Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: building an author brand

So last week I discussed the new and fairly grim reality for many creatives. I pointed out the big picture of what’s really going on in the New Publishing Paradigm—The Matrix. Playing a short, blonde, sassy Morpheus from Texas…I offered a choice…

The Blue Pill—get paid in exposure dollars and empty promises.

OR the Red Pill—tough truth, hard work, but a way forward for authentic PAID success.

If you’re the Red Pill crowd, Wonderland is gone and now I’m telling you the game is rigged and it’s all a hustle. The MEGAs (big brands, I.e.¬†Huffington Post) are using us as human batteries to power their brand.

And once you recover from envisioning a female middle-aged Morpheus in yoga pants…your next question might be, “Fine, no how do we get PAID?”

We beat the hustle ūüėČ .

*hands paper bag* It’s fine. I am here.

I want y’all to HUSTLE…not GET HUSTLED. Big—no HUGE—difference.

Step One: Best way to beat a hustle is to know we’re being hustled in the first place.

That’s what I hopefully did in my post Welcome to the Matrix—You Work for Free and there IS NO Payday.

I’ve known the hustle existed for a long time and my first time calling it out involved blood, guts and being called the “c” word more times than ever in my life.

Creative is not the word I am referring to. Nope, not clever either. Compassionate? Um…nope. Not that one either.

Anyway…

Almost two years ago, I blew up the Internet with my first¬†Pay the Writer post, but at the time, I only knew enough to be royally ticked off…ok, blind with rage is more accurate.

In hindsight? Not the best approach, but a start.

I’ve grown a lot since then. I’m wiser and have had more time to study the “game.”

Though back in 2016 I knew writers (creatives) were getting shafted, I hadn’t figured much of anything out beyond that. It’s taken me eighteen months to unravel HOW those exploiting us were doing what they were doing (and HOW they’re still doing it).

HOW were/are they getting us to so eagerly go along, calm as Hindu cash cows?

The Hustle

If we look to the slang definition of hustle it is an inducing by fraud, pressure or deception, especially of inexperienced or uniformed persons to buy something or participate in an illicit scheme. It also means to fraud or to deceive.

Please keep in mind that the best hustles are completely legal.

Everything we creatives have endured by and large is completely legal and we willingly consented.

Yet, with new information, we now have the option to revoke our consent.

All this said, blame games and being a victim aren’t my thing, so I take the mea culpa. In defense of all parties involved we knew this was uncharted territory and well…mistakes were made.

Whether this behavior continues, by and large is up to author education. Here’s where I come in.

If being paid in feel-goods and participation trophies is cool with you? Rock on. Keep on posting. Not all writers have the same goals. But for those who desire a paid career, we need to get street smart.

What POWERS the Hustle? BLOOD IN THE WATER

All hustlers from con men to that deadbeat ex we fell for sophomore year all work the same way. Like sharks, they can taste blood in the water. Blood in the water means something/someone is injured or damaged.

They must select the perfect mark in order for the hustle to offer the largest payoff for the least effort (MAX ROI).

Even in completely legal “hustles.” Okay especially in legal hustles.

A family member of mine recently went through a nasty divorce. I begged her to let me help her with searching for a new house. She didn’t want to be a burden and fell victim to a real estate agent with no scruples.

What this agent did was technically legal. But the agent spotted an angry, deeply wounded female with no work history and no real world experience on her own alone and unguarded…who could be cajoled into a seriously BAD deal.

The real estate agent probably “deeply cared” about my family member…until the commission check cleared. Sadly my family member is now in for a rough road.

Emotion, desire, longing, fear, doubt, insecurity are all blood in the water for any kind of hustle.

The MEGAs use our fear, lack of knowledge, our insecurity coupled with our desire for approval against us. They know a lot of creatives over the age of thirty-five are scared of the Internet, used to the old world, and desperate for a helping hand to guide them.

They don’t believe they can go it alone.

Us older writers are also are most likely to want to believe we’re still playing the same game with the same rules only in digital form and the MEGAs are happy to let us believe that lovely lie and pray we take the blue pill.

We are the perfect mark—target—for blogging for free (exposure dollars).

The MEGAs know the money is and always will be IN THE ADS (and are counting on us not putting this all together).

MEGAs convince us we cannot possibly make it without them and we need them and are better working for them even if it is for free (“temporarily” of course).

Patently 100% false.

Millennials?

Snowflake Honey Badger Don’t Care

Millennials grew up on-line teething on keyboards and have paved the way we can follow. Sure Millennials might be “delicate” in other ways, but ON-LINE?

*backs away slowly and makes notes*

Millennials are like the honey badgers of social media. Honey badger don’t care!

***linked to the video I am referencing but warning you there are curse words…yet SO APROPOS****

They bite into stuff, chase social media snakes, take what they want, get stung, then bitten by digital cobras, pass out and sleep off the venom…then eat the cobra that just bit them and resume digging and working and move along unfazed.

It’s why a lot of Millennials have become the new MEGA brands of the 21st century.

Millennials have been able to be the honey badgers of social media because they were never the ideal target for the hustle.

Why do I need you to make me a star? I ALREADY AM ONE!

Money? Meh, I live at home.

Exposure? Wikipedia says people die from that.

Because the Millennial MEGAs started out young and fearless with technology, they held an advantage. They never knew a world with gatekeepers or rules and if there were rules, then they didn’t matter. Rules didn’t apply to THEM. Since they didn’t have bills to pay they had a lot of freedom to work for free…authentically.

Keep that in mind.

The Game Has Changed and SO HAVE THE RULES

We keep thinking we are playing the old paradigm publishing game. Write, get exposure, build a CV, pass gatekeepers and POOF paid work comes our way.

Not so fast.

Remember it’s a different game entirely. The old rules NO LONGER APPLY.

Just try playing Monopoly using the rules from RISK with Tiddly Winks on a Chinese Checkers board and see if you aren’t ready to start drinking heavily by noon.

Yet that’s essentially what we older writers have been doing since 2006. We allowed the MEGAs to guide us because they had the power, brains and resources and they said they would help us learn the new game. Right?

Right?

The Honey Badger Hustle

In my POV, making this simple, there are three options for writers who want to be PAID.

Option One: Refuse to Play

Some writers simply refuse to get on-line. They write books and have no want for social media, and that’s cool if you can write a book a month and simply bombard Amazon with so many books something eventually sticks (though without social media this is a tough way to get paid, but doable).

Option Two: Play Our Own Game

We build our brand. If we’re going to work for free then it will be for OUR BRAND. We build our brand any number of ways (my preference is the blog because no one can arbitrarily shut down your site). But whether it is videos, blogs, images, it is under OUR NAME.

We cultivate our own audience and eventually they will know us, hopefully like us and buy books and such.

Option Three: The Honey Badger Hustle

Option two can naturally dovetail into this. In fact, it is on my business plan. I hope more of you join us. The more honey badgers, the better for creatives. We must stop caring so much.

Trust the process. Build a brand, cultivate an audience and THEN approval and money eventually will come, but only if we are fearless and selfish. We must rabidly guard our dreams and HUSTLE.

Millennials inherently or accidentally understood that if they built it (the audience) the MEGAs would come…to THEM with MONEY.

We can learn from this. A lot of bloggers already have.

I know a mommy blogger who’s making $15,000 a month…off ADS ALONE.

Trust me, she started at ground zero and didn’t waste time or content on any MEGA to “launch” her. They pay HER to help THEM.

The Honey Badger Hustle is when we understand the hustle and use it to OUR advantage—out-hustle the hustler, so to speak. We still can write for MEGAs but in a symbiotic way. Everyone wins.

Now, I’m off to eat some snakes ūüėČ ….

In the End

We’ll unpack this grift more as we go along. This is a system over a decade in the making, and I can’t unravel it with one or two posts.

Yet, if you Honey Badger UP, learn to be fearless. You can be tough, but social media is NOT tough. Teenagers can figure it out. A toddler with an iPhone can do better than a lot of us.

I can help you. We are all worth being paid for what we do well and anyone shaming you for wanting to be paid is a user.

Honey badgers don’t care.

What are your thoughts? Have you been afraid of social media? Confused and thinking you were playing the old game and the old rules? Are you scared? It’s cool. Shows you are onto something. I am here. Haven’t abandoned y’all in eight years, so y’all are stuck with me.

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for 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).

I hope you take the red pill, and I am here to guide you.

Social media is and should be super fun and that while you might need solid training, you DO NOT need a team of professionals paid a never ending stream of cash to “manage your brand”. You also DO NOT meed MEGAs to “launch you.”

I can train you what to do and how it all works. How you can create something where MEGAs come to YOU…

I have two upcoming classes Social Media FREEDOM–Harnessing Passion & Creativity to Cultivate Fans¬†& Harnessing Our Writing POWER–The Blog

I highly recommend you sign up for one of our upcoming classes listed below, especially to properly prep for Nano.

Fail to plan, plan to fail ūüėČ .

****Note, those who subscribe by email, the visual gallery doesn’t show, so please click through and sign up!¬†We look forward to seeing you and serving you in class! Helping you be the best you can so your work can stand apart ūüėÄ .

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BLURB BOSS: Writing Blurbs that SELL BOOKS. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 10, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
BRAND BOSS! When Your Name Alone Can Sell. $45 USD. Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
PLOT BOSS: Writing novels readers want to buy! $40 USD. Thurs., Nov. 16, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Bad Boys. $45.00 USD. Friday, November 17, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie.

Today we are going to dive back into social media because who we are on-line impacts the odds of our success. Whether we like it or not, engaging on social media and cultivating a following is going to massively impact our professional success (or lack thereof).

In sales we had a saying, Fish where the fish are. Well my darlings, the fish are schooling on social media. When we are online we are not only engaging with the readers of today, we are cultivating future readers. This applies as much to the pre-published newbie as it does the internationally best-selling author.

We are wise to remember that we now have entire generations glued to smart phones and LinkedInInstaSnap, and if we don’t learn how to navigate these waters? Bad juju.

This said. Social media is an extraordinarily powerful tool that is too often treated like a toy.

Would we do that with a chainsaw? Treat it like a toy? Not use safety gear and chase friends and neighbors and joggers with it and fling it around laughing without a care? No, likely not. But that chainsaw only has around sixty teeth when the Internet has MILLIONS of teeth.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Dave Hosford
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Dave Hosford

Social media is more dangerous than a chainsaw when we handle it recklessly. If you don’t believe me, I think there is a position open for a new SNL writer. The Internet is filled with stories of even regular people who acted thoughtlessly on social media whose lives were then upended. They lost jobs, destroyed their reputations, and even had to go into hiding.

