Posts Tagged ‘book marketing’

What’s a Writers’ Platform Again?

March 18, 2017

Photo by Christian Betrand, courtesy Shutterstock

About ten years ago, the publishing industry starting tossing out the word “platform” like confetti during a rock concert. Major publishers started expecting authors to have an existing platform, because they were far easier to promote.

Soon everyone, including indie authors, used the new “platform” buzz word, but few really understood what it was or why they needed it.

Cycle forward ten years. Everything has changed. Not only do we live in a world where anyone can publish, but in order to gain any kind of attention for your book, you must have one.

A platform, that is (there’s that word again).

So, what does it really take to build one? Surprisingly, not much, but sometimes it’s easier to understand what it isn’t.

Having “no platform” means you have very little presence in any existing social media, do little or no blogging and, in some cases, have no web site.

Feel like you belong to this crowd? You’re in good company.

Many new authors, not just those who are indies, are like this. Their lack of understanding often brings inaction or, in some cases, the wrong action.

Who Knows You?
In essence, a platform is not who you know, but who knows you. Simple, right? A platform is really the series of actions that put you in front of your reader.

Apparently, what you really need to do is run ads.

Good luck.

I can’t comment on the effectiveness of ads without knowing your particular market and your budget but, regardless of genre, if you have the kind of budget it actually takes, you don’t need the rest of this article.

However, if your budgets are more like mine (read almost non-existent) you’ll understand why I favor earned media. As I’ve mentioned before, earned media is organic … it’s when a reader finds your content naturally, instead of having it pushed on them in the form of an ad.

(Check out the “earned media” tags at the end of the post to find more about it).

Social Media
Organic discovery could come from a blog post you wrote, or something in your social media platform (there’s that word again).

Now, to do it right, social media requires work … but most authors misunderstand what I mean by “work.”

It doesn’t mean you need to participate on every social media site in existence. Quite the contrary, it means you need to find the ones that best serve your market … and use them consistently.

And by consistently, I don’t mean incessantly.

Don’t overdo it. Post in the specific places you choose and move on.

Social media doesn’t require the kind of time you might think. While I do have a limited presence on Linked-In, Pinterest, Goodreads and Instagram, I basically use The Twitter and The Book of Face.

I post every day or two in those areas, but I’m not one of the social media trolls who hangs around all day commenting on anything and everything. Trust me, more isn’t necessarily better, it’s just more. Being productive and busy aren’t the same things.

Blogging
Here’s another, often misunderstood marketing tool. Blogging can be the single best way to grow your platform.

Why?

It’s your voice and your expertise on your site. Do you need to blog daily? No. Want proof? Look at my blog following. I only blog about twice a month.

But I try to make it content that’s helpful.

The problem with trying to throw out content just for the sake of pushing volume is simple … most of it is garbage.

People are writing lots of stuff but, sadly, much of it isn’t worth your time. I’ve unfollowed blogs who seem to think posting twelve times a day is the right output … regardless of what they have to say.

Don’t be one of those people.

When it comes to blogging, less can be more. If you’re writing something that’s incredibly helpful, insightful, or engaging but feel you can only do that twice a month, that’s just fine. Frankly, I’d rather look forward to one thing that totally inspires me, instead of ten things that bore me to tears.

For fiction authors, you can write in character if you want, discuss some unique ways to do book research or talk about the publishing industry, because so many of your readers may be writers, too.

Events
Speaking is a fantastic way to draw in an audience, but bookstore venues are shrinking. I spoke a couple of years ago at a local writers’ conference, but if you aren’t on the speaking circuit and don’t know places where you can do events or talks, keep your eyes open for special book events.

I participated in several book-signings last year, including one at a well-known local design store last fall and one at my local public library … I did so well at the design store (for both of us) I’ve been invited to sign books April 30 of this year at the same place.

Website
Everyone who writes a book needs a website. Period, end of story. If you think your book will sell well without one, you’re mistaken.

Your website doesn’t have to be mega-fantastic, but it should be easy to navigate and the best ones will have a mailing list sign-up (mine is in the works).

You may have a million reasons why you don’t want one (most of them I’ve used myself), but I’ll give you one major reason why you should: Platform (I bet you saw that coming, didn’t you?)

How will you get your reader to remember you?

I never do a signing without bringing a mailing-list sign-up sheet and encouraging folks to give me their email address. I don’t have to hard-sell to get it. I offer them something as an incentive. I give one lucky winner, chosen at random, one of my signed books free to encourage getting their email address.

When you capture emails with your website and/or blog, you are making those sites work for you. They become your 24/7 sales and re-marketing tool.

My free newsletter (which I’ve been developing for years, and actually tested once or twice) goes live in May. If everything works the way I hope it will, it could become one of my best ways to market. I can get in front of my readers every few weeks with helpful information … and hopefully they’ll remember me long enough to buy my books.

Reader engagement is crucial. Now, more than ever, you must learn to engage your reader. You can do that via your blog, on social media sites, in places like Library Thing and Goodreads … and with your mailing list.

In other words, developing your platform is a fancy way of saying: “Get in front of your reader as often as you can.” Figure out how to reach them, and you’ve figured out how to build your platform.

In an age where everyone can publish (and it sometimes seems everyone is) the thing that will define you, and separate your message from the noise, will be your platform.

Without it, yours may be the best book that no one has ever read.

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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.
 

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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 Indie Book of the Year Finalist!

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My next blog post will outline the 5 ESSENTIAL steps to building your author platform.

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

What Does Your Indie-Author Platform Look Like?

February 21, 2017

lost-places

Most indie authors seem to know they need a social media platform to talk about their work. Assuming you do, what does yours look like?

If your answer is “Blogs”
That can be a good thing, if you have information to share. Just be sure you do. I find writing these blog articles, sharing what has worked for me (and what hasn’t), has made my blog readership grow dramatically in the past year … and each new follower is a potential book buyer.

If your answer is “Other Social Media”
I know it’s important to connect with potential readers on social media, like Twitter and The Book of Face, but I’ve made it a mandate not to spam people with ‘Buy my book!’ messages. To me, it’s not only annoying, it’s ineffective.

So I ask questions, listen, re-tweet and share interesting articles and quotes. I try to make it cool stuff. Sometimes funny. Often self-deprecating, with occasional dips into promotional info.

The more I study social media marketing, the more I stick to what I learned almost by accident as a young manager in the early 90s:

People Want to be Treated Like People
Shocking, right?

Back in those days, if I walked into a meeting with my staff and simply read them formulaic crap, their eyes would have glazed over (if they stayed in the room long enough).

Instead, I listened to their concerns, got their feedback, and had a very productive relationship.

Social media is no different. If you want them to hang around, treat your audience with respect.

If Your Answer is “Sales Pitch”
To me, most sales pitches are weird, stilted situations, where Person A is broadcasting their message to Person B, who may or may not care. I have a lot of trouble with them.

I find my best success when I really talk to people … ask questions about their interests, discuss difficult writing situations common to all writers, and listen to the responses.

It takes time and effort, but my follower count here should tell you if was worth it.

DO YOU HAVE A PLAN?
That may be the most important question you ask yourself. How many of you have created a marketing plan for a book release? I would bet nine out of ten of you do not, because that’s very common.

If you’ve been in Corporate America, you know all about having a marketing plan … and you probably hate the thought of them. I know I used to dread our quarterly meetings … where we’d sit for hours discussing all the plans the geniuses in the home office came up with for us to try.

Woohoo!

Seriously, despite the ridiculousness of some of those corporate puppet meetings, I did learn that creating a plan, and having set goals, was extremely helpful.

Book marketing is no different.

I know what I need to do to sell books. I change it up often and try new things, but I have basic groundwork I follow for each and every book. Do you?

Once you have a plan, you have the ability to prioritize and focus your efforts. A plan makes you look at what you have and what you don’t. Use what works … research what you don’t know.

See, here’s the thing: you don’t need to have a background in marketing, or an advanced business degree (guilty) to market your work.

Why? Because you know how to read. You can research. You can put the tips you find in my articles (and elsewhere) to work.

But in order for it to be effective, you have to DO it.

So, why are you just sitting there?

Would You Rather Be Smart, or Creative?
Would you rather listen to your muse and write whatever you want, without thinking of things like readership? Without worrying whether anybody is going to like your book?

You can be both, of course, but one usually has to be a priority.

If you’re letting creativity steer the course of your life, you might get lucky. But that’s always a risk, and I prefer to put my creativity firmly in the hands of my goals and plans.

In other words, I choose where I want to go and use my creativity to help me get there.

My creativity doesn’t mind … it’s still having fun doing what it loves … but it’s building content people want, that (hopefully) I can sell.

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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’s home page to hear the remarkable interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show.

**********

If you’ve written an interesting book too, consider submitting it to the Readers Favorite annual contest by using the banner link below. What do you have to lose?

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


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