This Is My 1000th Post

That's actually a little bit of a lie, it's my 1001st post. But it's only fitting that my 1000th post from yesterday was a Saturday Slash, because this blog is above all things a writers blog, meant to help aspiring writers.

I've been up and running since March of 2011. My first post was about the fact that I'd landed an agent, and I'd like to point out that I didn't have a huge social media platform at that point. No Facebook author page, no Twitter account. I definitely didn't have a YouTube channel, and Tumblr didn't exist. Instagram might have been up and running, but I was ignorant of its existence.

Now I'm everywhere. You can't get away from me, and if you try I will catch you.

Blogging is a large part of my internet presence, but I use this particular platform as a tool that I very much wish would've existed when I was pre-pubbed. Often I have aspiring authors ask me for tips on getting published and while I certainly don't mind being asked, there's a basic misunderstanding at work that I correct as nicely as possible.

Asking an writer for tips on how to get published is like asking a teacher, lawyer, veterinarian, or any other professional the same thing. The answer is that you need to educate yourself, and I don't mean that you should enroll in an MFA program. A lot of the aspiring authors that ask me for tips are completely gobsmacked when I follow up their question with questions: Do they want to be traditionally published or are they aiming for self-pub? If traditional are they thinking of targeting mid-level indies or some of the bigger houses, and regardless are they searching for representation or are they going to submit themselves?

I never intend to gob smack people or deflate them. I can't give tips of any sort without knowing the answers to these questions, and the vast majority of the time I'm met with blank looks, questions about the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing, or even complete shock that agents come into the picture at all.

And that's fine. A little frustrating, yes, but it's also fine. That's the whole reason this blog and thousands of others like it exist. This is why I do my interview series with published authors, covering everything from the writing process to querying to cover art.

I don't expect people to know the publishing industry inside and out. It's a fluid beast, and a complicated one. I'm definitely here to help, and I hope to continue to run this blog far into the future. It brings no money to me, and that's fine. I like having it as a base of operations, and I think of it so much as an act of giving that I sometimes forget to use it as a promotional tool.

I've got a lot coming up in 2015, and things planned into 2016.

So stay tuned.

For both our sakes :)

 

Blogging For Writers

We all know by now that the days of an author writing novels in an ivory tower are long gone. Sure, we can still do that - my ivory tower is a bed with a broken footboard (long story) - but we're also creating content that we disseminate through the ever-growing cloud. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, G+ *, and any other number of social media sites that have yet to really explode are patiently waiting for writers to figure out how to maximize their potential. 

Hey - remember blogging?

Yeah, it was that thing where we wrote words that people read. 

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Some time ago I questioned whether or not blogging was still a valid outlet for authors in a world with an ever-shortening attention span. People want 140 character snippets. People want pictures. People want an easily digestible glimpse of you.

But here's the thing - I'm a writer. And I'd like to think that most of my audience is comprised of readers. So I blog. I do all the others things too (boy, do I ever), but blogging remains my focus. I've questioned that. I've asked myself if I'm wasting my time creating blocks of text when people really want one sentence and a picture of my cat. 

And then I was contacted by Robin Houghton, who was writing a book for Writer's Digest called Blogging For Writers: How Authors & Writers Build Successful Blogs. She wanted to talk to me about my blog and social media outreach. It was kind of amazing to get that kind of recognition, and I was even more flattered when she sent me a copy, which I devoured.

Yes, the fulfillment was totally awesome and then... I got sucked in by the book. It reaffirmed to me that blogging is still a useful and valuable tool for writers to reach our audience. In some ways, I'd argue that it's the best tool for us to use. Any personality can use the other social media outlets, and use them effectively. 

But can they write?

I've been blogging for years, and this book still taught me a thing or two. Even better, it walks the uninitiated through starting a blog from scratch on either Blogger or Wordpress, and explains the pros and cons of each. Worried about content? This books walks you through how to create engaging posts, and make them visually attractive as well. It even has a breakdown of how to use various social media outlets to get your blog noticed, and drive traffic. (Ahem, look for some screen caps of me in there).

So... I thought maybe you might want to check it out. Yes, the giveaway I've got marked below has a TON of entries, but there's a reason for that. It should give you a little tour of what's out there in social media, and how to use it. I'm pretty much everywhere, so you can go take a glance at me and see what I'm doing in all those places, then decide if it's the kind of thing that you might want to do to  up your exposure as well.

And if you're not sure, I bet this book will help you figure it out :)

Blogging with the Daily Dahlia

I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.

Today's guest for the BOA is Dahlia Adler, a very multi-talented lady. Dahlia is an Assistant Editor of mathematics by day, a copyeditor by night, and a YA author and blogger (she also blogs for YA Misfits  and Barnes & Noble Book Blog) every spare moment in between. Dahlia's debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, will be published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 24, 2014

So you run an excellent blog over at The Daily Dahlia. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?

Why thank you! What I wanted was for my blog to be a one-stop shop for new writers to be able to find the information they need when they start out on the publishing journey. There’s so much out there, scattered all over the place, and it’s so impossible to tell what’s good advice and what’s bad, what was once good but no longer applies, etc. I’ve been in the publishing industry for a while, and I’ve been on the writing side for a while as well, and I wanted to apply all of that in order to make as comprehensive and useful (and honest!) a blog as possible.

I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging. They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time.  I’ve heard a lot of people claim that blogging is dead. I admit that I kind of agree – unless you have an already established reader base. What do you think about this? Should new writers even start a blog?

I think there are two really important things to consider: 1) Do you like blogging, and find it relatively easy? 2) Do you really have anything new to say? The problem is, a lot of writers feel pushed into blogging as some sort of promotional necessity, and to me, that’s kind of absurd—if you don’t find it easy and enjoyable, it’s an incredible suck of both time and writing energy. And if you’re not saying anything new, then what kind of audience are you really going to get?

I don’t think that blogging is dead, per se; it’s hard for me to think so when my audience keeps growing. But I think a lot of new blogs start up that don’t really contribute to the conversation in new ways, and they’re there just to be there; it’s going to be very difficult to get off the ground that way. I also think the fact that commenting on blogs has gone down is misleading as to those blogs’ actual viewership. A lot of people read on their phones, where it’s almost impossible to comment, or they react and discuss on Twitter instead of the blog itself. I find particularly on interviews, I’ll have at least a hundred views but maybe 1-2 comments to show for it.

You contribute to a group blog as well. Do you approach it differently than you do your group blog?

I do, for sure. For one thing, almost all of our posts are at least somewhat themed, whereas very few of my personal ones are. (Though lately I’ve been tackling more series, and I very much enjoy them.) The bigger thing, though, is that even though my name is on each post, the greater blog still has twelve names on it. As a group, we’ve really embraced all different publishing paths, which is really cool, but also means I don’t necessarily want to weigh it down with a lot of stuff on traditional print publishing. And, of course, it’s a YA blog, so anything I want to write on another category is going to be for my blog alone.

Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?

Ehhhh, I think it really depends how you do it. The truth is that I think it has been for me, because I take a very personal and conversational approach to blogging, and I know people have ordered my book because they think if they like my voice on my blog, they’ll like it in my book, too. And they might—I have a tendency to sound like myself everywhere, for better or for worse. But that’s pretty specific. On the whole, I think that unless you’re a non-fiction author blogging about your platform, or maybe if you’re an issue book author blogging about the issue, maybe maybe. But I don’t think any fiction author will get out of a blog what (s)he puts into it, from a self-marketing perspective.

Sometimes social media feels like a do-or-die. How do you approach Twitter or Facebook on days when you really don’t feel like you have much to say?

At the risk of sounding openly ridiculous here…I never feel like I don’t have much to say. There’s a reason I have an embarrassing number of tweets. I’ve actually been working on taking the opposite approach these days, and not jumping onto Twitter with every single thought that comes to mind. It messes with your head some, convincing yourself the world needs to hear your every thought. They don’t. If you don’t have much to say, just don’t say it. You won’t feel good about faking it. If you feel you need to put in your social media time, use it to promote others’ good books. It’s some of the best stuff you can do on social media anyway.

What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?

For websites, I’d probably recommend Pub Crawl above all—it’s full of the kinds of posts every writer should be bookmarking, and its contributors have experience spread throughout the industry, rather than being strictly comprised of authors. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Absolute Write forums, which I do recommend, but with a whole shaker of salt—there’s a lot to learn, but it can be a tricky place to keep your head. As far as author blogs for writers go, I quite like Ava Jae’s, and if you’re pursuing traditional publishing, there are a few blogs that have great agent interview series, like Dee Romito’s “Query.Sign.Submit” and Michelle Hauck’s “Query Questions.” Amy Trueblood’s blog, Chasing the Crazies, is a great mix of stuff about both authors and agents; she’s kind of a master of blog series.

A few other things I highly recommend: Good critique partners/betas, which you can find on Twitter, through pitch contests, or at CPseek.com; the Evernote app, which you can download on both a smartphone and your computer, so that anything you write on one syncs to the other (which is incredible for writing on the go); and Dropbox, for backing up your work (which also helps if you’re writing on different devices).

Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?

If this is what you really want, don’t quit—not at any stage. Because when you stop, you make it impossible to succeed. But every new book you write becomes another new chance at success, another chance to get an agent or book deal or whatever it is you really want. And things will come along that make you think it’s time to give up. Those things have happened to almost every author, whether you know it or not. But sometimes, third time’s the charm. Or ninth. Or seventeenth. That’s just life. Or at least life in publishing.