Posts Tagged blog

Bookstores are Closing & Amazon is Expanding–Want a Sure Bet in an Uncertain Future?

As many of you already know, historically, novelists have endured a mind-numbing failure rate. Even up to 2007, traditionally published novelists only had a 1 in 9 chance of ever seeing a second book in print. Most writers failed to sell through their print run (per BEA statistics) and had to return to the day job to pay the bills. Ah, but the times, they are a changin’ and it is a WONDERFUL time to be a writer.

As many of you already know (especially the WANAlums), I happen to be a HUGE proponent of writers having a blog. A GOOD blog that people actually want to read. But, I get it. Some of you might not believe you have time or perhaps you aren’t ready to start a blog. Okay. Fair enough. Today’s advice is for you. Oh, and it is also for ALL writers, even those who have a blog.

Yeah, and you thought you’d sneak out the back of the HTML. Nope. Grab a seat.

How many of you have blogs that could use more traffic? Yeah, that’s pretty much all of us. How many of you have a book coming out one day and it would help to get a review or do a blog tour to promote? Um…everyone should have a hand raised right now. How many of you LOVE randomly e-mailing total strangers and asking for big favors?

Exactly.

The Rapid Changes in Our Marketplace

Most of us cringe at the idea of self-promotion, but as we careen into the 21st century, the Digital Age Author has more responsibility than ever before. If we self-publish or go indie, our social platform means life or death, and traditionally published authors no longer get a pass. Sorry.While it might be a fantastic time to be a writer, I imagine those working in publishing remember fonder days.

Amazon has really been putting the hurt on NY Publishing. The future of Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailer in the world, is largely uncertain, and William J. Lynch Jr, CEO of Barnes & Noble, admits that there is a lot riding on the future of the Nook. Independent bookstores? Yep. Magic Eight Ball says, *shakes vigorously*, yep, “Future uncertain.” If you don’t want to trust my Magic Eight Ball, you can read more about it here in the New York Times article, The Book Store’s Last Stand.

So why am I taking time to mention the uncertain future of book retailers? So you stop depending on them to get your books in front of readers. From this point on, any shelf space is gravy and awesome, but it cannot be trusted to be there for good.

Traditional methods of getting an author’s wares (books) in front of a customer (reader) are shrinking and going away. It is highly likely that most books will be digital within less than ten years. I am not here to debate whether this is good or bad, but I AM here to help prepare ALL authors for a brilliant future, no matter what your preferred choice of publication might happen to be.

May I remind you, it is a fantastic time to be a writer! Yes, things are changing, but not all change is bad. But some changes require…um, change. Writers need to be on social media. All writers. And if you don’t have a lot of time, I am here to help all writers work smarter not harder.

Agencies now want authors who come with a platform, and few things make agents feel all warm and fuzzy like a writer who has loads of blogger pals. Since traditional means of showcasing books (bookstores) are diminishing, writers need a digital support network now more than ever. Bloggers can be a writer’s best friend and a HUGE time-saver when it comes to social media.

One of the best things we writers can do on social media is to become a Blogger Booster.

The cool thing about bloggers is we are attention whores friendly, and many of us like people. We are like a faithful dog, and, if you give us a scratch in that place that makes our digital legs go a thumpin’? We will be a loyal pal.

How Can You Be a Blogger Booster?

Comment on Blogs and Repost to Your Networks

Really. That’s all. Ideally, comment on blogs with large followings. Many people go to the more popular blogs for more than the posted content. Hey, check out my comments section. Sometimes I think my posts are just an excuse for all of you to have a party, and often you guys are WAY more interesting than I am.

If you run across blogs that have a healthy comments section, that is a clue that this is an established and even growing community. Commenters befriend each other and hang out. I know because I have met many friends this way. They were regular at commenting on my blog (or other fave blogs where I was the commenter) and I went to their blog and on and on.

In fact, it is very common to see the same people congregating on each other’s blogs. It is a huge…are you ready for this? NETWORK.

Even if you don’t have time to blog, at least take time to read blogs and leave thoughtful comments. People will see you are vested and have something worthwhile to say. They will get to know you and hopefully like and support you, especially if you have a presence on Twitter.

The more people you get to know, the better. When it comes time to plan your book launch, you won’t be tossing form letters into the ether hoping something sticks. You will have awesome pals who are clearly active on-line. Additionally, bloggers will know you, recognize you and, if you support us enough, we will LIKE you…a lot.

Last April, when I taught in L.A. at the RT Book Lovers’ Conference, one of the PR “experts” recommended that an author with a book about to be released needed to sit down and e-mail as many bloggers as possible and see if they would do a review.

Um…no. For the love of all that is chocolate, NO.

In fact, I raised my hand on that one. There are few things that will annoy bloggers more than unsolicited spam asking for us to put out effort for someone we don’t know from a hole in the ground.

Yeah, sure. I will read your indie published 110,000 word high fantasy in my infinite free time, and write a favorable review, even though I have never talked to you or so much as seen a “Great blog” from you in my comments section. Yeah…I am right on that, right after I organize my sock drawer.

Bloggers are always looking for stuff to talk about. Many will even do reviews. I do them on rare occasions, but not for random people who e-mail me a form letter. One of the best ways to get on a blogger’s good side is to regularly comment on her blog and even repost on Twitter and Facebook.

If you do all these things then, LATER, when you are staring down the barrel of needing your new book reviewed? It will feel a heck of a lot less weird asking for a favor. A blogger, particularly a book blogger, will be far more inclined to help you out if you have been giving in the relationship for a while.

Commenting on blogs can build rapport with key influencers with large followings, and it only takes a few minutes a day. Maybe you don’t have time to blog, but you can make time to comment and RT or post a link on your FB, G+ or whatever. Just those two activities can plug you into communities that number in the tens of thousands.

And sure, the future of the bookstore is uncertain…okay, bleak. That’s life. But the cool thing is that while markets change and technology changes…humans are timeless. We will always want community, love, support and friendship and investing in relationships is ALWAYS a good idea, regardless of what is happening on Wall Street.

What are some other ways you guys can think of to be a blogger booster? Do some of you blog and have a cool reader story you would love to share? What are some of your favorite types of blogs? Why do you like them? What makes you guys subscribe to a blog? If you happen to be a book blogger, what steps would you recommend a writer take to improve her chances of landing a review?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And 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. 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 announce last week’s winner on Friday.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of February 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

I am a HUGE fan of Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether. It is just crammed full of the best information to stay on top of all the changes in our industry.

