So last night I’m watching TV and this ad comes on for an item called, Forever Lazy. Basically, its a blanket with a zipper and legs (oh and there is a zipper at both ends and I will just stop there). Basically, it’s a cousin to the Snuggie.
This got me thinking…
What if we just gave up wearing clothes and just took to wearing Lazy Blankets or Snuggies? I mean, my thighs that haven’t properly fit in a pair of jeans since fifth grade would no longer be a problem. And how much time would we save going to the gym? With a Lazy Blanket, no one could see our cellulite or our less-than-impressive-pecs. No more sweating at the gym and bring on the cheese fries! Shaving our legs could be totally optional. No more sorting the laundry, either. Our Snuggie is already fuzzy, so just throw that puppy in with the towels.
Yes, I have a point…
Sometimes as a social media expert, it seems like life would be easier if I could hand you guys a Social Media Snuggie. A Lazy Blanket Platform that’s One-Size-Fits-All. And, sure, I suppose that I can, but is that how we really want to be seen in life?
There is a lot of argument flying around the Internet about what writers should be doing. Do they need to blog? If they do blog, how often should they blog? Is Twitter a time-suck and waste of brain power? How many social platforms should a writer be a part of? How much time should be devoted to social media? And, on and on.
Basically what I’ve been seeing is that writers seem to want the One-Size-Fits-All-Answer. Experts, in turn, have been trying to offer up the Social Media Snuggie so that writers can be comfortable all the time with little to no work. No uncomfortable waistband, no tightness in the tush, no chafing, no rubbing…just warm and comfy and effortless.
Sure, the Social Media Snuggie is an option. Heck, I would even like to have one, myself. It wouldn’t be nearly as much hard work to build and even maintain. It would be far easier to pay someone to blog for me or to buy 20,000 tweeps. And, for the Social Media Snuggie…One Size Fits ALL.
But, here is the problem.
Publishing is changing to be a much more accurate reflection of life. In life there are a lot of different types of writers and a lot of different types of writing. Now, I am no longer speaking to two groups of writers like I was five years ago. Five years ago, I had two kinds of writers—traditionally published and vanity press (people who’d paid a small fortune to get their book in print). In the past year, indie has exploded and there is a wonderful diversity of all kinds of options to fit all kinds of writers.
Thus, when considering how best to approach building our platform, we are wise to take a look at what kind of writer we are and what publishing options will be the best fit for our work. Then, after that, create a platform that will support that career path.
I have to be blunt. These days, all writers need to be on social media. We just simply can’t afford not to be. But how do we want to be seen in public?
Yeah, some things are great for home but were never meant to be professional attire. So let’s look at the different types of social platform sizes…
The Traditional Author
If you are agented and likely to be traditionally published, you have the backing of a publisher, an editor, an agent and people hired to help your books succeed. Thus, the burden of sales and marketing doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders. Focus on writing the best book you can write.
But, is a good book alone enough? No. And it never has been. How can I say this? I like to cite the BEA statistics of 2006. 93% of all books published (traditionally and non-traditionally) sold less than 1000 copies. So, for traditional authors, even with all those people working in your favor, the failure rate can be sobering of you rely solely on a good book alone. Historically, a writer had no control over changing these odds. Now, we have social media so we can help spark word-of-mouth. We are no longer forced to gamble, and that rocks ;).
Also, what we need to always keep in mind is that social media has changed demands placed on traditionally published writers. Many times the publisher will expect the author to help with her own marketing and promotion. This is easier to do if when your first book is published, you aren’t trying to pull a platform out of the ether.
For the traditionally published author, you don’t need to do as much. If you want to blog and tweet and Facebook, then go for it. I think the stronger your platform, the better. My opinion? Being traditionally published does have advantages.There really isn’t a need to have a social platform the size of a self-pubbed author unless you want one. A great author to follow who has THE BEST advice for the traditionally published author is Jody Hedlund. Another fountain of wisdom in this crazy world? Anne R. Allen. Bookmark their blogs and listen to every word they tell you. These ladies will keep your head straight.
The Hybrid Author
Some of you might fall into the traditional category. Ah, but you have a bit of a wild side that likes to write essays, poetry , short stories, death threats, or manifestos. Now, in the changing paradigm, there is finally a cost-efficient way of getting these types of works to the reader. Ten years ago, no publisher would have taken a second look at a book of poetry because it might only sell 500 copies. It just was a terrible investment with dismal returns for the publisher and even the author.
Now? Just e-publish. Those 500 copies that looked so depressing before, now are darn spiffy sales numbers if you’re keeping 100% and putting out only time, effort, and a minimal cash investment. So, if you are wanting to try your hand at selling some self-published items, you need to have a larger platform and a greater presence to drive those sales. Pay attention to Chuck Wendig. He makes the second-oldest-profession-in-the-world look good and is not above showing a little leg.
Yes, for the sake of brevity I am lumping a lot of stuff together. Indie has a lot of different flavors and I highly recommend listening to Bob Mayer and Jen Talty. Take one of their workshops because they are the experts when it comes to all the different publishing options in the new paradigm.
If you are an indie author, you have the backing of a small independent publisher. There is the upside of not being completely all on your own. I am with Who Dares Wins Publishing and I am blessed with a lot of expertise I don’t even know if I have the smarts to learn.
But, we need to point of the pink elephant in the room.
As awesome as indie presses are, logic dictates that most of them won’t have the manpower to help us in promotion and marketing like Random House or Penguin. We don’t get book placement in major chain bookstores or WalMart or Costco. We need a VERY LARGE PLATFORM. Sure, the indie press will help, but the lion’s share of the burden is ours.
Many new writers are carving out a career path by starting indie in hopes it will lead to traditional publication. Yet, here’s the deal. NY will want to see high sales numbers. Our social media platform is critical.
The Self-Published Author
Some of you love being in control of all aspects of your career. Web design, book covers, uploading? No sweat. There have been some tremendous success stories that have come out of the self-publishing world—Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory and John Locke are three that come to mind. These folks didn’t already have a name branded by traditional publishing. They rose out of the nothing with their own hard work….but boy did they WORK.
I was blessed enough to meet H.P. Mallory and listen to how she sold a bazillion books in six months and I needed a nap. John Locke? He is a MACHINE. I read his How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months and I thought it could be retitled as How to Kill a Writer in Less than a Year. The amount of work, planning, strategy was incredible (and I say this with the utmost amount of respect awe and yes…jealousy).
Yet, I do need to point out that Hocking, Mallory and Locke have all since signed with traditional/larger publishers. I think there comes a point when the workload is too much to maintain alone and long-term, but that might just be my opinion. Would have to ask them.
Thus, when we start thinking about our writing career, we need to be really honest about how much work we can do. Too many new writers think that self-publishing is a panacea, that all they need to do is upload their genius and people will buy.
If we look at the self-publishing success stories, the harder they worked, the luckier they got. Same with indie. If you are considering any kind of publishing outside of the traditional route, then ask the hard questions.
Can you write and maintain a blog and a social media presence? Can you do guest posts and blog tours and contests and create groups? Can you do all of his without the quality of your books suffering? Can you keep writing more books? In indie publishing and self-publishing, it is becoming clearer and clearer that those writers who can turn out books and quickly create a backlist are the ones that are the most successful.
What is your background and what do you bring to the table? Do you already possess a lot of technical expertise? H.P. Mallory left a career in Internet sales. She built her own website and uploaded, formatted and designed covers for all of her own books. If you don’t have the tech savvy, do you have money to hire people to do it for you? John Locke did. What is your background? Both Mallory and Locke came from a background in sales. That is a driven and fearless personality.
If you are writing under three pen names because you fear your family will find out you want to be a writer, then this might not be the best path. Things like time, money, background and personality all need to be considered when it comes to tailoring the right platform to the right publishing choice.
It is a wonderful time to be a writer and the sky is the limit. There are all kinds of generous people willing to offer time, help and expertise. My favorites are Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, and Bob Mayer. And if you are an unpublished writer?
Feel free to start with the Snuggie, but eventually? Yeah, you will have to hand it over lest it become your Lazy Blanket.
What are your thoughts? Opinions? Which Snuggie do you own and have you ever actually gone to a football game wearing one? Share!
I do want to hear from you guys!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of November, 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 October I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books!
Mash Up of Awesomeness
The Real Gatekeepers in Publishing by NYTBSA Bob Mayer
NYTBSA Sandra Brown Talks with Bayard and Holmes about her trip to visit the troops in Iraq for USO tour Operation Thriller.
Great blog about Non-Fiction Query Letters by Editor Jodi Rein
Elizabeth Spann has an AWESOME mash-up with some really helpful articles for writers. Too many for me to poach for the MUA
How to Put a Custom Sign-Up Form on WordPress. Thank you Kait Nolan
Amy Shojai has a wonderul series on Media Training for Writers
If You See Me Without Pants I’m Procrastinating by Tawna Fenske
*pushes back arms of my Snuggie to type* Great advice. I’m both paranoid about failure and perfectionistic by nature. So I’ve tried to build a platform like I’m publishing all on my own even though I have Penguin behind me. There are lots and lots of books out there and no one is going to be as motivated to sell them as I am. So there’s no way I’m going to sit back and let things unfold without me sticking my hands in and getting dirty. If my book doesn’t do well (oh please God don’t let that be the case, lol) I want to feel like I did everything in my power to make it successful.
I don’t know which publishing road I’m going to end up with, but I completely agree with Roni’s approach. No matter which way I go, a bigger/better platform won’t hurt me. 🙂
Your analogies crack me up.
For those writers who are on the fence about social media, it’s also heaps of fun. Really.
Thank you for your words and for the resources. I started out self-publishing and I’m glad I did I learnt so much. Number one lesson: I’m a team player. I pursuing this by looking for a literary agent.
I’m a mix of the traditional author and the hybrid author. I have traditional picture books in the pipeline and a book of poems to sell somehow. I have learned already from you though that that doesn’t mean twice the social media 😉 Great how you matched us all to specific people for our needs. I almost couldn’t concentrate on the post after seeing the second picture, too funny!
I read in a relatively new craft book that books of poems are a really hard sell but unlike adult poetry, a kid wouldn’t read it on a screen. I’m now wondering if I’m going to have to make them myself or something.
Great post, Kristen!
Great post. Thank you for your links and resources. You always tell it like it is and I appreciate that. I’m trying right now to follow Konrath’s advice (and the same has been said by others) – the best thing you can do if you want to sell books is write more books. I’ve got the first one launching in about a week and while I’ll work my social network and continue to try to build the readership, I’m focusing more attention on writing than anything else right now. I don’t think Hocking or Locke would see those numbers if they hadn’t pumped out the number of books they did. Like Roni (above), I too am pushing up my Snuggie sleeves and back to the word count!
I agree with the others, another great post, hugely entertaining and very relevant -– after spending a couple of months running around like a headless chicken developing ( or ‘trying to develop’) a ‘social’ platform, I long for the ‘forever lazy’ days! Ho hum! Thanks too for links and resources!
I, too, have been looking for that one-size-fits-all panacea for my own social media platform. But in looking for it, I only seem to amass large numbers of books and websites that I have yet to really dig into. Great advice, by the way — I’m definitely going to have to take the time to sit down and figure out a schedule, not only for writing, but for reading and determining exactly what I want to use in terms of social media sites. I need to set an attainable goal and go for it 🙂 I’ve got both of your books as e-books — and I need to sit down and read those as well 😉
Thanks for the links and I’m off to peruse them before my own writing time 🙂
Am I the only one terrified of those Snuggies and now, REALLY? Lazy Blankets? Yikes.
There really isn’t a one size fits all Social Media Snuggie (shudder), and that’s what makes it so awesome! Writers just need to accept the fact that Social Media is becoming the norm and embrace it. The more they fight it, the more work they are making for themselves. Does it take time away from the WIP? Yep. Does it stretch me a little too thin somedays? Yep. Do I love it? Yep, yep, yep. Why? Because every time I post a blog ~ I’m published. Every post, no matter how dumb or brilliant, is a way to reach readers and others of my ilk. I can’t get that sitting in my office every day with just my dogs for company.
I’m not published yet, but when that happens, whether traditional, indie, or self, I’ll be ready for the marketing because I’m already doing it.
Thanks Kristen. Great post as always!!
Tameri, thanks for the enthusiasm and you really nailed it. I think that many writers, in trying to avoid the hard word, actually only succeed in making MORE hard work that has little pay off. This is why I have always worked to give advice that works for ALL kinds of writers. Being kind, authentic, and professional works for any kind of writer. Relationships trump spam any day of the week. But beyond the basics, writers need to face the changes of the paradigm and see where they fit and then plan to work hard. But they upside is we get to work hard doing what we love, so it doesn’t feel as much like work.
WOOT! Whipping out the hot pink pom-poms for Tameri!!!
Thanks for putting this together for us Kristen. Great links and spot on discussion of variables.
Your analogies are always so clever and really enhance the understanding of your blog topics. The only way to anything is through hard work. Wanna lose weight? Sorry no miracle pill. Wanna build an author platform? Work hard. Sometimes the magic one size fits all doesn’t really fit all. Thanks again for another great blog and super advice!
Oh my goodness, I’m blushing. Thanks a bunch for the shout-out. Lots of wisdom here.
I see a lot of beginning writers who don’t even know what genre they want to write scrambling around to get a huge platform so an agent will take them on. It’s really helpful to let them know that if they want to go the agent/big 6 route, platform isn’t as necessary as if they want to self-pub.
And they really, really need to learn to write good books first. Which takes a long time.
Unfortunately, some agents are putting crazy numbers out there, telling newbies they have to have a million trillion Twitter/FB/Blog/Google+ followers and the platform of Justin Beiber or they’ll never get published. I’m hoping by the time the newbies have a few polished books ready to send out, the marketers who are into the numbers game will have figured out that a million trillion Twitter followers=Zero sales if they are a million trillion strangers. A small group of loyal friends is more important for sales. So build platform slowly while you’re learning the craft of storytelling.
Keep putting this smart stuff out there, and maybe the marketers will get it eventually.
Another fantastic post. I’m still finding where I fit in. I have been submitting to agents and getting positive responses, but no takers yet. I consider the self-pub route on occassion, but I don’t know that I have the personality to pull it off. Anyway, thank you for your thoughts and advice. I love you’re blog!
Great post! I’m still in the process of writing my book, but I figure I might as well start gathering ideas now. Thanks for the great tips!
Thanks for the resources and links, you practice what you preach. I love the photo of the couple. Cracked me up! You always do!
I’ve got not Snuggies…I’m with Tameri, those things scare me. I worry that the moment I don a Snuggie, I’ll be sitting on my couch with the remote, growing by leaps and bounds, with my computer gathering dust across the room. I’m lazy enough without one of those things.
Thanks for the great post. I have to second Leanne that I find blogging and social media extraordinairily fun. I have met amazing people (such as yourself) that I never would have known and I LOVE IT.
That’s been one of the wonderful things about tweeting and blogging to me, Jenny – meeting people I’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. I feel like I know you and other LLC members, as well as other writers from Australia to England. That feels good whether I ever sell a book or not.
Oh Shaman, this post had me at “no chafing”…LOL
Not a writer. My friend Neyska there is. I’m wondering about the (it seems) trend for writers to blog and post and tweet with and toward other writers. I understand community, but I have to say I enjoy a couple of writers blogs and would buy books from them having been exposed to their writing. I am no doubt ignorant of the processes and I am not so social media warm and fuzzy, but is there a
place or platform in which we “buyers” can find authors without the being part of the social media train? And by that I mean unpublished or slightly published. Just wondering. Bookworm here.
Pick a few of us whose blogs you might want to subscribe to. Then you’ll run across other writers’ names when they comment on those blogs. You’ll soon know a number of us. And we, you.
Especially if you get a pair of those Mundies, David. Jus sayin.
Speaking of marketing, what genius came up with Forever Lazy as that name of that snuggie thingy. So pejorative. Wouldn’t Forever Comfy have been much better?
Your logline practices is rubbing off on me!
Have we really reached a point as a society where we are willing to buy adult sized onesies?? *shudders* Awesome post!
SO true! Social media the way you teach has been extremely valuable to me. The way you teach it is: The most important thing is to write a good book, the second most important thing is to connect to people who read. That “connection” part will be so different for everyone. I’m just thankful that I’ve learned from you and no some other media expert wahoo that will tell me to schedule tweets and DM messages. Let’s be real. 🙂
Where do you find the time to locate all of these great information sources? This was an amazing post, just crammed with useful links and information. I can see that it will help me. I am only just beginning to realize the amount of work involved in getting published and promoted. I’m going to pass this blog on to my writing buddies! Thanks so very much.
Oh, she has plenty of time. All she has to do is write, edit, lead online workshops, raise a toddler, cook, clean house . . . see, plenty of time.
I heard a rumor she never sleeps and is designing a machine to clone herself in a secret lab in Jenny Hansen’s basement. And when they’re working, Baby Girl and Spawn run rampant through the house hosting wild Fritos parties. Shhhh!
Great breakdown. I’ve been thinking a lot about marketing lately. Had a chance to go to a seminar on the topic last weekend with a bunch of people from the industry. Eye opening. And you’ve given me some more good peeps to check out. Thanks K-Sizzle!
* gasping for breath …* I rushed right out and burned the Snuggie that has been sitting in the closet since one of our kids gave it to us last year. I thought it might sneak back out of the garbage so I took a more drastic approach. It had never been used but now it’s gone … whew … not taking any chances after reading this!
My whole approach to and understanding of social media did a dramatic about face after taking your blogging course last summer along with … talk about great good fortune – becoming part of the AWE-mazing Wana711 gang.
Your guidance (… and tough love at times …) and the incredible bonding of our group gave me a new perspective and energy. You encouraged us to be real, to find our authentic voice and be brave enough to use it. The ongoing connections and interactions are beyond measure … OMG, Jenny, Amy, Roni, Jody, Bob, Piper (good luck with the campaign, BTW) and the list goes on.
Not to gush on … but … thanks Kristen … for everything, including these posts and the links that are so helpful and important for so many of us. Keep doing what you do!
Thanks for this post!
I totally identify with your work ethic. I have always been self-employed, so I may have an advantage to someone who is new to this venture. That said, the game has changed tremendously, not only for writers, but for everyone.
I, like Tameri, do not have a published book yet, but I can see the definite advantages of building the author platform first, then publishing the book.
Thank you so much for all of your hard work Kristen. You are laying the groundwork for so many future writers. You are proving that what we do doesn’t always have to be about ourselves. It really boils down to a very old adage, The Golden Rule. If we are concerned about other people, put other’s interest before ourselves, we won’t need to be concerned about “Me”.
I truly believe that we really do get back what we give in life. I look forward to moving ahead with my entire wanaclass team.
Karen – you are so right – THE GOLDEN RULE. It’s really all we need to know.
Outstanding blog post today. I really appreciated you pointing out the one-size-fits-all doesn’t (just like all those clothes in the stores marked one-size-fits-all don’t). Excellent advice I share with clients. THANKS
Hi Karen, thanks very much for the heads up on whose blogs to follow, particularly regarding traditional publishing. If I ever end up writing a novel, I think I’d rather do it the traditional way, so you can be sure I’ll be following Jody’s and Anne’s advice. Blogs bookmarked. Cheers!
There was a lot of good information in there, and I’m glad to know that I don’t need to work on social media like a self-published author. That was a relief! I am finding blogging and tweeting fun, so I will keep doing those. And I have to say that I much prefer the look of my snuggie to those lazy jumpers! Those look like the fuzzy footed pajamas I wore as a kid. Not a good look! Thanks for saving us once again.
