Video Interview: Social Media and Book Publishing

Tim Dudley, the CEO of NLPG (client), interviewed me recently for his blog. I thought a few of you might enjoy it.

(If the video above won’t play in your email or RSS reader, click here.

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Five things every prospective author should do if they want to be published

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So you want to get a book deal?

Because of my work helping some of the bestselling authors in the world with their social media strategy a lot of prospective authors ask me if I have any advice for them.

The most important thing to understand is that more than ever publishers are looking for authors who have an existing tribe or platform in place.

Here are five things every prospective author should do if they want to get published:

  1. Listen
    A good social media strategy starts in the same place as a good marriage…with listening. Start by using Google Alerts to receive notifications when anyone mentions your name or topics in your area of expertise (you can graduate to more advanced tools like Scout Labs later).  Find out who the thought leaders and influencers in your field are and follow them closely.
  2. Engage
    Take part in the conversations that are already happening.  If you're listening (see step #1 above) you'll have plenty of opportunities to leave comments on blogs and become a regular contributor to the larger conversation that's taking place.  DON'T use this as an opportunity for self promotion.  Instead, add value to the conversation.  Over time this would build your reputation as a valuable contributor.
  3. Blog
    This seems like it should go without saying, but it's amazing how many authors and prospective authors aren't blogging.  There are lots of good reasons to be blogging.  First and foremost, it'll make you a better writer.  As importantly, it provides a "home base" for your fans to gather, follow your writing and connect with each other.  This isn't a post about how to write a blog, but one piece of advice, engage in the comments like it's a conversation with your biggest fans…because it is.
  4. Connect with fans on a Facebook Fan Page
    Why facebook?    Because this is where everyone is.  Of course, if you're not on facebook yet, start as a regular user before you launch your fan page.  Think about it this way, if I'm a publisher and I'm choosing between one person who has a few hundred friends on facebook and another person who has thousands of fans, who am I more likely to publish?
  5. Twitter
    If your not on twitter yet, start with Michael Hyatt's excellent Getting Started Guide.  I won't try to explain it here.  But trust me.  Give it 30 days and you'll understand.

Bonus: Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuck both landed great book deals last year in part because they followed this strategy and built loyal online tribes.  They share exactly how they did this in their books, Trust Agents and Crush It.  If you want to really understand how this works they're both must reads.

What else should authors be doing to engage their tribes?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above
are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase
the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only
recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add
value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the
Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Business, Leadership

Using a social media framework to grow your tribe

It takes two things to have tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

When you gather people together with a shared passion and give them the tools to communicate – amazing things will happen. People are incredibly inventive and you’ll be surprised and delighted by what occurs when you just give people a way to connect.

The tendency is to focus on leveraging the tribe to make it grow. But I’ve found that giving the tribe ways to turn their shared interests into passionate goals and providing them the tools to tighten their communications are the most effective ways to strengthen the tribe.

The following framework has been very helpful to me when working with clients on a social media strategy to help them build and grow their tribe.

(My original inspiration for this framework came from Chris Brogan’s post here. Chris is a rock star and if you don’t read his blog already, you should.)

I describe a social media framework as having four main components. A listening station, passports, embassies and a home base.

Listening Station
The listening station is where everything starts. First you have to know what is being said about you throughout the web. A well equipped professional listening station will include tools from companies like Radian6 and Scoutlabs. The truth is you can get pretty much everything you need with free tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and Google Alerts.

Currently, I have google alerts letting me know every time someone posts something about me online and I use PeopleBrowsr to for real time monitoring for mentions on twitter, YouTube and facebook.

Passports are profiles you’ll want to have so that you can easily take part in conversations that you may pick up on with your listening station. You want to have passports in place for all the major social networking sites, even if you don’t think you’re going to engage in all of them. You want to make sure that if a conversation starts that you would want
to be part of, you already have your profile in place. Later, we’ll talk about how your fans can use their passports to help spread the word about your tribe. And sometimes you’ll decide to turn passports into embassies.

Example:  Even though Seth doesn’t use twitter actively, he does control@sethgodin.

Embassies are microsites on  social networks where you are actively engaged. Just like a country does business in embassies located in other countries, you will fully engage in conversations in your embassies on other networks. The most obvious examples of an embassy is a Facebook fan page. Increasingly my clients are setting up full fledged embassies on Twitter as well. Your interactions in your embassy will be split between actively engaging people and gently nudging them towards your home base.

Example: AT&T engages actively with customers, answering questions and providing support on their facebook fan page.

Home Base
Your home base is where your true fans gather. For some people like Seth and myself, this is a blog. But many of my clients are taking this to the next step and have a full featured community for their fans to engage in.

Example: Dan Miller’s fans connect with Dan and each other at 48 Days.

The free prize
Once you’ve got a tight tribe you’ll find that with very little encouragement the members will take their own passports and go out and become evangelists sharing your message with their sphere of influence.

Example: Justin (someone I don’t know personally, but would like to consider a member of my tribe) sent a post of mine to his friend Maureen (another person I do not know, yet a potential future tribe member).  Maureen then posted a link to my blog on her blog/home base:

Added bonus of the social media framework

Having this framework in place makes it much easier to know what to do when a new social network appears.

Business, Leadership

Why We Love Barak Obama and Feel So Disconnected from John McCain

On September 25th, 1960 Richard Nixon was leading in the race for President.  His opponent, John Kennedy was young and inexperienced and after several radio broadcast debates Nixon was the clear frontrunner. 

Nixon2_2On September 26th, 1960 everything changed.  That night 70 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch the first ever televised presidential debate. Even though nothing in the candidates message had changed, extensive polling of the television audience showed Kennedy to be the winner of the debate by a very large margin. 

What was the difference?  Kennedy embraced the new medium of the day, Nixon did not.    Kennedy loved the camera, and the camera loved him.  Nixon refused to wear make-up and the hot lights had him sweating before the debate even began.  One observer noted, ‚ÄúThere was no mistaking the distinction between the ease with which JFK related to the living rooms of America and the sense of desperateness that Nixon's intensity gave off.‚Äù

We‚Äôre seeing the same thing happen today.  Barak Obama has embraced new media.  He announced his VP choice to millions of Americans via text message before he told the traditional media and each and every one of them felt like they got something special, that they were an insider.  Those folks can say they knew before CNN…you can bet he‚Äôs got their vote.  He has more followers on Twitter than any other user (over 70,000).   He takes his message directly to the nation, often completely bypassing the middle-man of traditional media. He‚Äôs even been reported to exchange personal emails and text messages.  ‚ÄúHis people‚Äù feel more connected to him than any other candidate, ever.

Obama gets it.  He understands that new media is a conversation, a tool used for two-way communication.  He‚Äôs a guy we can relate to, that‚Äôs accessible and we‚Äôd feel comfortable having a cup of coffee with (this isn‚Äôt about my personal politics but my observations about who‚Äôs embracing new marketing effectively).

McCain on the other hand seems to miss it completely.  His web site looks like something from a Mad Magazine spoof and he‚Äôs noticeably absent from most of the social networking sites.  I have no idea what McCain is up to these days, but thanks to twitter I know which cities Obama has been visiting.

When it comes to election day the Obama campaign will have built an incredible ‚Äúget out the vote‚Äù machine and I think it will win him the election.  On that day, what would the McCain campaign give to have millions of people who had given their permission for him to drop them a personal note via text message reminding them that it was time to vote?

11/06/2008 – Update: Here's an interesting post election post – Obama vs. McCain Social Media Scorecard