Blogging Part 4–The Future is Now
Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Today is part four of my blogging series, which you might have already gleaned from the title cuz you guys are super-smart-perceptive that way :D. I am going to say something bold, but deep down I know that I’m right. Blogging is the way of the future for anyone trying to sell a product, including books. Those who connect with their potential consumer and give a human voice and personality to their product will reap tremendous advantage. I know many of you believe me and understand that you need to blog, but I tend to be a person who needs to know why. Today I want to put some things in perspective, and help you understand the why behind what we are doing. I am going to pan the camera back so you can see the big picture and where you, your book, and your agent (or future agent) fit in.
Agents and the Future
Want to be popular? Start gunning for sacred cows. Shove people out of their comfort zone and watch the fireworks. I blog every Wednesday on trending changes in our industry and give ways to keep up. But change is coming fast and some people are resisting. I can understand that and appreciate the desire to hang on to what is familiar. But my job isn’t to make you guys comfortable, it is to prepare you for success.
Recently I had a somewhat heated discussion with a writer who felt I was out of line telling writers they need to blog to be competitive. Hey, can’t make everyone happy, right? Anyway, this author adamantly defended that the quality of the book was all that mattered, and that an agent who wanted a writer to have a platform just might not be the right agent. Her agent didn’t require that and so on and so forth.
Let’s think about this critically for a second. I completely agree that the quality of the book must come first. So let’s just get that out of the way. Let’s talk agents and what on earth does that have to do with blogging and social media?
I know many of you are dying to get representation. It is easy to put agents on a pedestal and forget what they do….they work for us. It is their job to sell our work and command the highest price and the most extra goodies for that work. Conversely, it is our job to give our agent the most to work with.
What do you think will land a better deal? A very well-written book alone? Or a very well-written book combined with blog following in the thousands who know that author by name?
Having a blog gives your agent an advantage when trying to broker a deal for your work.
But let’s take this another step. We should be making sure that a prospective agent not only understands the current market, but looks to the future trends as well. Most of us are wanting to be career authors so we need to make sure we are signing with an agent who has vision. Back when I was looking for an agent, I almost queried this one guy until he rolled his eyes and sarcastically dismissed eBooks at an Agent Q&A. In my mind, this was a clear sign that he lacked vision. Not a good fit.
I wanted an agent who would push me to do all the things that would pave the way to a successful long-term future. I advise you look for the same. Hiring an agent who won’t use e-mail and blows off social media is like going to a doctor who won’t use modern fandangledy gizmos like MRIs or CAT scans. Could they do just as good of a job? Possibly. But do you feel safe putting your future in their hands?
Every teenager glued to his iPhone, every college student linked perpetually to FB, every grade school kid with a laptop is a glimpse at our future reader. A good book alone might be enough now, but my challenge is for you to plan for the long-term (and look for an agent who will do the same).
See, everyone is flocking to social media. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but I will only address two.
Companies need to sell goods and services. Authors need to sell books. There is an old saying in sales, Fish where the fish are. News flash. The fish are all schooling on social media. Why?
The old marketing methods are failing. People use their DVRs and fast-forward through the commercials. We toss out mass mailings as we walk in our front door. Radio? Try Pandora Internet radio. E-mail advertisements? We use spam filters or open junk mail accounts for when we are forced to give an e-mail address. We get people who know us to contact us via text messages or e-mail us on Facebook. Newspapers are fading into the history books, and most people no longer have a home telephone. The cell phone industry should bow down and kiss the feet of telemarketers. I believe it was their non-stop barrage of calls all hours of the day that got even the most technologically challenged to say, “Enough! Sprint, sign me up!”
If people are going to hear about your book, then it needs to be via social media.
In an age of plastic surgery, air-brushing and CGI, we are stewing in a sea of fake. There has been a recent trend toward that which is genuine or authentic. We are more sophisticated than ever before in human history, and many of us are no longer buying the carefully crafted marketing campaigns with airbrushed models and Photoshop trickery. We want to hear from people…REAL people. We pay way more attention to our Twitter pals or FB friends than any marketing trick.
If our Twitter peeps rave about a book, we know they likely read it, and we trust that opinion far more than a shiny placard in the front window of a book store.
The Age of the Writer
This is an amazing time to be a writer. This is the age we have all been waiting for. The time where we would RULE! I am going to give a little perspective. I have been a writer for years. I always found this scenario funny, yet it happened time and time again (and still does).
So, what do you do?
I’m a writer.
No, I meant what’s your job?
Um…ever been on the Internet? Seen all those little symbols known as LETTERS or WRITING? You like television shows? Thank a writer. Books, blogs, song lyrics, movies, video games, magazines? Thank a writer. You like knowing how to hook up your computer or work your microwave? Thank a writer. We are already an important if too often unnoticed component of advanced society, and I see a new role emerging for writers…particularly bloggers.
Why Bloggers Will Rule
Skilled bloggers, I believe, will have a distinct edge over their non-blogging or half-ass blogging competition. Agents with foresight are seeing that. This is why we are seeing more and more blog-to-book deals. Successful blogs come with a ready-made audience and committed following. This makes them a better investment for any publishing house.
Also, any agent worth her salt will tell you that only two things sell books—quality of the book (which is paramount) and word of mouth. Social media is becoming the new global village. Who are the villagers talking about? With some hard work and sacrifice, they could be talking about you. My blog has sold books and created fans in such places at the UK, Italy, Austria, Egypt, the Netherlands. Only on social media are we going to gain that kind of influence for the cost of a little time and effort.
Blogging is one of the most effective forms of social media for a writer. We are in the Information Age and most people are on information overload. There are a gazillion things being thrown at us all at once. We have more choices than we know what to do with, more information than we could ever absorb in a thousand lifetimes. Now, with self-publishing and e-publishing everyone can be published. The old gatekeepers are no longer present, and there is more competition than ever before.
What do people tend to do when given too many options? They pull inward. They find favorites and stick to them like glue. We become like the kid with a bazillion toys who drags around that one ragged teddy bear with no eyes. Blogging is a powerful way to gain a loyal following and become a favorite.
How do you become a favorite? Actually, it is simpler than you think and we will talk about that next week in Blogging Part 5–Oooooh! I can hear the groans of protest. Hey, you want this blog to be 10,000 words long? 😀
In the meantime, any thoughts on future trends? Questions? Suggestions? What scares you about blogging? Does blogging excite you? Intimidate you? Overwhelm you? Have any of you tried some of the methods I’ve been teaching? What are your successes? Problems? Hurdles? I’d like to know. Also, if you are blogging using my methods and have started to blog on topic. Let me know and you might make the New Kids on the Block–Hangin’ tough! Sorry about that.
For a look at how pivotal social media is…watch this. Then get super excited about your writing future. You’re gonna need shades :D.
Until next time…
Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books. Put that gift card you got for Christmas to good use.
Mash-Up of Awesomeness
L.A. Times has an interesting article. Amazon’s Kindle opens a new chapter for publishing.
I highly, highly recommend NYT Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer’s workshops. Who Dares Wins Publishing is offering numerous Write It Forward On-Line Workshops. Learn everything from how to write a novel, to how to self-publish successfully. I will even be teaching a class in March about social media and building a platform. For $20 per workshop, you can learn from the best in the industry from the comfort of your own home.
Talented best-selling romance author Candace Havens will also be teaching a novel writing workshop.
New Kids On the Block
Manon Eileen is running a new and fascinating blog series, discussing psychiatry and philosophy and their influences on writing.
Peter St. Clair has an excellent blog anout the archenemy in fiction.
The AWESOME Chuck Wendig chimes in about self-publishing.
Writing to Publish by Sharon Leah
The Mystery of Building an Author’s Platform by Annetta Ribken
Terrell Mims has started a new series on the Hero’s Journey. New writers, this is a MUST-read.