When should you delete comments? Never? #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

It is an unfortunate fact of life that an artist’s work will be publicly criticized. Heck, sometimes the artist is personally criticized. Hopefully, the vast majority of the criticism received is positive or at least constructive. Naturally, that’s not always the case. Sometimes criticism is a blatant attack on the artist. Even worse is when a criticizer obviously did not read the work in question.

There have been many blogs and articles written about reviews on e-retailers and how to deal with those negative reviews. (I’ve even written one myself here.) I’m not going to discuss those types of issues here. Instead, I want to focus on comments on social media. Specifically, when is it okay to delete comments? Before I get into whether it’s a good idea to delete a comment or not, it’s important to know whether it’s even possible!

On Facebook and Instagram, you can delete comments without any administrative nonsense. See below. On the left is Facebook, on the right is Instagram. Easy Peasy.

deleting comments merge

Twitter doesn’t allow you to delete tweets from other users – which is how others ‘comment’ on your tweets. You can, however, report a tweet. Alternatively, you can also block or mute another person.

Deleting Comments

Now that we know how to delete or report comments on social media, the question remains: should we?

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(c) Urban Dictionary

Initially, I was very hesitant to delete comments. I want readers to understand I’m a real person and not some polished version of myself. *Snorts at the idea of being polished* But then, I got my first ‘Mom comment’. Like most women of a certain age, my mother is a little confused about social media etiquette. All caps comments and comments ending with LOVE YOU MOM are the norm. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. A bit embarrassing, but definitely ‘real’. I left that first comment, but the next comment from mom had nothing to do with my post, let alone with me as a writer. (It was a request to call Dad for Father’s Day.) I deleted that comment as my readers didn’t need to read that. (And yes, I called Dad.)

 

Are there other comments I delete? For sure! The tagline for my latest novel, Searching for Gertrude, is “How far would you go to find the woman you love?” I recently did a Facebook ad using this tagline. The first comment? “No woman is worth any effort.” It took me approximately 2 nanoseconds to decide to delete that comment. The comment had absolutely nothing to do with my novel or my author platform (and it pissed me off). Why should I keep it?

The final category of comments I delete is spam. I’m actually quite chuffed to receive spam on my posts. My social media accounts are worth spamming! In some perverse way that makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

What comments do you delete, if any?

 

What’s wrong with your (author) blog/website #MondayBlogs #AuthorMarketing #Marketing

At a recent networking event, I handed out my business card like candy thrown from a carnival parade (slight exaggeration as it is such a pain to carry a shovel with me everywhere). Naturally, I took all the business cards that were graciously handed to me as well. Instead of shoving those business cards in a drawer somewhere and forgetting about them, I decided to strengthen those in-person connections with social media. What did I discover? It wasn’t as easy to connect as I’d hoped.

Although most of the business cards had email addresses, I didn’t bother with those. I didn’t have a specific enquiry, I just wanted to connect for possible future enquiries (book review requests, author collaboration, etc.). Instead, I went to the websites listed on the cards and discovered several common problems with the websites. Here’s what I discovered wrong with most of those blogs:

social media linksNo Social Media Links If you have any sort of business in the 21st Century, you need to be on social media – not every single platform but at least one or two. And before you start to argue that being an author isn’t a business, let me just stop you. If you want to sell your books, you are most definitely in business.

Hidden Social Media Links The entire point of social media is to be visible. I don’t want to have to scroll through a menu to find your social media links, which are hidden somewhere on your blog. Personally, I think your social media links should be visible on every single page of your website/blog. I have mine on my main sidebar. My main sidebar is on the right-side of my blog, but you can put it anywhere you want – just put it somewhere!

Difficult Navigation Your menu should be placed in a visible location and be obvious. Personally, I’m not a fan of a menu that is only visible when you click upon it. I don’t always notice those three horizontal lines floating somewhere on the page. Maybe I’m just plain old, but it isn’t obvious to me that it’s a menu!

share blog postUnable to share blog posts There’s no point in having a blog – in my humble opinion – if others can’t share your posts. There’s nothing worse than reading an interesting post and wanting to share it but being unable to because there is no option to share or the sharing option doesn’t work.

