Monday, October 26, 2015

Hello? Hello? - 8 Ways to Determine if Anybody’s Listening

Well, here we are... in the final week of our monthlong birthday bash! Hope everyone is enjoying themselves. AND... from the chatter on the blog, I think you are. And you know what, that's what we're going to talk about today.

Chatter. Being heard. Getting your message out. Making some noise.

Have you ever been a guest on a small radio station and wondered if you’re talking into a vacuum? Or even been invited to participate in an online video chat and you’re not even sure if anyone is listening?

Remember those stranded sailors who cobbled together a short-wave radio and started sending out distress calls, “Mayday! Mayday!”

What about Cary Grant in the movie Father Goose? At one point, Cary Grant is desperately trying to raise the commander on the other end of the radio.

And then there’s that old saying, “If a tree falls deep in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”

Well, if an author publishes a book, how does she know if anybody reads it? Is anybody listening? How do she know? Let’s talk about 8 ways authors can estimate if their message is being heard.

Reviews - Authors love reviews. We love reviewers. Readers who love reading and love to tell others about the amazing stories they’ve read. Goodreads and Amazon reviews are a mix of reviews from readers who’ve either purchased a copy of your book or been given a copy in exchange for an honest review. Romantic Times, Library Journal, Fresh Fiction, just to name a few, review many of the newest releases. Reviews mean somebody somewhere is getting your book and is reading it. You are being heard.

Interaction on social media - We’ve had several posts related to social media here in Seekerville. It’s part of making noise. Make some noise. Let people hear you roar on Facebook, Twitter, through your newsletter, etc. But just as it can be really irritating when the neighbors party all night long, be aware when you’re becoming too loud, too push, or too obnoxious. That’s when it’s time to ask how they’re doing, or take a breather and post some cute cat (or calf) videos! You are your message and your message is being heard when others retweet you, when others share your cute meme, or your latest book news.

Analytics - Social media sites all provide analytics to help you determine if you’re being heard. There’s also Author Central where you can get a bit of a handle on which books are moving, rankings among other authors, etc. If you self-publish a book, or even traditionally publish, those analytics can give you an inkling if people are seeing your name and your book. It’s not perfect, but if you have a special sale or a free book, you can definitely see those spikes in the rankings.

Local Events - Week before last, Penny C. Sansevieri gave us some great tips on being heard in your community. Book signings at local bookstores. Speaking to a book club, a ladies group, a retired teachers’ association. Connect with groups who have your same interests. It’s a great way to be heard, and even though it might not result in huge numbers in sales, every connection counts.

Name Recognition - Which leads us to the next point. Name recognition happens when you have books (print or ebook) in the marketplace. Name recognition happens when you blog, post on social media, appear on the radio, attend events, or just go out of your way to be nice to others, your name will become known.

Awards and Contests - Finalling or winning a contest means you’re reaching another aspect of the reading community. Judges love to read, and many of them pass your books on to others.

Reader Response - It’s so exciting to hear from readers. Sometimes they just want to tell authors how much they enjoyed their books. Other times they want to know when the next book is coming out. And sometimes, their emails might not be quite as gushing as we’d like, but they are readers, and they bought your book. With a bit of work and communication, they’re likely to buy your next one.

Sales Numbers - All of the above is wonderful feedback and can give an author an indication of how well they’re being heard, but the final indicator is sales numbers. Sometimes sales numbers might not be as wonderful as we’d like, but we don’t grow a readership overnight. On the flip side, write the best stories you possibly can, and continue to cultivate the first 7 tips on this list, and eventually, your readership will grow.

For the Seekers and for YOU, the Seeker Villagers, Seekerville is a huge part of our chatter. Of making some noise. Seekerville is the place where everyone is heard. We love sharing contest news, new contracts, craft and marketing advices, and just yakking it up every day.

So, let's make some noise today! How have you been heard in a surprising way?

Comment for a chance to win a copy of 
Stealing Jake or The 12 Brides of Christmas.
I'm giving away one of each to two winners today.

12 BRIDES OF CHRISTMAS Enter the heartland of historical America at Christmastime through twelve inspiring romance novellas from acclaimed Christian authors. Meet Alma, Lucy, Esther, Marilee, Polly, Deborah, Annabelle, Sophie, Maddie, Karen, Arabella, and Kate who are surprised by how God brings them the desires of their hearts. Watch as faith, romance, and heartfelt gifts open each of their hearts to love.  

STEALING JAKE When Livy O’Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-Fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she’s helping to run an orphanage. Now she’ll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.


Just Commonly said...

Hi Pam. It does seem to get more complicated with all these ways to determine if anyone's listening. I wonder how do authors tell back in the days? Book sales? Many times, people just want to be heard, not only authors. Thanks for posting. I've already read 12 Brides of Christmas and loved it! Please enter me for a copy of Stealing Jake and of course Seekerville's Birthday Bash giveaway. Thank you. Annie

Just Commonly said...

Oops, I ramble on and forgot to answer the question. I guess for me, a recent example is my blog. I'm surprised by the influx of readers once I link it to social media. For me, that's surprising because it never occurred to me social media is another way to get my voice heard. Times have indeed changed.

Evelyn said...

Hi! I'm a reader and usually I know an author from the blogs that I follow, so when they have interview going on talking about the book and I like the excerpt then I would probably start reading it.
I would love to join the giveaway. Thank you!

Cindy W. said...

I post on a blog where the vast majority of my posts are book reviews. I'm surprised at how many page views I have in a day. I will need to check in to linking my blog with other social media so maybe my viewership will grow.

I would love to have my name thrown into the drawing. Thank you.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Carla Olson Gade said...

Thanks for this post...I always wonder if my name is getting out there at all. I recently did a facebook author chat which was a fantastic way to connect with some new readers.

Tina Pinson said...

I love Father Goose, my latest novel Betrayed is about WWII and the coastwatchers. There is also a missionary wife trying to get some children through enemy lines to safety.

I do feel like my message isn't getting out. I don't think I am a loud neighbor. I think I tend to pull bad so I don't irritate anyone.

Thank you for sharing.

Tina Pinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate said...

I think there are so many voices out there, it's tough to know if you are heard at all. As an introvert, it's especially difficult to assert myself to be heard - when I want to be! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!!!!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm listening! And I am also off to buy the Brides of Christmas book.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Thanks for these tips, Pam. I think interaction with readers is key. Years ago, before FB, I emailed writers whose book I loved. Some responded in great length, offering advice on writing, etc. Some never acknowledged the email. I bet you can guess whose next book I didn't buy. :)

Rose said...

I can hardly believe the birthday month is almost over!

Excellent tips on how to get 'heard'.

ohiohomeschool said...

I love it when an author comments on an FB post or writes. I have always loved connecting with authors and books. I remember visiting authors from my elementary days. I also find myself telling others about those contacts and talking friends into buying their books.

Would love for a chance to win.
Becky B

Janet Dean said...

Pam, thanks for the push to get our voices heard. I'm a bit quiet on facebook, the site I hang out in the most. Partly because I'm afraid of boring people. :-) And partly because if something interesting is going on, I'm often gone and don't want to broadcast that. I love connecting with readers and so appreciate reviews and emails!


Jackie said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the great tips. I'm putting this in my 'marketing' folder.

Janet, I post trip pictures after I get back home so hopefully my house won't get broken into. That usually works okay, but this year a friend of my husband's sent him a text asking if we were STILL in NYC. Ha! Plus I can't imagine you'd be boring.

I hope you all have an amazing day!

Caryl Kane said...

GOOD MORNING Seekerville! Through friends on Facebook, I've been introduced to new authors and genres. Facebook parties are a fun way to interact with authors and fellow readers. Thanks for posting the photo of Cary Grant. Nice way to start the week. *wink*

Please put my name in today's drawing.
psalm103and138 at gmail dot com

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, PAM! Gee, you have my head spinning this morning! :) With the advent of Indie publishing, there's TONS more "static on the line" than there was before to draw attention to what you're offering. Staying on top of promotional opportunities seems like a full-time job!

Pam Hillman said...

Good morning Seekerville!!! Quickly, just in case my internet goes on the blitz again, my presence might be sporadic today. We're getting rain, rain, rain, and we are SO excited. We haven't had rain in 6-8 weeks and we desperately need it here in MS. My internet was out a few minutes ago, but hopefully this will go through.

Isn't that ironic? On today, the day I'm posting about being heard!

"Mayday! Mayday! Is anybody out there???" :)

Well, I'm here, nice and snug and warm, enjoying the rain, but I might not be able to communicate very affectively. Temporarily, that is. Which reminds me of an excellent point that I didn't address in the main post...

Just because we're isolated and not sure if we're being heard, or just because we can't get online and check all those things out, OR even if the weather cancels that speaking gig you had lined up, well, then, that's the perfect, perfect time to write! I still have power and my laptop is fully charged. Whoot!

Jeanne T said...

I think one of the places where I connect with an audience is my blog. I don't have tons of visitors, but I usually find that people who interact there are genuine. You've given me some good food for thought for some other ways to raise some noise, for others, and maybe one day, for me. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Annie, you are in the drawing! :)

I thought of that same thing and yes, sales would have been their ultimate way of knowing that they were being heard, but I'd also venture to say that reader letters was a huge part of the forest talking (uh, pun intended!) to them. People wrote, wrote, wrote, and wrote letters before other means of communication, so I can imagine an author getting scads of letters from their fans.

If I remember correctly, didn't C. S. Lewis and Joy first become pen pals because she wrote to him regarding his writings?

Pam Hillman said...

So glad you stopped by, Evelyn. Yes, we definitely use the internet to learn about new books and favorite authors these days, don't we? As Annie and i were pondering days past before the the internet, readers first heard about a new book literally by going to the bookstore, so they had a direct connection with bookstore owners.

I can just picture myself 100-150 years ago visiting the local bookstore every day just to soak it up. What if I couldn't afford the books? What if I lived in a rural area as I do now? Oh my! Withdrawals!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Do Schnauzer songs count for noise? They definitely chatter. ;)

Wonderful post Pam. Went through and mentally checked off a few and found room for improvement at others. Thanks for categorizing.

Love that bio and photo.

And now I'm off to figure out a selfie. Any 12 yr olds around?

Y'all have a happy Monday - rain rain rain like here in TN, or shine!

Connie Queen said...

Good morning Pam.

These blogs that talk about social media interaction always make me squirm. I'm not published, but I know it's not too soon to do more to get my name out there. I do have several author fb friends, but I don't post often.

I'm glad Seekerville keeps reminding me what I need to be doing.
Thanks for the post.

Pam Hillman said...

Cindy, readers appreciate reviews to help them find great books. Thank you for posting reviews and blogging! And, I agree, sharing your reviews on social media is a great idea. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Carla, great idea! Facebook author chat sounds like fun. I also had my first online video chat recently. It was a lot of fun and there was no pressure since we determine from the get-go that it was going to be low-key and fun. And, there were 3 authors and our hostess making it a gabfest instead of all about me, me, ME. It was fun for us and the people who logged in.

And, what was cool about it was that we could see how many people were logged in, even though the hostess said there were more viewing that hadn't logged in.

There's nothing like going to an event and nobody show up except the person who invited you. I've had this happen once. Well, a couple of people showed up. My mother and a close friend who'd already bought my book and brought it for me to sign. I felt SO sorry for the lady who invited me. :(

Pam Hillman said...

Tina P., it is a juggling act, isn't it? Isn't Father Goose a fun movie? I want to watch it again. I think we have the DVD here somewhere.

Pam Hillman said...

Kate, just be yourself. That's the main thing. :)

Marianne Barkman said...

Happy Birthday! What an awesome way to celebrate each year! As you know, I'm a reviewer, and I needed this post...I am on social media and I have a log. Guess I'll have to see if I can connect those two.
Glad you're getting rain, Pam, when we only get 2 - 3 inches during the growing season farmers tend to get a little tense.
I'd love the 12 Brides of Christmas book. Thanks

Sandra Leesmith said...

Love this post Pam, Very timely right now as I'm promoting Love's Dream Song. Have a great day.

Marsha Bernabe said...

I have been trying as a reader to remember to review books. I am not hugely eloquent, but I want to share good books.

I would love to be in the drawing.

Pam Hillman said...

Ahhh, thanks, Tina R! :)

Jill, you hit the nail on the head. Reader interaction is clutch. Which reminds me, I have 4-5 reader emails in the queue that I want to respond to! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Rose, the time has flown, hasn't it?

Becky B., responding and chatting on blogs, Facebook and twitter is a cultivated talent. Thankfully, here in Seekerville, we cultivated that talent years ago, and now I'm just aghast at when I see a blog post somewhere else and the guest and/or the hostess doesn't interact with the guests and make them feel welcome. It's one thing to not interact if something comes up, like work, or in my case, the possibility of lost internet, or a family emergency.

People understand that, but to just intentionally not show up blows my mind. If visitors come to my house and I go close myself off in the bedroom, or worse, sit on the couch and ignore them, they're not likely to come back. Why should they? I certainly didn't make them feel welcome or comfortable.

A visitor feels just the same as the author/hostess. The visitor is thinking "Am I being heard? Does this author even care that I like her book?"

Wow! Just think about that for a minute!

Pam Hillman said...

Janet, you are strong in the area I'm weak: responding to emails. And, honestly, those readers took the time to email you privately, to create a personal connection with you, and you kept it going. You're blessing your readers! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Jackie, hope your day is splendiferous!

Caryl, glad I could start your day off with a jolt with Cary Grant. :) Facebook is the party-happening place, isn't it? I have a local event this weekend, and plan to post a Facebook event and invite all my local friends. Sure, many might not be able to attend, but a Facebook Event of this sort is more of a "billboard" letting them know where I'll be.

If I don't tell them, they'll never know. Kinda like that tree falling in forest thingie...

Pam Hillman said...

Glynna, I can't stand static on the radio or tv. It's like fingers on a chalkboard. So, we have to flip the channel and offer sweet, soothing music to readers. The bulk of authors I know do this, and when I see them post a shout-out for a sale or a free book, I share that because it's obvious they're so stinking excited to share with their readers. Sure, they would love to sell a few books, but they're just overjoyed to SHARE their excitement first.

And that's contagious! :)

AnnaLee Conti said...

Your post was a great reminder of what works and how to determine if anybody out there is listening. Facebook has certainly brought me many e-book sales as I chat with friends nationwide about my life and writing. I was also interviewed on a small radio network about one of my books, have done book signings and seminars events.
Please enter me in the drawings. Thank you.

Pam Hillman said...

Jeanne, I like that you've connected with your readers on your blog and that those connections are genuine.

The best friendships, connections and relationships is when both parties know that the other one is genuine, and as that trust is built, it's hard to break it. But once broken, it's even harder to regain.

That's why I love Seekerville and my Seeker sisters. We've built a community of people where there's a lot of trust and genuine caring. That's not easy in the cyber-world.

Myra Johnson said...

Wonderful stuff here, Pam! I just got my first reader mail for my newest release, Rancher for the Holidaya, and it was so sweet! I wish more readers realized what it means to us to hear from them (especially all the gushing--LOL!).

Myra Johnson said...

MARSHA, we don't care about "eloquent." Whenever you've read a good book, share away!

Mary Connealy said...

The answer to the 'if the tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it...' is YES. The point of that is you need EARS that pick up the vibration and turn it to sound but those sound waves will vibrate off other things, too, the rest of the forest will vibrate and there WILL be sound.
I admit this is so much more confusing that Which Came First The Chicken or the Egg.

Chicken obviously.

Heidi Robbins said...

I used to think that writing a review was too much of a bother, but now I love writing them! It's a great way to be heard as a reader and share recommendations with friends. I'm always super excited when an author "likes" my facebook page or comments on my blog :)

I have a copy of Stealing Jake (LOVE it!) so please enter me for the novella collection!

Pam Hillman said...

KC, Schnauzer songs are the best!!! I bet May can rock those videos on Facebook! :)

Vince said...

Hi Pam:

Joy wrote C. S. Lewis to tell him that she and her husband read his Christian apologetics and these works converted both of them from Judaism to Christianity. Now that's what I call laying a firm foundation. I think she had her sights on him from the very beginning.

I think the best way to be heard is to say something that people find so rewarding to hear that they stop what they are doing to listen.

People can buy your books because they like you personally on social media or because they like your books even without knowing anything about you.

It's best to put many tongues in your book singing your praise with their beautiful voices and then, just as the story crescendos and the reader is basking in the glow of your HEA,
let your books give the sales talk to sell your next book. With your books doing the selling, you'll be freed up to write more books!

I hope that qualifies me for a chance to win "The 12 Brides of Christmas".


Sandy Smith said...

Great post Pam. I am trying to do better on writing reviews. I have Stealing Jake but would love to be entered to win 12 Brides of Christmas.

Pam Hillman said...

Connie, I've watched and listened to a lot of my author friends, and some of us are big on social media and some aren't so much. Do what you're comfortable doing. Job #1 is to write AND to write the best books you can.

Interacting with readers (even if they're potential readers somewhere down the road) is second to Job #1. So, today's topic isn't so much about telling people to get out there and promote, promote, promote, but to be more aware that if and when you do, that you're being heard. It's hard to measure results of any kind of promotion, speaking, "shouting", etc.

When does an author know if their time would be better spent writing vs. hosting a Facebook party for their new release. Serioiusly, it's a conundrum, and the ROI, or rather ROTI (Return on TIME Investment) for social media is just impossible to measure. I just go with my gut feeling and use the best analytics that I can.

I'm trying to think of a worst-case example... for instance, let's say I prepare a speech which takes me 3 hours, drive 1/2 hour one way to the gig (offered free, btw), and no one shows up, but I stay an hour with the hostess just in case. That's 5 hours that I could have been writing. Now, obviously, the promo for the event might lead to more things, so there's always the opportunity to look on the bright side.

However, I wouldn't be a good steward of my time if I agreed to the above scenario over and over and over again without any real ROTI.

Missy Tippens said...

I definitely know that feeling of talking into an echoing chamber! LOL And I so often feel I'm too boring to even be sharing. Plus, I'm fairly private. I guess I still haven't found my niche.

But if I look at the areas you mention, maybe I'm not doing so bad after all. :)

Kav said...

Wow -- this really shows how the writing journey doesn't end when the ms is accepted. It's a never-ending journey for the author. And kind of like that for a reader too as we try to keep tabs on favourite authors and lend our support in whatever ways we can -- like reviews. Mind you, no matter how hard I try, I always feel like I'm behind on the reading and reviewing. LOL

CatMom said...

Great post, Pam - - thank you!
My print copy of STEALING JAKE recently arrived (I'd ordered it a while back) and it's next on my TBR stack - - YAY!!
Blessings, Patti Jo :)

Jan Drexler said...

Great post, Pam.

And a good reminder to explore other possibilities of publicizing our books rather than the old tried and true Facebook (or whatever your favorite "tried and true" method is!).

You can also find shout outs in the most unexpected places. A couple months ago, I sent a news release to our local paper to publicize my new release and a couple book signings I had scheduled. Along with the news release I sent a photo of my book cover (of course!).

As I was reading the Sunday paper yesterday, I was surprised to see my book cover again! They had used the photo in a blurb about an upcoming book sale at the hospital. I wasn't just surprised, I was delighted. I love that kind of publicity :)

Janet Dean said...

Jackie, I always intend to post pictures when we're back and sometimes do, but by then I'm feeling like it's old news. But I'm vowing to do better about sharing photos because if I'm interested in learning about neat places on facebook, I should assume others will be, too.


Pam Hillman said...

Marianne, you can have your blog posts automatically post to social media. If I remember correctly, is one way to do it. Twitterfeed not only posts to twitter, but will post to Facebook as well. Hootsuite used to, but I think there have been some changes between Hootsuite and Facebook. I haven't had time to really look into it. But I know that twitterfeed still works.

Happy promoting, Sandra!

Janet Dean said...

Pam, How are we to respond when someone tweets or re-tweets what we said or did? Are we to reply?

Are we to reply to reviews that are lovely? Or not lovely for that matter.


Pam Hillman said...

Bless you, Marsha!! And, for what it's worth, any time anyone posts a review of my books, you're MORE than welcome to share a link to your review with me on Facebook. I'll will be thrilled. I might even hug you! lol

Lyndee H said...

Hi Pam,
Lot's of good information here. I've always had a tricky time doing in-person events because by the time my non-fiction books came out, I'd moved to another state, lol. I was in NY when my PA and first IL book came out and in NJ when my second IL book hit the racks. I have to say I was delighted this May when I went to my local IL library and found my IL travel book featured as a must-have summer getaway book. Like a proud mama, of course I took photos.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

This isn't just a good, solid post, this is a great post. Those tips are wonderful and done in a common sense fashion, Pam. That doesn't surprise me because it's YOU, but so often I see folks posting as if all of this is magically done and recurring because we know what to do and when to do it....

And the truth is, we're woefully inept and keep writing books and hope they catch on! :)

It's so important to find what works for you and keep doing it.

I love chatting. I talk too much. But I can turn that into a fun promo on blogs and facebook.

I like people, so facebook and twitter work for me.

I've found I don't do as well in organizational settings, I'm too Free-Bird to fit in, so I've learned to downsize that and it's all worked out.

We have to be ourselves, only a Little Bit Better Version Than Our Husbands See!!!!


I brought Halloween cupcakes from a delightful weekend Halloween excursion! Jump in, they're delicious!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tina Pinson, I've missed you like crazy!!!!

Julie Lessman said...


For me, I have found the most effective way to "get my name out there" is through sales and freebies advertised on Book Bub, Inspired Reads, etc. I pretty much do everything else I can think of -- newsletter, contests, blog interview/giveaways, a group blog (Seekerville) and my own personal blog, Journal Jots, but I honestly think Book Bub, IR, and other e-sites are the best I have found for promotion.

I do love connecting with readers and always did TONS of blog interview/giveaways, but eventually that ate up so much of my writing time, that I had to pull back. I do, however, still do in-depth connecting with reader friends who contact me through my website.

Thanks for all the great tips, Pam!


Ruth Logan Herne said...

BECKY B!!!!!!

That's exactly why I do facebook and twitter and blogs the way I do, because I loved connecting with authors! LaVyrle Spencer often had a little note or pics and notes in her books... I loved it...

I loved reading bios of authors. I felt connected to them.

The authors I love are normal people. They love their job and work their craft and if you sit and have coffee with them, they're not jerks.


I love normal people! (mind you my children will laugh at me considering myself normal. I say it's all in perspective.)

Julie Lessman said...

JANET SAID: "Partly because I'm afraid of boring people. :-)"

HA!! That'd be the day, my friend -- you and Mary (and Missy) give me more chuckles on the Seeker loop than anyone, so boring you are NOT!!

CARYL KANE -- I agree, Cary Grant is an EXCELLENT way to kick off a week! ;)

GLYNNA SAID: "Staying on top of promotional opportunities seems like a full-time job!"

Oh, man, Glynna -- it IS!! Which is one of the reasons I took a sabbatical last year because the promotion wore me plumb out!!

HEIDI SAID: "I used to think that writing a review was too much of a bother, but now I love writing them! It's a great way to be heard as a reader and share recommendations with friends. I'm always super excited when an author "likes" my facebook page or comments on my blog :)"

BLESS YOU, HEIDI!!! Reviews are GOLDEN for authors (and readers!) because let's face it, the more good reviews you have, the better chance for more sales according to a PW article I read once. It always amazes and blessess the socks off of me when readers take the time to send me an email, telling me how much my book touched them. But often those same readers won't post a review, which always makes me wonder why. Sometimes I have even asked the readers to just go ahead and post part of the letter they wrote me as a review because encouragement is wonderful, but good reviews are a must for authors and the best way you can bless them.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

AnnaLee, welcome to Seekerville! I haven't met you before, I don't think, but I brought cupcakes.

I buy my friends with food. :)

Pam Hillman said...

AnnaLee, thank you for stopping by.

You know, I just thought of something that relates directly to this! :) When the Seekers first started this blog... I mean the first few WEEKS of it, we had 10-15 comments, sometimes more, sometimes less. Some days it was just US. Some days we had 2-3 visitors comment. Then 5, then 10, then 20.

Eight years have passed and visitors come and go. Some visitors are still with us, chatting, and commenting and guest posting. But Seekerville didn't start out on the Writers Digest 100 Best Websites for Writers. But it did start out with the Seekers all showing up every day that was possible and welcoming guests to our little corner of cyberspace.

We showed up, then YOU showed up. Isn't that cool? :)

Pam Hillman said...

Myra, gushing is good! lol

No, Mary, the egg came first. Or was it the chicken? Or... hmmm... let's just forget that and have lunch since I forgot to offer anyone any breakfast!!!

Chicken pot pie, chicken spaghetti, buffalo chicken, chicken salad, fried chicken, grilled chicken (it's great on a green salad). chicken parmesan. It's just a chicken kind of day. Dig in!

Did you know that if you have chicken, potatoes and flour, you can fry the chicken and boil the potatoes, OR you can boil the chicken and fry the potatoes? A wise old woman in The Evergreen Bride (12 Brides of Christmas) taught a young chick that trick. When you're feeding a hundred loggers, always boil the chicken and fry the 'taters. Just sayin'

Pam Hillman said...

Heidi, authors love reviews. THANK YOU!

(Authors, go LIKE Heidi's page!!! Hint! Hint! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Vince, you may very well be right about Joy's motivation. :)

And... "let your books give the sales talk to sell your next book"

Yes. That.

Thank you!

Pam Hillman said...

Thank you, Sandy! Got you down for the giveaway!

Debby Giusti said...

Pam, I'm saving this blog. You've packed it with so much good info and common sense tips to help with promotion. Sometimes we forget what we can do with just a little time and effort. If we only pick a few things each week, it can help us meet and interact with readers. You've provided a wonderful outline that I hope to review and use in the days ahead. Thank you!


Pam Hillman said...

Missy, I wondered if this post was too much of the same-old-same-old thing, and also wondered if it might be as you said, a bit boring. I didn't want it to come across as more chatter about promoting either, but as an awareness blog about knowing if and when you're being heard.

I remember watching an apocalyptic film many, many years ago, and one of the characters kept fiddling with a radio, but all he got was static. They were in this extremely barren place, cut off from the rest of the world, and they had no way of knowing if there was anyone else out there. And there were gigantic mutated spiders and things that prevented them from just leaving their shelter to search for others. This went on for maybe the first 1/3 of the movie, then he finally turned the dial and picked up a DJ broadcasting from ... I don't know... PORTLAND ... or somewhere, lol!

But that's the way I think authors feel sometimes. We're turning the dial and turning the dial and getting nothing but static, and then we hear a voice coming through. Live. Not some canned music, but a real person that lets us know that there is still life on the planet! :)

And, hopefully, they like to read. lol

Pam Hillman said...

Kav, when we all get caught up, we'll let you know! And we appreciate the reviews whenever you get to them! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Patti Jo said: My print copy of STEALING JAKE recently arrived (I'd ordered it a while back) and it's next on my TBR stack - - YAY!!

Whoo-hoo!!! The static just cleared and Patti Jo's voice came through LOUD AND CLEAR! Oh, Patti Jo, thank you!!!

Pam Hillman said...

Cool, Jan! I think it's wonderful that you took the initiative and sent them the information. When they needed a spot to fill in the paper, they had something relevant. It's a win-win for you and for them. :)

Suzy said...

hello gracing the doors here once again! or if it lets me post I will! ;-) I don't write so I don't aim to be heard. I try to leave reviews but it's hard to do so sometimes without a spoiler and to me a good review says why someone likes the book or why someone doesnt' like the book - negative reviews have actually sold me on a book more than a few times. i've ready books I didn't like though I thought the writing was fine - just not my kind of story. so how do I rate that?! doesn't seem fair to put 2 or 3 stars because I just don't like the hero and heroine getting shot at every 5 minutes or some theme I don't like or because amazon classified it as one thing and it turned out to be another. i read to relax and sometimes coming up with a review is just too stressful :-(

now i need to watch this movie- my mom liked it and I've seen bits and pieces but don't think i've seen the entire movie start to to amazon I go!


Tina Pinson said...

Thanks Ruth. I've missed coming by. Been trying to visit more often.

Tina Pinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam Hillman said...

Pam, How are we to respond when someone tweets or re-tweets what we said or did? Are we to reply?

On Twitter, I mix it up. Sometimes I retweet. Sometimes I use the "quote" feature and quote them, and gush. If they retweet me, then I might just respond with "Thx for the RT!" And, the star is for Favoriting stuff you like. I admit that I forget to follow-up on twitter like I should. I've learned the twitter app on my phone helps me stay up to date on my friends or fans who might tweet something that I want to see. Janet, your question reminded me to check my twitter feed! :)

Twitter is hard for those of us who are used to carrying on a conversation. Twitter is like a SMILE or a NOD when you see someone in the grocery store line. You don't have to stop and chat for an hour. You just smile, nod and go on about your business. :)

Are we to reply to reviews that are lovely? Or not lovely for that matter.

There are probably as many opinions on this as there are authors, but I never reply to reviews on retail sites or Goodreads. I don't want to freak anyone out. However, sometimes I do leave a comment on someone's blog thanking them for the review.

If it's NOT LOVELY, I stay far, far away.

Pam Hillman said...

Yes, Lyndee, that would be difficult. I signed books with a couple of nonfiction authors last year who'd written about the area we were in. People loved the books about the history of their hometown, and community. But, as you say, it's a niche market, and would be a hard sell in a different part of the country.

Marianne Barkman said...

Thank you, Pam. I know that what I post on LibraryThing goes o Facebook, so I'm not missing out there, but need to build up my blog
views, too. So will try that.

Pam Hillman said...

We have to be ourselves, only a Little Bit Better Version Than Our Husbands See!!!!

Agreed. And after 30 years with the same man, I think I've got that covered.... lol

Pam Hillman said...

Julie, that's the thing... we want to do it all. We enjoy doing it all. I like Facebook. I like Twitter. I love participating in face-to-face events. I have two coming up... one this Saturday called Sebastopolooza :) and another in a couple of weeks called The Wildlife Jamboree. It's fun, crazy and even though the Wildlife Jamboree is kinda-sorta to promote hunting and fishing, goodness, I know so many people in the area that they all come by to wish me well, give and receive hugs, and maybe even buy a book or two for a Christmas gifts.

Like you, it's a time factor. I'm skipping 2-3 fall/winter events that I'd LOVE to go to if I had time. I didn't do a full blog tour when Stealing Jake came out because I just didn't have time.

But if we do what we can and what we have time for, and we feel good about our efforts, then we're on the right track.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Suzy, do you know how rare you are????

So many folks will just smack down a book on a review site because they didn't like it...

Although often, it's as you said, it's just not our cup of tea! And that's a huge bit of awareness, to realize that just because we didn't love it, doesn't make it a bad book.

I had to learn that myself, but that's because I'm tooooooo opinionated sometimes. :)

You are wise, my young friend!

Suzanne Baginskie said...

HI Pam: great column. I find myself never saying "no" to volunteering and that steals some of my writing time. I am trying to watch how I donate my time. Thanks for sharing and steering me back on the right track,

Wilani Wahl said...

Pam, I am finding the more I participate in facebook parties, street teams, and promoting books on my timeline, the more I am sought out by authors. I can see how this could help me when I have a book ready to be published. Plus the more books I read the better my writing will become. My next big step is to create a web site. I do not have a blog so I am thinking it would be better to go ahead and set up a web site instead of doing a blog and then having to create a web site as well when I have a book published. I am open to any advice on this topic.

I had a chest x-ray this morning and it was clear. I just wish I felt better. The nurse said if I am not better by tomorrow or wednesday to call back. Just so I can knock it by Sunday. I would like to do Nanowrimo this year.

I have both of the books so I don't need to be entered in the drawing.

Pam Hillman said...

Suzy said: I try to leave reviews but it's hard to do so sometimes without a spoiler and to me a good review says why someone likes the book or why someone doesnt' like the book - negative reviews have actually sold me on a book more than a few times. i've ready books I didn't like though I thought the writing was fine - just not my kind of story. so how do I rate that?! doesn't seem fair to put 2 or 3 stars because I just don't like the hero and heroine getting shot at every 5 minutes or some theme I don't like or because amazon classified it as one thing and it turned out to be another. i read to relax and sometimes coming up with a review is just too stressful :-(

Suzy, I hope some of our seasoned reviewers chime in to give you some advice on how to write a good review without spoilers. I think the key might be to read and study reviews of books you've read. I've done this with my own books, not so that I can be dashed to the depths of despair (okay, I HAVE done that), or to the heights of ecstasy (well, that too! lol) depending on the nature of the review, but because I'm amazed sometimes at the interesting points readers take away from the story. I think by doing that, you'll start to get a feel for what makes an effective review.

Now, as far as negative reviews, I'm an author, not a reviewer, so my advice is coming strictly from where I am in the industry. I personally can't (won't) give a negative review to another author's book. I'm just not going to do it. But that's ME. I know some reviewers who hesitate to give a negative review, and some who seem to relish it. :)

I've read negative reviews where the reviewer was not harsh or vindictive, but laid out the reasons they liked certain parts of a book, and the reasons they didn't like other parts. I can respect that.

Hope this helps in your quest to post helpful non-spoiler reviews, Suzy. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Suzanne, we cannot say no, can we? Sigh.

Kathryn Barker said...

Great post today Pam!! Such an important topic and often put on the back burner for those of us still trying to churn out that first novel!!

The first time I realized how important a blog can be, was when a CNN journalist contacted me after she'd read my post on trying to become a tech-savvy grandma so I could stay in touch with my fabulous grands! She then sent questions to me and quoted me in her article for CNN!! Now...I just need to get back to blogging...had to take a little hiatus with the antique mall start up!!

Thanks again for your post and encouragement in all the comments!! Seekerville is my fav hangout! I mean, all the foodies and bookies and oh, just such a lot of fun!!

Wilani Wahl said...

Suzy, I am on several street teams so write a lot of reviews. When I first started, I thought I was failing because I did not write a summary of the book. What I learned is most authors do not want a summary. Readers can read a blurb from the author to know about what the book is about. What they want is what you liked or did not like about a book. Here is a review I wrote about Stealing Jake one of the books that is being given away today.

A riveting book right from the start. I found it difficult to put down. Loved the story from page 1. I fell in love with Jake and Livvy and began cheering for them to be able to get together. Who couldn't love the orphans and street kids. This book is well written. What I loved the most was the spiritual thread through out the book. I look forward to reading many more books by this author.

Reviews do not have to be long. Some of mine have only been 2 or 3 sentences long. In the case of a book that was not my cup of tea but yet was well written, I said as such and gave it a 4 star. I mostly give 5 stars. I have only given a 3 star once and that is because the book had a very objectionable thread in a Christian fiction. One of the character's was a Pastor who was into pornography and he did not get things straightened out. when I wrote the review I did also share some positive points. I received a lot of flack from other reviewers because I gave it 3 stars. It was a difficult decision but I feel I made the right one in that case. I have never given a 1 or 2 star review. I would not do that without contacting the author first.

I hope this helps.

Marianne Barkman said...

I'm with Walani...a review is not summary. I don't give 1 or 2 stars. In fact, when I am disappointed in the book I write the person or agency who asked me to do one that I was not comfortable leaving a review on my blog or on another site. Most of the groups I review for ask for around 200 words, and sometimes I have difficulty coming up with that much, but the next time I go over.
I try to limit my books to Seekerville, BakerBooks, etc, where I know I will enjoy them.

Pam Hillman said...

Wilani, so glad to hear that you got a good doctor's report. Yay! :)

Wilani, you can use Wordpress or Blogger to set up a nice-looking "blog" that looks a lot like a website. I just looked at Natalie's and it's on blogger. If you use either wordpress or blogger to set up a website/blog, it will give you a lot of practice into deciding what you want down the road when you do decide to create a fully-functioning website. But in a few more years, I wouldn't be surprised if wordpress and blogger types are THE websites of choice. Honestly, most of the time I don't even notice that one is different to the other. :)

Also, if you're not really sure you want to go that route (a website/blog), you could consider creating a Facebook page and post your reviews there. Or even form a group of reviewers who review Christian books and you all have one or two days a month (or however often you want to set it up) where you post reviews. Or... you could do the same with a blog instead of Facebook, or both.

Just some ideas. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Kathryn, that is so cool that you were quoted by a CNN journalist! Whoa, now that's upping the ante, girl. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Thanks to Wilani and Marianne for chiming in with advice for Suzi. See, I knew they'd be able to help! :)

Valri said...

When I see all the books out there, I can imagine that authors feel it's hard to be "heard" in the market! Timely post! I'm a reader and I so wish I could just read everyone's books! I wish I had more than 24 hrs. a day! Everyone's books look fantastic! Thanks for the post today! I would love to win the Christmas book - put my name in the drawing, please! Thanks!

Chill N said...

I had read an author's books for years, always looking forward to the newest release. Then I came across one of her first books. It was so strong, a contemporary rather than the historicals she usually wrote. I sent her a note telling her in detail why I liked the book so much. A few days later, I received a lengthy note from her which she concluded by saying she planned to approach her publisher about re-releasing the book because it was one of her favorites, too.

Her note is tucked inside that book for safekeeping :-)

So many good, do-able tips, Pam. Thank you!

Nancy C

Connie Queen said...

That makes perfect sense to me. And you're right, there's just no way to judge. Just need to use some common sense.

Thank you for your insightful reply.

Pam Hillman said...

I'm off riding shotgun with my cowboy checking on the cows. Got some videos and will be back home soon.

Pam Hillman said...

Valri, if we just had enough time to do it all, it would be wonderful, wouldn't it?

Pam Hillman said...

Nancy I like the idea of tucking notes from authors in their books! What a cool idea! :)

Bettie said...

Happy birthday Seekers! Thanks for sharing your insight Pam. Please enter my name for either book.

Rhonda Starnes said...

I'm late stopping by today. Mountain Man is sick. I think it's the flu, but he's too stubborn to go to the doctor. I've been disinfecting everything and praying I don't catch the germs.

Wonderful post, Pam! I gave it a quick read through, but I'm bookmarking it and plan to do a more thorough read through later.

Deanne Patterson said...

What a wonderful post today and so many good points. There are so many great books out there that just aren't put front and center and we just don't know about them and unfortunately they don't sell as well.I am always excited to see the monthly new books being released. I find new releases on blogs,goodreads and social media. I am always happy to help out authors by sharing about their books on my social media and I always post a review on goodreads. Thank you for today's great post ! I am very much enjoying Seekerville's birthday bash month ! Please enter me for the 12 Brides of Christmas . I already have a copy of the other book. Please enter me for the Seekerville's Birthday Bash giveaway. Thank you, Deanne Patterson Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

Pam Hillman said...

Thank you for stopping by, Bettie. :)

Rhonda, hate you've got a sick feller! Praying that he doesn't get too sick, and that everyone else stays well. We had chicken EVERYTHING for lunch today, so I suspect we can scrounge up some chicken noodle soup for him.

Pam Hillman said...

Deanne, there are so many great books, aren't there? Even speed readers can't get around to them all. And thank you for doing your part to spread the word about Christian fiction by posting reviews.

Pam Hillman said...

What a great day we've had! Keep up the good work. I'll check back in to see if anyone has more questions. Blessings all and I'll see you in Seekerville tomorrow!

Donna said...

Great information, Pam!

I would love to win a copy of Stealing Jake!

DebH said...

way late again. i loved this post. i like lists.

i don't need to be signed up for the offerings. i think i already have the brides books and definitely have Stealing Jake. I think I wrote a review, but if I didn't I will rectify that pronto because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it!!!!!!!!!

Seekerville is about the only place I show regularly (besides reviewing Seeker and Seeker Villager books).

Pam Hillman said...

Donna, so glad you dropped by! You, too, Deb. Good to see you. Yay that you have both books. Whoot!! :)

Tanya Agler said...

Pam, I love Father Goose. What I especially love about that movie is that it is family friendly, and I have shared it with my two oldest.

I think conferences are good ways to network. My critique partner went to the Seekerville workshop at RWA13 and told me about it during a break when we were comparing notes on the conference, and I started following the blog based on that.

With writing, I think support is important whether it's being heard or whether it's listening.

Trixi said...

I love leaving reviews for books I've read or "talking up" an author on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. I'm also on a few street teams/reader teams for authors and love helping them promote their books any way I can! This was a great post today & gave me some good ideas on how to make sure other readers know about different authors. Great tips for us readers too :-)
Please also put my name in the hat for the books, thanks for the chance!

Edwina said...

A great post! I do have my blog linked to FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn - another way to not only gain new readers, but helps track your readers.

Please put my name in the hat for the drawing!

Sarah Claucherty said...

Hi Pam! I couldn't get here yesterday, but I'd love to be added to the drawing if possible still.

As a reader, I love hearing from authors on blogs, through promotions, social media, etc. A combination of book whatnot and personal is so interesting!

On the other hand, I really like writing reviews or following authors online--newsletters, blogs, on Goodreads and Amazon... Your reviews and analytics tips, I suppose! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Tanya, yes, conferences are great ways to connect with others! Thank you for throwing that out there! :)

Trixi, it's always extra nice for an author when her street team helps spread the word about her latest release. I have a few wonderful ladies who are amazing and I love sharing books, news, and prayer requests with them. They are such a blessing in my life!

Edwina, I have several of my social media spots linked. Like you said, it helps to have a presence in an area that I might not normally have. Goes back to that time factor, doesn't it? :)

Sarah, glad you made it! Thank you for sharing the areas that work for you as a reader. That is so helpful to know. Thanks!

Davalyn Spencer said...

Great suggestions, Pam. You have such a handle on this issue. And I might add - it was so fun working with you on this Christmas collection!

Sierra Faith said...

Social media is a biggie for me! Whether it's a blog post I just wrote or a question about writing social media helps get the word out!
Stealing Jake looks really good! Can't wait to read it!

Abigail Richmond said...

Awesome giveaway! Please enter me!

Abigail Richmond said...

A few months ago I wrote a long post thanking all of the Christian authors for their work! :)

Pam Hillman said...

Davalyn, it was so much fun to be part of the collection, and then we hornswoggled Barbour into letting us do the 12 Brides of Summer with secondary characters, so that made it even better! :)

Sierra and Abigail, thank you for stopping by. Blog posts, shout-outs on fb & twitter, reviews, all of that just keeps a bit of buzz going. It's a give and take, isn't it?

Deanna Stevens said...

All of these books today sound like wonderful reads! I have stealing Jake but would love to read the Brides collection too :)