I don’t sign up for many email lists. Once I do, it takes a lot to get me to unsubscribe. But I wanted to share a recent experience of how one fellow author succeeded in upsetting me enough to make me unsubscribe:
I won’t name her here, but she’s awesome. I love her posts and she has a lot of great courses for authors. So I signed up. For several weeks, I got quality authorly tips.
Today, I opened my inbox to discover an email from someone else, not the person I subscribed to. Turns out she needed to take a medical ‘leave of absence’ from authoring/blogging/emailing. So she had someone else come in to take over emailing her list while she is out.
When I hit the Unsubscribe button, I was asked for a reason why. Here’s my response:
Don’t like getting emails from someone other than the person I subscribed to. If you need to go on leave, then go on leave. Or batch a bunch of posts and drip them out while you’re gone. Or rebrand as “Writers Tips” instead of [Author’s Name Removed] But handing the keys to my email inbox over to someone else is a violation of trust.
I understand the author wants to keep reinforcing her brand. She is using repeated contact to stay on “top of mind” with her audience and not let that connection atrophy. But there are two problems with the way this was handled.
She’s not just running a writing advice website. She’s running a site where She give writing advice. She’s branded herself as an authority to give writing advice. Her name is in large, capital letters on her website, email list, and all things surrounding her brand. In her training videos, she looks right at you and tells you how she is going to help you succeed.
I signed up to her email list. To get writing tips, sure, but to get writing tips From Her. There are about 50,000 writers tip lists out there. I chose her list because I trusted her, and she violated that trust.
Keep this in mind when you start any kind of online business. It’s called branding. And it needs to be consistent, or you’re going to lose people.
Consistency is more important than being top of mind.
You might be thinking, “Why you mad bro? That’s just like ‘guest posting’ on a blog, right?”
No, it’s not.
Your blog is your own playground. Fill it with the toys you want. Change the colors. Change the graphics. Let people post and comment away. It’s your house. When I come to visit, I’ll see whatever content you’ve chosen to decorate with, even if it’s not your own.
But my inbox is mine. And I’ll decide what goes there and what does not. And if I trust you enough to let you add content there, that doesn’t mean you can just let other people add things to that space. That would be like me inviting you over to play cards on Friday but instead, you send someone else in your place. Very not cool. Especially from someone who gives marketing advice to authors.
Respect the inbox of your email subscribers.
I don’t email my list unless I have real news to share, and there is definitely plenty of exciting news and free stuff coming soon. Sign up here for free ebooks and updates! I promise I won’t hand your email over to anyone else.
For such a small movie, Ant-Man carries a lot of weight.
As someone who grew up on a steady diet of Marvel comics, it’s hard not to be a fan of the Marvel series of movies. The latest entry, Ant-Man, did not disappoint. In fact, it had all the light-hearted, actiony fun of Guardians of the Galaxy. Disney would be proud.
But as someone who enjoys (and writes) kick-ass heroines in my fiction, it’s hard not to be ticked off at Marvel (and DC, and Hollywood in general) for leaving the ladies on the back burner. Sure, Black Widow, Rogue, Storm, Gamora, Scarlet Witch, et al. are definitely included, and they do kick ass, but by now it’s blatantly obvious they are in supporting-roles-only, and they don’t get their own movies.
Fans have been begging DC for a Wonder Woman movie for over a decade now. Instead Warner Bros coughed up Catwoman. And Marvel isn’t helping.
“There are no bad words. There are bad thoughts, bad intentions… and words.”
If you don’t believe that, then you should stop reading this post. Right fucking now. Because having been both an angry young man and served time in the military, I’ve grown and sharpened a fairly salacious tongue. But even I know that there’s a time and a place for swearing, and it’s useful for authors to know when and where it’s OK to do so. [Read more…]
In addition to all other inalienable Birthday rights, I hereby add – The Birthday Purge and the Birthday Ungift.
Birthday Ungift (noun) – Something you give up on your birthday that makes you happy to have it out of your life.
Birthday Purge (verb) – The act or process of choosing and removing Birthday Ungifts from your life.