Blog post share without your tag Sometimes it’s possible to share a blog post but the blog owner is not identified in the share. Make sure your handle is included! Having a tweet end with @wordpressdotcom instead of your twitter handle looks unprofessional.

Pop-ups I know there are tons of marketing advisors out there who insist that you include a pop-up for visitors to sign-up for your newsletter on your blog. I am not a fan. In fact, I think most people are fed up with pop-ups. Maybe this was a good gimmick a year or two ago, but it’s past it’s prime. We are inundated with pop-ups while online. I don’t even read them anymore. Click! Gone!

What other issues have you found on websites/blogs? Let me know.

 

 

Here comes the sun ~ The Dutch language and its obsession with weather #ExpatLife #ThisisHolland

A while ago, I read an article about all the different words the Dutch have for bad weather. Hint: There are tons. The Dutch love compound words, so they basically just add a descriptive word to weather and voilà – another descriptive word for crappy weather is born. For example, just add typhoid to weather and you have tyfusweer. In this way, there are no limits to the number of words for sucky weather!

How to survive the Dutch weather

But that makes it sound like the Dutch are a negative folk who spend their time complaining about the weather. Although the Dutch like to complain about the weather because although they may be freakishly tall, they are still just humans and humans love nothing better than to complain about the weather. BUT the Dutch also love to praise the weather if the occasion calls for it.

weer 1

This is NOT what the weather looked like last week when it was supposedly ‘tennisweer’

When a beam of sun breaks through, no matter how small, the Dutch rush outside and declare the weather lovely. It can be cold and windy. It doesn’t matter as long as there is a bit of sun. The terraces all have heaters (not very environmentally friendly, I know), blankets and wind barriers. Just last week I skipped my tennis lesson because it was windy and like 10 degrees Celsius out. Not exactly tennis weather in my opinion. I said something to that effect to my tennis team. They are still laughing at me because I didn’t realize how absolutely lovely it was outside. Um, what? Seriously?

 

 

 

So, how many words do the Dutch have for nice weather? I have no idea but here are a few to give you an idea.

Rokjesweer = skirt weather

Korterokjesweer = short skirt weather

Terrasjesweer = terrace weather

Kastelenweer = castle weather

Strandweer = beach weather

You get my drift. Think of something you can do in nice weather, add the word weather to it, and bada bing bada boom – a new word for nice weather in Dutch!

FYI: Today is definitely terrasjesweer.

weer 2

Actual picture taken in my neighboorhood.

Should you go to a book fair as an author? #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #AmWriting #WritersLife

london book fairAlthough everyone says you should ask the difficult question, the question of whether you should attend a book fair is not a difficult one. The answer is easy: yes or maybe YES! Before I get into the nitty gritty of why you should attend, let’s talk numbers because authors LOVE numbers. How much does it cost to actually attend a book fair? I recently attended the London Book Fair. As I live on the continent, my costs included hotel and train travel. That’s not entirely unusual, however, as you can’t count on an awesome fair like the London Book Fair happening around the corner. So, here are my numbers:

Train travel (Eurostar) = € 160

Hotel = € 117

Fair = € 52

These costs are not necessarily representative of your travel to a fair. First of all, I decided to attend LBF way late, which meant my train travel was quite expensive. Planning ahead can equal big savings. As I went overboard on train fare, I went with a much cheaper hotel. About the only good things I can say about the hotel are: it was close to the venue, safe and the price included breakfast. I also paid full price for the fair this year. Next year, I’ll be paying a reduced price as I joined the Alliance of Independent Authors and they offer a 50% discount on the fair entrance fee.

So, what are the benefits of attending the fair, which makes spending €329 worth it? There are tons of benefits, many of which I didn’t consider before attending.

Seminars. The primary reason I decided to go to the London Book Fair was the list of seminars. The Author HQ has a full day of seminars on all kinds of topics that are interesting to the indie author. Although some of the seminars were a bit basic, there were also tons of more in-depth talks that really got my juices flowing on how to improve my PR and marketing. I came home with a three-page to-do list!

calendar

Networking. Although this is one of the reasons I initially considered attending the fair, I didn’t expect to actually do much networking. After all, I am your typical introverted writer. But it’s impossible not to make connections when you are sitting next to someone for a few hours. And there were drinks!

Agent Meetings. At the London Book Fair, it’s possible to book a meeting with an agent for a small fee. Although I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I met plenty of writers who did and were happy with the outcome. I may do this in the future as it’s an awesome opportunity to have a one-on-one with an agent that I might otherwise never have.

Indie Author Support. Several organizations that support self-published or hybrid authors, such as the Alliance of Independent Authors and the Society of Authors, were on hand. In addition to doing seminars on self-publishing and marketing, they answered questions at their respective booths. This was a great opportunity to speak to fellow authors in person and perhaps ask those questions you wouldn’t otherwise dare to.

Publishers. Naturally, Amazon KDP and IngramSpark were at the fair, but there were also other self-publishing firms on hand. As I use CreateSpace, I took the opportunity to sit down with IngramSpark and discuss why they think I should change to their platform. I also talked to other self-publishing platforms to get a feel for the market. It was really refreshing to learn that many publishers were no longer negative about self-published authors. Instead, they were jumping into the market!

As a self-published author, the London Book Fair was a great opportunity for me. In addition to all the above advantages, it was also a chance to just be around others in the industry for a few days – something I miss as an author that works at home alone most of the time. I came home reinvigorated and ready to take on the world.

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This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox!

authortoolbox 5

 

My experience on the Eurostar ~ Worth a repeat? #Travel #Europe #Eurostar #MondayBlogs

eurostar 2Just as the United Kingdom pulls away from Europe, the train service to the UK from the Netherlands starts up. Typical. Hopefully, Brexit won’t have any effect on the brand-spanking-new Eurostar service from Amsterdam to the heart of London. Fingers crossed! Unfortunately, the new service isn’t entirely up and running as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom still need to come to an agreement regarding customs and security. This means that enroute to London, you have to change over in Brussels. More on that later. On the way back, it’s a direct ride straight from London St Pancras station to Brussels, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam.

london book fairI took the Eurostar from the Netherlands to London last week. My first mistake was booking from Amsterdam instead of Rotterdam. My second mistake was booking the first train leaving Amsterdam just after 6 a.m. The problem? I can’t get to Amsterdam at that time using public transportation. I spent thirty minutes searching the Eurostar website to find out if I could embark in Rotterdam instead. Finally, I gave up and called. It took the operator a few minutes to confirm that I could indeed jump on the train in Rotterdam. Phew!

All went well on my outgoing voyage until I arrived in Brussels. I thought Eurostar was exaggerating when they recommended arriving 45 minutes in advance of departure. They weren’t! By the time I scanned my ticket, went through security and then two passport controls, I only had a few minutes to board the train. I just sat down when the conductor announced the train would be leaving in a few minutes!

eurostar 3Having started my journey before 6 a.m., I was getting thirsty by the time the train departed Brussels. This is when I learned my first lesson of traveling with Eurostar. Always bring snacks and drinks! I waited nearly an hour in line to buy a drink. (On a side note, I also purchased an Oyster card which did save some time when I arrived in London.)

eurostar 4I was a bit worried about traveling in the Chunnel. After all, elevators scare me! Surely, being in a tunnel under the English Channel would totally freak me out. Not at all. I’d forgotten that trains continuously go through tunnels. The Chunnel was just longer than normal. If you ignored the darkness outside, it was no big deal. It didn’t hurt that you can get up and walk around the train while you’re traveling through the Chunnel.

Arriving at St Pancras Station in London is pretty great. In addition to being a railroad station, it hosts an underground station. I merely walked off the train, through the hallway (oh look! English language bookstores!), scanned my Oyster card and before I knew it, I was sitting on the tube heading to my hotel!

The return journey was even better. After the hustle and bustle of the Brussels station, I arrived early at St Pancras Station. It was nearly like taking a flight. I couldn’t ‘check-in’ until 45 minutes before departure. Once the gates opened, it went quite quickly. There were several lanes open so a bottleneck (think Brussels) was avoided. I even ended up with a few minutes to sit and catch my breath before boarding the train.

eurostar 1On a side note, make sure your phone has plenty of data left as the WIFI wasn’t working on any part of my journey. Also, there are plug-ins everywhere, so you’ll want to pack your charger in an accessible area. Mine was buried in my suitcase, but I always carry a powerbank.

