Learning this book-publishing business


Image courtesy of Morguefile free photos

Saturday I once again had the privilege of attending the monthly Writers on the Storm meeting in The Woodlands, Texas. I’ve been a member for about six months, after moving to the state last spring.

This recent meeting was particularly sweet because author, editor, and fellow member Linda Yezak posted an interview of me on the W.O.T.S. blog that very morning.

But a blog feature is only one fragment of the benefits I’ve gained by belonging to this group. And that’s the reason I push encourage new writers I meet to join real and online groups–and not to struggle alone! In a group of writers, you’ll meet others like yourself as well as established authors who’ve learned the ropes and are more than happy to share their knowledge with you.

At our meeting, a panel composed of several members of our group spoke about changes in the book publishing business. As our W.O.T.S. president, Janice, explained–you know longer have to become published by a big publishing house, Christian or otherwise, to become a successful book author. You might go with a small press, go it alone, or become a hybrid author like Janice who has some books traditionally published and others designed and produced herself.

The panel spoke on everything from using Amazon as an author to the best places for advertising your books to where to look online for the best free professional advice. We learned it’s a good idea to use MailChimp, a free newsletter subscribe service, when you want to start a newsletter and have visitors to your website subscribe to it. (I needed that affirmation to take the first step toward a newsletter myself.) We also learned that all the blogging in the world won’t sell books if you don’t establish relationships with your readers. (Again–newsletter!)

Of course it was mentioned that a great place to join a critique group, attend free webinars, and find a writing group like W.O.T.S. is American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which W.O.T.S. is a local chapter. If you’d like to join a local chapter of ACFW, expect to be required to join ACFW first and to pay the reasonable dues for both. If you don’t have a local chapter and would like to start one, contact ACFW.

Next month, W.O.T.S. will talk to its members about the ways to make money from our books. I can’t wait!

profile_pic  Cynthia









How I Say Thank You on Social Media Without Making It a Part-time Job


I’m big on saying thank you–a hard habit to break.

Taught as a child by my parents to thank anyone and everyone who did anything at all for me, I now think the practice was overdone. It would’ve been better to teach me to thank God for my many blessings. Instead I learned that I didn’t deserve to be treated well just for being me, a child of God. Someone had to be doing me a huge favor to act kindly toward me. I carried that mindset into adulthood (grateful for any positive attention from a verbally abusive husband) until I noticed other adults looked at me strangely when I thanked them for every insignificant little thing. But further reviewing my emotional baggage from childhood is a post for another type of blog at another time.

Today I see a lot of thanking going on in social media, particularly thanks for a follow on Twitter. Admirable, but like my childhood thank-you, perhaps overdone? I’ll admit it feels good to receive such a thank you from individuals I know and respect, but I honestly don’t expect one, I don’t become angry if I don’t receive one, and I don’t know how most people find the time.

Early on, I tried to tweet a thank you to new followers, but I was afraid of offending someone by inadvertent omission if I’d recently tweeted a thanks to someone else but not to him. So I finally gave up and tweeted a general thank you every now and then. I do try to thank individually for a re-tweet, but I’ve probably missed a few of those, too.

In most cases with social media, as with life in general, wouldn’t actions speak louder than words? Actions often prove more practical for me–and I hope more appreciated by fellow tweeters. Yeah, I know part of the appeal of the tweeted thank you is the recipient’s address going out to all my other followers and calling attention to it, but…

When people I don’t already know follow me, I check them out. I know that takes a couple of minutes of my time, but I simply can’t do the automatic follow-back. If they appear to have something interesting to say other than trying to sell me something, then I follow back. Isn’t that a form of thank you? Do I have to actually say the words?

BTW, if I follow you back on Twitter and you immediately message me with a sales pitch for your diet supplement or marketing services, you’ll likely be booted! No excuse, even if you have a manager for your Twitter account. That’s no way to thank me for following you! (Same goes for connections on LinkedIn.)

On Facebook, if another author whose name I’m familiar with likes my author page, I reciprocate–unless it’s an author of material I find objectionable, which hasn’t happened so far. That’s a nice thank you, isn’t it? (I wish more would do the same for me when I like their pages first.) Plus, I occasionally post a general “Thanks for the new likes” on my page for any unknown persons.

If, like me, you don’t spend hours per day on social media, how do you show appreciation? How necessary is it to do so? Big-name authors and celebrities don’t acknowledge my follow, and that doesn’t bother me. Do most people even care about getting a thank you? If they are truly interested in what you have to say, will they drop you because you failed to thank them individually?

On the other hand, a few adults I’ve known personally never say the words “Thank you” anywhere at any time. Some don’t know what it’s like to write and mail a formal thank-you note for a gift. That’s not good. I’ve wondered if they do better or worse showing their thanks on social media than they do in more conventional situations.

But as Jerry Seinfeld once said after receipt of free tickets to an athletic event, and I paraphrase, “How many times do I need to say “‘Thank you’?”

cynthia-toney Thanks for reading my post…Cynthia

Contemplating Facebook Friends


A few days ago a good friend of mine stated that she’d just finally joined FB. After congratulating her, I asked why she’d resisted for so long. She stated that she believed (and still does) that FB takes people away from ‘real’ face-to-face relationships and online relationships were a poor substitute.
Now, if I’d been a cat, my whiskers and tail would have twitched with irritation at her comment. While I’m still very fond of my ‘face to face’ friend, I pointed out that God blesses us with many kinds of relationships to fill different needs and for us to fill those needs in others. She graciously conceded that I was right.
However I started to ponder both the benefits and the drawbacks of my FB relationships.
It is no secret that FB offers instant contact with regards to family, friends (old and new), colleagues, possible dates etc. But the advantages of keeping in touch FREE with friends and family who are travelling and wanting to send pictures is one of my personal favorites. Then add on that you can contact them when and how you like, as it may be in the middle of the night for many of my wayward friends when I’m awake and wondering how they’re doing. Promoting yourself or your business is of course another of my favs. It’s like putting little flyers on doorsteps without having to walk a step. How great is that?
And who doesn’t like the visual aspect of FB? Those videos are positively addicting, and the little pictures that give you a giggle to start your day can’t be beat!
Then there is the benefit of having advice from hundreds of people from all walks of life and cultures. And right at my fingertips!
I’m still a little country girl gaping at the possibilities, but still a bit fearful of stepping into the ‘unknown’ without a valid roadmap. (Which keeps changing, I might add)
Now, I must consider the cons of FB. Because to be totally honest, I can truly lose track of time while online with my ‘tweeps’. I’m a visually oriented person, so the vast array of delightful pictures and You Tube videos can suck me in. And the instant contact with my friends entices me no end! I’m often tempted to run and see what was up on FB before I sit and consult my daily devotionals, or to chat with my off-line friends.
Then there is the privacy aspect of it. How many times have I heard about people being hacked, or being dragged through the mud by having something publicized that they may have said while they were young and impulsive? A few of my friends have actually backed out of FB as it is commonly used as a tool for future employers to find out what a person is really like. That’s appalling to me!
But as I look at my list of pros and cons, personally, FB is so worthwhile to me. But I do have to be disciplined with how and when I use it.
So I salute my FB buddies and groups. I can’t think of going through life without you all now, so you’re kind of stuck with me. (Oh, wait, I can be ‘unfriended too! ☹)
This is my post, in recognition of my one-year anniversary of being a Scriblerian. I have enjoyed my new buddies immensely, and how we have become a close-nit group of like-minds.

So I ask you…

1) How do you feel about Facebooking? Does it pull you away from other relationships?