Tag Archives: Facebook

One Writer Tells of Her Success on the Internet

Kathleen O'Keefe Kavanos, author and cancer survivor

Once again I wish to thank Nancy Burke Barr for her guest post on Facebook.  I respect both her wisdom and views on social media. Nancy has generally been patient with me, but my comments to her post resulted in a suggestion that I tone my skepticism done a notch.

I responded saying we are yin and yang on social media. Yin and yang are complementary opposites. They do not, however, represent good and evil. Yin is the shady side, and yang the sunny one. In Wikipedia the definition of the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang includes this description: “As the sun moves across the sky, yin and yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what was obscured and obscuring what was revealed.”

Nancy stands in the light. She has faith in the power of social media. I stand in the shadows looking out at the social media wondering if the promise of  its  brilliance is real or perceived. I also ask whether there are more risks than benefit.  Nancy clearly lives in sunny Southern California, and I in a more pragmatic northern cline.

One area where Nancy and I occupy the same position on social media is in its networking potential. In the six months since I have began learning about social media I’ve met some good people. One of the most amazing is Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos. She is a two time cancer survivor. Kathy is also the author of a book designed to help cancer patients advocate for their successful recovery. This approachable, generous lady has achieved enormous success in only 8 months on the Internet. She has more than 5,000 followers on her FB page one and more than 3000 Twitter followers.

I present her story in two parts: the first is a discussion of the value of social media for writers, the second contains Kathy’s views on traditional vs. indie publishing.  Her posts are both encouraging and cautionary, but above all else Kathy is genuine.

Q. How long ago did you get involved in Social Media? Where did you start (eg. Twitter, FB, blogs)?  Why did you decide to use SM?

A. I got involved in Social Media after I signed a contract with my agent. He felt a social presence on the Internet was important for my book’s platform. He suggested that I set up a Web site, get on twitter, and Facebook. That was ten months ago. I now have 5,000 followers on FaceBook , over 3,000 on twitter,  and I share my blog http://survivingcancerland.blogspot.com on over 10 sites.

An author’s SM presence reflected in the book proposal’s platform is one of the most important areas at which a publishing house will look. It doesn’t matter if you have the best book in the world if you cannot tell others about it to sell it. Publishing companies are not in the publishing business to sell books. They are in it to make money. You, as an author, must show them that you have the contacts to do that.

Q. Did you find SM helpful from the start or did it take time?

A.I found it extremely helpful. I made many friends who were helpful in building contacts. I am followed on Twitter by many publishing houses. One of them contacted me to answer a questionnaire about the future of publishing. I was pleased, honored and shocked. Me, Miss Doesn’t-Know-How-To-Turn-On-A-Computer one year ago giving advice to publishing houses. I was rewarded by a free book of my choosing.

Q. What are your stats? Have they grown slowly, steadily or only recently jumped?

A. I found that they grew steadily and then started to snowball. My FB page became very lively with comments and sharing. Before I knew it I had 444 requests a day before I quickly hit my 5000 limit. If I had known then what I know now, I would have started off with a fan page and just let it “Rock ON!”

Q. How has SM helped as a writer? If you weren’t promoting the book, how has SM helped you?

A. I believe writing is a skill that improves with use.  Developing a “voice” takes time and patience. When I review old blogs I realize I may have stated things differently, although the main topics would have remained the same.

Q. How important do you view SM to the success of today’s writer?

Social Media is booming. It is easier now more than ever in the history of communication to contact and interact with people all over the world. Unless you are Dan Brown and already have a following, SM is very important.

To learn more about Kathleen O’Keefe Kavanos connect with her on Facebook Facebook PAGE II,
http://www.facebook.com/editprofile.php?sk=contact#!/pages/SURVIVING-CANCERLAND-The-Psychic-Aspects-of-Healing/142803307934?ref=m. Follow her on Twitter @psychichealing.

Next time we’ll explore Kathy’s book and the publishing industry.

To read more stories of extraordinary women go to Living in the Heartland.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.

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Filed under agents, Amazon, blog, book, editors, Facebook, frustration, good read, media, networking, Pamela Ferris-Olson, publishing, social media, Twitter, voice

Is Facebook a Social Media Wunderkind?

I am most grateful to Nancy Burke Barr aka Mentor Mama for her guest post about Facebook.  I value both her wisdom and advice. A lawyer in another lifetime, Nancy clearly argues on behalf of the Internet. I am impressed by her testimony, yet the jury on social media’s value is still out for me.

I would agree with Nancy that Facebook and Twitter are utilities that help people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. Statistics demonstrate Facebook is a part of tens of millions of people’s lives. I don’t believe, however, that social media can do more than plant the seeds of ideas or draw the attention of potential clients. In my experience, social media is not all that efficient or effective in fully developing big ideas or businesses.

Twitter appears to be designed for efficiency. Messages must be kept to 140 characters. To achieve this a language of abbreviations such as RT, #FF, and tiny.urls has grown up so people are able to convey larger messages within the confines of tweets.  But, lobbing messages out in a constant stream of similar looking tweets doesn’t impress me as an effective way to do business. I expect that if I wanted to take the time to research it I could find data on how many messages must be cast into the Twitter stream before a real conversation or a potentially valuable contact is reeled in.

Facebook is more conducive for conversations. Facebook though more generous than Twitter also limits the length of a conversation. Here too there is a constant stream of conversation. The audience is much smaller, and limited to a group who are described as “friends.”

Both Twitter and Facebook provide the option to have more personal, direct conversations among specific individuals. Unless these people are online at the same time and actively involved in chatting with each, the messages may become disjointed as a result of the delay in time

Nancy likened Facebook to the Parisian cafe used by previous centuries’ literati. Facebook, she said, is a social hub available to “today’s creative elite with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.”  I would offer an alternative analogy:

Twitter is a fast moving train. A person with something to say puts their head out the window and yells.  People within hearing distance of the train, those who are following you on Twitter, hear bits of a bigger message. If they are interested they can make an effort to seek you out and hear more of the message. Keep in mind that the train you are on is full. There are passengers yelling their messages out of every window. Someone who might be interested in your message may not be along the side of the watching the train (ie. reading tweets) when you yell out, so you’ll have to keep riding the train over and over and over again in the hopes they will get your message.

My husband likened Facebook to sitting on the front stoop of your neighborhood. It’s more relaxed than Twitter. Your friends can chose when to drop by for a brief conversation. One limitation is that the Facebook community is gated. You have to invite your friends and they must accept before you can talk to each other. As in Twitter there’s an element of competition. Everyone else in the neighborhood is seated on their stoops carrying on conversations. Unless you send a direct message to a friend, you have to hope your friends will take the time to read what you have to say from the news stream. If your friends are social butterflies, you have to compete with a lot of people.

In terms of  potential, both Twitter and Facebook have merit especially when trying to reach a large audience. In terms of message content and exchange of ideas, Twitter potential is limited. Facebook’s possibilities are far greater. I don’t believe that it will ever substitute for the phone or person-to-person interactions.

Both Twitter and Facebook involve a good deal of upfront investment in order to establish a network of  friends and followers. The dynamics of social media is one of diminishing returns. From thousands of followers only one percent are likely to be people with whom you converse. Many of these are people who are simply interested in selling you something. An very small percentage of the followers will be individuals with whom you’ll be in regular contact.

I have yet to see any concrete evidence that Twitter and Facebook can produce the kind of sales that one would expect from a platform with tens of millions of users.

Social media works well for those whose business is social media. For writers, and bakers, and candlestick makers social media is tool we probably shouldn’t avoid but it is certainly not the magical grail we all expected it would be.

Next time I’ll relate some of the tips I learned in NYC about publishing. Then I plan to swing back and discuss blogs.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.

Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland

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Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?

The time has come as with all things to move on. In this particular case I want to use the next few posts to examine the utility of Facebook for writers. To be honest I spend little time on Facebook. Instead, I am more occupied with Twitter and blogs. I feel certain that social media experts would tell me I am under utilizing a valuable tool. This is why I thought it appropriate to ask a knowledgeable social media person to start a discussion about Facebook. I naturally turned to someone I trust to write a guest post. I am extremely appreciative to Nancy Burke Barr, aka Mentor Mama. She agreed to share her some wisdom Nancy is both a professional and a sincere person. I know this because I relied on her mentoring during my first few, frustrating months of learning social media.  After reviewing her submission for this post I realized that I need to have missed Mentor Mama’s friendship and should make the time to get her help to step things up to the next level. I think you’ll feel the same way after you read Nancy’s post, Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?

“You are all a lost generation.”

–Epigraph, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

In the years following World War I, the term, “the lost generation”, believed to have been coined in France, came to represent a generation of young writers and artists travelling abroad, connecting with other creative pioneers. Counted among these “lost” youth, were the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.

Like Jean Paul Sartre and the era of existentialists before them, these budding geniuses centered their activities around the excitement of Paris.  Writers, in particular, flocked to Paris for the intellectual interaction, the inexpensive cost of living and the ease of publication.  While Paris served as a muse for some, the decadent lifestyle of cafés and cabarets functioned as the undoing of others.

Throughout history, talented sorts have always loved to gather together to share ideas, to debate, to challenge each other, to collaborate, and to change the world.  Think of the distances that scholars traveled to work together at the ancient Library in Alexandria.  This is a vital part of the creative process.

With the amazing technology available today, it is no longer necessary to travel great distances to commune with other intellectuals. A modern day “Alexandria” or “Parisian café” is as close as your computer, where you can exchange ideas with like-minded people from around the world.

An important part of that paradigm is the social media platform, Facebook.  Facebook is, according to its own site, “a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. . . . Facebook is a part of millions of people’s lives all around the world providing unparalleled distribution potential . . . and the opportunity to build a business that is highly relevant to people’s lives.”  (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet)  It is the hub of the online social scene, the “Paris”, if you will, for today’s creative elite, with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.

Not unlike the artists of the “lost generation”, your strategic use of this hub affords you the ability to interact with people who have a specific interest in the products or services that you offer.  Whether you are creating an online presence, offering consulting, or self-publishing a book, use of Facebook is a critical piece of your online strategy.

Used correctly, this platform establishes an opportunity for you to open a window into your life.  This glimpse behind the scenes affords a level of authenticity that was missing from commercial interactions in the decade preceding online social media.  During that time, TV and radio commercials essentially told the consumer what to do if they wanted to be smart, beautiful, healthy, or enlightened.

Despite its seeming anonymity, today’s strategy strives to return to the model where a buyer knew the vendor well, and could base his buying decisions on trust.  Using Facebook as a place to develop real relationships with people in your industry is a long, tedious process, much as it must have been in ancient Alexandria or early 20th century Paris.  The difference is that your social circle consists of 400 million active Facebook users. The potential is staggering.

Obviously, you cannot personally interact with 400 million users.  You can, however, develop serious friendships with hundreds of those people. Thousands of others can follow your Facebook group or community page and gage whether you are a person with whom they want to interact or do business.  You have the opportunity to reach out to people around the globe, offering them the kind of information, interaction, and support that builds lasting bonds.  Those bonds will encourage a person not only to buy your ”product”, but to follow your career, tell others about you, and to ultimately help you change the world.

Used indiscriminately, Facebook can be your undoing, as addictive as alcohol was for F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It can become an obsession, causing you to disengage with the real world and live in a Facebook fantasy.  If you are a writer or other artist, you must limit your Facebook time, ensuring that you spend adequate time pursuing your craft.  Facebook is, after all, only one online tool, not the product itself.

Many people worry about this online generation.  Will too much time online hinder their social abilities? Reduce their creativity?  Will they become another “génération perdue”?  If you use Facebook, will you become “perdu”?

This writer asserts that “the lost generation” was never really lost at all and neither is our generation of Facebook fanatics.  The early era produced great genius, as will our present era.  How and where these geniuses connect and share their brilliance simply changes with the times.  Until the birth of the Internet, it was impossible for many to afford the luxury of travelling to the great cultural centers.  Facebook now offers artists everywhere the opportunity to reach out and interface with the world.  If you are disciplined and diligent, this can only result in a generation that is universally connected and perhaps the very first “génération trouvée”.

PLEASE FRIEND ME ON FACEBOOK!

http://www.facebook.com/nancy.burke.barr

Nancy Burke Barr

“Mentor Mama”

http://www.ishouldhavelistenedtomymother.com

Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.

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Social Media or Old-Fashioned Networking: Which is Right for Writers? Twitter Part 1

I decided not to do any promotional work until my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories appeared on Amazon.com. As I’ve said in previous posts, I chose to independently publish my book after I’d received about two dozen ‘no thank you’ letters from agents and publishers. I thought: “How can I go wrong selling my book on America’s largest online behemoth, a retailer with nearly three times the Internet sales revenue of its nearest competitor?”

Since my book was cataloged among Amazon’s thousands upon thousands of other offerings, it seemed obvious that I needed to focus my marketing energies online. So began my social media (SM) education.

The first step was to build a SM platform. SM coaches tout the importance of starting with a foundation based upon Twitter, Facebook, and a blog. So that is what I did. Twitter was easy. Facebook required more time to set up, because  more information was requested. My blog, even though WordPress makes set up pretty simple, was even more time consuming. I admit I had plenty of frustration. For example, I had to evaluate nearly 100 layouts to choose the best layout for my Living in the Heartland blog. Then I had to figure out how to customize the banner and learn how to install and operate the widgets.

Initially, I hated Twitter. The few people who I started following seemed to have established their own clique. They tweeted predominantly among themselves. Much of what they said wasn’t interesting to me. I began to realize I was stuck in an infinitesimally small Twitter puddle. It was a small droplet in a Twitterscape where oceans of Twitter folk were chattering away. I had no idea how to swim into the deeper water. As I became more confident and competent, I was able to find new people. To my dismay many of the Tweets I received were either “words to live by”, quotes attributable to famous or anonymous people, or outright marketing.

Numerous people told me to persevere. They also told me that the number one rule on the Internet is to be genuine and build trust before trying to market anything on the Internet. My cynicism grew as I wondered about the disconnect between what I was being told were “and what people were doing. The response to my questioning the rules was always the same: give it time. In time I would see the benefits.

Being trained as a scientist I wanted evidence on which to base my hopes that Twitter was going to help me make people aware of my book. What I heard on Webinars and through Twitter were merely testimonials. Needless to say this was not a good introduction to the Internet for me. I was overwhelmed by all the SM tasks I needed to do, and wanted concrete evidence that all my hours of work building a Twitter following was going to pay off . In otherwords, show me some book sales.

The sales figures I saw that first month were UNBELIEVABLE. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There HAD to be a mistake! I could have sold more books door to door on my block!

Doubt began to flood in: Had I made the wrong decision? Should I have waited longer for a publisher; after all, I had received some handwritten letters. Maybe I shouldn’t have chosen to publish independently. Should I have sent out more manuscripts?

As you can see I’m still working with SM. I am more positive than I’ve ever been. Come back soon for the next installment. As I discuss my experience you will understand how I arrived at my answer to the question: Social Media or Old-Fashioned Networking: Which is Right for Writers?

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