So, will I book Eurostar again or will I go back to flying? Despite the pain of the changeover in Brussels and the longer actual journey time compared to flying (3 ½ hour train journey vs. a 70-minute flight), I will. The journey itself is much calmer than flying. No need to remain seated with your seatbelt buckled! There’s also no need to go to the airport an hour or two in advance. There’s no worry of how much my luggage weighs and no limit on liquids. Plus, you arrive smack dab in London. I’m looking forward to my next trip already!

 

Updates to the (self-)publishing industry from the London Book Fair #AmWriting #LBF18 #BookMarketing

london book fairI arrived home late last evening from the London Book Fair with a notebook full of publishing notes, marketing ideas, and to-do lists. After three days of go! go! go!, I’m ready for weekend to start early – like right now. But I wanted to share some of the information about the publishing industry I learned at the fair before collapsing in my reading chair. *Please note: Facts and figures refer to the UK market, but I assume trends carry over to other markets as well*

LFB18

  • Volume and spending on books of all types was down by 3% in 2017, but overall the trend is upward.
  • Paperbacks are still the backbone of the industry with 71% of purchases.
  • The strong growth of ebooks has peaked. The volume and spending on ebooks fell dramatically.
  • Audiobooks are growing strongly. This is a fertile growth area!
  • Younger females and 55+ readers are moving back to print when reading romance.
  • 22% of all ebooks are self-published.
  • 1/9 of reading takes place on phones.
  • Just under a half of audiobooks are bought on subscription.
  • Crime/thriller and historical fiction genres have grown well year after year.
  • 50% of books are purchased via etailers.
  • Purchasers who use etailers are motivated by price.
  • Purchasing from older groups is down.
  • 29% of book discovery is done via browsing.
  • 25% of readers choose a book because they’ve previously read another book from the author.
  • 8% of readers choose a book because they follow an author or due to an author event. This is an increasing area.
  • 9% of readers choose a book based on reviews or recommendations. Online dominates in this area.
  • 14% of readers choose a book because of word of mouth.
  • The five largest influences of a purchase are (in descending order): subject/genre, author, description, series and price/offer. Price/offer is losing ground.

“Wow, Dena, that’s a lot of facts and figures. What the heck am I supposed to do with them?”

I plan to use this information to guide my marketing and PR plan for the rest of the year. For example, I’ll be checking into audiobook possibilities. I’m also considering changing the company I use for paperback publication. Those are just a few ideas. I’ve got loads more. Let’s make this a great year!

 

At the London Book Fair #WriterWednesday #LondonBookFair

london book fairTotal honesty: when I was a lawyer I absolutely, positively, totally hated going to conferences and workshops. Seriously, have you met any corporate lawyers? Those conferences were crawling with them. Yuck! Now that I’m doing a job I like, I’m excited to get involved in conferences and workshops. But (and it’s a big one) I now have to pay for everything myself, and I’m not nearly as confident about my writing career as my legal career. On top of which, I’m pretty socially awkward at the best of moments. So, I’ve been putting off diving into workshops or conferences or fairs to attend. Oh, I’ve wanted to go, I was just a chicken shit about the whole thing. Well, no longer! I’m attending the London Book Fair this week. *Gulp*

So, what convinced me to put on my big girl panties and head out to London? Two words: Author HQ. The Author HQ at the London Book Fair looks awesome (imagine I sang that because I totally did). There are three days jam packed full of seminars. Everything from an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing to working with an agent to successful PR & marketing. *Jumps up and down in excitement*

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I may spend the entire three days hiding in the corner. I’m a writer – I’m allowed to be a socially awkward introvert eccentric. No matter how much I don’t interact with others, I hope to at least gain some knowledge from the experts. At the very least, it’s a chance to escape my daily routine for three days.

Wish me luck!

I’ll be reporting on my experience next week. Was it worth the cost? I’ll let you know.