Don’t Cross the Line! Beware of Social Media TMI

by Edie Melson, @EdieMelson

For an author, building an online presence that’s both professional and personable can be a bit of a tightrope walk. After all, we’ve all cringed at some of the intimate details shared in ill-considered tweets and Facebook posts. We want to connect with our readers as honestly and as genuinely as possible. But we also want to present ourselves as the professionals we are. I’ve had a lot of writers ask for guidance on where to draw that line.

The good news is that there are some guidelines you can follows. The bad news is, there are exceptions to almost every rule. Each author relates differently in person and to be authentic, we must carry that personal bent into our online presence.

Things to Share

There are some things we all enjoy sharing, whether or not we’re directly involved. That’s where this list fits. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I’m including enough suggestions so you can get a strong idea of what’s good to share. These things shouldn’t make up the majority of your social media updates or blog posts, but sprinkling them in can make you more approachable and even fun.

  • An engagement or a wedding. This can be yours, or a close family member. You don’t want to take up space about a second cousin once removed, but engagement pictures are always fun to see.
  • New baby or grandbaby. Again, we all like to see this occasionally. New life is a reason to celebrate. But with this type of update, like the previous one, a little bit goes a long way. If you want to post an album of photos, that’s fine, but don’t share photo after photo after photo in your news feed.
  • Pet photos and stories. People love their pets. More than that, they love people who love pets. This type of a personal update can give you some good visibility through social media.
  • Exciting news that’s publishing related. This might be a book cover reveal, signing a contract with a publisher and/or agent, even winning a contest.
  • A recipe. Recipes are popular on social media. But if you’re not writing a cookbook, or incorporating recipes in your platform, share sparingly.
  • Prayer requests. I purposely included this at the end of the list because you must be very careful here. First, you need to be aware that people will share what you share, so make sure it’s not confidential and you don’t mind if everyone knows about it. Second, you’re opening a door. Once you share a prayer request, your friends and followers will feel free to share with you. You could be opening a floodgate. That’s not always a bad thing, but it’s a decision you need to make before you share.

Things NOT to Share

  • I hate to even have to say it, but anything that might trigger a gross-out response should always be off limits. This includes everything from descriptions of medical procedures, accidents, trips to the personal facilities and spiders. Yep, spiders. There are a lot of people out there who will freak out at the picture of a leggy arachnid, so post at your own risk.
  • Anything negative about a specific person or company. This doesn’t include rants about generalities, such as taxes. But I’ve NEVER seen an instance where calling someone out publicly ended well for either party.
  • Any update that lets people know your home is vacant. This isn’t something that will offend your followers, but is a danger for you personally. Posting vacation pictures, while you’re still away, is an open invitation to burglars.
  • Any update that shows you checking in someplace. If you want to endorse a place, share why you enjoyed your experience. But for all our sakes, disable location settings that pop up with a map of where you are in your social media feeds.

Bottom Line

Navigating online socially is a lot like attending a large party. All the same rules apply.

  • Don’t hog the conversation.
  • Don’t talk about yourself too much.
  • Don’t share things that make others uncomfortable.
  • Don’t gossip.
  • Don’t bash someone’s reputation.

Trust me, you do not want to be the person everyone at the party avoids. Being personable and sharing bits of your personal life online can enhance your overall image. Staying upbeat, encouraging and positive whenever possible will make you someone people want to know, online and off.

____________________________

Alone by Edie Melson

 After her family is killed in the cleansing, Bethany’s purpose in life has changed. No longer will she be allowed to work to save her dying planet. As a slave, endurance is her goal as she marks each day as one moment closer to an eternity spent reunited with those she loved. But when her planet is invaded, everything changes. Now she must decide either to align herself with those from her planet who condemned her faith and killed her family, or with the warriors who have conquered her world. Ultimately her choice will mean life or death for more than just her planet’s ecosystem. She alone holds the key to a powerful secret, and the fate of the entire galaxy depends on her decision.
 Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has a passion to help those who are struggling find the God-given strength they need to triumph through difficult circumstances. She’s written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month and is a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers.In addition you can find her sharing articles on the military family blog at Guideposts.org. She’s also the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Vice President of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, as well as the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

 

Treat Your Writing Professionally

by Edie Melson, @EdieMelson

Despite news to the contrary, I believe this is the best time ever to be a writer. Writing for a living isn’t a get rich quick scheme, but it is possible to make a reasonable income. Becoming a professional writer takes hard work. But if we’re willing to learn the industry and the craft of writing, we can find success. Today I’m going to share my tips that will help you find that success.

10 Foundational Tips to Become a Professional Writer

1. We must realize that it’s a journey and not a destination.
This industry is constantly changing. There’s new technology to keep up with, new trends, and even new grammar rules. We do get more experienced, but we never arrive at the point where we know everything.

2. We need to be ready to make writing a priority.
As I said, in the early stages of becoming a professional writer, we do a good bit of writing for free. Because we’re not getting paid, it’s tempting to think what we’re doing isn’t valuable. We let other requests and commitments get in the way.

3. We must invest in learning.
This means we commit to spending time reading books and blogs. We also need to invest in classes, workshops, and conferences.

4. We shouldn’t expect to get paid for everything we write.
I don’t recommend working only for free, but in the beginning, it’s the way we prove our ability and gain valuable experience. Think of it as unpaid internships.

5. We have to recognize that learning to write is just part of the equation. Just like any other profession, the publishing industry has a specific way of doing things. It’s important to learn how things are done and the standards that are expected from industry professionals.

6. We must not neglect networking. Networking is vital in the publishing industry. We get to know editors and agents because they may one day buy and sell our works. We build relationships with other writers because we need the support and encouragement of those who know our struggles and our joys. Beyond that, other writers are a valuable resource for publishing leads.

7. We cannot rely on talent to get us where we want to go.
Talent CAN be a starting point, but it isn’t the most necessary component of a successful writer. Diligence, determination, humility, and a teachable heart are things that will get you where you want to go.

8. We have to have the courage to try new things.
To earn a viable income as a professional writer, we’ll have to step outside our comfort zone. We’ll need multiple income streams and be willing to change as the industry changes.

9. Learning new technology is mandatory.
Technology isn’t an enemy, it’s a tool. And it’s one that we must each learn to use.

10. The path to success is different for each of us.
Falling into the comparison trap can be fatal. Becoming a professional writer takes time and hard work, but there’s no magic formula.

These are the things that I believe can put you on the road to becoming a professional writer. Many of you out there also have some valuable insights. I’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

TWEETABLES

Treat Your Writing Professionally by @EdieMelson on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wqqssi

Becoming a professional writer – 10 foundational tips from  @EdieMelson on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wqqssi

 I believe this is the best time ever to be a writer.~ @EdieMelson on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wqqssi
____________________

Alone by Edie Melson

After her family is killed in the cleansing, Bethany’s purpose in life has changed. No longer will she be allowed to work to save her dying planet. As a slave, endurance is her goal as she marks each day as one moment closer to an eternity spent reunited with those she loved. But when her planet is invaded, everything changes. Now she must decide either to align herself with those from her planet who condemned her faith and killed her family, or with the warriors who have conquered her world. Ultimately her choice will mean life or death for more than just her planet’s ecosystem. She alone holds the key to a powerful secret, and the fate of the entire galaxy depends on her decision.


Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has a passion to help those who are struggling find the God-given strength they need to triumph through difficult circumstances. She’s written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month and is a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Websites for Writers.In addition you can find her sharing articles on the military family blog at Guideposts.org. She’s also the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Vice President of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, as well as the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

Be Ready When Creativity Strikes

by Edie Melson, @EdieMelson

As writers, we know that inspiration is a fickle thing. And while we all need to keep writing whether we’re inspired or not, that rush of creativity is nice. What’s not nice is not being ready.

There’s nothing as disheartening as those times happens when inspiration strikes and we’re not ready to capitalize on it. So today I’m going to help you be ready.

7 things to do now to be ready when creativity strikes.

  1. Always keep a notebook nearby.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a digital app or a physical book filled with actual paper. All too often I’ve thought I’d remember an idea or a new twist without writing it down. I rarely do. Beyond that, I spend a lot of time and angst trying to remember the brilliant idea.

  2. When driving, make sure you have a voice recorder within arm’s reach.
    My darling husband decreed note-taking off limits to me while driving—even if I was stopped at a red light. Because of that, I used to keep a digital recorder with me. Now that I have my smart phone, I use that to capture fleeting thoughts.
  3. Snag headlines and news stories that intrigue you.
    You can take a screenshot of digital articles, or use a program like Evernote. For newspaper headlines, use old-fashioned scissors and a manila file folder to keep track.
  4. When you snap or snip an interesting article, be sure to include notes to remind yourself why that particular piece caught your attention.
    There is nothing more frustrating than coming across something you thought was important with no idea why you thought it was important.
  5. Set up a system to keep track of those elusive ideas.
    These can be digital documents on your computer or a filing system in a nearby drawer, just make sure you can retrieve those ideas after you record them. For me, I use a series of files on my computer. I have one for quotes, one for blog post ideas, another for clever names, one for possible articles, etc.
  6. Add a visual prompt to your idea.
    I admit it, I’m a born lurker. I’ve been known to snap surreptitious pictures of interesting people when I’m out and about. I also take shots of places and things that I’d like to later describe—either in an article or a work of fiction.
  7. Become a professional eavesdropper.
    Along the lines of always having a notebook handy, take note of the conversations going on around you. But don’t stop with just the words that are spoken, write down the body language, tone, setting, everything that makes up an intriguing scene.

Each of these things on the list came directly from a lost idea because I wasn’t ready to capture it and hold on. I’d love to know what you’d add to the list.

TWEETABLES

Be Ready When Creativity Strikes by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

7 things to do now to be ready when creativity strikes.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

When #writing #creativity strikes by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Alone by Edie Melson

After her family is killed in the cleansing, Bethany’s purpose in life has changed. No longer will she be allowed to work to save her dying planet. As a slave, endurance is her goal as she marks each day as one moment closer to an eternity spent reunited with those she loved. But when her planet is invaded, everything changes. Now she must decide either to align herself with those from her planet who condemned her faith and killed her family, or with the warriors who have conquered her world. Ultimately her choice will mean life or death for more than just her planet’s ecosystem. She alone holds the key to a powerful secret, and the fate of the entire galaxy depends on her decision.

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

Return to the Joy of Writing

By Edie Melson, @EdieMelson

Sometimes the business of writing—and the commitments of writing—can steal the joy of writing. When that happens, it helps me to return to the basics. I take an inventory of everything I’m doing and re-evaluate my priorities. Here are the steps I take to return to the joy of writing.

Have To, Need To, and Want To!

I have a love/hate relationship with lists. They definitely keep me organized and on track, but they also highlight just how many commitments I have.

To combat the downside, and keep me moving forward, I’ve found a way to categorize my writing tasks through a 3-tiered approach.
I call it my Have To, Need To, and Want To system. It’s the definitions of the writing tasks that determine where they fit in this. Today I’m going to share those definitions with you, along with examples.

HAVE TO
These are my non-negotiable tasks. There’s really no wiggle room for these because they affect either my income, my reputation, and/or someone else’s income or reputation. For me, the usually include:

  • Blog posts I write for money or as a regular contributor to a professional site—like Guideposts and Novel Rocket. 
  • Daily social media updates. These are the updates I schedule every morning, but they’re divided up part here, in the Have To category and part in the Need To. I tell myself I HAVE TO schedule a minimum of 5 updates a day, 5 days a week. I’ll share the Need To part later. 
  • Articles that I’ve been hired to write. 
  • Certain blog posts on my site. My Have To posts are Monday’s Social Media Monday and one post minimum for Tuesday and Wednesday. 
  • Writing that’s been contracted (like for a book) or on a proposal that needs to go out. 

NEED TO

These are the things that I know I need to do, if there’s any way I can. They’re also the things I let slip if something important with my life comes up.

  • Daily social media updates beyond the HAVE TO five—I feel a NEED TO schedule 12 – 15 per day, 5 days a week. 
  • Additional blog posts on my site. I feel the NEED TO have new content 7 days a week on my blog. That means I NEED TO write a large part of that content. 
  • Contests that I feel would move my career forward. 
  • Commenting on social media and blogs. 
  • Finding new people to connect with through social media. 

WANT TO
This part of the list is what fuels my joy in writing. If I’m only ever doing the HAVE TO and NEED TO, my time writing is in danger of becoming drudgery. So I try to make sure that I hit at least 1 thing that’s designated WANT TO. These include a lot of different things.

  • Poetry—I think writers can improve by playing around with poetry. 
  • Short Fiction—again, it is part of improving my craft. 
  • Photography—I know, it’s not writing per se. But I use my photography directly in my blog and in other parts of writing. 
  • Research and brainstorming for new projects. 

By taking a full, hard, look at where I am with all my writing endeavors, this can help me reprioritize and return to the joy of writing.

All right, this is how I look at my writing life. Do you have a similar system or something completely different? Do you have a system at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

TWEETABLES


Return to the Joy of Writing by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Here are the steps I take to return to the joy of writing.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

How I reprioritize and return to the joy of writing.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Edie Melson, Senior Editor of Novel Rocket, is the author of numerous books. As a respected freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry, she’s connected with writers and readers throughout the country. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been re-released as Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. Her popular writing blog, The Write Conversation, gives her the opportunity to share what she’s learned and mentor others. She’s the Diirector of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media mentor for My Book Therapy and the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine. Be sure to connect with her through Twitter and Facebook.