An EXCLUSIVE offering from me

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A peek at my website

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I have spent a lot of time recently working on my social media. The result is a website (www.annmariewyncoll.com) that I have to say I am proud of and, to mark its completion, I am offering a FREE giveaway to everyone who visits.

And what, I hear you ask, is the giveaway?

Well, I’ve decided to put together a small compendium of short stories entitled A Twisted Paradise’ and the giveaway is your very own e-book copy. Easy to read and ideal for coffee time, these will give you a taste of my writing and a chance to get to know me better.

How do I get my giveaway?

Well, that’s easy. All you need to do is head over to my website (www.annmariewyncoll.com), wait for the pop up window that asks if you would like a free gift and then enter your email address. I’ll do the rest and within 24hrs your very own copy of my EXCLUSIVE e-book will arrive in your inbox.

This e-book will never be published; it is exclusive to my website visitors and regular readers only. And to tempt your tastebuds further, here’s a glimpse of the cover…

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I can’t wait to send out your copy!

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Why analytics is a must!

A couple of days ago I activated Google Analytics on my website. Over the last few months I’ve been monitoring the traffic to my site (www.annmariewyncoll.com) and there has been regular activity. Now that I am going to be publishing my book I felt it was important to find out who was visiting my site.

When I logged in to my analytics for the first time yesterday, this is what I found:

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Considering this was the data from less than 24 hrs and I’m not actively marketing, I was chuffed with these figures. I was especially thrilled that my bounce rate was 0% (meaning that the users hung around) and that the session duration was over 6 minutes, meaning that they had read my content.

And then I started to dig a little deeper…

It turns out that my excitement was short lived. Upon analysing the demographics and language, I discovered that the only visitor to my website had in fact been a Russian robot who very kindly left me a ‘Vote Trump’ link which is (a) a tad late and (b) completely irrelevant since I live in the UK. Hmph…

S.H Horikawa – Star Strider Robot (スターストライダーロボット) – Front

However, I am looking at this as a positive. I was hoping that using analytics would assist me in targeting my market – which of course it will – but it is clear that it is also beneficial in showing me the true picture of who is visiting my site. If it turns out that all I am going to be visited by are robots, then I guess I need to think of a way to engage with them.

Suggestions anyone?

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The trouble with working from home…

work-from-homeAnd so it begins…

6.45am : “Okay, so the plan today is to work on my edits, otherwise this book is never going to get published. But first I need to get the boys up…”

A couple of hours later…

“Right, that’s the boys off to school, now I just need to tidy up and load the dishwasher.”

Some time later…

“The cat’s used her litter tray – I best empty that. Oh, and whilst I’m at it, I need to empty the bin too.”

Some time later…

“The guinea pig really needs cleaning out and if I don’t do it, no one will. I guess it would be best to do it whilst I’m already out here.”

Some time later…

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“The tinsel that my son has destroyed looks more like my carpet than the actual carpet. I need to hoover downstairs at least.”

Some time later…

“That’s the washing machine beeping. Better put the load in the dryer otherwise I’ll forget.”

Some time later…

“I need a cup of tea. I can make one to take upstairs with me for work.”

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Some time later…

“Great, I’m upstairs but I can’t believe the pig sty my son lives in. I could just close the door but ugh…no, I can’t. I’m going to have to tidy it.”

Some time later…

“Now my cuppa is cold. I need to make a fresh one.”

Some time later…

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“Finally! Waiting for the computer to start up but hold on…who put the clocks forward? Where the heck did the morning go?”

 

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Overwhelmed with information? My top five author ‘go-to’ places

sponge-naturalIf you’re anything like me you will be soaking up as much information as is humanly possible related to all things author/writing/promotion/marketing.

Right?

The problem with this is that my head is so full of stuff that I can’t remember which bits came from where and then I usually forget something really important along the way.

This started me thinking about which resources I place the most value in (across the disciplines) and I came up with a kind of ‘top five’ which I thought I’d share here. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll find everything you need to know but for me, they’ve all been hugely beneficial.

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Online courses and learning:

To learn all about social media and digital marketing (and loads of other stuff) visit Shaw Academy. They are the ‘largest live educator on the planet’ and deliver their courses via easy to access webinars. At the end of each course you can earn a diploma which gives you credibility on your CV – plus, you’ve gained the knowledge.

The courses can be expensive but Shaw Academy partner with Groupon and you can often get discounted or even free offers from there. Occasionally you will find an advert for a free course on Facebook or by visiting the MOOC home page.

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Blog word.

Blog:

The blog of Anne R Allen is a hugely valuable resource for writers. As well as covering all of the usual topics, she also unpicks thorny issues such as the new Amazon reviews system which is something we all need to be on top of when we are trying to get our books higher up the Amazon ladder.

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Design:

To design blog/social media headers, posts, advertisements and promotional materials, then head to Canva.com. Here you can sign up for free and design whatever resource you need. You can upload your own images or Canva will license images for a small fee. Once your project is complete you can save it as a print-ready pdf which works with many of the online publishing companies (for promotional materials).

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Magazines:

In the UK we have two fabulous writing magazines, namely Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum. These are both packed full of advice as well as offering competitions and writing opportunities. You can get the latest information from the writing industry and, if you’re lucky, win a break to a writer’s retreat. These can be expensive for a subscription but if you do what I did and ask for it for Christmas and/or Birthday, then it doesn’t cost you a penny and is well worth it.

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Editing and Cover Design:

Although I want to keep them all to myself, it’s only fair to share the talents of both my wonderful editor and talented cover designer.

For editing I use Esther Newton who I cannot recommend highly enough. She has been a huge source of encouragement to me and I know that with her support I am going to produce the best novel that I can.

For cover design I’ve had the privilege of working with Rachel Lawston. If you visit her website then her credentials speak for themselves but in terms of managing to make sense of my rough ramblings, she has been amazing.

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So there you have it – my thoughts and favourite resources from this crazy world of writing! Hope you find it useful.

Do you have any favourite resources?

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Six reasons why I am engaging with social media

social-media-logosI was a late bloomer as far as Facebook was concerned and, in terms of personal usage, I  still am. I don’t have an issue with it at all, I am just not one for sharing my life with the world at large. Business wise, however, I have come to realise that I need to embrace social media – want to know why?

Here are six very good reasons*:

  1. 92% of the UK population actively use the internet and of those, 38million are engaging on social media. This represents well over half of our UK population.
  2. Based on survey statistics, 77% of the UK population bought something online in the preceding month prior to survey. The survey covered an age range of 16-64 yr olds. (This figure is 66% for the USA).
  3. Facebook is the largest social media network in the world and has 1.59 Bn users worldwide.
  4. Facebook is the largest social media network in the UK with almost half (47%) of our population accessing it. It outperforms Twitter at 20%, Instagram at 14% and Google+ and LinkedIn at 10% each.
  5. Most Facebook users in the UK are in the age range 20-29yrs although ages 40-59 yrs now make up 29% of the total UK audience.
  6. As a country we spend 1.5 hrs per day on social media (age range 16-64 yrs).

social-mediaOkay, so there’s lots of figures here but hopefully you get the general idea. The internet, social media and in particular Facebook, is huge. We are living in an era where technology is king and whilst we still watch television, we are only viewing for 2hrs 45mins a day on average whereas the internet is accessed well over 3hrs per day (per head of population).

As someone who enjoys technology I don’t find the use of social media particularly daunting, I do, however, find its use as a marketing tool challenging. Given these statistics though, I realise that I cannot ignore the internet or social media as a way to develop my author brand and reputation so I have been taking courses on both digital marketing and social media marketing with the brilliant Shaw Academy.

I am not suggesting that these courses are for everyone, but when I realised just how much of my potential market was online, I knew that not only is social media where it is at, it needs to be the way forward for me.

What about you? What are your thoughts on social media and your brand? Are you embracing it?

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*All data courtesy of WeAreSocial @wearesocial.sg – the full report can be found below:

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The sound of silence : why noise is bad for you

effectsofnoiseI have a confession.

I struggle to cope with noise.

Don’t get me wrong, I did the whole nightclub/pub thing and even played musical instruments in orchestras but, over recent years, I have found it increasingly difficult to cope with ‘prolonged’ noise. I also find places where there is a cacophony of noise difficult too.

When I am in a noisy environment I can literally feel my blood pressure rising – it’s like a kind of panic almost – and the need to escape the noise is overwhelming. I often dream of being on an isolated island with just the cat for company (!) which until I read this article I figured it was all a part of me getting old – apparently not – yet I am not sure if the article has made me feel better or worse about my situation.

The article (How noise can make you fat, stressed and more likely to have a stroke…) featured in the Daily Mail online (31/10/16) quotes from the World Health Organisation:

“…noise pollution is one of the most pressing threats to public health, second only to air pollution, and responsible for a range of conditions from stress and sleep problems to heart disease and strokes — it can even make us fat.”

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Evidently our bodies respond to noise by triggering the ‘fight or flight’ instinct. Our body will begin to produce several stress hormones and, if the noise is prolonged, eventually our bodies will start to produce cortisol which is a stress hormone that can negatively affect health. The article states several risks from this such as increased blood pressure, risk of stroke, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and sleep problems.

I must admit that although I knew I was stressed by noise, I had no idea that it could pose a risk to my health but I guess it follows that if I am stressed then my blood pressure will rise and I know that’s not a good thing.

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Image courtesy of digital art via freedigitalphotos.net

In my personal circumstances it is impossible to live without noise. My youngest son is severely autistic (amongst other conditions) and to him, noise is a stimuli. He makes as much noise as is humanly possible for as long as possible, which I know has not helped my situation.

Clearly there is little that I can do to stop the noise created by my son, however, the article does suggest simple changes such as achieving a period of ‘quiet time’ each day – even ten minutes can be beneficial, it says. There was one other basic piece of advice which I have followed too, one which again I had given absolutely no thought to. I have changed the notification tone on my phone and tablet. I had a rather adorable old-fashioned ‘choo choo’ noise selected for email notifications, however, it was quite loud. Now I have changed this to a small ‘tweet’ sound, a bit like that of a bird, which, given my desire to be out in the wilds, is actually much more preferable.

For me it was an interesting read, not least because it means that I do genuinely have a reason for struggling with my tolerance to noise which has nothing to do with getting old. I know of some writers who cannot write unless they are accompanied by the radio or their favourite music but I am not one of those. I have realised that I really need my ‘quiet time’ and my ‘tweet tweet’ noise to keep my stress levels lowered and, if I can do this then I won’t be stifling my creativity – another potential side effect of too much exposure to noise.

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My only regret is that it is no longer the 1980’s because if it was, I could get away with wearing pink, fluffy ear muffs… sigh…

What about you? Can any of you relate to my struggle with noise?

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