Social Media, Branding & Owning 2016—Because EVERY Day is Game Day
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?
HA! I AM STILL HERE!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.magicdragondreams.com or www.writerswillwrite.com.
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.