Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

Your Platform Provides Vital Support

May 4, 2017

Indie fiction authors sometimes say this platform-building stuff doesn’t work. But the truth is, after your network of family and friends has been tapped out, if you aren’t continuously putting your book in front of new readers, nobody is going to see it.

A writer’s life isn’t a cakewalk at the best of times. But no platform-building means no significant web presence, no engaged audience of fans (or at least no direct access to them) and wasted opportunities for book marketing, promotion and visibility.

Okay, you say you’ve tinkered with a blog, only to have it succumb to a quiet, anonymous death. You’ve dipped your toe into the social media whirlpool and found yourself repeatedly dragged under.

Branding, guest posting, speaking engagements, blogging, media kits, email marketing, blog tours, networking, interviews, conferences, webinars … you’ve tried everything.

Or maybe you haven’t tried at all.

The web is full of stories of the fruitless efforts of writer wannabes who’ve already attempted the “platform thing” … and failed miserably.

If so many others have tried and failed, the concept clearly doesn’t hold water, right?

Why bother?

Still, if you decide building your writer platform is a colossal waste of time, what’s your Plan B? How will you connect with your target readers, promote your work and build your influence as an author?

Inaction Leads Nowhere
Avoidance may be a good strategy for some threats, but not this one.
The opportunity for interconnectivity that social media provides will only increase over time.

Don’t fear innovation and change, embrace it.

Choose growth and strive for continual learning and self-improvement. Be a problem-solver. Stop avoiding challenges and, instead, accept risk as part of the game.

Remember your skills and abilities aren’t fixed. They can be honed and improved. Being a writer doesn’t preclude you from being a savvy business owner, or a clever marketing strategist.

Successful writers are constantly seeking, asking questions, and applying what they’ve learned.

So, beat inertia by taking the first step.

Mindset Changes Everything
As writers, I think we can be especially creative with the mental barriers and invisible scripts we allow to run on a loop in our brains.

But in order to move forward, it’s vital you throw out any negativity. If you want people to recognize the quality of your work, your talent and your voice, take responsibility for your own actions. If something doesn’t work out the way you hoped or anticipated, learn from the situation and move on.

Prioritize What’s Important
Use your time wisely. Focus on tasks that can really move your career forward and be prepared to make some sacrifices to attain your goals. If you find yourself unfocused or procrastinating without taking the next step, stop. Most of the time, “busy” doesn’t equal productive.

Write down your goals and develop a simple strategy to get from one point to another. Recognize mistakes so you don’t repeat them, and look for what you can improve.

Building a writer platform takes time and hard work, so don’t expect instant gratification. Learn to control your time, rather than allowing others to control it for you.

Knowing the ‘Why’ and ‘Who’ Makes it Easier
What’s your purpose? What excites you? What exactly is it that you’re striving for and why have you chosen this particular path?

Knowing your “why” and being able to communicate it effectively to the “right” people (i.e., your ideal readers) makes marketing your work infinitely easier.

How do you find this elusive group of people?

You look for them.


Don’t expect them to find you. Follow the breadcrumbs they leave as they seek to satisfy their interests. They’ll leave clues in the form of comments on blogs within your genre or niche. They’ll pose questions and state opinions on forums and Facebook groups. They’ll follow similar people on Twitter, and likely be influenced by the same sources and speakers.

Find the intersection between their interests and your purpose.

It’s all right to start small. The size of your readership won’t matter nearly as much as the quality of your connection to them, so take great care to form this relationship early. Don’t just “collect” readers or followers. Invite them to join your community, believe in your message and take part in your journey.

It’s this small … but loyal … group that will help you build a writing career that matters.

Oh, and don’t forget that you also have to write a book worth reading. Even the sturdiest of platforms won’t support a book that’s garbage.

So, what’s stopping you?


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Visit my web site to hear the remarkable interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show. By the way, “Blood Lake” was recently selected as a 2016 Forward INDIES Book of the Year Finalist!


I plan to attend the next Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group Meeting at Barnes & Noble on May 16, 2017. I also plan to attend the 10th Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University on Saturday, October 21, 2017.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Have You Built Your Author Platform?

March 29, 2017

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Ever had trouble getting someone’s attention in a particularly noisy public place? If you’re an indie author trying to promote your book, you’re going to find yourself in the midst of that noisy place.

Even with a fabulous story, the competition for notice is fierce, and that’s exactly what it’s like … screaming in a crowd.

Without a dedicated platform, you may never rise above the noise.

Your job in creating that platform, which even the big publishing houses will expect you to do, is to provide support for influencers in the media, trust with booksellers and libraries and, most of all, help build demand for your book(s) with future readers.

Here’s what it takes:

#1) You Need an Author Hub
It’s essential to have your own, personal space on the web. Not a social media profile … as helpful as they can be. You need a page on the web with a URL that you control … your author website or blog … to serve as the central hub of your online presence.

Build it on your own land. Building your author platform on someone else’s space is not a good idea. You need to connect with your audience in such a way it doesn’t matter if Amazon falls, Facebook goes dark and everyone suddenly switches from Google to some other search service … you’ve still got a way to find new readers.