In addition to receiving gifts on your birthday, you are allowed to get rid of a thing you no longer want, without question, regardless of the value or source. That thing that you are giving back to the world is your Birthday Ungift. The process of ungifting it is called a Birthday Purge. [Read more…]
A new invention for social-media-ville is called a “social paywall.” You may have already seen its older brother (called a financial paywall) in posts and articles. A financial paywall looks like this:
Makes sense. You get some content for free, but if you wanna get past the wall, you have to pay to continue.
A Social Paywall is different. It looks like this:
With a social paywall, you “pay” to access content with your social media approval.
In the world of websites, social approvals (likes, +1s, shares, etc.) have a value. They are like votes. They add up to something called Social Proof, also known as clout, moxie, or influence. They also might help jack up a website’s SEO. (Search Engine Optimization) These results are so valuable to website owners that it’s easy to understand how they could mistake social approval for currency.
So now websites with social paywalls will expect you to share/tweet/+1/like before you can access the content. Because your +1 is just like money, right? And it doesn’t cost you, so you won’t care, right?
The Problem With The Social Paywall
In the physical world, we are used to paying for things in the form of an exchange. You can stop in at the local bar and watch the big-screen tv for free. Popcorn and water is free too. But if you want a shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, you’re going to have to pay for it.
That same business model works fine online as a financial paywall. Some content/info is free, but if you want something more, then you have to pay for it.
But that’s NOT how social media likes, +1s, shares and other social approvals work.
Social paywalls twist the function of likes, +1s shares, etc. corrupting ‘social proof’ as we know it. – [Click to Tweet This!]
Back in the physical realm, when you have a good experience at the bar – when the bathrooms are clean and the bartender is friendly, and makes your drinks so strong that they start to dissolve the glass they’re served in – then you leave a tip on the counter as you go. And you tell your friends, “Hey you should check out this great place.” That is your real-world social approval.
Online social approval is no different. Your facebook “likes”, shares, +1s, positive ratings, thumbs-ups, retweets, happy comments and blog posts are the equivalent of telling your friends “check this out! I like it!’ Social approvals are just that: Social + Approval.
But with a social paywall, you have to socially approve something before you see it. So how do you know if you “like” or “approve” of the information before you view it?
You don’t. You can’t. And that’s the problem with a Social Paywall. Those who use it are restricting content until AFTER you share it or AFTER you say that you like it. The social approval is given before the product/service has “proven” itself, which does not compute. Would you tell all your friends that you loved a book before you’ve read it, or tell them that a bar is a ‘thumbs up’ before you’ve even been to the place?
Social paywalls are an attempt to game the system. They fundamentally twist the function of social approvals, and will inevitably corrode the credibility of “social proof” as we know it. This has already happened to the book reviews on Amazon. Greedy folks gamed that system too, and it lost it’s usefulness.
There are other problems with a social paywall, (ie: not everyone has a facebook account, and social sites are sometimes blocked by corporate firewalls…) but these are pretty minor in comparison and mostly affect the website owners. But the damage social paywalls could cause to the existing system would unfairly impact all internet users.
The Executive Summary Version
Social approvals (facebook likes, google +1s, tweets, shares, etc) are the online equivalent of telling others about something ubercool that you experienced. Optional. Not necessary. They are intended to let your friends know what you believe are above-average products/services. But social paywalls demand your approval before you see the content, which makes about as much sense as raving about a product or service you’ve never experienced.
It doesn’t surprise me that someone would come up with the social paywall. And it won’t surprise me to see websites actually use it. But it’s beyond rude, and it ruins the simple and effective method of social proof by trying to twist it into an entry fee.
Web Designers: Quality content begets social proof, not vice-versa. Use a financial paywall if you think your content is worth it. Ask for email or account registration if you think your content is worth it. But leave the social media links at the bottom or side of the content. People will gladly like/+1/tweet/share/forward your content… after they read it, and after they decide that it’s worth approving/sharing.
Don’t let this happen to your book! Make a will for your intellectual property estate.
A local Minneapolis artist passed away unexpectedly last week. I’d done some website work for him over the past several years. Because of the nature of the work I was doing, I have access to much of the deceased’s “digital estate.” I have usernames and passwords for his website, registration, and even some financial accounts.
He wasn’t the kind of person to write down all those passwords and put them in his will. The obituary only shows who he is survived by, which may be quite different from whom he is leaving things to in his will.
My immediate thoughts were “Who did he leave everything to? Did they get all his account info? How can I contact them?”
And more important to the rest of us, “What can we do to prevent this kind of situation?”
The Power Of Low Compels You… …using a slow, minimalist drone.
Low’s Rock the Garden Show A Little Too Low For Some
The fans and critics loving/hating on Low’s extended drone interpretation of ‘Do You Know How To Waltz?’ have been hard to ignore. Listen for yourself, then ask yourself how you’d feel if you went out to the Rock The Garden concert at the Walker Art Museum and paid $55 to get in.
Despite the message from the band, “Drone, Not Drones,” the reaction at the performance was mostly negative, and devolved online into a social media pissing contest. Twitter accounts broke out for and against the performance. Radio station 99.3 The Current (sponsors of the event) raised the question What Does A Band Owe Us When We Pay To See Them Perform? The comments/responses made the exact same sound as Low’s performance – a vaguely annoying drone:
Old fan…never heard ’em before…loved it…hated it…taking chances…ruined a great opportunity… [Read more…]
Use One Super-Powered Magic Syllable To Control Time
Dreamhaven Books in Minneapolis is not a big bookstore. But whenever I’m there, I see dozens of books I want to read. Hundreds.
I’m sure Greg, the owner of Dreamhaven, would love for me to buy the entire Lovecraft section all at once, but I know that’s not a good idea. It takes some willpower, but I’ve learned to limit myself to buy no more than I can read between visits. Um, more or less.
When you look at all the books available, even at a small bookstore like Dreamhaven, and many more titles coming out every day, you’ll realize that it’s impossible to read them all, even if you had several lifetimes to devote to full-time reading.
You only have so much reading-time. So you have to choose. [Read more…]
Writing isn’t generally the most “earth-friendly” occupation, I swear I’ve printed out an entire deciduous forest in rough draft manuscript hard copies just so I could burn them. (Trust me, it’s a whole different feeling than right-click-and-delete.)
Anyway, to work off some of my karmic debt and to help celebrate EarthWeek, here is a great service I just heard about called Yerdle. Yerdle’s slogan is “Why shop when you can share?” [Read more…]
In almost ten years of blogging at conradzero.com, I’ve had several interviews, but I’ve never had a guest post. Not that I’m adverse to sharing, especially when someone can relate wisdom on a topic that I know nothing about… in this case, the importance of taking a break. So for the first time in the history of this blog, I’m going to do just that.
For today’s “How To Write More Betterly” blog post, I’m turning the keyboard over to Allison Morris, who will tell you all about breaking things while I step outside to enjoy a refreshing break while mixing December Minneapolis Air with Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey…
The Importance of Taking A Break
Guest Post by Allison Morris
Most writers have a day job. If you’re lucky enough that your day job is writing, you still have to deal with tasks, scheduling, and getting things done. Even if you write about vampires and slaying demons all day, work can be overwhelming. And it might just be time for you to take a break.
Are you the type of person that doesn’t take a lunch? You’re not alone. Only one in three American workers claim to enjoy a midday meal, while most either skip their lunch break altogether or simply eat at their desks. While you might not always have time for an hour break from your writing or work, microbreaks (that is, short breaks lasting from 30 seconds to five minutes) can improve your mental acuity in astounding ways. A 15 second “screen break” can cut your fatigue in half, and a five minute break from typing every hour can eliminate wrist, elbow, and arm pain.
And it’s not just physical breaks that can make a difference. If there’s any way for you to catch a nap during the work day, just 40 minutes of dozing off will improve your alertness by over 34%. Short naps throughout the day (or the more hardcore practice of polyphasic sleep) are better for your body and mind than logging an extra hour in the mornings.
If you’re not the type to schedule frequent sanity and stretching breaks, try to take at least 6 minutes for every 80 you work. Stand and stretch, rest your eyes, and check your Facebook. Study shows that employees are 10% more efficient when they can check social media regularly. If you’re a writer, consider penning a short verse about a worthy subject during your breaks. And if you can, take a short walk. Nothing busts writer’s block faster than a quick jaunt around a building or block. Check out the full graphic below to learn more about the importance of taking breaks: