Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Lovett Herbranson’

Screw this Writing Thing: My Most Epic Writing Failures

by: Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

*WARNING: Foul Words Ahead*

Ok, so I’m one of those who started writing the minute she could scribble with crayons. My father kept the first story I ever wrote. In the seventh grade, I wrote a travel story with a friend of mine in Spanish class. By college, I knew I wanted to be a writer, so I took two courses: Creative Writing Fiction and Creative Writing Poetry. Both were epic disasters.

My poetry teacher told me I’d spent too much time reading the British Romantics. He was probably right. My fiction teacher told me my story didn’t make any sense. Rejection is part of the business, right? Well, it still sucks. But there is something to be learned from every disaster.

  • Crappy teachers can motivate you. When my poetry professor called my poems angsty crap pieces and told me I’d never have a future in writing, I hung my head in shame. Yes, he said this in a class full of edgy poets on their way to Pulitzer Prizes and probably some meth addictions. Eventually, I raised my eyebrows, got pissed and decided to pay attention to what he did like. I will forever hate the tatted up, pierced girl with long black hair and willowy skirts whose poetry oozed from the page in mid-90s Alanis Morrisette stanzas that he loved oh so much. (probably because I’m jealous)
  • Learn what you can. Discard the rest.  My prof hated my poetry. Did I say that already? It was full of trite clichés better suited for John Keats’ garden and British tea time. Under his glaring eye of disapproval, I learned how to write about love and pain in a modern way. That modern way included creative ways to describe action with as few words as possible. I did eventually write something that made its way into the annual university poetry anthology. It was called, “Fuck This.” Guess I showed him.
  • Advice should be taken with a grain of salt. For whatever reason, my fiction teacher never taught us how to plot. It was a semester-long course on writing fiction and the man, a New York Times bestseller, never taught the elements of the novel. This guy told me my novel wasn’t complete. Well, genius, you only asked for one chapter. This was an early lesson for me because writers are bombarded with advice, counsel and wisdom on a subject that is, at its core, creative. Take what you can use and move on.
  • Be badass. I’m on a Cobra Kai kick lately (What?! You haven’t seen the series on YouTube?! 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!!!), and being badass is the central theme of the new Cobra Kai. I could have easily melted into a puddle of nasty poo after my poetry and fiction teachers so blasély dismissed me. But no. I stood up. I schwacked their hoity toity idea of what a writer was supposed to be. and I kept going. Being badass means you stand up for what you want.

You KNOW you want to be a writer. So be one. Don’t let anyone get you down. Ever. Take what you can from the disasters because the best lessons are learned from failure. Then drop it. Move on. Be badass. No Mercy Bitches!


Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

6 Lies You’ve Been Told About Your “Author Platform”

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Number, 1, One, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

An Author Platform is Only for Nonfiction Authors

Get outta here! Platform is for everyone!

Ok, so it’s definitely easier for a nonfiction author because they already know what question they are trying to answer for their audience. All the information they’ve spent years learning through doing or academic rigor can be shared in droves. Nonfiction authors really need to organize and dose out their information strategically to keep the platform alive.

For fiction writers, however, a platform is simply what you offer your readers. What experience are you providing they can’t get elsewhere. Don’t say nothing because otherwise, why are you writing? Figure out what you offer your reader. Create a world around that online. That’s your platform. It isn’t a place. It’s your public persona and what you offer. You do this because people buy books from people they know or think they know. Let them get to know you.

Number, 2, Two, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Have to Tell Readers Everything About You or They Won’t Like You

Why yes, you are amazing. But you have to tell them everything because information goes on the interwebs??? Uh, okay “eye roll.”

Your platform is about your reader and what you offer that reader. That’s it. It’s what YOU decide you want your readers to know, and they don’t need to know everything about your private life. Unless of course you become an overnight New York Times bestseller and all the media come banging on your door, digging through your trash and talking to your middle school Spanish teacher. Well, hey, every job has its downsides!

Seriously, figure out what you want your Public Persona to be. What do you want to offer the reader? I encourage authors to think of three things about themselves they are comfortable sharing with the world. I talk about Alabama football, world traveling and anything that has to do with the Karate Kid. Does this appeal to everyone? Nope. Does it have anything to do with my books? Again, nope. But it does allow potential readers to get to know part of me. Even better is these things are innocuous and don’t intrude on my private life.

Number, 3, Three, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Can Build a Platform Without a Website

No you can’t.

