Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pinterest Tips For Authors & Businesses

Pinterest is a fast-growing tool employed by authors, publishers, publicists and businesses.  After the social media giants: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, Pinterest is next to take off.  It has 25 million members and generates 10 million unique views each month.  So how does one harness its powers?

I recommend you take a look at Entrepreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Pinterest for Business, by Karen Leland, a best-selling author of nine books and the president of Sterling Marketing Group, where she works with entrepreneurs, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies.

So what exactly is Pinterest? It’s a social bookmarking site that allows users to create a visual online pinboard with images they love, organized around topics of their choice by category.
Interestingly, 72% of Pinterest users are female, and 60% of them are 35 or older.

The book does a sound job of showing how to set up a Pinterest account and reveals how to create boards that get noticed, draw traffic, and convert fans into customers.  Special chapters are devoted to creating a strong community and enthusiastic following through high-engagement activities, contests, social media outreach, and smart phone strategies.

I am not active on Pinterest but after reading this book I may just explore how to utilize this hot, new resource.

Interview With Poet Donna Marie Merritt

  1. What type of books do you write? My focus has been on poetry the past few years, but I have also written 15 math and science books for children.

  1. What is your newest book about?  Her House and Other Poems (Stairwell Books, 2013) is a collection of poetry about nature, love, long walks, intimate moments… I think there is something there for everyone.

  1. What inspired you to write it? My first three books were part of the Poetry for Tough Times series (Avalon Press) and revolved around specific themes: job loss, cancer, and the return to “ordinary” days. I wanted this book to be more free-flowing, more observational—examining nature, people, relationships, the ups and downs we all experience.

  1. What is the writing process like for you? Hard. It’s also the most fun I have all day.  If I’m working on a magazine article or column, I spend time researching and taking notes, and then I type it directly on the computer. I revise, cut, and move things around until I’m satisfied, while keeping word count, audience, and deadline in mind.  For poetry, it’s a much different process. I watch people and things, listen to sounds and conversations… I wonder “what if” many times during the day. Often I play with language in my head and sometimes jot down words and phrases, but it doesn’t necessarily result in a poem. When I do write a poem, I use pencil and paper. There is something about the scratch-scratch of the lead and the movement of handwriting that lends itself better to poetry (for me, anyway). I erase, cross out, circle words that don’t quite fit, and so on. When it’s in decent shape, I type it on the computer and set it aside for a few days or even weeks. Usually when I go back to it, I’ll find it needs to be revised or at least requires a tweak or two. Or, I may hit “delete” if I feel it’s just not working. For every publishable poem I write, I probably toss half a dozen more.

  1. What did you do before you became an author? I wrote my first poem when I was eight, so writing has been part of my life for a long, long time. But, I have also been a teacher (14 years) and an editor (6 years), and currently I work days as a school secretary. The pay for writing (especially poetry) is not steady. Worrying about paying bills and having health insurance would be on my mind and interfere with my creativity. While I would absolutely love to write full-time, the secretarial job involves no overtime, so I have nights, weekends, and summers free to concentrate on writing. Of course, if anyone would like to throw a hefty writing grant my way, I would not be opposed!

  1. How does it feel to be a published author?  Some days I still can’t believe it. I hold one of my books in my hand and think, “That’s my name on the cover.” Or I head to a poetry reading and think, “People are coming to listen to my poems.” And, if I look up at a reading to see people laughing or crying in the right places, it touches me in a way I can’t describe. When people approach me or email to say that my poetry has helped them or spoken to them in some way, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do something I love and reach people at the same time.

  1. Any advice for struggling writers? Read. Read. Read. Write. Write. Write. To be a good writer, you must first be a lifelong reader. I read all genres, including poetry, children’s books, young adult, fiction, biographies…(About the only books I can’t get into are horror stories. My apologies to those writers!) As you read, take notice of what you like and why you like it. Is it the subject matter, the way the words flow, catchy phrases, clever word play, the images the text evokes, quirky characters, strong storyline, chapter cliff-hangers, a satisfying ending, or a combination of things?  And, of course, write. If you want to establish a name as a writer, take yourself seriously. View it as a job, not a hobby. Attend workshops and conferences. Network with publishing professionals. Go to poetry readings and book talks. Join a writers’ critique group. And then…start sending your work out there. Begin with magazines to build a list of published work. That will give you some credibility when you are ready to submit to a publishing house.

Most important? Forget about failing. You WILL receive rejection slips. By now I have accumulated enough to wallpaper my house. If you are lucky enough to receive a rejection with suggestions, please study them! Editors are so busy and receive so many submissions that anything other than a standard, typewritten form from them is a sign of encouragement. If an editor takes the time to make notes, pay attention. There are many ways to improve your craft. We can all continue to learn and grow as writers.

  1. Where do you see book publishing heading? This is a tough one. There will always be books and there will always be printed books. But, we will be adding more ways to read them, including e-readers and online platforms. As I see it, the bigger issue is self-publishing. There needs to be some kind of vetting process. Poor-quality writing is flooding the market. It’s the equivalent of typing a story, making copies, stapling it together, and saying, “Here. I wrote a book.” My kindergarten kids created books that way. We need to get back to what is worthy of being published. It’s wonderful to share stories with family and friends. However, the stamp of approval for books is being published by traditional publishers, including small presses.

In addition, I would be thrilled to see publishers pass up some of these celebrity “authors” who are given contracts based on their names alone, not on whether they can write. What message are we sending readers when books of little literary value are published for profit only without making a lasting contribution to society? Celebrities are given tons of marketing money, are booked on big television shows, and drain budgets that could have been used for promotion of lesser-known, but better writers. Okay, off my soap box, but it’s a message I hope we start spreading.

To end on a more positive note, persistence is key. Even with self-publishing and celebrity writers and smaller budgets and publishing houses shrinking and independent bookstores closing (did I say a positive note?), if you keep writing and reading and are willing to improve your skills and take chances, you CAN become a published author. It’s worth all the hard work and determination. To be a bit clich√©, follow your dream.

For more information, please consult: stairwellbooks.co.uk


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

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