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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: finding readers

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers

Last post was some tongue-and-cheek fun pointing out how brands (particularly author brands) abuse Twitter. Today, I want to shift gears and chat some about how writers—actually ALL brands—can use Twitter far more effectively.

Currently, too many writers are like Stormtroopers—lots of shots fired  tweets that hit NOTHING.

Admittedly, when I got on Twitter (practically when it was invented) I didn’t get it. I would—KID YOU NOT—freak out when people I didn’t know followed me.

WHAT? Are you, like, a stalker?

Yes, I was missing the ENTIRE point of Twitter. Hey, we all start somewhere.

Do you have to do Twitter? No. No one will take you to writer jail because you didn’t sign up. Is it wise to use Twitter? Meh, for the past couple years. Er, not so much.

Was sort of a personal choice if one was willing to be persistent and cull through bots to find gems. I stuck with it namely because I figured Twitter eventually would remedy the problems that were hobbling this once extremely effective social platform.

Now that Twitter’s going all Old Testament on bots and excessive automation? ABSOLUTELY a great idea to be on Twitter.

Twitter & Going Viral

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers
Pros and cons to rampant replication.

First, I want to make something clear. We cannot make something (content) go viral. Going viral is something that will happen all on its own and we have almost no control regarding what content will catch fire and what will simply wink out.

We CAN, however, position our content in optimal environments for going viral (part of what I teach in my upcoming branding class, BRAND BOSS).

Though going viral can possibly be a mixed blessing, it also happens to be one of the best ways for a brand to grow exponentially and overnight (which is why we want to go viral for good things, FYI).

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers

The first time I had a blog go viral I thought I’d broken WP and was upset. I didn’t realize my graph looked like my blog had a heart attack and DIED because I went from my average of 50 visits a day to 24,000 in ONE day. This is called working smarter, not harder and why linear growth bites in comparison to logarithmic growth.

Twitter and Viral Environments

Much like the flu virus will spread way faster in a preschool than in the clean rooms of the CDC…environment matters. Viruses on-line and in life require optimal conditions to spread.

Truth is, we will rarely go viral from Facebook because the nature of Facebook is more intimate and the platform moves much slower. People are less likely to discover us/our work from Facebook than they are Twitter.

This is why I encourage authors to blog and to blog off their author WEBSITE. Someone sees a tweet for a post that looks interesting and click and enjoy the post and guess what is in the sidebar for sale? BOOKS.

This is a non-invasive way to cultivate readers and sell books. We have a post, serve, engage and entertain. Not doing the:

Hi, I’m a writer. BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK! I can’t feed my family unless you BUY MY BOOK!

Show don’t sell.

Our blog gives potential readers a glimpse of who we are. They sample our writing voice and see we are professionals since we post more than every harvest moon. We have taken time to engage without asking for money. Twitter is the road sign guiding people to the rest stop of their choosing.

Enough people like a certain rest stop? That is when we go viral.

Going viral is AWESOME. Trust me, when you see THIS on the bottom of a post? GREAT FEELING.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 7.41.58 AM

And yes, there are a lot of shares on Facebook, but many folks discovered the posts on Twitter then chose to share with their more intimate community on Facebook.

My post Brave New Bullying and Amazon Attacks has 338 comments and still climbing. And I say this VERY humbly because all I do is my job. But, it is not uncommon for this blog to have triple-digit comments. Twitter is a BIG reason for that. And I’ve been blessed to go viral many times and not always for writing or social media posts. I blog about everything.

I STILL have people arguing over What Went Wrong With the Star Wars Prequels even though I posted it years ago. Up to 304 FABULOUS comments. Very well-thought out. Some thousands of words long.

Cultivating Customers (Code for “Readers”)

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea

There is one bone-headed statement that makes my head hurt. And I have heard it from all levels of writers from noobs to NTYBSAs. In fact, years ago a BIG NAME author said, “I don’t like Twitter. Only writers are on Twitter.”

*head desk*

I replied, “There are over 280 MILLION active Twitter users. They’re all writers. Really?”

What I then pointed out was that this author tweeted writing quotes, talked about writing, blogged about writing. It was the All-Writing-All-the-Time Channel.

If my goal is to catch a lion, but I bait the traps with peanut butter, who is the fool for griping about catching mice?

Many of us are writers because we were interested in SO many things, writing was the only way we could do them all. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist-medical examiner-ballerina-oceanographer-ninja-Navy SEAL. I’d imagine most of you had similar career plans at age 7.

