Posts Tagged building an author platform

Suck It Up & Writer Up—Preparing for Greatness

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.58.49 AM

Social media doesn’t work. Blogging doesn’t sell books. We’ll have to put out massive amounts of time and effort for no pay-off. We’ll have to learn HTML and how to manipulate algorithms to succeed and this is all for nothing. If we blog, we must write Pulitzer-quality content, but don’t bother. No one will read it, anyway.

Social media and blogging are the most soul-sucking, life-draining tasks we’ll ever have to do as authors. Quit while you can. If you aren’t already a mega-best-selling author, no one will care about you, your work or your blog.

Feel inspired?

Unless off the grid traveling, I’m always engaged with social media. I keep my “finger” on the pulse of what’s happening in my platform. Over the weekend, a Twitter follower shared an article and asked me for my thoughts.

I won’t even bother linking to the article because my goal here isn’t to put anyone down. The author of the article clearly felt overwhelmed, exhausted and disillusioned and that’s par for the course in what we do.

I can appreciate how dreadful the writer who wrote this post must feel. In fact, I never wanted to be a social media expert. I wanted to write novels. But, early on, when attending conferences and reading blogs from experts, I could see where their advice was headed.

While these experts meant well and truly wanted to help, I believed their approach was more likely to turn writers into cutters than to sell truckloads of books. I knew social media would be the ultimate game-changer, so I put aside my fiction and set a new course.

Are They Wrong?

We can debate right and wrong all we want. I feel there are likely people who use algorithms, automation, promotion, contests, newsletters and technology and are very successful at it. But this isn’t a One Size Fits All World. There are millions of people who believe in living a vegan lifestyle and actively try to convert me.

Granted, I’ve never met a veggie I didn’t love, but the simple fact is I have so many food allergies this diet would kill me. I’m not particularly a meat-eater (Psst, Don’t tell the other Texans.) But, with horrible allergies to gluten, soy, legumes and most nuts? Going vegan is an option that would make me ill, weak, and leave me malnourished.

Does this mean all the vegans of the world are wrong? Well, that’s really not what we are here to discuss. It’s an anecdote to make my point.

Here’s another while we’re here.

In college, I had friend who had the same go-to-diet every time she gained weight. Stop eating, start smoking and drink lots of Dr. Pepper. Granted, it was tempting in those years to do The Marlboro-Dr. Pepper Diet, myself. I struggled with my weight despite many, many hours at the gym and eating healthy (I didn’t realize I was allergic to gluten and dairy and that’s why I remained “fluffy.”)

It was gut-wrenching to see her svelte and thin while I wore stretchy pants. But, deep down, I knew The Marlboro-Dr. Pepper Diet was flawed. It worked short-term, but I knew it would have long-term, devastating consequences.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Zoetnet

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Zoetnet

This is how I feel about social media. WANA is a balanced approach to social media that works with the strengths of a writer. I imagine most of you aren’t doing this “writing thing” until your dream job in high-pressure sales comes along. But WANA is not The Marlboro-Dr. Pepper Diet. You might not see big results for a long time, but your platform will be fun, healthy, and stable.

Thinking Long-Term

Recently, I’ve started the P90X program (I started it once before then gave myself EPIC tendonitis pushing a crappy mower and working in the yard). I had to stop and do yoga for about a year to allow my joints to heal enough to try again. Due to my food allergies, I already have a fabulous diet. In fact, when I went to the doctor a year ago at a Size 16 and 180 pounds, I brought my food journal and exercise journal for the previous six months.

The doctor was floored. Unless I was lying or had something hormonal going on (Thyroid?) someone with this lifestyle should NOT have been 5’3″ and 180 pounds.

I was working out, no alcohol, no sugar, GF, dairy-free, non-GMO, organic, no soy, good carbs and yet I was FIFTY pounds overweight. They did an extensive blood panel and I was textbook perfect health—aside from having three @$$es when I should have only had one. The doctors were puzzled  and so was I.

Knowing my history with food allergies, I cut out eggs and my weight began to drop. Then stopped. And there was another thing that disturbed me. I’ve always been someone who easily put on muscle, but I had no tone. NO muscle. Sure I was in a Size 6-8, but I was soft despite being active.

So, I revisited the P90X and, before starting, I calculated how many calories their plan wanted me to ingest.

2400 CALORIES? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND??????

But, I figured I’d done it my way long enough, why not try? For me, the biggest challenge has been the eating. What I’m eating is the same, just A LOT MORE and MUCH MORE FREQUENTLY. I’ve had my mind screaming, You’re eating too much! You’re going to be back at a Size 16! 

But, I tried it…and have lost roughly a pound a day. Also, I felt these lumps after a few days. OMG. Tumors? No, MUSCLES. I’m finally getting definition in my arms, shoulders and back.

And sure, 2400 calories is easy if we are eating garbage. But try getting 2400 calories of green veggies, lean protein, and limited complex carbs. Last night, I made my final chicken breast and kale and it was so hard to eat, because I’ve been in a bad habit of not eating enough.

But what do I want? Do I want to keep wearing a Medieval Torture Device (Spanx) to keep my tummy tucked in and back-fat smoothed down? Do I want to keep hiding my beefy arms under cardigans? Do I want to keep relying on caffeine for energy? No. So, in my mind, Suck it up, Buttercup.

Our bodies and our platforms reflect what we feed them and how often. Starvation and junk yield weak and ill. Thus, we always should ask, “What am I feeding my writing/platform?”

THIS?

THIS?

Or THIS?

Or THIS?

At first, it might not be easy. Just like clean-eating, it might take time for the digital “taste-buds” to catch up (and even crave) the wholesome stuff over the empty junk. This is a process.

Our Author Platform is a Living Thing

WANA platforms are designed to be organic and grow as you grow. They don’t rely on algorithms, automation or technology. They are immune to fads and work on any social site we choose. How?

Platforms cannot grow and thrive long-term on empty-calories automation and algorithms. We must be present and vested. There needs to be a human behind the tweets and posts. People sense automation and they either ignore it or resent it.

And sure, filling out a bunch of automation ahead of time seems easier, but it’s the digital equivalent of The Marlboro-Dr. Pepper Diet. Short-term we might feel spiffy, but later? BLURGH.

Once the short-term wears off, we’re left exhausted, worn out, angry, grumpy and eventually will fail to see results at all.

