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by Hope Clark Originally Published on Funds for Writers Blog on April 27, 2018

Y'all ever read Suite T, the blog for Southern Writers Magazine? It's pretty good, and this past week, Terry Whalin posted 4 Ways to Support Writers.

I want to take this a step further and not state HOW a reader can help a writer, but WHY they have a responsibility to do so.

When a reader picks up a book to read, they expect to invest hours into the entertainment. The author and publisher on the other end are waiting with fingers crossed to hear how the reader liked it. They need feedback to better understand how to proceed with subsequent works.

Any type of industry needs feedback. Are they doing it right? Are they creating the right product? Publishers, agents, and bookstores hang on public feedback to determine whether an author is worth fooling with. Silence is deadly.

So, if a reader likes a story, or an author, they need to speak up. Otherwise they risk losing a good story, or worse, a good author.

Let's talk about a reader's responsibility when they read a book:

1) Buy the book. An occasional freebie is fine, especially when test-driving an author. However, authors, publishers, agents, cover designers, etc. depend on income to eat and put a roof over their head. Buy a book.

2) Write a review. Do you want more stories like the one you just read? Then post a review. Otherwise, how is anyone supposed to know that this type of writing needs to continue? Call it a thank-you to the people who fought hard to put that book in your hands. They cannot read your mind.

3) Reply to blog posts. Blogs are free, frequently used to sell books or an author's prowess. Don't read a post and silently blow away. At least thank the writer or blog host. Yes, you're busy, but so are they. What if you did a job and nobody told you whether it was good or bad? Again, the silence is a killer.

4) Take responsibility for your social media. Don't just read. Don't just rant about politics or the neighbor's noise next door. Don't just take and not give back. When you see a book promoted, and you like it or the author, then retweet or share. It's a button, people.

5) Use your word-of-mouth. If you do not relay to others about a good book, and everyone else remains just as silent, that good book disappears along with the subsequent books after it from that author.

Many an author has withered away due to lack of feedback, because feedback equates to sales, which equates to contracts and/or earning a living. I've seen good writers think they were no good...all because readers remained quiet.

Oh, and if you're a writer? Magnify that responsibility by ten.

 

by W. Terry Whalin Originally published on Suite T April 23, 0218

Writing is a solitary profession. Alone we sit at our keyboard and write words—maybe for a magazine or a book or a website. So why would you even want to support other writers?

Bestselling author, Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” As you support other writers, your life will be richer, and you will see remarkable and often unexpected results. I’ve been working with writers for many years.

In this article, I want to give you four simple ways to support other writers. While I personally practice these ways, I encourage you to pick one or two which you can do on a regular basis.

1. Write reviews of any book you read or hear. Depending on the book, it is often hard to get book reviews. It’s why I’ve written over 850 reviews on Amazon. Any book that I read or hear the audiobook, I take a few minutes and write a few sentences of review. As a writer, I’m always reading books and when I finish the book, it doesn’t take much time to write the review, but other writers will appreciate your support.

2. As you read the blog posts from others, make a short yet relevant comment. Sometimes with blogging, you wonder if anyone is reading and your relevant comment will encourage the writer. The key concept is to make a “relevant” comment and tie it to the content of the blog post. I often get unrelated comments for my blog which are never posted and deleted as SPAM.

3. Use Social media retweets. When you read a solid blog post, magazine article, Facebook post or tweet, pass it onto others. Often there a simple button to facilitate this effort but you will help other writers when you pass on this information.

4. Introduce writers to each other. In the writing world, who you know is often as important as what you know. A simple email introducing a writer to someone else can help that person make the right connection. It could change the direction of their writing life.

As writers, we need each other. Our writing may be in isolation but taking these actions can be a difference maker in the life of other writers.

 

Ryan Holmes, CONTRIBUTOR Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Entrepreneurs - First appeared in Forbes Magazine Jan 2, 2018

Just how dominant a business tool was social media in 2017? Despite being involved in an investigation by Congress, Facebook reported its highest earnings ever in Q3, up nearly 50% from a year ago. Its mobile ads are so popular that the platform is actually starting to run out of space for them, even though they’re charging more than ever. Meanwhile, the network eclipsed the 2-billion-user mark, now counting nearly one-third of the planet among its user base.

Behind these numbers is a growing realization among businesses that social media is the single most effective way to reach audiences, with teens (i.e. tomorrow’s consumers) now spending up to nine hours a day on social platforms. An insatiable appetite for video among users, paired with better technology for making, posting and targeting social updates, sees companies now spending more money on social and digital ads than on TV advertising. These trends show little sign of slowing up in 2018. Here’s a glimpse into five key factors that will impact how businesses use social media in the year ahead:

Goodbye free reach on social media (for real). For years, companies’ organic reach on Facebook (the percentage of their followers who see company updates that aren’t “boosted” with ad money) has been dwindling, dipping as low as 2%. Now it seems Facebook may finally kill organic reach on the News Feed entirely. This fall, the network rolled out a new “Explore Feed,” a kind of second-class stream just for company updates. Testing has already begun in some countries to banish all company social posts from the all important (and increasingly crowded) News Feed over to Explore.

Unless, of course, you pony up. These latest developments are a final, firm reminder that Facebook is now a paid platform for companies, little different in this respect from traditional pay-to-play advertising channels like TV, radio, print or billboards. To reach an audience via the News Feed—any audience, at all—it’s going to cost you. Considering that 51% of companies currently struggle with lack of a social media ads budget, this may prove a harsh wake-up call in 2018. One silver lining: Facebook has pioneered some of the most precise ad targeting tools ever. (Wanna pitch to twenty-something soccer fans living in Phoenix who work in retail and like dogs? No problem.) So, at the least, ad money promises to be well spent.

Make more videos (but don’t worry about going viral). It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that video is the future, not just of social media but of the Internet in general. By 2018, Cisco forecasts that 82% of all consumer Internet traffic will be video. Live and recorded video and video ads increasingly dominate our feeds across Facebook and Snapchat and are surging on Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Nearly half of businesses are already implementing social videos, with another 26% planning to implement in 2018.

Just one problem. In the race to earn video views and clicks, too many companies are missing the bigger picture. Ultimately, who’s watching your videos—and what they do after they watch—is far more important than how many people are watching. Going “viral” doesn’t mean much, after all, if you’re not reaching actual customers who want to buy something. One antidote to fixating on video vanity metrics in 2018: analytics tools that track conversions and highlight how video actually leads to the acquisition and retention of customers.

Those funny QR codes make a comeback (with a social media twist). This fall, Apple snuck an unexpected update into its newly released iOS 11: a native QR code reader. (You might remember QR codes—essentially, fancy barcodes that do things like open websites when scanned—from the ‘00s, when they were supposed to be the next big thing.) Now, all you have to do is point your iPhone camera at a code, and it’s automatically activated. Codes can be used to log into wifi networks (no more typing out passwords), make a purchase with PayPal and even send pre-populated Tweets and texts.

On a separate front, major networks like Snapchat, Facebook and even Spotify are increasingly pushing their own proprietary code technology onto users. Scan a Facebook Messenger Code, for instance, and a handy bot or customer service agent automatically pops up on your phone. Considering that QR codes are still one of the easiest ways to bridge the real world and the online one, don’t be surprised if you start seeing them everywhere in 2018—especially now that 700 million iPhone users have a scanner in their pockets.

Here comes the era of “millisecond marketing” (ready or not). Lots of basic social media tasks—from scheduling the optimal time to post something to finding catchy content to share—have already been automated. But in 2018, expect to see AI and related tools play an ever more important behind-the-scenes role in sharing messages. Case in point—emerging technology that enables testing hundreds of social media ad variations, simultaneously. Rather than having to “guess” which images and text will get the most clicks, users can automate campaigns so that the best-performing posts are instantly boosted to the biggest audience.

This is part of a larger transformation that’s seeing the cycle for creating, distributing and optimizing social media radically compressed. Inside the latest AI-powered tools, ever more complex algorithms are calling the shots and removing the guesswork about what marketing materials will lead to what results—and they’re doing so nearly in real time. For better or worse, what once took creative teams days (or weeks), is now being accomplished in a matter of milliseconds. In 2018, these tools should enable companies to reach bigger audiences with better targeted and more personalized messages than ever before—fulfilling the dream of truly “scalable” social media, provided you can keep up.

Business software clouds boost their social media game (finally). Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn for $26 billion set off a quiet arms race among big software sellers to integrate and upgrade social media features. Microsoft has already pushed ahead with integrating LinkedIn’s massive professional listings into Outlook and Dynamics 365, meaning businesses can instantly tap into social data about prospects and customers to personalize emails and messages.

Not to be outdone, Adobe, Salesforce, IBM and Oracle have all embarked on a flurry of purchases and integrations to improve their marketing clouds with social media features. Underlying these improvements is a dawning understanding that social media provides businesses with a rich, real-time source of customer information—exactly the kind of data needed to power AI engines, like Salesforce’s Einstein, that lie at the heart of these clouds. In 2018, business users stand to be the big beneficiary of this software arms race, as marketing platforms find better ways to weave social media data and social media tools into their offerings.

The easiest prediction of all for 2018: change. Fueled by intense competition between networks to capture advertising dollars, social media tools and tactics will continue to evolve at a breakneck pace in the year ahead. Expect plenty of new features, new ad tools and brand new ways to watch video. For companies already fatigued by the onslaught of new technology and strategies, relief, unfortunately, is nowhere in sight. But for those that can keep up, social media may promise bigger audiences and more return on investment than ever.

Ryan Holmes is Founder and CEO of Hootsuite.

About

Texas Authors, Inc. is an organization designed to help Texas Authors learn how to better market and sell their books.

We work closely with our partners DEAR Texas, Inc., and Texas Authors Institute of History, Inc., both nonprofits that have created additional programs and events for Authors.

Texas Authors is a subsidiary of Bourgeois Media & Consulting