Archive for the ‘Author Tips’ Category

TED Talks Every Writer Should Watch: Andrew Stanton “Clues to a Great Story”

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TED talks are “ideas worth spreading” in the areas of Technology, Entertainment and Design. In this five-part series, Nicole Bell shares TED talks every writer should watch. Part one featured Elizabeth Gilbert on Your Elusive Genius.

Every writer who has ever put ink to paper or his fingers to a keyboard has experienced this crazy rollercoaster called storytelling. Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or blogs, you are ultimately telling some sort of story. Andrew Stanton’s Ted Talk is a little more geared toward fiction writers, but he discusses truths of writing that are applicable across all genres.

*Disclaimer- there is brief language around the 1:05 mark

So what do we do with this information? Stanton just told us that “Storytelling has guidelines, not hard, fast rules.” Rather than scanning your work to make sure it has each one of these, I suggest finding how to best implement these guidelines into your own writing. I’ve broken down what I found to be his main points into 6 guidelines that writers should consider when telling a story:

Make Me Care

This principle is applicable to all writing genres. If your readers don’t find a reason to care, they won’t find a reason to invest, and your book will find itself back on the shelf of your favorite local bookseller in no time. I like how Stanton words this: “It’s making a promise [to readers] that this story will lead somewhere that’s worth your time.” You don’t want to have to keep pulling your readers along; you shouldn’t have to beg them, “Now, stay with me here!” as your story progresses. Rather, they should be eating up your story paragraph by paragraph, dying to see what will happen next.

2 + 2

This principle of two plus two is one of the trickier points Stanton makes. Yes, people like to work for their “meal,” but they don’t want to overwork for it. I’ve seen some painful examples of authors who try to offer 2 + 2 but instead end up giving their readers something along the lines of a basic calculus problem. These authors gave too little information. Not everyone who reads your books will think exactly like you do. Something that may seem obvious to you might not translate well to other people. This is why it’s important to have a good, small circle of friends from different backgrounds who can let you know when something like this happens in your writing.

Change is Vital

Stanton said “If things go static, stories die, because life is never static.” This is why we say we’d rather watch paint dry than doing something else we believe would be boring; we don’t perceive any of the changes being made. You want to make sure that your writing is dynamic. This doesn’t mean every paragraph has to have a major plot change or character revelation. It does mean that the story has to go somewhere. Remember that promise you made earlier on in the Make Me Care principle? This is one of your main methods by which you keep your audience’s attention .

Strong Running Theme

I cannot stress this principle enough to the nonfiction writers out there. The fiction authors have it a little bit easier on this one, I think. They have a character who has some sort of end goal in sight—a journey, a change of character—that becomes the theme of the story.  However, when it comes to nonfiction, I’ve read more books than I would have liked that started on one topic but ended on something almost entirely unrelated. It’s easy to follow rabbit trails in any genre, but in nonfiction it is significantly easier to not return to the main route. Before you begin your book, write down your theme somewhere you will see it every time you go to write. When you’re done with a section, read what you’ve written and ask yourself: Does this directly and effectively get my theme across to readers? (Be mindful of the 2 + 2 principle here as well).

Invoke Wonder

What is wonder? Merriam-Webster defines it as, “something or someone that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.” The way you invoke wonder into your writing is something you have to discover for yourself. Perhaps you’ll find you have a particular way you like to string words together. Or maybe you have a knack for choosing just the right vocabulary for your writing. I wish I could give you a formula or trick to figure this one out, but the mystery of wonder makes it tricky to nail down. Reflect on moments that filled you with wonder—what specifically about that moment/scene made you feel that way? Go from there!

