Kristen Lamb is the author of the best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer and is represented by Russel Galen of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary, Inc. in NYC.
Kristen worked in international sales before transitioning into a career as an author, freelance editor and speaker. She takes her years of experience in sales & promotion and merges it with almost a decade as a writer to create a program designed to help authors construct a platform in the new paradigm of publishing. Kristen has guided writers of all levels, from unpublished green peas to NY Times best-selling big fish, how to use social media to create a solid platform and brand. Most importantly, Kristen helps authors of all levels connect to their READERS and then maintain a relationship that grows into a long-term fan base. (From her website, http://www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
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Let’s start with the basics. When did you first realize you wanted to write?
I was writing from the first time I could hold a Crayon. My first book was titled “Hi Love Mom”, and, as you can tell from the title, it was an epic high-fantasy about Princess Kristen and her battle against an evil king who stole all the dresses and made the girls wear ugly boy pants.
Actually, it took 25 years to get back to what I knew I wanted to be. I tried the military, got a degree in Political Economy of the Mideast and North Africa, lived in Syria and decided I’d had enough of the Middle East. Then I tried sales, then got into law school. I kept trying to make myself “fit” in the normal world and it just didn’t work. My health started suffering terribly to the point I couldn’t work. I became so ill I couldn’t leave my couch, so I began writing on my laptop. I went back to basics…my love for writing. Now I am happy as ever and setting the world on fire with the Love Revolution.
Why social media?
I actually wanted to be a fiction author. In 2004, I saw what power social media held for writers and realized it was now possible for fiction authors to build a platform before the book was ever finished. What had once been relegated to the realm of the NF now was possible for the fiction authors as well. I knew the paradigm was changing, that it was a really great time for technology and art to combine. I could see that publishing was next on the hit list, that it would go the way of music and pictures.
I didn’t want to be the social media expert. I actually resisted it for a very long time. But a lot of conferences and workshops were bringing in social media experts and I could see that they were trying to change artists into marketers and salespeople. They were trying to change the personality of the artist. One could just see the look of panic and fear if you studied the audience. I felt that was sad, that social media was just a new avenue for our art. It didn’t have to be this huge time-consuming soul-stealing job. So, I took up the torch and decided to make myself the social media expert for writers…though I totally prefer Social Media Jedi.
I figure, the world will want thrillers in ten years, but the artist community needs me NOW. This can be the New Digital Renaissance with the right people saying the right things. I can only hope I am saying the right things. I feel I give writers (artists) hope. I don’t tell them they aren’t good enough and that they need to change. We are finally in a time where artists will be in increasing demand. They can make a GOOD living with the right education. THAT is why I work so hard.
You have your blog,http://www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com/, where you post tons of useful and helpful information for writers. Do you write for a different demographic as well? Fiction, historical fiction, etc.?
No, I really just do all things writing. Mondays are craft. Wednesdays are social media and Fridays are dedicated to the life of the writer. Ways to balance family and work and art, ways to build character. So much of our job as artists has so little to do with talent and so much to do with who we are as people. I try to use my gift to teach artists what really matters. Also, I made so many seriously stupid mistakes and I want those to be useful. Yes, I wrote the 186,000,000 word literary-romantic-thriller-suspence-sci-fi-inspirational. Please, learn from me. If nothing else, what NOT to do. I always joke that I did all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to.
Which social media website do you think is the easiest to grow accustomed to?
Pinterest. I LOVE Pinterest. I could lose HOURS…no, DAYS there. I think it is a really useful site to refill the creative reservoir. We can find images that help us create characters, settings or even–if you are me–lots of pictures of the French Riviera to keep you inspired to work those 60 hour weeks. It is so easy a gerbil could figure it out. Just see pretty things and “Pin It.” DONE.
Do you think this social media website is the easiest to market on? Why/why not?
I don’t like the term marketing. I feel we are in the business of connecting artists to their patrons. Patrons buy art or support it. It is about building a community of people who care about us, so they care about our product. Interruption marketing has a terrible ROI (return on investment) and it is seriously annoying.
We are just too deluged and we don’t see it anymore. I see all these writers using Twitter to basically spam people and it is such a waste of effort that really does nothing to win friends. It is better to create a core group of passionate fans who will be your biggest cheerleaders and authentically spread your message than it is to send form letters.
But for building tribes and a core group of support? Twitter. I LOVE Twitter.Favorite movie/actor/actress. Go.
Hard choice between “Army of Darkness” and “The Holy Grail.” Again hard choice between Bruce Campbell and John Cleese, Amy Pohler. I am a total goofball.
You mentioned #MyWANA (We Are Not Alone) frequently, and it’s a fantastic idea! Writers helping other writers. Where did this idea come from?
Actually I LOVE helping writers. I love to encourage them and RT their blogs. Originally it was because I am kinda lazy and I wanted to herd them all in one spot so I could keep up with everyone. I’m following THOUSANDS of people. But then I realized that the best way to learn is by doing and watching. If we could herd new people quickly to a hashtag, then they could instantly make like-minded friends and have an instant community of support. They could also watch what others were doing and ask questions, so this would shorten the learning curve exponentially.
Too many people weren’t seeing the value in Twitter and it literally had to do with the fact that they were alone. The quicker we introduced them to other kids on the playground, the quicker they’d make friends and have fun. #MyWANA also gives a place for a REAL conversation. So many people have connected and become friends because of #MyWANA. I have three writers, one from California, one from Colorado and one from the UK coming to stay with me at my ranch and it is all because of Twitter. We are best pals.
There are WANA groups meeting all over the country. It is cool to be this digital match-maker.
We are not alone!
Do you have any parting words for our readers?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your art doesn’t have value, that it is fluff or a hobby. Mary Shelley envisioned the human body as a bioelectric system before the scientists. Proust intuited that taste and smell were hardwired to memory before science proved that he was correct; that those are the two senses are uniquely sentimental because they are connected to the hypothalamus, thus the most strongly tethered to memory. George Eliot understood that the brain was a regenerate organ a hundred years before Dr. Elizabeth Gould discovered that brain cells actually did renew themselves and pioneered neurogenesis. Jules Verne envisioned a man on the moon and even intuited almost every detail of how we could do it…of how we actually did do it.
Gene Roddenberry’s STAR TREK saw automatic doors and cell phones FORTY YEARS AGO.
When artists create wild fantasy we lay the groundwork for the future. Artists envisioned a world with equal rights, a world with women in leadership, a world where humans traveled through space.
Artists take the impossible and make it real. Our job cannot be automated, outsourced or down-sized. Legions of cheap Chinese labor cannot replace us. We are artists and we are indispensable, indomitable and immortal.