Social Media for Writers: 5 ways to make the most of your social media presence

In this post, I share five easy ways that you can use to make the most of your social media presence and promote yourself as a writer.
When I started this series earlier this
year, I pictured my target audience as writers who just don’t know how to
approach using social media as a tool to promote themselves.
I’ve already talked in previous posts about
several social networks that you can use to promote yourself and your books,
and how to use each one, but in this post I want to talk about making the most
of social media in a broader sense.
I guess this post will be a kind of ‘tips
and tricks’ one. You might not be able to apply each point to every social
network, but they’ll certainly be applicable to most.
So, here it is.

1. Use images.

Yes, this again. Tweets with images get
more interactions and shares than those without. I noticed my blog readership
increase once I added images to posts, and I know that when I’m reading
something online, I’m more likely to save it to my Pinterest to look at again
if it’s got an image.
As for how to make these images, I’m
recommending Canva. There are tons of free stock photos you can download, or
you can use your own photos, but Canva is great for sizing and adding text.
And while I’m talking about images, I’m
going to include your profile photo in this. Your account is more likely to be
discarded by a potential follower (and reader!) as spam or fake if you don’t
have a profile photo.

2. Link everything.

Inviting people to buy your book? Give them
a link to where to buy it. Asking people to follow your blog? Give them a link
to it. Telling people about an interview you did on someone else’s blog? Give
them a link to it.
If you’d adding a link in a blog post,
hyperlink it. (This is where some of the text in the post itself is the link.
For example: Check out this post I wrote on how to promote your books on
Twitter. There’s a hyperlink on ‘this post’.) If you’re not sure how to do this
on your blogging platform, answers are an easy Google search away.
You can also use link shorteners to tidy up
your links. Again, if you just Google ‘link shrinker/link shortener/similar
wording’ you’ll be offered a choice. Pick one you like, copy and paste the link
you want to shrink, and they’ll shrink it for you.

3. Make friends and network.

Now I know this can be daunting and quite
difficult; I’m going to have more posts later this summer on how to network on
various social media channels. But here’s a brief note on it.
Connect with other authors (especially
those in your genre) and book bloggers. Make a few people you know in
publishing, or some book news feeds, things like that. Share their content and
respond to things they post. You don’t have to like every Tweet they post, or
anything, but take some time to look through for things you want to share and
respond to.
You can also find groups on Facebook to
join, of other writers. It might take you a while of blindly clicking on
Facebook search results before you find one you like the look of, but you’ve
got nothing to lose by requesting to join and connecting with other people in
the group.
This is how you can build up your little
network. Writers are always keen to support each other, in my experience – especially
in the YA field. Someone gets a book deal, and the replies/comments are filled
with congratulations messages and people sharing it.
Yes, you want to build your profile to
promote yourself – but that doesn’t mean you have to be selfish in what you
post. Speaking of which…

4. There’s a thing called the 30:70 rule.

This is basically a ‘rule’ that says you
should share 30% of your own content and 70% of other people’s content.
Now I’m not going to sit here and say obey
this rule religiously, but take it into account. If you’re only ever posting ‘Go
buy my book! Go read my book!’ then your followers are going to start to get
sick of it. But if you’re posting that kind of thing once a week, and the rest
of the week you’re sharing other bookish/writing-related content, people are
going to stay interested in what you share.
This isn’t quite so possible on a blog, I’m
aware, or Instagram, but it’s definitely something to bear in mind on Twitter.

5. Post regularly.

If your aim is to build your following, it’s
no good just sharing something once in a blue moon. When you’re starting out,
you want to provide people with content to prove you’re worth following and
worth wanting to know. I’m not saying you need to sit at your computer
compulsively retweeting every new Tweet on your feed, commenting on every new
post in a Facebook group, repinning everything remotely related to writing on
your Pinterest – but stay active.
There are tons of infographics on Pinterest
on how many times to post each day on each different social network, and there’s
no hard and fast rule to stick to. But a starting point might be five Tweets
every day and one blog post a week. It’s totally up to you what you decide to
do, but staying active will help build your audience.
(I mean, if you find someone who posted
some great content, but only posted once a month, and hasn’t been active in a
year, are you likely to follow them? The chances are no, you’re not. If it’s
content you’re interested in, you’ll find someone who’s sharing it regularly –
and now.)
This is where I’m also going to say it’s
important to make use of scheduling and automation tools. I love If This Then
That (which is, as all my favourite tools are, free) so every time I upload a
new blog post, it’s shared on all my social media. That’s what, four updates
across all my profiles for one click of ‘upload’. So worth it.
And scheduling tools like Hootsuite and
Tweetdeck (again, free!) are really handy, especially if there’s some news you
want to share. New chapter uploaded? Schedule a Tweet for the next day – ‘Did
you see yesterday’s new chapter?’, one for the next day – ‘Check out this week’s
latest upload!’, and one for the day before you’re due to upload your next
chapter – ‘New chapter tomorrow! Catch up on the story so far.’


And there you have it. Five ways to make
the most of your social media presence.

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I’ll go into some of these things more in
depth in separate posts – things like scheduling, creating images, and
networking in particular – but if there’s something I mentioned you’d like to
learn more about, please let me know in the comments, or send me a Tweet @Reekles!

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Writing Wednesdays: 10 of the most difficult things about writing

This week is less of an advice post and more of a conversation. What are some of the most difficult things about writing for you?
I’ve talked plenty about writers’ block and
it’s arguably one of the absolute most difficult things about writing. In this
post, I’m going to offer less advice, and in this post, I’m just going to talk about
some aspects tricky of writing that maybe aren’t the first things you think of.
I’m hoping to do a couple of actual advice posts around some of these things
soon, so keep an eye for them!

1. Wanting to start a new project when you’re
busy trying to focus on your WIP.

Oh man, is this one of the most frustrating
or what? It’s so hard to work on one book, but when you get the inspiration for
a new book – do you try to juggle both? I prefer to try and work on just one
book at a time, but it never seems to work out that way.

 
2. Finding your character’s voice…

(The struggle is real.)

3. …only to lose it a few chapters in.

Do you ever start a story, and when you
read it back, your main character’s voice has changed between about chapter
four and chapter five? And it’s totally consistent for the rest of the book,
but the voice you liked best was the one right at the start? Honestly, I swear
I do this every book I write. It’s maddening.

4. Sharing your work.

It’s such a great feeling to be proud of
your work – and utterly soul-crushing when you’re faced with sharing it and
dreading doing so. Putting your book out there with someone, anyone, for the
first time, leaves you feeling really vulnerable.
That said: it’s worth it. You might like
this post on why you should publish your work online, or this post on why it
doesn’t matter if nobody reads your book.

5. When you want to write, but it just…
doesn’t happen.

Sometimes after you watch a great movie or
read a brilliant book you feel so inspired to write you can’t wait to get to
your laptop and let the words pour out, and then they… just… don’t. Frustrating
doesn’t even begin to cover it.

6. Picking a title.

Sometimes it’s the easiest thing in the
world, and other times whatever you come up with just isn’t working. It doesn’t
sit right, doesn’t have the right feel, doesn’t seem to be enough.

7. Figuring out how to end the story.

Am I right?

Here’s what a couple of other writers said
are some of the most difficult things about writing:
 

8. Alice Broadway: “Structural edits.”
(She’s not wrong. These are like a major
overhaul, not just picking up a few loose ends, and it’s brutal.)
9. L.D. Lapinski: “Waiting.”
10. Courtney Pochin: “Getting started. I have
so many ideas, but sitting down and trying to get the first few lines out while
I’m already thinking ahead is hard.”

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What are some of your biggest struggles and
hurdles when it comes to writing? Share in the comments or Tweet them to me@Reekles!

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Social Media for Writers: How to use Pinterest to promote yourself as a writer

Do you use Pinterest to promote yourself as an author? In this post I talk about how to optimise your Pinterest as a writer, and what you can do to promote yourself.
Pinterest is kind of a weird one if you’re
a writer – but since this series is all about social media, I’d feel weird not
talking about it. Particularly as it’s a social media I use to promote myself.
(And to collate a million and one cute projects I’ll probably never do.)
Some of you may not be familiar with
Pinterest past ‘Oh, isn’t that that site where you can like, pin pictures of
hairstyles and stuff?’ so here’s a brief introduction.
Pinterest is basically an online pinboard.
You can pin things from any website, and search the site itself for topics to
find things other people have pinned, and you can repin them to your own
account.
There are Pins – which is an individual
item being pinned. And there are boards – so you can add Pins to different
projects, and categorise them. It’s a very visual social media – think
Instagram, but each image is a link to, say, a blog post, or an item on a
shopping website.
I use Pinterest for myself a lot: I’ve got
boards for knitting projects, for sewing, for blogging advice and inspiration,
for recipes. But I also use it to promote myself as a writer, so once again:
this post won’t be so much on how to use Pinterest, but on what you can do with
it to promote yourself as a writer.
First things first, it’s the usual: You
need a profile picture, and a bio, and you need to think about your name.
I talked about all these things in more
detail in this post.
My Pinterest username (the one I made when
I signed up) is Reekles, but the name that shows up on my profile is ‘Beth
Reekles | YA Author’. I did this so that if people are searching ‘YA author’ on
Pinterest, it’ll throw me into the mix. Consider doing something like that with
yours.
Now the next important thing you need to do
is set up some boards.
One idea might be to create a board for
your books. Find them online (Amazon, or a bookstore, or even just wherever you
post them online) and post them to a board. You could Pin books you’re reading,
or books you want to read.
If you have a blog, and you use a title
image for each post, create a board for these. I use If This Then That to
automate all of my blog posts to post to my Pinterest boards – I have a board
for each of my blog series. This way, I figure, if someone asks me for writing
advice (and isn’t specific), I can just say, ‘Hey, check out my Pinterest board
with all my advice posts’ and they can find what they’re looking for very
easily – because it’s so visual.
If you have Instagram to promote yourself
as a writer, you could create a board for this too. Again, I automate with If This Then That, so whenever I post on Insta, it automatically posts on my
designated Pinterest board.
Maybe you create a board for all the
writing advice you find online. Maybe you find so much writing advice to Pin
that you separate it into different categories and make a board for each
category.
You can also make a board private or
‘secret’.
This basically means you use the board as
normal, but nobody else can see it. It’s just for you. I have a couple of
secret boards, but I seemed to get a fair few interactions and repins on
content I was already posting – recipes, knitting/sewing patterns, blogging –
so I haven’t kept those boards secret. If you’d rather keep a more consistent
theme to your Pinterest profile though, you can make any not-so-bookish boards
secret.
The next important thing I want to say is
that you can choose a feature/title image for each board.
I’ve created images for each of my boards
in the style of all my blog post images, and with the title of that board. I
added them as a Pin (there’s a little plus icon on Pinterest – that’s what you
want to use) to the board I wanted to feature them on. Hover over the board and
click the button to edit it. It’ll throw up an option then to select a cover
image for that board.
And since I’m talking about it: portrait
images are shown to do better on Pinterest. I prefer using square ones on my
blog (for the aesthetics). My images in The Twenty-Something Series are
portrait since I wanted to style them a little differently, and the portrait
image worked better. But if you want your pins to do better, consider using
tall images.
You can also upgrade your account to a
Business one.
Now this is totally free to do, and doesn’t
change much about your profile, or change the way Pinterest works, but it
allows you to keep an eye on your impressions and interactions and followers
and all those stats.
Business accounts allow you to use rich
pins, create ads, if that’s something you’re interested in. Personally, I use
neither of these features – but they are there.

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Do you use Pinterest to promote yourself as
a writer? Have I missed out any big bits of advice that you’d give? Share in
the comments below!

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Writing Wednesdays: What if nobody reads my book when I share it online?

Does your fear that nobody will read your book if you post it online stop you from sharing your work? I share some advice on why this isn't something to worry about.
You might have noticed a bit of a theme in
recent Writing Wednesday posts… it’s all about publishing online. So naturally,
that meant a post dealing with the biggest fear that goes with posting your novel
online: what if nobody reads it?
Granted, it may not be quite your biggest
fear. That honour might go to ‘but what if people leave horrible reviews and
hate my work?’. If that’s worrying you, I suggest checking out this post on howto deal with criticism of your novel – and if you’re still worried after that,
drop a comment or Tweet me @Reekles, and I’ll do a Writing Wednesdays about
that.
Anyway. Let’s get back on topic: people not
reading your book.
I’m going to kick off the advice part of
this post with two very, very blunt words.

So what?

Right now, I’m going to assume nobody is
reading your book because you haven’t shared it anywhere. So if you now go away
and post it online somewhere and nobody reads it… you haven’t lost anything.
Sure, you haven’t gained anything, maybe, but there’s no harm done.
If nobody reads your book, that doesn’t
mean people don’t like it. Sure, of course, someone might read your story
description and think ‘Nope, this isn’t what I’m looking for right now’ and not
click your story. But they can’t judge it as a bad book simply based on those
couple of lines you’ve used to hook potential readers.
No reads does not equal bad reviews.
Remember that. It’s important. There’s a big difference, and it matters.

The next thing I wanted to talk about is
what do you mean by ‘nobody’?

Might sound like a stupid point, but bear
with me. Are we literally talking zero here, or do you mean ‘nobody’ in a
broader sense – maybe 50 reads is ‘nothing’, because it’s not what you were
expecting, or it’s not what you’re measuring yourself against.
Again: if you literally get zero reads,
that means people didn’t read it. It doesn’t mean your book was badly written,
your plot massively flawed, your characters flat and grating. It just means nobody
clicked on it.
Sometimes you won’t get a lot of reads on
your book simply because people didn’t find it. Your book might be one of the
best in your genre, and yet it falls under the radar, and people just don’t
come across it. I’ve read some incredible books that have five loyal readers,
and then looked at some books online that are badly written (making them
difficult to read) and yet… they’re massively popular. So your number of reads
isn’t always a comment on your writing ability.

You might also want to look at why you’re
not getting any readers. 


Did you use a cover, or a story description? Have you
added tags? These are all things that will draw people in to actually read your
story. You might like to check out some of the following Writing Wednesday
posts for more help on these things:

Here are a few closing points I want you to
remember:

Your story is not the same as someone
else’s, so you can’t measure yourself against them. Measure yourself against
yourself. Maybe you started out with three readers, but now you have fifty
readers six months later. That’s awesome! Look how far you’ve come! But if you
then try to measure that against someone who’s posted several books, has been
active for years, and has twenty thousand readers… It’s just not going to work.
Everyone starts small. I refreshed my very
first chapters online obsessively, waiting to see if there was just one new
reader recently. It got to a point where I then only checked for every half a
million new reads. But I didn’t start out like that, and neither did anybody
else. And on that note…
Reassess your goals. Don’t expect to get
1,000 reads in your first week. It might happen, but it probably won’t. Aim for
ten readers. Then fifty, then a hundred, then five hundred. Build up.
Persevere. You’ll get there, but remember that it will be bit by bit, and not
all at once.

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Have you published a book online? I’d love
to hear your thoughts on this topic – were you worried about getting readers?
Maybe it’s something you still worry about? Let me know in the comment section
below!

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The Twenty-Something Series: I’m finally talking about my mental health

It's mental health awareness week and I've finally opened up about my own mental health.


I intended for The Twenty-Something Series to be a once-a-month more personal post feature on my blog, but this is something I wanted to talk about – and it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so what better time to post this?!


I’ve never talked about my mental health online. I’ve never opened up about my depression or anxiety. I was careful to never talk about it on my Tumblr, or on Twitter. 

That stops now. I’m changing that.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended #JustTalk, an event to support a local foundation, Nineteen. Nineteen was started after two nineteen year old boys committed suicide in the area at the end of last year, and aims to increase awareness of mental health and particularly male suicide. #JustTalk was a community event to promote these things and raise more awareness. I was invited to attend (in my capacity as a local celeb, as you do) and opened the event.

They expected me to say something about how important an issue it is to talk about. I did, but I also opened up about my own struggles.

I decided that this platform I’ve been lucky enough to have is exactly the reason I need to talk about my own issues.

Mental health is hard enough to talk about, and many of us are trying so hard to change that. There are so many campaigns to try and remove the stigma, so many people talking about it – hell, even shows like 13 Reason Why. (A controversial topic for another time, maybe.)

So here’s my deal:

I’ve got depression and anxiety. I noticed the depression back around 2010, when my GCSE exams began and I was 15. Exams have always been a huge trigger for me: I always put hideous amounts of pressure on myself. And after being top of my year in GCSEs (like, the highest grades out of everyone) that didn’t set me up so well on the ‘Beth is gonna do amazing’ expectations front for A Levels or uni. 

My anxiety wasn’t so bad before uni. Then it got to a point where it was a whole separate issue on its own to deal with, not just something that occasionally flared up if my depression was particularly bad. I went to a counsellor in third year for a while, and I’ve just started seeing another one now, back home. 

I didn’t tell my parents until probably about 2012. I didn’t tell anybody until about then. I only told my parents because things had gotten so bad I’d gone to the doctor and been prescribed anti-depressants, and I thought, ‘I can’t start on tablets and not tell my parents.’

(For the record, my family have been super supportive, and the same goes for my friends. They’re awesome. Thanks, you guys.)

I’ve been on anti-depressants twice: once though sixth form, and again in my second year of uni. I went to a counsellor in sixth form through the school but I wasn’t sure it helped: this had just been a thing I’d dealt with for so long, I wasn’t even sure what the cause was.

I think that’s been a big part of why I never talked about this before: I didn’t feel like I had a reason to be mentally ill. I wasn’t allowed to be depressed or anxious. I mean, I got a book deal at age 17! My first book will be a Netflix movie! I got a degree and a grad job! I have friends! I do some really awesome stuff through my writing! Everything’s great! And yet – depression and anxiety.

Screw that. Yes, I’ve been incredibly lucky, and there’s so much that’s good in my life. And yes, I have mental health issues. 

I thought about talking about this online before, but I was paranoid it would sound like I was trying to get more attention or something – which is stupid, I know, but it worried me.

Mental health is difficult to talk about. It’s difficult to open up to friends and family, and it’s difficult to try and make people understand what you’re going through. But we’re talking about it more and more, particularly online, and it’s so important to know that you’re not alone, and that there are so many people around who will support you. 

So I’m not being quiet about this anymore. I’m not doing this for ‘attention’, like I said: I’m doing it because this is something we have to talk about if we want things to change and we want to help people who are suffering and struggling and trying to live with mental health issues. 

And this is me, talking about it.

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Writing Wednesdays: What program should you use to write?

What program do you use to write? In this post I share what I think is the best program to write your story.
To some people, this might sound like
clickbait, or a redundant article – but it’s something I’m asked about a lot.
It’s in the same vein as questions like ‘What font did you print your books in
when you published them?’ and ‘What kind of notebook do I need to be a writer?’
(genuinely things I’ve been asked multiple times).
But there are no stupid questions, and this
blog series is to help writers – especially new and young writers – which is
exactly why I wanted to answer it properly.
Look, there’s no right answer to this
question.

Some people have written entire novels on
their phone, in an app like Notes – some have even had that same novel they
wrote on their phone published traditionally.

So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with
using an app to write your story (bonus points if it’s something free, and even
better if it syncs across all your devices like Notes does).
If you’re publishing online, you might be
able to download an app for the platform and write within that. I know this is
something you can do on Wattpad – and if you save it in your drafts on the app,
you can pick it back up on your desktop, or whatever. (I swear, they don’t pay
me to keep promoting them in this blog series – it’s just a really awesome
platform.)
One program I do like using for my writing
is Trello. You can basically create separate projects, and lists within each
project. It’s pretty easy to figure out if you take a look (easier than me
trying to explain it, I promise) and it’s also free. It’s available via the
website and as an app, so you can pick it up wherever.

Trello isn’t so useful for the actual
writing, but it’s what I’m going to call a ‘support tool’.

For instance, I was working on a fanfic (it’s
like a mob/undercover cop kind of thing, because I’m a sucker for that trope)
and I was trying to work out a couple of plot points and which ‘teams’ the
characters would be on, so I made lists for each ‘team’ and the plot, and then
organised the story that way. It made it easy to keep track of things.
I do prefer using a notebook to keep track
of notes, but Trello is a really great tool I can’t get enough of.
But let’s get back to the question at hand:
what program should you use to write
your story?
Let’s face it – I’m not an expert here. A
while back I wrote this post on free tools you can use to write, and I tried a
couple out. I Googled, looked around, gave a few a try.

But the program I’ll swear by is Microsoft Word.

Or Word-alternatives. You know, like Google
Docs. That’s basically the same thing, and all you’ll need is a Gmail account
to sign in, whereas you need to buy like a subscription for Word.
I know that actually a lot of universities
and colleges offer free access to the Microsoft programs, so it’s definitely
worth checking out if that’s an option for you, if you want to use Microsoft
Word.
I asked around on Twitter with some other
writers to see what program they use, and the answers were all the same: Word,
Word, Word.
(I’ll talk about Word now, but it should
cover Google Docs too.)
With Word, you’ve got all the formatting
you’ll need. And you might also like to check out this post on how to formatyour manuscript.
It’s also probably the easiest thing to use
if you do want to send your manuscript off because you’re trying to get
published. You won’t have any silly formatting issues from copying and pasting
it off a website, and literary agents and publishers all use Word.
It’s also really handy because you can use
tracked changes – so when your editor makes edits, you can see exactly what they’ve
done, and when you send it back, you can see exactly what they’ve done.
In all honesty, I don’t see the point in
beating around the bush and trying to tell you about all these incredible programs
that are available to you as a writer where you should be writing your story,
because I only use Word, and I swear by it, as do so many other writers I know.
It’s the most straightforward, easy, and convenient option.
Just for
God’s sake
remember to make backups on memory sticks and external hard
drives – hell, even email it to yourself! Just HAVE. BACKUPS.

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What do you think? Is Word/Docs the best
thing ever, or do you have a different program you prefer using to write? Share
your thoughts in the comments below!

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Writing Wednesdays: What program should you use to write?

What program do you use to write? In this post I share what I think is the best program to write your story.
To some people, this might sound like
clickbait, or a redundant article – but it’s something I’m asked about a lot.
It’s in the same vein as questions like ‘What font did you print your books in
when you published them?’ and ‘What kind of notebook do I need to be a writer?’
(genuinely things I’ve been asked multiple times).
But there are no stupid questions, and this
blog series is to help writers – especially new and young writers – which is
exactly why I wanted to answer it properly.
Look, there’s no right answer to this
question.

Some people have written entire novels on
their phone, in an app like Notes – some have even had that same novel they
wrote on their phone published traditionally.

So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with
using an app to write your story (bonus points if it’s something free, and even
better if it syncs across all your devices like Notes does).
If you’re publishing online, you might be
able to download an app for the platform and write within that. I know this is
something you can do on Wattpad – and if you save it in your drafts on the app,
you can pick it back up on your desktop, or whatever. (I swear, they don’t pay
me to keep promoting them in this blog series – it’s just a really awesome
platform.)
One program I do like using for my writing
is Trello. You can basically create separate projects, and lists within each
project. It’s pretty easy to figure out if you take a look (easier than me
trying to explain it, I promise) and it’s also free. It’s available via the
website and as an app, so you can pick it up wherever.

Trello isn’t so useful for the actual
writing, but it’s what I’m going to call a ‘support tool’.

For instance, I was working on a fanfic (it’s
like a mob/undercover cop kind of thing, because I’m a sucker for that trope)
and I was trying to work out a couple of plot points and which ‘teams’ the
characters would be on, so I made lists for each ‘team’ and the plot, and then
organised the story that way. It made it easy to keep track of things.
I do prefer using a notebook to keep track
of notes, but Trello is a really great tool I can’t get enough of.
But let’s get back to the question at hand:
what program should you use to write
your story?
Let’s face it – I’m not an expert here. A
while back I wrote this post on free tools you can use to write, and I tried a
couple out. I Googled, looked around, gave a few a try.

But the program I’ll swear by is Microsoft Word.

Or Word-alternatives. You know, like Google
Docs. That’s basically the same thing, and all you’ll need is a Gmail account
to sign in, whereas you need to buy like a subscription for Word.
I know that actually a lot of universities
and colleges offer free access to the Microsoft programs, so it’s definitely
worth checking out if that’s an option for you, if you want to use Microsoft
Word.
I asked around on Twitter with some other
writers to see what program they use, and the answers were all the same: Word,
Word, Word.
(I’ll talk about Word now, but it should
cover Google Docs too.)
With Word, you’ve got all the formatting
you’ll need. And you might also like to check out this post on how to formatyour manuscript.
It’s also probably the easiest thing to use
if you do want to send your manuscript off because you’re trying to get
published. You won’t have any silly formatting issues from copying and pasting
it off a website, and literary agents and publishers all use Word.
It’s also really handy because you can use
tracked changes – so when your editor makes edits, you can see exactly what they’ve
done, and when you send it back, you can see exactly what they’ve done.
In all honesty, I don’t see the point in
beating around the bush and trying to tell you about all these incredible programs
that are available to you as a writer where you should be writing your story,
because I only use Word, and I swear by it, as do so many other writers I know.
It’s the most straightforward, easy, and convenient option.
Just for
God’s sake
remember to make backups on memory sticks and external hard
drives – hell, even email it to yourself! Just HAVE. BACKUPS.

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What do you think? Is Word/Docs the best
thing ever, or do you have a different program you prefer using to write? Share
your thoughts in the comments below!

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Social Media for Writers: Should you start a blog?

Should you start a blog? If you're a writer, I think you definitely should. I share a few ideas and tips on starting one and help you decide if you should start a blog.
So you might have noticed that I’ve
recently made a few changes to my blog. Notably: I’ve moved the whole thing
over from Tumblr to Blogger. Hello from the new blog! (Blogger just comes up so much better on mobile,
and I got so much traffic through mobile users compared to desktop.)
But this isn’t a post about how to start
your blog. I’ve posted already about how to set up your profile, and I’ll post
some other time about how to set up a blog, and what you need to think about.
No – this post is answering the simple
question, Should you start a blog?
If you’re a writer, I think the answer is
already yes. I’m going to throw out the big pro to having a blog.

It’s another way of communicating with your
audience.

If they’re asking you questions, you can
give a longer answer than on somewhere like Twitter. You can also share about
your book, your writing, etc.
I started my blog as a way to talk to my
readers, and to give them another platform to talk to me, since I didn’t always
see my messages on Wattpad. At first, mostly people sent me messages or
questions about my book (through the Tumblr ask box thing). After a while, I
started writing more posts and sharing more than just a link to my latest
chapter.
In 2014 I started up the Writing Wednesdays
series to offer writing advice on different topics. I was getting a ton of
questions through my blog and through Wattpad asking for advice, and it’s hard
to give specific advice to each individual. So I started posting the series,
and then when people asked me, I didn’t have to keep rehashing the same few
paragraphs, or I could just direct them to the series on my blog if they wanted
more general advice.
So there’s the big winning reason to start
a blog: because it lets you interact more with your audience.

But I
don’t know how to start a blog.

No worries. It’s pretty straightforward.
Pick a blogging platform – Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, whichever takes your
fancy. Sign up and play around a little. You don’t even have to customise it if
you don’t want to, or aren’t confident. (But they all make it super easy.)
Your blog can be as basic as you want. You
can add widgets for your Twitter and Instagram, post Google ads on your page…
Or you can just pick your favourite of the free and basic templates available,
and stick with that. No HTML skills required.
The blogging site will ask you for your
domain name. Now some people have a custom one, where they’ve purchased the
url. But you just stick in what you want your url to be – like mine is
‘authorbethreekles’ – and there’ll be a .blogspot or .tumblr after it.
There are plenty of comprehensive guides to
actually setting up a blog on Google, if you need a little more help.

But I
don’t have anything to blog about.

Sure you do! Here are a few ideas:
  • Do you read? Share book reviews, or just talk
    about what you’re reading right now, or what you read recently. You can even
    compile lists – like, ‘My Summer Reading List/My Favourite YA Dystopian
    Novels/My Top 17 Books of 2017’. You get the idea.

  • You’re a writer. Share your writing advice
    or habits. Talk about problems you’re having with your current WIP, or a
    backstory for one of your characters, or why you like writing so much.
  • Are there questions your readers are asking
    you? Answer them! You might’ve sent them a quick reply on Twitter, but maybe
    you want to talk more about it. Whether it’s, ‘Hey, I love the relationship
    between these two characters!’ or ‘Was it hard for you to write this scene?’,
    you’ll probably find there’s something they’re telling you that you can write
    more about.

  • If you’re published, talk about that. Can
    you release your book cover? Have you got something to share about a signing or
    launch party? Talk about your publishing journey, or things you learned.
  • If you’re publishing online, talk about
    that. Are there pros and cons you want to share? Do you have some fanart or
    covers to share? Maybe you’re taking a hiatus to focus on something else for a
    while – talk about that.
  • You can post about thinks in your personal
    life, too, or just talk about other topics that interest you. They can be book
    related – say, how disabilities are treated in the genre you write. They can
    just be something that interest you – a recent news topic, or a series you just
    watched on Netflix that you want to rave about.*
  • And, obviously, share links about your
    book. Where to buy it, where to read it. Share, share, share. Invite people to
    it.

*I’d just say that if you’re using this
blog to promote yourself as a writer, bear that in mind. Keep the main focus of
your blog on all things bookish, but feel free to post about other things every
now and again! It’s your blog – nobody’s stopping you!

But
won’t I have to pay for a blog?

Nope!
You can pay for things if you want. You can
pay for a custom domain name, you can pay for a different blogging platform
that gives you more functionality, you can pay for different services that
support your blog. You can pay for a custom theme or a better theme than some
of the basic free ones.
But you don’t have to pay a penny for
anything. Lots of blogging platforms are completely free for you to use.
You. Don’t. Have. To. Pay. Anything.

But I
don’t know how to do HTML or make images or anything like that.

It’s cool. Like I said, you don’t have to
know how to do any of that. Yes, blog posts typically do better when they come
with images, and they’re certainly more shareable, but it’s no big deal. I love
using Canva for mine, and I usually use some free stock images. But hell, I
didn’t use images with my blog posts for the first couple of years, and people
still read the blog.
Content matters. Images are just… the
ribbon on the box, to make it more inviting.
And having all those extras on your blog? A
sidebar, an Instagram widget, all that jazz – it gives it a little something
extra, that’s all. It makes it look a little more professional, maybe it’s a
bit more user-friendly, but let’s face it, that’s not a huge deal. People are
still gonna read it if the content is interes
ting enough. (Like I just said:
content matters. Don’t forget that.)

But I
don’t have time to keep it up.

That’s okay. Your blogging schedule is up
to you. If your blog is an addition to your writing, just another platform to
connect with your readers and not your main focus (as in, you think of yourself
as a writer before you’re a blogger) then don’t worry about it too much. Blog
as and when you can.
You might find you blog more regularly if
you try and set up some kind of calendar or plan. If you organise what you’d
like to post and when, you might upload more. But nobody’s telling you that you
have to conform to something like a blog calendar if you don’t want to.
You can schedule posts, too. Maybe you have
a productive weekend and write five blog posts. So spread them out over the
next month. Then if you don’t have time to do all these posts when you want
them to go up, no sweat: they’re already done!
Sure, if you dedicate yourself to a weekly
series, try and keep to that. But otherwise – blog whenever you want to, and
whenever you get a little time. You don’t need to put pressure on yourself over
it. It should just be fun! Don’t turn it into a chore.