You gave one of the main reasons my goal is to traditionally publish. I don’t have the skills/ability it takes to do it all alone. I enjoy blogging and my social media time, but I don’t have time to do what Locke did. And I can’t write fast enough to put out 5 books a year.
Great reference piece full of the humor I love. I interviewed newly published author Bethany Wiggins a month ago and she said her writing approach was to stay in her scrubs/pajamas with no make up on so she’s not tempted to leave the house. LOL. In that instance, the social media snuggie just may be the perfect gift this holiday season! But I think I’m asking Santa for a kindle.
Happy to add a link from my blog. Your posts are really useful to us writers.
Always a great summary of information, Kristen. (A bit overwhelming, maybe, especially when there is a bring-work-home-day-job as part of the mix, plus family, plus home…talk about not enough hours in a day…)
No matter what, however, I’m always inspired here. Thank you.
Love your blog always because you have wonderful tips presented in a way that is so inspiring. Every time I visit I learn a little more about how to use social media effectively, and I always have a good laugh. Will divest myself of my Snuggie very soon. LOL
You cracked me up, Kristen! I want my Snuggie now.
Social media is fun and work in the same package for me. It can also be the super addictive crack that consumes all your writing time. Now I just have to figure out which of my gazillion facets to show to the world. Thank goodness for your books and blogging course.
Such a fantastic post, Kristen! I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea what the difference between indie and self-publishing was. I’m going the traditional route, with hybrid tendencies. 😉
The “Fiction writers don’t need a platform” never sat well with me; thanks to you I understand why. Imagine if actors weren’t brands themselves, but characters in movies other people had to promote and sell! Same for musicians, sports figures… Should be no different for writers.
Even if traditional authors don’t *need* as much of a platform, I see no potential downside to having one. Besides, as I’m learning, it’s actually FUN. (Never thought I’d join Twitter, much less say THAT. ;)) Thanks for all, Kristen.
Social Media can be a time-sink more than any other marketing but the pay-off is that much stronger. If you focus on the communications between you and the audience, developing genuine relationships, then you will ultimately have friends and advocates for you. Now the means of doing so are almost as unique as each author. We can choose a snuggie route but chances are we’ll end up with our own style in the end. Great post Kristen!
Holy crow! How did I miss this? Thank goodness for Gene Lempp’s mash-ups! No thanks to that Forever Lazy. That thing is the fast track to Loserville. And same goes for anyone who wants to succeed. You’ve got to work. Work it, girl. Shake your booty on the dance floor.
Oh, you know what I mean. 😉
Interesting! I really do struggle with social media as a marketing tool. I come from a technical background, not marketing (I actually avoided the first year marketing subject I was supposed to do at uni) and there are way too many platforms – I dislike Twitter, but I’m there. I’m trying Google+ but is seems just like a Facebook clone to me.
I’d rather talk to real people. Does that make me odd? Or to piggy-back on Renee’s thought – shake my booty on a real dance floor!
Did my pingback end up in the Akismet folder of darkness? 🙂
I feel like you may have misrepresented the indie crowd. From my estimation, most indie writers get into it to stay away from corporate greed. It’s the book version of indie music and indie film – make your own for the sake of the art, not the money.
I’m indie and that might be the motivation for some, but not all. Much of it depends on content and goals. If you just want to make art, then indie is a great option. But a lot of people are going indie because there is a lot higher profit margin and more control over your career.
I found you at just the right time! I’m a debut author with a book coming out in Aug 2012. You’ve hit upon many of the questions that have been tumbling around in my brain, in terms of what I can do to promote sales and develop a brand or platform. I’m fascinated by the turn my writing has taken as of late–I tend to think more in terms of my audience and pleasing the reader than I ever did before, which is perhaps a result of my own maturity and keeping in mind the long-term benefits of maintaining a fan base. More intention and less self-indulgence overall is a good thing, I think.
Thanks a heap for this post, glad to see there are still some excellent writers around the web!
Reblogged this on Flynn Gray and commented:
Just as I have been spending a lot of time re-thinking my whole social media strategy, this post crossed my newsfeed. An interesting look at author platforms, and how to focus on the best options for your needs. ~ Flynn