Building your Author Platform, Part One

An Author Platform is the cornucopia of ways that we make ourselves known to our readers. Like Rome, it does not have to be assembled in one day, BUT it does have to be built, if you want to be an effective and popular author. The goal is to create and launch a platform that quickly communicates your genre and entertainment value if you’re writing fiction, and your expertise and credibility if you’re writing non-fiction.

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.” ~ Roald Dahl

1) Be Alert – Setup a virtual Nanny Cam on the web by signing up for a Google Alert (google.com/alerts). At periodic intervals that you set, Google will email you any mentions of your name, your book’s name, your blog, your Twitter handle or whatever URL you set. You can mine this information by becoming friends with those who are talking about you and share ideas, guest blogs, back cover blurbs or reviews.

“In truth, I never consider the audience for who I am writing. I just write what I want to write.” ~  J. K. Rowling

2) Don’t Play with Every Stranger – Get to know your social media contacts before allying with them because, just like in real life, there are web predators mucking about that will take advantage of the unwary and you could become guilty by association. Basically, if you could not or would not be friends with this person or support their cause off-line, look elsewhere.

“To create something you want to sell, you first study and research the market, then you develop the product to the best of your ability.” ~ Clive Cussler

3) Know your Competition – Study what they do and how they do it. Emulate what you admire, discard what you don’t, but above all, come away with an improved product or outlook.

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it be heard.” ~ Allen Ginsberg

4) Go Madison Avenue – No need for loose morals, freely flowing whiskey and Mad Men here. Although posting affiliate links or ads on your site probably won’t buy you a penthouse on Park Avenue, consider them as another way to get yourself in front of the reader.

“It had better be quirky or perverse or thoughtful enough so that you hit some chord in them. I mean we’ve all read pieces where we thought, ‘Oh, who gives a damn.’ ” ~ Nora Ephron

5) Build your Bio – Succinctly tell people about you and your work, including your credentials, credits and awards. Keep it to one page and use it in your book, whenever you pitch your book, in your publicity package, on Amazon Author Central as well as on your website and blog.

“A reader reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.” ~ Lawrence Durrell

6) Give It Away for Free – Create a signup list on your website/blog by offering a free excerpt of your work, a newsletter, an article, eBook, or video/audio product. The payoff will be a list of people who are interested in your book or product (readers = sales.) Integrate your e-mail marketing by using Aweber or Mail Chimp to handle your lists, newsletter, emails, and auto-responders.

“Like a small animal burrowing into its hole, I shift furniture around, and back myself into a cozy corner, with my back to the wall…and then I can write.” ~ Danielle Steel

7) Reel in the Reviews – Having a high number of reviews will attract new buyers because they are proof that your book is worth the reader’s investment of time and money. To get started, offer to swap reviews with other authors. Post your musings on Amazon, Goodreads and Red Room.

“Remember: A best-selling book usually follows a simple rule, It’s a wonderful story, wonderfully told; not, It’s a wonderfully told story.” ~ Nicholas Sparks

Watch for Building your Author Platform, Part Two, where we will discuss ways to put your best foot forward, make engaging offers and sustain your author platform over the long haul.

Ready to start your marketing plan? Get our free Book Marketing Checklist.

Thanks for stopping by.

Roger Harris , www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Novel in a Month – Day One

Whether you are writing a self-help work, like I am with Balance your Life or fiction, as my colleague R. R. Harris is penning with Double Take, it pays dividends to be organized.

“An outline is crucial and saves so much time. It tells you where the story is going.” John Grisham

So, we begin at the beginning.

TITLE: Give your work a name, or something that can reference your project.

GENRE: Be flexible as this may change as the plotline and characters and your thoughts morph and develop. List all of the genres that your story might fit into.

POINT of VIEW: Will it change from scene to scene or will the main character narrate in first person throughout? An author friend of mine said that when she began her autobiographical “coming of age” novel that her original intention was to have the first-person voice change as her character grew and matured. However as she drove further and further into the hinterlands of her work, she realized how maintaining that direction complicated her writing and de-railed it from flowing freely from her consciousness. For example, she would have to ensure that her teenager was not speaking with the voice of a worldly and wise, middle-aged maven or vice versa.

Some authors choose voice from scene to scene by weighing what character stands the most to lose. Although unless skillfully written, this approach can leave a reader wondering what is going on and especially, who is talking.

WHO wants, WHAT do they want, WHY do they want it and What/who stands in your character’s way? Not sure where to begin?

“What if X happened? That’s how you start.” Tom Clancy

“Don’t wait to be struck by an idea. If you are a writer, sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That’s the way to get an idea.” Andy Rooney

SETTING: Can make a story gel into a dish fit for the Queen or alternatively turn it into cold tasteless soup that even hungry flies shun. Of course, there are endless possibilities. You can create memorable characters as at home in the book’s setting as a well worn slipper, but who enliven it and blaze brightly at the slightest provocation. Perhaps others triumph despite all odds or seemingly invincible villains meet their match in a unforeseen avalanche of choices that could not have been forecast.

“Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.” John Updike

HOOK/SPARK: Yeah, the night was dark and stormy and she came to the door with nothing on but the radio, but then what? What will I write in the second paragraph and on page 87 that will keep my reader into the book? Will the last sip of my book be as satisfying as the first, or even more so?

As an author I must constantly ask – have I set-up conflict, created suspense and action and left the reader panting for more? Am I solving a problem the reader has, conveying knowledge or fulfilling a need?

“I want the reader to turn the page without thinking that she is turning the page. It must flow seamlessly.” Janet Evanovich

DON’T QUIT: “Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Namaste!

Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com

Quick Quips on Creative Writing

Choose a peaceful setting for planning, writing or revising a book, whether in nature or your attic retreat.

“The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.” ~ TRUMAN CAPOTE

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts” ~ LARRY L. KING

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” ~ HARPER LEE

“Read in order to live.” ~ GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

HAPPY WRITING,

R. R. HARRIS

www.IndieAuthorCounsel.com