Posts Tagged #MyWANA

WANA–A Nursery for Stars

Image via Flickr Commons and contributed by The Smithsonian.

Image via Flickr Commons and contributed by The Smithsonian.

Yesterday, a minister commented on my post and said something that made me really think, “Sometimes even the ministers need ministering.” My purpose with my blogs and teachings have always been to serve writers holistically. We are humans with dreams, wants, needs, crises, and people depending on us. Writers need more than a craft class, Facebook lessons or a better way to write a query letter.

Often, when we decide to become writers, those closest to us can become our biggest dream-stealers. I know when I left sales to become a writer, it was ugly. I might as well have told my family that I was moving to New Mexico to worship aliens who’d whisk me away on a comet if I wore a gray track suit and Nikes.

The aliens never showed up, btw. Total…flakes. *rolls eyes*

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 4.54.49 PM

People have often made the joke about the Church of WANA, yet in ways, it is. I’ve made it my mission for the past five years to serve writers as human beings. I educate about craft, and all of my social media teachings are centered around love, service and focusing on building community. I offer no fancy tools or algorithmic alchemy, just a simple formula. Love each other. Be who you are. Be storytellers. Be there.

That’s it.

I wanted writers to know they weren’t alone. Much of our job is grueling, solitary and even mocked. If we aren’t J.K. Rowling, we aren’t “real” writers and our “job” is viewed as a silly hobby (as if J.K. Rowling began as a mega-author *grumbles*). It can be very easy to give up if one is alone…which is WHY I created WANA (which stands for We Are Not Alone).

When I began my journey to become an author, I was very lonely. Had it not been for my mom, I know I would have given up. She allowed me to live with her on the condition I worked and did everything I could to reach my dream. We had many close to us tell her that she was “enabling me” and that no thirty-year-old should be living at home with Mom.

Image Courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

Image Courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

I needed to stop being a fool and a leech go get a “real job.” One of our church elders informed me I had a better chance of being hit with lightning than becoming a published author and that I needed to be an adult and pursue a “real” career (He was a stockbroker, and we no longer attend that church).

Anyway, after what he said to me, I fell apart and polished the resume. I contacted my former boss to see if he would give me a recommendation, that I was giving up writing and going to find something in sales.

He refused. He’d read my writing and told me he would not support me giving up on my dream.

TWO people. Two people made the difference.

Thus, years later when I discovered blogging and social media, I wanted to pay that precious gift forward. I knew what it was like trudging through craft books that were garbage or outdated. It was a nightmare trying to find solid guidance on craft. I also knew social media would be a game-changer, that it would be the key to empowering authors.

In 2007, I witnessed literary agents being downright cruel to new authors. Some even refused to accept pitches or openly mocked query letters as if the poor writer who’d written it wasn’t human. I received rejection letters with my name misspelled or even the wrong title of the book. So I was supposed to do every little last detail perfectly but it was OKAY to not even offer the human decency to spell MY name properly?

Right.

I vowed I would change this. Writers didn’t deserve to be the least and the last. Baby writers needed guidance and nurturing and YES…even protection. We needed a family when we couldn’t rely on our own. We needed support—professionally, spiritually and emotionally.

Then came WANA.

I wish it was wholly my idea, but it coalesced from a small group of people who started to care for one another. I took note and began building on that. Writers didn’t have to go this hard road alone. We are here. Need a beta reader? Are you sick and need a guest blog? Need advice for cover design? Need a good template for how to write a synopsis?

Need a friend because it’s two in the morning and you’re sitting with a loved one in the hospital? Suffered a loss? Feel like giving up? Doubting your dream? Questioning your sanity for even daring to try?

Just speak out in the darkness and a WANA will answer.

We won’t let you quit.

WANAs at Huntington Beach...

WANAs at Huntington Beach…

We have been there to help writers on deadlines and offer guest posts. One writer was broad-sided by a truck. She expected her platform to be gone when she finally got home. Nope. WANAs were there. WANA has supported the birth of babies and even been there to cheer on the brave ones fighting cancer, yet still writing.

Susie Lindau, the bravest WANA of all...

Susie Lindau, the bravest WANA of all…

It’s funny how I’ve spent so long being there for the WANAs, yet the tables so recently turned. I wanted to give in and give up. I was absolutely wrecked. I’d fallen and couldn’t get up…until countless digital hands reached from around the world to hold me, to prop me up and let me know that I was NOT ALONE.

So I thank you. I’m on my way back and you guys are the light that guides me. Thank you for ministering the minister :D. I love what I do. I love to believe there are baby writers who are now full-grown authors because WANA was there protecting them, loving them, nurturing them, and supporting them. I love the people WANA has brought together, because I might never have been so blessed to know you any other way.

WANA isn’t just some hashtag to blast promotions or a gimmicky group to cross-promote. It’s a nebula; a light in the dark…a nursery for stars ;).

Thank you for shining so bright.

What are your thoughts? Has writing been lonely? Have you had a WANA there to help you up? Have you been discouraged, overwhelmed? Do you struggle with family or friends who make fun of your dream? Meet us on Twitter at #MyWANA and we can chat and offer you a digital hug.

I LOVE hearing from you!

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. 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).

Also, for all your author brand and social media needs, I hope you will check out my new best-selling book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

, , , , , , , ,

71 Comments

Without Love there is No Community–Taking Back #MyWANA

We are not alone. (Image courtesy of Crazy Mandi from WANA Commons)

Many of you know about #MyWANA. I started this hashtag for a number of reasons. First, I felt that Twitter was far too full of spam. People needed a place where they could just talk to people and make new friends. Writing is a very lonely business and originally #MyWANA was a place that, when we took a break, we could always count on finding some friendly WANA to talk to. This was very useful for teaching Twitter noobs why Twitter was such a great tool. Some lone writer who had no friends could instantly become part of a community of love and support.

