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1. Agent Talk: 7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With

carly-watters-p-s-literary-agencyA few weeks ago, Agent Carly Watters on her blog talked about after you write a great manuscript, how does an agent decide to work with someone after that? She has seven tips.

7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With by Carly Watters:

1. Open to revisions

Right away, I know if an author is going to be a fit for me based on how they react to revision ideas. Agents are looking for writers that are open to feedback and collaboration. If I gave you an R&R did you connect with my notes? Did you ask questions that take my notes from suggestions to big picture changes that make the novel better?

2. Always wants to get better

A line I like to use is “trust your future self.” What that means to me is if you can write good novel, you can write many more. Getting defensive about your novel means you are holding on to it when really you should be willing to let it go and work on the next. Agents are looking to represent authors for the long term, so what we need is the faith that you want to be the best writer, every time you write a new book. We know there will be ups and downs, but it’s that drive to succeed that will separate many writers from the ones that don’t make it.

3. Treats assistants and senior industry members alike

From time to time we get people who respond to our query letter auto-response with condescending and mean emails. It doesn’t matter who is on the other end of those emails, our principal agent or our assistant, you have to be friendly to everyone–not just the people who influence your career. Those mean emails just reinforce our decision to pass without a second thought.

4. Asks questions

I love it when authors want to know more about the process. Don’t be shy about wanting to know how the business works. Whether it’s a Twitter #askagent session or when you’re on ‘The Call’ with an agent, make sure you ask the important questions that help your understanding.

5. Trusts us

The number one way to work with an agent for a long period of time is trust. I know this isn’t built over night, but you have to trust your agent to have your best interests at heart. This is one of the most important long-term author/agent relationship requirements. Only query agents that you see yourself working with and that you already trust (whether it’s a referral, their taste or client list).

6. Communication

This is part of trust, but authors have to be up-front with agents. Did you self publish before? Have you had an agent before? Can you share your sales numbers from your previous book? It’s the little things that add up when it comes to communication. We need to know everything if we’re going to represent you well.

7. Professional on social media

As easy as it is for authors to Google agents to see if we might be a fit for you, when we fall in love with a query or manuscript the first thing we do is Google you back. What agents love to see on social media is a personality (not just link blasts). You don’t have to have a ton of followers (but points if you do!) to get our attention. It’s all about the balance between promotion and personality. We love it when authors are part of writing communities and support other authors. That means, when the time comes, those other published writers will support you too.

You should check out Carly’s Blog: http://carlywatters.com/blog/

PS Literary is looking for an intern. Carly has information about working remotely for them. If you have any aspirations to become a literary Agent, this would be something to consider.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, authors and illustrators, list, opportunity, Social Media, Tips Tagged: 7 Ways to Make Yourself an Easy Author to Work with, Carly Watters

3 Comments on Agent Talk: 7 Ways To Make Yourself An Easy Author to Work With, last added: 8/10/2014
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2. My client’s online presence

By Jan Willer


Social media and other technologies have changed how we communicate. Consider how we coordinate events and contact our friends and family members today, versus how we did it 20 or 30 years ago. Today, we often text, email, or communicate through social media more frequently than we phone or get together in person.

Now contrast that with psychotherapy, which is still about two people getting together in a room and talking. Certainly, technology has changed psychotherapy. There are now apps for mental health issues. There are virtual reality treatments. Psychotherapy can now be provided through videoconferencing (a.k.a. telehealth). But still, it’s usually simply two people talking in a room.

Our psychotherapy clients communicate with everyone else they know through multiple technological platforms. Should we let them “friend” us on social media? Should we link to them on professional networking sites? Is it ok to text with them? What about email? When are these ok and not ok?

Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Some consensus is emerging about these issues. Experts agree that psychotherapists should not connect with current or former clients on social media. This is to help preserve the clients’ confidentiality. Emailing and texting are fine for communicating brief messages about the parameters of the session, such as confirming the appointment time, or informing the psychotherapist that the client is running late. Research has shown that emotional tone is frequently miscommunicated in texting and email, so emotion-laden topics are best discussed during the session.

How do we learn about new people we’ve met? In the past, we’d talk directly to them, and maybe also talk to people we knew in common. Now everyone seems to search online for everyone else. This happens frequently with first dates, college applicants, and job applicants.

Again, contrast this with psychotherapy. Again, two people are sitting in a room, talking and learning about each other. When is it ok for a psychotherapist to search for information about a client online? What if the psychotherapist discovers important information that the client withheld? How do these discoveries impact the psychotherapy?

No clear consensus has emerged on these issues. Some experts assert that psychotherapists should almost never search online for clients. Other experts respond that it is unreasonable to expect that psychotherapists should not access publicly available information. Others suggest examining each situation on a case-by-case basis. One thing is clear: psychotherapists should communicate with their clients about their policies on internet searches. This should be done in the beginning of psychotherapy, as part of the informed consent process.

When we’ve voluntarily posted information online–and when information about us is readily available in news stories, court documents, or other public sources–we don’t expect this information to be private. For this reason, I find the assertion that psychotherapists can access publically available information to be more compelling. On my intake forms, I invite clients to send me a link to their LinkedIn profile instead of describing their work history, if they prefer. If a client mentions posting her artwork online, I’ll suggest that she send me a link to it or ask her how to find it. I find that clients are pleased that I take an interest.

What about the psychotherapist’s privacy? What if the client follows the psychotherapist’s Twitter account or blog? What if the client searches online for the psychotherapist? What if the client discovers personal information about the psychotherapist by searching? Here’s the short answer: psychotherapists need to avoid posting anything online that we don’t want everyone, including our clients, to see.

Ways to communicate online continue to proliferate. For example, an app that sends only the word “Yo” was recently capitalized to the tune of $2.5 million and was downloaded over 2 million times. Our professional ethics codes are revised infrequently (think years), while new apps and social media are emerging monthly, even daily. Expert consensus on how to manage these new communications technologies emerges slowly (again, think years). But psychotherapists have to respond to new communications technologies in the moment, every day. All we can do is keep the client’s well-being and confidentiality as our highest aspiration.

Jan Willer is a clinical psychologist in private practice. For many years, she trained psychology interns at the VA. She is the author of The Beginning Psychotherapist’s Companion, which offers practical suggestions and multicultural clinical examples to illustrate the foundations of ethical psychotherapy practice. She is interested in continuing to bridge the notorious research-practice gap in clinical psychology. Her seminars have been featured at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and DePaul University. 

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3. Martha Brockenbrough's PRO Track Session: Building A Killer Public Presence

Team Blog's very own Martha Brockenbrough is the author of five books for young readers, including the YA novel Devine Intervention and the picture book, The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy. She has a killer public presence - check out her website at www.marthabrockenbrough.com and on twitter @mbrockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough just before her session started (before the room filled to overflowing.)

