3 Social Media Myths that Can Cripple Our Author Platform

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

As the Social Media Jedi for Writers, I am very blessed to be able to speak and teach around the country at various writing conferences. I am always open to learning new methods, and I love hearing other perspectives. Yet, with the good, comes the bad, the ugly and the downright—in my POV—boneheaded observations about social media. My favorites?

Writers are the only ones on social media.

*scratches head* Seriously?

I have heard comments such as these come from even very well-known authors:

Twitter is a waste of time. Only writers use Twitter.

Blogs only attract writers, and writers don’t read a lot of blogs.

Blogs won’t help you sell books.

*head desk*

Since I tend to hear comments like these more often than I care to, we are going to set these myths straight, because believing any of this nonsense is a ticket to Crazy Town, and it can cripple our platform.

Myth #1

Only Writers Use Twitter

Okay, last I checked, Twitter was closing in on 250 million users, and I doubt ALL of them are writers. Too often writers want to blame Twitter instead of looking at their own on-line habits.

If we blame the platform, then we get a pass and don’t need to use it, right? Wrong.

Twitter is one of the best ways for a writer to locate and cultivate a passionate support base. The problem is that writers are too often mistaking their professional peers for their audience. We stay in the comfort zone and only hang out with the people we know and who like all the same stuff we do, and that can spell “platform inbreeding.”

Inbreeding. Yes, inbreeding, and anything involving inbreeding eventually gets ugly. Don’t blame the platform.

Twitter is not Our Personal Spamming Tool to Sell Books

How many of you loooooove spam? There is nothing you love better than interacting with automatically generated messages. What? No takers?

Every time I warn writers off automation, I get some person who wails in protest the same, exact words. “I am not automating tweets, I am scheduling them.”

All right, let’s peel back the euphemism here. Anything that is posted on the Internet/social media automatically without a flesh and blood human being physically present is SPAM. Of course, when I say this, the spammers “marketers” often howl, “But I spend a lot of time crafting those tweets.” Okay, so you are an eloquent spammer. Better?

Here’s the thing, spam is anything automatically generated for the sole purpose of gaining something from the community. Whether that is for that community to buy a book, look at a link or come to a blog or give us their attention, it doesn’t matter, IT IS SPAM.

Oh but I am giving to others with cute quotes or information to help them.

Um, it is called social media. It’s like a giant cocktail party. If I am “talking” to someone at a party and they mention some helpful tips, that rocks. If they keep peeking in the door and dumping off fliers full of tips then disappearing to do more “important things” than talk to me or others at the party?

We call security.

We should never ask of others what we, ourselves are unwilling to give. We can’t ask others to be present on social media (to follow all our links or see our clever quotes) if we are unwilling to be present as well. It’s uncool.

Don’t Blame the Medium

A lot of writers tweet, and that is awesome. But, sad to say, too many writers have become the All Writing All The Time Channel. We tweet about word count and pass on blogs about writing a synopsis or crafting a query. We use #s like #amwriting #nanowrimo #pubtip #indie #selfpub…then say But only writers are on Twitter.

Yep.

If all I talked about was my dog, and I used #s like #canine #puppy #puppylove #woof then complained that cat owners didn’t use Twitter? Yeah, you guys get the point.

Myth #2

Writers Don’t Read Blogs

News flash. Who cares? Writers are only a small portion of the overall population in need of entertaining or informing. Regular people? Regular people LOVE blogs. Most “regular” people feel daunted reading a book. It gives them flashbacks to high school and that dreadful paper on Wuthering Heights.

But blogs? They LOVE them.

Regular people (code for “readers”) love being entertained daily in small, manageable, bite-sized pieces. They often read them on their smart phones while in line or on the train or when stuck at an appointment. In fact, this is precisely why blogs are one of the most powerful tools for creating a dedicated readership.

If readers LOVE our blogs, then they are tickled silly when they can buy an entire BOOK. These types of readers may only buy and read one or two books a year, but who cares if it is OUR BOOK? Blogs ROCK when it comes to creating a passionate author following.

Don’t believe me?

The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) gets THREE MILLION UNIQUE VISITS A MONTH on her blog. She tried to hold a live book event, and her followers crashed Goodreads. Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) is another favorite. MILLIONS of people follow these blogs. Any guess why?

These bloggers (writers)…are you ready for this? These writers…don’t blog about writing.

BLASPHEMY!!!! 

No, I’m being serious.

These writers blog about what normal people might be interested in. Guess what? Most regular people don’t care about 10 Ways to Write a Snappy Query Letter and they care even less about Three-Act Structure Made Simple, Writing Witty Dialogue or The Future of Book Reviews. In fact, I might go so far as to say that, the normal person could give a flying fruit fly’s derriere about Understanding Create Space or 20 Ways to Rock NaNoWriMo.

Yet, when I blog about writers not starting writing blogs, I get wails of protest (and two weeks worth of posts dedicated to telling me I’m a moron).

We are correct when we say that writers don’t read a lot of blogs. Why? Because all the blogs in our sphere are the same. Yes, I blog about writing and social media for writers, but that is because writers are my book-buying demographic.

Writers are wonderful and supportive but we are flat tapped OUT. We don’t need another writing blog, and it isn’t helping that other social marketing experts are encouraging this sort of nonsense.

Please do NOT start a writing blog. If you need help learning how to blog, I teach classes about this stuff so check out the WANA International site to get your slot in my next blogging class.

Myth #3

Blogs Won’t Help Us Sell Books

No, bad blogs, egocentric blogs, boring blogs or abandoned blogs won’t sell books. Writers too frequently run out and start a blog with no content or brand preparation. They blog about writing until they wear out, which happens quickly if we are trying to post articles 1-3 times a week.

