Audacity. It's extremely easy to use and can be learned in a matter of hours.

Step 3: Script

The script will most likely be what you've already written. No need to create brand new text just to create audio. Depending on the length and desire of your marketing strategy, you may or may not want to record the entire text. We'll go more into that in the next section.

What To Record

You're now armed with the tools you need! But what exactly should you record and how much should you record?

1. E-book

If you have an e-book, I suggest recording a snippet from this, approximately 1-2 minutes in length. Keeping it short will keep people interested. Start the audio in the middle of a sentence, and end it in the middle of a sentence. Then tell them the URL where they can go to hear/download the entire e-book. This will hopefully entice them to head right over to get your e-book.

2. Blog

A great way to promote your blog is to turn each post into a podcast. I recommend recording the entire blog post and then, at the end, telling listeners where to go to read more (aka, the URL).

3. Online Novel

Online novels have so much potential! You can record a snippet of each chapter and put them up on podcasting websites. Be sure to say the URL where they can go to read more.

4. General Tips

Maybe you don't want to record a snippet of anything. Maybe you want to record a podcast that gives tips or advice on the subject of your blog/online novel/e-book. A great way to do this is to create a 1-2 minute podcast and simply give a little tip about the topic that relates to what you write about. Then, at the end, tell them where they can go to learn/hear/read more.

The point is to entice. You don't have to follow the guidelines above to a T. Experiment; record the entire chapter of your online novel, or just a snippet of your blog, or even an entire chapter from your e-book. Whatever you choose, just be sure to include the URL within the audio telling listeners where they can go to learn/hear/read more.

Where to Publish

So now that you've got a good idea of what kind of content to produce, where should you publish it?

1. Podbean.com

I LOVE Podbean. Not only can you sign up for free and publish your audio, but it also makes it easy to submit it to iTunes. Having your audio up on iTunes will be a huge asset!

2. Podcastalley.com

Podcast Alley is a great place to submit your podcast into their directory, to be found by...anyone!

3. Allpodcasts.com

Allpodcasts offers not only a great directory but a pinging service, which pings your podcast to all the main podcast directories.

And there you have it! Of course, these are just the basics, and there's a lot more to using audio to market your writing. However, this should get you off to a great start - and once you get immersed in the audio/podcasting community, you'll find a lot more opportunities.

So have you used, or will you be using, audio to promote your writing?

Byline: Morgan Barnhart (pictured, right) resides in Texas as a voice actress, social media specialist and writer. She's also the founder of http://ebookvoice.com. In her spare time she enjoys the outdoors and exploring new adventures.

* * *

Many thanks to Morgan for an interesting and inspiring post. I hope you will also listen to her audio version!

Incidentally, my blog sponsors, WCCL, produce an excellent guide called The Ultimate Podcasting Kit (see banner ad below), which goes into more detail about many of the areas mentioned by Morgan in her post. You can also read my blog review of The Ultimate Podcasting Kit here.

If you have any comments on the article, or questions for Morgan, please do leave them below!

Photo Credits: Your Podcast Spoke To Me by Gideon Burton on Flickr. Photo of Morgan Barnhart provided by the author.


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Friday, July 01, 2011

Review: Twitter Guide for Authors

Review of Twitter Guide for WritersI recently received a review copy of the third edition (April 2011) of Twitter Guide for Authors by Dana Lynn Smith, aka The Savvy Book Marketer.

Regular readers may recall that I reviewed Dana's excellent Facebook Guide for Authors in this blog post a few weeks ago. Here are my thoughts about her Twitter Guide.

Twitter Guide for Authors is provided in the form of a downloadable, 62-page PDF. As with the Facebook Guide, my first impression was that it was exceptionally well written and presented. It's printed in a clean, sharp, sans serif font, with screengrab illustrations where appropriate. The table of contents is fully hyperlinked, not just to the main chapter headings but to the section headings as well.

Twitter Guide for Authors begins with a discussion about online networking in general. There is obviously some overlap with the Facebook Guide here, but nonetheless it's a sensible approach, as it puts Twitter into context with other social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The guide doesn't go into great detail about these other networks, but there are nonetheless good suggestions on developing an overall strategy for promoting yourself and your work. Dana also reveals common mistakes people new to social networking as a promotional tool make.

The next chapter, Getting Started With Twitter, is aimed at people who are completely new to Twitter. The chapter starts with an explanation of what Twitter is, including the jargon (which often baffles those new to the service). Dana takes the reader on a mini-tour of Twitter with the aid of screengrabs, explaining the various features of the site. The latter part of the chapter takes readers step by step through setting up a Twitter account, including choosing a user-name, creating a profile, and so on.

This is all important stuff and clearly explained, but as an experienced Twitter user myself (10,493 tweets and counting!) it was familiar territory to me. In the next chapter, however, things started getting a lot more interesting. Networking on Twitter explains how to find people to follow and how to get people to follow you. The vexed question of whether you should automatically follow back all your followers gets an inevitable airing (I don't, incidentally). Dana has some sensible comments to make about this, although she ends up sitting on the fence to some extent!

The section of the chapter I found most interesting, however, is where Twitter Lists are discussed. I must admit I have never paid much attention to this aspect of Twitter, but Dana reveals that they can be a powerful promotional tool. The example she gives of one of her own Twitter Lists occupying top spot on Google for a common search phrase provides irrefutable proof of the importance of taking Lists seriously!

The next chapter, Posting on Twitter, offers a wide range of suggestions for what to write about. It also covers how often you should tweet, and how to automatically - or semi-automatically - have updates posted to the other main social networks, Facebook and LinkedIn. For me, though, the most interesting section comes at the end of the chapter, where Dana talks about running Twitter contests and giveaways. This promotional concept is clearly explained, with real-life case studies of authors who have used it successfully. I shall definitely be applying some of the things I learned in this section soon!

Twitter Tools and Resources, the next chapter, looks at free and paid-for services you can use to schedule tweets in advance, automatically follow back anyone who follows you (if you want to), manage multiple Twitter profiles, and so on. There is also a brief but important section on troubleshooting, and a list of recommended publishing and marketing people to follow. The book concludes with a step-by-step action plan for applying the advice in the guide and getting your Twitter account up and running successfully.

I normally try to include one or two criticisms in my reviews but, although I've tried, I can't think of one where Twitter Guide for Authors is concerned. If you're new to Twitter - or still getting the hang of it - I highly recommend the modest investment required for a copy. Even "old hands" (such as myself), however, are sure to pick up some valuable hints and tips from it.

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Twitter Guide for Authors from the author/publisher. In addition, the links in this review are affiliate links, so if you go on to make a purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission. This has not affected my review of the guide in any way.

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