Martha starts out by saying to the beyond standing-room-only crowd that:

It's not about marketing, it's about building relationships, and those relationships sell your book for you.

It's not about the hard sell - it's about this question: Do you enjoy meeting people who love books as much as you do?

YES!
"Connect with the right people and you'll ultimately connect with the right readers."

The breakout session was structured as the five key steps to building those relationships (and that killer public presence.)

I'll divulge one of the steps here::

Define your brand

Here's how that breaks down:

1. Identify who your ideal reader is

Martha's is: A weird independent nerd

2. summarize your book, who it's about, tone, sense of stakes

What is Martha's YA novel, Devine Intervention about?

"It's about the world's worst guardian angel, the girl he accidentally kills and the 24 hours they have to sneak her soul into Heaven before it disappears forever."

3. summarize your writing as a whole

Martha's website header says it all: "Author of Books for Smart Kids and Juvenile Adults"

4. convey it visually - while still being your authentic self

Martha has that cool streak in her hair that makes teen girls say, "I like your hair!"



5. leverage your unique background

Martha leveraged her passion for grammar by founding The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar and creating a holiday for it. This got her a lot of press coverage, and her reviews often speak of her love of language.


Martha is a fountain of information, and her session covers so much more! From how to leverage common core to the significance of pre-orders, we get example after example of how she and other authors did things right.

It's essential, inspiring, and as the person next to me said after the applause tapered down at the session's end:

"That was awesome."



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4. Pinterest and Your Novel

By Julie Daines

The other day I had the most wonderful surprise. A reader read my book, Unraveled, and loved it so much she created a Pinterest board for it with a few pictures that sparked her imagination about certain elements of the story.

I can't believe I didn't think of that. What a great way to share fun visuals with readers. I started thinking how Pinterest could be used as a promotional tool, as a forum to draw readers together to share something they love, or as an idea generator while drafting.

Here is a link to her awesome Pinterest board. It's only got seven pictures, but it captures the novel perfectly.

I'm not always the best at using all the tools at hand when it comes to writing and promoting.

I'd love to hear ideas from all of you on ways you've seen Pinterest--or any of the social media platforms--used in any part of the writing process.

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5. Content Marketing - Tim Ferriss on Blogging

Blogging is a must-do content marketing strategy. While this is a fact, bloggers have their own style and process. In a video with Tim Ferrisss, the author of NY Times best seller The Four Hour Work Week, he discussed his blogging habits and thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. To start, Tim believes you blog to gain access to an audience. He doesn’t have a focused topic - he pretty much

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6. 4 Tricks to Get Kids Reading They Won't Get Taught At School

It's very easy to get depressed these days, as a children's author, simply by reading the news. Library cuts. Michael Gove. Screen time on the rise. Michael Gove. Book sales in decline. Michael Gove. Literacy rates in the UK worse than anywhere else. An unholy obsession with one book by John Steinbeck gripping the nation. Michael Gove.

Every day a new controversy seems to rage across the Twittersphere, with all the nuance, sophistication and depth a conversation conducted in messages arbitrarily composed of 140 characters can have.

So, here is my totally non-controversial guide on how to make reading for pleasure, and reading widely for pleasure, habits as instinctive for the next generation as texting and tweeting now are for us. (I have submitted this to the DofE for their comments but am yet to hear back.)


1) Do not let your child read. This is an early mistake which many parents and educators make. By giving your child books as presents, reading to them or encouraging them to read, you label reading as an adult activity, something that has the same appeal and lure of pension planning or talking about babies.

If you must read, make sure you do it after your children have gone to bed. Lock your books up in a large glass case under lock and key and tell your children that "under no circumstances" are they to try and investigate the contents.

http://cascade.uoregon.edu/fall2012/files/books1.png



If you ever catch your child reading, explain that you have a 3 strike policy before they are grounded or have pocket money, mobile phone etc withheld.



2) Aggressively promote social media Explain to your child that if they want to have any chance of a future and developing empathic emotional maturity, they must spend as much of their childhood as possible - like you and your parents before you - on social media, Instagramming selfies and sending gossipy tweets to their friends. If they fail to do this on an hourly basis, you will be very disappointed in them and they will learn nothing.

http://mcluhanismyhomeboy.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/social-media-and-kids.jpg

3) Appoint a "designated reader" in your family. You must not be seen to read, your partner mustn't read, and ideally not your friends BUT Uncle Sean or Aunt Liz - "the black sheep of the family " must read till books come out of their ears. Ideally they should own a second hand bookshop which you never visit because you don't approve and on your child's 18th birthday, this ostracized relative can illicitly take your progeny out to a bookish lunch at the British Library Cafe - about which you express deep and constant reservations for months afterwards.


4) Make reading in public illegal The more reading is confined to bus shelters late at night, the back row of the bus, or nightclub toilets, the more it is likely to catch on. Celebrities could be photographed on zoom lenses reading paperbacks on the loo, and stock buying in countries where reading is still legal.


Or, alternatively and what feels actually more controversial in our current upside down discourse: at home, at school and in the library, begin by giving every child the time, space and liberty to independently discover the joy of being lost in a book by themselves.

Piers Torday
@Piers Torday
www.pierstorday.co.uk


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7. How social media is changing language

By Jon Reed


From unfriend to selfie, social media is clearly having an impact on language.  As someone who writes about social media I’m aware of not only how fast these online platforms change, but also of how they influence the language in which I write.

The words that surround us every day influence the words we use. Since so much of the written language we see is now on the screens of our computers, tablets, and smartphones, language now evolves partly through our interaction with technology. And because the language we use to communicate with each other tends to be more malleable than formal writing, the combination of informal, personal communication and the mass audience afforded by social media is a recipe for rapid change.

From the introduction of new words to new meanings for old words to changes in the way we communicate, social media is making its presence felt.

New ways of communicating


An alphabet soup of acronyms, abbreviations, and neologisms has grown up around technologically mediated communication to help us be understood. I’m old enough to have learned the acronyms we now think of as textspeak on the online forums and ‘Internet relay chat’ (IRC) that pre-dated text messaging. On IRC, acronyms help speed up a real-time typed conversation. On mobile phones they minimize the inconvenience of typing with tiny keys. And on Twitter they help you make the most of your 140 characters.

Emoticons such as ;-) and acronyms such as LOL (‘laughing out loud’ — which has just celebrated its 25th birthday) add useful elements of non-verbal communication — or annoy people with their overuse. This extends to playful asterisk-enclosed stage directions describing supposed physical actions or facial expressions (though use with caution: it turns out that *innocent face* is no defence in court).

An important element of Twitter syntax is the hashtag — a clickable keyword used to categorize tweets. Hashtags have also spread to other social media platforms — and they’ve even reached everyday speech, but hopefully spoofs such as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s sketch on The Tonight Show will dissuade us from using them too frequently. But you will find hashtags all over popular culture, from greetings cards and t-shirts to the dialogue of sitcom characters.

