Tag Archives: Social media

Book Talk Tool: Kahoot!

Kahoot! app.Yesterday, I had my last school visit of the year. I’ve learned a lot through a year of book talks, and get a sense of closure from having the first and last classes I visited this school year be the same. One tool I’ve started using in middle school classrooms is Kahoot!

If you’re unfamiliar with Kahoot!, it’s a free online platform that lets you create multiple-choice quizzes that students can answer on a computer or mobile device. (There are other options for quizzes and games you can create, but I haven’t explored those yet.) Every student at the local middle school has a Chromebook, which is perfect for Kahoot! After talking about books I think the students will like, I tell them about the library’s online resources and upcoming programs. A Kahoot! quiz on our eBooks and events is a great way to see how well the students were listening (and how well I presented!), and to get them more involved in the presentation. In my opinion, the more interactive a class visit, the better! It helps that the teachers use Kahoot! here, too; just say “Kahoot!” and the kids all know what to do!

Tonight, before we Skype with YA author Stephanie Garber at the library, I’ve prepared a Kahoot! with trivia about her book, Caraval. There are so many ways to use Kahoot! to spice up a presentation or host a trivia night.

Do you use Kahoot!?


Library Snapchat

Snapchat logo.I’m looking into starting a Snapchat account for the library teens. Both the teens who are regulars already and the ones I’ve met at school visits overwhelmingly choose Snapchat over every other social media platform, so I feel like it’s one of the best ways for me to reach them. As someone who rarely takes pictures in my personal life, adapting to an image-based platform is going to be an adjustment. I’ve looked at the ways other libraries are using Snapchat, though, and come up with a few things I could do to connect with the teens there. My ideas so far:

– #ThrowbackThursday  — recommend a backlist YA book
– #FridayReads — what the teen librarian is reading right now (and ask them to share what they’re reading)
– Snaps of the new teen books cart as I’m getting ready to check them in
– Snaps of new displays
– Snaps of behind-the-scenes program setup
– Snaps of publicity that can also serve as reminders for upcoming teen programs
– Snaps of post-it note reviews of books
– Contests, like entrance in a prize drawing for adding us on Snapchat or sending us snaps of their favorite books

I’m sure I’ll come up with more ideas as I explore further. I also plan to let the Teen Advisory Board help decide what our handle should be, to give them a greater sense of ownership of the account. Hopefully that will make them more likely to add us and encourage their friends to add us.

Do you use Snapchat professionally? What has worked well for you?

Reflections on a (mostly) unplugged weekend

Plug.Last week was hard. I’m sure you’ve seen the news, and as much as I feel these things need to be talked about, right now I just can’t do it. I am sad, confused, hurt, scared, angry … and going online, reading articles and tweets and Facebook posts about everything that’s happened just makes it worse. By the end of the day Friday, I knew Saturday was going to be a day where I stayed in, read a book I knew would have a happy ending and wouldn’t require any deep thought, and just disengage.

When I finished my book, feeling slightly better, I reached for my phone out of habit. Waiting in my inbox was a newsletter from another author who shared her experience of a month away from social media. While I could never do that — my day job requires me to use the Internet, email, and social media multiple times a day — I was enticed by what the author felt she’d gained from being unplugged. Since I was already overwhelmed, I decided to give going unplugged a try.

I’m not cutting myself off from social media. But I am limiting my screen time, banning it entirely from my writing time. This weekend I designated blocks of writing time and set my phone out of reach, forcing myself not to pick it up until my writing time was up. I write my first drafts longhand, so there was no Internet browser a few clicks away to tempt me. There was just me, my notebook, and my pen. And it was glorious.

I’ve spent the last several weeks struggling with my writing, floundering in two different projects. Going unplugged didn’t magically fix everything. Writing is still hard. But giving myself that extra time and space has really helped. Now, when I get stuck, instead of quickly checking my email, then winding up on Twitter for ten minutes, I wait it out. I think through the scene, searching for the problem. I may get up and pace. I may not come up with the answers, but I give myself time to look for them.

I’m going to try making all my writing time unplugged, at least for the next few weeks, and see how it goes. And for my own well-being, I’m going to spend less time on social media outside of work. My silence and distance don’t mean I don’t care. But there are others saying exactly what I’d want to say far more eloquently than I could. I’d rather go to work and make what difference I can in my community than drown in everything that’s happening online.

Have you ever gone unplugged? What was your experience like?

Twitter for authors

Twitter logo. At Thanksgiving dinner, as my sister shared a picture of her plate on Snapchat, my father posed the question of whether social media is actually useful on a professional level. He and my brother honed in on Twitter — “Isn’t it all just people talking about what kind of bread they got their sandwiches on?”

Well, sure, if you follow certain people. But Twitter is also one of the best professional networking tools available to writers. Here are just three things I use Twitter for:

Discover writing contests

I follow a lot of writers, agents, and editors, and they like to tweet about the contests they’re hosting, mentoring, or judging. Contests are a great opportunity to connect with other writers, whether you make it to the final rounds or not. When I learn about a new contest, I usually follow all of the mentors and agents involved (if I’m not following them already), even if I ultimately decide not to enter. That way I get more updates about those who write or represent my genre and future contests I may be eligible for.

Get more writing and industry tips

Lots of writers and agents have blogs, and many of them tweet about their latest posts. I can’t read everyone’s blog all the time, so I have a few that I follow regularly and others that I’ll stop by occasionally if I see a topic that interests me. I’ve come across some great advice thanks to Twitter, and even discovered two blogs I now read regularly.

Keep up with industry news

This includes everything from new book deals to new agents to opinions on things like the now-resolved Amazon-Hachette dispute. Writers who are querying can also benefit from the #mswl (manuscript wish list), #tenqueries, and #querylunch hashtags.

Those are just a few things I use Twitter for as a professional. I’ve also heard of people who’ve met critique partners and blog co-hosts on Twitter, and I haven’t even begun to talk about Twitter as a marketing tool. So, yes, people may be tweeting about their lunches, but they’re also tweeting about some pretty cool (and useful) stuff.

How do you use Twitter as a professional? Connect with me @lizosisek for more frequent updates on the writing world, or just to say hi!

Finding an agent through social media

Twitter logo. Recently, I’ve heard many stories about people getting their agents through online contests or on social media.  This method was virtually unheard of until the last several years, and is certainly a far cry from the traditional route of mailing queries to agents and publishers.  Though I tend to prefer a more traditional query (albeit via email, not snail mail), I thought I’d share a few of the social media events I’ve stumbled upon.
First, there was Pitch Madness (#pitmad) on Twitter last Thursday, September 12.  Writers pitch their finished novels in 140 characters or fewer (or technically 133 in order to include the hashtag), and if an agent likes a pitch, he or she will favorite it.  Pitch Madness etiquette suggests that writers pitch no more than once an hour throughout the twelve-hour event, and if you like something you see (and you’re not an agent or a publisher), retweet it rather than favoriting.  Also, don’t forget to put the age group and genre your pitching (such as YASF, NA romance, etc.).  If you can’t shrink your book into 140 characters, don’t feel bad!  Many agents have said they prefer traditional queries to Twitter pitches, and agents who favorite a tweet during Pitch Madness usually request that you send a query letter along with whatever other materials (synopsis, sample pages, etc.) they specify.  I don’t know yet when the next Pitch Madness will be, but you can always check the #pitmad hashtag for updates.
Another Twitter resource is the manuscript wishlist hashtag (#MSWL), where agents and editors will post books they’d like to represent.  These are more specific than just a genre or age group; for example, “new adult urban fantasy set in Dickensian London.”  (I just made that up, but if that’s your book, it sounds awesome!)  I usually check this daily, just to see if my project matches anybody’s wishes.  If you think your book is a good fit for someone, don’t be shy about replying to her tweet and/or querying her!
Finally, I’d like to point out a Tumblr page that’s similar to the manuscript wishlist: the Agent and Editor Wishlist.  From what I’ve seen so far, this pretty much just pulls straight from the manuscript wishlist, which tends to get more posts and more traffic.  But agent and editor wishlist has announced a day for posting wishes on Tuesday, September 24.  I’ll be checking this and #MSWL periodically throughout the day, and will have my query ready.
I’m certainly not knocking more traditional queries; in fact, I’m preparing to send a few out myself in the next few days!  These are just a few of the “newer” methods of finding an agent that I’ve stumbled upon.  Are there any others that you’d recommend?  Any tips for navigating these?  Please share in the comments!