Monday, December 22, 2014

Facebook for Writers: New Features a Waste of Time?

Think your Facebook author page is worthless? You're not alone: some businesses large and small have abandoned their pages during the last year. Perhaps to slow the exodus, Facebook is rolling out new features that may be of use to writers and authors. Note: I have not tried out these features -- they sounded interesting but could be a waste of time.

Call to Action Buttons

In the coming weeks, U.S. Facebook page owners will be able to add buttons that send fans to a Web site, or allow them to sign up for a newsletter or blog. The buttons will appear to the left of the Like Button currently on your page. More than you want to know about Call to Action Buttons

An example of a Call to Action Button that Facebook will roll out to Page owners in the next few weeks.

Target Fans by Interest

Facebook now offers a feature that lets you target posts to people by location, interests, gender, and other criteria. This could be particularly useful if you'll be reading in a particular location or if you have some racy content that isn't appropriate for some fans. More than you want to know about Facebook's targeting capabilities plus some other upcoming features that made no sense to me.

To target fans by interest, location, or gender, first enable your Page's Targeting and Privacy settings.

Then, create an update and target the post to fans using different criteria.


Remember the chat rooms and forums of yore which you could join and post anonymously or with some weird nickname? Facebook is rolling out a similar capability via an app for iPhone and iPad users that allows you to post text, photos, and video. Rooms is in its early stages, so you might be able to create a room on a topic related to your book -- before anyone else does. More than you want to know about Rooms. Currently, Room topics are being vetted and you have to apply.

More Facebook Posts

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Art attribution: Facebook image on top of page by Pictofigo [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons



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Monday, December 1, 2014

Email Marketing for Writers: Build Your List!

Time to ditch social media for email marketing? Here are five tips for collecting more emails, which will help you sell more books, boost your writer's platform, and waste less time online.

Why Email?

Building your email list is a better use of your time than acquiring followers, friends, fans, or connections on social media. Here's why.

Send an email and almost all your subscribers will receive it and on average 25 percent will open it. Post to your Facebook author page and you're lucky if 10 percent see the post -- never mind click on it. The response rates on Facebook pages has gotten so poor one major blogger recently killed their page.

I have 2,000 Facebook fans: Only about 1% of them Like or Share a typical post.

I have 380 email subscribers: My emails reach almost all of them and 30% open my missives. Adding more email subscribers is a better use of my time than adding Facebook fans.

Tips for Building Your Email List

1) Start with a free, relatively easy-to-use email management tool. I've been using Mailchimp so we'll use that in the examples below.

2) Review, sort, and upload existing contacts to Mailchimp. Over the years, you've been collecting emails of friends, coworkers, former coworkers, and other people. Email management programs typically let you export your contacts into a format that can be manipulated in a spreadsheet or other program. In Yahoo mail, go to your contacts page, click on Actions at the top of the page, and choose Export. In your spreadsheet, weed out all the jerks who wouldn't want to hear about your new book or an update on your writing career.

The Yahoo export page on the Contacts page.

3) Collect emails in person at parties, readings, or any place where you discuss your book or writing. The ask: "Can I add you to my email list?" If someone gives you a business card always ask: "Would it be better for me to use your personal email address?" (It's better for you to their personal email in case folks change jobs.)

4) Collect emails on your blog and Web site. On your blog, be sure there's a sign-up box embedded in each post. (See what I've done at the end of this post using Feedburner, a tool designed specifically for blogs.). Want to parse your audience into more targeted lists? Mailchimp allows you to create a variety of email lists each with their own sign-up box. This is useful if your blog or Web site, like mine, covers a range of topics.

Two sign-up boxes on my Web site.

A third sign-up box on my blog.

5) Convert social media connections to email subscribers. With Facebook, consider paying to promote a post that notifies your fans that they may not be seeing your updates due to recent changes to Facebook. Include a link to a signup box. You may even offer a freebie -- a chapter, a short story -- to people who sign up. For more on email sign-up incentives, read how author James Seeley boosted his subscriber list.

6) More Email marketing tips 

- the basics from Wiley
- a good primer on Bookbaby
- advanced tips from Copyblogger

More Marketing for Writers


- Book Marketing: E-mail Lists and Newsletters

- Self-Promotion for Writers: Dump Social Media, Embrace E-mail

- LinkedIn for Writers: A Slick Trick to Reach Readers

Art attribution for email image: Gokhan.kapici at tr.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Emperyan at tr.wikipedia. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

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Monday, November 10, 2014

LinkedIn for Writers: A Slick Trick to Reach Readers

As LinkedIn adds users, useless features, and contrary policies, using the service to reach readers becomes more challenging. Here's a quick trick to help writers market their work and develop their author platforms.

Email Marketing with LinkedIn

LinkedIn lets you send customized messages to subsets of your connections. Reading your writing in another city? Invite connections who live in that city to your event. Recently published a how-to article of interest to writers, send it your writer connections. Just blogged about a looming tax policy, alert your accountant connections.

Depending on their LinkedIn settings, recipients may receive your LinkedIn message in their email inboxes -- so more of them will see it. Remember: Just posting an update on LinkedIn will only reach a small subset of your connections. For example, I have 2,500 connections. My updates typically reach only 50 connections. Also, posting to LinkedIn groups is less useful than it used to be because group moderators can choose to block your posts -- and you permanently -- if your posts are too promotional.

How to Do it

1) Go to Your Connections

In the "Connections" menu at the top of your LinkedIn screen, click on "Keep in Touch" to bring up a list of all your connections. (You may need to scroll down the page to see your list.)

2) Target the Right Connections

LinkedIn offers two main features to segment your connections: "Filter by" or "Search."

"Filter by" lets you sort your connections by:
- Company
- Tag: If you were smart enough to include tags for your contacts -- I wasn't -- this could be a winner. 
- Location: This didn't work well for me, so I used the "Search" box discussed below.
- Title: Search on a title, such as "author" to reach other writers. Using the "Search" box may generate different or more connections. Be sure to try both.

- I found entering a word or phrase in "Search" more useful than the "Filter by" feature.  For example, when I entered "author" in "Filter by" and "Title" I got a list of 20 people. Searching on "author" and I got 50.

Note: you can send an email to each list in separate messages, be sure to look for dupes, people who appear on both lists, so you don't email them twice.

Example: I live in Boston, but was doing a reading in Atlanta and wanted to ask my connections in the area to help me get the word out. Here's what I did.

- I typed "Atlanta" into the "Search" box.

Use Search box instead of a "Filter by" to find connections in a specific city.
- In the list of results, I clicked the word greyed out word "Atlanta" under one of the connections. LinkedIn took me to a page that listed 18 of my connections who lived in Atlanta. (Note: My search results included some people who didn't live in Atlanta. )

- I clicked "Select All" and then the "Message" option appeared. Clicking "Message" produced a blank message populated with only those connections living in or near Atlanta.

Use "Select All" then "Message" to create a message populated with your selected contacts.

LinkIn lets you message up to 50 connections at a time.

3) Craft Your Message and Don't Be Annoying!

Here's how:
- Instead of making a bald, pushy pitch for your reading or book, ask connections to help you spread the word.
- Keep subject lines short and sweet. Here's what I used for in the Atlanta example: "I'm reading in Atlanta. Please help me spread the word!"
- Offer to reciprocate in some way.
- Make it easy for them to help you by including a sample Tweet or Facebook post they can simply copy and paste.

Your message should ask for help and offer to reciprocate. Don't use bald pitches like "buy my book!"

Include a Tweet or Facebook post you'd like people to share. Include sample text so they can just copy and paste.

4) Before You Hit Send

To avoid looking like a spammer and to preserve everyone's privacy, unclick the check box at bottom that says "Allow recipients to see each other's names and email addresses."

5) Miscellaneous Tips

- Don't over do it -- I send messages a few times a year to the same group.

