Keynote speaker Anne Perry spoke (very softly) about writers and writing.
"Social Media Tips From Professionals"
Terry Ambrose (moderator), Diane Vallere, Holly West, Lee Nelson
First off, Holly West turned out to be the winning bidder for the Maltese Falcon. She paid $200 and brought it to the panel with her. I was jealous.
Lots of great advice from this panel:
- Tweet and Facebook posts can be scheduled, but be sure to unschedule them if there's a major tragedy in the news, or you'll look like a jerk.
- Consistency of message: Vallere describes her books as being about shoes, clues and clothes, and that's what she talks about on social media. Ambrose pointed out that her latest post (the day before) showed the clothes she brought for the conference laid out.
- While Twitter, Facebook and blogs are the most common social media platforms, there was a lot of talk about Goodreads, which has become a major author platform. Nelson warned about authors getting into battles with readers/reviewers on Goodreads, mentioning that it had just happened the day before and resulted in the author's account being deleted. (Apparently she was referring to this).
- Query Shark got props.
- "Buying" fans for your social media accounts got a big thumbs down.
- Vallere's website got props from the panel as a great example of what an author's official site should look like. Vallere mentioned the importance of constantly updating your site in order to keep pushing it to the top of search engines.
- Another way to increase your web presence is to guest blog.
|Left to right: West, Nelson, Vallere and Ambrose|
"Putting Your Blog to Work"
- Smiley is an LAPD Reserve Detective who writes cozies. She is also part of an MAB (multiple author blog) called Naked Authors, which was started in 2006. She also had a friend who was one of Ted Bundy's victims.
- The panel was asked how much personal info they include on their blogs. Smiley: Funny stuff, but otherwise no family, although she did blog about her father's death. Johnson will poke fun at herself, but doesn't generally talk about her family. Lauden is a pen name, to separate his writing career from his real life, which included a wife, kids and a corporate day job.
- Trolls: Lauden is fortunate enough not to have been trolled. Smiley was trashed in comments by an author who didn't get a harmless joke she'd made. She also had a guy who started commenting as famous authors, then complained when she deleted his comments.
- Blog tips: The importance of keywords in titles (SEO) and tags in Blogger. It was recommended that you end a blog post with a question to help draw out comments. Lauden also uses lots of visuals/graphics. People move so fast that a wall of text can be a turnoff.
That was the end of the day and my first California Crime Writers Conference. It was a great conference and I look forward to the next one in 2017.