Archive for category Blogging

How to Write a Great Author Blog AND Avoid Huge Ships

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

Blogging is THE most resilient form of social media and one of the best tools to build an author platform. Why? Readers read blogs. Perfect snare for readers. We also own our blogs, whereas content posted on Facebook and Twitter (and other social sites) is no longer exclusively ours, meaning these sites could rearrange the digital furniture and take our posts/archives with them.

If Twitter flitters and FB implodes, blogs will remain. Blogs will continue to grow over time, and search engines LOVE them. Blogs have been going strong since the 90s. Blogging also makes us better, faster, cleaner writers and they can be harvested later for books (I.e. to use as promotion).

Whenever I teach writers about blogging, my first challenge is to talk them off the ledge from panic. What do I TALK about? I have no IDEAAAAASSSS!

*breathes into paper bag*

And I truly understand this panic, because a lot of social media experts advise writers to blog in a way that is very left-brain.

Write about writing.

Write about the industry.

Write about your process.

Write about your research.

Write about your books.

Write essays.

Write about getting an agent.

Conduct interviews.

Do book reviews.

Talk to your characters. NOOOOOO! (*hint* Anyone who knows the characters already bought the book. To anyone else? Seriously creepy.)

Yet, here’s the thing, writers (especially fiction writers) are CREATIVE people. We are storytellers. When we blog merely on information, we engage the left side of the brain (analytical), but our fiction engages the RIGHT side of the brain (emotional). Blogs need to do this, too.

Why are we trying to build a following/fan base for a right-brain product with a left-brain TOOL?

Craft, the industry, our process, our research are our tools for our art, but they ARE NOT our art. Readers, or potential readers ARE NOT interested in the tools of our trade, rather they want to see how we USE those tools. Regular people (readers) are interested in the art, which is merely the unique “set of eyes” that permits writers to see what others can’t (but secretly wish they could).

EVERY product marketed uses the right side of the brain, from razor blades to duct tape. Madison Avenue wants us to see Michelin tires and think safety. They want cheap body wash to give us an “organic experience”, or why else pay an attractive actress to go all When Harry Met Sally with soap and a loofah on prime-time TV?

If virtually EVERY product sold uses emotion, then why do we think we are going to get traction pumping out a constant stream of information?

Writers are not, per se, experts at teaching craft or discussing changes in the industry (and regular people could care less about Random-Penguin). We are artists. A writer’s expertise is looking at the world in a unique way mere mortals can’t. THAT is what readers (fans) gravitate to. They rely on us to focus in on something they would have walked right past and make that unexceptional object or event magical.

Writers look at ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Want to be a great writer? Pay attention, REAL attention to the world around you and get good at seeing/and selling with artist eyes. Great blogging uses the world as your muse…just like your fiction ;).

Even the genius marketers KNOW we are ignoring ads more than ever. We scream past commercials or wait to watch our favorite shows when we can get them on Netflix. To combat this, they know they no longer can just offer lots of stuff CHEAP; they have to entertain. Make us WANT to watch and even share by using?

STORY.

I’ll illustrate with this super-fun commercial from Samsung.

The best written examples of this technique (that I’ve witnessed) are some of the people who leave reviews on Amazon. There are reviews that go viral simply because a reviewer had some fun. They took the time to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary…and people LOVE reading what they have to say because they are FABULOUS storytellers.

We don’t all need to be comedians to write great blogs, but maybe these can give you a good laugh and perhaps open your minds to what a blog of The Digital Age really is.

I selected entries from the banana-slicer review at Amazon, the Big Pen For Her reviews, and the Amazon reviews of Captain Trimmer’s  book “How to Avoid Huge Ships.” All of these are just page after page of gasping-for-air-clutching-one’s-sides-delight. I think I may have found my kindred spirits here.

But watch how they take items so vanilla and unmemorable and turn it into something you can’t wait to share…by using the power of story.

TheMightyBahamutSee all my reviews

This review is from: Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer (Kitchen)

All my life I have been wondering how to make a banana into small bite sized pieces.I spent my childhood in a basement practicing on smaller fruits like grapes before graduating to plums and even small peaches.

My parents became concerned when household fruits would turn up missing, and the day they found me hiding in the bushes enthralled with my dissection of a large apple, they decided I had a problem.

As I reached adulthood my need to slice open fruits was becoming unbearable. I would gaze longingly at bananas in the store, wondering how best to slice open their delicate flesh so I may feel their moist sticky insides. I made my first clumsy attempt around age 25.

When no one was looking I snatched a small banana from its companions, and brought it to my basement. It was a disaster, my knife-work just left a smashed and uneven mess, so I buried it in the woods lest anyone stumble upon my grizzly handiwork.

Finally I found the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. I used it on the next unattended banana I saw, and discovered I could now cut up and dispose of an entire banana in one swift movement! I can do it in mere seconds, or slowly lower the slicer, prolonging the ecstasy I feel seeing the bananas flesh torn open.

Thank you Hutzler 751, because of you my basement walls are lined with the peels of hundreds of bananas, and I am currently working on a mask made from the peels of all my victims sewn together.

1,445 of 1,556 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! You’re tellin’ me…., September 8, 2012

By DMS – See all my reviews

This review is from: BIC Cristal For Her Ball Pen, 1.0mm, Black, 16ct (MSLP16-Blk) (Office Product)

This here is a wonderful invention. Now my wife can stop stealin’ all my man pens that I leave all over the house. I sure don’t understand it bein’ a man and all, but shoo-ooot, it sure is nice that she finally found herself a pen that’s all her own.

Now don’t get me wrong fellas. If you are really in a pinch, y’all can use one o’ these bad boys to write somethin’ down. Just don’t be surprised if your paper smells a little purtier and feels a little softer than you’re used to. That part ain’t all that bad really…

UPDATE:

I’ve actually found that I really enjoy writing letters with these pens while I’m sitting at my weather beaten desk donning my Three Wolf Moon t-shirt and a pair of zebra print Zubaz pants, and sipping a nice cup of chamomile and honey. Not sure what that means…

Should I be concerned?

UPDATE:

I’ve started digging into the wife’s Bronte sisters collection. Taking notes with these pens on what I’m reading just feels, I dunno…right. I gotta say, I’m finally starting to understand why the wife likes reading these things so much.

UPDATE:

You know, it just ain’t right how women have been treated throughout history. I mean, I’m starting to realize that we men just don’t really understand a lot of what a woman goes through on this earth and how she struggles to love and care and give and give and give until she can’t give no more. But I feel like I’m starting to get it, you know?

UPDATE:

I’ve gotta be kinder to the wife. You know, listen to her. Just listen. Instead of tryin’ to fix everything and give her answers to her problems while she’s talkin’. That’s not what she needs. She needs a man to listen. She’s not looking for answers, just somebody to empathize with her and tell her she’s alright.

UPDATE:

Got into work today and all I had was a sharpie. I feel so lost…
Kinda like… Like I was missing a part of myself you know?

UPDATE:

Got home tonight and washed and folded all the laundry just ’cause. You know, this HGTV thing ain’t half bad. I could watch this stuff all night. Why in the world am I payin’ for the premium sports package…

UPDATE:

Decided to take the day off this morning and just get the kids up and breakfasted and out the door. Let her sleep, she never gets to do that…

UPDATE:

Some of the fellas from work came over today, just to see how I was doin’. They tried like gangbusters to get me to watch The Expendables with them. I eventually asked them to leave. Which they did. I gave them each a pen on the way out and thanked them sincerely for their concern.

UPDATE:

Me and the fellas who came over yesterday have decided to have a massive sell off of all our action movies and pool our money and resources to remodel one another’s kitchens. All except Drew. Which is funny because he was the only one who refused to take a pen from me. We’re going to go over to his house later as a group and see if we can persuade him to take the pen. I just know if he writes something down with it he’ll begin to see why this matters so much to us. I don’t really know what’s come over me, but I feel wonderful. We all do. And I’m sure Drew will feel wonderful too once he is assimilated.

UPDATE: PLEASE READ:

I had a moment of clarity today. It’s a TRAP! Forget everything I’ve said – Well except for that part about bein’ a better listener and bein’ nicer to the wife and all that. That’s still true. But there’s somethin’ else goin’ on here… Somethin’ deeper. Like my mind is bein’ taken over er somethin’. I happened upon an old episode of Buck Rogers on the internet today, that’s what broke me out of this…this trance or whatever you want to call it. I have no idea how long it will be before I fall back into it. They know that I know now… They’re coming for me… There’s something in the plastic. Some kind of serum that… Someone’s at the door – Get those pens out of your house before it’s too bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

UPDATE:NEVERMINDS, I AM FINE THANK YOU:

Please excuse last post. I had bout with the deliriousness. Continue to use pen. Perfectly safe. Continue to share with all friends of the male type. Go sports team!

How to Avoid Huge Ships Book Review

508 of 537 people found the following review helpful
This book is invaluable!

By Roger on August 21, 2013

Format: Paperback

When on my jet ski in the Chesapeake bay this summer I was confronted by a huge ship moving up the channel. You can imagine my horror when I realized I had only 1 hour and 45 minutes or so before the lumbering behemoth was sure to pass through my area. With no place to hide and only a water jet propelled small craft beneath me for transport, I quickly withdrew my Kindle Fire from the storage compartment beneath my seat and preceded to read the book How To Avoid Huge Ships. One hour later and with only 45 minutes to spare, I implemented the expert advice provided by the author and turned my jet ski in the opposite direction of the huge ship to avoid certain disaster.

And frankly, these reviews make me want to buy stuff. I actually just BOUGHT the Hutzler banana slicer even though I am allergic to bananas. Why? Because, I know when I’m having a bad day, I will be able to retrieve my slicer from my kitchen drawer and get a really good laugh. I am so grateful for these armchair artists, and honored to share their writing here. I hope you will go give them the 5 star reviews they deserve…and maybe buy some Bic Pens for Her to spice up your marriage, too!

***NOTE: I give a detailed blueprint how to create an author blog in Rise of the Machines–Human Writers in a Digital World.  Create a blog you enjoy and that reflects your unique style and voice. I will also be teaching blogging classes at WANACon, the virtual conference you can enjoy from HOME and all recordings are included with admission (sign up HERE).***

What are your thoughts? Opinions? What is the best item you’ve ever seen reviewed? Do you think this might be a good way to practice those blogging muscles? Go write these kinds of reviews. Hey, it helps the product AND gives us practice. Something to noodle over at least :D.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, 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. 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)

January’s WINNER is Elizabeth Kaiser. Thanks for your comments, support and re-blogs. Please send a 5000 word WORD document, a 250 word WORD synopsis or query letter (your choice which of the three) to kristen at wana intl dot com. Congratulations!

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87 Comments

The Rise of Individuality—What This Means for Publishing & Authors

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Larry Lamsa

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Larry Lamsa

We’re now into the Digital Age, and the ramifications of a connected world are still being revealed daily. But, there’s one trend I’d be hard-pressed to argue with. The 20th Century was all about homogeneity. Madison Avenue flourished by telling us which clothing brands made us cool, which car made us special, what foods were “healthy.”

Information was controlled by gatekeepers and commodities restricted by retailers, thus homogeneity was the goal. Homogeneity was simpler and required less paperwork and thinking.

Generations bought Wonderbread because it was “fortified with vitamins” and “good for your kids.” In 1986? Hope you liked stirrup pants. There was a cultural need to “fit in” and be like everyone else, especially those who were the “cool kids.”

“Pillars of Same” Go Crashing Down

With the advent of the Internet and widespread use of social media, homogeneity is crumbling. Individualism is now revered more than ever in human history. And, no matter how weird, off-beat, or All-American we want to be? There is a subculture to embrace our style. Mega-trends have lost their power.

Today, changing lifestyles, the Internet, the balkanization of communication, and the global economy are coming together to create a new sense of individualism that is powerfully transforming our society. ~Microtrends, Penn/Zalesne

What this means is that, as consumers are faced with more and more choices, they’re segregating themselves into smaller and smaller subgroups. Love tattoos? Duck Dynasty? Duck Dynasty tattoos?

Can’t get enough of Jackson Galaxy and cat whispering? Are you Stay-at-Home-Mom who kicks butt on a Roller Derby Team each Saturday? It’s all out there, and most of us are a unique mixture that can’t easily be categorized.

For instance, yesterday I began my day with green juice and 50 minutes of yoga. I ended the day watching my husband reload ammunition while we watched Duck Dynasty and I prepped the grill. We also debated briefly over which superhero we were.

Actual Conversation in Our House:

Me: I’m so happy I had a boy.
Hubby: Why?
Me: Because the world needs more good guys. In fact, you’d be a really dull superhero. You’re Superman. All paladin. No baggage.
Hubby: I am SO not Superman. I call Green Lantern.
Me: Green Lantern didn’t have baggage either. Not like Batman. You don’t have enough drama to be Batman.
Hubby: As long as I’m not Aquaman.
Me: I’m Poison Ivy. Or Harley. You good guys are suckers for chicks with drama.

And what all of this means is that 20 years ago, we knew which table to sit at–Jocks, Preps, Nerds, Geeks, Good Kids, Band Kids, Kid Who Smells Like Old Carpet. The lines were clearer, namely because we had only a handful of networks and limited retail outlets to define our identity.

Now? We have the reins of individual freedom and we like it.

What Does This Mean for Publishing?