- After searching or sorting, tag the connections. (In my example, I could tag everyone as "Atlanta")

- Remember you can only send a message to 50 people at a time.

-Realistic Expectations:  I've used LinkedIn messages for readings in several cities. Some people I didn't know well offered to help and shared my posts. One guy, I met for lunch. All marketing is a crap-shoot but it never hurts to get your name in front of people. Moreover, this feature doesn't take a lot of time.

More LinkedIn Advice for Writers

- LinkedIn for Writers: Tips, Changes in 2014

- Linked In Tips for Authors: Getting Started

- Social Media for Writers: Using Groups

Art attribution for top image: By LinkedIn, User:ZyMOS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Marketing for Writers: Blogging Best Practices

How often should you blog? How long should your posts be? How do you get more people to sign up? If blogging is taking too much of time and not delivering the traffic you want, this article can help.

Length and Frequency

Several years ago, the conventional wisdom for blogging was that frequent, shorter posts were best. Now, you're better off posting longer, more in-depth articles weekly -- or even monthly -- than daily short bits. My blog posts typically run 500 words to as many as 2,000.


Here's why longer posts are better:

- Google now prefers longer posts, which means more chances of your work appearing in search results.
- Longer posts of 250 words or more let you demonstrate your expertise and really get into a topic.
- Longer, meatier posts are more likely to be linked to by other sites. 
- In my experience, readers are more likely to sign up after reading a longer, more thorough post than a shortie that just skims a topic.
- Writing, fewer longer posts also prevents burn out. Some months I only post once, but I've noticed that people will still sign up for my blog if they like the article and see that I've written plenty of meaty stuff in the past.

Some anecdotal evidence in favor of long posts: Facebook now allows posts of up to 12,000 words, Google+ allows posts of up to 20,000 words, and LinkedIn now allows you to post long articles using its new publishing platform. (This doesn't mean you're going to write articles that long or post them solely on these social media sites. You always want to post your article on your own site first.)

Waste Less Time

After you publish a new blog post, you're probably promoting it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and any other sites you frequent. You should be posting links to your post on appropriate groups and using hash tags to reach people interested in the topics you write about. (If you need convincing, see these articles on social media marketing for writers.)

But how do you know if your efforts are paying off? Measure. Most blogs include the ability to measure your Web traffic and tell you where the traffic is coming from. This capability is called Web analytics. If not, you may want to consider a free tool, such as Google Analytics (overkill for most people) or Statcounter (simple to use).

Regardless of which tool you use, here are some things to be looking for:

1) How people are finding you -- which social media sites are pulling their weight. In this snapshot of my blog, most visitors are finding my blog by searching on Google (red box and arrow) or by seeing my posts in groups on Google+ or Facebook (blue arrow and box). I also post my articles on sites such as, which is also generating some traffic. Twitter is generating the fewest clicks. I need to reevaluate my Twitter strategy and either change something or ditch the site.

Using Statcounter, I can track how visitors are finding my blog.

2) The types of articles that are generating the most clicks
Obviously, you'll want to cover that topic more often. But if you have an article that is getting lots of traffic month in and month out, consider updating parts of that article and adding fresh links to other articles on your site.  You'll want to treat that article as a minitiature home page, a portal, a way that many visitors are coming to your site. Don't change the title or anything else that would affect the url for that page. Other pages are probably linking to it.

For example, my novel includes racy scenes that take place in Southeast Asian massage parlors. In 2007, I was traveling in Vietnam and met a French sex tourist who proceeded to provide unsolicited tips on how to find a prostitute. Soon after, I wrote a politically-incorrect article called "Prostitution for Dummies." Five years later, this article is still getting a lot of traffic. Recently, I tweaked the article to include links to my naughty short stories and novel excerpts. Note: This article will be offensive to some people. Do not click, if you are offended by this kind of thing. "Prostitution for Dummies"

Hook Readers with Summary Ledes and Subheads

On the Internet, readers tend to skim articles and blog posts. Two good ways to hook a skimmer:

- Use a lede that summarizes your post. 
When you post a link to Facebook or Google+, the site often displays the first paragraph, forcing readers to click to read more. If your lede is cutesy or confusing, you may lose readers.

