Book Marketing: Are Authors Secret Agent Marketers?

 The Author Platform is one of the fundamentals of book marketing, yet so many authors are scared of what it actually means. Today guest blogger Matthew Turner, Turndog Millionaire, explains how success depends on finding the right balance between strategy and creativity.

secret bunker Ahhhh, an Author Platform, if there’s ever a marmite product in the writing world, it’s this (for those of you who don’t know what marmite is, its tagline is: love it or hate it. I personally detest the stuff, but that’s for another conversation).

In the good old days, writers were writers and all they had to do was write. They left marketing to marketers, publishing to publishers, and accounting to accountants. However, then Amazon came long and changed the rules. All of a sudden anyone could publish a book, which many did, and the market became very crowded.

So, unsurprisingly, creating a platform to stand out from the crowd became important, not just for those self-publishing, but authors in general.

All of a sudden Writers needed to be more than Writers.

They had to become the publisher, the marketer, and yes, even the accountant.

The Birth Of The Author Platform

Hence the Author Platform was born, and we now live in an age where some people embrace it and others don’t. Those who fight it confuse me, though, because writers are secret agent marketers. Why do I think this?

Well, in my opinion, the key to 21st century success is the balance between Strategic & Creative Thinking. Writers, for the most part, stride along this fine line every day. Let me explain:

–          Creating a novel requires structure. Even if you write scene to scene, you still need a strong idea of the overall plot. At some point you need to consider the bigger picture, and for a lot of writers this is the first thing you do. In the marketing world, this is considered Strategy.

–          Creating a novel also requires creativity. You have to create whole new worlds, situations, and people. Yeah, you might take inspiration from those around you, but you still have to create something from nothing. Do you know who else does this? The Creative team in marketing agencies.

–          Creating a novel also needs balance. You can’t simply have a story full of action with no background. Likewise, if all you ever did were provide a nice structure with no excitement, well, you would have a rather boring story. In general, people don’t read boring. So, a writer is good at creating Balance.

You’ve Been A Marketer All Along

Now do you see? It’s been in front of you all along. All those writers you come across, they’re secret marketers waiting for their chance to shine. The only thing keeping this secret locked away is the fear of change. The change of becoming something you never wanted to become.

I’ve read some great articles recently about embracing Author Platforms. People like Jane Friedman, Joel Friedlander, and David DiSalvo have all looked at the subject, and the common ground they discuss is how a lot of writers look at an Author Platform as something separate.

How in one corner you have writing and in the other your Author Platform. Concentrating on one means avoiding the other, but where did this notion come from?

A Modern World Needs Modern Folk

One reason I left my job to become a Strategic Marketing Consultant was because I came across so many marketing folk stuck in their ways. You were either Strategic or Creative, and god forbid if you tried to be both. Does this sound like anybody else?

The modern day marketer embraces the two sides, and I see the same thing happening in Publishing. You have those who fight and those who embrace it. Are you a modern day Author? Will you embrace change and showcase your true skills?

It’s Time To Embrace

I’m not asking you to like building an Author Platform; merely not to separate it from your Writing. All an Author Platform sets out to do is make you a success. Its entire purpose is to showcase you in front of thousands and sell lots of books. It isn’t fighting your writing, rather enhancing it.

It’s all part of the same cycle. Great Marketing will not help you sell a Crap Book. Just like a Great Book will not fulfill its potential if you don’t communicate it to the world.

You’re Already There

As a writer you’re a Secret Agent Marketer, I honestly believe this. You hold all the skills, and I’m guessing the only thing keeping you back is fear. There’s no reason to be afraid, though, and that’s why I wrote How To Build An Author House. I hope to create a platform writers can embrace. A set of guidelines that is not only easy to follow, but easy to structure around YOUR needs.

In the end of the day you make the rules. Base your Author Platform around the things you love to do, love to write about, and love to share. If you do this you’ll meet great people, be seen by thousands, and sell piles and piles of books.

Now, is that really so bad?

Do you embrace the idea of the Author Platform? If not, what’s stopping you from delving in?

About the Author

Matthew Turner Turndog MillionaireMatthew Turner (aka Turndog Millionaire) is a Strategic Marketing Consultant & Author of both Fiction & Non-Fiction. With a variety of services to help writers create an Author Platform, he strives to meet modern Authors with a passion to succeed in the modern world. His FREE Ebook Series, How To Build An Author House, focuses on this.

You can download it Here or Join his Mailing List for daily doses of Author Marketing Fun

Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million

Image: Flickr CC / Marcmos



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  1. says

    Great post! I guess I embrace marketing only to the extent it involves things I like to do. For instance, I like blogging, tweeting, being involved in Goodreads, hosting giveaways, etc. But I do wish authors had more of an option to leave the “undesirable stuff” (for instance, accounting) to those who liked it more and could do it better!

    • says

      If you stick to things you enjoy, you will generally do ok.

      As for all the other things, well, you will always have to pay to get this done. Although I do feel we will see more crowdfunding options in the future, where Authors team up with other people – like accountants, designers, etc – but this will mean giving up royalties and what not

      Unfortunately there is never an easy way out. We will all just have to make lots of money so hiring people isn’t an issue :) Easy right?

      Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

    • says

      It’s definitely important to hire professionals to do the things we can’t do or don’t want to do. If you don’t have funds to spend, then bartering is absolutely a great way to exchange services. Think of what you’re great at e.g. you seem to enjoy marketing – and then you could barter with an accountant for their services in exchange for helping with their blog or social media strategy. Think like an entrepreneur!

      • says

        Indeed, bartering is always a good way to go. If you have a skill set, use it to your advantage.

        Like you say, an accountant may need some copywriting services, or advice on their Blog, or some creative design. The word ‘hussle’ is often overused, but everyone has to do some of this from time to time. It can makea huge differnece to your results. And keep your mind somewhat sane

        Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  2. says

    Great post, Matt! It’s good to see that so many authors are finally grasping that marketing is part of their career now. But, there are still so many out there that don’t get it. Going through your Author House read is definitely a great start! Thanks!

    • says

      Thanks dropping by Tania.

      And yes, it’s good to see people taking the entire responsibility of what being a modern day author is, but there’s plenty still to come. In reality, we’ve probably only just cracked the surfacw when it comes to self publishing.

      The next 5 years could be very interesting indeed

      Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  3. says

    Thanks for this new way of looking at building an author platform. I admit it has looked a little scary to ‘step out and announce myself to the world’…so to speak. Matt, it really made sense to me what you said about authors using Structure, Creativity and Balance everyday anyway and it makes sense that marketing is just sharing with others what you love to do. Thanks for the new perspective…really helps. I downloaded your ebook …I’m sure it’ll be really helpful!

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Lorna :)

      And yes, sometimes a new perspective is just what the doctor orders. It isn’t easy selling yourself or your work. I personally find it easier to create marketing plans for other people than myself, but this is pretty crazy when you think about it. After all, who will be more passionate, knowledable and honest about your work of art than you?

      Hope it helps you move forward with nothing but awesomnesss :)

      Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)


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