Want Your Blog to Grow? FEED IT FREQUENTLY

When P90X tells me to eat every 2-3 hours, it’s a hassle. I won’t lie. I’ve never been a breakfast-eater, probably because most breakfast foods were poison for so long (eggs, dairy, wheat). When I started this, I literally had to force myself to eat when I wasn’t hungry.

Good thing, though, is that P90X isn’t asking me to sit down to a seven-course meal 6 times a day. It can be three ounces of chicken and a cup of veggies, an apple, a protein bar, a handful of almonds. Small, meaningful meals regularly and consistently for long-term results.

The same can be said of blogging. In my book, I teach how to blog in a way that is very easy and will connect to readers. In fact, it can take as little as 15 minutes a day. Why? I’m not asking you to serve up an article worthy of The New York Times. I’m asking for the digital handful of almonds.

The same goes for any platform. We can tweet a handful of times a day, five days a week and that’s plenty. We can post two or three times a day during the week on Facebook. That’s plenty. Will we see earth-shattering results Week One? Likely not. But good choices over time accumulate into major results.

I love you guys and I sincerely want for you to succeed. Whether we like it or not, social media is our lifeline. It’s been one of the single largest factors for more authors earning money off their work. Thus, if we need this platform for long-term success, we need to feed it good stuff regularly for long-term health and fitness.

Writer Up—No One Can Do This FOR Us

Just like I can’t outsource my health and my body, we can’t outsource our platform. Promotional companies and PR firms simply no longer have the power they used to in a world ruled by Media Gate Keepers who stemmed information flow. Are they valuable? Sure, but we have to do the building first. They can’t do it for us.

I’d love to pay some gym bunny to do my workout for me. Can I pay her do the squats, crunches, stairs and burpees and magically my whittle my butt down to something bikini-worthy? Would that not be COOL? No work on my part, just fork out money and wait for RESULTS.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way at the gym or on-line.

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Crossfit.

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Crossfit.

We need to Writer Up and show up. And to continue the analogy, I wish I looked as awesome as those folks on my P90X DVDs. Sadly, I probably resemble a chain-smoking Water Buffalo with a hangover. I can’t do all the reps. I have to take it easy in places to avoid flaring up my tendonitis. Some moves? I can’t even use weights. It is a sad…sad……..sad sight.

It may be pitiful, but it isn’t permanent ;).

I don’t have to do all the reps and all the moves. I merely have to show up. So much of social media is simply showing up. That simple. But simple isn’t always easy. My early blogs were just as ugly as these early workouts. But, I kept showing up and it made me faster, leaner and stronger. Success in anything? We can’t pay for it or wait for it we must work for it.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

There are NO Short-Cuts to ANY PLACE Worth Going

I’d love to come up with a “Social Media Shake-Weight.” You know, some goofy “fast-results” system I could sell for BIG cash. Unfortunately, I have a conscience and vested interest in your success as writers and as people. I can’t hand you a fancy algorithm or Guaranteed 20 Step Plan to be a NYTBSA. 

Why?

Because I know many of you possess the talent to take you over the moon, but it will be character that will keep you there. I’m not in the bottle-rocket business. I want to ignite stars that burn for generations.

Social media is more than selling books, it’s learning to forge relationships, be positive even when the world is caving in, showing up when you want to stay in bed, doing the work when no one notices any results and thinks we are fools. Social media, blogging and writing teach us patience, tenacity, flexibility, self-discipline and to keep pressing for what we say we want.

It would be easy to be a writer if all we had to do was finish a book and then hand cash to a promo team to make us zillionaires. But that isn’t reality. This business is tough. It weeds out the weak, the self-centered, the impatient, the undisciplined and those who are writing for the wrong reasons or who complain, whine and are unwilling to sacrifice. Yet, on the positive side, social media, blogging and writing rewards the faithful, the diligent, the committed, the humble, the giving and the kind.

In the end? We are not alone. Yes, we need a platform, but no one said you had to do it by yourself. That’s what WANA is all about.

What are your thoughts? Do you get overwhelmed? Do you think you need to do a lot of EVERYTHING and it’s leaving you burned out? Have you learned to be faithful with baby steps? I know I am still working on that. Do you feel pressured? Like nothing you do matters? Or, have you come to that place where you’re willing to Writer Up?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World

March’s WINNER—Christina Delusions of Humor

Please e-mail me your 20 pages (5000 words) in a WORD document to kristen at wan a intl dot com. Or a synopsis (750 words MAX) or a query letter (250 words). Congratulations!

, , , , , , , ,

112 Comments

How to Write a Great Author Blog AND Avoid Huge Ships

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

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

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

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

*breathes into paper bag*

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

Write about writing.

Write about the industry.

Write about your process.

Write about your research.

Write about your books.

Write essays.

Write about getting an agent.

Conduct interviews.

Do book reviews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STORY.

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

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

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

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

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

TheMightyBahamutSee all my reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By DMS – See all my reviews

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

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

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

UPDATE:

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

Should I be concerned?

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE:

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

UPDATE: PLEASE READ:

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

UPDATE:NEVERMINDS, I AM FINE THANK YOU:

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

How to Avoid Huge Ships Book Review

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

By Roger on August 21, 2013

Format: Paperback

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

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

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

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

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

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

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

89 Comments

8 Tips to Make Sure Everyone on Twitter Hates Us

Image via QuickMeme

Image via QuickMeme

As a social media expert, I run into all kinds of strange behavior and tips that make me scratch my head. Social media is social, meaning it’s supposed to be an extension of how we might interact with other human beings in person. Today’s post (obviously) is tongue-and-cheek, but humor can be the best teacher even if we’ve oopsed.

Tip #1—Only Use Automation

Writing a 140 characters is SUPER time-consuming. We aren’t Jack London. Besides, people LOVE talking to robots. I know when I feel lonely, I call AT&T because I know a human being will NEVER answer…EVER. Humans can be so boring and don’t offer us the option of hitting 6 if we want to hear everything they just said all over again. 

Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.

Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.

Real Life Application: Program cell phones to call friends and family at regular intervals to ask for money. They’d dig that.

Tip #2—Make Sure All Preprogrammed Tweets are “Carefully Crafted”

Because when we take time to artfully craft our spam, people don’t mind. They LOVE believing a real person is there only to be fooled. It’s like when that cute guy/gal in high school pretended to want to go out with us. Now we can relive that experience as adults by being duped into thinking we were chatting with a real person who actually cared.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 8.41.07 AM

Real Life Application: At the holidays, volunteer to bring a Honey-Baked ham, then show with Tofurkey. They won’t know the difference if we use lots of ketchup.

Tip #3—When Programming Tweets Include Popular Hashtags

Who goes to social media to socialize? People LOVE finding a community of real people to talk to and then having it crowded out by the same advertising over and over…and over. Because research shows that it takes at least 20 times to see an annoying face before we want to punch it.

Real Life Application: When attending any party, make sure to hand out lots of fliers, advertisements and coupons. Have a children’s book for sale? Stake out bounce house parties and put ads in all the little grab bags. Kids don’t want toys, candy and stickers, they want our BOOKS. Feel free to crash weddings, graduations, bachelor parties and maybe even funerals. If potential readers aren’t coming to us, we should go to them. Find where they gather then SELL. So what if it’s against their will?

Tip #4—Make People Prove Who They Are Before Talking to Them

Twitter validation services are awesome. We love meeting someone, only to have to jump through hoops to prove our love. We even get the added advantage of being redirected off Twitter to an outside site where we’re easily hacked. How else will all our friends receive direct messages from porn sites posing as us? Nothing seals an on-line relationship like giving others a social media disease. Who will they think of when they have to spend hours removing viruses and trojans from their computers.

Can we say “Top of Mind”?

Come on! It takes three whole seconds to unfollow a bot. We need those precious three seconds to carefully craft witty preprogrammed tweets. Let the other person do the fifty hoops of leg-work to earn our trust. They have plenty of time.

Screen Shot 2012-04-11 at 10.40.57 AM

Real Life Application: Whenever we meet someone and start chatting, if we like them, halt all communication until they fill out a detailed background check. Throw in a pee test to be extra sure ;).

Tip#5—Tweet LOTS of Articles—Ok, ALL Articles

Most of us, when we wake up in the morning, think, “Gee, I wish I had a super long reading list. I sure miss my college syllabus.” Those of us with a corporate job LOVE people who hit Reply ALL so we can read more. Wikipedia is a hot place to hang out. Why not bring that encyclopedic magic to Twitter?

Real Life Application: Make sure to print off a box of articles for that wedding you were invited to. Who wants to dance or flirt when they could be reading about Three-Act Structure or Intestinal Parasites? Handing people a stack of reading material is way better than getting trapped in a “conversation.”

Tip #6—Ask for Stuff Immediately

Oh, sure! Let me drop everything to buy your book.

Oh, sure! Let me drop everything to buy your book.

The second someone befriends us, it’s our job to send an automated link to their Direct Messages so they can do stuff FOR US. Buy our book, like our FB page, follow our blog, or even answer a really inane question (as if we care about their answer) *rolls eyes*. Hey, great to meet you. Do you like vampires or werewolves?

Huh?

Huh?

Real Life Application: If someone is nice to us in the grocery store, make sure to have books to sell and the ability to take credit cards on the spot. Sure, that person is trying to buy a chicken to make for dinner and now she can buy OUR BOOKS, too. Win-win. If we don’t have books for sale, we can ask for life, love or career advice from total strangers, because that isn’t creepy at ALL.

Tip #7—Tweet from Several Accounts/Identities

People on Twitter might miss out on all those “carefully crafted” preprogrammed tweets. Make sure to have anywhere from 2-7 identities sending the same messages. What’s better than spam? MORE SPAM, duh.

Real Life Application: This tactic ROCKS for singles on the dating scene. Meet a date then several times throughout the conversation, change names and accents. Multiple-Personalities are just more people to love.

Tip #8—Never Tweet ANYTHING Original Just Retweet

Again, 140 characters cuts into word count. Save time and retweet what everyone else has to say. Two clicks? DONE.

Real Life Application: Repeat what everyone else says. People love parrots, so why not harness that fluffy colorful cuteness? I know I LOVED it when my little brother repeated everything I said…until I put him in an arm-bar.

Okay, Serious Now 

Twitter can be very valuable and a great place to make wonderful friends. Be real and enjoy. People are on social media to be social. We crave connection, fun and escape. If we wanted more ads we’d read the door in the bathroom stall or not bother fast-forwarding through commercials. We don’t need to be profound, deep or immensely witty to do well on Twitter, we just need to be vested, present and authentic ;).

I LOVE hearing from you!

What are some other things people do on social media that in real life would be ridiculous? I think sometimes we fail to extend that logic. Do you get tired of the same automation tweets? Have you ever bought a book because someone you friended automatically sent you a link to buy?

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

Announcements:

WANACon is a virtual writing conference loaded with top-tier industry professionals—authors, agents, editors and best-selling authors. Right now we have an Early Bird Special. Sign Up Here.

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

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

, , , , , , ,

72 Comments

Irrefutable Law of Success #3—We Learn By Doing

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Amadeus

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Gabriel Amadeus

Theory is great, but it may or may not jive with reality. My goal as a blogger, author, teacher is to equip you guys for success from all angles—craft, brand/platform, and business. Yet, want to know what all these have in common?

We have to DO them to get better.

We can read all the craft books in the world, but we only grow as writers by writing. We improve on Facebook or Twitter with practice. As authors, we are corporations of ONE. We need to make business decisions. The more decisions we make, the more we grow.

One of the biggest business decisions we’ll make is which publishing path to take. This is why I dedicate a lot of time to educate you guys about how all forms of publishing work in my new book. We have to choose a path that fits our personality, our lives, how much time we have, and any operational constraints (four kids, day job, genre, budget, fear of clowns).

Writing can feel a little like THIS...

Writing can feel a little like THIS…

Sometimes our plans can have the best of intentions, but we don’t know what’s going to work until we try. For instance, my first books were published indie and I’d hoped this would translate into a traditional deal. I wanted to experience all forms of publishing so I could connect better with my readers.

After two years of a proposal going nowhere in NYC? Time to change plans. Thing is, I didn’t know it wouldn’t work until I TRIED.

Some Things Can ONLY Be Learned By DOING

As an author and business owner, I can tell you that hindsight REALLY IS 20/20. I look back at dumb moves, missteps, mistakes and go, “Yeah, that was stupid.” Yet, here’s the thing, it seemed like a good idea at the TIME.

Any of you who’ve ever DATED know the feeling.

We learn by DOING. We can’t learn to ride a bike reading Internet articles. We have to hop on and expect a lot of skinned knees and elbows.

Blogging is one of the best (and most stable) forms of social media. Yet, we only get good at it by doing it. Yes, readers love this blog (and I SO THANK YOU for that), but I’ve written over 700 blogs. My first blogs?

*insert crickets chirping*

I remember not wanting to delete spammers, because it meant I’d have NO comments.

This is the best infermentation ever. You are change my mind. What is your browser? You are brilliant person! My brother recommended me here. Your site has great spam filter.

He could just be foreign, right?

As I mentioned yesterday, plan your work, then work your plan. Plans are only good if we are using them. By using them, we see the flaws, the stuff that doesn’t work and then we can CHANGE direction. That author (I mentioned Monday) who was sniveling about spending a bazillion hours on social media and his book wasn’t selling?

CHANGE THE PLAN, DUDE!

All of us start with great ideas and intentions. That’s the prototype. Yet, once we build the prototype, we need to try and wreck it. Some flaws only come to the surface when rubber meets the road.

Do Stuff that Makes Sense—CONTEXT

All righty, we’ve talked about making a plan and testing a plan, but let’s start with not making a STUPID plan. I can’t count the number of times that social media, PR and marketing experts have cited examples of success that are OVER TEN YEARS OLD. If something was successful ten years ago? Likely NOT a good plan in a completely different paradigm.

Recently I had a conversation with an Old School PR person (A BIG PR person). I was trying to impress the importance of an author blog. Actual conversation:

Expert:  Well, sure a blog is great. It worked for Julia & Julia. Blog a topic and get a book deal.

Me:  Blogging a topic will pigeonhole a modern author and burn them out. Blogs need to be more dynamic. The Julia & Julia example is outdated.

Expert:  What do you mean outdated?

Me:  Okay, the blogger had to start the blog. Then she had to blog for well over a year to capture enough interest for a book deal. So that’s another year to two years to write the book and get it to market. Then the book needed time to take off in order to be optioned by Hollywood and, last I checked, films take time to make. Another year to two years to turn the book into a script, cast and then produce the film. And aside from all of that, it’s already a four year old film. The example isn’t relevant because it’s easily eight years old. Modern audiences have been spoiled by Reality TV and want to connect emotionally as people. They want to talk about cats and zombies and laundry with their favorite authors.

Expert: Yeah *laugh* I don’t see how blogging about cats is going to get you very far.

Me: Haz Cheezburger just sold for a couple million dollars and it’s simply cat memes. Also, Jenny Lawson not only hit the New York Times best-seller list, her readers crashed Goodreads when she tried to do a Meet the Author. She blogs about cats, zombies and her fetish for taxidermy.

Expert: Jenny Who?

After the conversation, we were on the same page and the expert was awesome and generous and grateful for the help, but this illustrates a point. When people (experts) cite what worked for The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? Use critical thinking skills. Remember that success happened in THE 1990s.

Yes, Rebecca Wells traveled to the indie bookstores and created relationships and did readings, etc. but this was before Borders and Barnes & Noble all but wiped out independent bookstores. Granted, Borders is dead and buried and B&N is hemorrhaging. This means the small bookstore is making a comeback…but it still isn’t the influencer it was in the early 90s (but feel free to pounce if it makes sense for your book). 

Remember, in the 1990s most people couldn’t afford computers, the Internet was in its infancy, and the bookstore was the main point of discovery. That’s no longer the case. When we make any plan, yes look to other successes for ideas. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Yet, at the same time, be smart. Your time is valuable.

This is why it is incumbent upon us to be knowledgeable. What is the market climate? Who are our readers? What do they want? Where are they congregating? Is my plan relevant or am I trying to recreate ten or even twenty-year-old magic?

Then try it. Put a foot in. If The Red Sea doesn’t part? Step…out (thank you, Joyce Meyers).

What are your thoughts? Have you been Wile E. Coyote and tried stuff that just went BOOM! Stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time? Do you look back at some of the people you dated and ask, “Was I on DRUGS? How did I EVER think that was a good idea?”

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: I have a class coming up SOON, Creating Conflict and Tension on Every Page if you want to learn how to apply these tactics to your writing. Use WANA15 to get 15% off.

Also, August 21st, I am running a Your First Five Pages webinar. Bronze is $40 and Gold is $55 (I look at your first five pages) and use WANA15 for 15% off.

The webinars are all recorded in case you can’t make the time and a PDF with notes will be sent to you following the class.

Also, my new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

, , , , , , ,

33 Comments

Are You Alienating Fans on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform?

Bonding with teen writers, LOL....

Bonding with teen writers, LOL….

Writers are NOT salespeople and marketers. We aren’t. If we were AWESOME at sales, we’d be in SALES. Sales pays way better than playing with our imaginary friends and hoping we create something others want to read. In fact—and I might be going out on a limb here—I would wager most of you are not thinking, “Well, I’m only doing this writing thing until I can land my dream job in sales.”

I work to be very forgiving when writers make social media faux pas because I get that you are trying to be responsible and that “sales” is unnatural for most of us. I’ve also dedicated years and a good quarter million words (most of them free) to educating writers the proper way of using social media.

I created WANA methods to let writers focus on what we are best at doing—writing. The WANA approach works. It’s been responsible for selling millions of books and for elevating unknown authors onto best-selling lists. WANA methods are responsible for the 11th best-selling e-book in UK history.

This said…

Putting Our Foot In It

Yet, I still find some REALLY bad advice floating around that can get writers into trouble. Today, we’re going to address Facebook, namely because I received this message yesterday:

FB

Normally, I would just ignore this message, but after being fried from working three weeks straight and being on the road, I replied. Also, I’ve spent the past week yelling at idiot taxis in Manhattan and the New Yorker in me was coming out.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 8.37.36 AM

Instead of apologizing for poor wording and realizing the error, this person plunged ahead and responded with:

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 8.39.27 AM

By the way, the assertion that no one else had taken offense? I highly doubt it. I just happened to be tired enough to call out the offensive nature of the message. Also my mother is from New York, so I blame it on her :D.

What Can We Learn From This?

Aside from Kristen shouldn’t answer e-mails when tired because she has the skin of a grape.

Maybe I shouldn’t have engaged this person, but I love writers. Love is not always a fluffy bunny hug. Love sometimes need to be tough and it needs to confront. I know this writer didn’t sit up all night thinking of ways to insult his following, but he was doing just that. This author had clearly been among my Facebook friends for some time and I have to admit, I was pretty hurt by how this message treated me.

Yes, I do have feelings.

But essentially, what this writer was telling me is 1) we aren’t friends 2) we aren’t colleagues 3) oh, but please take your time to go Like my fan page so I can later sell you a book which will require your money and 12 hours of time you don’t have.

Yep, I’m right on that.

Writers Building a Platform Have NO Private Life On-Line

Aside from the NSA checking in, we don’t have “privacy.” Privacy on-line is an illusion. But if we DO want some privacy on FB (like sharing pictures of kids), we don’t need to resort to ticking off our followers by telling them they are a non-entity who are only valuable when they can buy a book.

Create Lists

And if you don’t know how to do this then take one of Lisa Hall-Wilson’s classes over at WANA International. I personally don’t like lists for a number of reasons, but they are an option.

As a quick aside, I don’t like lists because:

Lists Fool Us Then Land Us in Trouble

I feel lists can give us a false sense of security that can create a mess. All it takes is an oops on our part or Facebook’s part for that “private” information to be everywhere. I believe that if everyone can’t see it? Don’t post it. Get on the phone or send an e-mail (and then only the NSA will see it).

Lists Alienate Potential Fans

We never know who is watching. I have writers who segment all their writing posts to people they only believe will care about writing. We have no way of knowing what others find interesting and it is presumptuous to assume this person or that person won’t care.

I have FB friends who aren’t writers. But guess what? When their first cousin is writing a book, guess who they tell dear cousin about? ME.

Maybe someone following you doesn’t read high fantasy (and you write it). But maybe, if you are a cool person, they will read yours. Or, maybe they have a coworker who LOVES high-fantasy. Who will they recommend?

This is that whole “word of mouth” thing, by the way.

Personal Pages Create Relationships Vital to Success

There is a HUGE misconception that the regular profile page is for acting like a human and interacting and then a fan page is for the professional face and self-promotion. WRONG. This is why so many fan pages get dismal traffic and the author (in desperation) resorts to paying to promote (which won’t do anything and is a complete waste of money).

The WANA International fan page regularly has over 80% engagement and we don’t pay to promote. We use WANA methods.

The regular page is essential for connecting with people and creating the emotional bonds that will eventually translate into a vibrant, passionate author platform filled with readers. We connect talking about kids, laundry, missing socks, vacations, hard days at work and griping about the weather. All these everyday events are how we forge friendships.

Who cares if someone only buys one or two books a year if they are YOUR books?

People default to who they know and who they LIKE. The personal page is one of the best ways for others to get to KNOW and LIKE us. Advertising, marketing and promotion without relationships DOESN’T WORK. Marketing doesn’t sell books and I explain why in my new book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

We Never Know WHO We Are Dissecting Out of Our Following

I’m saddened that this author didn’t believe we were friends or colleagues. I believed we were until I was informed otherwise. I go out of my way to help my fellow authors and might have been a good ally to have, especially since this person has a book coming out in the fall.

Also, I talk about zombies and Star Wars and quote Monty Python far more than is socially acceptable :D.

And Grumpy Cat

And Grumpy Cat

Knowledge is Power

So before you start a fan page, I recommend you get educated how to do it. Either invest a whopping nine bucks in my book or take a class at WANA. And I don’t say this to sell, sell, sell (heck, search my archives here or go read Lisa’s blog for free), but mistakes like the one above can seriously damage a brand.

How many people got that message and they not only ignored it, but they were hurt like I was? …only they remained silent. Can guarantee they won’t be buying or recommending this author’s books.

And if you’ve made this mistake, just don’t do it again. I learned how to do social media by doing A LOT of stuff wrong. We learn by mistakes, but I am here to help writers (hopefully) before you make them or maybe at least explain why you might not be getting great results.

Remember, on social media, everyone is our friend. The more “friends” we have, the better and stronger our platform. If we whittle this down to only people we’ve personally met? We are balancing our careers on digital toothpicks.

What are your thoughts? Have you gotten messages like these? Were you hurt or offended? What did you do? What are some other Facebook faux pas that make you see red? What are Facebook questions you might have?

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. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

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

, , , , , ,

220 Comments

Change—Resistance is Futile

Rise of the Machines Human Authors in a Digital World, social media authors, Kristen Lamb, WANA, Rise of the Machines

Change is scary. Okay, TERRIFYING. Yet, as writers, we should seek to always be pushing ourselves to the next level. It makes us stronger. Makes us grow. But, there are a few things about “going to the next level” I’d like to warn y’all about.

Yesterday, I finally sent my new book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World off for formatting. This book has been almost two years in the making and you have NO idea how happy I am to finally reach this part of the journey. I’m not quite to the summit—physical book in hand and for sale—but I can see it….

…..so close….nearly THERE…..*grunts*

A Brief History of ROM (Rise of the Machines)

Two years ago, I scored a big-time agent and was over the MOON. Like many of you, I, too, dreamed of having a traditional deal. Not that my publisher at the time wasn’t awesome, but I thought it would be super cool to experience all sides of publishing—indie, traditional, and self-pub—so I could help you guys better. It’s a tad tricky to guide people down paths you haven’t seen.

Anyway, in summer of 2011, my new agent advised that I stop writing any more books on my own, that it would strengthen his position negotiating with publishers.

Okay.

So, I wrote my hundred-page proposal and waited…and waited…and *taps watch* waited some more. I nearly developed a twitch because this book was awesome, and I had ideas for so many more. But, no…I’d been told to wait. Not my strong suit, but, patience is a virtue, right?

I was actually okay waiting for a while. I was launching WANA International and WANATribe and traveling all over the country teaching. But, by December 2012? I was done. I requested that my agent quit working on ROM, that I was going to just publish it myself.

All Right, Done Waiting

Writers needed a guide that was current, relevant, and effective yesterday. And even if a traditional publisher magically offered me a deal? The lead-time was a YEAR, and I’d already lost 18 months.