#MyWANA was the Love Revolution.

Lately? I believe Twitter is becoming less and less effective because of various applications like Social Oomph, Hoot Suite, and Triberr. Applications like these have even seriously hurt #MyWANA. These tools promise us this ease of automation, but I feel that people use them to be lazy (Hashtags & The Trouble with Twitter Tribbles). In fact, the link spam has gotten SO BAD on #MyWANA that people no longer go there to hang out, and that, to me, is tragic.

#MyWANA used to be a rare beacon of light on Twitter, and now it looks like every other spam-littered hashtag. Even people who claim to be WANAs have automated link after link after link. They have time to automate link spam on #MyWANA, but not enough time to come and talk to people, and today I am saying, “Enough.”

Tough Love

I’ve been kind and hinted and nudged but today I am reclaiming my hashtag. My hashtag, my rules. I tried being nice, but from this point on I will report and block any automation on #MyWANA. We set up the #WANAblogs hashtag for those who wanted to program using tools. This was to free up #MyWANA for community. Today I am enforcing that. So anyone who has programmed to tweet on #MyWANA, please change that because, as of Monday I will block and report any automation on #MyWANA. 

No Love, No Community

Here is the thing, I am really trying to help. #MyWANA doesn’t work if people aren’t on there caring, sharing and connecting. If we all just automate the #, then every tweet becomes white noise, another blast of self-promotion in a sea of me, me, me, me, look at me!

We cannot expect from others what we, ourselves, are unwilling give.

I recall being at Thrillerfest and a fellow writer was trying to convince me why I was wrong about tools. The conversation went something like this.

WOMAN: Yes, but this tool lets me program my tweets throughout the day so that I can tweet while I’m away.

ME:  So you’re a bot.

WOMAN: Oh, no. I’m not. I actually write all my tweets. I just program them to tweet throughout the day, like I said.

ME: Okay, but if you tweet and I respond, then no one is there, correct?

WOMAN: Uh, no. No one is there.

ME: And I assume you tweet links to your blog and buy your books?

WOMAN: Yes. Yes, I do.

ME: So you are automating links to read your blogs and buy your books, and the only way that works effectively is if I am actually present on Twitter so I can follow these links. Correct?

WOMAN: Um…yes?

ME: So basically you want something from me that you are unwilling to give. You are too busy and important to be on Twitter, whereas I have nothing better to do than to follow your links.

WOMAN: Oh, I see what you mean.

Here is the thing, on social media, less is more. It is actually BETTER for us to only tweet one or two times a day and it be really US than it is to program tweets. Our society is SO inundated with spam that we aren’t helping ourselves with automation. If anything, we are hurting our brand every time we send out an automated tweet. Remember what brand is:

NAME + CONTENT + POSITIVE FEELINGS = BRAND

If every time people see our name float by they associate it with spam, automation and self-promotion, that is BAD. It is estimated that there are 250 billion messages generated every day on the Internet, and 80% of those messages are spam. We have been trained to ignore this stuff, so it doesn’t WORK. 

What it Means to Be a WANA

WANAs are different.  We believe in service and community. We give first. #MyWANA should reflect that. Originally, when it was a thriving community, people paid attention to the links. Now? We have too many bots in WANA clothing. We should not demand the benefits of WANA unless we act like a WANA.

The way #MyWANA originally worked, we didn’t have to automate because our team went looking for our links to RT. If we had a fellow WANA we knew worked during the day, we would scroll the feed and look to RT it in the morning and afternoon. We served. That is the point of WANA.

Either we are going to rely on our team or bots. We cannot have both.

Anyway, I apologize that it has come to this. I know that, on WANATribe (the social network I started for writers and creative professionals), I have heard many WANAs upset that the #MyWANA is infested with bots. Yes, I want as many people as possible to join WANATribe, but WANATribe has its own unique function. Twitter is a very useful tool, especially if approached the WANA Way so I am unwilling to just abandon #MyWANA and Twitter.

What is the WANA Way? 

Service above self. Also, apply the Rule of Three: 1/3 Information (link to your blog), 1/3 Reciprocation (RT for someone else), 1/3 CONVERSATION. This is the one component that is most overlooked, and yet, especially in the Digital Age, when we are so programmed to ignore advertising, this component is the most important.

I am sorry it has come to this. I know there are probably people who have spammed #MyWANA unintentionally. No hard feelings. Just please change that in your automation. I have made clear how I feel about automation, and how I am really against any automation with hashtags, but that is my opinion. I have no say over other #s, but I do have a say over #MyWANA.

As of Monday I will block and report any automation on #MyWANA. I encourage those WANAs who have been grieving the loss of our beloved community to stand up and reclaim territory.

1. Feel free to block any automation on #MyWANA. Feel free to give warning. Maybe send a link to this post.

2. Talk! I have had a lot of WANAs talk to me on Twitter yet not use the #MyWANA. If we don’t use the # then people can’t see or join the interaction.

3. Talk more often. If we will get on there and connect, then we will crowd out the link spam. It doesn’t take that long to hop on and tweet three conversational tweets. “Wow, congratulations on the word count.” “Man, how can I always forget to eat lunch?” “I can’t wait until I can train my cat to fold laundry.”

I have no problems with tweeting a link on #MyWANA if the person tweeting is active and present. I often tweet my blog on #MyWANA but then I immediately start talking so people know I am not a bot. TweetDeck tattles on us, and I can see what tools people are using. If I see Triberr in the #MyWANA feed, I know the person is not present. As of Monday, I start blocking and reporting.

I refuse to follow or RT any automation. I encourage others who want Twitter to be authentic to do the same. Refuse to feed the beast.

Anyway, Happy Friday and I want you guys to feel encouraged. #MyWANA is a fun, enjoyable, supportive place to gather. The only way it will remain that way is if we step up and defend it. I look forward to hanging out again with you at #MyWANA. I genuinely DO care about your lives and want to know you as people.

