Please stop doing this.

You keep hearing that you need to establish an online presence in order to promote yourself, right? This is absolutely true, and while it might seem that there are no rules and that anything goes out there in the insanity that is the cyber world, I think there are some things that you should avoid.

 

This post is about what not to do while you’re out there trying to pimp yourself on the internet. Don’t…

 

  • Take things personally.  Understand that when you post things online, your potential audience is enormous. It’s unlikely that everyone will agree with you all the time. Sure, you can engage in intelligent conversation and debate, and in fact this is strongly encouraged, but be aware that there is very a fine line between enthusiastically disagreeing and becoming angry or antagonistic.The latter is unprofessional.

  • Announce your numbers. No offense, but I really don’t give a rat’s ass how many fans or followers you have and neither does anyone else. Yes, yes, I know that oftentimes FB giveaways and the like are predicated on your fan page making it to the big 500, etc. I also know that in the desperate scramble for something to post, this seems easy and it’s so tempting. Stop doing it. I can think of a thousand better reasons to give something away. It’s Tuesday. The sun is shining. Just because you want to. All of these are better reasons than making promotions or giveaways hinge on your numbers. In fact, I will go so far as to suggest that all of us should be focusing much less on our numbers and far more on engaging with our existing fans and producing useful content.

  • Assume some contacts are better than others. Networking is a fabulous and mysterious creature. Don’t make the mistake of judging any interaction as “good” or “bad” based on stereotypes or incorrect assumptions. I deem all interactions on my page (and in real life as well) as super freaking fantastic and so should you. Anytime a person takes the time to visit your sites, you should be flattered right out of your boots, and if they go really crazy and like, share, or comment on your posts, you should be doing a happy dance. Don’t worry about if you sold anything to them. Don’t worry about if you will ever sell anything to them. Understand that people have no shortage of things vying for their attention, and just getting people to your site is a tremendous accomplishment. Revel in it and then nurture those contacts. Every single one of them is a real person and is valuable. They may change your life by encouraging you or causing you to think outside of the box. They may lurk and never do anything terrific on your page. They may share your page and eventually lead to a sale or a new connection. They may actually buy your book (settle down over there, crazier things have happened). The point is you don’t know, so you should treat every single contact as a VIP.

  • Steal content. This is just bad form and in some situations, it’s illegal. Of course it’s fine to re-post and share the work of others. That’s a huge part of this whole networking thing. But be very careful to give credit where credit is due and ask for permission if you are at all uncertain.

  • Constantly toot your own horn. Yes, I know it’s your platform and it should be centered around you, you, you, but take my word for it – if you constantly post sales links and rarely interact with others, you’re whistling into the wind. Chances are, no one is even listening any more. I know you want to sell your stuff, but this is the tough part. This is where so many people fail. You need to cultivate relationships, not become the cyber equivalent of a door-to-door salesman at dinnertime.

  • Publish poorly edited work.  This is self-explanatory. It reflects poorly on you and your business when you publish things with errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Typos slip by even the best of us, and if you’re producing a lot of work, the odds of missing a mistake increase, but do try.

  • Be negative. Nobody likes complaining or whining. Life is hard enough. Try to be the bright spot in someone’s day. Aim for uplifting and encouraging.

  • Try to promote a business using a personal profile. This applies to all venues, but especially Facebook. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. FB pages are free and are so much better suited for a business. If you’re using your personal profile, you are requiring people to send you a friend request in order to interact with you. If you are doing this, stop immediately. I guarantee that you lose many potential fans because of this. It also becomes problematic if you decide to participate in Adsense or other promotion and affiliate programs because the whole process gets convoluted. More on this in a later post, but suffice it to say – it is prohibited for your friends and family to click your ad links. Adsense has bots which can detect term violations, and if you have customers/clients on your personal profile, it can appear as if you are in violation. Take my word for it – if you don’t have a FB page, stop reading right this second and go create one.

  • Expect immediate results.  This is a big one. I should have placed this one first, or maybe just written about this one all by itself. Promoting your work using networking via social media is not fast and it’s not easy. Why? It requires a constant, consistent push. On top of that, everything is constantly changing, and so must your approach if you want to to keep up. Finally, if you don’t offer genuine, useful content, you’re dead in the water. It takes time and  intention to build a strong platform.

A quick reminder that I’ll be leading a workshop at Southwest Writers in August. It’s called The Basics of Building a Social Media Platform and it will be jam packed with good, practical information to help you get up and running in the cyber world. I’m working on the syllabus and will post it to my website soon.

The art in this post was brought to you by Angela Petsis, one of Ink & Alchemy’s Featured Artists. Click here to visit her website, or here to check out her Etsy shop.

We’re also writing and reading up a storm over at More Ink. I’d love for you to join us!

How I wrote over 30 books (and how you can use the same methods to get your writing done) – Bill O’Hanlon

I’m honored to introduce a guest blogger today, Bill O’Hanlon 

He has been published by such mainstream publishers as HarperCollins, Penguin, John Wiley and Sons, Pearson, Rodale, W.W. Norton and others. He was featured on Oprah with his book Do One Thing Different. He now coaches and teaches people how to write their books in record time and get them published despite the odds. 

 I met Bill last year at a writer’s convention. He was absolutely fascinating in person and I wanted to know more. I signed up for his mailing list, which consistently delivers inspiring and useful information, on topics related to writing and otherwise. Click here to become a part of his mailing list or here to receive his free report on how to focus your book and find the right title, something we could all benefit from.

 Bill has published an insane amount of books and is truly an insider when it comes to writing and publishing. Thank you so much, Bill, for agreeing to share your knowledge with us today.

 And now, Bill!

 

How I wrote over 30 books (and how you can use the same methods to get your writing done)

 I have just written my 36th book, to be published next year by W.W. Norton. When people find out I have written and published so many books, they are amazed and ask me how I have been so prolific.

 I didn’t start out with ambitions to be a writer. I have met many authors and would-be authors who knew from an early age that they wanted to write, but not me. I did like reading, but never imagined I would write a book someday.

 I started writing for one simple reason: I was profoundly and deeply pissed off!

 I was trained as a psychotherapist and even before I became officially licensed and finished my graduate degree, I met and studied with an eccentric psychiatrist in the Phoenix area named Milton Erickson. (I was actually Dr. Erickson’s part-time gardener while in graduate school, since I had no money to pay him for his teaching and mentoring, and we agreed we would barter.)

Dr. Erickson was almost psychotically optimistic in his belief that anyone could change. He developed weird and creative ways to help his most challenging patients to overcome their serious emotional, psychological, behavioral and relationship problems. (You can read about his inspiring work in the books An Uncommon Therapist by Jay Haley and My Voice Will Go With You by Sidney Rosen.)

 At the same I was studying with Dr. Erickson, I was finishing my graduate studies and hearing some of my professors express a more pessimistic view of the change process.

“Nobody wants to change but a wet baby,” intoned one of them.

 I dismissed these discouraging views since most of my professors were academics who weren’t doing any actually psychotherapy with people – they only knew the theories.

But I became more disturbed when I got my first job in a community mental health center. We would have weekly clinical staff meetings in which we would talk about and get help with our psychotherapy cases.

In those meetings, I began to hear some of my more burned out or seasoned colleagues say things like: “People love to be miserable. They don’t want to get better, because then they would have nothing to complain about.” Or “People are getting secondary gains from being sick. They won’t give up their problems because they get some goodies from them. Or, even worse in my book, “This person is too damaged to change.”

I was, at the time, a peaceful long-haired post-hippie type, but hearing these comments, it was all I could do to restrain myself from standing up, running across the room and throttling these colleagues when they said this stuff.

I wisely decided that doing so would only land me in jail and wouldn’t fundamentally change their views, but I found I couldn’t sit still another minute while these kind of discouraging  views were so common in my field.

“Who do they listen to?” I thought. Experts. Of course, they listen to the people who teach seminars, give lectures and write books.

And right there, I knew I had to write a book.

No matter that I didn’t have a clue how to write or publish a book. Or that I wasn’t a very good writer.

What pulled me through the early years of my writing and publishing career was that I had an abiding passion and energy for getting my book out into the world to change the views of my negative thinking colleagues – to show them a different way.

Lee Boudreaux, former Senior Editor, at Random House said: “Passion for a book is like an electrical impulse traveling down a wire, and that electrical impulse has to be strong enough to affect a lot of people, from the writer to the agent to the editor. Then from the editor to the publicist who needs to get the book reviewed, the art director who is responsible for coming up with the right cover, the sales reps who sell the book to the store buyers. Then from the store’s main buyer to the individual booksellers and, eventually, to the customer.” [quoted in The Making of a Bestseller, Brian Hill and Dee Power, Dearborn Trade Publishing, Chicago, IL, 2005]

I now coach people to write and publish and I start with the energy, the passion, that they have for their topic or their book.

It’s damn hard to sustain one’s energy through the writing, the pitching, the many edits your book will go through, and then, when it is published, to do what needs to be done to get the word out about it to interested readers that if you don’t start with a great and abiding, almost unstoppable energy, you will likely stop somewhere along the line.

I just wouldn’t stop until I got my book written and published.

Okay, that explains one book, but 36?

 Well, that is a different story. I find that it is much easier to write a book now for several reasons.

1. I sell my books before I write them. I write nonfiction and one of the joys of nonfiction is that one doesn’t have to, really shouldn’t, write the whole book before a publisher buys it. All I have to do is to put together a proposal and some sample writing and I know whether my book idea is a go or not.

2. Because I sell my books before I write them, they also come with an advance. That is, the publisher pays me money and I promise to deliver a finished manuscript by a certain date.

I have found this is highly motivating. First, if I promised myself I would write a book, I might or might not keep my promise. I have made many promises to myself through the years, mostly having to do with being a better person, eating more healthily and exercising more regularly and vigorously, yet I notice I have broken many of those promises I made with such good intentions.

But I break fewer promises to others, especially those that have signed legal contract and an exchange of money attached to them.

3. Like anything, one gets better the more one does it. My first book took me three years and thirty-eight revisions.

My last book took one month to write and a few days to edit twice.

It’s nice to get paid to write and get better at writing.

So, what are the takeaways for you as a writer (or as an artist)?

·         Find that deep well of passion within you for your art. I think there are four strains of energy and passion: Blissed (what you love and what brings you alive), Blessed (what others recognize and encourage in you), Dissed (where you have been sensitized by being wounded, disrespected or hurt) and Pissed (my specialty – righteous indignation against injustice or wrongs turned into art – not AK47s at school or work).

·         Find a way to get paid for doing your art. It is no surprise that many novelists (Neil Gaiman; Carl Hiassen; Michael Connelly; to name a few) started as journalists.

·         Trap yourself into due dates and promises that mean something to deliver your book or your art. Author Seth Godin calls this “having a ship date,” from his experience in the software industry in which the techies would endlessly add features and tweaks to the product until the company finally announced a firm ship date on which the product would be released. Godin noticed the product always got done, miraculously, by that date.