You can build a platform without a blog but you can’t build a platform without a website. Sorry, but it’s just expected. Like having a colonoscopy when you’re 50. You just have to do it. The industry, the readers, the universe expects to find you at www.AUTHORYOU.com so just unplug your ears, and go ahead and build the site.

You only need to include a short bio section with a hi-res professional headshot, and your social media or buy links and a place to sign up for your author email. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive. It just has to be. And it has to be professional looking. While it may not have much information, it does need to look like you’re taking your own writer career seriously. Use Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace or WordPress. (WordPress is the best for SEO and lead generation on Google searches.)

Number, 4, Four, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Must Have a Million Followers

ONE. MILLION. FOLLOWERS! Sure, okay. You have a million followers who love you and found you organically online even though you opened your Instagram account….yesterday.

Ever since the industry got a clue that people could buy followers, this whole “how many followers” do you have thing isn’t as relevant anymore. What you need are engaged followers. People who actually comment, like and share your stuff. These people become fans who can become superfans. That’s what you need, so stop worrying about how many followers you don’t have, and create a genuine relationship with the ones you do have.

Number, 5, Five, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Setting up a platform can be done in 5 minutes a day

Yep, still eye rolling over here!

Anyone who tells you creating a platform can be done in only five minutes a day is a liar. To create a solid platform, a community for people online, you have to spend time doing it. There is no other way around it, and yes, it is worth it. When you are ready to launch a book, you’ll have people to launch it to.

Use a dashboard like Hootsuite (no longer free) or Buffer or TweetDeck to help you save time on social media or blogging. Schedule out posts as far out as you can.

Pick one social media platform to update. That’s it. Just one. These days Instagram is the best place to be but don’t discount other platforms that may work better for your genre. Spend time every day or every other day responding, liking, sharing.

Number, 6, Six, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Set Up a Platform AFTER The Book is Finished

No, no, nope, no, nope! 

You love your book, right? I know you do! Starting your platform after the book is finished is like coming home with a new baby and having no diapers. It’s like starting your race 15 minutes behind the pack. It’s like…like…I don’t know…like trying to start your car with no gas in it.

Look, the industry will tell you that you only need to write your second book and that’s good enough. Yeah, the industry will also tell you if you already have a following, you’re higher up on the list of maybes. Why wouldn’t you want every edge you can get?

If you’re going to publish indie, this is not even up for debate. You need to have a following. Give your readers progress reports, free scenes and snippets from the book or from your research, have your kid interview you on your writing process. If you’re a lawyer, provides case notes (without privacy info of course). If you’re a spy thriller writer, redacted case studies are fun. Do whatever you can to keep them hungry for your book. That way when you launch that book, they’ll be your biggest fans and can help sell it for you.


Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Why You Need an Email List & How to Create It

“But nobody reads emails!” “My inbox is already too full!” “I hate getting more email!”

Email remains the most effective way to reach an audience.

You’ve heard all this before. Five years ago, I would have agreed and told you building an email list and creating an email newsletter was a waste of time. It was going out of style. It was fading to Instant Messaging and social media platforms. It was antiquated. Well, I fully admit that I was wrong. While social media sites come and go, even the influence and reach of Facebook and Twitter ebb and flow, for the foreseeable future, email remains the most effective way to reach an audience – an audience that wants to hear from you. Here are three reasons why you need to start building an email list:

1. People Read Email

According to Forrester Analytics, 91% of U.S. customers (people who are online to buy things) use email daily and more than 70% of them read email first thing in the morning. The number of email users worldwide is projected to reach 3 billion by the end of 2020.

2. Email Converts to Sales

According to Campaign Monitor, the delivery rate for an unboosted Facebook post is less than 5%, while the delivery rate for an email is 75%, and an email is six times more likely to generate a click-through than a tweet. Anik Singal, founder and CEO of Lurn, Inc, reports that email marketing for Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals converted ads to sales at double the rate of social media. For more statistics on this, see WriterNation/EmailStats

3. You Own It

This one is key. Everything you post on social media is no longer owned by you. Instagram owns your pics. Twitter owns your tweets. Snapchat owns your snaps.  They also own your followers. Whereas you own the copyright on everything you write, film, design in your email. You also own the list. If you move from Facebook to Instagram or Snapchat, you can’t take the followers with you. You can with your email contact list.

Ways to Build Your List & Create a Killer Email

Whether you’ve published twenty books, ten books or no books, now is the time to start building your list. Don’t think because you don’t have anything to sell it’s too early to start building your list. It’s never too early or too late. Start now. To get you going, I’ve included some tips below. 

