Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: marketing

The truth shall set you free. Pretty sure all of us have heard that phrase at one point or another, even though this seems to ignore the fundamental reality that it is human nature to avoid truth at all cost.

My last post, Welcome to the Matrix–You Work for Free & There IS NO Payday threw down some hard truth that many of us are participating in an illusion. It was a rather meaty, deep post so today we are going to laugh a bit because we need to.

It’s Friday the 13th.

So I’m gonna be KILLIN’ IT! 😀

I am going to—in this post—demonstrate how Viagra is encouraging men to become pirates and Home Depot is in collusion with Cialis.

Completely true story I just made up.

Anyway…

In the last post I used the movie The Matrix as a metaphor for the reality of what is happening to creatives and we will chat on that more later.

The thing is, ALL of us are in some way powering The Matrix not even realizing it. Creatives are making the content to sell the goods & services which generate money. Money and The Matrix (media) are linked and one cannot survive without the other.

But, it is ALL powered on telling us we are not enough…without X.

Remember in the movie the computer started out trying to make the illusion world perfect for the human Duracells—like a perfect nirvana-wrapped-in-heaven–but the humans wouldn’t buy it?

They asked too many questions and wouldn’t comply with that illusion because it was “too good to be true.” The humans/batteries all had this face…

So the computer had to go make this illusion of life all hard and add in some suckage so humans would be good and obedient batteries.

Yes this has a point….

Welcome to Marketing 101

The whole media-consumer-machine is The Matrix. It only works if the batteries are unhappy and unsatisfied.

See almost all goods and services send out a lot of conflicting messages and most of the time we (humans) don’t even notice…because we are all confused.

Marketers understood this. It’s why they use this confusion and our dysfunctional desire for approval to sell us stuff.

I don’t know about y’all, but my family expertly threw out what I call “boomerang compliments.”

Kristen you are so incredibly smart…which is a blessing because you aren’t beautiful like your cousins.

Nana, WTH?

This meal you cooked was amazing!  Just maybe next time you could use more salt?

Mom, seriously?

Your house is beautifully decorated! The bright colors made it where I didn’t even notice all the cat fur.

Nana. Just…stop. Please.

Anyway, if you grew up like I did, knocked half unconscious with boomerang compliments, then you might have turned to books, shows, magazines or mentors/gurus to learn to think in “healthy” ways.

Perhaps you even went on-line in search of some kind of “non-toxic” affirmation that you were not a total disappointment.

And OMG! *angels sing* There it is!

The Media LOVES US for WHO WE ARE

We found it! The site for women and it says we are enough. No, more than enough. Perfect the way we are. Heck-to-the-yeah! We knew it the whole time *does cabbage patch*.

But then that website or magazine that just told us we were more than enough as we already are….

Wait…what?

It has a gazillion articles of how we can improve and be even BETTER. And these articles, they are sandwiched between ads promising products and services to help us no longer suck.

Wait. You said I was perfect, but I need fixing? So I AM damaged. Oh, okay I see. See, I thought I was supposed to love myself as I am, imperfections and all….

But, my bad. You’re right. Truth hurts. I do have chubby thighs, wrinkles and so much laundry I’m fairly sure I lost one of my kids. Haven’t heard from the smallest one today. I will buy and do all of this and THEN…then I can love me for ME. Good. We have a plan. 

So glad you are NOT like my critical family.

 

Cool. Good. I am so happy I found this site because before, I thought I was just supposed to be okay being me and I was wrong. But NOW I have help because your site has 10 Ways to Have an Immaculate House and Trim My Thighs at the same time using household cleaning tools to get fit with…

Swiffercize…

Directions:

Hold in your core as you stand in front of the refrigerator.

Now, bend and dust, and bend and thrust. Squat and swoosh, and firm your tush! Floor is clean and now you’re lean!

Dust those high places ladies and say goodbye to flabby arms!

Really this is genius. I can have a clean house like in Good Housekeeping a firm body like a movie star AND save money because I don’t have to pay a gym and all while improving my time-management skills.

#Genius

****Oh and there is that anti-depressant ad for when none of this crap actually works.

And after all of this, I finally realize Google is proof there is life after death and Nana is now in a better place. Nana has reached a higher level of being in The Matrix.

The mean old bat is now Google and she is STILL fixing me.

The Matrix is Powered by Imperfection

Self-acceptance is something many of us struggle with and the fight gets harder day by day as our culture bombards us with ideas and products and services founded on us being “less than” while promising some kind of “perfection.” 

They’re selling magic creams to us older gals telling us this Oil of Delay will make us look like a model half our age who’s been Photoshopped when she really didn’t need to be Photoshopped because she isn’t old in the first place!

She’s a kid and has like maybe a zit…not even a wrinkle or if she does, it’s a wrinkle that’s small and more like a…a pre-wrinkle.

We are so used to being lied to, we don’t even question it because most of it if we took a few minutes to apply some critical thinking, The Matrix would all unravel.

Never Question The Matrix

Critical thinking is like holy water on The Matrix. Commercials, ads, programs, and hype sizzles and screams and loses power if we just stop…and think.

I’ll prove it.

Men are told that if they buy a blue pill it will dramatically enhance their sexual vitality so they can go sailing…alone. WTH?

Sailing by themselves and that doesn’t even make any damn sense.

Guys, seriously. Someone call Viagra. Like if you’re buying a pill for physical intimacy with what we are assuming is another human (as in more than one person involved in this activity) then the whole going sailing alone just…

I don’t get it. I mean are you a pirate? Does Viagra make you a Viking, and the dude in the commercial is sailing off alone because the plan is to raid an island of unsuspecting sunbathers?

Y’all do know that is illegal. Viagara, I’m assuming you consulted your legal department on this.

Okay. I will stop. Just please to make me feel better, put another living person of consenting age on the boat in the commercial and I promise I will stop over thinking this…..

No.

Seriously. Just one more. I can’t leave this one be.

Cialis

If your drug works so great, why aren’t the TWO people in the same bathtub? I confess. I am no spring chicken, but I’m not so old I can’t recall the 1990s and…

*brain heating up*

How does this pill work? Like does it make the male libido so powerful that it…teleports? And us gals are supposed to be Schroedinger’s “Cat” in that the footsie-time is both there in OUR tub but not…at the same time?

Because now all I want to do is to e-mail Neil deGrasse Tyson on this, because your drug is proof there is a multiverse where older people are scoring by apparently folding space.

And is this why we only ever see these folks in your commercials from the back…because their eyes have turned blue like the Fremen?

#HeWhoControlsTheSpiceControlsTheSexyTime #TheSpiceMustFlow …into these bathtubs because water sure isn’t.

Okay Cialis, I mean no disrespect. I get y’all mean well.

I admit, many of us older couples are cranky and tired (mainly of finding Barbie shoes and Legos in the bed) and you’re just trying to help.

We appreciate the effort, but the message just gets us all confused because unlike young people, older people THINK. We in fact think too much…which is a big part of the lack-of-nookie problem.

This pill is so us older people can be super hot and frisky like when we were twenty. The PILL will make us fixate on love and kissing…instead of fixating on how to kill out the crabgrass in the lawn or that the tile in the bathroom needs to be repaired.

In two separate bathtubs…on a hill.

Which—just being honest here—your metaphor only confuses us and lead our minds everywhere BUT a bedroom. In fact, it makes anyone married or over the age of 35 to forget about nookie altogether.

Instead, a lot of the guys start contemplating how the hell someone got two tubs on a hill…with working plumbing.

So the men are all:

My wife isn’t gonna want tubs in the backyard now, right? I can’t lay pipe like that. Hell, I’m not twenty-two. I’ll throw out my back with all that bending and digging. And the yard has crabgrass. Crabgrass spreads, man. You gotta stop it when you see it.

Simultaneously many of us women are all pissed off because we see the look on our husband’s face when he watches that dumb@$$ Cialis commercial.

We KNOW that look.

We saw it right before we banned him from watching home improvement shows after he tore out our pantry shelves then never put them back.

We know our husband is trying to figure out how to install bathtubs in the yard because he thinks that is what we want. No, we want our pantry put back together because we misplaced all our spice.

That, and he still has to get rid of all the crabgrass…’cause it spreads. Neighbors don’t want that spreading to them, too.

So the women watch the Cialis commercial and are all:

Oh no he isn’t. If he thinks I’m gonna go outside and maybe up a hill to clean all that? Nossiree. What about the one we have that’s old and needs fixing? He isn’t trained to lay pipe like that. He doesn’t need to! He already bought the caulk, the jumbo size for more than one job! And the CAULK is still in the drawer. Unused. Untouched. Probably turned from white to blue now and won’t look right.

Wasted caulk. 

No. Not today. NOT today.

Home Depot has to be behind all this, because we are now thinking of needing more caulk.

Defeats the whole purpose. Cialis? Seriously fire that twenty-something marketing person and hire an over forty romance author.

***You could also hire the over 40 erotica authors…but only HBO could air the commercials.

Where was I? Sorry, I got hung up on that. But all this proves my point about The Matrix. We are all plugged in and buying an illusion without question. We are just accepting that we are not enough and the X, Y or Z would remedy that.

It won’t. Happiness is what these folks all sell, but happiness is highly overrated. Want to know why? Because happiness relies on happenstance. Our surroundings, what we have or don’t have dictate how we feel.

This is why they sell LIES. Lies sell STUFF. It just sells a lot of CAULK.

Truth can, however, bring contentment, and maybe even JOY if we let it. Love and friendship and family and kids in all its messy imperfection can actually be enough if we let it be. We can actually be at peace with wrinkles because a line-free face is just weird…and expensive.

Then you just get more wrinkles because you have to pay the medical spa bills.

Embrace the lines of laughter and pain. You earned them. When we learn to be at peace with the messy house because it means we have a home. When we learn to love our cellulite-laden legs because it means we have LEGS. When we embrace the Legos that just shredded our feet for the brief window of childhood that will soon be gone….then, THEN the Matrix loses its hold.

Happy Friday! Enjoy! You and hubby go play pirate and slave girl, and maybe even let him wear the eyepatch this time 😀 .

What are your thoughts? What are some of the ads that make you go W…T…H? Like why are there NO women over 50 in an ad for anything but adult diapers, arthritis meds? So no women over 50 wear lipgloss? Or buy cars?

And guys CAN actually dust. I have witnessed this. And it is SEXY. Men all mopping and asking for some-some…

Why can’t a hot older DUDE be in the Endust commercial? Men dusting is a turn on! Ask any woman.

In fact. Rescue the Viagra guy from his boat where he’s all alone (tempted to be a pirate which is illegal) and give him a dusting rag? Oh yeah sell some Cialis AND some Endust.

THAT is thinking people.

What about you? What are your thoughts?

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 😉 .

****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 😀 .

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here). $45.00 USD. Wednesday, October 11, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Painting With Words: Using Description and Sensory Details. $40.00 USD. Saturday, Monday, October 9, 2017. 7:00-7:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Social Media for Writers. $35.00 USD. Thursday, October 19, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Harnessing Our Writing POWER---The BLOG! $50.00 USD. Thursday, October  26th, 2017. 7:00 p.m.--9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Today, we’re going to do something a little different. You want to know one thing I love probably more than anything in the world? Spotting great talent and getting to share it. Thus, today I would like to introduce you to one of my followers who snagged my attention over the holidays and I asked her to come and share her wisdom today because I think we can all gain something from her (even me because am always learning BAY-BEE!).

I would like to introduce, Britt Skrabanek!

****

Indie Author Britt Skrabanek
Indie Author Britt Skrabanek

A lot of you may be wondering how I ended up on Kristen’s blog in the first place. She’s pretty big-time, an influencer—she’s worked her tail off to build her brand presence. Many of us look to her for writing tips we can actually use, knowing some esoteric BS like “If you write it, they will come” will not be waiting in our inbox to insult us.

Chances are, you have no idea who in the heck I am.  But, Ha! Now you do 😀 .

I’m an indie author.

Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Drew Coffman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The other thing I am, even though it’s more difficult to say than “writer”…I’m a businesswoman. Me—a beer-drinking, tree-hugging Yogi in Portland—I’m in the marketing biz.

When Kristen and I were working out logistics for the topic of this guest piece, she said to use my business/social media wisdom with you guys. In her typical no-nonsense wisdom, Kristen said: “There is some savvy to this.”

You know what? There is.

Writing here is a big honor for me. I’ve been following Kristen’s blog since I started my indie author adventure many moons ago. The reason why she was kind enough to invite me over to her place was, quite simply, because I did some savvy marketing.

I was greatly inspired by one of her blogs on branding, Why Our Author Brand is More Important Than Ever. So I mentioned her in the post I wrote, and though we hadn’t talked more beyond a casual conversation on her blog, I asked if she would share it on social.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 8.58.53 AM

She shocked the hell out of me when she asked me to write a full piece on her blog. My small-time blogger heart went pitter-patter. You know what? I took a chance with a marketing tactic and put myself out there. All she could say was No. But maybe…just maybe, she’d say YES.

:D.

Many of you introverted writer types are totally cringing right now. But if you want others to know what you’ve written, you have to do more than shut up and write.

Writing is only half the battle. We have to market it—tell people about it and hope to God they’ll listen.

Quitting Is Easy, Not Savvy

Like many of you, I threw myself into this writing thing without knowing diddly-squat about marketing, sales, and branding. I believe that writing a novel is one of the greatest achievements of the creative mind, and though anyone can self-publish, not just anyone can pull it off.

Wallpaper image courtesy of David Turnbull via Flickr Creative Commons
Wallpaper image courtesy of David Turnbull via Flickr Creative Commons

Sure, they can put some crap out there on a whim. Amazon makes the process nice and easy—and free. To actually write a novel, you must have a die-hard imagination, you have to be relentlessly organized, and above all, you have to have the vision to see it through.

WAY back in 2012 when I self-published my first book, Beneath the Satin Gloves, I thought people were going to buy it. Real cute, isn’t it?

With great diligence, I followed the indie author rules. I had the almighty platform, with a weekly blog and consistent social media posts. Such a sweet little nobody writer I was…I started building my platform two months before my book release.

So, you can guess what happened. My friends and family, out of pity and curiosity, were my paying customers—my only fans. After that release weekend, my sales fell off.

I’m not going to lie to you. I was devastated and I wanted to quit writing. I was editing the final draft of my second book when all of this was going on, and I had to stop before I chucked my laptop out the window.

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

About a week later, my temper tantrum was done. There was no moment of clarity or anything—I just realized how ridiculously naïve I had been. As Kristen said, there’s some savvy to this. We can write a badass book, but it will never see the light of day if we don’t learn how to sell it.

To sell our book, we don’t need to sell our souls, but we do need to sell ourselves.

Why Writing Isn’t Enough

I’ve self-published three novels and I still have a day job. I know how heartbreaking it is to hear that writing isn’t enough. Writing the best content possible—whether it’s a blog post, a tweet, or a full-on novel—is a must-do. Also, a must-do is engaging people. One of the ways I’ve found to make a living as a writer has nothing to do with fiction. (Shocked, aren’t you?)

I’m a Content Manager at a B2B (Business to Business) marketing agency. While writing about email metrics and marketing automation isn’t as fun as writing about a lounge-singing female spy in WWII Berlin, I’ll tell you what is fun about it. I get to learn what it takes to get people’s attention.

Everyone's a critic...
Everyone’s a critic…

Because every business has a blog these days, we’re in the same boat as indie authors. That boat is rickety as all get-out, and most of the time we’re trying not to sink into the sea of online noise.

We have to work our buns off within our niche, we have to provide value to our target audience, and we have to be consistent and tactical.

These are the non-negotiables of creating content to bring awareness to your brand. Awareness is just the tip of the iceberg of the buying cycle, and people have a very long way to go before they make a decision to buy.

I know that’s a lot of B2B jargon, but I hope you’re still with me. Because these realizations are critical for any indie author to understand.

Knowing this will keep you from bailing on your dreams.

There Are No Short-Cuts in Marketing

Image courtesy of EpSos De via Flickr Creative Commons
Image courtesy of EpSos De via Flickr Creative Commons

By now, you may be thinking that I’m just a spineless marketer. As a fellow indie, I’m just trying to keep it real. If we go back to this savvy idea, think about what that means. Someone who’s savvy is intelligent, but they’re also cool and charismatic.

As writers, we have to be Rico Suave. Remember that song? Watch this and you can have it stuck in your head for a week. You’re welcome…

In the 90s it was a one-hit wonder, but the singer, Gerardo, left us with an unforgettable image. Like “ubered,” Rico Suave crept into our English slang. Seriously, it’s in Urban Dictionary. This is branding, people.

We’re running a business. We creative types freak when we hear this, but the likelihood and longevity of our writing careers depends on it.

Have you ever seen a business become a sensation overnight? Me neither.

Starry eyes can happen to anyone—not just indies. In fact, starry eyes happen to businesspeople all the time, and guess what? Their business fails.

I had the craziest conversation with a guy I know, who is basically a B2B marketing superstar writer. He really has a handle on business writing and blows my mind with his ability to bust out copy on a daily basis that consistently engages people.

BUT, Mr. Savvy B2B Marketer had starry eyes when he started his personal blog. I had seen his first blog post release, and I congratulated him. As we talked, he told me he wanted to have 5,000 blog subscribers by the end of the first month.

My jaw dropped open. 5,000 subscribers in the first month? Holy s*&t…how?!

I asked him to share his master plans, because with almost four years of blogging under my belt, I have yet to reach 1,000 subscribers. (P.S. This is something I’m totally okay with, because engagement is more important than follower numbers any day.)

Anyhoo, he discussed duplicating the blog content on LinkedIn and possibly some social ads.

Aha, aha. Though I would never dare to copy and paste the exact blog content on LinkedIn to potentially piss off the Google Gods, I nodded along with the tactics. Getting your content in front of different audiences through different channels is good stuff.

I waited for more master plans that never came. We talked a couple of months later, and he was disappointed in his traffic. He wore that defeated writer expression I was all too familiar with, and he was already considering quitting his blog.

Because 5,000 subscribers in the first month of blogging would be a damn miracle and…because there are no shortcuts in marketing.

So, How Do We Stand Out as Writers?

AHHHHHHH!
AHHHHHHH!

Write good s&*t and become Rico Suave. Kidding, kidding. Kind of.

As devout followers of Kristen’s blog, you all know there are so many elements at play, and one measly blog post isn’t going to cover it.

I’ll be completely candid with you guys and tell you I’m one of the most impatient people I know. Now perseverance is a very different thing. Perseverance will propel you forward, so you can finish the novel you’ve been working on for three years. Impatience will disappoint you, make you think you’re not good enough when people don’t come running to buy your book you worked so hard on.

Impatience doesn’t serve us in the self-publishing world. Perseverance does.

I know we’re sick of hearing it, but it takes time. Building a brand/business is a necessary part of being an indie author, and it doesn’t happen on its own.

We have to keep going. We have to be savvy. And most of all, we have to do it for the love.

***

THANK YOU, Britt! Just so you guys know, I actually do pay attention when you link to me or talk to me. Most posts I do take time to read and this year my goal is going to be cultivating and promoting a fresh crop of W.A.N.A. talent because that’s what W.A.N.A. is all about. Teamwork. Big fish helping the baby fish so THEY can become big fish…who then help the next baby fishies.

I hope you enjoyed Britt’s perspective and please check out her site and all her social networks are listed at the bottom of this post so you can follow her. I asked her here simply because I wanted you to know that what you are feeling right now is NOT unique to writers. Yes, most of my job is working with you guys, but I’m also a consultant for I.Q. Solutions in major big brand marketing with companies like Absolut, Budweiser, Luis Vuitton, etc.

Trust me, when we are in a world that BEER companies are struggling? You know it’s tough.

I can tell you that even the big names are having to hustle to keep, gain or maintain an edge. So don’t get too hard on yourself because this is just the tough reality of the digital age. We cannot do business like it’s 1992 and survive let alone thrive.

But good news is… We Are Not Alone.

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.

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…but 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.  

Registration for Branding for Authors has been EXTENDED (thanks to me getting a stomach bug). 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.

Also, I have one craft class listed.

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

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

Britt Skrabanekis the spirited indie novelist of Nola Fran Evie, Everything’s Not Bigger, and Beneath the Satin Gloves. Her blog is a whimsical snapshot of life, musings, and the glory of the written word. She is blissfully married, has two delightfully incorrigible cats, and loves to experience the world—all of its quirky beauty inspires her endlessly. When she’s not writing, she’s a bike-riding Yogi who loves to dance.

Links: Website | Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | YouTube

 

Image from Street Art Utopia.

One of the words writers hear a lot of is “platform.” What is it? How do we get one? How much time do we need to put in on social media for it to count? Do we get time off for good behavior? All good questions, but before I address them, I’d like you guys to understand something very important:

Author platforms are not the same as they used to be.

If we fail to understand how author platforms have changed, we will look as ridiculous as the guy trying to hitch horses to the front of an automobile. Not only will we look silly, but it will only be a matter of time before we give up in frustration, because nothing we do seems to work.

Platforms Once Were Easy to Control, Thus Easy to Measure

Back in the day, platforms were generally only available to those who could afford one. Hiring a PR expert, distributing a newsletter and even building a web site were all extremely cost-prohibitive. Sure, one could also build a platform by doing speaking gigs or writing articles for publication, but one had to establish credibility before getting a toe in the door, so we are right back to platform went to only a handful of individuals.

And if we happened to be fiction authors, then just forget about building a platform. It was simply too expensive. The only way we had of building a platform or brand was through publishing our books…and that, too, only went to a slim percentage of people who made it through gatekeepers.

Additionally, platforms used to be built in ways that were easy to quantify and measure–I.e. how many clicks on a web site, how many attendees for a speech, etc. In The Old World—B.F. (Before Facebook)—it was easier to measure our influence because our brand/platform was relatively static. It was easy to measure how many people tuned into a radio show, a morning show, and how many “clicked to buy” after these types of events.

PR experts would create an image and that image remained largely unmodified unless it wasn’t working…or the “subject” decided to go crazy and create a Kardashianesque scandal worthy of hiring a spin doctor.

Ah, but Times, They Have Changed

These days, platforms are organic, especially those platforms built using social media.

Is there any other kind?.

We can’t control what happens to the content once we let go. Additionally, social media is a two-way exchange. If Bed, Bath & Beyond sends me a mailer, they aren’t expecting me to like it, then photocopy it and distribute it to my friends. Yet, that is exactly what we are after when it comes to social media. We are trusting others to take in what we offer (content), like it and then pass it on to their networks.

The Upside & The Downside

What is wonderful about social media is that we always have the potential for world-wide exposure, to go viral, etc. We also have a lot more fluidity than years ago. We can write in different genres or dabble in transmedia or become hybrid authors because followers are interacting with us daily and real-time.

Yet, the downside of the new paradigm is that social influence is virtually impossible to measure. For more about why, go here to my post The Dark Side of Metrics—Writer Friend or Ticket to Crazy Town? Not only is social influence virtually impossible to  measure…but it is accessible to everyone. In the old days B.F., we were only competing against a slim few with the cash or tenacity to build a platform. Now? To quote The Incredibles

When everyone is special then no one is.

In a time when everyone has access to the same tools, how can we ever hope to stand apart?

So all of this is to say that platform and brand have changed as much as publishing has. If writers want to survive and thrive in the new paradigm, they must let go of the old and embrace the new.

A New Attitude

One of the largest hindrances I see to authors building a great platform has to do with their attitude toward being required to build one. It’s just another chore, a drudgery. It makes us feel weird and dirty, like we are selling out and compromising who we are. I totally appreciate these feelings, because I have felt them, too.

I felt them before I really understood what author platform meant.

In a world where most writers are moaning and groaning about being required to have a platform, the only chance we have of standing apart from the masses, is we must change our attitude and our approach. Sure, easier said than done, right?

No. Not really. I think if we take a moment to peel back why we feel the way we do, it will be easier to enjoy this new leg of author evolution.

So Why Does Building a Platform Make Most of Us Feel Icky?

How many of you ran out and bought John Locke’s book, How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months? Hey, I did. I can always learn, and Locke actually had some really great ideas, but I did have to ask myself some hard questions. Why didn’t his methods resonate with me? Why did many of Locke’s tactics make me feel queasy, as if I had escaped one sales job just to land another one? After a lot of thought, I realized it had to do with intent.

When experts throw around phrases like “target your audience,” I must confess that all I can think of is a red-dot laser site landing on someone’s chest.

 

I am writing a book. Prepare to be targeted.

Maybe it’s just me *shrugs*.

See, Locke will even tell you in his book that he is a born capitalist. He worked in sales for years and started all kinds of businesses. To him, books were just a new way of making money. He saw a tremendous marketing opportunity in the shifting paradigm, and he used his talents and went for it and it paid off. He spent $25,000 figuring out what tactics worked and what failed. He experimented with all kinds of genres and tactics, but not because his art and love happened to be writing.

Locke’s art and love was capitalism and marketing. 

You can see Locke’s excitement coming off the page as he relates his stories of how he tried all kinds of tactics to see where the numbers went. Locke’s art form happened to be numbers. Writing was just the medium, much like a sculptor might choose marble or clay. The reason Locke has such passion is he is doing his art.

But is Their Art Your Art?

For writers who have a love of sales, Locke’s book will really resonate because you will be doing your art. OR, you will at least be blending two arts you love together—sales and writing. Yet, for writers who break out in hives at the mention of the word sales and who are in this for the art of writing?

Hasta la vista, Baby.

Same thing with the PR & social media marketing people. They love to offer suggestions of how to help writers. They are lovely people who are sharing their art, and they want us to love it as much as they do. Some writers do love their methods and find PR and social media marketing is their art, too and that is why these classes have a lot to offer even if they differ from mine.

But what about the rest of us?

What if Sales/Marketing is Not My Art? Am I Doomed?

No. Not at all. But I will challenge you to stop trying to make their art your art. Think of it this way. Some of you, if I said you would be required to also design your own book covers would squeal with joy. Why? Because you also have a love for drawing or graphic design in addition to being a writer. You have more than one art. 

Our art is not our skill; our art is where our heart and passion rests.

Some writers do wonderfully learning marketing and sales skills because it is congruent with an existing passion. Some writers didn’t even know they had  a passion of on-line marketing, but, after a class at a writing conference, they were hooked once they had the know-how.

For the rest of us?

You could teach PR and on-line marketing until the end of time, and we would still hate it with every fiber of our being. We’d hate it just as much as a kid who loves building model airplanes being forced to learn to play the piano. For this kid who is forced to learn an instrument, piano would be a chore, and because it is a chore, any music he makes would always be robotic. It would always lack the essential ingredient that makes music art—passion. 

This is the same reason that writers who hate sales and marketing will always fail. Because it is a chore, it will lack the critical ingredient to connect—passion.

But, Kristen! All of us have to get out there and sell and market!

No, you don’t. I know many well-meaning people have told you this is the case, but it is a false syllogism. A false what? A false syllogism.

Example 

All people who dig ditches sweat profusely.

You are sweating profusely, therefore you must be digging a ditch.

For Writers?

All master salespeople and marketers have platforms that sell lots of books.

Writers need platforms that sell lots of books, therefore writers need to be master salespeople and marketers.

Or…

All social media technology experts have a large platform.

Writers need a large platform, therefore writers need to be social media technology experts.

NO!

We Can’t Fake Passion

If we hate what we are doing, people feel it. Conversely, when we interact with passion, people feel that, too. Why do you think I am so against automation? People who pre-program all their tweets do not love Twitter. They don’t LOVE interacting and thus there is no passion, so no connection.

This is why doing social media this way takes such HUGE numbers to be effective. It is the same ROI (return on investment) we would get with sending out spam e-mails or junk mail–about 1-5%. Thus, for every 20,000 followers, only about 200-500 will listen and fewer will care.

Words are Our Art

Social media is nothing but words. We writers use words to create feeling and emotion. We use 26 black letters in various combinations to spark passion and interest. Social media can be a drudgery when we aren’t connected to our muse. Yet, when approached with the correct attitude, social media a new canvas for the writer-artist.

We will talk more about platform and ways to make social media our art next week. In the meantime, I want you to answer some questions:

What is it I fear the most about social media?

What do I believe it is taking away from me?

What are the emotions I want readers to feel when reading my work?

Of all those emotions, which one is the most important? Do I want people to feel love, passion, inspiration, courage?

So what are some questions you guys have? Do you feel better now that you have permission to hate sales? Can you spend some time defining your own art and think of ways to infuse it into your social media? For those already doing this, can you share with the rest of us?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And 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 every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of March 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: I will announce last week’s winner later this week. I am having problems with my web site and e-mail and my web people are working to remedy the problem. Thanks for your patience.

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.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

50,000 Inimitable Smiles by Margie Lawson over at More Cowbell

How to Get Media Coverage for Your Book over at Jane Friedman’s place

Was March 2012 the Day that Traditional Publishing Died? by the ever-brilliant Bob Mayer

Amazon Signs Up Authors Writing Publishers Out of the Deal by the NYT

Beautiful Breakups–What the Revision Process Can Teach Us by August McLaughlin

How Can Modern Writers Become and Stay Visible? by the fabulous Jody Hedlund

Ten Things You Should Know About Setting by the awesome-sauce Chuck Wendig

Being the social media expert for writers has been an interesting experience. I recall when I first started teaching social media, most writers refused to use e-mail. I used every shiny thing I could think of to convince writers that social media wasn’t the devil, it was actually going to be the key to our freedom. We no longer had to throw everything to chance. We had some control over our futures!

Now that we are in the throes of the Indie Revolution, writers are really embracing technology and are seeing the liberation I promised years ago. Yet, the debate rages.

What is the Key? What is the Secret to Success in the Digital Age?

Product–Some say it is content. Write good books and lots of them.

Platform–Some say it is social media. We must build an amazing platform or we will be invisible now that EVERYONE can be published.

Promotion–Some say it is all in the bundling, promotions, give-aways and blog tours.

What do I say? All of the above…but likely to different degrees. If you want to know more about the Three Ps, check out NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer’s post Platform, Product, Promotion. And YES, folks, this post was good enough for me to go digging through the WDW archives, so check it out…seriously.

But back to our topic.

There are all kinds of arguments about what is the most important. Frankly, it depends on your strengths, but these days, to really become a success? REALLY a success as in “sellabunchabooks success”? We need to be stronger, faster, and smarter. We must be better trained than any writer in human history.

Every vocation evolves in the face of new technology, but for today’s purposes I want to talk a little about war. War? Yes, bear with me.

Kristen’s Brief History of War

See, in the beginning when disputes could no longer be settled with name-calling and stealing goats, we used rocks and sticks. Of course, it wasn’t long before some dude figured out how to totally cheat and affix a pointy rock (flint) on the end of his stick…CHEATER!

So, then Man retreated to the caves to figure out what could be done about those dudes that were cheating and affixing pointy rocks on their sticks. They chewed on those red berries that helped them stay up late into the night and finally handed the problem to their engineer–Og–and Og figured out a way to use some dried critter tendons and TIE them to the stick and then shoot the other stick with the pointy rock affixed to the end. He named it after his favorite pet monkey…Bo.

True story I just made up.

A thousand years later–give or take a few centuries–the art of firing pointy sticks was, indeed, an art. In fact, once we figured out a little bit of basic geometry (Thanks a lot, Archimedes) we got to use cool gadgets like catapults…which, strangely have nothing to do with cats.

So not only did we figure out new weapons, we also had to devise ways to shield ourselves (no pun intended) from whatever weapon was all the rage of the Dark Ages, Renaissance, Civil War, whatever. In fact, one really fascinating subject is the architecture of castles. Did you know that, after the advent of the cannon, the shapes of castles/forts changed. They transformed into shapes that resembled stone starfish…not stoned starfish. Stop giggling and pay attention.

Why did the castles/forts change shapes? Well, because a flat wall, when hit with a cannonball just caved. So, the architects realized that if they changed the shape of the castle, the cannonball would always hit with a glancing blow. It could never hit flush, so the walls would be far harder to take out.

Yes, I am trivia flypaper.

Anyway, fast-forward to the 20th century. In WWI we really started seeing the influence of the Industrial Revolution on warfare, but soldiers still were often just used as fodder and we see this all the way up through WWII. Those in command just threw sheer human numbers at the problem.

Yet, in Vietnam, everything kind of came to a head. War had changed so much. We were no longer two sides lined up an a cornfield shooting in the smoke and whoever had the most dudes standing at the end was declared winner.

No, it was all different.

We were facing submarine attacks and air attacks and machine gun attacks and HOLY COW NUKES! With each new technology, different technology had to be invented to overcome the other technology. But more than the technology changed…the people changed.

The soldier changed.

Gone was the illiterate youth conscripted off the farm and handed a musket. Today’s soldier is highly trained and highly educated. He (or she) learns basic hand-to-hand combat, but he also learns how to use technology so space age most of us wouldn’t know whether to hit the “On” switch or hit it with a stick. And I am not even talking Special Forces, because, well they are special. Just everyday enlisted people have SO much training and education to keep pace with modern warfare.

Soldiers now operate predator drones and bomb-sniffing robots. They use laser designators to drop bombs, and we even have dudes who have to do trigonometry before they kill someone (they are called “snipers”). Today’s armed forces is smarter, faster, and better trained than any force in history.

The thing is, as technology marches forward and changes our world we either evolve or we die. No one ever heard from that other tribe after Og invented the stick-thrower, btw.

What Does War Have to Do with Writers?

Now back to writers. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we must be GOOD AT IT ALL, especially indie people. Gone are the days of Hemingway where writers could power drink, chain smoke and hide away writing books with little to no outside communication with the world (except the agent and occasional book signing). That is as archaic as going to war with a slingshot. Sure, the slingshot rocked back in biblical days, but now it is a formula to DIE.

Writers Don’t Have to Be Literary Fodder

Do you know where the word infantry came from? The Latin word infantem, which means “youth.” In early warfare they would put the young and inexperienced youths in the front ahead of the seasoned soldiers and essentially use them as fodder. If a kid survived, he got promoted. It was a sheer numbers game that was bloody and brutal and ended mostly in death for the infantem.

Sound like the traditional publishing paradigm?

Throw enough new writers out there and the one that survives gets another book deal. In the indie age, we no longer have to be fodder, but we have to be TRAINED and we need to be part of a TEAM. Blind luck is for the foolish.

The Competition is Getting Leaner and Meaner

Yes, we need to write good books, but the competition can write good books, do social media AND run promotions. Haven’t you noticed more and more indies are making the best-seller lists? Sure they had good books, but they also had a ROCKIN’ platform, they blogged and marketed their tails off and all that hard work booted the traditionals from those top slots. I feel we are going to see a lot more of that in the coming months.This is why I work so hard to teach you guys about this business in a holistic way.

Product (Content)

We can’t put a shiny bow on a pile of literary dog poop and call is a rose. No amount of marketing is going to sell garbage. We have to learn to write good books. Notice I use the plural–books. We can’t slave over one book forever making it perfect. I said we need to write good books, not perfect books.

We also can’t toss junk out there and think promotion will make it a hit. Good books will always sell way more than crappy books. Not rocket science. We should always be learning as much as we can about our craft, our trade, our art. This is why I blog on craft and point you guys to the best teachers in the industry.

Platform (Social Media/Blogging)

But this is also the reason I work so hard to give you guys tools to do social media effectively and in far less time. It is also the reason I have created MyWANA (here is the short video that explains). Plug in on Twitter at #MyWANA or on our brand new MyWANA Facebook page here. Platforms take time to build, but they take a LOT LESS time if we are part of a team.

A New Breed of Writer Rises from the Ashes 

The Modern Writer is a BAD@SS. She writes, blogs, does social media and she has a killer team of fellow ninja-writers who have her six and offer cover-fire (Retweets). Lone writers DIE, but packs of writers create mayhem through the city taking all the wine and chocolate…

Wait, that went sideways. Try again.

The Modern Writer lets go of the past, the lone soul who sat alone, hunched over a typewriter and who was only responsible for glorious prose. The modern writer is part of a community and a team. She doesn’t whine about technology, she gets in and OWNS IT.

It isn’t called a slave drive for nothing ;).

The Modern Writer writes, promotes, learns newer and newer technology and manages a business. The She-Writer is a FORCE OF NATURE. The He-Writer is MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

The thing is, the Modern Writer is one of the most highly skilled people on the planet. We create new worlds and civilizations from black letters. We research, write, network, market, promote, run a business, learn a MOBI from a jpeg, and on and on, though we don’t have Predator Drones…yet ;).

We Have to Do it ALL?

So your WANA-Mama is here to tell you the rough truth. It is ALL important. Sure, some things we will do better than others. I write and do social media WAY better than promotional stuff. But that is why I have a TEAM. I have WANAites who will just looooove to get their sticky little paws all over my next book once it is ready to release. These people LOVE throwing parties and dreaming up games and contests. Not my strength…but it doesn’t have to be.

I feel that the authors who hammer on that the ONLY thing that matters are books and content, that is their strength. It is easy to tell others that the only thing that matters is a good book when you start the game with 10, 20, or 40 titles. It sort of feels like the one and ONLY time I played RISK with my family members (who cheat, btw). They felt that tanks were the key to winning the game. Well, sure, they had tanks…ALL of them. If you have ALL the tanks, then tanks are a pretty good plan.

The hard truth is that, to some degree, we are going to have to be able to be at least proficient in ALL of these roles. We need to write good books (plural), but we also need a platform and an ability to promote. This is why I work so hard teaching you guys on this blog, and I am also developing new classes and more classes to help make all of manageable, because it IS A LOT, but we are not alone!

Writers now must learn hand-to-hand combat (craft), but we also need advanced weapons training (technology), balanced with a little satellite communications & cryptology (social media and networking) and military strategy (business). We must be masters of gathering intel, or just let Porter Anderson do it for us (Go to Writing on the Ether). But the fact remains that, to survive and thrive in this new world, we need to work together. There is strength in numbers. We are not alone.

We are the Modern Author.

What are your thoughts? Have you been excited about the changes in the industry? Do they scare you? Do you feel more empowered or do you really miss the old ways? Hey, I am nostalgic. No shame in loving the traditions of old. What resources do you recommend to your fellow WANA peeps?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And 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 every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! 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.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

12 Things that Will Kill Your Blog Post Every Time by SEO Moz Pro

Six Reasons Author Should LOVE Timeline on Facebook over at Girls with Pens. Thanks Lisa Hall-Wilson. Frankly, FB isn’t going to give us a choice, so we need to learn what the heck we are doing. Great blog and yes, I switched.

BEAUTIFUL post by Colin Falconer. Where the Wind Blows Steady Down the Plain. Just gorgeous writing!

Cute post by Mark Klapowitz Remember When TV Programs didn’t Have Animated Promos for Other Programs?

Two Ways to Make the Most of Goodreads by Jane Friedman

The brilliant, talented Jody Hedlund chimes in about marketing on Are Your Efforts Unique or Do You Blend In?

25 Things You Should Know About Word Choice by the amazing Chuck Wendig.

Just Say It Sucks by Ginger Calem. What? That mascara doesn’t give me 9x thicker, fuller lashes?

For something different and REALLY interesting, Piper Bayard’s writing partner, Holmes gives us the skinny on Iran and Nukes and what it means.

Yesterday, one of the commenters asked my thoughts about introverts on social media. At first glance, it seems that social media, social networking and social platform-building is a job made in heaven for the extrovert. Well, yes and no. Actually, each personality brings a unique skill set to the table.

The terms “extrovert” and “introvert” were first made popular in the 1920s by the famous psychologist Carl Jung, then given further momentum later by the Myers-Briggs personality test. Over the past century, it appears our society has developed an unhealthy fascination with the extrovert, favoring the bubbly, outgoing energetic personality over their quiet, more contemplative counterparts. Corporations spend money by the buckets training their people to “group think,” and “team-building” has virtually wiped out all quiet reflection.

In a world that can’t seem to stop talking, the introvert is getting lost.

Yes, I am an extrovert *shock face*, but one thing you guys might not expect is that I actually score very high as an introvert as well. Every time I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs, I score almost dead even on the extrovert vs. introvert questions. I am technically an extrovert with strong introversive tendencies. It generally is only one or two answers that have tipped me over to the extrovert side. I do feel that introversive side is part of what drew me to becoming a writer in the first place.

So, let’s just say that I do have some idea of what it feels like to be an introvert trapped in a corporate culture that doesn’t value quiet time. I know what it feels like to slug though meeting after meeting with every person feeling the need to fill the air with chatter and suggestions, whether they’d thought them through or not. And to make matters worse, our culture seems to reward the person who is noisiest, regardless whether the person makes any sense at all.

I remember being part of a sales meeting and all the reps were tossing out what they thought the company’s main focus for the year should be. Lower prices! Shorter lead-times! More choices! The CEO was just beaming in the sea of all this noisy brilliance. After a while, I finally raised my hand said something that stopped everyone cold.

“Has anyone asked the customers what they feel is important?”

See, one area introverts shine is they tend to be better listeners. Most managers will seek out the gregarious chatterbox who isn’t afraid to strike up a conversation and recruit them to the sales force. Yet, the interesting thing is that what makes the extrovert supposedly “good” at sales, can actually be a hinderance. To be good at sales, the extrovert needs to, above all else, learn to be a good listener first…and that is an area where we extroverts can struggle. We get so busy being entertaining that we often forget to be quiet long enough to hear the real problem our product can solve.

Thus, when it comes to social media, introverts are at no disadvantage…well, not using the WANA approach. Originally I had intended to only post one vlog this week. But, since the weekend was such a disaster, yesterday, while Spawn was passed out on codeine, I filmed a quick vlog to answer this question…because talking is easier than writing at this point. And the Spawn is doing fantastic today. Thanks for all the prayers and support.

As you can see, the introvert doesn’t need to become an extrovert in order to rule social media. In fact, using WANA, introverts can actually rely on their extroversive teammates to carry on their message while they rest and recharge. Since WANA is a community, we all harness each other’s strengths while collectively mitigating each other’s weaknesses. TEAM–Together Everyone Achieves More. Introverts have their own special contribution, and we aren’t here to change your personality, just your approach. Introverts have just as much to contribute to the world of social media, so don’t try to be something you aren’t. No phonies!

So what questions do you have that you might like for me to address on the vlog? Questions about social media? Craft? Questions about sea monkey training? Throw it out there.

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of…heck it is close enough for 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 every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. 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 . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! 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.