Posts Tagged social media for writers

Writer Victory!—Turn Over the Future & Focus on What We CAN Control

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Mr. Muggles.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Mr. Muggles.

We’ve been working through an Author Acrostic the past few posts. Why? Because a zillion craft books and workshops can’t do it. We can be the most talented writer the world has ever seen, yet go to our graves with no one ever knowing our names. How? This job is as much about our hearts and minds as it is our hands. This profession is largely mental. We’re athletes of the mind. We have to train our will along with our skill.

V was for Voluntarily Submit. I was for Identify Problem Areas. C was for Change Your Mind.

Today, we are on T.

T is for—Turn Over the Future. As professionals, it is key to cast our care and keep our responsibilities. Too many writers waste valuable time on crap they can’t control, all the while ignoring what they CAN. It’s an easy snare, which is why ALL of us have to remain vigilant. Even me. Maybe especially me.

Social Media Snare

Image via QuickMeme

Image via QuickMeme

This might sound bizarre coming from the Social Media Jedi for Writers, but social media does NOT SELL BOOKS. When I say, “social media” I mean, the book spam, the promos, the ads, the impersonal fluff we’d luuuuv to automate, outsource or measure with an algorithm. This stuff doesn’t work. I’ve said this approach would’t work since MySpace was around (and time has redeemed me).

This is why I created the WANA method. WANA methods have sold hundreds of thousands of books, have launched unknowns into the record books. But WANA methods can’t be automated or outsourced (Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World). We have to turn over our future and trust that, if we plant love and grow relationships, then pair those relationships with a clear brand and excellent writing? Harvest will come.

This traditional marketing-advertising behavior is a dinosaur. It’s responsible for an abysmal .001% of reasons people decide to buy a book.

Recently, I heard mega-agent Donald Maass speak and he’s the one who gave the statistic above (not sure where he found it) but he said essentially what I’d blogged about only a couple weeks previously in my post Social Media, Book Signings & Why Neither Directly Impact Overall Sales.

Social media is the human connection, and is taking the place of the traditional book signing. Book signings don’t sell books. Never did. BUT, they were the only place readers could come and get to know and connect with the author in a meaningful way. Book signings were the way to cultivate the long-term fans.

Social media now is a way we can easily do the same thing from home and all it costs is TIME. We can use social media to rise above the din in an age where discoverability is becoming a nightmare. Social media is far more effective than books signings because geography, status, and money are no longer limitations.

What Can the Pre-Published Author Control?

Virtually the same things we published ones can. Hone our craft. Write the book. Finish the book. Query. We can’t control getting an agent beyond the query (or networking). Even when we land an agent that doesn’t guarantee that agent can sell our work. Even if our work is sold and published, it might tank, or take off. We can’t tell.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 1.17.53 PM

But, we can control writing more books and better books. In between, while taking a break? Build that platform.

The rest is trying to read chicken bones.

If we hope to be relevant in the Digital Age, then the question is not longer whether we will do social media, rather, how we will do it.

Look to those who are successful and who will remain successful. Look to Anne Rice. She’s on Facebook A LOT. Talking to her fans. Asking questions, sharing, discussing. Why? She’s an ICON! Exactly, and she is putting in the social sweat equity to remain that way. She understands the fans are EVERYTHING.

I was recently talking to Jonathan Maberry at a conference. This man practically lives on the NYTBS list. He turns out a novel every two and a half months and write columns, novellas, short stories and also is one of the lead writers for Marvel Comics. His novels have been optioned for Hollywood and his Rot & Ruin series is now being made into a television series.

He works an hour, then spends ten minutes on social media connecting.

Social media is something we can directly control. Sales? Forget it. I see so many authors running around like a wind-up toy. They check their algorithms and beat up stats on Amazon. They research another way to promote, send mailers, hunt for new and improved ways to do blog tours or hold contests. They futz with the price of their book more than Kim Kardashian posts selfies.

And the sales don’t budge.

Original image via NASA Blueshift courtesy of Flickr Commons

Original image via NASA Blueshift courtesy of Flickr Commons

Look to the Pros

Pros understand what they can control and focus there. They write. They finish. They ship. They study. They read. They know that cultivating an on-line community is key to relevance in The Digital Age. They also write more books instead of camping on top of ONE.

Pros know to start where you ARE.

Maberry didn’t always write full-time. He worked as a bouncer at a strip club and later as a bodyguard. He fit the writing in between crappy jobs because he knew a life getting beat up and stabbed was not his ideal career plan. James Rollins fit in writing after a long day working as a veterinarian. Tess Gerritsen began with a short story she wrote on maternity leave. Her next novels were penned while she was working as full-time doctor.

We will never have optimal working conditions. Accept that reality and this career will be far less frustrating. As I write this, I have a fever. I’m achy and miserable and would rather be in bed. But, I’m abysmally behind and I need work. While I am getting a cramp from kicking my own @$$, that isn’t very fruitful. I’ve dropped the ball, but I CAN pick it up and RUN.

It’s life :D .

I must remember to focus on what I can do NOW. In the present. What can I control? I can get my butt in my seat and do my job if I want to be like the legends I revere. Pros don’t worry and fret over how many Twitter followers they have or if the latest algorithm on Amazon is favorable to sales. They work. Hard. They work…smart ;) . They trust that incremental investments every day add up and that the future is uncertain. Cool thing is, we can do this too!

What are your thoughts?

I know when I am feeling like the world is crushing me, I am focusing too much on stuff that’s out of my hands. What about you? Do you drift into that territory? Do you often get overwhelmed and realize you’re spending too much time and worry on something you have no power to control? Does it feel better to know that it is okay to focus on the “little” things?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. 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 novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

 

 

 

 

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41 Comments

Is Your Life Out of Control? What Can We Do When Nothing is Going Right?

This GORGEOUS image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Aimannesse Photography

This GORGEOUS image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Aimannesse Photography

One of the things I’ve strived for with WANA, this blog, my teachings is to offer practical lessons, honesty, tools for growth and change and support. Change is tough, right? I love to serve, to help, but I’m challenged daily to live the life and walk the talk. I have good days and bad days and OH DEAR LORD IS THERE A REWIND days (been having A LOT of those recently).

I believe our character will impact our dreams, our relationships, our well-being. And I would love to tell y’all I’ve got it all together, but I’ve been struggling…a lot. And I have some seriously clever excuses involving alien abduction, but….sigh. Tempting as it is, I won’t go there.

The Infestation

I remember a dream I had in 2008, and it’s been such a guide in cleaning up my behaviors and attitudes. I dreamed I inherited a beautiful cottage-home. From the outside it looked almost perfect. Just needed a little bit of paint…

.…yeah.

So in the dream, I begin to paint and notice the wood is loose. I know I can’t paint bad boards, so I pull them back with a pry bar.

AAAAAGHHHHHHHH!

Vermin everywhere. I scream, get them cleaned out and prepare to paint. But then I open the cabinets. WTH? OMG! You guessed it. More rats, roaches, termites. I’d just about get it pretty then see another layer and another and another. I couldn’t even DO any of the fun stuff—painting, decorating, picking out cute curtains—because what was “beneath” was infested and rotten.

My subconscious knew me better than I did. Pretty on the outside, but LOTS of problems on the inside.

It sounds strange, but I’m happy I’ve had to earn things the hard way when it comes to being an author. Growing up, I was naturally smart, the person who didn’t study and made As. As much of a blessing as it was, it was really a curse.

I could cruise through “appearing” to have it together, but it created a lot of BAD habits and rotten attitudes and behaviors. I’ve cleaned out a lot of the “infestations” but there are always more. Also, even if we do rid our “homes” of rats, mice, roaches, termites, we have to be in a habit of keeping the place clean so we don’t invite in new unwanted guests.

Cute but DESTRUCTIVE little buggers.

Cute but DESTRUCTIVE little buggers.

Living Mindfully

There are dumb things we can do that can have serious consequences. For instance, out at our ranch, one of my relatives forgot a bag of feed corn on the porch. When we got out there, there was CORN EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t open a drawer, a cabinet, a closet that there wasn’t some well-fed family of mice with a lovely stockpile of corn. The mice chewed through wiring and the hoses on the dishwasher…which then spewed water all over the floor.

A momentary lapse of mindfulness created hours of expensive, dirty and dangerous work. Not only that, but guess what LOVES to snack on mice? Rattlesnakes. Snakes that normally would have been quite happy out on the property discovered there was a SWEET buffet at the Lamb Ranch if you hung out on the PORCH.

Hubby and I spent an hour trying to coerce a rattler off the homestead property. I have this hysterical video of Hubby flinging a very annoyed rattler through the air. And yes some people would shoot the snake, but why? We invited him for dinner. Snake was just doing what snakes do.

And there is one brain-damaged snake now wandering our property with head trauma and a grudge.

Which is to say that life is always moving forward. We think life is a static picture like a magazine, but it isn’t. The kitchen will always need cleaning, there will always be more laundry and more bills. We need to shower more than once in a lifetime, and this also applies to our attitudes and habits.

If we slow down (and I am LEARNING) we can be more mindful about where we commit, what we start, or what we need to finish. Give ourselves grace, but be brave enough to address small problems early before they rage out of control.

Name It and Claim It

We can’t change what we won’t face. I have a saying. Name it and claim it. To offer a bit of insight, this has been a rough couple of years. It’s like everyone in my family is getting sick, ill, injured or dying. We’ve lost four family members in just the last year. Five in the last two. FOUR major surgeries, three of them life-threatening. As a person who loves and honors family I chip in to help the best I can.

I’m sure you guys have been through seasons like this. It’s as if life DOG PILES you and just about the time you come up for air, you get hit again.

Image via Frank Selmo WANA Commons

Image via Frank Selmo WANA Commons

But the thing is this is life. When I became published, no cute forest creatures showed up to style my hair and help me clean.

LUZRS.

Times of trial can be crucibles that reveal our weak points. I used to be a MAJOR WHINER. Oh poor me. I just about get going the right direction and SOMETHING happens. I was at the mercy of situations.

What these recent life events have shown me about myself are embarrassing, but I have to face these flaws even though truth stings.

I need to be better at communicating. For some weird reason, I will work myself half to death before I think, “Hey, I could possibly ask for HELP. Whouda thunk?” I’ve come to see that I overcommit. That is a BAD habit. If I give my word, I need to follow through because I want to be a person of integrity. This means I need to strive to be better at saying, “Let me get back to you.”

I’ve also developed this awful habit of cramming my schedule to the point that I can DO everything…so long as everything goes smoothly and the planets perfectly align. They WON’T. We NEED margin. If the Internet goes out, the weather goes nuts, the car breaks down, the business hits a rough spot, the kid gets sick, a spouse loses a job, it will affect everything else.

I’m working diligently to be more honest and realistic. Sure, I want to help people, but if I just flake out, forget, lose stuff, I’m doing more harm than good.

Yes, I need to give myself grace, but I can always seek to come up higher, too.

We NEED a Support System

Stress is a lot like being drunk. Our bodies default to limbic brain. We run on adrenalin. As a survival mechanism, we cannot harness our higher thinking centers. Apparently pondering Nietzsche while running from a bear is BAD. Yet, in modern society, we have the equivalent of bears all the time (and they look a lot like the unfinished WIP, piles of toys, a stack of bills and the IRS :D ).

This is why we need the similar equivalent of a Designated Driver. We need people who love us and are honest enough to say, “Go sleep. Say NO. Finish what you promised.”

Jay Donovan is a fantastic friend. Why? He encourages me. He is there for me. But, he’s also unafraid to send me a kind but scathing e-mail when I need my butt kicked correcting. I have a looong list of stuff to finish, but baby steps.

You guys have been an amazing support team and I’m so grateful. When I was up all night with The Spawn in the ER because he knocked out all his front teeth, people on-line were there to keep me calm and offer prayers, love and support. Same with the deaths, etc. You are the voices that make the world more lovely and never lonely.

WANA Lynn Kelly, really is a superhero.

WANA Lynn Kelly, really is a superhero.

But last week I had a major revelation. My husband, The Spawn and I are too isolated. We have family, but no one who lives nearby. I have no one to lean on when I am sick, worn out, overloaded or on the verge of just crying for a month. We’ve lived in this house for almost five years and know none of our neighbors. We don’t have any friends in the local community.

Last week, I stepped out of the comfort zone. I needed more. I NEEDED people close who might let me have a day where I can take a long nap. I can’t run forever on sheer force of will. As much as I love social media, it can’t be our only resource of support.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a GREAT resource, just like chainsaws are AWESOME for cutting up trees downed in a storm (but not so great for hanging pictures on the wall). We need to diversify our relationships. I need to as well even though I am an introvert. On-line friends are far less terrifying than talking to…*shivers* neighbors.

But, Suck it up, Buttercup.

It’s OKAY to BE WEAK

We aren’t robots. We live, laugh, love, screw up, start over, do better, blow it, then try again. I do. And there is a blessing to being weak. It offers others the gift of being strong for us. When we allow others to help us, we are giving them a gift. We feel good when we can help others. Why would others be different? So many of you take time to comment, encourage, offer help and you guys make me better each day.

We are not alone ;).

What are your thoughts? Do you feel like renovating your attitudes, habits, behaviors is overwhelming? Do you get discouraged too? Are you bad about overcommitting or not stopping to realize maybe you could kinda-sorta-maybe use some HELP? Are you hesitant to make friends with neighbors? Do you work your schedule off plank time? LOL.

I love hearing from you!

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

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

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65 Comments

Should Authors Have to “Market Themselves”?

"Crap. Revisions tore my hose. But I need to sell more books and 'market myself'…"

“Crap. Revisions tore my hose. But I need to sell more books and get out and ‘market myself’…”
Image via Darwin Bell, Flickr Creative Commons.

All right, don’t stone me, but I feel some of the marketing “buzz words” range from terrifying to annoying to outright offensive. For instance, every time I read “target your demographic” or “target your readers” I wonder if this comes with a Predator Drone or at least a laser sight.

I don’t know about you guys, but I get creeped out being “targeted.” It makes it seem we (seller and consumer) are opponents—one the cunning victor and the other the hapless dupe who landed in the marketing crosshairs.

But the one that’s gotten my hackles up over the past week or so is when writers are beating themselves up. They write things in my comments like, “I know need to try harder to market myself” or “It’s no longer about marketing my books, I have to market ME.”

NO.

If I’ve in any way contributed to this feeling, my deepest apologies. I hope this post will clear things up.

The Difference Between Market Norms and Social Norms

Two norms guide all commerce. Market norms are cold, driven by data. We pay the price on the tag. There’s no emotion, and no relationship. All purchases and exchange of goods and services is simple. We don’t go to buy a computer then are hurt because we thought Best Buy was our BFF and could have made us a sweeter deal.

Social norms guide relationships. If I open the door for you, I don’t hold out my hand expecting a tip. When I make dinner for Hubby, I don’t bring him a check with 20% gratuity factored in because I have to clean the kitchen, too. If Hubby paid me after fooling around, he might suddenly go mysteriously missing.

Transition

In the 1990s, as the TV-Industrial complex began to crumble, we saw more and more businesses blending market and social norms.

Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

For corporations, using social norms can be beneficial. If we (consumers) like a company, we are willing to pay higher prices and can have greater loyalty. BUT, this company has a much steeper obligation. Don’t call us family then exploit us. Not only will we complain, we will raze your brand to the ground on-line. Companies can’t have the benefits that go with harnessing social norms, then forget the greater responsibility.

Evolution of Commerce

In the olden days, we didn’t have a lot of choices. When I was a kid, if you wanted to buy a new TV, there were about three brands to choose from. There were also three kinds of spaghetti sauce. Most household cleansers were manufactured by the same company. Ma Bell issued a phone when you activated a line in your home. If my parents wanted a different phone or a newer phone or a phone repaired? They called the phone company.

Image courtesy of Clemson via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image courtesy of Clemson via Flickr Creative Commons.

And had THREE colors to choose from :D .

Yet, as markets opened up bringing increased competition, this presented a problem to The Big Guys who’d enjoyed gouging consumers who had no other place to go. Cheaper and even better options came along and the pseudo-monopolies began to crumble.

For instance, my husband has this COOL remote control car that can do speeds in excess of 55 mph and is extraordinarily maneuverable. When I was growing up, if you wanted a remote control car, you went to Radio Shack and took out a second mortgage on your house to buy one…and generally it worked once then died.

Remote control cars were The Great Class Divider—those who could afford one and then the rest of us.

Image courtesy of Gazanfarulla Khan via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image courtesy of Gazanfarulla Khan via Flickr Creative Commons.

Now? In 2014? I can’t believe Radio Shack is still around. Sometimes I think it’s only because we still have a population over age 70 who still shops there. My grandfather, who is almost 90, still goes there to buy batteries, proving old habits die hard.

Yet, as the years passed, emerging markets offered newer, better and cheaper options. We could have all colors of phones. CORDLESS phones. Eventually phones with an answering machine built in and then Caller ID. More and more features and bells and whistles for less and less money.

When the Internet arrived, this only exacerbated the problem. And, as computers became more affordable, Internet service did too. E-Commerce arrived. Consumers no longer wanted to browse the window of an electronics store when they could purchase on-line cheaper and get free shipping.

Thus, with the explosion of options, market norms became highly problematic. To rely completely on market norms is a race to the bottom of who can give away the most stuff and the best stuff for free. How can companies mitigate this?

Let Me Introduce “Social Norms”

When we had only a handful of choices for coffee, we bought the one mom did. We chose between caffeinated, decaf, and instant. Fast-forward 20 years.

In an endless sea of coffee choices, manufacturers didn’t want to compete on price if they didn’t have to. Thus we now pay more than double if a coffee is “Rainforest Friendly” or “Organic.” Our purchases have come to reflect our values. Case in point, the new Follow the Frog campaign:

Is it non-GMO? Gluten-free? Environmentally friendly? Recycled? Does the manufacturer donate a portion of profits to charities we support?

Even large companies are realizing Facebook can be an asset and that people don’t want endless spam and promotion. We want a company that includes us and represents our values. We are willing to pay more to those kinds of companies. We want to like who we buy from.

We gravitate to companies with a real person behind the tweets and posts. Smart companies are recognizing they need to keep a finger on the pulse of their social platforms.

When I was ready to throw the first Mac I bought through the closest Apple Store window, I tweeted about my frustration. Guess who replied? Guess who worked tirelessly to make sure I was happy?

Guess who now uses Apple almost exclusively and has become a VERY good customer?

Kristen Lamb, writing teacher, WANA

Yes, Hubby even downloaded a game for the CAT.

I was willing to pay more for a company that not only solved my problem, but actually seemed to care about it. When the HP I owned had issues (and I’d had several HPs over the course of a decade), HP ran me through and endless maze of chasing my own @$$ with confusing and impersonal on-line forms that went unanswered. They used the information to spam me instead of solving my problem.

In the end? I knew I’d pay more with Apple (and wouldn’t have any new clothes for at least five years), but I chose the company that made me feel they were on my side, that I was more than a number.

Back to the Eternal Question—Do Authors Have to Market Themselves?

We have to remember the distinction between a business and a human being. When humans start “marketing themselves” it drifts into Creepy Land. Bluntly, it makes me feel like I need fishnets, heels and a red light that hides my smile lines. Or maybe I need to take up juggling fire while wearing a costume and swallowing swords.

We strongly suspected Earl had a book for sale… Image courtesy of Rafael-Castillio via Flickr Creative Commons.

We strongly suspected Earl had a book for sale…
Image courtesy of Rafael-Castillio via Flickr Creative Commons.

