Archive | March 2014

Twitter: How to Use it More Than to Simply Sell Books – Part 2

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Wow, I definitely hit a chord last week with my blog about twitter. Apparently both readers and authors alike believe twitter should not be just about posting links to books. That’s not to say that you can’t post book links, but first and foremost you have to form a bond with your followers so that you create the desire for them to even take more than a passing glance if you put a book link in there. It all returns to “engagement.” Last week’s blog discussed six different things I do on twitter besides just post book links. I’m going to show you a few more cool things you can do.

#1) Lists. When you have so many followers, and I hit over 20K recently, how can you possibly follow any one person at a time? The stream goes by so very fast. My suggestion is to make “lists.” Go to your home page, hit your followers and pull up the list option. I make lists dependant on a few things. Some I specialize under specific interests, some based on location. (all of which I cull from their bios and via conversations) Some I privatize – meaning I’ll have a list just for family and close friends, some lists are people I want to check up on often. I even have a list for “people who know more than me.” This list is comprised of tweeps I’ve seen who are neurophysicists, doctors, pilots, experts in various fields. This way, if I want to contact specific people, I can go to my particular list and pull them up and see what those folks are doing. I’ve actually needed advice and sometimes I will directly tweet someone from one of those specialty lists. More times than not, they’ve actually responded with some help, a link, or advice. And they don’t even really know me. The cool part is, in 140 characters, you’re really not committing to all that much, and you’ve engaged them and asked a question. People really do like helping each other out.

#2) Bios: An interesting bio is a great way to start a conversation. Here’s mine:

Author, Gastronaut, TKD BB, Mom of Twins (one’s an Aspie), owns a ferret. THE HUNT FOR XANADU, THE WORLD OF KAROV and THE RUBY AMULET on Amazon. Long Island, NY · elysesalpeter.com

Do you have any idea how many people have asked me “what is a Gastronaut?” I’ve had people simply follow me because I’m an author, or because I’m a mom of twins. They’ll literally say hi and tell me something about themselves that coincides with my own bio. It’s a great way to start a conversation. So I suggest to put something interesting or thought provoking in your bio. It gives a tiny bit of your personality to create additional conversations and have people follow you back.

#3) Favorites: I love this option on my list area. It’s like my own little storage area of goodness. It could be a great little nugget of information, an inspirational quote, just a person I want to remember to check up on, or a link to a great article. Favorites are fun and they’re even MORE fun when someone has favorited one of YOUR tweets. I get a little “puffed up” when that happens. Sort of like Sally Field when she did her Oscar speech and said “You like me, you really like me!”

#4) Complaining (oh, I mean “Therapy”): I know, this is not really a tip, but it kind of is. When you’re frustrated, when you’re running out of ideas, when you are hungry, mad, or just plain cranky, twitter is a great way to post your feelings without committing to an entire blog diatribe of complaining. And guess what? People will usually respond with uplifting words. Exactly what you wanted. Just to know that someone and understands and empathizes. I posted this the other day:

That moment you check KDP and see someone bought your book! Um & then your eyes wander another column & see they also just returned it! :p

I know, silly, but I just don’t understand returns on books that are discounted so much. But, I was annoyed and put it out into the twitter universe. And guess what… I had immediate responses. Some people favorited it. (kindred souls, I guess) and some commented. My mini tantrum was then averted by some chatting and I moved on. 🙂 (and I didn’t have to pay a therapist $150 to listen to me and offer advice)

#5) Book Links: Yeah, I said it. We are authors, we STILL need to post our book links – but do it differently. Don’t just say “Buy this great book, here’s the link.” And then do that same link 20 times a day for weeks at a time. That’s called “Spamming your followers” and you will be unfollowed super fast if you keep that up.

Really try to utilize those 140 characters to let readers know about your book, and only tweet it between 2X to 6X a day. Use hashtags and try to switch up its content. Sometimes do a book link with a little recap of the book. Sometimes discuss your great reviews. Sometimes say when it launched, or when the print version is up. Here’s some I’ve done for my thriller, THE HUNT FOR XANADU: (remember, twitter will shorten your url links for you)

“Kelsey Porter is on a quest for revenge. But how do you fight the buddhist devil?” My #thriller THE HUNT FOR XANADU http://ow.ly/uQQFM

Just finished the sequel to THE HUNT FOR XANADU, my buddhist thriller! Come check out Book #1! 19 5* Reviews! http://www.amazon.com/Hunt-Xanadu-Kelsey-Porter-ebook/dp/B00H6TM1MI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395454339&sr=8-1&keywords=the+hunt+for+xanadu

#6) Good will: I try to do this every day. Go and retweet someone you haven’t engaged… ever. Tweet their book link, or something important to them. You will be AMAZED at how thankful they are and how good you will feel. Do it just to be nice and not because you expect a retweet or something in return. Put Karmic energy out into the universe and just let the happiness flow.

So, I implore you to look at twitter differently. Don’t just post book links. Your followers will simply look at your tweets as white noise if that’s all you do – so switch things up, have a mix within all the noise. You’ll be very surprised at what beautiful music you will hear when you allow it to come through.

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Twitter: Why it Does More Than Simply Sell Books

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Today’s blog is about the power of twitter. Many writer’s only media platforms include using Twitter and Facebook to promote their books. I never see them talking to people, just at people, and I think that’s a huge mistake and missed opportunity. These same authors get frustrated when they don’t get a lot of sales with this strategy and they come to the conclusion that “twitter really doesn’t help with book sales, at all.” I tend to agree, to a point. I believe twitter offers writers amazing exposure and I believe it holds the key to so much more that they haven’t even explored yet. Here’s some interesting things I do with twitter that have nothing to do with me just posting a “read my book” link.

#1) WRITING GAMES: On Fridays there is this awesome cool hashtag called #FP, which stands for Friday Phrases. What you do is simply type that hashtag in the tweet and WRITE a short story all in that same tweet. It is so much fun and offers a lovely way to get the creative juices flowing. And you’ll read other great entries and you can comment on them, building some cool relationships. Authors love nothing more than feedback and they appreciate it so much when you comment. Here are the two I offered this week:

#FP The child pulled her Grandpa along. “Just a little further Papa.” She led him to an open grave. He shook at her next words. “We’re home.”

“What’re you chewing?” I asked my 3 yr old.” “Orange gummies.” He licked his lips. “Mommy!” My 10 yr old cried. “Where’s my goldfish?” #FP

What’s great is that if people following the thread like it, they comment, you get retweeted and you might gain some new followers, too! Super fun. If you’d like to learn more about Friday Phrases, click here: http://fridayphrases.com/

#2) REVIEWS: This is harder, and more time consuming, but I look at all the threads and see the reviews that bloggers do. If I think they tend to review books like mine, I’ll start my research. I will follow them, then go to their webpages and start the process of writing them an email to see if they’d like to review one of my books. While time-consuming, it’s a great way to reach people I never would have met before and get an honest review from someone validated.

#3) FOOD: I love to talk about food. I wanted to do something different once for the holidays and the most amazing thing happened when I posted “Help, I need suggestions.” There are people from ALL OVER THE GLOBE on twitter and one woman told me her grandma’s recipe for a holiday dish called “Lobio,” which is Georgian Green Beans in Walnut Sauce. I made it for Passover and it was SO GOOD. Here’s the recipe to serve 6:

Ingredients

2 pounds fresh green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 pound light-skinned walnuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 cup vegetable stock
salt

Directions

1. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the green beans, return to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to set the color and stop the cooking. Reserve.
2. Place the walnuts and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and puree to a paste. Transfer to a medium-size bowl. Add the onion, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, and vegetable stock and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Reserve.
3. Arrange the green beans on a serving platter. Drizzle decoratively with the walnut sauce and garnish with additional paprika for color.

#4) SLANG: In one of my books, there is an older gentlemen from the UK. I have been researching British slang and including it in the book. I then appealed to my #UK tweeps and started asking questions such as “Can my character say Gawd Blimey and Bloody Hell?” Or “What does Stone the Crows” mean? I can’t tell you how many people chimed in with what are BETTER ways to say what I’m trying to get across. How some of my phrases were just regional or simply not used any longer. What an amazing resource these people were and I never would have gotten these honest answers in a quicker fashion. I can read as many internet British Slang sites as I want, but when I have someone living there, right now, telling me “how it really is” – that is invaluable.

#5) INTERVIEWS: I had an author interview right on twitter! How crazy is that? #writerskaboodle will help you do an author interview and for 1/2 hour straight people come on, along with the moderator, and ask questions about you and your books. What a great way to answer your reader’s questions, live, via tweets.

#6) COMMUNITY: That’s right. Community – this wonderful world is all about people engaging with each other. This morning I posted about how I had no idea what to post for my blog today. Within minutes, people from all over the globe offered suggestions and I realized, “OMG, twitter really isn’t all about selling my books,” it’s about building a community of like-minded friends who can all engage and help each other.

So, my advice to writers is get out of the mindset that you are only using twitter to hustle your books. Have fun with it. Engage your followers. Ask questions that you really want the answers to. You will be surprised at how much more you get out of this wonderful resource.

If any of you use twitter differently, I’d love to know! And please come on over and follow me at http://www.twitter.com/elysesalpeter

Book Signings – Finding your Hook for the Right Venue

Book Signing at a New Leaf

Book Signing at a New Leaf

I’ve heard different theories of thought on book signings. Some people LOVE them and think that the best way to sell your novel is in person. Other authors who live predominantly in the digital world feel like you could reach thousands of more people with the right digital platform than the effort of doing a signing. That may be true, but online you simply don’t get the face to face you would if you have a reader standing in front of you.

So, I wanted to look for a venue for my novel, THE HUNT FOR XANADU. The book is about a young girl on a quest to avenge the death of her parents, murdered in their efforts to find the mystical land of XANADU. Along the way, she discovers something amazing about her own inner soul. It’s steeped in Tibetan Buddhism, takes place around the world, and is a thriller with a great twist.

I’ve done a few promotions and gotten some press, but I really wanted to do an in-person signing: a) for the experience and b) to see if I can get the word out to a different audience.

At first I called my local Starbucks. It’s a huge place and the manager was completely on-board. We were going to pick a weekend between holidays where biz was slow and it would help her drive traffic to the store and I was going to bring a lot of local people in. Then we tried to get confirmation from the Corporate office and they SHOT ME DOWN. They claimed that a signing would “interrupt their business.” Um, ok. I’d be in a teeny corner of this huge shop, bringing people in and purchasing products. Hmmm…

So then I started thinking… what is my hook? My first novel is a thriller called FLYING TO THE LIGHT and is about a young deaf boy. That novel’s hook was all the deaf websites and deaf schools. Even special needs fairs, sign language events, etc…

signing suppliesFor XANADU I figured Asian, Tibet, food, meditation, tea… I called Buddhist bookstores, meditation centers and then decided, why not a Tea Shop? I contacted the owner of A NEW LEAF tea emporium in Garden City, NY, and gave her a copy of my novel, discussed my social media platform and discussed how I would drive business to her event, and we did it. She was amazingly gracious and gave out samples of free tea and 10% off to anyone that came into the store during my signing. I decided to put out all my novels and purchased a bunch of Asian cookies and wafers – all individually wrapped with Chinese writing on them for authenticity.

I contacted the local papers and I was covered in the Garden City News, The Roslyn News and then, Long Island Newsday put the event and a big picture of me in the Fan Fare Books section. I was getting calls from everyone! I also did a few “events” on Facebook and Goodreads to announce it.

Overall, the event was a lot of fun. While I wished there was more native traffic to the store, it was a very cold day out so not as many people were walking around Garden City as normal, but still it was great. I had a few friends show up to fill some tables and then a bunch of people came in simply because they saw me in the paper. Quite a few people came in looking for “the author.” After four books, I’m finally feeling that yes, I can own that title.

The most wonderful news is the owner would love to have me back when I publish Book #2 in the series, which is titled THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB and, even better, this jumpstarted me having a signing at THE DOLPHIN BOOKSHOP – one of the large independent bookstores on Long Island – this has been on my bucket list. I believe this is going to happen now in June.

So, find your hook, any way that you can, and run with it. Even if it’s silly, just try. You never know.

Can Getting Rid of Gluten and Dairy Get me Back to Bootcamp?

Climbing a Rope at Bootcamp

Climbing a Rope at Bootcamp

Besides the fact that I love to write (I mean, who doesn’t know at this point that I do?) What people may not know is that I love exercising. I absolutely adore it, but I haven’t been able to do it in over a year. October, 2012, I had been in a Bootcamp class. I’m talking “hardcore stuff.” Now, I won’t compare what I was doing for an hour with what Marines do day in and day out in their military training, but the Marines who taught us told us that it was close.

Oh, how I loved that class. I love it so much I got up at 5:30 am to get to a 6:00 am class, three to four times a week, where the Marines would “lovingly” yell at me, put me through exercises, make me climb ropes, run laps, lift tires, etc, for a full hour. When class was done, I was a disgusting, sweaty, smelly mess (along with the other fifteen insane people with me), but I felt incredible and I thought I was looking great.

But then I got hurt. In one class, I was doing jumping jacks holding a heavy bar, and thinking I was fine… when suddenly I wasn’t. Something “sort of snapped” in my back. I remember slowly falling to the floor and getting numb. I thought maybe I just twisted wrong (the numbness was my body’s way of keeping me ignorant to what had really happened.) I tried to continue the class but couldn’t and as the day progressed, I was basically crippled. After all the subsequent doctors and MRI’s we discovered two herniated disks. L4 and L5. Sciatica, numbness.. pain. This is basically textbook and nothing new. But, the disks are sitting on nerves and other fun stuff, so no matter how textbook this is… it hurts.

So what have I been doing to fix this? I did nothing for about eight months. I couldn’t. And then this past October I started with a chiropractor who gave me some relief. Then, this past week I started acupuncture and I also changed my diet. I read that gluten and dairy cause inflammation. I figured, “what if I could just get rid of them as much as I could from my diet?” It really wasn’t that hard to do – you just have to prepare. Brown rice pasta has replaced regular pasta, brown rice instead of white, I’ve made quinoa and lentils, I broil and bake instead of breading and frying, and I purchased gluten-free crackers.

What was interesting was this. Two weeks ago, I went on this diet for the first time for a week. I was pretty strict, though there were one or two meals I “cheated” because I wasn’t home and there was food in front of me. Regardless, I would say I changed my diet 90% that week. Looking back, I realize my back felt better. Then when the week was done, I went hog wild and chowed down on Chinese food for two days, started drinking milk again, yogurt and cheese for breakfast, bread at lunch, and wouldn’t you know, three days later my back went out… and bad. Lots of sciatic pain. Hmmm… so, back to the chiropractor, added my first acupuncture treatment and went BACK to the gluten-free/dairy free diet.

Verdict? Three days after being in the worst pain I’ve been in months, I’m so much better. Coincidence? A combination of everything? I don’t know, but I really believe that this “little cocktail of treatments” is hopefully working. The fact is, if I don’t add to my own problems by eating foods that CAUSE inflammation, maybe I can keep the nerve pain at bay – just by watching what I put in my mouth.

So, the verdict is out on exactly how this is going to go, but I’m hopeful. My next acupuncture treatment is Wednesday… I’ll keep up the diet and I’ll report next week. So far, so good.

My goal? Maybe I can get back to bootcamp one day. But for now, I’ll take “tying my shoes without flinching,” thank you very much.