Posts Tagged marketing

Understanding Author Platform Part 1–Making Platform our Art

Image from Street Art Utopia.

One of the words writers hear a lot of is “platform.” What is it? How do we get one? How much time do we need to put in on social media for it to count? Do we get time off for good behavior? All good questions, but before I address them, I’d like you guys to understand something very important:

Author platforms are not the same as they used to be.

If we fail to understand how author platforms have changed, we will look as ridiculous as the guy trying to hitch horses to the front of an automobile. Not only will we look silly, but it will only be a matter of time before we give up in frustration, because nothing we do seems to work.

Platforms Once Were Easy to Control, Thus Easy to Measure

Back in the day, platforms were generally only available to those who could afford one. Hiring a PR expert, distributing a newsletter and even building a web site were all extremely cost-prohibitive. Sure, one could also build a platform by doing speaking gigs or writing articles for publication, but one had to establish credibility before getting a toe in the door, so we are right back to platform went to only a handful of individuals.

And if we happened to be fiction authors, then just forget about building a platform. It was simply too expensive. The only way we had of building a platform or brand was through publishing our books…and that, too, only went to a slim percentage of people who made it through gatekeepers.

Additionally, platforms used to be built in ways that were easy to quantify and measure–I.e. how many clicks on a web site, how many attendees for a speech, etc. In The Old World—B.F. (Before Facebook)—it was easier to measure our influence because our brand/platform was relatively static. It was easy to measure how many people tuned into a radio show, a morning show, and how many “clicked to buy” after these types of events.

PR experts would create an image and that image remained largely unmodified unless it wasn’t working…or the “subject” decided to go crazy and create a Kardashianesque scandal worthy of hiring a spin doctor.

Ah, but Times, They Have Changed

These days, platforms are organic, especially those platforms built using social media.

Is there any other kind?.

We can’t control what happens to the content once we let go. Additionally, social media is a two-way exchange. If Bed, Bath & Beyond sends me a mailer, they aren’t expecting me to like it, then photocopy it and distribute it to my friends. Yet, that is exactly what we are after when it comes to social media. We are trusting others to take in what we offer (content), like it and then pass it on to their networks.

The Upside & The Downside

What is wonderful about social media is that we always have the potential for world-wide exposure, to go viral, etc. We also have a lot more fluidity than years ago. We can write in different genres or dabble in transmedia or become hybrid authors because followers are interacting with us daily and real-time.

Yet, the downside of the new paradigm is that social influence is virtually impossible to measure. For more about why, go here to my post The Dark Side of Metrics—Writer Friend or Ticket to Crazy Town? Not only is social influence virtually impossible to  measure…but it is accessible to everyone. In the old days B.F., we were only competing against a slim few with the cash or tenacity to build a platform. Now? To quote The Incredibles

When everyone is special then no one is.

In a time when everyone has access to the same tools, how can we ever hope to stand apart?

So all of this is to say that platform and brand have changed as much as publishing has. If writers want to survive and thrive in the new paradigm, they must let go of the old and embrace the new.

A New Attitude

One of the largest hindrances I see to authors building a great platform has to do with their attitude toward being required to build one. It’s just another chore, a drudgery. It makes us feel weird and dirty, like we are selling out and compromising who we are. I totally appreciate these feelings, because I have felt them, too.

I felt them before I really understood what author platform meant.

In a world where most writers are moaning and groaning about being required to have a platform, the only chance we have of standing apart from the masses, is we must change our attitude and our approach. Sure, easier said than done, right?

No. Not really. I think if we take a moment to peel back why we feel the way we do, it will be easier to enjoy this new leg of author evolution.

So Why Does Building a Platform Make Most of Us Feel Icky?

How many of you ran out and bought John Locke’s book, How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months? Hey, I did. I can always learn, and Locke actually had some really great ideas, but I did have to ask myself some hard questions. Why didn’t his methods resonate with me? Why did many of Locke’s tactics make me feel queasy, as if I had escaped one sales job just to land another one? After a lot of thought, I realized it had to do with intent.

When experts throw around phrases like “target your audience,” I must confess that all I can think of is a red-dot laser site landing on someone’s chest.

 

I am writing a book. Prepare to be targeted.

Maybe it’s just me *shrugs*.

See, Locke will even tell you in his book that he is a born capitalist. He worked in sales for years and started all kinds of businesses. To him, books were just a new way of making money. He saw a tremendous marketing opportunity in the shifting paradigm, and he used his talents and went for it and it paid off. He spent $25,000 figuring out what tactics worked and what failed. He experimented with all kinds of genres and tactics, but not because his art and love happened to be writing.

Locke’s art and love was capitalism and marketing. 

You can see Locke’s excitement coming off the page as he relates his stories of how he tried all kinds of tactics to see where the numbers went. Locke’s art form happened to be numbers. Writing was just the medium, much like a sculptor might choose marble or clay. The reason Locke has such passion is he is doing his art.

But is Their Art Your Art?

For writers who have a love of sales, Locke’s book will really resonate because you will be doing your art. OR, you will at least be blending two arts you love together—sales and writing. Yet, for writers who break out in hives at the mention of the word sales and who are in this for the art of writing?

Hasta la vista, Baby.

Same thing with the PR & social media marketing people. They love to offer suggestions of how to help writers. They are lovely people who are sharing their art, and they want us to love it as much as they do. Some writers do love their methods and find PR and social media marketing is their art, too and that is why these classes have a lot to offer even if they differ from mine.

But what about the rest of us?

What if Sales/Marketing is Not My Art? Am I Doomed?

No. Not at all. But I will challenge you to stop trying to make their art your art. Think of it this way. Some of you, if I said you would be required to also design your own book covers would squeal with joy. Why? Because you also have a love for drawing or graphic design in addition to being a writer. You have more than one art. 

Our art is not our skill; our art is where our heart and passion rests.

Some writers do wonderfully learning marketing and sales skills because it is congruent with an existing passion. Some writers didn’t even know they had  a passion of on-line marketing, but, after a class at a writing conference, they were hooked once they had the know-how.

For the rest of us?

You could teach PR and on-line marketing until the end of time, and we would still hate it with every fiber of our being. We’d hate it just as much as a kid who loves building model airplanes being forced to learn to play the piano. For this kid who is forced to learn an instrument, piano would be a chore, and because it is a chore, any music he makes would always be robotic. It would always lack the essential ingredient that makes music art—passion. 

This is the same reason that writers who hate sales and marketing will always fail. Because it is a chore, it will lack the critical ingredient to connect—passion.

But, Kristen! All of us have to get out there and sell and market!

No, you don’t. I know many well-meaning people have told you this is the case, but it is a false syllogism. A false what? A false syllogism.

Example 

All people who dig ditches sweat profusely.

You are sweating profusely, therefore you must be digging a ditch.

For Writers?

All master salespeople and marketers have platforms that sell lots of books.

Writers need platforms that sell lots of books, therefore writers need to be master salespeople and marketers.

Or…

All social media technology experts have a large platform.

Writers need a large platform, therefore writers need to be social media technology experts.

NO!

We Can’t Fake Passion

If we hate what we are doing, people feel it. Conversely, when we interact with passion, people feel that, too. Why do you think I am so against automation? People who pre-program all their tweets do not love Twitter. They don’t LOVE interacting and thus there is no passion, so no connection.

This is why doing social media this way takes such HUGE numbers to be effective. It is the same ROI (return on investment) we would get with sending out spam e-mails or junk mail–about 1-5%. Thus, for every 20,000 followers, only about 200-500 will listen and fewer will care.

Words are Our Art

Social media is nothing but words. We writers use words to create feeling and emotion. We use 26 black letters in various combinations to spark passion and interest. Social media can be a drudgery when we aren’t connected to our muse. Yet, when approached with the correct attitude, social media a new canvas for the writer-artist.

We will talk more about platform and ways to make social media our art next week. In the meantime, I want you to answer some questions:

What is it I fear the most about social media?

What do I believe it is taking away from me?

What are the emotions I want readers to feel when reading my work?

Of all those emotions, which one is the most important? Do I want people to feel love, passion, inspiration, courage?

So what are some questions you guys have? Do you feel better now that you have permission to hate sales? Can you spend some time defining your own art and think of ways to infuse it into your social media? For those already doing this, can you share with the rest of us?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

Note: I will announce last week’s winner later this week. I am having problems with my web site and e-mail and my web people are working to remedy the problem. Thanks for your patience.

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.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

50,000 Inimitable Smiles by Margie Lawson over at More Cowbell

How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book over at Jane Friedman’s place

Was March 2012 the Day that Traditional Publishing Died? by the ever-brilliant Bob Mayer

Amazon Signs Up Authors Writing Publishers Out of the Deal by the NYT

Beautiful Breakups–What the Revision Process Can Teach Us by August McLaughlin

How Can Modern Writers Become and Stay Visible? by the fabulous Jody Hedlund

Ten Things You Should Know About Setting by the awesome-sauce Chuck Wendig

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76 Comments

The Modern Author–A New Breed of Writer for the Digital Age of Publishing

Being the social media expert for writers has been an interesting experience. I recall when I first started teaching social media, most writers refused to use e-mail. I used every shiny thing I could think of to convince writers that social media wasn’t the devil, it was actually going to be the key to our freedom. We no longer had to throw everything to chance. We had some control over our futures!

Now that we are in the throes of the Indie Revolution, writers are really embracing technology and are seeing the liberation I promised years ago. Yet, the debate rages.

What is the Key? What is the Secret to Success in the Digital Age?

Product–Some say it is content. Write good books and lots of them.

Platform–Some say it is social media. We must build an amazing platform or we will be invisible now that EVERYONE can be published.

Promotion–Some say it is all in the bundling, promotions, give-aways and blog tours.

What do I say? All of the above…but likely to different degrees. If you want to know more about the Three Ps, check out NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer’s post Platform, Product, Promotion. And YES, folks, this post was good enough for me to go digging through the WDW archives, so check it out…seriously.

But back to our topic.

There are all kinds of arguments about what is the most important. Frankly, it depends on your strengths, but these days, to really become a success? REALLY a success as in “sellabunchabooks success”? We need to be stronger, faster, and smarter. We must be better trained than any writer in human history.

Every vocation evolves in the face of new technology, but for today’s purposes I want to talk a little about war. War? Yes, bear with me.

Kristen’s Brief History of War

See, in the beginning when disputes could no longer be settled with name-calling and stealing goats, we used rocks and sticks. Of course, it wasn’t long before some dude figured out how to totally cheat and affix a pointy rock (flint) on the end of his stick…CHEATER!

So, then Man retreated to the caves to figure out what could be done about those dudes that were cheating and affixing pointy rocks on their sticks. They chewed on those red berries that helped them stay up late into the night and finally handed the problem to their engineer–Og–and Og figured out a way to use some dried critter tendons and TIE them to the stick and then shoot the other stick with the pointy rock affixed to the end. He named it after his favorite pet monkey…Bo.

True story I just made up.

A thousand years later–give or take a few centuries–the art of firing pointy sticks was, indeed, an art. In fact, once we figured out a little bit of basic geometry (Thanks a lot, Archimedes) we got to use cool gadgets like catapults…which, strangely have nothing to do with cats.

So not only did we figure out new weapons, we also had to devise ways to shield ourselves (no pun intended) from whatever weapon was all the rage of the Dark Ages, Renaissance, Civil War, whatever. In fact, one really fascinating subject is the architecture of castles. Did you know that, after the advent of the cannon, the shapes of castles/forts changed. They transformed into shapes that resembled stone starfish…not stoned starfish. Stop giggling and pay attention.

Why did the castles/forts change shapes? Well, because a flat wall, when hit with a cannonball just caved. So, the architects realized that if they changed the shape of the castle, the cannonball would always hit with a glancing blow. It could never hit flush, so the walls would be far harder to take out.

Yes, I am trivia flypaper.

Anyway, fast-forward to the 20th century. In WWI we really started seeing the influence of the Industrial Revolution on warfare, but soldiers still were often just used as fodder and we see this all the way up through WWII. Those in command just threw sheer human numbers at the problem.

Yet, in Vietnam, everything kind of came to a head. War had changed so much. We were no longer two sides lined up an a cornfield shooting in the smoke and whoever had the most dudes standing at the end was declared winner.

No, it was all different.

We were facing submarine attacks and air attacks and machine gun attacks and HOLY COW NUKES! With each new technology, different technology had to be invented to overcome the other technology. But more than the technology changed…the people changed.

The soldier changed.

Gone was the illiterate youth conscripted off the farm and handed a musket. Today’s soldier is highly trained and highly educated. He (or she) learns basic hand-to-hand combat, but he also learns how to use technology so space age most of us wouldn’t know whether to hit the “On” switch or hit it with a stick. And I am not even talking Special Forces, because, well they are special. Just everyday enlisted people have SO much training and education to keep pace with modern warfare.

Soldiers now operate predator drones and bomb-sniffing robots. They use laser designators to drop bombs, and we even have dudes who have to do trigonometry before they kill someone (they are called “snipers”). Today’s armed forces is smarter, faster, and better trained than any force in history.

The thing is, as technology marches forward and changes our world we either evolve or we die. No one ever heard from that other tribe after Og invented the stick-thrower, btw.

What Does War Have to Do with Writers?

Now back to writers. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we must be GOOD AT IT ALL, especially indie people. Gone are the days of Hemingway where writers could power drink, chain smoke and hide away writing books with little to no outside communication with the world (except the agent and occasional book signing). That is as archaic as going to war with a slingshot. Sure, the slingshot rocked back in biblical days, but now it is a formula to DIE.

Writers Don’t Have to Be Literary Fodder

Do you know where the word infantry came from? The Latin word infantem, which means “youth.” In early warfare they would put the young and inexperienced youths in the front ahead of the seasoned soldiers and essentially use them as fodder. If a kid survived, he got promoted. It was a sheer numbers game that was bloody and brutal and ended mostly in death for the infantem.

Sound like the traditional publishing paradigm?

Throw enough new writers out there and the one that survives gets another book deal. In the indie age, we no longer have to be fodder, but we have to be TRAINED and we need to be part of a TEAM. Blind luck is for the foolish.

The Competition is Getting Leaner and Meaner

Yes, we need to write good books, but the competition can write good books, do social media AND run promotions. Haven’t you noticed more and more indies are making the best-seller lists? Sure they had good books, but they also had a ROCKIN’ platform, they blogged and marketed their tails off and all that hard work booted the traditionals from those top slots. I feel we are going to see a lot more of that in the coming months.This is why I work so hard to teach you guys about this business in a holistic way.

Product (Content)

We can’t put a shiny bow on a pile of literary dog poop and call is a rose. No amount of marketing is going to sell garbage. We have to learn to write good books. Notice I use the plural–books. We can’t slave over one book forever making it perfect. I said we need to write good books, not perfect books.

We also can’t toss junk out there and think promotion will make it a hit. Good books will always sell way more than crappy books. Not rocket science. We should always be learning as much as we can about our craft, our trade, our art. This is why I blog on craft and point you guys to the best teachers in the industry.

Platform (Social Media/Blogging)

But this is also the reason I work so hard to give you guys tools to do social media effectively and in far less time. It is also the reason I have created MyWANA (here is the short video that explains). Plug in on Twitter at #MyWANA or on our brand new MyWANA Facebook page here. Platforms take time to build, but they take a LOT LESS time if we are part of a team.

A New Breed of Writer Rises from the Ashes 

The Modern Writer is a BAD@SS. She writes, blogs, does social media and she has a killer team of fellow ninja-writers who have her six and offer cover-fire (Retweets). Lone writers DIE, but packs of writers create mayhem through the city taking all the wine and chocolate…

Wait, that went sideways. Try again.

The Modern Writer lets go of the past, the lone soul who sat alone, hunched over a typewriter and who was only responsible for glorious prose. The modern writer is part of a community and a team. She doesn’t whine about technology, she gets in and OWNS IT.

It isn’t called a slave drive for nothing ;).

The Modern Writer writes, promotes, learns newer and newer technology and manages a business. The She-Writer is a FORCE OF NATURE. The He-Writer is MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

The thing is, the Modern Writer is one of the most highly skilled people on the planet. We create new worlds and civilizations from black letters. We research, write, network, market, promote, run a business, learn a MOBI from a jpeg, and on and on, though we don’t have Predator Drones…yet ;).

We Have to Do it ALL?

So your WANA-Mama is here to tell you the rough truth. It is ALL important. Sure, some things we will do better than others. I write and do social media WAY better than promotional stuff. But that is why I have a TEAM. I have WANAites who will just looooove to get their sticky little paws all over my next book once it is ready to release. These people LOVE throwing parties and dreaming up games and contests. Not my strength…but it doesn’t have to be.

I feel that the authors who hammer on that the ONLY thing that matters are books and content, that is their strength. It is easy to tell others that the only thing that matters is a good book when you start the game with 10, 20, or 40 titles. It sort of feels like the one and ONLY time I played RISK with my family members (who cheat, btw). They felt that tanks were the key to winning the game. Well, sure, they had tanks…ALL of them. If you have ALL the tanks, then tanks are a pretty good plan.

The hard truth is that, to some degree, we are going to have to be able to be at least proficient in ALL of these roles. We need to write good books (plural), but we also need a platform and an ability to promote. This is why I work so hard teaching you guys on this blog, and I am also developing new classes and more classes to help make all of manageable, because it IS A LOT, but we are not alone!

Writers now must learn hand-to-hand combat (craft), but we also need advanced weapons training (technology), balanced with a little satellite communications & cryptology (social media and networking) and military strategy (business). We must be masters of gathering intel, or just let Porter Anderson do it for us (Go to Writing on the Ether). But the fact remains that, to survive and thrive in this new world, we need to work together. There is strength in numbers. We are not alone.

We are the Modern Author.

What are your thoughts? Have you been excited about the changes in the industry? Do they scare you? Do you feel more empowered or do you really miss the old ways? Hey, I am nostalgic. No shame in loving the traditions of old. What resources do you recommend to your fellow WANA peeps?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

12 Things that Will Kill Your Blog Post Every Time by SEO Moz Pro

Six Reasons Author Should LOVE Timeline on Facebook over at Girls with Pens. Thanks Lisa Hall-Wilson. Frankly, FB isn’t going to give us a choice, so we need to learn what the heck we are doing. Great blog and yes, I switched.

BEAUTIFUL post by Colin Falconer. Where the Wind Blows Steady Down the Plain. Just gorgeous writing!

Cute post by Mark Klapowitz Remember When TV Programs didn’t Have Animated Promos for Other Programs?

Two Ways to Make the Most of Goodreads by Jane Friedman

The brilliant, talented Jody Hedlund chimes in about marketing on Are Your Efforts Unique or Do You Blend In?

25 Things You Should Know About Word Choice by the amazing Chuck Wendig.

Just Say It Sucks by Ginger Calem. What? That mascara doesn’t give me 9x thicker, fuller lashes?

For something different and REALLY interesting, Piper Bayard’s writing partner, Holmes gives us the skinny on Iran and Nukes and what it means.

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79 Comments

Who Will Rule Social Media? Introverts vs. Extroverts

Yesterday, one of the commenters asked my thoughts about introverts on social media. At first glance, it seems that social media, social networking and social platform-building is a job made in heaven for the extrovert. Well, yes and no. Actually, each personality brings a unique skill set to the table.

The terms “extrovert” and “introvert” were first made popular in the 1920s by the famous psychologist Carl Jung, then given further momentum later by the Myers-Briggs personality test. Over the past century, it appears our society has developed an unhealthy fascination with the extrovert, favoring the bubbly, outgoing energetic personality over their quiet, more contemplative counterparts. Corporations spend money by the buckets training their people to “group think,” and “team-building” has virtually wiped out all quiet reflection.

In a world that can’t seem to stop talking, the introvert is getting lost.

Yes, I am an extrovert *shock face*, but one thing you guys might not expect is that I actually score very high as an introvert as well. Every time I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs, I score almost dead even on the extrovert vs. introvert questions. I am technically an extrovert with strong introversive tendencies. It generally is only one or two answers that have tipped me over to the extrovert side. I do feel that introversive side is part of what drew me to becoming a writer in the first place.

So, let’s just say that I do have some idea of what it feels like to be an introvert trapped in a corporate culture that doesn’t value quiet time. I know what it feels like to slug though meeting after meeting with every person feeling the need to fill the air with chatter and suggestions, whether they’d thought them through or not. And to make matters worse, our culture seems to reward the person who is noisiest, regardless whether the person makes any sense at all.

I remember being part of a sales meeting and all the reps were tossing out what they thought the company’s main focus for the year should be. Lower prices! Shorter lead-times! More choices! The CEO was just beaming in the sea of all this noisy brilliance. After a while, I finally raised my hand said something that stopped everyone cold.

“Has anyone asked the customers what they feel is important?”

See, one area introverts shine is they tend to be better listeners. Most managers will seek out the gregarious chatterbox who isn’t afraid to strike up a conversation and recruit them to the sales force. Yet, the interesting thing is that what makes the extrovert supposedly “good” at sales, can actually be a hinderance. To be good at sales, the extrovert needs to, above all else, learn to be a good listener first…and that is an area where we extroverts can struggle. We get so busy being entertaining that we often forget to be quiet long enough to hear the real problem our product can solve.

Thus, when it comes to social media, introverts are at no disadvantage…well, not using the WANA approach. Originally I had intended to only post one vlog this week. But, since the weekend was such a disaster, yesterday, while Spawn was passed out on codeine, I filmed a quick vlog to answer this question…because talking is easier than writing at this point. And the Spawn is doing fantastic today. Thanks for all the prayers and support.

As you can see, the introvert doesn’t need to become an extrovert in order to rule social media. In fact, using WANA, introverts can actually rely on their extroversive teammates to carry on their message while they rest and recharge. Since WANA is a community, we all harness each other’s strengths while collectively mitigating each other’s weaknesses. TEAM–Together Everyone Achieves More. Introverts have their own special contribution, and we aren’t here to change your personality, just your approach. Introverts have just as much to contribute to the world of social media, so don’t try to be something you aren’t. No phonies!

So what questions do you have that you might like for me to address on the vlog? Questions about social media? Craft? Questions about sea monkey training? Throw it out there.

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of…heck it is close enough for 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. 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 March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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86 Comments

R-E-S-P-E-C-T isn’t FREE!!!

 

Last week in What’s the Problem with FREE!? we talked about how giving away FREE! downloads of our books can actually do more harm than good. I also gave an example of the software company that refused to offer anything for FREE! back in the dot.com boom in the 90s when all the competition was handing out goodies left and right. When every other dot.com was giving away golf shirts, trips, goodies and software for FREE! this company stood firm and offered nothing…for nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, this company gave away FREE! stuff. They just didn’t give it away for free ;).

Free! is Best When It Isn’t Free

I read J.A. Konrath’s  and Bob Mayer’s blogs because both of them provide a lot of valuable insight for the writing professional. At first it might seem that Konrath and Mayer and I would disagree, that we would be at odds. Why? Because Konrath and Mayer will be the first to give us writers a digital kick in our digital @$$ to get off Twitter and Facebook to write more books. They make no bones about telling writers to get back to work and WRITE! Me, being a Social Media Expert Jedi, should be aghast.

What? How can you tell writers to get their tuchus off Twitter? Twitter is the best thing since Gummy Bears! And Facebook? What are you communists in league with SOPA to keep writers from sharing that video with the dancing squirrel?

Actually, I agree with Konrath and Mayer and it is one of the reasons WANA methods look VERY different from most social media approaches. See, I am not here to make you guys social media experts. I am here merely to help you use this tool called social media in the most time-effective way, because the best thing you can do to become a successful author or even a brand is to write more books. Write as many books as you can! Good books.

Write! Write like the wind! This is true for ALL authors—traditional, indie and self-pubbed. The more books we have for sale the greater our odds of success. And don’t think I am telling people to churn out crap just to have more books. There is nothing further from the truth. In fact, I dedicate every Monday on this blog to help y’all grow to be better and better writers. But few things can help our writing abilities like…um, writing.

Rocket science, right?

I just taught an on-line class about branding. I had all kinds of questions about Google Ads, Goodreads, Pinterest, blog tours, etc. to sell books and brand. My answer? Don’t become an expert at social media, become an expert at writing good books. Social media is a means not an end. The one critical ingredient to ALL author brands? BOOKS. GOOD BOOKS. The more, the better. Successful authors are not judged on the quality of their fan page. They are judged by the quality of their books.

Okay, you guys got the point. WRITE!

Yes, sometimes it might seem that I am beating a dead horse, but this is really critical. Konrath and Mayer had a distinctive advantage when they decided to self-publish. If, for no other reason? They had a lot of good books to offer. Why does this matter? Well, for today’s purposes, it has to do with FREE!

FREE! has More Power the More Titles We Have to Offer

FREE! is what can hook a long-term commitment. We can give a teaser to gain passion and loyalty. Yet, we can only do this if we have more than one title for sale. A potential customer (reader) sees that we have more than one book for sale. Ah, but one is FREE! This makes a reader a bit more excited since now…

FREE! is in Context of NOT-FREE!

Value is relative. If readers go to a site and an author has her one and only manuscript up to give-away, we might bite for the FREE! download. But, when we go to an author page and there are ten titles for sale, all for 4.99, yet one is FREE!, naturally we feel better about our decision to bite on the FREE!. Also, because this pricing was given in context, as humans, we will place more value on the download so we are more likely to read this one FIRST.

This is one of the reasons that authors like Konrath, Mayer and Eisler have done so well. Not only were they offering vetted titles, but they offered a lot of them, thus their product (the book) could be judged in context. John Locke, the successful self-published author, didn’t have vetted titles, but he did offer A LOT of them. Thus, those who liked Locke’s FREE! book now had a whole list of other his titles for sale.

FREE! is only valued when consumers believe it costs us (the giver) something.

Go back to the example I gave last week. I have a half a dozen magnet calendars I got for FREE! in my junk drawer. Does any of this make me want to do business with any of these real estate agents? No…because in my mind it really didn’t cost them anything. But what about the agent who sent me a $100 Lowes gift card? (Our agent sent us this after we closed on our house). That man will have my loyalty FOREVER, because he gave something that cost him, even though I know he made money off the sale of our house. He didn’t have to send $100 gift card. He could have sent us a calendar and a thank you note like my mom’s realtor did to her. But he didn’t and he now has a customer for LIFE.

This is why multiple books for sale help the impact of FREE! Since we have other titles for sale at a higher price, then it is perceived (by the consumer) that we are taking a loss when we offer something for FREE! This creates the reciprocity that is critical for driving sales. Reciprocity is very often negated when an author gives away her one and only manuscript for FREE!

FREE! is Most Effective When We Maintain Our Negotiating Power

If all we have is one book…then we give it away, the power has just completely shifted over to the reader. We are completely at the mercy that he or she will be compelled to talk about our book. Since we have no other titles for sale, we have nothing else to gain, other than maybe some ranking on Amazon. But even then, that only worked well when everyone wasn’t giving stuff away for FREE! We are in a position of weakness, of need. Not the best place to earn R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

FREE! is Most Powerful as a Part of a Quid Pro Quo

I’m not, per se against giving away books for FREE!, but I do think that there are smarter ways to go about doing this. As I stated earlier, FREE is best when it isn’t FREE!

In fact, FREE! can actually be a wonderful tool to get customers to spend MORE money…but the clincher is we have to have more than one book to offer.

Since it would be almost irresponsible for me NOT to mention Amazon at some point during this discussion, we will use them as an example. A while back Amazon.com started offering FREE! shipping on orders over a certain amount.

Thus, a person who purchased a book for $14.95 might pay an extra $3.95 for shipping. In total, the customer would be out less than $20. But, if they bought another book for a total of $29.95…they would get their shipping for FREE! Many people probably didn’t even want or need the second book, but the power of FREE! proved just too much to resist. And obviously this tactic works because Amazon still offers FREE! shipping when we consumers jump through various hoops (all of which are, of course, profitable for Amazon).

This is why it is critical to write more and more and more books, especially if you are self-published, because then you can use FREE! to its maximum advantage.

Bundled is Better

A good way to gain more sales traction? Bundling.  Buy two books for $4.99 and get a FREE! download of another short story, novel, whatever. This kind of FREE! makes readers very happy. Consumers are then lured to put out money to get the FREE! I happen to be very blessed to be part of Who Dares Wins Publishing and they do these types of deals regularly and it is a win-win for authors and readers.

FREE! Needs a Perceived Value

FREE! doesn’t have to be in the form of books or downloads. Heck, offer FREE! shipping on orders over a certain amount. Why reinvent the wheel? Copy what works, and, if Amazon has done this successfully, then so can we. Yet, again, this only works when we have more than one title for sale.

My Biggest Gripe About FREE!

I think writers, especially self-published writers, get overly fascinated with marketing, and the allure of FREE! only makes this worse. I see far too many writers uploading that ONE manuscript and then spending every spare waking moment, promoting that one book to the point of being viewed as spam. They tweet with every imaginable hashtag, “Come get my book for FREE! FREE NOW! A book for FREE!” ….and after the 40th time we get this tweet, we are willing to pay the writer to stop tweeting.

They remind me of gamblers chasing their losses. Because ONE DAY they had X number of downloads, they are back at the track trying to make that number appear again. If we run around handing our one and only manuscript for FREE! then what good does it gain us? I am sure there is some good that can come from it, but not the real game-changing benefit that I want all of you to enjoy.

If we study the success stories, especially in indie publishing, the winners always had multiple titles—J.A. Konrath, Bob Mayer, John Locke, Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory, etc. So Mayer and Konrath are correct—write, then write some more. Less tweeting and more writing.

When we have more than one book to sell, FREE! becomes a pricing strategy, not a desperate cry for attention.

Yes, I am the social media expert for writers, because I will be honest enough to tell you guys that the point to all this tweeting and blogging and FBing is to drive enough book sales that we can lose the day job and do what we love. We can’t do this with one book. The odds of this are about the same as getting mugged and hit by lightning on the same day. If we are spending too much time on social media, then we aren’t writing more books. Thus, social media is no longer a powerful advantage…and neither is FREE!

So what are your thoughts? Opinions? What are your experiences with FREE!? Any thoughts, suggestions? Recipes for killer chocolate martinis?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great book.

Winner’s Circle

Winner of last week’s 5-Page Critique is Tahlia Newland. Please send your 1250 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.

Ginger Club is the winner of last month’s 15 page critique. Please send your 3750 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.

Congratulations!

Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether is a WONDERFUL resource for the best information in this industry.

Joe Konrath’s blog is another wonderful resource.

Colin Falconer had an AWESOME blog Historical or Fiction?

Friesen Press has a great post that I need to print and STUDY, Take the Busyness out of Business.

The real way to build a social network by Reid Hoffman over at CNN Money

The Big Reasons Indie Authors aren’t Taken Seriously at Huffington Post

Red Pen of Domm, Why Blog Hits Don’t Matter Though I don’t agree 100% we actually agree on a lot. We can have 10 zillion hits and they are all bots or random clicks. Quality trumps quantity and I agree.

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61 Comments

Why Writers Need a Platform

Today we are going to talk about platform. Platform, next to the actual writing, is simply THE most valuable asset we possess. Platform and content are the two things we control, and they are the largest determining factors as to whether or not we will have a successful writing career. Platforms offer us career stability and a foundation for a future.

What exactly IS platform?

So what is a platform? There are two sides to platform. First is the definition of our platform. What is unique about us or our writing that can be a determining factor in our content?

In Hollywood, the mantra is, “Give me the same…but different.” This should be our mantra in defining our platform. We need SOMETHING that defines us as a writer…but at the same time makes us stand out from all the others. Same but different.

Our platform definition is basically our image, and affects the way we will approach others. Think of it like how we dress. Do we approach people as the three-piece suit Power Point guy? All business and professional? Are we the D&D T-shirt video game guy, and we quote Blazing Saddles far more than is socially acceptable? Are we the seductive yet snarky diva who teaches about bringing out the inner muse? Defining platform goes a lot to adding to voice.

Just go read Bob Mayer’s blog…then pop over the Chuck Wendig. Both have amazing blogs, but very different voices and presentation. Both authors use their strong suits, and their personalities come screaming off the screen (in a good way).

I liken myself to Erma Bombeck meets technology. I strive to add a heavy dose of humor and common sense to all of my social media endeavors. I am using something unique to me; the ability to be funny…honed over 18 schools and countless Mean Girls whose sole mission in life was to make my life hell. Years of always being the new target kid developed in me a strong defense mechanism. I learned to be funny. Kind of like peeing on yourself so no one eats you.

In my Blogging to Build Your Author Brand on-line classes, I run participants through a series of exercises to help them define their unique platform. We peel back the layers of fear and the defense mechanisms to reveal the best of what each writer has to offer. Why be a bad copy when you can be an awesome and original YOU?

Defining our platform is like putting together blueprints for a building. Are we a Frank Lloyd Wright writer? A Tuscan villa writer? A post-modern industrial writer? A ranch-style writer? We need to know what we are constructing first.

Anyway, once we have defined our platform, then we go about building our platform. This can be a simple presence in a blog or on FB…or, if you read my book WANA, it is a complex layering of all the major sites worked into an intricate lattice that is designed to grow with your career and withstand upsets in the industry or on social media. The WANA Method maximizes time on social media.

Good Platforms are Solid and Can Withstand Major Shifts in Technology and Trends

All platforms are comprised of content and exposure. How much content are you putting out there? What kind of materials (content) are you using? Are you cheaping out? Cutting corners? Or are you constructing something built to last? Are you showing up daily on the job site? Or, are you adding to your structure only when the mood strikes?

One blog every quarter and tweets about the weather is not a lot of useful content. Content makes up the beams to construct the platform. If we are putting out 2-5 quality blogs a week, that is like laying down solid beams of hardwood. If we don’t blog and only play with farm animals on FB, think of that like building our platform with leftover Popsicle sticks. Yeah, there is something “wooden-ish” there, but it sure as heck ain’t load-bearing.

This is the point of all that we are doing when on social media. We are creating a load-bearing structure using content and relationships. This is the platform that will hold our reputations, our public images and our futures. Do we want that made out of beams of African Teak or cheap particle board? The better a platform is constructed, the better chance it can withstand a major change.

Case in point…

MySpace is dead. It decided to commit digital suicide two weeks after WANA released (feel free to ignore all ten pages that talk about MySpace). But this illustrates a good point about how my approach to social media is different. WANA methods focus on people, not gizmos.

At the time We Are Not Alone came out, I already had a HUGE presence on MySpace. But, because I had built my platform the way I teach you guys, I was able to keep most of my followers as tastes changed in favor of FB and Twitter. How? My platform was solid and founded on people, not technology. Technology changes, but people are timeless.

When MySpace went crazy, my platform remained intact. Members of my MySpace platform could easily find me on FB as they abandoned ship transitioned. And, the even better part was that I made enough of an impression that they WANTED to find me. That is awesome no matter how you look at it :D.

I teach you guys how to do the same. There is no guarantee that Facebook will be here next year. Twitter could turn cannibalistic and devour itself one tweep at a time. We don’t know where the technology goes or how it will change, but we DO know that people are awesome and they long to connect and be part of a community. This is the key reason that platforms created on technology are so high-maintenance and vulnerable to change (implosion). They are founded on shifting sands of gizmos, not the timeless nature of humans.

So now that you agree that platforms need to be built on relationships, let’s look a little closer. Platform gives us a number of advantages.

The Six Degrees of Separation

As society advances, we have more and more choices and are inundated with information. People tend to pull in to what and who they know. Actively participating on social media is like rolling dice. The more times you roll, the greater chances you have for being successful and opening that ONE door that changes your career forever.

Platform Gives Us Options

Too many writers are out there betting on that ONE thing to come through…an agent will represent them then NY will offer them a deal. Nothing wrong with that, but it can make us crazy in the meantime. To be blunt, an author with no social media presence and only a manuscript has limited options.

Yet, if we have a large platform, our options improve. We can indie publish or self-publish other works until an agent bites. We can take an unconventional path to publication. Four years ago, no agent would rep me. There was no market for a social media book. So, because I had a platform, I could indie publish with WDW Publishing. WANA (and probably divine intervention) landed me one of the top agents in the world.

Platforms Make Us Desirable

A strong platform gives us the luxury of being picky. Platform makes us the pretty girl that every guy wants to marry. We can stay single and break all their hearts if we want to, or we can settle down. But the best news is that we don’t have to settle for the first offer that comes our way.

Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory, and John Locke didn’t have to chase the first agent that smiled at them. They had a lot to offer any agent/publisher, so they were able to use their platforms (books and sales eventually are part of our platforms) to broker sweeter deals. Platforms can be viewed as a time suck, or they can be viewed as a way to improve our marketability. Writers have more power and control over their careers than ever before. Opportunity often comes wearing overalls; it’s why most people miss it.

What are some tactics you guys use to grow your platform? Any suggestions? Thoughts? What are your biggest challenges? Share!

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

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of November 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 to write great books!

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

DeKloutifying by John Scalzi. HILARIOUS and YES!!!!

What NOT to Blog About by Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner

Learn to Fail Aggressively by Nationally Best-Selling Author James Scott Bell

Cool interview. Author Kait Nolan talks Werewolves

Enough Already! Self-Promotion Madness by Roni Loren

Why You Need Extra Eyes by Tawna Fenske

Make sure you check out Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether to keep up with the latest and greatest trends in publishing.

Also, Jane Friedman is an EXCELLENT resource for all writers, but especially the digital author.

Excellent article in the Wall Street Journal. Penguin Publishing launches a self-publishing division

In my “free time” I am running for Vice President of the Free World. Piper Bayard and I launch our blog tour over at More Cowbell because, seriously…the White House needs more cowbell.

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56 Comments

The Right Way, the Wrong Way & the Smart Way

I know we are supposed to be talking about the third person you need to know to be successful on social media–the Salesman. But, over the weekend my Great Aunt Iris (who might as well have been my grandmother we were so close) slipped into a coma and then passed away on Sunday morning. She had just turned 98, so yes it is sad, but it is amazing that she lived such a full and long life. Anyway, I have not had time to finish the Salesman post, so rather than rushing and slapping up a less-than-stellar blog, I decided to post a lesson from early this year.

Most of us have slept since Spring, so a refresher is always refreshing. *drum roll, snare*  Yes, I’ll be here all week. Drinks are half-price.

I have been doing social media for a number of years, and it has been wonderful to see how writers have embraced technology. I remember back in 2006 I had a hard enough time getting many writers to learn to use e-mail, let alone join Facebook.  Yet, it was really only in 2009 that I started thinking of myself as an expert. Namely I watched a lot of social media people teach tactics that were more likely to give writers permanent hair loss than anything. They were trying to overlay a Corporate America template on to a writer’s career. Not a good fit.

Kind of like watching me try to put on size zero skinny jeans…lots of grunting and pain and the end result ain’t pretty.

Anyway, writers finally did perk up to the fact that they needed to be on social media, yet we had an information vacuum. Many writers took off doing the best they could, and, in the process, made a lot of errors. Hey, I was one of them. Need I remind you of texaswriterchik?

*slaps forehead*

The thing is, I am teaching writers how to do this social media platform thing the correct way. This is all great and wonderful if you are new and haven’t started building. For others? I see the digital blood drain from your face when I give the bad news:

I’m sorry, but your platform needs major reconstructive surgery. I need to put your brand in a temporary coma so it doesn’t die while we do the transplants. Do you have insurance?

Some people suck it up, bite on some leather and resolve to get it over with. Others? Denial is more than a river in Africa.

I hear a lot of, “Writers just need to do what works for them.”

Yes….but, um, no.

 

I will use an example to illustrate. Say I want to make chocolate cake. My end goal is a chocolate cake. So I set out cooking, but I don’t want to use butter, and I don’t like eggs, and definitely no flour and I just can’t bring myself to use chocolate. Instead, I want to use vanilla pudding, and slices of bananas and top it off with vanilla wafer cookies and LOTS of whipped cream.

So you say, “Wait, but you aren’t making chocolate cake.”

And I say, “Well this is how I make chocolate cake.”

And you say, “But, you just made banana pudding. That’s NOT chocolate cake.”

And I get huffy and reply, “Stop judging me. Maybe YOU make chocolate cake differently, but everyone needs to do what works for them.”

You would think I was a lunatic. Yes, I made a dessert….but I didn’t make a chocolate cake.

If our end goal is to brand our name, which it should be…then there are right and wrong ways to go about this. My lessons are to make our name alone a bankable asset. Our NAME will have the power to drive book sales so we have more time to write, or prank call or even make origami monkeys.

There is a HUGE difference between having a social media presence and becoming a brand. And I know I am about to do some sacred cow-tipping, but it needs to be done.

My second book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer is a great book to teach you all you ever wanted to know about blogging to build an author brand. There is little point to contributing content to the Internet if it doesn’t build our brand.

Tweeting under a cutesy moniker. We have discussed this one before, but some people are new (here is the post). Every time we tweet, that is an “advertisement” that contributes to building our brand. The only acceptable Twitter handle is the name that will be on the front of our books. Period. If we are tweeting under @FairyGirl, we are contributing great content—blogs, articles, conversation—but we have the WRONG name top-of-mind.  Readers cannot buy a book by Fairy Girl, so all that tweeting is wasted effort.

Writing on Group Blogs at the Expense of Our Author Blog I have run into writers who were very prolific, contributing to multiple group blogs. Group blogs are wonderful. They can help us learn to blog better and can offer accountability. Yet, if we are writing for three different group blogs, but then not blogging on our own site? That is BAD. Group blogs will not brand an individual author. Yes, we will have a social media presence…but that isn’t a brand.

I read a lot of WONDERFUL group blogs, but the name of the group is what will be top of mind. Writers in the Storm, Adventures in Children’s Publishing, and Writer Unboxed are three of the best group blogs, but I would be hard-pressed to give the names of the contributors. And, the ones I can name have their own separate blogs that buttress their brand.

I care very much about you guys, and I want all of you to be successful. But part of caring is giving the truth. When we decide to go from hobbyist to professional, we sometimes have to make the tough choices. We have to say no to friends, family, kids and pets. We have to spend time working when we would rather play. If we are contributing to a bunch of group blogs, but our own blog is infested with dust bunnies and spam bots? We might need to make a choice. Hang out with friends? Or build our career?

Our own brand is paramount. The more bankable our name, the more books we sell. The more books we sell, the more successful (and enjoyable) our writing career will be.

There are right ways and wrong ways and smart ways to build a brand. Can we brand ourselves by only blogging on group blogs? Sure. Anything is possible. I could theoretically take I-35 south from Texas and get to Canada. It involves a very tedious journey through South America over Antarctica, up the other side of the globe and over the North Pole. The Earth IS round. I will get to Canada eventually, BUT the odds of me giving up and going home are far more likely than me reaching Canada.

Is my taking I-35 South WRONG? Technically, no. But it is a formula to give up.

Many writers find social media to be a huge time suck, namely because they either have no plan or they have a flawed plan. I used to think it was a time-suck, too. But I wasn’t approaching social media correctly. I have made all the dumb mistakes so you don’t have to :D.

My two books have hit the top of multiple best-seller lists using the methods I am teaching. And I am not the only one who has experienced this kind of dramatic success. I have a stack of testimonials. Yes, we are free to do social media any way we please. No Facebook police will drag us to digital jail. But I think most of us would rather spend more time writing and less time trying to Bond-O a faulty platform.

What are some tough choices you guys have had to make for your writing? What are some tough choices you face, but maybe don’t know what to do? Have any advice or suggestions? Put them in the comments!

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.

NOTE: For those of you who haven’t yet gotten your pages back, please resend to my assistant (if you haven’t already). I get about 500 e-mails a day, so I am redoing things so submissions don’t get lost in the ether. Thanks for your patience.

Gigi at gigi dot salem dot ea at g mail dot com. Gigi will make sure I get your pages.

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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40 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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