If the platform is your own, all that other stuff can go away and you’ll still be able to reach them.

Think of it as your online headquarters. Your web site is the center for your author presence, with information about your books and links to your publicity materials. It doesn’t need to be complicated … but it does need to be yours.

#2) Treat Your Other Profiles as Branch Offices
All the other places to find you online should be treated as branch offices. Just like the relationship in an actual company, the home office establishes the brand, and the branches carry out the brand’s mission in different localities.

Your social media profiles allow you to connect and engage with your readers where they are, but never forget each of those branch offices need to line up with the brand … and never confuse your social media following as your reachable audience.

They aren’t.

Looking for opportunities to reinforce my brand, it’s hard not to fall into the trap of thinking I need a profile on every kind of social media that comes along, but that’s a recipe for failure and burnout. If you spend all your time marketing, when are you ever going to write?

My best advice? Be where you enjoy being, and where your target readers are. If you can accomplish that with only one or two social media accounts, there’s no reason you should feel compelled to add more to the list.

However, retail sites are important. You DO want to maximize your opportunities with retailers … because those are the places most people buy your books. Your website should point to all relevant retail sites where your works are sold.

Be sure to link directly to your book. Don’t just send people to a site’s home page and hope they’ll go to the trouble of hunting for you.

Your content and appearances on other venues is important, too. This can range from being the subject of an interview (see the link to my recent radio interview on my home page), to writing a guest post for a fellow author’s blog.

#3) You Need to Build Your Mailing List
Still, I can’t stress enough how much you need to be able to access people. If you don’t have access to your readers, you don’t have a fully working platform. The best way to make sure you can reach someone is to get his or her email address. I haven’t done this very well yet myself.

For instance, look at how many followers I have to this blog … 50,000, which is flattering and nice to know … but I can’t reach them individually to ask why they’re not all buying my books … and I know they’re not.

If they were, I’d be on the best-seller list.

Now, having a mailing list is not a perfect system … but it’s way more efficient than trying to connect with followers through social media you can’t control.

Whenever you have something new to share, you can leverage the media attention when you share it with your email list. The more people who see it, knowing who you are, the more likely it is that another media outlet will find it as well (see Earned Media tag below).

To build that leverage, you need an email list of engaged readers, followers, and fans. Even a small list that’s engaged is more powerful than a bloated list of people who don’t understand how they ended up on your site in the first place.

So, how do you build your email list?

Get an email service provider. The most inexpensive options include MailChimp, Aweber, and Vertical Measures. Build your list on your web site or blog. You’ll need two things to make this work:

a) An opt-in box. For someone to give you his or her email address, there needs to a box to type in that address. There are different ways to include this on your website … including a box in the sidebar, a box at the end of your blog articles, or a box that pops up.

Most email service providers offer a way to create one of these, which you can then add to your website. You can also put one of these boxes on your Facebook profile.

b) A “lead magnet.” This is something you offer for free in exchange for those email addresses. It needs to be something relevant to your brand, so the people who want that free thing are your prospective readers. It doesn’t need to be complicated.

In fact, experts suggest that the simpler you can make your free offer, the better. Some suggestions include: a free flash fiction short story; a checklist or a chart; or free writing tips/training.

Once you have your email service provider and your opt-in sequence in place, be sure to create an opt-in form on a dedicated landing page. That way, you can link to that page and invite your followers over from Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, or any of your other branch offices. I’ve used one before, and my permanent one is coming soon. You can also include a link from inside your books.

Once you begin to build your list, you can keep in touch with your readers. Depending on what is consistent with your brand, you can email out reviews of books you enjoyed; send out samples; send out a newsletter; or simply collect the email addresses and wait until it’s time to announce your next book when it’s ready for pre-order.

#4) You Need a Press Kit
It sounds like you’re already expected to do a lot, but it would be difficult to overstate the value of a quality press kit on your website. It can make all the difference in growing your author platform. A good author press kit is going to build bridges between you, the media and your future readers.

I have my media pages on a separate site, that I link everywhere.

When people come to your author website, particularly journalists and book-bloggers, you only have a matter of seconds to show them what they’re looking for, before they bounce off to find another author instead.

Most of them won’t go to the trouble of contacting you for more information. They don’t have time to waste tracking down the simple details you should have posted.

Having it readily available establishes your credibility. It explains who you are as an author, what you write, and why you write it. It helps convince them that you are worth interviewing, writing about, carrying on their shelves and reading.

So, what are the most important elements of an author press kit?

First, you need to create a series of materials explaining who you are as a writer. Second, you need to explain your book and why it’s important. The third category is images … at least one strong author photo, and an image of your book cover(s).

Another reason the complete press kit (or at least a link to it) needs to appear on your website … some members of the media might be swinging by at all hours of the day or night, and they don’t have time to wait for you to check your email or to get home from that trip to reply to a message. They need what they need right now.

So, your press kit needs to be complete and available for their use when and if they show up. It’s kind of like insurance … if you wait until you need it, you’re too late.

#5) You Need to Build Your Authority
Once the foundation is in place … your author website; the ability to collect reader emails; and the press kit to support your brand … the next stage in building your author platform is to grow the number of people who visit your website and sign up for your mailing list.

We’ll talk next time on how to do that.


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Visit my web site to hear the remarkable interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show. By the way, “Blood Lake” was just selected as a 2016 Forward INDIES Book of the Year Finalist!


I will be attending the Rochester Writers’ Spring Conference at Oakland University on Saturday, April 1, 2017. On April 30, I will participate in a book-signing event by local authors at the eclectic store, Leon & Lulu.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

How Do You Find Readers?

December 19, 2016


So … you’ve written and just indie-published your book and now all you have to do is find fans, right?

Good luck.

You’re probably going to be disappointed in what I say next, because I’m not going to offer a magic way to get a ton more readers.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, and anyone who tells you different is either trying to sell you something, or scamming you.

Readers are only gained a few at a time, even if you experience a sudden and serendipitous burst of exposure. I know this for a fact.

I’ve written and published six books. I’ve won five awards for them. I’ve been interviewed by local media (newspaper & TV). I even got a particularly nice Kirkus Review.

All things considered, I do all right. But are people falling all over themselves to send me money for my books? In a word … no.

There are not enough people who know my name.

Long-Term Strategy
Unless you’re Stephen King, whose name is familiar enough he could probably sell his weekly grocery list, finding readers takes time. Name recognition is seldom an overnight thing.

Gathering your fans is long-term strategy.

Believe it or not, it starts with your other books. Writing more books is the way to find readers, and writing good books is almost always the best way to turn casual readers into true fans.

I run into new authors all the time who say, “But I don’t want to write more books. I want readers for the book I already have.”

I can sympathize. Writing a good book can be difficult. The last thing I wanted to hear after completing my first novel was it’s time to turn around and do it all again.

But here’s the painful truth: Marketing your book is harder than writing it, and your chance of making enough to live on from one book is next to nothing anyway. Your footprint is simply too small. You’ll get lost in the noise.

If you write another book (and another, and another), your drawing power multiplies with each release. Each book becomes a little funnel scooping a few more people toward you.

After enough books and time (with no promises as to how many or how much), you’re likely to cast a net wide enough your ideal readers will find it hard to miss you.

But if you have nothing else to offer? Well, then what reason is there for readers to stick around?

People may not be talking about your books in line at major retailers yet, but hopefully they are discussing them somewhere. If they are, you’ll start to gain fans automatically.

Why? Word-of-mouth is a money machine.

It may only churn pennies at the start, but if it’s out there working for you … at all … it builds with every new release.

I’ve written about this before. Word-of-mouth is huge. In the trade, word-of-mouth is called earned media (you can check some of my earlier posts by clicking this link).

Ask yourself the last time an ad persuaded you to buy and read a book. Now ask yourself the last time you got a book recommendation from someone you know.

Easy answer, isn’t it?

Reading takes a lot of time, and accepting a word-of-mouth book recommendation is therefore an act of trust. Most people get book suggestions they believe from friends and family. A writer has to be good enough at his craft for his books to move readers to feel something they want others to feel.

If you write well enough to do that, then … and this is important … you need to take your book(s) public. Getting your name known is the biggest part of the battle. How do you go about that?

There are lots of groups looking for speakers. Check out your local Humanities Councils; Arts Councils; Book Clubs; Libraries; Schools. By writing more and actively extending your craft as a speaker, you deepen the emotional connection with readers.

Plus, you will have a captive audience at each venue and several minutes to do nothing but sell your books. The people who hear you speak (assuming you don’t bore them silly) will talk about you to their friends. Earned media at it’s best.

Social Networks
That’s it? Yes and no. Everyone knows that social networks are also important. Of course, some folks would have you believe there is some sort of magic power in the latest big online thing.

Well, you should know there are folks out there looking for people who believe in that magic. Why? Because they know a ton of wanna-be writers will buy bogus quick-fix solutions all day long.

If your email spam folder is anything like mine, you know there’s course-after-course out there promising to teach you how to use social media networks to make your fortune. But if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know how I feel about that.

It’s total bullshit. There is no Easy Button.

Let me tell you what online social networks are: they’re networks of people. Who are being social. Online. That’s it.

It’s important to be social, but the minute you start to think you should build your business’s lead generation around something like Twitter, stop and ask yourself if that’s remotely intelligent.

Yes, you should use Twitter and the other social networks, but don’t depend on them. Over time, I’ve built a significant following for this blog, and I have lots of Twitter followers. But if Twitter vanishes tomorrow the sky won’t fall.

I’ll keep on telling stories, just as storytellers have been doing forever, and simply find another way to connect with people who might like my work.

Definitely take advantage of modern tools … they are this century’s equivalent of afternoon tea socials … but don’t overthink it, because it’s not a magic bullet.

Use social media to be social. And remember, you will grow your truest fan base by staying authentic.

Oh yes … and by writing good books.


I hope to be busy enjoying time with my family and friends over the holidays. That’s also my sincere wish for you, too. Happy Holidays!


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

%d bloggers like this: