Periscope – how to make the best of it.

GeographyPeriscope seems to be the “next thing” when it comes to social media, and there’s a whole raft of people joining Periscope every day.

At the moment, the people who seem to know how to use it best are all the social media experts and SM entrepreneurs – but it’s not as hard to get your head around scoping as it might seem.

So… because there is nothing more dull than watching persicope on replay to find out where you are going wrong or what you need to do, I thought I’d offer a few tips of my own.  I’ve been using Periscope around a month now, and while there are no real “no nos” there are some really good tips to make the most of it for you and your business.

DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME!

Periscope can easily become yet another time waster.  Unlike Twitter or Facebook, it’s really easy to get sucked into conversations and watching videos with periscope and soon your whole day is gone!  Let’s face it, we live in a world of TV addicts, and turn on a flickering screen anywhere in the room and you’re naturally drawn to it!

Don’t make the same mistake with Periscope.

The first thing you should do when creating your periscope account is SWITCH OFF your notifications!  All of them!  It’ll save you getting suckered into watching things when you’re not free.

FIND WHO IS ON WHEN YOU ARE

Secondly you’re home screen will be devoid of video streams initially.  So it’s tempting to jump straight on the web feeds and watch whoever’s there.  So the first thing you need to do is identify the people you’d most like to see on periscope and follow them so they’re always on your home stream section.

Because of the connection between twitter and persicope this makes this process much easier.  You can search for “scopers” and click on the people on twitter you most interact with usually.  Let’s face it, you’re usually on social media with these buddies anyway, you may as well grow the friendship.

Then watch what happens.

Like all Social media you’ll be allocating certain times to it.  So when you start finding people who are live at the same time as you, then follow the people interacting with them on their scopes (You just click their avatar as they comment and then hit follow).  This will give you a raft of people who are a) interacting with the same people you like to watch (similar interests as you) and b) ON periscope the same time as you and are therefore likely to be available to watch your broadcast when you decide to go live.

BROADCASTING TIPS

1. Don’t Dive in just yet:

Don’t scope immediately, tempting though it may be.  Rather, watch others for a few weeks.  This will give you ideas and you’ll find out a lot, and not only that, if you’re commenting on other’s feeds (strongly encouraged!) then other people will be following you back during this warm up time and will be ready to hear from you when you broadcast.

Your first scope on Periscope is dropped into all the Periscope users feeds, so don’t miss out on that opportunity to make your scope “the best.”

2. Block spammers pre-emptively

This warm up “lurk time” gives you the chance to start blocking the users who are throwing out spam and troll-like comments and “hitting on” people.  As these comments crop up in the scopes you watch, click on that user and block them.  It’s a preemptive strike.  You don’t want them harassing you on your feed!

3. Turn your location settings off.

This also prevents spammers joining you.  I’m not sure why, but it does.  Apparently they sit on the “map” section and jump in on people who are broadcasting their location more than those who aren’t

4. Get a good intro image

The first 2 seconds of your scope will be the image that periscope uses for your video.  SO… make sure you have the camera facing something interesting/pretty and not you pulling a face.  Also,… remember the camera is vertical NOT horisontal.  When you’re setting up to broadcast, it’s easy to forget that as the lower half of your screen is often covered by persicope informaton.  Make sure your camera screen is completely full of something.

You can simply use coloured card, or if stuck, put your finger over the camera lens for the first few seconds so it’s a black or red image that displays.  it looks better.

5.  Don’t start talking immediately.

Persicope cuts the first few and last few seconds of your scope.  It’s a time lag thing.  So start talking after 2 seconds and welcome people then.

6. Ask for questions or feedback, and respond to your comments

Periscope is all about the interaction.  People stay when they think they are being heard.  So respond to people.  Ask simple questions like “Where are you scoping from?”  “What do you do?” to prompt some interaction, and then reply to the comments as they come in. (Blocking spammers as you broadcast).

7. Scope when you’re free

It doesn’t seem to matter where you are or what you are talking about.  I’ve had more people chatting to me while I’m peeling potatoes for tea, than when I sit in the office deciding to show everyone what I do.  Just broadcast when you’re free.  Tell people something interesting and see what comes up in the comments and chat about stuff that your viewers that day want to know.  You rarely stay on topic if you’re scoping well.

8. Don’t be rude

It’s social media.  This means EVERYONE can see it.  Which means your potential next client will see you.  Don’t say anything you will be ashamed of later.

FOLLOWING UP

Katch.me is an essential tool for periscopers.  It enables you to link users who’ve interacted with you on the scope with users on Twitter instantly.

As with any networking, the sales are in the follow up – so follow up.

It’s going to be rare that someone watching your periscope live will immediately go and buy what you sell, but they may know someone who will.  So treat them well, they are your referral sources.  You build up that “know, like and trust” thing with your viewers, they will put work your way eventually.  Don’t alienate people and don’t make them hate you.

ETIQUETTE

1. Comment

Don’t watch in silence.  At least hop onto the comments once and say “Hi”.  It makes all the difference.

2. Send hearts for good content

Viewers can send hearts to support the broadcaster by tapping the screen.  The broadcaster can then look back and see just how many hearts you’ve given them.  Give loads.

3. Don’t be rude!

So many times I see people bad mouthing people on social media. You are making yourself unsellable.  There are many people who will not be getting business from me because I neither like them nor trust them because of things they’ve said to others on social media.  Even if a particular stream of diatribe is not aimed specifically at me… who’s to say the next won’t be?

Whoever treats social media like a playground is just plain stupid!  Playground behaviour, bullying other users etc will get you nowhere in business.  If something offends you, just ignore it and don’t watch them again, or block the poster from your feed.  Say nothing else.

DON’T DO THE SAME!

I think it’s a huge mistake to assume Periscope is simply a live You Tube, equally it’s not a TV advertisement.

There are a lot of people adding periscope’s to You Tube, who fail to recognise that the media is completely different.  If you scope something you think might be useful to a wider audience, why not record yourself on a webcam and do a proper You Tube video without distractions or breaks as you respond to users comments?

Periscope’s best feature is it’s interactive nature.  You Tube’s best feature is it’s uncluttered information.  Don’t mix the two if you can avoid it.  if you want to direct people to your replays, that’s where Katch comes in handy.  That’s a collection of your periscope videos, which shows all the comments and hearts, and like You Tube, totally free to use.

Also – don’t forget to adjust your periscope bio.  It’s a different media, so your periscope Bio will need to reflect that.  People connect with people they feel they have some commonality with, so don’t be afraid to “tag yourself” and place yourself into boxes.  Who are you, should be able to be summed up by a few distinct phrases e.g. Mum, chef, entrepreneur.  Use those for Perscope as it gives viewers a hint as to who you are and whether they want to connect with you.  Also it’ll mean you connect with more like minded individuals.

 

IT’S NOT ABOUT QUANTITY IT’S ABOUT QUALITY

Don’t jump on the band wagon and feel the need to get LOADS of followers.  You don’t need loads of followers, you need interaction.

Just the same way as your mailing list could be 27,000 individuals, if you only get 200 people who open your newsletters, then effectively you are only reaching 200 people at a time.  Why not shrink down your mailing list to those 200 and give them more targeted content?

Chasing followers will a) lead you to attract spammers and b) make you look needy and c) you could end up with a periscope comment stream you can’t handle effectively thereby reaching no one well.

Value every connection you make.  Don’t ask them to “swipe and share”.  Make THEM feel important as they’ve joined you.  You want to speak to them, not people they might invite.  If they like your content, they might well suggest other people hop onto your live broadcast, and you can thank them for that, but don’t go out of your way to ask for it.  Equally, don’t ask for hearts.  They’ll give them if they like what you say.

Create quality broadcasts, to a select few individuals and you’ll grow some great referral sources, not just random followers.

#SBS winners inaugural meeting

Yesterday saw Fiona, Sherlock, Dr Whiting and I driving down to Birmingham for Theo Paphitis’s inaugural #SBS meeting.  Sherlock has his own take on the day… but you can find that on his blog.

I think he has designs on Theo’s car… fortunately he didn’t set off the car alarm!  We might have had some explaining to do if so…

It was a great afternoon, and as it was totally sponsored by Ryman Stationery everything was free, including the bar!  (I hate to think what the bar bill was at the end of the afternoon!)

We even got a goodie bag to take home at the end which included all sorts of useful things including a business account with £50 pre-paid on the card!  Thanks Ryman!

There must have been over 400 people there, at least… and it was wonderful meeting all the tweeps I’ve been tweeting with face to face at last.  Sadly I couldn’t get around everyone, but thankfully my trademark “Knife through head” prop meant that even if I didn’t find the people I wanted to see – most of them found me!!  (Next time perhaps I’ll invest in one of those Think Bike signs with “Jo Smedley Red Herring Games” flashing above my head!)

This is Fiona, Sherlock and I with Jacqui Thompson who was the tweeter who told me all about how to enter #SBS and thanks to her RTs during the week to Theo probably gave me the leg up I needed to win!

The big announcement, and the most exciting part of the day was that Ryman Stationery and Theo Paphitis are launching a new #SBS winners website designed by @MetalFrogstudios one of the early #SBS winners – which will contain all the information the press need to know when they run articles on winners, and also the facility for the winners to upload all their information onto the website so that they are easily searched.

The site will provide back links to winners websites and also there is a separate members only section which provides useful business tips and also networks winners and their special offers.  We’re also all going to have access to new badges which will be great!

The #SBS website will be getting populated over the next few weeks as the #SBS winners are sent out their user log in details.  In the meantime you can find the website here:

http://www.theopaphitissbs.com/

It also has some tips on how to enter and what Theo is looking for.

Again the website is free to #SBS winners and we’re all really looking forward to using it!

Theo ran a question and answer session during the meeting.  There were a LOT of questions and I have to say, Theo came across as really sincere and “down to earth” with his answers.  How he can think on his feet that fast, I don’t know, as he fielded questions from things like “What is the future of the highstreet?” through to “Will you run for prime minister?”

Thanks to waving Sherlock around in the air we actually got to ask the one question I know everyone keeps asking me.  Namely:

 “How does Theo Paphitis pick his #SBS winners each week?”

The answer:  Well, it isn’t random chance (Which is really nice to know if you’ve been picked).  Instead he uses the following criteria:

1)      The tweet must catch his eye.

This means it could be cheeky, interesting, or it might just be related to something he’s been doing that week so it attracts his attention.

It has to be a good tweet.  And the avatar can’t be an EGG! Theo also checks out your bio on twitter when he does his research – so ensure the Bio is up to date and friendly.  Theo values the personal touch.

As there are so many tweets week to week Theo also has help from his wife and Tina at Ryman when it comes to selecting #SBS winners – as he has so many to look through of an evening he needs help to do a proper job.  So even if you miss Theo’s attention you might still be noticed by Tina or Mrs P and forwarded onto his shortlist.

2)      The tweet must have a website link – and the link you post with the tweet must work!

Once Theo has his shortlist (and he does create a shortlist) he then clicks through to the website link posted.  The website must be functioning, clear and appropriate.  It doesn’t need to be all singing all dancing – and can just be a “gallery website” for those who understand that term (one page website for those that don’t), but it does need to be working!

If he feels your business has the “basics” in place, that your website is effective and that you will make the most of the RT then he’ll RT you.

3)      Catching Theo’s eye might be something you do during the week.

Theo looks for tweeters he recognises in the #SBS line up.  He looks for regular tweeters, not people who ONLY post each Sunday or who have very little to do with twitter week to week.  If you are going to make the most of your #SBS win, then you need to be making the post of your marketing on Twitter already.

To catch his eye, might mean that you might have tweeted him during the week, or that you’ve been regularly tweeting with someone he follows on twitter so he’s seen your posts regularly throughout the week.

He doesn’t like people repeating tweets during #SBS – that is more likely to put him off RTing someone.

So are there any “hot tips”?

I think so… given that you need to be catching Theo’s eye to get that RT then I’d suggest the following techniques.

1)      Follow everyone Theo is following and speak to them on twitter.  Theo only follows a select group which means he does actually follow what they are saying.

2)      Reply to Theo’s tweets during the week.  There were a few winners he called “Stalkers” at the meeting in jest – but clearly stalking got them their RT.

3)      If you think you’re doing something interesting then include @Theopaphitis in your tweet during the week so he sees what you’re up to.

4)      Write a really “eye catching” tweet.  Say something unusual and something that will get you noticed.

5)      Have an eye catching avatar so it stands out amongst the rest – NO EGGS!  It doesn’t have to be pink, but it needs to be clear.

6)      Make sure your Bio on twitter is accurate and has a friendly, personal feel.

7)      Make sure your website is top-notch.  It WILL be looked at.

8)      Be persistent in your entries and adjust your tweets week to week.  If it didn’t catch his eye the first week, it probably won’t next time around either.

And that’s my hot tips.  Good luck with your own #SBS entries.  With the new website launching this week and all the benefits that’s going to bring – Theo is expecting increased traffic to #SBS and as a result there is talk of him changing the time he RT’s to Monday evening to give him a chance to look through the entries properly.  So get those entries in and then just wait and see!  Next week it could be you!

What next?

Well, Theo recognises that small businesses need leverage to obtain attention, so he kindly posed with all the #SBS winners for a formal photo at the end of the meeting in the hope that beeing seen with a TV personality will provide some leverage we can use to obtain further media attention.

We also have a nice certificate which we’ll be framing for the office…

Also – given that the #SBS winners website has a “county” winners area – we in Lincolnshire are hoping to arrange a regional lincolnshire #SBS  meet up of our own.  so watch this space!

#SBS win!

This weekend, which the christmas rush over – I took the plunge and sent my primary computer in to get serviced with SMEIT services locally.  Nothing was likely to happen… I’d done the post run for Saturday and I was promised it back on Monday morning.  As I don’t work Sunday’s anyway… what would I need the computer for?

Well…  THIS!

Red Herring Games only went and won Small Business Sunday!

What is Small Business Sunday – or #SBS?

Firstly – it’ s a twitter competition.  For those of you who don’t know what twitter is… well, it’ll probably mean very little to you – so check out this first:  What is Twitter

Small Business Sunday (#SBS) is the brain child of  Theo Paphitis one of the Dragons from BBC Dragons Den.  (If you don’ t know who Theo is… pull your head out of the sand and click on his name – I’ve hyperlinked it to his website!)

Theo runs the #SBS competition on twitter every weekend to help raise the profiles of entrepreneurial small business owners.

Each sunday between 5.00pm and 7.30pm (GMT)- small business tweeters (that’s people who tweet) from all over the world send Theo a short 140 character message to promote their business.

There are a few rules for entry.

1) The tweet MUST be between those times

2) the tweet MUST include the hash tag #SBS

3) The tweet MUST be directed to @TheoPaphitis

Of the hundreds he receives Theo then reviews them and selects 6 to Retweet (thats repeat to non twitter users) to his followers.

This week he has 215,560 in total – which means my business has just had a mention in front of over 200 THOUSAND people!

This lovely badge came as courtesy of Aqua Design Group Who won #SBS themselves last year.  They now help other #SBS winners by generating a badge of their very own.

 

 

From what I’ve seen so far membership of the #SBSwinners group is very elite and everyone is there to try and help other businesses get ahead.

Needless to say I’m looking forward to a great 2012!

OSCARS SPEECH?

Well… as promised… there is a list of people to thank for this #SBS win as without these people I would NEVER have got Red Herring Games off the ground let alone winning #SBS… and there’s a LOT of people to thank… so sorry if I miss anyone out – email me if you feel omitted and the chances are you were overlooked by accident and I’ll add you on!

Website Thanks:

As ever – The first thanks have to go to Mark and Gill Hardy for their continued support from the inception right through to the creation and sustension (is that a word) of the website Red Herring Games!

Alison Clynes of Kinetic Marketing and Design – for intial help Marketting the business and then rebranding the logo!

Paul Fairhall for his tireless editing and voice over work!

Julia from East Coast Pictures for her fabulous You Tube work recently on our behalf!

Fiona and Sharon – the hard working “behind the scenes” girls who do most of the packing day to day! (and Fiona’s mum who’s just started rolling tape for us too!)

My team of authors: Mark and Kathy Pitchford, Kathy Roberson, Michelle Crowther, Tracey Latham, Kit Walkham, Paul Fairhall, Gordon Thorburn, John Waterhouse, Lissa Gibbons, Tony Brown,  Julieta Mitnik and Debbie Gooseman.

BNI members (past and present) who’ve supported me in business these last few years (In no particular order): Steve Thickett, Steve Sherwood, Mel and Ben Chase, Dan Reeves, Alison and Steve Clynes, Mark and Gill Hardy, Chris Waud, Mel Sharpe, Fiona, John Tucker, Heath Johnson, Jeremy and Jude Bass, Malcolm Cooke, Simon May, Andy Inch, Jon Ashley, Michael Leadley, Victoria Hearsey, John Booth, Geoff Christie, Alan Young, Mark Jones, Emma and Paul Fairhall, Helen Spauls, Emma Faulkner and Phil Hewson.

Friends and family (I’ve been told I can’t mention names as some of these are teachers – so I won’t mention any – that way I can’t offend anyone – but you all know who you are!!

My acting friends who’ve supported me in the arrival of the events side of Red Herring Games:  I don’t know you all by name ( and I’m sure to miss some people off – just ping me an email so I can correct it)!  But Bill Jellyman and team from Sale, Marie Shirley Lewis and Phil Armstrong from Durham, Steve Brennan/Bellamy (whatever you’re going by at the moment), Nick Adams, Craig Thurlow, Sara Beasley, Staurt Owen-Howard, Gareth Arthurs, Mike Wilson, Stephen Rayner, Helen Slater, Helen Kent, Jeanine Ridha, David Phillips, Johnny Allbones, Dean Wright, Dean Wilding, John Litchfield, Derek Hodges, Susan Everatt, Alison Bottomley, Matt Storey, Kelly Meacock, Kerry Buckley, Lorraine Laird, Tim Rutherford, Jeff Riley, Tom Wright, Joanne Abbon, Penny and Bob Seymour and many more!

Efactor and Jacqui from PulseCSI who told me all about #SBS!

Finally my customers – of which there are over 12,000 already – and so I can’t name you all one by one!

Thank you ALL for your support to make this possible!

 

 

 

Twittering along…

Went to a talk by @Lesanto on Tuesday night which has motivated me to get back onto Twitter.

Glenn said some good things (if you’re reading this Glenn, then you said a lot of good things…) but one thing that sticks in my mind was his suggestion that social media is not something new, and in fact, as humans we’ve been doing it a while.  (He described cave paintings as our first facebook status update! – nice analogy.)

For those not on twitter yet as writers – then what’s stopping you?  It’s a great place to meet contacts and network with other writers.  It’s also free.  And everyone loves a freebie don’t they?  You’ll find me here: @joannesmedley And here @redherringgames. Ping me a hello!

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.

Is networking useful for writers?


We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” and sadly that is true for writing too. How many writer lectures have you been to where the writer was given a “lucky break” by speaking to a friend who knew a producer, publisher or agent? I can think of dozens. It’s a very rare person who get’s an agent from scratch these days – though it is possible!

But is networking a good way of generating contacts or not and where should you go?

Writing conferences and lectures and courses are a great way to meet other writers, but frankly you’re all in the same boat, so unless you happen to meet a lucky writer who has an agent, or develop a relationship with someone who then finds one – it won’t get you very far.

Which means, as well as mixing with unpublished writers you need to be looking further afield.

1) Writer signings

I’m not talking about the famous ones here. If you queue up to get J.K. Rowling to sign a book, she’s hardly going to have the time to give you a contact at bloomsbury!

However – local writers are a different matter altogteher. They generally have shorter queues, are more willing to talk and still interested in helping other new writers “break” into the field as they often had a leg up themselves. Don’t discount them because they aren’t “big”. They’ve still got further then you have (to that illusive first contract) and so they’re still better connected then you!

Make sure you attend any local readings/lectures they have, get to know them and see if they are willing to help you.

2) Business networking

You might think business networking is a ludicrous way to general contacts – but scoff all you like, I’ve been in a business networking group for 2 years now, and in that time I’ve landed a contract to write e-books for a local entrepreneur, been asked to write custom written games for venues and met a publisher who would actually give me the time of day, and probably help me with contacts should I eventually get a book up to publishable standards.

I’ve also met other writers who visit the group who do copywriting – paid work, and also a story writer who writes people’s biographies – again PAID.

So while business networking may seem a bizzare way to set out – think beyond the people in the room to the contacts they may be willing to share with you and give it a go.

3) Tradeshows

Publishers have tradeshows just like any other companies – sometimes you’ll find them all under one roof. Take a walk, browse the stands and if you can, strike up a conversation – you might get on with someone like a house on fire and they might be willing to look at your work!

4) Work your contacts

As well as our immediate friends we all have people we know through social media like twitter and facebook these days – so speak to them.

Obviously you don’t just want to “follow” them and then pitch straight away – an immediate turn off to anyone who’s busy and managed to work their way up their field.

Instead – get to know them. Chat, don’t pitch. Once you have built up that relationship – THEN speak to them about a project.

5) YOUR BLOG!

Your blog or website is THE singular most important thing you need to maintain as an unpublished author. For many new contacts it’s the first thing they’ll take a look at.

It needs to be:
a) Easy to read
b) Professional
c) Clear – with a list of your achievements in the writing field and also what you’re working on.
d) Personal. By this I mean – a photograph. People deal with people. It’s a known fact. Avatars are all very well, but they aren’t you.

What will sell your work in the end isn’t the work itself but you. It’ll be you that will eventually meet with people to pitch your work, so have a personality, be visible and get noticed.

Further reading:

Launch a freelance writing career via Twitter.

5 top tips for dealing with rejection letters.


Rejection letters are standard when you’re an author. Like it or not, not everyone thinks the same way as you and the things you think are great, just aren’t someone else’s cup of tea.

If you’re a writer then you’ll get rejection letters. J.K. Rowling got them, Tom Clancy got them, in fact, you name an author, I expect they all have a drawful of them. But how should you deal with them?

1) Firstly – breath a sigh of relief. The wait is over. You aren’t suddenly going to have to put your life on hold while you write your “approved” project. You can keep that holiday date in Spain rather than booking into a residential course, you can take time out to research, you can do whatever it is you do – and most importantly you can revise and resubmit your manuscript again! (Or bin it and start a new one). For places like the BBC writersroom, a rejection letter means the submission process is over and you are eligable to submit a new work. So firstly – Relax!

2) Deal with the letter. For most, it’ll be a standard rejection letter. You know the type. “Many thanks for sending us your manuscript, we’ve decided at this stage not to take it any further” or “I’m afraid our books are full at present” or words to that effect. The standard rejection letters are the easiest to deal with – you can shred them, burn them, turn them into scrap paper, write on the back of them or file them. It doesn’t matter. They don’t say why they’ve rejected you – just that they have!

If on the other hand you are fortunate enough to have actually received feedback in the rejectin letter – then you need to action this. Firstly decide if it’s feedback you are willing to accept – you don’t have to accept EVERYTHING. After all, your writing style should be unique to you – and your aim is to find someone else who likes your writing for what it is. So don’t change things on someone else’s whim. Only you can decide if the feedback IS something you want to do something about, and if not – then file, burn, shred etc or actually take the advice and do something about it.

3) Avoid the miry pits of writing depression. Some people (like me) are sneaky. We time our submissions at “certain times of the month”, this means, I submit when I’m at a low ebb and I can’t feel any worse about myself or my writing, and generally the rejection letters will come back when I’m not at a low ebb and can just fling it to one side nonchalently! (Hey… we all have our tecniques!)

That said – when the rejection letter arrives – don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are a terrible writer. Remember all the authors who have gone before you! You aren’t the first, you won’t be the last! Eat a bar of chocolate, have a hot bath, seek out company. Whatever works for you – do it. Nobody likes being rejected and as most writers write alone, it often helps to go out and find a friend who “likes you” as a person to get over the hump. The rejection isn’t a personal slight, but it often feels like that. So do something you enjoy, and get some positive feedback. You are great! Honest!

4) Embark on a new project or revise the original. Rejection letters usually take 6 weeks (at least) to come back. This means you’ve had 6 weeks to “sit” on your work. So take another look at it again with a fresh head. Was it rubbish? You might well find it was (I know I sometimes do!) Revise it, or bin it and start something new! Learn from experience. Don’t just send it out again unless you are supremely confident in the piece. Use the rejection as a prod to take another look. Nothing is ever “finished”. I often go back to something after a year and tweek it again.

5)Find a good critic. Rejection letters with feedback are few and far between. If you think you can stand the pain – find someone who will read your work critically and GIVE you that feedback. They might be able to work out why you are getting regular rejections.

I’m on facebook

OK – I admit – I’m a luddite at heart… It’s only taken me – how long? – to get on facebook.

I think the site has improved itself since i first took the first tentative steps on it and then bunged out in fright, but now that I’ve re-registered it all makes a lot more sense… I think… That said, it’ll take me a while to get my head around it all – so if anyone contacts me through there please bear with me and if you aren’t immediate family and I only know you from twitter, blogger or Red Herring Games – please tell me that’s where I know you from! I seem to have a lot of requests coming in and a lot of “you might know these people” faces and it’s all a blur! I don’t want to miss anyone! – if I do – it’s not because I’m being rude. Although…. maybe I should try that one day – it could be fun!

New networking opportunity for UK writers.

After a couple of months on twitter, meeting loads of new writers with some really interesting blogs (much more interesting than my basic affair), and after reading someone else’s tweet about a social networking site called “ning” I figured – what the heck – I’ll set a “ning” account up for UKwriters and see what happens.

If you want to join us it’s here: http://ukwriters.ning.com/

Never been one for lengthy posts, I would ordinarily stop this one here, but given that the last post on the UKwriters site contained a link to my own blog and my last post was about “poo” I figured I better get a different header post up quickly, lest all these new people visiting my blog think I’m totally derranged… which probably isn’t far from the truth anyway!!

Michelle Goode or @Sofluid if you track her on twitter has already posted some fab writing reports from various conferences she’s been to, as well as a list of up to date competitions – one of which is a murder mystery writing one… which means I really should rethink my schedule again and try and piece together a plot for something. (incidentally she was also the lovely woman who linked my blog to her post which dragged all of the newbies to my “poo” post! Friends – who needs enemies eh?)