Keeping it Light Today with Some Instagram Fun!

Last month I scrounged together new resources for the website just before leaving for my honeymoon. That was a pretty hectic time! This month, I’d like to keep it simple and share some of my favorite Instagram posts from the #authorlifemonth challenge and my usual #amwriting posts…

In January, I had my tonsils out. That was definitely a challenge overcome.

This is the music I listen to sometimes while working on the novella.

I love new journals. So much so, I have more journals than shoes, I think…

My writer’s group is pretty amazing when it comes to feedback!

I chatted about writing my novella’s disclaimer, and how it can be fun.

If you’re on Instagram follow me and I’ll follow back! I’m having a lot of fun there. I wish I’d signed up sooner!

Creating Custom Tabs on Facebook Pages

Dear Reader,

Last week I talked about how I finally got a Welcome tab up on my Facebook fan page, and was asked to write a tutorial about how I navigated the murky depths of Facebook HTML editing. And so I shall, gladly.

The default for a Facebook fan page is for it to load on the wall tab, i.e. the list of activity that’s happened on the page.

This isn’t so great for branding, though, especially when trying to appeal to newcomers. What we want is a welcome tab where we can put our welcome message, maybe an image or two.

Good thing we have the option to use the Facebook Static FBML app, amiright?

Sure, once you figure out how to use the stupid thing.

Assuming you have a fan page and know how to edit it (click “Edit” below your page’s photo on the left), you should be familiar with this list of options.

When you click edit, you will see this list of options on the left. Your editing options will be in the center, and the typical Facebook ads will be on the right.

We want to go to the apps tab so we can customize our page with the additional functionality afforded through the Static FBML app.

Static FBML stands for Static Facebook Markup Language. When I saw this originally, I thought, “But I just want HTML. This is stupid. Why would Facebook make their own language?”

Turns out, you use this app for HTML as well. It will accept images, text, and tables. It won’t accept embedded media such as videos, as far as I’ve tried.

Anyway. At the bottom of your apps page, you might see an option to add the Static FBML app to your page. If you don’t see that, search “Static FBML” using the search field at the top of the left options menu to find it.

The app in the list of search results should look like this. Click it, and follow the directions to add it to your page.

Once the app is installed on your page, you will have no idea what to do next. Logically, clicking “Settings” would take you to a page that allows you to edit this random tab that is now appearing on your page, right? Wrong. But you are right to think that.

Facebook is stupid and actually makes you click “Go to App” in order to make edits. It’s ok. I can say Facebook is stupid from a heuristic standpoint: it’s my day job to find the weaknesses in a web design and point them out for the next iteration to improve the design. Are you listening, Facebook??

You should see a blank text box waiting for your HTML magic, like so pictured left. I made a 500 pixel wide x (??) pixel tall image that I threw in there for the welcome tab. Just to see what it would look like.

I noticed at the bottom, there’s a link that says “Add another FBML tab” or something like that. Don’t do that until you’ve saved your first tab.

Essentially, you can create as many customized tabs as you can think of, using this app. It’s pretty useful once you get to this point.

I made two tabs: a Welcome tab and a Buy a Copy tab. The latter is a simple 2×2 table that has the images of my books, descriptions, and links to where readers can buy them. Simple and straightforward.

From here, you’ll want to make your new Welcome tab the default landing tab. To do this, you need to choose the Manage Permissions option in the left menu.

There will be an option on this page to change the default landing tab from the Wall to your Welcome tab. Go ahead and do that. Or make the default landing tab something else.

Whatever floats your boat, I’m not the boss of you.

In the end, you will want to log out of Facebook to ensure that the landing tab is the one you specified. It took me an hour or so to realize that it didn’t matter how many times I refreshed it, I would always see the Wall tab as the landing tab because I’d liked the page.

The default landing tab, when made to be the Welcome tab, only appears first when you haven’t liked the page yet. So it’s kind of perfect. Welcome me if I’m new, but give me the juicy stuff if I’ve been around for a while.

So if you haven’t liked my fan page and are coming to it for the first time, you should see something like the image on the left. Otherwise, you will see the wall tab like in the first image of this post.

Ta-dah! Now you have a snazzy welcome tab. Hopefully you have some awesome content to throw in there.

Ask questions and provide additional suggestions in the comments!

All the best,

Belinda

Unexpected Progress

Dear Reader,

I’ve made unexpected progress. Unexpected, because it doesn’t have to do with writing, sadly. Once again not following through with my ROW80 goals. I once again have taken a break from the writing, but instead made progress on some of my web presence issues.

Maybe I should change my ROW80 goal altogether. To something like, “Do it. Whatever it is, if it takes you one measurable step forward this week, do it.”

You see, I have a Facebook Page, but have struggled with what to do with it. Even though I have a computer engineering degree, the FBML app just confused the crap out of me that last time I tried to work with it. I was over-thinking it like CRAZY, which isn’t a surprise. That’s kind of my modus operandi, to be honest.

That said, I finally buckled down yesterday and worked on two graphics for the fan page: a large banner on the left, and a splash image for the welcome tab. AND, I figured out how to get the stupid FBML tabs to work so I can throw in my HTML. So now we have a “welcome” tab and a “buy a copy” tab. The content from “buy a copy” came straight from my Bright Bird Press website. Easy peasy. What took me so long?

No clue. But I credit ROW80 for making me do something about it. Check out how everyone else is doing, will you?

All the best,

Belinda

Worderella Hunts for her Readers

Dear Reader,

I’ve gotta say, it’s been pretty tough tracking you down. I’ve done it to myself, I know, writing such a particular genre (paranormal historical romance). But the thing is, this is the genre that is spilling onto the page, so this is the genre it seems I must write.

So first, I’d like to list what I know about you. I know you are probably a young-to-middle-aged-or-older woman. I suspect you are probably interested in historical fiction, romance, and the paranormal. Some combination of all three, if preferable. I know you are interested in relationships, particularly father/adult-daughter relationships and romantic relationships. I know you probably like…

What I don’t know is where you’re hiding yourself. I assume you are busy reading, living life, enjoying food, drink, and the company of excellent companions. I applaud these activities and encourage you to indulge them more often.

Our lives are far too hectic these days; we don’t know when to take a break or how to know when we should take a break. Even when we recognize when to take a break from the everyday doldrums, we don’t know how to.

Those of us who are lucky know to lose ourselves in a good book. The sort of good book I’m in the middle of writing, just for you.

I’m trying everything I can think of to reach you. I want you to know that I care about you, I’m fighting to make a quality, personalized product just for you. And I think I’m making headway, thanks to social media.

You see, I’ve been a part of social media for years. I had a Facebook page under a different name, and learned the ropes of the system. I deleted that page because, well, it was getting spammed by every robot and its mother. But I started a Facebook page under the name Belinda Kroll because I wanted to get to know my potential readers. I want to know what you find interesting, funny, weird, touching, etc.

I want to get to know you. And I’d like you, in the process, to get to know me.

But in the meantime, I seem to be getting a lot of fellow writers friending me on Facebook. Which is totally fine, and I’m loving the idea of garnering a small community of writer friends. But the point of my attempt at social media was to get to know you, and not necessarily my friendly competition.

Today, however, I feel as though I’ve stumbled onto a landmine. You see, I’ve been part of Twitter for over a year, but just recently set up a Twitter account dedicated to my writing. This Twitter account is where I keep up with the big writing and publishing news. I follow my blog friends, I follow agents and publishers, and I follow you, if I’m able to find you.

Which leads me to my landmine: the Twitter Search functionality. It’s taken me a while to discover how to utilize social media successfully. But I realized today that I can search for the terms that pertain to my writing, and therefore pertain to your interests.

I use this cool Firefox browser plug-in called Yoono, which allows me to log into multiple social media accounts. At any given time, I get real-time updates from Twitter and Facebook. This allows me to continue writing and researching, while taking pulse of the writing and publishing community.

Yoono is also cool because it saves my searches for me. Each search for Twitter becomes a sort of specialized list which I can access at any time. I’ve used the following terms to get closer to you, to discover if these terms pertain to you and your interests the way I hope they do…

I think I’m on the right track. The tweets I receive when I click on these search topics are from you. The content is that you’re reading these books and you’re suggesting them to friends and fellow readers.

Don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want to spam you by advertising my work. Instead, I want to hear what you have to say about these amazing writers. After all, I’m a fan of Amanda Quick, Deanna Raybourn, Susan Carroll, et al,  just like you. I hope to learn from their books and from your comments about their books.

But mainly, I just want to get to know you. So if you could, send me a line sometime.

All the best,

Belinda Kroll
(@worderella)

Worderella Tries Online Marketing

Dear Reader,

I’ve spent most of this week adjusting to all the responsibilities of my new job, as well as calming down a bit with this whole self-publishing thing. I’m the sort of person who sets her mind on something and will work until she collapses to achieve her goal.

But that isn’t healthy, smart, or sustainable if you’re seriously planning on going into a new business venture, which is what I consider this self-publishing journey. I am determined to become a micro-business owner, which I contend is different from a small business owner.

#amwriting

And, I’ve been writing. After I complained about how I hadn’t written in two weeks, I am now on a four day streak of writing at least 750 words a day. Go me! It turns out that once I get past 600 words, I get into the flow of things and my characters stop being characters and start being people.

Online marketing as an author

I felt so good about finishing chapter twelve of Haunting Miss Trentwood tonight that I thought I’d dabble in some marketing.I’ve uploaded the first section of my book, Catching the Rose, on Scribd. I’ve also uploaded an essay I wrote about how English accents are undeniably hot to American women, and my theory why. All tongue-in-cheek, of course.

I’m maintaining a spreadsheet so I know exactly what I’ve spent, where I’ve marketed, what I’ve uploaded, etc. I’m sharing this spreadsheet because I believe in iteration. I’m certain there are many of you who are better marketers than me. You’ve been at it longer, or it’s closer to your day job responsibilities, or you’re just not as shy as I am from the get-go.

Paying it forward

I’m also collecting useful links with my Delicious bookmarks. It’s a small list right now. With your help, we could make an awesome collection of links for authors trying to self-publish, market, etc. Whenever you see something I should link, send me a tweet or leave a comment.

And now, it’s time for Miss Worderella to go to sleep.