- Use subheads and bold text-- even for creative writing and fiction.
Highlight an interesting bit of dialog or turn of phrase to get readers to stop and read the context. In the article below, the author highlighted a snippet of dialog: "How are satellites bad for women?"

A Simple Trick for Getting More People to Sign Up

Most people visiting a Web site know to ignore that outer columns of the page, which are filled with ads and other promotional stuff. If that's where you put your sign up box, you're going to be ignored. Last year, I began adding my sign up box to the end of every new blog post. My sign ups have increased five-fold. (The sign up box is at the end of this article, under "Sign up to have my Marketing for Writers blog delivered to your inbox free each week:")

Include the Right Image at the Top of Posts

With all the free art and image editing tools available, there is no excuse for not including a decent piece of art at the top of every post.

- Free images are available at Creative Commons
- You can crop them with a simple, free tool like Irfanview
- You can create your own graphics using Powerpoint. (create a slide, save it as a .jpg and upload it to your blog. (I used Powerpoint for the image/infogrpaphic at the top of this blog.)
- Make sure your top image is a horizontal rectangle -- it will look better when you post to Facebook groups.

 More Articles on Blogging

 - Six Tips to Boost Blog Traffic
- Web Marketing for Writers: Best Sites, Resources

- Building Your Blog (recent presentations I gave on social media and blogging)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Marketing for Writers: 3 Tricks for Facebook, Twitter, MeetUp

Not getting much from your social media efforts? Here are some quick and easy tips for Twitter and Facebook, plus tricks for promoting your readings and events with

Brown-Nosing with Twitter

Gathering thousands of followers on Twitter can take a lot of time. Or you can save time and buy followers. Will this drive traffic to your Web site or sell books? Doubtful. 

There's an option that is cheaper and more efficient: Connect, flatter, and brown-nose people who already have a large number of followers.

Here's How:
- Identify influential writers, journalists, and experts in your industry. For non-fiction writers, this is straightforward -- search Google and Twitter for your topic and see who appears at the top of the list of search results. For fiction, you have to consider themes of your work. I'm writing a novel about a chronically-single guy who takes a trip around the world looking for the woman of his dreams. So, my book covers two topics: life as a single person (dating, loneliness, sex, relationships) and world travel.
- Follow these influential people on Twitter and sign up for their blogs. On Twitter, follow who they follow and who follows them. Make note of hashtags they use in their posts.
- Tweet and retweet their posts. Post images of their books or links to their Web sites. Go to their lectures or readings, take a photo, and post it to Twitter.
- Be sure to include their Twitter handles and favorite hashtags in your posts. By including their Twitter handles, you're telling them that you like their work and are happy to help them get the word out. People may retweet your tweet, which means all their followers will see your name. They influential people and their followers may follow you.

Example involving a play and performer popular with single people:
After attending an event by writer/performer Elaine Liner, I took a photo of her promotional flyer and posted it to Twitter. I included her handle @thesweatercurse and #edfringe, a hashtag she used to promote the event. That hashtag is also followed by the local press and other influential people.

Brown-Nosing on Facebook

On Facebook, you can make posts to groups you follow and mention important people. Most of the same rules for Twitter apply on Facebook:
- Post photos and links.
- Thanks people for help, praise their accomplishments, be a nice person.
- To tag, or include people's names in your posts, start typing their name and it should appear in a pick list. Type capital letters for first letter of their name. You can include their page by typing the @ sign and their page name. More on tagging with Facebook.

An example from a Facebook Group I belong to frequented by writers and performers interested in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. (I just went and performed excerpts from my novel in progress.)

In the post to a Facebook group, I thanked important people who helped me produce and perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Tips for Promoting Yourself with MeetUp Groups

I've discussed using MeetUp groups for promotion before. Recently, I tweaked my strategy.

