Raise a cheer!

CelebrationIntegrated blogs and websites – At last – writers have caught up with the multi-national companies!

Finally – something to cheer about!  Writers can now get reasonably priced websites with integrated blogs!  I’ve been looking for this for ages!

I think most people have a blog these days, and many writers also have a webpage – but it’s always been such a challenge to find a site which will link one to another effectively, without a massively obvious transition (change in colour scheme and font etc) and change of menus.  AND one which doesn’t cost  hundreds of pounds!

Take for example my old blog site.  http://joannesmedley.blogspot.com/ It was good enough, but the blog didn’t hold the links to my “publishing credentials” and my website couldn’t integrate with my blog… UNTIL NOW!  (if you’re reading this – you’re on my new blog! How very exciting!)

For writers still struggling with the whole blog / website thing – I’ve found a company who can help.  Mark and Gill at Crystal Pyramid have worked with me for a number of years now at Red Herring Games and they understand what an author needs.  So if you want a blog integrating into a website, and would like a professional website, with your own domain name, that’s self editable – they’re the people to call.   You’ll find them here: www.crystalpyramid.co.uk

Now I’ve just got the task of updating the things which automatically link to the old blogger blog, which let’s face it, does more for advertising blogger, then advertising me!

Strings, bings, blogs, netlogs, linkedIn, libboo, podcasts, facebook, twitter and You-tube…

Argh! Haven’t you found there’s just such a plethora of social media these days? Not a day goes by I don’t get an email inviting me to watch a podcast, add a string or story to a social media networking storyboarding site.

Question is – is all this media actually helping writers or is it just yet another distraction?

Networking – as I’ve said before is a must for new writers. Phil Berg said at a business conference I’ve been to recently: “You don’t have to be the best in your field, you just have to know the most people.” That’s as true for writing as it is for business.

You can be THE best screenwriter there is, but if you aren’t known, then how are people going to approach you to give you the contract?

Now I’m not talking about simply “putting yourself about”. Everyone hates someone who is just there for themselves and never contributes. As I’ve said before, it’s not enough to just “friend” people on twitter and the like, you need to interact.

So where do you start?

Well, for a start check out my post below on networking for writers.

And with regards to social media, I would suggest all writers have these basics in place and know how to use them effectively.
1) A blog. This should be informative, not just a list of personal acheivements. And don’t write and abandon it – point people to your blog on the other social media sites you frequent. e.g. facebook and twitter.
2) LinkedIn – it may seem like a business network (which it is) but if you’re taking your writing seriously, then writing is a business, whether you want to believe it is or not. Learn how to make LinkedIn work for you. Grow your connections and then do a search one day in the company field and see if you happen to know, or can get introduced to the person who you need to speak to.
3) Twitter – yes I know everyone likes facebook better – but if it’s connections you’re after, trust me, Twitter is a) quicker and b) easier. Use twitter to create contacts, not just as a means to itself, and make sure you plug your blog on twitter by creating a link to it! Also – let’s not forget, you can make twitter comments post to facebook and linkedIn, so that saves you a lot of time!

What about the rest I hear you ask?

Well…

Facebook. Everyone’s on facebook these days… but does it help you make any good writing connections? Probably not. Do you speak to writers on facebook? er… no. I speak to my contacts on twitter and on UKwriters when they happen to drop in.

Never visited UKwriters? Why not?

UKwriters is a joint social media site. You can post blogs, join discussions or just ask for advice. You can email authors in your own field and communicate on a meaningful level. It’s gone a bit quiet lately – but that’s only because people haven’t got their head around how to use it, and I’ve been too busy to drop in. But why not drop in yourself and start a discussion?

Libboo / Stringsta I’ve taken a look at both now, and other then “bigging up” their creators I can’t honestly see these going anywhere long term. Yes, I agree it’s a lovely idea, let’s all collaborate, but truthfully? How is it going to help writers earn any money long term?

I agree, it sounds like a great idea that you can create a joint effort book / script / storyboard, but royalty rates for authors are pittance at the best of times, so how exactly is splitting a book royalties 60 different ways going to help? Also… who get’s the publicity from the book sale? Er… would that be Libboo or Stringsta themselves? So no. I can’t see this taking off long term.

One to watch and put some time into if you’ve got a lot of spare time perhaps, but if you’re busy – just avoid them!

You-Tube For writers… er… No. I can’t think of anything more boring then watching me type up a script! But for film makers, or as writers if you can get your short film on there – then YES! Great idea, especially if its good. But don’t post any old rubbish. You want something that’ll show case your work, not a camcorder video!

As for the rest?

Well, make up your own mind. If you’re wasting more then 15 minutes a day on them, ask yourself how many contacts you’ve made and how useful they are to you. If they’re not getting you anywhere then drop them. You’ve got more important things to do… like write!

Final words…

Competitions As new writers a competition is probably one of the few ways you will actually get noticed from a cold start. However, be wary. Don’t pay to enter anything. All you are doing is lining someone elses pockets!

After al, I could set up a great competition to write a new murder mystery game. Prize? Oh… let’s see… you could become an author on Red Herring Games (something I’d do anyway if you’re good enough). I could charge £2 entry fee, which sounds reasonable… and I’d probably get over 50 entries so I make a straight £100 profit for doing nothing! (Maybe I should try it!!)

Also – stick to entering reputable competitions. The BBCwritersroom is a good place to find out the best ones. They screen all their competitions to make sure they’re fair to writers.