Writing for Online Engagement: Fiction in a Digital World | Rebecca Sky | Skillshare

Writing for Online Engagement: Fiction in a Digital World

Rebecca Sky, Author

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11 Lessons (1h 8m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:33
    • 2. Project

      2:03
    • 3. Online Writing Today

      12:08
    • 4. Writing and Plotting

      7:34
    • 5. Bringing the Craft Online

      4:55
    • 6. Audience

      7:59
    • 7. Merchandising: Personal

      5:53
    • 8. Merchandising: Covers & Blurbs

      10:26
    • 9. Marketing

      7:43
    • 10. Creative Strategies

      6:55
    • 11. Next Steps

      1:12
66 students are watching this class

About This Class

Join writer and Wattpad Star Rebecca Sky for a new Skillshare class on writing fiction today! You'll peel back the curtain on online writing and learn frameworks, techniques, and strategies for establishing, engaging, and growing a community around your work.

Key lessons cover today's writing landscape, tips for serialized fiction, merchandising individual stories, and marketing your work to build your personal brand — all to help you find success.

Perfect for creative writers, fanfic enthusiasts, bloggers, and beginners curious about self-publishing today, this welcoming class will empower writers of every level to confidently write fiction online.

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This class is presented in collaboration with Wattpad, the world's largest community for readers and writers.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Rebecca Sky. I'm an online writer. One of my most popular X is called The Cheaters Club. It amassed over five million reads its first year, and won online People's Choice Award on Wattpad. I never originally thought of myself as a writer, and now it's the only thing I can imagine doing. It grew organically though from posting online. Over the years, I've tried a few different sites for writing, and I've always come back to Wattpad. Mostly because the community is super supportive and positive, and the writing experience is really easy. This class is writing for online engagement on Skillshare. We're going to be covering what writing online looks like, what it means, how to find and engage with your primary audience, some tips and tricks on the art and craft of writing and plotting the story. You don't want to get lost in a sea of content out there. You want to stand out, and you want to be heard. We're going to talk about how to get your work discovered, and how to grow a community around your writing. This class is best suited for fiction writers. However, there's a lot of tips that will work for bloggers or people who are writing memoir. There are no prerequisites to this class. Everyone is more than welcome. It's helpful if you have some fiction or some writing that you're already working on, but it's not necessary. We're going to talk about more than just your content in this course. We're going to talk about how to market your content, how to merchandise it, how to get your message across, and how to find your primary audience and connect with them. A year ago, I was able to transition to being a full-time writer and that has been a realized dream come true for me, and I'm hoping that those opportunities will present itself for you guys too. 2. Project: It's important to me that you leave this class with the understanding of your brand, your market, and your content. We're going to talk about those things in more detail, but your project for this class is four parts. Upload your story, your cover, your blurb, and who you believe your primary audiences. This assignment could take you anywhere from an hour to a day or week depending on if you have writing that you already want to brand and we want to put a package together for, or if you're starting from scratch, and you have no writing and you're going to write something fresh for this class, but don't fret. We're going to go through each of the different sections and I can talk to you about how to build your cover, and your blurb, and how to start from scratch as a writer, and how to get those ideas. You will need your computer, and any writing that you have already, any graphic images that you have already, any understanding of your primary audience. The cover building and graphic art building, I'm going to show you how to do it free and use free online sites and programs and apps to do that. I'm going to be speaking mostly towards fiction writing because that's what I do and that's where my experience is. However, if you are writing non-fiction or if you're a blogger, we can still use your work and you can still participate in the class project. A great project to me is somebody who has a firm understanding of who their primary audience is and they've directed their blurb, and their content, and their cover towards that primary audience. So, I want to see you opening your writing with hooks that will engage with your target audience. I want to see your covers that will engage and capture the people who you are targeting with your writing and who you believe your primary audience to be. So, that's the focus of this project. It's for you to really have a firm understanding of who you're writing for, what you're writing, and what you're communicating. I'm hoping you don't compare your writing to other people's writing, not even my own. Don't compare. We're here to grow and become better and to learn our own voices and our own styles and techniques, and those are the tools we're going to be talking about in this class. Don't feel like you have to be like anybody else who's putting their work in the gallery below. Just be yourself and do the best you can, and we're going to grow together as a class. 3. Online Writing Today: Writing online has the power to affect your writing style, how you engage with readers, the tools you have at your disposal as a writer. It opens the door for bigger and more creative things than what have been traditionally done. What makes writing online unique? Well, number one unique factor is obviously community. You can find a like-minded places where people have the same interests as you or you can share with readers who are looking for what you are writing and you can also read and discover as well. In the communities online, you have that feedback loop between writer and reader and reader and reader. As a writer, writing alone by yourself you don't have the opportunity to know how your work will sit with or engage or touch readers but when you post that work online, you have the ability to get that feedback. That feedback is invaluable for you to grow as an author and grow your craft, your voice, and to expand your story. It also allows you to go unique ways that you might not have thought of yourself as you're writing because the feedback that your readers will give you is invaluable and that will help you develop and encourage your style. A key factor to writing online is how most of your readers are finding you. More and more often people are on cellular devices. So, you have to take into consideration smaller viewer screens, shorter attention spans. People will be reading your work through their phones. So, we're going to talk about how to cater towards that in the further videos, but that's something that you should be aware of going forward. Another thing that makes writing online unique is that you have full creative control over your marketing, your brand, and your content. So, you are the director of who you want to target, how you're targeting them, where you're posting your work, how you're posting your work. The sky is the limit with the creativity you can do online. Whether you're pursuing writing professionally or as a hobby, it's really important to start growing your platform. What a platform is, it's basically a support system for the writer and those are your fans, your readers, people who are supporting your work and who are helping spread the word about you. So, one of the key factors is if you are trying to pursue writing professionally having a platform makes you more desirable to publishers. When a publisher is looking at a manuscript, one of the things they take into consideration is the cost to bring that to market. Your platform drastically reduces your cost of marketing because word of mouth is still the number one way to market anything. So, if you have a large platform, a support of readers and you share with them a piece of your work and you ask them to help share and spread the word, they're more likely to do that than if you're a new writer starting out with nobody behind you. So, having a platform is really beneficial to anybody who's trying to become a professional writer. If you're not becoming a professional writer and you want to be a hobby writer, a platform is still a great thing to have. You have access to feedback, higher level of connection to your readers and you'll have a front row seat in how your writing affects people. How they view it, how they interpret what you're saying and the story you're telling. So, platforms are a great way to validate your work. Statistically, the larger your platform and support system, the further your reaches. This helps both professional writers or hobby writers get your work out there and seen by readers. Building a platform online for me has opened up so many opportunities that wouldn't have been possible if I was just a writer starting out. I'm now signed to Foundry Literary and Media Agency and I'm working on a novel to publish traditionally as well as continuing my online serialization, that's building my platform. So, my career is two-fold now. I've also had the opportunity to write for entertainment companies and corporate brands because of my popularity online from online serialization and building that platform. A year ago I was interviewed by The New York Times. That was a bucket list moment for me. My literary agent found me and recruited me on Wattpad which is my favorite platform to write on. This is a great opportunity for writers to get your name and your work out there and to establish yourself without having to go the traditional route first. Your unspoken goal should be to get people to notice to you when you are there looking for someone else. So, this comes all into the whole branding and merchandising package that we're going to be talking about throughout this course. There are many niche places to write and establish your audience online. Some of my favorite ones are She Writes, that's geared towards primarily women. Another great one is FanFiction.net. Obviously, that's all FanFiction based. My favorite is Wattpad for many reasons. One, because they have all genres and all demographics available there. There are 40 million users internationally. So, that's a great big platform of people who are already in love with words for me to access. When I first started writing on Wattpad, I was actually really hesitant because I was nervous about whether or not people would like my writing. What I found right away is that it's a really encouraging community. There's a lot of English as a second language writers and there's a lot of new writers. There's also established writers like Margaret Atwood and Paulo Coelho. So, it's a really great opportunity to get feedback. I noticed right away that people encouraged what I was doing right instead of discouraged what I was doing wrong. The feedback I got was really kind and generous and it encouraged me to get better and to grow my own craft. Now, as an established writer, I love it because they offer me insights and I can go into the statistics and find out which of my chapters or my segments readers are voting highest on, engaging the highest with and see what I did in those chapters and learn from that and apply it to my future work. When you're looking for a platform or a place to post your writing online, you should be looking at the community. Is it somewhere you fit? Is it somewhere you like? You should be looking at the tools that are available for you on that platform and you should be wondering or asking yourself, is your primary audience there? One of the biggest trends we're seeing in online writing is serialization. One of the surprising things about serialization is it's not exactly new. It actually started with Charles Dickens and he was writing a series of stories called The Pickwick Papers. Now the interesting thing about The Pickwick Papers is that the first nine episodes actually were a flop and they almost didn't continue printing them. But in episode 10, Charles Dickens introduced a character named Sam Weller that the readers loved and they fell in love with him and Charles realized that primarily serialized fiction is character-driven. Even if you're not a fiction writer, character-driven story is really popular. For instance, if you're a blogger, you technically are the character that you're writing about. When you're writing character-driven serialization, you have to be considerate of who your primary audience is. If your main character is a 17 year old girl, it's highly unlikely that she listens to Bach and that's her favorite musician. So, find out who your primary audience is listening to, what fashion they're wearing, what food they're eating, what TV shows they're watching and use those references in your writing. Serialized fiction became popular again in the 20th century with sci-fi anthologies and again with the big Internet boom, now more and more people are posting serialized fiction online. Recently some authors are monetizing that. For instance, there's a new adult writer called Eacham Ward who's been selling very short manuscripts or very short stories on Amazon for 99 cents. In the last couple of years, she sold over five million books that are serialized fiction. So, it's a really unique opportunity for authors to share their work in ways that engage with our current audience who are reading on electronic devices and who have shorter attention spans. Serialization in a nutshell is a continuation of a story. So, it's not structured in the same way as a normal novel would be. It's longer. Each post you have is more like a TV episode than it is like a chapter. So you have your climaxes, you have your conflict, and you leave your readers wanting a little bit more. So, I always love to tell people to write it like their favorite TV shows and to really study how those are done. How do TV shows hook people before and after commercials and how do they keep them coming back week after week. I'm finding online that people who are really successful serializing are continuing their story and their characters over years and years online. So, you can take your same story and you can continue to develop and your readers will follow through with those characters and stories over the years. One of the reasons why serialization is so popular is because people get drawn into characters, and through serialized novels, they can stay with the characters and the story for much longer. One of the reasons that is so great for authors is because those readers who are with the story are then sharing and engaging with your content and it's drawing new readers to the material that you already have available. So, it's perpetuating this draw of readership to your work. A commercial reference can be anything from a popular TV show to a celebrity. For instance, if you are writing a blog post on One Direction singer Harry Styles who has a huge fan base and you share about that online and you use his hash tag #HarryStyles or #OneDirection, you're more likely to get interaction with that blog post or that online post than you would if you weren't talking about a popular commercial reference. Fanfiction is growing in leaps and bounds online. One of the reasons is because there's already established fan base. For new writers, this is a great way to get into the market and to start learning about how to write and how to craft characters because you already have words and characters develop for you and you already have built-in readerships. We've also seen a trend to more risque content with certain audiences. Risque content really does increase engagement levels with your work. So, with risque content however, you do deal with sometimes a fallout, so I will give you that disclaimer there, but it does encourage readers to engage and to think for themselves and to discuss what you're writing. I've seen a really neat trend with popular YouTube celebrities coming over to Wattpad to post their work. One of them is Felicia Day. The other one I noticed is Hank Green. These guys have huge followings on YouTube. So it's really interesting to me that they've come to Wattpad, to a writer site, to post and share their work. All these trends being said, you have to be authentically you. One of the reasons why is because readers can sniff out copycats. The other reason why is, there's already people who are doing what they're doing. The world is looking for new voices and unique new things, and we're looking for you. So, part of this course is for you to develop and learn who you are, what message you are trying to get across and who your writing will connect with and how you can find those places online to be you. As a writer, it's important to be authentic in two ways. You have to be authentic to yourself, your voice, and your writing style, what's important to you. You also have to be authentic to your characters and how they would act and react and what would be important to them. So, we've covered a little bit about online writing in this video. We've talked about some trends. One of the most important parts that we didn't mention was it's important to have fun where you are, and it's important to have fun with your writing. So, I want you to consider some of the places that you hang out online if you do, why you like those sites, what do you do on those sites, and how you can implement that for your own writing. If you're brand new to online writing, this is a great opportunity for you to go test out some of those sites I mentioned before, explore, see which ones you like and why and maybe even post some work there. If you're already are on some online sites, this is a great opportunity for you to think about why you like them, why you're using them. Maybe explore other sites and see if they offer things for you like analytics or accessibility that maybe the site you're already posting on doesn't offer. Take some time to think about why you're using those things, how you're using them, and how you can use them to better and further reach your primary audience. You can also use the discussion section here in this class to share the sites you're using with other students and to ask questions about the ones that your fellow students are using and we can get a dialogue going and find out, where would good potential new sites for you be? In the next section, we'll go a little bit deeper into some tips and tricks for writing because writing for online engagement all comes down to your content. 4. Writing and Plotting: Now, we're going to talk a little bit about writing and crafting your story. This'll mostly benefit those of you who haven't written anything. But if you have, hopefully, you'll learn some tips and tricks to apply to your writing. How do you get started? For me, it was reading, and I found a site to read on, and it inspired me, and eventually, I got up the courage to post my own writing. The feedback was so addictive. I kept writing and kept growing in my craft. You'll soon start to see patterns in what you like to read. If you are buying a lot of dragon books, then I would suggest start writing a story with dragons. If you are enjoying reading stories with strong female characters, then I would suggest starting with a strong female lead. So, what you read is generally a good reflection of what you would like to write. It's important not to copy stories that you've read. So, if you read a story like for instance Twilight and you really like it, it's good to think about, what it is you liked about that story? Did you like that there was a mix of paranormal and normal characters? Did you like that it was romantic? So, start thinking about what it was that you like about the stories and find your own twist to them. Take, for instance, the story, Twilight again. One of my own stories is inspired by that. I was thinking, what it was about vampires that was so popular at the time, but I didn't want to write a vampire? So, I ended up writing a story about a young mermaid girl who could turn any boys she kisses into a merman. So, that was inspired by Twilight, and the vampire bite making somebody a vampire, and I made my own unique spin on a story from that. Sometimes you read things and it's what's lacking that inspires you. For instance, when I first started really getting into reading and writing, I was reading a lot of stories that have really weak female protagonists. So, inspired me to write strong, independent women in my books, and that's something that's kind of kept with me through the course of my writing. Once you have your story inspiration, the next step is to decide whether you're a plotter or a pantser. What a pantser is it's somebody who writes by the seat of their pants, and what a plotter is somebody who outlines the whole story and all the details before they even start writing. A lot of people have no clue what they are, so I have a really good question that will help you decide if you're a plotter or a pantser. When you are faced with a major life decision, do you write a list of pros and cons? Do you think about all the potential outcomes to come up with your solution? Or do you trust your gut instinct and go with what your gut is telling you to do? If you are a planner, you're most likely a plotter. If you trust your gut instinct, you're most likely a pantser. But what I encourage all the pantsers out there to do is to learn how to plot, to understand the different structures to story, so that you can apply those while you're pantsing. It will help you in the long run when you're going back to edit because pantsers are often faced with a lot of editing when they're doing their first draft. The five basics that you need to consider anytime you're plotting your book is exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. So, on the graph, you can see that the exposition is a flat line. It doesn't mean it has to be boring. You have to somehow keep us interested in the everyday life of the character. This is the part of the book where you're hooking readers, so it still has to be interesting enough to hook them to keep them reading until it gets to the rising action. So, you can see there's a dip between exposition and rising action. This is usually where the first conflict takes place or the moment something happens that your character can no longer stay in their normal life. So, you can see the graph goes up, and it goes up really quick and sharp. So, the rising action is the part of the story where all the bad things that could possibly happen to your character happen one after another. When you get into the deeper, more detailed plots like the arch plot or the hero's journey, it will talk you through the different internal and external challenges your characters have to face in this section. So, when you get to the climax, you can see it's the very peak of the graph. That's because it's the peak of your story when all the things should make sense, and all the things should come together, and where the biggest challenges should be faced. From the climax, the story starts dipping downwards again. This is where we transition back into the everyday life or what everyday life will look like for your character after the story wraps up. You start closing all the loose ends that you open in rising action, so that we can lead up to a really good closure and a grand finale in the resolution phase. So, when you get to the resolution phase, see how the falling action dips back into the resolution. Usually, there's another decision your character has to make there that will then determine what will go on and what their new ordinary life will look like. For those of you who have more experience with your writing and are already familiar with the five points of story structure, I really strongly encourage you to take a deeper look at the hero's journey and the arch plot. Those have been developed over the years from novelists and screenwriters that have come before you. It's also a really good tool to use if you've already have a finished manuscript. It's good to see if your current manuscript has all the same plot points or it reaches all the plot points that are mentioned in those two plot techniques. The arch plot and the hero's journey are very similar in the sense where the hero's journey actually lives inside of the arch plot. So, they're not very completely different ways of looking at a story. Just a little bit more complex as you go along. So, kind of go the five-stage story structure that I walked you through, then perhaps you would go to the hero's journey for the next stage of complexity, and then the arch plot. Typically, I do combination of plotting and pantsing, and part of the reason that is is because I serialize most of my novels online, and I take feedback from my readers, and I apply that to my future writing. So, what I do before I sit down to start any story, I come up with the five key parts of my story. I know all those main points before I start a story. Then, I let my characters direct me in between the two. The reason I do that and I more freely write in between all my main plot points is because like I said, I let my readers influence. Recently, I did something really fun and I let my readers vote on different plot points. That was fun for me as a writer because it was a challenge to write to their expectation, it was challenging me outside of my normal system of writing, and it was really fun. It was fun to give the readers what they wanted and put a new unique twist on that. Oftentimes, you may encounter something called Writer's Block, the dreaded WB. What happens when you have Writer's Block? How do you push through? How do you continue? Well, the first thing I would suggest is to try to identify why you have it. Is it because you're feeling insecure about your writing or where you're going with the plotting of your story? Is it because you have no clue what to do? You wrote yourself into a corner and you don't know how to get out. If those are the cases, then I would suggest taking a little bit of a creative break from your story, and reading other stories, writing other pieces of work. If you're just worried about your writing not being good enough, my suggestion is to keep writing and pressing through because it's much easier to go back, and edit, and improve bad writing than it is to go back, and edit, and improve no writing at all. Either press through or give yourself a creative distracting because a lot of times, you'll come up with the answer you're looking for in the first place. For me personally, because I write multiple projects at a time, and because some of them are plotted, and some of them are pantsed, what I usually do is I set aside a day or two a week to work on my serialized online novels. Just before I start writing, I'll read back through a couple of the chapters that have already been posted, and then I'll free-write forward, keeping into consideration what my next plot point coming up will be, and what my characters' natural reactions to things will be. Also, what my readers' expectations and hopes for them to be. So, I take all those into consideration when I'm free writing. Then, the rest of the week, I focus and work on the stories that I'm plotting in hopes of getting traditionally published. 5. Bringing the Craft Online: So, we just went through some tips and tricks on writing and plotting, and now we're going to try to apply those to writing online. Most likely, your readers are going to be waiting weeks or two weeks between each post. So, if you treat each one of your chapters or updates as individual episode or a short story, you're more likely to have that engagement with your readers than you would if it was like a traditional chapter. Each chapter or episode doesn't necessarily have all the same of the five plot points that I talked about earlier, but it should have its sort of own rising action and climax and falling action. What I like to call that is tension. You should have some sort of tension in each chapter and some sort of thing that needs to be resolved. Usually, it's either a focus internally with the character, some sort of emotionally driven thing, or there's an external problem or conflict that the character needs to overcome in each chapter or episode, and you leave the readers with a question, you leave them with some sort of curiosity that will want and will keep them coming back week after week. Another great thing to know when reading online is most of your readers are reading from small devices like cell phones or iPads, so their attention span is typically shorter than they would be if they were reading a book or from a larger screen like a computer, keep your chapters a little bit shorter and punchier or your episodes, as I like to call them, I found for myself anywhere between 1,500 and 3,000 words tends to be a good length. So when guys you are evaluating the piece of work you are going to be sharing for the class project, don't feel like you have to have each one of those five major plot points in your story, but what you should be looking for is some sort of hokey opening that will get readers interested, some sort of rising action or tension internally or externally in your characters, and something that will leave readers wanting to come back and read more. However, you close it off, people sometimes call them cliffhangers, I don't like calling them cliffhangers, I like to call them a call of curiosity. Leave your readers curious enough to want to keep reading or to come back again to keep reading. Most of you won't be writing serialization right off the bat, you're probably introducing a piece of work from a much larger volume of work, either a completed book or something you've been working on for a while, so it's totally okay to have this hybrid model between online serialization and writing traditionally. What you should be looking for is some sort of hockey opening to grab readers. So, some do's and don'ts, the big cliffhanger again. If you are using the cliffhanger, use it sparingly, you don't want to make your readers grumpy with you, again, I'd like to say leave them with some sort of curiosity that makes them come back. Another do, which is a really interesting tool that you have to your accessibility online is author notes. At the end of every new posts I do, I write a little note to my readers and I bold it so they know it's not part of the story, and I'll tell them things like, what I'm up to with my career, I'll ask them questions, I'll say how did you feel about this character's response to this? Was it what you were expecting? I open an invitation for engagement. So, readers will often answer those questions and discuss each other's answers and it's a really neat way and it's a really neat tool, and it's totally free to your disposal to use for online engagement. I can put in my chapters or in my episodes YouTube videos, music, images. Those are great things to use because oftentimes, readers will share those images on their social media platforms, which will draw people back to my story. So, your big takeaway go from this, is to trigger readers curiosity, trigger it at the beginning of your work, so they want to keep reading it, and trigger at the end of your work so that they're willing to come back the next week to continue reading. One example for leaving the readers with some sort of curiosity at the end of the chapter from something I've done myself personally is, in my story That Cheaters Club, I built this tension between these two characters, my main character and a potential love interest for the first few chapters. One of the ways I left the chapter with the readers wanting more is I left it with these two characters finally kissing for the first time. So, the readers don't know what will happen next, they don't know if the characters will react positively or negatively, they don't know if that kiss will develop into something further, they're left with questions and they're going to want to come back the next week to get the answers. The difference between a cliffhanger and curiosity is with the cliffhanger, you're leaving something unresolved. With curiosity, you're resolving something but they're still open questions, like with those two characters that kissed, it was resolving this scene in a perfect way, but it was leaving those open questions well, how are they going to react to the kiss? What comes next? One of the fun things for serializing stories online is that I might not even know the answer to what's coming next to my story, what happens with those characters after the kiss, I may know, I may not know, and it would depend on how much I plot it ahead of time. So, at this particular story, I knew some major plot points down the line that would impact what would happen between those two characters. But oftentimes, I don't know what's going to happen next, and I let myself be inspired by my readers reactions to what happened. 6. Audience: Before we start finding who our primary audience is, it's good to remember why it's important to have them. They offer feedback, they help get your work exposure, and they help you validate what you're writing. Another great thing that having a primary audience does or an online audience is it helps you learn as you go. You learn what your readers like as you write, and you learn what you like as you write through feedback. When I say primary audience, what I mean is the people who are most likely going to connect and engage with your work. For instance, if you wrote a catalog on scroll saws, and you were posting that on a stay-at-home mom's blog you're less likely to get your primary audience than you would if you posted that catalog on scroll saws on some sort of home-fix-it renovation site. So, your primary audience are the people who you're writing for, who you're trying to target, and who you're trying to share your message with. You may find that there's two different types of people who enjoy your work, your primary, and your secondary audience. For the sake of today's lesson, we're going to focus on your primary audience, where to find them, how to engage with them, and where and how you guys can connect. You should be targeting the majority of your time to your primary audience. By understanding your primary audience, you can find more effective ways to reach them and engage with them. So, there's some action you can take to try to understand and find your primary audience. The first thing to do is to think about, if your book was in the library or in a bookstore, what department would it be in, what genre would it be, and what are the books that are around it? When you find out what genre and what area in a bookstore your book would be, through them you can understand who your primary audience is. For instance, if your book could be next to another major seller in that category, then you can look at the stats of that particular book, how it's sold, did it sell primarily online? Did it sell e-book mostly or paperback mostly? And you can start understanding who is buying that genre, where they're buying it, how are they buying it, and you can start finding and targeting where your primary audience would be. Another way to understand who your primary audience would be is simply through the protagonist of your story. Most likely the age, and the gender of your main character is who your primary readership will be. When you found books that are in your genre that are similar to you, you can look up online on certain websites like Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Weekly how those books are selling, who's reading them, the demographics of the readers, how they're buying them, are they buying them primarily through e-book, or paperback, or hardcover? What websites they're buying them mostly from? You can look up how they're rated, and reviewed online. And you can see all that information that that author has paid for you, for your book and your story, and then you can start to understand who's reading it, how they're reading it, where they're getting accessibility to that story, and that's most likely where you will find your primary audience. Once you think you've found your primary audience, it's a really good tool to research them and find things that they would be interested in that you can apply in your writings, that you can connect on that deeper level. There's some great questions you can ask yourself, what personality seemed to connect with them? What books do they like and why? What authors do they follow, and how do they engage and interact with those authors? Are the authors they follow approachable or aloof? How do those authors present themselves in the media? All these questions will help you develop your brand and your connection to your primary audience. When trying to figure out your brand, you can still look at these other authors and ask yourself questions like; do they give tips to readers on writing or follow other authors themselves? What social media platforms are those authors on and how are they using them? It's really good to look at the colors and images and the way those authors write their bios across the different platforms they use. These will give you different tips and tricks on how to create your own brand and merchandising, and we're going to get more into that in another video. So, if you find your primary audience then you can start seeing those authors that they connect to, and you can see the roadmap that they've already laid for you, that connects and engages with your primary audience in the way that would work for you. And you could start to emulate things that they're doing that also match your own style, and voice, and message, and brand. There are four major genre groups or audiences online, that would be middle grade, young adult, new adult which is a new genre, and adults. The ones that you will most likely see is young adult, new adult, and adult. There's trends in adult and new adult for authors to interact and engage with each others, that's what you tend