ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Your Social Media Score Will Get You Published

Are you serious?

I thought I was done with high school, but it seems that now if I want to get published, I have to be one of the handsome cool kids. The problem is that I'm not really one of the handsome cool kids. I'm just this dude who sometimes talks too fast and stutters and sometimes is a klutz and trips and most of the time goes web surfing for food and wine porn. Nothing too cool about that...except to me.

So what do I do then if I want to get traditionally published?

Truth of the matter, everyone stands a chance to be a cool kid online. Social networking is the great equalizer and has leveled the stage for old Dungeons and Dragon nerds like me. We use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogger, Linked-in, Pinterest, Reddit, Youtube, etc. And publishers have found ways to determine what your sale-ability is.

Rob Eager shares in Stop Grading an Author's Social Media Prescence in a Guardian article:

I’ve actually sat in several meetings with literary agents, acquisitions editors and marketing directors who asked misguided questions, such as:

• Is this author on Facebook and Twitter?
• How many followers do they have?
• How often does the author post and do they get many shares and retweets?
There are a couple of tools they use to determine what a potential or current author's social impact is.

KLOUT is a big one. Do you know what your Klout Score is? Do you even have one? One guy claims that he wasn't hired because his Klout score was too low. Mine averages at about 70 (rated from 1 to 100). Conversely, wanna-be-bad-boy Canadian boy-man singer Justin Beiber's is 94. So what does Klout do?

“In this work, we present the Klout Score, an influence scoring system that assigns scores to 750 million users across 9 different social networks on a daily basis. We propose a hierarchical framework for generating an influence score for each user, by incorporating information for the user from multiple networks and communities. Over 3600 features that capture signals of influential interactions are aggregated across multiple dimensions for each user. The features are scalably generated by processing over 45 billion interactions from social networks every day, as well as by incorporating factors that indicate real world influence.” Social Media Today

The same article I referenced above also claims that clerks at resort hotels in Vegas look up customer's Klout scores as they check in to determine which ones should receive special perks like room upgrades because they know that the customers will broadcast their happiness across their social networks.

Whoops. Looks like I slipped almost 7 points in the last 90 days. Funny how that coincides with working on a contracted novel. Now I guess I'm not going to get any special attention at a Vegas resort. So sad.

Do you know that major publishing houses
have social network auditors?

As it turns out, major publishing houses have social media auditors. When Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martins Press) published my SEAL Team 666 book, I was audited by a nice fella who pointed out how awful my website and my blogger were and what I needed to do to fix the errors. Now, I was actually happy to get this. I mean, what the hell do I know about marketing and capturing audiences? I'm just a writer. If you're reading this and the page is stripped of everything and is all white, you can see that I have no idea how to do these things. I was asked several times to make sure I did what the auditor had asked me to do. And I did. But what would have happened, I wonder, if I'd ignored their audit?

One way you can measure your own impact is through Twitter Analytics. Twitter has a feature where you can check your engagement and reach. You can track your audience by their job, their interests, even their buying styles. It will even tell you what the best time of the day is to tweet.
There's also Google Analytics to consider. It tells you how many times the webpages you mange have been viewed, what the bounce rate is (where they only look at one page and then leave without going to another page on your site), and how long on average they spend on your site. My average, for instance, for this blog for the last thirty days is a session time of 1:51 seconds with 91% bounce. That last number is a good and bad thing. It shows while people were interested enough to come read something, they didn't want to stay and peruse the site.

Let's not forget Google Trends. You can plug anything in there to see how often it's been searched, such as your name and your book titles.

So there are ways you can judge yourself and determine

But not everyone is happy with this. Rob Eager has a valid point that takes me back to the cool kids in high school cliques:

Making acquisitions and marketing decisions based in large part on an author’s social media popularity is like assigning grades to students based on their accent or physical attractiveness: it’s subjective and largely unrelated to the actual skillset needed to succeed. (Stop Grading an Author's Social Media Prescence)

Regardless whether it's right or wrong or efficient, it's clear that publishing houses are trying to use social media analytics and auditors to help them sell more books. If and when they choose to value grade individual authors, it's sort of up to you to determine how willing you are to improve your individual impact in the social media universe. Your Klout score might mean the difference between them publishing you, or that other author they have who has a similar book.


  1. Great post! Knowing our stats can show us what we are doing right and wrong, but it is so important not to become an obsessive, sitting awake into the early hours, continually pressing the refresh button in the hope of revelation.

  2. Right? And it's so easy to get obsessed and forget about what's really important-- the words on the page.

  3. Wow. I find that quite disturbing. Yes, I see my favorite writers on Facebook, etc., but generally speaking they pay someone else to post on their behalf, so what's the point? I'd be much happier if they spent more time researching and writing (thank you, Diana Gabaldon, for all the effort!) than on spending more than 5 minutes a day on their Facebook/blog/Twitter/etc accounts combined. I'm working hard to write a story and I don't want to have to conquer social media mountains in order to publish it. I'm really not crazy about that trend.