I’m Still Here. I’m Still Writing.

And I’m still learning how to master social media. I’ve watched the amazing young people from Parkland, Florida speak up and harness the power of this sometimes perplexing, confusing, and occasionally harmful medium.

We use social media to share stories of hope.  With its power to reach millions of people we have the ability to inspire movements. We sell books, jewelry, fitness programs, and a growing number of people are even selling sobriety.  We keep in touch with friends, reconnect with people we’ve lost touch with, and make new friends.

And we can also fall prey to fake news that can sway elections and harm our democracy.

I use it to keep in touch with friends and family and to sell books. And sometimes I sell them at Hometown Book Pop-ups that are held in pubs and restaurants that have cozy nooks in the bar where I meet readers, sell books, sign copies of my books, answer questions, and share glasses of wine or mugs of locally brewed beer. I find Facebook helps me reach more people who show up at these Pop-Ups and become new friends.

I used to blog here a lot but I began to question whether or not blogs sold books.  I also struggled with how to get people to comment and join the dialogue. I have very lively conversations on my Facebook pages. Yes, I have more than one, there’s my personal page and my author page.  But more on that later.

I’d love to hear from other bloggers about their experience selling books and blogging. Do you think blogs are passé’? Have you cut back on your blogging? Does a blog sell books? How do you know if it’s working?

In September, I  published my fourth novel, Under The Same Sun. I blogged a bit in the beginning but felt Facebook and Instagram were far more effective tools. I am also currently using Ereader News Today – advertising all four of my books with a monthly email promo. Life Is All This will be on sale this month. I haven’t received a date yet but I’ll let you know when I do.

Some of you mentioned you had been enjoying my blogs for quite some time – I started blogging five years ago – but you hadn’t bought any of the books and thought it was high time you checked them out. I’m looking forward to your feedback.

Being an Indie author is lonely sometimes. You don’t have a literary agent to cheer you on. You don’t have a publisher promoting your books. But I don’t mind doing all the work and  I love hearing directly from readers. I’d just like to know what it is that is actually working.

How did you find me? What made you buy the book?

As you can see I use Instagram a lot. It’s a one stop shop. I post short stories or excerpts from my books that include photos from my travels that inspired various scenes in the books. I have received so much advice regarding the American attention span. “Your blogs are too long.” “People only read 1000 words, if that.” I don’t know what the truth is. When I do sit down to write a blog it’s still too long.

Pictures and short stories do seem to grab people’s attention but my favorite feature on Instagram are the share buttons. I can click on Facebook and Twitter and hit up three social media sites with one post, then get back to writing the next novel.

Of course I don’t know if these Instagram posts sell books either, unless I hear from readers. I’d love it if Amazon shared data the way WordPress does. Where do my buyers come from? What links brought them to my Amazon page? If WordPress can do this, you know Amazon can. Why don’t they? If I can effectively sell more books isn’t that to Amazon’s benefit?

If you know a way to get this information, please let know.

A fifth novel is percolating. I intentionally spent less time writing and a lot of time promoting Under The Same Sun this winter. It has paid off and also increased interest in the three previous books. Things are happening, slow but steady.  Sales are up for all four books and they’re all getting good reviews. Under The Same Sun, a timely novel, is being well received and the reviews give me hope that America is a place that cares.

 

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Trains are always nearby out West, crossing the plains, hugging the mountainside, boxcars filled with tales of new places, adventure, hobos, and romantic trysts. From The Reverse Commute: “We were on a train with a couple from Ireland, a young boy and his girlfriend. The boy was quite a storyteller. In Spain somewhere, the Pyrenees I think, the train traveled through a series of tunnels carved into the mountains. The lights would flicker and leave us in total darkness. The boy was a chain smoker and used his hands when he told his stories. The light at the tip of his cigarette swirled and made mesmerizing circles in the dark. His stories were tales of his everyday life, but they were fascinating. It was the first time I realized anyone’s life could be interesting if they told the story right, even the boring parts.” bit.ly/buythereversecommute #traintracks #thereversecommute #writinginspiration #lonesomewhistle #everydaylife

A post shared by Sheila Blanchette (@sheilablanchett) on

Rich and I are heading out on another road trip soon to visit our daughters who live in Colorado and Montana. The road is calling. It’s where the inspiration comes from and it is where I am happiest. I will be posting stories on IG and when a really good story comes my way – a story of a thousand words or more – I’ll share it here.

I do miss blogging but I have bills to pay and books to write. I’ve spent the winter cleaning ski condos, painting with Rich, and editing The Reverse Commute, my first novel. There are only so many hours in a day and I put a lot of time and effort into these blogs.

I’ll be traveling to Asheville, Memphis, Arkansas, Wichita, Colorado, Park City, Montana, South Dakota and back to Vermont. If you’re somewhere along the route and would like to host a Hometown Book Pop-Up or belong to a book club that would like to have the author join them, message me. I could try to arrange something. And most of the time I am always available throughout New England and  New York.

In the meantime, I invite you to follow me on Instagram where there are Stories From Higley Hill at least once a day.

P.S. I managed to keep this  blog to just under a thousand words. 979 to be exact.

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8 thoughts on “I’m Still Here. I’m Still Writing.

  1. I think I found you through a comment on Aidan Donnelly Rowley’s page. I went back and read everything on your blog, the days of walking, Florida, innkeeping..I found all of it fascinating, love your pictures too. I’ve bought and read all of your books, so for me the blogging was the way I found them. I love that you write about real life and real people and I hope you keep on doing it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Peggy! You have no idea how good it is to hear from you. It’s impossible to know if I’m reaching anyone when I don’t hear from readers. I’ve often wondered if commenting on other bloggers’ pages helps readers find me and now you have answered that question for me. If you have the time and inclination to write Amazon reviews (you can use a pseudonym – (there is option in the top right hand to use a different name) – I can tell you they are so important to Indie authors like myself. When an Indie published book gets enough reviews (some people say 50, some say 100 is the magic number) Amazon will start advertising your book on its emails and its best Book of the Month lists.

      Keep in touch. I answer all comments and love hearing from readers. And yes, I will keep writing. I’m addicted to it.

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  2. Well, I may be in the minority, but I have a long attention span and love to read the mini-stories of longer blog posts. Love them. The reader and the writer slowly but surely develop a relationship, and, sometimes, maybe even a friendship.
    I am toying with the idea of starting an Instagram page, only because some family/friends use it almost exclusively and I want to keep in touch. Lord knows I don’t need another addiction. Hello, facebook!
    I’m so happy to read that sales are beginning to pick up. You deserve to be widely known. Your talent is huge, and your books, well, just reading the caption below the photo of Steamboat Springs, Colorado tells it beautifully: “His stories were tales of his everyday life, but they were fascinating. It was the first time I realized anyone’s life could be interesting if they told the story right, even the boring parts.” Just like you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank so much, Connie. Yes, I have made many good friends through my books and you are certainly one of the best friends I’ve made.

      I happen to love Instagram for many reasons. I’ve always loved taking photos and I particularly love finding the unusual picture – the back alley, graffiti, odd buildings. I’m not into selfies at all. I’ve reached that age where I’m critical of any picture I’m in. I’d rather tell a story with a picture – like my everyday characters I also love taking pictures of forgotten places or the little things most people miss. I love having my phone handy at all times and taking IG photos keeps my eyes wide open to the world around me – despite what my husband may think.

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  3. I’ve been blogging since 2012, before my first book was published. I don’t blog to sell books, although there are links on my page, and I’ve gained many new readers. My blogs include reflections mostly, and of course my annual A to Z Challenge. I follow a lot of blogs, so yes, I do prefer shorter reads, but I still read yours, Sheila 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Martha. I began blogging when I wrote the first book. So many people recommended it as a way to reach readers who might also buy my book. I really began to enjoy it, particularly when I shared the Walking blogs from Florida and the Innkeepers Journal. But by the time I began to write the third novel I realized it was taking up a lot of my writing time and my creatives juices. I also wondered if it was selling books. I saw a lot of younger bloggers – Gen Xers and Millenials moving away from their blogs and I wondered what that they knew that I was missing. There was also the Huffington Post issue of not getting paid for your articles. It was marketed to writers as a way to get exposure. But why shouldn’t writers get paid for their work I wondered. Did I pick up any readers of my books when I was writing pieces for HuffPost? Does this dismiss the work writers do and the value of their work in the end? I don’t know the answers.

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