Caleb Wright: The Odyssey of the Dragolitha

Hi again! I’m Scarlett, and this month’s Indie Spotlight features Caleb Wright, author of The Odyssey of the Dragolitha series. Breaking Point, the third book in the series, will be released March 1st!


When did you first start writing?
October 8th, 2018. I started with practice writing, to see if I could even make a logical structure with the words that came to my head. After a few pages of what I thought to be a simple story. Funnily enough, that’s when I fell in love with it. I went back to my first paragraph and thought, is this my best opening. A really amazing hook? After rewriting the opening a few times I sent that paragraph to about forty people and I had a beginning and a plot idea.

What inspired the story in The Odyssey of the Dragolitha?
A large fashion of influences interjected their way into this series, the largest I would say would be: The Legend of the Dragoon, a PlayStation 1 game. The movies Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Percy Jackson. Lastly the tv shows, Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and Zoids. These all gave me the imagination to stretch what was possible in my book series.

How much do you think your time in the service influenced your writing?
According to a few friends, my writing shows direct time, one point action sequences, and other elaborate scenes that made them feel as the military was a influencer on them. Me personally… time in the service changed my whole life around, so I would gander a large portion is derived from it.

What inspired the character of Xirow?
Bullies. School was hard, as I am sure it was for a large number of children. The idea bullies want the attention, they want to feel powerful, they want to show dominance… but in my story, Xirow is only a pawn to Ramathule, the real power driven character.

How does Xirow’s past affect his actions?
That is actually going to be a separate book of its own. In book four, I take a few chapters to dive into what turned Xirow into the evil mage he is in this series.

What do you think makes a good story?
Any good story? Hmm, the ability to get lost in the idea. If you are trying to predict everything, or you don’t finish the story, then what you are writing isn’t capturing the reader’s attention. The cover is always the first eye catch, as it pulls them to pick it up… maybe. Then your ability to summarize the story in a way to pull them further on the back of the book is next unless they skip that. Let’s say they do, then that first paragraph has to have you hooked because if it doesn’t the person has to be nice to keep waiting to get hooked. After the reader is head first into it, then you have to consistently drag them along the journey as if they entered the story themselves.

What do you hope your audience takes away from this series?
Break the standards, across all fields, all tropes, all industries, all friendship, and all social cues. I’m hoping that this book can transcend the thoughts of people all ages and show them that with friendship, sacrifice, love, empathy, patience, and determination we can change everything for the better.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
You’ll find that I tend to go off the beaten path. Not because I want to make it harder on myself, but because everyone can do the same thing over and over again. We don’t evolve by repeating things. We don’t create unique ideas by following suit to others. Instead, we make our own way. Now with that said, your content shouldn’t be offensive, it shouldn’t be targeting, and it shouldn’t be hateful. That’s the last anyone in this world needs. Your story, your art, your creations should depict what you want the future to be. I will love your story, with formatting issues, and grammar issues, and structure issues, as long as you are really attempting to challenge my mind on what is possible with imagination. Besides, there are thousands of people willing to help you with editing and formatting to present it to the world. Please, focus on your story, leave all of the presentations to the end of it all. I started with a few paragraphs in October, now I’m dedicated to write an entire universe of connected stories instead.


Interested in finding out more about The Odyssey of Dragolitha series? The first two books are available on Amazon now! This interview has been a special segment as part of the blog tour for the third book in the series, Breaking Point.

For updates from the author himself, you can subscribe to his website or follow him on Twitter!

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W.B. Welch: Author of your new nightmares.

Hello, hello! I’m Scarlett, and welcome to my first author interview! This is the first segment in my Indie Spotlight series, and today I’d like to showcase the wonderful W. B. Welch.


Blood Drops is very different than your debut novel, Brenna’s Wing. Why did you decide to publish a horror anthology?
Horror is my genre of choice, Brenna’s Wing was a one off, actually, I had a random inspiration moment in the car one day, but I have always been a horror fan. I saw my first scary movie when I was 7 or 8 years old.

I originally kept most of my horror to my blog, because I didn’t have as much of a reach. The manuscripts that I’m querying are spec fic and suspense, and have more of a mass appeal, but I found the writing community and just decided that, one day, I’m going to pull all of my short stories together for an anthology.

When did you decide to pursue writing?
[For] fiction, it’s been almost 4 years now. My inspiration to just start it, I’d read Stephen King’s book On Writing in college. I read it again about 4 years ago. His story from his childhood up until he sold Carrie inspired me. When it got to his craft itself, he’s the first person who said you don’t have to outline. Journalism was easy for me, you sit down and write notes and write a story from it. I started with some short stories on Instagram. I would write the short story with a photo and got a good response from people reading them.

Do you have a set writing schedule?
I do not have a schedule. I’m probably the worst example for a writer that is out there. Sometimes I sleep in the middle of the afternoon, sometimes I sleep at 3 in the morning. And I really love to spend time with my family.

I make time when I know I have 3 or 4 hours. I tune everyone else for awhile. When I’m taking time off, I don’t write at all. I’ll read, but I’ll take time off from writing. I’ll work pretty solidly when it’s a bigger project. If I take too much time off from it, I’ll lose track.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can be a little OCD, so I know that works in there somewhere. Let me just think about that for a moment. (laughs)

I don’t know how much of a quirk it is, but when I’m working on longer projects, when I sit down to write, first of all I have to clear out all of my notifications, so I sit down and I respond to them. Then I have to go back to reread what I’ve written before. I read several pages to get myself back into that mood to make sure that I’m feeling the character. If I’m not feeling the book, then I don’t work on the book. On those days, it’s just bad writing and it feels forced. Also, I don’t like to be interrupted when writing. My family has gotten some evil looks.

I think we can all relate to that. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
The thing that surprised me the most about finishing a book was that it wasn’t as sucky as I expected it to be. I am not a patient person. I don’t start a lot of long projects, I like to try a lot of new stuff. I expected it to be really hard to finish a book and it’s not. It’s just like writing a short story but it takes a lot longer.

What do you think makes a good story?
I think whoever can pinpoint that into a teachable item will change the industry. Good writing is good writing, accurate writing is accurate writing, good grammar is good grammar, but when you’re reading a good book it draws you in. It’s not something you’re able to say…

Most of that is going to be based on the person that’s reading it. I’ve read books that I fell in love with, one of them was “The Light Between Oceans,” by M.L. Stedman. I loved this book so much, and I couldn’t believe when I got on Goodreads and people were dissing it. It’s all going to come down to the person reading it, and if it has mass appeal it’s because a lot of people shared the same opinion on that subject.

There is significant social commentary in Blood Drops. How would you say your background in journalism influenced the tone of your writing?
I feel like journalism actually gave me quite an edge in all of this. It’s something that I haven’t talked about in public because I haven’t had the opportunity yet, so I’m actually really glad you asked this question.
The biggest thing, taking away from journalism, was how to be in a room and observe the important details and write a story about it. Sitting down to write a big book or a big project, it was easier to think of all of the big pieces to make people believable or set a scene. Because I would have to be in a room, and take these pieces to make people feel like they were in a room at a press conference. Also researching, researching in journalism [is key].

You focus on the darker side of human emotions to ground your writing in reality, but there’s often a supernatural twist. Why add the supernatural elements?
I don’t have a certain reason for that. I guess just because I enjoy it. It’s something that I like. It’s kind of like my nod to honor the genre. I like to include realness and characters that people can relate to. I also want to take them down a spiral and make them think “Wait what? What just happened?”

The Look is a bold story and based on a volatile topic. Why did you decide to include it?
It’s one that a lot of people that have read it really liked it. It was inspired by me recently having read Lolita. It’s a taboo topic, and it’s a very real thing. It happens a lot. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they’ve been through this. I sat down to write it, and it surprised me where it went.

