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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: blog

No, this is not Kristen having a breakdown. She’s on a boat having fun. This is Cait, talking about why I hate blogging as much as I hate downward-facing dog in yoga.

So, if I hate blogging, why do I do it? What’s more, why do I do it to Kristen’s exacting standards? Well, partly because I’m afraid of her. But, mostly, I blog because she is right about blogging in so many ways. It’s really not fair that she’s always right about this sort of stuff.

Yet, for something that seems so instinctive and intrinsically simple (“Writers write, ergo blogging”), why do we have so much trouble with it? Why does it spike my anxiety, trigger my perfectionist paranoia, and send me in the direction of scrubbing the toilet as a preferable way to spend my time?

I have spent a lot of time pondering this (probably time I should have spent drafting blogs). In fact, I have spent most of this week struggling with this post.

The first thing I had to do is come up with was a solid list of why I hate blogging (again, time that could have been spent writing). After thoroughly psyching myself out, I went back through all Kristen’s reasons that blogging makes sense (reinforcing the soul-eating guilt I feel at having wasted all that time not writing a post).

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Finally, I remembered the corollary to Kristen’s blogging rule…but I’m gonna be mean and force you to read to the end to find out what that is. <insert moderately evil laugh here>

Blogging vs. just about anything else

I could do a whole post about all the reasons I hate blogging, but Kristen would probably jump off that cruise ship, swim all the way back up the Atlantic coast, dodge customs in Boston, and break down my door just to slap me upside the head about positivity. Because she loves me.

But, the truth is, I am more at home using negativity as a motivator and dwelling in the blessed realms of snark, cynicism, and dark things. That’s just the Slytherin in me, I guess. The challenge is finding a way to use my negativity about blogging to motivate myself in a positive way. And, I’m going to stop right there, because I’m starting to sound all self-helpy, and I can’t stand 99% of that ish.

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So, let’s just dive into the top three reasons I hate blogging, shall we?

Supersizing the topic

I come from an academic background. In a parallel dimension, I am a professor of history, still using the Red Pen of Wrath…just on my students instead. Academic writing habits are hard to break when it comes to blogging, even though some do come in handy.

One of the cardinal sins of academic writing is tackling a topic that is too broad or too narrow for the projected length of the paper.

I mean, sure, we can describe the decline and fall of the Roman empire in a three page, double-spaced, 12pt font paper (I’m old school page-count and print-out, before word-counts and emailed/uploaded papers became the norm). But, those three pages are going to be uselessly generic, not contributing anything to increasing our understanding of Roman history or helping develop our ability to think and analyze critically.

On the other hand, focus on TOO granular a subject, and well…it ends up being more of an anecdote or footnote. Probably interesting, but again, unlikely to contribute anything to the greater understanding or improve our critical thinking skills.

Blogging is like that for me.

I want what I write to be informative, useful, and accessible. But, writing a blog on “How to write historical fiction” isn’t going to help anyone. Writing a blog on “Understanding currency, income, and prices in historical fiction” (shout if you want me to write something like that) is probably a lot more useful AND interesting AND better written.

I constantly feel like Goldilocks, trying to find the right-sized topic that will live up to my probably-obsessively-over-fastidious standards.

Yoast is killing our brain cells

You know that little thing called SEO? Yeah, worst thing that has ever happened to the written word. And, I’m saying that even in comparison to text-speak and adding words like ‘ginormous’ to the dictionary. If SEO is pure evil, then Yoast is its right hand.

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Yoast is a website plugin that scores your posts and pages on readability and SEO strength. It’s unfortunate, but if we want our blog posts to have a chance at traction, we have to follow the rules it sets out. What are those rules?

First, we have to set a keyword. Fine. Like a gateway drug, that’s not so bad. But then, Yoast tells us how often we should be using that word (*side-eye at density score*), and where that word should come in titles and first paragraphs. If it stopped that, I’d grit my teeth and accept that algorithms are gonna do what algorithms are gonna do.

