How to get more views of your Facebook posts

Hi there.

Ever posted anything on Facebook? Yeah. Me too. Cat pics. Snarky comments. Photos of my kid punching me in the face while I’m wearing a sombrero. Books and paintings I’m trying to promote. Yep. Pretty much everything.

Thing is, Facebook isn’t the same playground it used to be. Not even close. A few years back, if you used your  page to promote something or share an awesome photo, a large percentage of your friends and followers would see it in their timelines. You really didn’t have to do anything special to reach an audience, even if you were selling something. If your cat pic was good enough or your art amazing enough, almost everyone would eventually see it. The algorithms were simpler, the interface easy to learn.

Sadly, this isn’t true anymore.

With the rise of Facebook marketing, junk like this takes up more of our feeds than ever.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but nowadays pretty much everyone’s timeline is sprinkled (liberally) with ‘Suggested Posts’ and ‘Sponsored Ads.’ Scroll down three or four posts into your feed and you’ll see them. Sometimes it’s junk marketing, sometimes car ads, and sometimes random products or services Facebook’s algorithms thought (usually mistakenly) you’d be interested in. But there they are, fixed on your feed for days, sometimes weeks, taking up a spot once held by actual content from your friends.

Now, if you’re just sharing a cat photo or a political rant, this change probably doesn’t bother you all that much. Facebook knows who your top engagers are (the people you interact with the most) and it’ll usually spread your posts to those people first, and then grow the audience depending on how much interaction you get. If your video of a cat attacking your ceiling fan doesn’t get quite as many likes as it did a few years ago, you probably won’t be too upset by it. You might not even notice.

But…

Suppose you’ve got something you really, really want (or need) to be seen. Something you’re promoting, selling, or just something important you want your friends and followers to view.  You want max exposure, right? You want more people than usual to see this special post. What’s the best way to do that?

Now we’re talking.

First and foremost, let’s discuss how NOT to gain maximum exposure for your big important post. Here are several common mistakes people make when posting something they really want to be seen:

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Things NOT to do:

 


Post a link to an article or website without writing anything in the ‘What’s on your mind?‘ field (or for business pages, the ‘Write something’ field)

Hit ‘Like’ when people comment on your post rather than replying with actual words

Post a link to something when a picture or text will suffice (Links only get max exposure when people are clicking on them, not just ‘liking’ them.)

Share something without adding comments

Post a photo with words or text blocking out parts of the image (Facebook hates this.)

Spam a bunch of posts in a small amount of time (Typically only the most popular one will get good exposure)


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Pretty simple, right? Now let’s talk about the things you should do when you’re trying to get max exposure.

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GOOD things to do:


When using the ‘share’ feature to draw attention to a post, add a comment at the top

Whenever people comment on something important you’ve posted, respond with comments of your own in addition to likes (if likes are warranted)

If you post multiple things per day, space them out

If you have the option, post pictures or text instead of links. If you need to post a link, make sure you write something clever, funny, or otherwise appealing to accompany it. You’ll need people clicking your link in order to get max exposure

If you’re paying to boost a post via your business page, use small, well-defined target audiences. Narrow down your age range, geography, and similar likes as much as possible

Always use good spelling and tight grammar. (Sloppy spelling and grammar can sometimes lead people to think posts are spam or clickbait)

Engage friends and followers in regular conversation. Research shows that interacting with someone on a regular basis (via their timeline, not Facebook messenger) will enable them to see your posts more often


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You want these.

…more than you want these.

So now that we’ve covered the basics of working within Facebook’s algorithms to get max engagement, let’s talk about a few other approaches. Assuming you’ve got something awesome and share-worthy, there’s still more you can do to get likes, comments, and most importantly (for some users) clicks.

Lesson 1: Beware Facebook fatigue

Have you ever gone on your feed and encountered a big pile of shared memes, pics, and posts…all by the same person? Yeah, you know you have. Don’t be that person. You’ll get unfollowed (and sometimes even unfriended.) But more importantly, people will tend to scroll past your posts. If spamming memes and quotes makes you happy, by all means do it, but don’t expect people to care all that much. One high quality post per day will defeat ten hastily put together posts. You don’t want to wear your audience out, do you? Nope.

Lesson 2: Carefully choose your tone (mostly for business page users and marketers)

If you’re on Facebook just to share family pics and silly, fun stuff, you don’t really have to worry about this part. But if you’re on a mission to promote something or you’re trying to focus on earning respect and gaining attention, it’s in your best interest to watch your tone. Stay away from frequent negative rants. Don’t often stray off-topic. If and when you get criticized (and you probably will at some point) don’t counterattack. Be cool, calm, and confident. And stick to your message, whatever it is.

Lesson 3: Don’t be self-centered

To get more engagement, likes, and views from your followers and friends, you have to give. If you post tons of stuff, but seldom click, like, or comment on other people’s posts, chances are you’ll get tuned out over time. Try starting up a conversation on someone else’s thread. Odds are you’ll have fun and possibly earn a few friends. It’s really that easy.

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Getting love and earning happiness on Facebook isn’t hard. You’ve just gotta play by their rules while staying as interesting as you can. When you do, the experience is better for everyone.

Though of course, Facebook could change their algorithms tomorrow and render this entire article obsolete. Let’s hope they don’t do that for a while.

Speaking of Facebook, hook up with me here and let’s talk each other’s ears off.

Love,

J Edward Neill

Writer of books and painter of shadows

Replacing Createspace – A huge change for KDP authors?

Authors who use Amazon’s Createspace or KDP services might want to take a look at the new option just released today.

Apparently Amazon has decided to consolidate some of their print-by-demand services by offering softcover book sales via KDP.

What does it mean? Situation: not quite certain

Right now the KDP softcover print option is in beta mode, meaning Amazon is testing its viability. But if it takes off, and if it expands print services to include non-standard book trim sizes, (right now it doesn’t) one wonders if the shift in focus away from Createspace will benefit authors. Will KDP-like marketing services (similar to Kindle Countdown) be made available? Does Amazon have additional marketing services in mind?

Here’s the basics straight from Amazon’s help page:

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Move Your CreateSpace Paperback to KDP (Beta):

Moving your CreateSpace paperback to KDP will consolidate your paperback and eBook publishing on a single website. You will receive combined royalty payments for the marketplaces you sell your eBooks and paperbacks to. You do not need to do anything extra – your current account settings, payment information and tax details do not need updates. With KDP, you can distribute to Japan in addition to the US and European marketplaces. We also offer a multilingual user interface and customer support in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Japanese.Although KDP doesn’t yet offer author copies, proof copies, or expanded distribution, we will be adding those features in the future.KDP’s print features won’t affect any existing CreateSpace titles unless you choose to republish them on KDP. It’s up to you whether you want to start publishing new paperbacks on KDP.

KDP and CreateSpace feature comparison chart

Feature KDP CreateSpace
Distribution to Amazon.com (US) Yes Yes
Distribution to Europe (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es) Yes Yes
Distribution to Japan (Amazon.co.jp) Yes No
Order physical proof copies Not yet Yes
Order wholesale author copies Not yet Yes
Expanded distribution to bookstores and non-Amazon websites Not yet Yes

How to publish your CreateSpace paperback on KDP

  1. Set up a new paperback title on your KDP Bookshelf.
  2. On the Paperback Details page, enter the same metadata used for your CreateSpace book.
  3. Select “Yes” when asked whether this book was previously published on CreateSpace.
  4. Click “Save and Continue” to move on to the Paperback Content page.
  5. Under the ISBN header, enter the same 13-digit ISBN used to publish your book on CreateSpace. If you have a 10-digit ISBN issued by CreateSpace, use the ISBN converter to find your 13-digit ISBN equivalent.
  6. Click “Continue” to sign in to your CreateSpace account and validate your ownership of the title.

Once you’re redirected back to KDP, you’ll want to enter the same book details (publication date, trim size, paper type, cover finish) and upload the same manuscript and cover files you used to publish on CreateSpace. KDP’s print specifications are similar to CreateSpace, except we don’t support custom CreateSpace trim sizes. See the trim sizes KDP supports

With our Online Previewer, you can proofread your paperback manuscript online or download it to view offline.

After you publish your CreateSpace book on KDP, we’ll automatically remove your CreateSpace paperback from sale, and your KDP sales will be tracked in your KDP sales and royalty reports. You can still access historical sales reports on CreateSpace but you will not need to take any additional action there.

Files made with CreateSpace templates

In most circumstances, if you used a CreateSpace template to format your cover or manuscript file, you can reuse the same files to publish your CreateSpace paperback on KDP. See exceptions where you’ll need to edit your Cover files and Manuscript files below. If you paid for a CreateSpace cover or interior service, contact CreateSpace customer support to get your files.

If Online Previewer finds errors in your uploaded files, you’ll want to correct the formatting and reupload the files. Troubleshooting tips follow below, and you can also see our KDP Print Publishing Guidelines for detailed help with formatting errors.

Cover files
Some older CreateSpace cover templates include white space around the edges that trigger errors on KDP’s Online Previewer. If you used a CreateSpace template to create your cover, make sure it matches your book’s intended trim size and remove any extra white space. Learn more about KDP’s cover size requirements.

Manuscript files
KDP does not support custom CreateSpace trim sizes. If you used a CreateSpace interior template to create your manuscript file, make sure it’s in a trim size that KDP supports. If not, reset the trim size and reformat your manuscript file to match your new trim size.

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I’m intrigued (and maybe a little bit hopeful) about this move.

Although, considering the huge issues with Amazon’s reporting of page-reads via the Kindle Unlimited program, maybe I shouldn’t be so optimistic.

What do you think?

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J Edward Neill

Author of sci-fi hit A Door Never Dreamed Of

Creator of Coffee Table Philosophy

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Three Years Later

This week marks my 157th blog since Tessera Guild started. Which really means that somehow, through late nights and odd bits of inspiration, I’ve somehow managed to write another 52 posts. Some of them might have received some attention and some slipped under the radar. So as I’ve done the past two years, I’d like to take the time to maybe shine a spotlight on a few posts.

 

Story Telling – Micro Bursts

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Part writing exercise (gotta work out, right?), part challenge to myself, and perhaps part trying to get the brain waves pushing in the correct direction, this blog has maybe the most “stories” of any blog I’ve ever done before or since. Of course, since they are only 2 sentences each, I really had to write a bunch of them all at once.

 

Creatures Big and Small

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Not a blog I’d hoped to write. When we lost our outdoor cat, Fiona, it felt like it was time to pay tribute to some of my pets I’ve had since I could barely walk. It’s my hope that when Fiona crossed over, there were a few other cats and dogs who could help take care of her on the other side.

 

40 Things You Might Not Know About Me

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They say turning 40 is scary. Of course, “They” are always saying stuff like that to scare us. 30 was scary. 40 was scary. 50 will be scary.

But I thought this would be a good time to give as much information about myself in as short of time as possible… hence the list.

 

Killing Your Darlings or Editing My Over-used Words

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A writing blog about editing. Even though I only have a handful of things out there, I forget that I’ve actually made great strides from when I started. And this blog belongs in that grouping where I can let myself know I have come a long way. And it also is a reminder that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

 

New Myths and Legends

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In the old days, people told stories and created gods in order to explain the explainable within their universe. So if you wondered why the sun moved through the sky, obviously Apollo is up there on his chariot pulling it along. These days we have new issues pressing us on all sides, and this article was my attempt to explain exactly who or what we now appear to worship.

 

My Musical Love Affair

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There are moments in your life that you don’t know are coming, but will have a great impact upon how you suddenly view the world. This can happen with movies, tv, books, or in this case with a forgotten cd left at my house for a couple of days. Up until this album and this band, music was something to sing along to on car trips. Afterwards it became an obsession.

 

Sequels That Never Were – The Crow

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Sometimes I like to remind myself that the best way to show off my writing is through actually writing a short story for the blog. The problem is that most of the time shorts aren’t something I can just put out there in an evening. I’d like to go over it and tweak and revise before I put it out into the world.

However, sometimes you have something you’ve been sitting on for a little while… and that makes it easier.

 

Dragoncon 2016 – The Bad

Dragon Con 2016

This is only a month old, but it was one of those posts that got clicked on more than I’d have expected. The follow up to this one focused on the good and didn’t have nearly the reach. I guess it makes some level of sense though, people like reading negative things (I know I do). And this was me bitching about Dragon Con.

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Again, there are others that I am proud of, bits and pieces scattered throughout the year. You just never know what might strike you just right…

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Why every web surfer should use StumbleUpon

You’ve probably seen this symbol before.

…and you’ve probably overlooked it completely.

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This is Stumbleupon’s logo. Pretty neat, right? It sometimes appears at the bottom of web articles. Some sites use it, while others don’t. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but odds are you haven’t really tried it out.

It’s cool.

No worries.

I’m here to tell you why Stumbleupon is awesome. Not only for web surfers, but for authors, artists, and internet content creators of any kind.

First, some facts:

  • Here at Tessera Guild, Stumbleupon accounts for more than 50% of all our site hits. Meaning hundreds of clicks every day and thousands upon thousands every month. That’s a lot. It’s invaluable to us, generating tons of new visitors every single day with minimal effort on our part.
  • At my personal book/art site, DowntheDarkPath, Stumbleupon accounts for 30% of my site hits, which is still a large percentage. Once again, it’s invaluable.
  • Stumbleupon is fun and easy to use.

Now, we could spend hours talking about how great Stumbleupon is for web surfing. How quick and easy it is to set up a profile, choose specific interests, and wander off on a ten-year long click safari. All these things are great, and totally worth checking out.

But today I’m pitching it to authors, artists, and anyone who has ever published anything on the web.

So…

You say you’ve got a website. You’ve populated it with high-quality contents, graphics, and cool links to cool things. But…you’re struggling to get clicks. Facebook and Instagram earn you a few, while Twitter and Linkedin are graveyards. What other source can you possibly hope for to direct traffic your way?

Yeah. You guessed it. Stumbleupon.

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I guess that’s an S and a U. Whatever. Decent-looking logo.

How it works:

  • People (usually content creators or readers) submit content to Stumbleupon with just a few clicks. Submitting takes between 3-7 seconds. Super easy.
  • Other people click the ‘Stumble’ button on top of Stumbleupon’s main page, at which point the site will redirect the person to a random article or website. Only…it’s not entirely random. The more likes a page has, the more likely it is to be ‘stumbled upon.’  Meaning, if you’ve got an article or blog that a lot of people click ‘Like’ on, it could go viral.  (This has happened to Tessera Guild multiple times, often resulting in 10,000+ page views in a matter of hours or days.)
  • By curating enough high-quality content on your website and adding some of it selectively to Stumbleupon, you could see residual visits to your page for many months.
  • More visits mean more exposure. And whether you’re selling something or simply trying to start a web-wide conversation, this is good news.

Oh. And here’s a huge piece of advice for people who use Stumbleupon to promote their stuff:

  • Don’t exclusively submit your own content. In fact, submit and like other people’s stuff more than your own. Also, if you can avoid it, don’t submit stuff that’s purely sales pitchy. Add funny, cute, informative, or awesome stuff instead. The sales or engagement will come from visits to your website…assuming you’ve got quality material.
  • Some people will say to ‘never’ add your own content. Nonsense. Just be super-selective.

Now it’s true…most people I’ve met have never even heard of Stumbleupon. They surf the web the old-fashioned way (with Google.) There’s nothing wrong with that. Google is awesome. It’s just that Stumbleupon refines the process, guiding surfers to random, fun stuff in a cool way. It also appears to have a tendency to ‘go viral’ more often than other outlets like Facebook or Twitter. And content with enough likes will keep getting hits indefinitely, meaning way more residual clicking than other social media.

Look, I’m just saying,

If you’re a surfer, give Stumbleupon a try.

Or if you’ve got something cool, smart, and engaging to submit, use it as another sharp tool in your exposure arsenal.

Oh, and here’s the one lil’ old article I submitted that convinced me to start stumblin’ forever.

LUB (Love you, bye)

J Edward Neill

WebImageFront

Extreme Sci-Fi – A Door Never Dreamed Of

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A few days ago, a friend asked me which of my books I’d most want to make into a movie.

‘This one,” I answered. “A Door Never Dreamed Of.”

It goes a little something like:

A thousand years from today, nearly all of humanity is jacked-In.
We sleep, connected to machines, dreaming our lives away.
For most people, it’s the perfect life.
But for the few who never jacked-In, it’s exile.
Abandoned, persecuted, and betrayed, the Outs plot their vengeance across the centuries.
And when they open the Door, only one way of life will survive…

DoorNeverDreamedPaperback1

Get your copy today, and open the Door.

Your reviews are appreciated.

J Edward Neill

Author of the darkest dark fantasy series ever

And creator of the Coffee Table Philosophy series

Are you an artist, a writer, or just a badass with words to say?

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Hey you.

Are you an artist? An author? A photographer? Or someone with something awesome to blog about?

Yeah. We bet you are. 🙂

We think you should know; Tessera Guild is looking for someone like you.

Did you just finish a rockin’ painting? Cool! We want you to blog about it.

Did you publish an epic novel or a smooth little short story? Nice! We want to interview you about it.

Or maybe you want a weekly platform from which to write or podcast about art, life, and the end of the world? Yeah. We can help with that.

Tessera Guild is looking to grow its readership and help fresh new artists and wordsmiths get the exposure they need. We have primary openings on Tuesdays, Fridays, and weekends.

There are no strings attached. We don’t charge any money to anyone. We’re not in this for the cash.

Seriously.

We’re looking for full-time contributors AND one-time interviews, blogs, and press releases.

Interested?

Good. It’s easy. Just reach out to us via the comments section OR the contact link. Or send an email here.

Tessera Guild gets thousands and thousands of hits every single week, and has been for more than two years now. Seems like a no-brainer for you to join us.

See you soon,

Team Tessera

 

The Agonizing Art of Writing Book Blurbs

A while back I got mega sarcastic with a list of alternative movie blurbs.

And later I roasted myself in public by making fun of all my books.

This time I’m keeping it serious.

If only to illustrate the pain and suffering that accompany writing blurbs (and query letters…and synopses) I’ve challenged myself to write one-sentence descriptions of all my books. The real challenge: giving readers a feel for what the book is about. One sentence. Not too vague. Catchy. Not cliché.

I challenge all my writer friends to do the same.

And all my readers to enjoy this.

Darkness Between the Stars – While gazing at the night sky, the world’s loneliest boy sees the stars begin to disappear.

Big Shiny Red Buttons – The most absurd scenarios imaginable stacked between 100 pages.

Hollow Empire Front Cover

Hollow Empire – Night of Knives – After a plague wipes out most of a medieval nation’s population, five lost souls must survive the horrors that follow.

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Down the Dark Path – Book I – A young woman leaves home to make a better life for herself, only to wander into the heart of a horrific, world-consuming war.

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Old Man of Tessera – The lone survivor of a deadly storm finds the city of Tessera, in which nothing and no one are what they seem.

 The Hecatomb – A ghoulish monster and its offspring stalk cities at night with the aim of killing every last human in the world.

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101 Questions for Humanity – The original entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series asks short, simple questions with aim of provoking thoughtful answers.

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101 Questions for Midnight – The stakes are raised and the questions darker than ever in this fun, engaging ice-breaker book.

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Down the Dark Path – Book II – A woman follows her lover into a battle he can never hope to win.

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A Door Never Dreamed Of – In a distant Earth future, two young men on opposite sides of an apocalyptic war collide.

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Down the Dark Path – Book III – After invading and crushing his rival’s homeland, a war-crazed emperor sends his cruelest warlord to butcher the last of his enemies.

101 Questions for Women Cover

101 Questions for Women – Written with women in mind but accessible to everyone, 101 Questions for Women focuses on love, lust, and the breakdown of traditional gender roles.

101 Questions for Men Cover

101 Questions for Men – Geared for men, this entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series asks questions about sex, relationships, and much more.

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Down the Dark Path – Book IV – As a world-ending conflict reaches its climax, a young woman must choose whether to join the winning side and become queen or sacrifice everything to betray her kidnappers.

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The Sleepers – A wealthy student in a far-distant future is tasked with destroying an alien world to save humanity.

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Let the Bodies – A little girl suffers alone while everyone in her city vanishes.

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101 Deeper, Darker Questions for Humanity – 101 dark questions to test your morality, challenge your ethics, and entertain your friends.

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101 Sex Questions – Lovers and laugh-seekers alike will find entertainment in this sexy sidekick to the Coffee Table Philosophy series.
  Dark Moon Daughter New Kindle CoverDark Moon Daughter – Young Andelusia Anderae is seduced by a messenger and convinced that her budding black magic is the key to saving thousands of lives.

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Nether Kingdom – At the world’s edge, a sorceress awakens to the terrible realization that she alone can stop an invasion of otherworldly horrors.

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444 Questions for the Universe – Meant to entertain for hours, 444 Questions is a grand compilation of serious yet fun questions.

The Little Book of BIG Questions – Science and morality collide in the ultimate conversation-starting book for smart people.

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101 Questions for Single People – In the modern world of swiping left and never looking back, 101 Questions for Single People asks readers about every facet of love, lust, and human romantic connection.

Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows – A leper dedicates his life to saving children, a woman accepts the rarest of all murder contracts, a girl suffers insanity in a space colony, a train-hopping duo crosses through dimensions, and much, much more…
*The Ultimate Get to Know Someone Quiz – A delightful crash course of fun questions to ask spouses, significant others, family, and friends.

 

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There might be no better way to grab a reader’s attention than through a good blurb.

…and no easier way to lose it with a bad one.

See you on the flip side.

J Edward Neill

More on Self Promotion

Social Media Tips

Self-promotion. The forest we try to navigate each day. If you sell a product, no matter what product, you walk this tightrope. It’s not as simple as shouting, buy my stuff, from my the highest peak. Self-promotion is hard work and it involves a ton of patience. It’s not always fun and you don’t always see results. I personally dislike the feeling of forcing my art on people. Each time I share something on Twitter I wonder, am I annoying folks? Is anyone even looking at my art? But then I start to pay attention to my statistics. Days I don’t share and talk about my art my views go down. Days I do… You get the point.
What might be the most difficult part about self-promotion for me, is the act of sharing things not about my art, but myself. I’m a quiet person. Not as quiet as I once was in my younger days, but my fellow Tessera Guild members will tell you–I’m quiet. I’m a thinker, and sometimes a loner. I don’t often say something unless it’s worth saying 100%. Ironically, this is key to self-promotion via social media networks. Key. When you interact with your fans you’re also building trust. Building trust will make your product look far more appealing than someone elses they don’t feel they know. Last year I wrote a blog post about building trust with online buyers after reading an excellent article at EmptyEasel.com. EmptyEasel is geared toward visual artists, but these five rules will apply to authors, musicians and anyone else selling something online.

I’m revisiting these five rules with new thoughts for the new year.

1. Don’t Make it About “You” “It’s about the community. People aren’t going to follow you if all you do is try to sell them stuff and promote yourself. Become a trusted resource, instead of a salesperson.”

Or better yet, become a storyteller. Whatever you’re creating, chances are there’s a story behind it and there’s an audience who’s ready to listen.

2. Be sociable “…the next time you think about listing one of your art pieces, take the time to figure out how you can present that piece in a more social manner.”

Don’t just post a link to the art in your shop. Think about making a collage showing the stages from sketch to finish.

3. Show the real you “Use a photo of yourself for your profile image, not a photo of your art, or company logo. People want to connect with people, not products or businesses.”

I’m not sure this is always necessary anymore, as long as your real face makes an appearance from time to time. There’s nothing worse than coming to know a public figure by their profile photo, only to find out it’s from 20-30 years ago. Don’t do that (unless you’re vampire).

There was suppose to be a dog in this photo! LOL Well, we both enjoyed the short walk. Beautiful day. 🙂 A photo posted by Amanda Makepeace (@amandamakepeace) on

4. Respond to your fans

“When you respond to your fans (or customers)…have a conversation with them.”

I try to respond to everyone and if I’m swamped with comments I will still post a ‘Thanks everyone!’ They are taking the time to make a comment, something totally voluntary, the least I can do is show my appreciation.

5. Be consistent

“From how you portray your company across various social networks, to how often you post…”

Also, remember that online and offline, you represent your art and/or brand. That’s why it’s best to be yourself, so when your fans meet you in public (whether it’s at a convention or the grocery store) they aren’t surprised…

I’ll be honest. There are days I don’t feel like socializing at all. I don’t beat myself up about that. Tomorrow is a new day and we all have off days. But when I am online I try to follow these rules and above all I try to have fun. I’ve met so many wonderful people since I joined social media and the various other sites you can find me. Some I even consider more than just acquaintances. They’ve become friends who support my creative vision and that’s invaluable.

Here are the social media hangouts I use most:

Instagram
Facebook
Tumblr
Twitter

I also have a monthly newsletter!

amandamakepeace.com

My Commitment to Ending the World

So…

It’s a common theme nowadays that writers (or any artists, for that matter) aren’t in competition with one another. That we’re all pals in the industry. That we’re fighting on the same side to haul readers into our books collectively.

Just wander around Twitter or Facebook or any haunted electric highway and you’ll see stuff like:

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or

Meme2

or

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I could probably dig up a thousand of these. And it’d be barely scratching the surface. I guess these are nice sentiments…maybe. They create friendships. They foster collaboration. They bring people together.

And I reject them completely.

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Before we do battle, let’s be clear about some lines in the sand. We’re not talking about artists and writers who create for fun. If someone publishes a lone book or series and then wants to wander back into a normal existence, that’s cool. If they want to stop, collaborate, and listen, it’s worth supporting. And we’re also not talking about those wonderful people who create with the intent to be non-profit. If an artist’s goal is to put out a steady stream of awesome simply for the love, who couldn’t support that? It’s free, after all. Those who desire it don’t have to give up any resources. Any cash. Any moolah.

As for the rest of you, I adore you like brothers and sisters. But let’s be clear that we are in fact competing with one another. No…that’s too mild. We’re at war.

ZillaKong

Godzilla vs King Kong. Twilight vs Blade. Plants vs Zombies. Me vs YOU.

In any given market, any segment of any economy, there’s a little thing called market share. You’ve heard of it. If there’s X amount of money available to be spent on resource Y, companies A, B, and C are all gonna fight each other to the death to control Y and earn X. Sure, they might be pals after hours. They might drink together, hit the golf course as a foursome, and sleep with each other’s spouses. But when they’re on the clock, make no mistake. They’re gunning for one another’s throats.

To counter this argument, the artist might say to herself, “But J, you poor malcontent, in the world of art and written words, Y is limitless. Art has no boundaries.”

Nada. Negative. Nope. Y is not limitless. Art created with the intent to make a living has boundaries. These boundaries are malleable. They move. But they exist. And moreover, despite the fact that every living human seems to want to write a book these days, there is a limited supply of quality available.

More to the point: just like in all other markets everywhere, X (money) will always have a finite value.

And X is exactly the hill we’re fighting to climb.

Look. It’s true. I savor artistic collaboration. It helped things like this and this see the light of day. It keeps artists talking, moving, and colliding. Sharing other writers’ works is a great endeavor. The best conversations happen between those with a similar purpose, whose visions align, and whose swords are sharpened at the same millstone.

But make no mistake; we’re still doing battle.

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Think on these, fellow artistic warriors:

Those of us who give a damn, who really want a career out of writing/painting/sculpting/fighting, want to be the best. And nothing less

We want to be the mofo who makes it, not the one forced back into a boring ‘real’ job

We want the fruits of our labor front and center, and we desire to dethrone the Twilights, the Mockingbirds, and the 50 Shades of WTFever

We care more. We work harder. We don’t do easy satisfaction

And though we may smile for one another’s successes, we tend to get a little green when we see it

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If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, be at peace. This battle isn’t for you. Walk the tranquil path of creating without fear. That you desire to make beautiful things just for the sake of it is commendable. It’s enviable. It’s sublime. But for everyone else, everyone fighting for Y and X, don’t be deceived. Don’t lull yourself into a false sense of we’re-all-on-the-same-team. Reject any meme suggesting you need to be BFF’s with other writers or that you shouldn’t at least try to out-write, out-paint, and out-create the fuck out of everyone else. You are in a competition. You don’t want to be the third-string quarterback, the benchwarmer, the artist sitting on the sideline.

So stop kidding yourself.

You’re committed to this battle.

And when the world ends, you want to be remembered.

* * *

If that was too harsh, try something fun.

If it wasn’t harsh enough, this might be for you.

J Edward Neill

 

Two Years Later

Last year I wrote a post celebrating the first 52 weeks worth of blogs. Strange how time goes. Stranger still how some blogs I wrote at midnight the night before they were published get more views than the blogs I stressed over.

Rhyme meet Reason.

So I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorites and maybe offer a couple of others a second chance at being seen.

Searching for a Super Power

manofsteel

Growing up on superhero comics means that you have the thought. You have to. What power would you want if you could have any super power? And it is an important decision because in comics sometimes what power you get reflects who you are (Invisible Girl thought no one noticed her, The Human Torch was a hot-head, etc.). Maybe it can be a bit like the sorting hat in Harry Potter… if you chant it enough as the radioactive goo pours over you.

I mean, what could it hurt?

What if… Last Action Hero was a Good Movie

lastactionhero

Stolen from J Edward Neill‘s various “What if” posts. Mostly I see Last Action Hero as a missed opportunity to do something really cool instead of just playing most of it off as a goof. It’s a movie that really is at war with itself. Wanting to show the humor in the situations, but also wanting to have some kind of dramatic impact as well. And I don’t believe it hits them as hard as it could have.

The Darryl Problem

Walking-Dead-AMC

Maybe people didn’t look because they thought there would be spoilers, but this one goes into the idea of killing off a character just because they are “too popular”.

Which I disagree with immensely.

This is why we can’t have nice things

1024px-Fox_Theater_night

Thoughts on the idea that people always want to tear down anything they don’t like… and they double-down on that attitude if said thing is popular. And I don’t get it. I’ve mostly been a person who if I don’t like something – I just stop watching it, or stop listening to it, but the last thing I try to do is piss all over someone else’s “thing”.

It’s OK if I like something you don’t like and vice versa. Really.

Losing Power

Beach-at-twilight-500x326

Sometimes we need to get away. Sometimes we can’t see today for tomorrow.

Just breathe.

Breathe.

So What’s He Going to Buy With All That Gold?

Weta-Smaug-Breakdown-1

A recent one that started with a question about dragons and their gold and became a little story about who helps the dragon spend all that money. I would say more, but I’d rather you just read it. I like the way it turned out.

There are others that deserve a look, but I think this is a good place to start…

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the recently released anthology Beyond the Gate, which is free on most platforms!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Twitter Tyrannosaurus – Creative Interview with Author JL Clayton!

Boom!

That’s the sound of Twitter detonating.

If it’s way loud, it’s because this week’s creative interview is with The Chosen Saga author, JL Clayton. She’s fun, she’s funny, and she’s all over the Twittersphere like white on rice.ChosenSaga

Let’s do this:

Hi JL! Welcome to Tessera’s latest creative interview. Start us off by telling us a bit about yourself:

Hello Tessera. A little about me: I consider myself to be a laid back, friendly person who has her shy moments. I’m silly most of the time and I love to see people smile, plus I’m a big hugger. Last year I had my first book signing at That Book Store. The same store that John Grisham had his first signing. That day everyone who got a book from me also received a hug. I’m sure some people thought I was crazy. I loved it. I also try and help everyone out if it’s within my ability. I’m a 33 year old author who loves her family, friends and life. I have been writing for almost two years. I feel it’s a big accomplishment to have published two books within a year and being a mother to such a smart beautiful girl like Shyla. That’s just the tip of the iceberg with me, but if I don’t stop now I’m sure I’ll be writing you my life story.

Let’s talk about the Chosen Saga. It’s all over Twitter and social media. Give us the goods on what it’s about and why you decided to write it:

The Chosen Saga is about a teenager named Charlize, aka Charlie.  She learns she isn’t quite human. She is spunky, sarcastic and she doesn’t take no for an answer. In the first book of The Chosen Saga; A Spark of Magic, you get the feel of what’s going on. Charlie moves from city to city, never understanding why her family has to move so much. Now she and her family it seems are settling down and she is thrilled about this prospect. Plus, the fact that she is turning sixteen, making friends and crushing on some seriously hot guys who seem to like her; doesn’t hurt either. Charlie learns a lot about herself and the truth of why she is always uprooted. She finds out who keeps invading her dreams and why she feels so drawn to him. There is a mixture of a normal life and a supernatural one. In book two, A Blaze of Magic, I pick up from the cliffhanger. You meet more characters like sexy Vampires, beautiful Dragon Shifters, and many other supernaturals including the wicked Crispin. Charlie is finally using her magic and becoming the person she was meant to be. Of course there is a cliffhanger in this book to set the tone for A Ghost of Magic – Book 3.

Why I decided to write the Chosen Saga: I watched the movie Twilight and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I was telling my friend that I wished I knew what was going to happen. She was like, “Jen, you do know the movie is based off a book, right?” I told her that I didn’t. She said I needed to give it a try. Well, because I had to know what happened next; I read the books. I became an instant book lover. I have to give my friend Nikki the credit for encouraging me to read it; if not for her I might never have thought about writing. So I just got off topic…sorry…back to what I was saying. After reading a lot of books, I had a dream about Charlie. And yes I know that is cliché… But it’s the truth.

Tell us about your creative process. Got a strict method? Or maybe you’re a freestyler?

I’m more of a freestyle writer, but sometimes I will crack my knuckles before I start. Or I will do something silly, like dance with my daughter. But I would say mostly freestyle.

What kind of stories inspire you?

I am not picky. I love all kinds of books and if the book is good, it can inspire me. Every time I read a book I love, I seem to be set on that author. As in I have to read all they have written. So at any given moment, I’m inspired by the author I’m currently reading.

What do you find most challenging about being a writer?

Dividing my time between work, my life and promoting. I’m not too good at the whole prioritizing thing.

Aside from Twitter, at which you’re legendary, how can people reach you?

Haha. Yeah, I don’t think I’m legendary, maybe by my emoticons.

Here’s where you can reach me.

Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Chosen Saga Website

Where can people get their grubs on the Chosen Saga?

The Chosen Saga is available in paperback and eBook format.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/series/B00XLX31J0?ref=series_aw_dp_link

Barnes & Noble: http://t.co/icRO7SlpH3

JLClayton
J.L. Clayton – Author and Twitter pro

 

 

You can also get my book from me; I send out signed copies. My books are available on Smashwords, iBooks, iTunes, and many more. Send me a email through my website, and I’ll get it to you!

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That’s it for this week’s interview. Check out JL’s books and link up with her at Twitter.

And stay frosty. Next Monday we’re gettin’ deeeeeeeeeeeeep.

J Edward Neill

Thinking of Running a Kickstarter?

10 Kickstarter Tips

My first Kickstarter has come to a close. All of the books have been printed and shipped out to my amazing backers. My friends even threw me a book release party. What a ride! I’ve put together a list of 10 tips you may find useful if you’re thinking of running a Kickstarter.

1. Have a fan base. Seriously. It’s going to be that fan base that shares your campaign on their social media accounts. This is incredibly important. I’m certain if I had tried to run my campaign a year ago, it probably would have failed. What changed in a year? I was in the DragonCon Art Show.

2. Look at other campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful. I browsed and took notes for various art kickstarters and specifically those campaigns for sketchbooks. I looked at the type of rewards they offered, prices, and how they structured their descriptions. You can learn a lot this way!

3. Videos are important–more than you may think. The Youtube culture has exploded in the last few years. It’s taken a while for it to grow on me. I must be getting old! Everything I’d read reiterated how important it was to have a Kickstarter video. So I researched the videos of successful campaigns and 90% of the time those videos included either the artist talking in the background or the artist in the video. It needs to be personal. Backers are giving you their money, they are putting their trust in you and your product.

 

videostats

A lot of folks watched my video. This may not be a phenomenal number, but it’s more than I imagined.

3. Quality graphics to show off your rewards. People want to see what they’re going to get if they support your campaign. Take the time to create the graphics. You can then use them in your social media promotion too.

sketchbook100a

 

4. A complete profile, with links to your website and social media. This might seem like common sense, but I’ve seen more than a few campaigns with no link to a website. Or their link goes to a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in over a month. That’s not a good way to make an impression.

5. Read the entire Creator Handbook and then also read the FAQ pages and the Rules. Read everything Kickstarter makes available to you. They have specific rules but they also give you an enormous amount of information to help you build your campaign.

6. Pre-promotion. You have to start talking about it online months beforehand. I probably could have done a bit more of this. Share teaser images, talk about your rewards, anything to start peaking the interest of your fans and their friends.

Sketchbooks and Drusilla7. Think about your fans when it comes time to schedule your campaign. December might not be the best month to run a Kickstarter. It’s a holiday season for several religions. Even November might be risky if people are beginning to buy gifts for December.

8. Don’t underestimate your goal. You need to know in advance how much it’s going to cost to ship your rewards. Either add shipping to your goal or add it to the rewards. I chose to include US shipping in my goal and add a flat rate shipping fee for intentional backers.

9. Promotion during the campaign–to the point you fear people will starting ignoring you. Truly, you need to share your campaign every day. Work out a schedule and make sure you’re not posting about it at the same time. It doesn’t hurt to ask other artists to share your campaign too.

10. Keep your backers updated! During the campaign you need their support more than ever. I recommend composing an update once a week to let backers now how the campaign is proceeding, to remind them to share with their friends, and for making announcements (stretch goals, new rewards, etc.). But don’t let it end there. If you’re campaign is successful then it’s even more important to let your backers now how things are progressing, so they know without a doubt you are holding up your end the agreement. I had a lot of fun sharing the arrival of my sketchbook with my backers. They made my book possible!

The 7 Twitter Personalities

TwitBird

If you’ve never had a Twitter account, good on you.

If you’ve currently got an open Twitter account, I’m sorry. I really am. Let’s hug it out.

A few weeks ago, we gave you the Top 7 Facebook Personalities. We thought it was funny, yet entirely true.

But Twitter’s a different monster entirely.

Don’t believe me? Just sample my Twitter feed here.  140 characters changes a person into something…unknowable.

The 7 Prime Twitter Personalities

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UnIronic Tweeter The Un-Ironic Tweeter – If there’s a such thing as normal on Twitter, this is probably it. The Un-Ironic Tweeter doesn’t try to annoy, inundate, or advertise. She’s probably just a normal gal with a few interesting things to say. Such as, “Doing laundry and look, the dog crapped in the basket,” or “Yay. Husband left me…again.” I’m mostly kidding. I’m 99% sure most of this archetype are good people. They say genuine things, are polite and generally engaging. My only trouble is that most people go to Twitter looking for at least a little bit of trouble (or money.) You say you want to be completely reasonable, honest, and not try to sell me shit? I believe the highway you’re looking for is called Facebook. It’s a few exits back.

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The RetweeterThe ReTweeter – Everyone loves this person. And I mean…everyone. Just try and say something bad about them. It’s hard, right? You pour your soul into a perfect 140-character Tweet detailing the horrors of ebola-infected chipmunks, and ReTweeters click a button and spread the word, epidemic-like, across the globe. Sure, they don’t create anything themselves. And no, they probably didn’t follow your link or give two shits about you as a person. Who cares? You RT for them, they RT for you, and the whole fucking world is happy. I hate happy endings. 😐

Starving Artist The Starving Artist – I’m guilty as charged. My bad. Literally 80% of my followers are this archetype. They’re definitely starving, though as for the artist part, I’m not so sure. With the boom in self-publishing and printed art outlets, the Twitterverse has erupted with painters, sketchers, and writers. In a matter of a few years, my competition went from other published authors to every human being in the entire fucking universe. Anymore, it’s rarer for someone not to have published something. But seriously. Most of the Starving Artist Twitter crowd are good people. Talent or no, they’re genuine. But I would like to schedule a class called ‘When Tweeting About Your Book, Shitty Grammar and Clunky Blurbs will Annihilate Your Writing Career.

 

The ReQuoter The Re-Quoter – Yeah. This guy. The one who Tweets about the soulfulness of writing, the drowning emotional awesomeness of reading, and the spiritual connectedness of ejaculating paint onto paper. But that’s not really the trouble. It’s the memes, the #AmWritings, and the quotes…the damn quotes. Yes, I know what Stephen King said. Something like, “If you do shit, other shit will happen. And if you don’t do shit, no shit will happen.” You know what I’m talking about: Picture of celebrity + quote that celebrity may or may not have actually said = half your Twitter feed. Also, some Re-Quoters like to regurgitate boring quotes about life and love. Shit-tons of quotes. Things like, “My life will never be complete without you,” or “Someday you’ll come back for your toothbrush…and my vagina will be waiting.” I’m convinced most of these secondary type of Re-Quotes are bots, but it’s hard to tell. Hopefully it’ll all soon die. But if it doesn’t, the world needs to end.

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Anchor The News Anchor – I’m fine with this type of Twitter archetype. Mostly. Although he’ll never post anything original or creative, at least you’ll be informed the very instant a celebrity dies, a politician farts, or King Jong Un is spotted picking his nose. I’m kidding. Sort of. At least the sources the News Anchor links to are completely legit all the time. Aren’t they??

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The SpammerThe Spammer – This Twitter dweller probably isn’t even human. Or if it is, it’s 150 humans living in a Bangladesh hut (with better wifi than anyone.) If you’ve been on Twitter for longer than 30 seconds, you’ve rubbed elbows with a Spammer. Yep. The sexy girl pitching how you can increase your Twitter followers by 7 million. The smiling dude flooding your feed with bit.ly links leading to crappy click-bait lists. The douchey lists with names like ‘The 7 Twitter Personalities.’  Wait…what?

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The pRon star The Porn Starlet – Unlike Facebook, Twitter isn’t really regulated.  Meaning if your five year-old son types in ‘boobies,’ he’ll get flooded with hundreds of images of girls getting Kool-Whipped in the chest region. Being a guy, if I scan my new followers on a daily basis, I find that at least a third of them are naked women. Some just want more followers. Others offer ‘no credit card needed’ links to…you guessed it…sites that use your credit card to let you watch cam girls impale themselves on cucumbers and farm equipment. I suppose it’s harmless. I mean, nuthin’ wrong with half my Twitter feed being teenage girls bending themselves into positions I didn’t know were possible. Nuthin’ at all. Right? See you tonight, Sasha.

Runners-Up

The Uni-Linker (Posts the same one link over and over again. Forever)

The DM’er (Doesn’t know that no one reads direct messages)

The Hashtagger (#Hashtags #Every #Goddamn #Word)

 The Unfollower (Follow them back within a half hour, or else…)

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 Next week on Tessera Guild: Stalking Women on Instagram.

In the meantime, check out the only book you’ll ever want to put on your coffee table.

J Edward Neill

One Year Later

This is my 53rd blog post, which means that I’ve now, officially, hit the 1 year anniversary of blogging on Tessera… without missing a week. 52 straight weeks where sometimes it was well after midnight and the blank screen taunted me in a way I’d not thought possible.

Since I started blogging I’ve released 2 books, 1 novella, and 1 short. I’ve gotten an author website up (with the mighty, mighty Tanya Woods help), done a couple of interview swaps, and enjoyed my guild-mates’ musing on life and anything else they wanted to write about.

So for this post I wanted to take a look back at those 52 posts and highlight a few that I think either got overlooked or just were personal favorites.

I Should Have Paid More Attention to C. Thomas Howell

urban-legend-killer-backseat

For those that might not get the reference, Howell was in the original move, The Hitcher, which was about what bad things happen when you pick up a hitchhiker. This post was my own personal (and 100% true) story about the 1 time I offered a ride to a stranger(s). It was the 3rd post I’d done and effectively my October “Horror” post. Most people like it even if the consensus is “what a dummy!”

The Biggest Fish: Smallville

Smallville-Logo

This was a post about potential opportunities. It was about taking a shot, no matter how crazy it might be. And it was about getting a small amount of vindication. I might also call this one “The One Time I almost wrote an episode of Smallville.”

Brought to you by Yellow #5

mountain_dew

 

Another story blog, this time focused on the one and only time I’ve ever spent time in the back of a cop car… and how Mountain Dew/ Mellow Yellow might be to blame (and lack of sleep, and not being in my own car, and finals week and…).

Forget Me Not

winter-reflection-mirror

I believe that when a writer sits down and begins to craft a story he’s considering a question that he’d like to answer. That isn’t to say that it always has to be some earth-shattering question. This post was about one of those questions that is always on my mind, whether I end up answering it is an entirely different question.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Look tasty? Think again!

Look tasty? Think again!

My Grand Unification Theory… about pizza. I stand by this 100%. Study this, understand this, and maybe your next get-together will be a more successful one.

My only regret with this one is that I should have made it my April Fools post instead of my Superbowl post. I think it would have been more appreciated.

 

The Tribe Has Spoken

Survivor.borneo.logo

My Survivor post… the only bad thing about this one is that if you don’t care about Survivor then you have no reason to read it. But my wife and I continue to love the show, so I decided to write about some of the strategies and how we see the game. The cool, sad thing is that I could probably write a part 2 and 3 to this post without breaking a sweat.

He’ll See Me On the Flip Side

time_travel

It was very stream of consciousness. All about how different moments in my life are connected in very interesting ways. I’m probably most proud of this post as it ended up better than I thought it would when I started it.

Hollow Empire: Those Initial Steps

10442Jollain_The_Plague_of_Frogs

A behind the scenes look at those first days when J Edward Neill and I began to hatch the project now known as Hollow Empire. This is the sort of post I love to read by other writers, so I hoped to give a little insight on one of mine.

And it also shows that sometimes ideas come at the most random times.

So whether you’ve read them all or never read a single one, maybe give them a look-see.

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is currently in week five of its 6-part release. Each episode is only $0.99. But you can go ahead and purchase the full novel (all 6 episodes) right now for $4.99 with the above link!

He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Grab Bag – June Edition

This week has been a little scattered. Lots of little things, some bigger things, and a glimpse at possibly really big things. As such, I don’t really know if any one topic feels right for this week’s blog piece. So instead I want to make sure I catch everyone up so that we’re all on the same page.

 

Hey I have a short story up for FREE!

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

The short story, Piece by Piece, which I debuted on this very site here (for free), is now not only available on Amazon (for $0.99), but also available on Smashwords – and soon will be on your Kobo, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, iBooks, and and assortment of other ebook reading sites (all for free as well). So for any of you who might have wanted to have the short on your ereader, but didn’t want to deal with a Kindle or Amazon… well, I’m trying.

My plan was always to try and get a sample of my work out into the world for free. The old give you the first taste for free and then maybe you’ll want to read more about Jason Mills (the main character in Piece by Piece) in my novel, The Dark That Follows.

 

Hey I did an Interview!

smashwords-vertical

In conjunction with getting the short up on Smashwords, I also have an interview up on the site. Technically I announced it on Tessera on Monday, but it never hurts to remind you guys and gals in case you missed it.

 

Hey I’m up for an award!

HHS-INNOVATES-TILE-AND-LOGO-400x47

For the past 2+ years I’ve been working with Terminus Media on a Motion Comic Project for HIV and STD Awareness. I was one of the three main writers on the project having written 4 of the 10 episodes. It’s been one of those things that I’ve not really been able to talk much about aside from the bare bones (it’s hard to really explain to people what you mean by “Motion Comics”, but I’m hopeful that in the months to come I can talk a little bit about the process, from my end at least.

But the biggest reason to bring it up at all is that the project has been nominated for the  HHS Innovates People’s Choice Award. They have a blurb on the project and you can watch a brief sample of what we’ve been working on here. Most importantly you can vote for our project here!

And there is nothing stopping you from sharing this with your friends as well. The voting ends this week.

 

Hey I thought this was an interesting article!

collage-of-elmore-leonard-books

Elmore Leonard wrote this over a decade ago and was recently linked to on Warren Ellis’s email thingy. While we may not be Leonard, we can at least take a moment and see what is what.

For better or worse I try to strive hard for the last one “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” Some days I do better than others. Though I kinda feel like this one thing could be a whole blog post unto itself (makes mental note that he will promptly forget).

 

Hopefully next week I can also announce having my book in print. I have the proof copy and everything looks pretty good, so… until next time.

 

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John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and now the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

Review me, baby

 StarNursery

 

Where are stars born?

Far beyond Earth?

Deep in the heart of the Milky Way?

Amongst the countless nebulae swirling through the void?

Nope. Not today they’re not.

This one’s for the readers. For all the Kindle lovers, trade paperback eaters, and hardcover crushers. It’s a request…well…more of a plea. Like the song says, “I ain’t too proud to beg.” Except the ‘I‘ is really ‘we‘, and the ‘we‘ is every self-respecting author and artist on the planet.

We need you. I need you.

It’s a different perspective on this side of the industry. It used to be after reading a good book or listening to a great album, I’d say, “I don’t need to post a review for this. It’s good enough. It’ll get plenty of love from someone else.” But no more. I’ve seen the light. Reviews, particularly easily-accessible online reviews, are artists’ lifeblood. And not just the ridiculous, fan-boy five-star reviews. All of them. Better to have fifty 4-star reviews than ten at 5 stars. Better to have a hundred at 3.5 than fifty at 4.0.

how-to-get-amazon-reviews  See these little guys? These here are the golden ticket to success. Without ’em, the modern artist tends to starve. While a few bad reviews won’t break a book or dry up interest in an album, NO reviews at all can be a death knell. When a potential customer arrives at a site, their interest already piqued, and sees ‘Be the first to review this item?‘ the result is usually crickets. Cemeteries. Graveyards where dreams go to die. Maybe the customer will take a leap of faith, but not likely. I know I wouldn’t, not unless the artist was a friend.

With dedication to being a better reviewer in mind, here’s a list of the things I’m willing to do to win even a single review from you, my readers:

  • Mow your lawn
  • Wash your car
  • Walk your dog (or your cat)
  • Make out with you
  • Hang drywall in your basement
  • Fist-fight your neighbor’s annoying dog (no pit bulls, please)
  • Write you an epic review
  • Stalk your ex
  • Stalk you
  • Jump off a cliff. Naked. Into the ocean. Smeared with chum

I think you get the point. This is my plea to you: If you buy a book, an album, or a piece of art, review it. I plan to make it a habit, an honest-to-goodness lifestyle change. The important thing to remember is that the review should be honest. Don’t auto five-star everything. Be genuine. Be legit. Be thorough.

So if you love it? Review it.

Hate it? Review it.

Overcome with crushing indifference? R-e-v-i-e-w it.

And while you’re at it, read and review all of these, particularly Dark Moon Daughter. I’ll love you for at least three minutes.

Seriously.

I haven’t actually been to a star nursery, but I hear they’re pretty epic.

J Edward Neill

Free Short Story Time: Piece by Piece

I’m trying to figure out this publishing thing. I’ve got the book, got a comic, got a little novella, but I know I need to do more. The chances of anyone having just one thing out there in the void and suddenly hitting it big are pretty low. And that’s fine with me. I know it is a marathon and not a sprint (to borrow that old cliche’). Still, the projects I’m working on don’t really feed the beast of The Dark That Follows. And while I have ideas for the sequel, I’m not ready to really dive in (too many other projects that must get done).

So how do I fix that? How do I get potentially more eyes on this book I wrote without writing another book in the same world?

writing

An aside… when the four of us teamed-up to form this little spot in the corner of the internet we talked about doing a short story for the site. Something that might even be able to use the name Tessera in its title or as its inspiration.

Jeremy jumped in, both feet first, because that man is a machine. Maybe in an effort to make everyone else look bad (jerk!) or maybe to light a fire under our collective asses, he wrote Old Man of Tessera (free on this here website!).

I’d been thinking about a story, but I really wanted it to tie into The Dark That Follows somehow. Have a place where they could get the short for free and if they liked what they read, maybe they’d check out the book. Something extra. And a story began to shape itself in my mind.

A short story.

This is the old two birds one story idea. And while I didn’t name it Tessera or Tesserization or Tesselation or… (well, you get the idea), it does take a little bit of inspiration from trying to see a bigger picture from little bits of information.

PIECE-BY-PIECE-COVER

So without further ado, I present to you Piece by Piece. You can find it here on the site, and shortly you should be able to find it for free download on the various other platforms… but you can get it first!

 

***

John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and now the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program. He can also be found at www.johnrmcguire.com.

 

A book is a book (Right?)

Mummy Skull

 

 

New week. New skull. I’ll try to make it relevant at some point during the post. But probably not.

 

Years ago, after I’d finished the first draft of my first book, I took a respite from writing. It didn’t last long, but I needed it…badly. I’d just completed a novel spanning a half-million words, and my fingers were tired. You think I’m kidding. I’m dead serious. I was bone-weary in the way only three years of living in a word-dungeon can produce. For a span of a few weeks afterward, I thought, “I’m done. I’ve finished it. I need do nothing more.” I didn’t understand that my journey had only just begun.

During my miniature exile, I didn’t lie in bed with a stupid, self-satisfied smile. I had no laurels, and even if I would’ve, I wouldn’t have rested on them. I wasn’t really content with having finished a book. My brain thought I was done, but my heart knew better. So rather than sleep on my small success, I found other ways to pass the time. I did homework, so to speak, searching the web and pestering my already-published friends for tidbits of wisdom. How am I gonna get this damn thing published? I asked anyone who would listen. What about editing? A half-million words is way too many; how am I gonna fix that? What? Why? When? 

Thus began my first assault on the realm of publishing. I gathered my troops (me) and started researching in earnest. I would finish this thing I’d started, the world be damned. I decided I’d sooner become the mummy in this week’s pic (see, told you) than give up. And so, after two weeks of learning, unlearning, and sharpening my sword for the world’s throat, it all came down to: What the hell have I written? How am I planning on marketing this thing? What category is my novel? What neat little box does my life’s obsession fit into?

Well, the publishing world asked, what’s your answer?

Did I write fiction? (Yes)

Is it epic? (Yes)

Fantasy? (Mostly)

Sci-Fi? (A little)

Romance? (Maybe)

Young-Adult (How would I know?)

Chick-Lit (WTF is this category anyway??)

Bisexual Vampire Steampunk (Huh?)

Before I began answering these questions, I’d no idea about all these categories. A book was a book was a book. The only two divisions were fiction and non-fiction, or so I’d believed. The concept that I needed to refine my work into a neat little genre box was foreign…and mildly offensive. I didn’t understand. I was confused. I was angry.

Parchment

Fiction? Non-fiction? Allegory? Or maybe a YA Vampire scroll?

So…

After being clobbered with the inevitable: We like your work, J. But it’s too long to publish, especially for a rookie. Define it into a clear genre and carve about three hundred-thousand words out, and we’ll talk, I decided to crawl back into my cave. I rewrote my first book…twice. I tapped out one sequel, then another, and then a prequel, and…you get the idea. I took a long hiatus from caring about categories, blurbs, agents, double-agents, and query letters. I stopped giving a rat’s ass about the notion of genres. I allowed myself to be as free as I had been while writing Down the Dark Path. And soon enough the words began to flow again.

When asked what they like to read, most people will give you a few authors’ names or a short list of their favorite books. Most won’t sit down and say, “I only read YA Dystopian novels with surfing sub-themes, and nothing else.” Even so, I know a lot of writers who decide what genre they’re going to write in before they actually write it. Maybe it’s just me, but that approach feels manufactured. Readers might benefit from cracking open a book whose genre they’re oblivious to. Writers will definitely benefit from letting the words flow sans inhibition. While it’s true eventually every published book will end up in a tightly-defined category, I believe it’s in readers’ best interest to ignore these categories, and writers’ to write without worrying about what the publishing world will call their masterpiece.

Because, let’s face it, most of us don’t write because we want to make tons of money doing it (Hint: we’re probably not going to.) We write because we find it compelling, tortuous, wonderful, terrifying, and everything in-between. It’s the same experience readers go through. Don’t try to define it. Don’t put shackles on it and lock it in a box. Let it be what it is: beautiful. Agonize over the details afterward.

Love,

J Edward Neill

 

Illinois Corn, Comics, & Sound Direction

A few years ago (maybe 2006, 2007) my mom’s side of the family, the mostly Chicago based Stephenson clan, decided to hold a family reunion in Monticello, Indiana. Monticello has great vacation spots/ campsites in the area, including a hallmark of Midwest fun times, Indiana Beach, a local amusement park/ waterpark.

Now if you could ignore the various “Anti-Meth dealing” warning signs we saw on various back roads, this place is one to visit.

Emmy-winning meth.

Emmy-winning meth.

In the surrounding area you’ll find picturesque woodlands, replete with nice lakes, small towns, and great places to just barbeque, and while away the day. We were able to snatch up a set of cabins for the entire family, and spent a five day vacation just catching up and having fun.

Our folks had come from all over to commiserate: Atlanta, Sacramento, San Francisco, Jackson (MS), Los Angeles, Chicago.

Heck, there was some family I hadn’t seen since the second Rodney King trial verdict.

Basically, it’d been a while since I’d seen half of these people.

So being Atlanta based my brother (Brandon) and I decided to forgo the sensible option of getting plane tickets to Chicago, and catching a ride with the family to Monticello which was just a few hours away.

Nope, being the guys that we were (and wanting to have some wheels while on vacation), we’d come up with a decision to load up in my 2001 Nissan Altima, and take the 9-10 hour drive to the reunion. Added to this, with the work schedule that I had at the time, we had two options on when to leave: exactly after I got off of work, which would have been around 9 or 11 pm, or wait until the next day.

roadTrip_night_news

Road tripping how it should be done. At least for insomniac’s.

Needless to say, we decided to tap into our inner insomniac and hit the road, caffeine/ Red Bulled up to the gills.

For me night driving is fun, and a bit relaxing. I enjoy being able to see the world when it’s basically asleep, and just catch the sights as most folks are winding down for the day. Our nocturne route took us through Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, and then Indiana.

Alternating between blasting OutKast, Kanye West, Esperanza Spalding, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, my brother and I took turns with the driving duties.

It was when we hit mid Illinois that things got interesting.

At the time, I was driving, rolling through moon drenched rows upon rows of corn.

Endless-rows-of-corn.

Though I’d gotten use to this from previous road trips to Chicago, to say that endless rows of flat farmland can lull you into a chillastic state is an understatement.

So guess what I had to break me from this stupor?

Police lights ahead of us. A lot of them. Blocking the whole two-lane interstate.

You would’ve thought that damn Dr. Richard Kimble was on the loose with all the lights that I saw.

No caption needed. This scene was just all sorts of awesome.

No caption needed. This scene was just all sorts of awesome.

First thought I had: Damn.

Second thought I had: Damn, damn.

Third thought I had: Our current situation playing out like the one from “The Five Heartbeats” when the cops pull the main characters over on a lonely country road

Check the movie out and you’ll catch my drift.

So I wake my brother up, who’s a much cooler dude than I am. He tells me to just chill, and we hit the roadblock.

I rolled down the window and the officer asks for my license and registration. As I’m handing it over I decide to ask why the whole freeway is closed down at the latest hour known to man.

The cop hands back my information and doesn’t give a reason. At all. Just hands it back. Then asks where we’re headed.

Yeah....our cop wasn't Mr. Smiley.

Yeah….our cop wasn’t Mr. Smiley.

I told him Monticello, and then ask is there an alternate route we can take to get back on the highway we were on.

The cop mumbles something about taking a nearby exit, follows up with something else unintelligible, and then backs away ready to direct the next car in line.

So as I prepared to barrage the officer with more questions, my brother, sensing that this dude wasn’t going to be too forthcoming, instructs me to keep rolling.

So we follow the officer’s “directions”, and all we see are rows of corn.

We drive in another direction, and see rows of corn.

No indication of how to get back on the freeway. None at all.

So this goes on for maybe, 30, 35 minutes max. As far as gas, we’re doing alright, but not spectacular.

I started imagining thoughts of my mom getting a call from the Illinois State Patrol:

ISP: Ma’am, we’re sorry to have to inform you that, well…., ma’am, your son’s got lost and gorged themselves to death on corn.

Ma: Oh….. God….No….

ISP: The truly tragic thing about it miss, is, well…. there was a McDonald’s not but a step or two around the corner from where their bodies were found.

Ma: Noooooo!

So as we’re driving my brother points into the distance.

“BJ (my nickname), look.”

I look in the direction he’s pointing and see a convoy of taillights. A semi-truck convoy.

“Who would you figure might have the best idea on how to get back to the interstate?” Brandon asked.

I figured, heck, we’re not having any success so why not follow them?

Keep on truckin'.

Keep on truckin’.

Relying on faith, and the sound judgment of Brandon, we struck pay dirt. Following the truckers lead we rolled through a small town, sleeping neighborhoods, took a bunch of side roads, and within a bit of time, we were back on the freeway.

After hitting the interstate, we were good to go. Heck we even got to the vacation spot before anyone else in the family.

One thing I learned from that situation and in countless one’s before and since, is it’s sometimes good to follow the lead of others. Not those folks who don’t have your best interest at heart, but those who care enough about you to set you on the right path.

On the nerdy/creative front it’s happened a number of times.

Some of Ms. Butler's most awesome sci-fi works.

Some of Ms. Butler’s most celebrated sci-fi works.

My Dad introduces me to the awesome work of Octavia Butler, a talented sci-fi novelist to whom I now look for inspiration on the writing front.

One of my closest friends Oscar gives me a copy of Alan Moore’s seminal work, Watchmen, and this writer’s mind is blown. An awesome friend, Patrick, loans me his entire of collection of Preacher to read, and I devour the books in the span of a weekend.

 

 

 

A man of many talents.

A man of many talents.

One Saturday afternoon I get a package from my Dad in Atlanta, and was introduced to the mind-blowing universe of Milestone Media, and another writing inspiration, Dwayne McDuffie.

My mom picks up a copy of “The Amazing Spiderman” from the drugstore (remember those days folks?), and my world is forever rocked by the exploits of a certain web slinger who often had problems paying the rent on time.

 

 

 

 

 

I meet up with the folks of Terminus Media, who teach me the ins and outs of writing/ creating comics, and I’m now a published comic book writer.

A little comic I created.

A little comic I created.

Through the instruction, and direction of my editor/ brother from another mother, Dennis, I got a firsthand instruction on what it took to be a successful freelance journalist.

Heck, the often maligned Wizard Magazine got me pushed in the right direction of another writing inspiration, Greg Rucka.

Tara Chace. Her Majesty's Bad Ass.

Tara Chace. Her Majesty’s Bad Ass.

So if you get the gumption, take a chance, and follow the direction of those folks willing to offer a helping or a guiding hand. Makes things fun, heck even easy in some cases.

I’m still doing it, and think I’m all the better for it.

If you don’t you might find yourself stuck in endless rows of corn.

 

The Case for (and against) Social Media

TwitSkull

 

 

 

 It’s an antisocial world.

There, I said it.

I’m old enough to remember when life was different. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining about the way it is now. I’m sitting here on my couch, laptop in lap, using my iPad as a mouse pad, streaming Hans Zimmer through my Bose Bluetooth mobile speakers. For writers, life has never been easier. Twenty years ago, we had to handwrite everything…offline…on paper…with strange little instruments called pencils. If we needed to do critical research, we had to shuttle down to gloomy places known as libraries. There was no meaningful internet, no Google, no cell phones. Word processing was far from refined. Hell, even the image above (created with GIMP) I would’ve had to hand-draw. Creating this document would’ve taken me the entire day. As is, I’m expecting to spend an hour on it, and not a minute more.

So yeah, we’ve got it made these days. We’ve got wireless internet, primo software, smart phones, Wikipedia, and Kindle. All the peripheral gunk that used to slow us down has been carved away. It should be just us and the words, no boundaries between me the writer and you the reader.

But there’s a catch. You know what it is. If you’ve ever sat down to write, read, or work meaningfully at a computer, you’ve been sidetracked. If you’ve ever needed to market yourself, pitch an idea, or slap the world in the face with your latest epic creation, you’re familiar with what I’m talking about. Don’t deny it. Don’t be ashamed. It happens. Look. Right there. See the space between the ‘s’ in ‘happens’ and the period? I just did it right there. I checked Twitter, retweeted a picture, and checked Facebook to catch up with a new follower. See? I’m guilty as charged.

Tibetan Skull

Tibetan skull carving. Too cool not to retweet. Go ahead. Buy me one for Christmas. It’s never too late.

Perhaps you begin to see where I’m going with this. I’m not bashing Twitter, Facebook, or any other social outlet. Far from it. I’m happy to have access to these amazing resources with which to harass my friends and frienemies, spread the word about my books, link to my blogs, and post ridiculous photos of skulls, swords, and whatever gruesome shots of myself the web will let me get away with.

It’s just that, even though we might think they are, these resources aren’t free. Not even close. If time is money (and it is, I promise you) I’m pretty sure I spend thousands of virtual dollars in web-marketing every year. For every hour I save by having access to a laptop, an iPad, and the internet, I’m willing to bet I lose nearly as much in creating a permanent web presence. I blog. I link to my blog. I post excerpts, cover art, and alternate cover art. I tweet, retweet, and  chat with other awesome artists. I edit my web stuff as much as I do my real work, and that’s because self-marketing in this day and age is real work. Anymore, it feels like writing books is the easy part. Much harder is being genuinely connected to the world around me. It’s something to consider. Don’t let the convenience of it all fool you. There’s just as much work to be done today as ever, if not more.

And so, if I dare reminisce, don’t kill me for it. I simply pine for a bit of face-to-face interaction. I crave the convenience of the web, but from time to time I’d like to converse with my contemporaries over a glass of bourbon, a smoking candle between us, and nary a piece of technology in the room. Collaboration used to mean sitting at a table with a pen, a few sheaves of paper, and an idea floating between us. Now it’s me and you and everyone else in the world simultaneously shattering the silence with our keystrokes. I don’t hate it. Au contraire. It’s intimidating, but it’s awesome. It’s antisocial, but not really. It’s all-immersive, all the time. It’s the world we live in.

And I’m just now learning to embrace it.

Until next time…

J Edward Neill

Author of every genre

Painter of darkness

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Self-promotion

Psionic Dreams by Amanda MakepeaceSelf-promotion. The necessary evil we do battle with each day. If you sell a product, no matter what product, you walk this tightrope. It’s not as simple as shouting, buy my stuff, from my the highest peak. Self-promotion is hard work and it involves a ton of patience. It’s not always fun and you don’t always see results. I personally dislike the feeling of forcing my art on people. Each time I share something on Twitter I wonder, am I annoying folks? Is anyone even looking at my art? But then I start to pay attention to my statistics. Days I don’t share and talk about my art my views go down. Days I do… You get the point.

What might be the most difficult part about self-promotion for me, is the act of sharing things not about my art, but myself. I’m a quiet person. Not as quiet as I once was in my younger days, but my fellow Tessera Guild members will tell you–I’m quiet. I’m a thinker, and sometimes a loner. I don’t often say something unless it’s worth saying 100%. Ironically, this is key to self-promotion via social media networks. Key.

When you interact with your fans you’re also building trust. Building trust will make your product look far more appealing than someone elses they don’t feel they know. Last year I wrote a blog post about building trust with online buyers after reading an excellent article at EmptyEasel.com. EmptyEasel is geared toward visual artists, but these five rules will apply to authors, musicians and anyone else selling something online.

1. Don’t Make it About “You”

“It’s about the community. People aren’t going to follow you if all you do is try to sell them stuff and promote yourself. Become a trusted resource, instead of a salesperson.”

2. Be sociable

“…the next time you think about listing one of your art pieces, take the time to figure out how you can present that piece in a more social manner.”

3. Show the real you

“Use a photo of yourself for your profile image, not a photo of your art, or company logo. People want to connect with people, not products or businesses.”

4. Respond to your fans

“When you respond to your fans (or customers)…have a conversation with them.”

5. Be consistent

“From how you portray your company across various social networks, to how often you post…”

The Price of Magic by Amanda MakepeaceI’ll be honest. There are days I don’t feel like socializing at all. I don’t beat myself up about that. Tomorrow is a new day and we all have off days. But when I am online I try to follow these rules and above all I try to have fun. I’ve met so many wonderful people since I joined Twitter/Facebook/deviantART and the various other sites you can find me. Some I even consider more than just acquaintances. They’ve become friends who support my creative vision and that’s invaluable.

To show my appreciation here’s a coupon code for my Etsy shop, Makepeace Studios, good for 30% off!!! Use the code DIEHARDFAN when you spend a minimum of $15.00. The coupon code is only good till December 13th.