Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: readers

Two weeks ago, I introduced you guys to the WANA Theory of Book Economics and explained why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books. Books are not like cups of coffee or breakfast cereal, and thus they require a different approach. Writers are unique as well. Since we are responsible for producing the product, we need a social media approach that leaves time to write great books. That was the first lesson to connecting to potential readers. We needed to know HOW to connect, WHAT kind of message to send and WHY.

We also needed to understand the critical element that could make a book a mega success. What was this key variable? We had to mobilize the fat part of the bell curve, that group of people who would not normally define themselves as readers. Harry Potter, The DaVinci Code, Tuesdays with Morrie, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Help all tapped into groups of people who normally didn’t read for pleasure. But, once some key non-readers read these books, word of mouth sparked like wildfire and made literary history.

Then, last week we discussed the typical non-reader. There is a misconception that non-readers don’t read. They DO read, they just happen to be highly selective. The benefit, however, is that once one of these guys becomes a fan? He is the most loyal, devoted fan any writer can have. Often this guy is the best salesman a writer can have, too. He is the flint that creates the spark that can start the fire.

Ah, but here comes the problem. Too many writers are getting on social media and hanging out with each other and marketing to each other. It is an over-saturated market full of people who can only buy so many books. Also, since all of us LOVE books, we might not be the best people for starting that wildfire of word of mouth that can push the non-reader population past the tipping point.

Many of you are chomping at the bit. Kristen, for the love of all that is holy, where can we find the magic well of readers?!!!

I would love to give a website. Go to www.loyalbookfans.com . Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Or a formula for success. A + B = Wild Success.

But, unfortunately there is no specific formula and no guarantee….BUT that doesn’t mean that we can’t change some behaviors that will improve our odds.

I did say it was simple to connect and mobilize the fat part of the bell curve, and it is. Simple, however, is not necessarily easy. There are actually a number of components we need to understand, but today we are only going to focus on one, because it is the most important. If we cannot do this, then nothing else matters.

We need to get sticky.

In The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, Gladwell defines The Stickiness Factor in the following way:

The Stickiness Factor says that there are specific ways of making a contagious message memorable; there are relatively simple changes in the presentation and structuring of information that can make a difference in how much of an impact it makes.

The Stickiness Factor not only applies to our social media message, it applies to who we are as writer personalities. It also applies to our books. Nailing what I will call The Sticky Author Triumvirate is key to publishing success. We need to get sticky on all three to have the best odds of reaching the tipping point.

Let’s take a look at The Sticky Author Triumvirate:

Get Sticky with Social Media Messages–One of the reasons that traditional marketing doesn’t work when it comes to books is because the messages are not sticky. In fact, we are so blitzed with marketing messages in modern society that most static marketing messages become white noise and invisible. Thus, why blitzing about our book non-stop on ten different sites is almost a total waster of time is that the message is rarely seen. Auto-tweets are ignored and are what marketing experts call clutter.

Additionally, it is not enough to have a million people “see” a message/pitch. There has to be a compulsion to SEE then ACT. If a zillion people see my commercial for car insurance, but none of them ever change policies, then the campaign is a failure. It’s a big waste of effort, time and money.

What can make people care? Care about them first. Just talking to people can go a long way to making a sale. People buy from who they know and who they LIKE. Stand apart from all the takers and learn to give.

Beyond that?

Sit and write out a hundred activities, shows, channels you enjoy. Yes, most of us love writing, but we love other things too. We need to extend ourselves and simply start talking to people. We have to learn to be unselfish. Stop demanding that others connect with us via OUR interests–books, craft, writing–and take initiative. We need to find the common ground and extend ourselves and connect where the potential READER feels comfortable.

Surely you have friends, family or coworkers on Facebook who are not writers. Who are they talking to? Who are their friends? Start poaching (befriending) normal people and talk to them. If you meet a pet lover on Twitter who works as an engineer and he is nice? Look at who his friends are and extend yourself. Hey, I am a pal of Jim’s. Thought I would say hello. (DO NOT pitch to them, just talk and be cool).

Just once a day make it a point to add non-writers who are active on social media to your network. Pay attention to them and start a dialogue. Be genuine and positive, and that will be STICKY. People crave attention and positive energy.

Next week we will talk more about why this is critical and how to use this tactic to reach the tipping point. Not all conversations have equal weight. But in the meantime? Let’s get sticky!

We Need to Be Sticky Writer Personalities–The Stickiness Factor applies to who we are as writer personalities. Chit-chat on social media is actually very valuable. People who repost, compliment, question, serve and are positive are MEMORABLE. We stick. People like us. When they think “writer” we become the first person they think about.

This is one of the reasons that it is beneficial to get out of the comfort zone and talk in other circles. As long as we are all hanging out with other writers we blend into the din. But, if we start talking to other people who love sports, parenting, knitting, the military, politics, animals, horses, celebrities, then we are now injecting ourselves into groups that are not comprised of people just like us. We stand out so we are a bit more “sticky.”

Pick a favorite channel on cable TV, a favorite show, or a video game, and I guarantee there is a Twitter # for it. Start talking to people who love #Lost or #AI, #Glee, #ESPN, #Oprah, #Ellen, #Halo #GoW. Profile your potential reader. What does she do with her day? Maybe she is a #teacher or she plays #WOW. Get creative and get out of that comfort zone.

Sure you can still hang out with writers, but we are your peers, not substitute for a fan base. To be sticky, we need to stick out.

Go to the websites of your favorite channels and shows and find their Twitter # and then make a column for it. Chat with people. I have columns for #GoW (Gears of War) ,#MW (Modern Warfare), #military because I am also an avid gamer and I am military. LOTS of great people in these groups.

We can use blogging to super increase this Sticky Factor. How? First, stop blogging about the same topics as every other writer. Blogging about writing is great, but not necessarily memorable. There are better things to blog about that can make you stick like Super Glue. Author blogs, written properly, are a FANTASTIC way to increase our Sticky Factor exponentially.

If you want to learn to get sticky with your blog, I highly recommend taking my Blogging for Author Brand Workshop. It’s only $40 and TWO months long (one month lessons and one month launch) and it is from the comfort of your home. There are tools and tactics that I am only sharing in my workshops and that I am saving for my next book, so this is a cool opportunity to get lessons I won’t be teaching on the blog.

Finally, We Need to Write Sticky Books–At the end of the day, THIS is why I teach social media for writers. We need to have time to write great books. Great books are STICKY. Sure, if I have a popular blog and a good social media presence I will probably sell some books. But, the only way my book can break past that initial layer of contact is to write a sticky book. Turn politeness into PASSION.

It is not enough for someone to buy our book. They must also love it so much that they can’t wait to tell someone, recommend our book or even buy a gift copy for a pal. THIS is how word of mouth wildfires get started. We will talk more about this next week and I hope you pick up a copy of The Tipping Point. It’s a fun read and highly relevant to all authors serious about creating a long-term fan base.

What are some things that make authors on social media memorable to you? What makes you want to share a message? What turns you off? What are your thoughts? Opinions?  I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of August, 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 August 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 am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Fave Stuff

My NEW favorite blog, Penelope Trunk’s Blog Blog Under Your Real Name and Ignore the Harassment LOVE THIS POST. Read THIS blog. “Awesome-sauce” as the brilliant Chuck Wendig would say.

Kait Nolan’s Can Cinderella Save Herself?

This is another gem (well they are all gems but this one is particularly shiny) Terrell Mim’s Living in the Dash. I cannot tell you how important it is that every one of you read this blog.

Writing Stuff

Don’t Be a Cheerleader for Crappiness–25 Things You Should Know about Self-Publishing by Chuck Wendig

Why Your Blog’s “About” Page Matters by Joel Frielander

Are You Keeping Yourself on a Short Leash? Great post about getting outside of the comfort zone by Kerry Meacham

What Do I Look Like, a Protag? Great advice about how to describe our protag without being ham-fisted and obvious.

The Changing Landscape of Publishing for Writers by NYTBSA Bob Mayer

Playing to Your Strengths by Jenny Hansen

Behold the Power of a Nap by Jennifer Hale

The Great Back-Story Debate by the amazing writing teacher James Scott Bell

How I Do It: Ease Into Responsibility by Jody Hedlund

Three Keys to Marketing in the Current Fiction Environment by Michael Hyatt

Three Things that Come First before You Tackle Social Media by the brilliant WD contributing editor Jane Friedman over at the awesome writer resource Writer Unboxed

Is Your Writing Group Helping or Hurting Your Career? by Steenah Holmes

You are Not Tolstoy or Dickens by Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner

How to Get Your Blog Post on Google’s 1st Page by Keli Gwyn

The Anti-Procrastination Diet by Roni Loren

How Much Time Do We Really Need to Write? by Natalia Sylvester

Funny Stuff

The Must-Have Urban Redneck Belt by Natalie Hartford

Planking–Not Just for Pirates Anymore by Piper Bayard

Lili Tufel’s Top Ten Signs You’re Married to an Author

My Dirty Little Secret by Tameri Etherton

Fun and Nerdy Fact Blogs

Who Were the Celts? by Kate Wood

Fiction is a tough gig. There are so many things that have to be developed, crafted, balanced, and brought to completion. Plot, setting, character, dialogue, arc, POV—it can get overwhelming. It is very easy to lose sight of the conflict and then our story gets stuck in the literary dolrums. Bad juju.

Two elements drive all great stories—character conflict and plot conflict. In good stories, there are generally two arcs, the plot arc and the character arc. One cannot be satisfied unless there is progression on the other. The character must grow or he cannot complete the next step in the plot. Each progression toward resolving the story problem also creates character growth. These elements work in perfect tandem.

This is one of the reasons that uber-perfect characters= BORING SNOOZE FEST. If our hero begins the story as a hero, then how can he grow? How can we (readers) worry?

Worry=Page-Turner

Everything else in a story, dialogue, scene-setting, description, etc. must support the conflict or be cut. Why? Because if these elements are not fueling momentum, they are, by definition, dead weight that can quickly leave a story drifting in the ho-hum world of “Ain’t Nothing Happening.” There is no conflict, no fuel, so the story loses momentum. If it sits idle long enough, the book can end up lost in the Burmuda Triangle the reader’s bookshelf, never to be seen again (until moving day).

Back to conflict…

When you look at the really great novels, each part serves a purpose. All parts work together like a highly efficient sailboat. With that said, how well do you think any sailboat would work with extra sails randomly sent up the mast? Everything on the boat must have a purpose and work to keep the boat afloat, to help navigation and provide momentum. If these components are neglected, it is likely the boat either will sink, go the wrong direction or will be left drifting at sea so long that all souls will perish.

Every scene must have conflict. Conflict must in some way involve the characters and serve to propel them either further along on the plot arc, or on a character arc.  Conflict doesn’t have to be nail-biting, cliffhanging tension. In fact, it is best to leave that sort of conflict for very specific parts of the story or you risk wearing out the reader. Conflict can be boiled down to somebody wants something, but then… This is the fuel that drives the machine of your story.

Think about the movie Top Gun. Was every scene a hair-raising ordeal involving dog-fighting jets? No. But there was plenty of conflict. Remember the scene at the club where Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell meets his future love interest Charlie Blackwood? Does he succeed? Or does he go down in a figurative ball of fire? This protagonist has an ego the size of Texas, and he’s used to getting his way. When he doesn’t, this propels him along on his character arc. He has to change or die, because the character traits that get him shot down in the club eventually will be the traits that can get him (and others) shot out of the sky.

The club scene in Top Gun serves multiple, multiple functions…other than getting to see a lot of really hot guys in Navy dress whites. The bar scene is a key sail to drive the character arc, when it easily could have been fluff and filler.

First, we get to see that pilots are human. They have lives beyond a cockpit. Or do they? That will be a key point developed over the course of the movie. Second, the audience is afforded the opportunity to witness how the protagonist’s blind spots and character flaws are affecting all aspects of his life in a negative way. His hotshot methods are beginning to show signs of breaking down.

Iceman, the story’s antagonist, is also present to witness Maverick fail. That is no accident. Now could this have just been a fun nightclub scene to show off hot Navy guys? Sure. But if that had been the only function of the scene, I doubt we would still remember it almost twenty years later.

All of us have to be wary of permitting our story to drift into the doldrums. We love our characters, our wonderful scene-setting, clever exposition and witty dialogue. But to write truly great stories requires brutal honesty. When we edit our work, we have to ask ourselves one question over and over and over—“What purpose does this scene serve?”

If it doesn’t have a function—a good, solid function that drives the story—it needs to either be modified or cut altogether. It’s a literary siren tempting your story to crash on the rocks, or what we more seasoned sailors writers like to call a Little Darling.

Little Darlings will KILL a novel. For more information about Little Darling Syndrome, go here.

So you need some ways to spot if you are drifting dolrums? Happy to help:

1. Remember that fiction is the path of greatest resistance.

One of the number one newbie mistakes I see is that writers resolve conflict too easily and too soon. Most of us go out of our way to avoid conflict in life, so it is very counterintuitive to seek to ADD MORE conflict when we write.

As an example. A few months ago I was helping one of my writing group peeps with her plotting and I noticed something.

“Gee. All your characters get along so well….and ALL THE TIME.” If her protagonist wanted to fight the rebels, the protag’s allies were right there. No one ever disagreed. Anyone who has run a committee more than five minutes knows that it is rare that everyone will be on the same page. Most of the conflict for our novel will actually come from intimate connections.

One example I like to use is the movie, Finding Nemo. Darla the Fish-Killer is the story’s core antagonist (what I call the Big Boss Trouble Maker), but we only see Darla in a few minute’s worth of scenes. She drives the entire story because if Darla had wanted a kitten for her birthday, Nemo would never need rescuing. Yet, in the big picture, Darla is rarely present. Who is responsible for most of the tension and conflict? The hero’s ally, Dorie.

If Marlin wants to go up, Dorie goes down. Every decision is maximum conflict…the path of greatest resistance. Each scene has a goal and the protagonist must reach that goal rarely if ever until the end. In each scene he needs to seem worse off than when he began. So go back through and make sure you aren’t making life too easy on your characters.

2. Look for the goal of each scene and make sure someone/something is in the way.

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat taught me a wonderful technique for making sure each scene has a purpose. Take an index card for a new scene, then write the goal at the top then who or what was in conflict.

After losing sight of the boat that took his son Nemo, Marlin wants to go home.

Marlin><Dorie

Marlin wants to go home, but Dorie wants to talk to Bruce the Great White.

-/+

(This little set of symbols above -/+? This symbol shows how the protag enters a scene and then how he leaves. Here, I use a – because at the beginning of the scene Marlin loses sight of the boat that took his son. By all accounts the story is over, but then Dorie, the ally/antagonist insists on talking to Bruce the Great White. At the end of the scene discover the critical clue that keeps the story going. The scene ends on a + because there is renewed hope to find Nemo.)

Ideally there should be a shift from + to – or – to +. If the protagonist is always ending on a +, there is little conflict and no reason to worry. If we have too much -, then the reader just gets depressed and gives up. Too many -s or +s will help you spot doldrums quickly.

There needs to be a fine balance of setbacks and progression to keep the reader hooked…just like a fish. Yank too aggressively on the line plot and the fish reader breaks free wears out and gets frustrated. Don’t yank hard enough and the fish reader takes off gets bored and turns on the TV.

3. Never leave a place to put a bookmark.

Fiction is real life with all the boring stuff cut out. Yes, we get that our protagonist must go to sleep, but never end a chapter with a character going to sleep (without introducing the next problem). This is a subconscious cue to the reader that this is a safe place to put a bookmark. Bookmarks are death.

Never let your reader feel good about using a bookmark. Bookmarking should be painful and only because it is two in the morning and the reader must get some sleep before work.

At the end of the day, question everything. It is better for us to give our fiction the trial of fire than for reviewers to do that publicly on-line. Ask the hard questions and be willing to cut away dead weight for the sake of the story. The doldrums is where you will lose most of your readers, so always keep the forward momentum. We don’t always have to be doing top-speed, but we do need to be moving forward.

What are your thoughts? What makes you get bored with a story and put it down? What tools do you guys use for spotting dead places in your stories? Share! we’d love to learn from you.

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of August, 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 August I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Last Week’s Winner of 5 pages (1250 words) of critique:

Michelle DeRusha please send 1250 word Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Congratulations!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

 

Last week I exposed why traditional marketing doesn’t sell books.  Sorry. I didn’t make the rules. Anyone in publishing more than a minute will tell you that the only way to sell books is 1) good book and 2) word of mouth. Ads, commercials, trailers, mailers, bookmarks have minimal effect on the overall sales numbers. If you want to know why, read last week’s post.

Sometimes it seems that life would be easier if traditional marketing could sell books because then we could pay for a nice book trailer and program an automated platform to blitz out “commercial” on every social site. Yet, the fact remains that books are not tacos or car washes. So what’s a writer to do?

Too many writers are in search of what I call “the White Stag”—the voracious reader who devours books like candy. WHY? How many books can you write? Who cares if someone only reads two books a year if one or both are YOUR books? Writers spend far too much time marketing to a very small segment of the population that defines themselves as “readers.” Too much book marketing is happening in places where we are least likely to find most people—book stores, author blogs, book review sites, reader forums. And, you know who makes up the most of these “reader” groups?

Other writers.

Thus, not only are we marketing to one of the smallest sections of society—the self-professed avid reader—but we are also spending far too much time marketing to each other. Writers get on Facebook and Twitter and hang out with each other, befriend each other and talk to each other. They blog about writing and talk about writing…at the expense of talking to potential readers.

Make no mistake, writers are awesome. I spend most of my time talking to writers. Yet, in fairness, you guys are my demographic. Ah, but hold on.  Calm down. Writers are incredible, kind and talented. We should befriend writers. They are our professional core and our support network. Yet, where the mistake happens is that fellow writers are our comfort zone. We cannot mistake our professional network for our reader demographic. Will writers make up part of our readership? Yes…but they are not ALL of our readership.

We MUST reach out to fresh blood and bring new readers into the family. If we don’t our platform becomes almost inbred, then starts playing the banjo and firing a shotgun in the air and it’s all downhill from there.

Too many writers spend too much time talking to a small group at the expense of the big picture.

Now, another HUGE misconception many writers have is that, unless someone professes to love reading that they, therefore, do not read at all. Major misconception. Avid readers simply need far less convincing because they already love to read.

Think of it this way.

If I am from India and I grew up eating curry all my life, then likely I will seek out Indian food restaurants. What if, however, I happen to open an Indian food restaurant in Garland, TX? In Garland, there happens to be a lot of people from India. Ah, but the problem is that with a large population of Indians comes a larger presence of Indian food restaurants. If all of them are catering to Indians and offering all kinds of authentic cuisine, then that is very steep competition. How can my little Indian restaurant survive?

I have to think differently.

I can go after the same patrons as all of my competition (fellow Indians), OR I can seek to introduce an exotic food to outsiders who don’t already believe they love Indian food. If I can convince Joe American to just try something different once…then my food can make the fan. Joe will see that MY Indian restaurant has awesome food, and he will not only be loyal (since he is still afraid that other Indian restaurants will give him heartburn), but he will also tell all of his Joe American pals who don’t believe they like curry either.

His opinion will carry more weight with this new population of potential patrons. Why? Well, it’s nothing shocking for an Indian person to love Indian food. BUT, for  Joe American who normally lives off hamburgers? His opinion is gold. Joe and his pals likely will still believe they hate Indian food….but THIS restaurant–MY restaurant–is different. My restaurant is that perfect choice for a date night or when you just want something different.

It just takes some creativity when defining our demographic. Put another way.

Why was Julia Child so successful? She made fine French cuisine accessible to average people. See, the other French chefs of her time defined their demographic far too narrowly. They all targeted an elite group of foodies. Julia, however, saw her demographic as anyone who could masticate food and who wanted to enjoy the experience. If you liked good food and maybe liked to cook, YOU were her demographic. Guess what? That was a demographic of hundreds of millions. The result? Julia Child became a legend. She didn’t patronize regular people. She believed that just because they hadn’t grown up in high society, didn’t mean they wouldn’t embrace it and love it if given access.

Too many writers narrowly define their demographic as those people who say they love to read books and they patronize non-readers.

Yet, what is our REAL demographic? Anyone in need of informing or entertaining. THAT demographic is MASSIVE and when we writers mobilize THAT sector of society—the fat part of the bell curve—this is when literary history is made.

The DaVinci Code, the Harry Potter Series, Twilight, Tuesdays with Morrie, Water for Elephants, The Help all ignited a passion for stories in people who normally would not have defined themselves as avid readers.

There is a logical fallacy that is decimating writer platforms. What is a logical fallacy? Well, for those of you who’ve slept since your school years:

All apples are fruits, therefore all fruits are apples.

All avid readers read books, therefore the only people who read books are avid readers.

NO.

Non-reader is really a highly inaccurate term. Just because people don’t list reading as a favorite hobby doesn’t mean they don’t read at all. In fact, this group that believes they don’t enjoy reading can become some of THE most fiercely loyal fans. Why? Because they still believe they don’t like reading unless they are YOUR books. See that neat transition?

There are millions of people who claim they don’t like reading, but they bought every last hard-cover of the Harry Potter series. Many of them might not ever read another author because J.K. Rowling has their undying devotion.

So how do we tap into this fat part of the bell curve? How do we convince people who’d rather hack up monsters on X Box or watch American Idol that our book is worth parting with their precious free time? It’s actually pretty simple. Get out of the comfort zone. Writers are wonderful. Writing groups rock. But, here are the problems:

1. This is an oversaturated market. It doesn’t take any creativity to market to fellow writers or avid readers. Every writer who gets on social media has the same “bright idea” and talks to the same people in the same forums.

2. Writers are wonderful and supportive, but we all know a half a zillion writers and can only buy so many books.

3. If all of us are only talking to other writers or avid readers, then our word-of-mouth has a limited range of influence.

The upside to branching out to non-writer groups:

1. We are likely to be the only writer and so we will be more unique and stand apart. Writers do have a certain celebrity status and regular people get excited to meet published authors.