For MeetUp, you want to promote an event geared toward individual groups. Better still, offer them something special for attending: a discount, drinks with the author (you), or something else. Here's what I did for my recent events in Edinburgh, Scotland

1) Searched for groups by location and topic:

Here I'm searching for single's groups within 10 miles of Edinburgh.

2) Completed a profile and joined the group. I was honest and said I'm a writer who will be in town performing my work at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

3) Contacted the organizer and asked if it was OK to post an event. This is good etiquette. You could just post your event, but you might piss off the group organizer. Either way, be prepared for responses ranging from: "Sure!" to "Only if you pay me" to "Drop dead."

4) At this event in Edinburgh, I offered a discount on tickets and the opportunity to meet with me after the event.

5) Other things to consider:
- Lead time: Do this several weeks to a month before your event.
- Links with more information: Include a link to your Web page or another page describing your event and location.

After striking out with single's groups and groups interested in travel -- two themes of my book -- I contacted a local writers group. First I filled out a profile and then emailed the organizer to ask if I could pitch an event.

Art Attribution:
By Comstratega (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


More Marketing for Writers Articles


-  How I transformed scenes from a novel in progress into a one-man show called, "The Chronic Single's Handbook."

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Monday, June 9, 2014

One Writer's Social Media Campaign: What Worked, What Didn't

Recently, I started promoting my writing with special events -- readings and lectures -- and using social media to publicize those events.  I read at public libraries, youth hostels, adult education centers, and fringe theater festivals. The results: My readings and lectures were mentioned on numerous Web sites and by media outlets that normally wouldn't have given me the time of day. This blog post describes social media tactics I used as well as what worked and what didn't

I assembled my short fiction into a one-man show called "The Chronic Single's Handbook." Recent performances were mentioned in publications such as the Orlando Sentinel.

Readings and Special Events for Writers

To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut: Writers are in show business. Put on a good show and you'll get noticed. But reading straight from your book is boring. Some better options:
- Rework short scenes from your fiction and creative non-fiction into stand-alone stories, memorize them, and enhance with a little acting. Tips on reading your work in public.
- Non-fiction writers can create entertaining lectures. Contrary to popular belief, Powerpoint presentations can be engaging -- just keep them short and kooky.  Lectures and Powerpoint presentations I've given
- Then find venues and festivals that will let you read/perform/lecture. Look for organizations that have in-house marketing staffs that will promote your event. Recent venues and festivals

After you've read at your local library and hit up your friends, family, and co-workers several times, you'll need to branch out to other cities and other audiences. Drawing an audience in a distant city is tough.

Over the last month, I've performed scenes from my book at fringe theater festivals in Atlanta and Orlando. Here's how I used social media and Web marketing to generate awareness of events held far from my hometown of Boston.

Web and Social Media Marketing for Events


1) Help the Venue Promote You

- I provided a short description of my event, plus photos, links to my Web site, links to my youtube channel, a press release -- whatever they want.
- I met all deadlines and size requirements. If they wanted a 60-word description, I didn't send a 70-word description.

My Results: Excellent
- I was listed in printed and online show catalogs produced by the venues.
- I was mentioned on the venues' Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages.
- In Orlando, I was listed in a preview in The Orlando Weekly.
- In Orlando, I was reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel and the art publication Watermark. These articles were picked up by blogs and social media.

2) Ask Fans, Followers, and Connections for Help

- I created a Web page describing my event.
- I created a short note linking to the Web page and asking people for help.
- In the short note, I explained -- specifically -- how people could help and made it easy for them to do so. (I asked people to post a link to the Web page and ask their friends to retweet it on Twitter and share it on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.)
- I sent the short note to email contacts and posted it to other email lists, such as a college alumni email list, my blog, and as a social media update.
- LinkedIn: This site has a unique feature that lets you sort your contacts by location and send them a note. I created groups of contacts in Orlando (about 10 people) and Atlanta. (about 15 people). I sent them a note through LinkedIn. Several people offered to post my note to their connections. (More on how to do this next week.)