to see in those genres. Understanding your audience is really important. Once you've found your primary audience don't feel like you have to be locked into that primary audience forever. As I've grown and learned as a writer so has my story development and to my audience, so it can grow and move with you, you can change and transition nothing's set in stone. It's just really good to understand that each novel or each story you write can have its own unique primary audience. Traditionally, writers are encouraged to find one genre, one niche primary audience and nurture and develop and grow that, that will help your sales or your career grow, and you'll build a more specific platform, so it's easier to market to that. What writing online does is it opens up your potential audience, and you can engage and connect with people that you necessarily wouldn't, you can try new genres, try new writing styles, and start developing different primary audiences. Having multiple primary audiences is not necessarily conductive, you'll have to continue to write and satisfy them so it is good to be really considerate, and to think through what you're writing, why you're writing it, and who you're writing that for. Personally myself, I experimented with a lot of different genres until I started to decide what I liked, who my primary audience was, who connected the best with as readers, and what stories and what type of stories I like to write. When I first started writing online, I wasn't aware or conscious of who my primary audience is. One of my books is a middle grade book about mermaids that I mentioned earlier, and that book only has a million readers even though it's been online for almost five years. Where my newest work, The Cheater's Club which is a new adult novel, received over 5 million reads in one year. So, you can see that it's got a lot larger readership, and that has to do with the fact that I have learned and applied a lot of these techniques I'm talking about to how I write. So, I write with my audience in mind now that I have an understanding of who they are, and I reference things that would be interesting to them like movies and TV shows that they're watching, things that can connect and engage with that audience. So, all these points and tips aside, you need to write the story that's organically yours. So, taken into consideration who your primary audience is, I would do things like make sure that my story, each chapter or episode isn't so long that it would bore a reader who's reading from a phone. Most of my primary audience is reading from their cell phones or their tablets, so I'll make sure that my chapter is punchy, and engaging, and short so it's enough to keep their interest the whole time through. It doesn't mean that I have to drop commercial references in each chapter or change my language to suit them, but it just means that I have to be aware of who I'm writing to, how they're reading it, and express my story in a way that would best relate to my readers. I like to believe that you should write where your platform meets your passion, and that's where you'll see the most exponential growth and success. If you're still exploring and wondering who your primary audience is or what sort of genres you want to write in, a really great exercise is to take a paragraph that you've already written, and stylize it for three different primary audiences. For instance, write once thinking that priests, or inmates, or your grandma, or your mother will be reading it, or a teenage girl, and each time keeping that particular primary reader in your mind when you go through and you rewrite that particular paragraph. Don't be afraid to make changes because these should read differently. Depending on who your main character is, their point of view will be different and their references will be different. We talked about writing your story and tailoring it with your primary audience in mind. Now, we're going to talk about merchandising yourself and your work. 7. Merchandising: Personal: Now let's talk about online merchandising. This goes back to that goal from earlier, to get people to notice you when they're looking for someone else. This is actually much more important than people give it credit for because you're merchandising is the very first impression any reader will have of you and your work. Let's start off with your brand as a personal writer and what that means overall. You need to consider what's important to you, what messages you're trying to get across in your writing, who you're writing for and why. Remember back to those questions we asked in one of the previous videos about looking at other authors who are writing to your same primary audience. This is where you really want to take note of their color schemes, what their bios read like, what their pitchers are like consistently across their social media platforms. This is where you're going to want to start putting together those sort of similar packages for yourself. Keeping in mind what's important to you, who you're trying to attract and why. To establish your brand you should be able to answer the following questions: Who are you? Why do you write what you write? What's important to you? How do you deliver those findings to your audience? So this is my personal website. As you can see it's branded with a steampunk heart here and the reason is it's because my most recent book that I've written, that I haven't released to people yet, is a clockwork fantasies. So, this is my most recent book and this is the one that I am promoting at the moment. So, when you come to my Twitter profile, this is my Twitter profile, you can see that it syncs with my website. So, there's consistency there. My Twitter bio shows who my agent is, my agency and it talks a little bit about interesting things I'm doing in the writing community that might interest people and it also links back to my website. So you can see there's a consistency between those. On my Wattpad profile you can see it's much brighter and the reason is because I engage more heavily with readers on this platform, so I want them to feel invited, I want them to feel welcomed in to talk to me and it's less of a commercial thing and it's more of a friendly community vibe here. So that's why I'm branded a little bit differently. Also, my bio reads much more friendly than my bio on Twitter and my website does. So to keep consistency between the three, because somebody who might come to my website will go to my connect and they might go check me out on Wattpad there or twitter here or Facebook. Consistency between all the minors you can even see on Facebook. This is my similar, the same profile picture across all of my platforms. So, everybody will know who I am by looking at my profile picture. If I change my profile picture on one of my platforms, I'll change it across all of them. But I do have a little bit unique things like the background and this one is pink whereas the background on my Twitter beige. It's a little bit more professional colored. Twitter is where the traditional literary world hangs out. That is their favorite social media platform. So, on Twitter I am branded a little bit more what is considered appropriate for traditionally published writers or writers who are hoping to become traditionally published. So, you'll see my bio is really short and punchy, it has a little bit of my personality in there, it talks about important writing things I'm involved with and it talks about how industry people can contact me by connecting with my agent. On Wattpad, it's geared towards my fans, it's geared towards my readers. It's not geared towards industry professionals. However, it does have information so if industry professional would follow find me on Wattpad and be interested, they know that I'm represented by Foundry Literary and Media agency and they can connect there. That's actually a very important thing for me to have there because I have been approached by film directors and publishing houses directly on Wattpad interested in buying media or book rights for some of my stories on there. So, it's good to keep your website information everywhere or whatever primary information you want people to go back to always. It's good to keep that consistent. So I always link people back to my website because my website is my hub that has all the information on me. It has my bio, has all my books and has all the different places they can connect to me there. So, I always link people back to my website for that. If it's something that you were going to take seriously, then it is important to have a central hub. A lot of people use their blogs as central hubs. More and more you're going to want to drive people back to what's important to you. On my personal website you can see that I've kept my color tone really simple and the reason I've done that is so that it's punchy, it stands out, it's not cluttered and my focus is on this graphic image and my name. The reason my focus is on this graphic image and my name is because this image represents the products that I'm pushing right now, I'm marketing, and you always want to get your name out as much as possible. Its brand recognition. You want people to hear your name or see your name as often as possible and eventually develop curiosity for you. When you're building your website and putting together your bios for whatever your social media platforms are like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr, it's really important to consider your brand. So, like I said, I keep my brand consistent with this image and with my font because this is what I'm trying to draw people's attention to. I also want people to get an idea that I am a primary fantasy writer from my image right away. So you have a very short window to attract right readers in or anybody stopping by. You want to give them a message with everything they see. So, this image gives a certain message about what my writing might be or what they might find in my writing. My name is prominently displayed because I always want them to know who, what site they're visiting, who they're visiting and why. So, keep in mind when you're choosing your graphics and your font, who you're trying to attract, what messages you're trying to get across. I'm obviously trying to attract professionals who are interested in either acquiring or finding or reading fantasy sort novels because that's what I have available at the moment. So that's my overall brand as a writer and now let's talk about merchandising a specific book. 8. Merchandising: Covers & Blurbs: You're onto Wattpad here and talk about one of my more popular stories, the Cheaters Club. So, the Cheaters Club is a new adult book, so that's catering towards college and career. When choosing this cover, you can see the sticker from the People's Choice Award winner there, that wasn't there when I originally chose the cover, but it's nicely displayed now. But when she's in this cover, what I did was I looked at popular new adult novels. The majority of new adult novels were in blacks and dark colors. So, I wanted something that would attract the similar readership but also standout among black cover novels. So, I chose to go with navy blue as my color scheme because it's still dark and moody, but it stands out against all the other black novel covers. One of the reasons why I like my covers to stand out is because most of the readers are searching through small cellular devices, so they don't have a large viewer screen on these images so you really do need to catch their eye. Another thing I do for that is, I choose big bold legible fonts, because, again, I can't guarantee that everybody's looking at this from a large screen. So, here is my blurb, and I always put a short blurb and a long blurb, and your blurb is the first introduction to your writing that people will read. So, you have to introduce the comfort, your character, and what their challenge will be to overcome that. So, this is the blurb I wrote for my new adult story, the Cheaters Club. After getting his heart broken, the last thing Finn Harlow wants is to join a club of gentlemen who specialize in seducing women. But when given a bet he can't refuse, Finn finds himself over his head in the game called...the Cheaters Club. So, what I did there is I tried to leave them with a hook, I introduced the conflict in the character, so hopefully, people are interested enough and I hope that they'll continue reading. So, the key parts of a blurb, obviously, are the main character, the stakes, what's at stake for them, how their life is like when the story starts, and what are the biggest obstacles they have to overcome in the story? It's really important to pare down all the unnecessary words. You may have a few sentences to hook a reader, so make it punchy, put the important facts in there, put all your story hooks in there, and hopefully, your readers will want to continue reading on. If you're really stuck working on your blurb and you have no clue how to introduce your story, then consider these four next points. You want to start with the situation, introduce the problem, introduce the hopeful possibility, and also set the mood for your story. If you follow that formula, you should come up with a punchy blurb. So, as you can see on the screen, I have a short blurb here and then I have a long one here. So, the short one's job is to hook a reader. If a reader is interested a little bit more details before they want to go on with the story, then I include a little bit longer one, and this is almost across between a sub-note in a blurb. So, this one talks a little bit more about the character's internal struggles as well, and it gives a little bit more backstory in the longer blurb here. I would suggest starting with a short blurb, don't worry about the long one just now, work on perfecting the art of writing a short hockey blurb. A blurb's ideal length should be anywhere from 100 to 200 words. If you have to stretch that a little bit, okay, but make sure you're not putting unnecessary words in there that aren't needed. When posting your blurb in the feedback below, feel free to ask people what's catching their eye, what they liked, what they think could be improved in your blurb, if they were hooked in, what was it that did it for them, and that way we can learn and grow together as a class. As you can see on Wattpad, it's super simple. If they're interested, they just click this button and it will take them right to the first chapter. On this chapter, you can see I have inserted an image of a potential character. On Wattpad, what's really interesting is you can put your dream cast. So, this is the character my fans voted for the main character, so that's who I use for the images and I put cute little teaser images in almost every chapter. One of the biggest tips I can give when it comes to merchandising your work is creating a graphic image or a cover for your writing. The reason why I suggest making a graphic image or cover for your writing is because it's statistically proven that people are more likely to share an image than they are just writing, so that's why I suggest making a cover. One of the things I do for myself creatively as I often when I get inspired for a story, I'll make the cover before I even start writing it. That kind of keeps me accountable to the story, it's a visual inspiration for me, and it's a really fun thing that I can share as a teaser with fans to get them excited to start reading it. When I'm choosing an image for my online serialized novels, I try not to spend any money because I'm offering those works for free. So, I'll find a free stock royalty site. One of the best ones is rgbstock.com, and I'll just go on here and I'll search for something. So, we'll just make a fun cover for the sake of it here. I'm going to search for a female, because I love having people in my covers. There we go. Let's do female. I'm just going to search through for an image that catches my eye. Normally, I would search through for an image that I like. This one is nice and simple. I personally prefer old, clean images because you have such a small space to capture somebody's eye. So, after you've taken and downloaded your image, I go to picmonkey.com, it's a free site. You can pay to upgrade for a few more options, but I like to use the free one. There we go. Open. Okay, so now that you have your picture up on PicMonkey, you can go through and just use all the fun little editing tools. So, again when I'm making my covers, I like to have something that catches people's eyes and would catch people's eyes from a small cellular device because that is most likely where my readers are going to be coming from. Normally, I would take much more time with this and make it perfect. All right. Let's put some font on there. So, this has just been done in a few minutes using totally free images and a free website. Now, some of the other writing sites offer their own. I know Wattpad has a downloadable app you can use to create your own cover. If this really scares you and you have no idea how to make your own cover, you can go ahead and use the free app. That's a really fun tool there too. Let's add my name. Yes, that's the most important part oftenly. So, there you go, a cover in five minutes that's pretty decent and completely for free. So, this will just help get readers interested in your writing and it will catch their eye because the purple pops off the screen and hopefully people will be interested enough by this that they'd be willing to read whatever your story is. Again, like I said, it's completely free, you can upgrade and use some of their other fancier editor tools or you can go to some cover making apps and use those as well. So, in making your own cover graphic image for your blog, or your novel, or your story that you're serializing online, my tips for you is make it catchy, make something like either a bright color that will catch the reader's eye. Make sure your font is legible, make sure that your images you're choosing attract your target audience. So, that particular image I used for this mock-up cover would probably most likely be new adults or adult. It has that sort of women's fiction kind of appeal to it. So, keep in mind your audience when you're picking your images and your font colors, make sure your author name is prominent because that's the whole point. You want to get your name out there, you want people to know who you are or be interested in you and, yeah, make sure whatever your cover is consistent with your writing. When you're making cover as a graphic images for your work, it's totally up to you if you want to keep the same one through the consistent course of your writing or if you want to have different segments, like part 1,2,3,4 of your story and have different images that go with each one, I've seen both online and both are successful ways to do it. I tend to stick with the same image through the course of my story, that way it gets shared the most and hopefully the most recognition and brand recognition comes back to me that way. However, multiple images gives your readers a chance to share that image more often than having the same image. So, there's pluses and minuses to both and it's totally your choice and your preference to which route you go. One thing and found while researching colors and how to make book covers is a really cool article on color psychology. So, I've attached that to your resources here for you to read through, and it's a really interesting read and you can see how different colors interact and relate to different readers and genres. You can see why a lot of romance or erotic novels have dark covers, how I was mentioning the new adult genre tends to have black covers and there's reason why. Feel free to read through that article and you can find out for yourself. When you post your blurb in the gallery for the class project, feel free to ask for feedback and to leave and offer feedback on each other's blurbs too. That way we can learn and grow, we can find out what our fellow students liked or didn't like, and what hooked them or what didn't hook them, and we can work on improving our blurbs. When thinking about your personal merchandising don't be afraid to look at the big picture. Consider logos, business cards, your website design and layout, what your profile picture is, what bios you have on different social media sites. If they're consistent, that's great. If they're individualized for those sites, that's great too, but just be considerate of why you're doing what you're doing and who you're trying to attract while you're doing that. For instance, if you're a Gothic writer, you're less likely to have a comedic bio than you would if you're a comedy writer. So, keep all those considerations into play when you're working on your overall merchandising. 9. Marketing: So, now that we've talked about writing, writing with your audience in mind, merchandising, now, we're going to talk about marketing and how to get people to see and read your work. The first thing we want to talk about is social media. We're going to start off by talking about the major social media platforms authors use. Some of the main ones are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. Some new ones that have been introduced lately have been Snapchat and Periscope, a lot of authors are getting on board with those. But for the sake of today, I'm going to focus on Facebook and Twitter. The main purpose for social media for an author, is to expand your reach. So, to find other networks in places that you can connect with and engage with readers, or attract new potential readers to your work. One of the great things about Twitter and Facebook and other social media platforms, is that it gives you exposure to your readers or whoever's engaging with you on those platforms, their followers, and their connections. So, when they're interacting and engaging with you, their followers on those platforms will be aware and see those interactions, and maybe it will spark some curiosity about who you are and what it is you're doing. Twitter is a very popular social media platform for writers. It's where the writing community hangs out online. There's a lot of different events and contests that go on on Twitter. Literary agents, and publishers, and editors are on Twitter, and they're tweeting about what they're looking for, or what they're finding and liking or not liking. So, it's a great resource for writers to connect with other writers, for writers to connect with readers, and for writers to see what's trending in the literary world. There's also some hashtag events that authors can participate in. I'm involved in a group of four writers who host a Twitter chat every Monday night, it's called wattpad four. We discuss different things in the writing world and we have guests coming to speak on it, and people can comment, interact, and engage, and connect with each other. There's another hashtag that's really popular, it's called AM writing, A-M writing. The AM writing hashtag is mostly for writers to connect with other writers. There's One Line Wednesday which is a great way for you to showcase your writing by posting one line from your current work every Wednesday and using that hashtag. The One Line Wednesday hashtag is a great way for you to showcase your voice as a writer. The community is really supportive and they'll hashtag or favorite those tweets, that will help get samples of your writing out to more people. There's online competitions for writing as well on Twitter. One of the biggest ones is PitchWars. PitchWars allows writers to submit little blurbs of their work, and if they're chosen, literary agents will read and review those works. Those are just some of the main hashtags available for authors on Twitter, there's so many more. If you are a steampunk writer, you should be looking into what is trending and steampunk hashtags that you can connect and engage with other people in your genre. The Twitter writing community is a great way to grow your own personal community, and it's a great way to find people who have like-minded interests. Let's talk about Facebook. Now, Facebook is a really interesting platform for writers to use. One of the ways I use it is, I have private Facebook groups for some of my stories. The super fans can come and exchange pitchers, they can write notes to me, we interact on a deeper level. They make edits. Edits is a popular thing where readers will make pitchers on Photoshop, and edit your character's heads onto them, and make all these really cute little GIFS for your story. So, that's a place that I use to engage on a deeper level with my fans. Another way authors can use Facebook is having a private or personal author page, you can join writing communities like the writing challenge, you can find romance writing groups on there, and it's a great way for you to connect in with your peers and to learn what's going on in the industry by joining these clubs and groups on Facebook. An important thing to remember on social media, is that you don't want to spam people with your work. If all you're doing is putting link after link to your work back and not providing any other content, that can come across as spam. It's important to also share and encourage what other writers and other people in the community with like-minded interests are doing, and to create content that's relevant to your primary audience This is the cornerstone of online engagement. It's that feedback loop again. It's a two-way street, it's not just you yelling information at people, it's a communication thing back and forth. Another thing to be considerate at is SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, that means whenever anybody searches your name or names similar to yours or another author, your blogs, your websites, your writing on Wattpad or whatever platform you're on, registers at the top of those searches. Here are three best practices for writers. The first, is to be aware of your title. If you're posting a blog series of four different posts, it's really important to have your sections mentioned in your title. For instance, this is part two of my blog talk on writing online. That way, you're drawing reader's attention back to part one, and it will keep action coming to your website to previous posts, and also your current post. That brings me to the second best practice which is drawing attention to your previously posted content, and that will keep your website active. One of the things that search engines look for when registering a search, is how active the website is. If people aren't interacting with your content, you're more likely to register lower down in the search results than you are, if people are more actively interacting and engaging with the content on your site. This is a perfect segue to our third best practice, which is to encourage readers to interact with your content, which will boost your SEO rating, which we'll draw more readers to you over time. It's important when talking about SEO that we also draw attention to tags. Tags are keywords that you can put into your blog, or your story on Wattpad, or on your website, that when people search those keywords, your website, or your work or your content, is likely to register. For example, in my romance story, I would put a tag like romance, new adult, the title of my story, Cheaters Club, I would tag that. I would take my author name in case somebody is searching me. Another important word in social media is the word trending. When you're on a site for instance like Twitter, you'll see on the left hand side all the trending hashtags. So, if you look at this trending hashtags and one happens to be relevant to your writing, if you engage and interact with people who are engaging and interacting with that hashtag you're helping build and expand your community and your reach online. If you have a post that is relevant to one of those hashtags and you share it including that hashtag, you're likely to draw back your primary audience to that post, which otherwise they might have missed it. For instance, if you wrote a blog post on the popular singer from One Direction, Harry Styles, and you notice that Harry Styles was trending or One Direction was trending on Twitter, and you shared a link to your blog posts including that hashtag, you're more likely to draw back and engage to connected primary audience, than you would be if you didn't use the trending hashtag. This extends the life of your work online and grows your audience. A great way to use social media is to link your accounts. For instance, Wattpad has this great feature where I can share quotes from my work, and it would make this really cool quote art image, that I can then tweet or put on Instagram or Facebook. That people will then be able to share from those platforms to their fans or followers on those sites. So, it's great way to draw people back to your work. It's to create images through the quote art app, or to share quotes from your book like we mentioned with the One Line Wednesday, and to bring people from those platforms back to wherever your central hub is. If you're just starting out with social media, it can be overwhelming. Start by choosing one or two platforms and getting to know them. How do you choose them? Pick what's fun for you and pick where your primary audiences is, and work on those until you can grow them and develop that platform there. In our next lesson, we're going to talk about how to get creative with social media and how to really engage with your primary audience. 10. Creative Strategies: For this next video, I want to walk you through some creative ways I use my social media platforms to engage with my fans. I'm going to start off with Wattpad and walk you through some of the different things I've done. So, my story the Love Curse is pretty popular. One of the things I've done, I'm going to take you down to table of contents here. Then scroll down to my last chapter. So, here's my last chapter. As you can see, I have a link to all my other stories that are available for them to read. The next chapter is just a little note between me and any of the readers. I've had so many readers on this story and they are all asking me for a sequel. So, a creative way I've created content with the story is, I've offered a competition to my readers. Anybody who wants, can write a one shot which is like a fan fiction based off the characters of this story and I'll post it inside of this book. So, they can take advantage of the 11 million readers I've had to help bring exposure back to them. As well, it creates content for my readers to continue reading with the characters in the story they love and I don't have to write it. So, that's a fun way for me to create more content with little to no work on my behalf. It helps me bring back exposure to the readers who have supported and been with this story from the beginning. So, there's the little message I wrote to my readers and then these following chapters are all the one shot stories that they have posted. So, that's a fun thing I've done there. You can see my readers are interacting with the other readers this way as well. Another cool thing I've seen is authors run competitions for readers to enter so that they can become characters in the upcoming stories. As you can see, at the end of this particular post, I put a note to my readers telling them what my plan is with the story and also asking them a question. So, I asked them what would they do if they had this particular Olympus Gold Card, which is a card that was in my story. You can see the readers are writing their responses, what they would do. So, that's a great way to engage with readers by asking them a question and to see what they would do in certain situations in your story. Another way I've engaged with readers is with another story of mine called the Cheaters Club. What I did was, I allowed readers to vote on plot points. So, I posted images on places like Instagram and Twitter and readers could come and vote for what they like. So, in this particular example, you can see they have the choice to choose which particular female would end up with the main character. So, readers have come over to Instagram and they would vote on who they thought would be the best fit. In this chapter after this, I got to write a scene with the winning choice. This is a really great technique to further engage with your audience because readers can imagine themselves in the story. They also come in to my other social media platforms and engaging with me, engaging with my work which is drawing more attention back to my work and to me as a writer. A lot of readers are sharing these images to their followers and so that further extends the reach of my work. Often times readers will give me feedback on my first draft of a story. When I'm going back and I'm editing, I'll take into consideration the feedback they've given and I'll revise it. For instance, in one of my stories, the main love interest, a lot of people found her annoying. So, that's obviously not a characteristic I want of the main love interest. So, I went back and I took out different scenes where readers really got up in arms with her actions and I was able to alter them based on that feedback; to make her more appealing to the readers. For instance, in one post, if something happened that the readers reacted differently than I was anticipating, I'll go back and edit it to make the changes so that future readers won't have that same reaction. So that my story can flow in the way that I want it to be directed. Here's the example of one of my private Facebook groups. So, you can see that I post things that readers interact with. They post things. Anything from updates of what's happening to me, discussions on characters, how I'm doing, updates on the story, sample chapters that nobody else gets to read or they get to read it before everyone else. This is just a really fun way to engage with the really serious fans. The fans who are supporting the story, who are sharing it the most on other social media platforms and who are overall my biggest supporters. A really good tip for keeping consistency with your writing and consistency with your readers is to set a schedule and to stick with it. Readers like to know that they can come back week after week to find a new post or update to the story they're following. So, having a schedule is really important. I've found most successful when I post weekly. So, every seven to eight days, that's a really good time to update regularly. Another interesting thing I've seen is that, when fans submit fan art, they get used in the different multimedias within chapters or posts or on social media by the authors. This helps the fan feel validated with their gift to the author and it also encourages other fans or readers to make that art for the writer. The big picture thing here is to remember the sky is the limit. You can be as creative as possible. You see things that your primary audience loves to engage and connect with, work with them there and do things with them in those areas. For instance, if your primary audience loves making videos, then have a competition for them to make a book trailer for one of your stories. If your primary audience loves using Snapchat, then maybe that's a social media site that you should be trying with them. Don't be afraid to try new things. To put yourself out there. To try new social media. It's really important to see what works for you, what works with your primary audience, what areas they're engaging and connecting the most. This is a learning lesson for you, your work and your primary audience and it's okay to learn as you go. Give your readers what they need so you can do what you want. That means, I make sure I engage with them in the levels that connect with them so that I can write the stories I want to write in the ways I want to write it. Some writers really don't want to give away creative control and that's not what we're talking about here. We're not talking about trying to please everyone. We're talking about trying to engage with your readers so that you can continue to grow your craft, you can learn from their feedback and you can start that feedback loop that will help you in the long run. So, I've shown you some of the creative ideas I've done to engage with my audience. I encourage you guys to discuss in the gallery some creative ways you can come up with that would help engage with your primary audience and spread the reach of your content across social media. When I was first starting out, I tried a bunch of different writing platforms. I realized they weren't all for me. So, I focused all my attention on Wattpad. Wattpad has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me, because it's the right community and it's the right fit for me. If I hadn't have experimented and tried other places, I may not have found that. So, try other communities, try other sites that you haven't necessarily tried because you may find the perfect fit for you. At first you might not find a lot of readers on the platform you're trying, keep engaging and over time you'll grow your readership. 11. Next Steps: So, we've covered a lot. We've talked about what online writing looks like. We've talked about tips and tricks on writing, how to find and engage with your primary audience. We've talked about merchandising, and marketing, and social media. These are all ways to grow your online audience, and to engage, and get your work out there. Community online is what makes it so special to write online. So, don't be afraid to get involved, and interact with other people on social media platforms, and writing sites. Most importantly, have fun, be authentic, try new things. You'll never know who you'll find, or who will find you. So, now it's your turn. I'd love to see your blurb, you're 1-3,000 words, your cover, and who your primary audience is. I want to invite you guys to read and comment on each other's works, share constructive feedback with each other, and help encourage each other to grow, and find new ways to share your work. I'll also be posting my work. If you want to read my stories, you can find me on Wattpad. If you have any questions, Wattpad, or Twitter, you can follow up with me there, I'm always happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you guys so much for taking this class, I hope you learned something. I hope I inspired you to try new things. Remember to start where you're at, with what you have. I'm looking so forward to reading your work.