Is it fair? No. But fair is a weather condition.

Does this mean we are to be afraid of social media? Well no more than we would be afraid of a chainsaw or a car or a power drill. We don’t need to be afraid of any of these tools, but we do need to respect their power.

Going PRO

Image courtesy of Flikr Creative Commons
Image courtesy of Flikr Creative Commons

Whenever we decide we might one day sell our book, we are making a decision to be a professional. Being a professional comes with certain rules that don’t generally apply to regular people.

Additionally, all authors are in the business of sales and I can tell you that nothing helps sales like good old-fashioned networking. When I was in corporate sales, there was a reason we hobnobbed at golf events and cocktail parties and lunches. We were there to get to know one another on a more intimate level. Learn about each other, talk about topics of mutual interest (business or not and more often not).

It was these loose and casual connections that with time, became long-term business relationships and friendships. Our goal was to cultivate an atmosphere that left others saying, “I cannot wait to give her my business.” Or, even better, “I cannot wait to recommend her to others.”

Simple fact.

Most people buy from who they know and who they like.

They DO NOT buy from people who berate them and call them names.

Whouda thunk?

Social media is supposed to be social and it is governed by the same social rules as any in-person get-together. Feel free to ignore these rules, but they will have consequences.

If we are consistently name-calling, ranting, arguing and trolling, and posting stuff that creates a toxic atmosphere of anger and hysteria? Other people DO have the right to say, “No, not in my space.”

I love Facebook. I am friends with all kinds of people and have zero interest in living in an ideological echo chamber. I feel my diverse group of “friends” is what adds richness and depth to my life.

I enjoy seeing other viewpoints, even if I might not necessarily agree. I enjoy seeing people around me passionate in supporting what they love, even when it is a cause I don’t happen to share.

The problem is, we have become a culture addicted to outrage.

Generation Butthurt

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It has become more and more apparent over the past several years. Now? It is ridiculous. I see people who have no problem blasting others and going for the throats of anyone who dares have another opinion. Oh, but they all seem to have the skin of a grape.

They are offended all…the…time.

They have two speeds: Offensive and Offended.

So many people have just become a never-ending fountain of some new thing to be pissed off about. It never…frigging…stops.

I’m done.

Would we act this way in a workplace? You know, every day show up with petitions and corner people at the coffee machine and call them names? Utter insults so repugnant that bystanders cannot believe an adult actually said it?

And, if we did act this way, how long before we were fired?

If we were in sales, would be woo a potential client by screaming at him? By calling him a sexist pig?

If we owned a business, would we be able to grow that business if, every time a customer came in to see what we had to offer, we were enraged and yelling? Demanding they listen to our grievances?

Some of y’all might be laughing, but I see this all the time on social media. I just want to pull the author aside and tell them their FB page is their storefront and it is decorated with hate and hysteria. Is that what they were intending?

We all have a right to be offended and we should be offended. Being offended has its place and is it at the heart of all great social change. But offended all the time? Frankly, no one really wants to be around those people long-term. It costs us health, peace, friends and yes, even money. Most people won’t remember every detail of what we say or do, but…

People will always remember how we made them feel when in our company.

So when I post anything I always ask how that might make others feel. That is my litmus on-line.

My Feed is the Adult Table

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In the ten years I have been on Facebook I had never unfriended anyone because of their beliefs, even those beliefs that are vastly different than mine. I still won’t. I love your uniqueness and have no interest in making you a clone of me.

The world can barely handle ONE of me, LOL.

But over the past couple of months? I have begun setting firmer boundaries. At first I will unfollow people who are just constantly negative (no matter their beliefs) and only unfriend if I can’t seem to escape any other way.

I don’t want that in my feed. I see too much of this junk already. I go to the gym and every treadmill faces a WALL of nonstop news. I don’t know whether my heart rate is up because I’m keeping a good pace running or if I am furious at the news.

Thus, when I get on social media? I don’t want to be surrounded by relentless rage, a constant stream of negativity and hate.

My FB is the adult table. Adults can discuss and debate and talk without coming emotionally unhinged. Adults talk on a variety of subjects. Children whine and complain. Adults can see something they disagree with and move on. Children rant and rave and stuff digital peas up their noses.

I used to befriend everyone who said they were a writer and still do. But, if this person is then consistently acting unprofessional? ¬†I don’t have time for amateur hour. I am only interested in interacting with other authors who value their own reputation and the reason is simple. If they don’t respect their own name and reputation, why would they respect mine? We can’t give what we don’t have.

Now when anyone sends me a request? I look at their feed first and see if this is the kind of positive and professional energy I want to incorporate into my life.

We Need to GROW UP

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Joel Kramer
Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Joel Kramer

I would love for every person using social media to do this, but every human on social media is not my concern. I am talking to authors who want to cultivate a platform filled with either readers, or at least with people who enrich their lives so they can write more books and better books.

Granted, I would love for every person who follows me on social media to buy my books, but selling books is not my sole purpose. I am on social media to reach out. To love and encourage and serve. To bring laughter and education. To brighten a dark day. I am also on social media to be fed and enriched and enlightened by others, but that only happens in the presence of respectful and thoughtful adults.

The same boundaries we place on children? Sadly, sometimes we need those on-line.

Courtesy of https://www.parentcoachplan.com/parenting-memes.php
Courtesy of https://www.parentcoachplan.com/parenting-memes.php

For those of you who might be feeling battered and war-weary on-line? You have a right to set boundaries. Gentle at first (unfollow) and if that doesn’t work? You do have the right to unfriend, to remove recalcitrant children and replace them with thoughtful grownups. We are authors not babysitters.

This is not censorship. Censorship is if we reported everyone we disagreed with to FB to get their page taken down. Setting boundaries is your right and it is necessary for emotional health.

Adults don’t mind posts here and there about politics, even when they disagree. They don’t mind a petition now and again. The DO mind a soap box getting planted on their heads every day. They are getting weary of armchair activists and they are quietly unfollowing and unfriending when we fail to be respectful.

I am so honored to serve all of you and I know each and every one of you will change the world. I hope you do and I can’t wait to see you do it!

What are your thoughts? I love hearing from you! What are your thoughts? Concerns?

And 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).

SIGN UP NOW FOR MY UPCOMING CLASSES!!! 

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses!¬†

All you need is an internet connection!

NEW CLASS!!!! How to Maximize Your Earning Potential as a Full-Time Author Learn from Hollywood Producer Joel Eisenberg in your HOME. This series is normally $400 but W.A.N.A. is offering it for $199.

Branding Master’s Class Series with Kristen Lamb¬†THREE social media classes, ONE low price. Only $99. It is literally getting one class for FREE!!!!¬†

Craft Master’s Class Series with Kristen Lamb¬†THREE craft classes, ONE low price. Only $89. One class is FREE!!!! Includes my new class¬†The Art of Character.

Individual Classes with MOI!

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS January 28th

When your Name Alone Can SELL—Branding for Authors¬†February 10th, 2017

Social Media for Authors February 11th, 2017

NEW CLASS!!!! The Art of Character January 27th, 2017

Blogging for Authors February 3rd

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

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Mike Licht

Ah the blog. Some of you might perk up at the word. Others? Blog sounds like some radioactive creature that hatched from a meteor and is only there to feed. Feed on your energy, your hopes and your dreams.

Many writers start the blog with high hopes, then a few months in? You can’t bear to go to your computer because the screen is a reminder of that shiny blog you started‚Ķthen abandoned to the spam bots.

A blog done properly is one of the most powerful tools in our social media arsenal.

Twitter could flitter and Facebook could face plant, but the blog will remain. In fact, blogs have been going strong since the 90s and have taken over much of what used to be the sole territory of traditional media outlets. Additionally, blogging is the only form of social media that plays to a writer’s strengths.

Writers write.

Many writers get overwhelmed at the idea of a blog.¬†But there are SO MANY blogs!¬†Yes, there are. But don’t let that number fool you. Yes there are a gazillion blogs, but how many are any good? How many are consistent? How many have been abandoned?

When we blog properly, the competition isn’t nearly as bad as one might imagine.

What vexes me¬†profoundly is when I attend classes on social media and blogging and witness eager authors listening to advice that frankly? Sucks. Not long ago, I literally walked out of a blogging class at a conference…namely because shutting up is not my strong suit.

So today, I want to outline some basics for you and get you asking and answering the correct questions before you begin to blog. If you want to know more about the author brand/blog I go into great detail in my book¬†Rise of the Machines.¬†I also have two classes coming up—Branding for Authors¬†(May 16th) and Blogging for Authors¬†(May 20th). This will keep this post a reasonable length because blogging is a vastly complex topic.

But the biggest question we need to ask in the beginning (before we get stuck) is….

What Kind of Blogger Do I Want to Be?

An Author Blog is Different

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

One thing I want all of you to understand is that the author blog is a distinctively different creature. Part of why I got so angry in the class I walked out of was because the expert failed to make the distinction and acted like a blog was a blog was a blog.

NO.

There is a HUGE difference between a blog and an author blog so you need to ask yourself this BIG question before you ever get started because it will impact everything that follows.

Is your goal to become a professional blogger? Or, is your goal to use your blog to build your author brand and eventually drive book sales?

There’s no wrong answer, but there is a vast difference in approach and planning. Often bloggers will use monikers. Think Scary Mommy, The Bloggess, or Pioneer Woman. For a blogger, this is perfectly fine since the goal is to build the BLOG and often the goal is to become big enough to be able to sell ad space.

If, however, you are wanting to be a successful author who blogs? A moniker makes your journey unnecessarily longer and harder and will only add layers of friction to your brand. The only acceptable author brand is the name printed on the front of your books.

People don’t like thinking and they’ve gotten really spoiled. If I spend years blogging as HappyFunGirl, then no one browsing novels would even notice Kristen Lamb because I branded the wrong name.¬†

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Steve and Shanon Lawson
Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Steve and Shanon Lawson

There is another constraint worth mentioning. Content. Often blogs revolve around a particular area of interest—cooking, family, parenting, pets, etc. These are all non-fiction topics and stuff the left brain loooooves.

The problem is that authors are selling a right brain product (fiction). Why are we selling a right brain product with a left-brained brand? It’s bait that’s less than ideal. Again, it can work, but it isn’t connecting the way it needs to in order to cultivate a fan base for fiction.

Another problem when we start a subject-based blog? It’s easy to burn out (get stuck). An author blog gives us far more flexibility and freedom in our content that will keep us passionate about writing for years to come. We won’t feel chained to a subject that no longer interests us.

