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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: Are You There Blog It’s Me Writer

They were Kung-Fu Writing! Those geeks were fast as lighting! Adverbs a little bit frightening! Okay, I’ll stop. 2012 is the Year of the Dragon! Hiyah! *does really lame karate kick*. And yes, I screwed up and initially put Year of the Tiger. But was it really a goof? I think NOT. 2012 is gonna be WAY better…it’s the Year of the Dragon…infused with TIGER BLOOD (Thank you, Charlie Sheen for going crazy. Bailed my @$$ out of a major oops!)

Anyway, I have been a writer for many years and you learn by a lot of trial and error what tools are awesome and what are a total time-suck and waste of energy or money. For instance, the Universal Control???? TOTAL waste of money. It did NOT allow me to control the universe.

Anyway….

Many of you have made New Year’s Resolutions to:

  1. Take your dream to write seriously.
  2. Invest more energy, time, resources to becoming a professional writer.
  3. Finish your novel.
  4. Self-publish.
  5. Indie publish.
  6. Land an agent.
  7. Train howler monkeys to use nunchuks on anyone who interrupts your writing time.

All of these are awesome goals and, when it comes to the howler monkeys, just take it from me and skip trying to potty train them. A diaper will work and Season Three of Toddlers & Tiaras makes them highly aggressive, ergo better bodyguards.

I wanted to take some time to list books, tools, and other miscellaneous items that I think all writers need to be less likely to end up on a roof with a shotgun and a pan of brownies successful. These are all tools that have helped me grow tremendously in my profession, and I would like time to share them with you guys.

Best Books for Learning the Craft & Profession (in no particular order, cuz they ALL ROCK!)

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Hooked by Les Edgerton

Save the Cat by legendary screenwriter Blake Snyder

The Writer’s Journey–Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

Plot & Structure by Nationally Best-Selling Author James Scott Bell

Bullies, Bastards and Bitches by Jessica Morrell

Fire in the Fiction & Writing the Breakout Novel by Mega-Agent Donald Maass

Write It Forward–From Writer to Successful Author & The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by NYTBSA Bob Mayer

Social Media & Author Platform 

Yes, I am partial here, but my methods are fun and won’t make your head explode.

We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media to get you started.

Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer for when you’re ready to lose the Big Wheel and take on the Big Girl/Big Boy Bike and some training wheels.

Blogging to Build Your Author Brand Workshop in April for when you are ready to lose the training wheels for good. This class is limited to only 100 slots and this class fills up FAST.

Social Media for the 21st Century Author is to teach you guys about social media. What works? What doesn’t? What is a total time suck? What sites are essential and which ones can you ignore?

Favorite Conferences & Workshops

Anything offered over at Write It Forward is well worth your time and money. Many classes are taught by New York Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer. There are all kinds of craft workshops and even a workshop to help you understand the new options in publishing. This class is designed to help you discern which publishing avenue might be the best fit for you and your work.

For those of you who write Historical Fiction, the amazing author Victoria Martinez will be teaching a course about How to Do Historical Research and Writing and Natalie Markey will be offering a class about How to Be a Mom and a Writer and Do It All….without using duct tape or shock collars. Who knew? *shrugs*

DFW Writers Workshop Conference 2012 I will be teaching three classes and MEGA-AUTHOR JAMES ROLLINS is the keynote speaker. I have been to quite a few conferences but this one is always my favorite. If you can’t go to any other conference, go to this one!

The Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention is a conference all writers must do at least once, even if you don’t write romance. The workshops and networking opportunities are almost unparalleled. Not only that, but those romance authors seriously know how to plan a party.

Essential Tools for Maintaining Health and Sanity

To keep your back and joints healthy, I cannot recommend Bikram Yoga enough. See if there is a studio in your area and try it out. For those of you in the DFW area, I go to Bikram Yoga of North Texas. Come hang out! Detox and prevent joint and back issues that are common to writers. (Or if you are like me and already have the joint and back issues, it helps A LOT!)

Yoga in general is AWESOME for writers. If you don’t have time or money to go to a studio, I recommend Rodney Yee on video (and pick up a copy of Joy Held’s Writer Wellness for more tips for being a healthy and balanced writer).

More MUST-HAVE Tools 

A Keurig Coffee Maker

I LOVE AND CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT MY…

KEURIG COFFEE MAKER

I love this little gadget. When I brewed coffee in a pot, I found I either had waste or ended up drinking too much coffee. If I happened to get engrossed in work, I could end up with old or burned coffee. No more! I can make my coffee by the cup so it is fresh every time. I can change my mind what kind of coffee I want.

Autumn Harvest? Donut Shop? Hmmmmm….maybe a nice French Roast or some of that Hippie Dippy Organic stuff I got from Sprouts. I can change my MIND, and, as a woman? That…is….awesome.

I can even switch to tea, hot chocolate or chai. The Keurig even makes ice drinks! Wheeeeeeeeeee! Huh? Too much caffeine? Why would you say…wheeeeeeeeee!!!!

The KINECT

Feel stiff or sore from sitting too long? Brain feel like silly-putty left in the sun? No more! I use my Kinect every two hours. I get up, turn it on and do a couple of fun obstacle courses that make me move and groove and get the blood back in my brains where is belongs. I like Kinect Adventures best for the purpose of getting the cobwebs out of the noggin. The only potential down-side is you do need to be self-disciplined enough to get back to work!

Kung Fu Fighting for Kung Fu Writing

If you want to have fun and get a great workout on your Kinect? Get Kung-Fu High-Impact. I laugh as hard as I fight. This game inserts you right into the plot of a bad Kung-Fu movie.

Want to do backflips on to rooftops? Be able to fight while flying? Want to shoot lightning from your fingertips? No problem! Be a star in your own Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon…if Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was seriously low budget and had monsters…and an out of shape hero wearing yoga pants and a scrunchee.

Thing is, play is good for all people, especially CREATIVE people. Kung-Fu High-Impact makes you feel like a kid and you get a great workout, too. I totally know I cannot discipline myself to do this during the workday, but it does make an awesome reward for a hard day’s work.

Next Must-Have Item?

The Nook

Okay, it doesn’t have to be a Nook, but I do recommend you get some form of e-reader. I LOVE my Nook. It is portable and I totally dig that I can change the font to giant old lady print. I am reading genres I had started to avoid, namely because of the teensy-tiny letters. *cough* High Fantasy.

Why do I prefer the Nook? I don’t know if I do, because I didn’t see any reason to own two e-readers. I like owning a Nook because it allows me to borrow books and lend books to other Nook owners. And also, most writers are broke. I think this is in large part because we buy WAY too many books. With e-readers, we can still compulsively purchase more books than we will ever have time to read…only now it is CHEAPER.

I can also download my manuscript onto my Nook so I can read for flow, and, since I am not at a computer, I can’t nit-pick my writing until it bleeds and yells.

Moi???

Yes, I am a nit-picker.

This makes up my list of cool stuff all writers should own. And, of course, the thirty-foot Slip and Slide and snow cone machine are just a given *rolls eyes*. So of course I didn’t mention those. What are some other writing essentials? Books, tools, inflatable farm animals, lava lamps, hallucinogenic leftover meatloaf, or anything else I might have missed?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of January, 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 January I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Winner’s Circle

Winner of Last Month’s 15 Page Critique is Gloria Richard. Please send your 3750 word Word document to author kristen dot lamb at g mail dot com (Yes, I am looking for a new assistant. Gigi got a promotion at her other job which is AWESOME…but I really kinda miss her).

Winner of Last Week’s 5 Page Critique is Lanette Kauten. Please send your 1250 word Word document to author kristen dot lamb at g mail dot com,

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 the 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!

Happy writing!

See you next year!

Okay, if you are a fan of this blog, you know I am all about helping writers. Part of how I help is that you can count on me for the unvarnished truth. I know there are a lot of people who believe they want to be writers. Hey, rock on! The more the weirder…I meant merrier. Yes…merrier.

Where was I? Oh yeah.

But, I do feel that our profession tends to get glamorized, and hopeful writers aren’t aware of what to expect. So when something comes flying at them from left field, they are unprepared and watching fire ants roam over their tennis shoes instead of catching that giant hurdling ball headed straight for their head.

Ooh! Just had a flashback. Did I mention that I sucked at sports?

So before you make that New Year’s Resolution to become a writer, finish a novel, take your craft more seriously there are some things to consider. First, if you just enjoy writing for fun and merely want to finish a novel to test and see if you can do it, all that follows does not apply to you. But, if you happen to be among that group who dreams of landing an agent, being published and becoming a successful author, I am going to give you a run-down of what to expect so you don’t get caught unawares. Yes, this applies to all the indie folk, too. No passes.

Expect:

That most people will not take you seriously. If you are waiting for your friends and family to line up and pat you on the back and throw you a parade because you’re now a writer, you will be sorely disappointed. In fact, when they see how euphorically happy you are, just expect for them to assume your writing group is really a cult and stage an intervention. Likely they will call in experts who perform deprogramming for loved ones lost to devil worshippers, Scientology, or that new retread of the Branch Davidians in south Texas. So look out for any white panel vans, and never leave your drinks unattended. You could wake up in a dark room wrapped in blankets going through a “rebirthing” procedure to make you long to be something practical like an engineer or tax accountant.

When people ask what you do, you need to tell them, “I am an author” or “I am a writer.” Even if you don’t have your book finished. This is going to sting. As long as you introduce yourself via your day job, that is what you are telling your subconscious that you want to be FOREVER.

“I’m an administrative assistant.” Well, I hope you like that job because that statement is forming your identity. Don’t even try to cheat with “I am an aspiring writer.” Again, that is a subconscious cue, and twenty years later you will still be “aspiring.” Just go practice in the mirror and say a hundred times. “I am an author. I am an author.” If you want others to shut up and stop mocking you, just tell them they better knock it off because there is a part for a cross-dressing hermaphrodite who dies in a tragic blow-up doll accident in your novel.

Then they will play nice.

You are a professional writer. To quote the brilliant Yoda, “There is no try, only do.” Most people feel guilty saying they are a writer because they never write. In that case, you should feel guilty. Go nail your can to a chair and bust out at least a blog, you slacker. You are a writer, not an aspiring anything other than maybe an aspiring NY Times best-selling author or an aspiring Top 100 Amazon Author. Then you have my permission to use the adjective aspiring. For all other times?

 Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. Takes guts to be a writer.

Yes, other people will titter and roll their eyes, but you won’t care. In the meantime, toughen up. You will need the skin of a rhino in this business. Do not look for outside approval. That is about as productive as looking for unicorns or Sasquatch.

To steal from the brilliant author Chuck Wendig, “Writing is not a parade of peppermint puppies.” It is work. So here are some other things to expect go with the job. Even professional authors cannot write eight hours a day. There are other important tasks that go with being an author that often will feel more like goofing off. Just have to get over it. I can spot writers who do not perform these routine duties, because their writing…um, sucks. Mine did too. I used to think doing these tasks was “wasting time.” My prose suffered. You know what real wasting time is? Writing crap. So to make your work better and better…

We need to read. This is essential. The best writers are avid readers. I read a fiction and a non-fiction a week. One best-selling novel (genre doesn’t matter) and one craft book. I walk around with my Nook in my purse. Standing in line at Target? Pick the long line and read five pages. Waiting at the doctor? The bank? Getting a pedicure? Make use of that time. Read. I read for 40 minutes on the elliptical at the gym. The Nook’s ability to have giant font keeps me from throwing up and falling off.

And I highly recommend using one the single greatest inventions of modern man…the Post-It Highlighter (not on your Nook/Kindle, but on the paper books).

We need to watch a lot of movies. The editor’s mantra is Show. Don’t tell. How do you learn to do that? Study. Watch actors. How do they portray the vast spectrum of human motion? How do they portray characters? Study dialogue. Absorb speech patterns. Study structure. This is a faster method than reading. Study how the screenwriter raised the stakes. Why did the movie work? Why didn’t it? This isn’t as much a substitute for reading as it is an addition to reading. But we can watch movies with friends and family and yet still be “working.”

How did the director portray normal world? Darkest moment? Study structure. Study endings. You get the idea. Few jobs can claim that spending the day watching movies is actually work. So enjoy.

We must blog. Blogging creates good habits, and it is in the job description of the 21st century author. We can gripe and moan all we want, but that doesn’t change reality. Reality is that writers with a platform are going to be more successful than writers who expect fans to materialize in a vacuum. If you want to become a professional writer then you should love writing anyway so this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as most writers make it. Suck it up and put on Big Girl/Big Boy Pants. Buy a copy of my book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer or, better yet. Sign up for my blogging class that starts in January. There are only 100 slots and they are almost full so go…now.

Okay, I’ll let you finish reading this blog.

We need to spend time on social media. This is like the watching movies and reading thing. Yes, being on social media is work. Now if we are just goofing off and sending people farm animals then yes we are goofing off. But if we are blogging and spending time on Twitter and FB networking with other writers and published authors and people in the publishing industry, that is called networking. If we are blogging, hopefully about things other than writing that is called “building an author platform.”

Additionally, I have found some of the best articles and blogs on the craft via Twitter and other bloggers. Social media gives us countless tools to improve our skills daily.

We need to write. Eventually all of this boils down to what it is we do…we write. As I said earlier, we cannot always be writing and the writing part, while the most important, doesn’t take up the most time. Reading, planning, researching, outlining, editing, revising, marketing are all parts of the job, too. Yet, ultimately, we need to sit our keisters down and WRITE. Not rocket-science here.

We need to learn to employ tough love. I can tell you from experience that you will have to be tough with friends and family. They aren’t used to you having a second job. Yes, writing may be your passion, but it is NOT your hobby. It’s a job.

Your friends and family will miss you being around all the time, and they will need to be retrained. And I am telling you now that they will not “get” you so don’t expect them to. Just be kind and consistent, and if they still don’t get the hint, invest in a caffeinated meth-addicted ferret to guard the door for you while you write.

Being a writer can be a lot of fun. Like I said, part of our job is to create and watch movies and read great stories, but it comes at a price. First, you will likely meet resistance, and might even be openly mocked. It may be a good idea to introduce your plans to your family in the following way:

“Hey, I sold all our worldly belongings, and the VW van will be here in the morning to take us to live at the Prophet’s commune in New Mexico. Your names are now Rainbow and Starchild. Ha ha ha ha, just kidding. Mommy is now a writer.”

Regardless how you break the news, it needs to be done.

Being a writer is tough work, but it is a whole lot of fun. I hope you guys now feel fired up to take on 2012 and I look forward to seeing at least a hundred of you in the WANA112 class. Good choice to sign up before the world ends :D. Just so you guys know, my husband is taking away my Internet next week for the holidays *sad face*. If I can chew through my bonds, I will be posting next week, but if I miss a blog, yes…I am still alive.

What are some other things a writer should expect? Add your opinion. I could have made this list much longer, but I figured I would let you guys chime in. I love hearing from you.

And 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. 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 December 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!

I know we are supposed to be talking about the third person you need to know to be successful on social media–the Salesman. But, over the weekend my Great Aunt Iris (who might as well have been my grandmother we were so close) slipped into a coma and then passed away on Sunday morning. She had just turned 98, so yes it is sad, but it is amazing that she lived such a full and long life. Anyway, I have not had time to finish the Salesman post, so rather than rushing and slapping up a less-than-stellar blog, I decided to post a lesson from early this year.

Most of us have slept since Spring, so a refresher is always refreshing. *drum roll, snare*  Yes, I’ll be here all week. Drinks are half-price.

I have been doing social media for a number of years, and it has been wonderful to see how writers have embraced technology. I remember back in 2006 I had a hard enough time getting many writers to learn to use e-mail, let alone join Facebook.  Yet, it was really only in 2009 that I started thinking of myself as an expert. Namely I watched a lot of social media people teach tactics that were more likely to give writers permanent hair loss than anything. They were trying to overlay a Corporate America template on to a writer’s career. Not a good fit.

Kind of like watching me try to put on size zero skinny jeans…lots of grunting and pain and the end result ain’t pretty.

Anyway, writers finally did perk up to the fact that they needed to be on social media, yet we had an information vacuum. Many writers took off doing the best they could, and, in the process, made a lot of errors. Hey, I was one of them. Need I remind you of texaswriterchik?

*slaps forehead*

The thing is, I am teaching writers how to do this social media platform thing the correct way. This is all great and wonderful if you are new and haven’t started building. For others? I see the digital blood drain from your face when I give the bad news:

I’m sorry, but your platform needs major reconstructive surgery. I need to put your brand in a temporary coma so it doesn’t die while we do the transplants. Do you have insurance?

Some people suck it up, bite on some leather and resolve to get it over with. Others? Denial is more than a river in Africa.

I hear a lot of, “Writers just need to do what works for them.”

Yes….but, um, no.

 

I will use an example to illustrate. Say I want to make chocolate cake. My end goal is a chocolate cake. So I set out cooking, but I don’t want to use butter, and I don’t like eggs, and definitely no flour and I just can’t bring myself to use chocolate. Instead, I want to use vanilla pudding, and slices of bananas and top it off with vanilla wafer cookies and LOTS of whipped cream.

So you say, “Wait, but you aren’t making chocolate cake.”

And I say, “Well this is how I make chocolate cake.”

And you say, “But, you just made banana pudding. That’s NOT chocolate cake.”

And I get huffy and reply, “Stop judging me. Maybe YOU make chocolate cake differently, but everyone needs to do what works for them.”

You would think I was a lunatic. Yes, I made a dessert….but I didn’t make a chocolate cake.

If our end goal is to brand our name, which it should be…then there are right and wrong ways to go about this. My lessons are to make our name alone a bankable asset. Our NAME will have the power to drive book sales so we have more time to write, or prank call or even make origami monkeys.

There is a HUGE difference between having a social media presence and becoming a brand. And I know I am about to do some sacred cow-tipping, but it needs to be done.

My second book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer is a great book to teach you all you ever wanted to know about blogging to build an author brand. There is little point to contributing content to the Internet if it doesn’t build our brand.

Tweeting under a cutesy moniker. We have discussed this one before, but some people are new (here is the post). Every time we tweet, that is an “advertisement” that contributes to building our brand. The only acceptable Twitter handle is the name that will be on the front of our books. Period. If we are tweeting under @FairyGirl, we are contributing great content—blogs, articles, conversation—but we have the WRONG name top-of-mind.  Readers cannot buy a book by Fairy Girl, so all that tweeting is wasted effort.

Writing on Group Blogs at the Expense of Our Author Blog I have run into writers who were very prolific, contributing to multiple group blogs. Group blogs are wonderful. They can help us learn to blog better and can offer accountability. Yet, if we are writing for three different group blogs, but then not blogging on our own site? That is BAD. Group blogs will not brand an individual author. Yes, we will have a social media presence…but that isn’t a brand.

I read a lot of WONDERFUL group blogs, but the name of the group is what will be top of mind. Writers in the Storm, Adventures in Children’s Publishing, and Writer Unboxed are three of the best group blogs, but I would be hard-pressed to give the names of the contributors. And, the ones I can name have their own separate blogs that buttress their brand.

I care very much about you guys, and I want all of you to be successful. But part of caring is giving the truth. When we decide to go from hobbyist to professional, we sometimes have to make the tough choices. We have to say no to friends, family, kids and pets. We have to spend time working when we would rather play. If we are contributing to a bunch of group blogs, but our own blog is infested with dust bunnies and spam bots? We might need to make a choice. Hang out with friends? Or build our career?

Our own brand is paramount. The more bankable our name, the more books we sell. The more books we sell, the more successful (and enjoyable) our writing career will be.

There are right ways and wrong ways and smart ways to build a brand. Can we brand ourselves by only blogging on group blogs? Sure. Anything is possible. I could theoretically take I-35 south from Texas and get to Canada. It involves a very tedious journey through South America over Antarctica, up the other side of the globe and over the North Pole. The Earth IS round. I will get to Canada eventually, BUT the odds of me giving up and going home are far more likely than me reaching Canada.

Is my taking I-35 South WRONG? Technically, no. But it is a formula to give up.

Many writers find social media to be a huge time suck, namely because they either have no plan or they have a flawed plan. I used to think it was a time-suck, too. But I wasn’t approaching social media correctly. I have made all the dumb mistakes so you don’t have to :D.

My two books have hit the top of multiple best-seller lists using the methods I am teaching. And I am not the only one who has experienced this kind of dramatic success. I have a stack of testimonials. Yes, we are free to do social media any way we please. No Facebook police will drag us to digital jail. But I think most of us would rather spend more time writing and less time trying to Bond-O a faulty platform.

What are some tough choices you guys have had to make for your writing? What are some tough choices you face, but maybe don’t know what to do? Have any advice or suggestions? Put them in the comments!

I do want to hear from you guys!

And 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. 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.

NOTE: For those of you who haven’t yet gotten your pages back, please resend to my assistant (if you haven’t already). I get about 500 e-mails a day, so I am redoing things so submissions don’t get lost in the ether. Thanks for your patience.

Gigi at gigi dot salem dot ea at g mail dot com. Gigi will make sure I get your pages.

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 over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

Dr. Twuth–Because social media shouldn’t make you want to punch kittens.

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dr. Twuth, here to answer all your questions, problems and concerns about social media. Since social media (done properly) involves interacting with other humans, it is just a good plan to have an advice column handy to help navigate the emotional waters of keeping thousands of friends happy and speaking to us.

My alter ego, Dr. Twuth can be counted on to give you the best information on social media. And, since a spoon full of sugar humor, makes the I’d rather be punched in the face than read about social media marketing medicine go down, fun is always a guarantee here with me, Dr. Twuth, Text Therapist. The tips offered here are all based off my #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach ALL social media differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule social media–regardless of platform–without devolving into a spam bot. If social media makes you want to slam your head in a door, then you are in the right place. Just call on Dr. Twuth, because the Twuth will set you free.

On to our peeps in need…

Dear Dr. Twuth,

I have a Twitter problem and I know that you have the solution. I have Real Life friends and fellow writers as my Twitter followers. Recently I got an angry message from a non-writer friend who was pissed off by the amount of links to writing and book marketing advice I’m sharing. She’s just not interested in that stuff. And I suspect that many of my future readers won’t be either. 

Should I tell her to just unfollow me on Twitter and chatter in Facebook? Or is there a healthy balance to be found in creating interesting content for well, lots of different kind of people? How can I please diverse followers (and myself)?

Best Regards,

I Don’t Want To Be A Spammer

Dear Spammy,

This is a really good question and a dilemma many writers face. First of all, since we cannot control others without illegal use of duct tape and a shock collar, we need to look to our own behavior first. One of the biggest problems I see with writers is that they get on social media and become the All Writing All the Time Channel. 

Afraid to stray from the comfort zone, many writers tweet about writing and talk about writing and blog about writing. And, while they will connect to other writers, it can be a turn off for that group of people who will (hopefully) one day be readers. I find it a tad ironic that all the links you are posting about marketing to readers is ticking off the potential readers. Our enthusiasm for writing can be seen by outsiders as selfishness if we aren’t careful.

The best marketing for readers–aside from a darn excellent book–is likability. People buy from who they know and who they LIKE. Connect with people. Talk to people. Be a person. We need to look at why people are gravitating to social media by the millions if we hope to use this tool effectively. Serve the need. Social media has become the new village square where people can meet, talk, chat, and share. We have a very human need to connect. Connection only happens when we care about others more than ourselves. We have to listen more than we talk.

I know it might be hurtful your friend said something, but she might have done you a favor. Others could have just quietly unfollowed and faded away without explanation. Criticism can be painful and embarrassing, but it can also help us make real changes for the better.

One tactic I teach is the Law of Three. 1/3 Information, 1/3 Reciprocation and 1/3 Conversation. We need to maintain a healthy balance in our social media discourse. Part of the reason for the Reciprocation and Conversation is it proves we are listening as well as talking. I would recommend that if you want to forward on blogs, look for some that appeal to more than just writers.

The #WANA711 group just finished my Blogging for Author Brand Class and they have some of the best blogs on the web….and they have all been trained to blog about something other than writing. They have been trained to come up with content that will connect to potential READERS, so this is a wealth of material at your fingertips.

This group blogs on all kinds of topics–nostalgia, faith matters, family, health, history. I, myself, can only read so many writing blogs before it just becomes white noise. #WANA711 has been a breath of fresh air with exciting content that makes me think, cry or even laugh out loud.

In the end, I believe that if you are proactive and seek balance in your conversation everything will work out fine. Yet, do not feel that you are required to hang on to toxic friends, either. If you work hard to balance your posts and this friend still pitches a fit, then it is time to just let her move on. It is painful, but our close support network is vital, so it needs to be comprised of people who like us for who we are and are willing to support our goals and dreams….and buy beer.

All the best,

Dr. Twuth

See how easy this is? Do you have a social media dilemma? Is someone making you crazy? Do you feel alone, afraid or unsexy? Leave your question in the comments or if you would like to maintain anonymity, e-mail Dr. Twuth at kristen at kristen lamb dot org. Just put GIVE ME THE TWUTH in the subject line.

I am about love and offering a human touch to this digital world. My Dr. Twuth identity is #MyWANA certified, or certifiable, I can’t recall which. But, hey, it’s free so if you don’t like my advice, I promise to give you 100% refund (There will be a $15.99 processing fee for said refund).

Let me, Dr. Twuth, help you out. Remember, the Twuth will set you free.

Tweet ya later!

Happy Friday!!!! Today I have a really special treat for you guys. I do have to say that I love being right, but sometimes it kinda sux being right…but then it goes back to being awesome that I am right. Confused? Okay, well I started a ton of controversy surrounding writer blogs with such posts as Sacred Cow-Tipping–Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad and More Sacred Cow-Tipping–Common Blogging Misconceptions.

We have big folks in publishing claiming that blogging is dead, that blogging is a waste of time and does nothing to drive book sales. Yet, I counter with, “What if blogging isn’t the problem? What if writers just don’t know how to blog?”

GASP!

I mean if I ran out and spent $2000 on a Mac computer and the promptly used it to swat mosquitos and then loudly proclaimed that Mac laptops were a waste of money, everyone would think I was a lunatic, right? Yet we have the hubris to believe that because we can string together sentences that we instantly have the know-how to write a blog that connects to thousands of readers in a way that creates loyalty and drives book sales??? Hey, I’m not judging. I learned this stuff by making all the mistakes.

Yet, we have this amazing tool–the blog–and think that with NO instruction, we can be successful. Can we? Sure. Are there better approaches that are more effective? YES!!!

Blogging isn’t dead, but blogging is an art and a skill that needs to be learned. It can be learned by trial and error (like me) or it can be learned by those who have made all the dumb mistakes and who are willing to share their knowledge (from me). It feels good to be right, but sometimes it can bum me out, too. Yet, the awesome part is that, if I am right and I offer instruction to writers who want to blog, then there is a path to success and that is great reason to get excited.

Today my pal Susan Bischoff-who is an amazing writer and very sweet/supportive person-is going to share her experience. A couple weeks ago, Susan courageously e-mailed me and asked if she could share her story so that other writers could learn from her mistake. I think that is awesome and very brave and adds one more reason I adore her.

Thanks, Susan for doing this….

***

Kristen’s recent post, The Secret to Selling Books Part I–Let’s Get Sticky, certainly got a lot of people talking. Part of what’s interesting to me about the post and the buzz it’s created is that, in a lot of ways, it’s the same thing Kristen’s been trying to tell us all along. This idea that writers talking to writers about writing is not optimal use of social media if you want to sell fiction is something that’s clear in her books We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media (a.k.a. the WANA Guide) and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

So I wanted to talk about why, knowing and understanding Kristen’s advice regarding blogging to and for writers, I basically ignored her and did it anyway. More importantly, I wanted to give you a bit of case study about how that’s worked out for me.

Blog on topic…

From the time I read the WANA Guide, around the same time that I released my first novel, and I determined to get serious, to retake my neglected blog, to make an effort on Twitter, etc., I’ve experienced the frustration of not feeling like I had anything to talk about except writing. Kristen says to blog “on topic.” On something related to your book.

One suggestion she makes is to take the research you did for your book and write articles about that. If your fiction is set in a historical period, write articles about that period, about the clothes, food, events, technology, etc. People interested in that period will find you and may be interested in reading your fictional perspective. Write about ghosts? Then write about ghost hunters, paranormal science, ghost sightings, ghostly legends.

Even for those of us who don’t feel like we do much active research, like what we write comes purely out of our heads (Purely? Really? Not inspired by anything?) we could probably find something in the real world to tie in to our fiction.

I write about teens with superpowers. So I could write about comic book superheroes, superhero TV shows and cartoons, superhero movies, books about kids with abilities…

Yah. If had time to actually take that stuff in. And then analyze it for something to say besides ZOMG Squee! or Thor’s six-pack! :flail:. And then write about it in some way that makes it actually worth someone’s time to read about it.

Writing about writing is easy. It’s accessible to us. We think about it all the time. We discover things that are new to us, and we enjoy sharing those things with people who get it—the people we rarely meet in real life. Writing a writer blog is very gratifying.

In my case, I know that I didn’t see how I could maintain an “on topic” blog because I didn’t want to see it. I really wanted to keep doing what I was doing. And I see this from others all the time, in comments on Kristen’s posts and in what people say on their on blogs.

Just doing what came naturally…

It was very easy to convince myself that my writer blog was totally working for me. I was building a following on my blog. People were subscribing. I was selling a lot of books, in large part due to the Amazon machine. The way it works is that you hit a certain level of sales compared to everyone else, which causes you to achieve a rank, which causes you to hit their charts, which causes you to be easily seen by browsers, which increases your sales dramatically, which causes you to chart higher and more widely, which increases your sales even more, which means that some of those people are actually reading and some of those reading are actually reviewing, adding buzz and credibility to your visibility, getting you some more sales…

And where did I tell myself all of that started? In part, with all of my writer buddies. Every sale counts, and it doesn’t matter why someone bought the book, it still helped its rank.

  • I wrote a whole blog series about marketing ideas that helped me. It was very popular.
  • An article I wrote was published by a company which helps authors market. Many of those authors publish independently as I do.
  • Every time I wrote about a level of success I experienced, people who wanted so support independent publishing would say, “See, she’s sold more than 150 copies!”

And not only did those things send visitors to my blog, it did sell some books because the book itself was very inexpensive and people were curious about my writing. Some wanted to know how good a book has to be to sell like that (not like it was a huge seller) and some wanted to know if I was doing something so right that I was selling even a really crappy book. But they were all sales.

So I was writing about writing and catering to writers and I was doing just fine, thank you very much. I was being supportive and instructive. I was paying back and paying it forward, and getting all kinds of nice comments and blog love. I was building a blog and a solid blog following—something that I doubted I could accomplish. Yay!

When I realized it didn’t work…

So I went to publish my second book. Allegedly I had thousands of readers of the first book. But, uh-oh, I don’t know how to get in touch with them. Even though I offer a newsletter, only a few hundred people signed up for it. And what was really interesting to me about the newsletter, during the year in which I collected subscribers, was the fact that I didn’t know them. They were not the people who commented on my blog or talked to me on Twitter. They were people completely unfamiliar to me.

Oh, look! I think that may be a retroactive clue.

Okay, so I got ready to put the book out. I let everyone know on my blog. I asked for their help to spread the word. I wrote some extra good posts that brought in extra high traffic—posts aimed at writers and indie publishers.

The book went out. I let everyone know on social media. I posted links. My friends supported me with Twitter mentions, liking me on Facebook, carrying the badge for the new book on their blogs, writing whole blog posts mentioning the release. They were awesome. And they probably reached all the same people I reached because we have all the same followers.

Last time I put a book out, I had not built up my social media platform. If a writer friend promoted me, that message reached people I couldn’t reach. A year later, we’re all hooked up, linked in. Homogenized. I think people must get that on some level, which accounts for some of the scurrying about to find new friends and hobbies the wake of the “Sticky” post.

See, of all the people it was in my power to inform, only people who were fans of my books bought my second book. Right now I have a follower base who are fans of my writing/publishing advice.But that’s not what the book is about.

I neither want nor expect fans of the writing advice to buy my fiction if the content doesn’t interest them. I neither need nor expect pity or loyalty sales. The advice I gave, I gave for free. And I don’t regret giving it away in the slightest. I got a lot out of giving it, and that’s a big reason why I kept doing it, to the exclusion of focusing on my fiction/genre/topic stuff.

I built a writer blog. And that in itself is cool. In a financial sense, it would be cooler if I’d monetized my blog, if it carried ads. Then I’d get paid to build that following just for the sake of building it. In a marketing sense, it would be super cool if I also had books about writing or publishing to market. Then my blog would be selling my product. But my product is fiction.

Looking at my blog content as advertising, it’s like I wanted to sell jewelry and so I wrote about sports and ran the commercials on ESPN. Will I hit a few viewers who might be curious enough about me to look more deeply, a few who happen to like jewelry and then become my customers?

Maybe.

But in terms of ROI (return on investment), it is not the best use of my time and creative energy to maintain focus on a topic that has very little to do with my product. Nor to focus on a demographic that isn’t necessarily part of my target, a demographic with lots of book consumers, yes, but consumers who are over-saturated with book choices.

Solid platform, wrong crowd…

When I released my second book, I felt like I was standing on my platform, looking out over my sea of followers. People who respect me professionally or like me personally and care what I have to say about writing. People who have appreciated what I’ve been sharing with them as I’ve learned it. And there I was, ready to make my big announcement. And I said, “Hark, oh ye loyal followers, for now I have NEWS!”

And upon hearing the news, a few of them jumped up and gave me a squee, because a few of them actually like what I write. And some of them took the time to give me a grin and a thumb-up, and even a pat on the back, because they like me. But mostly they just went right back to talking to each other about writing like we always do.

Because we’re all writers. We’ve all got books coming out every week. Big deal.

Logical. Obvious. But I needed to have this experience for it to really hit home. To really understand what Kristen was saying. I had taken my evidence, my sales figures and my blog subscribers (and other social media numbers), and made them tell me something I wanted hear—that the writing about writing was really working for me. (Must be because I was just soooo good at it.)

(Please, girl.)

I want to continue to serve, to share what I learn, to be kind (and yeah, rack up some good karma). I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to do. But I need to understand that putting too much focus on that doesn’t serve what I say my goals are. That’s me becoming known as Susan: sweet, sensitive, and sometimes insightful writer girl. That’s not me developing a reputation as Susan: author of kick-ass teen paranormal romance.

If I focus on the writer persona to the exclusion or detriment of the author persona, for the sake of serving the writer community instead of my writing career…that seems a little martyrish.

So what now?

In terms of selling book 2, sales will come. I’m a good writer and it’s a solid piece of work. I just have to wait for a slow build that might have been faster if I’d been more linked in to my actual market.

And the platform?

I have a lot of thoughts. I mean, this element of what I did non-optimally is really only part of my recent mind-blowing epiphany. I think I have a better understanding of how I want to use my blog. One hundred topics for my blog that might actually sell my books? Nope. Don’t have those yet. A clue where I’m going to go to find my target demographic and how I’m going to reach out and interact with them without being spammy? Nope. I think I’m going to take Kristen’s upcoming workshop to try to figure it out. After all, it somehow seems like she’s always right.

***

THANK YOU SUSAN!!! And I really look forward to having you in class. For those reading, the class is still open but you need to sign up FAST. Class is about to start. It is $40 for TWO MONTHS. One month is for lessons and the other month is for launch. I help each participant create a brand that is special and unique and designed to connect to more than just writers. My goal is to help you connect to your future readers. 

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 over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.