Interview: GifGrrl

Today on the blog, I’m joined by a very talented friend. As well as being a talented writer, Claribel Ortega is the founder and mastermind behind GifGrrl, a really amazing company.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, a gif is a moving picture! Like this:

BroodyDATE

Oh hey! It’s my book! Looking sharp!

I adored this gif, and I wanted to talk a little bit more to the creator! Without further ado, I’ll jump into the interview!

CD: Tell me a bit about yourself and GIFGRRL.

CO: It really all started as something to do for fun. I loved watching the covers of books come alive and seeing the authors reaction when I made them a gif. Eventually though, I realized that I could do that and also pay my bills! So I started GIFGRRL and now it’s pretty much a second (third??) full time job.

CD: What do you love about creating the gifs and trailers?

CO: I’ve always loved video editing. It’s been a hidden but well cultivated talent which started with my dad’s giant 1980s camcorder and some low-budget windows editing software. Making gifs/promo material is more than just trying to sell a product to me, it’s about telling a story. Maybe not the full story, but a tiny slice of what the book is trying to say. Bringing things to life, characters, book covers, the spirits of dead punk-rockers, are just a few of my favorite things.

 

giphy-copy.gif

CD: What’s one book you’d love to make a trailer for?

CO: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but WANT by Cindy Pon comes to mind as one of the best I’ve made so far. It just really captures the theme of the book, the colors and the motions were all on point. I also adored STARFISH by Akemi Bowman because that cover is just SPECTACULAR and it was so much fun to work with!

wantgif

CD: Are there any challenging parts?

CO: Time management! I am a full-time book marketing human and author on top of running GIFGRRL. In just over a month I’ve already gotten over forty individual and two giant bulk orders. It’s a lot for a grrl to take on, but I have coffee and the cuddles of my doggo to help keep me going. Can you tell us a bit about the process? First, I stare at the book cover. Then I light candles and pray to the GIF-Gods™ – then I read the synopsis and stare at the book cover some more. I eat some snacks. Usually cheese-puffs. Sometimes I ask the author questions. I gather stock video/photos that capture the feel of the cover for me and start editing/manipulating them to further match the tone. I search for fonts that are similar to the one on the cover. I put it all in a blender and eat another cheese puff. One I have all the materials and my fingers are orange, I start putting it together. I then cut, and edit, and stare until I’m happy. One gif can take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours, depending on how involved I get.

Dissent

This is the BroodyBook Illustrator’s webcomic!

CD: What inspires you?

CO: Many things! Music, books, chasing a sense of completion/fulfilment through art. Cheese-puffs.

lhof.gif

CD: What’s your favorite part of the process?

CO: When I get an author’s cover and the ideas start flying at my face. The best feeling is when I just know what I want to make. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get my vision to match the end product, but I enjoy figuring out how to make it all come together. And then of course once I deliver the final product to the author and they tell me how much they love me! Being able to help people who are graphically challenged or have no idea HOW to build buzz for their books brings me joy. I just like helping people.

-*-

Thank you so much for a wonderful interview, Claribel! And remember, you can order your own gifs from this talented artist here: Gifgrrl.com

Six Ways You’re Annoying on Twitter (and how to stop)

Twitter can be really fun. However, it can also feel like walking into a rowdy Wild West bar… that’s on fire. People shouting, hashtags flying about, auto-dms punching you in the face…

Here are my biggest pet peeves in the wild world of Twitter and some way to avoid them.

 1. Auto-DMs

These, for me, are one of the most annoying things out there. It’s like waving to someone across the street and having them chase you down, throwing buisness cards like ninja stars at you. Not fun.

Quick-fix: Turn off the auto-dm and focus on making real connections.

 

2. Humblebragging

“My hubby bought me a latte and a donut, AND people think he looks like James Franco. #blessed”

“I never work out but somehow always fit in a size 0. #luckyme”

“Ugh, having a ten bedroom mansion makes it SO HARD to find a missing sock. Thank goodness for the maid. #crisisadverted”

“Only spent 813 bucks at Whole Foods! That’s what I call pennypinching. #success”

#shutupplease #nobodycares

Quick fix: It’s one thing to share good news. It’s another to constantly mention things that a lot of people don’t have. Ask yourself if you’re sharing a good thing or if you’re bragging to make yourself feel better.

 

3. All Output

Read my book! Read my blog post! Read my joke! Read my mind! LOOK AT MY PHOTOS! LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEE

(As an extrovert, I’m guilty of this one.)

Quick fix: Try to respond to your friend’s tweets too, or retweet their interesting blog posts. You don’t want your feed to be all you tweeting. Interact.

 

4. Shouting at Celebrities

Just. Don’t.

J.K. Rowling will not blurb your book. Jennifer Lawerence will not marry you. Robert Carlyle will not give you Once Upon A Time spoilers.

Quick fix: First, ask if your tweet is polite enough you’d send it to a coworker. Then, make sure you’re not the 357th person responding to the celeb’s post.

4. Too many hashtags

I #wrote a #book. It’s #fun #magical #YA #Checkitout #amreading #amwriting #amhashtaging

It’s hard to read tweets like this. I catch myself scrolling past them because they look like spam. Also, if you use more than four hashtags, Twitter will actually flag the tweet as spam and not show it in searches, etc. Use minimal, powerful hashtags. (For example, don’t hashtag common words like “book”, instead use tags like #amreading)

Also, respect hashtags created by others. If you see people tweeting thoughts with a hashtag on the end, perhaps like #yesallwomen or #mswl, don’t just assume you can use the hashtag for whatever you want. Some are part of a converstation started by specific people, about specific topics. Some are only used by certain people. For example, #askagent is only for when agents are going to answer questions. Don’t put it on your tweet about a book.

5. Putting other books down/linking authors to negative reviews

*please note, this doesn’t mean “thou shalt not negatively review books”

What this means is A. derailing a book conversation.

Person A: I loved Harry Potter! Best book series ever

Person B: Me too. I wish Draco had a better arc

Perscon C: Fav books ever!

Person D:* tags everyone else in the convo* HARRY POTTER IS STUPID AND YOU’RE ALL STUPID FOR LIKING IT.

Yeah. Just don’t. If the person isn’t asking for opinions on the book, you don’t have to tell them yours. Likewise, be careful about tagging authors in your tweets. If someone is asking for book recommendations, and you tag the author, you’re bringing that author into a conversation where people could end up stating why they don’t like that author’s book

For example

Person A: I need a book with beagle puppies as main characters

Person B: Wishbone series!

Person A: Cool, but I’m looking for books.

Person C: I love BEAGLE MYSTERY MURDERS by @PUPPYAUTHOR

Person B: Yeah but @Puppyauthor writes the STUPIDEST BOOKS EVER.

@puppyauthor goes and cries in a corner.

Quick Fix: Be polite

6. Not Giving Credit to Artists

Twitter person: HEY LOOK AT THIS GREAT ART!

NO IDEA WHO PAINTED THIS BUT IT’S REAL PRETTY, RIGHT?????

Quick tip. If you want to retweet some cool fan art, FIND THE ARTIST. You can use google image search to do so. Not doing so is really unfair to the artist who has done so much work.

So, there’s my biggest pet peeves on Twitter. What are yours?

Go Home, Self-Promo, You’re Drunk

We’ve all seen that meme of something obviously wrong, and the caption, “Go home, BLANK, you’re drunk,” right? (If not, scroll to the end and witness some lovely examples.)

Well, I’ve got some bad news. Your self-promotional strategy may be drunk too. Pull up a chair, pour a drink of your choice, and listen a metaphor story. Or, scroll past to get to the handy tip sheet on Twitter self-promo without a storytime.

***

Jill is throwing a party. She’s invited friends, including Author Friend Amy, and Bookstore Owner Brandon. Amy has recently released a book. The party starts. As the guests arrive, Amy greets each one with a handshake, and the exact. same. message. “Hiya! Thanks for coming. Buy my book!”

No one listens to Amy. After all, they’ve just met her.

The party kicks off. Someone asks, “Hey, does anyone know anything about ballet? My daughter was–”
“THERE’S BALLET IN MY BOOK!” Amy shouts, sprinting across the room. She’s got the sharp hearing only a desperate, post-launch author could have. “ON PAGE 17! BUY IT!”

No one listens to Amy. The conversation was about ballet shoes. Not books.

Jill, trying one last time to help her author friend out, sets the table so that Amy sits next to Brandon. He’s enjoying his pasta, and hoping his sales clerk isn’t putting copies of Fifty Shades of Grey in the Children’s Coloring Book section again. In other words, Brandon has had a rough day.

“Hey Brandon!” Amy shouts. “HERE! Have ten copies of my book! Autographed! You can give them to anyone!” Amy drops the books onto Brandon’s plate, splattering pasta everywhere. Even if he had liked Amy’s book, he will now always remember it as the book that ruined the one peaceful meal he’s had this week. He had been planning to reach out to Amy, but not until after his dinner.

Brandon the bookseller does not listen to Amy.

The party melts into drinking and dancing. A lovely time is had by all. Except Amy. She’s shouting at no one, standing in the corner. “BUY MY BOOK!” “LIKE ROMANCE? SO DO I! BUY MY BOOK!” “AMAZON loves my book! Here’s a link!”

No one listens to Amy. She is babbling to thin air, about a book no one’s even had a chance to ask her about.

***

This situation may sound extreme, but it’s a mirror of a tactic many author use on Twitter. The insta-DMs as soon as someone follows them, the inserting a mention of their book into every conversation mildly related to them, and the never-ending promotional tweets. This won’t sell any more books than Amy’s attempt will. No one likes to be constantly pitched at, shouted at, or bulldozed over.

Plus, even when I do read a tweet of a book that sounds cool, I view the author’s Twitter page to learn more about her. If her whole page is all promo tweets, I’m less likely to connect to her, and far less likely to buy the book. Selling is about a personal connection. Volume of exposure can’t beat quality of engagement.

Here’s a handy guide to sober up your self-promo

  • NEVER auto direct message new followers.
  • Have at least five normal tweets or replies before sending out another promotional tweet.
  • Don’t jump in unrelated conversations or hashtags to pitch your book.
  • If someone reviews your book and you want to signal boost it, do so once, then keep it on a list of reviews links on your blog.

Promoting yourself on Twitter is a dance, not a boxing match.

If you ever feel like no one listening to your promotion, don’t be like Amy at the party and shout louder. Instead, work on making real, honest connections with other writers, booksellers and readers. Just think of how much more effective that party would have been if she waited until Brandon the Bookseller asked her how she was doing. Then, she could have said, “I’m doing great. I just released a book.” And Brandon, having consumed a yummy dinner, and not having heard thirty shouts about her book already, could say, “Excellent. Would you like to host a workshop and book signing at my store?”

Bam. Success. Well done, sober Amy.

And now, for those drunk memes as promised. (That’s the only reason you kept reading, right?)

.

Welcome to Twitter, Please Surrender Your Sanity

Despite the intense-sounding title, this is supposed to be a light-hearted post. As many of you know, Twitter is THE premier watercooler-esque hangout spot for procrastinating creative folks. However, Twitter can be an overwhelming, confusing place. It has an etiquette code all its’ own, and sometimes, stumbling around it can make you feel super old and out of the loop.

 87486_30-rock-hello-steve-buscemi-adult-fellow-kids

Twitter Etiquette 101!

Don’t be an egg. Seriously. (I’m referring to the default Twitter user profile picture of an egg)  Even if it’s just a picture of your favorite anime character, your cat, or a can of soda, it’s better than being an egg. Many people refuse to follow “egg” accounts, because nine times out of ten, they’re a spam account. Twitter users will connect with you better if your profile picture shows some of your personality, even if it’s not a photo of you.

tumblr_m6wvf6y3WM1qcwpcuo1_500

 

Like a friend’s thought? A fav will do. Want to end a conversation, but not in a rude way? Just fave the last tweet the other person said. Fav-stars for everyone! However, if you want to signal-boost a friend’s blog post, article, or thought, a retweet will provide them much more exposure.

star

Well, maybe not THIS much exposure

 

Hashtags are great, right? We #should #hastag #EVERYTHING, #right?

Nope. That’s annoying. It also looks spammy, and it’s hard to read. Use hashtags like a seasoning. Put the hashtag at the end of the tweet. However, if you want to discuss a commonly hastagged item, then it’s totally fine. For example, there’s no sense writing “I’m so excited about Pitch Wars. #pitchwars”  Just use, “I’m so excited about #pitchwars.”

Try to avoid using too many hashtags in your bio, too. It’s harder to read, but a few targeted ones can make you more discoverable to new followers.

rs_450x260-140331142616-tumblr_inline_mrwt4zqwma1qz4rgp

 

Twitter is an amazing place because you can read the tweets of anyone; famous authors, celebrities, your sister-in-law’s cousin’s next-door-neighbor… but use some common sense. Don’t be that person answering every single tweet from a big-name author, or creep out an average person by favoriting every single tweet they post. Ask youself: Does this person follow me? Do they answer and favorite my tweets? Will this be the first or second time I’ve interacted with them today? If the answer is “No” to at least one of these, slow down. If the answer is no to all of them, then definitely don’t do it.

1426243937-gretchen-wieners-mean-girls

 

 

Provide content on Twitter. It’s not just a place for emotional rants, sub-tweets(when you try to call someone out without actually calling them out) and retweeting all the time. Interact with people. Make friends. Share pictures of your city, gifs of your fav shows, funny thoughts.  Don’t share photos of other people, or kids though. Remember. Twitter isn’t like Facebook. It’s very, very not private.  Anything you share, rude, funny, embarrassing, whatever, may become viral.

rs_495x274-140103112420-giphy2

 

Twitter also isn’t a marketplace. Constantly tweeting links asking people to buy your books, your art, your collection of bannana peels won’t result in many sales, and in fact, a lot of people will mute or block you. Aim for one sales-based tweet a week or so, more if you’re gearing up for a launch, but never more than three times a day.

Don’t schedule the same sales tweet to show up multiple times. That might work for commercials, but it doesn’t work for Twitter. Likewise, don’t constantly retweet other people’s sales tweets. DO NOT ever auto-dm people. Most Twitter users will auto-unfollow someone who does this. It’s annoying, rude, and makes it seem like you’re only on Twitter to sell things.

giphy

Not the right attitude for Twitter

Finally, be nice to people. There’s a real live person behind every twitter account (except for the spam accounts.) Try to treat them like real people. Don’t jump on a tweet and try and turn it into an argument. Don’t pester people begging for a retweet or to be noticed. Don’t send creepy DMs.

Be kind.

tumblr_static_8tbeg9yqtjocokk0ggs00cwok

And if you got through this whole lecture, and want to be my Twitter friend, find me at @writer_carrie (link here)