Thank goodness I have young people around me (you know who you are 😊) to provide me with endless ideas for my blog! Last night my consultants helped me develop the idea of jumping on SoundCloud to record book book reviews. So I figured out how to do voice recordings on my laptop, made a SoundCloud account and this morning I recorded my first audio review (My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni). It was so much fun I immediately did another recording – this one a random one, talking about blogging, the idea of making money on my blog, and taking breaks (stemming from my recent feeling that I was burning out a bit on on the blog). I hope you’ll take a listen!
You can check out my random ramblings here and you don’t need a SoundCloud account to listen:
Yesterday my work friend S. told me she uses the Likewise app to find new book recommendations. She’s always up on the best new books to read, so I thought I’d give it a try too. I downloaded it to my phone and tonight I discovered you can also log in online.
How does it work? Well I’m a newbie, but when I downloaded the app, I entered my favorite books, TV shows/movies to give the app a base for future recommendations. That was fun! Now they know what I like and the more I use it and rate what I’ve read or watched, the more precise their future recommendations will be. The app is ad-free, by the way. Let’s hope I don’t start seeing ads related to my preferences everywhere else, but I warn you, that’s already happened to me on Twitter after merely talking about a product with my phone in the room. I swear the ad people are listening to me talk!
I did a little research on the company and guess what? It was founded/funded in 2018 by Bill Gates. (Read more about that here.) You may already know Bill Gates is a big reader. He even has a book blog called GatesNotes. Yes, like many of us, he also writes book reviews! (Note: you may notice that the app says it’s been around 12+ years. Not sure what that means, but maybe there was a beta version out there first.)
Likewise has a lot going on. Besides recommendations, there’s a blog and also a social media element, so users can follow, be followed and interact. There’s also an “Ask” section, which posts recent questions. Users who subscribe to streaming services can download their saved Likewise watchlists directly to their TVs so their shows are all in one place. I’m not much of a streamer, so I don’t think I would use that feature.
A few years ago, I tried out another app, Litsy. It was fun for a while, but my interest in it petered out over time and I deleted the app. Likewise looks a lot better than Litsy and both the app and the online versions are clean and easy-to-navigate. I’m not sure if it’s available everywhere, however. The 2018 article said it’s only available in the US and Canada. That may have changed.
I will enjoy looking for book recommendations, but, like I am on Goodreads, I will probably just be a passive user. I don’t think I could handle another social media platform!
So check it out if you’re interested. Maybe I’ll see you there!
I know I’ve been talking a lot about YouTube, so please forgive one more post about it. I spent the weekend working on my channel and cleaning things up, including updating my YouTube page here on my blog.
I learned some cool things. If you’re also a YouTuber, you may already know them, but I thought I’d share them here. I’m definitely not trying to be an expert.
I basically went into the YouTube world knowing nothing. Just like blogging, really. And I have been learning as I go along. My videos were kind of all over the place, but working on my channel forced me to define myself and my brand more. That’s also just like blogging, isn’t it?
I’m really lucky to have kids who are way more in touch with YouTube and social media because they have helped me tremendously.
One of the things I learned yesterday was that you can design your own thumbnails instead of using the best of three possible ones YouTube gives you. I haven’t learned to edit my videos yet, so this was a great discovery because sometimes my face looked crazy in all three! I designed the thumbnails in Canva and I spent the whole day yesterday doing that, plus uploading them to YouTube, then putting them on my YouTube page here on my blog. It’s so tedious, but very satisfying once it’s done. And, thanks to the family member who gently reminded me that they are thumbnails, not thumbprints! Getting old is tough.
Last week I learned how to place social media widgets in my YouTube banner because, you know, getting the word out everywhere is the goal, just like everything.
The other thing I learned was how to make YouTube playlists so that your videos get more exposure. It was fun organizing the videos into different categories, which also helped me think about my brand.
And getting back to the blog, I have to say that I think I like the new block editor better. It’s a lot more powerful and I discovered a lot of new features today. That said, it’s definitely not obvious how to do things with the block editor.
Also, I can’t believe how great Canva is. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. They figure out so much for you and the free version has seemingly unlimited options and features.
So if you’re interested in seeing all my videos and their links (plus the thumbnails), you can do that here.