But then, Yoast starts picking at other things, like breaking up the text every 300 words with a sub-heading. Like making sure we don’t repeat the way we start a sentence. Like making sure less than 25% of our sentences have more than 20 words (and I know I purposely triggered the repetitive-sentence-start thing, but Yoast doesn’t really understand context or dramatic intent *flounces off*). Paragraphs can’t be too long, either – oops, gotta cut this one short!

Yoast is dumbing down blogging. By trying to make blogs easier to read, Yoast is encouraging a growing laziness in blog readers. What happens to a society when we can no longer focus past three sentences at a time in order to process a complex thought or multiple pieces of evidence to support an argument? I’ll tell you what happens: we get bad movie sequels, clickbait, and double-very-bad politics.

Paging Mr. Orwell, your 1984 is ready.

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I resent being forced to ‘dumb down’ my writing just so a brainless algorithm has an easier time of it. I write for people, not Google. Oh, wait. I use Yoast, so I guess I’m writing for Google. But, consider this another major reason why I hate blogging.

Perfectionism

This actually isn’t quite as related to what Kristen was talking about in this post. I’m talking about my inner intellectual demon that MUST BE RIGHT AT ALL TIMES. If a blog post is a form of educational argument, then dammit, I’m gonna WIN!

I’m not kidding. I approach each topic – especially anything that involves factual research – with a goal of creating an UNASSAILABLE argument. I want my post to be the Fort Knox of logic. My brain goes into hyper-passive-aggressive-nerd mode, playing Kasparov-esque chess with each point I write.

It’s exhausting.

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I don’t mind admitting when I don’t know something. But, I feel soul-crushing humiliation when someone points out a stupid mistake or an obvious (or not-so-obvious) flaw in my argument. Maybe…just maybe I’m over-reacting, and I should get some therapy about it. Or, maybe, that drive to be as certain and correct in opinion and facts is what helps make my writing and teaching reliable and useful.

Still, the fact that I’ve got some subconscious id and ego stuff going on with perfectionism makes blogging an emotionally and intellectually draining task.

Le sigh…why Kristen is right about blogging

There are a lot of reasons Kristen is right about blogging being the best, most effective way for writers to market themselves. She is also right about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, but we’re just going to focus on blogging for the moment.

It all comes down to the three C’s: classic, cost-effective, and control. This is a trifecta that is pretty much the holy grail goal of all marketing. When I used to work in advertising, we wanted our ads to be memorable over the long-term, hit the target audience without breaking the bank, and look/feel/sound exactly as planned.

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The number of times Kristen has said this…

While the landscape might have changed from analog to digital, the principles and goals remain the same. Classic. Cost-effective. Control.

Classic: why blogging is the Talbots of author marketing

Warning: extended metaphor ahead. May cause eye strain from over-rolling of eyes.

Think of getting ready for a job interview. We have our resume, portfolio, references, and talking points at hand. The job description is a great match for our skills, and we know we’ll kick butt at it. We just have to wow them at the interview, so we inhale all the caffeine we can handle without inducing tachycardia, pop a couple of breath mints, and put on our interview suit.

The classic interview suit.

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Maybe we stay simple and true with traditional accessories (pearls for ladies, cufflinks for gents). Or, maybe we add a dash of flair with a daringly patterned shirt or chunky piece of jewelry we picked up at a vintage sale. It’s a small piece of individualism, a little personal pleasure, and it only adds to the solid impression a classic suit makes.

A blog is like the classic interview suit. It never goes out of style. It is the best and strongest way we have of presenting our brand to readers. It’s the one wardrobe piece we never throw out because its quality was designed to endure. We can easily update and refresh the look with accessories, apps, widgets, and chunky vintage jewelry (um, yeah, getting all the metaphor stuff mixed up, I know).

Besides, if we want to be remembered as a writer, then the best and most enduring pitch we can make is…well… our writing.

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Social media outlets like Snapchat, Instagram, What’s App, etc. are all well and good, but they are the Forever 21 funky accessory of marketing. They are fun, get attention, but may also tarnish and/or break fairly quickly. Can you say Vine? (So 2015!)

Just think about it…is anyone really ever going to go back through all our Snapchats, Tweets, or Instagram posts two years from now? But, as an admin on this site, I can tell you that there are blogs that Kristen has written that are four and five years old that are still top trackers and getting comments on a daily basis.

Now, that’s some classic-interview-suit power.

Cost-effective: how blogging can keep us from sin

Marketing is expensive. It costs us time and money – resources most of us are chronically short on. Marketing is also seductive. Nothing is as exciting as seeing swag with our name on it, or an ad for our book pop up on Facebook, or getting that shiny new book trailer. So, we try to find that balance between price and quality. Fun times.

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And yes, if we set up our own domain and do stuff right with backup, security, and all that jazz, it will cost us a couple hundred dollars to get started. Depending on what plans we choose, there is also the yearly renewal fees. Still, that yearly cost pretty much comes down to the equivalent of three or four impulse purchases at Target. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to continue the clothing metaphor.)

The keys to leveraging a website (assuming we have decent content people want) are consistency and distribution. Consistency is a free feature that comes with wrangling our brains into some semblance of discipline. Distribution? Well, that’s what Jetpack is for. Again, it’s free.

Even with graphics, there is a lot we can do with free ‘photo editor’ apps. Personally, I pay $10 a month for a subscription to a professional-level app, but that’s because I do a LOT more than just blog graphics. And, I only started that subscription last year. Before that, I made do with free for about four years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some COSTLY mistakes. Like cringe-inducing-dear-God-if-You-loved-me-You-would-have-stopped-me-because-that-was-a-really-expensive-lesson mistakes. The only marketing tool I keep coming back to in the end is…you guessed it: my website (and occasionally Kristen’s because she forgets to lock the door).

Control: blogging vs. paranoia

Wanna hear a scary story? A romance author on Facebook builds an author page that gets 15,000 followers. She posts a picture for fun. The next time she logs into Facebook, her page is gone. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUN!

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No, it wasn’t me. But, it has been many authors I’ve known. It’s a ‘cross-cultural’ phenomenon – there are versions in Instagramland, YouTubia, and Twitterburg.

Don’t forget, we also have to deal with ever-changing terms of use, hackers, and the final, fatal OMG-twitfacetogramchat-just-went-out-of-business! Want an example?

Dogster.

Don’t laugh. It was actually a great site for finding pet info. The fact that it was MySpace for pets is a whole other level of psychosis. Still, I met other Basenji owners through their forums, and they have become some of my closest, dearest friends. Thank goodness we had all exchanged contact info and signed up for Facebook before Dogster announced they were shutting down.

Think of MySpace…and Tila Tequila. Her original claim to fame was getting to a million followers on MySpace without much else (i.e. talent, content, etc.) to back it up. So…how’s that workin’ for ya, Tila?

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A website of our own never goes away. Our blog content is subject to our rules. Our website is our castle, and we can defend against trolls and hackers with laser precision. Oh, and we can also build community through interacting with commenters, adding chat and forums, etc.

Remember, the flip-side of paranoia is control-freak! 🙂

Wait…that didn’t come out right…

The thing we usually forget Kristen said about blogging

Here’s the promised payoff from my little intro tease. Yes, we need to blog…but we also have to find a way to ENJOY it.

Somehow, I tend to forget that.

I haven’t entirely solved my blogging problems, and that’s probably partly because I’m still figuring out how to TRULY enjoy it. There are moments when I giggle to myself as I write something that is (at least I think) funny. Picking out the memes to go in a blog…I love telling people that it is legit part of my job. I bask in the glow of the final product and clicking ‘Publish.’

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But…there’s still the anxiety, the dread, the worry I’m not providing good enough content or that I’ve gotten something wrong. It doesn’t take much to spiral me into a perfect orgy of procrastination…er…research.

However, I am experimenting, trying to figure out what I can do to both get better ABOUT blogging regularly and ENJOY blogging regularly. I’ve found I really enjoy making videos, and I’m about to dip my toe into podcasting (which I think is really spoken-word blogging). While the file sizes mean I wont’ be ‘hosting’ the videos and podcasts on my website, I will be centralizing all the information about them there.

I also have been sharing my love of creating reading ‘syllabi.’ But, being a snotty little French historian, I have to call them something pretentious like a ‘Catalogue RaisonnĂ©.’ It turns out I have a lot of fun going through my personal library to pick and choose what I put into the list. It also became something I could turn into another page for my website.

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(And by the way, while I do think you’d enjoy those pages, putting external links into a blog post is another Yoast requirement. *shakes tiny fist*)

All in all, I’m still on the journey, but I’m determined to get there. If you happen to be on the same road, maybe we can travel together?

Let me hear it!

Why do you love/hate blogging? What are your tips for becoming a happy, successful blogger? Share the love…or hate, LOL.

Class tonight!

URBAN FANTASY: SALT CIRCLE NOT INCLUDED

PARANORMAL, URBAN FANTASY, GHOSTS, VAMPIRES, WRITINGInstructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Friday, October 19, 2018. 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER HERE!

Be honest. How many voodoo dolls have you mutilated in your quest to become the next Laurell K. Hamilton or Sherrilyn Kenyon?

  • 0-9: You’re probably too virtuous to ever get published.
  • 10-19: Equivalent of the New Year’s resolution of voodoo…fizzles in week 2.
  • 20-29: You’ve won NaNoWriMo once or twice and wear lucky writing socks.
  • 30+: Now, we’re talking.

In all seriousness, urban fantasy has emerged as one of the strongest and most competitive categories in publishing, building on the momentum of legends like Anne Rice and expanding to embrace all kinds of sub-genres such as YA, satire, and romance.

But for all its badass convention-breaking, urban fantasy also a genre boobytrapped with the worst pitfalls of all the genres it borrows from.

If we’re not overdoing the Mickey Spillane-esque hard-boiled grit, we’re confusing which supernatural creature has which power. Or, we’re creating characters that are so wrapped up in their love lives with <insert hot supernatural guys here>, they almost miss the climactic battle between good and evil happening a couple blocks over.

Fear not! Strap on your vampire-hunting gear, grab your wolfsbane gris-gris, and don’t forget to bring your sarcastic sidekick to this class where I will help you navigate the mean streets and treacherous back alleys of urban fantasy!

A recording of this class is also included with purchase.

SEE YOU TONIGHT!!!

 

 

Kristen Lamb made the mistake of giving me admin privileges on her website.

So trusting.

So innocent.

So screwed.

La Revolucion

There’s a little more about me at caitreynolds.com – but, be aware that my website is under reconstruction because I got hacked by Bollywood porn spammers. Yeah. That’s the same face I made. However, I’ve posted my manifesto, and that should be a start!

 

****Just FYI, in an effort to combat spammers your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Talk to me! And MAKE SURE to check out the classes below and sign up! Summer school! YAY!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of JUNE, 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).

NEW CLASSES!

Obviously, I have my areas of expertise, but I’ve wanted for a long time to fill in some gaps on classes I could offer.

Cait Reynolds was my answer.

She is an unbelievable editor, mentor and teacher and a serious expert in these areas. She consults numerous very successful USA Today and NYTBS authors and I highly, highly recommend her classes.

OMG, Like How to Write Fleek YA July 7th $40 with Cait Reynolds

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here) July 14th $40 w/ Cait Reynolds

Gaskets and Gaiters: How to Create a Compelling Steampunk World July 21st $35 w/ Cait Reynolds 

Lasers & Dragons & Swords, Oh MY! World Building for Fantasy & Science Fiction 

July 28th w/ Cait Reynolds $35/ GOLD $75/ PLATINUM $125

Classes with MOI!

Plotting for Dummies July 13th $35 ($250 for GOLD)

Blogging for Authors July 20th $50 ($150 for GOLD)

Branding for Authors  July 7th $35

OTHER Classes with Cait Reynolds

Research for Historical Romance Writing – Or, How NOT to Lose Six Hours on Pinterest July 8th $35 for Basic/ $75 for GOLD / $125 for PLATINUM

Shift Your Shifter Romance into High Gear June 30th $35 Basic/ $75 GOLD/ $125 PLATINUM

Classes with Lisa Hall-Wilson

Growing An Organic Platform On Facebook June 24th $40

 

 

As many of you already know, historically, novelists have endured a mind-numbing failure rate. Even up to 2007, traditionally published novelists only had a 1 in 9 chance of ever seeing a second book in print. Most writers failed to sell through their print run (per BEA statistics) and had to return to the day job to pay the bills. Ah, but the times, they are a changin’ and it is a WONDERFUL time to be a writer.

As many of you already know (especially the WANAlums), I happen to be a HUGE proponent of writers having a blog. A GOOD blog that people actually want to read. But, I get it. Some of you might not believe you have time or perhaps you aren’t ready to start a blog. Okay. Fair enough. Today’s advice is for you. Oh, and it is also for ALL writers, even those who have a blog.

Yeah, and you thought you’d sneak out the back of the HTML. Nope. Grab a seat.

How many of you have blogs that could use more traffic? Yeah, that’s pretty much all of us. How many of you have a book coming out one day and it would help to get a review or do a blog tour to promote? Um…everyone should have a hand raised right now. How many of you LOVE randomly e-mailing total strangers and asking for big favors?

Exactly.

The Rapid Changes in Our Marketplace

Most of us cringe at the idea of self-promotion, but as we careen into the 21st century, the Digital Age Author has more responsibility than ever before. If we self-publish or go indie, our social platform means life or death, and traditionally published authors no longer get a pass. Sorry.While it might be a fantastic time to be a writer, I imagine those working in publishing remember fonder days.

Amazon has really been putting the hurt on NY Publishing. The future of Barnes & Noble, the largest book retailer in the world, is largely uncertain, and William J. Lynch Jr, CEO of Barnes & Noble, admits that there is a lot riding on the future of the Nook. Independent bookstores? Yep. Magic Eight Ball says, *shakes vigorously*, yep, “Future uncertain.” If you don’t want to trust my Magic Eight Ball, you can read more about it here in the New York Times article, The Book Store’s Last Stand.

So why am I taking time to mention the uncertain future of book retailers? So you stop depending on them to get your books in front of readers. From this point on, any shelf space is gravy and awesome, but it cannot be trusted to be there for good.

Traditional methods of getting an author’s wares (books) in front of a customer (reader) are shrinking and going away. It is highly likely that most books will be digital within less than ten years. I am not here to debate whether this is good or bad, but I AM here to help prepare ALL authors for a brilliant future, no matter what your preferred choice of publication might happen to be.

May I remind you, it is a fantastic time to be a writer! Yes, things are changing, but not all change is bad. But some changes require…um, change. Writers need to be on social media. All writers. And if you don’t have a lot of time, I am here to help all writers work smarter not harder.

Agencies now want authors who come with a platform, and few things make agents feel all warm and fuzzy like a writer who has loads of blogger pals. Since traditional means of showcasing books (bookstores) are diminishing, writers need a digital support network now more than ever. Bloggers can be a writer’s best friend and a HUGE time-saver when it comes to social media.

One of the best things we writers can do on social media is to become a Blogger Booster.

The cool thing about bloggers is we are attention whores friendly, and many of us like people. We are like a faithful dog, and, if you give us a scratch in that place that makes our digital legs go a thumpin’? We will be a loyal pal.

How Can You Be a Blogger Booster?

Comment on Blogs and Repost to Your Networks

Really. That’s all. Ideally, comment on blogs with large followings. Many people go to the more popular blogs for more than the posted content. Hey, check out my comments section. Sometimes I think my posts are just an excuse for all of you to have a party, and often you guys are WAY more interesting than I am.

If you run across blogs that have a healthy comments section, that is a clue that this is an established and even growing community. Commenters befriend each other and hang out. I know because I have met many friends this way. They were regular at commenting on my blog (or other fave blogs where I was the commenter) and I went to their blog and on and on.

In fact, it is very common to see the same people congregating on each other’s blogs. It is a huge…are you ready for this? NETWORK.

Even if you don’t have time to blog, at least take time to read blogs and leave thoughtful comments. People will see you are vested and have something worthwhile to say. They will get to know you and hopefully like and support you, especially if you have a presence on Twitter.

The more people you get to know, the better. When it comes time to plan your book launch, you won’t be tossing form letters into the ether hoping something sticks. You will have awesome pals who are clearly active on-line. Additionally, bloggers will know you, recognize you and, if you support us enough, we will LIKE you…a lot.

Last April, when I taught in L.A. at the RT Book Lovers’ Conference, one of the PR “experts” recommended that an author with a book about to be released needed to sit down and e-mail as many bloggers as possible and see if they would do a review.

Um…no. For the love of all that is chocolate, NO.

In fact, I raised my hand on that one. There are few things that will annoy bloggers more than unsolicited spam asking for us to put out effort for someone we don’t know from a hole in the ground.

Yeah, sure. I will read your indie published 110,000 word high fantasy in my infinite free time, and write a favorable review, even though I have never talked to you or so much as seen a “Great blog” from you in my comments section. Yeah…I am right on that, right after I organize my sock drawer.

Bloggers are always looking for stuff to talk about. Many will even do reviews. I do them on rare occasions, but not for random people who e-mail me a form letter. One of the best ways to get on a blogger’s good side is to regularly comment on her blog and even repost on Twitter and Facebook.

If you do all these things then, LATER, when you are staring down the barrel of needing your new book reviewed? It will feel a heck of a lot less weird asking for a favor. A blogger, particularly a book blogger, will be far more inclined to help you out if you have been giving in the relationship for a while.

Commenting on blogs can build rapport with key influencers with large followings, and it only takes a few minutes a day. Maybe you don’t have time to blog, but you can make time to comment and RT or post a link on your FB, G+ or whatever. Just those two activities can plug you into communities that number in the tens of thousands.

And sure, the future of the bookstore is uncertain…okay, bleak. That’s life. But the cool thing is that while markets change and technology changes…humans are timeless. We will always want community, love, support and friendship and investing in relationships is ALWAYS a good idea, regardless of what is happening on Wall Street.

What are some other ways you guys can think of to be a blogger booster? Do some of you blog and have a cool reader story you would love to share? What are some of your favorite types of blogs? Why do you like them? What makes you guys subscribe to a blog? If you happen to be a book blogger, what steps would you recommend a writer take to improve her chances of landing a review?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, 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 announce last week’s winner on Friday.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of February 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 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.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

I am a HUGE fan of Porter Anderson’s Writing on the Ether. It is just crammed full of the best information to stay on top of all the changes in our industry.

4 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Editor by C.S.Lakin.

Need More Cowbell? Hop on over the Jenny Hansen’s Blog. She is doing a really neat series asking Why Do You Blog?

Are Book Covers Important in the Digital Age? by the AWESOME Jody Hedlund. Her blog has been named one of Writer’s Digest’s Best Blogs of 2012 and I AGREE! Just to say…I found her first ;).

What’s So Funny? by Tawna Fenske

What Makes a Book Magical? over at Writer Unboxed

The amazing Anne R. Allen is running a series about How to Blog. Seriously, check it out here.

Need a good laugh? Who doesn’t these days? Make sure you follow Natalie Hartford’s blog. This week? The iFinger.

NYTBSA Bob Mayer has an interesting post, The SDSU Writing Conference, FREE Books, the Self-Publishing Bubble and Zombies. Yeah, he had me at zombies, too.

Pipe down! Will ya? Ever wonder about where these idioms come from? Check out Barbara Forte Abate’s Blog.

Ellen Gregory has a really lovely post Let’s Talk About Choices.

Want more laughs? Marriage Proposals and Bass Boats by Piper Bayard.

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, 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. My social media methods are all about authentic human connections. I am also a strong supporter of working smarter, not harder. We need to work together to have true, lasting success. We are not alone! We don’t have to build our author platform by ourselves.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that there were three critical people to know on social media.  First, we talked about the Connector. Connectors are vital. These are the people who seem to know everyone. Then, last time, we discussed the Maven.  Connectors might know everyone, but Mavens seem to know everything.

