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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: author social media platform

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Memekode.
Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Memekode.

When I first started teaching social media to writers, I was new thus insecure. Often, I’d give advice like, “Well, if you don’t like it, don’t do it.” Bad advice. Hey, I’m learning and growing, too. There are a lot of writers out there only doing what they enjoy. That is the masses, the average.

“Average” is the top of the bottom, the best of the worst, the bottom of the top, the worst of the best.” ~John C. Maxwell, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

This advice to only do what we enjoy might have flown four years ago (though barely). These days? Discoverability is a nightmare for all authors. If we want to do this “writing thing” long-term and be successful?

Average=DEATH

Chasing Sasquatch Wastes Valuable TIME

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Derek Hatfield
Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Derek Hatfield

Thing is, I want that job where I never have to do anything I don’t enjoy, but it doesn’t exist. It’s Sasquatch. I don’t enjoy payroll or calling my accountants. I enjoy doing taxes even less.

In fact, I might take on staying one minute in a vat of man-eating pirañas over doing taxes…but the government isn’t going to give me a pass. I can’t call the IRS and say, “You know, as a self-employed person, taxes are super hard. I just really don’t enjoy doing taxes. So we’re cool, right?”

All Jobs Entail Doing the Un-Fun Stuff

Writing is fabulous. It’s the best job in the world. But those who think writing is simply being an artist? Creating? And drinking copious amounts of coffee? There is a word for that; “amateur” (though “wanna-be” can be used as a synonym).

Granted, there was a time when all writers did was write. They drank whiskey by the gallon, chain-smoked and stayed in their hole until it was time to hand their nicotine-stained manuscript to their agents and editors. Back then, writers never had to worry their pretty little heads about all the business stuff (they also suffered a 93% failure rate as late as 2006, per Book Expo of America statistics).

The climate has changed. The world has changed. In 1980, we didn’t have to know how to use a computer to land a premium corporate job. Now, try finding employment at The Gap without possessing even basic computer skills.

Choosing traditional publishing will not free us from the un-fun stuff. Yet, I will admit that, if we choose to go indie or self-publish, we must accept that more un-fun stuff will go with the territory.

Yet, it’s the price we pay for being paid really well to do what we love.

No Whining

Every time I speak at a conference, I have someone in the audience wail, “But I don’t like social media. It’s so haaaaard. I just wanna wriiiiiiiite.”

Don’t we all?

I used to try to placate these writers and encourage them to embrace the new freedom and power a social media platform gives authors. Now? There are too many writers willing to do the hard stuff. There’s a lot of reasons why this business isn’t for everyone.

Suck it up, Buttercup

And yes, maybe I sound mean, but you have no idea how many times I use that same phrase on myself. When I catch myself whining (and, yes, it happens) I remind myself that there are plenty or people willing to fill any vacuum I leave. The hard truth is there are talented, hard-working authors who will gladly take the readers we leave on the table because we only want to do what we find pleasant.

Education and Focus are Key

Recently, on FB, one of my followers posted a link to an author bellyaching about how much he hated self-promotion. This writer went on and on about how haaaard it was, and detailed how he was on every last social media platform known to humankind. How he didn’t like talking about personal stuff and only wanted to talk about himself and his book (yes, ONE book). He lamented how he spent an HOUR a day on Twitter…

….yet failed to see what he was doing wrong.

***Whining keeps us from honestly evaluating our processes.

First of all, professionals don’t whine. Secondly, social media is only as good as our plan. It was clear to me that this writer was making a LOT of obvious mistakes.

  1. Whining—no one likes a whiner. Though I suppose they do. This guy was sniveling as if no one ever responded to him, yet this dreadful post had over 310 shares when I stopped by. Misery loves company (but misery clearly wasn’t translating into sales).
  2. Lack of Focus—we can’t be everywhere. WANA methods are about selecting the right social platform for our audience, then having laser focus.
  3. More Writing—an HOUR on Twitter a DAY? Seriously? O_o. I’m good to have an hour on Twitter a WEEK. Less can be more. Understanding how to properly use social media can save precious time, which should be reserved for doing the most important aspect of what we do…WRITE MORE BOOKS.