You’ll feel like a graphic artist once you get familiar with how Canva works. It’s a graphic design platform with thousands of templates to use on your blog (like my new banner and this blog’s graphic) on social media and for other print items. The free version has loads of options. I had to learn how to use it for work and I’ve started using it more for my blog. What I like best about it is that the images you create are custom-sized for posts on a blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. so you don’t have to worry if you have the dimensions right. And I also like how they suggest color schemes based on any images you upload. Really great!
I learned about Linktree from my boss. You know how on Instagram you can only have one link in your profile and that any URLs you include in a post are not actually linked to anything? And on Twitter, even though you can include live links in your tweets, you can only have one link in your bio. Kind of frustrating. Well Linktree lets you put all your links in on one link – it’s clean and easy and the free version is all that I need. Thanks, Boss!
I hope these are helpful tips for you, too. What new things did you learn this year about blogging and social media?
If you’re frustrated about having no time to blog, read blogs, comment, tweet and post on Facebook during the holiday season, relax. Holidays and other busy times in our lives have to take precedence over writing a clever post or spending a lot of time on other social media.
I say that but do I feel it? Ha! Not exactly! I had good intentions about reading, commenting, sharing and posting more this past week, but they all went out the window when I faced the madness of holiday preparations. And, because I’m in the habit of checking my stats all the time, it was hard to watch. I got a little salty mid-week, thinking about it, but why? I can’t explain it fully, but…
Here’s my statement of denial: I think I have a good relationship with my blog and the fact that I’m checking on WordPress and other social media is more because of a desire to interact with my blogging and cyber friends. It’s also a way to de-stress, so being able to walk the line between the real world and the blogging world is a positive thing. People who blog know this. Other people may think we’re a little bit crazy!
But time is limited, especially now. And, as for stats, I know there’s a lot of end-of-year data out there, but you just have to let it go for the next week and not worry about how you measure up.
What do you do with your blog during the holidays? Do you take a vacation from it?
Something is changing in my obsession with blog views. I’m still setting goals and trying to reach them, but it hasn’t taken over my life. I don’t live and breathe it. It’s a hobby and something that helps me relax and get away from the pressures of life. It’s fun.
But now I think less about how many views and likes I’m getting—though I do check throughout the day ;). What I think about more is this:
What are my blogging friends up to?
Will they comment about a book we’ve both read?
Will my friends read and reply to the comments I’ve left on their blogs?
So what exactly is changing? It’s the sense of community. The positive feedback. The friendships. You might not get it if you don’t blog, but blogging is the best form of social media out there. In five years of blogging, I have experienced none of the following:
Receiving snarky comments
See what I mean? Blogging, if you can get through the first couple years of figuring it out, defining your “brand” and writing posts, you will begin to understand. Most blogs, like new restaurants, don’t survive the first year. But the reward is all these connections.
So here’s what I say as I wonder whether the odometer on my car will reach 100,000 miles before I reach 100K on my blog:
Wouldn’t it be great you could just write and not worry about the business of selling books? The explosion of self-publishing has made book publishing possible to new and creative talent, but a big question for indie authors remains. What’s the best way to market and publicize a self-published book? Top on the list are building a presence on social media, implementing ad campaigns, and obtaining reviews. To some extent, a self-published writer’s time and budget will determine the plan, but learning what to focus on and deciding whether to buy marketing and promotion services can be hard.
For writers who are making these decisions for the first time, I’m wondering what experiences other indie authors can share. So I’m starting a discussion about some specific marketing services listed below. What has worked best for you? What would you do differently?
Social Media – do it yourself or hire a publicist? We all know how time-consuming social media is and let’s face it – you either like doing it or you hate it. But for writers who do enjoy being on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., is it still better to have someone else do it? Many indie authors wear a lot of different hats and time is a limited resource.
Advertising on Facebook – do people read and engage with these ads? I know a lot of people who use ad blockers. Do you?
Creating a Facebook Page for Your Book – seems like a good idea, despite my frustration with Facebook. Can you create a page that is not connected to your personal account?
Advertising in Publishers Weekly – Does advertising here help give your book a push in the right direction?
Obtaining Reviews – as a book blogger, I’m sensitive to the need for indie authors to get reviews. Asking someone to review your book is hard to do! What are your strategies?
Buying Reviews – you can purchase reviews from Kirkus but they are expensive. It’s great if you get a positive review, but is it worth the risk of getting a bad one?
Book Stubs – these little plastic cards display your book cover on the front and offer a free copy of an e-book on the back– they sound fun but unless you’re on a book tour, how helpful are they?