So what are your thoughts? Have you missed the #MyWANA mojo? Are you frustrated by bots? What are your suggestions?

I love hearing from you!

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

***Changing the contest.

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

And also, winners will now 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 August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck! Also, I will announce July’s winner probably on Monday. I am just buried in work after being gone most of July.

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.

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

124 Comments

Hash Tags—The Trouble with Twitter Tribbles

 

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

And yet…

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

BEWARE!

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

Um…Kristen. What’s a hash tag?

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

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

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

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

Some popular writer hashtags are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Meet the Twitter Tribble

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter Tribbles Take Over and KILL Hash Tags

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

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

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

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

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

Oh….dear.

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

A Twitter Tribble is Born

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Worse than Clogging a Column?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter Tribble Backlash

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

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

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

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

Say You Must Use Some Automation

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

Automation Doesn’t Have to Create Twitter Tribbles

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

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

TweetDeck Can Help Us Spot Twitter Tribbles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Golden Twitter Rule

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

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

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

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

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

, , , , , , , , ,

93 Comments

T.E.A.M–Together Everyone Achieves More

 

I have been involved with using social media to build platforms for a few years now, which means I’ve had a unique opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t and what fails horribly.  I choose to base my teachings off simple core truths that withstand the test of time. To me, social media has never been about gadgets, it is all about people. Better yet, it is about creating a community that comes together, united in purpose, and works as a team for the benefit of all.

Individual + Other Individuals=Community

Community + United Purpose= Team

I feel it is impossible to create anything worthwhile on social media if we do not, first, learn to be part of a team. We must learn to serve others first. This is why auto-tweets and a self-centered agenda will always fail. The people who will really see genuine results from social media are the ones who learn to be part of something bigger than their own wants and needs. Teams make the difference.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success. ~Henry Ford

Last April I attended a conference with a panel of PR, marketing and social media experts. Everyone on the panel advised using auto-tweets and one even offered services to tweet for writers. Even some of the top social media books recommend very little tweeting and blogging only once a month (with the agenda of “getting something” from others, of course). I find this sad because this group was missing out on the real beauty of social media. Learning to work with others as a team. In an effort to only gain sales, they miss out on so much.

According to BEA statistics, in 2006 there were 1.2 million titles available. And 950,000 of those titles sold less than 99 copies. Historically, an author’s odds of selling enough books to even make a decent living have been depressing at best. But why?

Well, there are a lot of reasons and we have explored many of them on this blog. But, my two cents? Writers had no way to plug into a team. Traditionally published authors relied on traditional marketing tactics employed by the publisher (which doesn’t sell fiction) and hoped the right reviewer said the right thing and that the planets and stars aligned just right to make it to the next level. Self-published authors had even less chance of success. Speak at enough Lion’s Clubs and hope to hit the right place at the right time.

These days? The odds are improving, and now indies are appearing out of nowhere and landing on best-seller lists. I believe that is because social media allows us to network and to work as part of one cohesive force. The goal of the individual is supplanted by the goal of the group. Everyone does a little for everyone else and then everyone sees success.

For those of you who have played sports or been to team-building classes, remember the acronym for T.E.A.M.? I have used it in my blogs before, but for the newbies:

Together Everyone Achieves More

On social media that is certainly true. I have seen this prove true more times than I can count. For instance, back in 2008-09, I helped the DFW Writers’ Workshop put together a social media campaign to get the word out about the conference in the spring of 2009. What was so fascinating to see is that all 100+ members signed up for Facebook and Twitter. They all friended each other and when any one member posted an announcement about the conference the others followed suit. The exposure, as a result, was not linear, rather it was exponential. No one advertising guy had to go work until he was dead to spread the word about the conference. All it cost each member was 30 words a day…and the conference sold out two days after early registration…4 months before the conference.

Everyone worked together to promote the good of the whole.

When I get on Twitter or Facebook, I can see the writers who won’t get very much out of social media. They send form-letters on Facebook or post a Hi, I don’t know you and sorry for the spam, but could you Like my Fan Page?

Some free advice. If we have to open any note with an apology, then deep-down we know this is not the correct approach.

I see auto-tweets with every # in the known universe and very little interaction with others. Will authors employing these tactics sell books? Sure. But will social media be any fun? Or, will it feel like a horrid drudgery, like slogging through mud mixed with maple syrup while wearing snowshoes? Probably. Will this approach work over the long-term. Probably not. Will this approach do as much as working with a team? Not likely.

When we plug in with a team, we multiply efforts exponentially.

Hypothetical example:

So some new writer hears about #MyWANA comes and hangs out and interacts. I like this person. She is really sweet and RTs for others and I see she is kind of new to Twitter and only has 30 followers. That’s a good start, but nothing that is going to rock the world. But she is authentic and does what she can to help her #MyWANA team.

The new girl tweets about her blog, which I check out and see it is well-written. So I RT and use different #s, maybe #pubtip or #amwriting. I just exposed that blog to 6300+ more people (my followers). Now someone from my network, say Piper Bayard, RTs me. Well now that blog just got an audience for a couple thousand more people. Oh, then James Rollins, who rocks the Tweet Deck and also can be spotted hanging out on #MyWANA sees his friends Kristen and Piper tweeted a blog, so he steps in to help and that blog now goes out to 14,000 people.

Even if we just look at this linearly, a blog that would have only been seen by a potential 100 people, now has been exposed to over 20,000…in THREE tweets. And all it cost this new writer was a few moments of being nice to others and doing what she could to help others.

This is called working smarter, not harder. If we focus on serving our teammates, they will do the same. Together everyone achieves more.

We can spend hours sending form-letters and auto-tweeting and spamming with very little ROI, OR we can invest in serving a team, do our part to support the #MyWANA Love Revolution…and watch a miracle.

I will close today out with one of my favorite quotes:

None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together achieve something wonderful. ~Mother Theresa

I hope that, if you haven’t already, you will join us over at #MyWANA. #MyWANA is a group of writers committed to doing small things with great love to achieve the impossible.

If you want to know more about #MyWANA, check out this page or this vlog.

Gather together with your fellow writers at critique and come together. Commit to supporting and promoting each other. Subscribe to each other’s blogs, RT for each other, post for each other, tell the world about your fellow writer teammates, and I assure you that the results will be nothing short of magic. And if you don’t believe me, talk to the #MyWANA peeps or to a WANAlum (#WANA711, #WANA1011, #WANA112).

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!

Thanks for being patient with me announcing winners. I will post them on Monday. Been caring for the Spawn who is MUCH better, by the way.

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.

What are some ideas you might like to add? What ways do you like serving others? What are your fears or concerns? Do you feel more confident when you join a group? Do you feel that being part of a team has helped anxiety or fear of your future? What are your thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?

, , , , , , ,

91 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.

, , , , , , , ,

47 Comments

Dr. Twuth–Conquering the Fear of Public Tweeting

Welcome to Twitter Tuesday with Dr. Twuth. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social MediaIf our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

So who is Dr. Twuth? Heard of Dr. Ruth, Sex Therapist? Well, today I am introducing you to my alter ego Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist (Dr. Twuth is accredited by one of the best mail-order PhD universities in the Bahamas. She isn’t a real doctor, just plays one on the Internet).

Have a question about Twitter? A problem? A sticky wicket? Let Dr. Twuth help, because the Twuth will set you free.

Dr. Twuth–Putting the “smart” back in smart phones.

On to our tweeps in need…

Dear Dr. Twuth,

I think I’m a Twitter “Wallflower.”  You know, that person at the party who is too shy / freaked-out / just plain dumb to reach out?  That’s me. I really don’t know where to start.  I’ve been watching and learning all kinds of great info from the sidelines, but still, I haven’t worked up the nerve to jump in and participate.   Ugh!

And would you believe I’m a live performing rocker chic??
I know, crazy!

I could spend hours psycho-analyzing my issue (believe me, I’ve done it while holding up that Tweetdeck wall as everyone else happily Tweeted away), but enough about me.

Can you offer some easy-to-follow steps to get me jump started, please?

Many thanks,
Twitter Wallflower

Dear Wallflower,

Now that we are in the Information Age, Digital Age Authors face a new problem. In the olden days when people actually spoke to each other in person, many writers had a fear of public speaking. In fact, for many of us, it was our abysmal social skills beyond the world of Dungeons and Dragons that prompted our career choice in the first place.

This fear of public speaking, however, has now transformed into a digital phobia recognized by only the most highly trained armchair psychiatrists as Tweetaphobia Neurosa–or the fear of public tweeting. Many regular people suffer from Tweetophobia, but it is far more pronounced in the writing communities.

Why?

Writers seem to suffer the worst, namely because apparently the world at large assumes we all spell perfectly and never goof on grammar. There seems to be an unfair burden placed on writers to always be witty, interesting or profound. Sort of like how people expect comedians to be knee-slapping funny ALL THE TIME.

You’re a Clown Fish. Tell us a joke!

Since writers have the job of being interesting for an entire book, we tend to feel like we need to be equally riveting in life. It is this kind of pressure that, if left unchecked, can create the tweeting anxiety.

There is another problem.

To battle fear of public speaking, there is the age-old trick of just envisioning the audience wearing nothing but their underwear. For writers, this could be dangerous since most writers have an entire social network comprised of other writers…who probably rarely ever get out in the sun (and who probably really are in nothing but their underwear. Just ask @ChuckWendig). The mental image alone of so many pale-as-a-plucked-albino-chicken writers could cause retinal damage.

So what to do?

First of all, relax. People can expect us to never misspell a word or be fascinating in every tweet, but, hey, life is full of disappointments. We never help others understand that writers are indeed human if they never see us acting like humans. The cool part about being a person is that readers (non-writers of the human species) start to connect with us and that is always good.

Another tactic for combating Tweetophobia is to rely on your social media butterflies to plug you in. This activates what I like to call The Law of the Playground.

Remember being a kid and new to a grade? When you would go out for recess, what was the first thing on the agenda? Find someone you knew. Once you could find that person you already knew, making connections got easier. It suddenly became easier to befriend people because of the Law of the Playground.

I don’t know you, but Kristen knows you. I like Kristen, so I like you.

This Law of the Playground was one of the reasons I created the #MyWANA group. This is the place where you are guaranteed to connect to other Playground Connectors and WE will plug you into the Twitterverse at large. Not only will we instantly make you part of our twibe, but all of us have networks beyond #MyWANA and we can introduce you there as well.

The key to feeling comfortable on Twitter is to have a host or hostess introduce you around. Once we start chatting with others as people, this alien place–Twitter- seems far less scary and the anxiety will dissipate. Tweeting will then come MUCH easier.

As far as what to tweet? I have another law. I call this The Law of Three. Tweeting should be roughly 1/3 Information–links to blogs, articles, web sites, 1/3-Reciprocation (RT for others and a lot of times Information and Reciprocation can blend together), and, finally, 1/3 Conversation. TALK to people! If all we tweet are links and cutesy quotes, we look like a bot. Show others you are a person, too.

Humans have a hard time connecting emotionally with bots, but we really dig connecting with other people. Once we connect, we support because you are our peep…and THAT is how platforms get built. Just remember, there is no reason to be shy or nervous on Twitter. We are not alone! #MyWANA is a hashtag designed for the sole purpose of immoral support. Once part of a group, our confidence improves dramatically and tweeting will feel as natural as breathing.

Best of Luck!

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a Twitter or social media dilemma? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth’s slave assistant at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

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

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

Tweet ya later!


, , , , , , , , , , ,

29 Comments

Understanding Influence–Making the Most of Our Time on Social Media

Photo thanks to Jason Bacues of Bacues Billiards 

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, chock full of tips to rock your social media experience and based off my best selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer. One of the biggest complaints I hear about social media is that writers believe they have no time. I am going to share a little secret. We have plenty of time if we do it properly. The problem is that too many writers are approaching social media like traditional marketing instead of social marketing. When we try to apply traditional marketing tactics, we will be spread too thinly to be effective and, truthfully, can do more harm than good. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading my books for a clear understanding of the key differences between traditional marketing and social marketing.

Social marketing capitalizes on networking. Embrace the great news. We don’t have to do everything alone!!! Traditional marketing will tempt you to be on every last social media site and make a bazillion “friends,” yet all those “friends” will likely not be too vested in your success. So please trust me. A smaller network of effective influencers is far more powerful than a thousand followers who add little social media value.

What is social media value?

Well, these are the members of your social grid who participate actively and add good content to the Internet community. We are going to talk about the different kinds of influencers in a moment. Find these key individuals, and there are no limits to your digital reach. These influencers are platform-building GOLD and your most valuable asset.

So how do you find the key influencers?

There are a number of ways to pinpoint our major influencers, but it is tricky. Why? Because unlike direct marketing or old-fashioned PR, the goal of social media is to influence entire groups of people. We aren’t just targeting one individual, but rather the individual and his/her surrounding community. That is one of the reasons that, unlike direct marketing, the overall effectiveness of social media is not as easy to measure. There are some SIM (Social Influence Marketing) metrics that one can run, and companies that can help you locate your referent influencers, but I don’t know that they are all that helpful for authors wanting to build a platform.

Yeah, you are going to have to do some work. Sorry. But I help you make it fun.

Writers are different than companies doing social media. That was the impetus behind me writing  social media books specifically for authors. Not all tools that work well in the corporate world cross over.

Unlike General Motors or Sealy, most of us are a one-man operation. We don’t have a marketing department to do all this stuff for us, and we also have a different kind of product. The CEO of John Deere is not responsible for making every tractor that comes off the assembly line. Yet, most authors are required to write their own books. We cannot outsource our social media content (blogs, articles, excerpts, commentary, group activity, etc.) like, say, All State or Heineken.

The plain fact of the matter is that the more we participate in social media, the better the results. And when I say participate, that means strategized participation (mixed with fun) with clear end goals. This has become far easier to do since I launched the #MyWANA group on Twitter. I liken #MyWANA to the writer’s water cooler. Yes, there is time to chit chat, network, share links and encourage one another, but trust me, you spend too long on there and one of your digital colleagues is guaranteed to threaten to use #thepantsofshame if you don’t get back to your word goals.

But basically, when it comes to building an author platform, we all need to have a plan. In order to have a plan, we must understand the players if we hope to identify those who can maximize our influence, thereby minimizing the time we spend on social media. Not all users are created equally. They are divided into categories that correspond with the influence they exact of their surrounding networks.

Expert Influencer—is just what it says. These are the authorities in a certain subject, and people look to these experts for information, advice, and guidance. The experts are heavyweights when it comes to influencing the decisions of those in their networks. Expert influencers usually have a picture of themselves as their icon. They also generally have huge following that number in the thousands or tens of thousands, depending on the platform. Also, a quick glance to their website (which is usually denoted in the bio) will give you a clear picture that this person is an expert in her field. Oprah. Enough said.

#MyWANA has been very blessed to have a wealth of experts who participate regularly. We have quite a few agents and even NY Times best-selling authors. We also have quie a few people who have been very successful at indie publishing and self-publishing. There is a wealth of expert knowledge out there if we are willing to pay attention. The other benefit of the experts who gather at #MyWANA is these people are actually participating and interacting. The downside of following most experts is the content is often automated. We might get the benefit of their knowledge, but it will be next to impossible to actually network with these folks. Ah, but on #MyWANA @jamesrollins, @bobmayer, and @allisonbrennan are regularly there to share their awesomeness with the rest of us.

Referent Influencer—is in the person’s social network and exercises influence. Referent influencers are a little trickier to figure out. They generally have a fairly large following, but not always. Quality and quantity are not the same thing.

So how do we figure out the referent influencers? We have to participate so we can pay attention. For the most part the referent influencers are highly active on social media and thus usually have a larger following than the casual user, but maybe not as large as the expert. Yet, it is their level of meaningful activity that makes them essential to have in our network. They post a lot of times a day and are well-known, liked, and respected for good content. People around them trust them for good stuff. These are the people you miss when they take a day off.

In my opinion, the referent influencer is the most valuable. Why? First, it is easier to get close to them and befriend them and gain their support. If you write a blog about overcoming substance abuse (as part of your NF book platform), what are the odds of becoming part of Dr. Phil’s inner circle? Referent influencers are far more approachable and, frankly, there are more of them. Also, they are more likely to have followers who are active on social media.

For instance, when I first started helping James Rollins, it seemed almost ridiculous. I had 4,000 followers and he had almost 15,000. What did little me have to offer? Well, many of my followers were very active and had regular blogs and their own platforms. My followers are on Twitter to influence. That is our goal. But what about Jim’s followers? Maybe some of them have influence, but a lot of his followers are on Twitter to chit-chat with family and keep tabs on their favorite author. So in ways, the playing field isn’t as disparate as one might initially think.

Positional Influencer—is often in the person’s inner circle. Friends, family, spouses are all examples of positional influencers. Yes, whether most of us admit it or not, our mothers’ opinions still influence us.

Virtually everyone on social media is a positional influencer to someone else. Positional influencers can be very valuable to a writer, especially in certain genres. For instance, I imagine that most 4-year-olds don’t drive down to Barnes & Noble, slap down a credit card and buy a stack of kid’s books. But moms do. If you happen to write for children, middle grade, teens, or any group that typically would not be the purchaser of the book, then you must target the positional influencers or risk losing a huge percentage of your potential consumers.

What this means is that everyone on social media holds some value. They may not have large social networks (yet), but they hold a lot of influence when it comes to their friends, family and peers. I know last year when Jody Hedlund’s The Preacher’s Bride was released, it quickly rose to the top 20 on the best-seller list and a lot of that had to do with 1) it was a really excellent book and 2) a lot of us couldn’t quit talking about how awesome Jody is and that she had a new book. I think at least 5 of my family members bought copies of Jody’s book just because I wouldn’t shut up about it :D.

At the end of the day, be good to anyone who is being good to you. Networks are hard to build, and we need as much help as we can get from our social community. So if others help “raise your barn,” (repost your posts) make sure you pitch in with theirs. It is just good manners. Yet, it really can help maximize your time and influence if you will be mindful to befriend thos who exercise greater impact on social media. If you get a chance, come join us at #MyWANA. Our sole mission is to support, encourage and promote one another.

So what are your thoughts? Do you find social media overwhelming? For those of you who’ve been on #MyWANA, has it helped?

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

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

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

Important Announcements and Mash-Up of Awesomeness Below

I am teaching TWO workshops at Write It Forward. Sign up HERE. There is a Becoming a Brand class for $20, but if you want to blog and you need my dedicated help to helping you find your own unique brand and develop a plan for blogging, then the $40 Blogging to Build a Brand will fit that need. In this class I will run you through exercises to help find and create a brand as unique as you and then tailor it to connect with your future fans.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are 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

Kicking out a Fast First Draft by Anne Greenwood Brown over at Writer Unboxed

Should Writers Use Excel by Jenny Hansen

7 Deadly Sins of Writing over at The Bookshelf Muse

25 Things You Should Know About Revisions by the HILARIOUS Chuck Wendig (And, yes, I am a total fan girl of Chuck which is why I always mention him. His blogs are THAT great.

Adventures in Children’s Publishing is a WONDERFUL resource for all writers, so I highly, highly recommend this treasure trove of awesomeness.

6 Benefits of Having an Agent in Today’s Publishing World by the talented and brilliant Jody Hedlund (yes, I am a fan of hers, too :P)

Chuck, Jody and then there is Tawna Fenske. If you want a place for a guaranteed good time, seriously gop check out her blog. Tawna is amazing.

Also, check out Camp Cheerful over at Piper Bayard’s blog. Can you tell I love funny blogs? Life is short! Laugh and laugh often.

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

45 Comments

Training to Be a Career Author–Writing is More than the Writing

Many of you who read this blog desire to be career authors, and kudos to you. It is a fun job and a great time. I used to be in sales. I literally hated my job so much I would throw up on the way to work. Every day I died a little more. This might be shocking, but selling cardboard had little outlet for being creative. I just knew that writing was the life for me. Ah….but how little I really knew.

I now have had two successful best-selling books, and I still have to pinch myself when I realize I have the same agent as James Rollins and Diana Gabaldon. This isn’t to brag—okay maybe a little—as much as it is to say that I feel I’m in a better position to offer advice. I have grown from clueless neophyte with a dragon notebook and a dream to a writing professional. That said, I now feel confident to tell you…

Being a career writer is more than the writing.

It is more than the book. Why do I tell you this? Because it is going to affect how you train. Yes, train. Writing is not a marathon, as many author-bloggers might have you believe. It is more like a decathlon….oh, but one of the events is a marathon.

This career is so much less about talent and far more about endurance. I have talented writers I know who will never make this a career even if they publish. Their approach will burn them out quickly or keep them trapped at a certain level.

We’ll talk about why in a moment.

In a decathlon, there are ten events from running to pole vaulting to shot put, and athletes are judged on their collective scores. This means that, not only does a participant need to be able to run distance, but he has to be a good sprinter, and also strong and flexible. All aspects of his physique are going to be tested and then judged against his competition.

Same with writing.

We have to write, edit, learn about the craft, organize, plan, run a business, read, research, market, blog, speak, and teach. There is so much more to this career than just the writing.  

I can tell writers who aren’t avid readers in three pages. I can tell writers who haven’t properly researched pretty early on, too (and I don’t finish those books). It takes me less than a page to spot writers who haven’t read craft books. Writers who refuse to do social media? Well, their days are numbered.

We have to be organized (I’m still working on this one). First of all, writing a novel requires we be organized. Any work spanning 80-100,000 words is going to need to be plotted and the right events placed at the right point. People who just sit down and write until they stop? Yeah, that ain’t a novel. Novels that do not have narrative structure—antagonists and major plot points—well, they aren’t novels. They are an entity with no skeleton. Or, if there is a skeleton, some bones are missing or in the wrong place. In nature that is called an aberration. In writing that is called Book that Won’t Sell.

Organization will also be critical when it comes to the business end of this business. Tracking sales, filing royalty statements, receipts, deductions, and TAXES. Oh my!

Don’t get me wrong. Some of those things writers don’t have to do, but it could impact their final success. For instance, authors don’t have to do public speaking, but those who can and do have an added advantage. Authors who can present at workshops and conferences stand a far better chance of meeting the right person who opens the right door to take her career to an entirely new level.

I generally work six days a week. This past week was particularly hard because I had to drive to Denton, TX to present. This means I had to be up at six in the morning so I could prepare and be ready to drive 70 miles. The interesting part was I wasn’t slated to teach until 2:00 in the afternoon. Why was I getting there at 9:00? Because there were other people speaking, and I did so to support them even though I really didn’t particularly need their classes. I know what it is like to fear an empty room. Supporting others is part of being a professional.

So I sat in workshops from 9:30 to 3:00. Then, due to a miscommunication, I wasn’t allowed to sell any books, so I had to stand out in almost 100 degree Texas heat and sell books out of the trunk of my car. After that, I drove over 100 miles home. Over a 100 miles? Yep. Three major traffic jams and it took over two hours to reach home. I spent more money in gas than I made. I finally got to settle down and rest at around 6:00 that night. Basically, it was a 12 hour day.

Today I begin teaching an on-line workshop. I also have my blog, social media and I have to do a test-run with Skype, because in July I will be teaching a class for UCLA, and the private jet is in the shop :D. I also have chapters due to my agent, about 50 pages of editing for other people, a mountain of laundry that won’t wash itself and a baby who loves to make even that simple chore three times the work.

Mommy, why are you crying?

This isn’t to have a pity party. I love my job. I loved every minute of spending time with my writing peeps on Saturday. I loved being able to support other speakers and learn new things. I loved being able to open up the world of social media for some newbies and make it more accessible. But I do have to say that you have to train to be able to endure this kind of schedule and still be productive.

Mommy, are you writing? I’m hungry. I need clean clothes.

Those kids hanging off our leg are still there even when we decide to write. In fact, as I type these words I have an 18 month old screaming because I won’t let him climb on the table and play with knives. The house still won’t clean itself, and apparently they can put a man on the moon, but have yet to invent clothes that never need to be washed.

I am here to change your perspective and make those challenges your triumphs. Learn to do it anyway. Those kids that interrupt you every thirty seconds are a blessing. Think of it like running pulling a weighted sled. This is author training. If you can learn to maintain your focus despite all of life’s distractions, think of how amazingly productive you will be when one day you do have that private office and can afford a meth-addicted howler monkey with a sidearm to guard your writing time. Heck, you will probably be twice as productive at least.

Successful authors are a multitasking MACHINE. This is one of the reasons it is SO vital for us to brand our name when it comes to social media. We already have a lot of responsibilities, so streamlining becomes paramount. Spreading ourselves too thinly can be a formula to give up.

I see a lot of writers who will not make it in this business. Why? Often they aren’t doing the tasks that are vital to writing a great book—reading and learning the rules of the craft. This is like wanting to win a decathlon, but eating pizza everyday and not going to the gym.

These days, everyone can get published so a new benchmark of success is becoming book sales and list rankings. I watch a lot of writers who are too obsessed with the marketing side of things. They are banking everything on the success of ONE book and aren’t getting back to the computer and working on the next book and the next and the next.

Other writers are blogging machines. Blogs are GREAT for branding….if done properly. Many writers are wearing themselves out posting blogs that will do very little to brand their names. They are writing thousands of words a week that do…almost nothing. Or they are blogging, but never getting to writing the actual book.

These types of writers are only focusing on ONE aspect of their careers. They are like the participant in the decathlon who only focuses on one event. It is a recipe to lose.

Athletes who compete in decathlons use a lot of different skills—speed, endurance, strength. They walk this fine balance of giving an event their all….without really giving it their all. They still must have energy left to effectively compete in the other events and outpace the competition.

We writers must learn to give it our all….without giving it our all. The better we get at balancing our duties, the more successful we will be in the long-run. Writers who fail to appreciate all this job entails won’t be around in a year or three. They are like a runner who sprints at the beginning of a marathon. They will fall by the side of the road, injured and broken.

So today when you have to squeeze in that 100 words on your break from work, think I’m training. When your kids hang off you as you write, picture that weighted sled. Play the soundtrack to Rocky if you must.

What part of your life are you now going to view as author training? What setbacks can you reframe in the positive? What commitments are you going to make to be successful for the long-term? What have you been doing wrong? What problems are you having? What do you now think you could do differently?

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

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

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

Important Announcements

I will announce last week’s winner on Wednesday. 

Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.

Together Everyone Achieves More!!!! SUPPORT THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA! Spread the word and save a life. Sigma Force saves puppies and kittens, too. Ahhhh.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are 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.

Happy writing!

Until next time….

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

106 Comments

T.E.A.M.–Together Everyone Achieves More

I have been involved with using social media to build platforms for a few years now, which means I’ve had a unique opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t and what fails horribly.  I choose to base my teachings off simple core truths that withstand the test of time. To me, social media is not about gadgets, it is about people. Better yet, it is about creating a community that comes together, united in purpose, and works as a team for the benefit of all.

Individual + Other Individuals=Community

Community + United Purpose= Team

I feel it is impossible to create anything worthwhile on social media if we do not, first, learn to be part of a team. We must learn to serve others first. This is why auto-tweets and a self-centered agenda will always fail. The people who will really see genuine results from social media are the ones who learn to be part of something bigger than their own wants and needs. Teams make the difference.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success. ~Henry Ford

Recently I attended a conference with a panel of PR, marketing and social media experts. Everyone on the panel advised using auto-tweets and one even offered services to tweet for writers. I found this sad because this group was missing out on the real beauty of social media. Learning to work with others as a team.

According to BEA statistics (and Bob Mayer’s great blog), in 2006 there were 1.2 million titles available. And 950,000 of those titles sold less than 99 copies. Historically, an author’s odds of selling enough books to even make a decent living have been depressing at best. But why?

Well, there are a lot of reasons and we have explored many of them on this blog. But, my two cents? Writers had no way to plug into a team. Traditionally published authors relied on traditional marketing tactics employed by the publisher (which doesn’t sell fiction) and hoped the right reviewer said the right thing and that the planets and starts aligned just right to make it to the next level. Self-published authors had even less chance of success. Speak at enough Lion’s Clubs and hope to hit the right place at the right time.

These days? The odds are improving, and I believe that is because social media allows us to network and to work as part of one cohesive force. The goal of the individual is supplanted by the goal of the group. Everyone does a little for everyone else and then everyone sees success.

For those of you who have played sports or been to team-building classes, remember the acronym for T.E.A.M.?

Together Everyone Achieves More

On social media that is certainly true. I have seen this prove true more times than I can count. For instance, back in 2008-09, I helped the DFW Writers’ Workshop put together a social media campaign to get the word out about the conference in the spring of 2009. What was so fascinating to see is that all 100+ members signed up for Facebook and Twitter. They all friended each other and when any one member posted an announcement about the conference the others followed suit. The exposure, as a result, was not linear, rather it was exponential. No one advertising guy had to go work until he was dead to spread the word about the conference. All it cost each member was 30 words a day…and the conference sold out two days after early registration…4 months before the conference.

Everyone worked together to promote the good of the whole.

When I get on Twitter or Facebook, I can see the writers who won’t get very much out of social media. They send form-letters on Facebook or post a Hi, I don’t know you and sorry for the spam, but could you Like my Fan Page?

Some free advice. If we have to open any note with an apology, then deep-down we know this is not the correct approach.

I see auto-tweets with every # in the known universe and very little interaction with others. Will authors employing these tactics sell books? Sure. But will social media be any fun? Or, will it feel like a horrid drudgery, like slogging through mud mixed with maple syrup while wearing snowshoes? Probably. Will this approach do as much as working with a team? Not likely.

When we plug in with a team, we multiply efforts exponentially.

Hypothetical example:

So some new writer hears about #MyWANA comes and hangs out and interacts. I like this person. She is really sweet and RTs for others and I see she is kind of new to Twitter and only has 30 followers. That’s a good start, but nothing that is going to rock the world. But she is authentic and does what she can to help her #MyWANA team.

The new girl tweets about her blog, which I check out and see it is well-written. So I RT and use different #s, maybe #pubtip or #amwriting. I just exposed that blog to 3000+ more people (my followers). Now someone from my network, say Piper Bayard, RTs me. Well now that blog just got an audience for a couple thousand more people. Oh, then James Rollins, who is new to Tweet Deck and also hanging out on #MyWANA sees his friends Kristen and Piper tweeted a blog, so he steps in to help and that blog now goes out to 14,000 people.

Even if we just look at this linearly, a blog that would have only been seen by a potential 100 people, now has been exposed to almost 20,000…in THREE tweets. And all it cost this new writer was a few moments of being nice to others and doing what she could to help others.

This is called working smarter, not harder. If we focus on serving our teammates, they will do the same. Together everyone achieves more.

We can spend hours sending form-letters and auto-tweeting and spamming with very little ROI, OR we can invest in serving a team and watch a miracle.

I will close today out with one of my favorite quotes:

None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together achieve something wonderful. ~Mother Theresa

I hope that, if you haven’t already, you will join us over at #MyWANA. #MyWANA is a group of writers committed to doing small things with great love to achieve the impossible.

Gather together with your fellow writers at critique and come together. Commit to supporting and promoting each other. Subscribe to each other’s blogs, RT for each other, post for each other, tell the world about your fellow writer teammates, and I assure you that the results will be nothing short of magic.

What are some ideas you might like to add? What ways do you like serving others? What are your fears or concerns? Do you feel more confident when you join a group? Do you feel that being part of a team has helped anxiety or fear of your future? What are your thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?

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

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

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

Important Announcements

Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.

Together We Achieve More!!!! SUPPORT THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA! Spread the word and save a life. Sigma Force saves puppies and kittens, too. Ahhhh.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are 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.

Happy writing!

Until next time….

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

68 Comments

Twitter Tuesday #18

Welcome to the eighteenth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. My tips will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Hashtag Ho

Yes, Hashtag Ho. I thought Hashtag Hoarder might work, but Hashtag Ho was funnier. Oh, I have to be careful on this one, because I still am guilty of this if I am not careful. Hashtag Hoes loooove hashtags, and they use so many #s that the original message gets garbled and likely lost. (For those who don’t quite understand what #s do, go here).

#Writers! #Authors need to build a #social #media #platform to help sell #books and #ebooks and #manuscripts and make #friends so we can survive in #publishing. Go to my #blog about #blogging #pubtip #writegoal #writing #writer

I know that sometimes I have done this trying to make one tweet do ALL things, but I found I was missing the point when it came to Twitter. Twitter is about working as a team and building a group of friends we can count on to HELP us spread our message.

We are better off using only two or three #s, then having our community retweet (RT) and CHANGE the hashtags. Why? Well, there are a lot of people on Twitter who don’t know what the # does….so we probably just look like a lunatic with a Twitter virus that infests our messages with ##########. A good way to get unfollowed.

And others, who know what the # does might just see us as trying to take over as many # conversations as possible. In reality I think most of us are trying to be efficient, but we could be seen as rude. It is easy to forget that a message riddled with symbols might just get ignored because it isn’t easy to read.  I also think  one unintended consequence is that other people might be less likely to RT, because we already did everything ourselves. So the message ends up with far less momentum.

This Week’s Twitter Tip–The Hashtag Helper

Many of us probably would be less prone to be Hashtag Hoes if we could plug in with Hashtag Helpers. We wouldn’t be inclined to feel we needed to do EVERYTHING on our own. That has been one of the beautiful things about this new group #MyWANA. The entire purpose of #MyWANA is to boost and support each other, so I think this notion of being a Hashtag Helper has come more naturally for a group whose sole purpose is to serve each other.

Hashtag Helpers want to help others spread their influence. They know we cannot do everything alone, and this Twitter pal can be counted on to jump in and lend a hand. If they see our blog posted in #MyWANA, they immediately RT and CHANGE the hashtags so that other writing #s will benefit from the information. The incredible part of being a hashtag helper is it sets a good example. Many people on Twitter don’t think to CHANGE the hashtags.

Wow. We can really do that?

So when they see us being Hashtag Helpers, it inspires them to do the same. The more Hashtag Helpers we have on Twitter, the better place it will be for all.

Tweet ya later!

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

45 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37,404 other followers

%d bloggers like this: