Understanding Author Platform Part 1–Making Platform our Art

Image from Street Art Utopia.

One of the words writers hear a lot of is “platform.” What is it? How do we get one? How much time do we need to put in on social media for it to count? Do we get time off for good behavior? All good questions, but before I address them, I’d like you guys to understand something very important:

Author platforms are not the same as they used to be.

If we fail to understand how author platforms have changed, we will look as ridiculous as the guy trying to hitch horses to the front of an automobile. Not only will we look silly, but it will only be a matter of time before we give up in frustration, because nothing we do seems to work.

Platforms Once Were Easy to Control, Thus Easy to Measure

Back in the day, platforms were generally only available to those who could afford one. Hiring a PR expert, distributing a newsletter and even building a web site were all extremely cost-prohibitive. Sure, one could also build a platform by doing speaking gigs or writing articles for publication, but one had to establish credibility before getting a toe in the door, so we are right back to platform went to only a handful of individuals.

And if we happened to be fiction authors, then just forget about building a platform. It was simply too expensive. The only way we had of building a platform or brand was through publishing our books…and that, too, only went to a slim percentage of people who made it through gatekeepers.

Additionally, platforms used to be built in ways that were easy to quantify and measure–I.e. how many clicks on a web site, how many attendees for a speech, etc. In The Old World—B.F. (Before Facebook)—it was easier to measure our influence because our brand/platform was relatively static. It was easy to measure how many people tuned into a radio show, a morning show, and how many “clicked to buy” after these types of events.

PR experts would create an image and that image remained largely unmodified unless it wasn’t working…or the “subject” decided to go crazy and create a Kardashianesque scandal worthy of hiring a spin doctor.

Ah, but Times, They Have Changed

These days, platforms are organic, especially those platforms built using social media.

Is there any other kind?.

We can’t control what happens to the content once we let go. Additionally, social media is a two-way exchange. If Bed, Bath & Beyond sends me a mailer, they aren’t expecting me to like it, then photocopy it and distribute it to my friends. Yet, that is exactly what we are after when it comes to social media. We are trusting others to take in what we offer (content), like it and then pass it on to their networks.

The Upside & The Downside

What is wonderful about social media is that we always have the potential for world-wide exposure, to go viral, etc. We also have a lot more fluidity than years ago. We can write in different genres or dabble in transmedia or become hybrid authors because followers are interacting with us daily and real-time.

Yet, the downside of the new paradigm is that social influence is virtually impossible to measure. For more about why, go here to my post The Dark Side of Metrics—Writer Friend or Ticket to Crazy Town? Not only is social influence virtually impossible to  measure…but it is accessible to everyone. In the old days B.F., we were only competing against a slim few with the cash or tenacity to build a platform. Now? To quote The Incredibles

When everyone is special then no one is.

In a time when everyone has access to the same tools, how can we ever hope to stand apart?

So all of this is to say that platform and brand have changed as much as publishing has. If writers want to survive and thrive in the new paradigm, they must let go of the old and embrace the new.

A New Attitude

One of the largest hindrances I see to authors building a great platform has to do with their attitude toward being required to build one. It’s just another chore, a drudgery. It makes us feel weird and dirty, like we are selling out and compromising who we are. I totally appreciate these feelings, because I have felt them, too.

I felt them before I really understood what author platform meant.

In a world where most writers are moaning and groaning about being required to have a platform, the only chance we have of standing apart from the masses, is we must change our attitude and our approach. Sure, easier said than done, right?

No. Not really. I think if we take a moment to peel back why we feel the way we do, it will be easier to enjoy this new leg of author evolution.

So Why Does Building a Platform Make Most of Us Feel Icky?

How many of you ran out and bought John Locke’s book, How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months? Hey, I did. I can always learn, and Locke actually had some really great ideas, but I did have to ask myself some hard questions. Why didn’t his methods resonate with me? Why did many of Locke’s tactics make me feel queasy, as if I had escaped one sales job just to land another one? After a lot of thought, I realized it had to do with intent.

When experts throw around phrases like “target your audience,” I must confess that all I can think of is a red-dot laser site landing on someone’s chest.

 

I am writing a book. Prepare to be targeted.

Maybe it’s just me *shrugs*.

See, Locke will even tell you in his book that he is a born capitalist. He worked in sales for years and started all kinds of businesses. To him, books were just a new way of making money. He saw a tremendous marketing opportunity in the shifting paradigm, and he used his talents and went for it and it paid off. He spent $25,000 figuring out what tactics worked and what failed. He experimented with all kinds of genres and tactics, but not because his art and love happened to be writing.

