Meet the Maven–We're Here Whether You Want Us or Not
Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. My social media methods are all about authentic human connections. I am also a strong supporter of working smarter, not harder. We need to work together to have true, lasting success. We are not alone! We don’t have to build our author platform by ourselves.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that there were three critical people to know on social media. Last time, we talked about the Connector. Today we’ll discuss the Maven and next week is the Salesman. Some people are none of the three or two of the three. A rare few are all three.
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his AWESOME book The Tipping Point–How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference “…the word Maven comes from Yiddish, and means one who accumulates knowledge. In recent years economists have spent a great deal of time studying Mavens, for the obvious reasons that if marketplaces depend on information, the people with the most information must be the most important.”
I recall the many times that Piper Bayard called me a Social Media Maven. I thought she was just being sweet since the word “guru” makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Sorry. Being honest. I didn’t care for “expert” either, since any yahoo with a Yahoo account and $20 to spend at Vista Print was an expert. Ah, but Maven had a nice ring to it so I didn’t stop her. At the time I just assumed that Maven was a synonym for guru, so I was down with that. I liked Social Media Maven, though was really partial to Social Media Jedi Master…but that’s another blog.
I do a tremendous amount of research to back up my teaching and theories, so when I spotted this word Piper had used–Maven–and then uncovered the research surrounding Mavens, I was quite humbled and honored Piper would apply that term to me. At first, when I was going to introduce you guys to the Maven, I was hestiant to use myself as an example. Then, I thought over my life and here are some conversations I’d like to share with you guys to help you recognize Mavens in your life.
Conversations with a
Man buying energy drink in local Exxon…
Me: Um, excuse me. You are the owner of the black truck out front?
Man: Yeah *gives me odd stare and holds his wallet tighter*
Me: I know I sound crazy, but I think you need to get your radiator checked.
Man: Huh? Why?
Me: As I walked past, I noted the smell of coolant superheated on your manifold.
Man: I didn’t smell anything.
Me: Well, I have a very sensitive nose, and I could definitely smell that you have a leak. I had the same thing happen once, so I recognize the scent. I would get that serviced right away. In fact, here is a business card of the guys that work on my car. They’re really good and fairly priced.
The guy took my advice (I heard this from the men at my service center) and he actually had a small crack in his radiator.
Conversation with Dark-Haired Woman at Wal-Mart buying a box of hair dye (Blonde)….
Me: Are you going to use that for your hair?
Woman: I was thinking about it.
Me: Well, I colored my own hair for years, and I know the box says it can make you blonde, but it really will turn you orange and make your hair melt. We used that same product on my college room mate and it wasn’t pretty. Anyway, if you go across the parking lot, talk to Lydia at Sally’s Beauty Supply and she can give you a professional product. Judging from what I can see, make sure you pick a color with blue undertones. That will keep you from turning orange. Also, make sure you invest in a good conditioner if you go down that many levels of color so your hair doesn’t start breaking. If you want a good colorist, here’s my hair dresser’s business card. I finally gave up dying my own hair because she is so affordable.
Later, I heard from my hairdresser that the woman made an appointment to get her hair colored. Also heard from Lydia at Sally’s Beauty Supply that Dark-Haired Woman bought conditioner there.
Conversation with random plumber digging up my yard to fix my pipes…
Plumber: Thanks, Ma’am for the coffee. Sure is cold out here. I will be here by noon tomorrow. I need to go to a dentist.
Me: Really? What dentist?
Plumber: Oh, I just made a quick appointment at Monarch Dental. Think I’ve got a bad tooth.
Me: Oh, dear! Um, I don’t know how to say this, but cancel your appointment.
Plumber: *gives weird look* Why?
Me: Well, I have been to Monarch twice. One time when I was twelve. They told my mother I had ten cavities and needed braces. My mom refused to believe them and we went to another dentist. I didn’t have a single cavity and didn’t need braces. So then, 20 years later, my hubby and I move out here. We didn’t have a dentist, so I went to Monarch again because they could get me in quickly. I figured 20 years should be long enough to get their act together, and can you believe they are playing the same games? They told me I had four cavities and advanced gum disease that needed special treatment.
Me: Really. I stormed out of there and went over to Walnut Creek Dental. Turns out I had one soft spot that needed filling and perfect gums. I tell you Monarch are a bunch of crooks who tell you that you have a bunch of imaginary dental problems and then put you on an easy payment plan to drill into perfectly healthy teeth. I have no idea how they are still in business. I wrote a nasty review for them and even blogged about my experience. I called the local news stations but haven’t heard back yet. Let me go write down the information for Walnut Creek. I am sure they can fit you in.
Later found out from my dentist that my plumber used their services instead.
What exactly is a Maven?
Mavens are pathologically helpful. We are collectors of data and brokers of information. Not only do we collect vast stores of information, but we hold a rare ability to put that information in a useful context. We are unparalleled pattern filters and can spot trends and changes that others don’t or can’t yet see. And, not only do we have all this information, but we long to share it to make the lives of others better.
We Mavens cannot help ourselves. I often refer to myself as Helpful Hannah, and I have had to learn to control my tongue sometimes. Not everyone wants my two cents worth. Yet, as much as I try to stop my nature, I can’t help what I am. I honestly think I became a social media expert so that I could channel all my Maven energies in a productive way.
Mavens are the people who will stop you from buying steaks at Albertsons because Tom Thumb has ribeyes for half the price, and they are just across the street. We share coupons and tell you not to bother with the warranty from such-and-such because it is a big hassle. We keep business cards for great accountants, nail techs, and massage therapists. We also keep the marketplace honest because we remember the prices of things. We are the people who can ignite word-of mouth. We help new restaraunts thrive, good hair stylists get new clients and honest mechanics have more business.
We are flypaper for information, and we are the people who write into Consumer Reports and offer corrections for misinformation. We are the people who write letters to the editor. We keep accountability.
I remember about ten years ago Vogue magazine had an article one time about a single woman starting over after leaving a job. She started her own successful business as a single mother. Well, I wanted to read this article and hear this story of triumph over adversity. Turns out the woman had left a six-figure job, came from a wealthy family and started her business from her home in Martha’s Vineyard (or some ritzy place like that, can’t recall exactly). Yes, she was a single mother…who had a nanny!
I wrote a long, disgusted letter to Vogue about how out of touch they were with much of their readership and the realities of being a start-up female entrepreneur, let alone a single parent….and they printed my letter with an apology.
Mavens make time for this stuff.
Why are Mavens important in the marketplace?
Mavens spell death for bad service, bad food and bad products. If you screw up our hair, our nails, our car or give us bad service, the world will hear of your misdeeds. We also spell death for bad books.
Why is it great to make friends with a Maven?
Mavens are critical to have in your network because we love spreading news of a good thing, including good blogs, good people and good books. We are the people who will tell everyone we know about a really fantastic book we just read. We write reviews and often write letters of appreciation to the author. We stop people in bookstores and offer unsolicited recommendations. And, since our only agenda is to be helpful, many people listen to us.
Mavens are critical to getting traction. Many Mavens are also Connectors. I know when I met New York Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer a few years ago, he had never been on social media. I talked his ear off about this new platform called Twitter and I knew it was going to be the new hot thing. I chatted on and on about MySpace (it was still big) and Facebook and how social media was going to revolutionize publishing (Remember, Mavens spot trends). I could see the writing on the wall even though the agents and editors of the time thought I was a lunatic.
People will always want paper books.
Anyway, the agents and editors might have thought I was crazy, but Bob was one of the few who listened to me. Long story short, I dragged Bob onto social media as my
helpless victim eager student. I wanted to show him this amazing new tool and how it had the power to create a fan base and spread word-of-mouth. Authors finally could have control over their careers! I am really thrilled that Bob had second thoughts about that restraining order and that he gave me a chance to prove my mettle.
Mavens Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder. Mavens help you be yourself.
Here is where a Maven comes in handy…
Bob got onto Twitter, but there was a problem. Bob is an introvert. Don’t get me wrong, he is really nice guy and a lot of fun. He’s an amazing teacher and speaker, but he just isn’t the sort of person who naturally feels comfortable approaching random strangers to chat. Good thing I have no problem with that. I was happy to introduce Bob to everyone and tell everyone about his books and his workshops. Heck, I still do! Because they are THAT awesome.
But this goes back to working smarter not harder. I am not here to teach you how to change your personality. Bob didn’t need to morph into a bubbly outgoing cheerleader. That would have been weird and kinda scary. Worse, it wouldn’t have been authentic. Bob would have been trying to be someone he wasn’t. BUT, he could be himself and merely ally with me. I could be me and introduce Bob so he could then feel comfortable to just be himself. Not only did I use my Connector powers, but I was able to shamelessly spread recommendations for Bob’s books and workshops.
Also, as a Maven I had an ability to spot certain trends. This helped Bob in that he could count on me to alert him of new trends, shifts, changes that were worth looking into. Bob’s initial alliance with people like me helped him ramp up until he was a force on his own. Now Bob is one of the leaders in the new publishing paradigm, which is powered, in large part, by social media. I know I loved helping Bob not only because I like helping, but I LOVE gathering information to help others…and he knew WAY more than I did about writing and the industry. It was a great and fair trade. He could learn about social media and I could learn the best information about writing and publishing.
Some ways to spot a Maven:
1. Mavens are eager helpers. I think a lot of bloggers and NF people are Mavens. I know @PatrickThunstrom wrote an entire tutorial series teaching writers how to use TweetDeck. He is the first to recommend a good computer program or information filter. Patrick LOVES to help.
2. Mavens are a vast reservoir of information. All KINDS of information. We are natural teachers and helpers. @ClayMorganPA is a great Maven to befriend. @jhansenwrites (Jenny Hansen) shares all kinds of helpful information from how to use Excel to how to deal with a high-risk pregnancy. When a writer is in trouble, Jenny is Jenny on the Spot with a link or a resource to help. @JamiGold is another Maven.
3. Mavens love to give advice, recommendations and reviews. We are compulsively helpful. @kbowenwriter @GeneLempp @AmyShojai @NatalieCMarkey @Angela_Peart @RoniLoren are a handful of people I would consider Mavens. They offer guidance, support, critique, assistance not because they have an agenda. They have an underlying desire to serve.
I know there are more Mavens out there, so sorry if I missed you. If you want to befriend some Mavens, I highly recommend hanging out on the #MyWANA. Why? Well, I designed #MyWANA as a Maven Trap. The entire purpose of #MyWANA is NOT to blitz about blogs or books or pitch non-stop with no vested concern. #MyWANA is dedicated is to HELP and to SERVE others. #MyWANA was created with the explicit purpose to create a community founded on service above self. This is irresistable to a Maven. #MyWANA attracts Mavens because it was created by one.
Many bloggers are Mavens.
This is why bloggers are emerging as a new market driver in publishing. Publishing houses are now starting to court the powerhouse bloggers, because they know the bloggers hold tremendous sway over popular opinion and are almost unrivaled in their abilitiy to spark word-of-mouth. Many bloggers are unsponsored and unpaid. Many bloggers dedicate countless hours of research and work and write thousands of words a week for no pay….simply to help others. Blogger Mavens are powerful allies.
Mavens are some of the most valuable people in our network. They will happily lend a hand wherever they can and they gain joy and purpose from helping and serving others. Maybe you are shy or an introvert. Maybe you are overwhelmed. It’s okay. Mavens dig underdogs :D.
So can you think of some Mavens in your network? Are you a Maven and have a Maven story to share? Maybe a Maven approached you in a gas station with a coupon. Share your story!
I do want to hear from you guys!
And 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 every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of September I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
Note: GRAND PRIZE WILL BE PICKED THIS MONTH. I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced at the end of September) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.
Mash-Up of Awesomeness
MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT PIPER BAYARD’S INTERVIEW WITH MEGA-AUTHOR JAMES ROLLINS. GET THE SCOOP ON THE NEW SIGMA CHARACTERS!
HILARIOUS post by Piper Bayard Ok. I’ll do it. I’ll run for President.
AWESOME Blogging Tips by Angela Ackerman
Werewolves: Sexier than Vampires? Monsters of the Church? by the AMAZING editor and writing teacher Terrell Mims
What’s Your Favoite Scent for Fall? by Rebecca Enzor
Tawna Fenske has a hilarious post My Cat is a Filthy Pervert
NYTBSA Bob Mayer has an excellent post about steps to take to succeed as a newly pubbed author. AND he also has an amazing post The Perfect Storm is Looming in Publishing.
Should we do guest blogs? Jami Gold tackles this important question
Are the Inevitable Changes Good? Agenla Orlowski
Writers must kill self doubt before it kills them by the genius word pirate Chuck Wendig
Is Blogging Dead? by Roni Loren
Please Don’t Close Your Eyes Because then I can’t See Your Soul by Diana Murdock
A Checklist for Marketing Your E-Book by contributing Writer’s Digest Editor Jane Friedman over at Writer Unboxed.