I am an “Old Dog” of the digital publishing paradigm. When I started out on social media, I did not want to be a social media expert. I enjoyed editing and teaching and longed to write fiction. But every a$$clown with a Twitter handle was a “Social Media Expert” and much of the teaching was nothing short of ridiculous.
Some of the advice was downright predatory (or, in my book, cheating).
In my estimation, most of the tactics were more likely to increase author suicide rates than book sales, so I finally decided to become a Social Media
Expert Jedi 😉 .
I’ve been through all the fads. The FREE BOOK Rush of 2010, The Great .99 Book Deal of 2011, The Amazing Algorithmic Alchemy, The Magical Metrics and the Automation Invasion of 2012-2014 (there are still skirmishes along the front).
Guess what? I’m still here.
I don’t say this really to brag as much as to make a point. Social media, done properly is not a short-term burst of gimmicky energy. There is no magic to it and it while it is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We not only have to manage the brand, we also produce the product.
Not a job for the faint of heart.
And with all the tweeting and blogging and slogging month after month and year after year, I know that it is SUPER easy for us writers to get overwhelmed. That’s why today, I’m here to offer some simple ways to inject fire back into your writing and your career.
*plays Eye of the Tiger loudly* *punches at the air*
#1—Appreciate that Writing and Social Media Branding Can Coexist
When I am on Twitter, I often get tweets like these:
Guess what? I agree! The writing always, always comes first. But why is there an almost automatic assumption we must choose?
Social media, done the way I teach in Rise of the Machines, takes maybe 10-15 minutes a day and feel free to take off weekends. I offer no get-rich-quick advice. My author platforms take time (and discipline) to build, but they are virtually indestructible.
And the writer who tells me she doesn’t have ten minutes a day to work on her brand isn’t serious about being successful.
Whether we like it or not, social media is necessary for our job. Yes writing is fun, but it is still a profession.
Writers are in the entertainment business. Note that half that word is business. We are in the business of selling books. When I was in sales, we had a saying. Fish where the fish are. And the fish are schooling on social media. Makes sense to drop some lines.
The writer who is willing to tackle doing social media well is making a transition from hobbyist to professional. Celebrate! This means you are going places!
Thus, if the career has been sluggish, it might be time to go polish some other types of skills that are now required in this profession. Many times, the problem isn’t with the tool. We simply don’t know how to use that tool well.
#2—YES!!! The Product is All that Matters
When it comes to a brand, the surface perception is only part of the equation. I can have a fabulous website, great author pics, charming tweets and be a downright likable gal, but if my books stink?
No amount of social media magic can salvage literary dog poo.
This is one of the reasons I have written over 900 blogs. I blog a lot on craft because the product is essential. It is the most important part of the equation. Yes, write first. Take classes. Hone your art. Because your social media brand must be able to deliver an excellent product. It is okay to believe that your writing is important because…it IS.
So yes, we do need to work on our platform but you do have my “expert” opinion to focus on that end product. Relax about the social media, stuff. Really.
#3—Embrace the Social Media Trickle Down Effect
Part of embracing the new type of work we must do as digital age writers comes with redefining how we see our work. Feel free to get on social media and trudge through it like some chore, but with that kind of an attitude? I recommend just staying off altogether. We can sense a poor attitude through the screen.
Instead, I recommend you reframe what you’re doing and how beneficial that time really is. It’s an investment in you, in your success beyond simply selling books. There are all kinds of other benefits many writers never even consider.
Virtually every profession benefits from professional networking, why would writing be any different? Where else can you have 24 hour access to publishing professionals all over the world? Follow your heroes and make them mentors. What are they reading? What are they doing? How do they manage their time?
Where else other than Twitter could I start my day chatting with the former editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine (and one of my FAVORITE authors)?
I used Twitter to follow James Rollins. It’s how I got to know him well enough to eventually contact him about giving me a blurb for my second book.
While an in-person writing group is great, often they can be a bit heavy with new writers. Places like Twitter or Facebook allow us access to the seasoned pros. We can chat with people we’d have to otherwise wait a year or more to see at a conference. Take advantage!
Every writer out there gripes about not having enough time to write. Okay. Twitter helps us work smarter not harder. Twitter can make research much faster and far more accurate.
For instance, if you want to write a sexy new story with a Navy SEAL and don’t want to lose weeks researching, hop onto #NAVY and make some connections. Experts are always eager to help writers get the facts correct. The fastest and easiest way to find them?
And, for the shy folks, I know social media is forcing you to do something afraid. That is good. Use this time to hone being brave. Be brave in the small moments on-line and it might make you braver in your writing.
In the end, remember that there are mega-successful authors who are using social media to reap major advantages. This notion that we must choose writing or networking is short-sighted and an excuse. We all must learn simply to use time well and be disciplined.
If we assume that platform-building is this awful horrible time-intensive thing, then we psych ourselves out of some truly fantastic benefits that can really fire up our careers. We have to remember that it is very possible to write books and be on social media. Just like we can bathe and brush our teeth. No need to choose 😉 .
What are your thoughts? Do you psych yourself out when it comes to branding and social media? Do you think you need to do everything? Do you see how social media can allow you to take simple steps to fire up your future? What are some ways you add some mojo back into your routine?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, 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. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History.
thanks for the advice, i sometimes feel that my life is a quilt, no pattern in sight and no end, thanks again for the help
“Just like we can bathe and brush our teeth. No need to choose.” Ha! Brilliantly simple analogy.
Wow. this is an amazing post~ very helpful!
Reblogged this on Travels with Mary and commented:
An amazing post
Social media and branding is the hardest part of the whole thing for me. I’m on Twitter, Facebook and have a blog (2x/mo) and still having a difficult time making it work. Even though I like it, it’s time consuming for me and takes time from my job and writing. Your posts are so helpful, but you make it look easier than it is (for me). Still, I’m so happy to be part of your following. Thanks so much!
I want to add another tip: find your favorite authors on Twitter and follow their followers. Many of them will follow back. Unfortunately, Donna Tartt and Amor Towles are not active on Twitter, so not all our favorite writers are there, but many of them are.
I’ve been following your social media advice recently, as I’ve been reading “Rise of the Machines.” I was in direct marketing during the ’90s (when it was all about targeting and list optimization), so I see a lot of marketing wisdom in your approach. It’s early days yet, to see if my efforts will succeed, but your approach seems sound.
Reblogged this on Michelle Eastman Books.
You are so right. I am the one you are talking about…no time, scared, rather write. I would link you to my blog, as you asked, if (a) I knew how and (b) I remembered how to access my blog. OKAY? enough said. I think I’ll look into your book. Thanks,
Great Advice as always!
Great advice. Thanks. Never realized the power of twitter for research. Thanks so much.
Thank you once again for excellent advice! it is crucial for writers to understand that branding and building a platform, which I am still learning, is part of the business of writing.
I was intimidated by brand/platform until I read your book. Your approach feels doable, even for introverts like me. I’m still getting the hang of balance, but that’s because I’m learning about self-publishing (my first time) WHILE I’m working on my brand and trying to write new stuff. It’s hard, but isn’t all work hard?
When I get discouraged about the slow growth of my platform, I remind myself it’s okay to be new (learned that one from you) and I would rather create a small, loyal following than a large, disinterested one.
Writers, if you haven’t read Kristen’s book, you need to.
Loved the post. It gave me so much info for my new blog. I would love you to visit my blog http://www.shopaholibond.wordpress.com and give me your feedback regarding the same 🙂
Great post, thank you!
Sent from my iPhone
You could say that I psych myself out. All the time. Then I accept that I need to use social media…. And promptly forget to log on.
Sometimes I wonder about my mind.
Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.
My biggest problem is TIME. I recently started using Buffer, and that has been so helpful in terms of driving traffic to my blog. But then there is the time responding to my Twitter mentions (important to me, I’m trying to create some dialogue around gun issues with my latest post and a lot of dialogue has happened on Twitter) and it just gets to be overwhelming sometimes. I’ll take any suggestions!!!
Don’t feel the need to reply to every single person. Just be real.
Sometimes we make things harder than they need to be. I know I do. Thanks for the simplicity of this.
Reblogged this on Beth Treadway and commented:
On point, as always.
Love your photo!
I’m in the process of changing my brand right now. Hopefully it’ll be well received. Social Media doesn’t scare me at all, I just fee like I can be doing more.