Mavens are collectors of facts few know. They are brokers of information and they are essential for keeping the marketplace honest. Ah, but just because someone has a lot of connections (Connector) or possesses large treasure troves of information (Maven) doesn’t necessarily mean these talents will translate into much of anything.

Since my social media lessons apply to selling books as an end goal, let’s take a closer look. Just because a Connector knows hundreds of people, doesn’t mean he can exert enough influence to break his network past their inertia. I think NYTBSA Bob Mayer might be a great example of this phenomena. Not that Bob isn’t charismatic. He can be. But, he is naturally an introvert, so selling just isn’t in his nature. Bob has had almost 30 years in the publishing business and he knows a ton of people, but it isn’t his nature to call on that network. He is an artist, not a salesman. Back when Bob first started his Warrior Writer Workshops, I remember having to kick Bob under the table to mention he had a workshop coming up. It wasn’t part of his personality to “ask for the sale.”

What about the Maven? Mavens have difficulties, too. True Mavens are not persuaders. They are teachers and students. I know that, as a Maven myself, we are not always appreciated. We can be seen as busybodies, know-it-alls, or Helpful Hannahs sticking our nose in where it doesn’t belong. @PatrickThunstrom is a wonderful example. Patrick is one of the most generous, kind, brilliant people I am blessed to know. He will go out of his way to help and educate others about Twitter and TweetDeck. Yet, I have seen poor Patrick get his Twitter tailfeathers chewed off on more than one occasion. Patrick was trying to help, but the offended party didn’t see that. They took Patrick’s assistance as an insult. Mavens mean well, but we can get ourselves into trouble, too.

Since Connectors and Mavens can be limited in their scope of influence, we need the third person capable of creating a tipping point–The Salesman. This person is naturally charismatic and highly persuasive.

To start a social epidemic, society needs to be connected (Connector), informed (Maven), then persuaded (Salesman).

According to Malcolm Gladwell:

Peer pressure is not always an automatic or unconsious process. It means, as often as not, that someone actually went up to one of his peers and pressured him.  In social epidemics, Mavens are databanks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. But there is also a select group of people–Salesmen–with the skills to persuade us when we are unconviced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word of mouth epidemics as the other two groups. The Tipping Point, pp.70

Salesmen have this uncanny ability to spark action. People listen to her when she makes a suggestion. If this person recommends a book, people buy. If she recommends a workshop, people sign up. If she promotes an event, people attend.

All three of these personalities are vital and work together. Sure there are rare people who happen to be all three, but they are few and far between. What social media allows us to do is to find and CONNECT all three. If a person is a natural Salesman, but he doesn’t know anyone, all he needs to do is connect to a Connector. She has the network and he has the skills of persuasion.

If a Maven wants to sell slots for her writing workshop, she doesn’t have to. She can lean on her friend, the Salesman. In fact, since social media is social, it actually works BETTER if someone else does our selling. It feels less like spam and more like community.

As we mentioned earlier, Bob has a lot of connections and I would qualify him as a Connector. Yet, especially when he was new to social media, it just wasn’t in his nature to go up to random people and start talking. He also had a terrible time “closing the sale.”

But, the cool thing about social media was that Bob didn’t have to be a Salesman to sell workshop slots. He just had to be friends with a Salesman or two or three. @JenTalty, @Jas0n_Myers, and @FredCampos stepped in to help. All of them knew Bob and had attended his amazing workshop and were more than happy to persuade on behalf of Bob. And on top of that, I happen to be a Connector and a Maven. I wrote blogs about Bob’s workshops and we used those first blogs as a hub of information to help the Salesmen sell. Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen all worked as a team.

I called my book We Are Not Alone for a very good reason. Too many social media experts try to change a writer’s core personality. Why? Because their approach makes the writer do everything alone (until she can afford to outsource). E-mail lists, form letters, newsletters, vlogs, etc. give the writer the sole burden of being all things–Connector, Informer and Persuader.

The reason this approach doesn’t work well is that most of us aren’t all things. Thus, we crack under the pressure of trying to operate outside of our nature. Also, even if we can wear all three hats, we still need time left to write books. This is where the WANA approach, in my opinion, is far superior. My approach rests on the power of a team.

#MyWANA was established for the sole purpose of writers supporting other writers. It is a place of love and community. What has been interesting is that some people, when they first tripped and fell into Twitter, wouldn’t have considered themselves to be a Connector a Maven or a Salesman. The beauty of creating a community is that we often will be for others what we won’t be for ourselves. For instance, we might be terrible Salesmen when it comes to our own book or blog, but we have no problem being the Salesman for one of our twibe members.

#MyWANA has helped all of us become Connectors. Blogging has helped us learn to tap into Maven energy. Love for our fellow #MyWANA tweeps has made each of us more of a Salesman than we ever thought we could be and that is what social media is really all about. Most of us feel weird promoting ourselves, but we will wake up early and stay up late to promote a friend. If we all do this for one another, then we can change the world.

Has social media turned you into a Connector, Maven or Salesman? Do you find it easier to take on those roles to support others?

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.

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 drink heavily.

Today we are going to switch the format just a little. Tuesdays are now simply, Dr. Twuth Tuesday. Why? Well, I am sure you guys have all kinds of social media questions and conundrums beyond the world of just Twitter, so 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,

Ok, so I have a Twitter question that’s been bugging me for several days now.  I’ve read WANA and I’m sure I’ve seen it in a post before that it’s polite to follow people back when they follow you.  But what if you’re being followed by people just hoping to spam you with their business?  It seems pretty easy to tell when you look at their tweets that all they do is spam.  I’ve even come across some Twitter names and profiles that look like real people, only to find they’re masking their company so they can spam unsuspecting me after I follow them back.

I don’t want to be rude, but is it polite to follow back these people, or just torture for myself?  If we’re supposed to take care with who we follow by looking to see if they’re people interested in conversation, shouldn’t we also take that care in following back?

Thanks a bunch.

Bonkers with Bots

Dear Bonkers,

Part of creating any social platform is, of course, being social. The answer to this question seems cut and dry, but it isn’t. Some people might be saying, Well, of course you wouldn’t follow back a bot! Yet, this can get tricky, especially when we have a lot of fellow writers acting like bots. This is one of the reasons we really should avoid automation as much as humanly possible.

I have attended conferences where social media experts spent an hour presenting ten different gizmos to make social media so easy the writer didn’t have to even participate. Just go to Hoot Suite and program in tweets and go back to writing. You never have to do anything! Your social platform will grow itself like a genetically enhanced Chia Pet!!!

Caveat emptor.

The danger in these approaches is that we are basically bots, so when others click on our profiles we can end up with a case of mistaken identity. Looks like a bot, acts like a bot, posts like a bot…probably a bot.

Due to Lady Gaga’s poor wardrobe choice, she was not allowed to go deer hunting ever again for safety considerations.

Thus, my first bit of advice is to make sure we are not behaving like bots because my advice is…IGNORE ALL BOTS, including Author Bots. This approach is lazy and selfish and there is no need to repay that approach or encourage it. Plenty of authors find time to be authentic. If James Rollins, Bob Mayer, and Jane Friedman can do their own tweeting, so can we. People may not hear from us 53 times a day, but do they really need to? Or even want to? Just tweeting or posting a status update 1-3 times a day is more than sufficient to remain top of mind.

I will go so far as to even recommend that, when a bot follows you, report them as spam and block them. Spammers should be discouraged as often as possible. Nobody gets a free ride in life, and, if we have to work hard for what we want, then the spammers should too.

As a caveat, though. I use a zero tolerance approach with obvious bots. @FreePorn is now following you. If a fellow writer acts like a bot, it is up to us to watch out for our creative brethren who’ve been led astray by misguided gurus. I would recommend following back just long enough to send a polite “Um, you have your digital skirt tucked in your digital pantyhose” message. Feel free to send them links to my blogs. Dr. Twuth is skilled at deprogramming bad social media cult influences.

Some writers are working hard to be “responsible little marketers,” and they really don’t know any better. We all make mistakes and we would all want to be treated with love and grace. Give it a day or two, and, if the offending behavior doesn’t stop, then feel free to wish them well and DM that you are unfollowing to “make room for real people.”

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!