Certain types of content are just never going to go viral, period. Yet, it is shocking how much time writers devote to content, that by its very nature, will never, ever, ever, ever…ever go viral.

Ever.

Don’t believe me?

All righty. How many of you have been at the regular day job or with “regular friends” and heard about that Korean dance video (Gangnam style) or Surprise Kitty? Maybe you even heard these non-writing acquaintances mention Mentos making Diet Coke explode. How many times have you been in these groups and heard conversations like this:

Oh, Gangnam Style? Sure, I heard about that. Have you heard about the interview with that self-published writer about how she got the idea to pair werewolves with pixies? No? What about the review of that popular indie vampire book? No? What about that post about the when to use prologues? Seriously, Dude. Do you live under a ROCK?

This conversation has never happened. Likely, it never will.

Social media is a powerful gamechanger for writers who learn to use it properly, but we can’t expect to connect with readers (who don’t write) if we insist on only talking about what we are interested in. I have a family member who LOVES sports, and I could care less if baseball, football and basketball held hands and fell off the planet. Yet, this doesn’t stop my family member from talking non-stop about sports.

And it’s annoying.

And self-centered.

And not a great way to make me want to hang out and engage with him.

We all have those people in our lives who insist on talking about only what interests them and it alienates us. Yet, it is so easy for us to hop on social media, and, because we are nervous, shy or insecure, we end up turning into that person we detest.

Writers have been using symbols in various combinations to create magic for thousands of years. This shouldn’t cease the second we start a blog or decide to tweet.

So what are your thoughts? Have you fallen for one of these three myths? Do you have people in your network who make you bonkers with their automation? Any comments or suggestions?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of November, 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 once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

Note: I will post October’s winners next week. I nearly got stranded in San Diego and am a tad behind. Thanks for understanding.

At the end of November I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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.

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  1. #1 by Jarm Del Boccio on November 7, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    Thanks, Kristen…I have been pondering why my blog is stagnating. No new readers must be due to the content…duh!
    But I continue to be puzzled over my “niche”. I know it will come to me when it is time…thanks for the insights.

    • #2 by Boyko Ovcharov on November 15, 2012 - 3:39 am

      Great blog indeed! It is always helpful to hear someone who has “been there, done that” already, and s/he has been successful in that.

  2. #3 by renée a. schuls-jacobson on November 7, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    So glad I met you when I did so I can just sit here and nod my head and agree. I have had wonderful conversations with strangers on Twitter, people who THEN found my blog because they enjoyed chatting so much. And even though I don’t have anything to sell right now, I might — someday. Maybe. In the meantime, it’s fun to interact with writers and all the other folks in the Twitterverse. :)

  3. #4 by Natasha McNeely on November 7, 2012 - 3:28 pm

    You’ve brought up some valid points here and actually made me realize that I need to start blogging less about writing and more about things in general. I fell into the, “Oh, I’m a writer so I need a writing blog.” trap. I guess I know what I’ll be rethinking this weekend!
    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. #5 by Katje on November 7, 2012 - 3:31 pm

    Reading your posts always helps me out. Thank you for doing what you do! I finally learned how to use Twitter because of your blog articles. Now I’m trying to teach my mom (who’s also an author). Wheeee.

    Anyway, in total agreement with your post here. I’ve started really focusing on my blog as my main platform, because yeah — blogging sells books. When I started reading Jennifer Armintrout’s blog, it was enough to convince me to buy one of her books, and I did. Case in point.

  5. #6 by Daphne Shadows on November 7, 2012 - 3:35 pm

    I think #3 is one of the hardest ones to stay away from. I’ll read a really cool blog post and click in to see who’s blog it is. But when I get there its all about writing. I instantly feel disappointed and click out. If writing is ALL they talk about I get bored. It feels like the person on Twitter that does nothing but retweet links to articles on writing tips and doesn’t have any real social interaction with anyone.
    I like the way you reminded everyone that regular people read blogs. I think too many writers aren’t paying enough attention to their readers’ mindsets.

  6. #7 by Samuel Solomon on November 7, 2012 - 3:36 pm

    I really liked this post. Quite right on the blog format and the readers. Blog about LIFE, engage those who take the time to read, and foster connections.

    People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care, as they say.

  7. #8 by Diana Beebe on November 7, 2012 - 3:38 pm

    I’m so glad I took your blogging class. Otherwise, I’d be lost flailing around in cyberspace like a goober–or still running away from it. Thank you for being straightforward and supportive.

    • #9 by lynnkelleyauthor on November 7, 2012 - 3:48 pm

      Diane, you’re a hoot. Your comment, “like a goober,” I love it! Hahaha!

      • #10 by lynnkelleyauthor on November 7, 2012 - 3:48 pm

        Oops, that s/b Diana, not Diane.

        • #11 by Diana Beebe on November 7, 2012 - 4:03 pm

          LOL, Lynn! No problem–it happens a lot. Just so you know, my gooberness isn’t pretty. :-D

  8. #12 by Rhonda Lane on November 7, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    Whew – thanks for not beating the “blogging is dead” drum, although some days I admit I’d like to throw in the towel (mouse) and join the funeral parade.

    One thing I’ve learned in blogging is that just because I don’t care about (sports) and you don’t care about (sports) doesn’t mean other people don’t care about (sports.) There’s a humongous population of (sports fans) out there. However —

    The trick isn’t just in finding them, but in finding the people who would love to read what *you* write about (sports.)

    Sometimes blogging feels like suspending a magnet over a haystack to search for that needle and then moving on from haystack to haystack. :)

  9. #13 by John Paul Roth on November 7, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    I’m an aspiring author and I actually started a blog after doing a ton of research. I haven fully finished a novel yet, but I’m working on it as well as participating in Nanowrimo and writing another book. My blog is doing okay, and I’ve been having a lot of fun doing it. It’s almost turned into it’s own separate thing where I get to talk about video games, and I think I’d continue to maintain it for what it is even after I get something published.

