Spam Toad vs. Author Brand

Social media is different for writers.  Yes, we really are special unique snowflakes. I have repeatedly claimed that I am not a social media expert. Rather, I am THE social media expert for writers. There is a HUGE difference. I am a writer first, and the book is always the most important asset we have. There isn’t any point to all this blogging and tweeting and Face-booking (yes, I made up a word) unless we have a finished product to sell.

So which social media platform is the best for writers?

My answer? The one you like and will do well. If the thought of being on Facebook makes you want to drink cooking wine until you black out, then by all means sign up for G+. If you love Facebook and hate Twitter, then at least read my Twitter Tuesday series. You might just hate Twitter because you don’t understand it. BUT, if you totally GET Twitter and it makes you break out in hives and want to punch puppies??? Don’t hang there.

If we hang out places we enjoy, people can feel and respond to the positive energy. The largest benefit we can gain from social media is a vested community of support. We do not need a “presence” on all social platforms. We can have one, but it will likely have little impact on sales. Why? There are a number of reasons, but today we are only going to discuss one.

Name Recognition is Not a Brand

Writers are not Starbuck’s.

Some people believe that if we spew our names across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flikr, Goodreads…okay, I’m tired…Four Square, Technorati, Digg….that THIS is effective marketing. My opinion? This is a formula to land a writer on a roof with a margarita machine and a shotgun.

Too many writers are trying to have a “presence” on a gajillion social sites. Name recognition alone is not a brand, and it certainly isn’t an author brand. It also doesn’t leave time to write more books. There are a lot of writers getting in trouble with their agents and publishers because they are dedicating too much time to social media. Why? Because this scattergun approach is a massive time suck (and does nothing to brand us anyway).

What is an author brand? My formula:

Name + Fantastic Content + POSITIVE FEELINGS = Brand

If a writer just spams people on 10 different social sites:

Look at ME!

Here’s my blog!

Free download of my book!

Read my reviews!

It really just means that this writer has ten places people hate him and cringe when they see his name. There are certain social sites I no longer visit. I found it too hard to enjoy myself when I was being harassed non-stop by self-published authors.

This goes for sending people form letters on Facebook too. If I “friend” a writer, and within 30 seconds receive a nice long letter that is trying to “look” personalized, that ticks me off, especially when the writer wants something from me.

This person hasn’t so much as said “boo” to me, but they want my time, effort, money and referral. And not only that, but this person is treating me like I am so stupid that I don’t know a form letter when I see one.

NOT a good way to make friends.

Also, please do not start a Why I Am So Awesome Club on Facebook and then sign us up without asking first. I hate it when I open my e-mail’s In Box to notifications for a discussion in a group I have never heard of, yet I am, somehow, a member.

You have 10 e-mails from Friends of Author Buffy Fluffernutter—The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Hate and Orthotics.

Huh? What? Did someone rufie my Facebook and she ended up at a party she doesn’t remember?  

Back to our formula:

Name + Great Content +POSITIVE FEELINGS= Brand

When someone spams me, I get annoyed. When they send me form letters where they have inserted my name and a couple of inane details that anyone could get by looking at my bio? I get REALLY annoyed, because now I am not only being treated as if I am stupid, I am being manipulated.

Name + Unsolicited Content+ Seriously ticked off feelings = Spam Toad

I have yet to ever buy anything from writers on Twitter who DMed, “Thanks for the follow. For more of my terribly interesting thoughts buy my book here.”

Yeah, I am right on that. Right after I pick up my Facebook page from victim’s counseling. On the bright side, she has given up digital daiquiris for good.

In fairness, I actually don’t report these writers as spam.  Though I find the approach annoying, I know that there is some “marketing genius” who is telling writers that this is the way to be professional and to sell a lot of books.


We cannot take what works for Bubba’s Car Wash and cross-apply it to selling books. Traditional marketing DOES NOT SELL BOOKS. It never has, and likely never will. We are going to talk about why next week.

Back to our topic…

Name recognition alone doesn’t sell books, namely because that is a traditional marketing tactic. Brands, especially when talking about author brands, are a product of interaction. I like to say that authors are the new reality stars. We now have the power to become a personality. People like US…so they buy our books.

Spending hours a day blitzing ten different social sites is a waste of time. Spend that time writing more books and blogging. Blogs offer readers a chance to know us, like us, and love our writing voice. If we can get them addicted to 1500 words a week, think when we offer 80,000.

For instance, I started reading Tawna Fenkse’s blog a YEAR before her book was ready for purchase. Let me tell you, the second that puppy was for sale? I was on it like a chicken on a June bug. And I was RIGHT. Her fiction is even better than the blog. I was hooked by her blog and couldn’t WAIT for her book. Buy Making Waves the first chance you get.

Blogs are very useful for creating reader loyalty. If we write a killer blog, we don’t need to be on every last social site. Why? Our following will be sharing our stuff where THEY hang out….which is the purpose of social media. We don’t have to do this alone.

If you don’t want to blog, no problem, just be authentic and likable. If we focus on doing one or two sites well, we start becoming a brand because people can start associating those pink fluffy feelings with our names (the NAME that will be printed on your books–ditch the cutesy moniker if you have one).

Even corporations appreciate the power of emotions. Look at the picture above. We have all laughed at “Peggy.” Capitol One appreciated how we have been treated by other card companies, and they sought to make us feel appreciated…so they poked fun. And it works. We connect emotionally.

Name recognition alone is not enough. To prove my point:

Arne Duncan Vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Which name do you recognize? Perhaps both. Duncan is the current U.S. Secretary of Education. You might have heard his name in passing on CNN, but though you recognize it, it holds little mental real estate and his name is not highly emotive (for most people). Schwarzenegger, by contrast, is a name that practically explodes with images, concepts and emotions for people all over the world.

This is the idea behind becoming a brand. Name recognition alone is not enough. We must use our blogs and social platforms to drive the power of emotion behind our names.  This is one of the reasons NYTBSAs can get away with some traditional marketing. Why? Because they have 20+ books supplying the emotional component to their names.

When we don’t yet have a book out, or only one or two books? Our social platform can step in and fill the emotional vacuum until we have more titles under our belt.

We can use our blogs to connect with READERS on common emotional ground. We craft an experience that is so positive that people not only want to buy our books, but they also want to badger friends and family to buy our books as well. Why? Because they feel they know us. They connected with us and so they are vested in our success; so vested, in fact, that they are willing to mobilize their platforms to help us.

THAT is the real power of becoming a brand. Historically, the only way an author could emotionally connect (in a positive way) was through her novels. Now? Social media can act as a meantime supplement between books.

In the end, just understand that name recognition is not a brand.

Seeing a name a bazillion times means next to nothing. Unless that name connects personally and emotively in a positive way, it is very difficult to compel the sale (which is the end goal anyway). People have a lot going on in their lives. Emotion is the best way to power past people’s natural inertia and make them act (purchase a book).  It is next to impossible to connect emotively scattered across 8 social sites. Then people might be seeing our name, but since we don’t have time to be vested, we can easily fall into that Spam Toad mental file, and that is BAD.

So what do you guys think? What makes you connect with an author enough to buy her books (aside from pervious good books)? What are some tactics that make you want to scream? Do you feel better knowing you don’t have to be EVERYWHERE? Or do you disagree and think writers need to be on 10 social sites?

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

Bob Mayer’s Thriving in the Chaos of Publishing

Why Twister is a Dangerous Game for Dads by Brian Klems

Ellie Soderstrom’s My Three Favorite Weight Loss Tips I Ever Made Up (Caution: Do not eat or beverages while reading this post. Could cause choking.)

Need even more laughter? Prepare to bust a gut. A Time to Receipt by Bayard and Holmes. Yes, the face of Jesus on a Wal Mart receipt. I won’t ruin it for you.

Cosmo Headlines–A Critical Analysis by Tyler Tarver (guest blogger for Clay Morgan). And YES I did funny stuff. I love to laugh.

Why are so many writers plagued with insecurities? by Jody Hedlund

Play it Again–The Top 20 Most Rewatchable Movies by Sonia Medieros

Well isn’t this Smurfy? What cartoons have influenced you? by Kristal Lee

Where God Put the Moon by Jennifer Hale. Awesome, inspirational post.

Camping with Snookie and the Art of Hovering by Lori Dyan


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  1. Oh, I totally agree. Especially the part about friending on FB, or follows on Twitter, and the only thing they have to say to you comes in the form of a link. 🙁

    Great post. 🙂

  2. This is what I’ve been aiming for with my own blog, and on Twitter. I try to interact on a social level, and talk about things I hope others will find interesting. I’m still finding my footing as regards good blog topics, though. Obviously, my usual blogging schedule and topics are still taking a while to settle into a routine again, at the moment.

  3. I love these posts – they are starting to make me feel like I’m doing things right, rather than wrong. Of course I did things wrong for a while, but a little thought, and a lot of reading your blog, has helped me crack that “I must do things THIS way” shell and my online life is a lot more fun now ^_^

  4. I mostly agree. I agree that spreading yourself thin over multiple sites and spending a lot of time there doesn’t help the writer part of you. I also agree that spamming, as you describe it, isn’t good for anyone. I just don’t follow those people back, and if I already am, I unfollow. However, I can’t see where it hurts to have your name out there everywhere possible (as long as it’s not spammed). The name recognition, to me, means bread crumbs back to your book (eventually). Like you suggest, I’m easing off my addiction to so many sites, threads, and yes, blogs (not yours, heaven forbid!). Still, a quick rotation across the Web universe to water my name, I think, keeps those tendrils of awareness in the public eye, so when they do by chance see my name on a book cover, they gravitate toward it.

    I agree 100% that the blog is the way to go. If I had said that as a child, my mother would have slapped my face. I think Paul above, has the right idea. I’m blogging about things that are interesting to me and I hope other will find them interesting too. I also have begun doing interviews with writers in a new way, which has been very successful with my first one last Sunday.

    I enjoy your blog and it’s one of the few I read. I feel bad because I don’t want anything from you…you’re giving it all to me in your blog. 🙂

    1. Yes, but you bought and read WANA so it’s fair, :D. Writers can choose to be on as many sites as they want. Some writers are great at interacting in 10 places, but that isn’t most writers. And what has been happening is that the social media time is cutting into writing more books time, and the books are absolutely essential. I would rather see an indie author with a blog and a presence on one or two social sites coming out with 2, 3, 4, 5 books than see an indie author with one book and a presence on 20 social sites. The way to be successful in fiction is to have more than one title. In fact, the more titles the better.

      John Locke sold a million books in 5 months, but he also has NINE fiction titles. That makes a huge difference in sales numbers. On the trad side? Bob Mayer has 42 titles under his belt. He retained the rights and self-published (titles that were once trad publuished). But when Bob really started getting traction with sales numbers was when he had multiple titles for sale….and he can slap NYTBSA in front of his name.

      If we look at most of the major indie successes–Amanda Hocking and H.P. Mallor–they did a blog and one or two social sites really well…and then wrote more and more and more titles. More books trumps more social sites any day of the week.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  5. I have received 50 emails since lunchtime and the title of this post stood out from the crowd – it caught my attention with SPAM TOAD, I loved it! You have such a great way of giving advice I am not an author/writer, yet 🙂 but yes, we can run around chasing our own tails through various social media channels. The latest “thing” I was asked to join, by the largest Portugal Tourist site promoting Portugal, was “KLOUT” Now as I write about life and travel in Portugal (OK, I don’t write novels my wiritng is more niche) I feel pressurised to do so, but inwardly I groaned 🙁

    So now it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ , (which I’ve joined but not had time to read the instructions) my blog, and now I’ve have to join KLOUT…how many more it’s driving me mad!

    You are right about spreading yourself too thin. If I applied as much effort to physical exercise rather than exercising my jaws on social media sites I would be a size 12 by now!

    Loved the post Kristen!

  6. Brilliant post yet again. After I signed up to loads of sites I started hearing the same thing and rather than come right off some of them I just keep a lower profile on Linked In and Facebook and spend most time on Twitter. I wanted to pull back on blogging too but only because it takes so long to get round a lot of blogs. Latest on that front is have your little team of regulars that you are loyal to and have time for and then pick through others as and when you have time/ interesting post catches attention. Sarah Dessen, Jody Hedlund and yourself are good examples of gaining recognition through an awesome voice on your blogs. Thanks Kristen.

  7. It’s an interesting dilemma as it takes a long time for most of us to build a large enough blog audience that might translate to book sales. If every single subscriber to my blog bought my book that would be great. But unlikely and still a tiny number compared to what publishers expect.

    I also think bloggers tend to attract niche audiences which de facto limits a mass market appeal. My ongoing book marketing efforts include as many in person events as possible to create, ideally, new fans. I’m giving a keynote speech today to about 75 people and hoping for this. We can only give it our best and hope.

    1. Most blogs attract niche markets because the blogs are not designed to connect to readers. Every other writer blogging about writing is a good example. But, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of a blog. Jody Hedlund, a debut fiction author, hit the Christian Romance Best-Seller list with her first book. Amanda Hocking and H.P. Mallory both used blogs to sell hundreds of thousands of books.

      Also niche is not exactly bad. In NF, niche is really important. Some niches have millions of people. Dieting. Parenting. Personal finance.

      For instance, I carved out a niche as the social media expert for writers. I don’t want to give advice to Bob’s Car Wash and how they should handle Facebook. I leave the business social media to Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin. I don’t have expertise there and so that niche is not a good fit. But there ARE a lot of writers needing social media. That is a healthy niche. I don’t want a mass market appeal (in this sense). I want to be the definitive voice for writers.

      As far as fiction authors blogging, I feel they aren’t blogging on the correct topics that can penetrate past that layer of writer friends and that is why the blogs have a harder time giving momentum to book sales. This is why I have started teaching on-line classes to help writers come up with content that will have more of a mass market appeal.

  8. Blog–check-check.
    LinkedIn–sorta/kinda/ina/way (it’s a bit annoying these days)

    Something else that helps with the “recognition” part you’ve mentioned before–the picture/avatar. I’ve had a number of folks say they noticed mine, because it’s the same on each of these platforms.

    Oh, and you’re a writer so you gotz da permission to make words up. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Excuse me while I go get caffeinated to jump-start my fictioning. *s*

    1. I second Amy on this. I look for people’s avatars on twitter or facebook because it is faster than reading names. When people use different avatars or change their avatars too often, they lose my attention because it makes them too hard to find.

  9. I normally only get one or two auto DMs a week, but this week I’ve gotten 11–eleven!–and it’s only Thursday. It’s getting really annoying. A couple of times I’ve almost sent them a DM back including the link to your site so they can learn what not to do on Twitter.

    I often try to visit new followers’ websites, and if I find something good, I’ll tweet it. But as soon as I get one of those auto DMs, I feel manipulated and then I suddenly think of a million other things I need to be doing more than visiting their site.

    I do feel much better knowing I don’t have to be everywhere. I really have fun with Twitter, but I can’t seem to get a foothold on Facebook yet, and I don’t even know what most of the other social media sites are about. I love blogging. I’m starting to actually like Google+. I can’t image having to do anything more than that.

    1. It’s not even Thursday yet, Marcy – it’s only Weds! 😉

    • EllieAnn on August 10, 2011 at 2:41 pm
    • Reply

    You are full of top-of-the-mountain wisdom on branding. I like how you put it so simply:
    Name + Fantastic Content + POSITIVE FEELINGS = Brand
    I’ll remember that.
    I also like how you really can’t pay anyone else to do that for you or else you’ll lose the magic. Only you can create your brand.
    And thanks so much for mashing up my weight loss tips! Now go eat your Doritos!! 🙂

  10. I still haven’t tried out Google+. So far I’m content on Twitter, FB, and my blog. As for the brand building, my strategy – if you want to call it that – is just to treat others the way I want to be treated. There are lots of great aspiring authors out there with something interesting to say, and I support them. The favor is always returned. I blog about things I enjoy and hope others will too. I try to offer supportive links and share what I’ve learned without sounding like an expert or a textbook. It’s a constant learning process, but I do see the effort paying off. And most off all, social media is a fantastic support network. There’s always someone to cheer you on, someone who understands what you’re going through. For a writer, that’s invaluable.

  11. I’m on Google+ but doing NOTHING with it yet (accepting “circles” when ask, but that’s it). Just too dang busy already. I created the presence because I got an invite from my buddies but not real impressed with it yet. Seems to be for folks you already know…not for expanding circles. *shrug*

  12. Completely awesome post, Kristen! I couldn’t agree more. I get so sad when I see well-intentioned newbies doing the equivalent of standing on Twitter with a neon sign over their heads shouting “Like me! Follow me! Buy my book!” I wish I could explain to them that excessive spamming makes me LESS likely to take them seriously & buy anything.

    And yet at the same time I worry that my constant chattering on Twitter is seen as spam by others. Do they really want to hear about making or breaking my word count goal?

  13. “Author Buffy Fluffernutter—The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Hate and Orthotics.”

    Ooooh! I’m hooked already. 😀

    Kristen, I love, love, love the way you make your points stick by making them funny. Talk about fantastic content. (I really, really wanted to use an exclamation point there but I’m trying to cut back.) Thank you so much for including me in your mash up. 😀

  14. This is excellent advice. I am currently signed up for several social media sites – but I am sticking to the ones that work together – for example my twitter feeds into my facebook, and the blog feeds into twitter so I can still get away with spending a half hour or so a day doing social media. I am not too sure about G+ yet.

    One of the things that I think is often overlooked when giving advice regarding social media is the simple caveat – be nice. Yes I want to know what my favorite authors are up to, but sometimes I am finding that they aren’t very nice people. While there is a time and a place for being snarky sometimes, those places are always face to face in specific settings in my opinion. I am seeing a lot of people who seem to be aiming for sassy and coming across as just plain mean. Throwing jabs at other authors, potential followers or worse, your friends, won’t win you any awards – or future sales.

  15. I don’t feel the pressure to be on a million different social sites. My goal has been to increase followers naturally with the time I have and my writing always comes first. 🙂

  16. I love facebook and my friend list continues to grow, but most of the growth is people that I have connected with face to face at some point in my life – so there is a realistic limit to its growth.

    Twitter is fun and I see the potential of it, but I still feel like a newcomer at a great party where I don’t know a soul. I make casual conversation and people are very nice, but I don’t feel like they’ll be thrilled to see me when they run into me again.

    I love blogging and have a VERY small group of faithful subscribers and readers, but I identify with John Keats. “I should write from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the Beautiful even if my night’s labours should be burnt every morning and no eyes ever shine upon them,” because traffic to the blog is not exactly crowding the server.

    I go to Linked In, because it’s someplace to keep in touch with people from my previous professional life who won’t be checking in at facebook or twitter. They’re much too busy chasing leads, but occassionally they’ll come take a look at my blog.

    I contribute to Technorati about once a week. Usually, I just preview a blog I will use on my own blog in a few days, but sometimes I use it to talk about something that doesn’t really fit into the themes of my own blog. The time invested is minimal and translates immediately to more traffic on my own blog.

    I use Google Reader to capture the blogs I enjoy reading regularly and I try to find the time to comment. I also visit blogs suggested by facebook and twitter contacts and I try to comment, but at the least, if it’s good, I’ll hit the like button.

    Six months after attending your seminar at DFW.con I’ve found almost 100 followers on Twitter, doubled both my facebook and linked in connections and have blogged three times a week for 23 weeks. I’ve read WANA and Are You There Blog. You rock, Kristen. I’m just waiting until I roll.

  17. Great advice Kristen! Fortunately, when I first looked into blogging and social media I found you and your book. The things I’ve learned from both have been invaluable.

    Balancing everything is a difficult process that requires us to be flexible while remaining focused on our true goal and passion, which is to write books. I’m currently re-reading WANA as I go through the process of balancing my life schedule and am finding things I either missed or didn’t have enough experience to understand on this pass.

  18. What makes me connect with an author enough to buy his/her book? Interaction, respect, and entertainment. That’s it. I’ve bought people’s books simply because they’ve interacted with me in a genuine way on Twitter. Simple, really…

  19. “Did someone rufie my Facebook and she ended up at a party she doesn’t remember?” I’m still laughing at this line, and it’s the perfect way to describe how I feel when I wake up in internet bed with people I never met, doing things I don’t remember. I think this blog should be required reading for everyone starting out on social media. Thanks for the shout out and for a great post.

  20. I love the rufie line.

    Will you rufie me so I can end up at your party? (I promise not to swallow, so I will remember everything!)

    Since finding Twitter, I have bought people’s books because they have connected with me. Now I find myself routing for people to get book deals! Like I so want to read Leanne Shirtliffe’s book. Don’t you? 😉

  21. Thanks so much for reaffirming that your blog is “Brand Central” and instead you should be Tumblring and Flikring and following every shiny new forum that springs up. But what you say makes perfect sense:

    “It really just means that this writer has ten places people hate him and cringe when they see his name. ”

    Writers who listen to marketers are very likely to end up shooting themselves in the font. Writers have to treat readers as friends (not the Facebook kind) but marketers teach you to treat them like prey.

    • Tamara LeBlanc on August 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm
    • Reply

    Right now the extent of my social media presence is on Twitter and Facebook. (I finally have a website, but it’s a work in progress and not ready to be launched)
    I’m proud to say I’m not a spambot and never intend to be. My social media offerings are normally blog links for posts other people have written, RT’s for things I loved reading or learned from, fellow author support, congrats, well wishes and smiley faces for Tweeps and Peeps I look up to.
    I beleive my only true downfall (IMO) is that I don’t support myself…barely at all.
    I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve only patted myself on the back 2 or 3 times since joining Twitter and FB. And in doing so I’m very careful in wording my Tweets and messages. I avoid sentences like, “Buy my book, Follow me, Friend me, Love me, Adore me.” I don’t like when other people spam me, so why would I ToadyTweet right along them?
    I also see your point when it comes to blogging.
    I follow 3 blogs, yours, Jami Gold’s, and PFHT. I’ve bought both of your books (devoured them) The minute Jami Gold gets published I will snap hers up as well, and PFHT is a group blog with quite a few published authors. I’ve bought most of their books too.
    Because as you mentioned, I’ve formed an emotional bond of sorts with all of you. In my head, you aren’t faceless bots in a computer, you’re real people, nice people, helpful people, supportive people.
    I follow, RT, link, and scrutinize nearly everything you all say because it’s worth my time to do so. I get something out of our little cyber relationship…wisdom.
    And to me, wisdom is priceless.
    So please continue your lessons on social media. I look forward to each and every one.
    Thank you for your insight and have a fabulous afternoon!

    By the way, you’re right, I had no clue who Arne Duncan is, and “Huh? What? Did someone rufie my Facebook and she ended up at a party she doesn’t remember?” is freaking hysterical:)

  22. Even for the big companies, name recognition alone isn’t enough. Hell, the only type of person I know that name recognition is enough to get them what they want is politicians, and that only works because of a combination of factors that include putting people right at the polls with the politician’s name so that it’s fresh in their mind.

    Good thoughts, as usual!

  23. I totally agree with what you said. I review for a couple of media blogs, most of which are independent releases. I love seeing my fellow writers succeed and when I can honestly say I enjoyed their work, it makes me doubly pleased. However, I’ve seen many self-published novelists and comic writers fail miserably at social media because they think blasting a link to their stuff or sending DMs repeatedly will make me more interested. No, it makes me less interested because then I’m tired of seeing the spam.

    I’m about to start embarking on querying for my novel and I’m active on social media for all aspects of my life, but I’m learning very much from agents and published writers that I follow about creating a social media author platform. It’s important to create buzz about your work, but there’s a fine line between getting people excited and getting people turned off by the barrage of information.

  24. Can I just tell you what a difference your writing has made to me? It’s like having a virtual cheerleader, mentor and digital-daiquiri dispenser all rolled into one beautiful blog! I agree that the underlying intention behind one’s online presence (i.e. positivity) makes a world of difference. Keep up the fantastic work!

  25. Once I found your blog I started paying closer attention to things. I changed my blog’s name to my name and then the name of the blog — I actually post things! I join in and start conversations on twitter — I’m dialed-in with hashtags (except for when I forget to use them!)

    Now the blogging thing, I’ll occasionally post writing stuff — but, since I don’t consider myself an expert I shy away from that. I have a sneaking suspicion I have a blog so I don’t drive my husband insane — I have a lot of interests and I have a lot of things I like to talk about. So, there’s no real direction except, perhaps self therapy.

