Posts Tagged author blogs

How to Grow Your Author Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

I am a huge fan of writers having a blog, but one of the first arguments I get is, “But I did have a blog and it did nothing.” I hear your pain. We live in a world of instant gratification and often it is why we are more inclined to post content on our Facebook or Twitter instead. Instantly we can see other people sharing and responding and it feels oh so good.

The blog? Meh.

The problem, however, is that any “benefit” from Facebook or Twitter evaporates almost as soon as it appears whereas the blog (if we stick to it) will keep giving us rewards for years to come.

Reframe Your Goal

Original image courtesy of flowcomm, via Flickr Commons

Original image courtesy of flowcomm, via Flickr Commons

I will give you tips for growing your author blog here in a minute, but a simple mental shift will help keep you pumped up in the meantime. My tips can’t help unless you keep blogging.

Instead of focusing on number of followers, I looked at my blog as my author training. Writing is a tough job and most people won’t make it because of one crucial factor…they want a job. Writing is not a “job.” We don’t clock in and out and have some authority figure who tells us what to do.

We can work when we want and how much we want. No one is going to write us up and fire us if we spend all day looking at kitten videos instead of working.

Most adults have been trained in structured environments like school or the workplace. Thus, when they step out into something where they are their own boss? They struggle. It’s why most entrepreneurs fail as well. They never reach their potential because they lack the critical ingredient necessary—self-mastery.

Thus when I began blogging, I knew I had a lot of bad habits. Blogging would teach me to be beholden to deadlines. Perfect is the enemy of the good, so I would learn to let go and ship. I could relax. It didn’t have to be worthy of a Pulitzer. It was just a blog. Blogging could help me learn to write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner.

Posts that once took half a day now take an hour. Instead of chasing followers, I focused on becoming a stronger writer.

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Blogging would help me stretch those word count muscles. I used to panic at the idea of 1000 words a day and now I can knock that out in about 45 minutes. Blogging taught me to process, analyze and then articulate my thoughts seamlessly (useful for writing books, too). No amount of sharing or liking on Facebook would give me this skill.

Blogging made social media mentally active, instead of me lazily camping out in passivity. Blogging strengthened the muse and made me a better storyteller.

It taught me that content and ideas were literally everywhere. 

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But while there are countless benefits to writers, we do still want to eventually gain traffic. Duh.

Simply blogging into the ether forever was not exactly a bright plan. So, when I kept blogging and getting nowhere, I began to study blogs. What blogs did well? What blogs garnered hundreds of comments? What blogs had tens of thousands of subscribers? What were they doing that I could learn from?

Elements of a Great Blog

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Countless people start blogs that just get left abandoned in cyberspace, yet the elements of an excellent blog are pretty simple. If your blog is not doing well, often some small changes can make a huge difference.

Simple is Best

Content does matter, but packaging is key. We could have a blog so brilliant angels weep, but if no one reads it?

Yeah.

We must always remember that a blog is for the reader and not for us. When I started out, I became far too fascinated with all the cool layouts and color-schemes. When I was writing my blog, I was in the dashboard area which is, of course, black letters on a white page.

Though I thought that black page with red lettering was so edgy and dark and cool, I might as well have been tossing my readers’ eyes into a digital iron maiden.

Simple and clean is best. Our content is what should be the focus, not a bunch of colorful doodads. Remember to also test how your blog looks on a smartphone. Get an idea of how the post looks on any number of devices your reader might use.

The background we choose for a computer, might be a nightmare when trying to read on a phone.

Break Up that Space

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Many people don’t truly read blogs, they scan them. Yes, my blogs go longer because often I also give examples (I.e. the post about great description). But, because I use bullet points, those who simply want to scan can gain plenty (and the examples are there for folks who want more).

But I have seem comparably short blogs (500 words) that appeared more daunting than my 1300 word posts simply because the writer failed to break up the text. They left NO white space.

Bullet points, white space, headers, and photographs are key. When we have huge blocks of text in 10 point font? Many potential readers will just move on.

Keep Blogging

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Many people start a blog then quit before they ever get to enjoy a harvest. Blogs take time. We can either keep pouring our energy into instant gratification (Facebook) or we can be patient.

Eventually a blog that is generating thousands of hits per day is not generating those visits off the post for that day. Rather, search engines reward attendance. Additionally, evergreen content (content that is always salient) is being picked up through web searches. This is why building archives is extremely valuable.

I still gain new followers from posts I published years ago.

And the truth is, when my blog started being successful was right about the time that I’d accumulated a substantial archive (around 200 posts). Then I was no longer at the mercy of catching attention with the one post just published, I was beginning to gain ROI from the other 199 posts. I started enjoying compounded returns.

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Blogging is about appreciating the long tail, but frankly so is being an author. Just like most bloggers aren’t going to get fame and success with one post, most writers won’t hit it big with one book. We must learn to keep our heads down, to keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust the process.

There is so much more to having a great author blog, so I hope you will check out my Blogging for Authors class!

What are your thoughts? Do you see posts written on wild backgrounds and weird fonts and just run away? Have you ever run across a great post, only to realize the blog had been abandoned?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. 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).

Check out the other NEW classes below! Now including a log-line class! Can you tell me what your book is about in ONE sentence? If you can’t SIGN UP.

All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

Upcoming Classes

Blogging for Authors  (August 26th)

This class will teach you all you need to know to start an author blog good for going the distance. Additionally I would also recommend the class offered earlier that same week (August 22nd) Branding for Authors to help you with the BIG picture. These classes will benefit you greatly because most blogs will fail because writers waste a lot of time with stuff that won’t work and never will and that wastes a lot of time.

I am here to help with that😉 .

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist September 2nd–September 2nd

All fiction must have a core antagonist. The antagonist is the reason for the story problem, but the term “antagonist” can be highly confusing. Without a proper grasp of how to use antagonists, the plot can become a wandering nightmare for the author and the reader.

This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist Gold

This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line

September 7th

Log-lines are crucial for understanding the most important detail, “WHAT is the story ABOUT?” If we can’t answer this question in a single sentence? Brain surgery with a spork will be easier than writing a synopsis. Pitching? Querying? A nightmare. Revisions will also take far longer and can be grossly ineffective.

As authors, we tend to think that EVERY detail is important or others won’t “get” our story. Not the case.

If we aren’t pitching an agent, the log-line is incredibly beneficial for staying on track with a novel or even diagnosing serious flaws within the story before we’ve written an 80,000 word disaster. Perhaps the protagonist has no goal or a weak goal. Maybe the antagonist needs to be stronger or the story problem clearer.

In this one-hour workshop, I will walk you through how to encapsulate even the most epic of tales into that dreadful “elevator pitch.” We will cover the components of a strong log-line and learn red flags telling us when we need to dig deeper. The last hour of class we will workshop log-lines.

The first ten signups will be used as examples that we will workshop in the second hour of class. So get your log-line fixed for FREE by signing up ASAP.

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

 

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69 Comments

When Will I Get My Breakthrough? Making It Past “The Dip”

Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons

Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons

If you stick with writing long enough, you will make it to The Dip (thank you, Seth Godin). The Dip is that span of suck right before the big breakthrough. The Dip is a killer and it seems to go on and on and on, but The Dip serves a number of important purposes.

The Dip Weeds Out the Uncommitted

Writing is the best job in the world. I love what I do and, frankly it’s a huge reason I struggle with resting. My work rarely feels like work…unless I’m in The Dip, which I’m in now. We writers also call these “revisions.” I’ve read my new book so many times, I swear I could recite it from memory.

But there’s a missing comma. Oh, and where did that extra period come from? Wait, the subject and verb don’t agree in that sentence. Doesn’t that need a citation? All righty. That sentence totally made sense in my head. WTH? Kill…me…now.

It’s so tempting to just say, Well, it’s good enough.

Then I could start a new book. I have all these ideas! But no, the world rewards those who finish what they start. The world rewards excellence. It rewards those of us who make it past The Dip.

The Dip Trains Us for Success

I train a lot of authors how to blog. Blogging is the gym for the writer and fabulous training for taking on The Dips that will come during your careers. Blogs train us to write faster, leaner and to hook early and SHIP. The writers who make good money in this business write a lot of books. Blogs are the most resilient form of social media. Twitter can flitter away, but blogs will remain.

But, blogging can be really lonely for a long time (it’s why my blog classes are automatically placed in a tribe of support).

I blogged once a week for over a year and a half and, if I had over 50 visits a day? I did a huge happy dance. But I kept going. I didn’t blog for others. I didn’t blog to get comments or sell books. I did it to train me to be committed, because I was a notorious flake/slacker who required far too much outside validation than was probably healthy.

If we need constant outside encouragement, we won’t last in this business (or any other). Sometimes we need to keep pressing when everything in us tells us to give up, when every friend we have thinks we’re nuts.

Getting Past the Dip

Keep Pressing

First of all, just keep going. Keep your head down. Small actions over time add up. No one might read your blogs today, but keep blogging and one day BOOM. People will discover you, then go digging through your archives and subscribe because they see you show up. You post. You are there.

Showing up is a huge part of success.

I still remember the day I broke past the Blog Dip. I posted my blog then went for my morning walk. When I came home and checked my blog stats, it looked like my site had gone into cardiac arrest. The previous post had maybe 75 views (most spam bots). But that day? Over 14,000 views. One post. Over 14,000 views in less than 24 hours. Hundreds of comments.

Yet, what if I’d thrown in the towel?

Keep Believing

The same thing happened with my first book. When I published We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, I had no platform to support that book. My first royalty check made me cry for three days. Remember, I did all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to. When I tell you guys how important it is to have a strong platform, I speak from experience…from doing it wrong.

But, despite my mistakes, I learned how to do things better and kept my head down. I kept moving.

Keep Investing

One step at a time. One bite at a time. One page at a time. One blog at a time. One book at a time. Ignore the numbers. Keep investing in you, your career, your craft, your dream. Eventually all that potential energy will pile up and then WHOOSH!

Then Expect a New Dip

As Joyce Meyer likes to say, “New level, new devil.” 

Once you make it past the Dip, celebrate your success. Reward yourself. Then back to work. And soon? Guess what? You got it😉.

ANOTHER Dip.

But remember, Dips train the successful. The Dips can even get bigger and longer. The stakes grow higher, but you will be ready because you’ve been blasting through Dips so long, your motto is, “Bring it on!”

What about you guys? Are you in The Dip? Ready to scream yet? What Dips have you conquered? I want to hear about your successes? What are you struggling with? Do you have any tips, tactics, tools that might help? Share!

I love hearing from you!

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

I will pick a winner 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).

Winner for April (yes, I am late) Raani York

Winner for May Cynthia Stacey

Ladies, please send your 5000 word Word document, or query letter or 1000 words or less synopsis to kristen at wana intl dot com. Congratulations and I look forward to reading your work.

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 June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

 

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116 Comments

Want to Be a Successful Author? Burn Your Ships

Kristen Lamb, WANA, Author Kristen Lamb

Original image via Karen Lynn Klink WANA Commons

Want to be a professional author? A successful professional author? To become more than what others are, we must be willing to do what others won’t. We must go where they fear to tread.

We must burn our ships.

When Alexander the Great arrived on the shores of Persia, his forces were hopelessly outnumbered, and yet he gave the shocking order to burn all the boats. Legend tells us that he turned to his men and declared, “We go home in Persian ships or we die.”

Your day job is a means, not an end. It is no longer a safe retreat in the event of failure. Cast off your fear. Let go of the voices in your head, the siren’s song to play it “safe.”

Safe=DEATH

Lash yourself to your desire to be a novelist. You are not an “aspiring author.” You are a pre-published author and the rest is just details. Having too many “escape routes” and “backup plans” diffuses energy and focus. It affords too many opportunities to make excuses.

Years ago, when I decided to become an author, I burned the ship of “working in sales.” Sales paid well. Really well. It also came with a company car, an expense account and the admiration of others because I had a “great job.” When I vowed to be come a professional author, I burned that ship.

Sure, it meant living with my mother, shopping for my clothes at Goodwill, and losing most of my “friends.” It also meant avoiding most of my family because they 1) thought I’d lost my mind and 2) they kept finding me “real jobs.”

To gain everything we must lose everything. We can try and keep a foot in both worlds, but it has a price.

Many of you have families depending on you, so I’m not suggesting you go pull a Kevin Spacey on your boss. What I am suggesting is total focused commitment. Make writing your priority.

I burned the “sales ship” but I allowed myself to take the “writing ship” even when that meant hopping on the “dinghy of writing instructions for software” (which kinda just made me want to put my head in a wood-chipper). But, at least I was writing. Eventually, I had to burn the tech writing ship. It paid too well and kept me from my dream of being an author.

Expect to burn numerous ships along the way, but do it. Commit.

Burning our ships isn’t easy. My recommendation? Blogging is a great intermediary ship. It accomplishes a lot at one time:

1) Blogging is writing.

2) Blogging develops discipline & trains us to keep a professional pace and meet self-imposed deadlines.

3) Blogging builds a permanent platform far more resistant than any other form of social media.

4) Blogs can eventually be harvested for content and made into books.

5) Blogging (the WANA way) cultivates your 1000 true fans.

My methods harness the same imagination you use in your fiction, and teaches you how to blog in ways that connect to readers, not just other writers.

We don’t need more writers writing about writing, and we certainly don’t need another writing blog. Readers don’t read them.

The WANA approach is efficient and an ideal choice for those who still have to “clock in” for the meantime and registration is now open for my Blogging for Author Brand class. A WANA class is more than lessons. You will be surrounded by fellow soldiers writers, a permanent team to help you keep charging when you desperately want to go back. Why?

Because we burned our ships, too.

You must trust  in others or success is impossible.

~The Clone Wars

We are not alone.

What are your thoughts? What do you fear? What is keeping you from “burning your ships”? Have you burned your ships successfully? What advice would you offer? Tell us how you did it. For the WANAs out there, maybe share your story. Did being a WANA make burning your ships easier?

I love hearing from you!

How to Quit a Job with Kevin Spacey (caution: adult language and content)

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

I will pick a winner 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: December’s winner is Steph Scottil. Please send your 5000 word Word document or your synopsis (no more than 1000 words and in a WORD doc) OR your query letter to my assistant Chad at c carver at wana intl dot com.

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 January 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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100 Comments

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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