Big publishing has a number of limitations. First, their size. Second, massive overhead. Third? 20th Century thinking. They have to find the mega-trend to stay in business, but what does this mean in a marketplace that is rapidly shifting to micro-trends?

NY is less able to spot the micro-trends, because in a world of algorithms, numbers and spreadsheets, one relies on the past to predict the future. Business is always looking backward in order to move forward. It’s like trying to drive our car using the rearview mirror as the main guide. Says a lot about where we’ve been, but gives limited information as to what’s ahead.

Indies Have Revealed the Micro-Trend

We’ve talked about the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, yet I will point out that I’ve met agents who turned down the manuscript. It was through E.L. James’ massive volume of independent sales that the micro-trend surfaced and then NY could turn this success into a mega-trend. A genre which received little to no attention has grown exponentially.

This was one of the reasons I recommended NY create e-book divisions as early as 2009 (REAL e-book divisions, not vanity-press retreads). Find a good book, give it a chance and see if the trend emerged. If not? The product cost less to produce and the writer could earn a higher royalty.

Even if the book didn’t sell bazillions of copies, writers didn’t have to sell that many books to make a healthy living and be freed up to write more books. Now instead of NY banking the farm on finding the ONE mega-trend, they could reap the rewards of countless micro-trends.

Which is exactly what Amazon has been doing.

Amazon doesn’t need one author to sell two million copies (not that they are opposed to it), but they can easily have 20 or even a 100 authors sell two million copies. The money spends the same.

This is Why Social Media is Vital for Authors

Social media is vital for keeping our fingers on the pulse of the public (code for “readers”). We can use blogging to define our brand then use content to attract those who share our “subculture” tastes (which I teach how to do in my new book).

It’s the main reason it’s death to be the All-Writing-All-The-Time-Channel. That’s a one-dimensional subculture that is overfished and quickly grows stagnant.

Also, any writer worth his/her salt is interested in a lot of things. The more we feed our subculture, the healthier it becomes, and the more loyal. We are all seeking our peeps, our tribe, our “friends” in a world that has become explosively larger.

Small is the New Big (Thank, you, Seth Godin)

Modern humans are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of choices, and, as a response, we stick to what we know. Sure, in 1999 we LOVED the megastore because it was new and shiny. Almost fifteen years later? We’re tired of needing to hail a taxi at the Mega Wal-Mart because we forgot the ketchup on aisle 3 and are now in the school supplies on aisle 93.

We’ll pay a bit more to shop at the corner market who appreciates our love for Organic Raw Kombucha, GF hot dog buns, and foie gras. We can buy Wonderbread at a supermarket or go to the small boutique grocer that sells sprouted grains for those of us in the crowd of Wonder-Why-We-EVER-Ate-Wonderbread.

Everyone wins.

But to spot and nourish the micro-trend, we must be present. Micro-trends can earn us a healthy living. A single writer doesn’t need to sell as many books to keep the lights on as NYC does. Also micro-trends have the potential to grow up to be mega-trends. Spreadsheets can’t tell us as much as people can. And, trust me, people have a lot to say. Numbers can’t tell us as much about the future as relationships can.

What are your thoughts? Do you love a world where you can define your own style? Create your own genres? Mix in your varied interests? Have you met people on social media with similar hobbies that you’d never have met in person?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, 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. 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).

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Since it was such a HUGE success and attendees loved it, I am rerunning the Your First Five Pages class SATURDAY EDITION. Use the WANA15 code for 15% off. Yes, editors REALLY can tell everything they need to know about your book in five pages or less. Here’s a peek into what we see and how to fix it. Not only will this information repair your first pages, it can help you understand deeper flaws in the rest of your manuscript.

My new social media book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. Only $6.99.

WANACon, the writing conference of the future is COMING! We start with PajamaCon the evening of October 3rd and then October 4th and 5th we have some of the biggest names in publishing coming RIGHT TO YOU. If you REGISTER NOW, you get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE (and all recordings) for $119 (regularly $149). Sign up today, because this special won’t last and seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.

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The Most Powerful Social Media Tool for Building an Author Platform-Part 3

"Time's Touch" Image courtesy of  Cellar Door Films. WANA Commons

“Time’s Touch” Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films. WANA Commons

Taking time to connect with people. Connecting to them with words. Making others feel. In the end, that’s all social media and blogging are about. Part One and Part Two of this post began the discussion about why blogs are probably THE BEST use of an author’s time when it comes to building an author platform using social media. My final reason why all writers should seriously consider blogging is:

Good Blogs Connect to Readers the Same Way as Our Novels

Tweets are terrific and Facebook is fantastic, but blogs have a unique power to connect to our readers the same way as our novels. Blogs give people a chance to meet and fall in love with our writing voice. Voice is what makes each writer distinctive. No reader would mistake Hemingway for Faulkner or Tess Gerritson for Sandra Brown.

Voice is like an emotional fingerprint that is unique to each writer, and voice cannot help but influence our writing, all of our writing. Novels and blogs are our progeny, and they share elements of our creative essence. The key is to learn how to blog in ways which maximize our writing voice (which I happen to teach in my blogging class ;)).

Like writing great novels, writing great blogs is also about technique and skill. But, once a writer understands how to harness the power of the blog, there is no limit to what she can accomplish.

Blogs are long lasting and afford us an opportunity to cultivate our future fans before the book is even finished. Blogs help shape us into fitter, leaner professionals with the power to work exponentially instead of linearly. When Twitter tweets its last tweet and Facebook implodes into a black hole, your blog, your platform and your fans will remain.

Also, and this is a big point, blogs can be harvested for content and made into e-books either for sale or for promotion. Don’t give away your fiction for .99. Give away your blog-to-book for .99 with purchase of your novel. If people love your blog, then having favorite posts in one e-book is valuable. No need to hand away your art. Let your blog help you promote. Your blog is an investment that will just keep giving returns, and in my mind, it’s the best use of our time and our skills.

Last time I will mention this (until the next time, ha ha ha ha ha)…

If you want to learn how to create a good author blog that appeals to readers not just other writers, please sign up for my next class. Registration is now open and there are all types of packages for every price range. The class can be done at your own pace and in your own time and you will have a team of support.

What are your thoughts? Who are some of your favorite bloggers? What do you think makes a blog bad, boring, unappealing? Some of the WANAs out there, share your success stories. Brag! You worked for it!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, 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.

At the end of January 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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Want to Be a Successful Author? Burn Your Ships

Kristen Lamb, WANA, Author Kristen Lamb

Original image via Karen Lynn Klink WANA Commons

Want to be a professional author? A successful professional author? To become more than what others are, we must be willing to do what others won’t. We must go where they fear to tread.

We must burn our ships.

When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia, his forces were hopelessly outnumbered, and yet he gave the shocking order to burn all the boats. Legend tells us that he turned to his men and declared, “We go home in Persian ships or we die.”

Your day job is a means, not an end. It is no longer a safe retreat in the event of failure. Cast off your fear. Let go of the voices in your head, the siren’s song to play it “safe.”

Safe=DEATH

Lash yourself to your desire to be a novelist. You are not an “aspiring author.” You are a pre-published author and the rest is just details. Having too many “escape routes” and “backup plans” diffuses energy and focus. It affords too many opportunities to make excuses.

Years ago, when I decided to become an author, I burned the ship of “working in sales.” Sales paid well. Really well. It also came with a company car, an expense account and the admiration of others because I had a “great job.” When I vowed to be come a professional author, I burned that ship.

Sure, it meant living with my mother, shopping for my clothes at Goodwill, and losing most of my “friends.” It also meant avoiding most of my family because they 1) thought I’d lost my mind and 2) they kept finding me “real jobs.”

To gain everything we must lose everything. We can try and keep a foot in both worlds, but it has a price.

Many of you have families depending on you, so I’m not suggesting you go pull a Kevin Spacey on your boss. What I am suggesting is total focused commitment. Make writing your priority.

I burned the “sales ship” but I allowed myself to take the “writing ship” even when that meant hopping on the “dinghy of writing instructions for software” (which kinda just made me want to put my head in a wood-chipper). But, at least I was writing. Eventually, I had to burn the tech writing ship. It paid too well and kept me from my dream of being an author.

Expect to burn numerous ships along the way, but do it. Commit.

Burning our ships isn’t easy. My recommendation? Blogging is a great intermediary ship. It accomplishes a lot at one time:

1) Blogging is writing.

2) Blogging develops discipline & trains us to keep a professional pace and meet self-imposed deadlines.

3) Blogging builds a permanent platform far more resistant than any other form of social media.

4) Blogs can eventually be harvested for content and made into books.

5) Blogging (the WANA way) cultivates your 1000 true fans.

My methods harness the same imagination you use in your fiction, and teaches you how to blog in ways that connect to readers, not just other writers.

We don’t need more writers writing about writing, and we certainly don’t need another writing blog. Readers don’t read them.

The WANA approach is efficient and an ideal choice for those who still have to “clock in” for the meantime and registration is now open for my Blogging for Author Brand class. A WANA class is more than lessons. You will be surrounded by fellow soldiers writers, a permanent team to help you keep charging when you desperately want to go back. Why?

Because we burned our ships, too.

You must trust  in others or success is impossible.

~The Clone Wars

We are not alone.

What are your thoughts? What do you fear? What is keeping you from “burning your ships”? Have you burned your ships successfully? What advice would you offer? Tell us how you did it. For the WANAs out there, maybe share your story. Did being a WANA make burning your ships easier?

I love hearing from you!

How to Quit a Job with Kevin Spacey (caution: adult language and content)

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, 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).

NOTE: December’s winner is Steph Scottil. Please send your 5000 word Word document or your synopsis (no more than 1000 words and in a WORD doc) OR your query letter to my assistant Chad at c carver at wana intl dot com.

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.

At the end of January 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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99 Comments

Blogging for Authors, and How a Banana Slicer Saved My Marriage

Image via Myndi Shafer WANA Commons

Image via Myndi Shafer WANA Commons

Whenever I teach writers about blogging, my first challenge is to talk them off the ledge from panic. What do I TALK about? I have no IDEAAAAASSSS!

*breathes into paper bag*

And I truly understand this panic, because a lot of social media experts advise writers to blog in a way that is very left-brain.

Write about writing.

Write about the industry.

Write about your process.

Write about your research.

Write about your books.

Write essays.

Write about getting an agent.

Conduct interviews.

Do book reviews.

Yet, here’s the thing, writers (especially fiction writers) are CREATIVE people. We are storytellers. When we blog merely on information, we engage the left-side of the brain, but our fiction engages the RIGHT side of the brain.

Why are we trying to build a following/fan base for a right-brain product with a left-brain TOOL?

Craft, the industry, our process, our research are our tools for our art, but they ARE NOT our art. Readers, or potential readers ARE NOT interested in the tools of our trade, rather they want to see how we USE those tools. Regular people (readers) are interested in the art, which is merely the unique “set of eyes” that permits writers to see what others can’t (but secretly wish they could).

EVERY product marketed uses the right side of the brain, from razor blades to duct tape. Madison Avenue wants us to see Michelin tires and think safety. They want cheap body wash to give us an “organic experience”, or why else pay an attractive actress to go all When Harry Met Sally with soap and a loofah on prime-time TV?

If virtually EVERY product sold uses emotion, then why do we think we are going to get traction pumping out a constant stream of information?

Writers are not, per se, experts at teaching craft or discussing changes in the industry. We are artists. A writer’s expertise is looking at the world in a unique way mere mortals can’t. THAT is what readers (fans) gravitate to. They rely on us to focus in on something they would have walked right past and make that unexceptional object or event magical.

Writers look at ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Want to be a great writer? Pay attention, REAL attention to the world around you and get good at seeing/and selling with artist eyes. Great blogging uses the world as your muse…JUST LIKE YOUR FICTION.

The best examples of this technique (that I’ve witnessed) are some of the people who leave reviews on Amazon. There are reviews that go viral simply because a reviewer had some fun (maybe a writer by trade or a regular person moonlighting as a writer for a brief moment). They took the time to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary…and people LOVE reading what they have to say because they are FABULOUS storytellers.

I selected these entries from this banana-slicer review at Amazon, which is just page after page of gasping-for-air-clutching-one’s-sides-delight. I think I may have found my kindred spirits here. But watch how they take something so vanilla and unmemorable and turn it into something you can’t wait to share…by using the power of story.

And frankly, these reviews make me want to buy stuff. I actually just BOUGHT the Hutzler banana slicer even though I am allergic to bananas. Why? Because, I know when I’m having a bad day, I will be able to retrieve my slicer from my kitchen drawer and get a really good laugh. I am so grateful for these armchair artists, and honored to share their writing here. I hope you will go give them the 5 star reviews they deserve…and maybe buy a banana slicer to save your marriage, too.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20,689 of 20,850 people found the following review helpful.

5.0 out of 5 stars No more winning for you, Mr. Banana! March 3, 2011

By SW3K

For decades I have been trying to come up with an ideal way to slice a banana. “Use a knife!” they say. Well…my parole officer won’t allow me to be around knives. “Shoot it with a gun!” Background check…HELLO! I had to resort to carefully attempt to slice those bananas with my bare hands.

99.9% of the time, I would get so frustrated that I just ended up squishing the fruit in my hands and throwing it against the wall in anger. Then, after a fit of banana-induced rage, my parole officer introduced me to this kitchen marvel and my life was changed.

No longer consumed by seething anger and animosity towards thick-skinned yellow fruit, I was able to concentrate on my love of theatre and am writing a musical play about two lovers from rival gangs that just try to make it in the world. I think I’ll call it South Side Story. Banana slicer…thanks to you, I see greatness on the horizon.

10,707 of 10,801 people found the following review helpful.

5.0 out of 5 stars Saved my marriage July 30, 2012

By Mrs Toledo

What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn’t already been said about the wheel, penicillin, or the iPhone…. this is one of the greatest inventions of all time. My husband and I would argue constantly over who had to cut the day’s banana slices. It’s one of those chores NO ONE wants to do! You know, the old “I spent the entire day rearing OUR children, maybe YOU can pitch in a little and cut these bananas?” and of course, “You think I have the energy to slave over your damn bananas? I worked a 12 hour shift just to come home to THIS?!”

These are the things that can destroy an entire relationship. It got to the point where our children could sense the tension. The minute I heard our 6-year-old girl in her bedroom, re-enacting our daily banana fight with her Barbie dolls, I knew we had to make a change. That’s when I found the 571B Banana Slicer. Our marriage has never been healthier, AND we’ve even incorporated it into our lovemaking.

THANKS 571B BANANA SLICER!

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars my life is changed forever, January 9, 2013

By

TheMightyBahamutSee all my reviews

This review is from: Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer (Kitchen)

All my life I have been wondering how to make a banana into small bite sized pieces.I spent my childhood in a basement practicing on smaller fruits like grapes before graduating to plums and even small peaches.

My parents became concerned when household fruits would turn up missing, and the day they found me hiding in the bushes enthralled with my dissection of a large apple, they decided I had a problem.

As I reached adulthood my need to slice open fruits was becoming unbearable. I would gaze longingly at bananas in the store, wondering how best to slice open their delicate flesh so I may feel their moist sticky insides. I made my first clumsy attempt around age 25.

When no one was looking I snatched a small banana from its companions, and brought it to my basement. It was a disaster, my knife-work just left a smashed and uneven mess, so I buried it in the woods lest anyone stumble upon my grizzly handiwork.

Finally I found the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. I used it on the next unattended banana I saw, and discovered I could now cut up and dispose of an entire banana in one swift movement! I can do it in mere seconds, or slowly lower the slicer, prolonging the ecstasy I feel seeing the bananas flesh torn open.

Thank you Hutzler 751, because of you my basement walls are lined with the peels of hundreds of bananas, and I am currently working on a mask made from the peels of all my victims sewn together.

What are your thoughts? Opinions? What is the best item you’ve ever seen reviewed? Do you think this might be a good way to practice those blogging muscles? Go write these kinds of reviews. Hey, it helps the product AND gives us practice. Something to noodle over at least :D.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, 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).

NOTE: December’s winner will be announced Monday.

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.

At the end of January 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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69 Comments

How to Win Some Blogger Love–Scoring the Book Review, Guest Post or Interview

Image via J. Kaczorowski WANA Commons

The world is changing faster than any of us can keep up, and publishing is certainly not immune. Yet, one constant remains. There are only two ways to sell lots of books—good book and word of mouth. Period. Book trailer, bookmarks, giveaways, and flare are fun, but are certainly not major drivers of book sales. If you want to know why, take a few minutes to check out one of my earlier posts that explains why books are not tubes of toothpaste and writers are not tacos.

One of the best ways to generate word of mouth for our books is to enlist the help of bloggers who have large followings. Ah, but be careful. There is a TON of bad advice floating around out there about how to approach bloggers to review a book, give you an interview or allow you to guest post.

I know when I was speaking over the summer, a PR expert spouted off (with great authority) her “helpful tips” to get writers hunted down and tarred and feathered . Um, I meant, tips to make bloggers want to talk about you and your books.

Um…so does this mean you WON’T be reviewing my epic fantasy?

Normally, I ignore anything I don’t happen to agree with, but this bad advice is just far too pervasive and it can land a lot of well meaning authors in deep *cough* yeah, that stuff. Many marketing people believe (quite mistakenly) that what works in the world of business works in publishing, and that just ain’t so.

So, let’s just take a look at some of the ways to make bloggers craft a voodoo doll of our likeness:

Bad Tip #1—Send Out Mass E-Mails

Yes, said marketing expert actually recommended that writers make a master list of all the big bloggers and send them an e-mail request for an interview, book review or guest spot.

No. For the love of all that is chocolate….NO.

One surefire way to make any blogger hate you is to send us a nice form letter that is clearly part of a mass e-mail list. I can’t tell you guys how special I feel when I see:

Dear Madam,

Wow! Whoa! Okay, I often argue that storytelling (writing) is really the oldest profession in the world, but Madam? Seriously? No wonder I suddenly feel the need for a feather boa and a chaise lounge. I just thought it was my normal weirdness.

Let’s just apply a smidge of common sense. The last time you went to your mail and some cable company sent you a form letter, did you get chills? Did you get ooey gooey feelings of super-specialness? No. Okay, so here’s a clue. No matter how “thoughtful” the form letter…it isn’t.

When this expert recommended mass e-mailing all the top bloggers, I just kinda wanted to punch her.

And don’t think bloggers will fall for….

Bad Tip #2—”Personalized” Form Letters

Yeah, I am not mentioning any names, but this advice really gives me an eye twitch. “You can send a form letter if you just make sure to personalize the first paragraph with tidbits about the other person.” I just love it when people fake interest in me, don’t you?

I love Dale Carnegie, and I read How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies People about once a year. But, here’s the thing. Dale was trying to teach people how to actually CARE about other people FIRST. His tactics were not meant to be some phoney-boloney schtick to get people to lower their guard so they could be more easily manipulated.

We are not idiots, and we spot a form letter when we see one.

At least once a month, I get something akin to:

Dear Ms. Lamb,

Wow. I see that you like training sea monkeys for world domination. But have you ever thought, “Gee, New York just doesn’t publish anything good anymore”? Critics are hailing The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Betrayal, and Orthotics as the best thing since Snookie’s unauthorized biography. I know your blog is top-notch and that’s why I am offering you a rare chance to interview me before I’m too famous to be reachable…

Yeah…I’m right on that. Right after I organize my liquor cabinet.

I know it is tempting to take short-cuts. I’ve listened to the fancy Power Point presentations at writing conferences, too. But, what might work in Corporate America can make us a digital leper in the writing world.

Bad Tip #3—Faking Fandom

This should fall under the “No, Duh” category. Don’t tell a blogger that you are a fan of the blog unless, well…you are.

Okay, now that I have talked about all the BAD advice, how do you really get a blogger to review your book?

Smart Tip #1—We Should Never Ask for What We Are Unwilling to Give

When a writer is asking a blogger to review a book, that is a HUGE time and energy commitment on the part of the blogger. It takes an average of 10-12 hours to read a book. Then the blogger needs to think, make notes and write a post. You could easily be asking for 20 hours the blogger might not even have.

Interviews are also tough. We need to read writing samples, research your background and even come up with witty and thought-provoking questions. I, personally, have to get my creepy panel van detailed and buy fresh candy. Interviews are A LOT of work.

So, before you e-mail a blogger asking for something, take a gut check. How much have you given?

Trust me when I tell you that we pay attention to people who take time to leave comments regularly. If a blogger gets a request from a REAL fan who has been leaving comments for months? Often it is a no-brainer. Bloggers are people and if you sow kindness and generosity, most bloggers will respond favorably.

Smart Tip #2—Make Sure the Blogger Actually Does Book Reviews or Interviews or Allows Guest Posts

I don’t do book reviews, so to ask me is kind of a waste of time. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to ask me anyway. Years ago, back when she was squeaky new, Piper Bayard hired me to edit her first 100 pages…and then promptly named me The Death Star. Yeah, so asking me to review your book is kinda like asking Ice Pick Vinnie to babysit your kids.

You need some wet work? Some little darlings that need to disappear? I am the right gal. Reviews? Eh, not so much.

But, there are bloggers out there who do review books. Seek them out. Follow their blogs and leave comments. Then, when your book is to a point it needs a review, you will have an established relationship and getting a review will be far easier.

I rarely do interviews. In fact, in three years I have done…TWO. So again, I am not a great choice when it comes to soliciting an interview. My blog is primarily a teaching blog and a formal environment for my general goofing off. Interviews are not my specialty.

If you have a blogger you like, just take some time to see if they even are open to reviews or interviews. This is just common sense. If you need to buy new shoes, don’t go to a florist. Check the blogger’s About Me section and many bloggers will say if they do reviews, interviews, allow guest posts, etc.

Smart Tip #3—Ask the Blogger What You Can Give TO Them

Present yourself as a solution to a problem. Many bloggers are short on TIME. Hey, we’re writers, too. If you want to do a guest post, have some written ahead of time and allow us a choice. If you desire an interview, have a nice bio handy and prepared. You might even have a list of questions to help us out. We might not use your questions, but they can at least help us get us focused and give us a place to start.

This is all just common sense. Serve people first. Be kind and authentic. I know it seems like it takes more time than e-mailing 50 bloggers and hoping a couple will bite. But, if you work to forge relationships FIRST, I promise that your time will be far better spent.

A really great way to meet bloggers is to learn to blog. There are few tools more powerful for creating an author platform. For those interested:

Starting a Successful Blog

Time is running out to sign up! A lot of blogs fail simply because writers take off with no instruction, and, because of this, they are left to learn by painful trial and error. If you believe you would like to blog, but you’re uncertain, I’m doing something new. To accommodate those who are still on the fence, I’m now running a Basic level for my upcoming blogging class that starts next week (and it is only $50 for TWO MONTHS).

In the Basic class, you get to be part of the WANA1012 team and receive all the forum lessons (none of the live webinars are included). This is a really great place to learn if blogging is right for you (Blogging Training Wheels).

If you’re ready to skip the training wheels and get started blogging, then get your spot NOW. My classes have a history of selling out. I offer a Blogging Bronze, Silver, Gold, and even Diamond, for those who are ready to go all the way.

This is a TWO MONTH class—one month for lessons and one for launch—that you can do in your own time, at your own speed and from home. And since you will be part of a WANA team, you won’t have to do this blogging thing alone, so your odds of success are MUCH higher. For those who want to do NaNoWriMo, we can extend the two months if we have to. That’s one of the benefits of being the owner of the interface :D .

So whether you start your own blog or just get out there and read a few, getting in the mix and forging relationships is more critical than ever. Have I missed anything? For you bloggers out there, what makes you feel warm and fuzzy? What can writers do to get your attention that isn’t illegal in all Southern states?

I LOVE hearing from you.

To prove it and show my love, for the month of October, 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). Will announce September’s winner on Friday. Been out of town and need to catch up.

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.

At the end of October 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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66 Comments

Would Hemingway Blog?

Photo by Yousef Karsh via Wikimedia Commons

Emphatically, YES!!! I know many writers are hesitant to the idea of blogging. It feels like just another social media chore, but nothing can be farther from the truth. In fact, blogging is probably the ONLY form of social media that 1) draws from a writer’s strengths and 2) doesn’t try to fundamentally change our personality.

Yes, as a social media expert Jedi, I will tell you that it’s a good idea to tweet and learn to use Facebook, but I’m also going to tell you something you already know. Most of that kind of social media is NOT natural for a lot of writers. Is it good for you? Yes. It shoves you out of your comfort zone and makes you work an area that will be vital to career success. But, of all the various on-line tools we can wield, the blog is by far one of the best.

Oh, but Kristen. There are already way too many blogs out there.

Yep, and guess what? There are way too many books out there, too, and that hasn’t stopped you guys from writing one, has it? Blogs are a lot like books. In fact, that is one of the reasons they are such an excellent choice for writers. Blogs connect using…words. Same as books. They connect through information or emotion…same as books. If people learn to love your blogging voice, it is no great leap to love your novels.

Ah, but just like books…

Most people who start a book never keep pressing until it is finished. Similarly, most people who start a blog will abandon it for some new shiny two months in. Most people who start writing a novel believe it is easy, and that they don’t need any professional instruction or guidance. Guess what? Same with blogs.

Too many people who start a blog just throw up content without learning what to blog, how to blog, and what makes a blog grow and become successful. This means the competition is not nearly as daunting as some might believe.

So why would Hemingway blog? Well, actually, he did. I am going to paraphrase a story relayed by mega-author and Hemingway expert, David Morrell.

Hemingway was a Blogger Journalist

As a young reporter for the Kansas City Star, Hemingway learned the value of lean, uncluttered sentences. In fact, the newspaper’s style sheet underscored the, “Use of vigorous English…Be positive…Avoid the use of adjectives.” Though Hemingway followed these principles as a reporter, he apparently forgot them when he decided to write fiction. When he moved to Paris and showed Getrude Stein his work, she slayed him for his purple prose. She told him to toss everything and try again.

A few months later, Hemingway met a reporter in Switzerland who expressed interest in his work. Hemingway was so excited he wrote to his wife and asked her bring all of his manuscripts to him straight away. Being a good wife, she packed everything he’d written in a suitcase and hopped on a train…and the suitcase was stolen, taking every shred of Hemingway’s writing.

Hemingway rushed home and turned his apartment upside down, but to no avail. It was all gone. Hemingway almost gave up, but then he thought back to Gertrude Stein’s advice to chuck everything and begin anew. Hemingway rolled up his sleeves and went back to work, yet this time he harnessed his reporting skills and went about his writing in a far more organized fashion, with the verbal discipline he’d learned from the Kansas City Star.

Hemingway learned that less is more, that economy of description can produce clearer effects than descriptions with detail piled upon detail. But, economy doesn’t only mean reducing a description to its essentials. It also means going for so clean a line that adjectives and adverbs become a sign of bad writing. ~David Morrell The Successful Novelist p.117

I have been running my writing contest for over two years now, and I see the same problems over and over with new writers. The prose is bogged down with all kinds of fluff. The sentences aren’t clear and the prose is weak.

Just like Hemingway used his experience as a reporter to strengthen his fiction (which made him one of the greatest writers in literary history), we, too, can use blogging to refine our prose and strengthen our writing skills. There are many great authors who used their journalistic muscles to write great works of fiction. Hemingway, Orwell, Dickens and Twain to name a few.

Blogging is a modern equivalent of journalism, and I believe Hemingway definitely would have blogged had he been a man of a different era. Can you imagine Hemingway tweeting images of giant swordfish he’d caught deep sea fishing? Or posting a video on You Tube of him running with the bulls? Maybe some images on Flikr from his latest safari?

Where was I? Oh, yes!

Blogging Takes Us from Neophyte to Expert MUCH Quicker

Malcolm Gladwell asserted that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. Add blogging to your repertoire, and guess how quickly you can rack up that 10,000 hours? Blogging will teach you to write faster, leaner and with far more power in much less TIME.

Bloggers Learn to Ship

When you have a blog due, you learn to kill Little Darlings with ruthless efficiency. Bloggers (like journalists) learn not to grow overly fond with sections of prose. We are copy editing MACHINES. We are great at meeting deadlines because we don’t need 42 different opinions to convince us to part with some prose.

HACK! HACK! SLICE!

Bloggers Grow a Thick Skin

Writers who also blog are showing the world they take their profession seriously. We put our work out there, good, bad or WTH?. We open ourselves to criticism, and we learn to take it like a champ and come back swinging.

I’ve met a lot of writers who get defensive, angry or abusive when told their work isn’t a glittery kitten hug. This business is tough, and blogging will whip a writer into fighting form in no time.

Blogging Trains Us for Other Paid Work

Since blogging is so close to journalism, it is easier for us to get paid work writing articles, blogs or even copy work. Bloggers have a BLOG that shows the world that they are serious. Potential employers see a writer who can make deadlines, who can work even when they don’t feel like it. Bloggers, like journalists, don’t sit around and wait for the inspiration fairy. They roll up their sleeves and do what real writers do.

They write.

Additionally, many writers supplement their book income with other work (like articles), and blogging is a great way to get your foot in the door.

Getting Started

So for those who don’t want to blog, that is fine. But for those who do?

Blogging is one of the best ways to build an author platform (mainly because it has us operating in our strength—writing). A blog is far less volatile than other forms of social media. Who knows if we will have Twitter in five years? Twitter may go, but a blog will remain and can continue to grow for YEARS. We don’t have to be a Chatty Cathy social butterfly to be a kick@$$ blogger, and this is really great for those shy introverts out there. In fact, in my experience, you guys make some of the BEST bloggers.

Starting a Successful Blog

A lot of blogs fail simply because writers take off with no instruction, and, because of this, they are left to learn by painful trial and error. If you believe you would like to blog, but you’re uncertain, I’m doing something new. To accommodate those who are still on the fence, I’m now running a Basic level for my upcoming blogging class.

In the Basic class, you get to be part of the WANA1012 team and receive all the forum lessons (none of the live webinars are included). This is a really great place to learn if blogging is right for you (Blogging Training Wheels).

If you’re ready to skip the training wheels and get started blogging, then get your spot NOW. My classes have a history of selling out. I offer a Blogging Bronze, Silver, Gold, and even Diamond, for those who are ready to go all the way.

This is a TWO MONTH class—one month for lessons and one for launch—that you can do in your own time, at your own speed and from home. And since you will be part of a WANA team, you won’t have to do this blogging thing alone, so your odds of success are MUCH higher. For those who want to do NaNoWriMo, we can extend the two months if we have to. That’s one of the benefits of being the owner of the interface :D.

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Those of you who blog, have you seen an improvement in your writing? What questions do you guys have? Thoughts? What other famous writers from history would be cool to see tweeting or posting blogs? Poe? Steinbeck? Shakespeare? What do you think would be their favorite social site and how would they use it? Picasso and Pinterest? :D

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

Oh, and if you love this blog, I would love your support. I am in the running to become a community blogger for my hometown, so I’d appreciate your votes. Just click the link and scroll down until you see my name and vote. THANK YOU! When the zombie apocalypse arrives, I promise to share ammo and Twinkies with those of you who vote for me :D.

Back to the regular contest….

To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, 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.

At the end of September 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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100 Comments

When Do Writers Need Multiple Blogs?

Write multiple blogs? Might I suggest one of these…

Recently, in my post Top Five Creepy Social Media Marketing Tactics, one of the commenters mentioned that she needed to tweet from multiple identities for two reasons: 1) she felt some followers wouldn’t be interested in what one “personality” had to say and also 2) she had FOUR blogs because she was interested in different things, and she believed she needed separate blogs to keep the topics and readers separate so as to avoid confusion.

I get this scenario more than I care to, so today we are going to tackle the big question:

When Do Writers Need Multiple Blogs? 

Um…never.

It is never necessary for a writer to have multiple blogs. Can we choose to have them? Sure. Is it a good use of time? Nope. We need that time and word count for the most important aspect of our author platforms…MORE BOOKS.

See, here’s the thing. When we step out and decide we want to be writers, most of us will not get paid for a while, which means that there will be a period of time where we will have to balance a day job along with social media, blogging and the writing of the actual book.

Additionally, most of us don’t have a house full of servants. Laundry, dishes and dust bunnies are not going to magically disappear because we have decided to follow our lifelong dream of being a career author. Spouses, children, friends and family will still need us, and, frankly, they should. It keeps us balanced. We need these multiple roles in order to be emotionally healthy.

Yet, too many of us, the second we discover social media, promptly develop a condition I call R.D.D.—or, Reality Deficit Disorder. R.D.D. can cause headaches, sleeplessness, heart palpitations, premature aging, hair loss, weight gain, a weird twitch in our left eye, and a need to shout expletives at passing strangers.

If left untreated. R.D.D. can be fatal…to our careers.

No one will stop us from having multiple blogs, but if we are spread so thinly we begin wearing our underwear on the outside of our clothes, how useful is that to our career?

We also have to look at what our real end goal is. Are we blogging to build our author platform–our BRAND which is our NAME—or do we have the goal of having a nervous breakdown? There is a thin difference, and that is why it is critical to look at WHO is offering the advice.

We are going to look at some BAD social media advice I’ve seen floating around the Twitterverse from, um “experts”:

A writer is blogging for pleasure and who has multiple interests needs separate blogs.

NO. BAD ADVICE. First of all, all of our blogging should be blogging for pleasure. There is no reason that a blog that supports our brand cannot be fun. Why are these activities assumed to be mutually exclusive? What is the point of churning out thousands of words a week if they aren’t serving to build our brand? Come on. Let’s work smarter, not harder.

When I coach writers how to blog to build a brand, it is their interests other than writing that are going to connect to readers. Blogging about our book and our writing process will wear us out quickly. And, to be blunt, since when is talking about ourselves non-stop ever been a good plan for connecting with others?

Ten years ago, who cared if an author could cook or garden? Now? Those hobbies are the very things that are going to help you reach out to readers. Readers don’t give a flying squirrel’s butt about three-act structure, Create Space, or the future of publishing, so if we hope to extend our influence to persons who are not writers, these interests become vital. Thus, to put them on a separate blog will actually undermine our ability to influence and convert blog readers to fans of us and our books.

Oh, and as far as needing separate blogs for different interests? Give the reader some credit. If we switch topics, it will not fracture their reality. Really. Our brains are bigger than the average goldfish. We also don’t start crying when you leave the room because we believe you are gone forever. Please stop treating us like we need a drool cup.

This is why blogs should always be branding YOU. Slap your name at the top and then you don’t have to strictly adhere to one subject. Why? Because the common thread that will tether ALL your blogs together is your writing voice. In fact, the purpose of your blog is to expose as many people as possible to your writing voice so that they fall in love and buy your books no matter what genre you write.

Many “experts” claim writers should blog about the writing process. WRONG.

Most fiction authors are expert storytellers, not expert writing teachers. In fact some of the worst writing teachers I’ve encountered are authors. Frankly, this is a boneheaded assumption anyway.

Oh, because Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world, he must be a whiz of a golf instructor, too.

NOT.

Teaching writing is a totally different skill set, and frankly, one that will not connect you to readers who aren’t also writers. Writers are experts at looking at the world around them…and assigning meaning. Writers often are interested in everything.

Use that beautiful fascination and curiosity in your blogs, too.

If we have to maintain separate blogs for every interest, that is a formula to burn out and give up. Any social media strategy that ends with us curled in the fetal position in a closet clutching a bottle of scotch is just BAD.

More bad advice…

You might need more than one blog if you write under multiple names.

Again….why? Go to NYTBSA Bob Mayer’s site. We know he blogs, but he also has 5 other pen names. Would Bob have any time to write more books if he had a separate blog for every identity? Again, I think it is a tad insulting for us to assume that readers are morons. We “get” that Bob Mayer has sci-fi books under the name of Robert Doherty, and yet we live to tell the tale. Besides, pen names are old paradigm. Even Bob has streamlined to ONE NAME.

Why Pen Names Suck & Can Make Us Crazy will explain why, in the Digital Age, pen names should be avoided at all costs.

If you insist on a pen name, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you. You will need a good plan for branding while managing multiple names. My books will show you how to do this and actually have time left to write more books.

Anyway, having separate blogs all over the place is certainly one way to do it. Of course we also have the option of hand sewing all our clothes and growing our own food. Doesn’t mean that is the most efficient or best use of our time.

But what if I am writing YA, erotica, sci-fi, and cookbooks? Don’t I need different blogs for each platform?

Invariably I get a question akin to this when I tackle this notion that we don’t need separate pen names and identities and blogs/platforms for different audiences. First of all, if you are writing 6 different genres, blogging is the least of your worries.

Also, if you are writing YA, teenagers who read blogs like to be spoken to as if they are just another adult. They are a precocious bunch who like content that targets adults so there isn’t any need to “make content younger.” Blogging posing as a teenager is risky. If you are found out, you chance a massive backlash. We are in an age where people desire authenticity, so pretending we are something we aren’t is a huge risk.

If you want to blog to build a platform for YA, then your target audience will be adults (or teenagers who believe they are adults). A lot of real adults buy and read YA. Blogging doesn’t have to reach massive groups of teenagers, but it CAN reach massive groups of adults who want to relive the young and stupid years… *cough* Twilight.

If you need a separate pen name and identity to write erotica, again we need to look at time. How can we reasonably cook, clean, pay bills, go to work, write four different genres and build a solid separate platform for all? We can’t. Or we can, but not do any one of them all that well.

If you write erotica and another genre, my recommendation is that you focus on building the platform that won’t cause problems with your employment. Pen names offer only a thin veneer of protection and the more content you post, the greater the odds your pen name won’t protect your privacy. Sorry. Wish I could tell you differently, but that is the truth.

The Heart of the Problem

But beyond the simple challenge of multiple names and blogs, we need to make sure we are addressing the REAL problem. We need to ask hard questions and make certain that this is not subconscious sabotage.

Are we setting ourselves up for failure out of fear? Fear of failure or even fear of success? Do I write YA and erotica because I fear success? Thus I hold back on both of them because success in either means answering a lot of uncomfortable questions and could create a backlash? Or do I fear failure? So if I spread myself too thinly, then I will have a reason other than lack of talent to account for my failure.

I had to face this choice, myself. I wanted to write every genre. I loved fantasy and women’s fiction and thrillers and NF. But eventually I had to choose if I hoped to enjoy any success. If I didn’t choose, then it would have been impossible for me to focus my energy. Lack of focus is a huge reason that too many talented writers never make it. They have chosen a plan that has very high odds of failure.

I am not telling anyone they must choose. Feel free to write 5 different genres and blogs to build platforms for each. Just make sure you ask the hard questions first. I, personally, had come from a very high-achieving family who was less than thrilled I wanted to be a writer. There finally came a day that I had to be honest and confess that I was terrified of failure, and THAT was the real reason I wanted to write 42 different genres.

At the end of the day, the same goes for blogs.

We can have multiple blogs under different names writing on different subjects, but is that a good plan? I want all of you to enjoy success, and the fastest and easiest way to be successful is to embrace focus. Make every effort work together in perfect concert.

Most of the time, when I meet an author howling how social media doesn’t work, it is their approach that is flawed. All their efforts are spread out like white light. Take those diffused efforts and focus them like a laser and social media will be far more effective and it will take a lot less time.

A balanced writer who still has relationships, hobbies and time to sleep is a writer who can endure and turn out quality material for the long-term. R.D.D. is serious and not to be taken lightly. Focus, goal-setting and a group of friends willing to use tough love are the best cure.

Do you suffer from R.D.D.? How did you snap out of it? What are your greatest fears about choosing a genre? What ways do you recommend for being more efficient? Do you have any advice or tactics? Problems? Questions?

***Image above is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, 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.

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

Winner!!!—TL Jeffcoat is the winner of 20 pages of edit for August. Please send your 5,000 word Word document to kristen@ wana intl dot com.

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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