Posts Tagged Malcolm Gladwell

How Many Licks, um Books, Does It Take to Get to the Top of the Best-Seller List?

The Dork Side

Image courtesy of The Dork Side

Most of us, especially when we’re new, want our first short story to be a major contest winner or our first novel to be a runaway success. That’s natural. Of course, this is not reality for us mere mortals.

Just like most of us never picked up a violin and magically busted out a flawless rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee, most of us won’t sit down and write a work that hits the New York Times best-seller list the first go round (or that sells a bazillion copies on Amazon, if you’re an indie).

Yeah, I was bummed, too.

Writing, like most other things, follows the Law of 10,000 Hours (Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers for more). 10,000 hours of dedicated practice/work/study/training seems to be the magic number that separates the successful professional from everyone else.

Whether it is gymnastics, ballet, playing the ukelele, or writing, practice is key if we want to become masters of our pursuit.

*shock face* :O

This is why we need to write as often as possible, and it’s HUGE reason I am a proponent of writers learning to blog. Blogging can help accelerate the path to mastery, and has an added benefit of helping build a lasting author platform that can help drive sales.

History demonstrates time and again that it takes roughly 10,000 hours (or a million words, depending on who we listen to) to reach the status of true artist and masters of our craft.

Additionally, most authors write at least three books before they start seeing success, which is part of why successful novelists like Bob Mayer, Joe Konrath, and John Locke are constantly telling writers to do less tweeting and more writing. They’re correct. Write, write, write. Great to have a social platform, but we need books to sell or the platform is merely a monument to our Facebook skills.

Guess how long it takes to write three novels?

About 10,000 hours.

Three books minimum.

Thus, all you indie/self-pub authors who put your first book up for sale and you haven’t sold enough copies to buy tacos? Keep writing. 10,000 hours. 3 books. Traditional authors? Three books. Rare is the exception.

The more we write, the better we get (ideally). If the first novel is “eh” keep writing. To paraphrase some Monty Python:

I wrote a book! …and it sank into the swamp.

So, I wrote another book! It, too, sank into the swamp.

So, I wrote another book! …. And it caught fire, fell over…and sank into the swamp.

But the fourth book, THE FOURTH BOOK STOOD.

Happy writing! And follow The Dork Side on Facebook if you want to laugh regularly.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? How much practice do you do daily? How much did you write before you started actually thinking your writing was any good…and other people didn’t run away bleeding from the ears?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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. 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).

ANNOUNCEMENT: My Antagonist Class is in four days. Use the WANA15 code for 15% off when you sign up. Packages range from $49-$249. Need help with your book? Stuck? Getting rejected? Want a plan for NaNoWriMo? Have a drawer full of half-finished books you have no idea how to fix? An idea for a story you can’t figure out how to plot. A plot you can’t repair no matter how many revisions? Struggling with a series?

I can help :D. And the cool thing, is once you’ve been through my process, you can plot and fix any book ;).

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

WANACon, the writing conference of the future is COMING! We start with PajamaCon the evening of October 3rd and then October 4th and 5th we have some of the biggest names in publishing coming RIGHT TO YOU–including the LEGEND Les Edgerton. 

Get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE for $149 and all recordings for anything you miss or need to hear again. Sign up today, because seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.

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57 Comments

How Many Licks, um Books, Does It Take to Get to the Top of the Best-Seller List?

The Dork Side

Image courtesy of The Dork Side

Most of us, especially when we’re new, want our first short story to be a major contest winner or our first novel to be a runaway success. That’s natural. Of course, this is not reality for us mere mortals.

Just like most of us never picked up a violin and magically busted out a flawless rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee, most of us won’t sit down and write a work that hits the New York Times best-seller list the first go round (or that sells a bazillion copies on Amazon, if you’re an indie).

Yeah, I was bummed, too.

