Posts Tagged author platform

Social Media is a Waste of Time for Writers—Hmmm, Think Again

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We’ve been talking a lot about social media lately and I am always grateful for your comments and thoughts. This kind of feedback not only helps me improve my blog, but my also books, because I get a glimpse of your worries, weaknesses, fears, loves, and strengths.

As a teacher/mentor/expert, it’s my job to address those fears and put you at ease or reinforce when you’re headed the right direction and give you tools and tips to take what you’re doing to another level.

There’ve been some comments that have piqued my attention lately. Namely this notion to give up on social media completely to write more books (out of vexation for the medium and the task).

Oh-kay….

Social Media is a TOTAL Waste of Time

Write more books instead of tweeting or blogging. Social media is a giant time-suck better spent writing great books.

I don’t know how to answer this besides, Er? *screeching breaks* Personally, I can think of no larger waste of time than researching and reading and spending countless hours crafting a wonderful book of 60,000-110,000 words and then?

No one knows the book exists so few people ever read it, enjoy it or are changed by the author’s story.

It’s like spending six months to a year on an oil painting to hang it in an attic.

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These days, any agent worth their salt will not sign an author who doesn’t have a social media brand and presence. Rarely, they will take a book from an author who doesn’t…but usually it will come with the requirement the author get on-line and get to work.

I ADORE Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary and once shared a panel with her. She told the story of a book she LOVED and took even though the author wasn’t on social media. She was so impressed with the book she signed the author but told her she needed to get on social media and start building a platform.

After six months, the author refused. Dawn gave an ultimatum. Get your tail on social media or we drop the book and cancel the contract.

Image via Hyperbole and a Half

Image via Hyperbole and a Half

Myth-Busting

It used to be that an author who wanted to completely avoid social media went traditional. Well, traditional publishing has now seen the value of social media and almost all of them require it. They require it even if they allot budgeting for marketing. Why? Because social media helps them gain a FAR greater ROI on the marketing dollars spent.

How?

I’ll give an example. I once read a traditionally published craft book that changed my life. At the time, my platform had grown fairly large and I’ve worked very hard to create a solid reputation for recommending only the best resources. I tried to contact the author not only to promote the book, but to get this author to present our conference (which sells A LOT of books).

The web site was an outdated clumsy mess and the contact e-mail at the bottom was no longer any good. The author wasn’t on FB or Twitter and I think I finally located this writer—of all places—on LinkedIn. Four months later the author replied, but by then the window of opportunity had closed.

I was…vexed.

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Additionally, since I’d had such a bear of a time connecting to the author, I wasn’t going to recommend this tedious experience to others.

Publishers have since recognized this problem and they want to remove as much friction from a potential sale as possible. Their goal is not only to sell a book but to captivate and cultivate a FAN who will buy that book, the next and the next. This is simply smart business.

Though I’m not a huge fan of ads, it makes sense that if a publisher (traditional or indie) is going to pay good money to create and launch one, that anyone interested should be able to easily connect with the author. Same with coveted AP reviews, interviews, or events. Even if we self-publish and pay for promotion, an existing platform will make the most of that investment.

A LOT of any sales is the follow up then the follow-through.

If social media is new, scary, overwhelming? Welcome to being NEW. Most of us start like this…

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Social Media is for the CONSUMER

I come from a background in sales. Cardboard. Not glamourous but everyone uses it. Being the cheapest or mailing out flyers or calling non-stop was not what sold my product over other choices.

And trust me, we had BEAUTIFUL ads. I also had competition offering a far cheaper product. They also had products virtually IDENTICAL to ours. But ads and price and even selection weren’t the major driving factor in sales.

Rather, it was the customer’s ability to quickly and easily connect with ME.

Maybe the company didn’t need corner board the day they met me. But then, that purchaser I’d spoken to in the spring signed a contract with a client in the autumn who wanted to ship truckloads of water heaters STAT. Water heaters that needed protection during shipping.

Because that purchaser had my personal cell number (back in the days when most salespeople didn’t have one and I paid for my OWN), guess who closed the sale?

Most salespeople didn’t want to pay out of pocket for a cell phone. They liked the old ways, the way business had always been done. Call the office. Leave a message with the receptionist, and then they’d return the call when they got back in off the road (which could be DAYS).

Even if the salesperson got the message once they checked into their hotels, it would be late in the evening. The earliest a customer could get an answer would be the next day.

Me? They talked to the minute the idea flitted across their brains (or within the hour if I was in a meeting).

It cost me $400 a month of my own money to have a cell phone with enough minutes. Back then, 2000 minutes a month was the max one could buy in a package, but I had a nine-state territory and also all of northern Mexico and believed it was a wise investment.

Work smarter, not harder….

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I put out my own effort and money to make it easier for a customer to find and connect with me instantly. I didn’t have to. But it sure made that $2.5 million a year quota a lot easier to meet. Of ALL the cardboard reps vying for the SAME SALE, I was the one who was Johnny on the Spot to solve a problem. I was the one they could dial and get an almost-instant response and solution.

Though cardboard and novels are different products, that tether of personal connection is powerful.

A large number of agents, especially those at the prestigious agencies, will not even consider a query if they can’t google our name and see we’ve been working to at least connect and begin cultivating a community that can become readers.

But now many authors are going indie or self-publishing. Indie houses I can guarantee will likely ignore anyone who doesn’t want to be on social media. Those who self-publish? WE ARE THE PUBLISHER. What responsible publisher with a hint of business acumen ignores any kind of interaction and follow-up with potential customers (readers)?

It reminds me of the cardboard salesmen who didn’t want a cell phone. They’d missed the point that their job was to serve the customer’s schedule and needs, not the other way around.

Golf is NOT Golf and Dinner is NOT Dinner

Hubby and I had an interesting debate a few days ago. He kinda turned his nose up about wining and dining and entertaining clients (we have two small businesses). But Hubby has spent most of his professional life as a procurement person and is a long-lost cousin of Mr. Spock.

Hubby. Sigh.

Hubby. Sigh.

But then I explained that those off-site relaxed endeavors were actually investments in relationships and even friendships. When I took customers to lunch, I never talked business. I wanted to know (genuinely) about their wives, kids, or hobbies and let them have some fun talking about the things they enjoyed. It was personal.

It’s far more important to be interested than interesting.

When I would call to follow up, I asked about how their son’s Little League game went or how the wife was and simply told them I’d be in the area during a certain time. Never asked for money or talked about cardboard.

I also never chastised them or was hurt if they bought from another source. I’d say, “Well, that was a smart business decision. Can’t blame you for being prudent. Just hope I am there to help you next time. You know how to reach me.”

Over time, because of the relaxed atmosphere, I found that customers gravitated to calling me because they knew me, could reach me, and rather enjoyed not being pitched to non-stop. They’d even pay more.

This movie still gives me nightmares...

This movie still gives me nightmares…

What was really cool was that certain customers eventually refused to deal with any other company but ours, no matter how cheap the competitor’s price. They would even recommend me (and my product) to other companies, because I ignored the ABCs (Always BE Closing) and trusted the power of relationships and consistency.

The same can be said for social media. Blasting spam and bargains and free stuff might work for a while and on a few people, but it doesn’t generate the long-term loyalty money can’t buy.

Sure, back in my cardboard days, it cost me time and money and effort. My hard work rarely paid off immediately and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t harshly criticized.

But, eventually, when customers had to choose between going to lunch with someone who jammed flyers and price lists in their faces, who never shut up talking about themselves and who insisted on a signature on the dotted line by the time the check came?

Versus me?

I was far less exhausting and annoying to deal with.

Social Media is NOT a Sales Pitch

The new way to TWEET MORE!

The new way to TWEET MORE!

Social media is like all those lunches or quick, relaxing trips to a driving range to just unwind and chat and become friends. People should know we have a book, just like all my cardboard customers had a fancy folder filled with all our products and a sample box.

But the product wasn’t my focus, people were.

To refuse to do social media would have been akin to me never traveling and sitting by the phone in my office hoping it would ring. That our cardboard would sell itself. I imagine I wouldn’t have lasted long.

To misuse social media is a formula for a customer (reader) to gravitate some place they don’t feel like prey. Social media used properly doesn’t take much time to do, but it will take time to grow roots.

Just like it only took five minutes for me to call a buyer, ask how his kids were and let him know I’d be in the area and ask if he and his receptionist would care to join me for a bite to eat. But, though it took minutes to make the invitation, it took months of care and authentic follow-up to build a foundation of trust that created a loyal customer.

Direct Sales is Almost Universally ANNOYING

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How many of you have gone to having a cell phone because the only people who called the landline were selling something? How many times have any of you said, “Sure, I’ll pay for that cruise right now” after getting a random phone call. Or, “Yes, sign my up for that credit protection plan. TAKE MY MONEY!”

How many times have you found a flyer on your windshield or front door and immediately called for that product or service? Or answered the spam in your e-mail with credit card in hand?

Think of this when using social media ;) . Relax, have fun and trust this is a process and a really fun one with the right attitude.

I LOVE hearing from you!

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 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

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134 Comments

5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges

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Today, the fantabulous WANA International Instructor, Lisa Hall-Wilson is here to share to sage advice about Facebook. She knows ALL things about Facebook, which is why she not only teaches for WANA, but she manages our WANA International fan page. We don’t need to pay to promote and Lisa gets MAD traction on our fan page, so she is THE GAL to listen to in these matters.

Also, I have been a victim of many of these “marketing strategies” and they make me see RED. We know you guys are trying hard to be responsible professionals and there is a LOT of bad advice floating around out there. We have all oopsed, so don’t worry. But Lisa is here to set you straight and tell you the WANA Way…which works, btw ;).

Take it away, Lisa!

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Lisa Hall-Wilson

I feel a bit like the soup nazi with this post – no Facebook for you! But some people seriously need a time out. It’s promote promote promote all the time in a one-channel informercial. Hands up – have you been a victim of these people?

I wrote this post for Jane Friedman on 5 reasons why you should use your Facebook Profile (not a Page) to build platform. What I need to make clear is that with freedom comes responsibility. There are key rules about Facebook etiquette that many are either unaware of or ignore.

Stop!

Using your Profile instead of a Page to build platform gives you the ability to spam people in a way Pages cannot. Pages cannot join groups or group conversations. Pages can’t comment on or post a Profile, they can’t send private messages to Profiles. Pages can’t force-add people to events. The list goes on. Just because you can, because Facebook doesn’t explicitly say it’s against the rules – doesn’t mean it’s not icky, annoying and spam

1. Do not post your own content on another’s Profile wall (timeline).

This is a pretty personal one cause this recently happened to me. First, if you goof on this one, apologize, remove the post and consider it a lesson learned. Don’t argue. This is considered personal space. Anything posted on my timeline is seen as endorsed by me. It’s akin to going to a friend’s jewelry party and bringing along samples to your own soap business and handing them out uninvited.

Great way to never get asked back.

If people are posting their content on your wall often, you can decide who can post on your timeline if necessary. I know some Indie authors who have been forced to do this because the spam is so bad.

2. Do Not Tag People in Unrelated Status Updates or Photos

What do I mean by unrelated? If I quote another blogger or author in a blog post, I might tag them. If they inspired that blog post, I might tag them. But I might not. And I’m not going to do it more than once or twice a year. If you’re just doing it to get noticed it’s considered spam.

For the love of cookie sprinkles….STOP.

I strongly recommend you turn on approvals for all tags. People can tag you in a photo or status update, this requires you to approve those before they show up on your timeline – because people use this to spam your friends but your friends might not realize you were spammed, which makes life seriously awk-ward.

3. Do not bomb conversations with blog links.

I see this all the time. Do not find a lively conversation thread and drop a link to your blog there. That hit and run tactic is super annoying and is spam. If you are an active participant in the conversation and you have a blog post that directly relates to the topic at hand, go ahead and share that link in the spirit of no-reciprocation-expected.

You’re sharing this because it adds value – no strings attached. Dropping a link into the conversation you’re not a part of is spam regardless of whether the post could remotely be relevant.

4. Do not create a group and force-add 2000 people.

Facebook will let you invite a ridiculous amount of people to an event or group. I get event invites all the time. Those can be annoying, but what’s worse is being force-added to a group that’s a 24/7 spam channel! You can go ahead and create a group where two or three people post links to their blogs and courses if you want to – but let people opt into that. I had to remove myself twice from the same group and finally clicked the box that says do not allow myself to be added again.

5.  Any story can be seen by friends and seen as an endorsement.

When you click like, comment or share something, you create a ‘story’ within the Facebook environment. When you share an update or link, it’s seen as an endorsement unless you add an editorial comment stating otherwise. However, what many people using their Profiles to build platform don’t realize is that your likes and comments can be shown to friends, and friends of friends depending. You can’t filter that.

You’re following an erotica author friend because you wanted to support her, even though you write children’s fiction. She posts an alluring pic of a near-naked man and you liked the pic – for whatever reason. You might not have liked the pic or the man, but wanted to support the author say.

Doesn’t matter.

At best Facebook could show that story (that you liked that content) to friends FB believes have similar interests. You have no control whether that shows up in someone’s news feed or their ticker or at all.

Something else to consider is that you can’t opt out of sponsored stories. Sometimes Facebook will recommend Pages to users and they will use your name and profile pic (all public content) by way of public endorsement to your friends. Someone can purchase a sponsored story ad and your face and name could be used to promote that Page.

We can complain all we want, that’s the price of admission. If you are using your Profile to build platform keep this in mind! I can’t stress this enough. Every action you take can spread a lot further than you intend. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother in her living room, don’t say it (or like it) on Facebook.

In the spirit of helping others share my Facebook happy, I started a group for writers who want to learn how to use Facebook the WANA way, not spam people, and build a healthy community or tribe. It’s a closed group so there’s a measure of privacy, but it means you’ll have to request to join. *psst – I’ll approve you.** I’ll post about updates and changes, and answer questions (within reason), but I really want this to be a safe place to ask questions and share experiences as well. Abusers will be removed!! :D

What annoying Facebook marketing tactics have you been the victim of? Share in the spirit of helping not shaming.

On Saturday, November 23, I’m teaching a webinar on Using A Facebook Profile To Build Platform. The cost is only $45, and we’ll look at how to set your privacy settings, friend lists, target posts, create a content strategy, how to brand yourself visually, best posting practices, and more. If you can’t make it sign up anyway. The webinar will be recorded and sent to all registrants.

I’m also offering this class as part of a very special WANA 2Fer. Marcy Kennedy is running her A Crash Course to Using Google+ to Build Your Author Platform 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 Lisa Hall-Wilson

Lisa has been using Facebook since 2007, and has been a paid administrator, content creator, and consultant for more than three years. She manages Pages for non-profits and small businesses in Canada and the United States (including the MYWANA Facebook Page). She’s an award-winning freelance journalist, syndicated columnist, and fantasy author. You can find her hanging out on her Facebook profile.

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60 Comments

Frankenfriends & Zombie Tweets–Writers, Social Media and the Undead

It writes the words or is gets the hose....

It writes the words or is gets the hose….

Writers are funny when it comes to social media. Okay, we are funny when it comes to more than social media. Face it, if you had a normal childhood, you likely never grew up to become a writer. Likely you aren’t rich either, because then you could have afforded therapy.

So if you are a writer, you probably are at least tangentially insane and too cheap to pay for an fancy shrink. It is why we write, right? And this is all well and good, because I think sane people write lousy books anyway, but crazy has advantages and disadvantages. Crazy makes for killer books, but it tends to also lend itself to extreme thinking.

Writers are really bad about all or nothing, even in social media. Either we are on the verge of resorting to adult diapers because we can’t pry away from Twitter, or we hiss and scurry for safety in the shadows when anyone mentions social media.

Writing is a Killer

Writers who are successful have to learn two things. First, we need to learn balance. I still struggle with this. The writer who is going to be here for the long-haul to reap success is the one who gets sleep, exercises and eats more than Skittles chased with Red Bull.

Yeah, learned that one the hard way. 

Also, we must learn to balance when to have that pit bull focus, and when to ease back on the throttle and remember we have other responsibilities…like basic hygiene, finishing books and social media.

I would love to say that writers didn’t need to do social media, but I already lie about my height and my age and too many lies is just beggin’ for bad juju. So we know we need to participate in social media, and build a platform and write books and floss every day, and it gets overwhelming, and so we resort back to that all or nothing stuff, and disappear.

Totally True Brief Story About Writers & the Undead

I get that writers already struggle with being mistaken for one of the undead (refer to picture above taken before Starbucks, as you can tell).  In fact, I believe we writers are the cause of all these stories. Seriously.

Werewolves

Legend has it that a monk (early writer) on deadline chained himself to a wall to finish his edits, because he was getting sidetracked with the new social craze…sending carrier pigeons (early version of Twitter). So he had this new chapter of the Bible due or he was totally going to burn for eternity (and you thought revisions were hard on YOU) and so yeah, he chained himself to the wall with nothing but a quill and paper.

When the other monks wanted to play beer pong (what else do you think they invented beer for?), they couldn’t find him. When they went to check on him, they saw he’d turned into this horrible beast with fangs, and there was this full moon. Naturally they thought the moon was turning him into this beast. Easy mistake. No one ever put two and two together that their buddy’s deadline always fell on the full moon.

It wasn’t the moon…it was last-minute revisions that turned him into this beast.

Vampire

Early writer in Transylvania, couldn’t quit his day job of selling…carrots. Stayed up all night writing and all the red ink from edits just, say…let to misunderstandings.

Frankenstein

Early experiments with energy drinks gone horribly wrong.

True stories I just made up. Okay, yes I have a point. I have to make this fun. How else am I going to teach writers social media unless I coat it with sparkly vampires?

The Undead and Social Media

I get it. I understand you guys. I’m a writer first. Sometimes we have to stay up all night and we do seem to grow fangs, normally around the 65th time a family member has interrupted us, since “we aren’t really working.” I feel your pain. But we have to be really careful that we aren’t bringing undead habits into social media. No one likes to hang out with the undead. Frankenstein? Zero friends. Zombies? Again, zero friends. Vampires? A few friends, but all with serious trust issues.

NYCZombie

Hmmm, must be a writer’s conference….

Zombie Blog and Frankentweet

There are writers who I see all the time and I like their blog and then….GONE. Nowhere on Twitter. No longer commenting. No pulse. Then, just about the time I have mourned their loss and moved on to make new friends?

They come baaaack.

Three months or even six months later, their twitter handles or blogs rises from the dead and needs to feed. Now they are tweeting all the time and talking to people and likely telling everyone about the book they have coming out or just released. Only, if you pay close attention, you will see it is the same tweet trying to appear it’s alive when it isn’t (automated). It has no mind and just prowls for victims readers.

Instead of braaaaaiiiiiiins, it moans saaaaallllllleeeeeesssss, buuuuyyyyyyyy, freeeeeeeeeeee. Buuuuy myyy booook.

Don’t be a Frankenfriend

Remember that all-or-nothing thinking I mentioned at the beginning? That is what gets us in trouble and turns us into a Frankenfriend. If we make these unrealistic goals, or we don’t understand how to use social media effectively, we burn out, we go to extremes…and we don’t get the full benefits of having a social media platform.

Less is More

Social media takes less than 20 minutes a day (unless you add in a blog, which I DO recommend). Even with a blog? Not that much time. Get my books or take my classes. We actually have far more impact if we aren’t posting a bunch of times a day. We just have to show up. Attendance counts. A handful of tweets or interactions a day.

Quality, not quantity.

And sure, if you are a Chatty Cathy like me, it is fine, but on those days, weeks when you can’t be chatty? Just pop in. Say “hi.” Give us proof of life. It’s all we ask.

Work in a Team 

Yes, writers need a social media platform, but no one ever said you had to do it all alone. Join up with the WANAs either on Twitter at #MyWANA, Facebook, or the WANA social site, WANATribe (here is an invitation). We work together. All easy-squeezy. Books are not so cost-prohibitive that we can’t support each other.

This is one of the benefits of being a WANA. We are not alone.

When we work as a team, we can pull weight for each other. If we have to do revisions, our pals can guest post for us. We have friends who can tweet about our book or blogs if, for some reason we can’t (like illness or emergency). All of us serve each other because we are totally paying it forward. We know we are going to have to ask for help one day, too.

So what are your thoughts? Are you a member of the Twitter undead? Did you see a light? How did you make it back? What are your stories of social media undead? Heck, let’s have some fun. Do you think writers are the source for all these stories of creatures roaming the night? What’s your version? Have writers been mistaken for any other creatures of the night? Mythical beasts? How do you balance your social media and writing? Are you a WANA and wana give your team a shout-out and tell stories of how the WANAs have been there for you? Bought beer?

Oh, for those in the Denver, Colorado area, I will be speaking this weekend for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers. Come! I would LOVE to meet you! Register here!

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

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38 Comments

Opening the Floor–Ask an Expert! What Do YOU Want to Learn More About?

Need some adverbs taken out?

Trust me. I be an expert….

One of my favorite parts of blogging is I get to hang out with you guys. I love your comments and REALLY LOVE when you share your stories. I read every one of them, and the only reason I don’t reply to all comments is because some of you subscribe to be messaged when there is a new comment…

…and I don’t want to blow up your e-mail with “((HUGS)) You are so awesome! I forget my purse ALL the time!”

I never run out of ideas because the world is a very interesting place. Writing is a complex topic and social media for writers is ever-evolving (along with the publishing paradigm).

I do try to mix this blog up with different content, some informational and some just fun. Keeps me fresh and you from being bored. Besides I am far too crazy creative to wear an expert suit all the time. I have to wear digital panty hose and they chafe :D.

But I want to try something different, today. I generally choose the topics. Ever so often one of you might ask something in the comments and that gives me an idea for a blog. I can keep just blogging about the things I find important or interesting, but I’d like to ask you guys what you’d like me to blog about. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • What do you want to know about fiction?
  • Plotting?
  • Character?
  • How do you hook in the beginning of your book?
  • When do we need a prologue?
  • POV?
  • More dialogue (maybe from me or another expert)?
  • Tips for self-editing?
  • How to find a good editor? What’s the difference between a line-editor and content-editor? What is reasonable to pay for these services?
  • How do we choose what genre to write?
  • How do you write YA?
  • How do you get started writing for children?
  • World-building? (for fantasy, sci-fi, etc.)
  • Differences and expectations in genres?
  • How do you create romantic tension? Write love scenes?
  • What are the fundamentals of good romance?
  • Scene and sequel structure?
  • Generating conflict and tension?
  • How to write a strong female character and make her likable, too?
  • What are elements of great heroes?
  • What are the must-have resources for writers?
  • Why is it a bad idea to put Band-Aids in your hair?
  • If you are brand new, where do you start? How do you begin that first novel?
  • How do you get ideas for stories?
  • How to do research?
  • Want to know about non-fiction?
  • How do you choose a topic?
  • Write a proposal?
  • Land an agent without using chloroform?
  • How do you choose an agent? What questions do you ask?
  • When is it time to fire an agent?
  • How do you pitch?
  • Create a log-line/elevator pitch?
  • How do you get blurbs for your book without using blackmail?
  • Which type of publishing might be a good fit for you?
  • Choose a conference?
  • Speak Pig Latin like a pro?
  • Do you want to explore psychological profiles for crime writing?
  • Forensics?
  • Want to write about the military or guns in your book and sound like you know what the heck you are talking about? Revolvers DO NOT have a safety, btw. Also, it is a MAGAZINE, not a CLIP. And if we call it a MAGAZINE CLIP, it makes us sound double-stupid.
  • Want to know more about author brand?
  • How to handle a pen name with social media?
  • How to use a pen name and ACTUALLY protect your real identity?
  • Internet safety. How do we stay safe in cyberspace?
  • How to use Twitter and NOT be a spamming @$$clown?
  • More about blogging? Where to start? What to talk about?
  • How to deal with haters and trolls without becoming one, too?
  • How to balance social media and writing? It can be done. No whining.
  • Want to know more about Smashwords? What does it do?
  • CreateSpace? How to use it?
  • Why it’s a bad idea to let your husband have a remote control helicopter AND access to Post-It Notes?
  • Want to learn tips for productivity?
  • Time-management?
  • Learning self-discipline? I was once a lazy sot, so if I can do it, ANYONE CAN.
  • Balance family, work and writing without going crazy…ok craziER. Y’all are writers, so you know we all start out crazy. Little disclaimer there.
  • Learning social intelligence?
  • Having a fabulous social media presence WITHOUT changing your personality (unless you’re a jerk). Shy introverts don’t need a personality transplant. You are awesome. Be YOU.
  • How to teach your child Jedi skills by age three?
  • How to deal with family/friends who doesn’t get why you want to be a writer and who are kinda jerks to you?
  • How to put down boundaries in a world with no borders?
  • How to be an expert on ghosts? What exactly IS a K-2 meter and why are all paranormal investigators named “Darryl” and wear a mullet?

These are just some of the topics I could think of. Most I can blog about, but I also am connected to other, more knowledgeable writers who are always happy to lend a hand (as y’all saw with Les Edgerton’s series). I am not ashamed to admit I don’t know stuff (like WTH IS a K-2 meter and why do all these regular people all seem to have them in their kitchen drawers like a flashlight?).

Honestly, if I don’t know about a topic,  I will just abduct recruit another expert who does know…and then promise to free them in exchange for a guest post. I have a creepy panel van AND a very impressive and intimidating NERF battle-ax. So here’s your chance to tell me what you want to talk about. What do you need help with? The floor is yours…

I LOVE hearing from you guys! Now you get to ask me questions AND it counts for the contest. How COOL IS THAT?

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

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115 Comments

Lose the Illusion—It Never Gets “Easier”

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The Spawn when he was “new.”

We all have to guard against fantastical thinking. When we are new writers, we think, “When I get this book finished, then it will get easier.” When, I land an agent…” “Once I score a publishing deal…” “Once I hit a best-seller list, then…”

There are certain things that with time and practice will get easier. Social media, blogging and even writing do get easier over time. Once our author platform is built and we understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, we go into a maintenance phase. We might hit some spots that require more work and attention, but overall, it does get better. When I started blogging, a post that took me half a day now takes a half an hour. Why? Practice. Experience.

A lot of us, our first novel takes three to six (okay, ten) years. Get that under our belt and each novel takes less and less time, provided we fully understand the fundamentals of our craft. For instance, when I began playing clarinet, fingering the notes was enough to make me break out in a sweat. I didn’t have the muscle memory and hadn’t logged enough practice where I could get lost in the technique of the music. I had to do too much “thinking.” Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star might as well have been Flight of the Bumblebee.

This is one of the reasons I love the new paradigm. Blogging teaches us to ship. These days, we can let go of the work (“publish”) and keep pressing forward, writing more books and progressively better books.

Technology changes. We just about learn how to use our fan page, and Facebook rearranges the digital furniture and changes the rules. By the way, we have an upcoming class—Facebook Changes? We Got This. The benefit of taking a WANA class with Lisa is you get a lifetime membership to her group, so as Facebook changes, you can quickly and easily adapt and not have to pay for a new class.

Anyway, Facebook aside, as a career, this writing thing will never get easier.

It will just be different. It makes me think of rearing children. When they’re a newborn, we can’t wait until they sleep through the night. Oh, when they get older, it will be easier. Uh-huh. But then they’re toddlers and yes, they sleep through the night, but now they can climb, paint the world with poo, and start having free will.

Bat Spawn and his trusty minion, Lazr Cat. And, no. I have NO idea how he got up there.

Bat Spawn and his trusty minion, Lazr Cat. And, no. I have NO idea how he got up there.

I tell ya, once the little buggers get free will, it’s all uphill from there.

When you have a toddler, suddenly that newborn that slept 80% of the day looks AWESOME. Oh, but once our kiddo is out of the toddler phase, then it will be easier.

I think you guys probably have the point.

Each phase of development has benefits and challenges. When our children are newborns, we don’t have to worry about their friends, their grades, or if they are wearing makeup behind our backs. We don’t have to keep up with their homework.

Science proves that newborns are lousy at turning in homework.

We just about get the kid out of middle school and then we have to ponder handing them the keys to 5,000 pounds of moving metal death (a car) and then paying for college and a wedding and…

Okay, I really want to go watch Bubble Guppies right now.

Guess who found Daddy's chocolate?

Guess who found Daddy’s chocolate?

This is a lot like our author career. Enjoy wherever you are. Enjoy your meantime. Yes, each stage has challenges. When we aren’t even finished with our first book, we can’t even tell other people we’re writers without feeling like a fraud. The upside? We don’t have to panic at sales numbers and reviews and wonder if the next book will be at least as good. I’ve worked with mega-authors like Sandra Brown, and it is hard to imagine the pressure that every book will hit the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Anything less is “failure.”

This job is easier if we’re realistic. The newborn stage, yes we are checking every thirty seconds to make sure our career is breathing. Was is a victim of SIDS? Sudden Inspiration Death Syndrome? But there is all kinds of joy ahead. Watching that novel stand then walk then grow on its own and make way for the next. It will never be easier. It will be different. But if we are doing what we love (writing) all the sleepless nights, worry, grief, pain, insecurity will all be worth it.

What are your thoughts? Did you suffer from magical thinking in the beginning and experience has taught you better? Do you think I am being too harsh? Does the future scare you? Excite you? What are you looking forward to? What will you miss giving up?

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

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72 Comments

Maximizing Facebook–What We Can Learn From Puppy Dog Eyes and LOL Cats

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You may be surprised to see me guest posting here again after the totally-blown-out-of-proportion kidnapping thing a while ago. *rolls eyes* What good is a friend who isn’t willing to do a social media intervention every so often? You’ll notice Kristen hasn’t been as hostile towards Facebook lately.

Point for me! *pumps fist*

It’s all good. Kristen and I exchanged chocolate and GF cookies…and I used the cat’s laser pointer to distract her. Soooooo, while Kristen is chasing the red dot, let’s talk FACEBOOK.

The one question I get asked about a lot is how to increase engagement on a Facebook page or profile. Engagement is the name of the game. Every click, like, share and comment on the content you post tells Facebook that people find you interesting.

When you become interesting, Facebook assumes more people will want to see your content, and shows your content to more people. Yay – see why it’s important. (This is a simplified answer.)

Yeah – I get that. But how do I increase engagement?

You may have noticed the proliferation of photos on Facebook — 300million+ photos uploaded daily. There’s a reason for that.

Facebook assigns a weight (value) to different kinds of content.

Links have the lowest weight, then status updates, and photos are given the most weight by Facebook, meaning your photos are more likely to be seen than your links or status updates. Similarly Facebook assigns value to the kinds of interaction your content receives with clicks receiving the lowest weight, then likes, with comments and shares given the most weight.

Always vary your content, don’t go all hairy wild on posting photos, but interesting and engaging photos should be part of your strategy.

So by posting a photo, your content is potentially seen by more eyeballs than if you posted a status update or a link. When people engage with that content (likes are good, comments and shares are better), Facebook will make sure that content is seen by even more people.

Romance writers instinctively know how to leverage this because they post pics of men – inspiration photos for their characters, they encourage fans to post photos of their characters, etc. And these photos encourage a flurry of likes and shares. (They post other things too.)

But I’m not a romance author. That won’t work for me.

This works for any kind of author.

Here’s a snapshot of WANA Instructor Marcy Kennedy’s page from yesterday.

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Marcy’s tagline says: “Fantasy novelist and proud geek. I blog about the intersection between fiction and life because fantasy is more real than you think.” She posts all kinds of geeky stuff her fans love. Every Thursday she does a Would You Rather post – a very geeky thing to do, but that’s her brand.

Instead of writing the Would You Rather question as a status update she turns it into a simple graphic. Images receive a lot of real estate in newsfeeds, and the nature of the graphics she uses invites engagement (comments) and builds community and her brand.

Part of the reason this works so well for Marcy is the kind of question she’s asking as well. She asks questions people have an opinion about, but opinions they can share and not offend anyone with. (**Bonus tip: Non-Fiction author and WANA Instructor Leanne Shirtliffe on her Ironic Mom Facebook page does this really well with status updates.)

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Sharing Blog Posts

As I mentioned above, links have the least weight with Facebook – not to say you won’t get engagement with a link but more people will have the opportunity to see your content if you use a photo.

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Don’t do this exclusively, change it up, but try this strategy. Instead of just posting a link and allowing Facebook to pull in the small thumbnail image for the post, upload the main photo from your blog post and include the link to the blog post in the photo description. Or take the extra step and edit the photo so the blog question is part of the photo.

Do you enjoy the photo sharing aspect of Facebook? Have you considered using photos to help build your brand on Facebook?

I’m teaching 2 short and sweet (and cheap) classes on using Facebook to build platform next week.

10 Essentials for Your Writer/Author Facebook Page on Tuesday evening. Everyone who signs up for the course can submit their page for a live critique during the webinar.

Using Your Facebook Profile to Build Platform is on Thursday night. I’m offering this course because so many people tell me they don’t want a page they want to use their profile. Bring your questions :D.

Thanks so much for joining me today! See you in class *waves*.

****

*breathing heavily*

Thanks, Lisa for kidnapping me the guest post, but I don’t think that red dot wants to be caught. Johnny Pocket and I have been working on it for the past hour.

OOH! SHINY! *lamp crashes*

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I gotta admit, you, Lisa, are the only person with the powers to make me actually LIKE Facebook. I took one of your first classes and learned so much. So for my pals out there, TAKE HER CLASS. Facebook has a bazillion members, ergo is a powerful social platform. Lisa will help guide you to use time more wisely so you can get back to writing those books.

IT WRITES THE WORDS OR IT GETS THE HOSE! *pets fluffy white dog*

I love hearing from you!

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).

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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52 Comments

Would Hemingway Blog?

Photo by Yousef Karsh via Wikimedia Commons

Emphatically, YES!!! I know many writers are hesitant to the idea of blogging. It feels like just another social media chore, but nothing can be farther from the truth. In fact, blogging is probably the ONLY form of social media that 1) draws from a writer’s strengths and 2) doesn’t try to fundamentally change our personality.

Yes, as a social media expert Jedi, I will tell you that it’s a good idea to tweet and learn to use Facebook, but I’m also going to tell you something you already know. Most of that kind of social media is NOT natural for a lot of writers. Is it good for you? Yes. It shoves you out of your comfort zone and makes you work an area that will be vital to career success. But, of all the various on-line tools we can wield, the blog is by far one of the best.

Oh, but Kristen. There are already way too many blogs out there.

Yep, and guess what? There are way too many books out there, too, and that hasn’t stopped you guys from writing one, has it? Blogs are a lot like books. In fact, that is one of the reasons they are such an excellent choice for writers. Blogs connect using…words. Same as books. They connect through information or emotion…same as books. If people learn to love your blogging voice, it is no great leap to love your novels.

Ah, but just like books…

Most people who start a book never keep pressing until it is finished. Similarly, most people who start a blog will abandon it for some new shiny two months in. Most people who start writing a novel believe it is easy, and that they don’t need any professional instruction or guidance. Guess what? Same with blogs.

Too many people who start a blog just throw up content without learning what to blog, how to blog, and what makes a blog grow and become successful. This means the competition is not nearly as daunting as some might believe.

So why would Hemingway blog? Well, actually, he did. I am going to paraphrase a story relayed by mega-author and Hemingway expert, David Morrell.

Hemingway was a Blogger Journalist

As a young reporter for the Kansas City Star, Hemingway learned the value of lean, uncluttered sentences. In fact, the newspaper’s style sheet underscored the, “Use of vigorous English…Be positive…Avoid the use of adjectives.” Though Hemingway followed these principles as a reporter, he apparently forgot them when he decided to write fiction. When he moved to Paris and showed Getrude Stein his work, she slayed him for his purple prose. She told him to toss everything and try again.

A few months later, Hemingway met a reporter in Switzerland who expressed interest in his work. Hemingway was so excited he wrote to his wife and asked her bring all of his manuscripts to him straight away. Being a good wife, she packed everything he’d written in a suitcase and hopped on a train…and the suitcase was stolen, taking every shred of Hemingway’s writing.

Hemingway rushed home and turned his apartment upside down, but to no avail. It was all gone. Hemingway almost gave up, but then he thought back to Gertrude Stein’s advice to chuck everything and begin anew. Hemingway rolled up his sleeves and went back to work, yet this time he harnessed his reporting skills and went about his writing in a far more organized fashion, with the verbal discipline he’d learned from the Kansas City Star.

Hemingway learned that less is more, that economy of description can produce clearer effects than descriptions with detail piled upon detail. But, economy doesn’t only mean reducing a description to its essentials. It also means going for so clean a line that adjectives and adverbs become a sign of bad writing. ~David Morrell The Successful Novelist p.117

I have been running my writing contest for over two years now, and I see the same problems over and over with new writers. The prose is bogged down with all kinds of fluff. The sentences aren’t clear and the prose is weak.

Just like Hemingway used his experience as a reporter to strengthen his fiction (which made him one of the greatest writers in literary history), we, too, can use blogging to refine our prose and strengthen our writing skills. There are many great authors who used their journalistic muscles to write great works of fiction. Hemingway, Orwell, Dickens and Twain to name a few.

Blogging is a modern equivalent of journalism, and I believe Hemingway definitely would have blogged had he been a man of a different era. Can you imagine Hemingway tweeting images of giant swordfish he’d caught deep sea fishing? Or posting a video on You Tube of him running with the bulls? Maybe some images on Flikr from his latest safari?

Where was I? Oh, yes!

Blogging Takes Us from Neophyte to Expert MUCH Quicker

Malcolm Gladwell asserted that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. Add blogging to your repertoire, and guess how quickly you can rack up that 10,000 hours? Blogging will teach you to write faster, leaner and with far more power in much less TIME.

Bloggers Learn to Ship

When you have a blog due, you learn to kill Little Darlings with ruthless efficiency. Bloggers (like journalists) learn not to grow overly fond with sections of prose. We are copy editing MACHINES. We are great at meeting deadlines because we don’t need 42 different opinions to convince us to part with some prose.

HACK! HACK! SLICE!

Bloggers Grow a Thick Skin

Writers who also blog are showing the world they take their profession seriously. We put our work out there, good, bad or WTH?. We open ourselves to criticism, and we learn to take it like a champ and come back swinging.

I’ve met a lot of writers who get defensive, angry or abusive when told their work isn’t a glittery kitten hug. This business is tough, and blogging will whip a writer into fighting form in no time.

Blogging Trains Us for Other Paid Work

Since blogging is so close to journalism, it is easier for us to get paid work writing articles, blogs or even copy work. Bloggers have a BLOG that shows the world that they are serious. Potential employers see a writer who can make deadlines, who can work even when they don’t feel like it. Bloggers, like journalists, don’t sit around and wait for the inspiration fairy. They roll up their sleeves and do what real writers do.

They write.

Additionally, many writers supplement their book income with other work (like articles), and blogging is a great way to get your foot in the door.

Getting Started

So for those who don’t want to blog, that is fine. But for those who do?

Blogging is one of the best ways to build an author platform (mainly because it has us operating in our strength—writing). A blog is far less volatile than other forms of social media. Who knows if we will have Twitter in five years? Twitter may go, but a blog will remain and can continue to grow for YEARS. We don’t have to be a Chatty Cathy social butterfly to be a kick@$$ blogger, and this is really great for those shy introverts out there. In fact, in my experience, you guys make some of the BEST bloggers.

Starting a Successful Blog

A lot of blogs fail simply because writers take off with no instruction, and, because of this, they are left to learn by painful trial and error. If you believe you would like to blog, but you’re uncertain, I’m doing something new. To accommodate those who are still on the fence, I’m now running a Basic level for my upcoming blogging class.

In the Basic class, you get to be part of the WANA1012 team and receive all the forum lessons (none of the live webinars are included). This is a really great place to learn if blogging is right for you (Blogging Training Wheels).

If you’re ready to skip the training wheels and get started blogging, then get your spot NOW. My classes have a history of selling out. I offer a Blogging Bronze, Silver, Gold, and even Diamond, for those who are ready to go all the way.

This is a TWO MONTH class—one month for lessons and one for launch—that you can do in your own time, at your own speed and from home. And since you will be part of a WANA team, you won’t have to do this blogging thing alone, so your odds of success are MUCH higher. For those who want to do NaNoWriMo, we can extend the two months if we have to. That’s one of the benefits of being the owner of the interface :D.

Anyway, what are your thoughts? Those of you who blog, have you seen an improvement in your writing? What questions do you guys have? Thoughts? What other famous writers from history would be cool to see tweeting or posting blogs? Poe? Steinbeck? Shakespeare? What do you think would be their favorite social site and how would they use it? Picasso and Pinterest? :D

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

Oh, and if you love this blog, I would love your support. I am in the running to become a community blogger for my hometown, so I’d appreciate your votes. Just click the link and scroll down until you see my name and vote. THANK YOU! When the zombie apocalypse arrives, I promise to share ammo and Twinkies with those of you who vote for me :D.

Back to the regular contest….

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!

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

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