Combating Platform Fatigue And Thinking Long Term For Your Writing Career With Dan Blank

In today’s podcast, Dan Blank and I have a candid discussion on the latest developments in publishing, as well as how to combat platform fatigue.

kobo writing lifeIn the intro, I talk about my trip to India and my 2 year anniversary as a full-time author-entrepreneur. I also mention the opportunity of using PubMatch through the Alliance of Independent Authors for foreign rights, as well as my speaking engagements. We also have a message from podcast sponsors Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system.

dan blankDan Blank is a professional speaker and consultant to the publishing industry. He teaches authors how to grow their platform and target readers through his online articles, courses and conference. You can watch the interview on YouTube here, or listen in the podcast stream or on iTunes.

  • How Dan got started in the creative space, how he got into the publishing business, and how all that has collided now into his business, We Grow Media where he works with writers and the publishing industry.
  • If the author is the source, and the reader is the destination, what role does the middleman play? We discuss the changing structure of the publishing world.
  • Authors are experiencing a fatigue around “platform.” Dan explains his definition of platform – communicating effectively with the people you want to reach and engender trust in the process. He talks about how to reframe platform and refocus on goals. We discuss trust and authenticity, and the fundamental principles around platform, rather than the technology and the ‘latest’ headlines that can distract.
  • Getting some perspective and thinking long term. Embracing patience and consistency for the long-term. The importance of relationships that you forge in real-life or cyber-space.
  • How the stigma of publishing has pretty much disappeared in the US. On foreign markets and other opportunities.

we grow media conferenceDan’s running an online conference for authors, Get Read, on Nov 13-14, 2013, focused on helping you ensure your books get read.

He also has articles and video for authors at WeGrowMedia.com

Find him on twitter @danblank

 

Divide and Conquer: Building an Author Platform by Proxy

The author platform continues to be controversial, and most authors want to devote their time to writing.

Zen BalanceBut if you’re lucky enough to have a partner invested in your success, you might be able to work as a team. Guest blogger Kristin Morin shares how she helps her husband with his book marketing.

Options for Building an Author Platform

Spend any reasonable amount of time learning about the current publishing atmosphere, and you’re going to quickly learn the importance of having an author platform. Most of the time, you hear 3 different options:

  1. Don’t do it, and miss out on that all-important connection with your readers
  2. Do it yourself, and devote a substantial amount of time that you cannot spend writing
  3. Hire someone to do it, and not only invest money, but sacrifice some amount of authenticity

However, if you have a close friend or loved one who works on the web, and is already familiar with websites, blogging, and social media, you might actually have another option:

Divide and conquer, by bringing a trusted partner into the process

As the wife of an aspiring author, I have a vested interest in the success of my husband’s book, especially because he eventually wants to make the shift from daytime mechanical engineer to full-time writer. Since he finished the first draft of his first novel a year ago, I’ve immersed myself in all the material I can about publishing, self-publishing, and building an author platform, so that I can support him however possible.

Finding the Balance

I know it’s important for authors to create genuine connections with fans, and show the world who they are, but I also know that there are certain things that I can do for him, given my 13+ years of experience in web design and development.

There are some things I’ll never be able to do for him, or we’ll risk potential fans connecting with me, and not really getting to know the person behind the stories.

So where’s the balance? How can the promotional and platform efforts be divided up so that everyone’s talents are maximized, but your true self as an author and a person still shows through?

Step 1: The Conversation

It all begins with a conversation. Similar to the planning you need to go through to decide on your personal brand, you’re friend or loved one needs to know what your goals are as an author, and what personality you want conveyed to the world. Chances are this person knows you well enough to know your personality, so mostly this conversation is about what parts of your personality to focus on.

My husband’s personality includes a fascination with how things are made and a meticulous attention to measurements that come along with his years as a mechanical engineer. However, it also includes a quirky sense of humor with a particular affinity for bad puns. It also includes a fanciful yet geeky streak from his days of Dungeons & Dragons as a teen. Since his book is an epic fantasy novel with quirky humor throughout, we know that these last two are things we want to focus on, yet we can downplay the first.

Step 2: Dividing the Effort

So what do you, the author, still need to do, once you’ve collaborated on your goals, and decided on the personality of your author platform?

The line really gets drawn at where authenticity needs to be 100% vs. where someone else’s knowledge of your personality can be “good enough”. So the better your partner knows you, the more that person can take on for you.

Your partner should be able to have a pretty good idea of things like:

  • who to follow on Twitter
  • what to retweet (and how to comment on it)
  • what to “Like” on Facebook
  • what book-related announcements need to go on the website
  • what type of website needs to be created for the book
  • which sorts of forums to sign up for
  • what content is worth commenting on and sharing
  • what LinkedIn groups to join
  • which blog topics to write

However, the more active components of the platform will always need your direct involvement.

The author should always be involved with some aspects of marketing

You should always have at least some involvement in things like:

  • writing blog posts
  • creating new quips / quotes for Twitter
  • crafting the actual comments or forum responses
  • engaging in live chats with readers
  • responding directly to reader questions

I don’t respond directly to any reader without my husband crafting the response himself. I may do the actual posting, but they’re his words.