With your help, I will 🙂
Thanks for your wisdom!! Have a great week 🙂
Nothing to add. Just wanted to say ‘hi’ and thanks for all your blogs.
This is what I like about Life, there is always something new, refreshing and to read. Thanks for the inspirational info. Gosh, if I don’t feel like I’m 45 again!
yes, yes, yes. 🙂
Reblogged this on Rachael Ritchey and commented:
Kristen’s the Jedi I trust. 🙂
Save the first two or three hours of your day for intensive writing, at least blogs and articles if not books. That is one key to balancing writing and social media. But 10 minutes a day on social media is not going to get authors very far at all. A good recipe for being a perennial follower.
You’re amazing, Kristen! Thanks for this wonderful info and encouragement!
Lovely idea about using Twitter for research. I never thought of that before. Thanks. 🙂
Social media takes TIME … not necessarily a lot per day, but time to build up. For example, after more than two years, my blog is just now hitting 1000 visits per week. Even if you’re unpublished, NOW is the time to start building your presence on the ‘net.
It does. Though what is interesting is you will hit spots that your following will suddenly jump. The key is just a little every day and being consistent. But, that isn’t glamorous 😀 .
Kristen: I know about the social Media, however, I was scammed by a person who took advantage of me over the internet. It cost hundreds of dollars,and plenty of time to get my computer put back in order. How do I overcome my fear of opening a note. I have no fear opening your blog, but I think I know that you are not going to scam me.
Dnjoy your blog.
James M. Copeland
I work on my writing Monday to Friday and my blog on Saturdays. Sundays I don’t even turn my computer on 🙂
My social media involvement is limited to blogging (oh, and Ravelry) but I figure it’s best to do one thing well than five things slapdash.
I like the 10-15 minutes a day approach – very doable. But it takes me that long to put Facebook posts and tweets together (I’m not including my blog here), so where is the time to “have conversations,” which is what’s it’s all about?
LOL. You are WAY over thinking your posts! And the 10-15 doers not include a blog. The 10-15 is conversations. I write and take breaks. I scroll down the main FB page, like things, comment, share and then hop on Twitter. Check the Mentions, respond, maybe RT something and then go right back to work. Social media should be organic.
I did read some of your book, and was working on my blog posts as recommended, but that was taking up a lot of time and so I ditched it (for now, except an occasional post) until I’ve got more books under my belt.
Does the 10-15 include writing your blog? I’m thinking not because I’m pretty sure your blog posts take more time than that. I say that because they are so well thought out. 😀
No. Blogging takes more time, but it is the most resilient form of social media AND it can be compiled and turned into a book for sale or as a loss leader or freebie for marketing so it serves a TON of useful purposes aside from making us leaner meaner faster cleaner writers. And thanks. My blogs take time but not nearly as much as they used to. They actually don’t take all that long to write, but the editing, tagging and putting in pics takes just as much time. Probably about 90 minutes or so.
Good to know that it does get easier / faster.
Thanks, Kristen. Yes, I’m sure I”m way over-thinking. And I’m not in and out easily, because when someone posts a blog link, I’ll often go over and check it out. But maybe if I practice more, it will come easier!
Good stuff again, Kristen! Thanks for the sanity reminder!
Reblogged this on Amy Reece and commented:
Some great thoughts from Kristen Lamb on how to keep sane in the midst of writing & marketing.
Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog.
Good, common sense advice from you as always, Kristen.
Thank you for your advice! Your book was recommended to me and I am so appreciating finding you! Blogging, branding, and marketing all terrifies me, but your wisdom is making it easier! Thank you!
Kristen, thank you so much for this encouraging post. I have been a follower of your blog for a while, but this post has given me the kick I need. I’ve just bought your book and plan to devour every last morsel of it and embrace this scary new world of social media that I’ve shied away from for so long.
The thing is, I am not into Social Media Snuggies. One Size DOES NOT fit all and I would rather you start doing SOMETHING. A lot of the “common” wisdom gets writers way too psyched out. I have almost 15,000 Twitter followers. How? Just hop on a little each day and chat with people. That’s it. No strategy. No programed tweets. No optimization. Just consistency and kindness. Same with Facebook. Same with the blog. I blogged a year and a half to the ether and only the male-enhancement bots cared, but it was good for me. It made me more disciplined. You aren’t alone, Hon. We are here. Yes, you need to do this but who said you had to do it alone? What fun would that be? 😛
good stuff here!!!
First of all I LOVE YOUR BLOG. I love how straightforward and clean your writing is. Also, I love how encouraging your posts are. Even I can understand what you’re talking about. Social media? I used to think ugh, I hate it. But, I have found some very useful things via Twitter (maybe even your blog?). I’m not so good at connecting or building networks, only with a couple of fellow Samhain authors so far. But I’m trying! My philosophy is every little bit helps and if I keep chipping away at social media, pretty soon I’ll have mastered it! I don’t know how to “link back” to your blog, but if I figure it out, I will definitely do so.
My first book was titled WE ARE NOT ALONE for a good reason (aside from our desire to wear a tinfoil hat when thinking of social media). You aren’t in this alone. YES, you need to build a platform and a network but no one ever said you had to do it by yourself ((HUGS)).
Haha! I did it. I figured out how to link your blog to mine. At least I think I did! It now shows up on my page under “Blogs I Follow.” WP Admin –> Links (I think.)
Awesome! See, you can do this. Actually if you have my book I do have a tutorial in there on putting in a hyperlink.
I never considered using twitter to find experts in research. What a brilliant idea.
I really enjoyed this blog post. You make it all look very doable if we are willing to put in the work. Thank you 🙂
Thanks Kristen. I always take a lot away with me after reading your posts. As far as twitter goes, do you find it annoying and a waste of time as much as I do when authors try to get you to buy their books? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s like selling ice to Eskimos. What I do instead is re-tweet author’s tweets hoping they will think ‘gee, that Gina Amos is a nice person. She never talks about her books but here she is promoting mine.’ This strategy has done nothing for my sales but it has increased my following. Give me blogging any day. I find it’s the best form of networking because it’s easier to engage with people.
I hate book spam. Actually I get spoiled on Twitter because I hang out on #MyWANA (a hashtag I created) and I rule it with an iron fist 😀 . I am ruthless with spammers. On #MYWANA it’s a lot of the people who like this blog and other writers so usually a great place to talk to real people. Thanks for the compliment! *smooch*
This is a great article – thanks Kristen. I always appreciate your honesty and insight. I try not to get bogged down by social media, but realise its a very important part of building my brand and developing my networks. Getting my website right will also be central to building my brand – something I am currently working on. Thanks for your tips and advice, and good to hear that twitter can be so useful.
Reblogged this on Emily Arden, author and commented:
Definitely worth reading!
I can generate as much freelance work as I like without a web site or social media, blog or face book, its not required for freelance nonfiction–in fact it hiders production There are other ways. I do fiction too, but that’s not the main meal, it’s more like desert, sometimes rich sometimes marginal but always fun– but I can’t depend on it for financial nutrients.
This is a super helpful post; going to reblog! I just got an agent and she sent out my book to editors this week, so in anticipation of it (fingers crossed) getting sold in the next few months I definitely need to up my social media game. I’m definitely going to check out your book – thanks!
Reblogged this on Just kidding… and commented:
Super helpful article on how to fire up your writing career – highly recommend giving it a read!
So far, I’ve written poetry, short stories, and a few screenplays. After a few years, it became a chore. I was unmotivated. A few weeks ago, I began writing fan fiction just for fun. Love it! Turns out to be good practice for developing my other stories. Btw, I probably spend more time on Social Media than I do on writing, so that’s the next item to be fixed.
21 hours a week excluding the writing time is my social media commitment thus far. This is not “living the dream”. I look at it this way: I would never have read this blog or engaged in amusing banter with my social media “friends” were it not for this necessary evil. It has been an interesting and enlightening ride. Nice job on this blog.
Good stuff and I agree we need to sharpen our skills, set up our platform in social media and be the best we can be. I for one have purchased many ebooks online and felt the Author set their work free way too early. They used all the wonderful social media channels available to us all. Smothered the internet with their book promotions, hooked this reader and then the disappointment set in when I purchased something that just did not impress me.
Reblogged on American Writers Exposed! Happy holidays!