Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Posts Tagged: vanity press


Welcome to the second installment of Twitter Tuesday. 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. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

Today we have to do things differently. Why? My tips involve the hashtag conversations, but if you don’t know what a hashtag is or what it does, the tips will make no sense. Feel free to scroll down if you happen to be hashtag savvy.

For the rest of you, you might find yourself asking, What the heck is that # thingy I see all the time?

Here’s the deal. If you listened to me last week then you ran out and downloaded TweetDeck at the first available opportunity. Wait, what? You didn’t?

Okay…we’ll wait. *whistles, checks watch*

Kidding! But, seriously. Download TweetDeck (or a similar application). Trust me. It will make life simpler.

What is a #? That little # symbol is going to help you build a worldwide following. I know. That’s partly how I did it.

So what is it? Well, when you first join Twitter, you are all alone…save for the celebrities that Twitter gives you, but it isn’t like you and Ashton Kutcher are going to chit chat. So, you are going to have to make some friends. Hashtags will help you meet people who love to talk about the same things you do. When you place a # with a keyword at the end of your tweet, Twitter slots your tweet into a conversation shared by people all over the world bound by topic.

Some popular writer hashtags are:

#writegoal (place daily writing goals and keep each other accountable), #amwriting, #pubtip, #indie, #bookmarket, #amediting, #nanowrimo, #agent

Thus, when I tweet about my blog, often it looks like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

My Tweet now will not just go out to my specific followers, it will be seen by the THOUSANDS of people all over the world who might be participating in those three popular hashtag conversations.

Why I recommend you download TweetDeck is that you can slot each hastag into its own column and then follow the people and conversations. When it comes to social media, we must interact and be vested in others, or we risk being perceived as fake and selfish. The hashtag is to help us meet and converse with others. It is not a new way to spam our fellow tweeps.

This Week’s Fail Whale

Using an auto-tweet system with hashtags.

BAD idea. This can get you banned to Twitter Limbo.

I am totally against authors using auto-tweets anyway. If our face and name are our Twitter identity, then our tweets need to be US. Writers are not @Starbucks. We can’t get away with auto-tweets. No one expects to have a conversation with @BestBuy. They will, however, expect conversation from us. And don’t think you can cheat. People are smart and will smell an automatically generated message a mile away…and then promptly ignore you, report you or unfollow you.

At the very least, they will think you are a big fat phony, and, in an age of people looking for authenticity, that is bad. It won’t win any friends, so I recommend just avoiding anything automatically generated. We really don’t need a Thank you for following me. Check out my awesome blog (link) sent to our direct messages. It’s not personal. It’s spam.

It really is better for you to tweet less, but it be genuinely you, than it is to assign a machine to pump out your message. Millions are gravitating to social media to escape spam. Bring these tactics into their sacred space and the penalty can be steep.

But, okay, you feel you must auto-tweet. Don’t say I didn’t try to talk you out of it. Do NOT include a hashtag. It is very likely you could clog up a whole column with your spam…um, tweets. Maybe you didn’t mean to, but since you weren’t present, you didn’t get to see the mess your auto-tweets were creating (think Mickey Mouse and the brooms). Then people get angry and they report you and Twitter bans you from using the most powerful tool you have to connect with people worldwide.

You could accidentally gum up all three hastag conversations like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@Kristen LambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

Now, I might have meant well, but folks on Twitter use these hashtag conversations to interact with a broader pool of people. If they see my tweet over and over and over and it is taking up the whole column, do you think it inspires them to like me? Or hunt me down with torches and pitchforks?

Also, the reason that I recommend TweetDeck is that you can see if your tweets are gumming up a column. I scan the #writegoal column to make sure I don’t already have a tweet talking about my blog in that column. If I do, I use another hashtag #amwriting or just wait to tweet about my blog. I try to only tweet 3 times a day to self-promote my blog. Morning, afternoon, evening to catch different Twitter crowds.

Make it a rule to promote others more than yourself, and you will rule the Twitterverse and even make some really awesome friends. Forget traditional marketing. Social media is a team effort.

This Week’s Twitter Tip

Now that you know what hashtags are, add them or change them when you RT for others.

I might see a writer who has an outstanding blog…but she didn’t add any hashtags. So, when I RT, I stick in a couple. Try not to do more than 3. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, it just (to me) feels less “spammy.”

But, what if one of your peeps has a GREAT blog and they did use hashtags? If you RT and leave the same hashtags, then you risk gumming up a column with the same link. So change them.

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

RT @KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help you build your platform? (link goes here) #amwriting #fiction #writer

Now my message will go into three totally different columns. This helps more writers SEE my blog and I don’t risk clogging up the conversation. People who follow the # conversations will really appreciate that. Also, it makes it where I don’t have to add 8 hashtags to the end. I know my tweeps will help me out.

I hope you enjoyed this installation of Twitter Tuesday.

Tweet ya later!

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book, We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. This is the day I dedicate to help you guys rock it hard when it comes to social media. For the past month and a half, we have been discussing blogging. If you are new to the blog, I recommend going back and reading the previous lessons. It will save you a lot of time and heartbreak. I am going to assume all of you are clever enough to look to the sidebar to take you there ;). For the rest of you? It’s Fashion Week!

Today we are going to pose the question, “What makes a great blog?” To a degree I feel I am an authority, namely because I have made all the stupid mistakes so you don’t have to. After a lot of noodle-throwing (to see what would stick) and tar baby wrestling, a book, and 130 blog posts, I now feel confident to call myself an expert. This blog has been very successful and grown to have a worldwide following. I wasn’t always a good blogger and, in fact, when I look to some of my early blogs I just kind of want to start whistling and walk away.

Don’t make eye contact. Baby blogs not properly nurtured by humans go feral.

This week, we are going to address some superficial aspects of a blog that can make or break you from the beginning. Appearance matters. Yeah, we would all love to believe that we don’t judge books by their cover, but most of us do…all the time. We aren’t going to buy a house with the front door hanging off the hinges, a car the color of baby puke, or eat a gourmet dish that looks like something the cat coughed up. We don’t go on a blind date and see some guy across the room and go, “Kafka! Kafka! That seems like someone I could have intellectually stimulating conversations with.”

We are shallow! Blogs don’t get a pass on human nature. We are going to judge by appearance first.

So today, we are going to do a fashion makeover on your blog. Does you blog have bad breath? Her dress tucked in her panty hose? A bat in the cave? Appearances matter, and they matter when it comes to blogs. Let’s check out some top blog fashion faux pas.

  1. The Emo Blog?

The Emo Blog is dark, angry, moody and most often misunderstood. His black background mimics the color of his soul, and the red letters are like the self-inflicted slashes on his arms. Emo blog is just a bummer to hang out with.

The goth look is okay for teenagers who use their blog to catalogue teenage angst. If the purpose of your blog is to tell your friends about the time you dreamed you were Bella and Edward made you a vampire, then this background is fine. If you are over the age of 17, choose another background.

For the blogger trying to gain a following, tossing your readers’ corneas into a Digital Iron Maiden is not a good way to get on their good side. Black backgrounds with red letters might look killer, but they are murder on the eyes. Any dark color with lighter lettering is bad juju.

There is a popular WordPress background that is turquoise with pale yellow lettering. Every time I click to a blog with that background, I move on. My eyes get strained enough without me volunteering for thicker glasses.

Yes, I will grant that these Emo/Goth/Dark backgrounds look cool to us, but we already know what the words say (um…we wrote them). For a stranger, this will just make them hate you. It certainly won’t encourage them to hang out and read your previous posts.

Blogs need light backgrounds, dark letters, and, above all, be easy to read. I feel for the horror writers, but there are some gray urban decay backgrounds that will be just as creepy, and the upside is that readers will be more likely to hang out on your site. Overall, when you choose a background, go ask the friend you can trust to tell you your butt is fat to look at your blog.

2. The Poseur Blog

The Poseur Blog is the blog that just tries too hard to impress, and, in the end, just seems desperate and kind of sad. Italics, creative fonts, and too many flashy widgets are like two bottles of hair gel, a spray tan, an Ed Hardy shirt, and arms full of man bracelets. Sad, sad, sad.

Again, love your reader, love their eyes. If you must use a creative font, use it for the headers, but try to stay with standard fonts like New Times Roman or Callibri lest your blog be banished to the Jersey Shores.

Our content should be creative, not the presentation. When our blog has odd backgrounds with video, music and cursive font, that is the equivalent of sending a query letter written in pink on perfumed paper with stickers. Readers are judging us by what we write, not by the zillion flashy gizmos we learned how to insert into our page. Again, less is more.

3. The Invisible Man Blog

The Invisible Man Blog has less to do with the content and more to do with the author. Where is your name? Is it easy to spot, or is finding your name like a frustrating game of “Where’s Waldo?” Are you a blogger or in witness protection?

Our names need to be visible. If we are blogging and we are writers, then the blog needs to serve our careers. This is called “efficiency.” Blogging and writing are not two separate activities. Our blog needs to build our brand, which is always our name. I have read some really excellent blogs, but had no clue who wrote the darn thing.

You might be like me and you started the blog before you got a clue. No problem. Your name might not be in the URL, but it does need to be in the header. This is not the time to be shy. Write a blog you are proud to slap your name across…tastefully ;).

4. The Gypsy Blog

The Gypsy Blog has long flowing…everything. Long sentences, long paragraphs, long blogs. Loooooooong. The Gypsy Blog is so carefree that it forgot to care…at all. I know there is a lot of debate how long blogs should be. Personally, I don’t care. If a blogger is keeping me engaged and entertained, word count is the last thing I am paying attention to.

The trick with length is to make the paragraphs smaller. Break a long blog into digestible bites. As long as you are writing in a way that engages the reader, likely she won’t notice if you run long. Trust me, a 500 word blog that is all one paragraph will get skipped before a 1200 word engaging blog with lots of breaks.

Next week we are going to discuss some more ways to make your blog connect to readers and grow faster than you ever imagined. In the meantime, do you guys have any pet peeves? Notice some Blog Fashion Faux Pas? Surely I didn’t get to all of them. What are some things you like to see in blogs? What turns you off?

Happy writing!

Until next time…..

Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. 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.

Mash Up of Awesomeness

The Writer’s Toolkit: The Alpha and Omega of Your Novel by NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer

What’s In a (Pen) Name? by Peter St-Clair. Awesome post about how to keep up with more than one identity.

How Should Writers Use Social Media? With Purpose by Dan Blank

3 Topics for Writers To Avoid on Social Networks by Jill Kemerer

10 Creative Ways to Break Writer’s Block Fast by Fred White

5 Ways to Develop Consistency in Writing and Blogging and The Snowball Effect of Social Media by Author Jody Hedlund (yes, I am a Jody fan)

Saying I’m a Writer–The 6 Stages of Responses from Others by Roni Loren

How to be a Mom/Dad and Still Be a Writer by Suzan Isik

How to Write a Press Release for Your Book  by Alexis Grant

When is a Story Worth Writing? Part One by Jami Gold

Can Self-Publishing Lead to a Traditional Publishing Contract? (really interesting article) by Joel Friedlander

Hey Writerface: Don’t Be a Dick but Still Have Opinions and From Bile to Buttercream; How a Writer Makes Use of Rejection by the brilliant Chuck Wendig

I also highly, highly recommend Chuck’s book of short stories Irregular Creatures. If you love his blog, you will TOTALLY dig the stories and you can’t beat the price to be THAT entertained.

How Authors Move their Own Merchandise via The Wall Street Journal (Joanne Kaufman). One more reason EVERY writer needs a copy of my book…just sayin’.

A really inspiring post by Piper Bayard Unemployment: Aka The Road

Get Your Geek On With…

Manon Eileen’s A Test–Introversion and Extroversion

What is a Cult, Exactly? by Peter Saint-Clair

Welcome to the first installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. There is a lot of bad advice floating around when it comes to how to use Twitter. Is it because these “experts” are wrong? No, but they may not be giving advice that’s good for authors. 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. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–Unfollowing People for Inactivity

I have recently read some blogs where writers talked about unfollowing people for inactivity. I never unfollow anyone unless they are:

1. Abusive

2. Inappropriate

3. A bot.

Why? Because we never know why that person is being inactive. They could have had their computer crash, gotten married, deployed or been temporarily thrust into witness protection to hide from an evil twin who has ties to the mob. We don’t know! Thing is, they aren’t taking up any room, so why cull the herd? The Six Degrees of Separation is our friend. We could inadverdently unfollow the person who might have made that critical difference in our career. Play it smart and leave it be.

This Week’s Twitter Tip–Download TweetDeck

Regular Twitter is fine for the regular user who is only keeping up with a handful of people. TweetDeck makes it possible not only to follow thousands of people, but also genuinely interact….and it keeps you from wanting to slam your head in a door repeatedly (which is always a plus). Yes, there are other similar applications, but TweetDeck is my favorite and the example I use in my book.

Tweet ya later!