What do you hope your audience gets out of reading Blood Drops?
A whole bunch of different things. I like to hear when people say that they have to put it down in between stories so they have time to absorb. I like when people tell me that they couldn’t put it down…
From their own perspective, they’ll take something out of it. I like to touch people. I like to gut-punch people. I like to make people feel.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
I wouldn’t mind putting a statement out there that I’m eternally grateful to the writing community. It completely changed my life. Anyone who is a writer, and is considering utilizing Twitter, should do it. It’s not even for the resources, although there are so many resources. Six months ago, I was doing this by myself and now I browse through thousands of peoples writing advice , and writing we know is lonely work. I’ve found so much support on Twitter, and am happy to give my support back.


Final notes: I highly recommend Blood Drops to any fan of horror. W. B. Welch’s voice is refreshingly modern while paying tribute to the giants that came before her. The stories in this anthology will make you feel, think, and reconsider the world around you.

For updates from the master herself, you can subscribe to her website or follow her on Twitter!

December Wrap Up

Happy New Year, friends!

I know I’ve been gone for most of this month, and I’m so sorry I haven’t updated anyone! I’ve had a bit of family trouble that took priority, I hope you all understand.

That being said, I have some very exciting updates!

  1. In an effort to showcase some of the amazing indie talent, the lovely Scarlett Austen has agreed to guest post on the blog through 2019! She’ll host Scarlett’s Indie Spotlight, which will feature author interviews, giveaways, and more!
  2. Lissa’s Library is creating a podcast! We’re currently open to submissions for author interviews and short stories. The podcast was initially scheduled to air in January, however we have experienced some minor delays with the production company. The new release date will be in February, with more updates to come!
  3. I’m back to my regular posting schedule as of next week, so please feel free to request the articles that you’d like to read!

Thank you all so much for bearing with me during this difficult time. I appreciate each and every one of you for reading this! This blog is going to experience a lot of changes in 2019, and I hope you enjoy them!

The Art of Story Telling: Audiobooks (Part 2)

Here are a few tips on how to decide on if its a good fit for you, and the first steps to take if you want to pursue it as a career.

I’ve also included links to the equipment referenced in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, however, I highly recommend shopping around for sales, because the right equipment can get expensive.

  • Can your voice handle it?
    • So you love acting, you love reading, it seems like a dream job, right? Try reading a book aloud for a few hours and see how your throat feels. While doing this, try to maintain the same energy and volume for the entirety of your “performance.” While recording an audiobook, you’ll most likely be reading straight through for a few hours at a time. Don’t worry if you mess up a word or a line, you can use the punch and roll recording technique to go back and fix it.
    • Tips: HYDRATE. Don’t consume anything to dehydrate you or congest you. When I know I have to record that week, I avoid certain things like dairy, coffee, excessive sugar, etc. Also, when I go to the studio, I always keep the following items with me: chapstick, cough drops, throat spray, water, tea, and a granny smith apple.
  • Finding your niche
    • Ex. I sound like a teenager. I narrate YA and NA books. If I were to narrate a steamy romance novel, it would be weird. Like really weird.
    • Listen to other audiobook narrators and try to identify where your natural pacing and tone fit in best. It will make it easier for your voice to do work that comes to you naturally instead of forcing it for hours on end. Going off of the example above, I could voice that steamy romance novel, but it would be hard on my throat to maintain that lower pitch for the entirety of the book.
    • Finding a niche will also help you book more gigs and increase the sales of your audiobooks. (Ex. Since I narrate YA, my listeners can search for my other books. I wouldn’t want a steamy romance novel to pop up when my primary audience expects YA.)
  • Creating a demo
    • You need a demo. Even if you decide to strike out on your own, you can use samples from your demo to show prospective clients. It’s important, because it showcases your talent.
    • I highly recommend having a demo done at a professional studio, especially if you have no prior experience. If you choose to do it on your own, please make sure you have quality equipment and DO YOUR RESEARCH. I’ll talk about the technical aspects of a home studio and a production on Saturday, but different mics are better for different people depending on a variety of factors.
    • If you do decide to enlist the help of a studio, PLEASE thoroughly research the studios in your area before choosing one. There are several places that claim to be professional studios by people who don’t quite know what they are doing. I can’t even begin to count how many wannabe rappers from my high school spent thousands on their home studio and called themselves pros. No training. No research. No audio engineers. Just a few grand and a rap dream.
  • Listen to Audiobooks
    • You know how writers are supposed to read? And actors are supposed to watch? You have to listen to audiobooks. It helps you hone your craft. Listen to successful audiobooks in your niche. You’ll notice emotional range, voice variations, pacing, etc. that will help you when you narrate your first book.
  • Home Studio (optional)
    • Home studios are amazingly convenient, even if you work for an audio company. I live out of state from my company now, so I’m only in the same town as my studio about half of the year. That being said, they can get pretty pricey. There are a few key pieces of equipment that you absolutely need:
      1. Microphone: I use a Neuman TLM 102 ($699) ( in my home studio, but if you want a good starter kit, I recommend the Rode NT1-A ($229). The kit on Amazon comes with a shock mount, pop filter, and XLR cable. If you’re looking for a kit with everything included (except the XLR interface), Rode also has a Complete Vocal Recording kit ($329) that includes the above in addition to a mic stand and vocal reflector.
      2. Pre-Amp: I use a Focusrite 2i2 2nd Generation ($159) which is technically an Audio Interface, they also have a solo version if you shop around a bit. Because of the USB connection, I can use my laptop or my desktop depending on where I’m at. I’m upgrading to the Grace Design M101 ($765) in February.
      3. HEADPHONES. Do not use your AirPods or Beats by Dre and expect to be able to edit effectively. Beats are great for music, but once again, voiceover is a whole other beast. The problem with using normal headphones such as AirPods or Skullcandy to edit is that they are extremely forgiving. This means that you won’t catch all of the breaths and mouth sounds that you need to edit out. I, personally, love my Sennheiser HD 380 Pro ($199) headphones, because I can hear every crisp, cringeworthy mistake that I make.

I know that it seems extremely expensive to start out, but there are places to cut corners, and others where it’s simply not worth it. Headphones, for example, are extremely important, especially if you’re doing your own editing. I’ll talk more about the technicalities and benefits of each piece of equipment on Saturday, and go into detail about the process of producing an audiobook.

November Wrap-Up

Hello! Welcome back!

It’s the first day of December, so I feel that it’s only fair to do a quick summary of November to give it a proper send off. And, as always, thank you for reading!

This month, I’ve reviewed Tempests & Slaughter by the wonderful Tamora Pierce, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, To Kill a Kingdom by stunning debut novelist Alexandra Christo, and Catwoman: Soulstealer by award-winning author Sarah J. Maas.

Most of my reviews came from listening to audiobooks this month, mainly because I’ve been swamped in post-production with the audiobook for All That We See or Seem, which I highly recommend. On that note, the audiobook will be available later this month on Audible, so if you’re looking for a new listen while traveling over the holidays, I’d be happy to read it to you. 

On the Rambling Thoughts side of things, we have articles on Book Marketing, Blog Marketing, and What to Research While Writing Fantasy.

This has been a fun month, and now I’m excited to spend the day enjoying my books from Black Friday. It feels like Christmas. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of reviews to come.

I don’t have a problem.

Really.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for some more exciting updates I have to announce in December!

From Daggers to Doughnuts: What to Research While Writing Fantasy

E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G

Am I stating the obvious?

Probably. But it still needs to be said.

Look, I don’t care if you’re writing about an orc falling in love with a dragon in a multidimensional galaxy, you still need to maintain certain standards of reality to keep your audience invested in your story.