2.  Since this group doesn’t have 142 friends with new books out they are easier to move toward the sale. They will generally be more excited about the sale as well.

3.   If they buy and LIKE our books, they are more prone to talk about it. Why? Because they believed they disliked curry reading, yet now they LOVED the experience. So now they want to proselytize to all their friends who also believe they can’t stomach Indian cuisine reading about this AMAZING restaurant book that is different. It is actually FUN, and AWESOME, and NOT PAINFUL. THIS is how real word-of mouth catches fire, goes viral, and mobilizes that fat part of the bell curve that creates publishing legends.

Next week we will talk more about some ways to break out of the comfort zone and start tapping into larger networks that can become readers. Go after new blood. I want all of you to start having more confidence in your work. Yes, your books can be loved by people who love to read and that is wonderful. But how wonderful will it be to be such a great storyteller that you CREATE a passionate reader? THAT is talent and what all good stories are capable of. Humans are story people. It’s in our blood. You have the power to ignite that hidden passion, so why settle for less?

What are your thoughts? Opinions?  I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of August, 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 August 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 am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, the day I dedicate to helping you rock it hard when it comes to social media and building an author platform. Earlier in the summer, I offered my initial thoughts on Google + and introduced you to the Inner Kristen Lamb…who happens to be a 58 year old Jewish woman from Long Island, NY.

 

Long story short, the idea of yet another social media platform had me feeling more than a tad verklempt. Tawk amongst yuhselves.

See, this is the thing. I am not a social media expert. I am the social media expert for writers. HUGE difference. I’m not here to say if G+is good or bad. I am here to relay whether G+ makes sense for writers wanting to build an author platform. So as promised….

More Thoughts on G+

Since all the Internet was abuzz about G+ and how it was going to deliver us to the Digital Promised Land of Milk and Honey, I had to at least take a look.  G+ looks really nice and wonderful, but is it worth writers pulling up stakes on Facebook and Twitter? Is it really worth building yet another platform when we could be doing something productive…like writing more great books that make money?

No.

G+, to me, is Facebook with a different skin and no ads…yet.

Oh, but they have circles.

Yes, and Facebook has lists. Writers have been all excited because they can categorize people and only share certain information with certain people. Well, um, Facebook lets us do that, too. Granted it might not be as fun and primitive as dragging people into circles…

Sorry about the head. I had to knock you unconscious so I could drag you into “People I Really Never Want to Talk to and Who I Wouldn’t Put Out if They Were on Fire Circle” without you knowing.

Am I the only one who feels weird that someone is dragging me anywhere? I think I have a digital wedgie. But that is beside the point.

The circle thing might seem cool and different, but let’s talk about why categorizing people might not work well for writers trying to build an author platform.

Careful. Circles can create cliques.

 

I think that we often underestimate other people. We often feel they wouldn’t care about a certain subject, so we don’t want to bother them with that information. The strange thing is, though, that information you are hiding is the very information that can make you unique.

Bear with me.

On G+ I assume most everyone is dragging me into a Fellow Writer Circle. Why? Because ALL I SEE are book trailers, publishing news, blogs about writing and I kinda want to slam my head in a door. One of the things I love about Facebook and Twitter (and especially about #MyWANA) is that I can get a peek into other writer’s LIVES. THAT is what stands out in the din of “What is the Future of E-Books?” and “What is Your Plotting Style?”

You know. Sometimes I just want to see a video of a cat falling in the toilet bowl. I dig baby pictures and tweets about #SockNarnia (the magical land inhabited by missing socks). I like knowing other writers as humans, too.

Frankly, G+ is boring me half to death since others are “assuming” that I don’t care about their family trip to the beach. It is this invitation into your lives that makes you stick out in my head as a person. It makes me LIKE you….and want to support you. I actually DO care about YOU.

***This personal stuff is what makes someone we don’t know eventually become a friend, btw.

I know I’m in my friends’ circles, but they were already my friends. I am on social media to make NEW friends. But I don’t sit at the right table circle.

I assume I might not be the only one who feels this way. Who knows? Maybe you have slated all the agents into an Agent Circle and assumed they don’t want to see a squirrel with its head stuck in a yogurt cup. Hey, they’re agents, not overworked humans who might like a good laugh and who might actually remember us because we talked about something other than writing, publishing, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Being professional doesn’t mean we have to be boring.

But even though I bring this up, now I feel weird exposing everybody to Spiders on Drugs because G+ is all about the circles and we are supposed to keep people in neat little boxes.

Crap! I need to be organized! Throw them in the tub on top of the laundry and pull the shower curtain. I’ll get to it on the weekend.

Circles can also create chaos.

Of course, with a zillion people all adding me at once, my Circles look like my kitchen drawer…everything is thrown in one place because I am too lazy to go through all that and organize. So if you don’t want to see Cows with Guns then just drag me into the People I Want to Ignore Circle and I will talk about you in therapy.

Oh sure, I am certain there is some G+ video to teach me proper Circle Dragging Form that doesn’t make my computer cough up a hairball, but I have deadlines to meet, blogs to write, and there is this great clip about ADHD HDTV.

Normal people who work regular jobs don’t have a bazillion people in their network, so Circle Organizing is easy. I don’t mean to complain because I am thrilled you guys have come looking for me, but you are all in ONE CIRCLE—Kristen’s Peeps (I.e. Miscellaneous). Yeah, I’m creative.

And, like my closet and garage, I will get organized…one day. Don’t hold your breath, though :D.

We Never Know Who Is Paying Attention

Just like other writers want to see some of our personal life, people in our personal life actually DO pay attention to our writing stuff. Never underestimate who is watching. One of my most enthusiastic fans works in the office of my son’s pediatrician, and she is NOT, btw, an aspiring writer. She’s bought books for all her family members who want to write and she talks about me to anyone who will listen. I am the only writer she knows, and she is thrilled to help me any way she can (Thanks, RaNae).

Oh, but what if I had just assumed she didn’t want to hear about my writing stuff?

Thing is, most people want to write a book or they are at least in awe of those who can. Years ago, before I was a published author, I used to blog on MySpace. A woman I had never met recognized my name at Dillard’s and told me she was a HUGE fan of my blog. She sold Mac cosmetics. She also later bought WANA , because I was the only writer she’d ever met.

See, when we post about writing, it helps non-writers (which is code for potential readers) start to think of us as committed, professional authors and exposes them to our…writing. That is the first step to creating an author brand. It’s also a great step toward our friends and family taking us seriously.

When we post on more personal things, we connect to those in our profession as people. We stand out in the commotion of Smashwords, deadlines, character sheets and Amazon.

Writers are Public Personalities

Oh, but what about the really personal stuff?

My advice? Don’t put it on the Internet. Period. Circles won’t protect us. As Digital Age Authors, we must live transparent lives. If we wouldn’t want our mother to see it, we shouldn’t post it. It is too easy for something to get out of control. I know G+ pops up a nice reminder, but it also tattles on the person who originally posted. So, we are depending on others to have discretion.

That is really risky.

We shouldn’t be ranting about religion or politics anyway, unless religion or politics is our platform. If we happen to be Glen Beck or Bill Maher, we can foam all we like. It helps book sales. That uber-personal stuff that could turn others off? Like whining about another rejection letter? Just don’t post it. Call a real friend. They can bring brownies.

Most people aren’t going to mind a degree of us being personal. It separates us from the bots. So long as we aren’t sharing details best left in conversations at a nursing home, it’s all good. We know you are human, and we kinda dig that.

Final Thoughts

So at the end of the day, I think G+ is nice. I just don’t see any tremendous advantages that make it worth writers pulling up stakes and moving. MySpace? Yeah, people needed to flee. MySpace turned like a crazy ex, and we needed to run away. MySpace was broken. Writers needed to change addresses so people could see our content without crashing their computers (Yes, feel free to igrore all 8 pages about MySpace in WANA–MySpace committed digital suicide 2 weeks after the book was released).

But Facebook? Twitter? I can’t really see anything they are doing so wrong that warrants a mass migration.

I think G+ is fantastic for normal people who need to segment their lives. Writers are not normal. Yeah, shocking. We need to build a massive platform to drive book sales. So our platform has to fit that end goal. Segmenting is seriously counterproductive. If you love, G+, ROCK ON! Social media has different strokes for different folks. Just be careful you aren’t alienating others by going circle crazy.

G+ has yet to deliver anything SO earth-shattering that I would advise moving…yet. I am still working with it, so maybe my mind will change about G+. My mind, however, will not change about grouping people. I think as writers trying to build a platform, we need all the connections we can get. Give people a chance. Most of the time, they will impress you.

So what are your thoughts? Have you found some feature of G+ that totally warrants mass migration and I missed it? Do you think writers should keep their writing private (along with their experiences of a fiber-rich diet)? What is getting too personal? Do you like meeting other writers as people? Or do you think it should be business only?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, 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 August 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 am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Mash Up of Awesomeness

Roni Loren’s Getting the Most Bang for Your Blog

Suzan Isik’s On Not Being a Douchebag Writer on Social Media

Terrell Mims Letting Go to Climb Higher

Angela Wallace Propane Torches and “I Told You So

Anne R. Allen What Will Publishing Look Like in 2021?

Ali Dent’s Gifted vs. Hard Work

Naomi Bulger’s What’s Wednedsday Without…Time Travel?

Angela Orlowski’s Celebrate Your Milestones

Elena Aitken’s Do You Dance Like No One’s Watching?

New to WordPress? Check out the Awesome Bling Bitch Herself, Amy Shojai’s wonderful mash-up of the best WordPress How To blogs

Do You Still Want Your MTV? by Barbara McDowell

Do You Have a Pen Fetish? by Lesann Berry

List Making and the Creative Process by WD Editor Jane Friedman

Awesome post by Gene Lempp Superstition, Legend and Mystery

Piper Bayard’s HYSTERICAL Help! I’m Torn Between Two Men

Jenny Hansen’s Do Writers Need Presentation Skills?

OMG! There is SO MUCH GOOD STUFF out there, especially now that I have pried many writers from writing about writing all the time. LOVE IT!!! If I missed some greatness, feel free to post it in the comments.

Welcome to the twenty-seventh installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Traditional Tweeter

The traditional tweeter doesn’t understand the difference between traditional marketing and social marketing. Instead of forming relationships, this tweeter is no better than spam. Oh, is messages might seem to be genuine, but up close they all say the same thing:

Me, me, me, me, me. I don’t care about you, but look at MEEEEEEE!!!!!

There are writers who, when I mention Twitter, say things akin to, “Oh, well Facebook is where I socialize. I am just getting on Twitter to sell books.”

Yeah, good luck with that.

I remember years ago I was in the grocery store in mid-afternoon. The place was practically deserted. I had a song stuck in my head and was singing to myself (believing I was alone). Out of nowhere this man came up to me and told me that I had a really pretty voice. I recall blushing at the compliment and it made me feel really good….that is, until he handed me a business card. He was selling insurance. He asked me to call him and tell all my friends about the great deals he was offering.

I felt sick.

I felt manipulated and embarrassed. See, this man had been nice to me. True. But he wasn’t kind to be kind; he had an agenda. I never gave him my business, and I certainly didn’t rush out to tell all my friends. Worse still, he ruined any trust. Even if this man approached me today in an authentic way, I would never want anything he had to offer.

Twitter is the same way. We will support who we know and like, but we can smell a phony with an agenda from a mile away. Twitter is a powerful tool for selling books. That’s true. But Twitter is ruled by social norms, not market norms. Fail to appreciate the difference and the price to a reputation can be steep.

This Week’s Twitter Tip–Be a Team-Building Tweeter

The team-building tweeter understands the difference between market norms and social norms. The team-building tweeter is all about working smarter, not harder. Last, week NYTBSA Allison Brennan posted a blog blasting social media, and you know what?

I didn’t blame her one bit.

See, the “experts” in her circle were treating Twitter as some free way to advertise. In their minds, a writer had to have in excess of 20,000 followers for there to be any impact on sales. And this is true…if we are “marketing” to people.

Traditional marketing generally has about a 1% return. This approach, most often, will only influence 10 people for every thousand blitzed. This tactic is fine if you are a Nationwide Insurance commercial airing to tens of millions.

It is a formula for a chocolate overdose if you are a writer having to do all this marketing yourself…AND still write books.

Most writers have a day job, children, families and they have to write books. This is why teams are critical. This is about working smarter, not harder. It is about multiplying influence exponentially. How do we do this?

By forging relationships and serving others without an agenda.

Yes, Allison only has 3000 followers. But I LIKE Allison. Not only is Allison an awesome person, but she also writes fantastic thrillers (go here and buy one). Since I LIKE her, I am willing to tell MY network about Allison. Now Allison has just influenced an additional 4000 (my tweeps).

Oh, but it gets better. I have friends who like me and want to help me. So, if I am helping Allison, these friends want to help me help Allison. Many of my friends also have 1,000 to 5,000 people in each network. See how Allison’s influence just exploded? And this method is FAR more effective because it isn’t spam…it is heartfelt, genuine word of mouth. Traditional marketing cannot generate this kind of influence.

WANA methods work. They have put more than a few authors on the best-selling list without working the authors into the ground marketing day and night. No spreadsheets, no mailing lists…just friendships.

Tweet ya later!

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.