I also have him send me any quirky links that he finds on the internet, along with his (often snarky) commentary on them, which I use to craft tweets by cutting down words, adding hash tags, and giving attribution to the creator’s Twitter handle.

He plays an online version of Bloodbowl, a game that resembles football, where the characters are fantasy characters like Elves, Goblins, and Werewolves, and had the idea for him to set up a team named after his book with his characters as players.

So while he gets to maintain a hobby, he’s also promoting his book and connecting with target readers. I simply provided him with a special link to his website, rather than a normal one, so that we can track how many referrals to the book’s site came from the game.

So far, this is still an experiment, but one that seems to be working out well for us.

It seems to let us take advantage of our strengths, keep him making genuine connections with readers, and maximize the time he has available for the actual writing.

This approach could also work if author’s have the budget to outsource some of this type of marketing. Do you have any experience working with someone else for marketing your book? I’d love to hear your experiences, pros and cons. Please do leave a comment below.

firehurler morinKristin Morin is a thirteen-year veteran of the web industry. Having dabbled in everything from design to development to project management, she is currently focusing on user experience. When she is not working making the web easier for everyone, she is engaged in one or two of dozen ongoing side projects, her favorite of which is helping her husband prepare his first novel for publication. Firehurler, an epic fantasy novel, is the first of the Twinborn Trilogy by J.S. Morin, due for self-publication spring of 2013.

You can find Kristin on Twitter at @kristinba, and learn more about Firehurler at www.Firehurler.com or by following @authorjsmorin.

Top image: Zen Balance by BigStockPhoto.com

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

 

 

Write Lots Of Books Or Build An Author Platform. Which Is More Effective?

It seems there are two opposing camps in terms of author marketing.

On the one hand, there are  people who say “Just write a lot of books” and the books themselves will sell the other books and you don’t need to do any other marketing. The evidence for this can be seen in Amanda Hocking’s ebook sales numbers and other writers on JA Konrath’s (brilliant) blog who basically write and distribute ebooks but do little hardcore marketing. It looks like they all do something but don’t focus on it.

On the other hand, there is the “build your author platform” camp advocating blogging, social networking, speaking, podcasting, videos and more. Obviously all this marketing takes away from writing, so which should you focus on?

I try to be very careful on the blog to only talk about things I’ve done myself. I don’t have a huge back-list of novels ready to load up into the Kindle store, I’m not making thousands per month on ebook sales. I have built a reasonable author platform and I have enjoyed every minute of it, so clearly I sit in the second camp at the moment.

BUT/ Amanda Hocking’s sales numbers gave me pause so I thought we’d better discuss it here. Justine Musk also wrote a brilliant post over at Tribal Writer on the same topic.

Here’s my thinking on the matter but please leave a comment as to what you think at the bottom as this is a critical discussion point as we all have limited time.

What are your overall goals for your career as a writer?

I want to be able to define myself as an author, speaker and blogger and I want to help people. I’m also an entrepreneur and sell my speaking services as well as online products. I make the least amount of money from fiction ebooks and the most from other products and services (at the moment anyway). Therefore my author platform gives me more than just a sales platform for fiction.

I speak at least once a month and last year spoke at a writer’s retreat in Bali, all from my online presence. I couldn’t do those things if I just had books. So my overall goals involve having a platform to run my online business from. I’m also passionate about sharing what I have learned in order to save you time, money and heartache so I have an inner drive to get the message out there.

What do you enjoy spending time doing?

Writing and being a blogger can be a solitary profession and as much as I love being alone, I also enjoy the community we have online as bloggers and also on Twitter and Facebook. I enjoy connecting on Skype and making my podcast and videos. I love being part of a group and improving my blogging/online marketing skills as well as my writing. So my author platform also serves a personal development and social purpose that goes beyond selling books. Blogging has given me so much joy in the last few years that I would continue doing it if I won the lottery! Writing a novel is a totally different feeling altogether.

What do you think is more effective for author marketing? Writing lots of books or spending time building an author platform? Why do you do what you do?

Image: Flickr CC Mysore colours Wen Yan King

Video: Creating Your Author Brand By Joanna Penn

I really enjoy speaking about the topics I am passionate about: writing, book marketing, author platform, web 2.0 tools and more! Here is a short video of a talk I did for the Gold Coast Writer’s Association in February. It was a 45 min talk and this is only 3:46 mins.

See below for the video for text information if you don’t want to watch.

In this video, you will learn:

  • That you need to decide on your author brand before launching into online marketing like blogs, social networking and more
  • Horror vs Romance writers – you should have a different ‘brand’ on your website or blog as this helps people understand how they fit into your niche. Horror readers will click away from a site with fluffy bunnies on.
  • What are you aiming to portray with your online presence?
  • Decide on your brand and then put it out there, honestly and authentically
  • If you want to write across genre, aim for an author personality blog
  • If you don’t know how to build your brand, look at authors you like and model them
  • Example for horror: Scott Sigler for horror – podcast novelist, now NY Times bestselling author
  • Recommended for children’s book writers, check out Twittermoms

If you like videos, check out The Creative Penn YouTube Channel.

Thanks to @jeanniemay for booking me as a speaker and your support. I am available for speaking live or as a guest on radio, podcasts, TV and more.