From an early age, books have been Emlyn Chand's best friends. She loves to hear and tell stories and states that she emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her affinity for the written word extends to absolutely every area of her life-she has written one-and-a-half novels, has two freelance columns, leads a classics book group with over three-hundred members, and, of course, she is President at Novel Publicity, contributing her business and marketing savvy as well as her writing and graphic design talents. She has an MA in quantitative sociology, which means she's able to understand both numbers and people.
I'm excited to introduce you to Emlyn Chand in today's interview.
1. Thank you so much Emlyn for your willingness to spend some time with us today in this interview. To start out, tell us a little about yourself, your books, your blog, your services and anything else you think our readers would be interested in.
Well, I'm Emlyn Chand. Although this is my pen name, my entire identity seems to have merged with this new alias. Like so many of us are, I was born a writer. From a very early age, I just couldn't image doing anything else with my life. I remember coming home from first grade and spending my entire evening reading 2 or 3 MG novels like "Babysitter's Little Sister" or "Sweet Valley Twins," and my obsessive reading habit has since never subsided.
A couple of years ago, I was discovered by the local newspaper (annarbor.com) and asked to write a books-related column. This was pivotal for me, because it changed writing from something I would have liked to do into something that I had to do to meet deadlines and make paychecks. This gave me the courage and the discipline I needed to pen my first novel, THE IRON PILLAR, a work of literary women's fiction currently seeking publication.
Cold querying gave me a crash course in just how challenging it is for a new writer to break into the publishing industry. I realized I needed something extra to make me stand out, so I started my blog, "The Ambitious Ambigue." That took off quicker than I ever could have imagined. As part of my blogging experience, I began to fiddle around with the various other internet social mediums and to blog advice for other writers on how best to use these resources. The online writing community responded to this blog series better than I ever could have hoped or imagined. They retweeted with a vengeance, linked to my articles on their blogs, asked me even more questions. They began treating me like an expert, never mind that I was newer to the blog scene than they were!
My intuitive understanding of social media, my personal experience as a writer and my educational background (my MA is in Quantitative Sociology) came together to form something wonderful. When my friend, the New York Times-bestselling author, Jenna Blum, jokingly suggested that I should be a publicist, I didn't brush that comment aside as a "yeah, right, ha ha" but rather I began to ruminate on her unintentional career guidance. Being a writer, I knew that a person needs to aim for the stars even if she doesn't own a spaceship. I knew that the first step toward succeeding was trying, no matter how hard it was, no matter how scared it made me, no matter how much I thought I couldn't do it. I had to believe in myself and try.
Enter Novel Publicity, LLC, the product of this dream. It launched on March 1, 2011 with the goal of helping new authors with the before and after of publishing. We're there to help polish unpublished manuscripts until they shine as part of our prepublication branch. We're there to help unheard-of authors make a name for themselves through our promotion branch. We offer 43 services in all, starting at $25.
The market has become congested (which is a horrible thing to say since it's so difficult to break in, but this is the truth). To make it, an author needs to not only present the best product imaginable, but also to be her own cheerleader. She can't be afraid to self-promote, and she needs to embrace the new marketing tools of the ever-changing industry-things like book trailers, audio book adaptation, and, yes, social media.
2. As an author yourself, you know what it takes to get noticed in the publishing world. You encourage authors to use social media to network and get the word out about their books. Give your top 5 reasons authors should invest time in social media.
Reason #1-Raise your platform. If you're standing in a ditch fifty-feet below ground, it doesn't matter how loud you yell, how much you jump, nobody's going to notice you. Social media can take you up out of that ditch of obscurity and raise you higher, higher, as high as you are willing to go. When the publishing industry, talks about platform, they're referring to a potential in-built audience. Yes, you can come from a big family or have a huge group of friends, but how can those numbers even begin to compare to the audience you can build online? Social media allows you to build a big and specialized base of potential readers with a single click of the mouse or clack of the keys. Yes, your great aunt Sally probably will buy your novel when it comes out but don't you also want some authentic fans of your work? The nature of social media is such that it's very easy to connect with people who share your exact interests no matter how far away they are geographically.
Reason #2-Engage in the writer community. Writing can be a lonely path. Yes, we have many make-believe friends floating around our heads and across the pages of our manuscripts, but what about actual real-life camaraderie? Chances are you don't have a huge base of writer friends in your flesh-and-blood personal network. Even if you do have a couple of writer friends, they're probably working in a different genre or they're busy with their work and can't give you feedback as soon as you need it. Expand your horizons. Social media can help you find new writer friends-friends with whom you can relate, friends that will inspire you, friends that will support you in your writerly journey. I've set up a network for fiction writers called "The Novel Community." You can create status updates, join a discussion thread, even share samples of your work: http://www.novelpublicity.com/forum/
Reason #3-Expand your professional network. Yes, you can make business relationships through social media. I was offered a new freelance column and approached by a prospective literary agent...through Twitter! It can and does happen, so don't forget to be your fun and quirky self but also maintain some semblance of professionalism.
Reason #4-Find new inspiration. The great thing about being with other writers is that they tend to remind you that you should be writing. You may think that tweeting would be a huge waste of time, but it only is if you let it be. Your fans might pester you about the release of your next novel, your writing friends might announce their productive milestones-all of this will remind and inspire you that you need to write too!
Reason #5-Get feedback. One of your new writer friends might offer her services as a beta reader. Maybe you'll connect with someone who read your previous book and wants to tell you what he thought of it. Set-up Google Alerts to see what's being said about your name and your books online. Yes, you'll get both positive and negative feedback, but that's okay. Notice what readers like about your existing body of work and try to do more of the same. Reflect on the points that don't seem to resonate well with your audience-are they correct in their assessments, is there a change that you could make to improve your future writing endeavors?
3. It can be overwhelming to dive into the world of social media for the first time. I know I felt somewhat intimidated by Twitter when I first joined. What are some ways authors can find quality people to follow?
Of all the wonderful social media outlets out there, writers seem to be the most overwhelmed by Twitter. I'll admit that I had no idea what to do when I first logged into the twittersphere. Rather than give-up, I decided to get informed. I went out and bought my copy of @pistachio's "Twitter for Dummies" and devoured it within a two-day space of time. Suddenly, Twitter made perfect sense to me, and now I'm looked upon as an expert.
At the request of my loyal blog following, I've been working on a series of posts called the "Twitter Tens." I've covered how to find people to follow as part of this series. To answer your question, I'll tell you my ten points from that article, each of which is explained in-depth at http://www.novelpublicity.com/2011/02/10-ways-to-find-people-to-follow-on-twitter/
The ten ways to find people to follow on Twitter are: take twitter's suggestions, browse by interest, connect with existing friends, search for people you admire, see who else likes what you like, search hashtags, use Twitter apps, engage in follow forward days, and see who's following you.
4. I have found many great networking relationships on Twitter...more so than Facebook. Why do you think that is?
Twitter is the best way to find new people with whom you can connect. It's something like a Google search room combined with one of those AOL chat rooms from the 1990's. If you know what you're doing, then it's quick and easy to connect with people that share your exact interests.
Facebook on the other hand is the best way to maintain existing relationships. You can communicate in more than 140-characters at a time. You can chat more rapid-fire than you could using a Twitter DM. You can post a message or a link on someone's wall and not be worried about it getting lost in their constantly updating Twitter streams.
Twitter and Facebook, Twitter and Facebook, they're a match made in social media heaven. You can't have one. You can't have none. You can't have one without the other!
I talk more about this in my article called "Grandma's Old-Fashioned Social Media Pie."
5. Do you use any certain Twitter tools to help you network and promote your books? If so, share you top three favorite tools and why you use them.
Oh my, oh my. I have so many favorites. If I had to choose three, I'd say Tweetdeck, paper.li, and SocialOomph. They're each expanded upon in the article I wrote about getting the most out of Twitter in the least amount of time (this is also the article that was featured on Janet Reid's blog).
6. Hashtags. What are they and should authors use them in their posts?
Hashtags are probably the single most confusing thing to new tweeters, and that's okay. Why should you include hashtags with your tweets? Because they're key search terms that other tweeters use to connect with new tweeters. They're the single best way to get your tweets seen by those who don't follow you already.
If hashtags make your head spin just include #amwriting with everything. It's a great catch-all tag for writers, and even though I have more tags stored away in my knowledge base, this is still the one I use 90% of the time-it just works so well! Thanks to @johannaharness for inventing it!
If you want to seek out more hashtags that might help you connect with new tweeters, search hashtags.org. I plan on doing a Twitter Ten post solely devoted to hashtags some day soon.
7. Any final tips or advice for our readers?
I've said it before, and by gosh, I'll say it again-don't be afraid to toot your own horn. How do you expect anyone to notice you if you're not willing to shout? This doesn't mean be obnoxious. It means form genuine relationships, be kind and helpful, make yourself visible. I've found that online altruism pays you back three-fold. Promote other authors through your blog, and most will be happy to reciprocate. Be creative, be original, be yourself-some one will notice you sooner than you might think.
8. Thank you so much Emlyn for sharing these valuable social media tips today! How can our readers keep in touch with you?
I'm all over the interwebs, so it's not at all difficult to keep in touch. I welcome writers to tweet, email, ping, or Facebook me-I love to interact. You can find my full contact information here: http://www.novelpublicity.com/our-team/ My twitter IDs are @novelpublicity and @emlynchand. My Facebook pages are www.facebook.com/emlynchand and www.facebook.com/novelpublicity My email is email@example.com. I'm also on Linked In, You Tube, Delicious, and more.
Get started using Twitter as a book marketing tool - Twitter 101 for Authors
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