My Results: Mediocre, but worth trying.
- Email: About half of my contacts read the email. Several posted to Twitter, etc as I had asked. The key benefit: I connected with former coworkers, friends, and other contacts who I only email a few times a year.
- Social Media: I got a few retweets and shares.
- Not sure if this brought anyone to my shows.

An email blast to my Mailchimp contacts was opened by about half of them.

Sample of note I sent over LinkedIn

3)  Posted to Related Social Media Groups and Pages

- I searched Facebook and Google+ for groups in my target cities. For both Orlando and Atlanta, I found a bunch. My book is about a chronically single guy who takes a trip around the world looking for the woman of his dreams. So, I looked for groups in my target cites that catered to singles, travelers, or folks interested in the arts.
- I checked the rules of the groups to see if posting links was OK. If so, I joined. If I wasn't sure, I dropped a note to the group owner and asked if I could post my event.

My Results: Negligible. Not Sure if this is worth the time.
- One group owner posted my link on his group and personal Facebook page.
- A few people in a Google+ group liked and commented on my post.
- Not sure this brought anyone to my shows

4) Posted to Meetup Groups

- I joined and searched by city and interests (arts, travel, and singles)
- After joining, I posted my show as a possible event for the group.
- In most cases, the event never got posted to the group.
- In a few it did and I was listed as the host.
(more on this next week)

My Results: Negligible, but worth trying.
- In one Orlando group, seven people signed up to see my show.
- Only one showed up.
- In one Atlanta group, the moderator asked me to pay to $50 post my event. I declined.
- Why it's worth trying: I did an event in November that was picked up by a Meetup in Boston and five people showed up. A friend did an event last year and dozens of Meetup folks showed up. lets you search for groups of people with common interests in other cities. Then you can post your event. Though my results were mixed, the process doesn't take much time and is probably worth trying.

5) Contact Media in Target cities

- I created a press release with links to a basic online press kit with photos, a resume, and other information the press might want.
- I asked the festival organizers for a list of local media contacts in Atlanta and Orlando.
- I also Googled each city for editors who cover arts and entertainment. I found a few editors with email addresses and emailed my press release. For those who didn't post their email addresses, I located them on Twitter, followed them, and sent them a tweet about my show.
- Many media sites have events calendars: I uploaded my event to the calendars.
(more on press releases next week)

My Results: Good
- My event was listed in dozens of events calendars.
- But I was not interviewed by the local press.

6) During the Shows
- I took selfies and other photos, and posted them to my Facebook and Twitter pages. I always mentioned the venue, so they could see I was working to promote myself and the festival.
- Each morning, I Googled my name and my show for mentions that I might share with Facebook and Twitter followers.
- For Facebook, I posted to my Author Page, then logged out and logged in using my personal account. I went to my Author Page and then liked and shared the link.

My Results: Good
- My posts on my Facebook Page reached ten to twenty times more people than normal.

A post of me with a 6' 7" female impersonator at the Atlanta Fringe festival reached 193 of my Facebook fans. Typically, my posts reach about 20 of my 2,000 fans.

More on Special Events and PR

- One Writer's Platform: Events and PR

- Promote Your Writing: Events, Readings, and Fringe Festivals

- My Note to Blog Subscribers Requesting Help Promoting Recent Events

Photo credit: George Skene, Orlando Sentinel / May 16, 2014

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Professional Update/Upcoming Comedy Performances

Dear All,
My apologies in advance to anyone who has already seen this on Facebook or elsewhere. But once again, I would love a little help spreading the word about my upcoming performances.
I) Executive Summary: What I'm Up To
- Polishing a novel, The Loneliest Planet, which I've been writing for the last six years. The manuscript will go to agents and publishers in early 2015 (I swear!)
- Lecturing about online marketing for writers at colleges and adult education centers around Boston.
- My one-man show, The Chronic Single's Handbook, will be featured at theater festivals in Orlando, FL; Atlanta; and Edinburgh, Scotland; this spring and summer.
II) Pleading and Groveling
Can you help me get the word out about my upcoming shows?
- Mention to people you know who might go, post on Twitter, Facebook, etc. (Sample Tweets and links below. Also, I inserted my online flyer and link at the end of this note.)
- I'm happy to reciprocate and share your events or news on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Sample Tweet:

A friend performs his show Chronic Single's Handbook: FL (5/14-24) Atlanta (6/5-8) Edinburgh (8/1-16) Go or RT
Sample Facebook Post:
A friend will perform his one-man comedy play, The Chronic Single's Handbook, in Orlando, FL (5/14-24) Atlanta (6/5-8) Edinburgh, Scotland (8/1-16). The play is about a never-married guy who takes a trip around the world looking for the woman of his dreams. Please go or share.
III) More Detail Than You Want
1) Here are some links to youtubes of me performing two scenes from a December performance in Boston. For the upcoming theater festivals, I'll have props but no mic, which means I'll be able to move around the stage.
- Opening scene:
"Chronically single? You've got lots of company"
Content warning for adults situations, black tongues, sadistic medical professionals.

- "One Day in Thailand"
Lady boys, tuk-tuk scammers, and the day I was almost gay.

IV) Online flyer for the show
The link:
The actual flyer:

"The Chronic Single's Handbook": Shows for 2014

The Chronic Single's Handbook: One man's global search for love

A solo performance inspired by actual events  
featuring Randy Ross 

Exotic Locales


A body-spa named The Curious Finger.

Early praise for The Chronic Single's Handbook:
"Hysterical, side-splitting, profound, a tour-de-force of droll insight. One of the year's best."
-- Randy Ross, writer/performer, The Chronic Single's Handbook
"The balance on your credit card is overdue. Please remit immediately."
-- Bank of West Boston

Upcoming Shows (all shows last one hour)

1) May 14-24 Orlando International Fringe theater festival

- Wed, May 14 (11:30 pm)
- Fri, May 16 (9:00 pm)
- Sat, May 17 (4:20 pm)
- Wed, May 21 (10:30 pm)
- Sat, May 24 (3:15 pm)

Red Venue, Lowndes Shakespeare Center
812 E Rollins
Orlando, FL 32803

Tickets, more information.
- Cost: $12, plus one-time $9 fee for a festival entry button, which is required to see any show at the festival (sorry).

Sample show program

2) June 5-8 Atlanta Fringe theater festival

- Thurs, June 5 (8:00 pm)
- Fri, June 6 (11:00 pm)
- Sat, June 7, two shows (5:00 pm and 9:30 pm)
- Sun, June 8, (2:00 pm)

Highland Inn Ballroom Lounge
644 N. Highland Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30306

Tickets, more information 
(tickets and prices available in May (should be $10 to $15. In addition to tickets, you will need to buy at $3 festival entry button.)

Sample show program

3) August 1-16 Edinburgh Festival Fringe theater festival

Dates/times (all shows start at 7:05 pm or 19:05 using local 24-hour time)
- Mon-Sat, Aug 4-9
- Mon-Sat, Aug 11-16

theSpace @ Surgeon's Hall
Nicholson Street, EH8 9DW
Edinburgh, Scotland

Tickets, more information 
(tickets are 8 British Pounds, or about $12; there may be other fees)

Sample show program

4) Boston-Area Appearances

- May 1, with Judah Leblang at Somerville Public Library (details)
- Events calendar with more listings.

5) Watch Videos Excerpts from Recent Performances

 - Opening scene: "Chronically single? You've got lots of company"
Content warning for adults situations, black tongues, sadistic medical professionals.

- "The Day I Was Almost Gay"
Content warning for prescription drug abuse, gooey sunburns, and men kissing on the lips.

Thanks again!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Google+ for Writers and Authors

The social media site Google+ can help writers promote their work three ways: by letting writers interact with online groups frequented by potential readers, by increasing writers' visibility in Google searches, and by allowing writers to host free online video calls using a feature called Hangouts.

