Posts Tagged advertising books

Predators Abound—How Writers Can Be Savvy in Social Media, Marketing and Promotion

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of dfbphotos

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of dfbphotos

We’ve been talking a lot about the new publishing paradigm and all the options writers have. Being the WANA Mama, I feel it’s my duty to feed you guys the grow-up stuff. So, if you want a fluffy kitten hug? This is the wrong place. There are plenty of people who offer a magic algorithm or promotion package or SEO package “guaranteed” to launch a writer to fame and fortune. Yet, these can be misleading and take our focus away from activities that have a better chance of translating into long-term success.

Hoo-Doo Voo-Doo for Sale

What many of you might not know is I sometimes help small businesses. I recently started doing some work for my brother’s company. Why did I step in? Because he (like many others) paid thousands of dollars for a Mega-PR-Expert…who then did NOTHING.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Juha-Matti Herrala.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Juha-Matti Herrala.

My brother hired this well-known PR expert to create his social media and help with promotions, and *crickets chirping*. The few things she “created”? My brother could have done for free and far better. When she generated a LinkedIn account for his business, she didn’t even load the current logo and the information she did fill out was incorrect and outdated.

This is a person who’d been written up in major magazines here in Texas. My brother felt he was making a sound decision hiring her (and, from outside indications, it was a good decision).

So what went wrong? No idea.

All I can think of is this person was more focused on clients with deeper pockets, but it’s still enough to make me see red. You take money, you need to do what you promised…not ignore e-mails for seven months after doing a half@$$ job. All of us appreciate that timelines sometimes need to be moved, but communicate that and follow through.

***I’ve been guilty. When we had a sudden death in the fall, I had people expecting edits. But I knew in my mental state they’d either get, “Wow, this is perfect!” or I’d crush their will to ever write again. It was better to just say, “Forgive me. I need to delay this until my head’s screwed on straight.***

Anyway, the little advice this “expert” gave my brother was precisely what I preach against non-stop. Automation. Posting to Facebook from Twitter, etc. You should have seen my brother’s face when I said, “So you’re basically spamming people.” And, no he hadn’t read my book. He’s my little brother and probably wanted to do this without Big Sister’s help.

That was until he had a train wreck on his hands, which I am, in my limited free time, undoing gratis. *head desk* And now that he’s seen the WANA way, he’s enjoying social media a lot more and his small business platform is growing healthier by the day.

It’s SEO Not Magic

One thing many “consultants” have tried to sell my brother, many other small businesses and authors is a promise of SEO, that they can go into a web site and do all kinds of complicated technical things that will help dominate a search. I won’t say SEO isn’t important, but when we tool our SEO to the latest algorithm, we set ourselves up to have to do this over and over and over (which can become a money-eating black hole if we don’t happen to be SEO gurus).

Original image via NASA Blueshift courtesy of Flickr Commons

Original image via NASA Blueshift courtesy of Flickr Commons

Algorithms were initially thought to measure human behavior and preferences. But, the problem is that humans are super clever. They start juking the algorithm to gain advantage. Spammers do this all the time. But search engine companies and places like Amazon actively look for this behavior. They have teams of computer geeks who are on the hunt for those “gaming the system.” So does Facebook.

When enough people begin “gaming the system” and gain marked advantage? The computer people change the algorithm and *POOF*. Start over. To rely on SEO gaming is a formula to pull your hair out or go broke trying to keep up.

This was what drove me to create ways of building platforms that were not reliant on technology or algorithmic alchemy (that and I am lazy and not made of money). WANA methods work on any social media site. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, doesn’t matter. If these social sites go away (*cough* MySpace) and a new social site becomes hot? Your WANA platform will remain in tact and continue to grow.

You can dominate any search for your name, book, topic all on your own and with minimal effort. But, I am not in the business of doing your social media. I have zero interest in running other people’s social media. I don’t charge consulting fees to get “friends” for people or “maximize SEO” so I have a vested interest in making people self-sufficient.

Does this mean PR people and promotions are a waste of time? No. I believe they are PR people not magicians. We need to give them something to work with. Yet, writer beware. Know that much of what some companies sell for big bucks are things you can do yourself and for free (and do a lot better).

Knowledge is Power

If we are educated about what we can easily (and cheaply) do on our own, then we can 1) weed out people who just want to dazzle us with tech-speak and overwhelm us enough to shove cash in their faces 2) we can hold these companies accountable 3) we can gain a better idea of what we can’t do and can spend any promotion budget more wisely.

We can build a Twitter presence, but can we get an interview on NPR? Do we even need an interview on NPR?

Promotion Devoid of Connection is Pointless

One big complaint from authors is they feel their book isn’t doing well because of a lack of promotion. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Promotion (alone) never worked all that well.

Screen Shot 2012-05-04 at 11.05.40 AM

Back when I began as a newbie writer, I had a conversation with one of the head editors for one of The Big Six. She was very honest about the ROI (Return on Investment) regarding promotion and advertising. She said the major houses did it, but ads had no impact on sales. She relayed a story about how her house had taken out a full-page ad for one of their business authors in The Wall Street Journal on the day the paper was most widely read.

Though the ad cost a small fortune, it didn’t make a dent in sales.

Today, the situation is far graver. We are inundated with advertising and most people just tune it out and have learned to un-see. In the Digital Age, the architecture of the human brain has changed to keep up with all the influx. This is why my newest book teaches how to be seen. What does a modern human brain ignore? What does it notice?

Would I love for you to buy my book? Sure. But I give away a lot of information for free so peruse the blog archives. My motive is to help writers. Simple.

Effort Devoid of Action = Failure

We could have the greatest SEO, but people have to be compelled to search in the first place. Even if people stumble across our site, they have to be compelled to click, to pursue and then to BUY. We can create the world’s most elaborate and expensive advertising campaign, but if this campaign doesn’t translate into action/sales it’s a failure.

I love it when PR people tout the awesomeness of Facebook ads. Yet, you should see their faces when my first question is, “Okay, what was the last thing you purchased solely because of a random ad in your FB sidebar?”

Can SEO work? Can ads and promotion create sales? YES…just not alone. Which is a bummer because it would be lovely to pay for some ads and then let the money hit like a tsunami. My goal here isn’t to discourage you, but to empower you. I am taking a wild guess here, but I imagine most of you aren’t trust fund babies writing for fun in between trips to The Riviera.

And if you are, will you adopt me? :D

WANA—Empowering Authors of the Digital Age

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Francis, the WANA Mascot

I understand most writers have limited time and income and I actually DO care about your success. I want you to use your resources in the best possible ways that can yield the greatest returns. Hire PR people, but know the best way to harness their resources. Spot an ally from a shill. Have realistic expectations from your publisher. Yes, they can promote, but there are activities we must do on our end to make those promotions effective.

Predators abound in the new paradigm. It is vital to be educated, which is why we are having WANACon (a virtual conference as close to the real conference experience without a holo-deck). WANACon will have top industry professionals from all forms of publishing. I also recruited agents and editors who are savvy to the new paradigm and who put authors FIRST. WANACon is here to keep you at the cutting edge of the changes at a price that’s affordable and all recordings are included with conference fee. Right now we have Early Bird Pricing. SIGN UP HERE.

TSA pat-downs are extra.

What are your thoughts? Have you been overwhelmed with the idea of having to promote? Unclear about what to ask or expect? Have you run the hamster-wheel of promotion only to end up half-dead?

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. 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: I hope you guys will check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World and get prepared for 2014!!!!

Also, this Saturday, I have a new class, Many Roads to Rome—Which Publishing Path is Best? Use WANA15 for 15% off.

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77 Comments

Why Settle for Your Reader’s Wallet When You Can Get in Her PANTS?

Author Kristen Lamb, Kristen Lamb, WANA, We Are Not Alone, writers social media

Spam is so yesterday. Today’s savvy writer trusts Panty Prose for the Published Professional…

Okay, any of you who regularly follow my blog know that I am totally out of my mind a bit eccentric. This past weekend I was speaking at the Idaho Book Extravaganza, and I had to excuse myself to the ladies’ room. As I closed the door to the stall, I noticed all the advertising on the back of the bathroom door. This cluttered wall of ads made me think about all the authors spamming non-stop about their books on Facebook and Twitter.

Writers were becoming worse than an Amway rep crossed with a Jehovah’s Witness. I mean, could the author book promotion get any more invasive?

Wait…

Maybe it could.

I’ve blogged so many times about the dangers of automation and how spamming people is counterproductive. I’ve talked until I am blue about how advertising our books has a terrible ROI (return on investment) and how most people don’t pay attention to it. Ah, but then it hit me. The main reason spam doesn’t work is because people ignore it and no longer “see” it, but what would they see?

Panty Prose—Not Advertising, Padvertising (TM)

We all know that roughly 85% of readers are women, and what do women need? Panty liners. YES, but what do they need more than springtime fresh girl parts? More FREE! books. Indie authors shouldn’t spam about their latest book release or free title on KDP select.

Why?

Because it’s rude? No! Because it is obnoxious? Not quite. Because it smacks of desperation? Not at all. The reason authors shouldn’t spam about their books is because spam is for amateurs.

The real writer of the Digital Age doesn’t settle on blasting out non-stop self-promotional tweets. That is SO 2011. The REAL writer of the Digital Age realizes a captive audience is a a buying audience.

Catch readers with their pants down with Panty Prose.

Panty Prose is perfect for the indie author. Most readers are female and even females need something to read in the bathroom. We at Panty Prose (a new imaginary division of WANA International) have teamed up with Always against their will to offer your readers the best deals right in their pants.

Panty Prose not only offers you Padvertising to a guaranteed clientele, but we have all kinds of layouts to suit your Padvertising needs. Technology is your friend with Panty Prose. Put your book where it counts…

Sell like a pro!

At Panty Prose, we even make it affordable for you to place your face in your reader’s pants…

Affordable Packages Available!

As you can see, Panty Prose is inserting your ads into a virgin market begging to be tapped.

Why are all the romance authors giggling?

Anyway, while others might see a protective strip that gets tossed in the bin, we see an unused space to Padvertise your latest novel AND save trees! Instead of throwing away that paper strip, we can print of lines from your book so fans can collect them ALL…

Kristen Lamb, Author Kristen Lamb, WANA, We Are Not Alone

Make Your Readers Your Fan for ALWAYS….

My brilliant WANA International Operations Manager, Chad, was happy to step in and help me launch the Panty Prose Motivational Series:

Panty Prompts for Writers:

Serious Chad, The Choice for Writers

Panty Praise:

Available in “You’re Losing Weight” and “No, Your Butt Doesn’t Look Big at ALL”

Panty Prose is dedicated to keeping women fresh while selling your books. Attending a writing conference? Well, there is a bathroom and everyone knows that even agents have to go potty sometime. Why not help them out? Keep them springtime fresh and give them your query. Elevator pitches are for losers, when you can use the Panty Pitch. The Panty Pitch comes in three fragrances, Sonnet’s Eve, New Office Supplies, and Cinnabon.

Panty Pitch:

Save agents time AND keep them fresh!

Panty Prose for the Published Professional is a smart, savvy way to stand out from all the competition that still is relying on scheduled tweets and auto-DMs. Make an impression that will last for Always.

Yeah, I am a wee bit tired. I’ve been stranded in airports more hours than I can count and my humor gets warped, even for me. But you know I am on to something! WANA is dedicated to giving you the evil genius you need for success. Aside from Panty Prose, what other “free spaces” could we exploit for book advertising? You know, to catch those who missed our 23 tweeted links, 6 auto DMs and five form letters.

I was also thinking we could launch a Panty Politics line so a 4 star general can gain access to panties more discreetly (and save taxpayer dollars!). And Congress? They can campaign where it counts! What other ways can we use the power of Padvertising?

Ok…I’ll stop. By the way, if you want something a bit more serious, I hope you will check out my blog over at Mansfield Magazine. Pleeeeeeeaaaaase. *insert cute face here* Have a Happy Healthy Holiday–Team Up with the Green Hulk. Anyone who comments there gets entered in a separate contest for ten pages of free edit, so your odds of winning is WAY better (and the comments make me look good to my new boss :D).

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 was supposed to get October’s winner posted this week, but I got stranded AGAIN. This time in Seattle and I had no Internet. So will announce next week. I can’t get to anything right now anyway because I leave for my last trip of the year (New Orleans) on Friday.

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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126 Comments

Standing Out in an a World of Invisible—Does Advertising and Marketing Still Work?

Author Piper Bayard and I are “WINNING!” Foxy with Moxie at DFW Con 2012

Last week we talked about some changes with Facebook. Can they now hold our fan pages hostage? Now that the giant is a publicly traded company, we just should expect that they are going to look for ways to generate profits for shareholders. This doesn’t make Facebook evil. It isn’t personal. It’s just business.

I am very careful to not be too indignant, because what did I expect for free?

Last week, I mentioned how fan page holders could expect to show up in the feeds of only about 10-15% of their fans. But, Facebook is now offering a promotion service to make sure your posts show up in all our fans’ feeds. And, the price per post, from what I have seen, ain’t cheap. Some fan page owners were looking at $300 or even $500 per post.

Remember, Facebook is only sharing posts with fans who repeatedly return to your page, post on your page, comment on your page, or otherwise engage on your fan page.

I am hesitant to charge Facebook with doing anything nefarious. I watch how many fan page holders use their pages, and a 10-15% ROI is actually not bad. I know we would all love to believe that when people “Like” our page, that they are hanging off every word, every announcement, and every post. But, the sad truth is they likely aren’t.

A World of Invisible

We have created a world where mass marketing is powerless and most products are invisible. Technology has fragmented the marketplace, which means that modern consumers are inundated with choices.. We no longer live in a world with three major television networks who control the lion’s share of content.

We have hundreds of channels and Internet and blogs and You Tube and dozens of additional social sites to tickle our collective fancies. These days consumers can focus on what they want and then ignore the rest.

Exposure Doesn’t Mean What It Used To

I’m always seeing these marketing companies offering ways for authors to have some “exposure,” but in a world where most ads are invisible, what real use is this? I’m not saying exposure is worthless, but it certainly doesn’t have the impact it did in the Golden Age of Advertising.

The TV-industrial complex is hemorrhaging, and most marketers don’t have a clue what to do about it. Every day companies spend millions to recreate the glory days of the TV-industrial complex, and every day they fail.

         ~Seth Godin, Purple Cow–Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Exposure used to be all we needed to catapult over the competition. We just needed the right ad in the right magazine. The right commercial at the right time on the right network.

Of course this was before the day of DVRs, The Power of the Four Arrows, and Sirius radio.

A Quick Survey

How many of you have ever clicked on an ad on Facebook or some other social site? Now, of those ads you clicked on, how many of those translated into a sale? When you look at your purchasing habits as a whole, what percentage has been influenced by interruption marketing? How many books have you bought from authors who tweet:

Title of MY Book. Rated best book of the year by ME and fans you’ve never heard of. Buy NOW! Only 99 cents #fiction #freebooks #Iamseriouslyannoying #Ilovespam #sales #memememememememememe #lookatme #allaboutme #buymystuff

Yeah, me neither.

Facebook is Feeding the Delusion

Facebook is charging to make sure our posts come up in the feeds of all of our followers. Okay. All this means is that Facebook, for a fee, will guarantee that all our fans will see what we post…not just the vested ones. But, in a world where most advertising is invisible, does this do us any good?

I think it might do some good for the large companies/brands like Coca Cola or Colgate. I mean, we need to give them a break. Newspapers are going under and most of us throw away our mailers before we ever take a look. We use the Power of the Four Arrows to zoom by their television ads.

Let’s face it, they are running out of places where they can tell us about their products. Yet, here is the deal, most of those products or companies who would find the new FB service helpful?

They are already brands. They aren’t going anywhere. They are using advertising merely to maintain their market supremacy, and they have multimillion dollar budgets to fuel this.

Millions of Americans are going to buy Tide and Kleenex whether we see an ad or not. Proctor and Gamble is not going anywhere. These guys entrenched themselves back in the Golden Age of Advertising, and start-ups would be INSANE to try and go against them on their own terms. When was the last time you saw a T.V. ad for a detergent that was totally new and NOT part of an established mega-brand like P&G?

You haven’t.

The big guys have the ground and they have the budget to use Facebook in ways the new and upcoming competition cannot. Facebook is a way of maintaining what they have in the market.

In fact, want a real dose of reality?

Interbrand values the top 100 brands in the world every year. When we look at the 2011 report of the top 100 global brands, most of them are brands that were relevant 30 years ago back when heavy TV ads and magazine campaigns worked. Of the top 100, maybe 25% were built by harnessing word of mouth and generating a grassroots campaign. (I learned about Interbrand via Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. Great book that I HIGHLY recommend).

Writers would be wise to pay attention.

Artists are Entrepreneurs

Here is the deal. Artists are entrepreneurs. Writers, especially self-published and indie published authors are small businesses. We can’t use the same tactics as Phillip Morris and have success. Frankly, we never could.

When we rely on paid advertising, we are hoping for an easy way out that takes away accountability for failure. It is easier to throw a couple thousand dollars at buying Facebook advertising than it is to get in the trenches and create relationships.

Is Facebook Really Up to No Good?

I don’t believe Facebook is hiding anyone’s feeds, but since I don’t work there, I can’t be sure. I know that some authors have been complaining that their posts seemed to be disappearing into the ether and that fans were having a hard time finding them. This very well could be the case.

Facebook could be manipulating the data and hoping we pay money to get back in front of our fans. Thing is, Facebook is free and they can do what they want, so it is difficult to complain. Even if they aren’t doing this now, we should anticipate and plan for a day that they will juke the stats to make a buck.

***Note: I might recommend that you sign up for WANATribe, the new social site for creative professionals. No ads, bots, spammers or friend limits. Also, you can customize your page to be as unique as you. We aren’t trying to be Facebook. We’re very niche. We want a fun place for creative people to hang out, network, make friends and build a community of like-minded professionals. We are not alone!

Tactics that Work in the Modern Age

My goal has always been to help creative professionals, primarily writers, understand that they cannot use the same tools as Proctor & Gamble. Mass advertising and relying on fan page ads works for Target, but not for us. There are many ways that we can build a thriving, vested community to support our goals and careers, but here are five of my favorites.

1. Be Remarkable with Your Product

This is one of the reasons I blog about craft. Good books generate buzz that can’t be bought. These days everyone can be published, so we need to be better than the competition.

At WANA International, we bring the top teachers in the industry to help you take your writing from good to outstanding. Invest in yourself, your business and your future. NY Times Best-Selling Author Shirley Jump is teaching The Basics of Scene & Sequel  and Plotting with Paper Bags this month for WANA. The author of the Digital Age has to write better, cleaner and faster. We offer classes to help you up your game.

2. Reach for Everyone and We Reach No One

Mass marketing doesn’t work, but these days it doesn’t have to. We don’t need to reach all the people, just the right people. A dedicated group of hardcore fans are worth more than all the advertising dollars in the world. In fact Kevin Kelly asserted that all an artist needed to make a good living was 1,000 True Fans.

WANA methods and a blog are the best ways to locate and nurture that critical 1000. In fact, this is one of the reasons I push authors learning how to blog. We have the power to create that base of 1,000 True Fans before our book is even ready for purchase.

3. Use a blog to build/fuel a grassroots movement for you as an author brand.

WANA methods have been responsible for launching authors from total obscurity to success. A fan page is powerful, but paired with a great blog? You won’t need to pay Facebook to put your posts in your fans’ feeds because your fans will be vested. They will come to you. And, if Facebook goes crazy and implodes? Your blog is yours and your fan base will remain in tact. Your 1,000 True Fans will follow wherever you go.

4. Be genuinely interested in service.

Serve first. Talk to people. Interact. Stop marketing and STOP SELLING. I love the #MyWANA group on Twitter. I love it when I see true WANAs talking and helping one another. I know those people will have all the help they need when it comes time to promote their books. The same goes for Facebook. Comment on other people’s pages. Be interested in other people.

I take regular breaks throughout the day and I scan down the home feed on Facebook and look for ways that I can interact, serve, compliment or encourage. Genuine kindness is so rare, and people are so hungry for it, that they remember it and look for ways to repay in kind.

5. Be different.

If everyone else is doing something, then it has already become invisible. One thing I teach in my classes is how to use our artist imagination to be remarkable even in our social media. My Blogging for Author Brand class will be starting tomorrow, so I hope to see you in class. You can sign up here.

If you want to know a little more before making a decision on what class is right for you, I am giving a free webinar tonight at 7:00 p.m. CST. Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World. Sign up asap because slots are limited. I look forward to seeing you guys tonight.

Facebook has almost a billion members. They are valuable, but Facebook advertising (like all advertising) is virtually invisible to the modern consumer. When we understand that hard truth and focus, instead, on people, we have more impact and are far more resilient to change.

What are your thoughts? Is Facebook too big? What are your favorite parts of social media? What are your pet peeves?

I love hearing from you!

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52 Comments

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