Almost everyone blogging or tweeting online thinks a lot before hitting the submit/tweet button. You probably do the same.
You are sharing a message and also showing your personality to the entire online world. You have to make sure you succeed with each try.
“Do my sentences look good? Am I clear in my message? Am I forgetting anything? Did I talk too much? Do I sound convincing?”
You want your writing to bring satisfaction to your life, both online and offline. We have a special treat today to help you with that.
One of the best things to do to thrive in the world of writing and blogging online is to learn from others who are good at tweeting, writing and blogging.
Ashley Barron is one such popular person, and we are lucky to present to you an exclusive interview we did of Ashley.
She is one of the most active Networkers on Twitter and many other platforms today. In addition to being a full-time writer and author, she also blogs, networks with other bloggers, and is writing another book which you will be able to find in bookstores soon. (tweet this)
Ashley Barron Bio
The interview covers many important topics like writing your first draft, the declining market of offline literary agents, self-publishing your book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, mastering your writing, blogging online, networking online via social media and with other writers, and more.
If you’re looking for writing or blogging advice from someone who writes and networks every day, this interview is for you.
Interview with Ashley Barron
Who is Ashley, and what is The Priyas?
- Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What is your blog about? What’s “A Priya in Washington”, and what got you started in writing?
Hi, Bes! Thanks for having me here today.
Hmm…about me. I come from a music-loving family and yet I can’t carry a tune. I love, love, love flowers. I went through a pretty intense “glue gunning” phase about ten years ago and I’m still trying to live it down. Two of the places I hope to visit in the next year are Tahiti and Graceland. When it comes to books, relationships, and life, given the option, I’ll choose the happy ending one hundred times out of one hundred.
“A Priya in Washington” refers to the main characters in my upcoming book, Ava. It is the first in a series of novels about a group of best friends who have grown up together in Washington, D.C. They call themselves “The Priyas.”
Though they are fictional characters, and I’m a living, breathing human, I still consider myself an honorary Priya. A little nutty I suppose, but when you’ve spent several years in close (brain) quarters with your characters, they begin to feel more alive than rational thought might first allow.
I grew up in a household that values books, creative pursuits, and history. I’ve been writing stories for the simple pleasure of it since I was a child. I think even my family knew from the earliest of times that it was never a question of if I would write books, but when.
- What are you trying to achieve through your blog?
This is an interesting question. The answer has changed several times since I began my blog nine months ago, and I’m certain it will continue to evolve going forward.
In the very beginning, when I realized I needed one, I simply wanted to prove to myself I could blog. As I came to find out, starting a blog is a serious undertaking when you have no prior related experience of any kind. In the past, I’ve launched websites as components of businesses I’ve been involved in, and I thought launching a blog wouldn’t be that different. How wrong I was!
Websites and blogs are worlds apart in purpose, methodology, pace, and style.
Once I had gained confidence with the technical side of blogging, I thought of focusing the blog exclusively on my characters and my books. Fortunately, I soon realized that’s a very limited view. A blog offers a writer nearly endless possibilities. Writing a blog post is a good workout for the brain; it’s exercise for the creative mind.
Over the last nine months, I’ve come to understand how blogs connect us to one another, and how important they are for sharing ideas and information. For me, immersion into the blogosphere has been the most unexpected development to stem from my seemingly simple decision to self-publish a novel.
If you are a writer, branching out beyond promoting your own books is also helpful for the long-term viability of your blog. Learning how to blog, getting one up and running, is far less complicated than maintaining an active presence in the blogosphere for years to come. My goal is to create an enduring blog that is helpful and interesting to writers and readers alike. (tweet this)
- That’s amazing! So you’re basically an actual writer, and are blogging also. Do you think all bloggers should focus a lot on writing also, outside of their blogs? What is your advice for bloggers who want to be better writers?
Absolutely! Think about it this way. A professional football player doesn’t limit his athletic activities to that one sport. Odds are he plays golf, tennis, basketball, etc. Maybe he doesn’t play them competitively, but he is still improving his main talent, football, by challenging his body and leading his skills in new directions. It’s a win-win.
I feel the same way about a blogger pursuing other forms of writing.
For a blogger, when the words are flowing, and the interest and motivation is there, let those blogging skills spill over into writing fiction. When finished with a short story or novel, consider self-publishing your work in an e-book format to add a new revenue stream to your income.
If it’s your first time writing anything other than blog posts, think about starting with a short story. Get your blog readers involved by hosting a contest or running a poll to have them help pick elements for the story.
For example, if you’re a humorous blogger, readers could vote on individual story elements and decide that they want you to 1) write a science fiction story featuring 2) aliens, 3) a red balloon, and 4) chunky peanut butter.
You could then blog about each step you take as you write the story, format it, invite your readers to vote on a cover, and load the finished product up into Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Smashwords.
Make the story free. At this point, it’s really intended as a marketing strategy. If you find out you have a talent for writing fiction, the followers you’ve gained from your blogging will give you a real leg up when your first novel debuts.
- You recently released your well-rated book Love+Family online on Amazon and BN.com in digital formats (congrats!).
What do you think of eBooks versus paper books? Should all writers focus on having their books available in a digital format in today’s digital age? Did you choose the digital format over paperback format for any specific reasons other than ease of use and faster publishing process?
My original intent was to write a novel, find a literary agent, then a publisher, secure a book contract, and keep my role as the writer separate from their roles as negotiators, packagers, and marketers.
I purchased some guidebooks, read them a little too eagerly, and began the time-honored process of finding a literary agent. I happily sent out my first three query letters, which are like a job application and resume for your novel, and innocently believed I would be hearing something positive back.
My first draft of Ava, the one I based my queries on, weighed-in at 165,000 words. It was far too long a novel for an unknown writer, which, all by itself, severely dampened any reasonable expectation of being picked up by a literary agent. Obviously, I didn’t know that at the time because I didn’t yet know anything about publishing.
I sent out a total of eleven query letters, and received eleven rejections. I know now it is because I hadn’t bothered to study and learn about the business end of publishing, about what was expected of me, what I could expect from them, the rules of marketplace, etc.
The “method” laid out in those how-to-become-published guidebooks I had purchased was obsolete the minute Amazon rolled out Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I spent a few weeks studying everything I could find about KDP—which really wasn’t all that much in early 2011—then trusted my instincts and set out on my new path in this, my new world.
I’ve never once looked back or second-guessed my decision to self-publish.
The affordability of self-publishing, and the ingenious design of the overall business model, has pushed the e-book to center stage. Its very existence is motivating many businesses, in many industries, to explore new ways to increase their stake in their respective marketplaces by self-publishing books linked to their products or services.
E-books are useful and practical, and almost any size business can afford to create and publish one as part of a larger strategy to attract more customers.
I love books, stories, ideas, and knowledge, and I’ll take them any way I can get them. These days, I purchase e-books and printed books in equal measure. My Kindle is a useful, portable device that lets me keep the hundreds of books I’ve downloaded within reach at all times.
But I’m always going to love to hold a printed book in my hands. (tweet this)
- You have a very active Twitter following, and you also post actively on your blog. Yet at the same time, you’re devoting tremendous amount of time to your non-blog writing, like for your upcoming book Ava. I always wonder about the future of books and the future of blogging.
Do you think blogs can ever achieve the same amount of success, or return (income), as eBooks if writers start selling or sharing their entire books as blog posts online?
It is an interesting question. Opportunities abound, but success comes down to the individual. I’ve read about authors who have taken a different route, and are self-publishing their novels a few chapters at a time. Their intent is to set it up as the e-publishing equivalent of a television series, with episodes, seasons, special features, etc.
Each week, they drop new chapters, and charge .99 cents per installment. That revenue quickly adds up. Plus, they are building a dedicated, dependable following, which is a whole other kind of money in the bank. To my way of thinking, if those serialized novels continue to grow readership at a steady pace, their model could open the door to the development of a television series, with a ready-made following.
And what do I think about that? It’s brilliant. (tweet this)
The creative use of ordinary tools is the underpinning of successful commerce. Look around you. What are the everyday tools of your profession?
I think a blogger could serialize a novel through his or her website instead of choosing to go the e-book publishing route. I would go about using my website by creating a paid subscription newsletter to distribute the new installments of my novel.
Most important: keep the cost of the newsletter low and the content valuable. Distribute it every week, chock it full of extras, and work your blog to gain new subscribers. At the end of the year, once your subscribers have enjoyed first dibs on reading the story, repackage it as an e-book and sell it on Amazon.
In any business, your goal is to figure out as many different ways as you can to legitimately earn income from the same product or idea. Selling a novel as a serial through your blog’s newsletter, then later as an e-book in online bookstores, let’s you earn double income from one source.
- Do you think it helps writers to blog online, or bloggers to write elsewhere like for eBooks?
No matter what profession you are in, every single thing you do to advance your skills, your knowledge and your experience matters. If your goal is to earn your living exclusively from writing, whether through blogs or books, then you need to create as many new revenue streams from your writing as possible.
Look for ways to team up with other bloggers, especially those who blog about topics that differ from your main focus. For example, if your blog is primarily about cars, look to form alliances with bloggers who specialize in things like sports, gardening, or gossip. This way, you’re not in competition with each other, and you each benefit from the opportunity to be introduced to a whole new set of readers at one time.
Have each blogger in your newly-formed “Revenue Stream” team write a 5,000 or 10,000-word story. Bring your readers into the process of genres, topics, special notes, character names, cover choices, etc. When it’s all ready, put the stories together into one e-book, set the price, self-publish it, and then coordinate a heavy cross-promotion on all the blogs. Think about how much marketing energy your newly-formed team will be sending out into the internet.
Sometimes, the hardest part of being a blogger or a self-published author is feeling as though the entire weight of success rests only on your own shoulders. That’s both unhealthy and unmanageable.
Share the weight, share the success.
Choose reliable partners, develop a plan, stick to it, and your team will be putting money in the bank. It may not be much income at first, but one brick doesn’t build a house, either. Keep adding.
Stay with it. Improve it. Grow it.
If it works, do it again. Branch out. Find other partners and add them in. Soon, you may find yourself published in ten different e-book anthologies. That’s a solid launch pad for whatever you decide to do next.
- What advice would you give to people who love writing, and have yet to write a paper book or have yet to blog online? Should they start with one instead of the other?
I believe that writing novels and actively blogging require skills that perform best in tandem with one another. Creative writing can be turned into a blog post, a guest post, a newsletter, a short story (e-book), or a novel (e-book). Blogging will improve your creative writing. The work load for simultaneously producing both a novel and a blog will be heavy at first.
Be patient. It evens out.
Your writing is your product no matter where it ends up. Your blog is your marketing arm no matter what it contains. Use your blog to cross-promote other people, from all different places. Keep it interesting and, whenever you have a surge in the number of “hits,” pay attention to what created that success. Your readers are telling you where they want you to take them.
Listen. Act. Succeed. (tweet this)
Self-Publishing vs Publishing via Literary Agents
Blogs, E-Books and Paper Writing
Advice for Social Improve readers
Thank you, Ashley, for the amazing insight and tips! We really appreciate it!
What do you think?
Thanks so much, Ashley, for sharing the great tips and thoughts about writing, self-publishing, motivation, and blogging.
Do you have any questions for Ashley?
Do you also share the same experiences as her? Or are your experiences and results different?
What do you think can work for you, or others, as a writer or a blogger?
Please share your questions for Ashley, any comments about the above interview, or any topics covered by commenting below.
You can also thank Ashley for taking the time to share her knowledge and experience with us through this interview. (tweet this)
Thanks for reading our interview with Ashley.