  • Use Mailchimp. It’s the easiest to get you started and its free for the first 2000 contacts. The analytics are good. It has A/B testing and segmented lists. And it has automation. Other email providers to check out are ConvertKit, AWeber and Constant Contact.
  • Create a killer landing page. This is where you tell the reader what they’ll get out of signing up with you. How often you’ll send them news and what type of things they can expect in your email. Here’s mine for reference.
  • Post it everywhere. Make sure your website has a subscriber link. Mailchimp has a pretty seamless plugin with WordPress. Even if you don’t use WordPress, the URL for the landing page works on any website or blog. Pin a tweet or Facebook post to the top of your profile. Put the link in your signature block and on every piece of paper swag you take to conferences, meetings or retreats.
  • Offer a freebie. For signing up with you, what special something can you offer? The possibilities are endless: deleted scenes, extra chapters, checklists, planners, calendars, access to a closed Facebook Group or Instagram feed.
  • Automate the first three to five emails. Once someone signs up and confirms their subscription (*always require confirmation to be in compliance with Anti-Spam laws), send them a thank-you and a link to the freebie.  Within 24 hours, send another note welcoming them to the email news and give a longer introduction to yourself and any news they should know as they embark on this journey with you. A week later, send the first email.
  • Create a Killer Email. Whether you use a newsletter format or simply an email is up to you. The difference in Return on Investment is negligible until you start segmenting lists and selling different items, and I’ll post on that next month. What really matters is what the reader gets out of it. They’ve already told you they want to hear from you and they dig what you’re doing. So, now offer them information they can’t get elsewhere. Some ideas:
    • Progress reports on the current work in progress
    • Event announcements
    • Photos of your research or interviews
    • List of your favorites (books, authors, movies, plays, music, etc…)
    • Promotions and/or Giveaways
    • Backstory (you know all that stuff you wanted to put in your book but your agent made you take it all out)
    • Quotes and Questions
    • ALWAYS put in a Call to Action (buy the book, attend the event, respond to a question)

If you still have questions, find me on any of my social media sites. I’m standing by to help!

Peace & Prose!

Jen


Jennifer Lovette HerbransonJennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Reach Your Audience with a Podcast

How many ways do you have to reach your target audience? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging. What about podcasting?

Several years ago, I sat in a podcasting class with Patrick Hester at Pikes Peak Writers Conference. He made it sound so fun and easy. It wasn’t long-form blogging or creating videos of myself; it was talking to other people – something right up my alley.
Took me some time but last year I decided to give it a go.

(Let me say this first: I do NOT advocate using every single outlet open to you to reach an audience. I’m a big advocate of utilizing one or two social media outlets, a website and whatever content you enjoy creating (blogs, videos, memes, etc).

Here’s what I did:

I created Writer Nation, a community of writers helping each other through their writing journey. With 17+ years of communications experience, I want to provide writers with a place to get some answers. You can ask me questions about marketing, or ask the group questions about anything, and it’s all free. To go along with it, I started the podcast by interviewing my writer friends. The idea was to build a platform where writers can talk about their journeys, hardships, triumphs and show other writers, they aren’t alone.

• Some of these writers haven’t published a thing
• Others are multi-published
• Some of the interviews are with industry professionals to give advice to writers
• If you are interested, you can absolutely be a guest on Writer Nation.

The following Pikes Peak Writers have been guests:

o Kameron Claire
o MK Meredith
o Deb Courtney
o Mandy Houk
o Shannon Lawrence
o Chris Mandeville (episode posting soon)

I love it, and here’s why I think you should at least be a guest or start your own podcast:

  • First of all, I get to talk to my friends. I also get to meet new friends. And who doesn’t love meeting new people and talking about themselves?
  • Second, it’s less intrusive than video, so folks seem more comfortable.
  • Third, it’s an up-and-coming format with room for anyone right now.
    ~~There are only 520,000 podcasts available as of early 2018 compared to 18M blogs or 50M YouTube Channels uploading more than 300 hours of video every minute. Last year, 73M Americans admitted to listening to podcasts at least monthly, and that number keeps rising. The odds are in our favor.*
  • Finally, check out this stat… the average commute in the United States is 24 minutes long, and most of those commuters admit to listening to audiobooks, the radio or podcasts during that time. That’s a long time for a listener to get to know you. The average YouTube video is 4 minutes. With podcast, you can be in someone’s space for eight times that long. And guess why people buy books? Because they like the author! Let them get to know you.

Are you convinced yet? Even if you aren’t convinced to start a podcast, I highly recommend you reach out and be a guest on a podcast. (Writer Nation is always looking!). Hosts need guests, and if you are launching a book, series, publishing company, whatever, take advantage of the reach of podcasts.

If you want to start a podcast, here are the steps I recommend:

  1. Narrow your niche. What do you want to podcast about? If it’s your books, awesome. Make it about your characters, your settings, your process. Not about writing in general. There are enough of those. Make this about your world.
  2. Define your format. Mine is interview. There are several types, but consistency is best.
  3. Buy a mic…a good one. I use a Snowball and it cost less than $100
  4. Use Audacity software. It’s free, and it’s easy to learn. They have a YouTube channel to help even the most editing illiterate.
  5. Find a host. I use Blubrry. It’s super easy and pairs up with a WordPress site seamlessly. *Here’s the deal with hosting. There is no podcast social media site like YouTube is for videos. You can’t upload a podcast file directly to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It’s one of the reasons why podcasts aren’t as prevalent as videos, and why, with just a little effort, you can get a foot in.
  6. Start podcasting. Don’t worry about not having an audience or 100 episodes. Just enjoy it and post it.

For a list of podcasts I recommend for writers, click here.

*Stats from Nielsen 2018 Q1 report came out March 20, 2018.


Jennifer Lovette HerbransonJennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. She has been a member of PPW for many years and has volunteered countless hours from here and abroad.

NaNoWriMo vs YOU!

Are you ready to rummmmble? Or at least ready to knock National Novel Writing Month out of the park? Your resident writing cheerleader is here to get you going.

I’ve been an athlete my entire life, and everything I learned about consistency, discipline and commitment came from sports. Those lessons are absolutely appropriate to NaNoWriMo where you must write at least 1667 words per day to hit the 50,000-word goal in 30 days.

Be Prepared

Football players do not take the field without knowing the play. Are they running a dime or nickel defense? Is it a pass or running play? Even if the players don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, they do know their routes and assignments and can flex as needed.
The same is true for getting ready for NaNoWriMo.Are you ready to knock National Novel Writing Month out of the park?

  • Prep your plot – What is this story about?
  • Prep your characters – Who are these people?
  • Prep your conflict – Why can’t the main character achieve his or her goal?

Even pantsers do this. They don’t sit down, tilt their heads up to the heavens, raise their arms and suddenly the spirit of a plot weaves its way into their souls and the writing just happens.

There is a game plan.

Take a couple of days and build a full-on battle plan with all the Xs and Os, so that when you sit down, you know what’s happening and where you’re going. #HateMeTodayLoveMeTomorrow

Be Relentless

Write. Write every single day.
Whether you write for a certain number of words or certain amount of time is completely up to you. Just make sure you are consistent. Habitual action makes writing easier.

In CrossFit, Tabata is a 20-second on, 10-second off high intensity interval training for a specific number of rounds, typically eight. If you have a hard time getting started or staying focused, use this to keep you relentless in your writing. Replace seconds with minutes and get going.

Write for 20 minutes. When you’re done, get up. Walk around, get a drink, use the restroom, jog around the block. Whatever. Just take the 10-minute break. Then sit down and do it again. Do this for eight rounds and see where you are.

You can also break this up. Do one round in the morning. Another at noon. Again in the afternoon and one late at night.

If Tabata doesn’t work for you but word counts or time in chair does, then do that. Whatever you do, keep going. Every day.
#BetterThanYesterday

Be Social

Teams are made up of all kinds of people, with all kinds of different roles: pitchers, catchers, out fielders, in fielders, head coaches, managers, conditioning coaches, fans. All of these people work to make the team successful.

While writing may be solitary in itself, the writing life isn’t. Your writing team is anyone who supports your efforts. From editors to publishers to critique partners, they are your cheerleaders, coaches, analysts and fans. They are your teammates.

Find them virtually or in person.

Make sure to register on the NaNoWriMo site to mark your progress. Then because we’re being competitive, watch your progress against others. It’s also a great place to meet other writers and stay motivated.

Then write with others. Write at Panera or the library or have a group of folks over to the house. The Rockrimmon Library is hosting a NaNo Kick-Off Party on October 27. Stay tuned to Pikes Peak Writers for their monthly events that will absolutely keep you motivated to win NaNoWriMo.

The team will keep you motivated and hungry. #BuiltByWords

Be-lieve!

You absolutely can do this. You are prepared. You are relentless, and you have people in your corner. 30 days. 50,000 words. Believe it.
#PlayLikeAChampion


Jennifer Lovette HerbransonJennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work.
With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett