Videoconferencing For Writers: The Top Software And Apps | Web Design Relief

Videoconferencing For Writers: The Top Software And Apps | Web Design Relief

In today’s new normal, writers are scrambling for alternative ways to interact with colleagues and readers. No longer able to meet in person with critique partners, schedule bookstore appearances to promote a new launch, or participate in conferences or workshops, writers have turned to videoconferencing software and apps in an effort to stay connected. But with so many options out there, which videoconferencing platform is best for writers? The tech experts at Web Design Relief have the scoop on the pros and cons of the latest videoconferencing software and apps.

So put on your nicest shirt (no one will see your sweatpants and fuzzy slippers) and let’s get started!

The Best Videoconferencing Software And Apps For Writers

ZOOM

ZOOM has become the most popular videoconferencing choice during the quarantine, in part because it works across lots of devices and operating systems. One author can call into ZOOM on an iPhone, another can join through a PC, and a third on an iPad, along with ninety-seven additional participants, effortlessly.

Because ZOOM allows a large group of people to participate in a single videoconference, it’s a great option for critique group gatherings or impromptu networking events—as long as the event doesn’t last longer than forty minutes, which is the limit for the free option. Paid options are available for as low as $14.99 a month and include unlimited minutes and many more features.

FreeConferenceCall.com

This high-quality videoconference software stands out for several reasons. Paying a fee for use is voluntary, and the suggested amounts are less than the cost of a cup of coffee. The income from these small contributions supports this company’s dedication to keeping high-quality videoconferencing software free or low cost for small businesses that can’t yet afford pricey options.

FreeConferenceCall.com features include:

  • Videoconferencing with up to 1,000 participants
  • Screen-sharing images from your computer—your book cover design, perhaps—to everyone else in the video chat
  • Recording and playback, which is handy if you’re opting to record an informal Q&A in place of a cancelled in-bookstore event

Because this videoconference option has no session limits, it’s great for workshop presentations for your local writer’s chapter, lengthy critique group meetings, or an open-ended editorial meeting with your publishing team.

Skype

Skype has been Microsoft’s videoconference software for nearly twenty years. Previously, using Skype required downloading their software. However, with the onset of the pandemic, Skype has introduced a new option: Skype Meet.

Skype Meet hosts can start a free meeting on a Skype web interface for up to fifty people, with no sign-ups or downloads required. In contrast to some other options, the familiarity of the interface may be a boon to authors who feel challenged by newer interfaces.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is one of the few successes that originated from the now-defunct Google+ social media platform. The software is simple. If you have a Gmail account or use Google as your preferred search engine, access is easy. Best of all, video calls with Google Hangouts are free in the US and Canada.

Google Hangouts only allows ten participants, so this option may be best for casual chats with your author buddies, or directed calls with your developmental editor, book formatter, or cover designer.

Group FaceTime

Authors who use iPhones, iPads, or other Mac devices updated to iOS 12 or higher have the option of using the FaceTime app for casual video conferencing. You can connect up to thirty-two people on one call. It’s a great way to network with writing colleagues who are across town or across the globe.

Facebook Messenger Rooms

Facebook recently rolled out its latest messenger chat upgrade called Messenger Rooms. These dedicated video chat rooms can host up to fifty people and are free to use. While you can create the room right from your Facebook account, attendees do not have to have Facebook accounts in order to join the video chat. You can also lock your Messenger Room for more security.

Video Conferencing And The Future Of Publishing

Considering the advantages of remote connection, videoconferencing software and apps will continue to reshape the publishing industry and open up new and innovative ways for you to collaborate on projects, market books, and connect with your readers.

And when you’re ready for your videoconference, try out one of these virtual backgrounds for videoconferencing featuring well-known bookstores!

 

Question: How have you used videoconferencing software or apps to keep in touch with your writing colleagues?

 

How To Focus Your Author Blog To Attract Book-Buying Readers | Web Design Relief

How To Focus Your Author Blog To Attract Book-Buying Readers | Web Design Relief

You may be surprised to learn that the skills needed to be a creative writer aren’t the same as those required to be an effective blogger. Unlike short stories, poetry, novels, or memoirs, an author blog requires some mastery of networking, sharing, and making connections online. The marketing experts at Web Design Relief know being a successful blogger will require both writing interesting content and having a targeted promotional strategy that will keep your audience engaged and sell your books. Here’s how to focus the content of your author blog to best attract book-buying readers and boost your sales.

Smart Ways To Focus Your Author Blog Content

Ask Yourself These 10 Questions:

  • Who is your primary reader?
  • What is your main goal as a blogger?
  • What will be the takeaway value of your author blog?
  • Do you want your blog to be casual and practical or deeply serious and thoughtful?
  • What do you want your blog to look like?
  • What will separate your blog from any other author blog?
  • How often will you post?
  • How will you promote your blog?
  • Will your blog be separate from your author website, and if so, will it have its own name?
  • Do you have your first blog post ready to go?

Create An Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar will help you stick to your schedule and keep your content frequent and focused, but not repetitive. By posting on your blog consistently, you’ll encourage your audience to visit your website often, where they will also see information about your creative writing and the availability of any books for sale. Learn how to create your own editorial calendar here!