    I can understand how people have difficulty maintaining one though. It’s a lot of work. I’m keeping my updated on a regular basis three days a week, and doing additional little posts in between those days as I see fit. Coming up with original content three times a week is tough, but at the same time it’s teaching me discipline and keeping my writing skills sharp.

    Just because you’re not writing about writing or posting your work doesn’t mean you aren’t learning useful tools and skills that you’ll be able to one day apply to your actual work.

  10. #14 by Samuel Solomon on November 7, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    I will also add that blogs that inspire animated discussion are the blogs that gain (and retain) readership.

  11. #15 by lynnkelleyauthor on November 7, 2012 - 3:47 pm

    Right on, Kristen. You always put things in perspective. I love your blogging class. It rocks!

  12. #16 by Tamara LeBlanc on November 7, 2012 - 3:49 pm

    Eloquent spammers…he he he, classic!
    I try very hard not to only FOLLOW writers, TWEET to writers, or FACEBOOK about writing. I break my own rules periodically. It happens, of course, I’m a frickin writer, so, yep, it happens, but unlike the eloquent spammers out there who drown me with WRITING, I also Tweet and FB about a broad range of things. Music (I just Tweeted about @emilyhearn who has the most gorgeous singing voice) art, science, family, beauty…etc.
    And those are the Tweets and FB posts I like to read from others as well.
    Screw boring. Writing 24/7 is boring. Anything 24/7 is boring.
    So I get your post 100%!
    Thanks for your wisdom, Kristen :)
    Have a great evening,
    Tamara

  13. #17 by August McLaughlin on November 7, 2012 - 3:59 pm

    I adore your posts for many reasons, one being their usefulness in responding to those myths when spouted by others. (“You think so, huh? Read this!” *shares link*)

    I used to think that ONLY writers and bloggers read blogs, but have come to realize that while bloggers are most likely to comment, they make up the minority of overall readers (i.e., book buyers). Blogging has helped me connect with old friends and associates I wouldn’t otherwise be in touch with, who will probably be more inclined to buy my books, and introduced me to countless others.

    I think authors averse to social media want quantitive results, like a graph that shows how many sales derive from blog posts. That attitude defeats the purpose, IMO. Yes, we should have platform and sales building in mind, but if we simply work to share authentic content and connect with others, it’s fun, and the money follows. Am I right? Um…close? ;)

    Thanks for another fantabulous post.

  14. #18 by markneu on November 7, 2012 - 4:03 pm

    I never wanted to blog about my writing and thought I had nothing to blog about. Then I started blogging about some of the extra things from my research that never made it into my book. (A big thanks to Kristin’s book for helping me figure that was a good route to try.)
    I like it because I enjoy the subject (Norse mythology) anyway. Hopefully, people who come to the blog pick up on my enthusiasm, read the articles and get interested enough to check out my book. I have a “buy my book” button, but I don’t flog it otherwise.

  15. #19 by Lori Goldstein on November 7, 2012 - 4:13 pm

    This is one of the best posts about social media and writing I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks for your insights. Now I just have to figure out how to absorb them.

  16. #20 by char on November 7, 2012 - 4:27 pm

    Great ideas. They ring very true to me. And I just bought your Blogging book and hope to read it during Thanksgiving break.

  17. #21 by Chihuahua Zero (@chihuahuazero) on November 7, 2012 - 4:27 pm

    Yeah, I can say a lot on this post, but I’ll just pick one myth to focus on.

    The whole automation thing is an issue I’ve been thinking about lately. There has been at least two authors I’ve blocked on Twitter because of the sheer amount of times they self-promote. Really. I’m not sure how useful it is to link to your book/blog more than once per hour, but even if that person gains a new follower or gets a few clicks, it’s annoying. You can get on Twitter during the morning, and see the same message in the evening, and then on the same morning after that.

    I’ve been ignoring promotion on my Twitter, which I shouldn’t, but I’m keeping links to my own blog low. No more than three times a day, and some days not even that.

    Now, I totally disagree with the “anything that is posted on the Internet/social media automatically without a flesh and blood human being physically present is SPAM.” statement. If that’s true, then am I not allowed to schedule a blog post so I don’t have to log on and break my routine? Does Elizabeth Craig have to tweet articles all in one clump, clogging up Twitter streams instead of spreading them out throughout the day?

    • #22 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 7, 2012 - 5:30 pm

      Hey, it’s my opinion. I hate anything automatically generated namely because too many people abuse it. It’s sort of like buying a JUMBO box of your favorite cookies and then promising to only eat ONE. Most people will eventually devour the cookies. Same with auto-generated messages. They swear they are only going to use it a little, but then it soon becomes a substitute for being present…and then they have turned into a spam bot.

      I say that if a writer uses any automation, we should not be able to tell. If we can TELL you are using automation, then ur a spammer. Period. Again, this is my POV.

  18. #23 by Heather Wright on November 7, 2012 - 4:29 pm

    Thanks for a fresh slant on these social media assumptions, and for making me take another look at my blog.

    • #24 by Linda Adams on November 7, 2012 - 6:20 pm

      Unfortunately, this is very true. When Triberr came out, I thought it was a great way to read the groups blogs, and it felt good to see people sending out links to my blog. Then I found out that’s all they were doing — they weren’t interested in the blog or visiting it. They were just tweeting links to stay visible.

      • #25 by Heather Wright on November 8, 2012 - 10:42 am

        Exactly. I have a lot of housecleaning to do in my social media life, but I think it will be worth it. I want to be a participant in social media not a ‘user.’ Good luck with your blog and your writing.

  19. #26 by Jess Witkins on November 7, 2012 - 4:42 pm

    Cracking up at the “how to write a snappy query letter!”

    It makes so much sense, and yet I can see how so many of us just get sucked into that writerly vortex of what we think we’re supposed to do and who is actually reading our blogs or interested in what we have to say.

    I love your sense of humor! And I always appreciate the wake up calls you give us cause I know I need reminders!

  20. #27 by Heather Wright on November 7, 2012 - 4:43 pm

    Oh, and I just bought your blogging book, too. :)

  21. #28 by Claire 'Word by Word' on November 7, 2012 - 4:46 pm

    Great advice and always worth spending time absorbing your fresh but so wise perspective, always a gem in here for me.

  22. #29 by Reetta Raitanen on November 7, 2012 - 4:50 pm

    Excellent mythbusting, Kristen. I really needed these reminders. I’m guilty of using Twitter for pretty much only writerly talk when I use it at all.

    Right kind of blog posts can help you to sell books. I bought two books today after reading the stories behind the books at John Scalzi’s Big Idea blog. Favorable book reviews have made me click buy too. Most people don’t devour and shop for books like me but consistent and entertaining content creates the kind of loyalty that sells copies.

  23. #30 by Joanna Aislinn on November 7, 2012 - 5:02 pm

    Agreed, Kristen. I happen to plain-old enjoy connecting with folks via social media b/c I love connecting. (FB happens to be my favorite but Twitter definitely has its place. And I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned on different blogs on all kinds of topics.) I’ve gotten away from writer-blogging for a while now, preferring much better to voice my thoughts on various topics of interest to me–hopefully, to my readers too.

    As per automation, I’ve scheduled tweets on blog-release days but other than that, I just don’t pay those SPAMMY-tweets much mind as a whole. If it bugs me that much, I just un-follow.

    Think I’m done now. Thanks for always-digestible food for thought! Enjoy your day :)

  24. #31 by Pepper Phillips on November 7, 2012 - 5:09 pm

    My best visited blogs have been about an alligator and a Halloween Funeral! You give valid points, and while I do like to visit writer’s blogs, if they don’t get the point across quickly, I click out. I guess being my own irreverent self would be the best way to go.

  25. #32 by Laura Howard on November 7, 2012 - 5:15 pm

    I’ve been blogging about writing for about six months and really like it. I also schedule my tweets and haven’t had anyone complain to me about it. The reason I like my blog is because it’s filled with guest posts from authors I love, and I am learning so much from them. I can see some people don’t like the way I do things, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on my blog. I guess it’s different for everyone.

    • #33 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 7, 2012 - 5:24 pm

      They might not complain but they will unfollow. Most people are non confrontational, so assuming that no complaints = we dig getting automated messages is probably flawed. I refuse to RT any automation and if a writer does it too much I report them.

      And the problem with writing blogs is most writers who blog this way will eventually burn out and the following is inherently limited, which cripples the effectiveness of our blog for driving book sales. Topic choice can mean the difference between a couple thousand visits a month and a couple hundred thousand or even a couple MILLION. Most writing blogs never gain large followings and that is because there is 1) a glut of similar blogs 2) it is a niche topic full of writers who all have a book to sell.

      A writing blog that is nothing but authors and interviews is, frankly, of little to no interest to regular people who want to buy fiction. But, if you love it, I won’t stop you.

      • #34 by Laura Howard on November 7, 2012 - 5:36 pm

        I understand what you’re saying. I use Facebook as a place to engage with readers. The groups are priceless, in my opinion. As a book lover, it’s easy to be real, since I could talk about books all dang day! But, I’m looking to learn prior to self-publishing and twitter has been my best friend for that!

      • #35 by Linda Adams on November 8, 2012 - 1:31 pm

        When I blogged about writing entirely, I’d find about every or two, I’d run into the problem of suddenly realizing I’d said everything. What was I going to do — start repeating posts? And I actually already had, without realizing it. There’s only so many things you can say about writing fiction before you start repeating.

        But one of the most striking things was when I was hunting for a link on pantsing for a post I was doing for someone else. Just type in “Plotter vs. Pantser.” There are hundreds of blogs just called that. Many of them proceed to describe what a plotter is and what a pantser is and then the author declares they are a plotter. This alone says that writing topics are not that good because so many people are saying the same things — and no one is standing out. And what reader cares about whether a book was outlined or not?

  26. #36 by LadyGrave on November 7, 2012 - 5:21 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’m still at the point where most of my blog followers are writers, and I haven’t made the jump yet to connecting with potential fans who are not also writing a book. I hadn’t really considered that blogging about writing was actually hurting my blog, and after reading this I’m considering ways to shift my platform a little—maybe to topics that are related to my book (music, Irish mythology) and away from the process of actually writing my book.

  27. #37 by Sandra Wagner-Wright on November 7, 2012 - 5:24 pm

    Yes, I agree. Especially about the folks who only tweet about their book/s. One guy is really a pain that way (more than one) I will say, that “we are not alone” was a great help in getting me into social media. And I do blog once a week. Both are easy when I’m traveling; less so when I’m in my usual routine. I’m beginning to enjoy the process though, and hope I can attract more readers. We shall see. Glad you had a safe trip, Kristin

  28. #38 by Amanda on November 7, 2012 - 5:25 pm

    Great post!
    I have a question for you Ms. Jedi, ;-). What’s your take on the way Facebook has changed (I guess it’s their algorithm’s?) and those of us with a Facebook business page now don’t reach our full audience when we post status updates. For instance, my author page has 271 likes, but when I post updates, only a small percentage of my fans see my posts in their news feed. Do you have any tips on how to correct this?

    • #39 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 7, 2012 - 5:34 pm

      Yes, take Lisa hall-Wilson’s class over at WANA International, LOL. In the meantime, though. You have to lose the idea that people are going to only passively receive information. We WANT to be a part of stuff. We are the Reality TV Generation. Thus if we talk AT people, they are less prone to engage or share. Adjust your content so that people interact more and your posts will start showing up in their feed.

      • #40 by markneu on November 8, 2012 - 9:24 am

        Facebook changed it so that not everyone who likes you sees your posts. That way they can charge you to “promote” your post and show it to everybody. There have been quite a few articles on this lately. Yet another reason I don’t like them.

  29. #41 by Jamie Raintree on November 7, 2012 - 5:28 pm

    All hail Ms Lamb! Thank you, I’ve been dying to know this and now I am hard at work to fix it. Thank you!!!

  30. #42 by Joan Leacott on November 7, 2012 - 5:37 pm

    I heard your message some time ago and stopped blogging about writing. The posts are still there in their own category, but I’ve moved on to stuff that arises out my daily life that I think might be of interest to others. The amazing thing is, I’m more interested in my own blog. Plus I’m having a lot more fun and more varied readers. Thank you.

    • #43 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 7, 2012 - 5:49 pm

      AWESOME! If we are writers, then the WORLD is our muse. If it isn’t, it SHOULD be. Will keep you going strong and FRESH. I loved blogging about writing, but after four years I was just DONE. See, I did all the dumb stuff so y’all don’t have to :D. Thanks for sharing your story!

  31. #44 by Wendie Donabie on November 7, 2012 - 5:55 pm

    Hi Kristen
    Thanks for this great blog. I have written about my writing and painting practice and about how I get inspired on my blog but I also include anything in my life that I think might be of interest or benefit to someone else. I have never shared any of my ‘serious’, hopeful for publishing, writing. My blog is intended as a place for me to share and inspire..

  32. #45 by J. L. Mbewe on November 7, 2012 - 5:55 pm

    Almost a year ago, I had this brilliant idea of doing an online study group since I couldn’t make it to my own writer’s guild in person. Yo Ho A Writer’s Life For Me. Perhaps a Facebook group would have been a better outlet for it rather than a blog. Well, at least it got me started in a direction for my blog, which has expanded to include other topics. That said, I totally agree with you! Here’s hoping to take your class soon, or at least getting your books.

  33. #46 by Kristina on November 7, 2012 - 6:00 pm

    I loved reading this informative post, although I realized I have become a big offender of many of this things simply because I didn’t stop to think about what I was doing or how I wanted to do it.

    • #47 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 7, 2012 - 6:11 pm

      Kristina don’t feel badly. A lot of other “experts” are recommending this exact behavior, and they mean well, but I am a writer first, and I have tried a lot of this stuff and it is a time suck that will burn you out. I make the joke that I should have named my first book “I Made the Dumb Mistakes So You Don’t Have To.” There IS a learning curve and I am here to help shorten it.

  34. #48 by teresarobeson on November 7, 2012 - 6:08 pm

    Nope, haven’t fallen for these myths, but I have made conscious decisions not to follow somebody back (on Twitter) whose tweets are more than 60% “buy my book” tweets. It’s like having a blind date with someone who won’t stop talking about himself. :P

  35. #49 by Linda Adams on November 7, 2012 - 6:17 pm

    I think one of the reasons the first myth exists is that if you put “writer” of anything in your bio you get followed by other writers, who then start spamming. Every time I go into Twitter to see who has followed me, there are always writers. Always. Even when I unfollow the spammer writers (and they unfollow me for unfollowing them), they come around a few weeks or months later and follow me again. I know I have other followers, but when I look at my home feed, it’s mostly writers.

    On #3, oddly, I asked if anyone wanted to guest post for a theme of “Silver” for the holidays. I got some initial interest until I passed along one additional guideline: They could write about writing, such as opinions, but no how-tos. I was amazed at how fast the interest died.

    Linda Adams – Soldier, Storyteller

  36. #50 by magnoliasoul on November 7, 2012 - 6:25 pm

    Hi kristen,
    You make such a good point – and i’d never noticed before how many of the people I ‘follow’ are writerly types, and I follow them i suppose, as a source of comfort for when i’m struggling with the blank page or having character issues – but my feed has become so bogged down with ‘i’d love more likes on my Facebook page’ or ‘check out my free for one day on kindle’ blurb….and yet as I have occasionally tweeted with them in the past, I have to admit i am a wee bit worried about doing some major surgery on the who-I-follow list…..is toughen-up and unfollow the only option?
    thank you.

    • #51 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 7, 2012 - 6:51 pm

      No keep following them. We need writer friends, but we need to branch out. Give the family tree a few branches :D.

  37. #52 by Lynn Blackmar on November 7, 2012 - 7:19 pm

    This was a really great post, Kristen!

    I struggle with not wanting to do much social media at all. I just want to bury myself in my stories. I’ve been trying to add more to my blog lately in the form of short stories and random stuff about the things I write. I don’t have a lot of side research to share, so I’m still struggling to come up with posts that might be interesting to the everyday reader.

    • #53 by Linda Adams on November 7, 2012 - 8:05 pm

      It can take a while to figure out what to blog about, and a whole lot of experimentation. Think about what you’re going to have fun writing and what you’re passionate about.

  38. #54 by corajramos on November 7, 2012 - 10:14 pm

    Your blog instruction is always right on. Thanks once again. It makes so much sense.

  39. #55 by Laura Ritchie on November 7, 2012 - 10:22 pm

    I am finally starting to feel better about social media, starting to see where I need to go with it… even starting to enjoy myself at times. All I can say to that is, THANK YOU! :)

  40. #56 by Char on November 7, 2012 - 10:57 pm

    I have to admit I follow a LOT of writers’ blogs & have learned so much from them. We do need each other (thank you for WANA!) but I keep trying to remember that I need to interact with them to build those relationships. Twitter lists are useful to filter out most of the “buy-my-book” spammers. Saving favorite hashtags as streams (using Hootsuite) lets me find the good stuff. I do RT things I’ve enjoyed reading & highlight a few on my blog. Still searching for voice on my blog… blogging should be fun right?

  41. #57 by Sarah Brabazon on November 8, 2012 - 12:34 am

    Kristen,
    My first experience of narcissistic rambling ‘weblogs’ put me off for years. In real life our community teaches us, over years of growing up, how to be social. Online, we rely on you to keep us from acting the tool.
    Your blogging class is a powerhouse of inspiration, I’m so glad to be doing it.
    My current peeve is automated ‘thanks for following, and I’m sure you’ll like my Facebook page’ messages on twitter.

  42. #58 by Kozo on November 8, 2012 - 1:00 am

    This post convinced me that I need to take the Twitter class at WANA. I am clearing time for the December class. Thank you for the informative post, Kristen.

  43. #59 by susanmacnicol on November 8, 2012 - 3:25 am

    Kirsten, some wonderful points here and I will certainly be looking at what I do, to try and take more of them one. Thanks for the info!

  44. #60 by lauradennisca on November 8, 2012 - 6:30 am

    Okay, okay. I like. I get it. No scheduled tweets, no blogs about writing. I blog about my life as an anxious expat in Serbia, and about being adopted, two things I know a lot about–this will help me avoid burnout. Good.

    BUT, you mentioned something super interesting and important, and I need more info … Viral posts. Yes, I know, there’s no “top five tips” for creating a super popular post. No quick fixes. Got it. However, in your book, Are You There Blog?, you also mentioned the wonderful day you “made it big” by getting on Word Press Freshly Pressed. Of course, subsequent traffic didn’t match Day 1, but the uptick and readership increased, I’m sure.

    Is it possible for you to address going viral???

    Thanks!
    Laura

  45. #61 by Jamesccamp on November 8, 2012 - 7:10 am

    Bang on.

  46. #62 by Sam on November 8, 2012 - 7:35 am

    Great advice as usual! I think it’s important to blog with awareness and not just churn out the same old same old….

  47. #63 by marsharwest on November 8, 2012 - 11:02 am

    As always, you’ve given us another thought–provoking post. I don’t have a blog yet, only do FB and Twitter and occassionally check with WANA. (All of which really cuts into writing time.)
    I get not posting all the time about writing, though I agree with someone above I’ve learned a lot from various writing blogs.
    You’ve said don’t post about politics or religion. I followed your instructions during this past campaign, and on FB only sucumbed (sp?)to placing a couple of likes or a small comment in response to someone who supported ideas I believe in. No posts of my own. I refrained from unfriending a couple of family members who posted appalling things.
    Here’s the deal, as a former school board member, politics, particularly as it pertains to education is a passion and something I know a good deal about. I’d be hardpressed to describe myself and not have “educator” in the mix. When I have a blog going, can I, at least sometimes, post on that subject?

  48. #64 by jadwriter on November 8, 2012 - 11:15 am

    Thank you for this. I had been blogging all about writing, with a separate blog for my other passions in life, but then I read your blog ebook and changed my mind. Now I blog about writing, my passions in life and how I live my life all in one blog. So different things for different readers.

  49. #65 by Saturn Bull (@thesaturnbull) on November 8, 2012 - 11:40 am

    Good advice, and slightly different take. I’ll be mulling it over for a while :) Thanks so much for the article, and the giveaway. Writers do love giveaways :)

  50. #66 by journeyofjordannaeast on November 8, 2012 - 1:28 pm

    Always love your posts!

    In regards to the spam-schedulers: GRRR! When I first joined Twitter an author (whose book I have read) posted something like “Are you an outliner or a pantser?” Like an idiot, I replied. I was enamored by the idea of connecting with an author whose work I admired. What happened? He didn’t respond. I was bummed. Then I noticed that this particular tweet shows up about twice a day, every day. Scheduled. The tweet is a sham, meant to give the illusion of interaction. I’ve dubbed this activity sham-spam. Shameful, shameful sham-spam.

  51. #67 by Ryan Casey on November 8, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    Good post, Kristen. Certainly some interesting points raised here.

    Personally, I blog about writing, and I have something of a following from writers. You’re right though–branching out could be a good thing. It’s something I’ll certainly have to think about in the future, as I have a lot of passions that I enjoy talking about.

    Ryan

  52. #68 by Joe Owens on November 8, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    I have waited my whole life for my Jedi training. Thankfully i am fresh to the blogging universe and have not developed the bad habits you illustrate so well. I do not blog about writing, choosing instead to share things I have on my mind. I see the process as trying at this early stage to develop a following. There is an urge to write something viral, but that is not necessarily easy or a fulfilling pursuit. I expect tortoise strategy apples, such as getting solid followers that develop a relationship with me, huh?

    I would like to do all three things you mention to be added to your drawing, but I am a bit hazy on how I do the second. IF you would extend the kindness of explaining I would be happy to link back. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  53. #69 by nancyhartney on November 8, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    Slowly, slowly I have entered into the strange world of blogging, pinterest, website, and LinkedIn. No, not Facebook and not Twitter (yet). I am becoming a believer so Twitter or Google+ are in the future. My concern is the time it takes to write to these platforms. I find I am spending a great deal of time reading blogs and learning how to use the fore-mentioned programs which means I am not writing. . . Got ideas or suggestions for balance?

  54. #70 by Alison Stuart on November 8, 2012 - 5:31 pm

    Thank you for a thoughtful and insightful post. I came to the realisation that internet presence was about having the suite of Website/blog/Twitter and FB page but I have trouble with the time suck that Twitter is so,yes I am guilty of occasionally buffering posts to try and connect with people outside my own time zone. I am bored silly by writing blogs so I don’t tend to blog very much about writing but I’m still at a loss as to how to capture and retain an audience. Maybe I need to do your course :-) ?

  55. #71 by katewyland on November 8, 2012 - 6:17 pm

    I certainly agree on the constant twitter ads from writers. They’ve made me stop using twitter. I need to find other people to follow. And I have little interest in blogs about writing. But when I started mine, I felt obligated to connect it to writing in some way.

  56. #72 by Grass Oil by Molly Field on November 8, 2012 - 8:31 pm

    Kristen, you made me snort with the pixie werewolves writer interview madness. It’s this kind of fun, put-it-on-its-head and make-fun-of-ourselves way you share with us that makes me keep coming back. You’re great. Thank you. :)

  57. #73 by William Ockham on November 8, 2012 - 8:35 pm

    No, automated tweets are not spam. Ok, you hate it and I am fine with that. I generally don’t like it either. I hate a lot of things, but unless it is unsolicited it isn’t spam.

    You see, words have meaning. Spam means unsolicited bulk commercial messages. If you followed someone on Twitter, you solicited their tweets. So automated tweets are not spam. You are wrong. Rant all you want, but you will get a lot of pushback from people who actually use the internet because you are coming across as an uninformed luddite. There are many, many things on the internet that are scheduled automatically that aren’t spam. In fact, at one level, everything* on the internet is scheduled automatically because everything is delivered over TCP/IP, which takes everything that is sent over the internet, breaks it up into packets, and automatically schedules it for delivery. Seriously, that is how the internet works.

    If you don’t like people who schedule their tweets, just unfollow them. If you want to advise people to never send automated tweets, go for it. But don’t call it spam. It isn’t spam.

    • #74 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 9, 2012 - 4:59 pm

      The main problem, William, is that many people who automate use #s and they crap up the # with nonstop self-promotion. And, since they are not present, they fail to see that their tweets pile up and tick people off. Unfortunately, too many people abuse these tools and they poison thriving #s. When I follow a # I don’t want to be blitzed with ads. In this instance, I have NOT followed this person and there is no way to escape the barrage unless I avoid the #. The problem with this, though is that these individuals use the popular #s because they know people will be vested and present and then they spam…or “schedule.” If someone is “scheduling” tweets we should not be able to tell. If we can tell, it’s because they are setting off our spam alert.

  58. #75 by DeeAnna Galbraith on November 8, 2012 - 9:42 pm

    Kristen, I also own a car with a check engine light that comes on an off at will, so mostly I don’t sweat the small stuff. I am, however, prepared to take my responsibilities as a blogger and tweeter seriously. Ads = bads. What were they thinking?

  59. #76 by caseyvoight on November 8, 2012 - 10:01 pm

    I was wondering if blogging about more diverse things would help or just dilute my image, sort of like have four different logos. I tossed around keeping my subjects all related or very theme centered afraid of seeming too scattered. I think now that the diversity would really benefit if planned out well. Thanks for the eye-opener Kristen! Do you have any examples of other blogs that do the diverse blogging thing well?

  60. #77 by Nina Badzin on November 9, 2012 - 1:06 am

    Kristen, you have written TONS of great posts, but this might be #1. You so nailed the problem. Regular people don’t give a crap about query letters, etc. Frankly, once writers get the hang of what they’re doing (re: query letters, etc.) how many more posts will they read about them and similar topics.

    My blog is for sure not a “writing blog” though I still can’t seem to stop waffling between the same few topics: parenting, reading, friendship, and of course I love to discuss Twitter etiquette too (a subject that my real life friends skip every time.)

    I’m a bit lost on the direction I want to go with my blog–but I will FOR SURE not be transforming it into a writing blog!

  61. #78 by Nina Badzin on November 9, 2012 - 1:09 am

    Okay, just happened upon the comment you left Shari Lopatin. Maybe I am doing something right!!! I think I’m sort of doing what you advised for her.

  62. #79 by lazylauramaisey on November 9, 2012 - 6:32 am

    Great post! I’ve been wondering for ages about people who blog about writing. I felt like maybe I wasn’t a serious enough writer because I don’t blog about writing. I just go ahead and write. And I don’t read other blogs about writing anymore, due to the reason you mentioned, there’s really only so many times you can read about how to create character and structure before you get a bit bored. The blogs I read nowadays are well-written ones. About anything really. But with real content, not content about how to create content.

  63. #80 by incubuspublishing on November 9, 2012 - 11:47 am

    Reblogged this on Incubus Publishing and commented:
    A great article about writing and Social Media. Follow Kristen Lamb on Twitter as well!

  64. #81 by The Hook on November 9, 2012 - 3:46 pm

    Fantastic post! As usual, your comments are spot-on. Although, I’ve never written about the writing process, I’ve stuck to entertaining my audience, and yet, I’ve still failed miserably where book sales are concerned.
    At this point I’m simply going to stick to producing an entertaining product while searching for an agent that’s willing to take a chance on the world’s only bellman/blogger/starving author.

  65. #82 by jlspohr on November 9, 2012 - 3:56 pm

    Thanks so much for this great post and for WANA. I nearly cried just reading the intro thinking, “Thank God this woman is here to help my social media phobic self!” Just the fact you called it a giant cocktail party gives me a whole new perspective. Cocktail parties I can do. And oh yes, I posted about you on my blog too (www.jlspohr.com). Keep the wisdom coming Ms. Lamb!

  66. #83 by Judith Post on November 9, 2012 - 7:20 pm

    This blog really resonated. Thanks.

  67. #84 by Rachel Thompson on November 11, 2012 - 9:38 am

    I’m loth to blog. I have no interest in blogging about writing. The stuff I’m interested in and know a lot about is either too geeky (Anthropology, comparative religions, archeology) or too painful. (Geopolitics,human nature, economics) My observations and opinions on the state of the world and the human condition are not entertaining: People don’t like reality shoved in their faces. Normalcy bias is a bitch. My freelance journalism work is factual and my fiction is way out social satire sci-fi and thus, for some, entertaining.
    If I write what I know half the readers won’t get it, or care, while the other half will be horrified.
    What does a gal like me blog about?

  68. #85 by Yvette Carol on November 11, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    Being a writer these days is daunting!

  69. #86 by Missy Frye on November 13, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    I’ve been guilty of most of these faux pas. I’m not sure how to break out of my writing blog dilemma. I consider myself boring – that’s why I write. My imagination is much more entertaining. I could talk about gardening, movies, Doctor Who and other things that interest me, but how do I know others will follow my rambling train of thought.

    I completely understand your post and am disheartened at my efforts so far.

  70. #87 by Christine Hardy on November 13, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    I am at work skimming this realllly quickly. You have some great points. However, I feel I MUST put in my tiny two cents and say that I learned the writing craft from reading writing and agent blogs. I am a blog-taught author and now I have a writing blog myself.

    That won’t help me connect with readers when I’m finally published, I know, and I’ll have to change my goal and my content for it. However… the writer blogging community is the most supportive and informative one I know and for many years it was the only writing community I had. So I really appreciate those writing blogs.

    Thanks for a great article! I will link to it on my blog and tweet about it later.

  71. #88 by Sonia G Medeiros on November 13, 2012 - 8:13 pm

    Amen! I would also add that it’s okay to start slow, especially if you’re still working on your first book. The education and encouragement I’ve received through blogging and social media has made all the difference in my writing.

  72. #89 by macswriter on November 14, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    Thanks again Kristin. Insightful and persuasive as ever. While I never fell for the myths, I have definitely burned out on reading other writers’ writing blogs. But because of that, I can’t seem to get started on my own blog. Can’t really decide what to blog about. I really need to take your blogging course, as well as find time to read your We Are Not Alone Book staring at me on my desk. I laughed at the magnet over the haystack crack (above). Not sure I’m willing to go about it that experimentally. I’d much rather have a plan, even if it requires some modification over time.
    Also I think scheduling has it’s practical uses, but if your scheduled tweets or posts have an impersonal or random quality, it stinks and everyone can smell it. It comes across as stupid, BORING and irrelevant, as well as impersonal. Also, if you tweet so regularly that you couldn’t possibly have a life, or that IS your life, that’s pretty obvious, too.

  73. #90 by E.b. Black on November 14, 2012 - 5:07 pm

    I completely agree with this article. I’m glad actually that I ever listened to people who told me not to start a twitter or a blog because I’ll never reach any real people. And it’s not just writers who say this, it’s people who I talk to in my every day life! They tell me all my followers probably aren’t real people. LOL.

    Anyway, it’s not a horrible way to start if you just write about writing at first. That’s all I did for awhile, but for the past few months or so, I’ve been branching out and writing about new things. Sometimes I write about my dogs or weird things about me and what makes me unique as a person. I’ve written about my favorite scenes in books (I’m trying to attract readers and I figured that they like to discuss books) and I’ve also been writing about Greek mythology to attract people who love Greek mythology, which is what my books are about.

    I also try to respond every day to people talking about their daily lives on twitter. And sometimes talk about my thoughts during the day o there.

    I kind of balance the two. I talk about writing and normal stuff both at the same time, so I can keep that valuable interaction with other writers, but not alienate potential readers.

    Eventually I will be starting a blog that has nothing to do with writing at all. Yep, trying to balance two blogs is a lot, but I think it’s a good idea. =)

  74. #91 by Jennifer on November 15, 2012 - 11:34 am

    Thank you so much for this! I am a blogger who follows a lot of writer owned blogs and I sometimes wish they would write about something other than their book or their writing. It is very interesting to read about the process and very exciting when someone you follow gets published but sometimes it is just like….yawn. I would be more inclined to return to their site if it had some variety. Great advice.

  75. #92 by kddidit on November 18, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    THANK YOU! I recently signed up on a book blogging site as I had read a few posts a friend sent me…hey, they were interesting. I signed up for their Network Your Blog group and, oh, mama, I’m about to the point where I automatically delete those messages. No, I don’t want to swap subscriptions to everybody’s blog just to pump my numbers up. I will subscribe to blogs that provide interesting material that I want to read about which is a mix of book reviews as well as “how to write” tips. As for my blog, I want subscribers who genuinely want to read what I have to say. And, yeah, I’m one of those who does write “writing” posts…mostly about the Word Confusions I discover as I read and review other peoples’ books. Mostly I simply post reviews about books I’ve read. Along with information I want to know about a book such as where it falls “chronologically” within a series and a summary of some of the characters.

  76. #93 by meagan mac on November 27, 2012 - 12:12 pm

    Thanks for all the practical tips, Kristen. Makes me feel better about blogging on haircuts, traveling, and bad days. I do still blog about my writing life, but I try to emphasize the LIFE part. I should probably read your books…

    I liked the comment one of your readers posted about starting slow. I’ve read articles about how you need to post every day. That will never happen for me. I hope that doesn’t doom my blog.

  77. #94 by Marilyn Hudson Tucker on November 28, 2012 - 8:13 pm

    I write a funny story once a month on my blog. I’m hoping that when I get my funny female private investigator novel published I will already have a following.

  78. #95 by Valerie Priebe on December 1, 2012 - 8:40 am

    Reblogged this on Living in Truth and commented:
    I’m here, I’m learning, listening, reading, writing…thanks.

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