In the summer of 2011 I was lucky enough to attend Thrillerfest in New York City. One of the most interesting sessions was conducted by Bob Mayer, a best-selling author of many of the best “boy” books around: military thrillers. The focus of his presentation was lessons he learned in special forces, and how he uses them in his writing career. Now, I’m not big into huge institutions like the military, but I am all about learning a more disciplined approach to my writing career. When I got back home I bought his book, “Write it Forward.”
While I was on the page, I also noticed another title, “We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.” Written by Kristen Lamb. At this point, I had set up a Facebook page, but had no clue how to use it. At the conference the buzz words “branding” and “platform building” buzzed around my brain. I bought the book and also noticed that the author was teaching a class called, “Blogging to Build Your Brand.” I was like so many people, thinking that blogs were so 2005. But as I read the course description, I was intrigued and decided to sign up.
The rest as they say, is history. There were about 100 of us who signed up for that class. And the first thing Kristen had us do was all open Twitter accounts, download the Tweetdeck and all say “hello” to each other by using a hashtag: WANA1011. None of us at the time realized that what Kristen had created was nothing short of a social media miracle. We all got to know each other, first on Twitter, and through our class emails. It was a blast, especially for me, as I’m out here in the middle of the Pacific ocean, it’s so easy to feel “left out” of the conversations going on about publishing, etc. that are taking place on the mainland.
But this cured everything. Before you know it, I started this humble little blog, and from the start, I had traffic: all my WANA1011 pals. Since then we’ve been there for each other through rejections, through self-publication trials and triumphs. I couldn’t have finished my current novel without the love and support from this very special group of writers. We are the new paradigm. As a writer, you can no longer just bang away on your book, alone, in the dark, and expect to find success. You need a team. You need moral support. You need people willing to share their experience, their knowledge of the publishing industry, and you need people who “get it” Who understand how strange and awful the whole idea of being a “writer” really is.
Today is our WANA1011 First birthday. We are all posting this commemorative graphic, to celebrate our one year of fun, support, and love. Please take a look at all these names, we are from all over the country and the world. Proving that “social media” is not just fun and games. Our relationships are real, deep, and true. Thank you so much to all my WANA peeps. You have enriched my life in so many ways. Here’s to another year of WANA love!