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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

April 2013

Scoop.It Online Magazines Are Easy To Find

Last night a friend sent me a message asking how he would know if I had posted something on Scoop.It. It's simple.  Every time I scoop an article I link it to my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts.  For example, this morning I scooped an article on self-publishing children's books.  Within five minutes this announcement appeared on Twitter:

Carolyn Schriber ‏@roundheadlady
Publishers share secrets of what makes a good kids' book | @scoopit http://sco.lt/948kG9

Shortly thereafter, this link appeared on Facebook:

Carolyn Schriber shared a link:
Publishers share secrets of what makes a good kids' book | @scoopit
Some children's are so irresistible, they elicit cries of: read it again! And again. These stories are usually simple. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to write.

If that doesn't work for you, you can always just click on one of these page links and see what has been added to the top of the page. It's no more complicated that finding my blog.  Bookmark the topic you're interested in and it's always waiting for you.  Here are the links again:

The Historian's Point of View:  The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events

On this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new discoveries, new methods, new controversies.
Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-historian-s-point-of-view


The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres

Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too. Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-writing-game


Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt

Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing.
Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher





Visit My New Online Magazines

 
"Scoop.it lets you easily publish gorgeous online magazines by curating content on your favorite topic."



As I suggested yesterday, I am giving up my daily blogging efforts to concentrate on a new way of communicating with my followers.  From what I can tell from comments and the number of hits my postings have gathered, most people who read "Roundheads and Ramblings" have been interested in one of three topics: writing, self-publishing, or history.  I have set up an online magazine for each of these headings, and I'll be posting links to the most interesting articles I have found on the internet.  Occasionally, you will also get my own comments on the subjects covered. I'll also still be posting links on Facebook and Twitter, so that readers will know when I have posted new material.

Here is the gateway to my Scoop.It topics:


The Historian's Point of View:  The Experiences of the Past, Seen through Current Events

On this site, I'll be gathering articles about the craft of history -- new discoveries, new methods, new controversies. 


The Writing Game: A Collection of Advice and Clever Tips for Writers of all Genres

Every writer has a set of tricks to help navigate through thorny spots in the writing process. Maybe some of them will help you, too. Find it at: http://www.scoop.it/t/the-writing-game


Self-Publisher: How To Be Your Own Publisher without Going Bankrupt

Current views and helpful tips from authors who have switched to self-publishing.


Two last minute notes:

1. Originally I had set up a fourth topic on the Civil War in South Carolina, but it did not work well.  There was only limited interest from readers, and great content was hard to find.  So, at least for a while I'll combine the two interests under "The Historian's Point of View."

2. For those of you using iOS devices, Apple has an app that lets you use Scoop.It on your iPhone and iPad. 


Making Some Changes

It's been a rough couple of months.  Back in late February  I caught a virus that was diagnosed as "Nothing serious, You'll get over it." Well, it's still hanging around, causing general aches and pains, fatigue, and now an ugly rash that itches and spreads.  Still, the diagnosis is, "Yep. You may have it for several more months. Don't worry.  It's not serious and it's not contagious."  It has a name, but the name defies what I remember of my Latin.  So I've been covering up and plugging away.  Note to self: It's really miserable to feel awful but not bad enough to go to bed or get sympathy! (End of Whine)

Now I'm headed into a week in which I'm host for a meeting/conference sponsored by the non-profit where I serve in the role of President.  We have over 100 people coming in, so I'll be spending at least three full days in our downtown office getting ready for and pulling off that little show. I'm exhausted already just thinking about it. Something on my schedule has to suffer, and this blog has been elected.

Do  you remember a popular old song called "There'll Be Some Changes Made"? It should be my theme song right now, because I really need to do some changing.  For the past three months, I've been blogging five to seven times a week, and the result was that I didn't get any other writing done.  I had a book outline all ready, but I just couldn't get into it.  I blamed it on writer's block, but I also knew I was cranking out 500 to 600 word columns every day, so I wasn't really blocked.

The last two weeks have been a test.  I signed up to do a NaNoWriMo April Camp, vowing to write at least 30,000 words of that new book during the month.  To clear the way, I put together a list of ten old blog posts that I could use to fill this spot for a couple of weeks.  And what happened? It's April 13th, and I've already written over 20,000 words.  I'm getting a pretty clear message here. It's time to make some changes.

I intend to leave this blog up, and I'll be back now and then when I have something really juicy to write about. But in this spot, I'm going to post the links to four "Scoop It" pages that I "curate."  If you haven't run across Scoop It, I think you'll find it useful. I have declared four topics that I am interested in. As I explore the internet, read certain topic-related websites, and follow other bloggers, I can identify articles that I would like to share with you.  You can go directly to my Scoop It page on that specific topic and find what I consider to be particularly interesting or important.  

I'll be posting the links tomorrow, so stop by and click on one of them.  You'll be able to come back to that page, click on one of the links, and get fresh new material every few days.  Hope you enjoy it!

The Fall of Fort Sumter, 152 Years Ago Today

Today, April 12, is the anniversary of the first shot of the Civil War, according to most accounts.  This was the day when South Carolinians fired on the federal garrison  defending Fort Sumter in the middle of Charleston Harbor.  The garrison itself was a pathetically small group – 65 enlisted men, commanded by Major Robert Anderson, who had originally been assigned to Fort Moultrie.
 
Anderson had given up on any attempt to strengthen Fort Moultrie, which lay across the channel from Fort Sumter on Sullivan’s Island.  Moultrie was practically defenseless. Sand had piled up against its meager walls, and cows now climbed easily to the tops of the walls to graze.  In other places, the walls had collapsed entirely, and there was simply no way to defend the fort from a land attack.
 
On December 26, less than a week after South Carolina voted to secede from the Union, Major Anderson planned a surprise move to Fort Sumter, from which he could at least mount a credible defense if Charleston decided to attack.  He slipped out of Moultrie under cover of darkness and successfully seized Fort Sumter.  He had failed to anticipate, however, the continuing need to supply the island. 
 
As early as January 9, 1861, a passenger steamer without any armament had been diverted from its usual routes to bring supplies to Fort Sumter.  Anderson was unaware of the steamer’s mission, but a small group of Citadel cadets assigned to Morris Island were taking no chances. Their commander gave the order to fire to a young cadet, who shot a cannon ball across the bow of the Star of the West.  The steamer turned and fled, and there were no further attempts to send supplies. There are those who claim that was the first shot of the war.
 
However, according to  the history books, that honor goes to the Confederate guns that bombarded Fort Sumter starting at 4:40 AM on April 12. The garrison survived in the cold, with short rations until April, but Anderson had already notified Washington that he could not hold out any longer. The guns that now encircled Fort Sumter fired throughout the day and resumed on the 13, while the women and civilians of Charleston watched the entertainment from their rooftops.  With much of his fort consumed by fire, Anderson began negotiations to surrender shortly after noon, and the final ceasefire came at 7:30 pm on the 13.  Over 3000 shells had been fired, but not a single man was killed on either side.  And thus began America’s Civil War

Second Thoughts on Marketing



We've already talked about book marketing as part of the preparation for writing  your book. Now that the book is ready to meet its public, the same social media sites will be even more important to your efforts. If  you've followed this plan, you've already started to build a platform of followers and readers. Now it's time to expand your efforts.

Once you've created a publishing company and have the books ready for purchase, a website is a prime requirement.  It should serve many functions -- introducing your area of expertise, talking about your book, providing a detailed biography so that readers feel they really know you, allowing readers to contact you, and making book ordering easy.  Articles on how to build your website are found elsewhere.  Just be sure you do it.

A word of caution about the usual social media sites may be necessary here.  Readers turn to Twitter for pithy sayings, not to be told to "Go buy my book." Facebook provides enough ads as it is.  Don't make it worse by using your status updates as just another ad. Your readers are probably interested in your signings, your awards, your public speeches -- but don't beat them over the head with flat demands for their money.
YouTube videos can reach huge audiences, but don't post something unless it makes  you look like a professional, not a silly amateur turned loose for the first time with a cellphone. And LinkedIn audiences are even tougher.  The participants there are usually serious business people.  Give them information they can use, not blatant self-promotion.

A Virtual Book Tour is a wonderful device for building your following.  Every time you visit the blog of someone new and post an interesting article, you get a chance to add that person's followers to your own. So look for people with interests similar to your own, read their blogs until you are sure you like them (and their audiences), and then ask politely if you can do a guest post for them.  If  you offer their readers some information of value. you may create a long-term relationship that works for both of  you.  As an example, just last week I made my second appearance on a blog managed by a woman who wrote an article for my own book launch. Our interests jibe, and we easily fill in for one another when we need a fresh voice.

The final item on this chart talks about press releases -- which sound serious and mysterious but are easy to do because there is a standard format. Everything must fit on a single page.  Forget about fancy fonts, pictures, clever little sketches -- just get the facts out there, with no grammatical errors or typos.

Start with the words "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE"
Follow that with your contact information.
Write a short catchy headline.  Look at your local newspaper for examples.
Write a two-sentence description of your book.
Provide a synopsis, similar to the one on the back of the book jacket.
Include a brief biography, with pertinent qualifications, other publications, and any awards.
Add a quote or two from any reviews you may have
Provide book details -- ISBN, publisher, ordering information
Repeat author contact information
Finish with that useful printers mark --  ###

Once you have a good press release, you can send it to local news media, give it to people who will be hosting  your book signings, and use it to introduce yourself to potential customers.  Consider it your own personal Town Crier, going out ahead of you to announce your presence.

Finally, let's add one more item: PERSEVERANCE.  Success in the book publishing world does not come easily or quickly .  It just seems that way when you look at it from the outside, because readers don't see the agent turndowns, the rejections from publishing houses, the low sales figures, the negative balance in your business ledger.  Your book will not be an overnight phenomenon.  Accept that, and keep marketing, keep talking about your interests, and keep writing.  Really, which would you rather have -- a one-night stand with an Amazon "best-seller of the day" or a steady, growing relationship with your readership?