Hold On To The Light: Escaping Toxic People

One of the biggest struggles of modern life for maintaining mental wellness is escaping toxic people. We’ve all seen them: people who choose to elevate themselves by cutting others down. These types are particularly prominent on social media. Some of them even post as part of this campaign. Their sympathy for themselves never extends to others. Instead, they choose to target others for various reasons:  mostly because someone disagrees with them or represents some group they object to. Their comments and attacks can be cruel and are mostly unwarranted and rarely based on truth. It can be very hard to ignore these people, and impossible to avoid them. But what you can control is engagement.

When I first encountered them, I thought I had to defend myself. But over time I’ve come to realize that defense is unnecessary. For one thing, mounting any defense lends credence to their slander. If you ignore it, it will go away faster and your silence tends to discredit it in most people’s eyes. Defending yourself, on the other hand, not only risks further slanderous attacks and expends negative energy that can be stressful but it gives ammo to these people to say what they said was true or why else would you bother defending yourself?

Toxic People are really cowards. They are insecure and wounded and feel they can appear strong by putting themselves above others. Borrowing from an old sermon, these people are like rotting meat looking for a place to stink. There’s something rotten inside and they just can’t wait to find a place to let it stink. But just because you can smell it, doesn’t mean you have to savor the smell. And you certainly don’t have to stink yourself. Whether motivated by hatred, jealousy, or some other combination thereof, Toxic People are a road hazard of modern life. But they are also speed bumps as opposed to barriers. If you let their words pass unchallenged and just continue focusing on putting out positive energy and contributions into the world, they will fade away. Yes, a few may believe what they say and continue attempting to perpetuate it, but these people ultimately appear small for attacking someone who rises above the fray and contributes positively to the community. The toxic person has nothing to offer but poison and negativity, but you are offering goodness and opportunities to learn or experience joy. In the end, people value the latter far more, and your time, stress level, and positive outlook will benefit greatly by ignoring the Toxic People and doing your thing.

If you’re like me and worked hard to get where you are, and did so by trying to help people and create opportunities alongside you, then you especially shouldn’t waste time giving them the satisfaction of responding. People can say what they want, but you can choose to not let it define you. Words are words, but actions are truth. After all, we’ve all been victims of bullies or gossipers from very early ages typically, and most of those people fade away with time and disappear into the nothingness from which they came. So too will the toxic people if you don’t empower them with engagement. Let them ramble. Let them poison. Be the antidote by being positive and a source of light. No one can extinguish your light if you hold onto it and nurture and cherish it, after all. And I’d rather be light in the world than dark any day, wouldn’t you?

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is a Hugo-nominated bestselling author and editor of 13 anthologies and hundreds of novels including The Martian by Andy Weir and books by Alan Dean Foster, Tracy Hickman, Angie Fox, and more. His anthologies have been published by St. Martin’s Press, Baen Books, Titan Books and IDW and include official entries in The X-Files and Predator as well as Decipher’s Wars. His original anthologies include Infinite Stars, Galactic Games, and Mission: Tomorrow amongst others. His short stories and novels include Simon Says and The Saga of Davi Rhii trilogy.

Write Tips: The Road Back To Discipline With Social Media

Well, this is a departure from my usual Write Tips post and I hope I don’t bore everyone, but I have a writing related issue to discussed and I thought I’d include it in tips because it might be useful to others. I’ve blogged about this before in Write Tips, the need for discipline to be consistent across the spectrum of one’s life to avoid distractibility from one area corrupting the others. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who struggles with discipline, and I find myself guilty of that very issue, so I am putting myself on the road back to discipline. I have been getting less wordage in lately than I used to manage. 1200 words if I’m lucky, 700 if I’m not. When I need to be getting 2-3k words a day for all the projects I’m working on. I also need to be more focused on the freelance editing work. Right now, those gigs are temporarily on hold with other people doing their thing before they start-up again, but I have struggled through some projects the past six months and realized I needed a better work ethic to avoid stress. I haven’t seen any major mistakes, thankfully, but I don’t want to see them either. So off on the road back I go.

There are several things besides my ongoing battle with depression and my ADHD which play a part in this. I am also facing a major diet which starts tomorrow, and so the timing is good to be more disciplined as that will require it of me as well. Other factors include computer issues wherein my computer freezes for odd periods and makes it impossible to do anything, thus requiring me to wait. I think I may lose 2 hours a day on this several times a week. Also, my exercise routine with the dogs fell off, which means less energy, so I must build that regular one hour walk back into the schedule. The dogs will appreciate that as much as I will. Additionally, my social media time, which I’ve found invaluable for networking, maintaining and building relationships and marketing, nonetheless has gotten a bit out of control.

For one thing, my Facebook was unmanageable. My Twitter feed is not much better. And Google+, which I’ve never warmed to is a mess so much that I stopped adding people two months ago, plus I had some blog issues for almost a month. With the blog issues recently resolved, I decided to start with social media, so I converted my 1100+ followers on Facebook to fans by making my Facebook profile an Author Page, deleted the old author page, and am rebuilding a Facebook Profile from scratch. The advantages are: 1) no timeline. Somehow when you reset your profile, timeline doesn’t come back in the new one until you choose it. I don’t plan to do so; 2) Friend Groups. Trying to keep up with anyone in a feed from 1100+ “friends” and groups on top of that became impossible long ago.

By starting over, I am admitting only a few “friends” at a time and grouping them as “Family,” “Close Friends,” “Friends” and “SFF People.” I also allow no subscribers. This will allow me to control my feed by posting to each group or to everyone. I can talk politics and religion with those whom I enjoy that interaction and stop having the frustrating and often irritating, meaningless debates with others with whom I don’t enjoy the interaction on those topics. I have stopped discussing them to a point in general, but I’m rather tired of having people feel the need to lambast my views or blast me with theirs, especially total strangers who subscribe, so I am putting the brakes on that and reining it in. Additionally, publishing and SFF business can be restricted to the group who care about such things without bothering others. I still have my author page which many people will follow, and my fans, old classmates who never speak with me, and strangers can either stay with that or leave. Someday, that page may reflect popularity if I succeed as editor and author but for now it frees me up to keep people informed of what I want and reserve privacy for what they don’t need to know.

Because I can only add people a few at a time, it will take me a while to sort through and reassemble my profile “friends,” but at least I already am enjoying the easier walls for each group and feeling less out of control. I lost all my games in progress but many of the ongoing ones had reached the boredom point. Scrabble can just pick up with new games, so I’m fine with that. Other than Scrabble, they’re all probably just distractions I don’t need anyhow.

I will maintain the SFFWRTCHT group and The Saga Of Davi Rhii page as well as my new author page. I will update them as appropriate and run contests, etc. But my more personal or controversial posts will stay with the new profile and the select groups I wish to share them with. I hope then less time can be spent in meaningless debate and  going-nowhere discussions and thus more time productively elsewhere.

This will be a good step in the right direction toward greater writing productivity, I hope. After all, I still have Twitter Lists to tackle to try to manage that feed. And I will have to sort out whether Google+ is part of my future or my past. I refuse to join Foresquare and Pinterest because I just don’t need another time swallowing social media outlet. I know some people love them, but I think no one really needs to know where I am all the time for one (Foresquare) and Pinterest looks like a lot of work I just don’t need at all.

I still have my regular blogging duties her, at SFSignal,  Grasping For The Wind, Ray Gun Revival and Adventures In SF Publishing, and with another blog tour coming up, and many Cons, I just don’t need to be scrambling or wasting time. I need to be focused. So I’ll report back on the results of my new strategies and how my routine falls into place. I am a creature of habit, and I really to work better with routine. Just in case, I also downloaded Cold Turkey, a program which allows you to lock out various programs to avoid being distracted. Once it’s initiated it cannot be reset, so if you change your mind when Facebook or Twitter are blocked, tough toodles. You’re stuck. Have to put that energy elsewhere. I know other writers who use it and I want it on hand if I find I might. I wonder if they have something similar for cable TV. I have had to stop watching my morning routine, including The Price Is Right and Live With Kelly, because that’s my prime writing time. Now if I can get off Facebook and use that time to write, I might actually be productive again before noon. Wouldn’t that be grand?

How do you discipline yourselves? How do you handle social media time? What would you do differently? Has anyone tried my approach? What path have you taken on the road back to discipline? I’d love to hear your thoughts. For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, andThe Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the new anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Top 10 Silliest Things People Get Annoyed About On The Web

We’ve all seen it. People flaming mad over silly things someone did on the web. And I’m not talking political or religious posts or family infighting, either. I’m talking fairly common little things which really shouldn’t be that big of deal to anyone. They are always things that really deserve people getting riled up about them, so why people waste their energy getting so mad over so little is beyond me, but here’s my Top 10 Silliest Things People Get Annoyed About On The Web:

1) Facebook invites–Whether to games, pages or groups, the posts on your wall are often more Facebook’s fault than your FB friend’s fault. FB has a silly set up for these things. Sometimes they happen and people are even unaware. The first time one appears for a particular application, page or group, click the x to block all posts and you’ll never see one again. It’s eas. So if you’re going to get all bent out of shape about something this small, you probably shouldn’t be on the Web.

2) People Who Don’t Do Social Media/Webbing Exactly Like You–What? You have time to read and comment on tons of blogs? You spend hours a day keeping up? You do everything just right, dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Hey! Good for you. But not everyone has time or interest and there’s nothing wrong with that. The freedom that makes the web great is the fact users can employ its capabilities on their own terms. Just because someone doesn’t do it the way you think it should be done, doesn’t make them an idiot. Your furor over it is far more idiotic.

3) Celebrities Who Don’t Follow Back Or Reply– REALLY?!!! Seriously people? You honestly think they have time? They don’t have a million followers for nothing. In fact, many of them have assistants who do all their web posts and tweeting. How are you to know if it was genuinely them responding anyway? Does it make you better than everyone else if they do? I don’t think so. Get over it!

4) Hashtags–“They use too many!” “They’re confusing!” “They’re annoying!” “They’re stupid!” #gotnewsforyou #hashtags are #heretostay. They’re not going away. #deal withit! They can actually be a lot of fun and, more importantly, big time savers.

5) Lists Omitting Their Personal Favorites–Uh, hey, these lists here, like this one? They are a person’s OPINION, okay? They are subjective. Great freedom of the web: you can make your own list. So why are you getting all upset over mine? I may not like or rank your favorite things the same as you but you can counter with your own list. No need to insult my intelligence or question my parentage or integrity. It’s OPINION. Repeat after me.

6) Other People Daring To Talk About Things They Themselves Don’t Care About–“So-and-So is so annoying. Why can’t he post about something interesting that I like?” I don’t even know what to say about this. Unfriend, unfollow or shut up and respect free speech.

7) People Having More Friends/Followers–It’s not high school. The Web is a great equalizer but you do have to be interesting and you do have to make an effort. If someone has more followers and they’re not a celebrity, they’re probably just following back more and interacting better. Maybe they’re providing more useful content. You can always up your game but it’s not a competition and it’s nothing worth getting all steamed about.

8 ) Chain Posts–Okay, they are silly. And they don’t make sense. No, you are not denouncing Jesus if you don’t repost. No, you won’t go to hell either. No, you are not unsupportive of veterans, etc. either. Some people enjoy being sheep and others march to their own drum. You’re fine either way. Just hide the posts if they annoy you but don’t even give it a second thought.

9) People Using Foreign Languages On The Web–This one’s so obvious, I almost forgot it. Really? English is the dominate language for website language because of the html developers using it, not because English rules the world, people. You have users from all over the world. If you get to a site where they are using a different language, learn it or leave. Now, posting comments in a language no one can understand is rude and silly, too, of course, but it harms the poster more than the recipient. I mean, if they really wanted to communicate, they’d get with the program on that. So stop bitching, really.

10) People Who Get Annoyed At People Who Point Out Their Silliness In Posts Like This–You know you’re out there. If we can’t learn to laugh at ourselves, how can can we survive? Seriously. In a nihilistic world, it’s important to separate what’s worthy of raging and angry energy and what needs to roll off our backs. Did I poke at your precious annoyances? Maybe they shouldn’t be so precious. Save your wrath for things which really matter. The internet and your lives will be happier places, trust me. There really are plenty of legitimate things to get mad about, but these ten just aren’t them. After all, web piracy is alive and well and so are things like child porn, abuse, bullying, etc. So let’s try and keep things in perspective.

Well, there’s my Top 10. What would you put on this list? Feel free to comment below. I’ll be interested in hearing. For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012 along with his book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing and the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novel for author Ellen C. Maze (Rabbit: Legacy), a historical book for Leon C. Metz (The Shooters, John Wesley Hardin, The Border), and is now editing Decipher Inc’s WARS tie-in books for Grail Quest Books.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Blog Tour Roundup: The Worker Prince

Well, my first book tour and first ever blog tour was a lot of fun. Truly a blast. And I think all the bloggers and readers who participated. The comments were encouraging and helpful. The posts were fun to write and participate in. Timing was fairly smooth in most cases. And I think we provided worthwhile and diverse content for everyone. So thank you. I look forward to the next one and I look forward to hosting blog tours as well.

Here’s a list of all the posts broken down by category/type for easy access. I hope you continue to enjoy them and, please check out The Worker Prince. You can purchase it here: 1 5-star & 6 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS. If you do, please review it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com and send us a link. You can get a free chapter from the sequel before it releases next year.


Guest Posts: (Blog/post title)

SFSignal: 15 Science Fiction Classics With Religious Themes

Juliette Wade: The Worker Prince, Worldbuilding & The Clashes of Culture

Mary Pax: Coming Of Age & The Quest To Belong

Bibliophile Stalker/Charles Tan: 7 Tips For Being A Good Beta Reader

Functional Nerds: Working With A Small Press For Authors

Matthew Sanborn Smith:  My Approach To Storytelling

Jeremy C. Shipp:  The Importance of Strong Heroines

AISFP: Why I Like Old Fashioned Heroes

Patty Jansen: How To Promote With Social Media Without Offense

Moses Siregar: Relatable Characters

Livia Blackburne: SFFWRTCHT & How To Run A Social Media Event



Jamie Todd Rubin: Dialogue: Golden Age SF’s Influence on The Worker Prince

Laura Kreitzer: Laura & Bryan Talk Writing


Worker Prince Novel Excerpts:

Anthony Cardno:  Exclusive Excerpt From Chapter 10

Grasping For The Wind: Exclusive Excerpt of Chapter 3

Mae Empson: Interview & Excerpt: Chapter 7

Andrew Reeves: Author Spotlight/Excerpt from Chapter 5

Simon C. Larter: Excerpt



Jaleta Clegg: Review: The Worker Prince

Apex Reviews: Review: The Worker Prince

Grace Bridges: Review: The Worker Prince

Rick Copple: Review: The Worker Prince

Raymond Masters: Review: The Worker Prince

Jenn Baker/Pony Tails Book Reviews: Review: The Worker Prince

Lyn Perry: Review: The Worker Prince




Anthony Cardno: Author Interview

Brian Knight: Interview with me & Davi Rhii/Author Bio/Blurb

Travis Perry: http://travissbigidea.blogspot.com/ – Author Interview

Nicole Peeler: Interview with Lord Xalivar (antagonist, The Worker Prince)

Grasping For The Wind: Author Interview

Gene Doucette: Author Interview

Sarah Hendrix: Author Interview

Mae Empson: Interview & Excerpt: Chapter 7

William J. Corbin/Silverthorn Press: Author Interview

L.M. Stull: Interview

Andrew Reeves: Author Spotlight/Excerpt from Chapter 5



Podcast: Functional Nerds Episode #78 with Bryan Thomas Schmidt (hey, that’s me!)

Residential Aliens: Rivalry On A Sky Course (Davi Rhii prequel story)

Grasping For The Wind: Mediation Between Xalivar and Davi Rhii


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

My Schedule: MCC-Longview Literary Festival

Next weekend I will be apeparing at the two day MCC-Longview Community College Literary Festival with other authors of diverse genres and backgrounds. Here’s my schedule. I will be around much of Saturday and in and out Friday because of my panel being late afternoon.


500 SW Longview Road,
Lee’s Summit, Missouri 64081-2105
Telephone: 816.604.2000

Friday, October 14, 2011

2:00 p.m. – Setup [Education Center]

4:00 p.m. – Connecting With Readers Through Social Media (Panel)[BU103A]

Panelists: Toriano Porter, Linda Rodriguez, Bryan Thomas Schmidt 

5:00 p.m. – Killing Off Characters (Panel) [Education Center]

Panelists: Marti Verlander, Steven F. Murphy, Bryan Thomas Schmidt


Saturday, October 15, 2011

10:00 a.m. – Meet-N-Greet Authors [Education Center]

12:00 p.m. – Self-Promotion 101 (Panel) [Education Center]

Panelists: Karin Gastriech, Lewis Diuguid, Toriano Porter, Spencer Wendleton, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

1:00-2:15 p.m. – Autographing at Table [BCU103A]

2:30 p.m. – Creating Characters That Come Alive (Panel) [Education Center]

Panelists: Lindsay Martin-Bowen, Marti Verlander, M.C. Chambers, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

10 Tips For Planning A Blog Tour

Arguably, one of the most effective ways for book marketing these days is the blog tour. Statistics show that most readers need to hear about your book three different times before they think seriously about buying it. You may have different experiences once you have a fan base, but at least starting out, those are the stats I’ve seen. So how do you get that knowledge out there? Unless your publisher is willing to spend thousands of dollars on a book tour, flying you to various cities, signings and appearances, you need other options. A blog tour is one of those. It’s very cost effective. But it can also be a lot of work. I recently scheduled my first blog tour, which starts this Saturday and runs every day next month. Here’s some things I learned which might help you in planning a blog tour.

1 ) Start Early– Blog tours, like any book tour, are a lot of work to do well. And, in this case, unless you can afford a publicist, you’ll be done the bulk of the work yourself. From booking blogs to planning posts to coordinating a schedule, there are many details here and the earlier you start, the better prepared and less stressful an experience you’ll have.

2 ) Don’t Take No Personally– You will ask people to loan you their blog. Some will say ‘yes.’ Some will say ‘no.’ Don’t take that personally. I ran into people who don’t use their blogs much and didn’t want to open up to that kind of thing for fear it might start a wave. How could they refuse someone else after saying ‘yes’ to me? I ran into people who are against self-promotion and some who don’t understand that it’s the way of the writer in the modern publishing industry. Don’t assume they turned you down because they dislike you. If they do, wouldn’t you rather not know? But at the same time, you aren’t under obligation to help them in the future just as they weren’t under obligation to help you now. I still would though, because it’s the right thing to do.

3 ) Publicize The Ask– Tweet, post on Facebook, Google+ and everywhere that you’re planning a blog tour for the month in question and ask for volunteers. You will get people this way. I did. I would say a third of my tour. Then I emailed others, specifically asked others, and called in repayment for those I’d already helped for the rest.

4 ) Expect To Reciprocate– Do return the favor to those who help you, and, as hinted above, even those who don’t. Blog Tours are a great way to spread out to a larger audience and self-promotion is the way of the industry now. So help others and know they’ll help you. It doesn’t always come in the ways expected, but even if all they do is mention your book and name in conversation, people will learn of you who never would have without them.

5 ) Be Creative– Nothing is more boring than a Blog Tour with the same three posts over and over: interview, review, excerpt. Oh, all three are important but try and mix it up. Here’s your chance to show a side of your personality which will engage people. From using humorous interviews of characters, to writing blog posts on topics relevant to the usual theme of the blogs on which you appear, not only will you enjoy yourself more, but the blog owners and readers will love it more. After all, no one person is likely to read 30 days’ of posts about you but if you give them something new each day, people will look for those and check them out. And trust me, when you’re creating most of the 30 posts yourself, having fun with creativity keeps you sane!

6 ) Make It About More Than Selling Your Book– No sales pitches. Nothing beyond book info, blurbs, author bio and a link. Every other bit of content should be about something other than a sales pitch. From reviews to interviews to guest posts, provide something of value to readers and they will be more likely to consider other things you’ve written might be of value to them too and buy your book. You’re selling yourself as much as your book and the best way to do it is by demonstrating you are smart, funny and worth their investment. That never comes in a sales pitch. It does come from creating and providing content they value.

7 ) Post Daily Links– Hard work? Yes. Use a tweet scheduler if you must but always advertise your blog tour stops. I recommend once in the a.m. and once in the p.m. since users are on at different times. Cross post to all the major sites you can. Put a link on the bottom of your emails. Also, be sure and do an index with all the links to introduce the tour and remind people where to find that from time to time.

8 ) Vary The Posts Daily– Try and avoid scheduling similar posts back to back. Guest posts are fine, especially if you can continue a post from one blog on a different blog the next day. This drives traffic. But back to back interviews, back to back reviews–those get boring really quick. So if you have no choice but to do that make sure they’re each unique enough to keep it interesting.

9 ) Podcasts Can Be Tour Stops, Too– Don’t rule out other mediums like radio interviews and especially podcasts as stops on your blog tour. Often online radio shows have blogs as do podcasts, so you can direct people there to find your interviews and change it up a day by giving them something to listen to instead of read. They’ll probably really enjoy the variety. And, let’s face it, hearing your voice or even seeing your face, gives them a more personal connection with you that can only encourage interest in your writing.

10 ) Have Fun– “If it’s not fun don’t do it” is an old cliche, but using the hints above you should be able to make the blog tour fun for everyone, including yourself. The more fun it is, the most interest it will generate and the easier it will be to book the blog tour for your next book. Including motivating yourself. After all, book tours are a lot of work. But if you follow these tips, I’ll bet you’ll find it easier and more fun than you had imagined.

So there’s Ten Tips For Planning Your Book Blog Tour. What are some others? Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear them. And do let me know if this helps you, because that’s what makes it fun for me to do these posts–that’s what they’re all about.

For what it’s worth…

If you’re curious what I’m doing on my blog tour, here’s the schedule with links: https://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2011/10/01/the-worker-prince-blog-tour-schedule-introduction/

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

Write Tip: Top 10 Tips For Using Social Media Well

If you’re at all concerned with marketing yourself or your products, by now you’ve probably heard a million times how important Social Media has become for marketing yourself and connecting with/building an audience of customers. The challenge can be knowing exactly how to go about it without coming across as pushy or self-centered and alienating more people than you draw. Here’s ten tips from successful people who use social media on how you can approach it with greater success:

1) Be The Best You-– “But you can still be you. Uhh, unless “you” just so happen to be some kind of Nazi-sympathizing donkey-molester. In which case, please back slowly away from the social media.” – Chuck Wendig, Author He has a great sense of humor but mixed in is great advice. His point is that you should present yourself well but not whitewashed. Readers want to know YOU not the person you project yourself to be. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be a salesman. Just be you, but a good, likable version. Warts are okay within reason, after all, the human you is the you people want to connect with, but put a little makeup over the warts so they appear their best. The human but attractive you is still the goal.

2) Have The Right Conversations— “Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations.” – Seth Godin It’s not just whom you talk to but how you talk to them. People are talking about your product already. Being a part of the conversation means learning how to talk to them. Don’t be pushy. Don’t sell. Just talk and listen. And listening may be the most important part. Whether you’re a writer or in another profession, finding the conversations you need to hear and engage in, listening first, then joining is the best way to discover the audience for what you sell.

 3) You’re Not In Control— “If you think you are in control, you’re fooling yourself. As soon as you start listening, you realize you’re not in control. And letting go will yield more and better results.” – Charlene Li, Author Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, Type A or not, the tendency is to want to control everything about your marketing, sales, etc. You want to control how people respond. But in truth, you can’t. Of course we all want to sell books and build our audience as authors. We all want to build product awareness and desirability as sales people. Social Media is a great tool. But it’s also a tool you don’t produce. Instead, you use it by participating. And that means, you can’t be in control of anything but yourself. How you act, what you say, how active you are–you can control. But everything else is out of your hands.

4) It’s About Passion—  “Don’t worry; skills are cheap, passion is priceless. If you’re passionate about your content and you know it and do it better than anyone else, even with few formal business skills you have the potential to create a million-dollar business.” – Gary Vee, Author of Crush It It’s less about how skilled you are than how passionate you are. You can build skills, but you can’t build passion. So don’t worry about developing skills, worry about getting across your passion. That, in the end, is what will hook people’s interest in you and your words. There’s nothing more compelling than someone passionate about what they’re selling or discussing.

5) Learn About Them First— “On Twitter, Search is your friend. Are you writing a book about archaeology? See who’s talking about it. Looking for Buddhists? Oh, they’re there. Look for them. Start following them. Start seeing what they’re talking about.”   Chris Brogan, Author/Speaker on Marketing This goes hand in hand with what I said above about how listening may be the most important part. How can you engage with people if you don’t understand what their interests are? Social Media is about conversation and networking and that involves give and take. It’s not about you. It’s about the community. Take the time to get to know the community. Who’s out there? What are they interested in? Why?

6) All Users Are Equal— “There aren’t very many things you can do as a marketer to attract a huge number of highly followed influencers to your content beyond the same tactics that you would use to attract a huge number of ‘normal’ users.”  Dan Zarrella, Social Media Expert Don’t focus on attracting celebrities or people with big lists of followers, focus on attracting people period. All followers will be attracted the same way. There is no short cut to get the big users. All users become followers for the same reasons, in the same ways.

7) It’s About The Long Term— “’Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies.  Social Media is a ‘build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.'” – Seth Godin If you’re not in it for the long term, why should your followers be? It’s not about today, it’s about tomorrow. Like building a good marriage, a house, or a career, Social Media is a long term effort and strategy to be worked on daily. Don’t make it about today. Make it about the long term.

8 ) It’s Called Social NETWORKING— “The most successful marketer becomes part of the lives of their followers. They follow back.”  Marsha Collier, Author Do you remember me mentioning community? It’s called Social NETWORKING for a reason. It’s about interaction, two way. Hand in hand with listening, people will invest in you as much as you invest in them. Yes, celebrities don’t have time to engage with everyone. I get that. Neither do those with thousands of followers. But when you have something to say in response then respond. When you see a cool link someone passed around, share it and credit them. Find ways to encourage and thank your followers for their interest in you by taking an interest in them.

9) It’s Not About Numbers— “Quit counting fans, followers and blog subscribers like bottle caps. Think, instead, about what you’re hoping to achieve with and through the community that actually cares about what you’re doing.” – Amber Naslund, brasstackthinking.com It’s not about how may, it’s about what you say, how you say it and how they connect with it. People who feel that you care about them will care about you. So don’t worry about stats as much as content and interaction. And make every word count. Be real with people above all. They’ll respond to that more than anything.

10) Keep It Informal— “Informal conversation is probably the oldest mechanism by which opinions on products and brands are developed, expressed, and spread.”  Johan Arndt It’s not a website or marketing brochure. It’s not a commercial. It’s not a news feed. It’s your social media feed. Relax and be a real person. Of course you need to watch what you say. The internet, after all, is public. Things can come back to haunt you. But that doesn’t mean you have to be stiff and formal. Relax and enjoy yourself. If you don’t, you won’t fit in, because that, above all else, is what Social Media are about–relaxed conversation.

A few inspirational quotes which have inspired me from various sources. How do you use Social Media? What lessons have you learned? What great quotes do you have? Feel free to share below. I’d love to hear them.

For what it’s worth…


Write Tip: 12 Essentials For A Successful Author Website

I’ve spent a lot of time studying and designing websites the past ten years. I’ve done so for Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, non-profits and individuals. I’ve done it for myself. With the rapidity of change on the World Wide Web, there are constant lessons to be learned. But my author website has grown in a little over a year from 10 hits a month to over 1000. Sure, I have a long way to go. But that kind of growth shows I’m doing something right, doesn’t it? It’s taken some work, goal setting and dedication. And now it seems to be paying off. There are a few key essentials I’ve discovered which can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful site for authors. So I’m presenting them here to help any of you who might still be sorting out your sites:

1) Your Photo. Readers what to connect with you, that’s why they visit your site. So the proper balance to capture is a mix of professional with personal touches. Your site needs to look professional, have professional design and layout and data. But also allow personal connection, in particular, through your contact pages and blog. But even more than these, it needs an author photo. Whether the photo is informal or formal is your call. Most people I’ve talked with recommend something in between. Torn cutoffs, a t-shirt and a beer in your hand probably isn’t the best message. Nice looking jeans and shirt, relaxing with a dog is ok. In part, it depends on how you want to connect. Do you want to befriend readers or be in contact but keep them at a distance?

2) Contact Information. Make it easy to contact you by providing a contact page with a text entry form to email you, links to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. and an address for press inquiries or sending books for autographs, etc. You don’t have to give out your personal address and phone number or email. In fact, I recommend you just don’t. But don’t make it impossible to contact you either. Plenty of add-ons are available to use a generic email that forwards to your private email, etc. You can protect yourself well, but readers want to connect with you and you should enable it, not make it a challenge.

3) List Of Works. In the past, this was always called the ‘Bibliography’ page, but more and more that term is being regarded as old fashioned and people are listing their works under ‘Works’ or separated by categories like ‘Books’ and ‘Short Stories.’ How you choose to label it is up to you but list them, the date of publication, where they appeared, and whenever possible provide links to anything readers can access online. Not just purchase links, mind you, but links to read your work and get to know you. Your work itself is your greatest marketing tool. If they read it and like it, they’re more likely to buy more. And list them in order of release so people can read the books of your series in correct order.

4) Biography. Who are you? Readers want to know. Don’t tell them too much but do tell them enough to give them some hint of you as a person. Where do you live? Just the state is fine, but feel free to mention the city if you’re comfortable. Are you married? Do you have kids? Do you work full time? Have pets? What are your hobbies? Give them a taste of the real you so they get a clue as to what makes you tick and can connect with you as a real person, not just some name on books they read or buy.

5) Favorite Authors. Part of telling readers who you are is letting them in on how you’re inspired, how you developed as a writer, where you came from. This happens in not just you Biography but also by mentioning some of your favorite authors. Every writer has such influences and often they run deep and permeate our worker. Readers may already have guesses as to who those are. Let them in on it. It’s yet another way they can feel connected. After all, they may well like some of those authors, too, and, if not, you may help them discover new favorites.

6) A Blog. It’s best to incorporate the blog right into your site, but if not, have a direct link that takes them there. Your blog is where you share your heart–your writing process, a little about life events, what you care about. It’s where readers dialogue with you through not only reading and emotional responding but also with comments. This is where you build those relationships and friendships. Fellow authors and other professionals will stop by too.

7) Links. Don’t just mention your favorite Author or websites, link directly to them. This way visitors to your site don’t have to work hard to visit those places, they just click and go.  It’s the way of the World Wide Web, and believe me, it’s a distinguishing mark of a professional website. People appreciate that you provide resources and make them easy to get to. They get frustrated when you make it hard. And you don’t want your comments streams filled with dialogue about that, believe me. So make it easy and thus a pleasure to visit your site. This includes, as previously stated, making it easy to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and wherever else you are active with social media and online.

8 ) Post Regular Updates. Don’t just set up your website and leave it to rot. Update it. This should be done at least once a week, and the more the better. Post blog entries on regular days. My main blog posts go up every Monday and Thursday. Anything I post in between is extra but my readers know they can come to my blog those days every week and find new content. That makes it easy for them to know when to check in. You should make it easy, too.  Reply to comments in a timely way. It shows your readers you care and thanks them for their interest. Update your news, Works, and anything else as required. Make sure things are as up to date as possible. People stop checking websites when they sit static too long with nothing new and no updates. And once they stop, they may not come back.

9) Feeds. If possible have links to your RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, etc. right on the site–on every page. Make it easy for people to click and then follow updates. It will help hold their interest. There are lots of authors with sites. You want to keep them coming back. The more ways you provide for them to stay connected, the better.

10) Appearance Schedule. People connect with you then they want a real face to face connection. Let them know where they can meet you.

11) Determine Your Boundaries First & Stick To Them. How much personal v. professional information are you comfortable sharing? Where are your boundaries? Know before you start to avoid issues later. Do not mistake blogging for anything but public sharing, so be sure you want everyone to know before you post it.

12) An Easy To Remember URL. Okay, this probably should be number one, because it’s the most important of all. But after doing all the other stuff, if people can’t remember your website address, they won’t come. The easiest way to do it is to use your name but if you have a famous property like Robert Silverberg’s Majipoor, then that might work, too, but it needs to be something readers know widely and always think of you. After all, you need to pick something you can live with forever. It’s not that you can’t change your web address, people do. But changing it makes it likely someone will not be able to find you again. So you want to start with and maintain a URL you can live with forever if possible. Choose wisely.

Think of any I didn’t mention? Feel free to list them in comments. There’s certainly a lot more one can do with an author site than what I’ve mentioned. Links to buy your work, links to interviews and reviews, etc. Sometimes these are included in your blog or news feed and sometimes you want them separated to their own pages, like I’ve done. It’s your call. But provide them so people can find them somewhere. I do know that these basic bits will get your website up and running and working well from day one. You can always expand and fine tune it later, but starting strong is very important. I wish you success with your websites and hope this is helpful.

For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.