I’d learned so much more that I wanted to share (namely the keys to connecting to and creating readers). I had a WANA 2.0 plan that was ten steps simple and left plenty of time to write more books (the most important thing we do, right?).

Of course, since the proposal was a year-and-a-half old I basically had to start over. Good thing blogging had seriously strengthened my writing muscles.

Also, during this two-year break, I’d been furiously reading all kinds of research about the history of communication, epidemiology, neuroscience, language, psychology, sociology, anthropology and all of this information added a depth and beauty to ROM that wouldn’t have been there without that hiatus. Sometimes waiting does pay off ;).

We Have To Do Stuff That Scares Us

It was scary to say to my agent, “Shelve it.” I wanted him to have the keys to my writing future. I had laundry to do and a refrigerator to clean out and did I even mention I have to potty train The Spawn? I have to do this, too? Whiiiiiiiiinnnne. I wanted someone else to tell me what to do. Don’t I make enough decisions?

Sigh.

And the publisher of my first books was very kind to me, good to me, but I work with a lot of self-published authors. It was time to go through the process myself, and it was hard to part from a publisher who’d been so wonderful. But, it was time to do this on my own, no training wheels publisher.

*takes shaky breath*

Hey, The Captain’s Chair is Kinda Comfy

I really liked the idea of creative control. I had to have the title Rise of the Machines. It was perfect. I even had my lawyer double-check to make sure I could use it for this book. I also had a very specific vision for what I wanted my cover to look like. Is it a risk? Yep. But, personally? I don’t care for the standard “non-fiction” cover. Snooze-fest. Also, this was a perfect opportunity to realize another big dream of mine.

I got to be a CYBORG! *fist pump*. Yes, that is actually me on the cover (though I won’t tell you which half :D).

My audience is creative people, fans of Dr. WhoStar Wars and Firefly. People who love vampires, car chases, monsters, love stories and Renaissance fairs. I wanted a cover that was artistic and shiny; one that might even look like a novel had been misplaced among the Target Your Readers Then SHOOT THEM IN THE FACE WITH AWESOME!!! marketing books.

Hey, I’m a misfit. My book should reflect that, right? And, hey, if I think it’s shiny, maybe y’all will too.

Maybe it will work? Maybe it won’t. But in the end? I got to be a cyborg Taking risks is part of growing.

We Risk Being Wrong

Hey, for all I know, self-publishing will make me want to hurl myself into traffic. Right now, I only have a glimpse of the process and, frankly, it resembles herding crack-addicted chickens.

I had to put a deadline on myself. I didn’t have an editor threatening me with a taser and Justin Bieber tunes to hold me to task. I also had to take charge of the cover creation and guide the artist until he created what was in my head. Now? Going through working with a formatter. All very new, exciting and terrifying territory.

What if this is a mistake? What if I was wrong? *shrugs* We never know unless we try, right?

We Need to Know it’s Okay to Be Wrong

If you dip a toe in The Red Sea and it doesn’t part? Step out. Might be the wrong time, wrong place, wrong “sea.” We learn from mistakes. I know a lot of things I did wrong during this process, so the next book? I will get to make new mistakes.

If we aren’t failing, we aren’t doing anything interesting. Failure sucks, but it’s a great teacher. Do I hope for super-duper success? SURE! But, great success comes with risk attached.

At least if I fall on my face, you guys will offer me digital hugs and digital daiquiris to ease my pain.

And we can’t please everyone. Some people will love the cover and others will hate it. Some will love the book and others have poor taste might prefer something more traditional that can be measured with algorithms and spreadsheets and reports.

Rise of the Machines is NOT a typical social media book, but I think it will prepare you guys no matter how technology or social media changes. I designed an approach ideal for the creative person (because it was written by a creative person).

I mean, COME ON! How many of you are doing this writing thing until you land your dream job in marketing or sales?

*crickets chirp*

Exactly.

WANA RELOADED

We are artists first, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have an amazing social media platform that’s resistant to all technology changes except implosion of the Internet…and then we have bigger problems than book sales.

The Zombie Apocalypse is at hand. *ratchets shotgun*

The WANA 2.0 plan is organic and will grow and mature as you grow and mature. It can even bend with shifts and changes in genre. It works for all kinds of authors—traditional, indie, self-pub. No matter your age or what stage of your career, the WANA 2.0 plan works for you. It isn’t a Social Media Snuggie One Size Fits All. It’s tailored to you. 

It’s simple, fun, and harnesses the same creativity you use in your books to connect to readers. My ideal launch date is going to be July 4th, Independence Day.

Hellloooo???? We Are Not Alone. Rise of the Machines. WANA RELOADED. Independence Day. Admit it. It’s NERD-TASTIC! Also, we writers are declaring our independence. We are not alone, and we can do this with or without a legacy publisher.

A few of you mentioned you mentioned that you wanted me to put ROM on Goodreads, so here it is! It isn’t out, but can be added to your TBR List. *HUGS*

WANA—Resistance is FUTILE

Anyway, enough about me. I love you guys and thanks for all your enthusiasm, your support and your love. The book is dedicated to you, because I couldn’t have done this without you. WANA is a kinder, gentler Borg…with a bouncy house and cookies :D.

What are your thoughts? Have you had to do some scary stuff lately? How did you handle it? Are you on the ledge facing doing something terrifying? What’s your advice? Hey, I’m new to the whole “self-pub” thing so any help would ROCK.

I love hearing from you! And today, I will select a winner from the comments to receive an advance copy of ROM (provided I figure out how to do that).

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.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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

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

, , , , ,

105 Comments

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

It writes the words or is gets the hose....

It writes the words or is gets the hose….

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 hygiene, finishing books 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.

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 teach writers social media unless I coat it with sparkly 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.

NYCZombie

Hmmm, must be a writer’s conference….

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. Buuuuy myyy booook.

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, which I DO recommend). Even with a blog? Not that much time. Get my books or take my classes. 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 if, for some reason we can’t (like illness or emergency). 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 and tell stories of how the WANAs have been there for you? Bought beer?

Oh, for those in the Denver, Colorado area, I will be speaking this weekend for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers. Come! I would LOVE to meet you! Register here!

I love hearing from you!