Maintain Your Authenticity

To create blog posts your audience will enjoy, it’s important to find your authentic voice. Readers will sense if your posts sound forced and lose interest if there’s no real meaningful content. And you’ll definitely lose followers if your posts are nothing more than thinly veiled buy my book sales pitches. Ask yourself: What would I want to read about on a blog? The writing process? Living with an author from a pet’s point of view? Grammar tips? That’s what you should write about.

Listen To Your Audience

It’s important to be open to feedback from your audience—you’ll build a stronger following if readers feel they can engage with you and be part of the process. Be sure to enable comments on your blog posts and provide a private messaging system or contact form so readers can reach out to you. You’ll be able to gauge the topics, length, and types of posts based on the comments and response you receive. When your audience feels heard and involved, they’ll be more receptive to buying your book.

Include A Call-To-Action

Once your blog posts have captured your audience’s attention, guide them with strategic calls-to-action to make your blog a powerful networking tool. Encourage readers to follow you on social media, post a comment, check out your events calendar, join your mailing list—and occasionally, to buy your book!

Creating a blog that book-buyers will enjoy reading requires some careful planning and forethought. Fine-tune the format, frequency, and purpose of your blog until you find what works best for you and your readers. With loyal followers, you’ll be able to sell more books! To help get you started, here are 40 blog post ideas for novelists, poets, and creative writers.

 

Question: Which author blogs do you enjoy reading?

The Right Way To Publish A Short Story On Social Media | Web Design Relief

The Right Way To Publish A Short Story On Social Media | Web Design Relief

If you’re a short story writer who wants to add something new to your publishing options, you might want to consider sharing your work on social media. More and more writers are discovering Twitterature: micro stories that fit within the character limit, or entire novels broken into serialized snippets stretched out over hundreds of tweets. You might also publish a short story or excerpts on Facebook or even Instagram. But be forewarned—the majority of literary editors consider a short story published on social media as previously published, and won’t be interested in republishing rights. That being said, some works published on social media have proven so popular, they’ve been traditionally published as well. At Web Design Relief, we know there’s a right way and a wrong way to publish your short story on social media.

The Right Way To Publish A Short Story On Your Social Media Platforms

Here are a few writers who’ve successfully published work on social media platforms.

David Mitchell, bestselling author of Cloud Atlas: Mitchell once published a short story called “The Right Sort” in a series of 280+ posts on Twitter! The story was published over the course of a week. Mitchell said his publisher gave him the idea.

Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer prizewinner: Egan published an 8,500-word story called “Black Box” on Twitter, posting a new line every minute for an hour each night. She has said she spent about a year writing and revising the story before posting it—it was originally twice as long!

Writers in the We Tell Stories project from Penguin Books: Six Penguin authors used different social media formats to share stories with their readers, including author Toby Litt and his piece “Slice.” This story was broken into a series of blog posts and included tweets from the perspective of the main character and her parents.

Neil Gaiman—and his Twitter followers! Gaiman once worked with BBC Audiobooks to create a short story on Twitter. He tweeted the first line of a fairy tale and then chose the next lines from 124 followers! A fun, interactive publishing format like this is very creative and could win you fans and followers.

How To Become A Social Media Published Writer

Know the pros and cons of social media publishing. Social media publishing is a fun and different way to garner followers and share your writing. But know that online publishing can get a little tricky if you plan to submit the piece to traditional publishers later. The short story you choose to publish on your social media platform should not be something you also hope to submit to literary journals, because most editors have strict rules about not republishing anything that’s already available online. Instead, choose a short story specifically written to be published on social media or your blog, or use a story that’s already been published in a journal and the rights to which have reverted back to you (be sure to acknowledge the first publisher).

Prepare your short story. Some authors prefer to have their entire short story written and edited before they start a series of tweets or posts. This may be the best way to stay organized and ensure your story is proofread and polished. If you don’t want to write the complete story before you start publishing it on Twitter, your blog, or another social media platform, at least have an idea or outline of how the story unfolds so you don’t veer off track.

Get your readers and followers excited! Announce your social media publishing venture to your followers before you start posting or tweeting. Let readers know the start date and when they can expect to see installments. Tease your followers with small snippets or a log line to get them interested!

Optimize your post. Once you start posting installations of your social media piece, be sure to grab attention and attract a wider readership. If you’re using Twitter to publish your story, don’t forget to include the right hashtags like #TwitterFiction and #Twitterature. Consider creating a unique hashtag just for your short story so that readers can easily follow along!

Get started—and stick to a schedule! Staying on schedule is very important to the success of social media publishing. Readers will lose interest and move on if they don’t see the next installment when you promised it would be posted. Decide how far apart you want to post your excerpts—a few hours? A few days? Every week? At what time? Then be sure you note these details on your calendar, or set reminders on your cell phone or computer, so that you never forget to post. If you’re going on vacation, be sure to automate your posting schedule.

Bonuses Of Publishing On Social Media

In addition to being a great creative project, posting Twitterature (or posting on any other social platform) can have a larger impact on your writing career. Do you also want to build your author mailing list? Use some installations of your story to refer people to a sign-up link! Itching to get new followers? Encourage your readers to follow you if they’re enjoying your posts. Want to catch the attention of literary agents? Be sure to follow a few agents, interact with them on social media, and note the hashtags they follow so you can use those when promoting your story.

 

Question: What social media platform would you publish a story on, and why?

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