Go Hard or Go Home–Blogging & Branding
This is a tough job. I recommend that if you have any shred of sanity you quit today. Give up. Give me a break. You want to do WHAT? Write? Play with your little imaginary friends all day? How are you going to pay rent? Survive? You call writing a JOB? Are you high? Were you born stupid or did you take lessons?
Good. Now that’s out of the way. This job is hard. It is not for slacker losers who want to type on the computer when they feel inspired. Historically, novelists have had a mind-numbing failure rate. I believe that was because first of all, most of us are naturally lazy and have the attention span of a ferret addicted to meth. For that, my solution is simple.
PAY ATTENTION AND NAIL YOUR CAN TO A CHAIR YOU LAZY SLACKER.
Feel better? Always makes me smile.
Another reason for this failure rate? Until recently, writers only had control over part of their career.
There are only two ways to sell books—good product and word of mouth. Period. Book trailers don’t work. Shiny bookmarks don’t work. Full-page newspaper spreads don’t work. They don’t make so much as a blip in the sales numbers ESPECIALLY when it comes to fiction. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
Yet, until social media, writers could control only the product…and yet only 1 out of 10 traditionally published authors could expect to see a second book in print (per BEA statistics).
This is why I am taking the time to talk about blogging. Here is your chance to take the keys to your future and scream off in a cloud of burning rubber as the naysayers choke on your dust. Oh, but we need to make sure.
QUIT NOW….BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
YOU ARE DOOOOOOMED.
WHY DON’T YOU GET A REAL JOB?
DREAMS DON’T PAY THE BILLS.
What are you still doing here? Okay, so I can’t talk you out of this silly stupid dream. That obviously means you have to be dumber than a functionally retarded llama that’s been brain damaged by falling rocks. That, or you are a masochist who probably enjoys lip waxing too…
Alright. So clearly I cannot talk you into doing something practical with your life, so make sure you are doing this blogging thing the right way. For the love of all that is good…put your NAME on your blog. I have had many blogs that I wanted to list in the mash-up, but I cannot find a NAME.
Now, I didn’t always do things the right way. Don’t believe me? Look in the URL.
But the thing is this. I realized it was a mistake and took steps to rectify the situation. I wasn’t yet an “expert” when I chose the URL. I learned by making a lot of really dumb choices, and I leave them up so you guys can see I wasn’t born a rocket scientist.
Yet, here’s the deal. There are too many writers who want to be taken seriously, but they hide behind cutesy monikers and blog titles.
I highly recommend that, if you haven’t read this already, read my post on branding. In my opinion, pen names suck and are almost always unnecessary. They are a formula to be spread too thinly and have no time to write. Any 10-year-old with a basic knowledge of Google can find out your real identity if you are using it to hide. As I like to say, “It’s a pen name, not witness protection.”
You can use your real name and yet still be safe. And if you are worried others will “find out” about your writing…um *scratches head*…how did you expect to sell books? If you rocket to the top of the best-selling list, people will likely know who you are and what you write. GASP!
Also, most people don’t spend their free time googling people they know to make sure they are behaving and not getting funny ideas about writing.
In the coming weeks I hope to help you guys become expert bloggers, but I gotta say that all our efforts will mean next to nothing if people cannot clearly see our name.
Our goal is to become branded, powerhouse authors whose NAME alone sells books. James Rollins, Stephen King and Sandra Brown regularly hit the New York Times best-selling list in pre-sales. Their books aren’t even out yet and they hit the best-selling lists. Why? Their name on its own holds THAT much power.
I want you guys to leave this post and run amok like little digital gangbangers. I want you slapping your NAME on everything you can. Whatever that name is that will be written on the cover of your books? THAT is your gang sign.
My name is Kristen Lamb, and I write about social media…yo. Snoop Dog. Peace out. Okay, I’ll stop.
Slap that digital gang tag across your blog’s title. If you have a clever log –line? Just put your name in front of it. Kristen Lamb’s Blog—Life’s a Beach and Then You Write. Hey, I can still be clever, but my NAME is front and center.
Thing is, if you don’t mark your turf? Other writers will. I had to CLAIM that Kristen Lamb was THE authority on social media for writers. If I didn’t? Others would. If you write fiction? Claim that genre. You are THE writer of vampire romance. If you don’t? Other writers will happily fill the vacuum.
Using our name has another benefit.
Be nice to potential readers. Don’t make them have to go on a hunt for your name. That leaves an opportunity for them to go, “Mmmm. Not that motivated. I guess I don’t need it.” Or worse. “I don’t feel like looking up @FairyWriter’s name, but ooh, I know THAT name. I’ll buy her book. She doesn’t make me WORK.”
Got your digital spray paint? Good.
When you leave here, put your name in your blog title. Then, go put your name in the tags on every post you have. Go read this blog if you want to know why. Tags are metadata (data about data). Search engines use tags to FIND you. Go “spray paint” your digital turf and make it yours.
Bandanas and gold jewelry are your call.
In the end, either we are here to do this thing for real or we are just playing around. If we are on social media then it needs to be with the purpose of building a platform so that we have greater odds of success down the road. Help others get to know you and your content so that one day your name alone is all people need to know the book is worth full price.
Okay, feel free to whine in the comments. You are my peeps, and we can just get it out here. I will even send you a digital daquiri on Facebook to help you drown your sorrows and maybe even give you digital liquid courage to tell the world you are…gasp…a WRITER.
Or, tell your branding success stories. Share your thoughts, opinions and even additional resources. Ask questions. I don’t bite…often.
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 on 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 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.
Until next time…
In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books
Mash Up of Awesomeness
Are You Making Something? by Powerhouse Blogger and My Icon, Seth Godin. READ THIS BLOG!!!!!
Broken Things: E-Books by literary agent WendyLawton
50 Messages with a Bottle is an extremely clever approach to blogging and is on the list of “Stuff I Wish I Would Have Thought of First”
Overwhelming Ourselves into Apathy by Danielle Meitiv
My Writing Success: The ONE Thing that Helped Me the Most by talented and wonderful Jody Hedlund
Are You Teachable? by Jami Gold
Jumpstarting a Stalled Novel by the Genius Word Pirate Chuck Wendig
Secret Recipe for a Novel by 4KidLit
What is a Log-Line? by Donna Newton
Publishing News Eisler turns down $500,000 from publisher to publish his own. Read here.
Also, check out talented writer and pet expert Amy Shojai’s blog Bling, Bitches and Blood. Not only is she a writer, but she is a guru for your furry muses, and her blogs are AWESOME