Posts Tagged social media publishing

3 Social Media Myths that Can Cripple Our Author Platform

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

As the Social Media Jedi for Writers, I am very blessed to be able to speak and teach around the country at various writing conferences. I am always open to learning new methods, and I love hearing other perspectives. Yet, with the good, comes the bad, the ugly and the downright—in my POV—boneheaded observations about social media. My favorites?

Writers are the only ones on social media.

*scratches head* Seriously?

I have heard comments such as these come from even very well-known authors:

Twitter is a waste of time. Only writers use Twitter.

Blogs only attract writers, and writers don’t read a lot of blogs.

Blogs won’t help you sell books.

*head desk*

Since I tend to hear comments like these more often than I care to, we are going to set these myths straight, because believing any of this nonsense is a ticket to Crazy Town, and it can cripple our platform.

Myth #1

Only Writers Use Twitter

Okay, last I checked, Twitter was closing in on 250 million users, and I doubt ALL of them are writers. Too often writers want to blame Twitter instead of looking at their own on-line habits.

If we blame the platform, then we get a pass and don’t need to use it, right? Wrong.

Twitter is one of the best ways for a writer to locate and cultivate a passionate support base. The problem is that writers are too often mistaking their professional peers for their audience. We stay in the comfort zone and only hang out with the people we know and who like all the same stuff we do, and that can spell “platform inbreeding.”

Inbreeding. Yes, inbreeding, and anything involving inbreeding eventually gets ugly. Don’t blame the platform.

Twitter is not Our Personal Spamming Tool to Sell Books

How many of you loooooove spam? There is nothing you love better than interacting with automatically generated messages. What? No takers?

Every time I warn writers off automation, I get some person who wails in protest the same, exact words. “I am not automating tweets, I am scheduling them.”

All right, let’s peel back the euphemism here. Anything that is posted on the Internet/social media automatically without a flesh and blood human being physically present is SPAM. Of course, when I say this, the spammers “marketers” often howl, “But I spend a lot of time crafting those tweets.” Okay, so you are an eloquent spammer. Better?

Here’s the thing, spam is anything automatically generated for the sole purpose of gaining something from the community. Whether that is for that community to buy a book, look at a link or come to a blog or give us their attention, it doesn’t matter, IT IS SPAM.

Oh but I am giving to others with cute quotes or information to help them.

Um, it is called social media. It’s like a giant cocktail party. If I am “talking” to someone at a party and they mention some helpful tips, that rocks. If they keep peeking in the door and dumping off fliers full of tips then disappearing to do more “important things” than talk to me or others at the party?

We call security.

We should never ask of others what we, ourselves are unwilling to give. We can’t ask others to be present on social media (to follow all our links or see our clever quotes) if we are unwilling to be present as well. It’s uncool.

Don’t Blame the Medium

A lot of writers tweet, and that is awesome. But, sad to say, too many writers have become the All Writing All The Time Channel. We tweet about word count and pass on blogs about writing a synopsis or crafting a query. We use #s like #amwriting #nanowrimo #pubtip #indie #selfpub…then say But only writers are on Twitter.

Yep.

If all I talked about was my dog, and I used #s like #canine #puppy #puppylove #woof then complained that cat owners didn’t use Twitter? Yeah, you guys get the point.

Myth #2

Writers Don’t Read Blogs

News flash. Who cares? Writers are only a small portion of the overall population in need of entertaining or informing. Regular people? Regular people LOVE blogs. Most “regular” people feel daunted reading a book. It gives them flashbacks to high school and that dreadful paper on Wuthering Heights.

But blogs? They LOVE them.

Regular people (code for “readers”) love being entertained daily in small, manageable, bite-sized pieces. They often read them on their smart phones while in line or on the train or when stuck at an appointment. In fact, this is precisely why blogs are one of the most powerful tools for creating a dedicated readership.

If readers LOVE our blogs, then they are tickled silly when they can buy an entire BOOK. These types of readers may only buy and read one or two books a year, but who cares if it is OUR BOOK? Blogs ROCK when it comes to creating a passionate author following.

Don’t believe me?

The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) gets THREE MILLION UNIQUE VISITS A MONTH on her blog. She tried to hold a live book event, and her followers crashed Goodreads. Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) is another favorite. MILLIONS of people follow these blogs. Any guess why?

These bloggers (writers)…are you ready for this? These writers…don’t blog about writing.

BLASPHEMY!!!! 

No, I’m being serious.

These writers blog about what normal people might be interested in. Guess what? Most regular people don’t care about 10 Ways to Write a Snappy Query Letter and they care even less about Three-Act Structure Made Simple, Writing Witty Dialogue or The Future of Book Reviews. In fact, I might go so far as to say that, the normal person could give a flying fruit fly’s derriere about Understanding Create Space or 20 Ways to Rock NaNoWriMo.

Yet, when I blog about writers not starting writing blogs, I get wails of protest (and two weeks worth of posts dedicated to telling me I’m a moron).

We are correct when we say that writers don’t read a lot of blogs. Why? Because all the blogs in our sphere are the same. Yes, I blog about writing and social media for writers, but that is because writers are my book-buying demographic.

Writers are wonderful and supportive but we are flat tapped OUT. We don’t need another writing blog, and it isn’t helping that other social marketing experts are encouraging this sort of nonsense.

Please do NOT start a writing blog. If you need help learning how to blog, I teach classes about this stuff so check out the WANA International site to get your slot in my next blogging class.

Myth #3

Blogs Won’t Help Us Sell Books

No, bad blogs, egocentric blogs, boring blogs or abandoned blogs won’t sell books. Writers too frequently run out and start a blog with no content or brand preparation. They blog about writing until they wear out, which happens quickly if we are trying to post articles 1-3 times a week.

Certain types of content are just never going to go viral, period. Yet, it is shocking how much time writers devote to content, that by its very nature, will never, ever, ever, ever…ever go viral.

Ever.

Don’t believe me?

All righty. How many of you have been at the regular day job or with “regular friends” and heard about that Korean dance video (Gangnam style) or Surprise Kitty? Maybe you even heard these non-writing acquaintances mention Mentos making Diet Coke explode. How many times have you been in these groups and heard conversations like this:

Oh, Gangnam Style? Sure, I heard about that. Have you heard about the interview with that self-published writer about how she got the idea to pair werewolves with pixies? No? What about the review of that popular indie vampire book? No? What about that post about the when to use prologues? Seriously, Dude. Do you live under a ROCK?

This conversation has never happened. Likely, it never will.

Social media is a powerful gamechanger for writers who learn to use it properly, but we can’t expect to connect with readers (who don’t write) if we insist on only talking about what we are interested in. I have a family member who LOVES sports, and I could care less if baseball, football and basketball held hands and fell off the planet. Yet, this doesn’t stop my family member from talking non-stop about sports.

And it’s annoying.

And self-centered.

And not a great way to make me want to hang out and engage with him.

We all have those people in our lives who insist on talking about only what interests them and it alienates us. Yet, it is so easy for us to hop on social media, and, because we are nervous, shy or insecure, we end up turning into that person we detest.

Writers have been using symbols in various combinations to create magic for thousands of years. This shouldn’t cease the second we start a blog or decide to tweet.

So what are your thoughts? Have you fallen for one of these three myths? Do you have people in your network who make you bonkers with their automation? Any comments or suggestions?

I love hearing from you!

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

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

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

Note: I will post October’s winners next week. I nearly got stranded in San Diego and am a tad behind. Thanks for understanding.

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

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

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115 Comments

When Do Writers Need Multiple Blogs?

Write multiple blogs? Might I suggest one of these…

Recently, in my post Top Five Creepy Social Media Marketing Tactics, one of the commenters mentioned that she needed to tweet from multiple identities for two reasons: 1) she felt some followers wouldn’t be interested in what one “personality” had to say and also 2) she had FOUR blogs because she was interested in different things, and she believed she needed separate blogs to keep the topics and readers separate so as to avoid confusion.

I get this scenario more than I care to, so today we are going to tackle the big question:

When Do Writers Need Multiple Blogs? 

Um…never.

It is never necessary for a writer to have multiple blogs. Can we choose to have them? Sure. Is it a good use of time? Nope. We need that time and word count for the most important aspect of our author platforms…MORE BOOKS.

See, here’s the thing. When we step out and decide we want to be writers, most of us will not get paid for a while, which means that there will be a period of time where we will have to balance a day job along with social media, blogging and the writing of the actual book.

Additionally, most of us don’t have a house full of servants. Laundry, dishes and dust bunnies are not going to magically disappear because we have decided to follow our lifelong dream of being a career author. Spouses, children, friends and family will still need us, and, frankly, they should. It keeps us balanced. We need these multiple roles in order to be emotionally healthy.

Yet, too many of us, the second we discover social media, promptly develop a condition I call R.D.D.—or, Reality Deficit Disorder. R.D.D. can cause headaches, sleeplessness, heart palpitations, premature aging, hair loss, weight gain, a weird twitch in our left eye, and a need to shout expletives at passing strangers.

If left untreated. R.D.D. can be fatal…to our careers.

No one will stop us from having multiple blogs, but if we are spread so thinly we begin wearing our underwear on the outside of our clothes, how useful is that to our career?

We also have to look at what our real end goal is. Are we blogging to build our author platform–our BRAND which is our NAME—or do we have the goal of having a nervous breakdown? There is a thin difference, and that is why it is critical to look at WHO is offering the advice.

We are going to look at some BAD social media advice I’ve seen floating around the Twitterverse from, um “experts”:

A writer is blogging for pleasure and who has multiple interests needs separate blogs.

NO. BAD ADVICE. First of all, all of our blogging should be blogging for pleasure. There is no reason that a blog that supports our brand cannot be fun. Why are these activities assumed to be mutually exclusive? What is the point of churning out thousands of words a week if they aren’t serving to build our brand? Come on. Let’s work smarter, not harder.

When I coach writers how to blog to build a brand, it is their interests other than writing that are going to connect to readers. Blogging about our book and our writing process will wear us out quickly. And, to be blunt, since when is talking about ourselves non-stop ever been a good plan for connecting with others?

Ten years ago, who cared if an author could cook or garden? Now? Those hobbies are the very things that are going to help you reach out to readers. Readers don’t give a flying squirrel’s butt about three-act structure, Create Space, or the future of publishing, so if we hope to extend our influence to persons who are not writers, these interests become vital. Thus, to put them on a separate blog will actually undermine our ability to influence and convert blog readers to fans of us and our books.

Oh, and as far as needing separate blogs for different interests? Give the reader some credit. If we switch topics, it will not fracture their reality. Really. Our brains are bigger than the average goldfish. We also don’t start crying when you leave the room because we believe you are gone forever. Please stop treating us like we need a drool cup.

This is why blogs should always be branding YOU. Slap your name at the top and then you don’t have to strictly adhere to one subject. Why? Because the common thread that will tether ALL your blogs together is your writing voice. In fact, the purpose of your blog is to expose as many people as possible to your writing voice so that they fall in love and buy your books no matter what genre you write.

Many “experts” claim writers should blog about the writing process. WRONG.

Most fiction authors are expert storytellers, not expert writing teachers. In fact some of the worst writing teachers I’ve encountered are authors. Frankly, this is a boneheaded assumption anyway.

Oh, because Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world, he must be a whiz of a golf instructor, too.

NOT.

Teaching writing is a totally different skill set, and frankly, one that will not connect you to readers who aren’t also writers. Writers are experts at looking at the world around them…and assigning meaning. Writers often are interested in everything.

Use that beautiful fascination and curiosity in your blogs, too.

If we have to maintain separate blogs for every interest, that is a formula to burn out and give up. Any social media strategy that ends with us curled in the fetal position in a closet clutching a bottle of scotch is just BAD.

More bad advice…

You might need more than one blog if you write under multiple names.

Again….why? Go to NYTBSA Bob Mayer’s site. We know he blogs, but he also has 5 other pen names. Would Bob have any time to write more books if he had a separate blog for every identity? Again, I think it is a tad insulting for us to assume that readers are morons. We “get” that Bob Mayer has sci-fi books under the name of Robert Doherty, and yet we live to tell the tale. Besides, pen names are old paradigm. Even Bob has streamlined to ONE NAME.

Why Pen Names Suck & Can Make Us Crazy will explain why, in the Digital Age, pen names should be avoided at all costs.

If you insist on a pen name, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you. You will need a good plan for branding while managing multiple names. My books will show you how to do this and actually have time left to write more books.

Anyway, having separate blogs all over the place is certainly one way to do it. Of course we also have the option of hand sewing all our clothes and growing our own food. Doesn’t mean that is the most efficient or best use of our time.

But what if I am writing YA, erotica, sci-fi, and cookbooks? Don’t I need different blogs for each platform?

Invariably I get a question akin to this when I tackle this notion that we don’t need separate pen names and identities and blogs/platforms for different audiences. First of all, if you are writing 6 different genres, blogging is the least of your worries.

Also, if you are writing YA, teenagers who read blogs like to be spoken to as if they are just another adult. They are a precocious bunch who like content that targets adults so there isn’t any need to “make content younger.” Blogging posing as a teenager is risky. If you are found out, you chance a massive backlash. We are in an age where people desire authenticity, so pretending we are something we aren’t is a huge risk.

If you want to blog to build a platform for YA, then your target audience will be adults (or teenagers who believe they are adults). A lot of real adults buy and read YA. Blogging doesn’t have to reach massive groups of teenagers, but it CAN reach massive groups of adults who want to relive the young and stupid years… *cough* Twilight.

If you need a separate pen name and identity to write erotica, again we need to look at time. How can we reasonably cook, clean, pay bills, go to work, write four different genres and build a solid separate platform for all? We can’t. Or we can, but not do any one of them all that well.

If you write erotica and another genre, my recommendation is that you focus on building the platform that won’t cause problems with your employment. Pen names offer only a thin veneer of protection and the more content you post, the greater the odds your pen name won’t protect your privacy. Sorry. Wish I could tell you differently, but that is the truth.

The Heart of the Problem

But beyond the simple challenge of multiple names and blogs, we need to make sure we are addressing the REAL problem. We need to ask hard questions and make certain that this is not subconscious sabotage.

Are we setting ourselves up for failure out of fear? Fear of failure or even fear of success? Do I write YA and erotica because I fear success? Thus I hold back on both of them because success in either means answering a lot of uncomfortable questions and could create a backlash? Or do I fear failure? So if I spread myself too thinly, then I will have a reason other than lack of talent to account for my failure.

I had to face this choice, myself. I wanted to write every genre. I loved fantasy and women’s fiction and thrillers and NF. But eventually I had to choose if I hoped to enjoy any success. If I didn’t choose, then it would have been impossible for me to focus my energy. Lack of focus is a huge reason that too many talented writers never make it. They have chosen a plan that has very high odds of failure.

I am not telling anyone they must choose. Feel free to write 5 different genres and blogs to build platforms for each. Just make sure you ask the hard questions first. I, personally, had come from a very high-achieving family who was less than thrilled I wanted to be a writer. There finally came a day that I had to be honest and confess that I was terrified of failure, and THAT was the real reason I wanted to write 42 different genres.

At the end of the day, the same goes for blogs.

We can have multiple blogs under different names writing on different subjects, but is that a good plan? I want all of you to enjoy success, and the fastest and easiest way to be successful is to embrace focus. Make every effort work together in perfect concert.

Most of the time, when I meet an author howling how social media doesn’t work, it is their approach that is flawed. All their efforts are spread out like white light. Take those diffused efforts and focus them like a laser and social media will be far more effective and it will take a lot less time.

A balanced writer who still has relationships, hobbies and time to sleep is a writer who can endure and turn out quality material for the long-term. R.D.D. is serious and not to be taken lightly. Focus, goal-setting and a group of friends willing to use tough love are the best cure.

Do you suffer from R.D.D.? How did you snap out of it? What are your greatest fears about choosing a genre? What ways do you recommend for being more efficient? Do you have any advice or tactics? Problems? Questions?

***Image above is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

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

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

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

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

Winner!!!—TL Jeffcoat is the winner of 20 pages of edit for August. Please send your 5,000 word Word document to kristen@ wana intl dot com.

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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152 Comments

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