Locke’s art and love was capitalism and marketing. 

You can see Locke’s excitement coming off the page as he relates his stories of how he tried all kinds of tactics to see where the numbers went. Locke’s art form happened to be numbers. Writing was just the medium, much like a sculptor might choose marble or clay. The reason Locke has such passion is he is doing his art.

But is Their Art Your Art?

For writers who have a love of sales, Locke’s book will really resonate because you will be doing your art. OR, you will at least be blending two arts you love together—sales and writing. Yet, for writers who break out in hives at the mention of the word sales and who are in this for the art of writing?

Hasta la vista, Baby.

Same thing with the PR & social media marketing people. They love to offer suggestions of how to help writers. They are lovely people who are sharing their art, and they want us to love it as much as they do. Some writers do love their methods and find PR and social media marketing is their art, too and that is why these classes have a lot to offer even if they differ from mine.

But what about the rest of us?

What if Sales/Marketing is Not My Art? Am I Doomed?

No. Not at all. But I will challenge you to stop trying to make their art your art. Think of it this way. Some of you, if I said you would be required to also design your own book covers would squeal with joy. Why? Because you also have a love for drawing or graphic design in addition to being a writer. You have more than one art. 

Our art is not our skill; our art is where our heart and passion rests.

Some writers do wonderfully learning marketing and sales skills because it is congruent with an existing passion. Some writers didn’t even know they had  a passion of on-line marketing, but, after a class at a writing conference, they were hooked once they had the know-how.

For the rest of us?

You could teach PR and on-line marketing until the end of time, and we would still hate it with every fiber of our being. We’d hate it just as much as a kid who loves building model airplanes being forced to learn to play the piano. For this kid who is forced to learn an instrument, piano would be a chore, and because it is a chore, any music he makes would always be robotic. It would always lack the essential ingredient that makes music art—passion. 

This is the same reason that writers who hate sales and marketing will always fail. Because it is a chore, it will lack the critical ingredient to connect—passion.

But, Kristen! All of us have to get out there and sell and market!

No, you don’t. I know many well-meaning people have told you this is the case, but it is a false syllogism. A false what? A false syllogism.

Example 

All people who dig ditches sweat profusely.

You are sweating profusely, therefore you must be digging a ditch.

For Writers?

All master salespeople and marketers have platforms that sell lots of books.

Writers need platforms that sell lots of books, therefore writers need to be master salespeople and marketers.

Or…

All social media technology experts have a large platform.

Writers need a large platform, therefore writers need to be social media technology experts.

NO!

We Can’t Fake Passion

If we hate what we are doing, people feel it. Conversely, when we interact with passion, people feel that, too. Why do you think I am so against automation? People who pre-program all their tweets do not love Twitter. They don’t LOVE interacting and thus there is no passion, so no connection.

This is why doing social media this way takes such HUGE numbers to be effective. It is the same ROI (return on investment) we would get with sending out spam e-mails or junk mail–about 1-5%. Thus, for every 20,000 followers, only about 200-500 will listen and fewer will care.

Words are Our Art

Social media is nothing but words. We writers use words to create feeling and emotion. We use 26 black letters in various combinations to spark passion and interest. Social media can be a drudgery when we aren’t connected to our muse. Yet, when approached with the correct attitude, social media a new canvas for the writer-artist.

We will talk more about platform and ways to make social media our art next week. In the meantime, I want you to answer some questions:

What is it I fear the most about social media?

What do I believe it is taking away from me?

What are the emotions I want readers to feel when reading my work?

Of all those emotions, which one is the most important? Do I want people to feel love, passion, inspiration, courage?

So what are some questions you guys have? Do you feel better now that you have permission to hate sales? Can you spend some time defining your own art and think of ways to infuse it into your social media? For those already doing this, can you share with the rest of us?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. 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 March 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 will announce last week’s winner later this week. I am having problems with my web site and e-mail and my web people are working to remedy the problem. Thanks for your patience.

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

50,000 Inimitable Smiles by Margie Lawson over at More Cowbell

How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book over at Jane Friedman’s place

Was March 2012 the Day that Traditional Publishing Died? by the ever-brilliant Bob Mayer

Amazon Signs Up Authors Writing Publishers Out of the Deal by the NYT

Beautiful Breakups–What the Revision Process Can Teach Us by August McLaughlin

How Can Modern Writers Become and Stay Visible? by the fabulous Jody Hedlund

Ten Things You Should Know About Setting by the awesome-sauce Chuck Wendig

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  1. #1 by Stacy Green on March 21, 2012 - 9:05 am

    I don’t hate social media at all, but now that I have a book contract and a time frame for publication, I’m feeling the strain on my time. Do I focus just on the blog, Twitter, and FB? What about Goodreads? Is it worth it? Then there are Book Blogs, She Writes, and about 900 other avenues. I think that’s one of my biggest issues: where to focus my precious time. Efficiency and FINDING READERS. That’s another one of mine. 95% of the social media interaction I have (and it has grown steadily over the last year, which is great) is with others in the writing blogosphere. Of course they’re readers, but I want to know where to branch out and find those people who don’t write but still love to read. Is it Goodreads or somewhere else? How do I tap into those people? And yada, yada, yada.

    For me, those are the biggest issues with platform. Great topic, Kristen!

    • #2 by Brock on March 21, 2012 - 10:21 am

      Stacy, you echo my sentiments precisely. Kristen really nailed my issues with building an author platform and I keep thinking there’s a more effective way to reach readers than the methods I’m currently employing. I love interacting with other writers, but they do not a platform make. I’m looking forward to part 2.

  2. #3 by Melissa Bowersock on March 21, 2012 - 9:07 am

    Kristin, thanks so much for this. Like many writers, I HATE selling and feel very uncomfortable “tooting my own horn.” Over the last couple years I have been developing more of your sideways methods, reaching out without selling, connecting, offering support and advice when asked, and selling more books has been the surprising and gratifying benefit. This is SO much nicer and easier than trying to become a media diva. Matter of fact, I just blogged on this very thing: mjb-wordlovers.blogspot.com. Thanks again for all your insight. You have an amazing way of getting to the kernal of truth beneath all the hype.

  3. #4 by Catherine Johnson on March 21, 2012 - 9:20 am

    Great post, Kristen! I feel less guilty about not joining Triberr now I’ve read this. If nothing else, I don’t want to be seen on Twitter all day long. I can’t wait for your art in social media post, that sounds right up my street. Love what you do and the ideas start flowing. Thanks Kristen.

    • #5 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 21, 2012 - 9:37 am

      Actually, Triberr is very useful and I STRONGLY recommend it. Triberr is not another social media platform, it is a social media management tool like TweetDeck. Just like TweetDeck helps us keep up with and interact with hundreds even thousands of people, Triberr helps keep all the blogs you love in one easy location so you see them, can read them and even promote them. It will save you a TON of time.

      • #6 by Jenny Hansen on March 21, 2012 - 10:38 am

        Thassss, right! Go, Kristen! Triberr is one of the most time-saving things I ever found for social media.

      • #7 by Tahlia Newland on March 21, 2012 - 6:16 pm

        Good to hear that about Triberr, I was wondering if it would be worth looking into yet another social media tool. You’ve convinced me.

        I love this post and totally agree – as usual. My art is my writing and I love photoshopping images too, but marketting, no? I do like interacting with other people though, so that’s what I do, but I’ve given up expecting that to sell books.

  4. #8 by Grigory Ryzhakov on March 21, 2012 - 9:26 am

    Hi Kristen, great blog as always. I’ve read John Locke’s book you;ve mentioned recently, I thought he’s a good and passionate man. Obviously, he focused in it on how he succeeded, if wasn’t a book on how he loves literature. I had a look at his fiction too, I like his light, quirky writing style. He’s self-deprecating about his not-so-good writing, but I think it’s good. Again, good for his target audience.
    I don’t like the word -target- too )) I like to phrase it something like “my lovely readers’ ark” ))

  5. #9 by Laney on March 21, 2012 - 9:54 am

    This post has my name written all over it. Making my passion for words work for me in social media? Yeah, that would be great. I find that balance is still a big issue as well. Writing vs. maintaining your social presence. Great post as always Kristen. Look forward to the next one ;)

  6. #10 by KM Huber on March 21, 2012 - 9:58 am

    As you say, passion is authentic, always; it just won’t be faked. If we write from our hearts, it will be evident in our blogs, in our tweets, and we will connect. It is what we do best as humans.

    Thank you for showing us ourselves as we can be. Fine, fine post, Kristen.

    Karen

  7. #11 by Jennette Marie Powell on March 21, 2012 - 10:19 am

    My issues are pretty much what Stacy points out. As an author who also has a full-time day job, my TIME is so fragmented already. I’ve read WANA and taken the class, and my blog is gaining readership, but very slooooowwwwly. And most of the others I’m interacting with are other writers. The serving others part is easy – I love to tweet fun blogs! But getting interest in mine? Not so much. Maybe I’m just boring – that’s why I write fiction!

    • #12 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 21, 2012 - 10:21 am

      A lot of it has to do with our approach and how we are blogging and what we are blogging about. We will talk more about it. Social media will be a time suck unless done a certain way.

      • #13 by athenagrayson on March 22, 2012 - 11:59 am

        Then Kristen, I’ve got a sticky wicket for you–I’m that person who likes to talk about writing–what makes stories work, what makes worldbuilding build worlds, how to put meat on the bones of your characters. Yeah. I’m That Guy (Girl, as the case may be).

        I get anxious if I feel like I’m not putting in enough time on facebook even though, quite frankly, my feed sometimes gives me ulcers. I feel like I should be “leveraging” it better, that I should be promoting myself as a person who’s clearly defined and singularly motivated when in reality, I’m not. I like writing, and talking about writing, and reading, but I also llike crocheting, nerdy tech, video games, and crockpots. These don’t create a coherent picture.

        I feel like my social media ship has come in, but I fell off the gangplank and now I’m swimming after the boat.

        • #14 by Eden on March 23, 2012 - 12:11 pm

          Just to reassure you some, Athena, this comment made me HAVE to look you up on Facebook and “like” your page, because those are the things I love reading about (and yes, I do mean the crocheting, the video games, nerdy tech, and crockpots as well as the world building). (I guess, I’m That Girl too.)

          And is this such a bad thing? Yes, it may “limit” our reach in some areas, but I do think that the ability is there as well. I mean, look at all worldbuilding entails… There is learning why people act the way they do in different cultures, there is the study of architecture (different building styles based on culture, on materials, and abilities), there are all the differences in language and art… Worldbuilding, done right. Heck, your latest post was on the physics of worldbuilding. There! Science and writing…

          I personally see lots of places for you to attract interest.

  8. #15 by August McLaughlin on March 21, 2012 - 10:28 am

    Of the many gifts I gained from your books, taking the “icky” out of platform building is probably my favorite. It was like putting glasses on after looking at the blogosphere through muddy water. lol

    I grappled with the proverbial ‘what to write about’ question a lot at first. I’ve learned that drawing on passion, writing from an authentic place and listening to our instincts can go a long way toward answering it. We end up only needing to listen.

    Thanks for sharing my link! And for another fabulous post. :)

  9. #16 by Lisa Janice Cohen (@lisajanicecohen) on March 21, 2012 - 10:36 am

    My passion is in making ‘matches’ between interesting content I see and people I think that information will resonate with. My passion is in the joy of language and how language can transmit emotion and intent from writer to reader. My passion is to support and connect with other writers who feel the way I do.

    When I blog or use twitter, etc, I rarely send out any personal promotional messages because I hate to hear them from others. A steady stream of ‘buy my book’ is the social media equivalent of a diet of twinkies.

    I have a consistent social media presence, but not a popular or famous one. As an intensely private person, being aggressively public just isn’t in my nature. And my first job is to honor the writing. The social media presence is important, but it’s secondary. That probably means I will never be in the same league as John Locke in terms of sales and notoriety, but it keeps the balance manageable for me.

    I like your message about approaching social media with the same passion as we approach our writing. That totally resonates with me. Thank you.

  10. #17 by Natalie Aguirre on March 21, 2012 - 10:36 am

    Great post Kristen. I struggle with the same thing as Stacy. I haven’t joined Twitter yet because I already spend so much time on social networking. I enjoy it but it takes time from my writing.

    For blogging, I’ve found interviewing other authors to promote them and their books feeds into my passion for reading and books in general. So that’s been a great way for me to build a web presence that will hopefully help me shout out about my own book someday.

  11. #18 by Mark Oetjens on March 21, 2012 - 10:38 am

    GREAT POST!!!! You described my problem perfectly! I’m a writer, not a social media expert. Even worse, I am fiction writer. And worse than that, I write science fiction! Marketing has been the bane of my existence since my book came out almost 2 years ago. I try to blog. I’m on FB. I have a G+ account but never use it. And I still do not understand the whole Twitter thing! To paraphrase, “Help me, Kristen Lamb. You’re my only hope.” (A bit cheesy, I know, but it fits!)

  12. #19 by Jenny Hansen on March 21, 2012 - 10:42 am

    I agree with what August said – I think blogging on what makes YOU happiest is the key. As a technology trainer, that part of things was a more flexible process for me, which I know was an advantage.

    However, social media just enlarged my writing and computer time, which takes some work to accommodate. As you said, Triberr helps with that. I wouldn’t give up my social media for anything BUT I’ve had to become more creative about time management.

    • #20 by Jenny Hansen on March 21, 2012 - 10:43 am

      p.s. Thank you SO much for linking to Margie Lawson’s post on More Cowbell!

    • #21 by annstanleywriting on March 21, 2012 - 11:47 am

      Thanks, Jenny. I’m going to have to look at Triberr! I haven’t gotten into Twitter at all. It seems a little fast-paced and overwhelming at first glance. Blogging on what makes me happiest is an interesting idea.

  13. #23 by Mike O'Donnell on March 21, 2012 - 10:56 am

    Always hated the idea of selling but you’re absolutely right, Kristen, it’s a matter of attitude.
    I take to heart your words, “when approached with the correct attitude, social media is a new canvas for the writer-artist.” I’m a writer, and words are my business, so thanks I’ll need to reassess my world. Maybe I CAN actually sell a book or two.
    Mike

  14. #24 by paulphilipcarter on March 21, 2012 - 11:06 am

    You had me at Terminator. Probably my all time fave movie.

    Here’s a true story about passion and making my own art out of all of this, this… well this “writing” gig.

    I almost gave up last year, until it hit me — See, I have always been a musician (80’s regionally – very small regional – famous rock band, my own CD’s, yada yada…)

    You could say music was/is a passion of mine.

    Writing didn’t become my passion until I started to think of it like my music.

    With the incredible advice of folks like Kristen and others I jumped back into the fray with a new vision and understanding of how I would approach writing.

    I now generally think of writing as if I am writing/performing/recording a piece of music.

    ALL OF IT!

    From Twitter, to Facebook, to how I present the content to possible readers… it’s like a song.

    And once I started thinking like that, writing became a PASSION for me. The whole enchilada… not just the cool part of making up characters and moving them around my novelic (made up word) chessboard.

    And that’s all I have to say about that, because now that I’ve shared my Mojo the superstitions are kicking in… do I hear Followers dropping from my Twitter account?
    ;-)

    Thanks Kristen and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

    PPC

  15. #25 by Donna Brown on March 21, 2012 - 11:12 am

    I am so overwhelmed with social media platforms and I don’t understand how to make them work for me, at all. I can spend all day on social media, or I can be writing. I wish I had someone to manage my social media so I can do what I love most!

  16. #26 by Pauline Baird Jones on March 21, 2012 - 11:24 am

    Thank you so much for articulating what I’ve long felt about book promotion! Since I took your mini-workshop in January, my promotion world is much brighter. Was wondering when you will be teaching more workshops and where to find that info? I’ve tried google and getting lots of error messages. :-( Would also love to hear what Triberr tribes you like/recommend? Is is very hard to get into tribes? I just started there and I’m in a few and so far I LOVE Triberr.

  17. #27 by charismaloy on March 21, 2012 - 11:29 am

    That’s me. I am NOT a salesman. If I were, I could make money in my day job! I also have major issues with social media. I ended up creating a seperate Facebook page so that the page is not full of “oh, little johnny took a green poop!”
    I think, in many ways, that social media is invasive. I don’t choose to live in the middle of nowhere because I want people to know my every move. I am an intensly private person, but I don’t have the fame of Barbara Streisand, so I can’t hide and still make money.
    This is why the Charis Maloy that you see on my blog site and on my Facebook page is me supersized. Everything I say is genuine, I am just more taciturn in person, so I probably wouldn’t gush to your face.
    I have not tried twitter yet, nor have I paid to have my social media available on my phone. I realize that at some point I may need to do this, but I have to work up to it. I am not ready to be that connected to the outside world.

  18. #28 by annstanleywriting on March 21, 2012 - 11:40 am

    This gives me pause for thought. I do enjoy writing my blogs, and I do write them from my heart, but I’ve been trying to capture a particular audience that I think will like my novel, rather than just writing about my interests. Maybe the blogs would flow more easily, and attract a wider audience, if I stopped trying to “target” what I write.

  19. #29 by Judy on March 21, 2012 - 12:21 pm

    I truly think you hit a nail smack dab on the head here. This sales thing is a monster and Social media SM is as well. A major time sucker. That said…I’ve gotten into this and found that getting to mingle with like-minded writers is really starting to be fun. I hope this does help sales when I finally reach that finish line/published. But still. Those I’ve met are terrific. I have a problem…someone else does to, exactly the same one. We commiserate. Another has the answer. Or hey, I might actually have an answer…very simple problem. But still. I have no clue what I’m really doing but I’m meeting people who like Rome, who like writing, who don’t mnd my rantings. Who wish my dreams come to light as I wish theres.
    i just have to figure out how to play with this monster with so many faces I don’t tweet often because I can’t keep up with it. Tweet deck is a land mine. yikes. Still learning that one. But thanks to you and others I have something I can pass on…that makes sense.
    Thank you

  20. #30 by John Hayden on March 21, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    I was passionate about blogging long before I began writing a novel. As a former newspaperman, blogging fit in with my lifelong passion for the daily news, the story of the day. But hundreds of newspapers with passionate reporters and editors on staff have disappeared in the past 20 years. So I’m not surprised that my blogs haven’t gained much of a following, either.

    I agree that passion is necessary for success, but it’s not sufficient. I’m thinking that social media is subject to the laws of “Extremistan,” as described in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “The Black Swan.” Mr. Taleb examines the phenomenon of the traditional bestselling book, and pronounces a bestseller to be a “Black Swan.” That is, a statistically rare and unpredictable event. I suspect social media is also winner-take-all, only more so.

    Becoming a professional basketball or football star, earning millions a year, is very much a long-shot, winner-take-all proposition. That doesn’t stop millions of young people from playing basketball and football for the joy of the game.

    When I was a reporter, I enjoyed seeing my byline in the paper every morning, but I never expected to win a Pulitzer. I’m grateful for the handful of readers who follow my humble blogs. I take comfort in the possibility of selling a few thousand Ebooks. Still, the possibility of going viral or publishing a bestseller is a welcome motivator in the humdrum of everyday writing.

  21. #31 by Christine Ashworth on March 21, 2012 - 12:43 pm

    Thank you for this! I had been in discussions with a PR person who is working with an acquaintance of mine. For all of a few hours I had high hopes and dreams as they talked about getting me on TV and radio and in print – for a monthly retainer amount equivalent to my mortgage. I finally came down to earth with a thump and told them I couldn’t afford it, and would have to back away. I was told definitively that I would never sell books in any sort of numbers without their help.

    Well, that made me mad, and determined to succeed. So hearing you today tell me I don’t need a PR firm is just a weight off my heart. Thank you, thank you!

  22. #32 by buckheadfamous on March 21, 2012 - 1:09 pm

    From someone who loves writing, the platform part, can make it seem moe like a real job. Thank you for making it seem more like fun!

  23. #33 by corajramos on March 21, 2012 - 1:31 pm

    Another great post. You grabbed me at, “Our art is not our skill; our art is where our heart and passion rests.”
    What do I want my readers to feel when they read what I write? I have to chew on that for a while–another aha moment. Thanks for the challenges. You’re making us better writers as well as teaching us about social media.

  24. #34 by klynwurth on March 21, 2012 - 1:36 pm

    Kristen, a platform does sound a little intimidating. A bridge, however, sounds better. It suggests connection and relationships with people who love books and writing, as I do. As an introvert, I warm to the idea of this type of connection, even as I realize that taking on publishing one reader at a time is a delightful, but outdated, fantasy. I look forward to more of your great ideas about “platform,” or whatever I will have to call it to imagine myself so engaged… As always, you inspire. Thank you!

  25. #35 by James Loscombe (@James_Loscombe) on March 21, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    Thanks very much, I was in the process of reviewing my “platform” and this has given me the push I needed.

    Also, thanks for introducing me to Triberr, looks like it is going to be a big help.

  26. #36 by Patrice Stanton on March 21, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    There goes my second attempted comment…gr-r-r-r (cheetah sounds). Anyhow, I’ve found a way in the last couple of days to meld my all-too-many passions of Art/Design/Politics & Writing: The De-Motivational Poster. Here’s one I just made after the first time I lost the Comment I was trying to post here. http://diy.despair.com/builders/share/45071100.html

  27. #37 by Greta van der Rol on March 21, 2012 - 5:15 pm

    This blog resonated with me in a way many others have not. I’ve read Locke’s book – and I realised, reading your words, that you were right. He makes no bones about the fact his books aren’t great literature and they are written specifically for an audience. Mine aren’t. They’re written from the heart, for me – and those who like the sort of book I like. I’m not a good social media player – but I have joined Triberr and it helps.

  28. #38 by malindalou on March 21, 2012 - 5:21 pm

    So so true. This is the same principle that turns me away from many Internet-get-rich schemes. If I lived to make money, I would want to do more of that. But I don’t. I live to write (among other things). How much I make doing it does not matter as much to me as the fact that I love to do it.

  29. #39 by Linda Adams on March 21, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    Passion has been the elusive side for me. While I feel it and can see it in my words, it’s evidently not coming through in the blogs, or not coming through enough, and I have no clue how to get it to come through. What’s really discouraging is seeing a blog post on exactly the same subject, hit all the same topics I did, and they get 40 comments and a whole lot of interest, and mine barely qualifies as a bump in the road.

    How do you define passion? I’m stumped at what I’m supposed to do, and all I’m doing is spinning my wheels.

  30. #40 by Haley Whitehall (@HaleyWhitehall) on March 21, 2012 - 7:24 pm

    This blog post said exactly what I have discovered. It is so true that writers need to find/create their art and not just blindly adopt someone else’s because it worked for them. I am in the slow process of doing that, but I know when I am done I will be happy with my strategy and my passion will shine through.

  31. #41 by Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson on March 21, 2012 - 8:11 pm

    I guess it’s good that I am a teacher and I’m comfortable speaking in front of large crowds. I’m also fearless when it comes to pimping my own stuff. I’m a mad extrovert who will dance if it will sell books.

    BUT

    I still want to write the best story I can. So that’s what I’m focusing on now. Alas, at 60K, am feeling a little lost in the woods without my Team Whiskey leader. ;-)

  32. #42 by Yvette on March 21, 2012 - 8:38 pm

    What I fear about social media the most is that it will suck up all my precious time for writing, and leave me unbalanced.
    The emotion I most want the reader to feel reading my book is Inspiration. The sort of inspiration that makes us want to strive harder in our own lives. The sort of inspiration that gives us courage to be more of who we are. The sort of inspiration that nurtures hope.
    The latter is definitely the most important!
    Yvette Carol

  33. #43 by Jenna Barton on March 22, 2012 - 1:36 am

    As I’ve tried to organize a social media plan, my biggest blank spot is how to draw my writing from different romance sub-genres into a singular presence in social media. I’ve read so many times that you should stick with one sub-genre, maybe two, but I don’t write that way (I’m not sure many of us really do) and staying in one sandbox seems creatively limited to me. That’s where I bristle at the marketing and social media expectations. I’d like to know if it’s possible to keep contemporary and historical romance, erotic romance, and even some sweet romance or upper YA under one pen name, on one website, and avoid the ‘reader confusion’ I’ve seen mentioned so often. I have a gut feeling it comes down to building a strong presence as an individual. So maybe it’s about making the books part of a whole that attracts from blogging on a few non-writing things I’m passionate about? I’ve avoided blogging for this reason. The site is even set up but is inactive.

  34. #44 by tracikenworth on March 22, 2012 - 5:05 am

    Great post!!

  35. #46 by knotrune on March 22, 2012 - 5:37 am

    Do you think Facebook is still worth bothering with, given how they keep changing it to make it worse, harder to use for author platforms, harder to use for social networking and that only 18% of your friends even see anything you post? And that it’s getting worse not better. Are there any viable alternatives yet? Google+ just doesn’t seem to be taking off in my circles.

    • #47 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 22, 2012 - 9:39 am

      I am not a huge fan of Facebook, but fan pages are very useful once you get to the point that you need one. FB is also good for keeping touch with those intimate circles–friends, family, coworkers, and classmates. These people might make fun of us for wanting to be a writer, but once that book comes out they will be some of your biggest cheerleaders. The advantage there is they will spread word of mouth outside the realm of “other writers.” My preferred combination is mainly a blog and Twitter and some Facebook. For me, I find there is a lot of activity on Twitter during the day and less in the evening. Facebook is hopping in the evening and less so in the mornings. So I just switch focus between the two.

      • #48 by knotrune on March 22, 2012 - 10:58 am

        I’ve been on FB for years, I’m just concerned that the changes are making it so much worse that I want to leave, and I’m not alone in this. It’s basically that if my messages are not getting to people then is it worth posting them? The automatic setting imposed by FB is that you only get updates from people you interact with, unless you change it to everyone (as I have of course) but not everyone is aware of this (and obviously the ones who aren’t aware probably can’t hear me tell them…). Even then, there seems to be a random element as to what gets through. And what with the privacy issues as well, I’m just not sure how viable it will prove.

  36. #49 by epbush on March 22, 2012 - 9:28 am

    Reblogged this on Coal City Steam and commented:
    Ain’t dat the truth. Amen, sister.

  37. #50 by akandrewcom on March 22, 2012 - 10:06 am

    Kirsten you are so insightful & spot on – trying to rustle up a bunch of creatives & squeeze them onto even the idea of a writers platform is a tough job. But I think the key word you use is passion. You have to be behind the purpose if not the means or it won’t work. Thanks somuch for the great advice. In what form do you want a link back? As a mention even if the blog is off topic? I’m more than happy to link you just not quite sure how it fits in if for example I’m blogging about the use of the sense of touch in setting a scene? Sorry for the newbie question.
    A.K.Andrew

  38. #51 by Koala Bear Writer on March 22, 2012 - 11:56 am

    Excellent thoughts – thanks. We hear the stories about people selling millions of books, but so many of those are the rare or exceptional cases, not the ones that we should be using as models. I also know authors (with successful careers) who have no Facebook or Twitter pages, much less even a website. So there are both sides of the spectrum. I like what you say about it coming down to art – what is your art and passion and where do you want to focus your energies? :)

  39. #52 by Judy Schriebman on March 22, 2012 - 12:50 pm

    Fabulous blog, Kristen. It resonates completely! Your passion shines through in every sentence–love it and your humor. My question is where do you start? I can see that your writing has gotten a lot of followers–how does one start doing that? It’s probably–just do it, just start. No blog for me yet :( as my writing is somewhat stalled at the moment. Hoping for a kickstart!

    • #53 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 23, 2012 - 8:44 am

      Take one of my blogging courses and it will jump you light years ahead. I will be teaching them later in the spring so stay tuned ;).

  40. #54 by Patrice Stanton on March 23, 2012 - 11:41 am

    Hey, Kristen! I think this is what you mean by linking back to: here http://wp.me/p1iM9r-36 and want to thank-you for your encouraging spirit & works in your space ‘cuz I’m sure you won’t have time to go to mine. My Save-the-Cat(R) storyboard was finished last night in large part because of you…

  41. #55 by granbee on March 23, 2012 - 11:46 am

    Kristen, I am finding that as my passionate belief in the important of what I am saying in my writing increases, my ability to promote my own work and build a wide, sturday platform just naturally increases, as well! For me, I think it is necessary to truly belief in the importance of one’s own work FIRST AND FOREMOST!

  42. #56 by Marcy Kennedy on March 23, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    I’m way behind the ball, but I wanted to comment anyway to say how much I enjoyed this post. The idea of selling myself makes me feel slimy, and so I was terrified about how I would possibly build a platform…until I stumbled across your blog and the WANA methods. I appreciate all you do for us writers.

  43. #57 by Shah Wharton on March 23, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    I mentioned this fabulous post here http://shahwharton.blogspot.com/2012/03/few-thoughts-about-triberr.html -and commented on your latest post as well as here.

    I’ve also tried to make a start on Triberr – boy oh boy – what is going on with it? Seems like it might take me time to learn about bones and tribes and to commit to sharing every day to actually get anything out of it? But if you say its a timesaver, I’m up for trying to work it all out. Bleh :)X

  44. #58 by Village Drummer Fiction/Richard Alan on March 24, 2012 - 12:36 am

    Great post! I just finished reading “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer” yesterday and immediately ordered “We are Not Alone”. I also made my name more prominent on my webpage and added it to my twitter id. I’m not sure how to link back so here is my blog wp.me/p27REf-3y. I praise you, your blog and your books on my blog today. I am learning so much from you. Thank you for being so generous with your advice (and humor). You are the best!

  45. #59 by Colleen Jones (@acolleenjones) on March 26, 2012 - 7:48 am

    I set up a website, blog, and twitter account but I have struggled to maintain and build my presence. I’ve been doing a better job maintaining the SCBWI Ireland website, Twitter account, and now Facebook page, but only just. It all feels like a chore at times, and I don’t want it to be.

    Your article really struck a cord. I think I have been fighting because I thought I had to keep up with the children’s writing industry and report on it. If I talk about what I’m passionate about, writing and reading books for kids and everything related to that, then maybe I will feel less pressed upon and can really enjoy the task. Thanks!

  46. #60 by Brianna Soloski on March 31, 2012 - 9:55 pm

    I have been struggling with social media since it first appeared in my life. I take every ignored tweet, every lost Facebook connection personally. It’s hard not to. I want to succeed, but i know I have to do it in a way that is comfortable for me, at least right now, when I don’t have 40 hours per week to dedicate to sales/marketing.

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