From the Archives: This one is from December 31, 2010—almost eight years ago. Not much has changed, other than the social media piece, which we’ve still not jumped into whole hog, preferring to invest with readers one on one, rather than relying on social media to connect us. Takes more time, but it’s worth it—and the relationships will last longer than Facebook. There’s only one change that really matters. We said goodbye to Carroll LeFon, a.k.a “Neptunus Lex.” His was one of the first blogs I followed and then I had the honor of corresponding with him about books and family. I still have his e-mails and remember the conversations. As kind as he was knowledgeable—and he could write. Still very much alive. ~Callie
Steve’s blog was created to serve as a vehicle for sharing his video series “It’s the Tribes, Stupid.” His goal was to share information about a common thread that had presented itself throughout his years of research. He wasn’t interested in financial gains or promoting his books through this outreach, so we focused on sharing rather than selling. The lessons we learned led us to where we are with the blog and outreach today.
How We’ve Shared
With Steve’s projects, we’ve tried to get to the point and share information that is relevant to the individuals and outlets receiving it.
We’ve avoided generic e-mail press release blasts and postings. Instead, we’ve approached individuals and outlets one by one, with tailored information that speaks to the work they’re doing. The one-by-one approach takes time, but it’s worth it. It’s also a way of showing respect—that we’ve taken the time to learn about the work and interests of others, rather than blanketing everyone with the same release.
Saying thank you is a big part, too. Authors and publishers wouldn’t survive without readers. Though we’ve never expected something in return, more often than not, when we’ve said thank you to someone, they’ve had a valuable lesson to share—about publishing, outreach, blogging, readers’ interests, and so on. Jonathan Fields, Jen Grisanti, Mark McGuinness, Justine Musk, Jeff Sexton, and Barbara Winter are just a few of the people we’ve learned from this past year.
Sharing via Facebook and Twitter involved a bit of trial and error. Steve’s blog posts are automatically posted to both. Soon after setting up his Twitter account, Duane Patterson (@radioblogger) schooled Steve on hashtags, shortening links, and other Twitter to do’s, and Steve tackled his first Twitter Chat, via @litchat. This past year, though, Steve’s been on a strict schedule finalizing his next book, so I dove into Facebook and Twitter in his name. I always shared info with him about those I contacted, but it was weird. It was important to keep things “real” with his readers, and tweeting and posting as Steve was as far from real as it gets. In an effort to get Steve into social media, I made a huge mistake, by taking Steve outside the “keeping it real” realm. Today, I thank people under my Twitter account, while Steve’s Twitter account is used as a way to share his blog posts. Steve is on Facebook. You can catch him in there from time to time, replying here and there and posting. I remain a HUGE fan of Twitter and Facebook as vehicles for sharing, but if someone is tweeting or posting for you, be clear about that up front.
End of day, how we share comes down to treating others how we’d want to be treated—Karma marketing/outreach/whatever you want to call it.
Who We’ve Shared With
For the launch of the blog, we approached friends, colleagues, and journalists with which we’ve worked in the past. Steve didn’t have any contacts with bloggers at that point, but they were the first to weigh in on the video series.
Some of the responses were positive, some critical and some straight-up nasty. We expected and were open to comments criticizing Steve’s project/effort, but the personal stabs at Steve, by people who’d never met him, were a surprise.
Michael Yon, who is used to being loved, then hated, and back and forth, offered a critical piece of advice:
People who post those comments are like bar-room brawlers. They’re looking for a fight. Even if you’re just defending yourself, by engaging, you end up getting dirty, too. Ignore them.
We took Michael’s advice. The cost of wading into the muck wasn’t worth it.
We thanked the individuals who provided positive feedback and started contacting those who offered constructive criticisms. One of the first bloggers we approached was Mark “Zenpundit” Safranski. Mark was critical, but he was a professional—he made his points without encasing them in crap.
We had a great first call—during which he pointed out things we could be doing better on the blog (including content that needed more development), and then he and Steve started corresponding. We’ve learned a lot from Mark. He’s always honest and will tell us if an effort is off-mark—and he always does it with respect. His input played into Steve’s first Writing Wednesdays post.
As Steve got to know other bloggers, we found that they were more willing and able to help share than traditional outlets. This isn’t a knock on the traditionals. As mentioned in last week’s “Elephant in the Room” post, there’s only so much column space and air time via traditional outlets. Steve is still interested in working with the traditionals, but working with bloggers has helped him direct-connect with readers—whether those bloggers are independents such as Neptunus Lex and Black Five or are connected with traditional outlets, such as At War and Mouth of the Potomac.
Bringing It All Together
As we continued the outreach for the video series, we were approached by a growing number of bloggers interested in Steve’s books. Steve wasn’t actively promoting his books at the time, but wanted to reach out to the readers who had e-mailed him or posted about the books. Enter Writing Wednesdays.
With the addition of Writing Wednesdays, we knew we needed to mesh Steve’s static site and blog, to present all of his work in one place.
While some of Steve’s readers are interested in all of his books, there are a number who are interested only in The War of Art or in his novels. Steve was almost finished with The Profession and we knew that we’d need to give it a home, too.
More to come on Bringing It All Together.