Note: Google+ recently got bad press because of management reshuffling that has led to predictions that the site might disappear. Other pundits believe the site will stick around but in a diminished form. The tips below use features that will likely remain intact regardless of management changes at the company. (Six months ago, pundits predicted Google would shutter a product called Feedburner -- this has yet to happen. I use Feedburner for this blog)

Posting to Google+ Groups

I am not a fan of spending time on social media sites trying to develop a huge number of followers. The main reason: The sites can change their rules, hold your followers hostage, and force you to pay to reach them. (For more on this, see my article on Facebook Pages for Writers) As a result, I prefer to spend my time connecting with people in social media groups.

Google+ has a lot of offbeat groups you won't find on Facebook or Linked In. For my fiction and humor, I found a group called Cynical Singles filled with funny, smart people with bad attitudes. For my nonfiction (marketing for writers), I found a group called Literary Agents Hate Kittens, which is also filled with funny, smart people with bad attitudes.

Tips on Posting to Google+ Groups
- Search for groups the same way you do on other sites: search on your topic, verify that there are lots of active members, look for intelligent posts, and read the group's rules to make sure it's OK for you to post links to your work.
- When posting one of your articles or blog stories to a Google+ group, make the post longer than what you'd typically post in Facebook or LinkedIn groups. For Facebook and LinkedIn, I post the headline and a link -- and that's it. For Google+, I include half of my article with a link at the bottom that directs people to the rest of the story. Google+ allows for longer posts.
- When someone comments or gives your post a +1, give their comment the same, comment on their comment, and follow them -- you may have found yourself a fan.

When posting one of my pieces to a LinkedIn group, I copy and paste the headline and article url, and LinkedIn takes care of the rest.

Ditto with posts to Facebook groups.

When posting to Google+ groups, I copy half to two-thirds of the article and include a link to the rest of the piece at the end of the post. (see red arrow)


Boosting Your Visibility in Google Searches

Google and Google+ have interrelated features known as Social Search, Google Authorship, and Author Ranking that claim to make you more visible to search engines. The features are relatively easy to implement by tweaking your Google+ profile (easy) and tweaking your blog or Web site (a little more involved.)

Definitions and Details

Social Search: When one of your followers on Google+ performs a search, relevant articles created by you will appear higher in their search results.

Google Authorship, Author Ranking: Articles written by you that appear in a Google search will include your photo and information from your Google+ profile.

For example:

I implemented Google Authorship by connecting the bio used in my blog to my Google+ profile.

With Google Authorship implemented, my smiling face appears in searches. Does that mean people are more likely to click my stuff?

Note: I implemented these changes a while ago and have noticed no increase in search traffic. Would my traffic have dropped off had I not implemented them? Don't know. But I'm the superstitious type and prefer to appease Google search algorithms.

More than you want to know about these topics and how to implement them:

From Google

From Social Media Examiner

From Search Engine Journal


Google+ Hangouts

This features lets you easily create free video chats, which could be useful for talking to book groups or other gatherings of potential readers who are on Google+. A feature called Hangouts on Air, lets you create lectures, webinars, and other events that can be broadcast to the general public. Setting up Hangouts on your Google+ account requires a Web cam, downloading some software, and some fiddling around. Hangouts on Air adds another layer of complexity because the feature uses your Youtube account.

Note: I have not used Hangouts extensively, but plan to in the coming months.

An opening screen for setting up a Google+ Hangout. Here, you choose who you want to invite to your video Hangout. You can invite up to 10 people. Adding more people requires a feature called Hangouts on Air and your Youtube account.

A Hangout in action: It will take some work to make a Hangout look professional, but tools (red arrows) can help. If you got a mug like mine all the tools in the world might not help.

Instructions for setting up Hangouts

Interesting Uses for Hangouts


More on Google+


More on Social Media for Writers

Using Groups to Find Readers

Building a Writing Platform: My Results for 2013

Why Facebook is Not Your Friend

Google+ Art at top of page: By B!ttu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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