Granted, all of us on some level “market ourselves.” When we apply for a corporate job, we know that we have to wear the right suit, the right smile and have the right answers in an interview if we want to land the job or promotion.

But what if we had a plan for “marketing ourselves” to make friends? A bullet-point reference to make others like us. Worse still, how ookie does it get when we actively put together a plan for people to like us so they will buy something from us?

Hey, Baby, you wanna date book?

Writers are not Geiko. We are not AFLAC or P&G or Apple. We are people. A company is a non-living thing striving to connect and be personable. Companies have always been in the goods and services business filling needs. Companies have always been driven by market norms and that’s never been a question of ethics.

When human interactions are driven by market norms? That’s called slavery and prostitution.

Writers are people. A person is a person. When I actively make a plan for people to like me so they will buy my book? I need a shower and counseling.

All Humans Have a Brand

My brand. Spongebob, Green Lantern and NERF---oh, and I write books, too.

My brand. Spongebob, Green Lantern and NERF—oh, and I write books, too.

Brand is merely what comes to mind when we think of a name. When I think of AT&T, I see red. It brings to mind hours of runaround with customer service and the half zillion times they have screwed up our bill (where we live we have no other option).

When it comes to people? They also have a brand. They could be our vegan friend who competes in triathlons or our zany friend who collects action figures and goes to ComicCon.

I don’t call Such-and-Such in an emergency because he’s a notorious flake. If I have a bad day, I call Thus-And-Such, because I know she is kind and will set down everything to let me cry.

I avoid Uncle Burney because all he talks about is baseball and is utterly oblivious to the fact that I am chewing my leg off to escape the conversation. On the other hand, I love Uncle Olaf, because he invites me to play video games with him. He laughs a lot and asks me about my writing…and cares about my answer.

We unfriend people on social media because they might be rude bullies who rant or complain non-stop. We gravitate to others because they make us laugh or are always positive. These people may or may not have a good or service for sale, but they DO have a brand.

When it comes to creating a “marketable author brand” I have zero interest in changing you beyond what would need to change in any normal social situation. Name-calling, negativity, bragging, self-centeredness, putting others down are not great habits for us to have in LIFE. Thus, we all need to ixnay them with social media or it WILL create a negative brand.

I understand some writers will have to press beyond being shy. But, being shy in our personal lives limits how much we can connect as well. I know. I used to have such bad social anxiety, the thought of talking to someone I didn’t know was enough to make me throw up in my shoes.

I attended five years of high school and five years of college and had no friends. If I didn’t want to be a loner all my life, I had to press past my profound fear of people to grow as a human being.

Self-Promotion 

We don’t like people who promote themselves in person. Why would we like them on-line? Granted, writers do have to strike a balance. I find we generally end up gravitating to extremes. Either writers blast non-stop deals, specials, contests and tours to tout their latest book or, the fact they have a book for sale is a Top Secret.

We need to find that balance. I was in Rotary for almost seven years. I knew who was a dentist, a surgeon, an accountant, or a veterinarian. I did business with them first because I knew them as people. They didn’t need to show up to our weekly meetings with flyers and coupons. They didn’t need to sit at lunch an pitch me how they were the best surgeon for removing suspicious moles.

The Two Basic Differences in a Regular Person Brand and an Author Brand

All this said, I will admit our brand is slightly different and I am going to use the word marketable extremely carefully. WANA isn’t here to slap your on-line personality in a short dress and digital body glitter.

Don’t come back until you’ve sold some books.

Yes, regular people have a brand, but most regular people don’t want to use that brand to sell books. Aside from being a nice human being, the crucial differences in a regular person’s “brand” and our “author brand” are:

Community is Part of Our Job

If a regular person disappears off Facebook for six months, it doesn’t matter. We as writers should have a goal of creating an authentic community, of creating relationships with those in our circles. Then, we are tasked with maintaining that community and hopefully growing it. If we only appear out of the ether when we have a book for sale, we become about as appealing as that cousin who never calls unless he needs bail money.

Authentic relationships will help us personally and professionally. We need a system of support. We also can be that support for others. Service is good for the soul and sound relationships are a two-way street. Book sales may or may not directly evolve from this, but it’s a better use of time than spamming victims from a purchased e-mail list.

Clarity is KEY

If a regular person wants to tweet using @I_LuvPandas, @LovelyKisses99 or @CarolinaChik, that’s fine. No one needs to know their name. Writers? If we are tweeting, blogging, whatever under a cutesy moniker? We’re wasting time. People cannot find our book if they don’t have OUR NAME.

The more layers of friction we add for others trying to find us/our books, the less likely we are to eventually make a sale. If I blog as Unicorn Fairy Hugs, tweet under @FairyGurl, am on Facebook under two or three different pen names, who can keep up with that?

People (readers) are pressed for time and will gravitate to those who don’t waste it.

When we use social media properly, our names become tied to our “brand.” In my case—social media for writers, craft, blogging, Star Wars, green juice, yoga, Gluten-Free, Lord of the Rings, The Spawn, zombies (notice my “author brand” is who I AM as a person as well).

But I’m not sitting around thinking, “Wow, I need a marketing strategy to market ME. I have to promote ME.” I’m simply doing what’s necessary to create genuine relationships. Beyond that? As a writer I have only two more necessities that distinguish my brand a) attendance b) coherence.

Same with you guys. Be present, be vested and be you. There will never be another ;) .

What are your thoughts? Does this notion of “marketing yourself” make you feel ookie, too? Does self-promotion give you hives? The creeps? Am I making too big a deal out of it? Have you bought books simply because you liked the author? Maybe it was even a book in a genre you never read? On the other side, have you avoided buying books from an author because you didn’t like them as a person? Have you ever had a business make you feel so good you were ever-loyal? Have you have a company you were loyal to take advantage of you and now you’re their best-worst advertising?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

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

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143 Comments

8 Tips to Make Sure Everyone on Twitter Hates Us

Image via QuickMeme

Image via QuickMeme

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

Tip #1—Only Use Automation

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

Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.

Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.

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

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

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

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

Tip #3—When Programming Tweets Include Popular Hashtags

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

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

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

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

Can we say “Top of Mind”?

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

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

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

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

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

Tip #6—Ask for Stuff Immediately

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

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

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

Huh?

Huh?

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

Tip #7—Tweet from Several Accounts/Identities

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

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

Tip #8—Never Tweet ANYTHING Original Just Retweet

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

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

Okay, Serious Now 

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

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

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

Announcements:

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

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

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

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72 Comments

Four Ways Google+ Communities Help Authors Build Their Platforms

Image via Pink's Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Pink’s Galaxy Flickr Creative Commons

Hey Guys! I promised I would post twice a week, but I am happy to add in some extra awesome when the opportunity arises. Social media is key to any author platform, but, to be blunt, there is NO WAY I can teach all of them with equal excellence. This is why I have amazing WANA instructors. Facebook or Twitter might not be your style. Or, maybe you are still trying to FIND your style. Here to help you is the FANTABULOUS WANA International Instructor, Marcy Kennedy….

And no, I couldn’t use the creepy panel van because I am SO NOT driving to Canada. She is here of her own accord. That and I told her I’d spread rumors that she hated unicorns. I am cold that way.

Hmmm, looks legit.

Hmmm, looks legit.

Take it away Marcy!

Marcy Kennedy, WANA Instructor Extraordinaire

Marcy Kennedy, WANA Instructor Extraordinaire

Did you know that Google+ has the second most active user base of all social media sites? (And yes, Facebook, no surprise, is number one.)

Yet one of the biggest complaints I hear about Google+ from authors is that they struggle to meet potential future readers and to get others to engage with what they’re posting.

The solution to both problems is Google+ communities.

Google+ rolled out communities in December 2012, and communities are rapidly growing around topics as diverse as Star Wars, Javascript, parenting, running, football, and photography. If you’re interested in it, you can probably find a Google+ community built around it.

Before you think that’s great for a non-fiction writer, but I write fiction, let me stop you. Every novel will touch on topics you can find a Google+ community about.

Someone like Elizabeth Spann Craig with her Southern Quilting mysteries could join communities organized around quilting. Erotic romance authors like Roni Loren could join the community that discusses what to read after Fifty Shades of Grey. Does your novel feature vampires or zombies? There’s a community for that. Does your main character have an autistic son? There’s a community for that too. You’re only limited by your imagination.

Here’s the official Google+ trailer.

But the real question is how can Google+ communities benefit writers? After all, I did say that Google+ communities can help us meet potential future readers and grow our platform.

(1)   Find new ideas for blog posts.

What are your potential future readers already talking about and interested in? Those are perfect topics to blog about. Instead of writing into the void and hoping someone will be interested, you’ll already know that what you’re posting on is something they’ll want to read.

Some communities prohibit direct sharing of blog posts so read the rules carefully. However, keep going down this list. The next point is key for developing relationships that will have people adding you to their circles. And once you’re in their circles, they’ll see your status updates—where you can freely share your posts.

(2)   Establish yourself as an expert (and as interesting) by starting valuable discussions.

Anyone can start a discussion in a Google+ community, and topics are organized by categories for easy access.

The best discussions result in active conversations, as well as people sharing it to their own circles. If people see your name attached to great conversations often enough, they’ll add you to one of their circles so they can see everything you post.

(3)   Get an inside look at what your potential future readers love or hate.

If you’re a quick writer and want to self-publish, you could fill a hole in the kind of books people want to read by listening to the likes and dislikes expressed in communities.

This is also a great way to understand the nuances of your genre. Fantasy fans are vocal about what tropes they’re tired of. Steampunk fans are also very vocal about what does and doesn’t belong in a book labeled “steampunk.” Each genre comes with built in expectations.

A large part of success is knowing readers’ expectations and exceeding them. If a reader buys your book expecting one thing and finds another, they’ll be disappointed no matter how great your book might be apart from those disappointed expectations. Once you’re educated on the expectations, you’ll be able to meet them…or choose to forge a new path, while making it clear to readers what they’ll be getting. Knowledge is power.

(4)   If you’re an established author, build a community for your readers.

Google+ communities definitely have a forum feel. Host chats with book clubs. Encourage fan art. Answer commonly asked questions. Provide deleted scenes or interview your characters. If you already have an established audience, Google+ communities provide a low maintenance option for you to encourage conversation among your fans and to be accessible to them.

Google+ is currently a very under-utilized (and poorly utilized) social media platform by writers, but I hope this helps you see the potential hidden inside it.

On Saturday, November 23, I’m teaching a 90-minute webinar called A Crash Course to Using Google+ to Build Your Author Platform. The cost is only $45, and we’ll look at how to effectively set up your profile, what to do about circles and communities, how to use hangouts, and more. This webinar is great not only for those who are already on Google+ but also for those who aren’t sure if it’s the right place for them! If you can’t make it at the time it’s scheduled but still want to attend, sign up anyway. The webinar will be recorded and sent to all registrants. Click here to register!

I’m also offering this class as part of a very special WANA 2Fer.Lisa Hall-Wilson is running her Building a Tribe Using a Facebook Profile webinar the same day, and we’re offering a discounted rate of $20 off for people who sign up for both. Click here to register for the 2Fer!

About Marcy Kennedy:

Marcyis a suspense and speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance editor and teaches classes on craft and social media through WANA International. She’s also the author of the Busy Writer’s Guides series of books, including Strong Female Characters and How to Write Faster. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at www.marcykennedy.com.

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27 Comments

When Is It Time to Start Building an Author Platform?

Original image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of FEMA

Original image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of FEMA

I spoke on Saturday here in Florida for the STAR folk in Melbourne, and I had a new writer comment that she couldn’t start building her platform because she had no finished books and nothing for sale. I don’t believe in Self-Help-Kitten-Glitter. I believe in hard work. But hard work needs a solid foundation or we’re no better than Skippy the Hamster running in his little wheel. We should strive to work smarter, not harder. That’s the WANA Way. WANAs also plan for success ;).

Original image via Dan Derritt Flikr Creative Commons

Original image via Dan Derritt Flikr Creative Commons

Preparation

As writers, preparation encompasses a lot of things—craft books, classes, practice, workshops, writing, etc. Yet, today I’m going to narrow it to social media and author platforms. The day we decide to do this “writing thing” for real is the day we should begin building our platform. I cannot count the number of times authors have contacted me in frantic e-mails and said things like, “I have a book coming our next month and I need a platform.”

I’m Kristen Lamb not David Copperfield.

Tough Love First

Many of you have heard me say this, but it bears repeating. Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. Takes guts to be a writer. When we define ourselves as “aspiring writers” and not “professional writers” we can fail to do a lot of the early preparation that will be a foundation for a successful career.

Being a professional is a mind-set not a pay grade. Fail to plan and plan to fail.

A lot of new (pre-published) writers are hesitant to start building a brand an author platform because they don’t yet have anything for sale. Yet, strong platforms that are resistant to major technology shifts (*cough* MySpace*) and that have the capability to eventually drive book sales? Those don’t pop out of the ether. They take time to build.

Baby Steps are Steps

If we wait until we have a book deal or a published work for sale, we have to put far more energy into building a brand/platform, energy that is better served writing more books.

Think of it like losing weight. Say my high school reunion is coming and I’m fifty pounds overweight. I long to look my best when reuniting with my former peers. If I begin the year before the reunion making incremental changes and I slowly adopt steady, good habits, I can lose weight in plenty of time. I can cut out sodas, add in water and better foods, go for morning walks and lose 2-5 pounds a month and reach my goal.

But, there is always the option of waiting until three months before the reunion and having to hire a former drill sergeant to make me do cross-fit three hours a day. I can live off rabbit food or liquid diets to peel off the pounds. And sure, perhaps I could lose most of the weight, but is this a long-term lifestyle most of us can maintain unless we hold Jillain Michaels hostage in our basement?

When we begin building a platform early, we can make small steps over time that create a thriving community organically. We build slowly, creating deep roots. This makes it easier when the book is finally ready for sale, because we already have a thriving base of support. This takes off a lot of pressure and permits us to focus on writing more books. Also, we have regular healthy social media habits that are now simply part of daily life.

Having Nothing for Sale Can Be a Good Thing

When I started out on social media, I didn’t do it to sell anything. I knew I’d have books and even classes or consulting for sale at some point in the future, but just wasn’t there. Because I wasn’t trying to “sell” something, interactions felt far more natural and others probably were more comfortable in my presence because they knew if I was chatting with them, it was to chat and connect. They weren’t bracing for the awkward, “buy my book” pitch.

Thus, when we are new, this is a great way to make friends, network and create community with far less emotional pressure all around. Also, if people have been connecting with us for a period of time and been along for the journey? Many are eager to support us when that first book is finally ready, because they feel they’ve been part of the process.

There is NEVER a “Bad” Time to Build a Brand and Platform

platform2

Original image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of the US Navy

If you’re an author who’s published and has books for sale, you are fine. Just remember it will take some time for your platform to gather strength. This is why WANAs work together. We help one another, much like an Amish barn-raising. Together, we are stronger. Yes, we need to build a platform, but no one ever said we had to do it alone.

Yet, on the other side of this spectrum, don’t buy the lie that you can’t start building a platform until you’re published. Those who start as early as possible have major advantages. Social media is fantastic for pre-published writers because you can 1) network with other writers 2) learn the industry 3) learn to meet self-imposed deadlines.

Case in Point

I often talk about Piper Bayard and how her original book was a nightmare when she hired me to edit (back when I used to do that kind of work). While we were repairing her book, Piper listened to me about social media. She began to blog and learned to use Twitter. She whined a lot, but did it anyway :D.

*waves at Piper*

When she finally was picked up by a publisher, she was offered a far more favorable deal because she had a strong platform. Also, through networking on Twitter, Piper was able to meet big-time authors and befriend them (she had nothing for sale). Later, when it came time to find blurbs for her first book, she didn’t even have to ask. Authors she knew were already offering.

Her book Firelands has hit multiple best-seller lists, received rave AP reviews, and she now has a three-book deal. Much of this was possible because Piper adopted the attitude of a “professional” early and laid the groundwork for future success. She understood the business of the Digital Age Author involved more than merely writing a book.

Thus the answer to my question, “When is it time to start building an author platform?” The answer is NOW, no matter where you happen to be in your career. E-commerce is exploding as brick-and-mortar businesses are experiencing record contraction. Also, with social media, we have the ability to tap into emerging markets of eager readers and e-commerce is better suited to fill their demand for new books and good books.

My new book can help you, no matter where you are in your career or which publishing path you’ve chosen to take. You can even peruse this blog of all kinds of free advice. My sole goal is to help you succeed and realize your dreams.

What are your thoughts? Did you believe you needed a book before you started building a platform? Do you feel more at ease? Did you wait to the last minute and wish you’d done some things differently? What are your successes? War stories?

I LOVE hearing from you!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Since it was such a HUGE success and attendees loved it, I am rerunning the Your First Five Pages class SATURDAY EDITION. Use the WANA15 code for 15% off. Yes, editors REALLY can tell everything they need to know about your book in five pages or less. Here’s a peek into what we see and how to fix it. Not only will this information repair your first pages, it can help you understand deeper flaws in the rest of your manuscript.

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

WANACon, the writing conference of the future is COMING! We start with PajamaCon the evening of October 3rd and then October 4th and 5th we have some of the biggest names in publishing coming RIGHT TO YOU. If you REGISTER NOW, you get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE (and all recordings) for $119 (regularly $149). Sign up today, because this special won’t last and seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.

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77 Comments

Are You Alienating Fans on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform?

Bonding with teen writers, LOL....

Bonding with teen writers, LOL….

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

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

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

This said…

Putting Our Foot In It

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

FB

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

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

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

What Can We Learn From This?

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

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

Yes, I do have feelings.

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

Yep, I’m right on that.

Writers Building a Platform Have NO Private Life On-Line

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

Create Lists

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

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

Lists Fool Us Then Land Us in Trouble

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

Lists Alienate Potential Fans

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

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

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

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

Personal Pages Create Relationships Vital to Success

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

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

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

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

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

We Never Know WHO We Are Dissecting Out of Our Following

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

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

And Grumpy Cat

And Grumpy Cat

Knowledge is Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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220 Comments

The Age of the Artist–Time for a Revolution

I’ve said many times before that it is an amazing time to be a writer. Yet, I think this age, this new Digital Renaissance might actually be more than we can imagine, and age of empowerment artists have never before experienced. We just need to be open to the future.

First, the Technology Problem

Many artists feel threatened by social media, computers, iPads and e-readers. I will admit that I used to be one of those people who refused to learn how to use e-mail. I used to write long, detailed letters to friends and family with stickers and pictures and pretty handwriting. I felt computers were too cold and impersonal, especially compared to expensive stationary from my Hallmark store.

Yet, now?

Now, I no longer send frilly messages to a handful of friends and family. I actually interact with them daily on Facebook…more of them. I see their kids grow up even though they live half a world away.  I share the daily triumphs, and can be there to support them in the trials too. It isn’s as fancy as my letters, but it is very, very personal in a way I hadn’t imagined possible 15 years ago.

Digital books are not the first technological advance that has left artists feeling threatened. I’m sure the dude who was in charge of recording all the stories and history on the cave walls felt threatened by the smarty pants who invented papyrus paper. Then there were all those monks who got downsized when the printing press came along.

Great, thanks to that Gutenberg jerk, everyone can be published.

When the Lumiere brothers invented the first cameras, people believed that artists would be obsolete, that photographs would take the place of paintings. When moving pictures were invented, many thought stage actors would also fade away into history. As we have seen, paintings and plays have endured and actually the technology invented brand new forms of art—photography and cinematography.

What no one accounted for is that art is the very essence of creation. We can’t stop it. The technology isn’t responsible for making the art, it is a vehicle for the art. Art will always remain and will always find a way to be expressed. Humans have a guiding imperative to create.

And that is awesome news for us.

Artists have had a Rough Road

When I gave up my job in sales to become a writer, my family didn’t speak to me for three years. I might as well have come home with a handful of magic beans and a tale about a castle in the sky and my pet unicorn.

What I find interesting is that, since the Industrial Revolution, we increasingly became a society that valued the artist less and less and less. In the 50s during the Space Race, schools started valuing the children who excelled at math and science and the arts were seen as something fluffy and unsubstantial.

Schools were set up to create new generations of factory workers, engineers and scientists who could support the military-industrial complex. Schools taught neat skills like sitting still for eight hours, coloring in the lines, and listening to authority. I think this is one of the reasons that teachers rail against all this “teaching to the test.” Teaching is an art, and few things can steal that art like a standardized test.

Art is the Essence of Humanity

Children are natural artists. They color dance and sing with abandon. Yet, some time about the age of 9, we are told it is time to get serious. One day we will need to go to college so we can get a “real job.”

I spent 15 years trying to fit myself in that straight-jacket mold and it just made me ill, depressed and angry. I was a child who’d immersed herself in ballet. When I wasn’t dancing, I was drawing art and writing stories on every spare scrap of paper or playing a clarinet. This creative creature then grew into an adult trying to work in corporate sales. Was it any wonder I was chronically ill with a sickness no doctor could name?

When I started pursuing my art, I became more myself than I’d been since the age of ten. I went from being a misfit, an ill-fitting cog in an alien machine to feeling my life fall almost magically into place.

The Funny Thing About Artists

Yet, what I find interesting is that artists are the intuitives that birth the science. Mary Shelley envisioned the human body as a bioelectric system before the scientists. Proust intuited that taste and smell were hardwired to memory before science proved that he was correct; that those are the two senses are uniquely sentimental because they are connected to the hypothalamus, thus the most strongly tethered to memory. George Eliot understood that the brain was a regenerate organ a hundred years before Dr. Elizabeth Gould discovered that brain cells actually did renew themselves and pioneered neurogenesis. Jules Verne envisioned a man on the moon and even intuited almost every detail of how we could do it…of how we actually did do it.

When artists create wild fantasy we lay the groundwork for the future. Artists envisioned a world with equal rights, a world with women in leadership, a world where humans traveled through space.

Artists take the impossible and make it real.

A society that embraces art is at a distinctive advantage. We have been a society working on a half a brain. We have valued the rational logical left brain at the expense of the imaginative, intuitive right brain. With technology we finally have an opportunity to become a world using its brain…all of it.

Technology and the Digital Renaissance

Technology will bring a Digital Renaissance simply because it is adding value to the artist. We are the only job that can’t be downsized, outsourced or automated. Machines can’t create art. Legions of cheap labor in China will not replace us.

As more people own computers and e-readers, the demand for art will only increase. Also, each of us has an artist inside, and technology allows all of us to express that nature. What is wonderful about the new paradigm is it is finally possible to make a living—a good living—as an artist. Sure, it is a lot of work and hard work, but is being a doctor easier? Any profession that is lucrative is a lot of work…only now we can do what we LOVE, so it is never work. Give me a fifty hour work week of writing and I will be HAPPY!

I actually am typing this sentence at 3:59 in the morning. I woke up at 2:00 and could’t sleep so I am working…and I love every second of it because I am doing what I was born to do.

Vive la Revolution!

I call WANA the Love Revolution. WANA (We Are Not Alone) is based on service above self and community, but it is poised on the fulcrum of LOVE. Love for our art, love for each other, and love for the world we are serving and changing. WANA is bigger than writing, so please recruit all the creatives you know. Our time is NOW!

Every revolution needs a leader…someone rugged, handsome, and stylish. There are exciting things ahead for the WANAs, so today let me introduce you to the spearhead of our movement. Meet, Francis…

I met Francis early this past March and his story was heartbreaking, so I had to find the dust-covered art supplies, put marker to paper and bring him to life so his story could inspire all of you. But, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Francis will be starring in a feature film that shows how WANA changed his life, and I believe you will be moved, that you will see how all of us are Francis. His debut film will be released soon, so stay tuned for the date. His feature is going to be part of the surprise I have in store for all of you. It is too big to give you at once, so I am giving it to you a taste at a time.

WANNA Be a WANA?

If Egypt can have a revolution using Facebook, then why can’t artists? This is OUR time. The more art we create, the better we become. We can use social media to find our future patrons, those who are dying to hear a good story, listen to a new song, dance a new dance. We can cultivate the love for our art and our art only gets better with time. We won’t have to worry that our job will get replaced with a 20 year old intern willing to work for half the pay. We won’t be told we are too old, the we need to retire because some college kid can do what we do.

We are artists and we are indispensable, indomitable and immortal.

It is the 21st century, a Digital New World and it is an awesome time to be an artist. Grab your pens and paintbrushes, your books and easels, and join the WANAs for a Love Revolution! Currently we are hanging out at #MyWANA on Twitter, but I have another surprise in store. A land where the WANAs roam free to create and be themselves.

It’s gonna be like CHRISTMAS! …which means you have to wait to open your presents :D.

So what is your story? Are you an ill-fitting cog in an alien machine? Do you long to create, but you are chained to the day job? Have you broken free from the “real job” and are now living your passion? Tell us your story!

By the way, for a really fantastic book about how artists have defined science, I recommend Jonah Lehrer’s Proust was a Neuroscientist.

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!

***IMPORTANT MESSAGE–For those who have not gotten back pages. My web site fiasco has been responsible for eating a lot of e-mails. Additionally I get about 400 e-mails a day and the spam folder has a healthy appetite too. It is hard to tell since some people never claim their prize, but I could have very well just not seen your entry. Feel free to e-mail it again and just put CONTEST WINNER in the header so I can spot you easily. (especially if your message is kidnapped by the spam filter).

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

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91 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.

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93 Comments

Understanding Author Platform Part 2–All the World Wide Web’s a Stage

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk Creative Commons

Last week, in Understanding Author Platform–Part One we talked about how platform has changed in the digital age, why tools of yester-year won’t work and how an outdated approach can do little to eventually drive book sales (and also leave a writer too worn out to create). We also talked about why some experts may make us break out in hives when they try to give us tools to build our author platform. If sales or marketing isn’t our art, then the tools can feel awkward and clumsy and can do more harm than good.

Yes, I am giving you guys permission to hate sales, marketing and PR, but I am not offering permission to avoid building a platform. I have been saying for years that all authors—traditional and nontraditional—needed to have a strong platform.

A strong social media platform takes a lot of pressure off authors, leaving them less stressed out and more able to do their art. A solid platform can assure sales of new books and even revive old titles.

In short, a platform is vital for anyone who wants a writing career. 

My two year-old-who commandeered my new iPad 3 is your future reader. Every teen with an iPhone and every college kid with a laptop is a future reader. In a world where bookstores are fading to the pages of history, if you aren’t on social media?

How else will they know you?

Redefining Platform for the Writer-Artist

I feel that, if I’m asking you guys to commit time, talent and energy to build a platform, it is only fair you should understand what I’m asking you to build and why. We need to pan the camera back. We also need to forget all those mind-numbing lectures about metrics and web sites and demographics and target audience, etc. etc.

Ack!

To change our approach and make social media our art we need to slip on some WANA rose-colored glasses and really see the opportunity we’ve been given. Social media isn’t a free way to advertise and spam people about our book non-stop.

It is our stage.

Meet the Author-Performer

Think of it this way. Technology has finally made it fiscally possible for us to do what other artists have been doing for generations. Platform is getting our art and ourselves out there and getting known. What people then think of us and our art, the emotional response they get from our name and our art eventually becomes our brand. 

The problem for writers has been that printing was extremely expensive. Until the Internet and e-books, NY had almost total control over printing and distribution. There was no other way for fiction authors to create a platform…unless they had a ton of cash.

Writers all want to write one book, hit the Beginner’s Luck Jackpot and become world famous for being brilliant. Hey, I’ll admit I wanted that, too. Yet, that almost NEVER happens, even in the traditional sense.

This is like us learning to play guitar, writing some songs, recording a CD on our Mac and hoping a smooth-talking agent drives by our house as we are practicing in our garage, hears our siren’s song and lands us a million-dollar recording deal.

Yeah. Keep dreaming.

No, what do musicians do? Many start playing in church or at the state fair or the local nursing home for FREE. They then get older and better at their craft and their art and play at restaurants, dives, the VFW…for FREE! If they get good enough, they might be able to sell downloads or CDs for $5 a piece. If they keep working hard and getting their art seen by more and more people and people LIKE it they then get bigger breaks.

They get to open, for FREE for a bigger band. If they do enough work and put in enough time and get themselves out there as they are improving their art in ways that create a market for their sound, they are then rewarded with record deals and people are then willing to pay money for their music.

I still remember years ago, I went to an unveiling of the stealth bomber out at Alliance Airport here in DFW. This was a private event before an air show. A sound caught my attention. One of the bands was warming up before they opened the show to the public. It was an all-female country band and they used a banjo, which I thought gave them such a fantastically unique sound. I chatted with them for a while and told them that I just knew they would make it.

That band was the Dixie Chicks.

 

The same band that was playing for free or close to free at an air show was the exact same band that went on to tour the world, win Grammys and make millions. But they didn’t get that in the beginning just because they were talented and unique. They had to convince others that they were worth the investment.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this. The digital age has changed the learning curve/career path for the writer-artist. Before we wrote and wrote and wrote, and, after enough drafts and submissions we either gave up or we wrote what the gatekeepers were willing to try and sell. Most writers, even after a book deal, failed to ever make a living writing.

That path is still available (for now), and, if that is the way for you, I won’t stop you. I will, however, say that career longevity doesn’t look so hot if you don’t have a platform (those people who dig your sound). Yes, writers have a sound–it is called writing voice. 

Yet, now that amateurs can get out and sell books for 99 cents, people in publishing are aghast at the swarm of talentless hacks that will inundate the world with bad books.

Why?

These authors are the “free or darn close to free band” we get to listen to at the local bake sale or BBQ pit. If audiences like them, we buy their $5 CD or drop money in a hat. If we don’t? We don’t make eye contact, and the band doesn’t get a second invite. Positive word of mouth will not spread for lousy bands, no matter how great their “marketing” is. Same with bad books.

So, when new writer runs out and slaps up a 99 cent book or a $2.99 book or give books away for free, it is part of building a platform. If the writer uploads a horrible book that gets pummeled with digital tomatoes, he either cries and gives up or he tries again to write a better, more crowd-pleasing book. He performs again and again and he gets feedback a heck of a lot faster so he can tune his art accordingly.

Thus, writers who don’t go the traditional route can build a platform with minimal social media and writing a lot of inexpensive books (playing for almost free at the State Fair)…or we can make social media an extension of our art and rely more on blogging. Since social media relies on a lot of WORDS, we should totally ROCK at this! Or we can do both—write lots of books and do social media. Isn’t technology AWESOME?

Define Social Media as Part of Your Art

Social media is like us being the band that goes to all the parties and all the mixers so people at least get to know us, like us as artists and grow to be loyal fans. Blogging isn’t a chore, it is a demo tape of our artist voice. It is a free performance at a local mall. And, since writing is our art, if we will approach it as such, our attitude toward it will improve because we will be approaching with a totally different intent. 

If our intent is to share our passion, to affect people, instead of a chore to be endured and a way to part people from their money, the experience will be more enjoyable for all concerned. Eventually, once people come to love and trust the artist they will be more willing to part with more money to buy the art.

Please Stop “Targeting” Readers—It Makes Them Nervous

That group of people who dig your sound–writing voice–will likely be a certain demographic. This is why it is critical for writers to stop blogging about writing all the time. It limits the audience. This is why I train writers to blog in a totally different way that uses the same voice as their fiction. For more about why blogging about writing is bad, I highly recommend my post Sacred Cow Tipping–Why Writers Blogging about Writing is Bad.

Writers often freeze on words like “target audience” when it is really far simpler than we try to make it. Blogging (the way I teach it, at least) will naturally connect you to your demographic organically, and just like fans are loyal to their bands, readers are loyal to their favorite authors.

They can be loyal to you, too ;).

Does this make you feel better about social media and blogging? What are your thoughts or feelings about my definition of author platform? Feel ready to get your laptop case and go on the digital road? Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. Make sure you check out the #MyWANA crew. They love being Roadies. They think it makes them more mysterious.

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 . 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.

No Mash-Up of Awesomeness this Week. I am preparing to teach all weekend at the Texas Two Step Conference held by the NTRWA. So for any writers in the DFW area (or who want to drive to the DFW area), come hang out with me! The conference is only $150 and there is going to be a lot of talented people there, including the amazing Candy Havens and Roni Loren. Check out this link for details!

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