Writing, like most other things, follows the Law of 10,000 Hours (Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers for more). 10,000 hours of dedicated practice/work/study/training seems to be the magic number that separates the successful professional from everyone else.

Whether it is gymnastics, ballet, playing the ukelele, or writing, practice is key if we want to become masters of our pursuit.

*shock face* :O

This is why we need to write as often as possible, and it’s HUGE reason I am a proponent of writers learning to blog. Blogging can help accelerate the path to mastery, and has an added benefit of helping build a lasting author platform that can help drive sales.

History demonstrates time and again that it takes roughly 10,000 hours (or a million words, depending on who we listen to) to reach the status of true artist and masters of our craft.

Additionally, most authors write at least three books before they start seeing success, which is part of why successful novelists like Bob Mayer, Joe Konrath, and John Locke are constantly telling writers to do less tweeting and more writing. They’re correct. Write, write, write. Great to have a social platform, but we need books to sell or the platform is merely a monument to our Facebook skills.

Guess how long it takes to write three novels?

About 10,000 hours.

Three books minimum.

Thus, all you indie/self-pub authors who put your first book up for sale and you haven’t sold enough copies to buy tacos? Keep writing. 10,000 hours. 3 books. Traditional authors? Three books. Rare is the exception.

The more we write, the better we get (ideally). If the first novel is “eh” keep writing. To paraphrase some Monty Python:

I wrote a book! …and it sank into the swamp.

So, I wrote another book! It, too, sank into the swamp.

So, I wrote another book! …. And it caught fire, fell over…and sank into the swamp.

But the fourth book, THE FOURTH BOOK STOOD.

Happy writing! And follow The Dork Side on Facebook if you want to laugh regularly.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? How much practice do you do daily? How much did you write before you started actually thinking your writing was any good…and other people didn’t run away bleeding from the ears?

I love hearing from you!

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

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

NOTE: December’s winner will be announced Monday.

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

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

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

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73 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

Meet the Maven–We’re Here Whether You Want Us or Not

 

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. Last time, we talked about the Connector. Today we’ll discuss the Maven and next week is the Salesman. Some people are none of the three or two of the three. A rare few are all three.

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his AWESOME book The Tipping Point–How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference “…the word Maven comes from Yiddish, and means one who accumulates knowledge. In recent years economists have spent a great deal of time studying Mavens, for the obvious reasons that if marketplaces depend on information, the people with the most information must be the most important.”

I recall the many times that Piper Bayard called me a Social Media Maven. I thought she was just being sweet since the word “guru” makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Sorry. Being honest. I didn’t care for “expert” either, since any yahoo with a Yahoo account and $20 to spend at Vista Print was an expert. Ah, but Maven had a nice ring to it so I didn’t stop her.  At the time I just assumed that Maven was a synonym for guru, so I was down with that. I liked Social Media Maven, though was really partial to Social Media Jedi Master…but that’s another blog.

I do a tremendous amount of research to back up my teaching and theories, so when I spotted this word Piper had used–Maven–and then uncovered the research surrounding Mavens, I was quite humbled and honored Piper would apply that term to me. At first, when I was going to introduce you guys to the Maven, I was hestiant to use myself as an example. Then, I thought over my life and here are some conversations I’d like to share with you guys to help you recognize Mavens in your life.

Conversations with a Stalker Maven

Man buying energy drink in local Exxon…

Me: Um, excuse me. You are the owner of the black truck out front?

Man: Yeah *gives me odd stare and holds his wallet tighter*

Me: I know I sound crazy, but I think you need to get your radiator checked.

Man: Huh? Why?

Me: As I walked past, I noted the smell of coolant superheated on your manifold.

Man: I didn’t smell anything.

Me: Well, I have a very sensitive nose, and I could definitely smell that you have a leak. I had the same thing happen once, so I recognize the scent. I would get that serviced right away. In fact, here is a business card of the guys that work on my car. They’re really good and fairly priced.

The guy took my advice (I heard this from the men at my service center) and he actually had a small crack in his radiator.

