My author spotlight today is shining on the smart and resourceful Barb Drozdowich. Barb is a science nerd turned techie, who can whip you up an AMAZING website in seconds flat, JUST LIKE MINE. Yup, she is the brains behind my beautiful site and a coach extraordinaire! I know you are dying to meet her, so without further ado, here’s… Barb!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Barb Drozdowich and I live in British Columbia with my family. I have a background in teaching science and other technical subjects at the college/university level as well as the corporate level. One of my day jobs now is teaching authors about the technical subjects they need to learn to promote their books. I bring my many years of teaching and technical training to use helping authors.
How did you get started on your writing journey?
Several years ago I carried out a survey of my fellow book bloggers. When I finished up the survey, not only was I impressed that 215 of my fellow book bloggers shared their thoughts, but I was so impressed by the answers, I decided that I had to publish them so that authors could have the opportunity to learn. That started the process.
Let’s talk about your latest book! What is it about?
My latest book is called Blogging for Authors. I like to call it blogging from soup to nuts! In this book I cover everything an author needs to know about blogging from how to figure out what to blog about, how to choose a platform and the costs involved, the technical aspects of blogging and maintaining/backing up a blog, and how to network a blog (how to find and grow an audience). I package this up with an extensive glossary, a technical help chapter with 26 Youtube videos (that walk through the trouble spots that authors struggle with) and finally a coupon for an online WordPress course focused at authors that reduces the price to $15.00.
Where did inspiration for this come from?
I find that many authors are told to get a blog or a website – and they do – but they are not told what to do with it. In some cases, they use it as a billboard – advertising sales and new releases. In other cases, they try to blog, but don’t have a plan – and like many beginner bloggers, fail because they run out of things to say, or resent the time commitment.
Many beginner bloggers fail because they run out of things to say, or resent the time commitment.
I come from the book blogging world as well as the author world and understand how to create a blog to communicate with readers and to expand the readership. I want to share my knowledge with other authors struggling to find their audience. In my world, a blog is a powerful communication tool for sharing with an audience.
Who do you think would like your book and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
Blogging for Authors is aimed at authors – beginner authors, or more experienced folks trying to figure how to use a blog to their advantage. I have something in there for every skill level for the most part.
What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?
In Blogging for Authors, like the rest of my books, I try to remove the mystique from the technical things authors need to know. I explain subjects in common language that is directly applicable to what they need to know. I’m a reader and it’s important to me that authors keep writing – spending hours trying to figure out technical tasks interferes with writing.
What is your writing process like?
Most of my books start off because I see a need. I’m asked a lot of questions on a subject and identify a point of confusion. I create myself an outline and then create the content I feel belongs in each section. I then hand the manuscript off to some beta readers and get them to tell me if I’m writing at the correct level – is everything explained clearly enough? I take the suggestions and work with them to create an even better book than I started with. I then hand the manuscript off to one of the editors that I work with.
How do you go about editing your story?
I work with one of a number of really good editors. When I get my manuscript back, it is generally covered in track changes of thoughtful suggestions.
Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
I’ve worked with quite a few talented graphic artists over the years. I’m currently working with Michelle Fairbanks of Fresh Designs. She does a great job of reproducing what is in my head J I love working with her.
How did you go about getting published?
I originally self-published all my books. Now after the collapse of my publisher, Booktrope, I am self-publishing again. I like the process of uploading my own files to the various retailers and having access to up to the minute sales stats. It allows me to be more responsive to various marketing activities.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The way I do self-publishing, it is much cheaper than either hiring a company to do it for me, or to give away a cut of royalties. I’m fairly technical, so I enjoy the process of filling out the forms with the various retailers and uploading the various files.
What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?
There weren’t any surprises this time, but this is not my first time self-publishing.
How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?
I believe that the best way to market a book is to create a community though the formation, maintenance and networking of an author’s platform. My platform will differ from other authors as mine is focused to the genre I write as well as the topics I chat about on social media. I am in regular contact with the book blogging community and frequently have my books reviewed and featured by bloggers and authors to continue to spread the word through the on-line community. I also use various promotional sites when I decide put my books on sale.
Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before? Good or bad?
Not really. I’m quite happy self-publishing.
Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
Get qualified advice. Authors are assaulted with “I did XXY.” Everyone is happy to tell you what to do. Look for someone who knows what they are doing and ask questions. Look for the leaders in the field – see what they do. Don’t just take the first piece of advice that comes your way.
What plans do you have for the future of your writing?
I am currently writing up the results of the last survey I did of 500+ book bloggers. I also have a Goodreads book partially re-written – it was originally published in 2013 and the content needs updating. The other project that is making great headway is a resource book for the various social media platforms. Lots to keep me busy!
What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
I can be found quite a few places. I have 3 main websites:
Author Website: http://barbdrozdowich.com
Business Blog: http://bakerviewconsulting.com
Book Blog: http://sugarbeatsbooks.com
And a handful of social media accounts:
Facebook Author Page: http://bit.ly/1XYKxyQ
YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/25uvqCQ
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1TGSAuL
I have two main ways to send out helpful information to authors. I have a newsletter that has some free guides and some videos associated with it.
Newsletter link – http://bit.ly/1UmP231
And Authors can subscribe to my business blog where I regularly blog about technical issues that authors face in their journey to publication and beyond. The link for that is: http://eepurl.com/DfCRj
EXCERPT FROM BLOGGING FOR AUTHORS
“AT ITS HEART, blogging is just another form of communication. In my mind there isn’t a lot of difference between blogging and having a chat with some friends over a cup of coffee. You’ll notice that I’m using the words “chat” or “conversation.” When we’re talking about blogging, I want you to keep the word “dialogue” in mind.
A blog is neither a billboard, nor a monologue. Blogging should be a dialogue.
Although I refer to the words “conversation” and “dialogue,” your first response may be that no one talks on your blog, or that no one leaves comments for you to respond to. Times have changed.
The face of a conversation has changed in the electronic world. The person with whom we are chatting may not literally respond with words – they might respond with actions such as sharing your post with their friends on Facebook. They are doing the electronic equivalent of “Come over here and listen to this person.” The electronic version is more along the lines of “This is great information; please go and read it.” That’s a response and in the big picture, that’s a much more important response. Although I’m the first one to admit that comments are wonderful, such interaction is between two people. I have 16,000+ followers on Twitter. If I share on Twitter, it’s pretty likely that more people than just myself will be part of the conversation. It’s also pretty likely that a handful of my 16,000+ followers will join in, in their own way.
If you have a WordPress blog, one of the people you are “speaking” to might click on the Like button or in fact be so moved by what you have to say that they re-blog it. And the conversation grows to include even more people.
The author’s blog is a space that belongs to the author – unlike Facebook, Twitter or other social media. The author’s blog is also searched and indexed by Google unlike the various social media (for the most part). This allows for your conversations to be searched for and found long after they take place. This isn’t true of any material that you put on most social media. In fact, a post on your blog can be found years after it’s created. The accepted shelf life of a Facebook post is considered to be between two and five hours and the shelf life of a Twitter post is 18 minutes. A LinkedIn post can have a shelf life of up to 24 hours in some cases.
An author’s blog is the place where the author can share with their community; the place they can start or continue conversations and have dialogues. This is the place that the dialogue will grow a community of friends and supporters – people with like interests who will help spread the word about your book.
The content shared is based on the author’s personality and interests and should be reflective of their branding. Yup – there’s that nasty word – branding. We’ll talk about branding – how straightforward it is – and how it’s often blown out of proportion. We’ll flesh out the topic of what to blog about, but first of all, we’ll talk about why.”
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