We became writers because we have an insatiable love for so many things. And we have unique eyes and an imagination to bring those worlds to life. We breathe life into variations of 26 letters in various combinations to create entirely NEW worlds and characters SO real they make a bigger impact on lives than a lot of living, breathing humans.

Yes, we have a God complex.

Thus, when using Twitter, I DO recommend #MyWANA, #amwriting, etc. We NEED a group of professional peers. But never mistake your colleagues for your audience. Too many writers are all talking to each other, selling the same people who already have more books than they could finish in a lifetime. We are worn out.

Twitter Access

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers

In my branding book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World I go into far more detail, but here’s the highlight reel. What do you write? Who is the most likely person (who is NOT an avid reader who will read anything) to read your book?

If I write military thrillers, might be a good idea to follow the military hashtags—#USMC, #Army, #Navy, #USAF. Make friends, talk to people. Maybe even ask for advice. Admit you’re a writer and you want to nail the details. Humans are a super-helpful bunch.

Many channels (#DiscoveryID), publications (#PopularMechanics), organizations (#NASA), and shows (#AHS American Horror Story) have created hashtags to encourage those who possess shared interests a place to chat and connect. If I write horror, why would I spend all my time posting on #amwriting #reader #amreading?

That is lazy thinking, devoid of any creativity.

I find it funny that we writers have the capacity to dream up parallel universes, new forms of magic, unknown technology and yet, when we get on social media? #writers, #books #readers is the best we can come up with. SMH (*shaking my head*).

This is a huge reason why writers misusing Twitter and abusing automation vexes me so much. Twitter is probably THE MOST effective way to locate our potential readers globally, talk to them, and eventually cultivate a relationship that will hopefully a) create a reader fan and even b) ignite a passion and enthusiasm for our brand (books) that will spread to that person’s network.

Effective social media works logarithmically.

If we’re working linearly, that is a long, hard way to be effective. Feel free to add one person at a time to a mailing list, but remember your competition is working exponentially by cultivating relationships.

Twitter DOES have the capacity to help us go viral, but it is still an investment daily of US. I have a little over 15,500 followers. Other authors SMOKE me on number of followers. But I’d rather have 500 VESTED and passionate fans than 300,000 ‘followers’ who could care less what I have to say.

Not ALL Sales are Direct

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers

Actually most sales aren’t direct.

When we take time to be human and talk to people without an agenda, they appreciate it. In fact, as technology improves and becomes more ingrained in our lives, it’s getting harder and harder to find anything (or anyone) authentic.

Much of what we see/experience on-line is crafted, automated, filtered and fake. We’re lonely and hop on line to chat, only to find ourselves rooked into chatting with an automated message posing a a real person talking…which feels awesome never.

So two ways to look at this. Some see all this phony baloney as a problem, a barrier. ME? I see ALL opportunity! The more OTHERS get lazy and rely on automation, gimmicks, and faux drama, the more appealing authenticity becomes. Being present, vested and real gains value day by day by day. #Preach

The secret to success in business, branding, writing, etc. is always to look at what OTHERS are NOT doing. Copying what is already supersaturated is comfortable because when it doesn’t work we can fall back on the Well, everyone else was doing it so it seemed the right thing to do.

Stepping out to do what NO ONE else is doing (or few are doing) THAT is the area where the magic can happen.

Twitter Magic

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers

This said, if everyone is automating because that is what all the ‘experts’ preach and promote? Do the opposite. You be you and be real (pretty much good advice for everything). THIS is how we stand apart.

When we’re real and talk to others (with no agenda other than chatting like we did in the olden days), it’s good for us. We’re forced to think about someone other than ourselves and what WE want. It’s great training in learning to listen, and pushes us to be a bit vulnerable.

It’s also good for our souls since most of us feel icky simply talking to people so they will BUY something. Conversely most people these days have almost no trust for others and have their guard up waiting for some sign we’re actually being a faker who wants to sell something.

Especially on Twitter.

If we focus on just being cool, those walls come down. We make a friend, others have someone cool to chat with on a break at work and eventually (sure) they realize we have a book or books for sale.

Power of Word-of-Mouth

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers

If 95% of all we talk about on Twitter (or elsewhere on social media) has nothing to do with selling stuff, no one is going to mind us mentioning a book (And if they do get p!$$ed off? They’re touchy so let ’em go).

Though this can’t be our conscious objective (because people will sniff this out as being phony because it is), remember we may not be selling a book to the person(s) we’re directly talking to. This is why we should talk to anyone who wants to have a cool and respectful conversation.

Maybe they don’t like our genre. This is NOT where we move on because this person is never gonna buy a book. Maybe they love gardening and we love gardening. Talking to this person is still an investment in friendship but ALSO in sales. Remember, most sales aren’t direct, they’re based off recommendation.

And, people DO buy gifts. Just sayin’.

I have people who aren’t into hard-core thrillers who bought my book The Devil’s Dance for family and friends who DO read the genre I write. Many of you who come to this blog to learn about craft and social media bought my THRILLER (*gets all misty-eyed*) even though it’s not your thing, and my blog has nothing to do with murder and cartels.

THANK YOU! (and please feel free to buy more copies 😀 )

Kristen Lamb, social media for writers, building a brand with social media, building a brand using Twitter, how to use Twitter, Twitter for writers, Twitter and brands, How to Go Viral, finding readers

Never underestimate the word-of-mouth power of someone who may never buy our book.

I have all KINDS of people I talk to who aren’t authors. BUT they have friends or family who are, or who aspire to be. Whose blog and social media book do you think they recommend?

If they’ll do it for me, why not you? Go serve and be the friend you’d like to have and watch something incredible happen.

In the end, using Twitter wisely is a fantastic investment that doesn’t take a lot of time. A handful of tweets a day over time grows deep roots that eventually yields fruits.

I love hearing from you!

What do you WIN? For the month of AUGUST, for 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).

Upcoming Classes for August & September


Brand Boss: When Your Name Alone Can Sell

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: General Admission $55.00 USD/ GOLD Level $175
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Thursday, SEPTEMBER 13th, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER HERE

 

 


Building Planet X: Out-of-This-World-Building for Speculative Fiction

Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Saturday, September 8th, 2018. 10:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER HERE

 


Populating Planet X: Creating Realistic, Relatable Characters in Speculative Fiction

Instructors: Cait Reynolds & Kristen Lamb
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Saturday, September 8th, 2018. 1:00—3:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER HERE

 


Beyond Planet X: Mastering Speculative Fiction

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Saturday, September 8th, 2018. 4:00—6:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER HERE

 

 


The XXX Files: The Planet X Speculative Fiction 3-Class Bundle

Instructors: Cait Reynolds & Kristen Lamb
Price: $110.00 USD (It’s LITERALLY one class FREE!)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Saturday, September 8th, 2018. 10:00 a.m.—6:00 p.m. EST.

REGISTER HERE

Recordings of all three classes is also included with purchase.

 


 


Go Fish: Finding the Right Beta Readers

Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Friday, August 24, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m.

REGISTER HERE

 

 


More Than Gore: How to Write Horror

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $40.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: THURSDAY, August 30th, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER HERE

 

 

 


Keywordpalooza: Tune in, mellow out, and learn to love keywords for Amazon

Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Friday, September 7, 2018. 7:00—9:00 p.m. EST

REGISTER HERE

Look! I made my own breakfast! Daddy left out CHOCOLATE!
Look! I made my own breakfast! Daddy left out CHOCOLATE!

One of the traps we can fall into is we believe the world is somehow static. We feel overwhelmed because we are doing dishes again, the laundry again, mowing the yard again and cooking meals again. It’s easy to feel caught in this loop that can get depressing with a quickness. The same thing can happen in writing.

The world does not reward perfection, it REWARDS FINISHERS. It rewards DOERS. What are we doing?

Our goals in life need daily feeding. Our writing needs daily care. Our brand needs daily care. Entropy is real, and she’s a $#@%$. She will make sure everything we do falls apart faster than a three-year-old’s sock drawer if we aren’t vigilant. Our In-Box will never be empty. The rest is easier if we just accept that.

Our Brand is a Living Thing

Living things need to be fed, just like pets, kids and husbands. They need daily care. We can’t say, “Sure, I fed the dog last week” and expect Fluffy to live long. A lot of writers (me included) whine about social media.

What is the bare minimum? What is the minimal attendance? Do we really HAVE to blog?

We can feed our kids once a week and they remain alive. Probably a super bad idea. We don’t have to play with our kids or even talk to our spouse. Yet, how healthy will kids, pets, family and marriages be if we only do the bare minimum to sustain life?

Our brand is the same. Our author CAREER is the same.

No one will haul us to writer jail if we only tweet once a day. Don’t use Facebook. No one will force us. But here’s the hard reality. In a world where people are inundated with advertising and free books, they have learned to “unsee.” The cerebral cortex is very efficient at processing chaos of the modern world.

How does the visual cortex keep our computer brain from crashing with all the massive influx? It ignores virtually everything but what we are specifically looking for.

Ads Don’t Sell, RELATIONSHIPS SELL

When was the last time you bought something off a Facebook ad? What about pop-ups? Ever buy anything off a dancing ad you didn’t ask for? Or did you shut that sucker so fast you couldn’t even tell what they were selling? What about automatically generated tweets? When was the last time, you bought a book off author link spam? Or a form letter?

*crickets chirping*

Brands are Formed with Relationships and Relationships NEED FEEDING

I encourage writers to blog. Heck, it should be an area of strength—WORDS. Writers write. Blogs have the power to create long-term passionate relationships with…readers. Only about 8% of the population defines themselves as avid readers. This means 92% of the population still needs entertaining and informing. Most of them have smart phones, and a lot have tablets. They won’t go to a bookstore…but they will buy on-line.

Are we talking to them?

Again…Relationships Lead to Sales

Regular people (the 92%) like short works. They LIKE blogs. If they like our blogs, not a stretch to think they might even enjoy our books. Who cares if someone only buys one or two books a year if it is OUR BOOKS? People buy from who they know and who they like.

Blogs are the most resilient form of social media. Friendster? MySpace? *POOF* GONE. Blogs? Still here and going strong since the 90s.

Blogs grow in power the longer and more frequent we contribute content. It helps our SEO. Blogs can be harvested for books.  Blogging trains us to ship. Blogging helps us get over perfectionism and hones our skills.

We learn to meet self-imposed deadlines no matter what. Family drama, crises, injuries, sickness and housework don’t magically disappear once we are successful. If anything, the workload increases. With blogging, we learn to write, leaner, meaner, faster and better, because we are training. Blogs are the gym for the author.

How good is a gym if we go once a month? Our bodies won’t retain muscle and general health if we don’t train. Why would our writing be any different?

If blogs can create long-term, loyal relationships, and relationships lead to sales, how much are we feeding those relationships?

Don’t want to blog? Don’t, but DO focus on people. Focus on relationships. Serve first. Talk about kittens and laundry and kittens doing laundry. Just be human a few times a day and CARE. Relationships are about giving not taking. Do you like friends who only remember you when they decide to sell vitamins? Or when they need to borrow money? Noodle on that ;).

Writing is a Living Thing in Need of Care

Yes, the brand and platform is important, but only because it should lead to sales. Feed the relationships and feed the craft. Read, watch movies and write. FINISH. SHIP. Again, the entropy thing. Keep writing. Get stronger, better, write more books. Most authors (traditional and non-traditional) start seeing success/traction at BOOK THREE.

As I point one digital finger at you guys I have three pointing back at me. I’m not above this stuff. There are some areas I need to come up higher. I’ve been giving the excuses: But it’s so haaard. I don’t have tiiiimmmme. But I am not gooood at that. Well, if I don’t ever DO something, how can I expect to get GOOD at it? I am kicking my own @$$ about organization today, so this lecture is for me too. Don’t feel left out ;).

Yes, It IS a LOT of Juggling

I know when I get great at writing books, my blog starts getting puny. I start blogging really well and have to kick my own tail to get back to the WIP. It’s like a family. We have laundry and chores and yards and bills and most of us kinda want to stab Martha Stewart in the face.

Again, be realistic. Small steps every day. A lot of the SAME steps. Just like we have to cook dinner every night. Unless we cryogenically freeze our families, we will have to feed them, wash them and care for them every day.

The point of this post is to help shift how you view your career. It is a living thing, a member of the family and it needs tending daily. A lot of the SAME stuff. Once we accept this, it’s much easier and we are far less likely to get depressed and overwhelmed.

How well are you feeding your dream? What steps do you take daily to make sure your writing an brand are cared for? What obstacles do you face? What are your biggest challenges? Do you have an area you’re afraid to face? It’s too overwhelming? Hey, I do. That whole “getting organized” thing is kicking my tail today.

I love hearing from you!

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 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).

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 May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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