If you’re a writer, I’m sure you’ve been told that now is the best time ever for writers. I’m sure you’ve been told that we have control over our destinies like never before. And I’m also sure that sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, it doesn’t feel like it.
It feels like we’re in a war zone, with everyone fighting over the same territory, and the good guys and the bad guys often look so much alike we can’t keep track of who’s who. Most days, you’re too tired to even try.
At least that’s how it was for me.
Just over a year ago, in April 2011, the blog I ran with my co-writer Lisa Hall-Wilson got exactly 1,017 page views. We’d been blogging six months, and to think we were nowhere near the 10,000 monthly page views agents consider a solid platform was depressing. Worse, we didn’t know how to get more readers.
At a conference that month, we got a free 15-minute consult with a social media expert.
He asked me if I was on Twitter. Of course I was on Twitter. What I didn’t tell him was that I had five followers, and that two of them were relatives.
“Are you using hashtags?” he asked.
I nodded, praying he wouldn’t ask for details.
You see, I didn’t even know what a hashtag was. I didn’t know how to use Twitter. And I was scared because I didn’t know how I was going to find the time to do all the social media things I just found out I needed to do alongside blogging, and improving my craft, and finishing our novel. Oh yeah, and spending time with my husband of seven months, being the main earner for us while he waited for his permanent residency to be approved, and housebreaking and training our new puppy.
I wanted to cry. But after a lot of coffee and even more jelly beans, I sat down with Google, determined to figure out Twitter if it killed me. And I was sure it would.
I ended up on the blog of someone named Kristen Lamb, who explained what a hashtag was. She also talked about this #MyWANA thing. She called it the Love Revolution and wrote, “The Internet can be a scary place if you are doing this by yourself. Well, now you don’t have to. We are going to be your adoptive Internet family….your Twibe.”
I felt like Kristen really got it. WANA means We Are Not Alone, and it’s founded on genuine relationships rather than marketing tricks.
I read her archives, bought her books, and followed her advice, and by June 2011, our Girls With Pens blog got 2,299 monthly page views. My co-writer started reading her blog. In July, we jumped to 3,723. The WANA ways worked, and I was enjoying my time online more than ever before.
If all I could say about the WANA methods is that they work, that’d probably be enough reason for many writers to want to learn them. But for me, personally, WANA is also about more. It’s about being able to both succeed in my career and be the kind of person I want to be. Too often we’re told that we need to compete with other writers to succeed. We need to beat others in order to win. We need to do it all. That’s not the case.
In the three-part opener of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s second season, the planet Bajor is on the brink of civil war thanks to an insurgent group known as The Circle.
Benjamin Sisko, commander of the Starfleet-controlled space station orbiting Bajor, brings important information to the general of the Bajoran military about who might be supplying weapons to the insurgents. It’s helpful information the general needs in order to minimize the amount of Bajoran blood spilled.
Afterward, Sisko asks a favor. He tells the general it would mean a lot to him to have Major Kira returned to her position as the Bajoran liaison officer to the space station. (Kira was replaced against her and Sisko’s wishes a few weeks earlier.)
The general claims he can’t do anything about getting Kira reassigned back to the space station and turns away. But then he stops. “Commander Sisko, you told me about the Kressari before you asked the favor regarding Kira. You could have tried to trade that information for the favor.”
Sisko smiles. “I wouldn’t do that.”
“I’ll remember that about you.”
Sisko helped the general with no guarantee he’d get anything in return. He didn’t even try to get anything in return.
He did what he did because it was the right thing to do, and because it showed the general the kind of man he was. Later, when success or failure came down to the general believing Sisko’s word and helping him in return, Sisko’s earlier actions made all the difference.
WANA helps writers do the same thing. We give first, expecting nothing in return, because it’s the right thing to do and it’s the kind of people we want to be. And someday, when we need them, all the friends we make will be there for us.
Why am I telling you what WANA and Kristen have done for me? Well, in February of this year, I was invited to be part of a new project by Kristen and her business partner, Ingrid Schaffenburg, called WANA International.
In her launch post on Monday, Kristen explained the six problems writers face today, as well as how WANA International can help.
WANA International offers online classes for writers and other creatives in craft, technology, social media, lifestyle, and business. As much as I love conferences, they’re no longer the best way for writers to learn because of the cost and travel required. Plus, because of the way conferences have to be structured and scheduled, you often end up spending time in classes you don’t necessarily need or want, and missing out on ones you do. WANA International solves those problems by bringing live classes to you, and if you look, you’ll notice that our class times don’t conflict with each other so you’ll never have to miss one class to attend another.
I’m very honored and excited to be among the 40 instructors offering classes. My first course is a 90-minute webinar on Getting Rid of Boring Blog Titles Once and For All.
You can find the list of the other classes I’m offering in July and August here. Classes for September and beyond will post soon. If you have questions about any of my classes, send me an email at marcykennedy [at] gmail.com, or leave a comment below.
For more about WANA International, WANATribe (the new social network for creatives also launched on Monday), and why they’re desperately needed, read Kristen’s Monday post and visit the WANA International website.
And To Celebrate the Launch, We Also Have Prizes…
Anyone who signs up for a class in June can enter to win some amazing prizes donated by WANA International instructors (myself included).
In the spirit of WANA, my co-writer Lisa Hall-Wilson and I are also offering something special to our readers to celebrate the launch. We’re giving away a 1,500-word critique to two people. Each winner gets a critique of the same piece by Lisa and I (so you actually get two critiques if you win).
To enter, all you need to do is share a link to this post and then leave a comment below letting me know you’ve done so, and telling me if you think this is the best time ever to be a writer. To get your name in the hat twice, head over to Lisa’s blog and do the same! Entries close at midnight EST on Friday, June 8th.
And for those who are wondering, I do believe that this is the best time ever to be a writer