I have been doing social media for a number of years, and it has been wonderful to see how writers have embraced technology. I remember back in 2006 I had a hard enough time getting many writers to learn to use e-mail, let alone join Facebook. Yet, it was really only in 2009 that I started thinking of myself as an expert. Namely I watched a lot of social media people teach tactics that were more likely to give writers permanent hair loss than anything. They were trying to overlay a Corporate America template on to a writer’s career. Not a good fit.
Kind of like watching me try to put on size zero skinny jeans…lots of grunting and pain and the end result ain’t pretty.
Anyway, writers finally did perk up to the fact that they needed to be on social media, yet we had an information vacuum. Many writers took off doing the best they could, and, in the process, made a lot of errors. Hey, I was one of them. Need I remind you of texaswriterchik?
The thing is, I am teaching writers how to do this social media platform thing the correct way. This is all great and wonderful if you are new and haven’t started building. For others? I see the digital blood drain from your face when I give the bad news:
I’m sorry, but your platform needs major reconstructive surgery. I need to put your brand in a temporary coma so it doesn’t die while we do the transplants. Do you have insurance?
Some people suck it up, bite on some leather and resolve to get it over with. Others? Denial is more than a river in Africa.
I hear a lot of, “Writers just need to do what works for them.”
Yes….but, um, no.
I will use an example to illustrate. Say I want to make chocolate cake. My end goal is a chocolate cake. So I set out cooking, but I don’t want to use butter, and I don’t like eggs, and definitely no flour and I just can’t bring myself to use chocolate. Instead, I want to use vanilla pudding, and slices of bananas and top it off with vanilla wafer cookies and LOTS of whipped cream.
So you say, “Wait, but you aren’t making chocolate cake.”
And I say, “Well this is how I make chocolate cake.”
And you say, “But, you just made banana pudding. That’s NOT chocolate cake.”
And I get huffy and reply, “Stop judging me. Maybe YOU make chocolate cake differently, but everyone needs to do what works for them.”
You would think I was a lunatic. Yes, I made a dessert….but I didn’t make a chocolate cake.
If our end goal is to brand our name, which it should be…then there are right and wrong ways to go about this. My lessons are to make our name alone a bankable asset. Our NAME will have the power to drive book sales so we have more time to write, or prank call or even make origami monkeys.
There is a HUGE difference between having a social media presence and becoming a brand. And I know I am about to do some sacred cow-tipping, but it needs to be done.
My new book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer is a great book to teach you all you ever wanted to know about blogging to build an author brand. There is little point to contributing content to the Internet if it doesn’t build our brand.
Tweeting under a cutesy moniker. We have discussed this one before, but some people are new (here is the post). Every time we tweet, that is an “advertisement” that contributes to building our brand. The only acceptable Twitter handle is the name that will be on the front of our books. Period. If we are tweeting under @FairyGirl, we are contributing great content—blogs, articles, conversation—but we have the WRONG name top-of-mind. Readers cannot buy a book by Fairy Girl, so all that tweeting is wasted effort.
Writing on Group Blogs at the Expense of Our Author Blog I have run into writers who were very prolific, contributing to multiple group blogs. Group blogs are wonderful. They can help us learn to blog better and can offer accountability. Yet, if we are writing for three different group blogs, but then not blogging on our own site? That is BAD. Group blogs will not brand an individual author. Yes, we will have a social media presence…but that isn’t a brand. I read a lot of WONDERFUL group blogs, but the name of the group is what will be top of mind. Writers in the Storm, Adventures in Children’s Publishing, and Writer Unboxed are three of the best group blogs, but I would be hard-pressed to give the names of the contributors. And, the ones I can name have their own separate blogs that buttress their brand.
I care very much about you guys, and I want all of you to be successful. But part of caring is giving the truth. When we decide to go from hobbyist to professional, we sometimes have to make the tough choices. We have to say no to friends, family, kids and pets. We have to spend time working when we would rather play. If we are contributing to a bunch of group blogs, but our own blog is infested with dust bunnies and spam bots? We might need to make a choice. Hang out with friends? Or build our career?
Our own brand is paramount. The more bankable our name, the more books we sell. The more books we sell, the more successful (and enjoyable) our writing career will be.
There are right ways and wrong ways and smart ways to build a brand. Can we brand ourselves by only blogging on group blogs? Sure. Anything is possible. I could theoretically take I-35 south from Texas and get to Canada. It involves a very tedious journey through South America over Antarctica, up the other side of the globe and over the North Pole. The Earth IS round. I will get to Canada eventually, BUT the odds of me giving up and going home are far more likely than me reaching Canada.
Is my taking I-35 South WRONG? Technically, no. But it is a formula to give up.
Many writers find social media to be a huge time suck, namely because they either have no plan or they have a flawed plan. I used to think it was a time-suck, too. But I wasn’t approaching social media correctly. I have made all the dumb mistakes so you don’t have to :D.
My two books have hit the top of multiple best-seller lists using the methods I am teaching. And I am not the only one who has experienced this kind of dramatic success. I have a stack of testimonials. Yes, we are free to do social media any way we please. No Facebook police will drag us to digital jail. But I think most of us would rather spend more time writing and less time trying to Bond-O a faulty platform.
What are some tough choices you guys have had to make for your writing? What are some tough choices you face, but maybe don’t know what to do? Have any advice or suggestions? Put them in the comments!
If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.
My book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media hit THREE best-seller lists on Kindle yesterday. #2 in Computers & Technology, #13 in Authorship and #17 in Advertising. THANK YOU!!!!! This book is recommended by some of the biggest authors AND agents in New York, so make sure you pick up a copy if you don’t have one already.
Also, if you want to learn how to blog or even how to take your blogging to a level you never dreamed possible…get your copy of Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer today. This book hit #1 on the best-selling list in less than 48 hours thanks to all of YOU!!!!! Not only will this book help you learn to blog, but you will be having so much fun, you will forget you were supposed to be learning.
Until next time….
This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness
The peeps on MyWANA found this nifty little site. A Writer Thesaurus to help us ALWAYS find the right word.
You guys just KNOW I had to list the wonderful blog, 5 Reasons Kristen Lamb Rocks
Screenwriting Guru Michael Hauge on Character Development
Finding a balance between showing and telling by the AWESOME Jody Hedlund
Writing with Passion–How that Led to My First Book by the wonderful Natalie Markey
Villains Dissected by Terrell Mims
Great blog by Albert Berg on the Fear of Failure
For more AMAZING posts, make sure you connect with #MyWANA for the best people and posts in the industry