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?

Still here?

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.


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.





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.

*slaps forehead*

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.

Happy writing!

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


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  1. Wow, first off I’m really pumped (that sounds corny) about your mash-up, the titles alone are screaming my name, followed by READ ME, READ ME!

    Second, I’ll attest to Kristen’s advice about putting your name on your blog. I’ve found I’ve gotten more pingbacks, and more credit, for writing by putting my name on my blog. I added it into my already existing title for now, and I’ve been tagging my name for a couple months now too. I can’t tell you how excited I got when I went to my stats page and saw someone searched and found me by my name! That’s cool. I feel like I’m definitely on the right track with this blogging thing. I’ve also started posting my blog links on facebook and have more readers that way now. The next scary step will be twitter. I want to, I do, but I TIME is preventing me. My day job sucks a lot of hours in, and it’s all I can manage now to keep up with blogging and reading blogs. I want to get in to twitter, but I’m still dipping my toes in the pool so to speak. Guess I need to re-read Kristen’s post about time management and junk drawers. Help!

  2. Done, Done and Done…YAY, finally a blog post that makes me feel like I’ve caught up!!!
    BTW ” 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” Have you been spying on me?…LOL!!

    Great post!

  3. So refreshing (yes, even with the bashing) reading this today. I’m beginning to get it. Probably need to read your blogs for another ten years, but I’m getting there…

  4. Yippee, I did everything right! After I read WANA, I nabbed up all the digital real estate under my name. Oh wait, not quite everything. I haven’t been tagging my posts with my name, though I can bulk edit all 74 pages of posts to add it…brainless project until lunch.

    In fact I chose a pen name because there is another writer out there with my real name who had already grabbed up all of that real estate. Plus nobody ever spells my real last name right. 😀 I’ve taken some steps so that it’s not EASY to link the two names, mostly because I occasionally gripe about my boss on my blog. I’ve kept the writing under my hat at the evil day job just for that reason. Not that I think my boss actually knows what a blog is…

    All in all excellent advice as usual!

    1. Actually, at times, I can’t spell your first name right. 😉 I just have to remind myself that it’s a slightly different spelling than most Kates. 🙂

      1. Actually Kate was my first choice (for obvious reasons) but Kate Nolan is a realtor in Massachusetts and had the domain name 😀

  5. Yeah, I’m that lazy too, but I try and try to dump this dream of writing, of telling a story to the masses, but it’s not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Well, great post. Time to go re-name the blog! I never try for these writer “offerings” but your offer is too delicious to pass up (entry #1)! Have a great day (p.s.: I get a chuckle every time you tweet about what your “spawn” are up to, namely the nomenclature).

  6. Definitely linking this on my WP and LJ account blogs. Very good advice here! I never knew that tagging your full name on your posts was actually advisable. It never even occurred to me.

    Off to tag my posts. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Melanie Killingsworth on March 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm
    • Reply

    I’m not going to bother throwing a thin veil over this blatant attempt to get free swag. Please, pick me.

    Now excuse me, I have some blog tagging to do.

  7. Wait…I thought…gee. Masochism isn’t a pre-requisite for being a writer? What am I gonna do with that head-shaped hole in my office wall? Oh, and I am SOOOOO into the gold chains!

    I’d actually been doing some of this write…er, right, using my name on stuff. Still tweaking the new blog home, though, and thanks for the hint/suggestion/ass-et kick to get it going.

    1. OMG…I am so glad you commented. It reminded me to put your blog in the Mash-up of Awesomeness. I was halfway through yesterday when WP had technical problems. I have rectified my oversight :D.

  8. Every time I read your blog, your remarks resonate with me and reminds me I’m not alone in this crazy writing business. Plus, I learn stuff. Thanks, Kristin.

  9. Great blog post! I emailed it, linked to it, tweeted it and shared it on Facebook – and that was before I saw my own blog listed in your mash-up of awesomeness! Thanks

    And I finally got what you were saying, and changed the name of my blog to Danielle Meitiv’s Blog. I’m learning…slowly but surely 🙂

  10. Yo K-Lamb. Call me Lassie because I’m gonna make the internet my fire hydrant. Okay, so maybe I’m not that good at marking my territory, but I’ve been taking some steps to appease my favorite guru. Important to keep you happy, especially with all those guns you’re packing. Even more so now that I know you’re so gangsta.

    Quick little blog success story for yous: An editor I wrote for a couple years back at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette had a writer drop out and was in a pinch a couple weeks back. He went to the web for ideas and knew I had a blog. He went there. I had just written about another web project being launched. He liked the idea and called me to ask if I would write a full page feature in the Sunday edition. Word. Paid gig, writing credit, honorarium from university, and promotion for my new site.

    I’m glad I had my blog!

    1. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! …*cough* I meant…Word up, yo. Gettin’ sum play.


    • Patti Mallett on March 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm
    • Reply

    How is it that we always feel better after you rattle our cages?? (It’s a gift, I know.) You have definitely found your “right media fit.” Are you aware of how much you teach us about the proper balance between serious information and humor? Kudos to you, Kristen, and many thanks. (I’m happy to have stumbled across your path.)

    1. LOL…thanks. I am always worried I might rattle a weeee too much. But I have found laughing at our mistakes is the only way. Heck, this Internet/social media thing is still new. We throw stuff against a wall and see what sticks. I just have been a specialized noodle-thrower longer :D.

  11. Powerful and honest post, wow. Thank you. I’ve just begun to let my written word be heard/read, I hid behind a wall of words I’d built for ages with no one to read them. I’m new to the blogging world, my only hope is that I can make a difference in someone’s life somewhere in the world somehow. Even just with my words.
    I look forward to your posts.

  12. Thanks again Kristen for a great post. I have my fiction under my name but because my non-fiction is about a difficult topic that could be embarrassing for my husband, in an effort ot protect him from direct questioning (also he doesn’t know about it nor do his friends) – I do use another name for that. I had to pray about that long and hard but due to my content it was the only way I felt I could honestly write what I needed to. Sometimes I feel like I am two persons as the indivitual blogs for each are so unique in content and voice. Oye. Again – thanks!

    1. Yeah, sometimes pen names are needed, but they just make A LOT of extra work, as I am sure you already know. Glad you enjoyed and thanks :D.

      1. I haven’t really felt like it makes for any more work than I’d be doing if I was using my real name. I’m doing all the same stuff, just have to have a couple other pieces of info for tax purposes. Now if I were writing under TWO names like Susan up there, I can see the extra work factor.

        1. I can be a hassle. “Lamb” is my maiden name and it gets annoying just keeping up with those two identities. It can make it harder, especially when it comes to recruiting those intimate connections. I have had a lot of people I went to high school and college with become some of my biggest fans, but they could FIND, Kristen Lamb…not Anastasia Dubios (cuz Kristen Lamb is not all that sexy). Pen names cost extra work in activating the intimate network.

      2. Ah, well, I’m definitely not counting on those connections from high school (was outcast, burned a lot of bridges etc.) and there’s enough confusion about my name in real life since I went by my first name for the first 18 years, and switched to my middle name in college and confused the hell out of people… 😀 Adding a pen name to the mix was just par for the course!

          • nelizadrew on May 5, 2011 at 12:35 am
          • Reply

          Ditto that, in a way. My old high school classmates have turned out to be a mostly non-reading religious bunch who might not remember me anyway.
          As for multiple identities, I’ve been doing that for a long time anyway as all my friends know me by a nickname and I only really use my legal name for banking.People who know me seem to be used to my no-so-secret identities.
          The biggest problem actual comes in real life with resumes as most coworkers remember me by my nickname, but personnel only knows what’s in the file.

    • trish nicholson on March 23, 2011 at 5:43 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen, I love your Texas rants. Physically I’m far off in NZ but I’ve had breakfast in a diner in TX! Virtually I’m at your kitchen counter. Yes, I’d love another coffee, thanks. Question: Do me a wee favour and just point me in the direction – the site – to find out how well non-fiction print books compete with fiction in the market, in 2010 say? Which sort of subjects can nudge out fiction titles? I need this because I’m writing a proposal for my entertaining and highly original NF MS and I’m taking very seriously my author’s role in the marketing process. I want to show in my proposal that I have thought about this and know where to get the market indicators. and that, yes, my book has got strong shoulders! Thank you, @TrishaNicholson

  13. LOL – just yesterday I was asking myself why I go on writing when reading good books is so much easier. Oh yes – its because the ideas and voices won’t leave me alone!

    I wasn’t clever enough to come up with anything too original for my blog name so I used my own name and did something “right” purely by accident 🙂

  14. Kristen, you always make me feel better. I just finished posting today’s blog. I’m averaging 2.5 hrs per post – waaah! But I’m doing it …THREE times a week now! Yay! Digital daiquiries all around!

    I have a question: although I’m slapping my name on everything – twitter, blog, facebook, I don’t know how to tie it all together so people go to one place and click on the different things they want to check out. I have a GoDaddy account but don’t know what to do with it. Is that something I can do myself or do I need to spend – gasp – money?


    1. If you have a website, optimize it. Embed widgets so people can follow you on FB and Twitter. On FB, make sure you list your web site, blog and Twitter in your bio/contact information. Then, on Twitter, put your blog, website and FB information. Get a customized Twitter background if you have to. This way people can find you everywhere and interact with you in THEIR comfort zone.

    • trish nicholson on March 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm
    • Reply

    P.S. I have now changed from my nickname on Twitter to my full name – had to add an irritating extra ‘a’ but I am listening and learning 🙂 Am also working on a blog. Just taking time to find some geeky support in this isolated place but I will get there, and, it will include stress relieving tips for writers – I’m also a relaxation therapist 🙂 I pass your URL to any followers I notice are also struggling to get it right. Trish

    • Thom Marrion on March 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm
    • Reply

    That’s going top be a pretty big hat.

    This sort of thing came up the other day at my writing group, where one of the members was adamant about not wanting to blog and was looking for reassurance from others that it wasn’t necessary.

    I was firmly in the “Oh yes it is” camp.

    We’ll see what happens

    1. You don’t have to blog. Less competition for us, right? 😀 LOL

      And actually I have plastic sacks full of names for each week. Will put in one large sack for the monthly drawing and big grand prize drawing.

      Hey, no one is going to make us blog. We do still have the option of just writing a really great book. BUT, that is a hell of a gamble when we actually now control the platform side of the equation, too. AND we are competing against other authors who are building massive on-line support before their book is even ready for sale.

  15. I read your book and took your advice. It was a proud day for me when I Googled myself and the entire first page of the search was me, not some other Falyn Donaldson. Me.
    Now, I have people asking my advice about Social Media. I even had to start a weekly feature on my blog to answer their questions. The first thing that I tell every writer asking my advice? Read WANA! It is the Social Media Bible.

  16. Fantastic post. Tons of great info. I worked on putting tags of my name out there for a year before my first book came out. I learned fast, leave a trace of you no matter what you do.

  17. I have an excuse for not using my real name, and that’s that I’m fifteen. I also use ‘delorfinde’ for every single website of which I’m a member, except one. Protagonize, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy, Irish Dancing online … you name it, if ‘delorfinde’ doesn’t come up, then I’m not on the site. I guess that’s one way people know they can always find me. To be honest, it’s mostly for my parents’ sake rather than mine. They don’t approve of me doing so much internet stuff at this age (because they still live in the sixties). I’ll probably end up writing under a pen name anyway, so what’s the harm? People’ll know that they’ll find me under ‘D Telcontar’ or ‘Delorfinde’.

  18. Thanks for the blog link! And yay, after admitting to how much I screwed up in my blog post, it’s nice to know that I did some things right. 🙂

  19. As an author whose second NF book is out soon, I can assure anyone still dubious (not in your crowd, surely!) I was ORDERED to start blogging by my agent long before the proposal even went out. So, yes, I did, starting in July 2009; book sold Sept. 2009 and is out April 14.

    I am spending (whew) hours every single day tweeting, blogging, FB and LinkedIn, plus commenting whenever and wherever there seems a fit.

    Early media interest is very high, so fingers now tightly crossed for readers and that Holy Grail you nailed, lots of cheery word of mouth.

    May I link to my book?

  20. I’ve done a lot of reading and research on search engine optimization and social media over the past several years, but your blog is what convinced me to actually get on with it. And thanks to your great advice, I now have a chance of actually doing it right.

    Thanks for that. 🙂

    And I had to laugh at your attempt to talk us out of writing. You might as well try to talk me out of breathing.

  21. I friend of mine has to use a pen name because his real name is the same of that of a porn star, and my friend writes kid’s books.

  22. I write under a pen name because I also work in public relations for a university and teach media writing, but my novels are paranormal romance. I also have a very common name–located at the end of the alphabet, no less. Plus, the web URL was taken, my name is also that of an accomplished musician, and yes, there is even another person at the university where I work who has the same name and teaches in the same department! It’s been a bit of extra work having two names, but I’m getting used to it.

    I’ve followed your advice regarding blogging and user names. My name is in the title of my LJ blog, and it’s my user name for everything I do. Oh what a happy day it was when my blog came up first when I googled myself. =)

    You talk about snatching up all of that real estate. Do you recommend cross-posting content on say, a WordPress blog, MySpace, and/or LJ? At what point are you just creating more work for yourself and your readers?

    I’m off to review my tags and add my name! It sounds so simple–now.

  23. Hi Kristen. I certainly see your point about not using a pen name if it’s just a way to hide. It’s a pretty small tree to fit any normal butt behind. However, I have a pen name for two different reasons. First, it googles a lot better than my incredibly common name. Fighting a “Miller” to the first page of a google search is just more effort than I need to make. Second, it helps me mentally separate my work life from my home life. My office is my couch. Or my table, or my bed, or my back porch or whatever. You get the idea. When I’m Piper Bayard, I’m still the same person, but putting on the pen name is like putting on my business suit and clocking in to my job. It’s an attitude and a determination. When I close my computer, I leave work and that name behind and give my family my 100% attention. It’s a way of mental compartmentalization so that I don’t short my work, myself, or my family. So far, it’s working out pretty well, but so far hasn’t been long enough to be a fair sampling at this point. 🙂 Thanks for your post.

  24. You continue to inspire me! Probibly always will. (Ok, that was enough hero worship for one week)

  25. Thank you for this post now, of all times!

    I’m in the process of starting a group blog with some writers of multiple stripes, and I’m ‘fighting’ with many of them to use their real name (Or a pen name if they’d prefer, but something that could be real!) so they are helping themselves down the road. Convinced a few, but working on the rest!

  26. Trying to figure out how you knew about the lip waxing thing…

    But seriously… great post. Enjoy your writing hugely. Now I have to go buy the book…


  27. Okay, so I’ve learned that tagging your name on your works is importiant… but I don’t get this oooooone little trend I’ve been seeing all over the place with books from every genre. Where the name of the writer is in a much bigger font then the actual TITLE of the book/novel. o.o Call me old fashioned if you will but I actually like knowing the name of the book should I want to reccomend it to others, rather then saying something like:

    ‘the one book by (incert author name here) with the (incert plot devices here) in it.’

    If you could clear up the ‘why’ behind that over-tagging trend, I’d be one happy writer-wannabe. o.o Some books the title all but dissappears under the name. @.@;

  28. Okay Kristen – I am now using my real name in Twitter, WP, etc., and laboriously added my name to my tags in WP! I have tried to obtain a domain name using my own name but without success – seems every variation of my name is taken. Any advice on that one?
    Rattle on all you want – it makes us take positive action!

  29. Oh gosh! I love my name. Growing up, I wanna curse my parents for naming me the way they did. Not a lot of people gets named “beautiful” in archaic Tagalog. Coupled with my equally unusual last name, it meant that I’m the only one with this name. Now, I’m just thanking my parents. It’s easier to google if people are trying to find my name.

    • Darcy Peal on March 24, 2011 at 8:07 am
    • Reply

    I read quite often on the Internet for as much as 16 hours a day and I must say this is definitely one of the best blogs I have come across!
    I have managed to crank out 21,000 words of my first novel so far (Sci-Fi) and your blogs have already made me see where things will have to be improved and I thank you for your help.
    I would have written my entire novel by now but I suffer from some frontal lobe brain damage and many days I cannot write, yet I can still read, and your blog is great reading.
    I think with your help I will get my novel completed in about 3 months (crosses fingers). Not bad for a 50 year old disabled guy I guess.

    Have a great day everyone!

    • Gene Lempp on March 24, 2011 at 8:50 am
    • Reply

    Very much struggled with the name point. I’m concerned that the “double p” will be an issue with how I am looked up, especially after 42 years of seeing it misspelled 9 out of 10 times (possibly more!). I use a different last name on Facebook, my grandfathers, which confuses those that know me, but is infinitely easier to remember and spell. I’ve read your post on the use of pseudonym’s, as well as Bob Mayer’s comments on his own and the trouble that sometimes causes now that he is combined under the central umbrella of his actual name, but still am just not sure on this one.
    Your posts are always wonderfully entertaining and informative Kristen. Thanks so much for all the effort you put in to help us!

  30. I too, messed up due to lack of knowledge in regards to my blog http. So I called it Sinister Echoes, though I made sure my photo and name are on the page. I did have a “tag line” that read “Dark Musings” and thanks to your advice, I’ve changed that to Alannah Murphy’s Dark Musings, and I love how that reads so thank you!

  31. Thanks, as always, for the plug. 🙂

    And don’t think I’m not working on that interview. I’m just trying to juggle novel-writing and baby prep! Soon. SOOOOOON.

    — c.

  32. Excellent post. I may write a post of my own and link back to it. I’ll let you know if I do. But here’s the thing: as I’m reading your ideas, there rises up in me this tremendous feeling of ambiguity. Do I really want to put myself out there like that? Strange, isn’t?

    I wonder, if this ambiguity is common to writers of certain temperaments. Just a thought

  33. Fantastic advice! Nowadays, having a strong online identity is key for any job market. It’s not just about creating an online identity, it’s about building and maintaining it too. I decided to use my public relations/marketing knowledge in April to help people build and maintain online identities — but definitely starting out by using your name is important. I just created a new Twitter account using my name in an effort to keep my professional writer side separate from my personal/hobby (knitting, photography, etc) side.

    I didn’t think about adding names to tags — I’m going to have to do that!

  34. I’m reluctant to use my FB account for more than just my close friends and family. I have Twitter and my blog. Is having a FB page very important? Could I have a second FB page just for “the public”? My writing name is my full name. My personal FB page is already attached to that name. It’s not searchable to the public though.

    1. You could do a Fb fan page. Under “account” click on “use Facebook as page” and then it will give you directions to set it up. I’m still learning how to promote it more widely, but here’s what I have so far, if you want to check out an example: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KB-Owen/199346126760310 (hope the link works!). Good luck!

      1. If you don’t do this correctly it is a nightmare. Read my post on Fan Pages. Fan pages should not be launched too early. We need the 2-way dialogue as long as possible.

    2. Sonia,

      I have a separate Facebook profile for my writing. There’s some stuff I just want to share with family and close friends (pics of my nephew, for example).

      Have you considered making a Facebook fan page? That’s more of a public forum, so you could share news about your work, links to your blog and website, etc. It’s not as interactive as a personal Facebook profile, but it would allow you to utilize the ever-growing power of FB.

      ~ Janelle

      1. NOOOOOOOO. You guys are making too much work for yourself. We need time left over to WRITE BOOKS.

        You can have a separate page if you want but why? Just set the security protocols. If you post baby pictures, just make that stuff only viewable by people denoted as family. Fan pages need to be approached in a special way or they are a formula to end up in therapy feeling unloved. Here is the link to 3 Steps to Fan Page Awesomeness

        I love you guys but you are making this too hard. Just admit you are a writer and risk failing. We can’t hide forever. If I could guarantee every one of you would make millions on your books would you still go out of your way to build a half a dozen pages so you could hide? Dreams take risk. No risk no gain. Trust me when I say that most people are not paying enough attention to even notice if we fail. Stop planning for failure. All this hiding and pen names and multiple pages is doing is setting you up to be spread so thinly your writing will suffer and your platform will suffer (since you can’t take advantage of intimate connections as effectively). We have to be careful that we aren’t laying a plan to fail.

  35. Uh-oh Kristen, now you’ve got me blogging about pen names. I mentioned a few blog posts out there in the blogosphere for reference, including yours: http://janellemadigan.livejournal.com/8750.html.

  36. Kristen, I thought I was doing the right thing with the fan page, but you mean that I should invite the whole world to my personal Fb page? I admit it would be much simpler, but I worry about all that personal info. How do I group all my current Fb people into “family” and keep the public “friends” out of my photo albums and stuff?


    1. Just put them into groups and then set the protocols. Whenever you post anything, FB gives you the option to select who SEES what you post. If you look below the box where you type your update, you will see an icon that looks like a padlock. You can change who sees what using that. You can just go through all your people and put them into groups. So you have control over who sees what. If you go to your friends, hit “Edit Friends” and you can put people into customized groups. This is way easier than having multiple identities. I know. I have tried it the other way, too.

      1. Cool! I’ll check that out, thanks. It would be relief, frankly.

        BTW, in the months since I’ve been following your blogging advice, including posting 3X per week, the difference has been HUGE. I’ve gone from 30 hits a month last fall to over 1,000 this month! (I know that’s not a lot compared to you pros, but it’s a start!). 🙂

      2. Oops, you did it again. Went and gave me brain juice. Thanks for the tip even though you didn’t mean to give it to me.

  37. A veritable bouillabaisse of a blogpost, Kristen. Your suggestions are starting to reap benefits for me with increased blog traffic etc etc.
    I claim my multi compo entries for your blog on my blog and your book on my blog etc.
    What about MySpace ? Is it really happening on there for authors other than YA?

  38. How I only found out about you today, I have no idea, but I’m glad I did!
    I wrote a post about branding today – you are in it. So is your book 😉 and for sure, I linked back.
    I write under a pen name as well and I’m starting to brand for that name – man is it hard to start fresh. I wish I didn’t have to.

  39. Thanks for the advice! I think I’ll wait on the Fan pages. I just wanted my FB to be more personal. My friends and family all know I’m writing though.

  40. Hi Kristen,

    Thank you for all of the helpful info! I have written a comedy memoir about my experiences of living in Japan (It’s a cross between Tucker Max’s books and the movie Lost in Translation).

    My last name is very unique, and, although I have changed the names of the people in my memoir, I thought it would be a good idea to “hide” behind a pen name. I wouldn’t want the real people coming after me!

    Would you recommend sticking with my real name anyway? As you mentioned, it’s not hard for someone to find a writer’s real identity.

    Also, if someone’s real last name is too difficult to pronounce, wouldn’t it hurt their branding power?

    Thanks again, Kristen!

    1. I am right now writing the blog for tomorrow…Why Pen Names Suck. Read tomorrow and all your questions will be answered :D.

  41. OK, I’ll definitely read it! You’re awesome, Kristen!

    By the way, I sat next to you at Colleen Lindsay’s “Platform” class at DFWcon several weeks ago. We spoke briefly. Just wanted to throw that in!

    1. Yes, I remember you. Sat in the back of the class at my table. Great to see you here at my blog :D.

    • Tiffany White on March 24, 2011 at 4:49 pm
    • Reply

    I ordered WANA. I hope it arrives today!

  42. I’m just glad when I started blogging a year ago, a few months after I signed a contract for my memoir, that I accidentally put my real name in the URL, not my full pen name. But that one is now across the top of my blog, and on Twitter, and on Facebook. I did the latter after I read about doing this in your book, which I have on Nook but haven’t finished reading yet only because I’m sidetracked with galleys and responding to Bloggers. Your book is SO readable. I mentioned it a few posts ago, but I’m going to post an icon of the cover right away on my blog. At my age, I don’t buy how-to books anymore; I have the ones I want. But your book addresses social media and it reads like a lively memoir! Great voice.

    I tried to do WordPress and couldn’t on my own, so I went to Blogger. I feel good about how that’s going. And thanks again for writing such an awesome and helpful book!!

  43. Hehhmm, I’m in process in personal branding too 🙂
    Please visiting back to my site http://setoelkahfi.com
    Thankyou, :cheers

  44. Ah. A nice, refreshing blog post that speaks it real and doesn’t sugar coat things. I’m liking it. Your advice on having our name EVERYWHERE is valid. Stephen King can sell books on his name alone, before the books have even been read and reviewed. I hope someday to aspire to that height, but until then I’ll continue to check out your blog posts and continue to tweak my strategies. Thanks for all the great info! You were the one who convinced me to take Twitter seriously. 😉

  45. How important do you think it is that my name is distinct from other Nathan Andersons? Is it wise to throw in my middle name on my book cover or url? In your book you say to use a name that I will go by, but it would definitely take some adjustment to be “Nathan Jon Anderson” all the time.

    Thanks for the great posts!

    1. You content will make you distinct. Name is only half of your brand. The other is content. Just keep linking your content to your name and you will be fine. 😀

  46. Great post. What you say makes a lot of sense. My biggest problem is probably the 15 years building my name as a brand in the software (Lotus Notes) world. Now, I have to expand the brand to include author.

    Anyway, thanks for the great advice, and I’d be happy to be included in the drawing.

  47. I skim read this, found it really really annoying ..Because, I’ve heard most of those things said to me many too times. Slap my name on every thing. Yes. I’m an unwashed loser in a writer’s sweater who pulls all nighters to have time to get her story written, um.. Yes.. so what ? get a job… etc.. Content makes a person unique ? really ? no kidding. Do I have a few blogs yes, thank you. And also thanks for your enthusiasm .. believe me or not.

    ~peace and grand writing time to you. @Uva_Be

    365 daily writing blog http://odetoimpossible.blogspot.com/

  48. Thanks, Kristin. I started out blogging poetry as a hobby at She’s Writing…Literary Musings of Sheila Moore and set up my email, blog name, FB and Twitter as “Shewriting.”

    Since then I have started writing fiction and non-fiction and want to continue doing so as a professional writer (not as a hobbiest>) Therefore, four months ago, I set up a blog to that effect ( Writing With My Eyes Closed…Writing Adventures of Sheila Moore ) but other than a FB fan page, and my new blog address, everything else is still under my “Shewriting” identity, frankly, because I have so many great connections as a poet. Do you think I should try and fade out the “shewriting” ID all together and risks losing those who know me better under that name?

    Thanks for all of your helpful advice.

  49. Not too long ago I took my spray can and changed my social media stuff to my name! Now I’ll go to my blog and tag my name in my posts! THANKS for the great post!

  50. Well Dang! Now I, KATHRYN MAGENDIE, am all motivated, and just made sure my name KAT MAGENDIE was in my blog title …. 😀 … but, like you I slap my forehead because I didn’t name my blog title in my name – ergh! If I had it to do over again I sure would have.

    Didn’t even think about the tags with my name, huh.

    KATHRYN MAGENDIE is all fired up now *laugh*

    1. Awesome! 😀

  51. Here’s me a month late, and a name short. But I finally found you through some blogging friends. I’ve been beating around the bush about putting my name literally front and center on my blog but you’ve inspired me! Thanks, Kristin!

  52. Always a great action point to get me going. My name in all my blog tags. Got it.

  53. Hi Kristen 🙂

    A lot of your blogs are helpful and even translate to the German Market, but for one thing I envy you US-guys.

    No law forces you to put your real postal adress into your blog or website – which is the case in Germany. How would you feel about doing this? Everyone knowing exactly where to find you? Yeah, sucks. A real name is one thing, the real whereabouts is another.

    I’m operating in the grey area, not putting adress in it and risking a fine. Atm having my blog set on private, because I want to find a way around this. Any ideas? *le sigh* I am very frustrated with that situation. It keeps me from blogging. And that sucks.

    Anyway -end rant- and wishing nice Easter holidays. 🙂

  1. […] a very useful post by Kristen Lamb entitled: Go Hard or Go Home – Blogging & Branding. When I started this blog, I knew what I was going to do with it: make it my professional writing […]

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