Whoo Hoo! Colorado Gold Conference is coming. I’m very excited to be a first-time speaker there. One of the sessions I’ll be presenting is an introduction to Author Platform building.
How do you teach someone to “be popular?” The answer to that is as elusive as it was when we were vying for high school prom majesties, but as an alternative to shooting prom heroes, I have a few things every author can do to gain awareness and positive impact for their work:
Old joke: Woman walks into a writer’s bar. She’s wearing a pink polka-dot trench coat with bullet holes in it, a noose around her neck shaped like a heart, and there’s a rose-patterned knife sticking out of her back. Man leans over longingly and says, “So, Babe, what’s your genre?”
Sometimes letting people know what you write is hard. I’ve heard friends practicing pitches until they’re reciting them in six languages. Still, a concise, elevator speech confounds them. Heck, my own pitches were a stumbling mess of words that probably came from some other planet when I started doing them for RMFW CO Gold sessions.
But, as a writer, it’s very important to zero in on the single most important part of your work. If you write romantic thrillers, ask yourself–what’s priority, the romance or the thrills? Pitch the more important aspect first, and follow up with the second.
HAVE A WEBSITE
If you’re not willing to promote yourself, why should a publisher promote you? Why should consumers buy your self-pubbed e-book? Writing is cool, but without readers, why bother?
Think of a website as a brochure about you—a light shining on your work. Okay, so we were all taught not to brag when we were kids. But we’re not kids anymore. Anyone involved in books needs an anchor place to find out about you and all you do. Is your book the start of a great list of reading to come, or are you a one-time wonder? How did you find success? People want to learn both about and from you. And websites are not difficult or costly to build. I personally recommend WordPress.com. You can start with a free site (I highly recommend this), and move to self-hosting if and when you’re ready.
Some great things to put on your website:
• Your books (duh)
• Your author biography
• Reviews of your work
• Pictures & graphics (hugely important, even for writers)
BUILD AN ACTION ITEM LIST
There will always be more opportunities to build your reputation than there are hours to work those opportunities. I suggest keeping an on-going list, with an estimation of the time it will take to complete a task. This way, when you find yourself with a few extra minutes, you can make them productive. Here are some items I think should be on everyone’s platform building to-do list:
• Polish your elevator speech (or pitch lines) – 5 minutes
• Update your public appearances on your website – 20 minutes
• Update your mailing list – 5 minutes (update only one or two contacts at a time)
• Blog post, short story, or article idea – 15 minutes
• Plan a book signing or launch event – 20 minutes
This is probably one of the most important parts of building your author platform. There is a complex string of math that proves the point, but the long and short of it is:
• If you write a blog, post so that people learn when to look for you. Same day of the week, each week will work.
• If you like to give presentations, try to schedule them for once a month (bonus: this will help you update your website often)
• If you’re into short comments, still plan to spend 30 minutes a day, five days a week interacting with your favorite social media and growing friendships.
You are a writer, so write. The best way to maintain a great reputation is to commit to improving your craft at every opportunity, and giving your readers what they want most—you.
Good luck, and write on.
Liesa Malik is a freelance writer and marketing consultant originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, but currently living in Littleton, Colorado, with her husband and two pets. She has always enjoyed reading mysteries, from The Happy Hollister series, through Trixie Belden and into Reader’s Digest’s Great True Stories of Crime, Mystery and Detection.
A graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in Mass Communications, Liesa has built on her writing interest with long-standing membership in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and recently joined the board of Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America. Most days you can find Liesa either at her desk, at a local ballroom dance studio, or on the web. Visit her website or blog. Liesa’s most recent book release is Sliced Vegetarian, a Daisy Arthur mystery.