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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Need inspiration? Go for a walk..

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debspoons via freedigitalphotos.net

Imagine the scene…you’re staring at your computer and you know what you want to say but will those words come?

No, of course they won’t.

You try harder, you type a few lines but still it doesn’t feel right.

You get frustrated. Yesterday the words flowed from your finger tips but today those fingers feel like lead.

Ever been there? I’m sure we all have.

One great tip that I was given for such a moment is to go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be far and it doesn’t have to be anywhere exciting, it just gives everything a break for a while and allows the endorphins to do their thing which, incidentally, they are great at doing.

On one such occasion I went for a walk down the main road which is a short distance from my house. A ladder was leaning up against the wall of one of the small two-up, two-down terraced dwellings along this road and the pavement on which the foot of the ladder was resting was narrow. This left anyone walking along the pavement with two choices: to walk around the ladder and onto the main road or to walk underneath the ladder and remain on the pavement. I watched for a moment and was unsurprised to see every single person step into the main road rather than walk underneath the ladder – clearly the most dangerous option. So, why did they all do that?

superstitions

In the UK there is a superstition that says you will bring bad luck upon yourself if you walk underneath a ladder. There is also a superstition that says you should never stroke a black cat with green eyes, nor should you open an umbrella indoors. It is also considered bad luck to have a bird relieve itself upon your head and if you break a mirror – well, you’re in the mire for seven years. I think I was out walking for less than half an hour but by the time I returned home my brain fog had cleared and I had the bones of an idea for an article about superstitions, purely from a ladder leaning against a wall.

I know it feels like all our time is precious and that we should take advantage of every possible writing moment that we have, yet it really is amazing how taking just a few moments out to observe our surroundings can kick start the creative flow. Try it next time you’re stuck.

Oh, and I guess it’s not bad for our health, either.

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What was your defining moment?

Happy people on nature, sun, grass and butterflies(Where a ‘defining moment’ is: A moment in time when we suddenly realise something about ourselves or our lives; a time when we make a decision to follow a certain path or divert to a different course; a ‘lightbulb’ moment; a time when things change, usually for the better; a moment when you feel inexplicably supported or guided)

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Often, our ‘defining’ moment can be something that seems relatively insignificant at the time and it is only with hindsight that we can identify the moment as such. This is certainly true of my writing-related defining moment which occurred a couple of years or so ago.

At the time I had a part-time job in the local primary school as a cleaner. My role included the much coveted job of cleaning three sets of children’s toilets and it was whilst I was indulging myself in this most pleasurable pastime that I received the text message. It was from my sister.

Hi, (it said). Hope you’re well? OMG, I’ve just met the Prime Minister and I’ve been interviewed for the tele. I’ll be on the six o’clock news tonight! xx

I kid you not. I was stood, toilet brush in hand, reading a text message from my sister telling me that she had met one of the most powerful men in the country and that she was about to be broadcast nationwide. And I had a toilet brush in my hand.

other-toilet-brush

The parallel between our differing situations was not lost on me at the time, however, I didn’t realise how much of an impact this moment would have on my life moving forwards. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that if I wanted my story to be different, I was the only person that had the power to change it. Not that there is anything wrong with cleaning toilets, but I knew in my heart that it was not what I was destined to do.

That text, over the years that followed, gave me the incentive to take control of my destiny in a much more powerful way and my decision to self-publish in January is a culmination of that text. So, whilst I laughed at the sheer inequality of it at the time, now I recognise it as a pivotal moment in my life for it was that text that taught me such a valuable lesson: I was and am the only one with the power to change my life. Simple.

So now I am taking control and I am changing my life – for better or for worse. I am pushing on with my dream.

Do you have a defining moment?

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To pen name or not to pen name?

03-biccristal2008-03-26As part of my decision to self-publish I also decided to retain my pen name of Jade Reyner primarily because I feel it runs off the tongue better than my actual name, AnnMarie Wyncoll.

Discussing this with a friend recently, she felt that I should keep my own name to allow the reader to identify with me as a person, rather than use a name for someone who does not actually exist. She went on to say that part of her loyalty to authors lies in being able to feel that she knows them in some small way and she did not feel that would be the case if a pen name was used. I guess knowing that the author is who they say they are allows the reader to build a connection with them which, if you are hoping for longevity as an author, must surely be critical?

I considered this and agreed that it is a valid point – after all, how confusing is it that I am known by my given name and yet I create a whole other persona to write under? – but countless authors and actors do it.

So, what are the pros and cons of a pen name?