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

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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

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

, , , , , ,

38 Comments

Feeling Overwhelmed? Social Media Can Make Us Crazy–Part 1

Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons

Social media is bright, fun, shiny, and it can also feel like the Chuck E. Cheese from Hell.  As writers of the Digital Age we have a much higher chance at success than any writer in history, but we also have more work than any writer in history. And, to make matters worse, spouses, bills, kiddos with snotty noses, dust bunnies and car troubles don’t go away the day we decide to become professional writers.

RDD Can Make Us Nuts

RDD is what I like to call Reality Deficit Disorder. Like the flu, this disease seems to explode January of every year, normally brought on by New Year’s Resolutions. We vow to be 18% body fat, debt-free, have an immaculate house, build a perfect social platform with a bazillion fans, and win the Pulitzer…all by March. We seem to collectively go crazy and forget that we can only do so much.

Many writers experience RDD when it comes to social media. We sign up for Facebook, and build an author page, and link to LinkedIn, and pin on Pinterest until our pinners are dull from wear. Vowing to do everything, eventually we do nothing. We become paralyzed in the face of all we’ve committed to do.

Time to Get Real

Thus, the first step to preventing being overwhelmed is to be realistic in our goals and expectations. If we’ve already blown that, the trick to pulling ourselves out of the tail-spin is to sit down, rework our priorities, and commit to being more realistic.

Goals are written on paper not stone.

Successful people don’t just make a list of goals ONCE. The list of goals is always a living document in need of modification, reordering, or even being scrapped altogether.

Persistence is a wonderful trait. Persistence is noble. But persistence can look a lot like stupid.

Time to Face the Music

I tend to be a person of my word…to a fault. If I promise to do something I will half-kill myself to get it done if need be. But sometimes this is just plain DUMB. I’ve learned that most people will understand if we have to back out of something we’ve promised to do, but we MUST be honest with them and vow to make it right.

Look, Sally. I know I promised to blog every day for a year to raise money for all the starving children in Africa, but I am out of my depth. I overestimated what I can do given the demands of my schedule. I apologize. I was so caught up in wanting to help you, I didn’t think. Please forgive me. Is there anything I can do that might be a smaller job? Can I help you find other bloggers to fill my spot who do have time to blog every day for all the starving children in Africa?

Many times people will be forgiving (probably because they’ve oopsed a time or two themselves). If we just face the problem and offer to be a solution, more often than not, other people will be reasonable. Whey they aren’t reasonable is when we just don’t show up, disappear or dump a mess in their laps without any offer of help to remedy the problem.

And, as a warning. Don’t do this stuff too often. Professionals always need to take time to think before they agree to doing things. I still struggle with this, so as I have one finger pointed at you guys, I have three pointing back at me. Likely, this will be a lesson we continually learn and relearn throughout all our lives (especially Helpful Hannah personalities like mine :D). But we DO have to be careful or others won’t want to work with us because we are, essentially, flakes.

No one expects us to be perfect, but they do expect us to be honest and kind. We can do that. Yes, it is scary. It’s tough facing when we’ve erred, but making mistakes is just part of the game and how we learn. We will learn more from our mistakes than we ever will our failures.

Time to Face the True Causes of Our Angst

Making too many commitments and then (mistakenly) believing we can’t change is one of the major causes of feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay to be flexible.

Fortune Cookie Moment: The stiff oak breaks in the strong wind, but the reed that bends endures.

Remember, the commitment you made to yourself, that list of goals? It can be redone. The commitments to others? Those can be changed too, IF we are brave enough to admit we goofed and courageous enough to make things right.

Go around the leaf.

~Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life”

Have you made a list of goals that is nothing short of ridiculous? How did you come to your senses? Did you feel guilty having to rework your list? Do you struggle with being over committed? Do you struggle telling people “no”?

I love hearing from you!

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

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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

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

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

, , , , , , ,

52 Comments

Hash Tags—The Trouble with Twitter Tribbles

 

Normally, I only talk about social media on Wednesdays, but today we are going to talk about something vitally important for anyone using Twitter to build a platform. Hash tags. Hash tags are wonderful. They can connect us to people all over the globe that we could never meet any other way. Hash tags are a powerful way to build communities and friendships. They can also be a fabulous tool for making information manageable.

And yet…

Ah, the trouble with Tribbles hash tags. Hash tags are so cute and adorable. They make Twitter fun and help us connect with people all over the globe. But, before we get too excited…

BEWARE!

Before we talk about how hash tags can get out of hand, you might be asking yourself this question:

Um…Kristen. What’s a hash tag?

Fair enough. For those who happen to be hash tag savvy, feel free to scroll down. For the rest of you, you might find yourself asking, What the heck is that # thingy I see all the time?
***Important NoteTo make the most out of hash tags, I highly recommend you go download TweetDeck or HootSuite. These applications will help you be able to manage thousands of tweeps and also will help you make the most out of hash tags. These applications will also help you quickly spot a Twitter Tribble outbreak and shut it down before it gets out of hand.

Where was I? Oh, yes! That little # symbol is going to help you build a worldwide following. I know. That’s partly how I did it.

So what’s a hash tag? Well, when we first join Twitter, we are all alone…save for the celebrities that Twitter gives us, but it isn’t like Ashton Kutcher and Lady Ga Ga are going to chit chat with us. So, we’re going to have to make some friends.

Hash tags help us meet people who love to talk about the same things we do. When we place a # with a keyword at the end of our tweet, Twitter slots our tweet into a conversation shared by people all over the world bound by topic.

Some popular writer hashtags are:

#amwriting, #pubtip, #indie, #selfpub, #amediting, #nanowrimo, #askagent #publaw

The BEST writer hash tag, of course, is #MyWANA and here is why. We are also the best namely because we actively support all the other writing hash tags.

Thus, when I tweet about my blog, often it looks like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #MyWANA #pubtip #indie

My Tweet now will not just go out to my specific followers, it will be seen by the THOUSANDS of people all over the world who might be participating in those three popular hash tag conversations.

Why I recommend you download TweetDeck is that you can slot each hash tag into its own column and then follow the people and conversations. When it comes to social media, we must interact and be vested in others, or we risk being perceived as fake and selfish. The hash tag is to help us meet and converse with others. It is not a new way to spam our fellow tweeps.

 

Meet the Twitter Tribble

Hash tags on their own are mostly harmless, but plug them into any tool that automates and now you have a Twitter Tribble. Sort of like Don’t feed these suckers after midnight and DO NOT get them wet! My advice is DO NOT PLUG HASH TAGS INTO AUTOMATION.

Using an auto-tweet system with hash tags is a BAD idea. Recently, I’ve run into some issues with Triberr. Triberr is an amazing tool for aggregating all our favorite blogs into one spot, and I use it and love it. The Triberr folks make it super easy to read all our favorite blogs and to promote our favorite bloggers. There is even a function that will allow us to automatically post for a fellow blogger. This function is awesome because then we can support our favorite bloggers.

This function is fantastic, but it can land us in a world of trouble if we aren’t careful.

If we set up a small bit of automation, that’s fine, so long as we are still actively engaging on Twitter. If we have Triberr set to automatically tweet for some of our favorite blogs, that isn’t a big deal so long as we are not solely relying on that automation.

Automation is a double-edged sword. Sure, it gets content out there, but, if people suspect automation, that content will be rendered invisible. Thus, the “exposure” does no good because no one is paying attention.

Twitter Tribbles Take Over and KILL Hash Tags

Remember the trouble with the real Tribbles? So long as there were only a couple of Tribbles, they were cute and fuzzy and fun and everyone liked them. Same with hash tags. Hash tags help me be able to discover content I might not see any other way.

If I am not following @FifiFakename, but Fifi writes a mind-blowing post about world domination using paper scissors, I will never see that life-changing blog unless Fifi tweets it using a hash tag I follow. So if Fifi tweets:

@FifiFakename Formula to take over the world with paper scissors (link here) #MyWANA

Now, no matter where Fifi tweets from, I can now see her content scroll by because of the hash tag. See? Cute. Fuzzy. Fun.

But what if Fifi starts relying on automation? She just got the hash tag wet.

Oh….dear.

What if Fifi automatically tweets her blog with #MyWANA. Oh, but she also has 52 favorite bloggers and she wants to make sure the WANA peeps see those blogs, too? So she plugs in the automation and adds the #MyWANA hash tag to the end. What happens now?

A Twitter Tribble is Born

MyWANA The Love Revolution just suddenly turned into the MyWANA The Link Revolution. Fifi has single-handedly crowded out any other content on #MyWANA. In an effort to build more community, she’s just blitzkrieged one.

This can happen easily if we automate, but if we are at least present on Twitter, we can shut down the Twitter Tribbles before they multiply too much and take over. But, if we are using Triberr to do all our tweeting for us? Then we aren’t actually present on Twitter, so we aren’t there to witness if we are gumming up a column. People could easily see this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

What’s Worse than Clogging a Column?

Clogging a column is bad enough, but gumming up a column looks especially bad if I have automated tweets meant to sound like I am tweeting in person.

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

@KristenLambTX Want to have a great laugh? My friend Fifi has the best post today *clutches sides* (link goes here)  #MyWANA

As you can see, I have not only gummed up an entire column with my automated tweet, but I have programmed the tweet to look like a real person, though anyone with a half a brain can now tell this is automation. Now people are not only going to dislike me because I took up a whole column, they are really going to despise me because I treated them as if they were too dumb to realize there wasn’t a real person on the other end.

Few things can make a person feel more ridiculous than talking back to a bot.

Twitter Tribble Backlash

So now I have not only annoyed my followers, I have also made them distrust me. These days people are turning to their social networks for authentic word-of-mouth, and if we serve up spam, this can land us in trouble. It can damage or even ruin our reputation. People are smart and will smell an automatically generated message a mile away…and then promptly ignore us, report us or unfollow us, and, frankly, who can blame them?

What’s Even Worse than That? Real Twitter Tribble Trouble

There are all kinds of programs that will allow us to automate messages. Just use the automation very sparingly, and here is why. Let’s take a quick look at the Twitter Terms of Service:

See the one about updates containing mainly links and no personal interaction? If Twitter gets too many complaints they can shut down our account. Also, if we do something that makes them take a look at us, and our feed is nothing but link after link after link all stemming from an outside application (like Hoot Suite or Triberr), they can shut down our account. Lots of work down the drain and it all can be avoided.

Say You Must Use Some Automation

Okay, so you want to use some automation to make sure your blogger pals all get tweeted. Fine. No problem! BUT THEN THIS IS ALL THE MORE REASON TO GET ON TWITTER AND CONVERSE. Twitter is not per se, against automation. Twitter is against spam, and, if all we are doing is allowing HootSuite or Tribber to pump out link after link after link with no personal interaction, then we are no better than the “Hey get a free iPad!” bot.

Automation Doesn’t Have to Create Twitter Tribbles

Automation isn’t evil. If we are pre-programming tweets we want to make sure get out so this frees us up to chit chat and get to know people on Twitter, then we are no longer a bot. We are using a tool to more effectively connect and interact, not as a way to be lazy and get all the benefits of a community’s support without having to bother serving that community.

When hash tags become Twitter Tribbles is when the user tries to use automation as a substitute for authentic attendance.

TweetDeck Can Help Us Spot Twitter Tribbles

Even if we don’t automate, we can still have an outbreak of Twitter Tribbles. The reason that I recommend TweetDeck (or HootSuite) is that it makes it easy to spot if our tweets are gumming up a column. I scan the #amwriting column to make sure I don’t already have a tweet talking about my blog in that column.

If I do, I use another hash tag #MyWANA or just wait to tweet about my blog. I try to only tweet 3 times a day to self-promote my blog. Morning, afternoon, evening to catch different Twitter crowds.

One way we can prevent RT Twitter Tribbles is by deleting the original hash tags and adding new ones. So if I tweet:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #indie #nanowrimo #pubtip

My friends can delete my hash tags and add new ones:

RT@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writer #scm

This keeps the Twitter Tribbles at bay (keeps us from clogging a column) and it also extends my tweet to new #s and new groups of people, so it’s a huge help.

The Golden Twitter Rule

Make it a rule to promote others more than yourself, to be genuinely present, and you will rule the Twitterverse and even make some really awesome friends. Remember, social media most successful when it is a team effort.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever talked back to a bot only later to feel like a tard? Do you have any tips, tools, suggestions?

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.

, , , , , , , , ,

93 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36,911 other followers

%d bloggers like this: