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  1. Hello readers! It's a been a while, and for that, I'm deeply sorry. I've been toying with post ideas and wanted to bring you all something of substance, not filler. And on that note, today I'll be tackling how to identify your target audience (and why you should).

    "Writers write first for themselves, and edit for their reader." -UNK

    I can't remember who said that, but it's true. Every one of us writes for our own reasons, usually ourselves, and then edit our work with a clear goal in mind. For some of us, it's to entertain, for others, it's to drive a message home to our readers. But many of us (myself included) struggle to realize who exactly it is that we struggle to write for. Now, I know some of you are thinking, it doesn't matter who you're writing for, and for some of us that is certainly true, but there are a few of us who have a goal to publish and entertain. This post is for all of us who fit into that latter category.

    Knowing who you're writing for is more than just knowing what genre you hope to write in. If you know who you want to write for, it can help tailor your story, and later even your marketing/business strategies. As an Indie Author being able to focus your business and marketing can be a huge benefit, especially if you're still struggling to build social media platforms. In my case, I hope to appeal to a broad base of Urban Fantasy readers.

    Given that I know I want to target these people, you may be thinking, ok you're set. But I'm not. Simply knowing I need to target UF readers isn't enough. It doesn't give me the information I need to be able to connect with people in a way that will help me build a platform (your platform is another way of saying your audience). If I took this information now and tried to apply or use it, it would be like tossing a twig into a lake, it would float, or sink, but I wouldn't make much of a ripple on the water.

    So, what do I do in order to really find a target audience?

    Well, first I had to realize what kind of people I need to be looking for. When building a platform, you want to find diehard fans. If you're familiar with Firefly, these people are called Browncoats. Every fandom has their own versions. These are the people who spread the word about their fandoms and become so engrossed in the worlds they love that they go to cons, and have every piece of merchandising known to man related to their fandom. Imagine if you had 100 of these people. What could that do for your platform? Your sales?

    We can all agree that we realize the importance of superfans. But how do you find these people? How do you engage them in a way that will help you with your writerly goals of world domination?

    Brace yourself reader.

    You join Facebook groups, you interact with them on forums, and in feeds or blogs. I know, you're thinking, what? All this and you're going to tell me to talk to them? Befriend them? Yep. That's it.

    You interact and study them. Why? So that they seek out your opinion and interactions. Think about this forum, how many writers here do you actively look forward to interacting with? I can think of several members who make this forum that much more fun. We go to each other for advice, read and comment on each other's blogs, in a way we study each others writing journies hoping to learn from each other in a way that will aid us in our own paths.

    Identifying and interacting with your audience is exactly the same. But whatever you do, while you're building that trust, don't make the newbie mistake that so many of us make. Don't go into these places and automatically post about your work. Don't brag, boast, and throw up meaningless pieces that nobody will relate to because they don't know you. Take the time to make connections. Your platform will thank you for it.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below.

    Also, my next world domination plot is coming along so nicely that I've decided to open up applications for minions. Should you decide to apply, please know that I cannot guarantee health or safety. I offer no insurance or 401k incentives, but I do have some pretty kick a$$ cookies. Come to the dark side, you won't regret it.

    Thank you for reading, and above all— Happy writing!

    Magus likes this.
  2. In last weeks post on creating confidence in yourself and your writing, we talked about the need to surround ourselves with people who were encouraging and supportive. If you haven't read the post you can do so here:

    Today I'd like to take that topic a step further and discuss how surrounding yourself with those people (and actively seeking them out) can do more than just foster your confidence. Yes, today we'll be talking about the necessity of Networking.

    STOP! Don't run away!

    If you're like me, you probably feel like that word (networking) is or should be considered a four-letter word. You're probably thinking, but Corbyn- I hate people, or I can't be normal in social situations. Well me too, but that doesn't change the fact that as writers we can gain far more from taking the time to seek out like-minded people, and exploit them for our world domination schemes (insert evil laugh here).

    I've talked before about the local writer's group that I was a part of, but most of you may not know that some states or countries have more than just regular writers groups. I was a member of the Texas High Plains Writers. This group was a pro writers community that met bi-monthly. It offered workshops on everything from indie publishing, to building your brand, grammar, you name it, and they did it. I was so fortunate to be able to attend these meetings, and I miss them dearly.

    For everything that the group was, it was above all a place to network with like-minded individuals. Through the group, I found editors, critique partners, help with book cover designs, and so very much more. Because of this group, I got my first freelance gig back in 2013. It didn't last long or pay well, but the experience was well worth it.

    My point is that you're reading this. That means you use this forum, and hopefully to its full potential. If you can use this forum, you can network with other creative types to further your craft. You can do so and get helpful tips on how to publish, or write a different kind of story.

    Sometimes to get to where we want to be, we have to practice not only have the confidence to say we're writers but also practice interacting with other creatives and use those connections to further our goals. You never know when someone you've met here might have that one piece of information ( or know someone else) who could make all the difference between your piece being accepted or rejected, or even becoming next best thing since sliced bread.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below. And if you do figure out how to make that laser powerful enough to take over the world, remember who pushed you to further your goals and cut a poor girl in will ya?

    Thank you for reading, and above all— Happy writing!

  3. Today I'll be continuing the topic of retraining our writerly brain. If you live under a rock, or just didn't have time to read my last post Are you a good writer? Then please check it out here:

    Do you lack confidence in your daily life? Do you lack confidence in your writing? Do you find yourself writing something, then not picking it back up for days, weeks, or months because you feel like it's terrible or you've done a disservice to your writing? Are you missing your writing goals because of this? Is your lack of confidence affecting how you interact with people you work with or the relationships you have with friends and loved ones?

    I know, those are a lot of questions. But if you answered yes to even one of them, then you're not alone. On any occasion, I have trouble with confidence. I've never possessed an overabundance (or even a minor abundance) of the stuff. It's frustrating. It makes my interactions with people awkward, and sometimes it makes it difficult for me to take a compliment regarding my work, or even myself. This quirk frustrates the people around me sometimes.

    So, like with nearly everything I find interesting, when I saw a vlog about building confidence in yourself, I thought I'd share what I learned from it. Here are the five tips on how to foster confidence in yourself, and your writing.

    1. Fake it until you make it. (This is something you've all seen me say before, but don't roll your eyes, bear with me) Faking it doesn't mean being a jerk or disingenuous. It's quite the opposite in fact. Confidence doesn't happen overnight, but instead is a result of retraining your brain until it realizes hey, I've got this! It's a result of behaving and carrying yourself that exudes an aura of confidence, even though you don't feel that way. It can be as simple as changing your posture, making eye contact, or at least trying to look people in the eye more, and talking about your work as if you believe in it. Walk into a situation like the boss bad a$$ you want to be.

    Why, because people are hard-wired to respect people who behave more confidently. They will value your opinion and presence more because of this.

    2. Stop comparing yourself to other writers. Thankfully, I don't do this, but I know a ton of other writers who do. Your work is just that. Yours. It is unique, and nobody can write what you do the way you do because they aren't you. So stop worrying about how your Sci-Fi western opera is going to shape up, or if you're going to be the next Stephen King. Nobody, not even King's kids feel like they can fill those shoes, so why are you so worried about it?

    Fill your life with positive reinforcement. As creative people, we've all been there. Our families and friends love us, but sometimes they don't get us, or worse... they don't know how to talk to us. They don't always know how to be supportive either, or how to pick up our fragile egos and stoke them until they can stand on their own. Surround yourself with people who get what it's like to want to live a creative life, support and nurture them just in the same ways that you need to be. Also, start a folder for yourself and fill it with compliments about you or your work. When you start to feel down, pull out your folder. It's too easy to forget the nice things people say to us, and sometimes we just need a reminder.

    4. Find your on switch. Everyone has something (or if your lucky a few somethings) that make us feel good about ourselves. This could be a song that makes you feel a specific way or a movie. The point is to surround yourself with things that make you feel good. When you find that thing which works for you, milk it.

    Practice. Practice the things that make you feel passionate. If it's writing, then write. Don't stop. When you stop practicing you're robbing yourself of the very things that make you a better writer. The better your writing becomes, the more confident you, in turn, will become in your work. Confident writers trust their skill because they've put in the time. Writers write.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below.

    Thank you for reading, and above all— Happy writing!

  4. For many years, writing was my dirty little secret. It was something that I started doing after I graduated to entertain myself. I was lonely, and the people I met online gave me an outlet that I never thought or dreamed could exist. I didn’t turn to wanting to write for others until around 2011, but even then, it was still something that I rarely shared.

    Why? Because like most writers I was afraid. Afraid to let my words go, afraid to share myself and be rejected, but most of all, afraid that I wasn’t good enough. And I think that is the core problem that most of us face.

    Self-doubt chews at the leg of every writer whether they’re famous, or not. Will I ever finish my book? Will I find an agent? Will I be published? Will my audience like this? Will I find an audience? All of these stemming from that hateful little goblin of self-doubt.

    We as writers have to stop thinking this way. To borrow from a great book and movie:

    “You is smart,

    You is kind,

    You is important.”

    -The Help

    The first time I heard those words, I bawled like a baby. I still do. You will always be your worst critique, but why not be your loudest supporter as well? You are important, and so are your words.

    It’s not a matter of being a good writer. You are a good writer. The point is to become an effective one. So how do we do that? How do we become effective writers? We change our mindset. We realize that there are tools to help us become more effective.

    Here is a list of general habits that can help you become a more effective writer, and they also apply to other disciplines like painting, or music.

    1. Read. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they want to write, but they don’t read! This blows my mind. If you are already reading, read more, and in various other genres you’d likely not pick up. You are only limited in what you can learn by what you do or do not pick up to read or watch for that matter. But as a writer, reading is especially important. It’s helpful to absorb tricks of the trade from other people who’ve been on this journey.

    2. Get an editor. Writer’s who strive to be better or more effective know that even they need help. Every large name author has someone who reads their work whom they work through the editing process with. It’s part of the journey, and sometimes it can take multiple edits to end up with a finished product.

    3. Capture ideas. Creative people gather input, ideas, and inspirations for their work. Write it down! You may think you’ll remember that stellar idea you had last night, but how often do you? Write it down!

    4. Write every day. This is essential. Forming a writing habit and sticking to it is the difference between wanting to be a writer, and someone who constantly says they eventually want to write. Writers write.

    5. Rewrite. Distill the fluff of your piece into a work of art. Stephen King refers to it as “killing your darlings.” It’s never pretty, but when finished with this necessary task, you may find a hidden gem you didn’t even know you had or were capable of.

    6. Get Inspired. It doesn’t matter if you refer to it as your muse, inspiration, or whatever it maybe. Sometimes there is a part of writing that just comes to us. It’s beautiful when it happens, and for some like me, rare. Sometimes you have to do things to foster your inspiration, take a walk, do something different, discover a process. Inspiration is never set in stone.

    But above all, don’t be a lazy writer. I say that because it’s a struggle to make sure your work is ready. It’s something I wrestle with, and I’m always upset with myself when I realize I took the easy route on a piece.

    The internet is full of lazy writers. These are the people who make being an Indy author hard. They spit out a story and have tacked it up on Amazon because it would be cool to publish. They’re the reason we need to be EFFECTIVE writers. People desperately want clarity to filter out all the noise and spam that comes naturally to the online world. Don’t squander your writing gifts.

    As always, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you feel like there is something you’d like to see me cover, or I haven’t covered correctly, please leave a comment below.

    Thank you for reading, and above all… Happy writing!

  5. Marketing for an author is all about building your audience. Having people in place to read your work when you have it ready to release. That's what I thought anyway. Boy, was I wrong!

    Marketing is much more than that. Your goal for marketing is to build your audience (sometimes marketers will call this reach or influence depending on who they're speaking to). But, marketing itself is a lot more complex than just that one goal. I've talked before about some of the goals I have to try to build up my platform (audience).

    Today's post will cover a few things I learned in a recent continuing education course that covered Facebook.

    If you've followed any of my recent blogging or progress journals, you know the struggle is real. There is so much conflicting info out there on what you should or shouldn't do it's mind-blowing. What's worse? The info is constantly changing. It's a chore and a half to try to keep up with it all. A good example of this would be the recent Facebook change to its algorithm.

    Prior to the change, authors were able to get their posts viewed by a wide range of audience with both targeted and organic posting. (Targeted posting is when you make up an ad for Facebook and denote exactly who you want to see it. This could be people in an age range say, 18-45 in a given area like London, or New York. This kind of targeting can be great if you are looking to launch an LGTB novel in say San Fransisco or Dallas. It helps you reach a wider audience in specific areas instead of wasting your money by marketing the post in say, rural Texas. Organic posts are posts that are viewed naturally through normal Facebook channels in your sphere of influence.) However, since the change it has become almost impossible for indie authors who rely on Facebook to get their posts seen by their audience.

    So, what does that mean for those of us who are not yet established, and are trying to use the community to build our platforms? Does it mean it's an impossible task? Is there nothing that we can do to help ourselves out? No, and No.

    I wish I could say that I was the one who came up with these answers, but I'm not. During the CE course, the speaker answered them for me. It means that in a push to try to keep people engaged with their services Facebook is trying to change the way we as users get, and participate in information. It means that as an author, I have to change the way I try to interact with people in that medium.

    This is something I already realized I needed to do, but it is nice to know that I was at least thinking on the correct path. *Gives self a little pat on the shoulder-good girl* (Don't judge. Sometimes you need that self-pat!)

    Anyway. Here is a list of six ways that we as authors can help get ourselves around that pesky Facebook algorithm problem. Please bear with me, I'm giving them to you as they were given to me. Some of them are self-explanatory, and really do go hand in hand with each other.

    1. Post less frequently. When I heard this I thought, What the heck? I had always heard you should keep on a regular posting schedule for ALL your social media. At least three times a week. (This kind of blew my mind.) Apparently, the algorithm has been redesigned to allow more organic conversational posts to appear more often in threads. So no spam.

    2. Engagement. Posts with better engagement in the comments will be more easily visible. It doesn't have to be direct engagement with the poster either. Example: You post and get fifty comments, but one of the comments gets an additional 75 comments. These are the types of posts that are far more easily visible through the algorithm. It wants quality over quantity. If you aren't sure what kind of posts GET better engagement I'm working on that and will be doing a post in the future.

    3. Facebook live. I have to admit, I'm not a fan of this one. I'm naturally shy, and hate having my picture taken, much less video?!? Ugh! Anyway, users who utilize Facebook live are 75% more likely to see growth in both organic and targeted media posts AND engagement.

    4. Asking for comments. We all know someone who does/or has done this. They post things like, show me a gif of what you're doing this weekend, or what's your favorite color? For a while, these posts were all the rage. They got numbers up for both views and engagement. But because of the setup now, such posts will be going the way of spam.

    5. Get used to Facebook ads, and utilize them. Also not crazy about this one. As an indie, marketing is so important, but marketing on a budget... well, that's where I'm at right now. But through the ce course, I learned not to rely on Facebook suggestions for ads when I place them. I learned to target them for the best possible audience for what I need to do. If I were going to market for say boat insurance, I'd make sure the ad was seen in a place with heavy lake coverage. You can find out how this works better on your own timeline. You know those pesky ads you see? On the right side of them, there is a box you can look into that will tell you exactly why you are seeing an ad. Pay attention to what those tell you when you see ads for books. You can actually use that info to reverse engineer an ad and target someone else's audience. Sneaky right?

    6. Learn messenger. For the foreseeable future, ads through an ad bot on messenger will become more and more common. (Also not a fan of this one. I hate bots.) But by targeting your advertising and using a bot, supposedly you can increase views on your main page by anywhere from 65- 85%. That's a big difference.

    One other tip that I was given, join Facebook marketing groups. Often they have workarounds available when the algorithms change far quicker than we might be hearing about them otherwise. (I hadn't heard of any tips to work around the algorithm problem until I stumbled on this ce event earlier.)

    As always, I hope you all find these posts helpful. Happy Writing!

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