Syntax aside, social media has also prompted a more subtle revolution in the way we communicate. We share more personal information, but also communicate with larger audiences. Our communication styles consequently become more informal and more open, and this seeps into other areas of life and culture. When writing on social media, we are also more succinct, get to the point quicker, operate within the creative constraints of 140 characters on Twitter, or aspire to brevity with blogs.

Social media

New words and meanings


Facebook has also done more than most platforms to offer up new meanings for common words such as friend, like, statuswallpage, and profile. Other new meanings which crop up on social media channels also reflect the dark side of social media: a troll is no longer just a character from Norse folklore, but someone who makes offensive or provocative comments online; a sock puppet is no longer solely a puppet made from an old sock, but a self-serving fake online persona; and astroturfing is no longer simply laying a plastic lawn but also a fake online grass-roots movement.

Social media is making it easier than ever to contribute to the evolution of language. You no longer have to be published through traditional avenues to bring word trends to the attention of the masses. While journalists have long provided the earliest known uses of topical terms — everything from 1794’s pew-rent in The Times to beatboxing in The Guardian (1987) — the net has been widened by the “net.” A case in point is Oxford Dictionaries 2013 Word of the Year, selfie: the earliest use of the word has been traced to an Australian Internet forum. With forums, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels offering instant interaction with wide audiences, it’s never been easier to help a word gain traction from your armchair.

Keeping current


Some people may feel left behind by all this. If you’re a lawyer grappling with the new geek speak, you may need to use up court time to have terms such as Rickrolling explained to you. And yes, some of us despair at how use of this informal medium can lead to an equally casual attitude to grammar. But the truth is that social media is great for word nerds. It provides a rich playground for experimenting with, developing, and subverting language.

It can also be a great way keep up with these changes. Pay attention to discussions in your social networks and you can spot emerging new words, new uses of words — and maybe even coin one yourself.

A version of this post first appeared on OxfordWords blog.

Jon Reed is the author of Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing and runs the website Publishing Talk. He is also on Twitter at @jonreed.

Image: via Shutterstock.

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8. Facebugged

I’ve made an uneasy peace with becoming a product sold to advertisers. Now it seems I’ve been a lab rat, too.

The AV Club reports:

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.

bubble

I uploaded this picture last night, intending to write my usual sort of daily-chronicle post. Then my eye wandered from the rainbows inscribed on the bubble to the blunt, browned ends of the grass and I got distracted by the ruthlessness with which we shear off the fertile edges of nature. I wandered off to bed, musing, leaving the post unwritten. (Huck’s finger is much improved, was the gist.)

This morning, after reading the article quoted above (about a different kind of bubble, a ruthlessness altogether unsurprising but disgusting nonetheless), I came back here and found the photo waiting. And now I see that I’m in the picture too, there inside the bubble, taking a photo of the green world on the other side of the film. You could work up quite a metaphor there, obvious, clumsy, but apt: the insubstantial bubbles, the world outside, the illusions of people that aren’t the persons themselves.

But my frustrations aren’t philosophical (of course Facebook was always going to exploit us in every way possible) but practical. The reason a billion people have handed over their (our) data to Facebook is, at heart, a practical one: it’s the most efficient platform anyone has yet come up with for letting us keep in touch with a large number of friends and family at once. We failed at writing letters. Good phone conversations, while satisfying, take immense chunks of time. If you want to keep up with each other’s daily lives, the little things, you have to talk every couple of days (at the least) or else there’s too much ground to cover and you must out of necessity abridge.

Yahoogroups worked, for a while—you could engage in meaningful discourse or chummy banter with a good-sized group of people at once. But generally most of those relationships were new, were forged because of the group, by means of the group. I made some lifelong friends that way (hello, TAMs! hello, Karen!) but (I don’t like that ‘but’; it sounds like a devaluation of the friendships on its left, and that isn’t what I mean at all)—but—but my high-school friends didn’t form a Yahoogroup. My college friends didn’t. We kept to our phone calls, our occasional letters and visits. I read letters six times and treasured them, and didn’t write back, or did but didn’t stop for stamps.

After a while, most of the Yahoogroups I was part of morphed into discussion boards (more efficient, because they allowed for topic-sorting; less efficient, because they required administration and management) or faded into disuse. I think I’m still signed up to forty-odd lists. I get mail from three, and read one and a half. It’s years since I logged into a discussion board.

Then came blogs. Those of us still doggedly blogging for personal reasons look back on 2005 and 2006 with nostalgia: we remember what it was like in those days, less than a decade ago, when we were for the first time opening our front doors and saying here’s my house, come in. We shared too much, made friends, celebrated art and nature, got in fights, copied one another or got furious about being copied—all the same things we’d done on AOL in 1995 and in email groups in 1999, only now with photos of our children. We formed new and very real friendships: real and strange, because we knew (know) so much about each other and have watched each other’s children grow up, and yet we live so far away some of us may never meet. When one of us goes silent for a while, the others worry. Sometimes I’ll think: if she dies, I might never know what happened.

That’s if she isn’t on Facebook. Because that’s what Facebook does better than blogging—connects wide groups of people and spreads news they wouldn’t necessarily publish on any other website—and Facebook is why only a fraction of my friends-who-blogged are blogging still. Facebook IS blogging. It’s everyone blogging at once on the same platform, a platform cleverly managed (manipulated) for purposes we all agree are greedy at best, and not guided by principles that put our best interests remotely near the top of the priority list.

I love Facebook. I hate Facebook. I have loved and hated it since the day I joined. Facebook gave me back friends I had lost: that’s the sum total of my reason for loving it, and it’s immense. All those other platforms brought me new friends. Facebook reunited me with old ones. I don’t need to dress it up in metaphors. I’d lost touch with some of the people I loved best, and Facebook gave them back to me. It gave me what blogging didn’t: daily contact with beloved cousins and old school friends. Every day, it gave (gives) me photos and anecdotes of their lives, their children, their pets, their loved ones, their work. How can I measure the value of that?

If all the people I loved were inclined to blog—to blog about their personal lives, no less—I wouldn’t need a platform like Facebook. Somehow, Facebook accomplished the miraculous feat of convincing all these old friends to blog as we were doing, with oversharing and our children’s faces and outrage and sorrow and delight. And commenting is easier there, it just IS: fast, efficient (it always comes back to efficiency), and rewarded by a heartening LIKE. And—significantly—more conversational. You can reply back and forth quickly, in real-time like chat. Don’t blog comments feel more formal somehow? They didn’t use to. I feel like we used to chitchat more in the combox, but maybe that’s nostalgia. It’s probably just the time delay. If I reply to your comment here, it’s probably a day after you wrote it, and who knows if you even see the reply.

It’s strange, actually, the way we feel safer about sharing our personal stories on Facebook. We know we’re the product there; the evidence is thrust before us every time we open the tab and see a sidebar ad for a book we looked at on a different website the day before. We rail about the way they keep resetting the news feed from ‘most recent’ to ‘top stories,’ we fume at each sneaky privacy-policy change, we wince each time another website wants us to log in via Facebook before we can leave a comment.

But we go back, because that’s where our friends are posting photos of their their babies, their travels, their graduations. Because it’s a mini college reunion every time one of us posts and all our classmates chime in, laughing over an old shared joke. Because we have history together, and we care about one another’s present-day lives. Because if something serious happens, you’re going to tell your Facebook friends before you put it on a blog.

To leave, or to make the decision never to go in the first place (for reasons I respect and with a resolve I may at times envy a little), is to cut yourself off from a certain flow of information. There’s plenty of nonsense and trivia on Facebook, as there is in all forms of human interaction, including some of the best phone calls I’ve ever had. But there’s a great deal of the Real, the Good, the True there too, and it’s that—not simply the dopamine hit, as many theorists would have us believe—that brings us back. It’s genuine curiosity. It’s, to be blunt, love. I love you and I want to know how you’re doing. If Facebook is where you’re showing me, how can I stay away?

I would pay for an ad-free social connection site with no data-mining and no gross user manipulation of the sort revealed in the newly published study described in the article above. (You can click through from the article to the study itself.) But—here’s what I know. I know it’s unlikely a critical mass of my friends and relatives would too. Facebook caught us because it was free, and because there was a numerical tipping point: so many of us are there now, you really are missing something if you aren’t. Which isn’t to say anyone should be there who doesn’t want to be: I wouldn’t presume. As I said, I respect and admire their reasons for staying away.

But I’m a practical person, and I know what I’ll miss out on if I leave. I’m 46 years old and I’ve lived in a lot of places. I love a great many people. As I said on Facebook this morning when I shared the link above—my last act before logging out for a breather—”But how will I get my YOU fix?”

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9. Book Marketing - Better Check Your Amazon Book Categories

Social media is such a useful tool - if you don't get carried away with it and waste too much precious time. Why it's useful is you can find fresh content at your finger tips from those you follow, connect with, or like. That's how I found a must-read post, "Big Changes on Amazon Categories" from Author Marketing Experts. I found it at GooglePlus. It seems Amazon made changes to its book

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10. Rebooting Philosophy

By Luciano Floridi


When we use a computer, its performance seems to degrade progressively. This is not a mere impression. An old version of Firefox, the free Web browser, was infamous for its “memory leaks”: it would consume increasing amounts of memory to the detriment of other programs. Bugs in the software actually do slow down the system. We all know what the solution is: reboot. We restart the computer, the memory is reset, and the performance is restored, until the bugs slow it down again.

Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention. Scholasticism is the ultimate freezing of the system, the equivalent of Windows’ “blue screen of death”; so many resources are devoted to internal issues that no external input can be processed anymore, and the system stops. The world may be undergoing a revolution, but the philosophical discourse remains detached and utterly oblivious. Time to reboot the system.

Philosophical “rebooting” moments are rare. They are usually prompted by major transformations in the surrounding reality. Since the nineties, I have been arguing that we are witnessing one of those moments. It now seems obvious, even to the most conservative person, that we are experiencing a turning point in our history. The information revolution is profoundly changing every aspect of our lives, quickly and relentlessly. The list is known but worth recalling: education and entertainment, communication and commerce, love and hate, politics and conflicts, culture and health, … feel free to add your preferred topics; they are all transformed by technologies that have the recording and processing of information as their core functions. Meanwhile, philosophy is degrading into self-referential discussions on irrelevancies.

The result of a philosophical rebooting today can only be beneficial. Digital technologies are not just tools merely modifying how we deal with the world, like the wheel or the engine. They are above all formatting systems, which increasingly affect how we understand the world, how we relate to it, how we see ourselves, and how we interact with each other.

The ‘Fourth Revolution’ betrays what I believe to be one of the topics that deserves our full intellectual attention today. The idea is quite simple. Three scientific revolutions have had great impact on how we see ourselves. In changing our understanding of the external world they also modified our self-understanding. After the Copernican revolution, the heliocentric cosmology displaced the Earth and hence humanity from the centre of the universe. The Darwinian revolution showed that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through natural selection, thus displacing humanity from the centre of the biological kingdom. And following Freud, we acknowledge nowadays that the mind is also unconscious. So we are not immobile, at the centre of the universe, we are not unnaturally separate and diverse from the rest of the animal kingdom, and we are very far from being minds entirely transparent to ourselves. One may easily question the value of this classic picture. After all, Freud was the first to interpret these three revolutions as part of a single process of reassessment of human nature and his perspective was blatantly self-serving. But replace Freud with cognitive science or neuroscience, and we can still find the framework useful to explain our strong impression that something very significant and profound has recently happened to our self-understanding.

Since the fifties, computer science and digital technologies have been changing our conception of who we are. In many respects, we are discovering that we are not standalone entities, but rather interconnected informational agents, sharing with other biological agents and engineered artefacts a global environment ultimately made of information, the infosphere. If we need a champion for the fourth revolution this should definitely be Alan Turing.

The fourth revolution offers a historical opportunity to rethink our exceptionalism in at least two ways. Our intelligent behaviour is confronted by the smart behaviour of engineered artefacts, which can be adaptively more successful in the infosphere. Our free behaviour is confronted by the predictability and manipulability of our choices, and by the development of artificial autonomy. Digital technologies sometimes seem to know more about our wishes than we do. We need philosophy to make sense of the radical changes brought about by the information revolution. And we need it to be at its best, for the difficulties we are facing are challenging. Clearly, we need to reboot philosophy now.

Luciano Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He was recently appointed as ethics advisor to Google. His most recent book is The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality.

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Image credit: Alan Turing Statue at Bletchley Park. By Ian Petticrew. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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11. New Summer Reading for Anglophiles

Alice's Mad Tea Party
Maybe it's the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. Or maybe it's that I can't quite get rid of the influence of the Raj in my psyche. No matter—the fact remains that every summer my reader's heart starts to hanker after Brit Lit.

There's nothing quite like a good Susan Howatch novel, tea, scones, and clotted cream (which Whole Foods carries now, leading to the demise of my overly ambitious fitness plans.)

On the hunt for contemporary (still alive and writing) authors, I posted this on my social media yesterday:




I thought I'd compile a list of books and authors as suggested by my friends, in case other anglophiles out there are looking for a new read. Books that are asterisked received more than one mention. (Note: I have neither read nor vetted the titles on this list, so read at your own risk ... but I do have a smart social media set.)

