Monday, October 1, 2012

Creating a Writer's Platform

This week I'm thinking about writer's platforms and how to build one.   You don't have to be an expert on anything other than your book to have a platform.  It is simply what you care enough to write about and how to market it.

My books deal with Veterans issues wrapped in a suspenseful romance novel.  First book, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Second book,  Veteran homelessness.  Third book, Women Veterans.  So my platform handles Veterans Issues.

Bob Mayer spoke at the Sangria Summit for Military Writers a couple of weeks ago and said, frankly, he gave up his traditional book deal because he was doing all the writing and the marketing and all the profit was going to a publisher.  Now, he's an indie, still does his own writing and marketing but gets to keep a majority of the profit.  The bottom line is that in today's super-saturated fiction world, writers will have to market their work.

So, here is a platform plan -- hopefully it can help other writers with theirs.

SOCIAL MEDIA - this is a given.  For now I concentrate on the top three with a couple others thrown in when I have time.  The thing is to not waste all your time on social media because then you aren't writing.  Set a schedule -- I like Mondays and Thursdays -- and that's it.

     1- GET ON TWITTER, follow other writers and readers and those in your field.  But only follow those who engage.  Social media is "social" and if your followers aren't commenting, following or retweeting, then they aren't going to help you get your stuff out there.  The same is true for you.  It's a give-give game.  I really like Molly Greene's take on building Twitter (click here).

     2- FIRE UP FACEBOOK.  Until you have a book out, you can use your personal account and create a Group to project all your ideas, news, and information.  Again, this doesn't have to be just about your writing, it can also include whatever you are writing about.  If it's spy thrillers, start loading up on quirky, interesting international news.  If it's romance at a cupcake factory, help the local bakery advertise.

     3- BLOG. If you are a writer and you produce a book, you will be asked about your blog and you will be asked to guest blog.  This is another way agents, editors and publishers see you are getting out there.  What to blog about?  The same thing you tweet, Facebook and write about.  Writing, of course and because you love it.  But also what you are writing about.  Is your book about a child with autism.  Start blogging about autism.  Is it about a girl who can't stay out of antique shops?  Tweet about antiquing.  The thing about a blog is that it can change with each book.  The tie that binds is you the author.  (Blogger and Wordpress are the two most common blog sites)

     4- OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA.  Google+ is up and coming and a cross between Twitter and Facebook.  Goodreads is Facebook for readers.

     5- KEEP IT ALL ORGANIZED WITH A DASHBOARD.  I use Hootsuite to help me.  It lets you monitor up to five social media feeds for free.  This way you don't have to visit every single social media site, just this one.  You can pick and choose which feeds to upload.  This is a must if you are going to have more than a couple of sites.

VISIT AND TALKS - this is truly dependent on what you are writing.  Because I write about Veterans Issues, meeting with Veterans groups makes sense.  But here are other ideas:

     1- RESTAURANTS -- If you are writing a book with an Italian restaurant in it, head to your favorite and take pics, post them up and write about why you like it.  Call it a restaurant review.  Owners love free advertising.

     2- SCHOOLS/CHURCHES -- If there is a moral anywhere in your book, talk to kids about it OR talk to their teachers OR a women's/men's group at church about it (depending on genre).

     3- BOOK CLUBS -- If you aren't already in one, get in one because the more you participate, the more likely they will be to read your book.  Once they read it, word of mouth is key!

     4- CIVIC CLUBS - like the Rotary.  Whatever issues you are dealing with in your book is probably something the local civic group either has dealt with or will.  Give them a reason to talk about your book.  The VFW and the American Legion want to hear about your war memoir but so do regular Americans who want to support the cause (whatever the cause is).

     5- LIBRARY - Local libraries are always looking for authors to talk about books.  Become best friends with your librarian.

     6- MOVERS AND SHAKERS - Are you writing about a powerful CEO who seduces women for fun?  How about talking to a group of powerful CEOs?  Or young college graduates?  You get the idea.

     7- THEME PARTIES - Hold a book progress party.  One chapter done?  Invite 5 or so friends over for a party and let them read it for a quick beta test.   Full draft done?  Same thing but send them the entire manuscript.  Food is always a good excuse to get together and chat about books.

No matter what outlet you choose, be creative.  Anything can be talked about at any time to anyone.  Groups tend to be pretty open to discussions and newcomers.  Try anything and if it works, try it again.  I wish you lots of luck as you build your platform!

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