Now that NaNoWrMo is finished, congratulations to those who WON. I only made it to a little over 34,000 words *sad face*, but I did it with Shingles so I am grading myself on a curve😛 . As a writer, being delusional is totally acceptable. I’m actually not too far from finishing the novel, so I’m happy I tried.
For those who might be tempted to go back and edit? I recommend stepping AWAY. Work on something different or the odds of you seeing the problems aren’t too great.
Which is why we are shifting gears here on the blog and we’re going to talk about branding and social media. Oh, the cries of despair! Hey, I am here. No worries *hands paper bag*.
Here’s the thing. Nobody has to do social media. I won’t force you. The only writers who need to create a brand and do social media are writers who want to sell books.
A New Perspective
I think it was in roughly 2004 when I was fiddling around on Friendster and Gather that I saw the potential ahead. For generations, novelists had a DISMAL success rate. Why?
Unlike NF authors of the time, we had NO practical way to build a platform before the books were released. We also had a nightmare of a time keeping fan fires burning between books because NYC was tooled (and mostly still is) to produce about a book a year.
That was fine back in the 90s. We weren’t a society who could walk around shopping on our phones. We weren’t addicted to apps and gaga over downloadable content. By 2007, purchasing had changed and we needed to respect that to remain relevant.
Social media and the Internet fundamentally altered our culture. It’s a cake that can’t be unbaked. This means it’s our responsibility to change as well.
The Golden Circle
I’ve actually used Apple as an example since my first book years ago, because they’re a perfect illustration of what we’re talking about. One of the many reasons that Apple Inc. surpassed others in multiple industries is they understood the difference between innovation and novelty.
Innovation is long-lasting. Novelty is short-term. Rather than beginning at the outside of the circle, the WHAT, Apple began with the WHY.
Sure, a Mac had a great processor and was immune to most viruses and megabyte, tera-byte, whatever-byte….but look how COOL I look at Starbucks with my white laptop. I support innovation, creativity. I challenge the status quo…and I LOOK COOL.
Rather than relying on gimmicks and short-term novelty, Apple created a culture. A culture that was loyal and didn’t need a bunch of free stuff and was willing to cough up retail price.
Most of us remember the earlier days of cell phones. This one TAKES PICTURES. Oooh, this one is FLAT. The cell phones got so small it was simply ludicrous. Why? Because novelty is pretty easy to copy and maybe even “improve” upon.” Novelty is fleeting and rarely cements relationships.
One of the reasons Apple demolished the music industry was Apple appreciated the changes in the consumer climate. Tower Records was still scope-locked on creating and selling LPs. The problem was that music originally was something enjoyed at home…until the Walkman, then later portable CD players, MP3s, etc.
Music became portable.
Consumers wanted to be able to go anywhere and enjoy their favorite songs, thus Apple spring-boarded off other technologies like the MP3 and made music personal. “A thousand songs in your pocket.” Personal, intimate, and simple. Apple invented the song industry. At first it was with the iPod, but then Apple merged music with our PHONES
Instead of blasting us with features we didn’t understand, Apple focused on WHY, not WHAT. Why carry an iPod and a cell phone when ONE is better than two?
What Does This Have to Do With Social Media?
One of the reasons I got into the whole social media business, was that it was clear that the consumer environment was fundamentally shifting. Yet too many companies were relying on tactics that either wouldn’t work, or wouldn’t work long-term. Any gains were (and still are) short-term.
Worse, the old methods are stressful for both the seller and the buyer.
To this DAY, I have to talk writers off a ledge when I mention social media.
My background is in sales, and I’ve witnessed this phenomenon time and again. Sure, lower the price. You’ll never be able to raise it. Give away free stuff, promotional stuff, t-shirts, free thumb-drives, pens, on and on and eventually? People are addicted to how much stuff they can get for nothing. There is zero loyalty.
This means one marketing tactic (algorithm) will work great…for a while. Then everyone starts using the same approach and it fizzles. This leaves the seller (author) with a panic attack and a migraine and less time to write more books.
Not only can the quasi-science of 90s-style marketing fail to cultivate loyalty, it can create something worse. Apathy. Beyond apathy, outdated marketing can poison a brand.
These tactics can create resentment, even hatred.
Just get 12 tweets in your feed about a free book and tell me you don’t see red.
Over the many years I have been doing social media, I have seen the same guerrilla tactics retooled and Bond-Oed. Marketing companies selling Facebook followers, Twitter followers, advertising, e-mail lists, promising reviews, etc. etc. And make no mistake, I’m not saying this stuff might not work. I’ve seen it work. Eh, kind of.
But what is the effect of years of making short-term decisions?
Which is WHY W.A.N.A. (We Are Not Alone) Began with WHY
Why do people buy books? Why do regular people believe they don’t like reading? Why does traditional marketing not sell more books (and never has)? Why is spam SO ineffective?
Why do so many writers give up? Fail to finish? Why are they overwhelmed?
Once I began with the WHY, I could move to the WHAT and then the HOW.
And I am going to tread carefully here, because W.A.N.A.’s success has never been about me. Without YOU, it’s just me talking to myself (which I already do far more than is healthy😀 ). But I saw so many writers running from the single greatest tool for success (a strong platform) out of fear, and this defined my WHY.
WE ARE NOT ALONE.
YOU are not alone.
I don’t build platforms or tweet for people or build fan pages. I don’t blog for people and have no services to sell that will find followers or score reviews. Never have. Never will. Yes, writers of The Digital Age need a strong brand/platform, but no one ever said you had to do it by yourself.
So today we are going to start with something SIMPLE.
WHY are you writing? What is your WHY? If it is to make money? Find another job or change the WHY. People are very sensitive these days and can smell manipulation a mile away…and it gives them digital HIVES.
So if our only goal on social media to hawk a book? Formula to fail.
We will start with my WHYs to make it clearer. This is VERY redacted for the sake of time. But our WHY is our foundation and it’s worthy of considering and even articulating. It’s our mission statement.
WHY do I write social media books and blog?
Because when I started as a writer I was VERY alone. I struggled because of poor or even totally false information. I had no system of emotional support to be there during countless rejections. I HATED being alone and never wanted others to feel abandoned and hopeless.
I also saw the “current” way of doing social media (roughly 2008) was short-term. I sought to INNOVATE the notion of how we did social media and REINVENT the idea of a brand. It was less about exposure and all about community and relationships. We’d learn to be deeper, not cheaper.
I blog because I love the community, serving, and if you guys don’t want to buy my book? Most of the information you need is free and in my archives, because my WHY is SERVICE.
***Though the book is a lot faster and I am not AT ALL opposed to you buying one🙂 .
WHY do I write fiction?
I love to tell stories and entertain. I like to escape, to enjoy another world, and want to use my gift with words to do the same for others. Take them on an adventure. Maybe I can even help them learn a little about themselves along the way.
So let’s talk about YOU. Why do YOU want to be a writer? Why did you choose vampires instead of werewolves? Why erotica? Romance over thrillers? Mystery over YA? Why children’s books? And why does this matter to your readers? Why should it?😉
It’s there. We all have to dig deep for the good stuff and I would LOVE to hear your whys. You guys always inspire me, so DANCE CUTE LITTLE MONKE—-, um share your thoughts😀 .
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of DECEMBER, 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 those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.