Particular Books
  • The Fire-Eaters by David Almond
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • *The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie and other Flavia DeLuce mysteries by Alan C. Bradley
  • Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan
  • The Children's Book by AS Byatt
  • Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
  • Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
  • *The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  • The Memory of Love by Armineta Forna
  • *The Cuckoo's Calling and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith 
  • Old Filth by Jane Gardam
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachel Joyce
  • Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesy
  • Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel
  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor
  • Saffy's Angels by Hilary McKay
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Rustication and The Quincunx by Charles Palliser
  • Lady Jane series by Deanna Rayborn
  • Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  • *The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • *Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
  • *Sunday Philosophy Club and Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
  • Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd
  • A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh
  • Maisie Dobbs series by Jacquelyn Winspear
  • *Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Other Recommended Authors
  • Rhys Bowen
  • Elizabeth Buchan
  • Margaret Drabble
  • Philippa Gregory
  • Elly Griffiths
  • Nick Hornby
  • Penelope Lively
  • Sarah Maclean
  • Elizabeth Noble
  • Maggie O'Farrell
  • James Runcie
  • Joanna Trollope
Dead Authors and Books People Couldn't Help Mentioning
  • Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  • Rumer Godden
  • Dora Saint (Miss Read)
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Got other suggestions? Leave them in the comments for the rest of us to discover.

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12. Widen Your Circle: Join us for KidLitCon 2014

One of the best ways to deepen our commitment to children's and young adult books is by meeting other people who share that passion. And I don't mean just virtually; I mean in real life, too. Well, here's our chance: the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Conference, aka KidLitCon, October 10-11, at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, California. This is a gathering of people who care about children’s and young adult books, including librarians, authors, teachers, parents, booksellers, publishers, and readers.


Social Media, Blogging, and Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Literature

How might we use our blogs and social media platforms to widen the world of children’s and young adult literature? I'll be there, speaking about how we can change and affect the conversation about diversity, both in the industry and in the wider culture. Author Shannon Hale is going to speak also, via Skype.

Mark October 10th and 11th on your calendar—we'd love to see you there. And consider submitting a proposal by August 1st about how you might contribute to the conversation on children’s and young adult books. Or just register by September 19th.

Conference Organizers

Tanita Davis and Sarah StevensonFinding Wonderland
Jen RobinsonJen Robinson’s Book Page

Please help by spreading the word. Be a fan on Facebook and Follow KidLitCon on Twitter.

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13. The temptation of shutting down your social media accounts


We've all been there.

There are times when social media can feel so infuriating, when it feels like all everyone does it look for an excuse to feel outraged, and sometimes you might even find yourself the target of that outrage.

There are times when it feels like other people are so popular, so happy, and you're struck by your own imperfections.

There are times when you feel like you put so much work into just staying above water, doing the bare minimum, to check off a box of "Things Writers Are Supposed to Be Doing," but like the Red Queen in Alice and Wonderland you're just running to stay in the same place.

There are times when it feels tempting to shut it all down, to just retreat into the real world, to let the next fad come and pass and not invest so much time into something so temporal.

It's tempting to want to shut down your social media accounts and not even bother with the difficulties that come with putting yourself out there on the Internet, especially those times when someone out there in cyberland takes time out of their day to try to cut you down to size. The Chinese government invented a chilling term for the practice of seeking out people to shame on the Internet. They call it the Human Flesh Search Engine.

I've felt all of those things at various times over the last seven+ years of blogging (gahh!!!! Seven years WHERE DOES THE TIME GO). But I've never decided to shut it all down. I still have my social accounts, and I still blog.

For one thing, to shut it down feels like a false retreat. Yes, maybe you would feel a short term gain to disappear into virtual darkness and just let the Twitterverse spin on. You may win a temporary reprieve, but as people like Satoshi Nakamoto go to show, the Internet can still find you even (or especially) when you don't want to be found.

It seems like this is the way the world is going whether we like it or not. The future is going to be a confusing mix of public and private, with a heavy emphasis on the public. Even if you have warts out there on the Internet, at least you're out there. At least you have a trail that people can examine and consider the whole, people who know you and can come to your defense. It gives you a voice, even if it can feel at times like there's no escape.

As tempting as it can be to want to hunker down and let the world pass over you, it still seems like you lose still more by retreating into the wilderness. I don't know where this is all going, but I'm excited enough about the future to stay in public on the Internet, even as I wonder sometimes what in the world we're all doing.

Have you ever thought about shutting down your accounts and retreating? What did you decide?

Art: The Red Queen's Race by John Tenniel

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14. QotW: What Are Your Favorite Social Media Sites?

Hey everyone! Pretty much the only thing writers love as much as books and writing is talking about books and writing. So each week here at Adventures in YA Publishing, we’ll post a question for you to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers: craft, career, writers’ life, reading and books. Together we’ll become better writers by sharing tips and discussing our habits and practices.

Question of the Week
March 16, 2014

What are your favorite social media sites?


photo credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

The Adventures in YA Publishing gang answers:

Martina Boone: My social media habits go in spurts depending on what I’m doing. When I’m in heavy writing mode, I tend to be on Pinterest more often looking for inspiration. A lot of those images will eventually also find their way to my Tumblr feed. Other times, I love Twitter—but it’s like potato chips; once I’m on, I’m sucked in and clicking on links and massively derailed from doing anything productive. I really need to break that habit. I’m a reluctant Facebook user, although I do go on to skim for news about friends because lately I always seem to be about two weeks behind on email. I recently created a Facebook page, which has the feed from here at Adventures for those who aren’t on Blogger, and there is also Compulsion news, YASeriesInsiders.com news, and more.

Website: MartinaBoone.com
Tumblr: MartinaBoone.Tumblr.com
Pinterest: Pinterest.com/MartinaBoone
Facebook: Facebook.com/Martina.Boone
YASI Tumblr: YASeriesInsiders.com


Lisa Gail Green: Social media. I do love my social media. I adore Twitter, even though I'm not as active as I once was, I still make connections and have great conversations and links that make it soooo worth the time! My handle is @LisaGailGreen because I want to be easy to find. So just about anywhere that's my handle. :D I admit I am getting used to FB as well. Maybe because hanging with other writers is just so much fun. I have an author page there too (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Lisa-Gail-Green/419781971445979) and I'm really getting into Pinterest. I love posting and finding fun and quirky, sometimes inspirational things. I can't imagine the solitary life the writer once led. It may seem a bit of a time suck, but I get so much out of it that it's hard to think of it that way!


Alyssa Hamilton: Definitely Twitter! I have connected with and met so many people through twitter it's unreal. I also really love Instagram, mainly because it's a fantastic way to see what books people are reading, receiving in the mail etc. I love Pinterest because it's so fun to follow some authors and see where their inspiration comes from. Facebook is great for allowing your followers a quick tool to see all of your posts if they don't actually follow your blog/website too.


Clara Kensie: Twitter! I am always on Twitter. You might call it an addition, and I am okay with that. I found it confusing and intimidating at first, but now it’s the place on the web where I feel most at home. It’s a great way to connect with readers, book bloggers, writers, publishers, and to stay current on local, national, and world events. I tweet about lots of topics—RUN TO YOU, books, young adult lit, funny things that happened to me that day, compelling or humorous images, etc. I love social media and I have accounts all over (see below for the sites on which I'm most active) but Twitter is hands down my favorite. Come and say hey to me on Twitter, or at any of my social media sites!

Twitter: @ClaraKensie
Website: clarakensie.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorClaraKensie
Tumblr (personal): the glass jar on my desk
Tumblr (writing tips): writerly things from the glass jar
Instagram: instagram.com/clara_kensie



WHAT ABOUT YOU: What is your favorite social media site? Why do you like it? Which ones don't you like?

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15. Twitter is Getting on the Larger Visual Header Bandwagon as Part of Its Social Media Blending Strategy

It seems originality doesn't stand a chance when it comes to social media. If you notice, each social media network tries to keep up with the other. And, while Twitter holds its own with a limited character number, it's succumbing to other pressures. According to an article at HubSpot.com, Twitter will be rolling out a new design overhaul. The new version is kind of like Facebook and kind of

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16. Social Media Sincerity (and Book Winner Announced)


Social Media Sincerity

 

Did you know there are well over three hundred social media websites? For writers, some sites have the potential to build a larger readership, grow their platform, and expand their business. However, it’s essential you weigh your social media sincerity for its value.

If not monitored, social media slowly slurps away your time. At the end of the day, many realize the productivity gauge is still on empty. They struggle trying to find a balance between networking and actually writing.Are the games, news, and videos the distractions? Decide what it is you want.



Be true to your calling first. Which do you want to do the most—circulate or create? Networking is important to the writer’s business, but what’s the point if the writer is never in the business of writing?
When you do socialize on Facebook, YouTube, and the like, stand firm in your Christian beliefs. Don’t fade into the background in fear or camouflage your heart in order to conform. Be courageous. Choose authenticity over popularity.
Another checkpoint of sincerity is endorsements. One popular practice among business professionals is reciprocal recommendations. One social media venue for this is LinkedIn. Professionals build contacts, promote their skills and businesses, and provide endorsements for other professionals. However, I question the authenticity of some of the endorsements.
Once, I had a gentleman endorse me for my poetry writing. That’s fantastic. Except I’ve never written poetry, so how can he endorse it? I removed the endorsement and sent the man a message thanking him, but explaining the situation. A cordial invitation to visit my blog followed so he could see what I do write. A few days later, I received a nice note apologizing for his hasty error. He added there should be a tab for endorsing integrity. Now, he reads my blog.
So many LinkedIn profiles sport the all-too-familiar photos under their endorsements that one questions their sincerity. Obviously, some people are just out to see how many endorsements they can give and receive. Their recommendations are untrustworthy.
If you see endorsements by me on LinkedIn, then you can trust I have actually experienced their work in some form. Even if a good friend lists cake baking as a skill—if I haven’t tasted one of her cakes, or know for a fact that she won a blue ribbon for one, I won’t endorse it. So, bring on the cakes!

Our words mean diddly to the majority of the world but they should stand for something.
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  Luke 6:45 (NIV)   

Be sincere in whatever God is calling you to do—whether that is writing something excellent, engaging others in a conversation, or recommending a good book. Let your words not be empty but empower them by carrying the weight of truth.





We would love to hear feedback on this post!
Have you questioned the integrity of social media? In what ways do you practice sincerity when using it?
 
 




And now to announce our giveaway contest winner of Vanessa Fortenberry’s book, Mama, I Want to See God.
Using the integrity of Rafflecopter to make a random selection, our winner is Rosaura Maria Cluxton. Congratulations, Rosaura! I’ll be sending you an email requesting your address so I can mail your book.

 

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17. Top 10 Social Media Sites to Use in the Library

Today's libraries are relying and more and more on social media to not only promote the building, but also the programs, books, special dates, and future events to patrons on a scale that more easily manageable.  Here is a list of the 10 most popular social media sites libraries can use now:

 
1. Facebook - this site gives a library not only a voice, but a picture too.  Use this site to friend your patrons, administrators, teachers and other librarians to create a network and to share ideas.  Post ideas, successes, displays, teacher librarian in action to name a few.  Use the chat option if you'd like to help students with homework after hours.  Take into account the option for allowing comments or not.

2. Twitter - this is fast becoming the number one site all teens are using and have accounts for.  Utilize Twitter for quick updates, sharing websites and webtools, and snapping a pic.  Make your Twitter handle unique enough to create a library personality and add a graphic or image (mascot, anyone?)  It's up to you whether you'd like to create a separate account for professonal learning networks.  Business in the front, party in the back, as they say.

3. Instagram - pictures tell a thousand words, and you can pack a lot of words with a snapshot.  Use this site to show off the library and the many areas it contains.  Take pictures of bulletin boards, creative signage, new books that have come in or students in action (check with your local district policy about students images).  Friends colleagues and everyone in your building to grow your followers

4. Vine - a quick video is a sure way to catch action going on in the library.  It can be goofy or serious, the theme is up to you.  Create a vid of yourself doing a quick reminder of library events.  Catch one of teachers using the library for different purposes.

5. Goodreads - link it, embed it, share it anyway you go, but an online bookshelf is a heavy hitter when it comes to books and circulation.  Create any shelf you'd like and post it for your patrons to use to find the best books you recommend.  Or create one of a state list, reading list on campus, teacher favorites, student favorites - the sky's the limit.  For each shelf you make, you'll have to have a separate account, so keep that in mind

6. Shelfari - see above. Another wonderful way to share reviews and books with book lovers everywhere.

7. Tumblr - The interface is cool and so easy to use.  What's more, teens are flocking to this site.  So take advantage of it and create a blog by adding links, video, pictures, articles either created by you or found on the web.  Tumblr has many options for backgrounds, but it's the content that makes your Tumblr unique.  Search the site and see what's out there and start building a place you can call your own

8. Scoop.it - Want to share and curate at the same time?  Create a Scoop.it for the library and start curating into 5 different categories.  What I see most are educational sites, apps, and information but there is so much more to curate when it comes to libraries.  Think about book trailers or databases; homework help sites or books by genre.  If you build it, they will come

9. Pinterest - LOVE is the only description I can give about Pinterest.  As a curation site, it allows you to make as many bulletin boards as you want.  Create a library board about the library.  Start one for the book talks you've been doing so students can look back at past titles.  Find ideas to start a book club. Look at ways to decorate the library for the holidays.  It's easy to start running down a rabbit trail, but boy is it fun!

10. Youtube - While this collects videos, it's a perfect site for you to create a channel and upload it with so many things.  Try  putting amazing book trailers on it.  Or how about creating screencasts for students and teachers to use?  Do one on databases or digital literacy.  Create a video on the OPAC or how to access e-books.  This site is not only entertaining but teaches those who use it about so many things (trust me, I've used it for tutorials myself!)




BONUS: Of course use Blogger!!  Easy to use, great layouts and options for make yours personal. 
Create lists to share, books to review, videos to embed, and the list goes on.  It's the alternative to a library website, so tab away!






Not only does social media promote the library, but it's also a great way to show administrators how the library is being used in the millions of ways they may not know about!  So go forth and get social!   If you know of any other social media that is great for libraries, please leave a comment and share.  See you online :)

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18. Do You Need a Social Media Platform? Agents Weigh in

Hi! Lisa here and I recently asked our participating wonder-agents:

How important is an online platform when considering a new author?

And here are their answers:

Suzie Townsend from New Leaf Literary

I represent fiction so the most important thing to me is whether I love the book. I do, however, like to see that an author has some kind of online presence, whether it's twitter, tumblr, a blog, etc. The platform doesn't necessarily matter and neither do the number of followers, but I want to see that they're actively involved with social media in some way.









Sara Megibow from the Nelson Agency

For me, seeing that a prospective client has a positive online platform before considering them for representation is important. If that prospective client has no online platform whatsoever (which is, frankly, rare in this day and age), this is not a deal-breaker. However, if I cyber-stalk someone and their Fabebook page or twitter account or blog is particularly negative toward publishing, then I will pass on asking for a full manuscript. "Why would anyone be negative online while hunting for an agent,” you ask? Frankly I don’t know, but I’ve seen it two or three times in the past year and moved straight along to the next submission. The next logical answer is, “what do you mean by positive online platform?” and my answer is simple - an inexpensive or free website that has a short author bio, maybe a headshot, and a paragraph that talks about the book (or books). In addition, I find that many prospective clients have either a twitter account or a blog. Again, having no online presence isn’t a deal-breaker, but having a negative one is.”


Jordy Albert from the Booker Albert Literary Agency

I think an online platform is important because it allows reader to interact with authors, and find new readers. An online platform also gives us a glimpse at the author(s) personality.















Sarah LaPolla from Bradford Literary Agency

For non-fiction, "platform" is very important. But since I don't represent non-fiction, I'll speak only to what I consider for fiction authors. The story and the writing are what matter most. Sure, it's great if the author mentions their 500K Twitter followers and connections to famous authors. Do I care if they can't offer that? Absolutely not. Sometimes I don't even care if they do offer that. I like asking about Twitter after I offer representation because I think Twitter can be a great tool for new authors. It's not a necessity though, and certainly not a prerequisite. All it is is a nice bonus, and no one should really expect or demand a bonus. That's why it's considered something *extra.* Whether you have 3 followers or 3,000 followers, all that matters to me is if I loved your book and think you'd be great to work with. Big online platforms don't really impress me if I don't already connect with the writing. Nor do I think marketing should automatically be the job of the author. Enough publicity falls on the author these days as it is. That's just the way of the industry now, particularly for debut authors who don't get as much money toward publicity. That said, if a publisher or an agent relies on one person's Twitter account or Facebook page as the primary marketing tool, that's a problem. I wouldn't trust an agent who doesn't put the novel or the writer ahead of "presence."

Thanks to all of the above agents for their input!

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19. Such an honor to be recognized…in Writer’s Digest Magazine!

writers-digest-may-june-2014I’m so thrilled to hear that Writer’s Digest Magazine (in the May/June issue) gave me A+ for social media for teens!(beaming and beaming) What an honor, and such a good feeling!

And Debbie Ohi’s (a fellow Toronto writer, illustrator, and friend) website is in the top 101 websites again (and so well deserved).

Thank you so much to Maureen L McGowan for letting me know!

I get a digital subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine, but I don’t have the May/June issue yet. And I so prefer paper magazines any way; they’re so much easier to read, what with the sidebars and such. I have to go buy myself a print copy! (grinning)

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20. Device-Free Day. You In?

I returned from the inspiring Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College yesterday to this tweet from Elizabeth Law, reader and editor extraordinaire:

If I could blush, I would have.

In an age of digital hullabaloo, one of my life goals is to avoid screens and plugs from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday. Apparently, I've discoursed about that publicly. The problem was that I was reading the tweet first thing Sunday morning.

At the Festival, I was reminded again that maintaining a 24/7 digital connection can suck the storytelling right out of you. Creative work flourishes with the age-old practice of a weekly day of rest, during which we enjoy a five-senses attentive delight in the present.

That's why I am going to renew my device-free habit from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.

But this time, I don't want to do it just for me and my stories. I want to invite you into this practice with me (not exactly with my rules and schedule—feel free to make up your own), so that many, many good stories might emerge.

If you want to join me in taking a one-day-a-week break from email, social media, and internet browsing, and/or refraining from screens and plugs altogether, I invite you to use #devicefreeday to begin your 24-hour hiatus. During your digital break, rest, play, and be present in your place with your people. Let the stories come!

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21. Eventbrite uses social media to examine PAXEast

Pax_East_Infographic_final.jpg

PAX East, the hugely successful Boston version of the gaming show created by Penny Arcade, wrapped up last weekend. PAX Prime is held in Seattle, and they just announced PAX South, to be held Jan. 23-25 in San Antonio, Texas. There’s also a PAX Australia—all the shows are run by ReedPOP, which also throws a bunch of comic-cons worldwide, as you may be aware.

Eventbrite is a ticketing agency that helps sell tickets for gaming events and they teamed with social media analysts Mashworks to analyze all posts from Twitter, Facebook, forums, and blogs about PAX East during the three-day convention. Eventbrite sent us the above infographic after using social media analysis to see what people were socialing about the show. Eventbrite provided the following bullet points:   

• PAX East created a bit of a social media frenzy: the event drove a whopping 193,000+ social media posts, driving 500+ more posts than PAX Prime 2013 and 25% more social volume than PAX East 2013!

• There were more women in the mix than ever: 28% of people talking about PAX East were women, up from 25% at PAX East 2013 and 26% at PAX Prime 2013, indicating that female attendance and social sharing at gaming events is steadily growing.

• Move over, Nintendo! Indie games drove big buzz: Over a third of all discussion around game announcements and demos centered on indie games — great to see new names breaking through. Conversations studied ran the gamut, and general excitement about PAX East dominated social discussion (48%), followed by chatter about gaming tournaments, like the Towerfall tournament and the 25K Infinite Crisis Event (15%). Other discussion topics included cosplay (12%), game announcements and demos (10%), Panels (9%), and parties and concerts (6%). The biggest social spike of the convention was the announcement of PAX South, driving over 5,500 posts from excited gamers.


Now why are we highlighting this press release? It seemed to have several interesting aspects, not least of which the integration of more women into the PAX culture. In the past, there were some ugly incidents, but hopefully more mixed participation will help change that.

It also seems that Eventbrite is getting more involved in the pop culture event arena — well, heck everyone is. This kind of data mining could turn out to be quite revealing.

And also, it’s a little scary how much people can figure out from social media, eh?

It grows.

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22. Launching a Book in a Digital Age: A Call for Tips and Tricks

In the age of shrinking in-house publicity budgets, how might a writer or illustrator use social media to launch a book? I'll be presenting a session called "Launching a Book in a Digital Age" at the forthcoming New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 2014 Conference, and I need your input.

What are some creative ideas and strategies that have worked for you or for others in launching a new book? Do you have practical tips on how to use tools like blogs, twitter, Facebook, etc. to draw attention to a title and make it stand out from the crowd? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below or tweet them with the hashtag #booklaunchtips.

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23. Wednesday Writing Workout: Social Media Poems!

Throughout April (National Poetry Month), I'm posting poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts. This week, I was in the mood for something short. I thumbed through my worn copy of The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco, but none of the 175+ forms jumped out at me. I wanted something new.

Then my son Jimmy sent me an article, "The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research," which defines (among other things) the ideal length of a tweet as 100 characters and the ideal length of a Facebook post as less than 40 characters. Naturally, I thought about writing poems short enough to be posted on social media.

I searched online to find out what already existed on the topic. In an article from 2011, Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's Poet Laureate, said poetry is "a way of saying more with less, just as texting is. We've got to realise that the Facebook generation is the future – and, oddly enough, poetry is the perfect form for them. It's a kind of time capsule – it allows feelings and ideas to travel big distances in a very condensed form."

To celebrate National Poetry Month, New York City hosted its fifth annual "#NYCPoetweet" Twitter poetry contest. So obviously, I didn't make up the idea of writing poems to post on social media sites, although I've posted a number myself. Haiku fit perfectly, as you can see in Laura's daily Riddle-Ku. Liz Garton Scanlon is posting a haiku on her blog every day this month. My cousin Maureen sent me an article about H. W. Brands (@hwbrands), an author, historian, and history professor who is tweeting "Haiku History: The American Saga Seventeen Syllables at a Time."

But a brief poem intended for social media doesn't need a specific form—it just has to be a short poem, maybe with a tangy metaphor, an alliterative pun, or a haiku-like twist. Writing short-short poems is practice in writing concisely. Here are a couple new ones of mine, both about this spring in Wisconsin:

Gray skies, more rain.
One goldfinch brightens 
the world.

Wet sidewalks = worm traps.
Stop wiggling—I'm trying to help!

I found social media-length poems on Twitter using these hashtags:
#micropoem
#micropoetry
#poemtweet
#poetrytweet
#poetweet
#twitterhaiku
#twitterku
#twitterpoem
If you search (as I did), be aware that you will find poems of uneven quality, from brilliant to confusing to downright offensive. But do try writing some of your own just for fun—and then share them online!

Congratulations to our Fifth Blogiversary Book Bundle winners!
Rafflecopter lists our prize winners on the original post, so you can always check back there after a drawing ends to see who won. Five entries were chosen to receive five books each. Here are the winners:


New Teaching Author Book Giveaway!
Don't forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of Jill Esbaum's Angry Birds Playground: Rain Forest.

National Poetry Month
On my own blog, I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays through April. This week's post includes the final National Poetry Month giveaway of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to stop by!

JoAnn Early Macken





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24. Do You Still Need a Website as the Core of Your Online Platform?

Almost two years ago I wrote an article titled, “Do You Really Need an Author Website?” In that article I explained the need for a website and included a couple of statistics proving that need. Since then, social media has exploded. It’s become more powerful than ever, and more and more people and businesses are using it as an integral part of their marketing strategy. In fact, social media

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25. 5 Interesting Podcasts: Kidlit, Social Media & Self-Publishing


" Saucy is a real character dealing with real stuff—hard stuff that doesn’t have easy answers, not in real life and not in fairy tales, either. This is a really compelling and ultimately hopeful story. Highly recommended." – Debby Dahl Edwardson, National Book Award finalist and author of My Name is Not Easy Read a sample chapter.

With limited time to keep up on the business of writing and publishing, I have found myself turning to podcasts. A podcast is like a radio program, but you can play it on demand. To listen, I have the Pocket Casts Lite app on my iPhone; the free version allows me to set up five podcasts to follow. I listen while I’m at the gym or taking a walk using ear buds; I have a wireless bluetooth earbud setup, so I don’t have to worry about cords. Or, I plug into the auxiliary input on my car radio/cd system to listen. At home, I have a portable bluetooth speaker that sounds great. Of course, you’ll need to find a set of apps for your particular system. If you already have something set up to listen to music on your smart phone, just use that same thing for listening to podcasts.

Using Pocket Casts Lite, I can log onto the iTunes store and search podcasts to find something I want to listen to. My friend who write history nonfiction, tends to listen to history podcasts for tidbits that might spark an idea. No, really, she just listens to them for pleasure! If it sparks something, great. Almost any topic that interests you, there’s a podcast. Here, I’ll mention five podcasts that I’ve been listening to lately.

If you’re interested in just hearing authors talk about their books–and not the publishing side of it all–then you can look at podcast lists here or here, here or here.

Children’s Literature.

  1. Katie Davis’s Brain Burps is the longest running podcast about children’s books. Each week, she interviews someone about their work and publishing experience, provides a book review and gives tips. Find her on iTunes.
  2. Cheryl Fusco Johnson takes a slightly different approach to podcasts by using a local access radio station, KRUU in Fairfield, Iowa for her show, The Studio. For her show, you must download files and put them on your smartphone like you would a music file. Her interviews are with a wide-ranging set of authors–always interesting.
  3. Book Marketing.

  4. One of my favorite podcast is Social Media Marketing with Michael Stelzner, which isn’t necessarily about book marketing, but about using social media in general. It comes from the folks at SocialMediaExaminer.com and some of their strategies are stellar tools for your book marketing. Look for it on iTunes.
  5. Podcast


    Self-Publishing

  6. There are strong podcasts for self-publishers, including Joanna Penn’s Creative Penn Podcast. She’s got a long record of interviewing the most successful self-publishers and being on the cutting edge of new developments.
  7. But my favorite right now is Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. Yes, I was just interviewed on this podcast, but I have been listening to it for the last few months because of Simon’s great British accent. He’s got one of the best radio voices around right now. Simon’s interest in self-publishing is–of course–doing narration of audio books. But ont he podcast, eh talks to a wide range of authors about their publishing experiences.

What apps do you use to listen to podcasts? What is your favorite podcast?

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