Pros:*

  • It can enable you to write under a name that is more memorable or easier to spell than your given name, for example – hardly anyone spells my first name correctly. AnnMarie is not that unusual but the way that it is spelled with a capital ‘M’ in the middle and no space means that even my driving license has to be returned numerous times before it is correct. Similarly my surname of Wyncoll is challenging to spell and pronounce. Most people want to spell it ‘Wincoll’ and, depending on who you are talking to, it can be pronounced anything from ‘win-coll’ to ‘win-cool’ to ‘wine-coll’. Having spent my entire life spelling my first name out and since marriage my surname, I quite like the idea of having a simple name that doesn’t need any clarification.
  • If you are afraid that fans – good and bad – can track you down, then a pen name can help with this.
  • If you want to write in more than one genre then it can be beneficial to use different names – some names would not necessarily ‘fit’ if you are writing a heavy crime thriller and then a lighthearted romance.
  • Sometimes authors use pen names if they are writing for different publications in order to keep their work separate and to distinguish between the publications.

Cons:*

  • Using a pen name can be seen as a way to hide behind someone else. If you are not comfortable putting your own name to your work, then it may appear that you do not value it.
  • It can become confusing for the reader and the author alike. Should you, for example, have a social media presence in both your given name (AnnMarie Wyncoll) and your pen name (Jade Reyner)?
  • Having a ‘better’ pen name will not necessarily guarantee a more impressed readership. The quality of our writing should be what we are judged upon and not what name we publish under.

There are many more pros and cons but these are a snapshot of the dilemma that I now find myself in. I am proud of my work and am more than happy to put my name to it but, is a less catchy name that is tough to both pronounce and spell, going to be a stumbling block?

I thought I had this decision made but now, having spoken to my friend and looked into it some more, I think I am wavering. Should I just forget about the difficulties surrounding my given name and publish under it anyway?

AnnMarie Wyncoll or Jade Reyner?

What does anyone think?

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*Source: Should You Use a Pseudonym by Moira Allen

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Why do you write?

3d human with a red question markIf anyone ever asks me that question my answer is simple: because I have to – and I don’t mean ‘have to’ in the sense that someone is behind me with my arms in a deadlock, I mean ‘have to’ because my life feels incomplete without it. I have to write simply because if I didn’t, I would be lost.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been reading more than I have been writing. Some of this has been down to time constraints but some of it is simply due to my love of the written word – whether I am creating it or devouring it. I have been reading both inside and outside my genre which I feel is hugely beneficial from a writer development perspective and my reading has taken me to my much loved authors such as Jodi Ellen Malpas, S C Stephens, Jaimie Maguire, Sandra Brown and S J Watson to name but a few. These are all (in my opinion) extremely talented authors who are around and about the genre I would like to be.

Going further afield I have recently read my first novel by Ben Elton, 1984 by George Orwell and two brilliant self-published books by (as yet) unknown authors Kate Frost and Niels Saunders.

Book

The diversity between these books is huge yet I have found myself appreciating them all for different reasons. Some have intricately woven plots, others have a brilliant writing style, some have characters that are so real I feel I could touch them and others leave me page turning until the early hours. There is no one single reason why these books have stayed with me yet they do all have one major thing in common – they are written with passion and commitment in a voice which is true to the author’s style. None of these books pretend to be something that they are not and nor do they apologise for what they are. They are simply the product of the passion of talented authors and if I have learned anything from my recent reading adventures it is this:

When you are asked the question, why do you write?, if it is for any reason other than the fact that it burns in your soul, it is your passion and it is your life, then I am not sure there is a point to writing because the thing is, your reader can tell. If you have not poured your heart, soul and love for your craft into your books then chances are you aren’t feeling the passion.  And, if you aren’t feeling it then you can be pretty sure your reader won’t be feeling it either.

New chapter concept.

I write because I have to, it really is that simple, and that’s why I shall carry on writing, writing and writing some more regardless of where my journey takes me – because I just cannot imagine my life without it.

Do you feel the same?

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Which search engine do you use?

Google

Courtesy of google.com

Google.

It’s the default and it’s always there. Right?

Yet, did you know that there are plenty of other search engines out there? I have to admit that I didn’t.

Recently I have been introduced to specialist Google search engines like Google Scholar and Google Books which, if you are a writer and are researching a topic, can be more relevant than a normal Google search.

Here are some others:

Bing Images – image search across the web including copywrite and use details

Europeana Collections – access to cultural artworks, artefacts and books situated in museums throughout Europe

Worldcat – worldwide library catalogue – access to more than 10,000 libraries

Refseek – a way to prioritise only academic sources

DuckDuckGo – general search engine that does not follow your searches (unlike Google so I have learned)

For research purposes I have found all of these search engines eye opening and with DuckDuckGo, I particularly like the layout and the way that the sources are easily signposted.

Try them out, you might be surprised at the results.

Any other search engines anyone can suggest?

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Saying of the week

Open book and pages flying into skies

Meaning: The mole, the conspirator, the cause of a person’s downfall

Derived from: The death of King William III was caused by complications when he fell from his horse. The horse had stumbled over a molehill which had led to King William’s fall. Thus the mole became the cause of King William’s downfall.

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Source: Oxford Dictionary of Idioms 2000

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