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