Spring Has Sprung
Easter is over and winter is gone. Time to get back outside. If you're like me, you've been itching to start cleaning the flower beds, walking the old trails, taking fresh pictures, and just reconnecting with Mother Nature and being active again.
Before I can get there, I have to go through the garage, however. It's in dire need of a good spring cleaning. So this first warm weather always finds me sweeping and sorting, re-shelving and all the stuff I've been avoiding all winter.
It feels good to reset things. To get everything sorted and back in order. To slap a fresh coat of paint on the front door, get new outdoor lights, and prepare for the long summer months outside.
What about applying the same mindset to ourselves as authors?
How To 'Spring Clean' As An Author
I'm not talking sponge baths or physical haircuts, here. I'm talking about your website, your brand, your social media and even your characters. The winter took a toll on us between holidays, birthdays, shoveling snow, and all the day to day in between. You might have started a new plot and gotten sidetracked. You might have never quite finished editing the latest chapter to your liking because of holiday shopping and extra errands.
And we all know the procrastination of New Years Eve resolutions!
So now, with the renewing of Mother Nature this spring, why not spring clean yourself as an author? Here's a checklist:
Pictures -- Do you have a current author headshot? If it's been five years or more, could it be time to treat fans to your latest look?
Bio -- Is your bio up to date? Are there new facets of your life you could add to your bio page? Fans always love learning something new about you!
Blog -- Have you blogged lately? If you feel that summer will pull you away from your current schedule, why not take a look at a modified summer schedule to take the stress off of weekly postings?
Mobile -- Have you checked your site lately as if you were a new fan? Have you visited your own site on a mobile device to see that everything is working properly?
Consistency -- Have you been consistently posting across all your channels? If not, is it time to say goodbye to one or two?
Voice -- Have your posts been in the same vein of your brand? If you are a fantasy author, have you been bringing fans beneficial content that speaks to their interests? If you have been sharing tech articles, that might not be resonating with your fantasy audience.
Rank -- Take an honest look at how your work in social media has been performing. (If you don't know how your posts have been translating into sales, check my article HERE with Steve LeBel on using Amazon to help you get real info from your work on social media!) If you've been pouring time into a profile that is not converting, maybe it's time to close that account.
Trending -- Is there a new trend going on that has been catching your eye? If you've been meaning to start snapping or going live, now is the time. Summer provides a lot of opportunities to be out among eye-catching opportunities social media loves. Why not make it the summer of SnapChat?
Profiles -- Are all your profile pictures and avatars shwoing the same picture? Consistent pictures help fans double-check that it's really you.
Headers -- Just as important as your photo, a uniform header can help things look sharp and professional. Incorporating the header art of your website into your branding can be a great place to start!
Links -- Have you tested your URL links lately? Have they been updated lately? Check on desktop and mobile to test your latest links across your website and social media. One dead link can bounce a fan from you to the competition.
Marketing -- I'd be remiss if I didn't mention cleaning out old marketing ways and trying new ones. If you've been wanting to freshen up what you're using in your marketing, sign up for my newsletter to score your free eBook download. It's a quick eBook full of apps and tools (and freebies!) to try, no matter what your genre!
Plot -- Are your characters helping advance your plot? Having secondary and tertiary characters isn't bad, but are they mucking up the works? If they are simply complicating the scene, it might be time to edit them out.
Names -- If you're always skipping over the name because it's hard for you to pronounce, either out loud or in your head, consider an easier name. Readers might also have trouble and thus find it harder to connect with that character. Mis-spelling it every time you type it? That's another clue to change things.
Individuality -- Do you find yourself always inserting a character's name to keep them straight from others in the scene? If it is hard for your character to stand out in a crowd, how about giving them an accent? Would a local dialect give them inflections in speech that make it easier to differentiate them?
Short Term -- Did you set a first quarter goal when the clock struck twelve, yet you find you're still not finished? Be gentle with yourself and sit down to re-examine the steps you'll need to take to finish it. Life may have gotten complicated in an unforeseen way. Don't get down, just reset.
Long Term -- If you thought this year would be one of a romance series, but a crime thriller sprang up instead, don't fret. Fighting your inspiration to stick to a goal you already broadcast is only going to make you miserable and create sub-par content. Switch goals and make the most of your inspiration. The passion you will pour into your work will be felt by fans.
Internal Dialogue -- Always beating yourself up? How's that workin' for ya? Why not dedicate yourself this summer to quelling negative commentary and working to replace that with positive words, no matter how negative you're feeling. Whisper it to yourself, keep a note on the mirror, too. Queues can help you remember to be more present in the moment and stop getting so down on yourself.
Energy -- Note how much energy you expel throughout the day. Breakfast, commutes, jobs, kids, pets, traffic, appointments, gardening, etc, etc...they all take not just physical energy but mental energy. If you haven't been having luck sitting down at the end of the day and writing a masterpiece, accept all that you did accomplish and rest. Consider morning times to try and write instead.
Writer's Block -- If you've talked yourself into writer's block, try looking at it from a fresh perspective. Could you be procrastinating about writing for another issue entirely? Feeling less than confident in the overall benefit of investing all your time in writing this book? Did someone say something to bring doubt into the back of your mind? Maybe this is the spring to talk to yourself about why you write. If you are trying to live up to someone else's expectations, it might be time to put yourself back in the driver's seat.
What did I miss? What can you add? How do you like to tackle spring cleaning as an author? I would love your comments to add to this list!