Posts Tagged author platforms

Expectation & Desire—Cultivating Fans, Not Just “Readers”

Image via WANA Commons @ Flickr, courtesy of the talented and generous photographer Frank Selmo

Image via WANA Commons @ Flickr, courtesy of the talented and generous photographer Frank Selmo

We talked about this earlier in the week, but when I first approached agents with the idea of a social media book for authors, I was nearly stoned. All readers want is a good book, was their cry. Yes, that was true before our world inalterably shifted with The Digital Age.

In 1993, we didn’t expect an instant reply to a phone call. In 1996, we knew to just go make a cup of coffee while we waited for our dial-up Internet to load a page, because we didn’t expect for a page to appear in a fraction of a second.

In 1999, we didn’t expect our cell phones (the few who owned them) to take brilliant pictures, play music and offer us high-speed access to the Internet so we could make reservations for dinner, buy movie tickets, or do some Christmas shopping while stranded at the doctor’s office.

These days? How quickly would you change Internet providers if you could only open one screen and it took 3-5 minutes to load?

The Difference Between Expectation and Desire

Readers expect a good book. They expect proper grammar, punctuation and formatting that doesn’t look like it was performed by a sloth with a severe Valium addiction. These are basic, fundamental expectations…and they no longer impress people all that much.

Give you an example. I took my niece to a very expensive fine-dining establishment for her graduation. I saved the money to give her a treat. I’d chosen this restaurant because it was the one place Hubby and I would go to celebrate big events, like our wedding anniversaries.

Why?

Because, the first time we went there, we were greeted as if we were the most important people in the world. Instead of working middle class, we were A-Listers. A hostess guided us to a candle-lit table scattered with fresh rose petals and an artful bouquet of flowers. There was a card telling us Happy Anniversary and it was signed by all the staff who told us how grateful they were we’d chosen their establishment.

I am not a fan of seafood, but decided to give it a try. Everything they served had been swimming in an ocean 24 hours earlier and was fast-tracked to Central Texas. I never knew fish could actually taste soooo good, namely because all I’d ever been served was frozen mush that tasted like a freezer.

The waiter tended our every need. When I mentioned I had food allergies, the head chef came out to the table and worked out a special dish just for me. At the end of our meal? The staff arrived with free desserts for both of us. The chef had personally crafted one for me to accommodate all my allergies.

Now THAT is what I'm talkin' about....

Now THAT is what I’m talkin’ about….

*swoons*

Every time after, the staff of this restaurant treated us as if we were the most special people on the planet. I was a DIE-HARD FAN and we rarely eat out. When we did? This was the only choice, the ONLY place I wanted to eat. And we had to plan, not only because the place was pricey, but it was tough to get reservations if one didn’t do it far in advance.

Fast-Forward

It’s May of 2013 and I call for reservations at my all-time-favorite restaurant to celebrate my niece’s graduation (she’d won a scholarship to study abroad for the summer). I told the reservationist how important this event was. My niece has grown up in a family where Golden Corral was about as fancy as dining ever got. I wanted it to be perfect. I spent days telling my niece how amazing this place was.

We arrive and the first thing the hostess says is, “Where do you want to sit?” and points to an empty dining room. No table. Nothing prepared. Every time I asked anyone a question, the answer was, “I don’t know. I haven’t worked here that long.” The table is set with chipped bread dishes and dirty glasses. I call over one of the staff and hand her my bread plate and say, “You guys might want to throw this away.”

“Why?” *blank stare*

“Because there is a chip and I don’t want food poisoning.”

“Oh.”

When the waiter arrives, I explain in detail about my food allergies and order a dish that is simple. All they have to do is leave off the butter sauce. I tell my niece to order whatever she wants, it’s her special day. She orders the lobster, which was $90. Our food arrives and guess whose food is swimming in butter?

We had to sit and wait twenty minutes while the food was remade. No visit from the chef. No apologies from the manager.

In short, I was fuming by the end of the night (and mortified). $220 for a meal, and the service would have been better at Mexican Inn for $30.

See, when we first went to this restaurant, we expected clean glasses, plates that weren’t chipped, servers who could answer simple questions (or make an effort to find the answer), who could take basic instructions. We expected excellent food. That alone? We would have been happy. But the original restaurant gave us more than expectations, they gave us our DESIRES. 

Meet expectations? We create customers. Meet DESIRES? We create a cult following.

We desired to feel special. We desired above and beyond…and they gave us what we desired. THAT was what made me willing to save for two months to go to THAT dining establishment.

How Does This Apply to Books?

Readers expect good stories, just like we expected clean glasses. But what do our readers desire? The same thing we desired at the restaurant—to feel special, to connect, to have someone focus on us for a change.

This is why social media is such a game-changer. When we blog, we serve others. We have books to write. We don’t have to blog, but we’re going the extra mile to inform, connect, engage and entertain. Readers are expecting to be spammed by authors, yet they desire to know them and connect with them. 

All you need is love....

All you need is love….

The writer who automates pre-programmed tweets and never talks to anyone, is like that restaurant who thought they could keep business by simply having a fancy menu and doing the bare minimum (and not all that well). I would venture to say the empty dining room should have been my first warning to RUN! 

When we give others (readers or potential readers) what they desire, this is when we differentiate. There are scads of other social media experts who have books. Go to their Twitter and it takes a half a second to realize it is all pre-programmed, self-serving fluff. This is why if you see me on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else on social media? It is ME.

I don’t want to eat spam, so why would others? Yet, by looking inside, I know what I desire—meaning, connection, fun, engagement, recognition, and to feel someone cares. That is what I desire and I’m not any different than most of you or even the people who might buy my books (or even yours).

By serving people more than what they expect and, instead, seeking to give them what they desire, THAT is how die-hard, lifelong fans are made. A good book is what people expect, but search inside and ask, “What do readers desire? And what ways can I give that to them?”

I love hearing from you!

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

I hope you will check out my newest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World on Amazon or even Barnes and Noble.

Also, here is a list of WANA International classes and Christmas specials.

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85 Comments

Frankenfriends & Zombie Tweets–Writers, Social Media and the Undead

Writers are funny when it comes to social media. Okay, we are funny when it comes to more than social media. Face it, if you had a normal childhood, you likely never grew up to become a writer. Likely you aren’t rich either, because then you could have afforded therapy.

So if you are a writer, you probably are at least tangentially insane and too cheap to pay for an fancy shrink. It is why we write, right? And this is all well and good, because I think sane people write lousy books anyway, but crazy has advantages and disadvantages. Crazy makes for killer books, but it tends to also lend itself to extreme thinking.

Writers are really bad about all or nothing, even in social media. Either we are on the verge of resorting to adult diapers because we can’t pry away from Twitter, or we hiss and scurry for safety in the shadows when anyone mentions social media.

Writing is a Killer

Writers who are successful have to learn two things. First, we need to learn balance. I still struggle with this. The writer who is going to be here for the long-haul to reap success is the one who gets sleep, exercises and eats more than Skittles chased with Red Bull. Yeah, learned that one the hard way. Also, we must learn to balance when to have that pit bull focus, and when to ease back on the throttle and remember we have other responsibilities…like basic hygeine and social media.

I would love to say that writers didn’t need to do social media, but I already lie about my height and my age and too many lies is just beggin’ for bad juju. So we know we need to participate in social media, and build a platform and write books and floss every day, and it gets overwhelming, and so we resort back to that all or nothing stuff, and disappear.

A Totally True Brief Story About Writers & the Undead

I get that writers already struggle with being mistaken for one of the undead (refer to picture above taken before Starbucks, as you can tell).  In fact, I believe we writers are the cause of all these stories. Seriously.

Werewolves

Legend has it that a monk (early writer) on deadline chained himself to a wall to finish his edits, because he was getting sidetracked with the new social craze…sending carrier pigeons (early version of Twitter). So he had this new chapter of the Bible due or he was totally going to burn for eternity (and you thought revisions were hard on YOU) and so yeah, he chained himself to the wall with nothing but a quill and paper.

When the other monks wanted to play beer pong (what else do you think they invented beer for?), they couldn’t find him. When they went to check on him, they saw he’d turned into this horrible beast with fangs, and there was this full moon. Naturally they thought the moon was turning him into this beast. Easy mistake. No one ever put two and two together that their buddy’s deadline always fell on the full moon.

It wasn’t the moon…it was last-minute revisions that turned him into this beast.

Vampire

Early writer in Transylvania, couldn’t quit his day job of selling…carrots. Stayed up all night writing and all the red ink from edits just, say…let to misunderstandings.

Frankenstein

Early experiments with energy drinks gone horribly wrong.

True stories I just made up. Okay, yes I have a point. I have to make this fun. How else am I going to teachwriters social media unless I coat it with vampires?

The Undead and Social Media

I get it. I understand you guys. I’m a writer first. Sometimes we have to stay up all night and we do seem to grow fangs, normally around the 65th time a family member has interrupted us, since we aren’t really working. I feel your pain. But we have to be really careful that we aren’t bringing undead habits into social media. No one likes to hang out with the undead. Frankenstein? Zero friends. Zombies? Again, zero friends. Vampires? A few friends, but all with serious trust issues.

Zombie Blog and Frankentweet

There are writers who I see all the time and I like their blog and then….GONE. Nowhere on Twitter. No longer commenting. No pulse. Then, just about the time I have mourned their loss and moved on to make new friends?

They come baaaack.

Three months or even six months later, their twitter handles or blogs rises from the dead and needs to feed. Now they are tweeting all the time and talking to people and likely telling everyone about the book they have coming out or just released. Only, if you pay close attention, you will see it is the same tweet trying to appear it’s alive when it isn’t (automated). It has no mind and just prowls for victims readers.

Instead of braaaaaiiiiiiins, it moans saaaaallllllleeeeeesssss, buuuuyyyyyyyy, freeeeeeeeeeee.

Don’t be a Frankenfriend

Remember that all-or-nothing thinking I mentioned at the beginning? That is what gets us in trouble and turns us into a Frankenfriend. If we make these unrealistic goals, or we don’t understand how to use social media effectively, we burn out, we go to extremes…and we don’t get the full benefits of having a social media platform.

Less is More

Social media takes less than 20 minutes a day (unless you add in a blog). Even with a blog? Not that much time. Get my books. We actually have far more impact if we aren’t posting a bunch of times a day. We just have to show up. Attendance counts. A handful of tweets or interactions a day.

Quality, not quantity.

And sure, if you are a Chatty Cathy like me, it is fine, but on those days, weeks when you can’t be chatty? Just pop in. Say “hi.” Give us proof of life. It’s all we ask.

Work in a Team 

Yes, writers need a social media platform, but no one ever said you had to do it all alone. Join up with the WANAs either on Twitter at #MyWANA, Facebook, or the WANA social site, WANATribe (here is an invitation). We work together. All easy-squeezy. Books are not so cost-prohibitive that we can’t support each other.

This is one of the benefits of being a WANA. We are not alone.

When we work as a team, we can pull weight for each other. If we have to do revisions, our pals can guest post for us. We have friends who can tweet about our book or blogs or even just RT the handful of things we post. All of us serve each other because we are totally paying it forward. We know we are going to have to ask for help one day, too.

So what are your thoughts? Are you a member of the Twitter undead? Did you see a light? How did you make it back? What are your stories of social media undead? Heck, let’s have some fun. Do you think writers are the source for all these stories of creatures roaming the night? What’s your version? Have writers been mistaken for any other creatures of the night? Mythical beasts? How do you balance your social media and writing? Are you a WANA and wana give your team a shout-out?

I love hearing from you!

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

***Changing the contest.

It is a lot of work to pick the winners each week. Not that you guys aren’t totally worth it, but with the launch of WANA International and WANATribe I need to streamline. So I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners will now have one business week  (5 days) 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.

There are a couple people I found in the spam folder yesterday, so will be getting edits back to Patricia Morris, Rachel Sullivan, Pauline Jones, and Jennette Mbewe. You are not forgotten. Chad Carver? Send your pages to kristen @ wana intl dot com because I still can’t find your pages.

At the end of June 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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72 Comments

What Mascara, Thai Food & Julia Child Can Teach Us About Social Media Success

 

Last summer I wrote a rather controversial post The WANA Theory of Economics. I explained why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it will sell some books, but it lacks the ability to mobilize the fat part of the bell curve–that HUGE population of folks who would normally not define themselves as readers (but they LOVED Hunger Games and bought the whole trilogy, went to the movie and bought all the action figures and a Mocking Jay lapel pin off Etsy).

Sorry. Traditional marketing cannot give the Hunger Games Effect. I didn’t make the rules. Anyone in publishing more than a minute will tell you that the only way to created the Harry Potter Effect or the DaVinci Code Effect—which is a mass mobilization of the fat part of the bell cure—is 1) good book and 2) word of mouth. Ads, commercials, trailers, mailers, bookmarks have minimal effect on the overall sales numbers and we will talk about why in a moment.

Sometimes it seems that life would be easier if traditional marketing could sell books because then we could pay for a nice book trailer and program an automated platform to blitz out “commercial” on every social site. Yet, the fact remains that books are not tacos or car washes.

So What’s a Writer to Do?

Too many writers are in search of what I call “the White Stag”—the voracious reader who devours books like candy. WHY? How many books can you write? Who cares if someone only reads two books a year if one or both are OUR books?

Writers spend far too much time marketing to a very small segment of the population that defines themselves as “readers.” Too much book marketing is happening in places where we are least likely to find most people—book stores, author blogs, book review sites, reader forums. And, you know who makes up the most of these “reader” groups?

Other writers.

The Family Tree Needs Branches

Thus, not only are we marketing to one of the smallest sections of society—the self-professed avid reader—but we are also spending far too much time marketing to each other. Writers get on Facebook and Twitter and hang out with each other, befriend each other and talk to each other. They blog about writing and talk about writing…at the expense of talking to potential readers.

Make no mistake, writers are awesome. I spend most of my time talking to writers. Yet, in fairness, you guys are my demographic. Ah, but hold on.  Calm down. Writers are incredible, kind and talented. We should befriend writers. They are our professional core and our support network.

The Core Mistake

Yet, where the mistake happens is that fellow writers are our comfort zone. We cannot mistake our professional network for our reader demographic. Will writers make up part of our readership? Yes…but they are not ALL of our readership.

We MUST reach out to fresh blood and bring new readers into the family. If we don’t our platform becomes almost inbred, then starts playing the banjo and firing a shotgun in the air and it’s all downhill from there.

Too many writers spend too much time talking to a small group at the expense of the big picture.

The Only People Who Read Are Avid Readers…um, No

Now, another HUGE misconception many writers have is that, unless someone professes to love reading that they, therefore, do not read at all. Major misconception. Avid readers simply need far less convincing because they already love to read.

Think of it this way.

Why traditional marketing works for other products is the consumer already wants what the market has to offer. Traditional marketing is merely there to help us choose from the options. So, if I make mascara that has the power to look like false eyelashes, then advertising in a woman’s magazine is a pretty safe bet.

Women already wear mascara. Most modern Western women, do NOT need to be convinced to wear makeup. They already do. So the fancy ad that uses Mila Jovovich and a crap load of Photoshop will offer an edge in sales and will sell mascara.

The tricky part about selling books is this is also how traditional marketing works for books. Traditional marketing only speaks to those people who love wearing makeup reading books.

All the ad does is help a self-professed reader choose between all the choices. Yet, convincing this demographic to read is not where the magic happens. Selling books to only self-professed readers will not create the Twilight Effect.

Thus, we as writers have the daunting task of convincing a demographic that our book is worth forgoing 12 hours of undivided attention they could be using on something else they already know they love, like watching Glee or hitting aliens with plasma grenades.

We have to convince consumers to part with money for an activity they do not believe they enjoy. THIS is why traditional marketing fails to sell books. We must tap into that outside group of people to get momentum. Ah, but when we do, watch out! It will hit critical mass and then BOOM!

The Fat Part of the Bell Curve is Essential to Hitting the Tipping Point

An example…

If I am from Thailand and I grew up eating spicy stuff all my life, then likely I will seek out Thai food restaurants. What if, however, I happen to open a Thai food restaurant in Arlington, TX? In Arlington, there happens to be a lot of people from Thailand.

Ah, but the problem is that with a large population of Thais comes a larger presence of Thai food restaurants. If all of them are catering to other Thai people and offering all kinds of authentic cuisine, then that is very steep competition. How can my little Thai restaurant survive?

I have to think differently.

I can go after the same patrons as all of my competition (fellow Thais), OR I can seek to introduce an exotic food to outsiders who don’t already believe they love Thai food. If I can convince Joe American to just try something different once…then my food can make the fan.

Joe will see that MY Thai restaurant has awesome food, and he will not only be loyal (since he is still afraid that other Thai restaurants will give him heartburn), but he will also tell all of his Joe American pals who don’t believe they like spicy stuff either.

Joe’s opinion will carry more weight with this new population of potential patrons. Why? Well, it’s nothing shocking for a Thai person to love Thai food. BUT, for  Joe American who normally lives off hamburgers? His opinion is gold. Joe and his pals likely will still believe they hate Thai food….but THIS restaurant–MY restaurant–is different. My restaurant is that perfect choice for a date night or when you just want something different.

It just takes some creativity when defining our demographic. Put another way.

What Julia Child Can Teach Us About Social Media

Why was Julia Child so successful? She made fine French cuisine accessible to average people. See, the other French chefs of her time defined their demographic far too narrowly. They all targeted an elite group of foodies. Julia, however, saw her demographic as anyone who could masticate food and who wanted to enjoy the experience.

If you liked good food and maybe liked to cook, YOU were her demographic. Guess what? That was a demographic of hundreds of millions. The result? Julia Child became a legend. She didn’t patronize regular people. She believed that just because they hadn’t grown up in high society, didn’t mean they wouldn’t embrace fancy French cuisine and love it if given access.

Too many writers narrowly define their demographic as those people who say they love to read books and they patronize non-readers.

Yet, what is our REAL demographic? Anyone in need of informing or entertaining. THAT demographic is MASSIVE and when we writers mobilize THAT sector of society—the fat part of the bell curve—this is when literary history is made.

The DaVinci Code, the Harry Potter Series, Twilight, Tuesdays with Morrie, Water for Elephants, The Help all ignited a passion for stories in people who normally would not have defined themselves as avid readers.

Nothing Great Happens in the Comfort Zone

My advice to you guys? Break out of the comfort zone and start tapping into larger networks that can become readers. Go after new blood. This is one of the reason my blogging classes are very different. They are designed to teach writers to blog in ways that will connect outside that circle of comfort. I also have some tips in WANA for those of you who need some suggestions.

So what are your thoughts? What ways have you used to branch out from talking only to other writers? What suggestions or tips might you offer? Do you think you need help getting out of your comfort zone?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. 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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60 Comments

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