Daily Smatterings

Cooperation Equals Reciprocation, Part 3 of How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform

How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform, From the Ground Up – Part Three

This is the third part of a series on building a writer’s platform.


 

giving-back

Cooperation = Reciprocation

Where Attention Goes, Energy Follows

If you want to build cooperative relationships, your focus cannot be on yourself, what you are going to get out of the relationships.

Your focus has to be on your connections.

What is it that you can offer them? How can you help them? What do you hope to provide to them?

Giving Back

Your relationship with your connections must be reciprocal. This is the backbone of the cooperation economy. It’s just like the internet. Information must flow both ways in order to be of any use. In other words, if you want your connections to do something for you, you also need to be prepared to do something for them. And they need to be assured that you will reciprocate.

     Make sure you keep a good track record. Be consistent and reliable.

In social media terms, it’s like this: If one of your followers retweets you, make sure to always thank him or her for doing so. Why is this important? Because, besides being the polite thing to do, that simple act, in and of itself, increases that follower’s presence and visibility to the rest of your network, thereby increasing their influence or clout (more on clout and Klout in a later post). You could also reciprocate with a retweet of something of theirs.

If someone likes your page on Facebook and they also have a page, like theirs back. If you are friends on Facebook and they like one of your posts, read theirs and find one that you can like in return. You get my drift. Give back, give back, give back.

These practices are especially valuable while you are growing your network, but don’t stop doing them once you’ve reached a certain goal.

Please note, I am not recommending that you support something you don’t believe in. In fact, the things that you show support for on any of your networks are going to reflect back upon you. So be careful what you “like.”

Always Be Authentic

Above all, build your relationships while being authentic. Don’t like something that you can’t stand behind—don’t just like things for the sake of liking them. Build real relationships.

It is the strength of the cooperative relationship that you have with your followers that will get you to where you want to be. You have to provide value in the relationship.

If you’re running around gathering followers just for the sake of having followers, you’re really not doing yourself any favors at all.

Ultimately, if you don’t build a cooperative network, you’ll end up just a decoration on someone else’s trophy wall, and the only value you will provide to them is the value of a head count. That is a false value.

     Never underestimate your impact on others.

I believe in the power of connections to change people’s lives. You always have an impact on others, whether you realize it or not. Sometimes a single smile, warm hello, or a “thumbs up” from you can change someone’s day for the better, without your even knowing it.

Think about a time when a smile or a kind word from someone else has changed your mood and brightened your entire day. See my point?

Remember, it’s not just the number of connections you have that makes your network valuable, it’s the number and strength of your cooperative network that matters. Consciously grow your cooperative network by building relationships with your connections. Think about what you can do for them. Reciprocate when they do something for you.

And above all, be authentic.

Now, go out there and engage with your connections in a way that will build your cooperative network!


Your assignment, should you choose to accept it: Go find 5 new people on Twitter (or your social media network of choice) to follow. They should be people whose main focus is in the same area as yours, e.g. if you’re a writer, they’re also a writer. Follow them, then find one of their tweets that resonates with you and either retweet it or, even better, comment on it. Be authentic and positive, and then see what happens. Maybe you’ll make a new friend out of it!

Stay tuned for the next post in the series, Understanding the personal brand.

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Building Cooperative Relationships, Part 2 of How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform

How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform, From the Ground Up – Part Two

This is the second part of a series on building a writer’s platform.


Cooperation

Building Cooperative Relationships

So, there I was, with all of these followers. But what did that really mean?

And where had it gotten me? Just about where I was before I had “connections,” that’s where.

But why was this so? I had built it, surely something would happen…wouldn’t it?

The truth was, even though I had 2,000 connections, I had only a very small cooperative network.

So, how do you build cooperative relationships?

First, you need to build trust. Your connections have to believe in the kind of person you are and the kind of message you’re sending. How do you get people to trust you? One way to build trust is through your personal brand. Your connections have to see that your personal brand aligns with how they see themselves. It has to resonate with them emotionally.

Wait! What was that? Personal brand? Now you’re speaking marketing mumbo jumbo.

I’ll go into depth on personal brands later…

As I discovered, building a platform is exactly like marketing. You are the product and you are the brand. Your personal brand is all about how you want the world to see you. We don’t always get to consciously shape that (I’m thinking about grade school, here. *shudders*), but when we’re building our platforms, we do. For the most part.

If your brand resonates with mine, I will trust you to do what I perceive as “right.” If your brand is better than mine, the same. But if I perceive that your brand is not as good as my own, I am going to have a lot harder time trusting you.

So, basically, the most important thing is who you are. Always strive to be the best person you can be, and present that to the world. In other words, if you want to attract the right kind of network, a cooperative network that is going to work for you in spreading your message, be someone they can believe in. Don’t air your dirty laundry all over the internet, or tweet things that will damage your brand if you want to attract (and keep) followers who will help your brand.

This has a lot to do with what is called your emotional intelligence. In order to make it in the cooperation economy, it’s important to have a good emotional IQ and be aware of the emotional impact of your actions and words on others. Are you inspiring others to strive for greatness, or are you inspiring them to air their own dirty laundry all over the internet, in perpetuity?

Second, they have to perceive some value or benefit in associating with you. I’m talking about relationships, which, as we all know, are a two-way street.

The benefits could be as simple as:

  • retweets or shoutouts on Twitter, or
  • the knowledge that you are a good source of information, or
  • the simple, yet difficult to quantify way in which you inspire them to greatness.

Bottom line, their relationship with you should be rewarding for them in some way.

Read more in tomorrow’s post, “Cooperation = Reciprocity.”

 


 

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What Nobody Told Me About Building A Writer’s Platform – Part 1 of How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform

How to Build a Solid Writer’s Platform, From the Ground Up – Part One

This is the first part of a series on building a writer’s platform.


Cooperation

A Cooperation Economy

You may have heard our current economy being referred to as a “connection economy.” I think it’s more than that. Sure, connections probably are our most important form of currency, but a connection economy of necessity gives rise to a cooperation economy. (Click to tweet.)

Think about it for a minute. All those connections you’re making, all the friends and followers you’re adding, aren’t any good to you unless they cooperate with you in some way.

Why do I say this? Because, as it turns out, I’ve been doing a sort of informal experiment over the past year and figured this out.

You see, a little over a year ago I took the plunge and began writing my first book. I had thought about doing serious writing for years, but for some reason hadn’t done it. I don’t really know what finally pushed me over that casual writer-aspiring author edge, maybe it was just that I finally had a story that demanded to be written and I could no longer ignore it. Whatever.

So, there I was, writing a book. I knew from being an editor that there was a lot more involved nowadays in being a writer than just writing.

In the new world in which we find ourselves, the one where independent publishing is now the norm, not the exception, there is a lot more work to be done as a writer than just secluding yourself in an old, haunted hotel and writing.

Jack Nicholson on the set of The Shining (1980)

Now, you have to be social. Social Media—that is.

Everywhere I turned, I read that as an aspiring author I needed to build a writer’s platform, and that meant growing my connections through Social Media.

So I set out on a mission to get as many followers as I could on Twitter. My goal was 2,000. I set aside time every morning to find new, interesting people whose interests were in reading, writing, and publishing books. I followed twenty or more people every day, hoping to get some of them to follow me back. I learned to interact with my followers by joining in on things like #WriterWednesdays and #FollowFridays, engaging them in conversations, and retweeting some of their more interesting tweets. I also learned, through a process of trial and error, that it was more productive to follow people whose “Followers” and “Following” counts were roughly the same size, because they will more than likely follow you back.

However, I wasn’t very diligent at this task and sometimes I forgot all about my Twitter account for days or weeks at a time.

Now, I don’t want anyone to get the mistaken impression that I intentionally sought out to use them as an experiment. It was pretty much accidental. I sincerely wanted to grow my social network, but at first I really didn’t fully understand why. All I knew was what we all were told, namely that it was “important” to have a large social network if you were a budding writer, looking to publish a book or books.

Anyway, fast forward a few months. I had grown my Twitter following to a solidly respectable 2,000 followers. I had successfully met my initial goal. (And I actually found a few friends, along the way!) Yay! Now what? I had no clue.

Fast forward to present day. I think I’ve finally figured it out.

It is not only important to have connections, it is even more important to have cooperation. Your connections somehow need to be motivated to cooperate in helping you spread your message, whatever that is. In my case, I would like my connections to spread the word about my blog, about my writing in general, help me find more connections, and, in a few months’ time, spread the word about my book.

So, the point is that connections are no good at all to you if you don’t develop cooperative relationships with them. They don’t really benefit you if they don’t cooperate with you in spreading your message.

It’s almost like you’re building a community that will help you raise your barn. (Click to tweet.)

 

How do you build cooperative relationships? That’s the topic of tomorrow’s post

 



Editing — Why It Matters

editor's tools

An editor’s tools

Today it’s easy to publish a book. It’s really only a matter of filling out a form or two and clicking a couple of buttons.

Writing it is the hard part, right? You spend months eking out time on your lunch break, after work, after the kids have gone to bed, and late into the night when you should be sleeping. You sacrifice hours, days, months of precious time, pouring your heart and soul into your manuscript. Then you finally finish. You shout for joy. You jump up and down. You call your best friend or your mom and tell her that you’ve finally done it. You even ugly cry a little.

 When you’re finished writing and revising, wait! Don’t hit publish yet!

You need an editor. Yes, you do. Just trust me on this, okay?

But…but…

  • I’m a pretty good writer. At least I write well enough.
  • My manuscript is perfect just the way it is.
  • I have invested enough time in my manuscript and I just want to be done already!
  • I’ve gone over this thing a hundred times.
  • Oh, my beta readers checked it for me.
  • I had my mother/friend/teacher look at it.
  • I can’t afford an editor!

Ahem! Unh-uh.

These are all excuses used to justify not enlisting the services of a professional editor.

Trust me, they are not valid reasons for skipping this vitally important step. Using an editor is like putting on a nice dress suit for an interview, or like looking into the mirror before walking out the door for a date. An editor provides the polish on your work that tells the reader to keep reading.

If you are making any of the aforementioned excuses, maybe you’re not looking at the long-term costs of not having an editor.

It’s all part of the process.

So you are a writer, you have just completed a manuscript, and you have realized that at this point you need to step back in order to be more objective about your own writing. After all, you have stared at your monitor for more hours than you can count over the course of the past 6 to 18 months and your brain refuses to see any mistakes. You remember all the great advice you received from writing professors, workshop leaders, and fellow writing group participants, and you put your manuscript away for a month or two so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Subsequently, you decide that it needs a little (or more than a little) revision. You rewrite parts (or all) of your manuscript and are satisfied you have a great story that will entertain readers. Then, using your superhuman powers of discipline, you set it aside again for another month or two. Afterwards you read the entire manuscript aloud. You find a few glaring mistakes, you wonder how you ever missed them, and you correct them.

Then what? Do you rush over and upload it to Kindle? Unfortunately many authors do. Wise authors, however, send that finished manuscript off to an editor before doing anything else.

Editors serve as fresh eyes for their clients.

Manuscripts can be strong but still not live up to their potential if they contain grammatical errors, typos, or misspellings.

These days, in the age of self-publishing, manuscripts no longer have to pass through an inspection by a publishing house editor where most mistakes are spotted. Instead, many indie authors never invest in an editor at all—and the reading public has to pay the price. The consequences for the author are bad reviews, slow sales, and an inevitable languishing in obscurity.

In the world of independent publishing every Tom, Dick, and Mary has a book on the eShelf. Competition is steep, and success only comes by making your book stand out from the crowd. In order to stand out from the crowd a book not only has to be interesting, but also well-written, well-polished, and free from grammatical errors and misspellings.

You owe it to your readers.

Ultimately, your readers pay for your efforts. Literally. They pay their hard-earned money for your book and then they invest their hard-earned free time reading it. They are also the ones who will either make or break your literary career. If you treat them with respect, showing them that you care enough about their investment of money and time by presenting them with the best, most polished version of your work, they will reciprocate by recommending your book to others.

If you give them a raw, unedited version of your book—well, I’ll leave it to your imagination what kind of a reception you might get via sales and reviews.

My eighteen-year-old son has put down many an ebook in disgust, never to pick it up again because “mom, it just had too many typos. Even I have better grammar than that!”

The bottom line is that you want your readers to be pleased that they chose to read your book, and willing to read your next book. A little bit of investment up-front in editing and polishing your manuscript is going to pay off for you in the long run.

Editing is a whole spectrum of services.

Editing can involve examining every facet of a manuscript, from plot structure, to consistency, to organization, to ease of reading, to grammar and syntax, to spelling and proper word choice, to formatting and typesetting. What level of editing you want is completely up to you. A good editing service will recommend different levels of edit but never pressure you to buy more services if you are on a limited budget. For instance, you might contract an editor to do proofreading only, but their experienced eye finds places where the plot structure could be improved. He or she may then offer more in-depth services. It is always your choice to say yes or no, because, ultimately, it is your work and your money at stake.

An editor is often the key element that provides the difference between being seen as an amateur and being seen as a professional.

An editor is a trained professional who has a good eye for detail, superior language skills, and an innate ability to see the patterns within a work. She or he possesses skills and talents that are indispensable to the ordinary writer. Your editor can help you transform a good manuscript into a great manuscript.

And that can make all the difference in the world to your writing career.



What’s a Smattering?

smattering (smăt´ǝr-ĭng) n.

1.1 a small amount of something

synonyms: bit, small amount, little, modicum, touch, soupçon; informal smidgen, smidge, tad

What on earth is a smattering, anyway? It’s simple. A smattering is just a little bit of something. And in this context—the context of my blog—it’s just a little tidbit of something that I want to share with you. I’m going to be doing this on a regular basis, and my loftiest ambitions say that I should do it on a daily basis. Hence the name of the blog.

On some days I plan to talk about writing (in general), on other days I plan to talk about my writing (specifically). Here’s a shortlist of planned topics:

  • Punctuation: Never Confuse a Colon with a Period
  • Editing, Why it Matters
  • Crowdfunding your novel is like writing a grant to all of your friends
  • The struggles of being a part time writer when you’re working a day job and people are asking you when you’re going to finish your book
  • Grammar says: There their they’re!
  • Having a support network
  • The importance of having a writing partner
  • Plotting your book
  • Scene structure
  • Serials
  • Subplots matter
  • Sorry I didn’t finish my book yet, I got distracted by my husband’s bike shorts
  • Oh look, a plot bunny
  • It’s not a rabbit trail: It’s called creativity
  • The social network conundrum (not the right word—oxymoron, paradox, trap—still not right)
  • The Connection Economy
  • Clout & Klout
  • Don’t ask the questions that make people uncomfortable

I might regale you with stories about what happened that day, or I might share with you a new music playlist I’m listening to at the moment. Oh, and by the way, I cook, so I might share a new recipe that I made up on the spot that night for supper. Of course, there’s always the off-chance that I’ll share pictures of my dogs or the cicada that sat in the tree next to me at lunch, like this.

20140702_Cicada