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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: teamwork

I have been involved with using social media to build platforms for a few years now, which means I’ve had a unique opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t and what fails horribly.  I choose to base my teachings off simple core truths that withstand the test of time. To me, social media is not about gadgets, it is about people. Better yet, it is about creating a community that comes together, united in purpose, and works as a team for the benefit of all.

Individual + Other Individuals=Community

Community + United Purpose= Team

I feel it is impossible to create anything worthwhile on social media if we do not, first, learn to be part of a team. We must learn to serve others first. This is why auto-tweets and a self-centered agenda will always fail. The people who will really see genuine results from social media are the ones who learn to be part of something bigger than their own wants and needs. Teams make the difference.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is a success. ~Henry Ford

Recently I attended a conference with a panel of PR, marketing and social media experts. Everyone on the panel advised using auto-tweets and one even offered services to tweet for writers. I found this sad because this group was missing out on the real beauty of social media. Learning to work with others as a team.

According to BEA statistics (and Bob Mayer’s great blog), in 2006 there were 1.2 million titles available. And 950,000 of those titles sold less than 99 copies. Historically, an author’s odds of selling enough books to even make a decent living have been depressing at best. But why?

Well, there are a lot of reasons and we have explored many of them on this blog. But, my two cents? Writers had no way to plug into a team. Traditionally published authors relied on traditional marketing tactics employed by the publisher (which doesn’t sell fiction) and hoped the right reviewer said the right thing and that the planets and starts aligned just right to make it to the next level. Self-published authors had even less chance of success. Speak at enough Lion’s Clubs and hope to hit the right place at the right time.

These days? The odds are improving, and I believe that is because social media allows us to network and to work as part of one cohesive force. The goal of the individual is supplanted by the goal of the group. Everyone does a little for everyone else and then everyone sees success.

For those of you who have played sports or been to team-building classes, remember the acronym for T.E.A.M.?

Together Everyone Achieves More

On social media that is certainly true. I have seen this prove true more times than I can count. For instance, back in 2008-09, I helped the DFW Writers’ Workshop put together a social media campaign to get the word out about the conference in the spring of 2009. What was so fascinating to see is that all 100+ members signed up for Facebook and Twitter. They all friended each other and when any one member posted an announcement about the conference the others followed suit. The exposure, as a result, was not linear, rather it was exponential. No one advertising guy had to go work until he was dead to spread the word about the conference. All it cost each member was 30 words a day…and the conference sold out two days after early registration…4 months before the conference.

Everyone worked together to promote the good of the whole.

When I get on Twitter or Facebook, I can see the writers who won’t get very much out of social media. They send form-letters on Facebook or post a Hi, I don’t know you and sorry for the spam, but could you Like my Fan Page?

Some free advice. If we have to open any note with an apology, then deep-down we know this is not the correct approach.

I see auto-tweets with every # in the known universe and very little interaction with others. Will authors employing these tactics sell books? Sure. But will social media be any fun? Or, will it feel like a horrid drudgery, like slogging through mud mixed with maple syrup while wearing snowshoes? Probably. Will this approach do as much as working with a team? Not likely.

When we plug in with a team, we multiply efforts exponentially.

Hypothetical example:

So some new writer hears about #MyWANA comes and hangs out and interacts. I like this person. She is really sweet and RTs for others and I see she is kind of new to Twitter and only has 30 followers. That’s a good start, but nothing that is going to rock the world. But she is authentic and does what she can to help her #MyWANA team.

The new girl tweets about her blog, which I check out and see it is well-written. So I RT and use different #s, maybe #pubtip or #amwriting. I just exposed that blog to 3000+ more people (my followers). Now someone from my network, say Piper Bayard, RTs me. Well now that blog just got an audience for a couple thousand more people. Oh, then James Rollins, who is new to Tweet Deck and also hanging out on #MyWANA sees his friends Kristen and Piper tweeted a blog, so he steps in to help and that blog now goes out to 14,000 people.

Even if we just look at this linearly, a blog that would have only been seen by a potential 100 people, now has been exposed to almost 20,000…in THREE tweets. And all it cost this new writer was a few moments of being nice to others and doing what she could to help others.

This is called working smarter, not harder. If we focus on serving our teammates, they will do the same. Together everyone achieves more.

We can spend hours sending form-letters and auto-tweeting and spamming with very little ROI, OR we can invest in serving a team and watch a miracle.

I will close today out with one of my favorite quotes:

None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together achieve something wonderful. ~Mother Theresa

I hope that, if you haven’t already, you will join us over at #MyWANA. #MyWANA is a group of writers committed to doing small things with great love to achieve the impossible.

Gather together with your fellow writers at critique and come together. Commit to supporting and promoting each other. Subscribe to each other’s blogs, RT for each other, post for each other, tell the world about your fellow writer teammates, and I assure you that the results will be nothing short of magic.

What are some ideas you might like to add? What ways do you like serving others? What are your fears or concerns? Do you feel more confident when you join a group? Do you feel that being part of a team has helped anxiety or fear of your future? What are your thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?

I love hearing from you! And 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!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Important Announcements

Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.

Together We Achieve More!!!! SUPPORT THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA! Spread the word and save a life. Sigma Force saves puppies and kittens, too. Ahhhh.

In the meantime, I 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 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.

Happy writing!

Until next time….

Welcome to the eighteenth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. My tips will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Hashtag Ho

Yes, Hashtag Ho. I thought Hashtag Hoarder might work, but Hashtag Ho was funnier. Oh, I have to be careful on this one, because I still am guilty of this if I am not careful. Hashtag Hoes loooove hashtags, and they use so many #s that the original message gets garbled and likely lost. (For those who don’t quite understand what #s do, go here).

#Writers! #Authors need to build a #social #media #platform to help sell #books and #ebooks and #manuscripts and make #friends so we can survive in #publishing. Go to my #blog about #blogging #pubtip #writegoal #writing #writer

I know that sometimes I have done this trying to make one tweet do ALL things, but I found I was missing the point when it came to Twitter. Twitter is about working as a team and building a group of friends we can count on to HELP us spread our message.

We are better off using only two or three #s, then having our community retweet (RT) and CHANGE the hashtags. Why? Well, there are a lot of people on Twitter who don’t know what the # does….so we probably just look like a lunatic with a Twitter virus that infests our messages with ##########. A good way to get unfollowed.

And others, who know what the # does might just see us as trying to take over as many # conversations as possible. In reality I think most of us are trying to be efficient, but we could be seen as rude. It is easy to forget that a message riddled with symbols might just get ignored because it isn’t easy to read.  I also think  one unintended consequence is that other people might be less likely to RT, because we already did everything ourselves. So the message ends up with far less momentum.

This Week’s Twitter Tip–The Hashtag Helper

Many of us probably would be less prone to be Hashtag Hoes if we could plug in with Hashtag Helpers. We wouldn’t be inclined to feel we needed to do EVERYTHING on our own. That has been one of the beautiful things about this new group #MyWANA. The entire purpose of #MyWANA is to boost and support each other, so I think this notion of being a Hashtag Helper has come more naturally for a group whose sole purpose is to serve each other.

Hashtag Helpers want to help others spread their influence. They know we cannot do everything alone, and this Twitter pal can be counted on to jump in and lend a hand. If they see our blog posted in #MyWANA, they immediately RT and CHANGE the hashtags so that other writing #s will benefit from the information. The incredible part of being a hashtag helper is it sets a good example. Many people on Twitter don’t think to CHANGE the hashtags.

Wow. We can really do that?

So when they see us being Hashtag Helpers, it inspires them to do the same. The more Hashtag Helpers we have on Twitter, the better place it will be for all.

Tweet ya later!

 

This has been a long week, and, frankly, I’m exhausted. I had dreams all last night that I was dropped into a Death Match, so now it seems pretty clear what my subconscious thinks of the whole writing thing. We authors can appreciate what it feels like to be dropped into unfamiliar terrain armed with a KFC spork, no plan, and a ticking clock….but everyone is out to get you. And they have helicopters.

Or is that just me? Could be fatigue talking.

It has been a hard week, but also a great week, because lots of work means forward momentum. For the past ten days or so, I have been editing my new book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. I have to say, my team has been my lifeline, helping me with feedback and blurbs and line edits. I couldn’t have done this on my own.

Which actually brings me back to my Death Match Dream…

In this dream I was lured in with the promise of a nice vacation getaway, then was promptly thrown into a trunk, driven to an obscure location, kicked out of the trunk, tossed a gun…then lots of people started shooting at me. This has had me thinking all morning. Is this how my subconscious mind sees my craft? So permit me to have a little fun, and maybe some of you can even empathize.

Celebrity Death Match (Author Edition)

When I started writing, I thought it was all going to be rainbows and unicorns. This is how we get lured in, because we would never show up if they told us the truth.

The Invitation

For writers, it starts with a glitzy invitation. Ah, to get to be creative…ALL THE TIME! How was that not bliss? I would get to sit at my laptop, churning out brilliance and everyone would love me and throw wads of cash my direction.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I first queried, I only queried one agent, because I didn’t want to have to deal with the awkward drama when they all started fighting over me. I mean, what if I ran into these agents at a party held in honor of my awesomeness? Then I would have to leave before my fan club unveiled the cake that looked like my best-selling book. I’d be forced to ask one of my bodyguards help me to the limo before these agents made a scene.

….and then I was promptly tossed in the trunk and punched in the face a few times so it would be easier for the gloved hands to wrap my head in duct tape.

Reality

 

So I bumped around in the trunk, hyperventilating and clutching the spare tire for I don’t even know how many miles. I tried to keep track of how far we had gone by counting the seconds (query letters). I eventually lost count, and, just about the time I gave up, the trunk opened. Light. Air. Hope. This was all over. (An agent asked for pages).

Hands yanked me from the trunk. Was this all a joke? Finally I would be on my way to publishing success?

Death Match

Duct tape is ripped off my mouth taking skin and eyebrows (first critique), and someone unties my hands. They toss me a gun and then helicopters circle and start shooting at me (Form letters come pouring in the mail. “Thank you for submitting, but at this time we cannot accept.”)

I have a choice. Stand there and die or run for the small wood frame house. I run as fast as I can and dive in right before another spray of bullets makes me a red mist. I look in the shadows and realize I am not alone (Subconscious book plug?). The house is full of other contestants.

There are five contestants. One guy is crouched in the corner in total denial. He won’t even take a weapon (writing class). Yeah, he’ll be one of the first to die. Then there is the guy who goes all John Wayne. He just loses it and runs out after the helicopters with only a pistol even though it is suicide (self-published author w/no prepared platform). The other three contestants and I watch in horror from the window as this guy is mowed down as he shoots his pathetic pistol in the air, hitting nothing.

Hey, he went out trying.

Finally, the other three writers…um contestants and I wait. We watch. We make a plan. We are forced to leave the guy who’s huddled in the fetal position in the corner. Once it’s dark, we slip out into the night and start reconnoitering the area. What are the boundaries (publishing options)? How strong are the bad guys (critics)? Did we have any assets (talent)?

Above all, in my dream, we started working as a team, and slowly our understanding of the landscape/odds/opposition became clearer. Also, over time, we started fighting smarter, not harder. Slowly, with strategic strikes and persistence, we began to shift the odds in our favor….by working together as one cohesive force.

I would love to tell you how my dream ended, but suddenly I was in an ice cream shop with the other three contestants and we were buying candy before they closed the giant Slip and Slide. I have no good dream translation for this.

Suffice this to say that I have been working on a book about social media for writers all week; reading and rereading my own lessons. And I have to say that I think my subconscious came up with a pretty accurate translation of the writer’s journey. We begin with our guard down thinking we are gonna win a million bucks and a life on easy street.

Reality punches us in the face, wraps us in duct tape, and takes us for a ride. We are often dumped into a scenario we don’t know and don’t understand (the reality of the publishing world). We have choices.

Freeze up, thus get left behind and die.

There are writers who shop the same novel year after year no matter how much it is rejected. They don’t take craft classes, and many are totally opposed to social media. Sadly, as much as we plead with them to come with us, these writers are dead before they know it.

Act too soon and attack while totally unprepared…and get creamed.

There are a lot of writers who, when faced with the truth of publishing, believe self-publishing is going to give them the dream. All they need is a published book, and success will fall in their laps.

No. That is just more delusion. Self-publishing is not a panacea. Fail to go into it prepared, and you’ll get mowed down.

Rally, Recon, and Raise Hell

But then there are the writers who take time to learn, grow and slowly tip the odds in their favor….by working together.

I feel that, in the past, writers didn’t have this third option. It was harder for them to team up and join efforts to tip the scales in their favor. Now? Unless we are an established brand like Stephen King, we are in a whole new scenario. Working together is the only we we are going to survive…and come out winners.

So what do you guys think? Do you agree? Disagree? Have anything to add? Can you relate to this Celebrity Death Match Author Edition?

Happy writing!

Until next time…

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.