Social Media, Branding & Owning 2016—Because EVERY Day is Game Day

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Ah, I love this picture, namely because getting kicked in the face apparently is the only way I can get Angelina Jolie lips for FREE 😀 . Seriously, I found out yesterday that I am on the list to get my blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Most people who start Jiu Jitsu never get that far. They quit because, unlike other forms of martial arts, in Jiu Jitsu, you stay a white belt for a year and a half and most people can’t endure that long without the outside validation of “changing colors.”

For me? A broken nose, busted lip, three broken toes and a case of Shingles later?


Am I any good? Eh, who knows. See, a lot of being successful at anything really goes back to what we talked about not too long ago in the “real” odds of success. That pit bull tenacity of never giving up. Just keeping on and keeping on and keeping on while the competition falls away. That’s a game changer.

But this dovetails into what I’d like to talk about today…

On Monday I talked about what it means to be a rainmaker. Rainmakers are those folks who get things done no matter what. I love that my blog can inspire you because frankly our souls need refreshing. Yet, I will say that passion is not going to cut it. This job is really really hard. It requires digging deep and doing a lot of un-fun stuff.

That is the difference in the real writers and the wannabes. The wannabes all love playing with their imaginary friends and doing the fun stuff. Fiction is WAY more exciting than making sure all my social media is tended and gutting through revisions and answering a gajillion e-mails.

But, this is a profession, not a playpen.

The difference in mediocre and magnificent is always in the details. In doing the work others don’t want to do.

In a world of equally good books, readers will default to the writer they know and recognize over the awesome writer (books) they’ve never heard of. It is up to us (the rainmakers) to make it rain.

We do the extra that makes the difference. All rainmakers do.

In the 2011-2012 professional basketball season there was a major NBA lockout. No one knew when the season would start. When it did, there were a lot of games crammed into a far shorter span of time and, strangely, a lot of injuries. Why? Because many of the players didn’t continue training. Since they didn’t know when the season would start, they relaxed. Thus, when they finally did return to the game, they were soft, ungainly and out of shape.

The handful who didn’t take time off, who kept pressing and training day after day after day went on to have record-breaking seasons. Why? Because they did the extra. They did what others were unwilling to do.

To them?

Every day was game day.


For us, every day is game day.

I haven’t taught social media for a long time, but I have put together some new classes over at W.A.N.A. International that will be held in January to get you started off the right way. I’ve put this together to make it easy for you to get started in your New Year and maybe *hint hint* at loved ones for your gift 😉 .

Enjoy the holidays, but I hope you will treat yourself to the right start in 2016. Thing is, social media can drive book sales and it can be a huge game changer…if done correctly.

But, for those not yet convinced…

Social Media is a TOTAL Waste of Time (or not)

Write more books instead of tweeting or blogging. Social media is a giant time-suck better spent writing great books.

I don’t know how to answer this besides, Er? *screeching breaks* Personally, I can think of no larger waste of time than researching and reading and spending countless hours crafting a wonderful book of 60,000-110,000 words and then?

No one knows the book exists so few people ever read it, enjoy it or are changed by the author’s story.

It’s like spending six months to a year on an oil painting to hang it in an attic.

These days, any agent worth her salt will not sign an author who doesn’t have a social media brand and presence. Rarely, they will take a book from an author who doesn’t…but usually it will come with the requirement the author get on-line and get to work.

I ADORE Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary and once shared a panel with her. She told the story of a book she LOVED and took even though the author wasn’t on social media. She was so impressed with the book she signed the author but told her she needed to get on social media and start building a platform.

After six months, the author refused. Dawn gave an ultimatum. Get your tail on social media or we drop the book and cancel the contract.

This is not the agent being mean.

Agents make money when we sell books and agents get that in a world where there are fewer and fewer book retailers, this means more and more shopping is being done on-line. On-line, if we don’t have a brand, we might as well not even exist (and it isn’t much better in the store, either).

Yes social media does matter because on-line is still growing…

No, E-Books are Not In Decline

There was a New York Times article that essentially claimed that the e-book tide was slipping and print was returning but this is not entirely accurate. According to a follow up article in Fortune it has to do with how one looks at the numbers. Yes, for traditional publisher there was a contraction in e-books because this is a pretty clear case of chickens coming home to roost.

Traditional publishers have continually demanded e-book prices remain high and most of us are just not going to pay the same price for the e-book as the paper, so YES of course paper will increase and e-book will decline.


I know I’ve seen this in my own buying habits. Most of the time I just say, “Screw it, I don’t need the book that badly” and they lose the sale unless I really like the author.

But, if I really, really want the book I will get paper instead. There is something deeply and profoundly cheap about me.

No I am NOT right in the head.

No I am NOT right in the head.

This assertion about the e-book market did not take into account many very smart indies and self-published authors who are doing very…very well and who were smart enough NOT to charge $15 for a freaking e-book. Also the article and its assertions were deduced from AAP data and that’s enough about that.

Long story short. The sky is NOT falling. People still like e-books. Sally forth.

Great time to be a writer. Yes. A challenging one as well.

Myth-Busting About Marketing

So many writers believe they aren’t selling a lot of books because a publisher isn’t spending a whole lot of dough on marketing and ads.

Yeah, no.

Ads actually have a terrible ROI and marketing doesn’t work all that great…unless paired with an existing social media platform. Social media is all about connection.

Though I’m not a huge fan of ads, it makes sense that if a publisher (traditional or indie) is going to pay good money to create and launch one, that anyone interested should be able to easily connect with the author. Same with coveted AP reviews, interviews, or events. Even if we self-publish and pay for promotion, an existing platform will make the most of that investment.

A LOT of any sales is the follow up then the follow-through.

Even if a traditional publisher pays for marketing and advertising, they know the return on investment is far greater if the author has an existing social platform. The stronger the platform the better the ROI.

If social media is new, scary, overwhelming? Welcome to being NEW.

Social Media is for the READER

One of the things that can make social media super terrifying is writers think I am here to change your personality and nothing could be farther from the truth. Here’s a little secret.

Most people do not mind being sold to. Seriously.

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I don’t mind it. I like knowing about a new product or service. I like seeing a new gadget that will make my life easier. What I DON’T like is when advertisers abuse the privilege. When they don’t value my time or they manipulate me.

You probably are the same way.

I don’t think any of us minded retailers sending us an e-mail with coupons, but then they got greedy. They started abusing the privilege and crapping up our in-boxes and ALL of them did it and now most of us have an e-mail that we have allowed to go feral for retailers who insist on getting an e-mail address.

Fine, but I haven’t checked that in-box since Bush was in office.

When we are creating a social media platform we are helping the reader. We all know what it is like to want to get something to read and we end up just closing the screen because we can’t decide. There are just too many options.

I’ve had the same thing happen at a bookstore. Instead of ending up with a book, I check out with three cutesy bookmarks, two bars of chocolate and…a figurine of a cat reading Shakespeare?


Either I end up buying junk or…what?

I default to brand names. Writers I just know.

Oh, forget it. I’ll just grab another George R.R. Martin.

Readers love connecting with authors. They love talking with them and getting to know them. That is social. They DO NOT like popups and spam and a constant barrage of ads and free stuff and being force-added to groups and mailing lists .

I’m just here to play matchmaker and help you find each other because too many writers are all talking to each other and doing everything but connecting in ways that are EVER going to potentially reach readers.

Writers can fall into three camps with social media.

The Mega Marketer

Self-explanatory. This author is on every social site, loves automation and will claim she never spams because she personally and carefully “crafts” all of her automated tweets.

Hint: That’s just eloquent spam.

This author knows all the algorithm tricks, and has a newsletter or two and force-adds total strangers to her fan group on Facebook.

I give props for working really hard, but often this writer’s tactics will make people want to set her on fire more than buy her books.

The Writers of Witness Protection

This writer often goes by a cutesy moniker @FairyGurl @ThrillerGuy. There are no existing pictures of this writer anywhere on social media. No website and if there IS a website it is NOT the author’s name. It is likely something like or

If you need to contact this author, please light the beacons of Gondor.

Then there is where many writers fall into. Even I get here sometimes because I get so busy helping others that my own stuff needs work.

The Mission Drift Writer

Recently I worked with a team of writers who just made the New York Times Best-Selling list and great book. Problem was there are two authors, plus they have a business consulting firm plus the name of the book, plus their training and they were just trying to brand way too many things and so they were losing focus and power. I could see they were going to wear out and lose momentum.

We all have to step in and reevaluate. It’s why I am currently redoing MY web site.

It happens. Unfortunately social media is like our sock drawer. It will need tending…forever.

So to help with all of this I have put together three classes in January. And yeah, yeah I am selling stuff but I rarely do it and it is Christmastime and at least you can give this list to friends and family and spouses for something you NEED 😛 . Trust me, these classes are going to save you a ton of time and headache later.

Social Media for Writers This class is a 101. What do you need to understand about social media? What do all the sites do? Which ones do you need? What can you ignore? It’s also going to come with a really cool worksheet to help you customize your social media for your goals, your personality and your audience. Trust me, if you write YA, then Facebook may not be a great use of time. If you write high fantasy? Why are you on LinkedIn? Are you more visually oriented? What are your strengths? Weaknesses?

We are going to be smart about our social media because you need time to write more BOOKS. Recording of the class is included with the purchase.

January 9th 3:00 P.M. EST-5:00 P.M. EST $55

The Basics of Author Blogging Again, this is a 101 class. What is a blog? How is being an author-blogger different from being a blogger? Can you monetize your blog? How can you monetize your blog? What are the advantages of having a blog? How can you blog smarter? Because frankly a blog will do us no good unless we KEEP blogging. Recording of the class is included with purchase.

January 16th 3:00 P.M. EST-5:00 P.M. EST $55

Branding for Authors Another 101 class. What is an author brand? How can you create an author brand? How can you make it where your name alone has the power to sell books? This class also comes with a worksheet to help you customize your brand and the recording is included with purchase.

January 23rd 3:00 P.M. EST-5:00 P.M. EST $55

What are your thoughts? Are you excited about 2016? Are you ready to make a plan? Do you feel pulled too many different directions? Do you like ads and wish they would just stop ABUSING THEM? Like really! TELL me about A LIPSTICK…not ALL OF THEM! Do we have to light the fires of Gondor to contact you? Are you happy to know that e-books are NOT dying and actually doing WELL? 😀 Do you have a feral e-mail? I think mine is at 45,000 unread e-mails. I wonder how many I get before Yahoo crashes.

Hey, it is an awesome time to be a writer.

Also, any other suggestions y’all might have for a class you want me to teach, please put it in the comments. I am working on those now.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of DECEMBER, 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, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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


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  1. Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

  2. You’ve hit me in my weak spot with this one, Kristen! Social media and I are not close friends…in fact, we’re barely acquaintances. Technology as a whole and I are almost as bad. Thank you for this post and for pointing me in the right direction. I will be in class with you in January!

  3. Congratulations on getting close to your blue belt! BTW, shingles? Don’t understand how you got that from practice, though I understand the broken and busted bits.
    I price my ebooks lower for two main reasons: 1) I love my Kindle because I can take hundreds of books with me in the space of one; 2) IMHO pixels vs paper is better for the planet.
    I also frequently give out coupons for the ebooks because I am trying to promote those over the paper. For instance, for Halloween, I gave out bookmarks with the coupon code to get a free copy of Latitudes & Cattitudes – this was in conjunction with a group who were promoting books instead of candy. Since many of my fans are animal and/or cat lovers, I admit that I also shared some test samples of ‘nip blends that Catabliss will start selling sometime next spring.

    1. I didn’t get Shingles from Jiu Jitsu, but I did have to take off four months from Jiu Jitsu BECAUSE of Shingles.

      1. I’ve heard those are very painful. Hope they don’t come back!

  4. I worry that my blog is not focused enough, because it is a blog about ME—sometimes it’s a writing inspiration blog, and sometimes it’s a travel photo blog and sometimes it’s an art blog or sketch-a-day blog. I’m not selling anything yet, though, just working really hard to finish to a book. So I hope that consistent updates will be enough to convince an agent that I have a “presence,” if and when it comes to that!

    1. I feel the same sort of multiple-personality-disorder-what-is-this-about happening on my website AND blog. It might help if I only wrote one genre, but nope. Women’s fiction, romance, YA fantasy and Bible studies. Yep. What sort of menagerie is this???

      1. You can actually merge those. Would take some finesse but I could help you do it 😉 . I have merged whackier, LOL.

      2. Saaaame, @LadyGrave and @SharonHughson! My blog/website’s all over the place. It’s kind of a mess…

  5. Any chance you could offer a GOLD level on the branding and do one-to-one consults with some of us who have a finger smear of paint everywhere and a mailing list of 21 names- half of which are people we’re related to?
    And I already know I should be on Instagram since I want to do YA, but I’m sort of waiting for my YA short story to come out (supposedly in February, but the publisher has pushed the date back once already), and then I was going to descend on Instagram with all the demons of Oregon (the story is about a demon possession – a Biblical retelling in dark fantasy – so this allusion makes sense in my mind).
    Yes, I’m giving you the puppy-dog eyes. Please, please, please, save me from obscurity!

    1. Actually I will post that up there for people who want to upgrade. So YES. I just wanted to get some basic classes listed in case y’all wanted to hit up spouse or family for what you NEEDED for the new year 😀 .

      1. I need a Gold or Platinum level class? Thanks.

    • Anika on December 3, 2015 at 3:28 am
    • Reply

    Thanks, Kristen! Partly because of your wisdom, I am so revved up for 2016! Bring her on! 🙂

  6. Here’s a riddle for you, Kristen:

    What’s the difference between a wannabe and a MyWANAbe?


    MyWANAbies get things done. They write books. They have platforms. They are social media JEDIs. They support each other as they move forward under the watchful eyes of the WANA-mamma. They know that 2016, and every year beyond, will be THEIR YEAR.

    I’m so blessed to be a MyWANAbe. 😉

    1. WORD TO THAT! WANAs who have stuck around are almost ALL successfully published and I think a LOT has to do with that system of support. You guys are rockstars!

  7. Thanks for the suggestions here, Kristen. Now a question. I have started a blog, but I’ve focused it on me, things I have learned and believe. I’m not sure how to customize according to my audience. Let me explain. I have two books that I am working on at the moment. My upper middle grade dystopia is ready (to the point that I have started sending the manuscript to agents). I am also working on a gritty young adult novel about teen pregnancy- the first draft is not done yet. I also, would eventually like to publish the picture books texts that I have written but I’m trying to land an agent first. These are all potentially considered children’s books, but the differences between them are huge, as would be the potential audiences. How would I set up a platform to talk (socialize) with such a variety of audiences? You mentioned that Facebook might not be the best use of time for YA authors. So, where do you recommend YA authors spend their time? middle grade authors? picture book authors?
    (I don’t know about the rest of you, but I struggling to maintain a website, while working, while writing, while looking for an agent, while having a church life, and while having time with my family. I know professional writers have a social medial platform, so I am willing to do it, but I want to blog smarter, not harder.)

    I realize these questions might be a bit complicated. I do have a copy of “Rise of the Machines,” so if there is a specific chapter I should reread, or a old post you recommend I look at, I would appreciate it.


    1. Those are the kinds of questions I will answer in my Social Media 101 Class. Feel free to bring those questions and it is why I am creating a worksheet to help you customize. The short answer will be “What audience are you going for?” Facebook could be fine if you are going to build a platform of the parents (which is oft the case for middle grade and younger readers). Also a lot of adults read YA. BUt, if you want a platform of teens, then I need to breach you how to use the platforms teens enjoy so you can connect there.

    • mitziflyte on December 3, 2015 at 8:28 am
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Mitzi Flyte and commented:
    I’m reblogging Kristen’s latest because it is so important for authors who want to get their books read.

  8. Thanks for the kick in the pants. I got frustrated with social media and let it slide the last part of the year. I suppose it’s time to add it to the 2016 resolutions. Now I’m off to check out your January classes… 🙂

  9. I absolutely LOVE your blog and cannot wait to take you classes. My question…are the classes on replay, by chance? My “other” job kicks in at that time – picking up the kids and taking them to Jujitsu and gymnastics! If there’s a replay, I’m in!
    Thank you so much for all of your posts. I drink them in and they really do refresh me!

    1. YES. You get the notes/worksheets and the recording which includes video included. And you can watch the video ALL you like 🙂 .

      1. Perfect!!! Thank you!! <3

  10. You have a while before Yahoo crashes. That’s my feral account too, and it’s over 100,000. I should check on the computer and get the exact number later – on my phone it only shows a week of unread email, and that’s over a thousand right now.

    Sadly, Gmail has gone slightly feral as well. Luckily, is has the category tabs.

    Are your classes going to repeat in February? I’ll be on the road during two I want to take in January. Of course, I’ll be working second shift after that. No idea what days I’ll have off, so I may end up just listening to the recordings anyway…

    1. No they probably won’t repeat for a while but you can get the recordings and video comes with that.

  11. I just loved this post! How can I purchase the classes? I want to if – I live in Germany so directness is a strength (or weakness) of mine – it’s within my budget. I’d put it here, but I have no idea what such classes cost, and I don’t mean to be offensive if I write a sum too small. I used to work as a language teacher myself, now I’m a translator, and when customers want high technical ASAP (as in yesterday) for 5 euros/page I get the furies. It’s not their fault, they can’t know the price range since it’s not their line of business, I understand that. But I refuse to make same mistake. 🙂 You’re so right on so many points here, I don’t even know where to start.

    1. It would be 51.54 Euros so a tad cheaper for you and the classes will work for you as well because they are in a virtual classroom and recorded.

      1. Super. It’s well within my budget 🙂 Please let me know how I can pay, and I will right after Christmas, or whenever it’s up. Count me in.

        1. When you sign up you can pay with PayPal or credit card :D. Great to have you!

    • senseiorlando on December 3, 2015 at 12:44 pm
    • Reply

    Great post Kristen! Signed up for the branding class. See you in Jan!

    • senseiorlando on December 3, 2015 at 12:46 pm
    • Reply

    Also reblogged this on! Thanks again Kristen.

    • senseiorlando on December 3, 2015 at 12:48 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Nascent Novel and commented:
    This is a blog I follow by the always informative Kristen Lamb. Give it a read and sign up for her classes! The topic of this post is Social Media and why we need to know how to use it.

  12. Great post, Kristen! Can’t to see your evaluation!

  13. I heard your voice in my head during a recent online course I took which touched on social media. The instructor favored automating tweets and some services that aggregate content and retweet it for you..yikes. I tactfully brought up how the Kardashians tweeted promo during the heightened moments of the Boston Marathon shooting and were blasted for it. Given how many mass shootings have been happening (two YESTERDAY in the U.S, it’s horrifying), I just cannot recommend scheduling promo tweets. I’m thankful I had your blog to back me up! I pre-draft tweets all the time in Hootsuite, but I manually post them after checking what’s trending.

  14. Ok…. Maybe I’m really thick here, but I’m going to ask the question. 🙂 I’m assuming that the classes are online, correct? I don’t need to physically go anywhere to attend?

    BTW, thank you again for the posts. They are helping me when I feel lost in the dark.

    1. They are ON your computer and pants-optional 😀

      1. I promise that I’ll wear pants regardless. 😀 Thank you!

  15. Reblogged this on In My Mind, This Is All Connected and commented:
    A follow-up for Kristen’s last blog on Rainmakers,

  16. got me. Yeah, I actually clicked on to see an example of somebody doing social media hiding behind an avatar. Rawr?

    1. LOL. No I just made that up. I would never publicly embarrass anyone unless it was a troll and they don’t count 😉 .

      1. But, but…what about the poor dragon’s who dreams are not being magically interpreted?

  17. I love this!!! It’s crazy how life works. I found this article exactly when I needed to.

  18. Great kick in the pants! I was losing momentum, but now I’m ready for round #2. I have my book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. I blog a couple of times per week and I have a Facebook page. Just struggling to get out there and construct that platform and brand. Thank you for all the great information! I am a fighter and I’ll keep plugging away!

  19. I also wanted to mention. I submitted to a publisher. It went before their committee, they said they liked my book, loved the idea, but because I didn’t have a brand or platform, they couldn’t take it on! What a way to get dropped into the pit!

    1. Well, I can actually get you ramped up pretty quickly. And yes it can hurt to hear that but these days we are just not going to sell books if we don’t have a brand. I’ve been saying this for a LONG time and a lot of writers didn’t want to believe this but it is just getting truer by the day. BUT, the good news is that people like me have also worked to REFINE the process. So it isn’t that bad. I am happy to hear you are part of the way there and this stuff is a simple fix. You already did the hardest stuff so you’ve got this!

  20. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    I think Kristen Lamb published another one of her very educating and interesting blog posts which I think should be read, in particular by learning authors. Thank you, Kristen!

  21. I found you from the list of best online resources in the Writer’s Digest magazine. I’ve only begun writing my book, but blogged for many years to support my my life as a textile artist. I look forward to taking your social media classes. Luckily I have the technical side down…really need help to make a writers blog/social media work. Thanks!

  22. Reblogged this on Emily Arden, author.

  23. It’s worth it, people! Sign yourselves up for Kristen’s class(es)!

  24. I don’t have much time to read blogs, but I take time for yours. It’s funny, irreverant and full of meat and potatoes. I don’t want the veggie-lite &^%$.I want info I can actually use. Thanks. Kelly Marshall

  25. Congratulations on the blue belt! Also, I recently read “Rise of the Machines.” Have been recommending it to others ever since. My problem continues to be focus, which is why I’m interested in your Author Brand class. Since I’m serious about writing science fiction and I’m also a fine artist, It’s challenging to find the right balance.

  1. […] Social Media, Branding & Owning 2016—Because EVERY Day is Game Day by Kristen Lamb. […]

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