    I’m all over the place. I’ve toyed with dedicating one day a week to “Living in Harmony” — Harmony was a parapsycholgy study center where I lived with my mom when I was a kid. But maybe, once again it’s self therapy. Any thoughts? And I guess it’s not really branding, unless, say I wrote (FINISHED) a YA paranormal about living at a study center…hmmm.

    1. I am offering a Blogging for Author Brand class again in October. $40 that will change your life :D. If you are a fiction author you don’t need to be an expert. You need to connect with future readers and create a vested community. But, sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees, so this workshop will help. It’s two months long. One for lessons and one for launch.

  26. I can’t fully express just how much I loath getting auto DM’s with blog or website links on Twitter. I only DM when it’s a personal comment or conversation. Nice to know I’m not the only one annoyed by that. LOL

    I appreciate the suggestion to only use platforms that work for me. I’ve been told so many times that I “must” get on Facebook. But each time I even think about, my stomach twists and my fingers lose the ability to type. I’m on Twitter and enjoy that. I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to blog about, but I feel up to making that attempt in the near future.

    Knowing that I might miss out on connecting with potential readers by skipping some platforms is a price I’m willing to pay. Being on a platform that I hate using will come across to those potential readers and I would probably end up alienating them anyway. It’s just so nice to hear from an expert like Kristen that I’m not being irresponsible by saying “no” to some platforms.


  27. Awesome blog, as usual, Kristen. I’m learning so much from you!

    Question: What do you think about serials on blogs of fiction writers?

  28. Spam Toad is now my new favorite phrase! I do loathe the little toads who violate my inbox. I get a lot of the DMs to “read my book.” Bleh – I’d rather gouge my eyes out, especially since your DM has typos!

    I enjoyed WANA and your blog. The most recent book I purchased was also Tawna Fenske’s book and yes – it is even better than her blog! I don’t even like romance (even though that phrase annoys her.)

    More gems of info! TYVM

  29. Gah, I’m so glad I found this blog. I’m in the middle of writing the first novel I plan to publish (the others I like to pretend don’t exist) and trying to establish an online presence. I’ve unfollowed and unfriended quite a few indie authors lately who pull the same crud you addressed above and I hope to handle social media with a bit more tact. Definitely adding your blog/twitter to my feeds. Thanks for the awesome advice!

  30. I feel MUCH better knowing that I don’t have to be everywhere. My writing time is limited as it is. I’d rather spend that time writing. Using one or two platforms (my blogsite & Twitter) seems to work just fine, although I sometimes go days without posting anything on Twitter. Hopefully when my daughter starts preschool I can be a little more balanced with that.

    Thanks for the reassurance!

  31. Great post Kristen. I couldn’t agree more. NOTHING (no punching puppies gets me going) irritates me more than when I get solicited DM’s from an author I just followed! In some cases I actually unfollowed the person because of their poor judgment.

    Some excellent points! Thanks as always for the insight with great humor 🙂


  32. Ha…Spam Toads. Toads are ambush predators, so I guess that’s an apt description of how their method of “marketing” works. Now that my nerdiness is well and truly established, I was wondering what the best approach to book promo is on Twitter?

    That’s what I primarily use for promotional purposes; I find I don’t like the Facebook pages that much and I feel bad selling to people on my personal profile, and besides that I don’t want to pester them with links unless I feel they’ll find something really interesting (not that I want to pester anyone with links!)

    I have a blog, all nice and organized with relevant tags like you suggested in your book. I do promo for selected blog posts throughout the day on Twitter, and I do promo for my book as well. I don’t do it on a 24 hour clock, that’s way too spammy for me, and I usually only schedule promo tweets for when I’m going to be home and on Twitter so my feed won’t be full of me just spewing out links.

    Good approach? Bad one? Am I all warty and croaking? I’m not fond of flies and frogs and small mammals, so I’d make a really bad toad, I think, haha.

  33. What great advice. And true. The books I’ve purchased from blog authors have been because I love their writing and feel a kinship to them. Which reminds me, where do I find Buffy Fluffernutter’s book, I SO want that.

    Thanks for being so accessible when and where it counts. Your guidance is always greatly appreciated and I’m trying my best to take all your advice and make my writing/work/life more manageable so one day my writing life can be just that. And thank you for being so damn funny.

  34. I’m not going to spam anyone to read my novel, once I publish it as an eBook. I will only offer free copies of said eBook to online book reviewers for free. Once. Only once. But to new and different reviewers daily.

    Considering the novels I read, I have NEVER read a book by an author who I heard about on a blog or twitter first. So, what’s up with that? Have there been research studies done that prove blogs help sell books?

    There probably has, right? Oops, oh well, I’m just asking, because I haven’t seen any.

  35. Awesome post… thanks. Now I feel good about not getting on Twitter as most of my other writer friends are. I have a blog and Facebook and figure I will focus on those as a writer. And when you commented on reading a blog and then buying that blogger’s book — I nodded. I’ve done that. More than once. I don’t have a book out yet, but I’m trying to put the effort into my blog now so that when I do (hopefully) someday have a book published, then I will have readers who actually want to read it.

  36. This blog emphasizes many things you teach in your online class for bloggers … such a great class. As is the book “We are Not Alone, otherwise known as WANA. For me, you’ve taught, motivated and clarified many things about social media. I must make a decision where to spend my social media time. The Marion Spicher Blog need some reconstruction, but the blogs themselves take precedence currently. Blogging habit and commitment? Getting established, thanks to you.

    I love connecting with folks, but some of it must go. Goal? Time spent writing time is greater than social networking time. Thanks for this blog, Kristen … clarifying … and giving permission to cut back!

    Don’t put me in the hat yet … because I am a compulsive revisionist, I must finish the first draft before I can turn anything over for a critique! Not ready in August!

    • LJ on August 11, 2011 at 12:04 am
    • Reply

    I agree with you 110%, Kristen. I get a lot of DMs from new followers on my Twitter account asking me to check out their book. It is not often that I go and check into it right away. If I see them more often blogging or socializing in a way that piques my interest, I’ll go and take a peek to see if their book is one that interests me. I’ve read several books this way and have not been proven wrong. Great post that I can really relate to…yet again! Thanks!

  37. great post. I read your books (great btw) but am such a newbie, slowly trying to piece together the whole platform thing (who knew all the pieces were so heavy?) I’ve been on Twitter for a few weeks but still i just googled DM. But love that i can come here for all the info! Thanks Kristen!

  38. I give people a bit of leeway with the spamming, meaning that I don’t cut them off straight away. I have compassion for them because they obviously haven’t read blogs like yours and they’re probably going to piss off a lot of people. Given time, they will hopefully learn that it’s not the way.

    With the emphasis on content, it occurs to me that writers need to be interesting people to have a following these days. You might write great books, but if you have no personality or nothing important to say you might become invisible.

  39. Thanks Kristen. It’s a relief to know I don’t have to everywhere. Personally, I buy books from people who are humble, kind and who like people because they’re genuinely nterested in them not in what they can DO for them.

  40. I have deleted several people because they just constantly post about their writing and books and when their stuff is on sale. I’m really trying to be better about posting more frequently without overwhelming everyone.

  41. I buy books from people I connect with via blogging. I’m just getting started on Twitter. I definitely feel better not having to be on EVERY social media site. I’m having an existential crisis as it is figuring out how to balance writing goals on my WIP,blog, and articles. I’ve been ready to quit all of it every single day since a national magazine asked me to submit an essay, because it’s freaking me out, and when I feel that I way I surf around looking for positive messages, like yours. (BTW, I bought both your books, and didn’t hafta be roofied into it.)

  42. Great post! I am currently going through my Twitter list and deleting those from it that do nothing but spam me info about their books for sale (I am actually amazed by how many do that and only that). I love to hear about authors books that are for sale but I also want to know more about them, or their platform, or anything other then where I can buy their book. I want to say “Really – if you interest me and I know you have a book I’m smart enough to find it!”

    On the flip side, as a new blogger and Twitter user, I find myself posting mostly about my blog posts for fear of boring people to death with posts about how cute my cat is – she truly is the cutest cat ever but that doesn’t have a thing to do with the novel I am writing. I’m always a little paranoid that people will feel like all I post about is my blog (me, me, me!) – still trying to find that balance…

  43. Amy Kennedy – Kristen is so right about her blogging class, it will change your life. Definitely take it and she’ll get you all straightened out.

    Another awesome post. I know far too many people on Facebook who not only try to sell their books, but then will post nasty things about their publishers. I don’t get it.

    I love Facebook, but am getting myself more acclimated to Twitter. For now, those two will be my focus, and my blog of course!

  44. Punching puppies? And a margarita machine on a roof with a shot gun! You’re always making me laugh and getting your point across, too. I just downloaded WANA on my Kindle. Lots of great stuff so far, and it all makes perfect sense.

  45. Thanks for such a freeing, helpful, sane post. I appreciate it. When I teach social media at writers conferences, I give similar advice: specialize & do what invigorates you. It must match your heart, wit, and personality. I’m not sure what it says about me that I love Twitter…maybe that I’m flighty? But I love it, and it fits, so I do it.

  46. Dude. Awesome possum again. It’s probably a good idea for me to stay off Facebook after reading this. Last time I logged on, the first thing I thought was “I want to burn down Mark Zuckerburg’s house.” Of course, that was emotionally irrational (enough to be redundant) but you’re right. Why bother with it if I hate it?

    Also, does a permanent link count for the second name in the hat? Because you’re on my blogroll…

    1. Sure, Lance. I know how you feel. I have never been particularly keen about FB, but it goes with the occupation. A lot of writers use it, so I wanted to find ways to help them use it well and in a way the built their brand. Work smarter not harder, right? 😉

      1. Truth. Gladwell would love you for saying that.

        Also, did the permalink/blogroll thing count? Or you lookin’ for pingbacks?

    • Christine Grote on August 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for trying to help us all, Kristen.

  47. I also bought Tawna Fenske’s book right away because I have loved her blog! Frankly, some authors maintain blogs that make me feel that I know them personally while still having a high level of professionalism. That’s what often attracts me.

    I agree that it’s much more important to be great at a few things than to dabble with mediocrity in everything. And ultimately, we need to be great at writing.

  48. I can see from the number of comments that this hit a sore spot. One reason my Facebook page privacy is locked so tight is that I just want family and a few friends on it. I don’t want everyone and his brother (her sister?) seeing my grandkids pictures, etc. And I won’t be using it for selling.

    I am on Twitter and once a day, or maybe two, send a link to my book or blog, but I, too, am annoyed by the constant Buy Me messages in the home feed.

  49. This post gives me a bit of a sigh of relief. I hate feeling like I’m supposed to be on all the different networks. Like you said, it’s impossible to engage on all of them. So I’ve pretty much put my focus on blogging and on Twitter. The other stuff like FB and Google+ and Goodreads just get my blog links fed to them. I can’t be everywhere at once.

  50. Great post! And like you, I haven’t unfollowed or did a “block and report” for those who spam via DM, but I’ve been tempted. Oh so tempted. 🙂

  51. I particularly dislike those that follow you on twitter purely so you will follow back and they can then DM you the ‘welcome + sell-pitch’. Needless to say they quickly get unfollowed!

    • Betsy Marro on August 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm
    • Reply

    Read this post and all the comments with great interest! This line in particular grabbed me: “When we don’t yet have a book out, or only one or two books? Our social platform can step in and fill the emotional vacuum until we have more titles under our belt.” My question: what if we don’t have any books in an agent’s hands yet but believe fervently that the day will soon come? I want to develop a blog that will fill that “emotional vacuum” but won’t be able to say that I have a book or books “coming out,” at least not now. Is there a way to develop a “brand” or connection with readers at this point or should I wait? I do have your books and will be re-reading now with this question in mind but I would appreciate any insights you can share.

    1. You start as soon as possible. Your blog can create the emotional attachment until your book is good to go. Blogging is also excellent training to trasnition from hobbyist writer to genuine professional. It will definitely up your game ;).

  52. I know a Spam Toad! The moment I friended this author and liked her page, I got bombarded with continuous repetitive Shares from her. Worse, I also follow her on Twitter. I think she tweets every 10 minutes about her book, reviews, award, interviews, and who knows what else. (I hesitate to un-friend and un-follow her for personal reasons.) Everything she sends is noise that I have learned to tune out. I would have bought her book to support her efforts if she hadn’t shoved it in my face so many times in the first hour that I connected with her. As it stands, I don’t intend to ever read her work, her posts or anything else from her.

    I like knowing that I don’t have to be on every social site to build my brand but I am definitely a writer who has signed up for just about every free account I could get my hands on. After filling out a profile and creating a page on the site, I don’t bother with it. I don’t know if I have the right approach but I figure that if I can put up my blog URL, FB page and Twitter username on a site, why not? It’s free promotion, isn’t it? An opportunity for a reader to find me and my work? Not sure. Maybe Kristen can clarify.

    I like to focus on my blog and I do a little bit of tweeting. Over the summer, I have done little of both, I have noticed that my sales dropped. I really think Kristen is completely right: stick to the blog and Twitter and maybe FB. That’s more than enough. We have books to write!

  53. I cringe everytime someone DM’s to check their sites out when I first followed them. I have made the same mistakes when I was still new. Now I know better.

    We need to have relationships with people. Do good to them and don’t expect that they’ll do the same for us. We never know who we’re reaching out when we do it that way.

  54. I unfollow people who clog my Twitter stream. You cannot possibly want to recommend every blog post you come across and if you do read all of them then you certainly do not have time to do any proper work of your own.
    Who cares if you can brag that you have 300 new followers if none of them will ever read your book.

    That having been said, focus on the top 10 social media spaces, heck no, that is too many. Figure out where you like to hang out, that is good advice, be yourself – best advice.

    • Ren Black on August 17, 2011 at 12:22 am
    • Reply

    Wonderful post! I can’t agree more. I’m not one of those spam toads, but I’ve networked with a bunch of them and a number of them are personal friends. They’re funny to watch, sometimes painful to. Yes, there does seem to be a bunch of marketing gurus out there driving them. Some of the followers seem to view themselves as real savvy. I just could never make peace with the methods. The funniest ones to watch are those that parade around “marketing” while their debut book sits as a partial draft on their computer.


  55. Your posts are always helpful. Thanks!

    • Yolanda on August 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm
    • Reply

    Great post! I have to say, that at one time, I was one who believed the hype. Now, like you, I’m looking for the best ways to market as a writer, not as a spammer. I HATE getting connections that start with someone asking me to buy their book. I think a lot of people have gotten so caught up in the hype and the need to “get out there” that they have stopped actually thinking about what does work and what comes across as absolute insanity–doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

    Can’t wait to read the next post!

  56. I agree. I’m tired of the constant barrage of buy this book or that book. I think on twitter its the worst. It’s a constant rain of “Did you see this movie last night…buy my ebook” or some other stuff like that. I understand and a self published author the need to press your book so people know its out there but there has to be a better way.


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