Freshening Up

December 3, 2020 § 16 Comments

Exactly what holidays this year will feel like

As we near the end of 2020, the year that brought you April is Forever and Where Did August Go? it’s time for that special season: Weird Holidays.

The upside of this strange emptiness? Those hours normally spent shopping for a mob, cooking for a mob, cleaning up after a mob, or biting your tongue while Uncle Henry shares his Views, is free time!

Use some of these open hours to freshen up your author self. This is regular maintenance, ideally done 2-3 times a year, and the routine is worth setting up long before you publish a book.

EMAIL SIGNATURE
Update your email signature with links to your website, favorite social media, or newsletter sign-up, and a recent publication or the book, course, or service you’re selling right now. Limit to 2-3 links and an image—rotate information rather than overwhelming the reader.

WEBSITE
No website? Ask your writer friends how they built theirs. Choose WordPress, Squarespace, or a professional designer for a simple, one-page website with your name, bio, author photo, and links to anything you’ve published so far. You don’t need a blog or events calendar. Just the equivalent of an online business card.

Already got a website?
– check all links
– update your bio with new honors, awards or projects
– add new publications
– update events if you have a calendar
– update pricing for any services, and give yourself a minimum 10% raise yearly
– make sure your headshot still looks like you, and you still like it

SOCIAL MEDIA
You don’t have to do social media! If you’re writing literary essays/memoir, you’re better off focusing on publication and prizes. But if you do social media, for all your accounts:
– update your bio and link; add a Linktree if you need multiple links
– update profile and cover pics if needed
– check that any pinned posts are still relevant to the work you’re doing now
– in your phone, delete duplicate, unflattering, or blurry photos (you’re never going to need them ‘just in case!’ I promise!)
– ‘Favorite’ photos you like for social media, or put them in an album.

GOODREADS
You don’t have to be on Goodreads! If you aren’t, spend ten minutes checking it out and see if you’d like to have an account. If you are:
– update your bio and any links
– update your profile pic
– ensure any book titles you’ve authored are “claimed” and listed on your profile
– answer any outstanding questions from readers

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
If you’ve published a book or you’re included in an anthology, get your Amazon Author Page organized:
– update your bio and links
– add or update any photos and videos
– claim all titles associated with your name

MAILING LIST/NEWSLETTER
If you haven’t started an official mailing list, open up an Excel or Google sheet and enter the names and emails of every reader and writer you know. You’re not emailing them yet, but when you’re ready, this is who you invite to join your list. All those workshop contact lists, those author business cards you’ve kept in a file? Put that information here.

Got a mailing list?
– improve your open rate by removing inactive subscribers
– check your website pop-ups and other sign-up links—are they specific calls to action? Do they link correctly?
– if you use a service like MailChimp, export your contacts list to back it up
– in your favorite notes app or notebook, start a casual list of ideas and topics for future newsletters
– if you use a newsletter template, update images and links
– check that any automated subscriber messages are still relevant

PORTFOLIO
If you have online publications, make them into PDFs. Someday that website will go under or clear their archives and you’ll still want to share your work. If your article/essay/story only appeared in print, scan to a pdf, then make it viewable on your website 2-4 months after publication. Link to the publication’s subscription info, too!

Update your list of where you’d like to be published. Rotate your reading to keep in touch with what those venues publish, and note submissions periods or pitch guidelines.

BLURBS
Start/update your list of authors you are even vaguely connected to who might blurb you one day. Every week, pick an author and promote, retweet, share, or review their book/recent article/course/services, or send a brief, friendly email. Maintaining these connections long-term means you’ll feel OK asking (and they’ll remember you fondly) when it’s blurb time.

CONFERENCES
Look up live and virtual writing conferences, and non-writing events around your memoir topic. Note anything you’d like to attend and why (agent pitching, particular speaker or genre focus, audience who will be helped by your book). If speaking is part of your work, note application deadlines and requested materials.

BOOKSTORES
As health, safety and finances allow, buy a physical book from your local indie and chat with at least one clerk. Note live or virtual events you can attend. Connect with the stores and their featured authors on social media.

 

This is a long list. Don’t do it all, and don’t do it all at once! Set up your own checklist, and make notes in your calendar or recurring to-dos. Tackle the things you care about most, in tiny bites. And when the time comes to talk to your publisher’s marketing department? You’re going to have great news for them.

_______________________________________________

Allison K Williams is Brevity‘s Social Media Manager. Freshening up your manuscript? Join Allison and Jane Friedman for Second Draft: Your Path to a Powerful, Publishable Story. Suitable for any subsequent draft, we’ll talk narrative voice, theme, and Allison’s #1 editing technique to revolutionize your next draft—no matter what number it is! December 16th, recording available if you can’t make it live.

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