Courtesy of Imagens Evangelicas vis Flickr Creative Commons
Courtesy of Imagens Evangelicas vis Flickr Creative Commons

Platform Matters

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Why it is really critical to define our goals in the beginning is this is going to dictate where to build our blog. Any “expert” who says the only difference in a free platform and a paid platform is how many fonts, colors and backgrounds you have to choose from, doesn’t know her stuff.

The reason I’m a huge fan of the blog is the blog is a great way to drive book sales in a noninvasive way. We blog on something that catches interest, a reader clicks and likes and subscribes, and over in the corner, what do we have?

A shopping cart to BUY our books.

The entire reason I became a social media expert was I fell victim to the same bad advice I’m warning you of today. The same advice being given in 2016 in that class.

I didn’t know that the real difference in the FREE version and the PAID one had everything to do with BUSINESS.

In the FREE version, we cannot conduct commerce, which means no shopping cart. I didn’t know this in the beginning and it wasn’t until I had over 25,000 subscribers that I realized my mistake. By the time I had books for sale? There was no moving my followers, my 500+ blog posts and my tens of thousands of comments.

I had to start at GROUND ZERO if I moved. Yes, I was STUCK.

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***Actually, WP now will allow me to move everything but I had to wait five years for the technology to catch up to my oops. I’ll be moving over the summer when things slow down. It will be¬†way easier for me to have a shopping cart instead of having to hyperlink books and classes every post.

But here is the deal, I’ve done all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to. Plan for success and just invest the $100 in a paid site. You will thank me later ūüėČ .

If you are stuck and not growing and not selling books? Might be time for an upgrade.

Interface Matters

We must remember that the easier we make it for people to find, interact, subscribe, follow, share and comment on our blogs, the greater the odds of the blog being successful. This is why I strongly recommend a WP based website. I know some authors love Blogger and are very successful using it and if so? Sally forth. This is more for the new folks.

WP, in my POV, is far more user-friendly. Blogger makes me solve five CAPTCHAS, submit a haiku, three letters of reference and a blood sample before I can comment. This is why if I click on a link and see the post is Blogger based? I don’t even read.

Blogs live and die by the comments, so no matter what platform you use, please make it easy for people to comment and share.

When authors don’t get comments and followers it is super easy to get discouraged and give up. Change the interface. It might just be your readers are having a tough time connecting.

Bonus Blogging Tip

If you start an author blog, make it your landing page on your author website.

Static pages are boring and no one wants to go there. This makes it easier for you to use blogs as bait to get folks to your site where hopefully they will buy books. Remember the more we make people click to navigate, the more chances we have to lose them. If the blog and shopping cart are right there on the landing page?

BOO-YAH!

Also, if you blog regularly putting your blog on your author site (home page) will make the search engines looove you and will give you algorithmic advantage which is essential for success ūüėÄ .

What are your thoughts? Did you realize there was a difference between the blog and the author blog? Are you seeing some things you’ve been doing that might be stalling your blog? Have you lost the love for blogging?

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. 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.

More Classes

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line (THIS FRIDAY!!!) This is a great diagnostic for a floundering plot. I can tell what is wrong (or even right) with a plot by looking at the log-line. The first ten signups get their log-line shredded IN CLASS and for FREE.

Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist¬†This class will teach you to be a master plotter. No antagonist, no plot. Weak antagonist, weak plot. Additionally this class will teach you how to put conflict and tension on¬†every page.

Hooking the Reader—Your First Five Pages¬†The first five pages are one of our best selling tools. We fail to hook the reader and that is a lost sale. In this class, we go over the art of great beginnings. Additionally, the upper levels Gold and Platinum I actually LOOK at your pages and critique your actual writing. I am offering DOUBLE PAGES for FREE so this is a fantastic opportunity to get feedback from a pro.

 

 

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commins via Per Gosche
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commins via Per Gosche

I’ve been an advocate of writers using social media since 2004, before social media was really a¬†thang. In the early days of¬†Gather¬†and¬†MySpace it occurred to me that we were seeing a fundamental shift in how humans would 1) be communicating 2) forging relationships and 3) finding/discovering entertainment.

Digital Age Writers? You have…no…idea.

Back in my day *wags cane* we were fighting the Russians and there were NUKES pointed at us for twenty years. We had to get our moms to drive us to a library to research for a paper using the Dewey decimal system. There was no Google. 

If you wanted a popular book and didn’t save enough babysitting money to preorder the next David Eddings book in the Pawn of Prophecy¬†series? In hardback?¬†You waited.

Your turn. Like behind fifty other people.

And hoped the book wasn’t overhyped crap and the last thing you’d read before being¬†nuked.

In my day, you wrote stories in ink by hand. Or? On THIS thing…which you could use to brain a Russian….before he nuked you.

Thomas' Pics Image via Flickr Creative Commons
Thomas’ Pics Image via Flickr Creative Commons

And you prayed to GOD that your little brother properly screwed on the cap to the whiteout so it wasn’t dried into one glob of white goo. And if you changed your¬†mind where a scene went?¬†TOUGH FRIGGING LUCK. You should have plotted it out better the first time, Smart Guy!

#welcometoREALcutandpaste

When I was growing up, we didn’t know the author. Writers were proper and respectable and had the basic decency to keep their weirdness hidden from the public eye.

Freaks.

And books? We had to go to a store. A real store with like walls and freaking shelves. And if they didn’t have the next Dragonlance book? Well then cry you whiny little baby. Cry. You had to WAIT and hope you weren’t¬†nuked before they got in the shipment.

I had a friend who skateboarded alone to a B. Dalton’s. Yes, he was nuked.

Okay, I’m finished ūüėÄ .

For now.

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Image via Aaron Flickr Creative Commons.

Okay, Twitter. You writers today are so¬†spoiled but many are just wrecking one of the most powerful ways to build an author brand. Or, to go with today’s goofery? Nuking it.

What’s been strange to see is how in the older days when we were forced to interact face-to-face, interpersonal communication was just natural. Social media is supposed to simply be an extension of that. It is meant to be social and a reflection of how we would interact¬†in person.

As a social media expert, I run into all kinds of strange behavior and tips that make me scratch my head. It’s as if the second we want to create a brand or mention we have a book for sale, we forget everything we know about being human.

Twitter is a great way to build a brand and connect and cultivate future readers, but it is shockingly misused.

Today’s post (obviously) is tongue-and-cheek, but humor can be the best teacher even if we’ve oopsed. Thus, here are eight ways to nuke your brand. Like glass-factory-glow-in-the-dark-grow-500-pound-strawberries-for-the-next-six-hundred-years.

Yes, I am being a drama queen. Too much Aqua Net killed off my brain cells.

So Eight Ways to NUKE your BRAND.

Tip #1—Only Use Automation

Writing a 140 characters is SUPER time-consuming. We aren’t Jack London. Besides, people love robots. I know when I feel lonely, I call AT&T because I know a human being will NEVER answer‚ĶEVER. Humans can be so boring and don’t offer us the option of hitting 6 if we want to hear everything they just said¬†all over again.¬†

Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.
Yeah, all my BFFs send me automated messages.

Real Life Application: Program cell phones to call friends and family at regular intervals to ask for money. They’d dig that.

Tip #2—Make Sure All Preprogrammed Tweets are “Carefully Crafted”

Because when we take time to artfully craft our spam, people don’t mind. They LOVE believing a real person is there only to be fooled. It’s like when that cute guy/gal in high school pretended to want to go out with us. Now we can relive that experience as adults by being duped into thinking we were chatting with a real person who actually cared.

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Real Life Application: At the holidays, volunteer to bring one of those awesome fried turkeys, then show up instead with Tofurkey. They won’t know the difference.

Tip #3—When Programming Tweets Include Popular Hashtags…ALL OF THEM

Who goes to social media to socialize? People LOVE finding a community of real people to talk to and then having it crowded out by the same advertising over and over…and over. Because research shows that it takes at least 20 times to see an annoying face before we want to punch it.

Real Life Application: Some people see a funeral, others see a target audience in need of some cheering up with a NEW BOOK. If potential readers aren’t coming to us, we should go to them. Find where they gather then SELL. So what if it’s against their will?

Tip #4—Make People Prove Who They Are Before Talking to Them

Twitter validation services are awesome. We love meeting someone, only to have to jump through hoops to prove our love. We even get the added advantage of being redirected off Twitter to an outside site where we’re easily hacked. How else will all our friends receive direct messages from porn sites posing as us? Nothing seals an on-line relationship like giving others a social media disease. Who will they think of when they have to spend hours removing viruses and trojans from their computers.

Can we say “Top of Mind”?

Come on! It takes three whole seconds to unfollow a bot. We need those precious three seconds to carefully craft witty preprogrammed tweets. Let the other person do the fifty hoops of leg-work to earn our trust. They have plenty of time.

True Twit. Yeppers.
True Twit. Yeppers.

Real Life Application:¬†Whenever we meet someone and start chatting, if we like them, suddenly stop talking and find a way to casually get samples of their hair for your portable drug testing kit. Hey, gotta be safe these days. Don’t want to just chat with any weirdo.

Throw in a urinalysis to be extra sure ;).

Tip#5—Tweet LOTS of Articles—Ok, ALL Articles

Most of us, when we wake up in the morning, think, “Gee, I wish I had a super long reading list. I sure miss my college syllabus.” Those of us with a corporate job LOVE people who hit Reply ALL so we can read more. Wikipedia is a hot place to hang out. Why not bring that encyclopedic magic to Twitter?

Real Life Application: Make sure to print off a box of articles for that wedding you were invited to. Who wants to dance or flirt when they could be reading about intestinal parasites? Handing people a stack of reading material is way better than getting trapped in a “conversation.”

Tip #6—Ask for Stuff Immediately

Oh, sure! Let me drop everything to buy your book.
Oh, sure! Let me drop everything to buy your book.

The second someone befriends us, it’s our job to send an automated link to their Direct Messages so they can do stuff FOR US. Buy our book, like our FB page, follow our blog, or even answer a really inane question (as if we care about their answer) *rolls eyes*. Hey, great to meet you. Do you like vampires or werewolves?

Huh?
Huh?

Real Life Application: If someone is nice to us in the grocery store, make sure to have books to sell and the ability to take credit cards on the spot. Sure, that person is trying to buy a chicken to make for dinner and now she can buy OUR BOOKS, too. Win-win. If we don’t have books for sale, we can ask for life, love or career advice from total strangers, because that isn’t creepy at ALL.

Tip #7—Tweet from Several Accounts/Identities

People on Twitter might miss out on all those “carefully crafted” preprogrammed tweets. Make sure to have anywhere from 2-7 identities sending the same messages. What’s better than spam? MORE SPAM, duh.

Real Life Application: This tactic rocks for singles on the dating scene. Meet a date then several times throughout the conversation, change names and accents. Multiple-personalities are just more people to love.

Tip #8—Never Tweet ANYTHING Original Just Retweet

Again, 140 characters cuts into word count. Save time and retweet what everyone else has to say. Two clicks? DONE.

Real Life Application: Repeat what everyone else says. Don’t you remember how your siblings loved it when you did that to them?

I am not kidding.

I am not kidding.

Why are you repeating everything I say?

Why are you repeating everything I say?

Okay, I am going to tell Mom.

Okay, I am going to tell Mom.

Man, those were good times…until the arm-bar and atomic wedgie.

Okay, Serious Now 

Twitter can be very valuable and a great place to make wonderful friends. Be real and enjoy. People are on social media to be¬†social. We crave connection, fun and escape. If we wanted more ads we’d read the door in the bathroom stall or not bother fast-forwarding through commercials. We don’t need to be profound, deep or immensely witty to do well on Twitter, we just need to be vested, present and authentic ;).

Don’t Get NUKED! A PSA from Kevin Bacon and yes I totally ripped off his idea. Good writers borrow great writers steal ūüėõ

Before we go…

THIS SATURDAY! We can’t sell a book if we cannot articulate in one sentence what that book is ABOUT.

Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line. Our stories should be simple enough to tell someone what the book is about in ONE sentence. If we can’t do this, often there is a plot problem. Okay, about 99% of the time there is a plot problem. I can tell by a log-line what is right or wrong with a book (HINT: So can agents). Save a ton of money with editors and a lot of time trying to fix the wrong stuff and spring $35 for TWO HOURS of fun with me. Recording of class is included with admission.

This class is great for teaching you how to be master plotters and the first FIFTEEN SIGNUPS get their log-line shredded for free, so you will be agent ready.

I LOVE hearing from you!

If you are old enough, how did YOU suffer? Writers today have NO CLUE! We used to get paper cuts!

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.

And yes, I am a complete and total slacker. December’s winner will be announced later because I seriously had three posts go viral. Great problem to have‚Ķbut tabulating a winner? Gonna take a little time. Love you *air kiss*

Remember to check out the new classes listed at W.A.N.A International.  

Branding for Authors (NEXT SATURDAY).¬†This is your best way to get PAID in the digital age. We have to cultivate that 1000 die hard fans who won’t settle for FREE.

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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We’ve been talking about social media and building a platform the past couple of posts. I know this is a topic that makes most of us break out in hives, especially when you don’t yet have a book for sale. Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt. It’s sort of like credit. You can’t get any credit because you don’t yet have any credit but you don’t yet have any credit because no one will give you credit because you don’t have credit.

My head hurts.

Thus, today is for all levels of authors. Yes, even Jane Newbie who hasn’t yet finished the first book. We are going to talk about the bare essence of branding.

In my book¬†Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World¬†I go into a lot more detail about the science behind branding, but today we are going to talk about why our everyday on-line behaviors collect into a larger pool we call “author brand.”

The thing is, humans have always had a “brand.” Brand in its simplest form is what adjectives we attach to another person. Before the digital age and social media this idea of “branding” simply extended into our social realms in places like school or church or clubs. Why? Humans dig labels. It’s how we make our larger world manageable. Thus, people might be tethered to words like “band geek” “jock” “prep” “gossip” “jerk” “soccer mom” etc.

As we grew older our personal brand included our occupation and this was a good way to do business. I was a member of Rotary for seven years. I was friends with “Ken the Stock Broker,” “Mike the Plastic Surgeon,” “Tom the Orthopedic Surgeon” “Debbie the Realtor” “Kim the Physical Therapist” and on and on and on.

Not one of these people needed to drop a flyer in my lap when we met for lunch. I knew who they were and what they did and I relied on their “brand” when I needed their service(s). It was far preferable for me to go to Dan the Dentist (who I knew and liked from Rotary) than it was to go on-line and hope I scored a dentist I liked.

But why did I “like” these people? Did I really need to get a full resume of their experience to at least give them (their services) a try? Not really. “Gene the Money Manager” was a nice family man and I enjoyed his company and that was good enough. He made the “sale” without ever “selling.” It was probably less about what he did and more what he didn’t do, but this is where we start getting into some neuroscience.

The Neurological Shortcut

Our brains are remarkable organs that have the ability to adapt to our environment. Before the invention of the written word, our memory centers were far larger because we had to pass down information orally. In fact, if you took an MRI of an tribesman from some South American tribe, his brain would look and act very different from yours or mine.

Then, with the advent of the written word, our memory centers shrank but we gained even larger areas for abstract thinking. This is around the time we start seeing major explosions in science and engineering.

Now we are in the Digital Age, and we’re bombarded with stimuli. Internet, television, radio, smart phones, pop-ups, etc. etc. We’ve lost our stellar memory centers and our ability to focus for long periods of time and have gained an unprecedented ability to multitask. We process massive amounts of information faster than ever before.

Think about it. We see ads on Facebook all the time. Or do we? Our brains have literally learned to un-see. We cannot manage all the input. So, if we (authors) are eventually going to advertise our books, how do we make our content visible?

Since our brain is much like a computer processor, it must come up with ways to effectively manage all this input in order to maintain efficiency. To do this, it relies on what are called somatic markers.

Somatic markers are neurological shortcuts and are one of the most primitive functions of the brain because they are uniquely tied to survival and procreation. It’s the same shortcut that tells us the stove is hot. We don’t need to sit and ponder the stove. We likely learned when we were very small not to touch.

To give you an idea of how somatic markers work, let’s do a little exercise. Is there a perfume or cologne you can smell and it instantly transports you back in time? Maybe to that first love or even *cringes* that first heartbreak? A song that makes you cry? Perhaps there is a food you once ate that made you sick and even though there is no logical reason you shouldn’t eat it now, the mere thought of eating it makes you queasy.

These are somatic markers. When it comes to branding, somatic markers are king.

The Pepsi Challenge

If you are around my age or older you can remember The Pepsi Challenge. For years, Pepsi had been trying to gain an edge over Coca Cola who had dominated the soda industry for generations. So, they came up with the idea of setting up a table in stores and shopping malls and encouraging people to take a blind taste test.

The results were astonishing.

In a blind taste test, people preferred the taste of Pepsi. Coke was rattled by this and they did the same test and it turned out, people preferred the taste of Pepsi…and this led to brilliant ideas like “New Coke” which was one of the most epic failures in history.

Why did New Coke fail?

Coke had reformulated to make the drink sweeter. In blind taste tests, New Coke was a clear winner. So then why did it tank so badly?

Somatic markers.

Years later, neuroscientists decided to see if they could demystify what happened in The Pepsi Challenge so they conducted the exact same experiment, only this time they hooked participants up to an fMRI machine so they could witness what areas of the brain lit up.

So, they held the taste test the same way it was conducted in the 70s. A blind taste test and to their astonishment, people preferred the taste of Pepsi. According to the fMRI the ventral putamen, the area of the brain that tells us something tastes yummy lit up like Christmas.

*Some have speculated that when it is only a sip, people will prefer the sweeter drink.*

The scientists then decided to try something a bit different. They did the test again, only this time they told the participants what they were drinking. This time, Coke won. Ah, but something strange happened in the brain. Not only did the ventral putamen light up, but so did the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with emotion and memory.

See, when it was based on taste alone, Pepsi won. But, when the¬†brands were compared, Coke won. The human brain was in a wrestling match between two very different regions—taste and emotional. Coke had the advantage because of the vast reservoir of fond memories associated with the brand.

Norman Rockwell Americana, cute polar bears,¬†I’d Like to But the World a Coke, every BBQ, summer vacation, rollerskating parties, Friday nights with pizza and on and on all were part of the Coca Cola arsenal. The fond memories (positive somatic markers) associated with the brand literally changed the taste and gave Coca Cola the winning edge.

Every Bit Adds Up

This is why every interaction on social media matters. Right now you might not have a published novel and thus you don’t have 15 hours or more of an emotional memory to link to your name (yet). But you can get on social media and do a little bit every day.

Start building your own Coca Cola experience.

Even authors who are published. Keep the brand strong in between books a little bit every day,

Every time our name floats by on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. what emotional experience are we tethering it to? There are two types of somatic markers—positive and negative.

Last time I mentioned that it was possible to have a belief system without giving everyone else indigestion. I have people on Facebook who I actually¬†agree with politically and I have had to unfriend because I don’t feel like being hysterical all the time. If I wanted doom and gloom and panic attacks I would watch the news. I don’t like feeling hopeless and powerless. I don’t enjoy being attacked.

Imagine that.

This holds true for how we act in person. Would we want to hang out with someone who just ranted and raged and complained all the time? Who called other people names and became belligerent when anyone dared to disagree? And I am not suggesting anything that wouldn’t be prudent in a regular workplace. Social media is simply an extension of the social realm. There is no “magic” to it other than be kind and treat others the way we’d like to be treated. Somatic markers are what make us “likable” in person or “on-line.”

Somatic markers also have the power to give us an edge when it comes to sales.

We see ads all over. More than ever before in human history. But when we have a positive experience, we notice the ad. For instance, I never realized there were so many red Hondas until I bought one. Now, I don’t believe the overall sale of red Hondas changed any, but I noticed them because I¬†had one.

If we see an ad for a book, we may or may not notice. But what about an ad for a book written by someone we know? Someone perhaps we talked to and liked? The ad practically leaps from the page. We might even buy it because we SAW her ad and OMG! I know her!

Ads alone have very little power to compel a purchase. But, couple them with a brand, and the odds greatly improve. We can use some simple understanding of how the human brain works to better guide us in what we should (or should not) post on-line.

Remember last time we talked about kitten memes. Don’t underestimate them. Think about it. If every time my name floats by on Facebook it is¬†attached to something that makes you SMILE, that has an impact. We might not be aware of it, but our brain is attaching somatic markers to a name.

When I see X, it is a good thing.

When I see X, I want to punch things and I feel sick.

At the end of the day, this is a long way to say that brands are simply what we learned in Kindergarten. Every interaction matters and it all adds up. With some planning, discipline and intent, we can better guide what it adds up to ūüėČ . We will talk more about simple ways to start building a brand. This can be an enjoyable experience.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a perfume you used to love, but then someone you despised wore it and you no longer could stand the smell? Have you had a bad experience with a food and to this day can’t eat it? Do you think of summer vacation whenever you smell Coppertone, too?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, 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.

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.¬†