Conversation with Dark-Haired Woman at Wal-Mart buying a box of hair dye (Blonde)….

Me: Are you going to use that for your hair?

Woman: I was thinking about it.

Me: Well, I colored my own hair for years, and I know the box says it can make you blonde, but it really will turn you orange and make your hair melt. We used that same product on my college room mate and it wasn’t pretty. Anyway, if you go across the parking lot, talk to Lydia at Sally’s Beauty Supply and she can give you a professional product. Judging from what I can see, make sure you pick a color with blue undertones. That will keep you from turning orange. Also, make sure you invest in a good conditioner if you go down that many levels of color so your hair doesn’t start breaking. If you want a good colorist, here’s my hair dresser’s business card. I finally gave up dying my own hair because she is so affordable.

Later, I heard from my hairdresser that the woman made an appointment to get her hair colored. Also heard from Lydia at Sally’s Beauty Supply that Dark-Haired Woman bought conditioner there.

Conversation with random plumber digging up my yard to fix my pipes…

Plumber: Thanks, Ma’am for the coffee. Sure is cold out here. I will be here by noon tomorrow. I need to go to a dentist.

Me: Really? What dentist?

Plumber: Oh, I just made a quick appointment at Monarch Dental. Think I’ve got a bad tooth.

Me: Oh, dear! Um, I don’t know how to say this, but cancel your appointment.

Plumber: *gives weird look* Why?

Me: Well, I have been to Monarch twice. One time when I was twelve. They told my mother I had ten cavities and needed braces. My mom refused to believe them and we went to another dentist. I didn’t have a single cavity and didn’t need braces. So then, 20 years later, my hubby and I move out here. We didn’t have a dentist, so I went to Monarch again because they could get me in quickly. I figured 20 years should be long enough to get their act together, and can you believe they are playing the same games? They told me I had four cavities and advanced gum disease that needed special treatment.

Man: Really?

Me: Really. I stormed out of there and went over to Walnut Creek Dental. Turns out I had one soft spot that needed filling and perfect gums. I tell you Monarch are a bunch of crooks who tell you that you have a bunch of imaginary dental problems and then put you on an easy payment plan to drill into perfectly healthy teeth. I have no idea how they are still in business. I wrote a nasty review for them and even blogged about my experience. I called the local news stations but haven’t heard back yet. Let me go write down the information for Walnut Creek. I am sure they can fit you in.

Later found out from my dentist that my plumber used their services instead.

What exactly is a Maven?

Mavens are pathologically helpful. We are collectors of data and brokers of information. Not only do we collect vast stores of information, but we hold a rare ability to put that information in a useful context. We are unparalleled pattern filters and can spot trends and changes that others don’t or can’t yet see. And, not only do we have all this information, but we long to share it to make the lives of others better.

We Mavens cannot help ourselves. I often refer to myself as Helpful Hannah, and I have had to learn to control my tongue sometimes. Not everyone wants my two cents worth. Yet, as much as I try to stop my nature, I can’t help what I am. I honestly think I became a social media expert so that I could channel all my Maven energies in a productive way.

Mavens are the people who will stop you from buying steaks at Albertsons because Tom Thumb has ribeyes for half the price, and they are just across the street. We share coupons and tell you not to bother with the warranty from such-and-such because it is a big hassle. We keep business cards for great accountants, nail techs, and massage therapists. We also keep the marketplace honest because we remember the prices of things. We are the people who can ignite word-of mouth. We help new restaraunts thrive, good hair stylists get new clients and honest mechanics have more business.

We are flypaper for information, and we are the people who write into Consumer Reports and offer corrections for misinformation. We are the people who write letters to the editor. We keep accountability.

I remember about ten years ago Vogue magazine had an article one time about a single woman starting over after leaving a job. She started her own successful business as a single mother. Well, I wanted to read this article and hear this story of triumph over adversity. Turns out the woman had left a six-figure job, came from a wealthy family and started her business from her home in Martha’s Vineyard (or some ritzy place like that, can’t recall exactly). Yes, she was a single mother…who had a nanny!

I wrote a long, disgusted letter to Vogue about how out of touch they were with much of their readership and the realities of being a start-up female entrepreneur, let alone a single parent….and they printed my letter with an apology.

Mavens make time for this stuff.

Why are Mavens important in the marketplace?

Mavens spell death for bad service, bad food and bad products. If you screw up our hair, our nails, our car or give us bad service, the world will hear of your misdeeds. We also spell death for bad books.

Why is it great to make friends with a Maven?

Mavens are critical to have in your network because we love spreading news of a good thing, including good blogs, good people and good books. We are the people who will tell everyone we know about a really fantastic book we just read. We write reviews and often write letters of appreciation to the author. We stop people in bookstores and offer unsolicited recommendations. And, since our only agenda is to be helpful, many people listen to us.

Mavens are critical to getting traction. Many Mavens are also Connectors. I know when I met New York Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer a few years ago, he had never been on social media. I talked his ear off about this new platform called Twitter and I knew it was going to be the new hot thing. I chatted on and on about MySpace (it was still big) and Facebook and how social media was going to revolutionize publishing (Remember, Mavens spot trends). I could see the writing on the wall even though the agents and editors of the time thought I was a lunatic.

People will always want paper books.

Right.

Anyway, the agents and editors might have thought I was crazy, but Bob was one of the few who listened to me. Long story short, I dragged Bob onto social media as my helpless victim eager student. I wanted to show him this amazing new tool and how it had the power to create a fan base and spread word-of-mouth. Authors finally could have control over their careers! I am really thrilled that Bob had second thoughts about that restraining order and that he gave me a chance to prove my mettle.

Mavens Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder. Mavens help you be yourself.

Here is where a Maven comes in handy…

Bob got onto Twitter, but there was a problem. Bob is an introvert. Don’t get me wrong, he is really nice guy and a lot of fun. He’s an amazing teacher and speaker, but he just isn’t the sort of person who naturally feels comfortable approaching random strangers to chat. Good thing I have no problem with that. I was happy to introduce Bob to everyone and tell everyone about his books and his workshops. Heck, I still do! Because they are THAT awesome.

But this goes back to working smarter not harder. I am not here to teach you how to change your personality. Bob didn’t need to morph into a bubbly outgoing cheerleader. That would have been weird and kinda scary. Worse, it wouldn’t have been authentic. Bob would have been trying to be someone he wasn’t. BUT, he could be himself and merely ally with me. I could be me and introduce Bob so he could then feel comfortable to just be himself. Not only did I use my Connector powers, but I was able to shamelessly spread recommendations for Bob’s books and workshops.

Also, as a Maven I had an ability to spot certain trends. This helped Bob in that he could count on me to alert him of new trends, shifts, changes that were worth looking into.  Bob’s initial alliance with people like me helped him ramp up until he was a force on his own. Now Bob is one of the leaders in the new publishing paradigm, which is powered, in large part, by social media. I know I loved helping Bob not only because I like helping, but I LOVE gathering information to help others…and he knew WAY more than I did about writing and the industry. It was a great and fair trade. He could learn about social media and I could learn the best information about writing and publishing.

Some ways to spot a Maven:

1. Mavens are eager helpers. I think a lot of bloggers and NF people are Mavens. I know @PatrickThunstrom wrote an entire tutorial series teaching writers how to use TweetDeck. He is the first to recommend a good computer program or information filter. Patrick LOVES to help.

2. Mavens are a vast reservoir of information. All KINDS of information. We are natural teachers and helpers. @ClayMorganPA is a great Maven to befriend. @jhansenwrites (Jenny Hansen) shares all kinds of helpful information from how to use Excel to how to deal with a high-risk pregnancy. When a writer is in trouble, Jenny is Jenny on the Spot with a link or a resource to help. @JamiGold is another Maven.

3. Mavens love to give advice, recommendations and reviews. We are compulsively helpful. @kbowenwriter @GeneLempp @AmyShojai @NatalieCMarkey @Angela_Peart @RoniLoren are a handful of people I would consider Mavens. They offer guidance, support, critique, assistance not because they have an agenda. They have an underlying desire to serve.

I know there are more Mavens out there, so sorry if I missed you. If you want to befriend some Mavens, I highly recommend hanging out on the #MyWANA. Why? Well, I designed #MyWANA as a Maven Trap. The entire purpose of #MyWANA is NOT to blitz about blogs or books or pitch non-stop with no vested concern. #MyWANA is dedicated is to HELP and to SERVE others. #MyWANA was created with the explicit purpose to create a community founded on service above self. This is irresistable to a Maven. #MyWANA attracts Mavens because it was created by one.

Many bloggers are Mavens.

This is why bloggers are emerging as a new market driver in publishing. Publishing houses are now starting to court the powerhouse bloggers, because they know the bloggers hold tremendous sway over popular opinion and are almost unrivaled in their abilitiy to spark word-of-mouth. Many bloggers are unsponsored and unpaid. Many bloggers dedicate countless hours of research and work and write thousands of words a week for no pay….simply to help others. Blogger Mavens are powerful allies.

Mavens are some of the most valuable people in our network. They will happily lend a hand wherever they can and they gain joy and purpose from helping and serving others. Maybe you are shy or an introvert. Maybe you are overwhelmed. It’s okay. Mavens dig underdogs :D.

So can you think of some Mavens in your network? Are you a Maven and have a Maven story to share? Maybe a Maven approached you in a gas station with a coupon. Share your story!

I do want to hear from you guys!

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.

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.

Mash-Up of Awesomeness

MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT PIPER BAYARD’S INTERVIEW WITH MEGA-AUTHOR JAMES ROLLINS. GET THE SCOOP ON THE NEW SIGMA CHARACTERS!

HILARIOUS post by Piper Bayard Ok. I’ll do it. I’ll run for President.

AWESOME Blogging Tips by Angela Ackerman

Werewolves: Sexier than Vampires? Monsters of the Church? by the AMAZING editor and writing teacher Terrell Mims

What’s Your Favoite Scent for Fall? by Rebecca Enzor

5 Ways to Keep Your Writing Engine Running

Tawna Fenske has a hilarious post My Cat is a Filthy Pervert

NYTBSA Bob Mayer has an excellent post about steps to take to succeed as a newly pubbed author. AND he also has an amazing post The Perfect Storm is Looming in Publishing.

Should we do guest blogs? Jami Gold tackles this important question

Anne Allen Why Chasing a Big Six Contract is Like Crushing on a Bad Boyfriend

Are the Inevitable Changes Good? Agenla Orlowski

Writers must kill self doubt before it kills them by the genius word pirate Chuck Wendig

Is Blogging Dead? by Roni Loren

Please Don’t Close Your Eyes Because then I can’t See Your Soul by Diana Murdock

A Checklist for Marketing Your E-Book by contributing Writer’s Digest Editor Jane Friedman over at Writer Unboxed.

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60 Comments

Social Butterflies Trump Worker Bees on Social Media–Meet the Connector

 

There are a number of approaches to being successful on social media, but I have a confession to make. I am lazy. Really. If I gave into my nature, I am so lazy I could easily slip into a coma. Don’t let anyone sell you lies. Worker bees didn’t create the wonders of modern society, so don’t go thank the industrious. Go thank the lazy and impatient.

See, the lazy man didn’t want to get up out of his chair to turn the channel, so he invented the remote control. The lazy woman didn’t want to spend each and every moment entertaining her child, so she invented toys that whistle, sing and dance. It was lazy and impatient people who envisioned a world where we could drive a car—FAST— instead of having to bounce around in a carriage and hop several trains to go on vacation. The lazy and impatient invented cell phones so they didn’t have to wait on return phone calls and concocted drive-thru burger joints so they didn’t have to cook.

Okay, so maybe this is a little bit of tongue-and-cheek.

The Big Lie–Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Here’s the thing, society—especially American society—sells us a lie. We are basically told that the people who work 90 hours a week are more productive and valuable. Thus, what happens is many of us take this lie hook, line and sinker and then drag it into our writing lives. We believe that if we aren’t spending hours and hours on social media, that we aren’t being productive. We need to be good little worker bees and everything will turn out dandy if we put in enough time.

Wrong.

Working until we are half dead doesn’t mean we are productive. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It means our approach is grossly inefficient. Lazy Kristen actually helps me be more efficient, crazy as that might sound. More on that in a moment.

Three Main Approaches to Social Media for Writers

The Water Cooler Writer—Many writers fall into the Water Cooler Writer category, especially when first starting out. This writer is on social media, but with no defined purpose and no real activity that will create a meaningful author platform. This writer often tweets using a cutesy moniker like @FairyWriter. She might blog about the writing experience or her daily struggles to be taken seriously, but her actual name is hard to find unless you work for Homeland Security.

None of the Water Cooler Writer’s activities are focused or involve strategy. She is waiting until she has a finished book and an agent to worry about building an author platform.

This is an okay place for any writer to start (though not ideal). This is basically the social media training wheels stage. But, if your goal is to race the Tour de France–*cough* be a professional published author that sells books—then the training wheels need to go.

The Automated Writer—This writer takes efficiency seriously…too seriously. He automates everything he can. He has a web page and a social media account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Goodreads, Technorati…..

He is EVERYWHERE…or is he?

No one has ever actually talked to this writer, so he never connects. This is a viable way to do social media, but the ROI (return on investment) is dismal.

Every time I hear someone whine that Twitter doesn’t sell books, I already know what their twitter stream will look like…a perfect row of Spam. This method will sell books eventually, sort of like if we spam 100,000 people with news of their inheritance from a relative they never knew they had living in Ghana some sucker person will eventually click the link and send cash. This is a game of mass numbers.

A lot of writers are wearing themselves out on social media because they are the Water Cooler Writer—they are chatting with friends and don’t have strategic content to build a brand OR because they are the Automated Writer relying on a tactic that takes MASSIVE volume for any return. This is worker bee behavior. Sure, do enough of this and it might pay off…but it sure is a lot of WORK and TIME, time we need to write more great books.

So today, I am going to tell you guys the secret to being a WANA Writer. WANA Writers are smart, charming and known for being strangely good-looking.

Wait…okay, yeah that’s true but not part of what we are talking about today.

WANA Writers work as a team and create communities. WANA writers work smarter, not harder. WANA Writers know that the only way to sell books is to 1) write a good book and 2) word-of –mouth. Thus, the WANA Writer, when she isn’t absorbing every lesson she can about craft and writing an awesome novel, knows that she needs to work on spreading word of mouth. WANA Writers know that being a worker bee is great, but knowing a social butterfly is better.

Last week I introduced you to the three people you MUST know to start a word of mouth epidemic—the Connector, the Maven and the Salesman (per Gladwell’s The Tipping Point). These are the Social Media Social Butterflies.

The Law of the Few

Why do we need to find a Social Media Social Butterfly? Because of what economist Malcolm Gladwell calls The Law of the Few:

People pass on all kinds of information to each other all the time. But it’s only in the rare instance that such an exchange ignites a word-of-mouth epidemic…..the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular set of social gifts.

(page 32-33 of The Tipping Point)

See, the Worker Bees aren’t who change the world (well, not quickly at least). It’s really up to the Social Butterflies. These are the people who pollinate the world with an idea. Without them, there is no genesis of new thought.

Three Kinds of Social Media Social Butterflies

There are three kinds of Social Butterflies—the Connector, the Maven and the Salesman. These are the people with the social gifts required to spread a message around the globe. Some people are only one type of Social Butterfly, but some are two and some even rarer people are actually all THREE.

Meet the Connector

Today we are going to introduce the first of our Social Butterflies—the Connector. The Connector is that person who seems to know everyone.

Remember we talked about the importance of getting sticky in order to market books. As a WANA Writer, we understand that we might not be a Maven a Connector or a Salesman, but we can get to know people who ARE. WANA Writers know to get sticky by association. WANA Writers don’t waste time trying to change their personality. WANA Writers focus on working smarter, not harder so WANA Writers learn to pay attention for signs of a Social Media Social Butterfly. Today, we will talk about the first one…The Connector Butterfly.

Signs of a Connector:

Connectors are authentically active on social media. Just like real butterflies love flowers, social butterflies LOVE people, and this includes Connector Butterflies. They can’t help themselves.

If you click on a profile and someone has nothing but automated messages, this is not a good sign this person LOVES people. In fact, this connection is almost worthless for the purposes of spreading word-of-mouth. These people might be good to learn from, or a good source of information, but they aren’t going to help us much when it comes to expanding our platform.

Connectors know a lot of people, because they talk to a lot of different kinds of people. Connectors seem to know all kinds of people from all walks of life, professions, backgrounds, etc. They have a foot in all kinds of subcultures and niches, so we don’t have to go through many degrees of separation to all get to this person. Connectors collect friends like a child might collect pretty rocks.

Connectors like…connecting.  This seems a little obvious, but it’s true. The Connector is the person at the cocktail party who is guaranteed to introduce you around and plug you into a group of people with like minds and interests. The Connector is a social media Match Maker. She pollinates flowers (people) and creates the seeds of friendship. People thrive with a Connector in their midst.

Connectors are multi-dimensional. Connectors might be fellow writers, but they are passionate in other areas as well. They aren’t the All Writing All the Time Channel. They have friends in other walks of life and interests beyond craft and publishing.

Many Bloggers are Connectors. Bloggers are the new way of spreading the word. People who blog and are good at blogging are the movers and shakers of the Digital Age. Get to know the good bloggers. Read their blogs, RT for them, comment on their posts. Connectors remember names and faces, so are they seeing yours?

Missing Out on Connectors

One of the reasons that it can handicap us so much by keeping our writing life totally and utterly separate is that we miss a lot of opportunities to meet Connectors. If we have a Facebook page for only writers and only blog about writing and tweet only with people in the publishing industry, then we miss opportunities to fold other worlds into ours. We miss out on possibly connecting with a Connector, because our focus is too exclusive—Writers Only. All Others Keep Out

Spotting a Connector

Probably the best Connector I have witnessed on social media is @PiperBayard. Follow her and watch how she handles Twitter. Read her blog. Piper is friends with all kinds of writers, but she literally knows EVERYONE. Piper was an attorney and she writes humor and post-apocalyptic fiction, and even though Piper is a writer first, this Connector Extraordinaire has a foot in more worlds than I can keep straight. She is kind, authentic and generous to everyone she meets. Watch Piper for a day or two and you will know exactly who to look for when it comes to making friends with Connectors.

@AmyShojai and @GeneLempp are two more prime examples of this rare Connector species. #MyWANA has been a prime watering hole where it is easy to spot Connectors stopping by for a sip of social time. In the coming weeks we will talk more about the Maven and Salesman and I’ll even offer more ways to find and connect with these movers and shakers of social media.

So what are your thoughts? Does this make you feel better? What advice would you add? I love hearing 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, if you want to learn more about how to spread word-of-mouth and build your platform, sign-ups are open for my Blogging To Build Your Author Brand on-line workshop. It’s two months long–one month of lessons and one month of launch and it is ONLY $40.

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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76 Comments

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