Use What You Know

My writing professor once told me, “I can’t use the word ‘tentacles’ in my poetry. I know nothing about them except what I’ve seen on TV shows and movies. I can, however, use the word ‘grits’.”  Now, this doesn’t mean that we can’t ever write about something we personally haven’t experienced—it just means we will write best about topics we know firsthand. Stanton explains, “Use what you know. Draw from it. It doesn’t always mean plot or fact. It means capturing a truth from your experiencing it, expressing values you personally feel deep down in your core.” I know nothing about skate culture. I’m an East Coast suburbia girl who was involved in the performing arts. It would take a lot of research for me to understand skate culture well enough to write something extensive about it. I can, however, talk about how a skater would feel after his best friend commits suicide. Or about how a flight attendant fell in love with the woman of his dreams. Loss, love, anger, joy—these are shared experiences to which anyone can relate. These are the things that should shape your story.

TED Talks Every Writer Should Watch: Elizabeth Gilbert “Your Elusive Creative Genius”

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TED talks are “ideas worth spreading” in the areas of Technology, Entertainment and Design. In this five-part series, Nicole Bell shares TED talks every writer should watch.

Writing is hard. We all know it, and we certainly don’t need reminding of it. Like an unfortunate addiction to Oreo ice cream, we keep returning to it again and again. We can’t get enough of it. We’ve trained ourselves to need it (well, hopefully not the ice cream). But at the same time, our creative faculties sometimes seem to taunt us. Why do we let this thing we adore—and perhaps even depend upon—become something that we also spend sleepless nights agonizing over? It has developed some sort of power and pull over us, but this pull is not always beneficial. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the New York Times’ bestseller Eat. Pray. Love., puts it this way:

“Is it logical that anybody should be expected to be afraid of the work that they feel they were put on this Earth to do?”

Good question. In her 2009 TED Talk, Gilbert confronts the manner in which we address the issue of creativity, specifically as it relates to lightening the creative burden of the writer.



Man, I could watch that every day.

As an aspiring writer myself, I am all too familiar with these phenomena Gilbert addresses—will my work be good enough? What happens if it’s not? What happens if this thing I’ve just written is it—if it’s all downhill from here? And don’t get me started on writer’s block. There’s nothing more discouraging than having that overwhelming urge to create, to put pen to paper and let this thing churning inside me fall out, only to have all my creative orifices shut tight whenever I’m finally in a position to write. Every writer faces these challenges.

Gilbert also makes this comment:

“But maybe it doesn’t have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you’re finished, with somebody else. And, you know, if we think about it this way, it starts to change everything.” (17:40)

I have to agree with her.

Earlier Gilbert references this creative fount as “daemons” and “genius,” as named by the ancient Greeks and Romans, respectively. Here, I have another theory. The source of creativity is not some daemon or genius; it’s God. I would argue that He is everyone’s source of creativity, even if they don’t recognize this or agree with me.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (ESV)

God created us. We are distinguished in all of creation because we have attributes of our Creator, particularly the capacity for creativity. Now, on those days when we face the dreaded writer’s block or when we are unsure of our abilities, we can’t say that God has forsaken us—we have this promise in Scripture (Deut. 31:6). Rather, we’re just having an “off” day. The same thing happens in our spiritual lives—we all have gone through times of blissful, overwhelming awareness of the Lord’s presence and also seasons of quiet stillness. Why, then, should our creative lives be any different?

I find Gilbert’s talk excruciatingly comforting. She reminds me how my writing is not all about me. It’s a process of communion between the creative ability God has graciously gifted me and His own creative Spirit at work in my life. I hope after hearing her Ted talk you, too, can perhaps breathe a sigh of relief and shed some of your writing anxiety.

The Top 5 Best Places to Write

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Where is a location that makes the creative mind flow, where you can focus on the task at hand? We’ve all searched for our favorite places to do our work. And finding the perfect spot, away from distractions, but perhaps not completely isolated, tidy but not stark, warm but energetic, can seem daunting. Here are five of the best places to write.

Top5 places to write

A Place with a View

A peaceful and quiet setting, overlooking a scenic view – maybe a view of the city skyline, or the rolling waves of the beach. Somewhere that will soothe the soul, but at the same time allow yourself to delve into your creativity.


An Unused Room in the House

Of course, not everyone has spare bedrooms lying around, but if you have a guest room  that currently doesn’t have a friend sleeping in it, it  could become your new writing niche! Away from the  distractions of the rest of your house like a T.V, stocked  refrigerator, and more familiar surroundings, a room all  to yourself and your thoughts can really get those words  flowing. You can even tell the rest of the household that  once you pass those doors, the artistic mind is at work and mustn’t be disturbed! (Unless the house is burning down of course.)


A Hotel Room

If staying at home is still to distracting, maybe going on a retreat to a nearby town (or some where more exotic!) and staying at a hotel for a few days will do the trick! A sparse hotel room, you, your computer, there is bound to be several pages that can be written in there. Plus, if you’re really feeling fancy, get a place with room service and get that ice cream sundae delivered! I hear sugar totally helps with writer’s block.



A Café

Yes, a cliché. But for those who don’t work well in isolation and quiet, a café is really a great place to work. There are plenty of people passing through, coffee is always near by, and there is usually free Wi-Fi too! You can’t beat that.

*Fun fact – J.K Rowling apparently wrote Harry Potter in a café  called the Elephant House. Let’s hope there weren’t any real  elephants in there, or she must have really used magic to get her  work done.


 The Library

You can’t forget about this gem! The library is a great place to write. It’s always cool and comfortable. It’s a perfect balance between isolation and public. There are people, but they are always (at least most of the time) mindful of being quiet, and you are surrounded by books! How can you not be inspired?

These are just some of our favorites, but anywhere that you are comfortable is a great writing place. We are all inspired by different things, and we all write in different ways. I’m sitting in a cubical as I write this! Find us on Facebook, or click here, and tell us your favorite places to write.



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Free Webinar: 5 Things You Can Do To Gain Favor With The Media

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The following is a guest post from Mary Lu Saylor, a 30 year veteran in television news. On Thursday, November 13 she’s co-hosting a free webinar entitled “5 Things You Can Do To Gain Favor With the Media.”

I was asked by the folks at Ambassador International to provide a little insight for authors to promote their books.   I have a background in journalism and have been on the Mary Lu Saylorreceiving end of all sorts of information from organizations, businesses, and even publishing houses touting their latest offerings. I also am an avid reader.

Quick tips to promote your message:

  • Make connections with your local TV stations and offer to do a live interview (it really isn’t as scary as you think!) They may have a day time talk show or slots open during their morning, noon, or weekend newscasts.
  • See if your local newspaper will do a feature on you.
  • Local radio stations occasionally will feature people who are doing unique things in the community.

In your pitch to these outlets either via telephone, email, or snail mail make sure the information you provide is short and concise.   Give them the who, what, when, where, and why. Most importantly, make sure you tell them you are available.

Insight from authors

I reached out to two authors that I know and they have this advice for you:

Christian author Margaret Feinberg:

“As far as promoting books, we think it’s important for authors to know they are the plan. They are the editing plan. The marketing plan. The design plan. Everything. Authors shouldn’t think that if they sign with a traditional house everything will be taken care of. They need to be intentional about building and maintaining a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and others. They are the marketing plan. Great content is everything.”

Christian author Dwayne Morris:

“My greatest promotional tool was guest-posting on other people’s blogs. I connected with several people who have big platforms and they allowed me to speak into the lives of their audience. They also posted links to my book. (These include Michael Hyatt and Michael Nichols.) The bottom line…make connections with people and serve them and their audience. If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll eventually get what you want.”

I’m one of the presenters for an upcoming webinar “5 Things You Can Do To Gain Favor With The Media” which will give you more ideas about successfully delivering your message. Click here to sign up for the November 13 event.

I’d love to hear from you! Email me ( for a free tip sheet with more detail on some of the items I’ve outlined above.

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44 Ways to Promote Your eBook

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Looking for ways to promote your free or discounted eBook? Or perhaps you’d like to fill up your Kindle, Nook or iPad with even more budget-friendly reading material. Here is a fun list of sites that offer promotions for free, 99¢, bargain priced, and even new release eBooks. The categories are separated by websites that will list your book for free, and then those with promotional offers for a fee. Sites that have both free and paid promotions are listed in both categories.

44 ways to promote your ebook

44 ways to promote your ebook

Free Listings

These free listings do not charge a fee to promote your eBook on their website and some social media sites. They do, however, have specific submission guidelines and requirements.

1. Jungle Deals and Steals

Submission Type: Free eBook

Notes: ebooks should be submitted at least 24 hours in advance to be included in the daily freebie roundup.


2. EBook Friendly

Submission Type: Any eBook

Notes: Not guaranteed to be featured.


3. Cheap eBooks

Submission Type:  99¢ ebook

Notes: specializes in books that cost $0.99 or less and have 10+ reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4+ stars.


4. BookBub

Submission Type: Free or discounted by at least 50%

Notes: Not guaranteed to be featured.


5. Pixel of Ink

Submission Type: Any $.99eBook

Notes: Will try to feature your book if it will be temporarily listed on sale for $.99 or less on in the next 30 days.


6. The eReader Cafe

Submission Type: $.99 ebook

Notes: Your book should be listed at $.99 for at least five days to be included in the Bargain store.


7. Great Books Great Deals

Submission Type: Discounted ebook

Notes: Must be $3.99 or less, have 20 or more reviews averaging 4+ stars on Amazon.


8. Snickslist

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: Amazon Kindle Freebie promotion only. Your book must be currently free on Amazon to list your book here.


9. Ereader News Today

Submission Type: 99¢ ebook

Notes: Your book will need to have at least 10 reviews (from Amazon US), a 4.0 star rating, be priced 99 cents and be available on (Booked through July 10th)


10. Indie Book of the Day

Submission Type: Free Kindle Book

Notes: Please send in your submissions at least 2 days before your book goes free, priority goes to authors who notify in advance.


11. Addicted to Ebooks

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: Reg. price $5.99 or less and 5+ Amazon reviews


12. Ebooks Habit

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: All ebooks submitted must have 3 reviews at the time of the free promotion or they will not be considered.


13. It’s Write Now

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: Not guaranteed to be featured. (A paid guaranteed feature is posted below).


14. Book Praiser

Submission Type: Free or Bargain (less than $3) ebook

Notes: Asks that you like Facebook page, tweet, or subscribe to the newsletter of the site in return.


 15. Every Writer’s Resource

Submission Type: Any ebook

Notes: Just fill out form and submit. (Must also submit a short bio and excerpt from book)


16. Ignite Your Book

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: Only accepts eBooks that are currently available through Amazon.


17. Digital Book Today

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: 18+ Amazon reviews & 4.0+ stars  (Other free promotional opportunities listed on website) Paid promotions listed below.


18. Books on the Knob

Submission Type: Discounted/Limited time sale ebook

Notes: Not guaranteed to be featured.


19. Ebooks Addict

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: Not guaranteed to be featured. Book must have at least 3 positive customer reviews. (Guaranteed paid option available below).


20. The Writers Drawer

Submission Type: Any ebook

Notes:  The only requirement is that you submit an original piece of writing for posting, subject to approval, in one of the other sections of The Writer’s Drawer


21. Ereader Perks

Submission Type: Free ebook

Notes: Fill out form on website (Paid listings also available: see below).


22. Reading Deals

Submission Type: Any ebook

Notes: Submission not guaranteed to be featured


Paid Listings

The listings below offer many different features and ways to promote your eBook for a certain fee. Prices range depending on service. There are also strict submission rules and guidelines to follow.


1. Ebook Deal of the Day

Submission Type: Free or Regular priced ebook depending on package

Cost: $5-$10

 Notes: For the reg. price feature only accepting books primarily with ROMANCE genre and its sub-genres, or books that have a “touch of romance.”



Submission Type: Free or discounted ebooks

Cost: $5

Notes: Must be free, $.99, or a bundle at $1.99-$2.99


3. Gospel eBooks

Submission Type: Any Christian eBook

Cost: $50

Notes: Blackout dates: 1st of every month. The price must be $4 or less to qualify for listing.


4. The Vessel Project

Submission Type: Free and Discounted Christian eBooks

Cost: $75 for a one day featured status

Notes: This promotion will be a one day dedicated post for your book.


5.  Book Goodies

Submission Type: Bargain Priced ebook

Cost: $20 Up to 7 days Countdown Feature

Notes: Must be under $3


6. GoodKindles

Submission Type: Any ebook

Cost: Min. $7.95

Notes: Your book will be listed permanently on Goodkindles and our social profiles. It will be also featured in our daily newsletter.


 7. eReader Girl

Submission Type: Any ebook

Cost: $10

Notes: ebook will appear in the appropriate daily post (non-fiction, children’s ebooks, or Christian fiction), as well as in the daily newsletter.


8. Book Gorilla

Submission Type: Discounted ebooks

Cost: $100 for fiction

Notes: Must be under $3.99, at least 5 reviews and 4 star rating


9. Bargain Ebook Hunter

Submission Type: Free, 99¢, and Bargain priced ebooks

Cost: $15

Notes: 3 different options for promotion and requires 72 hours notice prior to book sale start.


10. Ask David

Submission Type: Books and ebooks

Cost: $15 “supporter pack”

Notes: Fee covers a 12 month period to send in an unlimited amount of books


11. Digital Book Today

Submission Type: Free, 99¢, Bargain priced, or Regular priced ebooks

Cost Ranging from $15-$90 depending on promotion

Notes: 9 different promotional offers with different submission guidelines and rules


12. Flurries of Words

Submission Type: Free, Bargain Priced and Newly Released ebooks

Cost: Promotional offers ranging from $3-$15

Notes: 6 promotional offers with different submission guidelines


13. Book Goodies

Submission Type: Free, Bargain Priced, and Regular priced ebooks

Cost: Ranging from a few free promotional offers to $10-$60 promos

Notes: Many different ways to promote your book and yourself as an author


14. Ebooks Habit

Submission Type: Free ebook

Cost: $10-$20

Notes: Two promotions: “Book of the Day” $20 and “Guaranteed Placement” $10. All ebooks submitted must have 3 reviews at the time of the free promotion or they will not be considered.


15. Ebooks Grow on Trees

Submission Type: Free, 99¢, $2.99 or less, and “Deals”

Cost: $20 one day $10 each additional day

Notes: Submit book at least 3 days in advance.


16. Ebooks Addict

Submission Type: Any ebook

Cost: $10

Notes: Book will be features as “Book of the Day.” Your book should have at least one review and an overall rating of at least three and a half stars or higher.


17. Bargain Booksy

Submission Type: Discounted eBooks $5 or less

Cost: $50

Notes: Must give 72 hour notice prior to beginning of promotional deal.


18. Free Booksey

Submission Type: Free eBooks

Cost: $50

Notes: Must give 72 hour notice prior to beginning of promotional deal.


19. It’s Write Now

Submission Type: Free and .99-$1.99 sales on eBooks

Cost: $10

Notes: Fill out form on website


20. Free & Discounted Books

Submission Type: Free, 99¢, and new ebooks

Cost: $45 for three days (Other promotions range $5-$50)

Notes: There are over 15 other promotional offers including: social media publicity, press releases, and giveaways


21. Reading Deals

Submission Type: Any ebook

Cost: $5

Notes: Guaranteed to be featured on website


22. Author Marketing Club

It is a shortcut website with listings to sites to promote your ebooks, some of which are listed here. It is free to register, and has many useful resources.



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Author Do’s and Dont’s for Enhancing Twitter Presence

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With over 700,000 new books released just this year, the pool of authors is becoming more of an ocean. But, the good news is readers are ready and eager to dive in. This is due largely in part to the impact social media has had on the book industry. Authors are no longer unattainable beings only connected to their readers by words on a page. Social media platforms have not only enabled authors to connect to their established readers, but also expand their readership with practically free PR.  Twitter’s easy to use 140 character platform and massive collection of users has made it one of the most valuable marketing tools for authors available today, if used correctly.

Here are 6 Do’s and Dont’s of Twitter to help you use this platform to your full advantage:

TwitterClockDo: Think about the time of day you send out tweets

Understanding the heavy traffic times for social media can be crucial in getting your tweets maximum exposure. The three best times of day to send out your tweets are relatively easy to remember: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. By that we mean, the majority of people are checking social media on their morning commutes, lunch hour, and around 6pm (as they get home from work). So, click the send button with every meal and share your content with the world.

Don’t: Send automatic direct messages

An automatic “thank you” DM can seem impersonal to a new follower, and be a real turn-off. If you really want to express your gratitude, send a personal DM yourself. It will allow you to connect more with your followers and appear truly engaged.


Do: Follow users with similar interests

It is important to build your following around people who share your likes and interests because those are the people most likely to be interested in your book. A large audience is important, but following random users in the hopes of a return follow will not give you the quality audience you want. Plus, you could be labeled as a “follow-spammer” which will decrease your credibility.


Don’t: Become solely self promoting

Twitter is a “give and take relationship” with a community (see below). If your tweets are constant promotions of your work, people will get bored and unfollow. Although, they can be great marketing tools, also use your tweets to express your personality and allow readers to get to know you better.


Do: Interact consistently

Twitter is about satisfying that need for human interaction and communication. By delving into conversations about other users’ works and projects, you build a rapport encouraging others to contribute to your work. Also, keep this up consistently. If your followers do not see regular tweets weekly, even daily, they may assume your account is inactive.


twitter fakersDon’t: Allow your followers to be filled with fake accounts

There is nothing more discouraging then finding out that 75% of your hundreds of followers are not even real users. In fact, more than half of the accounts that follow the President of the United States are fake. Use this Fake Follower Check to find out which accounts are real, and also see who is actively engaged on Twitter. This will give you a better understanding of how to increase your marketability.


Need help finding great people to follow on Twitter? Check out our list of @AmbassadorIntl authors on Twitter!


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She Speaks: Being the Author God Wants You To Be

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The following is a guest post from Ambassador author Carrie Daws about her recent experience at the She Speaks Conference, held July 24-26 in Concord, North Carolina.

Overwhelmed. Doing my best. Uncertain. Spinning my wheels.

These are the phrases I would have used to describe my author plan. I know God gave me books to write, but getting the thoughts from my head to your hands is not simple. Bookstores are flooded with a plethora of resources to help me, but I can’t read them all and sometimes they contradict. And who am I to write a book anyway? The great writers are doing a fine job without me. Are you as frustrated as I am?

she-speaks-Walking into the She Speaks Conference by Proverbs 31 Ministries this year, I expected to walk away with tools for marketing, ideas to spark creative juices, and lists of things to do. Instead, God infused my thoughts with truth.

What you think disqualifies you, is exactly what God is going to use to change someone else’s life.

Glynnis Whitwer

I’m not Francine Rivers and may never be as popular as she is, but the truth is that God already has Francine and doesn’t want me to be her. He created me to be me, to accomplish His purposes my way. And the shortcomings and inadequacies I see are often the very things that draw others to me, and thereby to Him.

Authors Carrie Daws, Shaunti Feldhahn and Kathy Barnett at the She Speaks Conference.

Authors Carrie Daws, Shaunti Feldhahn and Kathy Barnett at the She Speaks Conference.

God has something amazing for me to do. He is doing amazing things in the process.

Shaunti Feldhahn

Shaunti’s statement is one of those truths that I know but struggle to remember. I understand that God has a great plan that includes me, and I acknowledge that He wants to use me to accomplish incredible things. But the truth is that each step along the way is also amazing. It may not feel like it at the time, but when I stop to reflect back on the journey, I see those little moments that became stepping stones that got me where I stand right now. Every step is amazing.

You already have what it takes to accomplish His plans for you.

Renee Swope

This proclamation by Renee really caught my attention because I struggle every week to understand more about writing and HTML codes and best social media practices. I seem to be a constant flurry of learning what is just outside my grasp of understanding. Yet the truth is that God didn’t give me an assignment and send me on my way. He also gave me everything I would need to accomplish the assignment! Sometimes it’s in the form of books and blog posts and Google searches, and sometimes it’s through real people who make the keystrokes for me. But I am not alone on this journey that often feels very solitary.

Our passion cannot be our words. Our passion must be the Word.

Lysa TerKeurst

I endeavor to find the right words and put sentences in the order that will have the biggest impact. And while that’s important, the truth is that the time I spend with God in His Bible is more important. I must be filled with Him so I can overflow with love and grace and compassion. Otherwise, the words I find will not be the ones that change lives and make His name known.

She Speaks Carrie and Kathy

Ambassador authors of The Warrior’s Bride, Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws.

This is not a game. We write to free people from bondage.

Christine Caine

Sometimes I put off writing because no one asks for an account of my time. Sometimes I put it off because it’s hard, or boring, or frustrating. Sometimes I just put words on paper and throw them out to the world without really considering what I just wrote. But Christine is right: our writing is not a game. God wants to use me and my writing—all my writing—to affect change. To love people. To free them from the bondages in which our enemy wants to bind them. This is a battle where sometimes, many times, I do not get a second chance.

So while I also learned a couple new tidbits about Pinterest and what Lysa TerKeurst strives to put into every chapter she writes, I walk away from She Speaks with encouragement and motivation from God, whom I’m reminded is my biggest cheerleader. What an amazing thought!


Learn more about Carrie Daws at Her newest book, The Warrior’s Bride: Biblical Strategies to Help the Military Spouse Thrive, will be released in fall 2014.

Getting the Most Out of Goodreads: Linking Other Social Media Accounts

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According to Goodreads,  almost 117,000  authors have joined the Goodreads Author programs. So how do you stand out among so many? Combine your social media forces to work in your favor.

In our previous posts, you’ve learned:

Now it’s time to expand your social networking and reach out to the rest of the world. Okay, realistically, how about we just start with Facebook?


You may have noticed that you can sign up for Goodreads with your Facebook account. When you sign up with Facebook, or when you connect your Goodreads to Facebook afterwards, Goodreads gives you the option to auto-post your Goodreads activity directly to Facebook.

Like any app that uses Facebook, Goodreads can get a bit “over enthusiastic” about posting on your wall—and you may never even realize it. So I would suggest disabling the “auto-post” feature and just share your reviews, giveaways, etc. manually.

As a side note, having a Facebook fan page the readers can “like” gives you a platform to promote yourself. Remember our discussion about Fans vs Friends in our last post? The same applies to a Facebook fan page. You can’t keep up a personal relationship with all of your fans (you are only human after all), so a fan page gives your readers a way to keep updated on your books and author news. But, alas, I digress. This post is about Goodreads, so let’s get back to it.


The Goodreads Author program gives you a blog when you sign up, but you may already have a blog. So Goodreads allows you to stream your blog posts from your website through your Goodreads blog; you only have to write your posts once to reach two websites. Pretty neat? I would say so.

Write reviews on your blog? Well, you can also have the book reviews that you write on Goodreads appear auto-post onto your blog. If you regularly post other book reviews on your blog, this is definitely a feature worth looking into.

goodreads widgetWidgets

A widget is a little device that you can place on the side of your blog—follow buttons, mini Twitter feeds, a book shelf from Goodreads—widgets come in all shapes and sizes. Widgets can get really complicated really fast. Fortunately, Goodreads foresaw your need and gives you several different shapes and sizes to fit the style of your blog.

By placing a Goodreads widget, or badge, on your blog, you give your readers another chance to connect with you, to go look at your profile, and, most importantly, see the books that you’ve written. Everything always points back towards your work.


You can also connect your Goodreads updates to Twitter. Goodreads will auto-post (auto-tweet?) your Goodreads activities—reviews, books read, etc.—straight to Twitter.  Again, this gives your readers another chance to connect with you and be exposed to your work.

All of these social avenues may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry! You don’t have to do them all. Just start with the social media accounts that you have. Don’t have a blog but love Twitter? Then start with Twitter. Every little step towards marketing yourself well is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully these past few weeks have helped you get your feet wet in the world of Goodreads self-promotion. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment below or contact us Twitter @AmbassadorIntl

Getting the Most Out of Goodreads: The Dos and Don’ts of Interacting with Readers

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Remember those 25 million readers using the social media platform Goodreads we talked about earlier? Now that you’ve joined the Goodreads Author program and have learned to get your books out there, it’s time to discuss interacting with those readers—just not all of them at once.

Update Your Profile

Think of your Goodreads profile as your introduction to your readers. You want to give them the basics—where you live, if you have pets, kids, etc.—but you also want to seem like a fun and interesting person. Avoid just giving a list of facts about yourself. Instead, present your bio in a unique way that tells the reader just as much about yourself as the facts you give.

Also, update your picture and give your personality a “face.” Try to use the same picture that you use on the back of your most recent book and other social media profiles. This cuts down on the confusion, especially if there is another writer out there with your name.

Goodreads Joanie BruceFans vs. Friends

A fan is a person who follows you and wants to receive updates, similar to “liking” a page on Facebook. A friend is a person that you have gotten to know personally, whether online or in “real life,” like Facebook friends. You want more fans than friends. Since you have a limited amount of time to invest, you can only keep up so many relationships. But a fan doesn’t ask you to feed her dog while she’s gone or to be her bridesmaid. They just like your books and want to know more about them and more about you.

Most authors provide a way just for fans to contact them, maybe a special email or mailing address. This way, you can interact with your fans, but don’t feel obligated to attend so many weddings.

Goodreads Mississippi NightsDon’t Comment on Reviews

Yes, it may be a struggle. You worked on your book for so long and want to thank that reader for their kind words, but resist the temptation. An author needs to keep a low-key presence on review boards, which includes bad reviews too. Every book gets some bad reviews, but don’t retaliate. Instead, respond with silent grace. These reviews, and your reactions, are public for anyone and everyone to see. One bad reaction from an author can cause a reader (or readers) to hate that author’s work for a lifetime.

By keeping your presence off review boards, you give readers the opportunity to review without fear of author reaction. These reviews are more honest and usually encourage readers to review your book even more.

On rare occasions, if a particular positive review knocks you off your feet, and you are in awe, filled with thankfulness, I would suggest sending that reader a one-on-one message. It’s private, so you stay out of the public eye, but you  can also show appreciation for that excellent review.

Don’t Join Groups Just to Promote Your Book

Think of it like going to a book club meeting, and Jane Smith comes up and says, “Hi! I’m Jane. Here’s my new book!” Every time you try to suggest that she actually talk about that month’s book, she just keeps chattering away about her own work. Narcissistic, right?

So as an author, when you join a group, follow the rules and discuss with them. Eventually, you may have a chance to talk about what you are working on, but be delicate. You don’t want to be just another Jane Smith.


Well, there you have it. The basics of author and reader interactions. If you have any additional questions not answered here, please comment below or contact us on Twitter @AmbassadorIntl. And don’t forget to check out the giveaway Ambassador is currently running on Goodreads. Enter to win one of five copies of Willing to Die by John Muntean:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Willing to Die by John Muntean

Willing to Die

by John Muntean

Giveaway ends July 23, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Next week, we’ll give you some tips and tricks for using Goodreads with your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Until then, enjoy your new knowledge of Goodreads!