I get it. There’s a freedom to writing fantasy due to its lack of restrictions, but there are still restrictions. If your orc from another world suddenly starts eating McDonald’s, I’m going to be yanked out of the story by sheer incredulity.

No one likes to be interrupted in the middle of a good book, so don’t be the one responsible for doing that to your readers.

Good, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk physics, food, and fundamental weaponry.

Physics

Think you weren’t constrained by the laws of earthly physics? You thought wrong – to an extent.

Physics is one area where you need to know the rules to break them. Why? Because until told otherwise, those are the rules your audience live by. It’s also much easier to alter these assumed rules than it is to scrap them and create your own – but if you choose to do that then you need to explain that to your reader.

A great (spoiler free) example of this comes from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

Maas uses descriptive imagery of her witches flying, including the wild freedom of the rushing wind. When the witches get an upgrade in flying apparatuses, she explains that the wind doesn’t bother their eyes because they have a second set of eyelids that they can blink into place, serving as a sort of natural flying goggle. The witches are vicious killing machines, they can’t be bothered by something as insignificant as the wind in their eyes.

NOTE: My fiancé pointed out that flying itself goes against the laws of physics, but Maas explains this through her complex magic system. She does a great job of integrating the rules of it throughout the series instead of having a giant infodump.

*rolls eyes at fiancé*

Chemists.

Food

Gabriel Kreuther, NYC

Food is a major element, because while your audience may not be familiar with the feeling of escaping a dragon, they certainly know what a good meal should look like.

This is a big one for me. I. Love. Food. I am a foodie, and I do not discriminate. I love burgers and chateaubriand. This means that I am, perhaps insanely, familiar with foods from different cultures and classes.

Classes? You ask. Why does food have to be classist?

I’m glad you asked.

It doesn’t have to be, but if your characters are dining in the great hall of a palace and they’re eating gruel, your readers are going to be confused.

If they’ve been bragging about their chef, I don’t expect them to be excited about the bread. It’s minor details that can distract the reader.

I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’m saying, make it make sense. Also, if your story is influenced by a certain culture, research their food. This can be so much fun, and you might end up with a few new recipes!

Ex. 1
In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins distinctly identifies the food based on which District the characters are in, specifically focusing on bread. When Katniss goes to the Capitol, she is enthralled by the luxurious food, but the excessive richness makes her feel sick because she is not accustomed to it. There is a distinct difference between the special meal that Katniss’ family prepares for the Reaping, and the food that Katniss imbibes on her journey. What’s more, Katniss doesn’t take it in stride, because even the cuisine is a vastly different experience from what she’s used to and where she comes from.

“I try to imagine assembling this meal myself back home. Chickens are too expensive, but I could make do with a wild turkey. I’d need to shoot a second turkey to trade for an orange. Goat’s milk would have to substitute for cream. We can grow peas in the garden. I’d have to get wild onions from the woods. I don’t recognize the grain, our own tessera rations cook down to an unattractive brown mush. Fancy rolls would mean another trade with the baker, perhaps for two or three squirrels. As for the pudding, I can’t even guess what’s in it. Days of hunting and gathering for this one meal and even then it would be a poor substitution for the Capitol version.”

 – Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Ex. 2
In Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo illustrates the luxurious lifestyle that the Grisha live in contract to the common army when Alina suddenly discovers that she has the powers of a Grisha. She is removed from her post in the First Army to train at the Little Palace, where she is given a lifestyle more opulent than she has ever known. Literally, the only thing less extravagant than her previous life is the food. Bardugo does include some exorbitant meals, but in the dining hall itself she maintains a standard of common fare such as herring and rye. She has the Darkling use the food as a tool to humble the Grisha, despite the splendor of their lifestyles. As explained by Genya:

“The Darkling is very keen on the idea that we all eat hearty peasant fare. Saints forbid we forget we’re real Ravkans.”

 – Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone

Fundamental Weaponry

If you don’t have any sort of weaponry in your fantasy WIP, A) I’m shocked, and B) slightly impressed, so shoot me a copy when your done (haha, get it?) so I can satisfy my curiosity.

Most fantasy works, however, do have weapons involved in some way, whether it be wands to channel magic as a weapon or swords and daggers themselves. It’s especially important to research weapons to know how your characters interact with them and what their proper uses are. If your character is experienced with weaponry and uses a battle axe to chop wood, I’m going to cringe. Most weapons experts consider their accoutrements as almost sacred. There are also a variety of factors to consider such as weight or balance, in addition to experience

Ex. 1 & 2
In An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir takes care to note the differences between how her character Elias reacts when faced with an experienced versus an inexperienced opponent. Elias has been trained multiple forms of weapons and warfare for most of his life, and the narrative is more fast paced and full of action when fighting his experienced opponent. Likewise, his tone is almost nonchalant when faced with an inexperienced opponent.

“We match each other stroke for stroke until I get a hit on her right arm.
She tries to switch sword arms, but I jab my scim at her wrist faster than she can parry. Her scim goes flying, and I tackle her. Her white-blonde hair tumbles free of her bun.
“Surrender!” I pin her down at the wrists, but she trashes and rips one arm free, scrabbling for a dagger at her waist. Steel stabs at my ribs, and seconds later, I am on my back with a blade at my throat.”

Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

“‘Don’t be sorry.’ I look for the clearest exit, but most are flooded with students. ‘You’ll be holding a knife to more than one throat before this is all over. You’ll need to practice technique, though. I could have disarmed you-“

Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

Finally, research your own book.
What? But you wrote it. Why should you have to research it?

So you can be consistent.

You’re creating an entire world with complex rules of magic and laws of nature that do not currently exist. Don’t assume that your readers will forgive inconsistencies. Even if they will, why would you do that to your book? As a fantasy novel, your book already relies heavily on your readers’ suspension of disbelief, so don’t push them to the point of incredulity.

These are some of the most common matters that I’ve found distracting in fantasy novels, mainly because they are so prevalent in everyday life, with the exception of weaponry. Wielding weapons, however, is a skill that needs to be mastered and so few protagonists train enough for the skill level that they display.

What other common mistakes do you find in fantasy novels that distracts you from the story?

One I’ve seen frequently is using the wrong honorific for royalty, it always makes me cringe.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll (hopefully) see you next week!

-Lissa

BLOG Marketing 101

Hi friends! Here’s another marketing post, by request. It’s another lengthy one, so if you’re in for the long haul, buckle up.

This post covers the bare essentials of setting up your blog for success. I didn’t cover reaching out to the blogging community, even though they are amazingly supportive, because I wanted to focus on how to breach through to a larger audience.

Is there something I missed? Comment below!

Note: If you’re wondering why the heck you should even read my marketing advice, check out my BOOK Marketing 101 post for my credentials. I’m not going to type them out again, I feel pretentious doing so. Also, with regard to email marketing, Dea Poirier has a wonderful post on Email Marketing as an Author which covers some of the legal and social aspects of having a mailing list. It’s mostly geared toward writers, but many of the points overlap for bloggers as well.

  • Figure out what you’re going to write about.
    • I know this seems fairly basic, perhaps you have a broad idea in your head. For ex. I’m a book blogger who focuses on YA/NA novels. That’s great, BUT A) there are a lot of different genres within YA/NA (ie. fantasy, sci-fi, romance, etc.) and B) due to its popularity, there are A LOT of other bloggers that focus on the same thing. So why should anyone care about what I have to say?
    • I personalize my blog in two ways, A) in my About page, I emphasize that I hold a degree in English Literature from the University of Texas, so I am qualified to discuss ALL literature (sorry that I didn’t go to law school Mom), and B) I have a section on my blog for book reviews and a section for my  “rambling thoughts” as I like to call them. These are two ways in which I try to stand out, both by proving that my credibility and by allowing me to interact with readers. Thus far, my rambling thoughts section has consisted of requests made by readers, so thank you all for even taking the time to read it. I am truly humbled.
    • While it’s important to differentiate yourself, do not beat a dead horse by posting it at the beginning of every post (or video, if you’re vlogging, but that is a post for another day.) A great way to have it featured is to have an “About the Author” section at the bottom of each post, especially if you have a stable of writers who collaborate on the blog.
  • B-R-A-N-D-I-N-G
    • PERSONALITY IS IMPORTANT. Don’t be some emotionless voice on the internet. Unless you’re writing a science or tech blog, in which case by all means, feel free. But that’s still a part of your brand. As I said last week, branding deserves a post on its own, but I’ll go over some of the basics here and why it matters. I’ll also use my own website for an example. (Please note: I’ve technically had this website for a few months, but I hadn’t actually been active on it until last week, so it’s still being polished.)
    • As a blogger, you are the narrator of your blog, and maintaining the credibility of your narrative is essential to getting your readers to trust you enough to keep reading. What’s more, they are more likely to recommend your blog to someone else. It’s also important to figure out who you are as a blogger before moving on to this step. Why? Because that persona will effect the tone of your blog posts, your website design, and everything in between.
    • Ex. Lissa’s Library.
      • Lissa’s Library is not the first blog that I’ve run, but it is the first personal blog that I’ve launched.
      • Writing Style: You’ll notice that my writing style is a little ditzy and zany, with a touch of professional diction sprinkled throughout. This is intentional. It is a young adult blog geared toward a younger audience. I could easily write a post debating the merits and credibility of Bathsheba as a trailblazer for feminism in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, but that would be off-brand. My audience doesn’t want that. (Side note: if you do want that, please let me know, because I can go for days on that one.) 
      • Website design: You’re probably thinking, but Lissa, what website design? The stark contrast of the plain white background with the vibrant colors of the book covers I have reviewed is on purpose. It’s meant to be an aesthetic representation of my degree in English and the literature that I review with it. It’s the first impression of my credibility that you get before falling down the rabbit hole.  It’s also a metaphor for the way that I, myself, am a storyteller for other peoples stories as an audiobook narrator. Without their stories, my voice is a blank canvas, but writers add their own color.
        • Less is more sometimes. Look at your homepage. Is it cluttered? Is it difficult to navigate? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, consider cutting back and simplifying it until you’re happy with your base. Once you have a homepage that is on-brand and that you are happy with, it’s easy to add on from there. If you aren’t quite sure, it can never hurt to get the opinion of a professional. There are some wonderful website designer’s out there who specialize in blogs, and many will also be happy to give a consultation.
      • Social media: I LOVE supporting the writing community of Twitter. What’s more, as a book blogger, it’s completely on brand for me to do so. I’ve pretty much composed my entire Twitter account around this premise. It has enabled me to connect with some great writers and even other bloggers in my niche. More on this in a second. That being said, there are a few things I strictly steer away from on social media. I won’t curse, I don’t talk about drinking, partying, and I don’t overly promote myself. Why? Once again, I blog for the YA/NA audience, so the first three aren’t on brand, and I don’t want to alienate them. Overly promoting yourself is also almost as bad as doing no promotion at all. If your social media feed consists mainly of promotions, then your followers will either A) silence your feed, B) unfollow you, or C) just grow immune to them. Here’s a direct quote from my BOOK Marketing 101 post: “If your voice can’t cut through the clutter on your own feed, then that’s a problem. Also, as humans, we have grown so accustomed to seeing ads everywhere all day that we naturally tune them out. ‘Cutting through the clutter’ is literally an advertising term for making your ad (in this case yourself and your books) stand out, because in America alone its estimated that on average each person encounters approximately 5,000 ads a day.”
  • Say it with me: CON-SIS-TEN-CY
    1. Post consistently and constantly. If you have to choose one though, go with consistency over frequency. If you have enough writers collaborating to post every day, or multiple times a day, then that’s great! If you’re working on your blog solo and can only commit to posting once or twice a week, that’s fine too! It’s more important for your readers to know that they can rely on your posts than for them to have a frequent flow of content. Why? That doesn’t make sense? Actually, humans are creatures of habit. If reading your blog becomes a part of that habit, and then suddenly your posts become erratic, you’ll lose- want to take a guess?- THAT’S RIGHT, CREDIBILITY.
    2. I’m not quite sure how it works with WordPress, but if you’re posting multiple times a week, then don’t email your subscribers after every single post. It goes back to the issue of clutter. Break through it, maybe send an email once a week with a summary of your posts as a kind reminder for the subscribers who haven’t already checked your site. No one wants to read those emails every single day unless they’re your mother. Even then, I don’t think my mom has even looked at my website yet. (HI MAMAN)
    3. Do some research and try to figure out what is the best time to post. Are you writing a trade blog? Then most likely, people will be reading it during their workday. I have a very talented friend who is a journalist for a cyber security news site based in DC, and they send out an email to their clients (they operate behind a paywall) at the beginning of the work day with breaking news. SIDE NOTE: News services are different from blogs and are expected to send out daily updates to their subscribers. Unless you’re running The New York Times, or BuzzFeed, please abstain from daily emails. Dea Poirier said it best:
       
