by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Tools and Tips for Writers

Here are a few updates on what I’ve found helpful or interesting lately in the promo and writing worlds.

For the writer who has multiple releases a year, a Coming Soon page on your website. This was suggested to me by a reader who was having a hard time keeping up.  The important thing with this page is to keep it updated since it’s not one of the pages we’re on very often.

A nice link to add to the Coming Soon page (along with other pages on our site) is a link to our Amazon Author Central page with instructions to follow us there.   I just put a simple: ” Follow me on Amazon for release updates” up.

I struggle with design issues and use design too often to just continually outsource it to a real designer.  I’m getting by now with Canva for Twitter and blog headers/backgrounds, but I’ve recently discovered  Although I’ve gotten very handy with Canva, so far I’ve found Designfeed a bit quicker, at least in terms of throwing images up on the blog.  It has a feature where it matches your headline text to Creative Commons images, which is a timesaver.  Again, my design skills are limited and I’m sure you could do better, but today’s and yesterday’s posts demonstrate my dabbling with it (for only about 5 minutes).  It’s free and in beta.  Might be worth playing around with (not sure if there will be a pay version once it moves from beta).

Pirating my content, I’ll be honest, hasn’t even been much of a concern of mine.   Many pirate sites are dummy set-ups to get the unsuspecting reader’s info without delivering the goods. Plus, I just don’t think the majority of my readers are out there trying to beat the system. However, I know many, many writers are concerned about pirating.  There is an interesting way to dispense with unauthorized use of your content with a free tool called Blasty.  Like, it’s also in beta and currently free.  I heard about it from a mention in Jane Friedman’s excellent Electric Speed newsletter full of digital media tools and resources (view her archives here for a wealth of info and to see whether her newsletter might be right for you).   With Blasty, you register with the site, they verify you are the owner of the content, and then they alert you to illegal copies.  With one click, you can eliminate them (although monitoring this could be a real time suck.)

Indie writers with audiobooks through ACX will be familiar with the complimentary Audible download codes that they provide in their effort to get more readers to give audiobooks a go. It took me a while to get to the point where I actually knew the best way to use these. I’ve found that my last newsletter campaign to readers has worked really well so far.  It, luckily, corresponded with a new release so the newsletter had details about the book launch, a couple of recipes (standard fare for my list), a plea to follow me on Instagram (more on that below), and an invitation to enter a giveaway for one of the 25 free downloads.  I set up a special page on my website, linked to the address in my newsletter, put up the audiobook’s back cover copy and cover, and then embedded a Rafflecopter giveaway (I use the free version). So far I’m at 60ish entries.  You can ask your readers to share a link to a giveaway or follow you on social media for extra points, etc.  Anyway, a nice way to use those codes.

As I mentioned above, I started an Instagram because I felt I needed a really dedicated place online where I specifically hung out with readers.  My platform is very writer-centric since that’s my comfort zone.  When I set up the Instagram account, it automatically connected to my personal Facebook account (which made me really peeved since this was not supposed to be a personal Instagram account).  Since my followers there were getting really lopsided with non-readers, I asked my newsletter readers to follow my new account on Instagram…”since my teenage children feel sorry for me.”  Which is absolutely the truth…my 19 year old was liking pictures out of pity and finally called me on the phone from college to ask me what I was trying to do on Instagram.  Luckily, my plea worked and my reader numbers have greatly improved. I think, hopefully, this will become a more organic process from here with Instagram’s algorithms suggesting my page to others.

I had my newsletter in draft form on MailChimp for several days so that I could be more thoughtful about what material I included in it.  I rarely send newsletters and wanted to ensure that I used this device wisely when I did.

And that’s all I’ve got for now!  What have you been working with or found helpful lately?

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