4 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Editor by C.S.Lakin.

Need More Cowbell? Hop on over the Jenny Hansen’s Blog. She is doing a really neat series asking Why Do You Blog?

Are Book Covers Important in the Digital Age? by the AWESOME Jody Hedlund. Her blog has been named one of Writer’s Digest’s Best Blogs of 2012 and I AGREE! Just to say…I found her first ;).

What’s So Funny? by Tawna Fenske

What Makes a Book Magical? over at Writer Unboxed

The amazing Anne R. Allen is running a series about How to Blog. Seriously, check it out here.

Need a good laugh? Who doesn’t these days? Make sure you follow Natalie Hartford’s blog. This week? The iFinger.

NYTBSA Bob Mayer has an interesting post, The SDSU Writing Conference, FREE Books, the Self-Publishing Bubble and Zombies. Yeah, he had me at zombies, too.

Pipe down! Will ya? Ever wonder about where these idioms come from? Check out Barbara Forte Abate’s Blog.

Ellen Gregory has a really lovely post Let’s Talk About Choices.

Want more laughs? Marriage Proposals and Bass Boats by Piper Bayard.

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170 Comments

Meet the Salesman–Every Deal Needs a Closer

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. My social media methods are all about authentic human connections. I am also a strong supporter of working smarter, not harder. We need to work together to have true, lasting success. We are not alone! We don’t have to build our author platform by ourselves.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that there were three critical people to know on social media.  First, we talked about the Connector. Connectors are vital. These are the people who seem to know everyone. Then, last time, we discussed the Maven.  Connectors might know everyone, but Mavens seem to know everything.

Mavens are collectors of facts few know. They are brokers of information and they are essential for keeping the marketplace honest. Ah, but just because someone has a lot of connections (Connector) or possesses large treasure troves of information (Maven) doesn’t necessarily mean these talents will translate into much of anything.

Since my social media lessons apply to selling books as an end goal, let’s take a closer look. Just because a Connector knows hundreds of people, doesn’t mean he can exert enough influence to break his network past their inertia. I think NYTBSA Bob Mayer might be a great example of this phenomena. Not that Bob isn’t charismatic. He can be. But, he is naturally an introvert, so selling just isn’t in his nature. Bob has had almost 30 years in the publishing business and he knows a ton of people, but it isn’t his nature to call on that network. He is an artist, not a salesman. Back when Bob first started his Warrior Writer Workshops, I remember having to kick Bob under the table to mention he had a workshop coming up. It wasn’t part of his personality to “ask for the sale.”

What about the Maven? Mavens have difficulties, too. True Mavens are not persuaders. They are teachers and students. I know that, as a Maven myself, we are not always appreciated. We can be seen as busybodies, know-it-alls, or Helpful Hannahs sticking our nose in where it doesn’t belong. @PatrickThunstrom is a wonderful example. Patrick is one of the most generous, kind, brilliant people I am blessed to know. He will go out of his way to help and educate others about Twitter and TweetDeck. Yet, I have seen poor Patrick get his Twitter tailfeathers chewed off on more than one occasion. Patrick was trying to help, but the offended party didn’t see that. They took Patrick’s assistance as an insult. Mavens mean well, but we can get ourselves into trouble, too.

Since Connectors and Mavens can be limited in their scope of influence, we need the third person capable of creating a tipping point–The Salesman. This person is naturally charismatic and highly persuasive.

To start a social epidemic, society needs to be connected (Connector), informed (Maven), then persuaded (Salesman).

According to Malcolm Gladwell:

Peer pressure is not always an automatic or unconsious process. It means, as often as not, that someone actually went up to one of his peers and pressured him.  In social epidemics, Mavens are databanks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. But there is also a select group of people–Salesmen–with the skills to persuade us when we are unconviced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word of mouth epidemics as the other two groups. The Tipping Point, pp.70

Salesmen have this uncanny ability to spark action. People listen to her when she makes a suggestion. If this person recommends a book, people buy. If she recommends a workshop, people sign up. If she promotes an event, people attend.

All three of these personalities are vital and work together. Sure there are rare people who happen to be all three, but they are few and far between. What social media allows us to do is to find and CONNECT all three. If a person is a natural Salesman, but he doesn’t know anyone, all he needs to do is connect to a Connector. She has the network and he has the skills of persuasion.

If a Maven wants to sell slots for her writing workshop, she doesn’t have to. She can lean on her friend, the Salesman. In fact, since social media is social, it actually works BETTER if someone else does our selling. It feels less like spam and more like community.

As we mentioned earlier, Bob has a lot of connections and I would qualify him as a Connector. Yet, especially when he was new to social media, it just wasn’t in his nature to go up to random people and start talking. He also had a terrible time “closing the sale.”

But, the cool thing about social media was that Bob didn’t have to be a Salesman to sell workshop slots. He just had to be friends with a Salesman or two or three. @JenTalty, @Jas0n_Myers, and @FredCampos stepped in to help. All of them knew Bob and had attended his amazing workshop and were more than happy to persuade on behalf of Bob. And on top of that, I happen to be a Connector and a Maven. I wrote blogs about Bob’s workshops and we used those first blogs as a hub of information to help the Salesmen sell. Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen all worked as a team.

I called my book We Are Not Alone for a very good reason. Too many social media experts try to change a writer’s core personality. Why? Because their approach makes the writer do everything alone (until she can afford to outsource). E-mail lists, form letters, newsletters, vlogs, etc. give the writer the sole burden of being all things–Connector, Informer and Persuader.

The reason this approach doesn’t work well is that most of us aren’t all things. Thus, we crack under the pressure of trying to operate outside of our nature. Also, even if we can wear all three hats, we still need time left to write books. This is where the WANA approach, in my opinion, is far superior. My approach rests on the power of a team.

#MyWANA was established for the sole purpose of writers supporting other writers. It is a place of love and community. What has been interesting is that some people, when they first tripped and fell into Twitter, wouldn’t have considered themselves to be a Connector a Maven or a Salesman. The beauty of creating a community is that we often will be for others what we won’t be for ourselves. For instance, we might be terrible Salesmen when it comes to our own book or blog, but we have no problem being the Salesman for one of our twibe members.

#MyWANA has helped all of us become Connectors. Blogging has helped us learn to tap into Maven energy. Love for our fellow #MyWANA tweeps has made each of us more of a Salesman than we ever thought we could be and that is what social media is really all about. Most of us feel weird promoting ourselves, but we will wake up early and stay up late to promote a friend. If we all do this for one another, then we can change the world.

Has social media turned you into a Connector, Maven or Salesman? Do you find it easier to take on those roles to support others?

I do want to hear from you guys!

And 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 every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of October 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

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47 Comments

Dr. Twuth–Bots Make Me Bonkers

Dr. Twuth–Because social media shouldn’t make you want to drink heavily.

Today we are going to switch the format just a little. Tuesdays are now simply, Dr. Twuth Tuesday. Why? Well, I am sure you guys have all kinds of social media questions and conundrums beyond the world of just Twitter, so my alter ego, Dr. Twuth can be counted on to give you the best information on social media. And, since a spoon full of sugar humor, makes the I’d rather be punched in the face than read about social media marketing medicine go down, fun is always a guarantee here with me, Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach ALL social media differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule social media–regardless of platform–without devolving into a spam bot. If social media makes you want to slam your head in a door, then you are in the right place. Just call on Dr. Twuth, because the Twuth will set you free.

On to our peeps in need….

Dear. Dr. Twuth,

Ok, so I have a Twitter question that’s been bugging me for several days now.  I’ve read WANA and I’m sure I’ve seen it in a post before that it’s polite to follow people back when they follow you.  But what if you’re being followed by people just hoping to spam you with their business?  It seems pretty easy to tell when you look at their tweets that all they do is spam.  I’ve even come across some Twitter names and profiles that look like real people, only to find they’re masking their company so they can spam unsuspecting me after I follow them back.

I don’t want to be rude, but is it polite to follow back these people, or just torture for myself?  If we’re supposed to take care with who we follow by looking to see if they’re people interested in conversation, shouldn’t we also take that care in following back?

Thanks a bunch.

Bonkers with Bots

Dear Bonkers,

Part of creating any social platform is, of course, being social. The answer to this question seems cut and dry, but it isn’t. Some people might be saying, Well, of course you wouldn’t follow back a bot! Yet, this can get tricky, especially when we have a lot of fellow writers acting like bots. This is one of the reasons we really should avoid automation as much as humanly possible.

I have attended conferences where social media experts spent an hour presenting ten different gizmos to make social media so easy the writer didn’t have to even participate. Just go to Hoot Suite and program in tweets and go back to writing. You never have to do anything! Your social platform will grow itself like a genetically enhanced Chia Pet!!!

Caveat emptor.

The danger in these approaches is that we are basically bots, so when others click on our profiles we can end up with a case of mistaken identity. Looks like a bot, acts like a bot, posts like a bot…probably a bot.

Due to Lady Gaga’s poor wardrobe choice, she was not allowed to go deer hunting ever again for safety considerations.

Thus, my first bit of advice is to make sure we are not behaving like bots because my advice is…IGNORE ALL BOTS, including Author Bots. This approach is lazy and selfish and there is no need to repay that approach or encourage it. Plenty of authors find time to be authentic. If James Rollins, Bob Mayer, and Jane Friedman can do their own tweeting, so can we. People may not hear from us 53 times a day, but do they really need to? Or even want to? Just tweeting or posting a status update 1-3 times a day is more than sufficient to remain top of mind.

I will go so far as to even recommend that, when a bot follows you, report them as spam and block them. Spammers should be discouraged as often as possible. Nobody gets a free ride in life, and, if we have to work hard for what we want, then the spammers should too.

As a caveat, though. I use a zero tolerance approach with obvious bots. @FreePorn is now following you. If a fellow writer acts like a bot, it is up to us to watch out for our creative brethren who’ve been led astray by misguided gurus. I would recommend following back just long enough to send a polite “Um, you have your digital skirt tucked in your digital pantyhose” message. Feel free to send them links to my blogs. Dr. Twuth is skilled at deprogramming bad social media cult influences.

Some writers are working hard to be “responsible little marketers,” and they really don’t know any better. We all make mistakes and we would all want to be treated with love and grace. Give it a day or two, and, if the offending behavior doesn’t stop, then feel free to wish them well and DM that you are unfollowing to “make room for real people.”

All the best,

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a social media dilemma? Is someone making you crazy? Do you feel alone, afraid or unsexy? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

I am about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. My Dr. Twuth identity is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like my advice, I promise to give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).

Let me, Dr. Twuth, help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.

Tweet ya later!

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37 Comments

Maximizing Our Social Media Impact–Having the “Right” Friends

Yes this is really me with Sandra Brown (before the restraining order kicked in :P). And I look like a ghost who’s haunting her. Cell phone cameras. Ptth!

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been talking about the unique nature of marketing books and the equally unique challenges this can present to writers…who need to market yet still need time to write great books. I can always tell when there has been a major conference, namely because the Twitterverse comes alive with writers (usually the agented ones) in a total panic trying to barter a kidney for anyone who can find them a cloning machine. What has happened?

They likely attended a social media class, or worse…their publisher did.

The inherent problem in this is that much of the social media being taught (even at writers’ conferences) not only won’t sell books, but it is a formula for a writer to end up with a nervous breakdown. I have made it my life’s work to create a social media approach that is not only more effective than my competitors’ approaches, but my methods are designed to harnesses the creativity of an author and also leave time to write.

Last week we talked about getting sticky, and why you need to run out at the very first opportunity and buy Malcom Gladwell’s Book The Tipping Point after you get a copy of my book, of course :D.

Gladwell’s book affirms much of what I have been teaching for years about social media.

I am not happy writing blogs or a book that simply tells you guys what to do. Here is a checklist and have fun. That approach is only minimally helpful. I want you guys to understand WHY you are or aren’t doing certain things. This way, if Twitter blows up and G+ devours Facebook, you won’t have to wait for me, your social media expert to tell you what to do next. You will be empowered to think for yourselves and adjust accordingly in ways that will keep your platform intact and expanding.

I want you guys powerful, not paralyzed.

Anyway, back to our marketing…

We all need to strive for what I call The Sticky Author Triumvirate. It doesn’t matter if our message reaches a hundred million people. If our message doesn’t translate into action, it is wasted time. Stickiness makes the difference and we need to be Sticky Authors, Sticky with Social Media, and Write Sticky Books. If we master one but not the other two, we will do well. If we master 2 out of 3? Even better. But the real key to success is mastery of all three.

This is one of the reasons it is so critical to write great books. Great books, by nature are sticky, but alone, they are not enough. Now that everyone can be published, relying on a great book alone is playing craps with our career. We have ALWAYS been in control of writing great books and we had a 93% failure rate to show for it (per BEA statistics). Now in the Digital Age, we finally can get sticky on ALL sides so there is NO getting rid of us. We are gonna be triple-sided duct-tape (yes, I invented a new duct tape dimension—we will be STICKY DEFINED).

Ah….but here is where the panic set in last week.

What???? *twitching eye* I need hobbies and friends outside of writers? How do I get one of those? Are they on eBay?

Yes, we need all the friends we can get, but don’t get lured in by sites promising to get you a bazillion followers/”friends.” Also, more is not actually, well, more. Just because someone has 22,000 people following them on Twitter doesn’t mean this person is effective. In fact, in my experience, this kind of person is generally less effective because the network is not comprised of the right kind of people.

Quality trumps quantity. Not all connections have the same weight. So the cool news today is that you don’t have to go make a bazillion friends. You just need a handful of the “right” friends. It’s the old adage, It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know. That is truer now than ever in human history.

Who are the right kinds of friends? There are three kinds of people that can make the difference between life and death for our message (book, idea, fashion trend, product, etc.) especially in the Digital Age, and we will talk about them more in a moment.

One of the reasons that the traditional blast out an automated message on social media approach doesn’t work is that it separates the writer from the social media experience. To get connected to the right people, we need to be present so we can pay attention.

Say I am new to Twitter. My name is Suzy Newgirl and I have 10 followers and at least half of them are bots. The other five are members of my writing group and they are in the same situation. Our networks are almost insignificant.

For example, even though the very first fax machine cost $2000, it was pretty much worthless. Why? Who was the owner going to fax? There were no other fax machines. The machine only began to grow in value as more people bought fax machines capable of recieving, repackaging and then resending messages.

Same with a social media network. A person with 5 followers doesn’t yet have a lot of value to her network. How can Suzy Newgirl increase the value of her network? She needs to connect to one of three kinds of people (per Gladwell):

A Connector

A Maven

A Salesman

These three people have ALWAYS been responsible for word of mouth epidemics; we just didn’t have the unprecedented access to meeting them that we now have. The awesome part about social media is it is like a giant honey trap for these types of people. The Connector, the Maven, and the Salesman are generally intensely social people and they are drawn to social sites like a mosquito to a bug light.

ZZZZZZZAPPPP! Ouch!

If we pay attention on social media long enough, it is almost a guarantee we will meet these sorts of people. And, if we can fold them into our network, we significantly increase the odds our message will become an epidemic . Suzy Newgirl might only have ten people in her network, but if her Friend Number 11 is one of these three types of people? She just took her social power to an entirely new level.

Now I hope you are seeing where numbers lie when it comes to social media. There are publishers giving their writers a hard time because, Author Such and Such has 30,000 followers. Why don’t you? You need to get on Twitter and follow more people!

This is part of what is making writers lose their hair.

But the numbers alone are not enough. If we have thousands of Suzy Newgirls in our network, then that is akin to being able to fax 1000 other broken fax machines. They might be able to receive messages, but the message dies there.

This is part of the working smarter, not harder. We don’t need to make ten thousand friends to reach ten thousand people. I actually have the potential to reach 10,000 people with just four friends (psst…they hang out on #MyWANA a lot cuz they are social butterflies). So, today’s tip is that we need to actually spend time on social media. Not a lot of time, but meaningful time. Pay attention. Who is active? Who is social? These are the people that make the best friends to have in life and on-line.

If we disappear off Facebook for days and weeks or only tweet when we need something, we miss out on meeting these generous and wonderful people that can make the critical difference in our careers. We don’t need to take our career to the next level…we just need to meet the person who knows the person who gives us the opportunity.

A quick example. I am not particularly a fan of Facebook. I like it, but it isn’t fast enough for my ADD nature. Yet, I still post regularly on Facebook. Three times a day I scroll down the News Feed and look for at least TWO people I can congratulate, encourage, make smile, repost, SOMETHING. At the end of the day it isn’t a lot of time invested. BUT, an enthusiastic romance writer DeeDee Scott happens to be a Maven.

DeeDee not only is highly connected, she has this intense desire to serve and help..and she totally DIGS Facebook. I had reposted stuff for her and been social simply to serve and be kind. Thus, early in 2011, when a friend of hers asked for suggestions to speak on a panel at the Romantic Times Conference in Los Angeles, she immediately recommended me…even though we had only chit-chatted on FB.

That opportunity was a massive turning point in my career. I went to LA, ended up quoted in the LA Times, met a bunch of NY Times and LA Times best-selling authors, and my career literally leapt to  a totally new level that, on my own, I would never have had access to….without the help of a Maven.

We will talk more about those in another blog. So, what do you take away from this? Be kind. Be social. Be vested. Part of the reason DeeDee recommended me was because I was one of the only social media experts who wasn’t a spammer. I’d actually talked to her and acted authentically (this is being Sticky). She remembered that, so when the opportunity presented itself, DeeDee knew just who to recommend…and I cannot thank her enough.

Any social media expert that sells you a bill of goods about how this or that program can tweet for you or post for you really isn’t doing you a favor. That is busy work that looks good on the surface. It’s activity with no productivity.

In the coming weeks, I am going to talk more about these three kinds of message-bearers—the Connector, the Maven and the Salesman. How can you find them? Befriend them? (And NOT in a spammy self-serving way). This is also one of the reasons it pays to be kind to everyone. Kindness is always the best policy.

Again, this is one of those things that’s simple…but not exactly easy. Yet, at the end of the day, this method will help you make the most out of your time on social media. Instead of being a hamster in a wheel tweeting into the abyss and “hoping” something sticks, you will be able to increase your odds that something will not only stick…but will set fire ;).

So what are some of the challenges you face when it comes to social media? Any tips, suggestions, advice. Hey, I love hearing from you guys and learning from you.

And 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 every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of September I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: GRAND PRIZE WILL BE PICKED THIS MONTH. I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced at the end of September) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Mash Up of Awesomeness

Eleven Deadly Sins of On-Line Promotion for Writers –YES!!! *claps hands*

Great resource for those interested in writing for children.

Who has the right to say you suck? by the brilliant and hilarious Tawna Fenske. BUY HER BOOK, Making Waves.

How a Perfectionist Learned to Bear her Warts by the wonderful Jody Hedlund. She is guest-posting for one of my all-time favorite people, Katie Ganshert. If you want great Christian Romance and can afford to lose a day glued to your couch turning pages, then buy Jody’s new book The Doctor’s Lady.

25 Things You Should Know About Queries, Synopses and Treatments by the genius Chuck Wendig. BUY ALL HIS BOOKS AND LISTEN TO HIM. He is not only insanely funny, but his advice is some of THE BEST in the industry.

What Can Writers Learn from Spam? by Jami Gold

Therese Walsh has an awesome post over on Writer Unboxed (subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already). Internal and External Inspirations

Has Rejection Turned You Into Someone You’re Not? by Jane Friedman (This is another critical blog to follow to keep your fingers on the pulse of our industry)

There are so MANY more wonderful blogs, but I have run out of time. I will make it up next week!

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65 Comments

The Secret to Selling Books Part I–Let’s Get Sticky

Two weeks ago, I introduced you guys to the WANA Theory of Book Economics and explained why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books. Books are not like cups of coffee or breakfast cereal, and thus they require a different approach. Writers are unique as well. Since we are responsible for producing the product, we need a social media approach that leaves time to write great books. That was the first lesson to connecting to potential readers. We needed to know HOW to connect, WHAT kind of message to send and WHY.

We also needed to understand the critical element that could make a book a mega success. What was this key variable? We had to mobilize the fat part of the bell curve, that group of people who would not normally define themselves as readers. Harry Potter, The DaVinci Code, Tuesdays with Morrie, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Help all tapped into groups of people who normally didn’t read for pleasure. But, once some key non-readers read these books, word of mouth sparked like wildfire and made literary history.

Then, last week we discussed the typical non-reader. There is a misconception that non-readers don’t read. They DO read, they just happen to be highly selective. The benefit, however, is that once one of these guys becomes a fan? He is the most loyal, devoted fan any writer can have. Often this guy is the best salesman a writer can have, too. He is the flint that creates the spark that can start the fire.

Ah, but here comes the problem. Too many writers are getting on social media and hanging out with each other and marketing to each other. It is an over-saturated market full of people who can only buy so many books. Also, since all of us LOVE books, we might not be the best people for starting that wildfire of word of mouth that can push the non-reader population past the tipping point.

Many of you are chomping at the bit. Kristen, for the love of all that is holy, where can we find the magic well of readers?!!!

I would love to give a website. Go to www.loyalbookfans.com . Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Or a formula for success. A + B = Wild Success.

But, unfortunately there is no specific formula and no guarantee….BUT that doesn’t mean that we can’t change some behaviors that will improve our odds.

I did say it was simple to connect and mobilize the fat part of the bell curve, and it is. Simple, however, is not necessarily easy. There are actually a number of components we need to understand, but today we are only going to focus on one, because it is the most important. If we cannot do this, then nothing else matters.

We need to get sticky.

In The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, Gladwell defines The Stickiness Factor in the following way:

The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a difference in how much of an impact it makes.

The Stickiness Factor not only applies to our social media message, it applies to who we are as writer personalities. It also applies to our books. Nailing what I will call The Sticky Author Triumvirate is key to publishing success. We need to get sticky on all three to have the best odds of reaching the tipping point.

Let’s take a look at The Sticky Author Triumvirate:

Get Sticky with Social Media Messages–One of the reasons that traditional marketing doesn’t work when it comes to books is because the messages are not sticky. In fact, we are so blitzed with marketing messages in modern society that most static marketing messages become white noise and invisible. Thus, why blitzing about our book non-stop on ten different sites is almost a total waster of time is that the message is rarely seen. Auto-tweets are ignored and are what marketing experts call clutter.

Additionally, it is not enough to have a million people “see” a message/pitch. There has to be a compulsion to SEE then ACT. If a zillion people see my commercial for car insurance, but none of them ever change policies, then the campaign is a failure. It’s a big waste of effort, time and money.

What can make people care? Care about them first. Just talking to people can go a long way to making a sale. People buy from who they know and who they LIKE. Stand apart from all the takers and learn to give.

Beyond that?

Sit and write out a hundred activities, shows, channels you enjoy. Yes, most of us love writing, but we love other things too. We need to extend ourselves and simply start talking to people. We have to learn to be unselfish. Stop demanding that others connect with us via OUR interests–books, craft, writing–and take initiative. We need to find the common ground and extend ourselves and connect where the potential READER feels comfortable.

Surely you have friends, family or coworkers on Facebook who are not writers. Who are they talking to? Who are their friends? Start poaching (befriending) normal people and talk to them. If you meet a pet lover on Twitter who works as an engineer and he is nice? Look at who his friends are and extend yourself. Hey, I am a pal of Jim’s. Thought I would say hello. (DO NOT pitch to them, just talk and be cool).

Just once a day make it a point to add non-writers who are active on social media to your network. Pay attention to them and start a dialogue. Be genuine and positive, and that will be STICKY. People crave attention and positive energy.

Next week we will talk more about why this is critical and how to use this tactic to reach the tipping point. Not all conversations have equal weight. But in the meantime? Let’s get sticky!

We Need to Be Sticky Writer Personalities–The Stickiness Factor applies to who we are as writer personalities. Chit-chat on social media is actually very valuable. People who repost, compliment, question, serve and are positive are MEMORABLE. We stick. People like us. When they think “writer” we become the first person they think about.

This is one of the reasons that it is beneficial to get out of the comfort zone and talk in other circles. As long as we are all hanging out with other writers we blend into the din. But, if we start talking to other people who love sports, parenting, knitting, the military, politics, animals, horses, celebrities, then we are now injecting ourselves into groups that are not comprised of people just like us. We stand out so we are a bit more “sticky.”

Pick a favorite channel on cable TV, a favorite show, or a video game, and I guarantee there is a Twitter # for it. Start talking to people who love #Lost or #AI, #Glee, #ESPN, #Oprah, #Ellen, #Halo #GoW. Profile your potential reader. What does she do with her day? Maybe she is a #teacher or she plays #WOW. Get creative and get out of that comfort zone.

Sure you can still hang out with writers, but we are your peers, not substitute for a fan base. To be sticky, we need to stick out.

Go to the websites of your favorite channels and shows and find their Twitter # and then make a column for it. Chat with people. I have columns for #GoW (Gears of War) ,#MW (Modern Warfare), #military because I am also an avid gamer and I am military. LOTS of great people in these groups.

We can use blogging to super increase this Sticky Factor. How? First, stop blogging about the same topics as every other writer. Blogging about writing is great, but not necessarily memorable. There are better things to blog about that can make you stick like Super Glue. Author blogs, written properly, are a FANTASTIC way to increase our Sticky Factor exponentially.

If you want to learn to get sticky with your blog, I highly recommend taking my Blogging for Author Brand Workshop. It’s only $40 and TWO months long (one month lessons and one month launch) and it is from the comfort of your home. There are tools and tactics that I am only sharing in my workshops and that I am saving for my next book, so this is a cool opportunity to get lessons I won’t be teaching on the blog.

Finally, We Need to Write Sticky Books–At the end of the day, THIS is why I teach social media for writers. We need to have time to write great books. Great books are STICKY. Sure, if I have a popular blog and a good social media presence I will probably sell some books. But, the only way my book can break past that initial layer of contact is to write a sticky book. Turn politeness into PASSION.

It is not enough for someone to buy our book. They must also love it so much that they can’t wait to tell someone, recommend our book or even buy a gift copy for a pal. THIS is how word of mouth wildfires get started. We will talk more about this next week and I hope you pick up a copy of The Tipping Point. It’s a fun read and highly relevant to all authors serious about creating a long-term fan base.

What are some things that make authors on social media memorable to you? What makes you want to share a message? What turns you off? What are your thoughts? Opinions?  I love hearing from you! And 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. 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 August I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Fave Stuff

My NEW favorite blog, Penelope Trunk’s Blog Blog Under Your Real Name and Ignore the Harassment LOVE THIS POST. Read THIS blog. “Awesome-sauce” as the brilliant Chuck Wendig would say.

Kait Nolan’s Can Cinderella Save Herself?

This is another gem (well they are all gems but this one is particularly shiny) Terrell Mim’s Living in the Dash. I cannot tell you how important it is that every one of you read this blog.

Writing Stuff

Don’t Be a Cheerleader for Crappiness–25 Things You Should Know about Self-Publishing by Chuck Wendig

Why Your Blog’s “About” Page Matters by Joel Frielander

Are You Keeping Yourself on a Short Leash? Great post about getting outside of the comfort zone by Kerry Meacham

What Do I Look Like, a Protag? Great advice about how to describe our protag without being ham-fisted and obvious.

The Changing Landscape of Publishing for Writers by NYTBSA Bob Mayer

Playing to Your Strengths by Jenny Hansen

Behold the Power of a Nap by Jennifer Hale

The Great Back-Story Debate by the amazing writing teacher James Scott Bell

How I Do It: Ease Into Responsibility by Jody Hedlund

Three Keys to Marketing in the Current Fiction Environment by Michael Hyatt

Three Things that Come First before You Tackle Social Media by the brilliant WD contributing editor Jane Friedman over at the awesome writer resource Writer Unboxed

Is Your Writing Group Helping or Hurting Your Career? by Steenah Holmes

You are Not Tolstoy or Dickens by Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner

How to Get Your Blog Post on Google’s 1st Page by Keli Gwyn

The Anti-Procrastination Diet by Roni Loren

How Much Time Do We Really Need to Write? by Natalia Sylvester

Funny Stuff

The Must-Have Urban Redneck Belt by Natalie Hartford

Planking–Not Just for Pirates Anymore by Piper Bayard

Lili Tufel’s Top Ten Signs You’re Married to an Author

My Dirty Little Secret by Tameri Etherton

Fun and Nerdy Fact Blogs

Who Were the Celts? by Kate Wood

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Spam Toad vs. Author Brand

Social media is different for writers.  Yes, we really are special unique snowflakes. I have repeatedly claimed that I am not a social media expert. Rather, I am THE social media expert for writers. There is a HUGE difference. I am a writer first, and the book is always the most important asset we have. There isn’t any point to all this blogging and tweeting and Face-booking (yes, I made up a word) unless we have a finished product to sell.

So which social media platform is the best for writers?

My answer? The one you like and will do well. If the thought of being on Facebook makes you want to drink cooking wine until you black out, then by all means sign up for G+. If you love Facebook and hate Twitter, then at least read my Twitter Tuesday series. You might just hate Twitter because you don’t understand it. BUT, if you totally GET Twitter and it makes you break out in hives and want to punch puppies??? Don’t hang there.

If we hang out places we enjoy, people can feel and respond to the positive energy. The largest benefit we can gain from social media is a vested community of support. We do not need a “presence” on all social platforms. We can have one, but it will likely have little impact on sales. Why? There are a number of reasons, but today we are only going to discuss one.

Name Recognition is Not a Brand

Writers are not Starbuck’s.

Some people believe that if we spew our names across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flikr, Goodreads…okay, I’m tired…Four Square, Technorati, Digg….that THIS is effective marketing. My opinion? This is a formula to land a writer on a roof with a margarita machine and a shotgun.

Too many writers are trying to have a “presence” on a gajillion social sites. Name recognition alone is not a brand, and it certainly isn’t an author brand. It also doesn’t leave time to write more books. There are a lot of writers getting in trouble with their agents and publishers because they are dedicating too much time to social media. Why? Because this scattergun approach is a massive time suck (and does nothing to brand us anyway).

What is an author brand? My formula:

Name + Fantastic Content + POSITIVE FEELINGS = Brand

If a writer just spams people on 10 different social sites:

Look at ME!

Here’s my blog!

Free download of my book!

Read my reviews!

It really just means that this writer has ten places people hate him and cringe when they see his name. There are certain social sites I no longer visit. I found it too hard to enjoy myself when I was being harassed non-stop by self-published authors.

This goes for sending people form letters on Facebook too. If I “friend” a writer, and within 30 seconds receive a nice long letter that is trying to “look” personalized, that ticks me off, especially when the writer wants something from me.

This person hasn’t so much as said “boo” to me, but they want my time, effort, money and referral. And not only that, but this person is treating me like I am so stupid that I don’t know a form letter when I see one.

NOT a good way to make friends.

Also, please do not start a Why I Am So Awesome Club on Facebook and then sign us up without asking first. I hate it when I open my e-mail’s In Box to notifications for a discussion in a group I have never heard of, yet I am, somehow, a member.

You have 10 e-mails from Friends of Author Buffy Fluffernutter—The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Hate and Orthotics.

Huh? What? Did someone rufie my Facebook and she ended up at a party she doesn’t remember?  

Back to our formula:

Name + Great Content +POSITIVE FEELINGS= Brand

When someone spams me, I get annoyed. When they send me form letters where they have inserted my name and a couple of inane details that anyone could get by looking at my bio? I get REALLY annoyed, because now I am not only being treated as if I am stupid, I am being manipulated.

Name + Unsolicited Content+ Seriously ticked off feelings = Spam Toad

I have yet to ever buy anything from writers on Twitter who DMed, “Thanks for the follow. For more of my terribly interesting thoughts buy my book here.”

Yeah, I am right on that. Right after I pick up my Facebook page from victim’s counseling. On the bright side, she has given up digital daiquiris for good.

In fairness, I actually don’t report these writers as spam.  Though I find the approach annoying, I know that there is some “marketing genius” who is telling writers that this is the way to be professional and to sell a lot of books.

NO.

We cannot take what works for Bubba’s Car Wash and cross-apply it to selling books. Traditional marketing DOES NOT SELL BOOKS. It never has, and likely never will. We are going to talk about why next week.

Back to our topic…

Name recognition alone doesn’t sell books, namely because that is a traditional marketing tactic. Brands, especially when talking about author brands, are a product of interaction. I like to say that authors are the new reality stars. We now have the power to become a personality. People like US…so they buy our books.

Spending hours a day blitzing ten different social sites is a waste of time. Spend that time writing more books and blogging. Blogs offer readers a chance to know us, like us, and love our writing voice. If we can get them addicted to 1500 words a week, think when we offer 80,000.

For instance, I started reading Tawna Fenkse’s blog a YEAR before her book was ready for purchase. Let me tell you, the second that puppy was for sale? I was on it like a chicken on a June bug. And I was RIGHT. Her fiction is even better than the blog. I was hooked by her blog and couldn’t WAIT for her book. Buy Making Waves the first chance you get.

Blogs are very useful for creating reader loyalty. If we write a killer blog, we don’t need to be on every last social site. Why? Our following will be sharing our stuff where THEY hang out….which is the purpose of social media. We don’t have to do this alone.

If you don’t want to blog, no problem, just be authentic and likable. If we focus on doing one or two sites well, we start becoming a brand because people can start associating those pink fluffy feelings with our names (the NAME that will be printed on your books–ditch the cutesy moniker if you have one).

Even corporations appreciate the power of emotions. Look at the picture above. We have all laughed at “Peggy.” Capitol One appreciated how we have been treated by other card companies, and they sought to make us feel appreciated…so they poked fun. And it works. We connect emotionally.

Name recognition alone is not enough. To prove my point:

Arne Duncan Vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Which name do you recognize? Perhaps both. Duncan is the current U.S. Secretary of Education. You might have heard his name in passing on CNN, but though you recognize it, it holds little mental real estate and his name is not highly emotive (for most people). Schwarzenegger, by contrast, is a name that practically explodes with images, concepts and emotions for people all over the world.

This is the idea behind becoming a brand. Name recognition alone is not enough. We must use our blogs and social platforms to drive the power of emotion behind our names.  This is one of the reasons NYTBSAs can get away with some traditional marketing. Why? Because they have 20+ books supplying the emotional component to their names.

When we don’t yet have a book out, or only one or two books? Our social platform can step in and fill the emotional vacuum until we have more titles under our belt.

We can use our blogs to connect with READERS on common emotional ground. We craft an experience that is so positive that people not only want to buy our books, but they also want to badger friends and family to buy our books as well. Why? Because they feel they know us. They connected with us and so they are vested in our success; so vested, in fact, that they are willing to mobilize their platforms to help us.

THAT is the real power of becoming a brand. Historically, the only way an author could emotionally connect (in a positive way) was through her novels. Now? Social media can act as a meantime supplement between books.

In the end, just understand that name recognition is not a brand.

Seeing a name a bazillion times means next to nothing. Unless that name connects personally and emotively in a positive way, it is very difficult to compel the sale (which is the end goal anyway). People have a lot going on in their lives. Emotion is the best way to power past people’s natural inertia and make them act (purchase a book).  It is next to impossible to connect emotively scattered across 8 social sites. Then people might be seeing our name, but since we don’t have time to be vested, we can easily fall into that Spam Toad mental file, and that is BAD.

So what do you guys think? What makes you connect with an author enough to buy her books (aside from pervious good books)? What are some tactics that make you want to scream? Do you feel better knowing you don’t have to be EVERYWHERE? Or do you disagree and think writers need to be on 10 social sites?

I love hearing from you! And 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. 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 August I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Mash Up of Awesomeness

Bob Mayer’s Thriving in the Chaos of Publishing

Why Twister is a Dangerous Game for Dads by Brian Klems

Ellie Soderstrom’s My Three Favorite Weight Loss Tips I Ever Made Up (Caution: Do not eat or beverages while reading this post. Could cause choking.)

Need even more laughter? Prepare to bust a gut. A Time to Receipt by Bayard and Holmes. Yes, the face of Jesus on a Wal Mart receipt. I won’t ruin it for you.

Cosmo Headlines–A Critical Analysis by Tyler Tarver (guest blogger for Clay Morgan). And YES I did funny stuff. I love to laugh.

Why are so many writers plagued with insecurities? by Jody Hedlund

Play it Again–The Top 20 Most Rewatchable Movies by Sonia Medieros

Well isn’t this Smurfy? What cartoons have influenced you? by Kristal Lee

Where God Put the Moon by Jennifer Hale. Awesome, inspirational post.

Camping with Snookie and the Art of Hovering by Lori Dyan

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78 Comments

What’s the Magic Number? How Often Should Writers Blog?

Blogging is probably one of the most powerful ways to build an author platform. The blog gives others a chance to know us and support us because of our writing. Yet, there is one question that I always get when I mention blogging:

How often should writers blog?

Everyone has an opinion, including me. But, before we get to my two cents, I know there are competing theories. Let’s take a quick look at those.

Blogging Every Day or Multiple Times a Day

Some experts recommend micro-blogging—blogging in short burst several times a day or short blogs every day. I think if your goal is to be a famous blogger, this can work. As writers, though, most of us are already balancing a day job, kids, housework, and a WIP. So blogging every day or more than once a day is hard on us and probably hard on our following as well.

Can you blog every day? Sure. It is a great way to saturate the Internet with your content and help fast-track a brand. I don’t think this approach is a good fit for most writers, though. If you can commit the time and be interesting that often, rock on!

Blogging Once a Month

Some experts advise once a month. Whoo-hoo! Yay! Only one blog a month!!!! *happy dance*

Okay, yes, there is that benefit of only having to write one post a month, but there are a lot of advantages we lose with this method.

I think that what we lose in this approach is the ability to build community and relationships using the blog.  Sure, we save time in having to write fewer blogs, but then we need to commit time in other areas, like lengthy e-mail lists. So, do we save time, or do we just shift it elsewhere?

If we post blogs regularly, people are connecting with us regularly and come to feel as if they know us. Why? Because they DO know us.

We are vested, posting content that serves the reader, and we are interacting with those who comment. We aren’t just surfacing once a month, expecting those around us to drop everything to pay attention to us and our blog.

Can the once a month approach work?

Sure. But this approach relies heavily on going viral…which is hard to do without on-line relationships to
propel the momentum.

For instance, my blog has a very large following. But, this blog has allowed me to forge relationships with other bloggers who also have large followings. My efforts now work exponentially instead of linearly. I don’t have to personally connect with 100,000 people. I have a team to help me. What’s better is that when my team promotes me, it is more genuine (psst–it’s also called word of mouth). Traditional marketing cannot compete.

I also think that blogging once a month makes it very easy to lose the top-of-mind with others. People have very short attention spans these days and a month with no content is a lifetime. Also, I don’t know about you, but once a month is really hard for me to remember. I had to get my computer to remind me to give my dog a heartworm pill once a month and I was STILL lousy at remembering. I think if we blog only 12 times a year, the blog is easy to forget all around.

What is the “Magic” Number?

I recommend a minimum of once a week. It is enough to stay top of mind with followers, yet not overwhelm anyone.

Ideally? I recommend three times a week, especially in the beginning. Why? Well, I know this sounds weird, but three times a week is actually easier than once a week. Blogging three times a week holds a number of advantages that are especially beneficial to professional writers:

Regular blogging places us in a professional mindset.

Writers write. Blogging is a great way to warm up those fingers and get the brain in gear. When we are writing a novel, we get little outside validation. Most of the time, friends and family think we are, at worst, lunatics, and at best, hobbyists. In short, others do not believe what we do is work or even a job. Blogging is a great way to demonstrate that we take our craft seriously. How? We wouldn’t spend time building a platform for a book we had no intention of finishing. Also, again, writers write.

When someone asks, “What do you do?” and you say “I’m a writer,” you know the next questions are going to be, “What books have you written? Anything I might have read?”

Blogging helps with confidence. We can say, “Well, I am finishing my first novel but you can go to my blog here.” A blog gives a professional front. It also helps switch us from hobbyists to true professionals.

This transition is vital. What if you decided you wanted to play baseball at a professional level? Would you just wait until game day to pick up a bat? Or would your lifestyle have to change to incorporate regular practice to take this “hobby” to a new level?

Blogging makes us faster cleaner writers.

When I look at some of my early blogs, I cringe. My thoughts are all over the place. Blogging works on our ability to mentally organize content. This helps us become better writers all around. Even plotting for a novel requires us to be able to organize our thoughts efficiently. Blogging is great exercise for that.

Let’s look at sports again. Years ago, I played soccer, and we had to run through a lot of tires. In three years of playing soccer I was never once assailed by a Goodyear tire on the field. So what was the point? It taught me to be quick on my feet so I would play the game better.

Blogging is like running cones or tires, or doing wind sprints. It makes us stronger, faster and better. The more we do it the faster the results.

Blogging feeds the spirit.

A huge part of this business is mental. Stephen King said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

I know of many writers more talented than me, but they won’t ever be published. Why? They gave up. As artists, we need to pay close attention to our mental state. It is easy in this business to get overwhelmed, burned out and give up. Blogging gives us validation in the lean times bewteen books.

The Big Picture

Am I telling you guys to blog because I can give you a magic formula for books sold?

100 blogs x 2 years divided by # comments X Pi = NY Times Best-Seller List

No, I encourage you to blog because it will make you stronger, faster, cleaner writers AND it will connect you to a large community of support so you don’t have to drive your book sales all by yourself. Instead of spending time putting together lengthy e-mail lists, write blogs instead. It takes the same amount of time and yet one approach makes us good at spreadsheets…the other makes us far better, stronger writers which means BETTER BOOKS. We also get really great at obliterating deadlines.

Blogging also keeps our head in the game. Back to sports. The pep rally is critical. All the practice in the world cannot help a team with low morale.

So back to our question, “How many times do we need to blog?”

There isn’t a clear answer. It is up to you and your strengths. Some people come from a sales background and their strength rests in putting together e-mail lists and launching marketing campaigns. If that is your strength, go for it!

For me? I am a writer. It is what I love and do well and I work hard every day to do it better. Blogging allows me to build a platform and strengthen my writing skills simultaneously. It permits me to do my passion WRITING.

My preference? I like three times a week.

Some people are against blogging three times a week because they don’t want to overwhelm their subscribers with fluff. My solution? Don’t write fluff. Blogging is a skill. It gets better with practice. You will get better at hooking readers with titles and content the more you do it. This will help your WIP as well.

Three times a week helps your blog and your skills grow faster. I have recommended this approach to many of my students. They kicked and screamed and whined, but when they started seeing the numbers climb and the subscriptions take off they were believers that three times a week really is easier.

But when we get down to brass tacks…

I recommend that you blog as often as you can be counted upon and still finish the books. The point of blogging is to eventually drive sales for our books. The finished product is paramount.

Back to blogging. There is a bare minimum we need to meet, or just forget it. There are too many writers who post when they feel particularly inspired. Hey, I was guilty once. But that isn’t the behavior of a professional.

Once a month, I think is not often enough for our blog to be much help in our platform. I advise a minimum of once a week or just forget blogging.

What are your thoughts? Do you love blogging? Hate it? What are your biggest challenges? What are some benefits you might have gained blogging?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, 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 June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

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