TWEETS AND HASHTAGS


TWEETS AND HASHTAGS

By Natalie Bright

Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag. Jack Dorsey (@jack) sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006:

“just setting up my twttr”

Dorsey and his business associates were searching for a way to text on their cell phones, and the word “Twitter” defined exactly what they hoped to achieve.

Twitter has since evolved into an invaluable social media tool for communication and information sharing. The hashtag, pound sign (#) followed by short subject links, has become a way to organize that information.

Today Twitter boasts 200 million users with 140 million daily tweets. It’s an active social media gathering place.

For writers, you can include your tweet as part of the community or group conversation by using hashtags. Your tweet will the become a part of the online chat and is now a searchable link.

For example, tag you might tag posts with:

#writinglife

#kidlit (the genre you write)

#readromance (to link to readers or your genre)

#books

#mystery

#crimefiction

For researchers, discover and follow specific subjects, and find information you need by searching hashtags specific to your needs or genre.

I see a lot of hashtags with broad appeal that are popular and trending, but why not boost your tweets on a local level? Within your city, state, or a tri-state area, you can connect with new fans of your work by using specific hashtags. Spark a conversation, or perhaps build relationships that can turn into a business venture down the line. Do this by using hashtags for local public places, the city names, or topics specific to your book.

To learn more about which hashtags are currently trending and are the most popular, go the hashtags.org and where they also offer analytics for your business.

One of the consistently popular hasgtags on the list: #DWTS and yes, I am a fan. I enjoy watching Dancing with the Stars and reading everybody’s tweets during commercial breaks.

Social media doesn’t have to be stressful. It can be fun work and a great way to build your writing platform.

Tweet me @natNKB – what are some of your favorite hashtags?

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Set Your Creation FREE


Set Your Creation FREE

By Natalie Bright

 

This thing you’ve created—be it blog, picture book, or novel—becomes real. And real things, on occasion, must be set free.

By setting your words free, I don’t mean submitting your work for publication. I’m talking about letting your creation take on new forms and being open to new opportunities.

In my case perhaps a magazine article, which was rejected, can become something else. I had this great piece about a horse trainer, some photos by a professional photographer and an interesting hook about a rescue horse and second chances. The idea struck me: the story would make a great photo-illustrated picture book. One book became two, then three, and then four—that makes a series. Why didn’t I see it before?

There were some delays, a few road blocks that had to be resolved, but the Rescue Animal Series is finally real! Book 1, Lizzy and Little Bit, was released on Amazon last week. Book 2, FLASH, was launched this past weekend. To date, I have 15 possible titles in the series. It’s just a matter of work and persistence, and allowing the story to develop. It all began as a rejected magazine article.

Sometimes on the way to the dream,

You get lost

And find a better one.

 

AuthorPreneur: That would be YOU!


AuthorPreneur: That would be YOU!

By Natalie Bright

Entrepreneur: the process of designing, launching and running a new business.

We are familiar with the term entrepreneurs as it relates to the business world. It reminds me of people who are identified as creators, designers, and innovators. As I define them, the person who brings people together to coordinate efforts towards a common outcome. As more and more opportunities are realized for writers to publish their own work, the Indie published Authorpreneur has emerged.

“Do first. Believe second.” SETH GODIN

THE KEY IS YOU

As it relates to your writing, you are that key person. No one feels more passionately about your book than you. There’s not another person who cares more about your writing career or your readers than you. No one.

I’ve met so many writers with brilliant ideas, but they are afraid to take that first leap. They refuse to write the words that are burning a hole in their soul. “I’ve had this idea for many, many years. I’ll tell you, and you can write it.” NO! YOU write it.

Seriously. I’ve got more than enough ideas in my head, that I’ll never live long enough to write them all. I’ve come to the realization that I may never see them published either.

YOUR CREATIVE TEAM

Authorpreneurs have the power to bring a creative team together.

I have discovered that the entire creative process is fun for me: from the first story spark to imagining the world of my characters, building files of research notes, writing, editing, coordinating photo shoots, designing promo materials, and finding markets. I love bringing together creative minds and realizing the results of our efforts.

Based on my experience, there are some parts of Indie Publishing that don’t appeal to me. What I don’t like is formatting. I don’t like being a book store and filling book orders. I’ve found the good news! In today’s publishing world there are people who I can hire to do the stuff I hate.

There are definitely some snags along the way; every entrepreneur has them. Successful business gurus don’t mind the bumps; they just keep going.

A NEW JOURNEY

Six years ago, with a leap and a prayer, I pitched my idea for an historical middle grade novel at conferences. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done, but this character would not leave me alone. I wanted a wider audience than I could achieve on my own as a self-pub title. My dream was to see that book at Scholastic book fairs in schools across the country. I wrote a five book series, plus an extensive marketing plan, however that book did not sell to a traditional publishing house through a literary agent.

It’s time to move on to Plan B. I still feel passionate about this character, even after six years. I’m not giving up yet.

The next leap is alone as an Authorpreneur. Back to square one, but not really. I’ve learned so much along the way and I kept writing.

I am reminded of the first day of a creative writing course taught by NYTimes and USA Today bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. That was 13 years ago. She told us,

“A successful writer is willing to do that

which an unsuccessful writer is not willing to do.”

It’s a slight bend in the road and maybe a hill or two…the writing journey continues.

Book Authors and Sales Tax


Book Authors and Sales Tax

By Natalie Bright

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Members of the Texas High Plains Writers enjoyed an informative talk by accountant Dan Brown with ———at the May meeting in Amarillo.

One of the questions that we talked about, which we didn’t have time to fully discuss, involved collecting and paying sales tax for your book sales. Below I’ve listed a few blogs and websites with great information which will help clarify this very confusing issue.

SALES TAX

Ø Note that if you’re selling your self-published book through a dealer at a trade show, or an Internet retail entity such as Amazon.com or bn.com or a publishing service acting as a retail entity (such as Blurb or Lulu.com), the retail entity making the sale is responsible for collecting sales tax. “Sales Tax Facts for Book Authors” at publishing.about.com

Ø You may think that you are paying the appropriate sales tax because you pay the tax to the printing company when you purchase the book. But that tax is only for your purchase price, not the actual selling price. So unless you sell the book at your cost, you will have a sales tax obligation. “Sales Tax Responsibility for Authors” at writeyourlife.net

Ø Reimbursement for books sold through Amazon is considered a royalty and is not subject to sales tax. However, if you sell books through your website, at a book signing, or after a public speaking engagement, sales tax should be included if those books are sold within your state. “Sales Tax Responsibility for Authors” at writeyourlife.net

Ø There are exceptions: 1. selling to someone other than the end user. Generally, states only tax sales on the final user, so if you are selling your books to a bookstore or retail store for resale, you do not charge them sales tax. [NOTE: Most retail outlets expect the ability to add a 50-60% markup above your price. If you quote them a price too high, they may not be able to carry your book in their store.]

2. Selling to a nonprofit organization. In some states, nonprofit organizations are able to obtain sales tax exemption. These organizations should provide you a copy of their sales tax exemption certificate from their state.
3. Selling to out-of-state customers. Usually, you must collect sales tax from customers that live in your state.
Ø The best thing about publishing your own book through Amazon Author Central is that you are not the seller of record. This means you are not responsible for collecting the sales tax on the books you publish. Blog.taxjar.com

Ø Nexus is having a presence in the state which indicates which state you should be submitting sales tax to. Your “nexus” is the state in which you reside and do your business, however every state is different.

Ø Let’s say you’re selling your own book and you spend the summer selling your book at festivals across five states. Some states consider making a single sale in the state to create sales tax “nexus”, while others do not. Many festivals, book stores, etc. will have a bookseller on hand to sell your books for you. This generally includes collecting the sales tax. In that case, you would be off the hook for collecting sales tax. blog.taxjar.com

SELLING BOOKS

Being an indie book author these days can be daunting, but take a deep breath and consider the big picture. The opportunities for reaching readers today is truly amazing. Take off your creative cap and slip into your owner/entrepreneur mode.

Here’s a few more things to consider:

  • · If there is a hosting retail store at the book festival you have a booth at, absolutely take advantage of their ability to handle your books for sale. Be aware that they probably have a zillion things to do for the event. You can be persistent yet professional, but make absolutely sure your books have been ordered. I know of authors who have shown up to events to find they have no books to sign because the order was never placed. Do you leave or should you stay and hand out swag? It’s a horrible situation.
  • · Every state is different. In Oklahoma for example, a representative of the Oklahoma state taxing authority might collect tax there at the book festival. A form will be provided for you to complete and sign.
  • · I sell books at my cost to clubs and organizations because I figure it’s the least I can do after they’ve fed me, paid a speakers fee, and then sat through my talk. I consider the invitation to be a great opportunity to build connections with readers. This kind of networking is invaluable, plus I don’t have to collect sales tax.
  • · Seek out sponsorships for your books. There might be nonprofit organizations that will purchase a case of books for special events. Suggest that your book would make a great table decoration with one at each place setting. Ask for a copy of their tax exemption certificate and attach it to the invoice that you’ve prepared for them.

I hope this helps you. Business is done. Go write now, y’all!

ANIMALS AS CHARACTERS


ANIMALS AS CHARACTERS

Nataliebright.com

If your story is plodding along and you’re struggling in that saggy middle quagmire, think about adding interesting elements through animals.

Animals add a richness to our lives and provide some great material for stories. With some creative thinking, they can add unlimited conflict for your characters to deal with. The death of a beloved pet. The bequeath of granny’s pet anaconda. The personality of a cranky, old cat.

As I sat in the vet’s office one morning, an elderly couple came in with an obnoxious solid black mutt. He barked at my dogs, with a face that was full of disgust. The elderly gentleman took him outside. The lady explained that their dear neighbor had died and had left this dog to them in her will. Sometimes great stories just land in your lap from out of nowhere.

We have a ranch with dogs, barn cats, Registered Angus cows, wild turkey, antelope, deer—you name it. There are issues that happen every week just involving the livestock and wildlife. If you’ve ever owned a pet, you know that they exhibit quirky personalities and habits that keep life interesting.

Last Saturday, I toured Dove Creek Ranch and Equine Rescue. They do amazing work. I was reminded that animals have fascinating life journeys and stories much like people. Some of these horses have experienced mental issues, grief, abuse and pain. Horses go through traumatic events and have to experience a healing process much like humans. Sometimes it’s not a happy ending. Other times horses and humans can heal together, and there is new found joy and a fresh beginning. Talk about a place full of story ideas!

Dig deeper and rethink the dynamics of your story. Would an animal add a unique dimension to your character arc or story line?

Always onward WS6 writers!

PODCASTS: LEARNING WHILE YOU WORK AT WRITING


PODCASTS: LEARNING WHILE YOU WORK AT WRITING

Natalie Bright

Perhaps I’m way behind the times, but I’ve never been into podcasts. My youngest son has always been a fan, but it never made sense to me that he spent time watching someone else play a video game. I realized he’s watching a lot about science though, when he began spouting off facts about the universe.

This past weekend I discovered podcasts are for writers too!

Thecreativepenn.com is a treasure trove of information for writers including 250 podcast interviews by self-published author Joanna Penn. She is officially my first podcast subscription.

Here’s what I did last week while listening to Joanna Penn talk about writing:

  • Folded two loads of clothes.
  • Re-arranged my make-up drawer.
  • Ironed shirts for my husband and son.
  • Unloaded and loaded the dishwasher several times.
  • Cooked tacos for dinner.
  • Logged five miles on the treadmill.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post:

Here’s what I learned from thecreativepenn.com podcasts and how I applied that information to my own self-published eBook:

  • Discovered my eBook on Smashwords had 225 sample downloads, but only eight sales.
  • My price of $4.99 is double the cost for about half the page length as compared to books on the same topic which are priced at $1.99 and $2.99.
  • GONE NEVER FORGOTTEN is a heartfelt memoir about loss and the grief of losing our oldest baby boy. The book title is also the same as a porno video that used to be available on Amazon, which is why I stopped promoting it. I should have researched and put more thought into title ideas before I self-published.
  • The title page, dedication, table of contents makes up most of the downloadable sample. No one is seeing any significant example of my writing or what the book is about. When formatting your eBooks, begin with the text of the story. Put everything else at the end.
  • Social media is amazing, and it’s mind-blowing as to what self-published authors are able to accomplish these days.
  • Guest blogging, Twitter, Facebook promos and whatever else, are all things I can do to let readers know about this book. The measurable results of what works best for me is completely different for what might have worked for others. Every author must decide upon their own journey.
  • The most profitable combination is to have at least four books written, polished and published before you begin a concentrated social media blitz.
  • Start building my fan base now by actively participating on twitter, facebook, pinterest, and other social media sites.
  • A newsletter is the best way to build an email data base of possible buyers for your books.
  • The number of people reading on their iPhone devices has exploded (estimated at three times other devices), which makes the iBook app worth considering both as a reader and as a writer.
  • I’ve decided to retire my eBook on Smashwords and rebrand the project.
  • Do I want to spend time and money on a cover redesign, new formatting, and find an illustrator?
  • Should I write a book proposal and research possible submissions to a small press?
  • I must develop a social media marketing plan.
  • I must learn to balance the creative side with the business side, if I want to be a successful author and sell books.
  • Be open minded and consider all of the possibilities for my books in today’s publishing environment.

I’ll keep you posted as this project develops. Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

 

I Need a Librarian


Outtakes 202

I Need a Librarian

by Cait Collins

 

I love books and I have a fair sized home library. I own everything from Peanuts to the classics; religion to Dummies books. I read reference books and romance; kids literature and true crime. I have out-of-print volumes and new releases. I have kept books autographed by writer friends who are no longer with us. Trouble is I have a horrible time keeping the shelves organized.

Every few months, I go through the shelves, pull out the items I will never reread, and box them up. Eventually, I’ll load the boxes into the car and donate them to the library. Then I rearrange the shelves, putting the non-fiction on one end and filling the empty spaces with favorite authors and fiction. Within a month it’s all out of order as I’ve added new volumes and misplaced others.

My friends and family suggest I get an e-reader or tablet for the books I will only read once. It’s a logical suggestion, but I prefer a real book. You know, bound volumes with pages I can turn. Besides I’m not comfortable reading a tablet while relaxing in a bubble bath.

I guess I have a couple of solutions. I can hire a part time librarian to shelve my books and keep the book cases organized. Or I can enjoy going through each shelf looking for that new release I have yet to read. My conclusion; there is something to be said for reacquainting yourself with your personal library.

Hometown Promotions


Hometown Promotions

By Natalie Bright

There’s a line in a country song that goes, “everyone dies famous in a small town”.

How many of your neighbors, coworkers, or in-laws even know that you’re a writer?

Local Fame and Fortune

We have a renowned New York Times Bestselling author here, who’ve I’ve known since she first became published. She now has a huge fan base, both locally and internationally, and she’s worked hard for it.

In the 25 years that we’ve been friends, I’ve known her to do many, many local talks for free, even though she commands major fees around the country. She rarely turns down an invitation to speak at local library fundraisers, book club meetings, or organization lunches. She’s become extremely popular with the Red Hat groups. Her programs include a tidbit of the characters and settings of her stories yet to be published. She’s not only selling her current list, she’s introducing herself and creating a fan base for works in progress. Her Fan Club has grown by leaps and bounds. Usually 100-200+ people show up at her local book signings for new releases.

Sometimes neighbors can be your biggest supporters. When I started out as a nobody writer several years ago, I’ve tried to emulate that train of thought.

Put Yourself Out There. Should You Charge?

Kid Lit authors are highly encouraged to decline school visits unless the school pays a fee because it sets a precedent in the area. I come from that small town mentality where everyone pitches in when asked and volunteerism is the way of doing things.

Right after college, I volunteered at our local historical museum where I spoke to thousands of kids during spring field trips. Today, some of those same teachers ask me to visit their classrooms. I can drop my kids off at their schools around 7:30, make it to the gig to talk about writing, and be back to my day job desk by 10:00. The kids get an inexpensive pencil with my website or a bookmark with my picture and bio. A 2nd grader told me last week, “I don’t want you to leave.” Another one whispered, “I’m writing a story, too.” For me, it’s about connecting with kids.

The publishing business moves at a snail’s pace. I’m making every effort to keep my name out there as a writer, and all it takes is my time and a .39 cent pencil. I’ve never considered charging the schools in our district, where my friends teach and my children have been enrolled since kindergarten.

Sometimes New Opportunity Means Practice

A friend’s daughter asked me to talk in the Dallas area for a reading event. The inner-city school had very limited funds so I agreed to talk for free. I’ve never done a power point for 700 elementary kids, but it seemed like a great opportunity since I’d be in the area anyway for a conference. This teacher is a tech-whiz so she helped with audio-visual set-up in the gym. I did my program for the first 300+, she offered suggestions to improve the clarity of content, and it went even better for the next group. I have the confidence to do it again. Sometimes new opportunity affords you a practice run, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Explore Your Town

Here’s that small-town mindset again: your time is free and it costs you nothing to give it away. Everyone you know can open doors to new opportunity. I usually say yes to everything because it always leads to something else. I’m not talking about selling out as a professional, hard selling, or pounding a group over the head about buying your book. I’m talking about networking and connecting with people who live in your neighborhood.

Show up, give them more than they expected, thank them for their time, eat the free meal, and leave your postcard bio. Odds are someone will ask if you have any books with you. Odds are good you’ll get an invitation to come back, or you’ll be asked to speak to another group because of the contacts you made. Odds are even better that someone will look at your website, perhaps follow you on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t forget to send a hand-written thank you note to the person who invited you. They may not buy a book today, but they know your name.

Selling Books

Marketing and promotion is a marathon, and who has the most depth and understanding about your stories? You can relay that passion about your novels better than anybody else. As authors, WE UNDERSTAND it’s business and all about building a platform and selling books, but not everybody has to know that.

Nataliebright.com

 

 

Reunion


Outtakes 188

Reunion

by Cait Collins

 

I’ve been fortunate to be associated with some very talented writers. Many are still trying for the big break, but they continue to work at their craft. Because of schedules, new places in our writing careers, or new locations, we don’t often see each other. It’s sad, but that’s the way of life. Recently we lost one of the talented writers.

I didn’t know DeWanna Pace as well as many of the writers and published authors in the Amarillo, Texas region. My association with her was limited to conferences and writer’s meetings, but I always believed there was something very special about her. She had this way of making you feel important. When she was talking with you, you were the only person in the room with her. She focused on the conversation and listened. Really listened.

DeWanna was unfailingly kind. She put other people first. I remember the day I was released from the hospital and found DeWanna sitting off to the side in the entry. I stopped to speak with her and learned her mother was being admitted. I asked if there was anything I could do. All she wanted was prayers. In return, she asked if I was visiting someone. I explained I had just been released. She offered to help me. If I needed anything all I had to do was call. Her own plate was full and yet she was concerned about me.

She was a great teacher. When she presented classes at writers’ conferences, her sessions were always well attended. She encouraged young writers. Even though her health was not the best, she kept her commitment to speak at the last writers’ conference held in Amarillo. It was important to her to pass on what she had learned.

This past Saturday, we celebrated the release of DeWanna’s latest book, The Daddy List, at a reception at Barnes and Noble. There was no book signing; just a meeting of people who had been touched by her generosity and talent. I found myself hugging my fellow writers and catching up on their lives and work. The passing of years did not matter; we were writers honoring one of our own. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

Wedge of Writing


We love books!

The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man, nothing else that he builds ever lasts, monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again and yet live on. Still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts, of the hearts of men centuries dead.

–Clarence Day

Write on, WordsmithSix friends, write on!