Instagram is an invaluable tool for authors with a visual model perfect for book covers, and hashtags that focus on the book writer and reader communities, such as #bookstagram #indieauthors #authorsofinstagram and #bookstagrammer. Our guest blogger, Marc Anthony Brown, a writer and comic book editor shares his thoughts on building a community and gaining followers on Instagram.
Building a community on Instagram
By guest contributor Marc Anthony Brown
With each passing year, the online landscape shifts into an entirely different beast that users of all types have to tackle. Algorithm changes can either make or break a creator’s online presence, and a lot of newcomers don’t know where to begin with it all. Hopefully, through my experience, I can help you adapt to this unruly world.
Over the last couple of years, I have operated an Instagram account tailored to Batman/comic book facts. At my peak, I had 142K followers. Nowadays, I currently have around 135k. You may question why the drop? Did I abandon the account or became demotivated? This all goes back to what I mentioned earlier, algorithmic changes. At my peak, I was gaining thousands of followers every week. But suddenly, Instagram decided to update its algorithm, promoting newer accounts on people’s feeds. This negatively impacted my account because while I was posting every day, I was not appearing on my followers’ “Home” feed. This forced many people to unfollow because in their eyes I had not posted in weeks. For any creator, these changes can be discouraging but sometimes the algorithm dictates final law. So what does one do in these scenarios? DON’T STOP! Consistency is key and with the tips, I provided below, you’ll see why.
It is highly unlikely that your account will be like mine and require you to post everyday. Just like your manuscript, some days aren’t going to be filled with exciting updates. That is why I suggest posting sporadically throughout the week. Don’t go several months without posting any content because at that point many of your followers have lost interest in your account. Always find ways to make your post stand out, graphics are a great first step and there are tons of third-party apps that help you add text or stickers to your pictures.
A lot of people assume that spamming down 50+ hashtags makes them garner a lot of engagement with posts. In reality that is the opposite, as it is much more beneficial to find words/tags that are more specific to your story. The hashtag “#author” has over 9.1 Million posts under it, resulting in your chances of appearing in the top/recent tab of that category very minimal. Instead, use a hashtag like #fantasyauthor or #crimenovels. The two tags have 63.6k and 8.3k posts respectively, increasing your chances of popping up on these people’s feeds.
Interacting with Fans/Other Small Accounts:
A large part of my success as a creator over the years is thanks to my interaction with fans. An individual wants to follow you because they enjoy your content but sometimes it can feel impersonal to them. With Instagram, the tools at your disposal for interactions is ever-growing. I encourage you to set aside some extra time in your usual social media posting to talk with your audience or reach out to smaller accounts and ask them to share your page with their audience. You’ll slowly build a community where you can collaborate with one another and share each other’s works. Reply to comments or set up polls with Instagram Stories. The app allows a wide variety of tools that your followers will love to interact with because who doesn’t like pushing a button?
Even with all the tips, I provided for you, this will not be easy. As more people grow accustomed to social media, all this can seem daunting. But consistency is key, just like your writing! As long as you focus on making a welcoming social media environment it will all fall into place.
Bio: Marc Anthony is a student at Ohio University studying English [Creative Writing]. While at school he takes part in different student organizations like Ohio University Odyssey Online as well as the newly formed Puerto Rican club on campus "EL 787". In his spare time, he writes and edits indie comic books hoping to better his craft and runs several comic book social media accounts. Marc Anthony contributes to the publication with writing blogs as well as other behind the scene work! You can follow him @MarcAnthonyCLE on Twitter.
Vince Bailey's second installment in the award-winning Curtis Jefferson series is available August 1st. We thought it was a great time for a conversation with our author about the series and his life as a writer.
Courses of the Cursed
Book 2 Curtis Jefferson series
Available August 1 in print and e-book anywhere books are sold
African American youth Curtis Jefferson is still serving his one-year term at Fort Grant, where a horrific massacre still haunts the inhabitants. In the second book of the Curtis Jefferson series, our hero continues to be challenged by his nemesis, Harvey Huish, while a café owner struggles with a premonition that her nephew will be the victim of a treacherous plot. The parallel stories share a common theme: the curse of Fort Grant.
Vince Bailey’s award-winning Path of the Half Moon—the first book in the Curtis Jefferson series—was the Winner of the Arizona Authors’ Association Literary Award and the Chanticleer International Book Awards for Paranormal and Supernatural Fiction.
Interview with author, Vince Bailey
What fact about yourself would surprise your fans?
I think maybe readers might be surprised to know that I am 70 years old (unless, of course, they've looked at my photo). I say this because the series is given from a teenager's point of view. I believe I can do this quite handily at 70 though, because I'm still 15 in a lot of respects. Just ask my wife.
What brings you joy in your life?
Developments in the lives of my five children gives me my greatest joy. When good kids develop into good people--well, that's the best possible legacy one can leave to this world.
What is your motivation to write?
I think ego is one strong motivator for most authors, and I question the honesty of authors who disagree. People like to do things they are good at and people are usually good at things they like to do. But another thing that motivates me is the feeling I get when I connect on a personal level with complete strangers through my writing. That's electrifying!
What books did you love growing up?
At 10, I loved the Hardy Boys mysteries. At 12, it was Tom Sawyer. At 14, it was A Catcher in the Rye. At 15, it was Lord of the Flies. At 16, it was Lord of the Rings. At 17, it was The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. At 18, it was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. At 20, it was One Hundred Years of Solitude. Quite the variety! Of course there were many in between--I was a voracious reader. These are just the standouts.
Tell us something about Courses of the Cursed that's not in the book blurbs.
Courses of the Cursed was once a part of a continuous 1200-page work. Being a neophyte novelist and having no knowledge of publishing protocols, I let my characters run away with my "book," paying no heed to its burgeoning size. My agent read it through, loved it, and promptly set me to work breaking it into three manageable stand-alone books. It was a year-long task of recreating, deleting, and weaving chapters together, seeking a good blend of sovereignty and continuity. The result is the Curtis Jefferson/Fort Grant series: Path of the Half Moon, Courses of the Cursed, and the upcoming Merging Paths.
When did you first realize a desire to write?
I recall writing my own comic book versions of Flash Gordon episodes. Not that I plagiarized the story lines--those were mine--but I did steal the characters and the interplanetary settings. I think I was eight at the time. Throughout the years, I've written news stories, magazine articles, opinion pieces and a few short stories. I currently pen a monthly column in a nationally published trade magazine. All the time I wondered when I would find the time to write the Great American Novel (I was and still am a full-time employee of a commercial construction firm).
About 15 years ago, I gave up wondering and started to write Path of the Half Moon, a chapter at a time. It took a good twelve years of piecemeal writing on evenings and during weekends to produce the 1200-page Jeremiad described above. I am still polishing the 3rd book in the series. It never ends.
Vince Bailey grew up in Central Arizona, starting in the late nineteen-fifties. His youthful experiences there contribute significantly to the nostalgic aspect of his fiction writing. Courses of the Cursed is the second book in the award-winning Curtis Jefferson series. His debut novel, Path of the Half Moon, is the Winner of the Arizona Authors’ Association Literary Award and the Chanticleer International Book Awards for Paranormal and Supernatural Fiction.
Vince has also been published in several college and local newspapers, and for the past ten years he has penned a column for a nationally distributed trade periodical. Mr. Bailey currently resides in Peoria, Arizona, with his wife, Rita. He's currently working on the next book in the Curtis Jefferson series. Follow the author at www.vincebaileyauthor.com.
As you celebrate our country's birthday this weekend, take a moment to celebrate yourself! Whether you're a reader or a writer, take a moment to love your self and your work this holiday weekend. For anyone who writes a novel or a blog or even a letter or email pat yourself on the back! Completing any creative work takes dedication and bravery -- to put yourself out there. We appreciate all of our authors and fans and wish you all a happy 4th of July!
And if you're looking for something to look forward to, here it is! New releases coming soon to everywhere you buy books!
Available August 1
Courses of the Cursed
Book two in Vince Bailey’s award-winning Curtis Jefferson series brings back African American youth Curtis Jefferson as he battles the curse of Fort Grant. Winner of the Arizona Authors’ Association Literary Award and the Chanticleer International Book Awards for Paranormal and Supernatural Fiction, the Curtis Jefferson series presents an edgy and thrilling escape from the ordinary.
Connect with the author at VinceBailey.com
Available September 1
Whispers on the Wind
Mary Elizabeth Emily Mearcham, known to all in her life as Meems has a gift. She has several actually. She just doesn’t know it. Meems is a psychic. After a frightening experience as a toddler she closed herself off to her gifts. Her Grandmother, who is also quite clairsentient, knows it’s time for Meems to awaken her power. Drawing Meems into the journey of becoming all she is meant to be isn’t going to be easy. Will her fear override her potential? Will darkness stop her from accepting she is no normal girl?
A new novel by award-winning author, Jeffrey F. Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer's new novel explores the vision of a few brave souls hoping to restore democracy to an America teetering dangerously on the precipice of authoritarian rule.. This visionary work of fiction takes readers into new realms as it follows a man who wants to effect a positive change in the world, but possibly at his own peril. The journey will take him . . . in crooked lines.
Connect with the author on Goodreads
Fireworks Image by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay
As we’ve discussed before, your author brand is crucial to your success as an author. A huge part of this brand is marketing. Your content, social media, and overall marketing strategy are all critical components of you and your book's presence to readers and potential fans. But sometimes it can seem like a lot to manage, right? What if we told you that you didn’t actually have to do it all on your own?
What is a virtual assistant and how can one help me as an author?
Having a virtual marketing assistant is useful on all fronts of the marketing side of your brand. A virtual marketing assistant can do things like reach out to book bloggers and influencers for reviews, create newsletters to go out to your readers, and create content and manage your social media. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have a hand in the marketing side of things, but it will significantly alleviate the pressure on you to perform all marketing tasks on your own.
Make a list of tasks you want help with
Ideally, once you hire a virtual assistant, you will create a list of tasks for him or her to perform. This list will, of course, vary from author to author. It’s important to know what tasks you want your virtual assistant to accomplish before you even search for one to ensure that you hire exactly who you’re looking for.
Some things to consider putting on the list could be:
A good way to determine what to have your virtual assistant work on is to make a list of things you either dislike or avoid and things that don’t really need your direct input. By doing this, it frees you up to work on the things that do need your direct input – like edits to your manuscripts, important meetings, and speaking engagements. A clear idea of what you want your virtual assistant to do makes it easier on both of you moving forward.
Budget to fit your needs
Virtual assistants typically operate as freelance contractors – similar to graphic designers or marketing specialists. When you hire one, you’ll typically pay somewhere between $10-$25/hour, depending on the virtual assistant’s skill level and experience (some may cost more but if you keep searching, you'll find the right fit). This makes it easy for you to stay within a budget, because a virtual assistant will work within the budget you set. For example, if you have a budget of $150 and you find a virtual assistant who charges $15/hour, you can request 10 hours of specific tasks and know that you will stay within your budget and get done what needs to get done. You can also work with the freelancer to create a monthly budget for a specific number of hours. For example, you can hire someone to manage all your social media platforms by setting a set number of posts per week (say 1-3) across your platforms (say, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), and agreeing on a package prices with your freelancer (say, $150 per month for no more than 10 hours of time). It often helps to have a discussion with a potential freelancer about how they prefer to work, but the effort is worth it!
How to find a virtual assistant
So now that you have a general idea of what a virtual assistant is and how they can help you with the marketing side of your job, you might be wondering how to find one! There are several different ways to find a virtual assistant, but we’ll give you tips on some of the easiest ways.
Start with a simple Google search. Searching “Virtual Marketing Assistant United States” will yield different companies through which you can hire a virtual assistant. Of course, not every company will be a perfect fit, so you’ll need to set aside some time to look through the list of companies and search by the set of skills you’re looking for to find the perfect virtual assistant for you.
A popular site to hire freelancers through is Upwork. If you visit their website, there is an option on the homepage to find a freelancer in the “Admin Support” field. You can then select the “Virtual/Administrative Assistance” option.
Another great way to find a virtual assistant or social media manager is through LinkedIn. You can search for local people in your network with expertise specifically in social media and marketing, content creation, or managing your schedule, if that's what you need.
Belay services offers website and social media specific support as well. Learn more on their website about how to work with their assistants.
Take the time up front for future success with your VA
Although it may take some extra time up front to sit down and come up with a game plan for hiring a virtual assistant, it will save you time in the long run. Hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to prevent yourself from burning out on the tasks you don’t enjoy as much about your job. If, after reading this, you’re interested but still unsure if a virtual assistant is the best option, remember that you can start small! Try hiring a virtual assistant for just one or two small tasks at first to ease yourself into it, and then go from there. There’s no exact formula for what your virtual assistant needs to do, so you have the freedom and liberty to craft it to what you need specifically. With a little research, patience, and open-mindedness, you may find exactly what you're looking for to help boost and maintain your author platform.
We hope all our readers, authors, followers, and fans are staying safe and finding the light during all the recent darkness - family, friends, community. As you are finding ways to stay connected during COVID, don't forget to spend a little time reading (or writing if you're so inclined!).
We have some great new titles coming soon that we're previewing below. You'll see some new authors and some you already love, but all these new novels are poised to thrill, inspire, and entertain. They'll be on sale soon at your favorite book outlet online!
Author Robin Elno's latest installment in the award-winning Clown William series enjoyed a successful virtual blog tour throughout February. IngramElliott Publishing partnered with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for several stops at prominent book bloggers around the globe, including reviews, excerpts, and exclusive interviews with author Robin Elno. Thanks to our reviewers and fans everywhere for their tremendous support for Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance!
Enjoy the reviews below as well as two special author interviews hosted by International Book Promotion and Teddy Rose Book Reviews.
Praise for Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance
The story is highly spectacular, with the author taking his time in matters of character development with his writing being so vivid and well researched. Elno paints a vivid landscape that transports the reader. For western fiction literature lovers, Clown Williams is an outstanding masterpiece which is not only worth your time but also deserves a place on your shelf.
-Gud Readers review, Goodreads
Author Robin Elno is on tour! Robin's latest installment in the award-winning Clown William series will be touring review blogs from February 3 - 28. IngramElliott Publishing is very excited to be partnering with Premier Virtual Author Book Tours on several stops at prominent book bloggers around the globe. The tour features reviews, excerpts, and exclusive interviews with Rob
You can follow Robin's Tour Schedule and enter a giveaway at Virtual Author Book Tours.
About the book
.A gunfighter with Tourette’s and a quick draw . . . Book three in the award-winning Clown William series finds William on the run. William blames Jesse Evans for starting this violent life and wants to pay him back, but first he must stop the bounty hunters on his trail and defeat his own internal tornado—before becoming a victim.
About the author
Robin Elno is a retired army colonel, semiretired psychiatrist, and full-time author. He lives in San Antonio, Texas, where he is an active member of the San Antonio Writers' Guild. Elno’s Clown William series was inspired by the work of neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote about the unusual speed and accuracy often displayed by people with Tourette’s syndrome. Intrigued by the idea that strengths can rise from differences, Elno created the unique and compelling character of William. Elno’s novels are often set against true historical backdrops like the Wild West.
Holiday Gift Guide 2019
We've talked much in our blog about the importance of social media and building an author platform through an online presence. As the leaves change color, consider changing your approach as well. It can be a challenge to make time to keep up online presences but as the leaves go on falling, the world of social media goes on spinning. We get feedback from partners all the time on how important it is that an author have a strong presence online when searched for. An author's social media platforms are used in marketing programs, book awards programs, blog tours and reviews, and even purchasers can find you if you put yourself out there where you can be found.
This fall, we encourage all authors to take a fresh look at their platforms by following three simple steps.
Even if you are not a pro at this, what matters is that you stay active. It really is about connecting to other people which may include other authors, readers and fans, or groups that you are interested in.
A few pro tips
Lastly, if you don't have the desire, interest, or time in doing all of this, search for and hire a virtual marketing assistant to help you do all these things . . . and it won't break the bank! You can specify marketing assistants or social media assistants and hire someone to help build your brand, keep your sites fresh, and work with you on connecting to followers. Search on LinkedIn or Google for people in your area (if you want someone local) or work with people around the globe offering their services. You can also find students at local colleges that may be interested in the job or just through people you know and already work with. Ask around!
Sometimes our greatest strengths can come from what we view as our greatest weaknesses. Robin Elno says this idea was a huge inspiration for him when he was writing the Clown William series, which is about a young man, William, who suffers from a physical ailment we now know as Tourette's Syndrome. After being kicked out of his house by his father in the first book of the series, a self-defense situation teaches him that he has astounding accuracy with a six-gun.
The book series follows this unexpected hero through Colorado and New Mexico as he defends himself and those around him with this unexpected talent. And now, Elno has the third installment in the series ready for readers.
Picking up where book two left off, Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance finds William still in New Mexico. In the book, he is obsessed with tracking down and finishing his war with the man he blames for his life turning out the way it has – Jesse Evans.
As always, William is a target for many. He battles an inner conflict, as well, deciding to wait until Jesse is out of a compromising position before making his attempt on Jesse’s life. William is in a race against his own inner tornado . . . Will he beat it before it takes him out?
Robin Elno brings his experience as a retired army colonel and semiretired psychiatrist to this book series. He says he was also inspired by neurologist Oliver Sacks’s work about the unusual speed and accuracy often displayed by people with Tourette’s syndrome. The third installment in this series, Clown William and the Wind of Vengeance, is now available for pre-sale at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. And, until then, here’s a little sneak peek . . .
An isolated cabin in the New Mexico wilderness, February 1878
A bullet splintered the wood window casing of the cabin where William waited to kill Jesse Evans. William ducked lower. Things had not gone as planned, though one of Jesse’s men lay dead on the snow-covered ground a few yards in front of the cabin. Jesse hid in the tree line fifty yards away, cracking away with his rifle at William.
“You’re a damn fool, William,” Jesse shouted and fired again. “I know you’re fast, but a six-gun against a rifle?”
“This d-d-day has been coming for three years.” William watched the trees, trying to spot Jesse’s position. “Hoot. Ever since you first put a gun in my hand.”
“Seems more like God’s act than mine,” Jesse bellowed. “He’s the one made you defective with your jerks and mumbles. It was me helped you discover the gift that came with that curse.”
“It is no gift.” William fired at the trees. “I hate being a gunfighter. But you and God made it so I have no other choice. I despise you both for it.”
“Your hatred addled your brain. You let yourself be caught under my gun like this.” A shot, the bullet digging another splinter from the cabin wall, punctuated the statement.
The muzzle flash marked a spot in the trees, creating a perfect target for the next time Jesse fired—provided the outlaw didn’t shift to a new spot. William goaded him into another shot. “Your men killed my friend. You drove away my girl, Emily. Sheek, poot. You ruined my chances for a real home in Lincoln.”
“Well, when it comes to killin’, your Regulator pals ain’t any better. How many of Brady’s men have they killed? And locked Sheriff Brady up in his own jail. This war ain’t personal. Hell, I offered you a job on my side.”
“This is personal. I am not riding with those murdering Regulators now. This is about me f-f-finding a place to settle down, in peace.”
“Why're you gunnin’ for me?”
“Because God is out of my reach.”
“And so am I.” A muzzle flash just where it had been before.
William snap fired. And waited.
The sun climbed the sky, and the branches of the trees shed their white sleeves. Ice crystals glistened in the receding snow banks. The air lay still and cold as the top of a frozen stream. The dead man he’d shot that morning sprawled in front of the cabin. The man’s horse stood in the open, its head down, nuzzling snow aside as it pulled at tufts of dry grass.
The waiting dragged on. Was there some way to draw Jesse out? With one eye on the tree line, William threw a side of bacon onto the griddle of the potbelly stove heating the rough-hewn cabin. A pot of coffee simmered beside it—a nice welcoming scent to torment a cold and hungry man. He hoped it would make Jesse act rashly. Come and get it, William thought, revolver ready in his hand.
The bacon crisped and the coffee boiled. Jesse did not take the bait.
William ate the bacon and drank the coffee.
There had been no more shots. All was quiet. Too quiet.