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Ruth’s Soapbox

Self-Publishing vs Using a Publisher – The Joys and Frustrations

ruthcover smallerI’ve had the privilege of becoming a book author. I self-published my first book The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed last year (and published a revision of it this past summer). That book led to me getting a book contract with the American Bar Association to write Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans, which came out this summer and The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers, which is due to be published in February 2014.

Both types of publishing come with their joys and frustrations. I love the independence of being an indie author but then the responsibility is on me to do everything (or find people to outsource to). On the flip side, I’ve had a mostly great experience working with my publishing teams, but that also means more cooks in the kitchen and having to play by their rules.

In regards to my next book, I turned the first draft in to my publisher in August with the expectation that it would be published before the end of the year. (I turned the first draft of Flash Mob Law in to my publisher in May and it was published in August.) I did not expect to hear in October that they wanted a major re-write. In the big picture, it was the right thing to do, but definitely required me to rearrange my calendar a bit. I busted my ass to get it done by Halloween so they could get it out, or at the very least get me a galley, by December.

I was frustrated as hell when I heard that wasn’t possible, especially after I worked so hard to keep things on schedule. How long does it take to format, copyedit, and print a book? It’s already cleared legal review and I know I can review edits in 24 hours if I have to. My publication date is only delayed by a few months and in the long run everything will be fine but I definitely had a few expressive moments while I was adjusting to that information.

Here’s my compilation of the joys and frustrations that come with being an indie author and having a publisher.

INDIE AUTHOR PUBLISHER
PUBLICATION DATE I pick it. They pick it.
WRITING My work. My way. They can require re-writes.
DEADLINES No one’s holding my feet to the fire but me. Hard deadlines.
COPYEDITTING I’m responsible for hiring a good copyeditor. They take care of it. I have 5 days after receiving a draft to approve edits.
COVER ART I’m responsible for hiring a graphic designer and describing what I think I want. They have a team of artists and I get to pick the final version from the options they provide.
MARKETING That’s my job too. They have a team for that.
EBOOK OPTION Of course! They say they’re going to do it.
PAPER OPTION I got frustrated trying to figure out CreateSpace and gave up. Available on the ABA website.
PRICE I decide ($3.99). They decide ($39.95).
ROYALTIES Monthly. Annually.
SALES I work for every sale. Minimum sales guaranteed.
MY WORK Never ends. Basically done once the final draft is done, except for reviewing galleys.
COPYRIGHT Guaranteed mine. Had to negotiate to keep it.

Created with the HTML Table Generator

There is no one right way to be an author but it’s good to understand what you’re getting into when you decide which path you’re going to take.

The List: Professional Development for Law Students and other Young Professionals

I wrote most of these posts with law students in mind, but the information works for any young professional who wants to network effectively and stand out in their professional community.

Photo by AJ Grucky

Photo by AJ Grucky

Don’t Lose Your Personality When You Get Your JD

How Networking Works

LinkedIn for Law Students

Twitter – The Untapped Resource for Law Students

Business Cards for Law Students

Lawyers’ Bad Reputations Start with Arrogant Law Students

Top 3 Tools for Establishing a Name for Yourself

Top 10 Blogging Tips for Law Students

Scheduling Lunch with a Litigator Made Me Never Want to be One

Why Are Lawyers so Bitchy?

Going Pantsless was the Best Thing I Did in Law School

I hope these have been helpful!

Other Lists:
Law School Survival
Bar Exam Survival and Domination

Boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympics and its Sponsors

Like many of you, I’m disgusted by the Russian law that prohibits discussing “non-traditional” sexual relationships in the presence of minors or suggesting that such relationships are equal to “traditional” ones. Russian officials claim the law is designed to protect minors.

Bullshit.

When laws are written to “protect the children” when their physical safety isn’t at risk, it’s the government’s way of trying to justify their closed-minded assholery.

Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge by Jon Curnow from Flickr (Creative Common License)

Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge by Jon Curnow from Flickr (Creative Common License)

This law pissed me off and I’m proud of anyone who is standing up against it. I was really pissed off this week when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) claimed that they have no grounds to challenge the Russian law and that they are satisfied with the situation as long as “the Olympic charter is respected.”

Let’s look at the Olympic charter. Page 11 contains the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” which include the following:

  • “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity,” and
  • “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Tell me again how the Russian anti-LGBT law doesn’t violate these principles?

I can understand why the IOC doesn’t want to call off the games or try to move the venue but to say that there’s nothing they can do about the Russian law suggests that their scared of what will happen if they speak out against it. But by staying silent, they are condoning it. How can they claim to have fundamental principles in their charter if they won’t stand up for what they believe when they are challenged? And I understand why countries aren’t boycotting the games – I don’t think the athletes should be punished because the host country is run by bigots. If the athletes want to boycott the games, that’s their prerogative.

When the anti-LGBT law was passed, the boycott of Russian vodka started. I don’t drink, but I fully support this effort. When I heard that the IOC wouldn’t speak out against the law, I was angry and disappointed. My friend ask what I was going to do about it and I said I was going to boycott the games – and I love to watch the Olympics. She suggested that I boycott the Olympic sponsors too.

That makes perfect sense! They have money on the line and are expecting a good return on their investment. For people who feel strongly about this issue should put their money where their mouths are and not patronize the companies who are sponsoring the games – at least for the duration of the 2014 Olympics and Paralympics (February 7-23 and March 7-16, 2014). The 2014 games sponsors include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, and Proctor and Gamble. If you want to join the boycott, you may be paying cash for everything and you’ll have to read the labels of your personal and household products for that month.

I’m a huge fan of spending money with companies who represent your values. I don’t shop at Walmart because of the way they treat their employees; I don’t patronize Barilla because of their anti-gay stance; I won’t shop at any store during the holidays that has a Salvation Army bell ringer outside because they discriminate against the LGBT community; and even though Chick-fil-A doesn’t support anti-gay groups, I still can’t bring myself to go there.

One thing that will convince me not to boycott the Olympic sponsors is if the companies add pro-LGBT images (same-sex couples, rainbow flags, etc.) to their Olympic marketing materials. I understand why a company can’t back out now, but they would have an awesome effect if they said “fuck you” to the Russians and filled Sochi and the Olympic TV coverage with rainbows.

34 Things

In honor of my 34th trip around the sun, I thought I’d share 34 things about me you may not have known.

1. My favorite color is blue. My signature color is pink.

Ignite Phoenix After Hours #3 - photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Ignite Phoenix After Hours #3 – photo by Devon Christopher Adams

2. The only adrenaline rush adventure I won’t do again is ride in a hot air balloon. I rode in one once and had a strong urge to jump out when we were about 100 feet off the ground.

3. I won’t answer my phone when I’m naked unless I’m OK with the person calling seeing me naked.

4. I will buy a lottery ticket if the jackpot is at least $200 million.

5. I’m not Jewish, but I love the phrase “mazel tov.”

6. My favorite flower is the stargazer lily.

7. I know pi out to 10 decimal places (3.1415926535…).

8. I don’t have a green thumb. Don’t give me a houseplant because I will ignore it until it dies.

9. I am an existentialist.

10. I can and will untie your shoelaces with my toes.

11. It’s a sign of affection if I address you by first and middle name. The middle name I use for you may or may not be your legal middle name.

12. I don’t use my real name when ordering coffee.

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams for Phoenix Comicon

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams for Phoenix Comicon

13. My childhood babysitter gave me the nickname “Snicklefritz.”

14. My current cartoon alter ego is Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck It Ralph. My previous one was Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc.

15. I love British words like “spinster.”

16. Sometimes I speak with a British accent for no reason, and I’ll still claim to be from California.

17. If I warn you that I’m going to bite you, I will really bite you if you keep doing whatever you’re doing that’s annoying me.

18. I can’t stand having anything between my toes so I can’t wear flip flops or toe socks.

19. I hate valets. I don’t like letting strangers drive my car.

20. I failed my depth perception test. It’s funny to watch me try to parallel park.

21. I need to know your personality to find you attractive. That’s why I tend not to have crushes on celebrities – they’re just pretty faces because I don’t know what they’re like in real life.

22. I can’t guarantee I’ll shower every day.

23. I am a Starfleet captain – and yes I earned it. (Don’t ask me how, just accept it.) When I wear my Starfleet uniform in public (yes, it’s a uniform, not a costume), I expect to be addressed as “Captain” by those who know what it means.

24. Given the choice, I prefer to be called “sir” over “ma’am” and “Doctor” over “Miss.”

25. I’ve had 3 concussions. I’m sure that explains a lot. My head is so dented my friend calls it “the skate park.”

26. My all-time favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla.

27. I’ve had 14 body piercings. I’m currently down to 2.

28. I’d tattoo the bottoms of my feet a la Alan Rickman in Blow Dry if I wouldn’t walk it off.

29. Don’t feel bad if I don’t like your child. I hate 99.9% of all children.

30. I love the way I look when I sit “Indian style” but it’s really uncomfortable.

31. I strive to have all my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving.

32. Two of my biggest pet peeves are being late and getting lost.

33. I don’t like bacon maple doughnuts. I like bacon and I like maple bars, but not the combination of the two.

34. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m an introvert.

The Sky’s Not Falling – It’s Just Raining

So it’s raining in Phoenix. To the rest of the world, the fact that it’s raining is no big deal, but here it is headline news. Headline news. And I’m not talking about flood damage or people needing to be rescued – just the fact that it’s raining is big news around here. Just like we take pictures of temperature readings when it’s really hot and really cold, people in Phoenix are posting pictures of puddles! Seriously!

I rain! by Devon Christopher Adams, used with permission

I rain! by Devon Christopher Adams, used with permission

Why is it big news when it rains in Phoenix? It doesn’t happen here very often, but a lot of us are transplants from places like Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. It snows there! I lived in Oregon for almost six years. When it rains there we don’t even get out umbrellas, we just pop our hoods up and keep walking. I think it’s so funny that people who spent decades living in weather won’t go outside if it’s sprinkling once they move here.

Since we have so many transplants in Arizona, it’s very strange that people seem to forget how to drive in the rain once they move here. There seems to be two types of rainy day drivers – those who keep speeding and are risk of hydroplaning at any moment and those who drive less than 5 mph. True story: I was the third car back at a light during a rain storm and it took three light cycles to get through the intersection because the people in front of wouldn’t move.

Whatever happened to “ease off the gas but keep driving?” I will give Phoenix drivers some leeway because they don’t use the street paint here that shines through water so it can be really hard to see you lane lines. I prefer not to drive on the freeway during the rain, but if I’m on a six-lane street and there are only a handful of cars on the road, I think we can maneuver around each other safely enough.

The one legitimate quibble about Phoenix and rain is the flooding. Now, I’m not talking about the morons who need to be rescued because their car floated off when they drove through a flooded street. (Enjoy that $20,000 helicopter bill.) I’m talking about the fact that our city was constructed without any thoughts about rain so it floods literally five minutes after it starts raining. We all know it doesn’t rain much in the desert, but we have monsoons. A lot of the time when it rains, it pours. The rain falls so hard I regularly walk around the house to make sure the skylights are holding.

So what are the take-home lessons:

  • Don’t freak out because it’s raining. You know how to drive in this stuff.
  • If you’ve forgotten how to drive in the rain, stay off the road.
  • If you can’t see the road, it’s too deep to drive through the water.
  • If the fact that it’s raining is the highlight of your day, you need a hobby. Unless you’re a storm chaser – then be careful out there.

What’s the Answer to Homelessness?

I regularly work out by riding my bike along the canals in Phoenix. They’re well-maintained and there are often underpasses so we don’t have to worry about being hit by cars. A lot of bikers, walkers, and runners use them.

Last Day of Summer...is finally over... by Ms. Phoenix from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Last Day of Summer…is finally over… by Ms. Phoenix from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

So there’s one section of a canal I regular ride that I call “the homeless section” because a large handful of homeless people make their camps near the canal. They rarely camp along the canal itself, but I see them when I ride by. I generally don’t have a problem with the homeless people along the canal. They keep to themselves and don’t cause any problems for people who ride, walk, and run along the canal. The one homeless man who sleeps in the underpass near my house packs up his camp at first light and rarely leaves any trash behind. I only time I have a problem is when there’s a safety issue.

The recent rains have led some of them to seek shelter in the underpass and I understand why they do that. When they do this, they can create a safety problem because the underpasses are barely wide enough to allow a service vehicle to drive through it. When 4-5 homeless people set up their camp in there, the remaining area is so narrow that two cyclists can’t pass each other without a high risk of colliding.

There were a number of remnants of homeless camps in the tunnels. No idea why these clothes were abandoned by Matt Mechtley from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

There were a number of remnants of homeless camps in the tunnels. No idea why these clothes were abandoned by Matt Mechtley from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

As I was on my way home on a ride last week, I saw some of the homeless people who had camped overnight in the underpass rolling their carts out of the tunnel. I thought they were just packing up to get on with their day, but when I got into the tunnel, I came face-to-face with a police SUV that was making all the homeless people clear out. I thanked the officers because, unlike the homeless man who is up at the break of dawn, this group of people were sleeping and hanging out in the underpass during the height of the morning workout crowd which was putting the homeless at risk of being hit by cyclists or other people crashing into each other.

But this situation made me think, “What’s the answer?” How should we address homelessness in the community? There are homeless shelters but they may be full or individuals may have mental health or addiction problems that prevent them from adhering to the shelters’ rules. And there may be people who want to live on the streets when they consider their options. The answers aren’t easy or obvious.

It makes me very sad when I hear about homeless veterans. They have put their lives on the line for us and I hope we have programs in place to take care of those who want to help themselves. One of the veterans’ shelters is at risk of closing unless they raise $56,310. Serah Blain has dedicated her life to achieving this goal. She is voluntarily living on the streets of Phoenix to raise awareness of this problem and she said will keep living on the streets until they raise enough to keep the shelter open.

What’s the answer to homelessness? I don’t know. But it’s a problem that’s not going away. And it’s a problem that needs to be addressed at a higher level to prevent people from being homeless to begin with instead of waiting for people to be in such dire straits before we decide it’s a problem.

Running and Head Games

My friend asked me to write about the head games when it comes to running, in particular how do I keep going when it comes to training for a race, not quit, and accomplish a goal. For me, once I’ve paid the race registration, not doing the race is not an option. The only exception has been the 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix when I was in a car accident three weeks before race day.

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

Running by Tomas Fano from Flickr

I don’t train for 5Ks. I rarely ever do 5K races because I think it’s wrong that I will spend more time getting ready for the race and driving to the starting line than I will actually spend doing the race. But on the rare occasion I do one, my performance may be completely pathetic if I haven’t been training because I forget that 3.1 miles will be painful if I haven’t been running.

For long races like half marathons, I lock in to a training program very easily. I like Hal Higdon’s half marathon training program for novices. Even though I’ve done the half marathon four times, I stick with this program because it gets me ready for the race without causing too much leg pain for my ex-gymnast body.

I’m really strict about sticking to the training program. I put it on my calendar and not doing a run is not an option. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be fun; but it does have to get done.  It’s just one foot in front of the other. I plan out my route in advance so I know where my turns are and I just crank it out. There are almost no excuses for not doing a run.

  • I’m tired: Suck it up. The faster you run, the sooner you get home.
  • It’s dark: Wear a reflective belt so cars can see you and a headlamp so you can see where you’re going.
  • It’s cold: Bundle up.
  • It’s below freezing and there’s ice on the sidewalk: Wait until the ice melts but you’re still going.
  • It’s hot: Run before sunrise and put on some sunblock.
  • It’s raining: Leave your iPod at home.
  • I’m traveling: Pack your sneakers.
  • I’m sick: Would walking your miles interfere with you getting better?
  • I’m sore: Stretch more.
  • I’m hurt: Take it easy or walk.
  • I’m injured: Stay home and get better.
  • I’m busy: Make it work. If something’s important to you, you make the time.

One tactic that works well for me is running first thing in morning. I lay out all my clothes and gear the night before so I can get up and out the door before I fully realize that I’m awake. Once I’m on the road, I’m fine, but getting out the door sometimes the hardest part.

And I take comfort in knowing that running isn’t always fun even for the die-hard runners. I was at Runner’s Den getting new shoes last year and it was comforting to hear a clerk say that the first two miles are always painful for him. That’s me too, especially on the longer runs. It takes 10-20 minutes for my body to get used to pounding the pavement and find a rhythm for that day’s run.

So how does this translate to setting and achieving goals the real world that require a long term commitment?

  • Have a plan of action that makes sense for who you are and your goal.
  • Commit to following the plan. No, really commit to the plan.
  • Set yourself up to succeed.
  • Confront your excuses.
  • Adjust your plan when sticking to it will likely keep you from achieving the ultimate goal.

Goals should be hard to achieve. That’s part of what makes them worth pursuing. Accept that it’s not always going to be a fun time and take comfort that everyone who’s working towards a goal isn’t happy all the time along the way.

Why the Office Slacker is Getting Ahead

I’m a member of a new group for women rainmakers. We get together about every other month to chat about our marketing efforts and challenges. They’re wonderful women but I cringed at our last meeting when one member suggested that we make a concerted effort to refer each other business.

Summertime lunch @ Bryant Park Aug 2009-03 by Ed Yourdon from Flickr

Summertime lunch @ Bryant Park, Aug 2009-03 by Ed Yourdon from Flickr

I understand why she made this suggestion – the ultimate purpose of networking is to get more business, but I think too many people miss that the point is building relationships. I avoid all referral-based networking groups like BNIs. These groups only let one person from of each type of profession join the group and the overt expectation is you’ll give referrals to other group members. This might be a good idea if you’re new to town and building a network from scratch. But I’ve lived in my city for nearly a decade so even though I’m a relatively new lawyer, I already have my go-to network professionals that I know and trust. Why would I refer work to someone I’ve had lunch with in a big group setting three times over the person I’ve worked directly with for years?

A lot of professionals, and especially women, don’t get that relationship-building aspect of networking. My female counterparts who work in firms mistakenly believe that working hard at their jobs will eventually get them what they want. And I don’t think that’s true – that method will keep you where you are. The reason why the “slacker” in the office is moving up the ranks faster is because they’re taking the time to form mutually-beneficial relationships in and outside the company. Their connections lead to the opportunities that get them ahead. This is why Lois Frankel advises women that they need to spend 5% of their day “wasting time” and building relationships.

The most successful people I know have meet and greet meetings at least three times a week, who never eat alone, and really get to know people. They don’t just talk to people about their work. They talk about their kids, where they like to travel, their favorite hobbies – stuff that feels irrelevant in the professional world, but is the stuff that matters most. They don’t have a list of contacts; they have a network of relationships.

And let me tell you a secret – I have a bad memory when it comes to people. I have to meet you at least 3 times to remember who are. I maintain a database of my contacts and I keep track of what you do and also what we talked about in terms of kids, vacations, upbringing, etc. It’s the personal connections that become the basis of our relationship. (If you’re a jerk, I will write myself a note that reminds me to never send business your way.)

I will almost never refer business to someone I’ve met once and exchanged business cards at a networking event. I refer business to people I see on a regular basis and who I genuinely like as a person. It happened this year with my friend Jeremy Rodgers who I met about a year ago. He works at Community Tire Pros and Auto Repair. I see him at events all the time. We never talk about work beyond the generic, “How’s business?” We chat about things that are way more interesting. He’s a nice guy and I like what his company does in the community. When I needed new tires this year, I didn’t think to go anywhere except Community Tire. (BTW – They took wonderful care of me and my car.)

In a world where, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you,” relationship building needs to be a priority. People hire people, not businesses so making connections with others is critical. And it can be a challenge to give yourself permission to make building relationships a priority – it is for me. I constantly remind myself that going to events and especially doing the one-on-one follow-up creates the foundation on which my future success will be built.

What’s Up with the Bad Gymnast Hair?

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love gymnastics. I took classes starting at age 4; I competed through high school; and I plan my schedule around when competitions are on TV. I even have “my spot” at Wells Fargo Arena where I always sit to watch the ASU gymnastics home meets. It’s a fantastic sports that combines dynamics and grace in such a beautiful way.

Bad Gymnast Hair (and this is nothing compared to how bad it gets) by Parker Knight from Flickr

Bad Gymnast Hair (and this is nothing compared to how bad it gets) by Parker Knight from Flickr

Here’s what I don’t get: over the last 4-5 years, girls’ hair has gotten really messy. When I was competing, our hair had to be pulled back tight and if we had any wispies, they had to be pulled out of the way with gel, clips, or both. Now a lot of girls are doing a ponytail where they pull it up but then pull it through halfway again. This style can look good, but now the way these girls are doing it. It looks like they rolled out of bed, whipped their hair up really quick, and then forgot to do it for the competition.

At the Secret U.S. Challenge over the weekend, some of the girls had hair that looked ridiculous. You could tell some of them had really long hair – too long just to put in a ponytail. They should have braided it and folded it under or put it in bun but instead they had these knots on top of their heads or looked like they had some type of weird horse-inspired hairstyle. Some of them were really bad. (I’m not going to name names because these are children, but you know who you are.)

I understand why a teen would want to do this, but I don’t understand why the coaches let them get away with it. My coaches never did. At one meet my coach thought my bangs were too long and she cut them right then and there. At the national championships one year, one of my teammates’ ponytails was a bit too long and my coach cut her hair in the hotel room.

I don’t get it. This is a sport based on giving a flawless performance. These girls spend thousands of hours over the course of years perfecting their skills. On competition day these girls wear beautiful leotards and have perfect makeup. Why would they neglect their hair? Judges have discretion to take off points for “general impression.” If I were a judge and a girl had a sloppy appearance, I’d dock them for it.

This is not the first time I’ve jumped on this soapbox. As one of “The Gays in Row 16,” this is one of my biggest pet peeves at ASU gymnastics meets. Those girls are beautiful, talented, and improved so much in the last few years, but they are notorious for having sloppy hair. Some of them look like they got up that morning, mindless threw up their hair in a rubber band, got mauled by a bear on their way to school, and then competed that night. I would send the team a gift basket of gel and maximum hold hairspray if I thought they’d use it.

I hope the slobbification of USA Gymnastics ends soon. The US Gymnastics Championships is coming up in a few weeks and I hope the powers that be require the girls to have a flawless appearance from head-to-toe. The girls are too good to look so bad.

This is how Gymnasts' Hair Should Look - Women line up for gymnastics by bryangeek from Flickr

This is how Gymnasts’ Hair Should Look – Women line up for gymnastics by bryangeek from Flickr

Every Time You Suck At Social Media, A Kitten Dies

I am not a social media expert, guru, or whatever those people are calling themselves this week. I’m just a person who loves social media. I’ve learned how to use it mostly by watching others and attending my fair share of social media seminars for individuals and business owners. I’m lucky that many of my friends are well-regarded for their work in social media marketing and I know shut up and listen when they’re talking about what works.

#SaveTheKittens; Photo by dougwoods from Flickr

#SaveTheKittens; Photo by dougwoods from Flickr

It’s frustrating to see companies and organizations suck at using social media. They clutter the feed with garbage which damages their reputations. I had it crammed down my throat that social media is a communications tool to facilitate interactions with others; it’s not a digital billboard. There are times I want to tweet at people, “Every time you suck at Twitter, a kitten dies,” but I know it’s a waste of time because they don’t pay attention to what anyone else says about or to them.

Here are some of the most common and annoying offenses people are committing with their social media accounts and putting kittens in fear all over the world that they might not survive your next post:

  1. Having social accounts and never posting anything or abandoning your accounts for long periods without explanation.
  2. Having social media accounts but never responding when anyone tries to interact with you, especially customers.
  3. Talking only about yourself. This is especially true if you exclusively post “sales-y stuff.”
  4.  Thanking every person who likes or follows you. (This looks like bragging or that you have nothing useful to say.)
  5.  Bombing the feed by posting several times in a row.
  6.  Deleting posts to correct or clarify statements. (It’s better to post an update instead.)
  7.  Starting a blog and stop adding posts after two weeks (sometimes less). Blogging takes a commitment.
  8.  Connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts so your tweets make no sense because they cut off after the 140th character.
  9.  Asking for retweets (aka digital panty throwing) or indulging digital panty throwers.
  10.  Tweeting that you posted something new on your Facebook page or another social media account. (If your fans cared what you put on your other profiles, they would connect with you there.)
  11.  Posting dead links or bad links.
  12.  Getting defensive with critics.
Don't let this kitten die because you suck at social media; Photo by kennymatic from Flickr

Don’t let this kitten die because you suck at social media; Photo by kennymatic from Flickr

Facebook has a “like” button, but I think they need to add buttons for “dislike” and “dead kitten.” Most of us cringe, grumble, and unfollow when someone sucks at social media. Perhaps adding these buttons would help companies understand when they suck and inspire them to seek out professional assistance.

One of the best social media tips I’ve received is “be useful.” Think about your audience’s needs and look for ways to interact with them. If you see yourself in the list, here are some book recommendations for being better at social media:

For those of you who are visual learners, check out Oatmeal’s take on this topic.

Hat tip to everyone to contributed tips and suggestions for this post.

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