Study all the indie successes and most became successful AFTER BOOK THREE. John Locke didn’t sell a million copies of ONE book in five months. The same is true for traditional authors. Flukes aside, most successful traditional authors gained market traction at or after BOOK THREE.

Time for a Gut Check

We all whine. I do. I do it a lot less and have become better at catching myself early in the process. Whining is negative. Whining sees only problems, not solutions. It drains valuable creative energy. It discourages us and stands in the way of progress.

Winners don’t whine.

If something is hard, look to mentors and resources. Sometimes we don’t like doing something because we’re afraid of it. Why are we afraid? We don’t understand it. Ignorance breeds fear, often irrational fear. 

WANA rests on simplicity and timelessness. Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is designed to make social media fast, effective and fun. It’s designed to harness the creative personality, not change it. Because of this, WANA methods have been responsible for selling hundreds of thousands of books and elevating unknowns into record books.

Right now, I am reading all kinds of business books and books on strategic planning and management. Why? Because I was WHINING! I caught myself mid-whine, then decided to look for solutions instead of spinning the Wheels of Self-Pity.

Whiny Me: “I’m just not naturally good at administration.” 

Hard@$$ Me: “Suck it up, Buttercup.”

Have you caught yourself whining? What did you do? Was your whining birthed from fear? Were you abl
e to find solutions once you faced what scared you?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS: I have a class coming up SOON, Creating Conflict and Tension on Every Page if you want to learn how to apply these tactics to your writing. Use WANA15 to get 15% off.

Also, August 21st, I am running a Your First Five Pages webinar. Bronze is $40 and Gold is $55 (I look at your first five pages) and use WANA15 for 15% off.

The webinars are all recorded in case you can’t make the time and a PDF with notes will be sent to you following the class.

Also, my new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

Image via J. Kaczorowski WANA Commons

The world is changing faster than any of us can keep up, and publishing is certainly not immune. Yet, one constant remains. There are only two ways to sell lots of books—good book and word of mouth. Period. Book trailer, bookmarks, giveaways, and flare are fun, but are certainly not major drivers of book sales. If you want to know why, take a few minutes to check out one of my earlier posts that explains why books are not tubes of toothpaste and writers are not tacos.

One of the best ways to generate word of mouth for our books is to enlist the help of bloggers who have large followings. Ah, but be careful. There is a TON of bad advice floating around out there about how to approach bloggers to review a book, give you an interview or allow you to guest post.

I know when I was speaking over the summer, a PR expert spouted off (with great authority) her “helpful tips” to get writers hunted down and tarred and feathered . Um, I meant, tips to make bloggers want to talk about you and your books.

Um…so does this mean you WON’T be reviewing my epic fantasy?

Normally, I ignore anything I don’t happen to agree with, but this bad advice is just far too pervasive and it can land a lot of well meaning authors in deep *cough* yeah, that stuff. Many marketing people believe (quite mistakenly) that what works in the world of business works in publishing, and that just ain’t so.

So, let’s just take a look at some of the ways to make bloggers craft a voodoo doll of our likeness:

Bad Tip #1—Send Out Mass E-Mails

Yes, said marketing expert actually recommended that writers make a master list of all the big bloggers and send them an e-mail request for an interview, book review or guest spot.

No. For the love of all that is chocolate….NO.

One surefire way to make any blogger hate you is to send us a nice form letter that is clearly part of a mass e-mail list. I can’t tell you guys how special I feel when I see:

Dear Madam,

Wow! Whoa! Okay, I often argue that storytelling (writing) is really the oldest profession in the world, but Madam? Seriously? No wonder I suddenly feel the need for a feather boa and a chaise lounge. I just thought it was my normal weirdness.

Let’s just apply a smidge of common sense. The last time you went to your mail and some cable company sent you a form letter, did you get chills? Did you get ooey gooey feelings of super-specialness? No. Okay, so here’s a clue. No matter how “thoughtful” the form letter…it isn’t.

When this expert recommended mass e-mailing all the top bloggers, I just kinda wanted to punch her.

And don’t think bloggers will fall for….

Bad Tip #2—“Personalized” Form Letters

Yeah, I am not mentioning any names, but this advice really gives me an eye twitch. “You can send a form letter if you just make sure to personalize the first paragraph with tidbits about the other person.” I just love it when people fake interest in me, don’t you?

I love Dale Carnegie, and I read How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies People about once a year. But, here’s the thing. Dale was trying to teach people how to actually CARE about other people FIRST. His tactics were not meant to be some phoney-boloney schtick to get people to lower their guard so they could be more easily manipulated.

We are not idiots, and we spot a form letter when we see one.

At least once a month, I get something akin to:

Dear Ms. Lamb,

Wow. I see that you like training sea monkeys for world domination. But have you ever thought, “Gee, New York just doesn’t publish anything good anymore”? Critics are hailing The Chiropractor’s Assistant—A Tale of Love, Betrayal, and Orthotics as the best thing since Snookie’s unauthorized biography. I know your blog is top-notch and that’s why I am offering you a rare chance to interview me before I’m too famous to be reachable…

Yeah…I’m right on that. Right after I organize my liquor cabinet.

I know it is tempting to take short-cuts. I’ve listened to the fancy Power Point presentations at writing conferences, too. But, what might work in Corporate America can make us a digital leper in the writing world.

Bad Tip #3—Faking Fandom

This should fall under the “No, Duh” category. Don’t tell a blogger that you are a fan of the blog unless, well…you are.

Okay, now that I have talked about all the BAD advice, how do you really get a blogger to review your book?

Smart Tip #1—We Should Never Ask for What We Are Unwilling to Give

When a writer is asking a blogger to review a book, that is a HUGE time and energy commitment on the part of the blogger. It takes an average of 10-12 hours to read a book. Then the blogger needs to think, make notes and write a post. You could easily be asking for 20 hours the blogger might not even have.

Interviews are also tough. We need to read writing samples, research your background and even come up with witty and thought-provoking questions. I, personally, have to get my creepy panel van detailed and buy fresh candy. Interviews are A LOT of work.

So, before you e-mail a blogger asking for something, take a gut check. How much have you given?

Trust me when I tell you that we pay attention to people who take time to leave comments regularly. If a blogger gets a request from a REAL fan who has been leaving comments for months? Often it is a no-brainer. Bloggers are people and if you sow kindness and generosity, most bloggers will respond favorably.

Smart Tip #2—Make Sure the Blogger Actually Does Book Reviews or Interviews or Allows Guest Posts

I don’t do book reviews, so to ask me is kind of a waste of time. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to ask me anyway. Years ago, back when she was squeaky new, Piper Bayard hired me to edit her first 100 pages…and then promptly named me The Death Star. Yeah, so asking me to review your book is kinda like asking Ice Pick Vinnie to babysit your kids.

You need some wet work? Some little darlings that need to disappear? I am the right gal. Reviews? Eh, not so much.

But, there are bloggers out there who do review books. Seek them out. Follow their blogs and leave comments. Then, when your book is to a point it needs a review, you will have an established relationship and getting a review will be far easier.

I rarely do interviews. In fact, in three years I have done…TWO. So again, I am not a great choice when it comes to soliciting an interview. My blog is primarily a teaching blog and a formal environment for my general goofing off. Interviews are not my specialty.

If you have a blogger you like, just take some time to see if they even are open to reviews or interviews. This is just common sense. If you need to buy new shoes, don’t go to a florist. Check the blogger’s About Me section and many bloggers will say if they do reviews, interviews, allow guest posts, etc.

Smart Tip #3—Ask the Blogger What You Can Give TO Them

Present yourself as a solution to a problem. Many bloggers are short on TIME. Hey, we’re writers, too. If you want to do a guest post, have some written ahead of time and allow us a choice. If you desire an interview, have a nice bio handy and prepared. You might even have a list of questions to help us out. We might not use your questions, but they can at least help us get us focused and give us a place to start.

This is all just common sense. Serve people first. Be kind and authentic. I know it seems like it takes more time than e-mailing 50 bloggers and hoping a couple will bite. But, if you work to forge relationships FIRST, I promise that your time will be far better spent.

A really great way to meet bloggers is to learn to blog. There are few tools more powerful for creating an author platform. For those interested:

Starting a Successful Blog

Time is running out to sign up! A lot of blogs fail simply because writers take off with no instruction, and, because of this, they are left to learn by painful trial and error. If you believe you would like to blog, but you’re uncertain, I’m doing something new. To accommodate those who are still on the fence, I’m now running a Basic level for my upcoming blogging class that starts next week (and it is only $50 for TWO MONTHS).

In the Basic class, you get to be part of the WANA1012 team and receive all the forum lessons (none of the live webinars are included). This is a really great place to learn if blogging is right for you (Blogging Training Wheels).

If you’re ready to skip the training wheels and get started blogging, then get your spot NOW. My classes have a history of selling out. I offer a Blogging Bronze, Silver, Gold, and even Diamond, for those who are ready to go all the way.

This is a TWO MONTH class—one month for lessons and one for launch—that you can do in your own time, at your own speed and from home. And since you will be part of a WANA team, you won’t have to do this blogging thing alone, so your odds of success are MUCH higher. For those who want to do NaNoWriMo, we can extend the two months if we have to. That’s one of the benefits of being the owner of the interface :D .

So whether you start your own blog or just get out there and read a few, getting in the mix and forging relationships is more critical than ever. Have I missed anything? For you bloggers out there, what makes you feel warm and fuzzy? What can writers do to get your attention that isn’t illegal in all Southern states?

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. 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 once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less). Will announce September’s winner on Friday. Been out of town and need to catch up.

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of October I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. 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 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.

For those who haven’t visited WANA International, the video above is Francis’s debut film. I believe his story might sound familiar. Francis is our WANA mascot, and embodies what we believe at WANA. Too many artists are trying to be something they aren’t, largely because they don’t have a system of support. They believe they need to be “practical”, that following their hearts and pursuing their passions are “foolish hobbies.”

The world need art. The world needs you.

I remember the day I met Francis, he came to me looking like this:

Francis has come a long way, and so can you!

We at WANA look forward to helping you live life in full color. Join us for the launch party at #WANAParty on Twitter. We will be celebrating a new age for artists starting at 2 p.m. CST. We will be having fun, chatting, networking and also giving away cool gifts and prizes.

Make sure you take time to join us at the new social media site for creatives. WANATribe is the artist salon of the Digital Age. Writers, dancers, actors, painters, filmmakers, all creatives all the time. No matter where you turn on WANATribe you will find friends who understand you because they are creatives, too.  Here is the invitation.

WANA is more than training, we’re family. Creativity and imagination needs to be nurtured. Artists need input, tough love and accountability. It is too easy to spend our lives miserable, trying to stuff a square peg in a round hole. Well, no more. WANA offers the professional training and WANATribe offers the network of support.

With WANA success is now up to the individual artist, because…We Are Not Alone.

WANA International—Connecting the Hearts

Just so you guys know, Natalie Markey is doing an interview with Francis on her blog today. Here is a peek:

Natalie: When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

Francis: I was born in a chicken coop and raised by a family of Easter Eggers. My mother, being, well, a big chicken, never encouraged me to pursue much beyond the daily pecking out a living. I always knew I was different. I didn’t look like my sisters and brothers and they made fun of my different colors, because I wasn’t like them. But no matter how I tried to fit in, it never worked. That was part of how I started losing my feathers.

Seriously embarrassing.

Bird-pattern-butt-baldness is never sexy.

I always loved to paint. I think it was because Easter was my favorite time. All the Pez egg dye, the glitter, the pizzazz. I didn’t know why we didn’t decorate the eggs all year long.

I was in the minority.

Natalie: Tell us about losing your job. Did your love for art help you cope?

Francis: No matter what I tried I could NOT learn Excel. I actually had a few feathers when I took the position. The spreadsheets and Power Point presentations got the last few. Then typing…all hunt-and-peck.

I was terrified when I got fired. What was I going to tell my mom back at the henhouse? How was I going to scratch out a living? I was scared, but in a way, I felt liberated. That place had clipped my wings a long time ago, yet I was too numb to feel it.

Actually, my art didn’t help me cope at all. It was my calling all along, but I was too busy fitting in to see it.

See the rest of Francis’ interview here.

It’s a Purrgenomic Keyboard

I’m back! Just so you guys, know, I really missed you. Before we address today’s topic, some industry news. Months ago, I wrote a post Bracing for Impact–The Future of the New Publishing Paradigm where we talked about the problems with the publishing industry and I even offered some solutions to the indie bookstores’ problems. Stop fighting digital and get creative—pair paper and digital sales.

Then, two weeks ago, I wrote a post declaring that Big Six Publishing is Dead. In this post, I pointed out that Amazon would need to get its Kindles into a physical bookstore to survive. B&N stores had Nook, Target was partnering with Apple for the iPad, Kindle would HAVE to get its tuchus in a store because there is something about putting your physical product in the customer’s hands.

I said we should not be surprised when Amazon opened their own bookstores or partnered with a bookstore. Some cried that I was MAD! MADNESS! Amazon partnering with a bookstore? That is like Lady GaGa and Rush Limbagh going shopping together. Again, MADNESS!

Yes, sometimes even I think I’m crazy. Okay, well I am crazy, but my Publishing Magic Eight Ball was apparently right again.

Waterstones (a chain of almost 300 bookstores) just signed a deal with Amazon that will put Kindles and e-books in their bookstores so that customers can browse paper, but also choose to download the digital. And there will even be helpers there to show customers how to use their new device…which sounds a lot like my blog WANA Plan to Save the Bookstore. Yes, Waterstones has signed this deal, even after managing director James Daunt described Amazon as a, “ruthless, money-making devil.” Hey, apparently the devil pays the bills.

So I just had to give y’all the news because 1) this is a seriously cool development and is real business creativity and 2) I was RIGHT! Ha ha ha ha ha. Okay, I’ll stop *does cabbage patch dance*

This past weekend I attended the DFW Writers’ Workshop Conference, and it has to be one of my all-time favorite conferences. They always have some of the best talent in the industry teaching, and the panels are always well-balanced with experts from all areas of the emerging paradigm. Yet, one thing disturbed me this past weekend and I felt this blog was a great place to address it…so it might benefit all of you.

I watched a panel of experts who were talking about the changes in publishing, and virtually every expert from traditional publishing in NYC said one thing that bothered me deeply:

“We don’t expect our writers to do anything (regarding social media) that makes them uncomfortable. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t do it.”

And what I find fascinating is it is exactly this advice that is crippling NY’s ability to be competitive in the new paradigm. Over and over I had writers tell me, “Well, the editors said that if we aren’t comfortable blogging/tweeting, don’t do it.”

My answer? SERIOUSLY!!!!???? People who love you and care about your future don’t hand you a Snuggie.

If we are comfortable, we’re dying. Nothing great happens in the comfort zone. In fact a lot of creepy stuff that involves the fire department cutting you out of your house happens when you get too comfortable.

Every day you should do something that scares you. I do. In fact, I challenge myself once a day to do something truly uncomfortable (beyond wearing pants that actually button). Those actions that scare us are the most important; they are the game-changers that can take us warp speed to the next level.

You Have Not Because You Ask Not

Learn to ask. Ask a lot. Ask for stuff that frightens you. Four years ago, I had never even met a New York Times best-selling author in person. I was a member of the DFW Writers’ Workshop group and I happened to attend the OWFI Conference. I spotted NYTBSA Bob Mayer and attached myself like a burr in his sock.

Later that year, the DFWWW was planning the next year’s conference. I suggested that I could ask Bob to be the keynote, then immediately hoped they hadn’t heard me. But they had heard me, and the liquor store was already closed.

EEK!

Even though I had been teaching Bob all about the wonders of social media, he still kind of terrified me. I was just a lowly unpublished nobody. But, shaking, I wrote the e-mail THAT NIGHT, before I could talk myself out of it. Not only did Bob say YES, but later I became WDW’s (now Cool Gus Publishing’s) first outside author and my book became a #1 best-seller that has changed a lot of writer’s careers.

What would life have been like if I hadn’t dared to ask the question?

Same with James Rollins. He was my all-time favorite author. I stalked talked to him on Twitter and later, dared to ask the stuff that scared me. I asked for a blurb for my second book, and Jim, being the awesome person he is, not only said yes, he read my first book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and loved it so much he bought a copy for his agent Russ Galen…who is now my agent, too.

All because I asked.

Create the Habit

Make no mistake, I’ve had my share of disappointments and embarrassments. I’ve asked plenty of times and gotten a “no.” Sometimes those “no’s” were two steps away from a restraining order. Yet, the more we ask, the more we push into what makes us afraid, the easier it gets. This is why it is so critical to challenge yourself as much as you can. The worst advice anyone can give you is to “maintain comfort.”

Pets are allowed to maintain comfort, not professionals.

Comfort and Lazy are Close Cousins

We all seek comfort. It’s human nature. But it is also human nature to be lazy and the line that defines the two is very, very thin and undefined. Lazy people are rarely successful. They are the lotto winners who are back on food stamps in five years. Comfort can easily infect our character and create bad habits that will slowly erode our success. We must be ever-vigilant. I know if left to my own design, I am so lazy I could slip into a coma…probably a sugar coma, because I don’t feel like cooking.

Comfort KILLS

What I found interesting at the conference was that the self-published and indie published authors were all about trying new stuff; new tactics, new technology, and really challenging themselves to learn as much as possible. If they didn’t understand formatting, the taught themselves or took a class or read a book. They tried new tactics and if they worked? GREAT! If not? Learn something, try something, do something else. FAIL. FAIL BIG and FAIL A LOT. Failure is always guarding the door to success.

Does this give a little hint why the indies are thriving while NY is dying? NY doesn’t want to be uncomfortable. They don’t want to let go of the old print/consignment model. They tell their writers not to do anything on social media that makes them uncomfortable.

Why not tell them to stop whining and then buy them copies of my books or send them to one of my classes? Or Bob Mayer’s classes? Or tell them to go talk to Kait Nolan?

Ways to Defeat the Lazy

1. Go THAT Way

If something makes us feel uncomfortable, likely that is the direction we need to go.

2. Get Educated

Sometimes things make us uncomfortable only because we don’t understand them. If Twitter makes you twitch, buy my book, take a class and learn how to use it. Follow these instructions and start using the #MyWANA and let the WANAs guide you. Plotting make you uncomfortable? Read James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure or take one of his classes.

3. Suck It Up

Just do it. Every day write down something that would possibly be a game-changer…then do it FIRST. Is it writing a synopsis? A query? Writing a favorite author and telling them why you love his or her work?

4. No WHINING

Hobbyists whine, professionals roll up their sleeves and get to work.

5. Choose Friends Who Command Excellence

Step #4 is easier if you surround yourself with excellent friends who are also professionals. They will catch you in your whining and smack you around. I know this is why my closest pals are Piper Bayard, Ingrid Schaffenburg, Donna Newton, Kait Nolan and Jenny Hansen. I can count on them to knock me around if I start to whine too much. They keep me accountable and if you follow their blogs, you will see they are definitely committed to excellence.

Ingrid is my business partner and a former professional ballerina. I asked her to be my partner for good reason. Rumor has it that former ballerinas make excellent military drill instructors.

So what are your thoughts? Do you believe my advice is misguided? Maybe making people uncomfortable is a bad thing? What are some ways you get yourself out of your comfort zone? Do you have any tools, tactics or ideas you can contribute? Any places willing to rig a desk chair with electricity to keep writers from goofing off on Twitter?

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

***IMPORTANT MESSAGE–For those who have not gotten back pages. My web site fiasco has been responsible for eating a lot of e-mails. Additionally I get about 400 e-mails a day and the spam folder has a healthy appetite too. It is hard to tell since some people never claim their prize, but I could have very well just not seen your entry. Feel free to e-mail it again and just put CONTEST WINNER in the header so I can spot you easily. (especially if your message is kidnapped by the spam filter).

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 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.