BookGrabbr – this online tool invites your social media followers to share your book with potential readers by offering a preview as a reward or the whole book (a “grabb”) to certain followers. Sounds clever. Has anyone tried this?
How many hats do you wear? Do you like social media? What other marketing methods have helped you sell books?
Hey bloggers! We’re all working hard on our posts and hoping to reach more readers, right? Well here’s a way to share your blogging story and make new blogging friends too.
Who’s That Blogger? is a new weekly feature on Book Club Mom and a great opportunity to expand your blogging world. If you’d like to be in the spotlight, send an email to email@example.com for a profile form.
I don’t think I will ever understand Facebook’s settings. Is there anyone out there who does? Let me tell you what has been happening to me:
Like many people, I have a personal Facebook page, but when I started my blog, I created a separate Book Club Mom page. Then I went about “Liking” pages as my new FB blog page. For a while, I would see news from these newly liked pages on my page feed. And I was a happy FB blogger, liking and sharing posts. I liked new pages as they came along, jumped to my blog and then to Twitter and had a great time integrating all three. Life was good.
Recently I noticed that the majority of these pages no longer appear on my page feed. Instead, my feed is dominated by “For Reading Addicts” and “Bookstr” – there is good stuff on these, don’t get me wrong, but where is everyone else?
Today I set out to fix the problem. I went to my Book Club Mom page, scrolled down to the box on the right that said “Liked by this Page” and there was a list of the pages. But strangely, many of them had not been liked and were waiting for me to click the “Like” button to the right. Makes no sense! I clicked and clicked, thinking, “Okay, problem solved” and then suddenly this popped up on my screen:
Feeling wronged, I clicked on the link to let them know and filled out this form:
I’m still blocked, but I got this nice message:
Who knows when I’ll be unblocked or if re-liking all those pages will take care of the problem, but my fingers are crossed!
After three and a half years on WordPress, I’ve made a great group of blogging friends. When things get busy and I can’t check in for a day or two, I find myself wondering how everyone is doing. Besides the book reviews, new fiction, and other important blogging posts, I like reading everyone’s miscellaneous news and random musings. And I’m sitting here thinking, “Oh, I need to tell my friends this, or that” because that’s what friends do, in person or in the cyber world, right?
A lot has been going on in my Book Club Mom world. I went back to work almost a year ago and I love my library job. This month I will be leading the mystery book club at the library and in the future I will be sharing that job with one of the librarians. I sat in on last month’s meeting, where we discussed Echo Park by Michael Connelly, an excellent mystery thriller. I hope to have time to start at the beginning of Connelly’s books and work my way through them. This month we are reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. I have the book and will be starting that soon. I’m very excited about doing this!
This month, my personal book club is reading The Fever by Megan Abbott. I’m going to try to start that tonight. I don’t know much about it, but Gillian Flynn calls it “a mesmerizing modern portrait of teenage life today.” Since I just finished reading (and loved!) The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson, also about teenagers, I think The Fever will be a nice one to follow with.
I’m in the final stages of helping publishA Fortunate Life by Fred H. Rohn. I have learned a great deal about self-publishing and will be blogging about that separately. I’d love to get a dialogue going with all my indie author friends about their experiences getting books to print and online and marketing challenges. We’re already working on a second book, a collection of short fiction.
I’m getting ready to update my blog page, but I need some time to get my ideas in order. So look for some new banners, photos and color schemes in the next few months.
I’m working on a new “Blog views and other obsessions” post with a bunch of different topics. For one, I cannot figure out my Book Club Mom Facebook feed. I’ve “liked” a ton of pages, but I never see them on my feed. I’d also like to do something more with my Goodreads group of friends because I see a lot of potential there. I’m wondering how I can integrate that account with my other social media. I’ll be talking about Twitter too, because I’m using it a lot more now and have learned a few things (it’s good to have teenagers and college kids handy!)
I’m so thankful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts and comment. I try every chance I get to read your blogs too because I am genuinely interested in what you have to say. I feel bad when I can’t check in on everyone’s blogs all the time, but I’m trying to visit you all on a regular basis. I’m also thankful for a bunch of new followers and plan to share the love by highlighting them in a separate post. (It is the Valentine month, right?) I got that idea from Noelle Granger at Sayling Away so be sure to check out her bloghere.
So that’s it for now, but I’ll be seeing you out there! Happy blogging!
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