Monday, April 27, 2015

How Important Is An Author's Online Presence?

photo by Marek via Dollar Photo Club
All the publishing pros will tell you that having an active online presence is an author's most important asset. How else will readers discover your work? How will those interested in what you have to offer locate you? How else will you stand out from the rest of the crowd? I recently experienced firsthand how imperative it is for an author to be available to an audience online. I consider myself to have a solid online presence and what I saw when I researched other authors baffled me.

A few weeks ago while at work at a community college in upstate New York, I got a call from Dorene who works in our continuing adult education program. She asked me to help her locate the author of a book she wanted to purchase for a class. She wanted to buy the books directly from him. I teach a few classes in self-publishing at the college, so although I am officially a campus nurse Dorene figured I'd be able to help.

"Did you look him up on LinkedIn?" I asked.

"No," she said. "Great idea."

We looked for him on the site and came up with nothing. We checked his Amazon page, but there was no author profile and no contact information listed. We looked for him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, all the usual places authors set up an online presence, but did not find him. We did a Google search and came full circle back to the Amazon page with no info.

Stumped, I apologized and said, "I guess he doesn't want to be found."

She was disappointed. "We're looking at another book, and that author is approachable, so I guess we'll go with him."

I felt bad for the author who lost the opportunity to put his book into the hands of a classroom of students. If he had simply set up an author profile on his Amazon page with contact info, he would have made a nice sale.

Not long after that I was talking to Gail, my contact at Thrall Library who works with me to coordinate the library’s Local Authors & Illustrators Showcase, coming in September. She had an author she wanted me to invite to the event. She gave me a slip of paper with his name and phone number. 

Before I contact an author for this event, I check him out online to make sure he fits with the program and to see what he can offer to our patrons and the other authors attending. And although I had a phone number for this guy, I wanted an email address, my preferred method of communication for this event. As you can imagine, coordinating 20+ authors can become confusing and overwhelming. An email trail keeps me organized and sane. 

So I did my research on all the usual sites and discovered this author had no online presence other than his Amazon page with no author profile. Bummer. I resorted to calling him, and after we played some telephone tag he agreed to participate. He gave me an email address, and we are now communicating online, although he says he does not have internet service at home and visits his local library once a week to take care of his email. 

After our initial conversation, I shook my head, amazed that the author of five print books would opt out of an online presence. We live and work in a global market. There's no telling who might be interested in what this author has published or who might want to invite him to an event where he can share his work with an audience and perhaps sell a few copies. Again, a profile on his Amazon page including contact info is all he needs to avail himself of opportunities.

A year ago, I attended a local author event at another library (it's where I got the idea for the event in my hometown). I met a few authors of children's books. I'm in need of these authors to round out my program so I thought I'd invite them to join us. I had the event program and lots of info I'd collected (bookmarks and postcards) from these authors and sat down to do some investigating. 

I was shocked to find that although many of them had some online presence - a Facebook or Twitter page,  a website -  many of them were inactive and had not posted or updated their sites in months. What was going on? Were they interested in getting out there with their books? None of them had listed an email address. Of the five I checked out, two looked promising, so I reached out to them via their Facebook accounts, but we are not friends, and such messages get sent to a secondary inbox. I learned this when I reached out to a blogger for a possible interview and didn't get a reply for months because she didn't realize she had mail waiting for her in this box. I imagine my messages to these authors will lie undiscovered, and they will miss out on an opportunity to connect with readers and other authors, and sell books.

One more story regarding my locating authors for this event: I learned of a local guy with a new book and decided to invite him. He had a great online presence - Amazon profile, and Facebook, Twitter, and About Me pages - but I couldn't find an email address. I decided to contact him via Twitter and he responded! Happy ending! But I shouldn't have to work so hard to get in touch with someone who has recently published a book. 

What's the moral of these stories? If you're serious about your career as an author, indie or otherwise, it's imperative you establish an online presence. You can do this for free. At the very least, build an Amazon author profile. Then start a Facebook, Twitter,  Pinterest, LinkedIn, About Me, or Google+ page (one or all, your choice, but at least one.) Create a webpage, your home on the web. On every site, include an email address. If you don't want to use your personal email address establish a new account specifically for your author activities. Remember to check it daily. Update your Amazon page and social media pages frequently. It's important to look active and engaged to potential readers and those looking to establish a relationship.

Publishing is a competitive business. Discoverability in a field of millions is difficult. Don't make it hard for people to find you. Not everyone will be as patient and determined to track down an author as I am.

Find me on Amazon! 

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Monday, April 13, 2015

IndieRecon 2015 - A Not to Be Missed Online Writers Conference For Authors By Authors

Novice or pro, we can all benefit from advice and insight about indie publishing from those who have bravely gone before us and paved the way. This is the best time to be an author, and with the proper tools and training those of us with the talent and commitment to bring our work to the next level may well realize our indie author dreams. IndieReCon 2015 is one awesome tool that can put you on the path to success without having to leave your home or adjust your schedule.

IndieReCon runs April 15-17. It’s a free, three-day, 24-hour online publishing conference whose goal is to “make indie publishing a mission possible” for any writer who wants to embark on the journey. Run for authors by authors, IndieReCon meets the needs of authors in all stages and levels of self-publishing. Co-founders Ali Cross and SR Johannes started it in 2013 with the ambition to change the stigma associated with self-publishing.

“Self-publishing is hard!” says Johannes, author of the award-winning and bestselling YA thriller “Nature of Grace” series. “And many people don’t know how to get started. Ali and I decided to help the indie community learn more about how to create outstanding, high-quality books.”

They struck a nerve: More than 10,000 authors attended the first conference. In 2014, IndieReCon had 25,000 visitors.

In 2015, IndieReCon will be presented by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

“To be honest, we never expected IndieReCon to get this big, and we are thrilled that the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI) have joined forces to help grow the conference even more,” says co-founder Cross, founder of Novel Ninjitsu and author of angsty young adult fantasies and middle-grade adventures.

ALLi Director and Founder Orna Ross says,“The indie author movement is the most important development in publishing today, and IndieRecon and ALLi are right at its heart, providing the support and information authors need to decide what’s best for them — and do it.”

The conference features an unprecedented number of the world’s most famous and best-selling independent authors and publishing professionals presenting content via blog posts, seminars, workshops, Twitter chats, Google Hangouts, and master classes. Estimated attendance is 50,000 authors from all over the globe. The conference also includes live streaming of the Indie Author Fringe Fest from The London Book Fair’s Book and Screen Week on Friday.

Here are some highlights:

Over 30 bestselling indie authors and experts covering topics that span the entire process of indie publishing, including: Porter Anderson, Futurebook; Joanna Penn, Author; Bella Andre, Author; CJ Lyons, Author; Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer; Mark Coker, Smashwords; Jane Friedman, Digital Media & Publishing; and more. A full list of speakers is available here.

Sessions: Common Mistakes New Indie Authors Make, Ali Cross; Basics of Online Retailers: Where Do You Go to Sell and Why?, Miral Sattar; How to Make a Living with Your Writing, Joanna Penn; Book Design For Authors – The Basics, Joel Friedlander; How to Approach Ad Sites & Make Your Book Desirable, Neil Baptista; The Importance of Reviews, Seth Dellon. A full schedule is available here.


Grand Prize Giveaway - Indie authors from all over the world have donated e-books for one purpose: to be used in a library or school. With the generosity of KOBO, an e-reader will be packed full of these indie titles and one lucky library or school will win that e-reader!

A Book Cover Contest to recognize indie book covers, authors, artists, photographers and designers that have raised the bar for the rest of us. My upcoming YA novel Swim Season is one of them!

And a Book Description Contest to recognize those indie books that best capture a reader’s attention, including Swim Season
Sponsors: Ingram Spark, Bublish, Books Go Social, Bibliocrunch, Draft2Digital, FicShelf, Mereo, Reedsy, Rethink, Kobo

I attended last year's conference, and it was three days packed with information on all things indie. The best part is that the content remained online long after the conference ended so I could access it when it was convenient and take advantage of everything offered. There’s no need to stress out over how you’re going to manage the sessions you don’t want to miss while balancing your writing, blogging, marketing, day job, and other responsibilities. It's all online, available 24/7, and waiting for you.

To register visit

IndieReCon Links:
Twitter: @Indie_Reon
Official hashtag: #IndieReCon2015
Media Contact: Miral Sattar
ALLi Contact: Orna Ross orna@allianceind


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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fresh Fiction: My Short Story "Collection" is Now Available on Kindle

I published a new story on Kindle! In "Collection," young Daisy and her family accompany their housepainter father on a trip to collect wages from a slow-paying customer, and encounter surprising consequences. This is the first in a series of stories involving Daisy and her large family growing up in the 1970's.  I wrote it about ten years ago, and have wanted to publish in ebook for quite a while but needed a cover. I asked my talented intern Jorge Vidals to come up with something and he made this beautiful cover. This story won Honorable Mention in the 2007 Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest.  A Kindle Select title, it's free for Kindle Unlimited users. Otherwise 0.99. Enjoy! Reviews welcome! Available on Amazon only.

Excerpt: The lady eyeballed Mama, stared at her swollen belly, and then at the ragtag collection of children lined up behind her. I held onto Sadie, patting at the wrinkles in her tattered blouse. It was once mine and had seen better days. The lady's gaze settled on me, and she shook her head. I moved behind Mama, my face flushed, and focused on the ground, on my soiled canvas sneakers. My big toe poked out of a hole in one of them, revealing chipped nail polish. I stepped on my foot, covering it up.
The lady pointed at Mama's belly. "You're about near your time," she said.
"That's right, Ma'am," Mama said. "Two weeks."
"Oh, my," the lady said. "And how old is your baby?"
"Seventeen months.” Mama pulled Joe tight against her and kissed the top of his head. He studied the lady with big brown eyes and smiled, his two front teeth gleaming.
"Good heavens," the lady said, fanning herself.


Don't miss a word. Follow my Adventures in Publishing. 
Subscribe here and receive a free PDF of my Kindle short story "Ino's Love."