Home » Blog » Platform

Tag: Platform

Best of the Blogs 22 July 2017

Best of the Blogs: 6 May 2017

Apologies for missing the last two Best of the Blogs posts. I had a long wifi-free weekend away with my husband, then I was at the New Zealand Christian Writers Retreat—I had a great time!

Congratulations!

INSPY Award Shortlist Announced

Congratulations to the finalists in the INSPY Awards—especially Kara Isaac, who made the shortlist in two categories with different books (Close to You in First Novel, and Can’t Help Falling in Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense). Now it’s up to the reader judges to decide! Kara’s next book, Then There Was You, is due out in June. If you like contemporary romance, you’ll love it.

ACFW Genesis Award Semi-finalists Announced

And American Christian Fiction Writers announced the Genesis Award semi-finalists—these are the names you’ll be seeing in Christian fiction in years to come.

Publishing

Updates on Tate Publishing

The Oklahoma Attorney General has filed charges against father and son Richard and Ryan Tate of Tate Publishing. This follows over 700 complaints from as far away as Europe and South Africa. The pair have been charged with extortion, embezzlement, racketeering, and extortion by threat. Further charges may follow as the investigation continues.

I’ve long been against vanity presses such as Tate, who claimed to be a traditional royalty paying publisher. Traditional royalty paying publishers do not require payments, do not offer a contract until they’ve seen a manuscript, and only publish the best manuscripts. In my experience, Tate scores 0/3 on this simple test.

If you published books or music through Tate, you can contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office to submit a complaint.

Blogging

Nick Thacker at WriteHacked shares nine tips for Writing a First Blog Post Perfectly. Actually, the tips work for any blog post—I guess the takeaway is to start as you mean to go on.

Shane Arthur at Smart Blogger teaches us How to Write Spellbinding Introductions. It’s a long post, but there are lots of nuggets to mine!

Inspiration

Karen Swallow Prior visits The Gospel Coalition to remind us that Only One Platform Will Last.

I don’t agree with everything in this blog post. Some of it I don’t even understand (I’ve never voluntarily listened to The Rolling Stones, and if I’ve ever heard “Mother’s Little Helper”, I don’t remember it and I have no idea what it’s referring to).

But there are some great quotes. Especially the last line. Check it out.

 

Review: The Book Publishers Toolkit by IBPA

This isn’t as much a book as a compilation of articles that were previously published in Independent, the monthly member magazine of the not-for-profit Independent Book Publishers Association. The Book Publishers Toolkit is very short, and took less than an hour to read.

The articles are:

  • Getting and Using Awards by Kate Bandos
  • Tapping Into Twitter Expertise by Kimberly A. Edwards
  • Let’s Hear It for the Long Tail by Joel Friedlander
  • Acquiring the Right Rights: Will Your Contract Keep Up with the Markets for Your Books? by Steve Gillen
  • A Librarian Talks About Choosing Books to Buy by Abigail Goben
  • Build a Powerful Platform with a Simple Brand Audit by Tanya Hall
  • Marketing Plans for First Books by Brian Jud
  • Why Authors Hate Social Networking, and How to Get Them to Promote Books Online Anyway by Stacey J. Miller
  • Growing Connections That Count by Kathleen Welton
  • E-book Conversions: Ten Pointers to Ensure Reader Enjoyment (and Minimize E-book Returns) by David Wogahn

Overall, the articles are pretty broad-brush, and probably don’t contain anything an astute small press or self-publisher hasn’t already have read before. Some are focused on authors who are self-publishing (e.g. the e-book conversion article), others are focused on traditional publishers (e.g. the article on rights, which has some interesting sample contract clauses).

I think the chapter order was wrong. I would have thought it more logical to start with the high level branding advice and then move into the specifics of, how to use Twitter or how to get libraries to buy your book (and it was slightly awkward when the advice from one expert contradicts another, as happened regarding the idea of donating books to the library).

One noticeable omission in the chapter on awards was a reference to Writer Beware, who maintains a list of awards and contests to watch out for (because they charge excessive fees and generally only have one entrant in each category. A contest in which everyone is a winner isn’t a contest that is going to help your marketing effort).

If it’s free on Kindle, it’s probably worth downloading just to see if there’s anything new for you. Otherwise, I’ve seen most of the other information before on industry and agent blogs (e.g. Smashwords, Passive Guy, Seth Godin, Author Marketing Experts or Joe Konrath).

Marketing 101: Platform

SMMStatistics_Draft1.0Platform

It’s the buzzword in author marketing. Agents and publishers want new authors (especially non-fiction authors) to have an established platform: a network of contacts in real life and in social media that can be leveraged to purchase the book and influence others to purchase the book.

The foundation of any good author platform is a website. Have a custom website address (not a wordpress or blogspot address) so you own both the content and access to it. However, search engines such as Google don’t like static websites: they like to see sites where the information is updated regularly, which is why so many author websites incorporate a blog.

The trick to developing a solid platform is having something your target market wants. For example, I’ve gained over 1,000 Twitter followers tweeting information that will be useful to writers. My daughter has gained over 2,500 followers on Tumblr posting references to a popular young adult books series and TV show. That pales into insignificance compared to Jamie Curry, the New Zealand teen who currently has over 200,000 Twitter followers, and 7.5 million Likes on Facebook (yes, you read that right. More people follow Jamie Curry than actually live in New Zealand).

That’s a platform …

So what are the major social networks?

Facebook

Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg as a way for Harvard students to contact each other. It now has over one billion registered users (although it’s estimated that 8.7% of them are fake accounts), and most major brands are represented on Facebook.

Twitter

Twitter started in 2006, a a microblogging social and information network that allows users to send messages of up to 140 characters. Tweets can include links to other sites and #hashtags, words or phrases used to group posts (e.g. #christian, #fiction, #writing, #editing or #socialmediatips).

Pinterest

Pinterest has been operating since 2010, and at the third-largest social network in the US, it’s probably the fastest-growing. It centres around illustrations—‘pins’—which users can pin to themed boards. A majority of users are women (which is makes it an important site for authors, as most readers and authors of Christian fiction are women).

Google+

Google+ launched by Google in 2011 and claims to be the second-largest social networking site after Facebook (with 500m users). However, this could be because they automatically assigned accounts to all gmail users … The average Google+ user spends less than 5 minutes on the site each month, compared with 7.5 hours on Facebook.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is usually described as Facebook for professionals, even though it predates Facebook (LinkedIn was founded in 2002). The site encourages networking through groups, and providing personal recommendations and endorsements, but it is a professional site: it’s probably not useful for writers unless writing is their major source of income.

Others

There are dozens (probably hundreds) of other social networking sites with various degrees of popularity. Major sites include YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram, but these are seen as being of less interest to writers—although research shows Tumblr and Instagram are more popular with teens and those in their twenties.

In all cases, the point of social networking for authors is to build relationships so your contacts will influence and advocate your brand (book) and enhance discoverability.

I’ll be going into more detail about each of the major networks in a series of posts later this year. Which social networks are you a member of? Which do you prefer? Why?

More importantly, which social networks do your target readers use?

Review: How to Build a Powerful Writer’s Platform in 90 Days by Austin Briggs and Max Candee

There’s a saying in marketing that we know 50% of marketing activities work—we just don’t know which 50%. The same could be said for How to Build a Powerful Writer’s Platform in 90 Days. It includes what looks like some excellent information and advice—but that advice is wrapped up with advice that is incorrect, and it worries me because someone reading only this book won’t know what is good advice and what isn’t. Even I don’t know. I may praise something as being good advice and find it’s totally wrong.

I’m a book reviewer and freelance editor, so those are two subjects I know a lot about. I know less about building and maintaining a writing platform—while I have a degree in marketing, it dates from the dark ages before the intrusion of the web into every area of our lives. So while the principles of marketing are the same, the internet and social media have changed the practice of marketing.

That’s why I’m reading books like this: to understand how to do it now. And I think How to Build a Powerful Writer’s Platform in 90 Days does that well. But I can’t be certain. Because there are some elementary mistakes around how Briggs and Candee integrate editing and reviews into their 90-day timetable, so I’m not convinced they are accurate and believable in their claims in the areas I know less about.

The book starts by saying that before you begin this 90-day journey, you’ll need the final draft of the best book you can write, and a website. But the discussion on editing makes it clear that this ‘final draft’ hasn’t been edited. The authors then proceed to confuse beta-readers with editors (which is ironic, as one of them offers manuscript assessment services on his website).

Then there’s the editing. The schedule doesn’t allow nearly enough time to get the work professionally edited (which will take at least two weeks, and may take months if your preferred editor has a queue of books—as many good editors will have). Given most books need to go through at least two editing passes and two rounds of proofreading, I think this needs to be completed before the 90 days begin, not as a part of the 90 day launch project.

The timing of reviews is equally ridiculous. Most book bloggers have a two to three month waiting list, so sending them a book on day 76 and expecting the review on day 77 is unrealistic, to say the least (not to mention the advice to copy their review to your website: a copyright violation if the reviewer hasn’t specifically given you permission).

Overall, while there might be some good ideas in How to Build a Powerful Writer’s Platform in 90 Days, they are outweighed by the bad advice. Not recommended.

Review: The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke

If you have a website and are already active on Twitter and/or Facebook, then The Extroverted Writer probably isn’t the book for you. It gives good advice on why authors need to set up a website and be active in social media, but it doesn’t give much in the way of new advice on how. I’m speaking as someone who has followed Amanda’s posts on the MacGregor Literary blog for the last year or more—if you don’t read that, The Extroverted Writer provides a useful introduction to the subject.

Topics covered include:

  • Knowing your audience (i.e. book genre)
  • Knowing your online marketing goals
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Other social media sites: Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads, YouTube, LinkedIn

She gives hints for building a following on Twitter and Facebook, but these are not the only ways. I have over 1000 Twitter followers without using any of her ideas (I simply follow interesting people and hope they follow me back—most do). And her Facebook ideas are targeted towards the published or almost-published author (things like posting cover art and back cover copy). Good advice, but I think if you’re only just starting to build your online presence when you get a publishing contract, it’s a bit late (but better late than never, I suppose).

Amanda doesn’t really comment on when is the best time to begin building an online presence. I suppose she feels that if someone is interested enough to read to read the blog and buy the book, they are ready to begin. That’s probably not far wrong. My view is that authors should start building their online presence when they decide this writing thing is more than a hobby—it’s something they want to pursue as a viable career option.

The things I found most useful were here ballpark figures of the number of followers an agent or publisher considers ‘good’, and her explanation of the necessity to understand your market segment (i.e. genre). However, this information was all in the free Kindle sample!