There’s a Fine Line Between (Online) Love and Hate

liz&lisaToday’s guests are Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, authors of Your Perfect Life and, released this month, The Status of All Things. They have been best friends for more than twenty-five years. Liz lives in San Diego with her two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, lives in Chicago with her husband, daughter and two bonus children.

We’re passionate about the topic of not overexposing yourself online because as authors we run the risk of doing it every day! Plus, our forthcoming novel The Status of All Things delves into the issue of being obsessed with social media.

Connect with Liz and Lisa on their blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

There’s a Fine Line Between (Online) Love and Hate

We’re not going to lie. Our road to publishing was hard fought and well-documented, and because of that, we have a lot of people rooting for us. And those same people love that we painstakingly chronicle our journey in posts, pics and emojis. They like, they comment, they share until their fingers fall off.

Until they don’t.

There’s a very fine line between announcing and bragging. Between keeping people in the loop and annoying them. Between trying to get your book off the ground and begging your Facebook friends to buy it. Believe us when we say, we get it. We understand how hard it is to launch a novel. But we’d like to believe it can be done without pissing off our third cousin once removed that we met one time at a family reunion.

Not oversaturating your Facebook feeds has been on our minds as we launch our second book, [Read more…]


How to Create a Website as a Writer (Without it Costing You Both One Arm and One Leg)

stuarthorwitzPlease welcome guest Stuart Horwitz, founder and principal of Book Architecture, a firm of independent editors based in Providence. Book Architecture’s clients have reached the best-seller list in both fiction and non-fiction and have appeared on Oprah!, The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and in the most prestigious journals in their respective fields. Stuart’s first book Blueprint Your Bestseller: Organize and Revise Any Manuscript with the Book Architecture Method (Penguin/Perigee) was named one of 2013’s best books about writing by The Writer magazine. His second book, Book Architecture: How to Plot and Outline Without Using a Formula, was released earlier this month.

I believe that all of the effort and some of the expense that writers used to put into their collateral: brochures, business cards, even client-facing offices, should now go into websites instead because we live online. It’s that simple!

Connect with Stuart on Facebook and on Twitter.

How to Create a Website as a Writer (Without it Costing You Both One Arm and One Leg)

 Your writer’s website is one of the most profound ways you can secure fans and attract soon-to-be fans. Readers can congregate to learn more about you: your related projects, your products, your influences and your personality, as well as connect with you directly. All the effort and some of the expense that writers put into their collateral for brochures, business cards, even client-facing offices, should now go into your website—because we live online. It’s that simple!

For this post, I’d like to invite in megawatt web designer, Andrew Boardman, of Manoverboard. Manoverboard is the most awesome web partner I could imagine, I just want to make sure to say that. Andrew’s looking over my shoulder as we write this, but if you take issue with a point below it’s likely my fault.

Don’t do your own design. Nobody told me to say this. I mean it. Maybe you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg but to get one of the best websites, one of the cool websites, you might have to spend an arm. I’m here to say I think it’s worth it.

Make it scannable. We’re writers, you know? We like to write long sentences, and deploy our favorite punctuation that enables us to create dense paragraphs packed with meaning. Not on the web. On the web people read in a clockwise fashion, and they skip a lot, landing on the bolded or enlarged or italicized features to see what interests them. And they look at pictures – lots of pictures. Don’t let this alarm you: assured and competent writing is very welcome. You just need to learn a different form and play by the rules. I don’t know, maybe you can pretend you’re learning a villanelle in college or something?

SEO the crap out of it. Writing a good blog post for the web without going to Google AdWords to find out what keywords are actually being searched, is like writing a short story in Syriac (insert other favorite dead language here). If you can, see what keywords are useful to your audience. My site is currently full of carefully crafted articles about writing that no search engine can find. We’re having to change all of that right now, creating proper title tags and headings that are not hopelessly obscure. [Read more…]


Ask Annie: Meeting People on Twitter, Hanging Out, and Getting Found

Ask Annie Neugebauer Writer Unboxed logo


@AnnieNeugebauer WU Twitter question. Writers “meet” each other on Twitter. How? How do people “hang out” with Tweets? I’m a noob. :)

Abigail Welborn@AbigailFair

This is a great question! The answer is simpler than it might seem: they tweet to each other. If you don’t include a handle (a person’s username following the @ symbol) in the beginning of a tweet, that tweet goes “public,” meaning it will appear in all of your followers’ timelines. (Do keep in mind that all tweets are technically public, and that if someone wants to find them they can.) If you open a tweet with someone’s handle as the very first thing, that tweet goes to that person specifically, and only people following both of you will see it in their timelines. (There’s a brush-up of @ mentions here.)

So how do people meet and hang out? They have conversations by tweeting back and forth! That’s really it. To “meet” someone on Twitter, you usually follow someone who looks interesting and tweet to them to say hi, introduce yourself, or comment on something they’ve tweeted. If they’re interested in socializing, they’ll usually follow you back and answer your tweet(s) with their own. A conversation can be slow and ongoing, where each person responds every few hours or days as they happen to get on Twitter, or it can be concentrated and brief if both people happen to be online at the same time.

It might sound overly simple, but that’s really all there is to Twitter. You find people, connect with them, and maintain that connection by occasionally having conversations. Thanks for the question, Abigail, and welcome to Twitter!



What is a good way to get discovered on Twitter?

Barbara McDowell Whitt, @BarbaraMcDWhitt

The most reliable way to get discovered on Twitter is to do the discovering.

Hi Barbara! Thanks for this question. I’m going to assume you mean “get discovered by people who want to follow you” and not “get discovered as a writer (by agents and/or editors, etc.).” If you mean the latter, my answer is: I have no idea. (If I did I’d be famous already, jeeze!) But if you mean the former, here are my thoughts. [Read more…]


Checking In With a Dual Social Media Identity

15599944629_12d1e0c02c_zFive months ago, I set out my rules for Social Media the Second Time Around — what I did, and planned to do, differently as I built a social media identity from scratch for my pseudonym. Five months in, how’s it going?

Both better and worse than expected.

If I count it up, I’ve done pretty much what I set out to do. Here were my guidelines for setting up the second identity:

  1. Don’t just replicate exactly what you did the first time around.
  2. Do make deliberate decisions.
  3. Do watch yourself (or selves).
  4. Don’t blast the world.
  5. Do tell the truth at the right time.

I’ve followed those guidelines, and they’ve served me well. P.M. (Pseudonym Me) is definitely not a clone of Jael McHenry; she follows different people and posts different things. She’s less flippant and more political. She talks less about writing and more about reading. Overall, she has a lot to say and isn’t afraid to say it.

Here’s the problem: I kind of don’t have energy for both. And the busier P.M. is, the less we see of Jael McHenry. All it takes is a peek at my Twitter account to see that my activity has dropped off dramatically; the same is true of Facebook.

If I had unlimited time, of course, things would be different. [Read more…]


Should You Be Blogging? Eight Searching Questions to Help You Decide

rhoughtonToday we’re excited to have Robin Houghton with us! She has over two decades of experience in marketing and communications, formerly with Nike, then running her own business Eggbox Marketing since 2002 specializing in online. She now works primarily with writers and publishing industry professionals to help them make the best use of social media. Robin writes blogs on social media and poetry and has been a guest blogger for a number of sites including Social Media Today and MarketingProfs. She is a published poet and a commercial copywriter for web and print, and an experienced trainer and conference speaker. Her first book, Blogging for Creatives was a best-seller and resulted in two more commissions, Blogging for Writers (2014) and The Rules of Blogging (and How to Break Them) (2015), both published by Ilex in the UK and HOW / Writers Digest Books in the US.

Allena Tapia on has this to say:

The availability of information is just remarkable. Not only does Houghton walk you through with a whole lot of hand-holding from conception to execution, but she also addresses just about every aspect of blogging a new (or even veteran blogger) can think of.

Follow Robin on her website , her blog, and Twitter.

Should You Be Blogging? Eight Searching Questions to Help You Decide

It’s a thorny issue. If there were a one-size-fits-all answer then we wouldn’t need to even ask the question, but there’s not. You only have to look at the lively discussion on Writer Unboxed in recent months  to know that it’s complicated.

So rather than asking, “Should writers blog?,” let’s make it personal. You’re a writer. Should you be blogging? Let’s say you have doubts about it; that’s understandable. A blog takes time and effort to get going, time and effort to maintain. There is a payback. You just need to decide if it’s enough of a payback for you.

Here are some of the questions I ask writers who are thinking of blogging. It’s a diagnostic tool—I can’t claim it’s scientific, but it helps people understand whether blogging is for them, or not. It also gets you thinking about where the challenges lie for you personally. Answer the questions honestly to get the most benefit from it.

Q1: Is blogging ultimately about generating sales of your books? 

yes / no / maybe

Q2: Here are some more reasons writers blog. How compelling do they seem to you? [Read more…]