  • Networking
    • Can you say guest blogs? Good. Go write about it. First, though, you must make friends who will graciously allow you into their home(page.) Guest blogs are a symbiotic service that allows bloggers to be featured to each other’s reader base, and increases traffic and flow to your blog. Try to maintain your credibility on these blogs though, don’t write about a topic that’s completely off-brand. Why? Well, say I were to write a guest blog for one of my Mental Health blogger friends. Hypothetically, let’s say Reader X liked my post on relaxation techniques so much that they decided to go check out my book blog. Reader X was expecting another mental health blogger, and leaves the website. See how that’s ineffective? Now, if I were to tie the post to my book blog somehow, perhaps on how to choose a good book for relaxation, it better prepares Reader X for what they would encounter when they come to my site. For a more effective guest post, I recommend writing for a friend who writes to a similar audience. I have some lovely author friends who have agreed to host me, and their fan bases happen to coincide with my audience.
  •  SEO
    • Search. Engine. Optimization. Don’t know what this is? That’s okay, it’s easy to learn. There are some great resources for learning online and at your local library. Or, if you decided to get a professional website designer, many include this as an add on to their packages. 
    • SEO is essentially a way of using key words in the metadata of your website to improve visibility in the results of search engines. It helps direct people to your website. Please note that SEO is not a one-time thing. The algorithms that search engines use are being updated all of the time, so I recommend refreshing your SEO at least once a month to maintain your place in the search cue.
    • SEO can be used on any page of your website, including each of your blog posts and articles, to help boost clicks directed from search engines. Make sure to direct your SEO toward your audience. For example, when my friend Virginia time to do my SEO on Lissa’s Library, she’ll gear each particular book review toward the fanbase of that author. Ie. the grishaverse for Leigh Bardugo, Potterheads for J. K. Rowling, etc.
  • Advertising (Optional)
    • If you have the funds, targeted ads at the niche market your blog applies to are a great way to boost your reader base. Clickbait, especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, entices the reader so that they are already invested in the piece before they are directed to the website.
  • Quality Content
    • I can’t help you here. This is entirely up to you. I can give you all of the tips and tricks to draw people to your blog, but if the content isn’t there then they might read one post and then move on. Stay on brand, interact with your readers, and edit until each piece shines. Remember to consider what unique perspective you can offer your posts, that no one else can.
  • Analytics
    • Most social media and blog sites have an analytics section where you can track impressions and clicks. These are extremely helpful for those who are DIYing it and help to perfect your process for your own blog through trial and error.

My post next week will be uploaded on Friday, instead of my normal Saturday routine. Thanks for reading. I love you all and good night!