Reflections on 2015

Quote of the Day: “Its hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but its harder to give up when you know its everything you want.” Unknown

Reflections on 2015

The year 2015 was fast and furious. It’s amazing to reflect on the number of goals accomplished during the year. As a life-long learner, I have endeavored to learn more about writing and publishing while keeping up with marketing trends. Some lessons were difficult while others easier. Below are my top five writing tips from 2015.

Top 5 Writing Tips

1) Write often – set a schedule and keep it.

2) Continue learning your craft through study and observation. Don’t be too quick in ruling out self-publishing. Many authors have followed this path and enjoy having control over their work and finances. Note, it doesn’t rule out traditional publishing at a later date. There’s more than an handful of authors today who began their career this way. While other independent authors prefer self-publishing and are quite successful.

3) Choose your editor wisely: They’re many excellent editors available for hire. Find one who meets your publication schedule. Do your research and don’t mistake a shiny web-site for competence. For example, one of my best editors was not in the spotlight with a huge number of followers. I was worried at first because as a social media person my expectations were to see him flying across the universe. He wasn’t. What I found was someone living in the backwoods of the South, with Internet connection and the knowledge and skills to take my work to the next level. After reading his thirty page review and a line by line critique, I knew I’d found the right editor for my new book.

4) Brand yourself on social media: Whether you have an agent or not, you still need to know how to publicize your work.

5) Learn the business: Ask questions, establish and grow relationships

Christmas PlainI hope that my adventure in publishing will help you. I’m look forward to 2016 and the endless possibilities for cultivating new fans. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  Carolyn Bowen 

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New Blog in 2015?

Quote for Today: “A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.” Lee Odden

December is traditionally a time when we reflect on our achievements and highlights from the previous year. Along with reflections from the past comes fresh ideas about the possibilities in the new year. It is an exciting time to ponder new business possibilities and begin setting goals for the new year.

There has been much hype about blogging as a business in the past year. So much, that you would think everyone needs a space in the blogosphere. From brick and mortar store (brand) blogs to the sharing of journals and diaries, it seems everyone should have a web presence.

The Popularity of Blogs

According to Wikipedia, “On 20 February 2014, there were around 172 million Tumblr and 75.8 million WordPress blogs in existence worldwide. According to critics and other bloggers, Blogger is the most popular blogging service used today, however Blogger does not offer public statistics. Technorati has 1.3 million blogs as of February 22, 2014.” The number of new blogs has continued climbing throughout the year. For an idea of the number of posts made daily, check Worldometers for some calculations in real time.

Today, it is common for business web-sites to include a blog to inform the public about their offerings, special events, brand and etc. These are the exception to the business of a blog website. If the idea of starting your own blog is crossing your mind – this post is for you.

My New Blog, Carolyn Bowen, The Writing LifeBusiness Planning

First, ask the question, Why do you want to write a blog? When the idea surfaces its common to think that it will be easy writing about something you enjoy doing and you will make lots of money sharing your knowledge plus there’s always affiliate or other marketing options – right? Although there are web-sites that do generate substantial revenue, the masses fall at the other end of the spectrum. However, if you are satisfied with your reasons for creating a blog, it’s time to move forward.

Treat your blog the same as if it was any other new business you are opening. I know it’s easy to think, well I’ll be doing it all and from anywhere I choose. Indeed, bloggers do not only produce content to post on their blogs, but also build social relations with their readers and other bloggers. For this, you need a well researched business plan that will help you find your niche, know your competition, costs for delivery, maintenance, domain and social media marketing as well as expansion.

 The Writing Life, Carolyn M. Bowen, BloggingYou will need to consider which platform you will use to establish your web domain. Hosted vs standalone blog platforms? Hosted blog platforms like Blogger, WordPress, GoDaddy and many more or whether you should go for a stand alone platform that you host on your own domain and server like WordPress.org or others. I have tried it both ways, hosted and standalone and the greatest difference for two of the web-sites was a standalone using BlueHost with WordPress for creating posts. However, with the right SEO and content any of the above will accomplish the same results. You can always start with the basics like this web-site and work your way up. It’s all about how much time and money you want to put into it. And, for me and hopefully for you – time is money.

Social Media Icons, The Writng Life
Social Media

There are platforms that provide free hosting to help get you started. However, if you want your posts to be seen by the masses you are going to need some SEO help whether you do it yourself or hire someone else. In addition, to help your posts fly and enjoy higher visibility you need social media sites where potential readers hang-out. Check the demographics and the interests of major social sites before creating a profile. Make sure it will be a good fit with folks of common interests in your topics. Then take it slowly, building your following on 2-3 major social sites at the time. The key here is building relationships and engaging with your followers. For business planning, consider your time and budget for promoting your social media site.

Pictures are worth a thousand words

The Writing Life, CMBowenWhether or not you snap your own pictures for your blog and social media posts you will need to have an idea about the costs for apps to help you customize your designs unless you are an accomplished graphic artists. Although I do enjoy using some apps like Canva for they provide an assortment of photos to select from, I have also purchased photos from stock companies and then customized them using another source. Key thought – know what you should budget for marketing your new business.

This is not at all an inclusive listing for planning your blog start-up, but rather some notes to direct you in making decisions. The year 2015 could be your breakthrough year, I hope you will use your time, energy and money wisely. Wishing you the success you deserve. Carolyn

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Motivation For Today

Thought for Today: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Robert Frost

Today is a writing day for me. I am excited about my next book for the characters are coming alive and keeping me in suspense as they delve into the mysteries in their lives. The excitement about what comes next is one of the things that keeps me motivated and disciplined to pursue the writing life. What motivates or inspires you to go after your dreams?

Like many, I want to live a balanced life of work and play which calls for a plan. I would love to sit down at the computer and go with the flow as many of my favorite authors seem to do. Yet, I know that I need exercise, breaks for food and drink and to spend time with loved ones. Many of you know that I wear several hats, and I do love hats, but you know what I am talking about. I am balancing a work life that includes multiple projects and I would not have time to write fiction if it was not for some cool time-saving apps like Hootsuite and PostPlanner. What are your go-to time savers?

For now, back to writing the sequel to Cross-Ties. The picture below was an inspiration for the family home in the yet unnamed book. I can only imagine the tales this antebellum home in Northwest Florida has inspired.

Florida Antebellum Home

Wishing you joy and happiness in your work and play this week. Carolyn

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When Less Is More: Social Media

Quote for Today: I continue to be drawn to clarity and simplicity. ‘Less is more’ remains my mantra. Stephane Rolland

The holiday season is in our wake and it seems everywhere we look there are some fantastic gifts starring us in the face. Everyone today is marketing something. It is just the way the world operates now from authors promoting their books, companies branding their product lines to non-profits creating awareness about their mission. What are we to do if we want our own offerings available for the world to see? Get more visible with a planned strategy to target our market.

Black Friday, Books

What is one to do when first starting out promoting their products or services? We question what platforms will deliver the greatest results for our efforts and pocketbook. Looking around the Internet there is a huge array of selections for posting on social media. It is tempting to say “I want to use them all and receive the most for my start-up.” I’ve been in that mind-set too and learned that sometimes less is more. Clue: Fresh content, visuals, supporting apps are just a few of the commodities needed for each site.

My suggestion is to use the social media sites where your potential customers already are active. It is best to begin with two or three sites and as you build your community expand your reach to others or use your talent and energy to continue improving your existing sites.

My favorites for ease of use, targeting folks interested in my products and building a community that enjoys the same things are as follows: Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.   And, I did not do these all at once. Each site is a work in progress that has been expanded as resources became available. It is a good to have a budget for paid advertisements on your social media sites. It is generally agreed that it is a better option than buying followers who may or may not be interested in your offerings.

Another option this holiday season is partnering with a company that already markets similar products or services. For example holiday specials in the hospitality industry, an established blog that promotes travel, food and entertainment would be a bonus. Note: This is one of my companies.  However, for Cross-Ties
the search is on for a partner (book seller) that will help my young adult novel go viral.

Keep it simple, know your audience and market accordingly.  Special note  for companies marketing to businesses, it’s hard to beat Linkedin for news and growing your network.

I look forward to your comments about what’s working for your marketing program. Hope to see you on social media. Cordially, Carolyn

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Cross-Ties Book Trailer

Thought for Today: “Everything you can imagine is real.” Pablo Picasso

Good morning everyone!
Today I want to talk about Cross-Ties, the Book. Cross-Ties, a young adult fiction, is full of visuals from the Pirates of the Caribbean, the beautiful Antigua and frontier America just to name a few. It was a treat to release the Cross-Ties book trailer that provides a peek into the journey of the main character Leah coming of age in the 18th Century.

Every young person proceeds through a rite of passage into adulthood. In Leah’s case, it was a stormy transition in finding true love and purpose in life. For many, this still holds true today. In Leah’s early adulthood, she had the mistaken belief that a man loved her only to find that it was a different kind of love. A love between friends, not the romantic love she had visualized in her dreams. Yet, she did find different kinds of love during her lifetime. Read Cross-Ties today and enjoy Leah’s adventure as she learns to love again – and again.

Cross-Ties Book, Carolyn M. Bowen, The Writing LifeHope to see you on Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. Let me know your experiences in finding true love and purpose in life. It’s a never ending story. Carolyn

 

 

 

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The Writing Life

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