8 Comments

Triple-dog Dare ya to Prove It!

Oh, he triple-dog dared ya - now you HAVE to do it!

I enjoy reading uplifting stories and am a sucker for comedy. So I occasionally indulge in reading e-mail forwards. However, I usually only forward them on days of a major solar eclipse – if I remember to.

So I’m the dead-end for most of them.

Why? Because I hate being manipulated.

Correction…I hate being manipulated by cheap shots. You know, methods that require very little effort or risk by the other party.  Guilt-trips by dismal statistics, death threats, absurd promises of monetary gifts from celebrities/businessmen or superstitious guarantees of spectacular luck (or instant death) put such a bad taste in my mouth that even if I loved the story, once I hit that last paragraph I’m more likely to let it rot in my inbox.

Can you guess the ones I hate the most? The ones that have the gall to imply that the question of my faith in Christ hangs in the balance and that if I truly believe, I would spam my entire contact list. In other words, if I don’t send it on, then I’m just a hypocrite. As if one’s testimony can be measured or proved by addresses stuffed into the cc box.

Like-wise, as much as I love my friends, I don’t appreciate regular challenges to prove it through doing this or that. Sadly, I’ve found that those that use such tactics either:

A) will always be skeptical of your sincerity, no matter what you do

or

B) are far more concerned with the ends justifying the means thus will continue to challenge people as a tool of manipulation to get them to do what they want as the end result – regardless of the quality of the relationship

Don’t get me wrong – as a struggling small-time writer feeling quite behind the eight ball on marketing, I understand the temptation of the last one. Numbers are powerful, no?

In unabashed sympathy, I watch fellow writers provoke, plead, goad and beg their friends to visit their site, read their samples and “like” their fan pages. We feel we must be doing a dozen+ different things and parade them in front of everyone to drive traffic to where ever our platform is in dire need.

I must confess, I find it painful to watch and do so with some degree of dread. Am I destined to follow the same path or remain in utter obscurity? Are those my only choices?

Being one of those that hates cheap manipulation, when one of those confrontations come (even with good friends that I want to support) the rebel inside rises with a boatload of responses/reactions that I’m sure are not what the sender would appreciate.

Apparently it’s a pretty common problem, wired into basic human nature.

In Brian Klemmer’s If How-To’s Were Enough, We Would All Be Skinny, Rich and Happy! he talks about the natural tendency to resist and the trouble it brings. He uses a demonstration of sitting facing a random volunteer, placing raised hands against each other. Without instructions, as soon as he applies pressure on the hands, the volunteer predictably pushes back. The knee-jerk reflex is to resist.

But surely it has some level of success, considering how many people resort to it, right? I mean, what would I know? I’m not even published yet. So I tried to keep my mouth shut, watch and learn.

Then, over the last week, two things happened.

One: I e-mail subscribed to a blog.

Now, I’m sure in this day and age this might seem trivial. However, as someone who gets far more e-mails that I could possibly read, I rarely ever sign up for more unless they’re offering a free gift I want. Because, for all my good intentions, I know that I end up deleting far more than I read, simply for survival’s sake.

Kristen Lamb’s blog didn’t offer any gift. It offered wit and advice that resonated with me.  You have to admit the guts of anyone who starts with:

“I have repeatedly claimed that I am not a social media expert. Rather, I am THE social media expert for writers. There is a HUGE difference.”

Of course, me being an aspiring author anxious about making it work, she had me. As I read her definitions of Spam Toad vs. Author Brand, I was thrilled to learn that I wasn’t as off-base as I feared.  She said that if you have to beg people to “like” your fan page on Facebook, then you probably aren’t ready for one. In other words, focus on marketing through your profile or blog rather than try and run too many things at the same time.

This reassurance is particularly priceless to me since I sometimes feel like the “only one” who doesn’t have a fan page – the temptation to take the dive has really been gnawing at me. But then I see others struggle with them, begging for numbers and limping along with too many projects and not enough time.

I loved the message that I got from Kristen’s blog to not sacrifice being a writer for shot-gun marketing. I’ve often felt torn between all the time and work invested in marketing and “getting my name out” that sometimes it does feel like my writing suffers.

Two: I attended a webinar on Effective Author Websites

Okay, I admit – it was my first “webinar” period. Because of my Husband, I’ve been to business seminars (major and minor) and other motivational events. He’s even done on-line ones before, but this was my first.

Thomas Umstattd from AuthorTechTips.com taught and gave a ton of priceless advice. And it was wonderful that not only were they good business advice (like I was used to), but geared toward writers and relevant to me! I totally recommend visiting the site and reading some of their wonderful articles. When I stumbled on the place a while back, I couldn’t help but notice the number of people I knew who followed the site, including “gurus” like Jeff Gerke.

In the webinar, Thomas specifically said that begging doesn’t work. People (even our friends) should “like” and follow our stuff because they actually like what they find there.

A “fan” is not the same as “friend” and vice versa. It’s really about the content! For most people, their mom and best friend will “like” whatever we do, no matter the quality, but simply to support. He said to aim to provide exclusive content that people would be willing to pay for – but don’t.

Dragging people to our site totally misses the beauty of social media. Not only that, but it takes vast amounts of time and energy. However, if we focus on what we do best and provide quality content that appeals to, and targets, our niche market, then won’t they naturally want to share the really cool site/story/image/etc with their friends? Do they really get any particular value out of us reaching a particular number of “fans”?

I have plenty to learn still, and in no way claiming any authority in this. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and am bound to make a ton more. I am trying to do better and will continue to learn and mend my ways.

However, if you ever hear me begging or badgering, do me a favor. Slap me upside the head and remind me of this post.

Meanwhile, “experts” aside, what do YOU say really pulls you to a totally new website? What sort of goodies do YOU love to find?  What sort of stuff is just too cool to not share with others? What drives you nuts and you would rather strap yourself to a horse, upside down, for a couple miles through dry sagebrush than go back to the site?

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About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

8 comments on “Triple-dog Dare ya to Prove It!

  1. What keeps me following here more than anything is Renegade posts. Which seem to be absent lately…not that I’m giving up, understand; or that I don’t read some of the other, highly entertaining posts here that aren’t Renegade-related, or–

    😉 (are you guilt-tripped enough yet???) 😉

    Honestly, though, Ren, I’m still trying to figure this whole marketing thing out. I’ve got a Squidoo Christmas ornaments lens that I’d love to have authors come and leave their Christmas fiction and decorating book links on (no ebooks, though–sorry), and I’ve put the word out, and so far, as well as I can tell (unless Squidoo is fouling this up and everyone’s too polite to tell me), no takers. And here, I thought they’d jump on this, and it could be a great opportunity for exposing the Zazzle crowd to Christian literature while exposing the author-crowd to the awesome artwork on Zazzle, and the huge potential benefits of Squidoo, which appears to have quite an enthusiastic following of non-Zazzlers-who-buy-things.

    But I’m not interested in nagging. My daughter (may God bless her educational therapist and grant her GREAT success) is using up my puny emotional and physical budget for dragging reluctant people where they don’t want to go (in this case, greater math/memory skills).

    I will probably have to take the empty book-links module down, and replace it with something else.

    • lol, you mean the Renegade Project? Ah… yep, gotta get back to that. My vacation kinda threw me off there and the last vote round left it pretty open as to how exactly the hero is supposed to “confirm” that the girl is there… supposedly “without getting caught”. I have been thinking about it, and will definitely get back on that horse…

      I’m still trying to learn about Zazzle and other sites like that. The artist in me is eager to try it out, but these days most of my artwork is around my books so I gotta get me a contract first, right? But I hope that link tree works out!

      lol, and good luck with your daughter.

      Thanks for sharing, Kristi

  2. Wow, Ren. I love this. I too am one of those who hates being badgered into joining something and has felt guilty for not having a fan page of my own.

    I suspect my reason is slightly different than yours. I don’t want to spend time maintaining another page, trying to come up with content for it and all that, but I am also very wary (and weary) of the pushing I know I would have to do to get folks to join and make it look at all respectable. What if I could only get 12 fans? Do I really need any more glaring proof that I haven’t found my target audience, if indeed that niche even exists? Aren’t my sales records enough evidence or am I some kind of masochist that needs to let the whole world find out too?

    And I agree, how much does a “like” really mean if we all “like” four hundred things from Oreo cookies to obscure TV shows? If I offered an incentive (“like” my fan page and get entered into a drawing for a Kindle) to boost my numbers artificially, would the resulting group be valuable? They’d be declaring themselves fans of me and/or my books without really meaning it. I don’t think victims of the bait-and-switch are any more likely to buy my books. So why gather them into a group to be counted as my fans if they really aren’t fans? Why ask me to be YOUR fan if I haven’t even read your work?

    You hit the nail on the head: “If you have to beg people to join your fan page, you probably aren’t ready for one.”

    BRAVO!

    • Yep, “like”ing a page is a mere click of a button. Getting them to pay money for a book can be something else and if the latter is the objective… You make a wonderful point about how can they be a “fan” if they haven’t even read any of your stuff. I’ve had people hear I’m a writer and wanting to be encouraging say “Maybe you’ll be the next [Tolkien/Meyers/Rowlings/any other famous name].” But in most cases they won’t actually try any of my stuff until I have it published, if then. Their hearts are good, but they are no indication of quality from me or my success.

      I too worry about dismal numbers. It’s easy to feel like a failure when looking around at others. Although, I think it has more to do with how you look at it. See, if publication is your goal (which is the stage I am still shooting for), then you are doing loads better than me, no? I mean, I’ve seen your books.

      Likewise, those that have lots of fans but few sales can bang their head against the wall wondering what happened.

      To me, comparison (especially with numbers) can be pointless and probably discouraging. Mostly because comparison is linear, but we live in a 3D+ world. The only fair comparison would be taking all those other dimensions into consideration. However, in most cases we don’t have the skills or capacity to sense or sort through those other dimensions.

      God is the only one that I know of that can. Thus, His comparisons are the only one I trust. Flawed comparisons can be useful if you can learn from them and improve, but just like gum and flattery – don’t swallow.

      And just think, even God, with His ultimate awareness and knowledge, still reserves true judgement until the very end. Until then, there are still vast possibilities for growth. So who am I (or anyone else) to think we know better?

      Thanks, Caprice, and good luck with your writing and marketing.

  3. I have an author page only because some fellow authors said I ought to when I first joined Facebook. A place to keep my writing posts separate from my personal ones, I suppose. I’m still not sure. I end up posting on my personal page all the time and occasionally pop into the author page and say, “Yep, I’m still here,” and listen to the crickets chirp.

    I’ve thought over and over about just making an announcement on that page that I’d like everyone there to just friend me so I can close the author page down. But, I figure it’s up, and people are liking it now and then, so it’s not hurting anything. And most of the people on there are on my friends page anyway.

    That said, I don’t ever ask for my friends to like it. If they want to, fine. If not, they’re not missing much as of yet.

    What I’m hoping for is that my book will grab people’s attention. And if that makes them seek me out on FB, then wonderful. I have a two of my own blogs, and my spot here on NAF, so there are plenty of places for people to find me to whatever degree they would like.

    • Yep, and you have plenty of short stories out there where your readers are already reading. I’m sure you’ll do great!

      Thanks, Kat, and I look forward to exploring “Finding Angel”‘s crisp pages!

  4. Word. When I created my page…and my website…and the trailers…it was out of my own excitement. I felt so blessed and ready to share my idea with others-I was like a volcano. And it was time to tear up Pompeii.

    It was a blessing just to be able to create these things. I was never one to say I wasn’t the creative type. In fact my family always blessed me with positive reinforcement. But as I grew…and when I came to Christ it sort of waned. Or so I thought. Point is when I reached that point, it was really me testing myself. Nothing else. If anyone happens by, well so be it. Score.

    That’s why I came to Facebook and even Twitter. Like my bio says, I realized a writer is who I was. Really.

    Since then I have met some truly remarkable people, talented, gracious, supportive. I have made connections. An agent is reading my ms. I mean…thank You, Jesus ya know? I have learned so much-in such a short time. God does not tarry. So as I was testing myself and creating a “brand”…it was Him. In that I was putting His gifts in creating to practice. Now, I don’t have 1000,000 Likes…or even a thousand but being able to share it all is worth it. Those numbers will climb. They will. But I know it’s not about numbers. Not “Like” numbers anyway.

    I blog and tweet and this and that because I have to. They are all an outlet for me. Praise God.

    And no if our “ideas” or creations are really that good, people will come on their own. I shout-out my things from time to time. But more importantly, I support those who do-and some do it more than others. Because of it I have been blessed.

  5. My Dearest Ren,

    I have found that when I am in doubt about what to do, I turn it over to the LORD and do nothing. Satan is the master of confusion and so I let God take on that battle.I find that the Lord will lead me when the time is right. Until then, I just leave doubt and confusion behind.

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