New Possibilities for a New Year

Empty road to upcoming 2017 at sunrise

The sunrise of a new year.

  1. Your future is not limited by the past. While past successes and experiences can inspire the future, as I wrote about in my book, Questioning Your Doubts: A Harvard PhD Explores Challenges to Faith, the future does not need to be limited by the past. New scientific discoveries can build on past knowledge, but they also can disrupt old paradigms. For example, the microprocessor made computing available to nearly everyone, with a modern laptop more powerful that a computer that once took up an entire room. Thanks to this invention, most writers prepare their manuscripts using convenient word processors instead of typewriters, and keep their contact list of agents, editors, and publishers on their smartphone in place of their Rolodex. In the not-so-distant future, writers might conference with editors and other writers in virtual reality, skipping the long lines at airports and time spent traveling. As a writer, your next fresh idea can define the future. Your past projects may influence your future goals, but feel free to try something new and even disruptive. Progress happens when people dream new dreams. Let the start of the New Year serve as your excuse to pursue a great new project.
  2. New friendships are waiting to be discovered by you. Writers quickly learn the value of relationships in their profession. After all, writing is all about communicating and collaborating. Even when writers spent quiet hours alone putting their thoughts on the page, the needs and interests of their readers shape their work. The audience of readers is always present when a writer expresses ideas with words. By the time a book reaches the shelves of a bookstore or the warehouse of an online retailer, the writer has collaborated with many people – literary agents, editors, illustrators, cover designers, copy editors, reviewers, publicists, and marketing directors. These colleagues as well as radio interviewers, blog readers, online reviewers, customers, and conference coordinators become new friends in the life of a writer. Resolve to maintain the friendships you have formed as a writer in years past, while staying open to the possibilities of accepting the input, advice, and encouragement of new friendships in the year to come.
  3. To accomplish your goal, break it down into discrete, doable steps. Whether you are planning to write a blog post in one evening or a book in six months, if you have a plan divided into measurable and actionable steps, you are well on your way to getting the job done. Fit your plan into your lifestyle and your current schedule to keep it realistic and achievable. Can you envision setting aside two hours every evening to complete a new manuscript? Should you schedule a vacation in a secluded and beautiful setting surrounded by nature in order to disconnect from everything and make your writing deadline? Having a plan that matches your working habits and the needs of your family and other responsibilities increases the likelihood of reaching your goal. Great new projects need to-do lists and new friendships need time set aside to develop the relationships. Make a plan that fits your life so your dreams can come to fruition in the New Year.

What do you plan to do to prepare for the new possibilities awaiting you in the New Year?

Social Media… Eeeek!!!

Social media, social networking, marketing, PR, all those terms seem to make authors shudder a little bit. There’s so much to learn and a lot to leverage from gaining an online presence. Where do I even start? That’s the question that I hear so often.  I am going to start at the beginning. And for some of you, this may be very basic information.

Start slowly. It will snowball. My mom used to tell me when I was cleaning, “By the inch it’s a cinch; by the yard it’s hard.”  Social networking happens gradually over time. Gathering a ‘tribe’ takes effort.  It is something that comes with hard work and, most importantly, consistency.

Don’t get frustrated!

I want to start with one specific aspect of social media today: Facebook fan pages. Facebook has changed things up a bit where you can now allow ‘subscribers’ to your personal page. A good example of this is Tim Tebow. Check his personal page out, and you can see that he has 1.6 million subscribers. What is a subscriber you ask?   When you post a status, you can post it so that the Public, Friends, Friend of Friends, or a Custom Group of people can see your updates. Subscribers would be the Custom Group. People are under the impression that this is “good enough.”  Although subscribers are good, there are still more advantages to having a fan page, and most people are not even aware you can subscribe.

Here are a few of the simple basics that a fan page can do, that a regular page can’t:

SEO.  Have you heard people say that? What does it mean?  “’Search Engine Optimization’” is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.  You have more visibility with a “fan page” than with a personal one.”  In easy terms, these pages show up quickly in Google and other search engines because they rank as a higher priority than just a regular Facebook page.

You can have more that 5,000 people on your fan page. Unfortunately, a regular Facebook page tops out at a max of 5,000 people. You say, “I will never get to 5,000 fans.” I say, “Dream BIG!”

People have immediate access to you. No waiting to approve a friendship. Once a fan likes your page, he or she can see all that you have said and done.  Also with a fan page, you can personalize it; it is customizable.  With a little money, you can have a welcome page, a contact form, or unique apps that embed into the page that will make a fan’s experience more of a custom one. Think of a fan page as a second web site to draw attention to your book.

From a fan page you can learn who your followers are and who your target audience is. You can find out their sex, age range, and what country the live in. You automatically have an answer for when an agent or a publisher asks you, “Who is your audience?”

Dedicate 30 minutes a day to social media, and start with your Facebook fan page. It will be worth it, the fans of your book will thank you!

Tell me about your experience with Facebook fan pages. How can you encourage other writers to jump on the Facebook fan page bandwagon?