Yes, platforms. Plural. If a politician stands on only one platform, he reaches only one set of ears. The same goes for an author. Your job is to reach as many sets of ears as possible, to reach them quickly, efficiently and with as little difficulty as possible.
What are your platforms?
Author Website (or blog) – This website (or blog) is specifically designed to promote you, the author. It will feature you, your books, your future projects and plans. It will offer insight to your future books and tell viewers what you’re up to. This site will have a specific area for a Media Room where you’ll list announcements about your various speaking and book events, upcoming interviews and links to videos or audio interviews you’ve already given. The Media Room will show all the press releases, have a downloadable bio and photo of the author, and contact information for the media. If your book is e-published, you will use this website in a big way, creating as many avenues to promote all your work as you can, and connect with as many online readers as possible. E-published or traditionally published, your author website address should appear on your Twitter and Facebook profiles, email signatures, everywhere you can post it. This web presence is about all the author’s work, published articles, short stories, all the books no matter genre and what the author’s plans are for future books and all the news about his/her work.
Book Website – This website is very different. A Book Website is specifically designed to promote, market and expose a specific book or genre of books. For example, if you write romance, all of your romance (and sub-genre romance) books would have a showcase on your Romance Book Website. BUT, if you also write non-fiction about aviation, that would require a completely different book website. Why? Simple – these are two very different readers and a prospective book buyer will not explore a romance website for a book about landing gear, anymore than a reader wanting romance cares to explore a website about pilot qualifications. These two book websites should treat their specific audience differently and never cross reference to each other. IMPORTANT NOTE: an announcement about a book signing for your romance series would certainly be announced on your Author Website AND your Romance Book Website, but NOT on the Aviation Website. Also, an announcement about your speaking engagement to an aviation organization will appear on your Author Website AND your Aviation Book Website, but NOT on your Romance Website. Always respect and focus on the primary viewer of that particular website.
Author Expertise Blog – This can be as simple as an ongoing exploration of the research you did to write your book or are doing to write your next book. It can explore politics in your story and even talk about choices you made for the story. You can talk about character exploration and development, how you plot your books and where your ideas come from. You can use this blog to announce information about your promotions, and you can (and should) participate with other authors and guest blog on their blogs, announce their events on your blog and/or do interviews and reviews of your author friend’s books. It’s always wise to embed your author blog into your Author Platform website.
Character Blog – Not necessary but oh so much fun! This is a playful way of exploring your character/reader relationship dynamic. If your character is a curmudgeon and you develop a blog by him where he states his point of view and banters with the readers when they respond, you’ve made inroads into building loyalty and interest in the book. Obviously this doesn’t work so well for non-fiction, unless you get very creative and invent a fictitious expert to state his feelings on the book. You’d be surprised how many readers respond to this approach and get involved with comments. If you’re e-published, this Character blog approach is super effective. Remember, an e-published book must reach e-readers, screen readers, and those fascinated with all things techie. Have fun with this, create impact and take your cues from the responses you get.
Twitter –Yes, you must Twitter. Create an account and build your followers carefully from a pool of possible book buyers, future fans, fellow authors, publishers, editors and agents. You will be amazed how much you can learn about the industry in your Twitter stream. Be active but be careful. Don’t let it take you over. A good rule of thumb is to use Twitter at least twice a day for about 10-15 minutes each time. Interact, eavesdrop and comment on other follower’s tweets, promote your blog and website updates, and always respond when someone talks to you. Efficient and effective tweeting is a learned skill and you’ll soon discover that when done right, followers think you’re there all the time and full of fun and valuable information even though you only tweet during a few breaks a day. I suggest you use the TweetDeck as it helps you organize several streams of targets to follow, but you can do it any way that works best for you.
Facebook – There are several ways to use Facebook and I strongly suggest you Facebook every day. Not only are there different people on Facebook than Twitter, but they communicate differently. Without the Twitter limitation of 140 characters to make a point, Facebook creates several venues of communications. Everything from your current status and direct messaging, tagging and inviting friends to join events or joining groups targeted to your book are all there. Facebook every day with something interactive in your status. Build friends by reaching out and asking for friends but be careful what kind of friends you make. If you want to talk about the subject of your book which is about murder investigation techniques, you should have very few baker friends or friends who love scrap booking. Be sensible and be targeted with all your efforts. A downfall at Facebook can be the numerous social games and game forums. Choose how you want to spend your Facebook time, be practical and efficient because as writers and authors, we really need to protect our writing time. Do NOT mix your personal Facebook activities with your book Facebook activities. In other words, keep those accounts separate.
Email – Email lists. We have them, several of them in fact. We build them almost daily but what we seldom do is categorize them to make them easy to use. Create a group list for people you know who would love your book, love to read your blog updates, love to know what’s happening with your book or love to hear about your next project. It’s likely that if you explore the massive contact list your already have, you can find many people to fall under this group category. Create the group and voila, you’ve made one more contact to take one more person to your blog or your Book Website Media Page or invite to your book launch party. You’ve created one more venue for helping your author friends promote their books when you announce you’ve done a blog tour interview for them, and you’ve opened an opportunity for the receivers of your emails to pass them further to their friends and followers interested in your genre. Email. Right there under our nose. I’m sure if you think about it, you can find several ways to create email lists and use them to streamline promotional and marketing strategies.
Online Groups/Organizations – You can find them on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Groups, anywhere! These groups can work as support for your writing efforts, or serve as association groups to promote your book. It takes a bit to find them and decide how they’ll work for you, but this is worth the effort. Be a joiner but don’t overdo it. Remember, participate only in the groups that not only are interesting to you, but serve your efforts as well. If you do join, really make an effort to participate. Get into the discussions, especially if this is an interest group that pertains to your book plot or non-fiction subject. Never imagine that simply joining anything – a group, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Yahoo private groups and/or organizations – means automatic sales. It simply means that you’ve opened your possible audience. You’re doing it in a protected environment and many groups will slap your wrist if all you do is promote, promote, promote. You need to seriously participate in the groups, give and get support and that’s what turns into book sales.
Live Networking – With all the online and internet hubbub, we often forget our real life, living, breathing network. Your family, work friends, church. Your dentist, vet, eye doctor. The health club, the woman who cuts your hair or the masseuse you use. Don’t forget about where your kids go to school, where you shop for groceries and where you get your lottery tickets. These are breathing people who know you already. These are people who like you. Most people know few authors and are thrilled to know one. They become excited walking, talking advertisements for your book. Don’t leave this vital network out of your loop, whether you write fiction or non-fiction, are traditionally published or e-published, remember to toot your horn to everyone you know.
Next time we’ll cover Author Success Tool #4, Understand your Market.
Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. She writes fiction in several genres as well as non-fiction.
Deborah produces several pieces weekly for various websites and blogs. She also writes an author industry blog, http://rileymagnus.wordpress.com/ and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Her book, The Author Success Coach: Strategies for Author Success in a Turbulent Publishing Landscape is scheduled to be released in August, 2011.
She’s lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely.