Tag Archives: social networking

Who’s Reading You? Juvie LitTrends

According to an article in Writer’s Digest, the biggest sales increase of 2012 was for juvenile lit.

That’s right, juvie lit writers, our audience is buying books. In fact, The Association of American Publishers tracked a huge jump in digital book sales for children and teens. To the tune of 475.1%.

This is something I’ve seen first hand while presenting in the classroom. A large portion of kids have e-readers available at home. Many are exposed to them in school. Still others are provided with personal e-readers by the school for the duration of their education. Granted, they are part of the bigger picture for learning in this technological world, yet it does translate into greater access of e-books for kids.

Note to self: e-MG and e-YA is A-OK.

And while the debate continues on the effectiveness of blogs and tweets as a viable marketing tool, one thing is certain: kids use facebook and twitter to connect and share. If we write great books and build a rapport with our young readers, they will joyfully spread the word, making juvenile lit the perfect age group to target with technology.

But let’s take this marketing idea one step further. Who is buying the 80.5% more juvenile lit books sold in 2012 compared to those bought in 2011? I can’t be 100% sure, but I suspect a large number of buyers come from the school itself. To learn more about the Market Within, hop on over to From the Write Angle for a look at what that potential buying power looks like.

But before you go, consider one more thing. Gift cards are handed out at birthday parties, in Christmas stockings and as graduation gifts more readily than politicians pass out handshakes. This instant access creates greater buying power in youth. All they need to download their favorite song, game or book is a gift card and a computer/e-reader/handheld gaming device. For the young bibliophile, it’s akin to books-on-demand. No longer do they need to make that special trip to the brick and mortar on Mom and Pop’s time. No longer does Grandma have to buy “safe” books that kids don’t want to read. No way. Because thanks to the gift card trend, kids can–and do–buy the books they hear about during lunch as soon as they get home. They are firmly in the driver’s seat of their reading tastes.

Does this mean we should all start writing for kids? Heck no. I would be sad if we did. However, it does mean that the market for this age group is flexible and strong. Good products can equal good sales for the savvy writer.

How does the convergence of technology and youth impact your writing/marketing plan? Have you ever considered e-MG before, or are you still reluctant to try digital only for youth? How does a traditionally lower e-price affect the sales potential of books for kids?

Curious minds want to know.


Frivolous Friday: Greasing Palms…er, Pans

So, this morning I made muffins. No matter how many tried-and-true methods and products I’ve used, my muffins always stick tot he pan. Always. I buy good pans. Sticky. I buy “the best on the market” oils and greases and sprays. Sticky.

Let me tell you, it gets frustrating to always have chewed-on looking muffins.

Bad looking muffins=new product or method.

Finally, I found a cake grease that actually works. If I use a lot of it. Which I didn’t for two of my poor muffins today. And it got me thinking that in life, we are always greasing the way for things to go smoothly.

Some call it networking and some call it…well, this is a family friendly blog, so I won’t quite go there. But the point is the same. You behave a certain way, or do certain favors to gain a foothold in this tenuous thing called life.

As parents, we may suck up to other parents so our kids get invited to the coveted birthday party of the season or play on a specific baseball team or start as quarterback. As employees, we may butter-up our bosses to get that promotion. Students brown-nose while politicians glad-hand.

We’re all guilty on some level of playing the greasy-palm game.

Writers, you are too. Ooops, we are. It’s how we make ourselves marketable. We may glom onto the twitter queen in hopes of garnering half her followers just by association. Or, we schmooze at conferences when we’d rather poke our eyes out with a sharp stick.

Life is greasy, and sometimes those who get the dirtiest get ahead.

Alas, however, the case cannot be said for my poor muffins. My poor sad muffins who now taste like grease instead of poppy seed, and fill my hands with a slimy residue I can’t get rid of.

I guess greasing palms and pans can have some serious consequences, too.

So, what do you think? Have you greased any palms lately to get ahead in your life? If so, did it work? Has a greasy-palm plan backfired for you? Or, are you the hard-working, quiet muffin that looks a little rougher for the wear, but is really delicious inside?

And what, pray tell, do you use to get your muffins out of the pan without altering their inherent goodness?!?!?!

Curious minds want to know.

Frivolous Friday: Balancing Writing and Parenting Schedules

I’m intuitive about a lot of things. Child rearing being one. It doesn’t mean I’m great at it. It simply means I get the big picture with relative ease. Yet there are other things I don’t get at all. Obvious things that everyone else in the universe seems to inherently understand.

This is fine as long as I remain blissfully unaware of my ignorance. Yet the moment realization crystallizes and I can see with the utmost clarity that I have totally missed the boat that everyone else in the universe is on, I feel pretty sheepish.

Like infants, writers need a schedule to keep themselves on track. I do fairly well with that as a whole. However, as I transform my blog to include all my passions, I finally figured out I needed a blogging schedule as well.

Duh, right?

Well, sometimes we’re slow on the uptake…or, at least, I am. So here’s what’s in store for you as I balance the things in my bloggerly life:

  • Mash Up Mondays (aka MUM): these days will be filled with the ins and outs of motherhood and marriage.
  • Writing Wednesdays: yep, the same great info on writing with the same quirky anecdotes from my life. It’s how I roll.
  • Frivolous Fridays: exactly how it sounds. Whatever tickles my fancy in terms of life, literature and liberty. Yeah, liberty. As in the things I feel passionate about like literacy, bullying, etc.

So there you have it. I’m moving on from infancy and heading toward toddlership. I’m trying to catch up with that boat before it completely leaves home port!

How do you handle those times your slow on the uptake? Do you find that realizing things a little too late is the end or a new beginning?

Curious minds want to know.

Confession Time: Rebuilding My Brand

I hate to publicly admit my failures, but I’m going to do just that, right here for all the world to read.

When I started Words from the Woods, it was my private space. A place where I could go as a wanna be writer to connect with other wanna be writers ina way that didn’t intersect with my real life. And I did.

But slowly, more and more of me came out in my posts, and readers began telling me, “I read your blog to keep up with your family.” Or, “I love your insights into kids and relationships.” Over time, I’ve found myself catering to two vastly different readerships:

  1. Those seeking posts on my quirky take on family dynamics, marriage, child-rearing and my unique soap box issues. Sure they enjoy the bits about the books I read, and more than a handful like to keep tabs on my writing. But, and here’s my public failure announcement, I didn’t start blogging with you in mind.
  2. The people I initially blogged for were those seeking writing tips. Guess what? There are a thousand and one aspiring writer blogs (times infinity). In fact, I blog at a collective with that as the sole purpose. I’m also very active at AgentQuery Connect where, as a moderator, I provide real-time tips to writers nearly every day. Seems a little redundant, actually, to expend the energy regurgitating the information here. Which is likely why I haven’t been blogging as much recently. (Public failure announcement number two.)

All this got me thinking that it’s time I repurpose my blog. My future audience of book buyers is not writers themselves. Well, actually some are, but, as a whole, my future audience is parents. Parents and grandparents, or aunts and uncles, or godmothers and godfathers or teachers and librarians who are looking for WHY my books should be on their shelves. Not writers. Not unless you also have a child or twenty in your life that you wish to purchase books for.

I also happen to like talking about the things near and dear to my heart, like child-rearing, education, literacy, marriage, bullying and friendship. I’m a speech coach, a mother, a volunteer, a wife and a writer. I advocate for at-risk kids (the traditional kinds and the kinds we seldom consider) and do freelance writing on the side. Someday I want to have my books published and in the hands of the children you love. It is my ultimate goal.

But in the meantime, these other passions are also a part of who I am, and they impact why I write the things I do. These are the focus of my new journey in blogging.

Over the next week or so, you’ll see some changes to my blog as I begin rebuilding my brand. Not as a whimsical walk with an aspiring writer, but more so as a whimsical walk through the life of a parent writer.

I hope you stick around to see where this takes me. Personally, I’m both thrilled and terrified!

If there’s anything you personally would like to see me do more of (or not at all) let me know. Thanks for your support up ’til now and hopefully through this and beyond.


PS. I’ll completely understand if I some of you abandon this new brand. Just know you can always follow my writing words of wisdom at From The Write Angle or on AgentQuery Connect.

(Un)Healthy Writing 4: Addiction

Addictions start out small.  A sip here, a puff there.  A tasty treat that turns into a binge eating session.  “Just another minute” at the keyboard that turns to just a few more hours.

My question: can we include writing in a list of addictions that afflict people across the globe?

I honestly don’t have an answer for you on whether or not writing can consume your time and attention in such a way that it can be classified as addiction.  I do know that writers can spend a disproportionate number of hours at their desks.  I know that some writers spend virtually every free moment in front of the screen.  Or dreaming of being in front of the screen.

I know that clothes go unwashed, kids are left to fend for themselves and all real life social activities taper off into nonexistence.  I know that significant others complain that writers have better relationships with their characters than with them.

But does this qualify as a writing addiction?

I suppose it could if one is actually writing or performing some kind of writing task while letting real life dribble off into nothingness.  However, I assume this isn’t necessarily the case.  I assume that other activities invade writing time and the proposed addiction may not be writing itself, but some form of socializing.

Angry Birds, anyone?  Facebook, blogs, AgentQuery, research, chat rooms…?

Are you an effective writer, or one whose writing time borders on social addiction?  Is it possible to be addicted to the writing process itself?  If so, how does an aspiring author break the addiction yet still be productive?  How can writing dreams interfere with real life priorities, and how can we be more efficient in fewer hours?

Curious minds want to know.

Turn Your Novel into a Literary Destination

Yesterday, I took a few mug shots of my kids.  We’re in the process of getting their passports, and it got me thinking how books are passports to exotic destinations.  They take us on adventures unimaginable, with friends we never knew existed.  They show us horrors we never want to experience and provide us with experiences we are lacking in our every day lives.

As writers, we create these worlds.  We toil away beside characters we love and resolve conflicts in foreign kingdoms with new age technology.  We sweat blood and cry caffeine tears in the hopes that someday, somewhere, somebody will stamp our books into their literary passports.

So, where are these passports that honor our long hours and days and characters and scenes?  Where is the proof that such incredible worlds exist beyond our keyboards and how do we invite others inside our words?

In short, how do our manuscripts become destination spots for eager literary travelers?

Cat’s Passport Guide for Writers

Create a unique destination.  Few people want to visit an uninhabited island devoid of food and water.  As writers, we must build all-inclusive resorts for our readers.  Plot, character, yada, yada, yada.  We have to have it all, or nobody will book a flight.  We also have to provide something unique along with all our other amenities.  If our novels sound, feel, smell and taste exactly like the book it will be shelved next to…?  Seriously, what’s the point of trying out a knock-off resort author?

Customer service, baby.  Few people shell out cold, hard cash to stay at a resort where they wash their own dishes and dodge trash on the walkways.  Get rid of typos, cut down on wordy sentences and dispose of purple prose.  All those things detract from the experience and rarely garner repeat business.  Bad customer service = bad business.

Know thy audience.  A five-star resort with adult only beaches does not attract middle class families with small children.  Likewise, a water park resort with ice cream stands every fifty feet will surely turn the noses of prospective honeymooners.

Books must fit on bookshelves and in book clubs.  Librarians need to know where to place your masterpiece so it receives the best circulation possible.  “But, but, but, I have a crossover, multi-genre, space-opera, noir adventure for middle graders that everyone from age 8-80 will love,” you say.  “With hot cowboys telling fart jokes.”

To which I say,  “It’s doubtful this conglomeration–placed willy nilly within the historical romances–will be picked up by stay at home moms looking for an exotic escape while the kids are at school.”  Sexy cowboys or not.

Very few books have genuine cross-over appeal.  They are the exception, not the rule.  And breaking into the vacation market with an unknown is risky business.

Make connections.  Travel agents are great at directing customers to hot vacation spots.  Advertisements in the right magazines catch readers’ attention.  Discounts and deals make potential travelers feel good about their purchases.  A personal touch, a bit of history, a quiet sense of comfort.  These things effectively draw people to certain resorts.

Whether we self-pub or use travel agents and traditional publishers along the way, the key to booking sales is tasteful visibility–to the right audience (as proven by number 3 above).

Lastly, don’t brag.  Vacationers love to spill when they return from a fabulous island hop.  Their word of mouth often sells others on the same resort, while their pictures frequently entice on-the-fence travelers to pack up their bags.  Not so with the resort owner–who lives in this exotic locale–who can’t shut up about sipping frozen drinks while you literally freeze in sub par temps.  Not so much when her weekly vial of cornmeal beach sand arrives in the mail just as you vacuum your kid’s daily deposit of pea rock from your front rug.

It is unbecoming of writers to oversell themselves.  Let your novel speak for itself.  Then sit back and let your satisfied customers rank your book with five stars, making your story the hottest literary destination around.

Are you a frequent flyer, buying books to support the industry while getting a better handle on what is available?  Do you know your competition and strive to provide unique characters, settings and stories?  Have you ever been surprised to see similarities between your manuscript/idea and pubbed books?  How do you reconcile that within your own writing?   Which similarities can make a novel?  Which ones can break any chance of every getting published?

Curious minds want to know.

Unlock your inner flamingo!

Yesterday, Kana Tyler shared a beautiful story about the flamboyant flamingoes that migrated to her yard as a child.  If you haven’t read Kana’s Notebook, I urge you to take a peek now.

As it is, I’m borrowing her beautiful flamingo stamp and passing along her words of thanks to you.

 Dear Readers, thank you for following my blog.  Thank you for taking time each day/week/month to share my journey.  Whether you’ve subscribed to my blog on purpose, stumbled across it while looking for pictures of trees or popped by after seeing me around the blogosphere (and wondered who the heck I am), I appreciate your support.  Knowing I’m not alone in my journey through the woods means the world to me.

Dear Commenters, thank you for sharing your perspectives on my blog.  It lets me know my words make an impact, however small, on somebody’s life, somewhere.  Every comment leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside, as if a flock of flamingoes have greeted me with the morning sun.

The incredible writing community could not be possible without you.  You and your fellow writers, bloggers and friends.  If you love and value your readers and commenters, please Flamingo them in whichever way you choose.  If you would like to be a member of my Flamboyant Flock, grab the badge and display it on your blog.  All I ask is that you give credit back to Kana for her whimiscal artwork and fabulous message.

Which reminds me.  Thank you, Kana, for creating such an inspiring gift to share with friends, family and fellow bloggers.

And now I’m curious: why do you comment on blogs?  What holds you back from signing your John Hancock?  Why do you read them in the first place?

Contact Tip for Writers

Yesterday, I set off on a journey to track down some of my fellow scribes and got broadsided by something that has been niggling at me for a while now.

I couldn’t find contact info for half of my blogging buddies.  Seriously.  Short of viewing their whole profiles at Blogger–which don’t even get me started on my hate-love-hate relationship with them–I couldn’t find a way to contact my cyber friends.  Yes, you.

Dude, seriously.  If you want peeps to track you down, you have to make it simple.  I mean, what if I had been an agent stumbling across your gorgeous prose?  What if I searched my little heart out and couldn’t find your email address?  What if I tried to leave you a comment and Blogger hated me like it hates…er, me?

(I digress into a much-needed, side rant: in the past two weeks, I’ve had more comments eaten by Blogger than in my entire history of blogging.  So if you’re missing a comment or ten from moi, don’t look at me.)

All I’m sayin’ is that you need to make yourself accessible.  Spell out your email address (amazing(dot)writer(at)email(dot)com) and leave it someplace easy to find.  BTW, I spelled it out this way because when I typed it in normally–amazing.writer…–it actually tried to link to that address.  My point being, sometimes people need to see the physical address so they can use it.  Not everyone surfing the net is as tech-savvy as you are.

Secondly–yes, you three know who you are–allow me to subscribe to your blog in every way, shape, manner or form you can think of.  Email subscription?  Yep.  RSS feed?  Check.  Subscribe via Google?  Uh huh.

We all follow and read updated blog posts differently depending on our time, tech savvy-ness and inclination.  If you don’t make it easy, you’ll lose the opportunity to swindle allow readers to easily follow your posts.

For example, nothing makes me happier than receiving an email update with your newest post right in my gmail account.  I can read and delete or read and go forth to comment based on my time.  Even if I don’t have time, I’m still exposed to your blog each and every time you say something fantastically new and can read it on my phone while waiting to pick up my kids at the dentist.

But if I have to go to my office, log onto my computer as well as my blog and click on your name on my sidebar…well, here’s the time to admit that I don’t always visit my own blog every day.  In other words, if I’m not at my own home port, I surely will not be at yours.

And while it looks really cool to have all those smiling follower-faces on Blogger, I don’t do Blogger.  I know lots of writers and readers who don’t do Blogger.  Who would love to read your words every day, but don’t Follow anyone, anywhere.  They don’t want to make Blogger accounts and log in to see what’s up.  Think about it.  How many grannies smile back at you from your sidebar?  I mean those who don’t blog themselves?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  But I have just as many subscriptions to my blog from non-writers as I do follows from my writing and blogging friends.

So, do yourself a favor. Connect all your social networking homes to each other.  Make it easy for readers to stalk follow you from one place to another with minimal effort.  Doing this provides easy opportunities for your readers to enjoy your words.

And by all means, let me know how to get a hold of you in case I have a writing opportunity I’d like to share.

Do you make yourself easy to find, or are you stuck somewhere between peeking out of the closet door and throwing it wide open?  When was the last time you cleaned up your cyber accounts to make sure all your contact info is available and up to date?  Lastly, have you ever been contacted about a writing gig or some other opportunity based on your online work?  If so, imagine what would have happened if you hadn’t made yourself easily accessible.

Curious minds want to know.

News Flash: Small Fish At Your Fingertips

I just got off the phone with my big sister.  She’s at a conference in California where she’s enjoying a certain amount of celebrity among conference goers.  Googling her name gets you six full pages of all her.  The girl has platform.  She’s also building credentials, and as she does, her following in her chosen profession continues to grow.

But she didn’t start out as a big fish in a little pond.

She started out the same as  you and I and every other successful entrepreneur did.  Over the years, she’s put herself out there.  Quietly at first by being on boards and teams and teaching classes and meeting people of importance in her field.  She’s attended conferences as a student and as a presenter.  In short, she socializes with the right people, says the right things at the right time and helps whenever she can.

Writers, this is our call to arms.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Feed your small fish and watch it swim…

Just like friend and fellow writer, Pete Morin, is doing with his debut release, Diary of a Small Fish.

While I have yet to read Mr. Morin’s novel, I’ve been around him long enough to know that before the end of the day, I will be nestled up with my copy of Diary of a Small Fish.

Pete writes with wit, humor and charm.  His words are poetic, yet honest.  If you like golf, politics or romance, I urge you to check out Diary of a Small Fish.

Small Fish for KINDLE users

Small Fish for NOOK users

Small Fish for SMASHWORDS & APPLE users

And remember, it’s okay to start small as long as you start somewhere!

Congrats, Pete.  And my big sis!

Price Check on Aisle 3: rating social groups

Price is one of the things I look for when buying something from the store.  Quality, durability and functionality also play a big role in what I buy and why.

As a member of several online writing communities, I notice that I am more active in some than in others.  If I were to buy them at Walmart, I’d have a value assessed to them so I knew which ones were worth my hard-earned cash.

One of my faves–and I won’t lie to make other networks feel good–is Agent Query.  AQ has a vast array of writers.  Some have very recently taken pen in hand, while others are seasoned veterans.  My only disappointment in the AQ arena is that their juvenile lit groups are not as active as I would like them to be.  I know, selfish, but there you have it.

Another great resource and community is the SCBWI.  The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators obviously provides me with the one thing AQ does not–child centric conversation and commiseration.

Likewise for Verla Kay and the BlueBoards.

Then there’s twitter and Facebook.  Both of which I fail at miserably.  While I love, love, love the tight writing of twitter, I don’t get on there as much as I should or provide great insight like I could.  Again, I’ve been limited in my contact over there and it is 100% my fault.

Facebook.  Hmmm.

I used to participate in a very active group of NaNoBuddies on Live Journal, but then they changed some things and, unless I upgraded to a paid membership, I had to sit through annoying video ads EVERYTIME I switched pages.  This saddens me to no end.

NaNoWriMo is my staple during the months of October, November and early December.  I live there.  I love there and I never want to leave.  I’m sure my family is relieved when NaNoSeason is over.  Obviously the downfall to this community is that it is filled with crazy wannabe writers who jump into the writing world feet first and fizzle out as the month progresses.  Definitely not a long-term support.  More like therapy for the insane! 

And blogging.  The love of my writing life.  I could blog all day if it didn’t feel like such a time sucker.  I am heartbroken when I don’t get to visit my fellow bloggers like I want to. 

Writer’s Digest Community–the name speaks for itself.  As an avid reader of the magazine for half my life, I can’t say enough about the integrity of its backer.  However, as a whole, I have found that interaction is a bit slower and somewhat one-sided than some of the other sites I frequent.  Though I must say my time on there has been well worth it in finding fellow writer and blogger, Elisa!

I won’t rate my social network groups, as I love them all for various reasons.  However, the fact that I will be starting back to work (outside my house) full-time means that I will have to prioritize.

Price check on aisle three.  How do you decide which communities to engage in?  Why do you spend more time in some than in others?  If you had to pick just one, could you do it, or would you find yourself cheating as time went on?