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What are your thoughts on authors/writers
using blogs? Are there any great examples? Share in the comments!

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I WAS WRONG – on finding time to write 

I’m not so stubborn that I can’t admit when
I was wrong sometimes, and this is one of those times. I’ve been thinking about
finding time to write a lot lately, too.

A few times when I’ve talked about writing –
whether it’s in answer to asks on my blog, or whether it’s in a Writing
Wednesdays post – I’ve said that if writing is something you love, you’ll find
the time to do it.

BOY HOWDY WAS I WRONG.

Some of you guys will know that back in
September I started a graduate job, and it’s been hella busy. I had exams from
September through to the start of December, so I’d get home from my full-time
job and study, and study weekends, and I didn’t even watch much on Netflix. It
was manic.

I didn’t write anything. At all. I barely
touched my computer. (If you failed the exams, you had one chance at resits,
and then if you failed again, you lost your job. So there was a lot riding on
it.

I thought after Christmas that things would
calm down. I didn’t have more exams for a while, so I’d have evenings and
weekends…

I was so exhausted and drained by the time
I got home that I’d just collapse on the sofa and watch TV for an hour or two
until it was time for bed. Maybe knock out a blog post.

I was getting into work before eight,
leaving past six, didn’t always take a whole hour for lunch, and I was so
drained. More recently, as the whole ‘busy season’ thing calmed down, I had to
go out to different sites. This meant sitting in rush-hour traffic to Cardiff
for the best part of an hour to get to a client site, and again to get back
home, for two weeks. And then it meant spending three to four hours a day
sitting in traffic to a different client site in Bristol for two weeks. 

So yeah, I wasn’t really in an enthusiastic
writing state.

The first writing I actually did was in
Cape Town, when I was on my movie set. Which sounds crazy, right? Because you’d
think that was the most manic part of the year. 

I’ve said before that if writing’s
something you love, you’ll find the time, but I was wrong. 

Sometimes life just gets in the way.
Sometimes, like me, you’re so exhausted from everyday life that when you do
actually get some time to yourself, you’re just relishing the chance to do
nothing and recharge ready for another exhausting week.

Don’t get me wrong – I love writing, and
when I do get into it, it’s the best feeling. I get totally transported for a
while. I get so into the story that I could sit for hours.

That’s actually kind of the problem. If it
gets to nine o’clock at night and I’ve showered and eaten and I’ve got some
time to chill, and maybe write, I won’t always write. I’ve got to be up at six
the next morning, and I know that if I start writing, it’ll probably be
midnight before I even notice the time.

The thing about writing is that it requires
energy, too. You need to feel inspired, excited. You want to feel inspired,
excited. You can’t write so well if you’re half asleep and don’t really give a
shit about what you’re writing. You won’t enjoy it then, at the very least.

And sometimes, you don’t always have that
energy.

I felt so guilty for not writing. I want to
sit down at my laptop and disappear into a story for a few hours, but that’s
not always an option. Life beckons. Or I genuinely need to just conserve energy
and do something mindless – like sit in front of TV and catch up on a show, or
rewatch a trashy movie I’ve seen a dozen times already. 

I felt guilty for using the time I did have
not writing, because I’ve preached about how you’ll find time.

I take it back. You might find time, and
that’s great, but sometimes you won’t, or you’ll want to use the time you have
found for something else.

Sometimes it’s a case of managing your time
properly. I’ve tried setting myself writing goals, but if I’ve been too tired
to meet them, it’s just made me feel worse. I still set myself a to-do list for
the weekends, and recently I’ve been able to use my weekends more effectively.

You might like this post about time
management and writing goals.

I get so excited for the weekends when I
can think, ‘Wow, look at all this stuff I have to do, for my blog, or for that
book I’m working on, or whatever! How psyched am I to get all this done?’

I don’t always manage to get it all done,
because like I said, I need to recharge ready for another long week. But you
know what?

That’s okay.

I mean, it’s not totally okay – I hate not
being able to write so much anymore, but I’m not beating myself up over it so
much now. I’ve accepted that it’s not something that’s viable all the time. And
that when I do have chance, I need to embrace it, and do as much as I can.

How do you manage to find time to write?
What do you do when life gets in the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts on
this, so leave a comment or drop me a message!

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