Publishing is as much business as art. It can be tough to switch hats, but those I see succeeding, have found ways to do both things well. Or as I wrote once: Writing is an Art – Publishing is a Business!
An Author who had already two well-written books out, however, unfortunately with a vanity publisher, who did NOTHING to promote these wonderful books, contracted with us. Part of our agreement was that we fully market his new book, but that he has to have at least a small platform, e.g. social media accounts at Twitter, Goodreads, Google+ and a current author website. We also needed these accounts to send our huge follower-ship towards this author, and to increase his visibility, which was almost zero.
We set up two Skype sessions to help him to set up these accounts properly (less than two hours in total) and also created 30 – 50 posts and tweets for him. This way, he did not even need to think about what to post, just copy and paste. My advice to him was to open two folders, create files with all posts in order to be able to copy / paste them onto social media, and another one to store all book marketing images. Just basics …
His Answer to me in an Email:
“I can either be an author who is able to create and write OR I can go to school to learn another subject, ie., computer technology. I cannot do both, because my personal headset doesn’t permit room for anything Stressful VS. Writing. I’m of a highly creative personality, very high strung and full of anxiety to keep up with all of this.
So, I guess the choice is yours to either take the pressure of the social media off me or abandon me. Twenty minutes is enough time to put me over the edge and destroy my ability or eagerness to write. I’m sorry I cannot be all you need me to be. All I can do is what I’m good at: writing.”
My Polite and Patient Answer:
“As I said, it is a one-time-job to set up these accounts. But we need to do it now, before the book launch. Don’t worry, I help as much as I can. We were so short to have finished the necessary steps of your platform. Google was the last of the social media sites… we have to set up, before connecting them all to save time. Let’s have a break until early next week – and write to your hearts content.”
But I Was Certainly Not Amused:
Well, can you imagine that any of the big publishers has the knowledge to help their writers with platform building – or is investing time (read: money) to help their authors with social media? Certainly not!
The opposite! First thing when you pitch a book to an agent or trade publisher, they will ask you: ”What’s your platform?”
And if you, as a writer, don’t have at least 2,000 followers on Twitter / Facebook, and a website / blog, not to speak about an email newsletter list with hundreds of addresses, a publishing contract will be out of the picture – no matter how good you write. They are looking for someone with visibility and authority, who has a proven outreach to a target audience. Why? The short answer is: The book’s success.
Appreciate Every Opportunity to Learn!
… especially if you receive free training from a marketing professional. Writers are also well-suited to write blogs articles. After all, writing is what they like to do, and in order to produce a blog post, they have to write. Web content and blog posts are the substance from which social media posts can be drawn. And they can be writing examples for future readers.
Don’t be Arrogant to Your Readers!
If you like writing so much: it is a wonderful hobby and for sure very satisfying to create with words your own masterpieces. However if you want to make lots of money with your books, and you want to have them published, invest a little bit effort to meet your readers.
Meet Your Readers – Either in Person or Online.
Don’t be the equivalent of a store sales clerk who tries very hard to avoid eye contact with customers, or doesn’t answer the customers friendly greeting. If you are a shy person, write prequels, short stories, blog posts and sample chapters of your books and publish them on your website and on social media.
Every Business has to Start with a Plan.
If you want to sell your book after writing it, answers to these questions could partially substitute a “business plan”. And if you want to find a publisher or a literary agent – answering these questions before your first meeting is even more important:
- Is there a need for your book? Does it fill a void?
- Why would someone buy your book? What’s their benefit?
- Will your book always be interesting in the future?
- How big is your market and what is the demographic of your readers?
- Who will buy and read your book? How many people?
- Could your book idea be turned into series?
- Would your book have a regional or international audience?
- Who is your competition and how well did their books sell?
- Where and exactly how will you market your book?
- How easy can you reach your readership and how large will it be?
- How many (real) friends / followers do you have on Social Media?
- Do you have an opt-in email list on your website/blog or already an email newsletter?
- Could your book be sold in bulk to a company/organization to promote another product or service?
- In what magazines or newspapers articles, TV shows, radio shows, websites and newsletters could your book be marketed?
Publishing houses can only sell a considerable amount of books and make money when lots of people know about the author and his or her work – provided the author is able to spread the word about the book to a huge audience.
***Why should someone consider to publish your book when you, the writer, didn’t even think about the future of this book, and who will be its readers?***
What is an Author Platform?
…. which is not only important for authors who want to sell their manuscript to a trade publisher, but equally or even more important for independent writers who want to author-publish:
Authority: What other articles or books, blogs or articles for newspapers or magazines have you written previously? What’s your credibility? What are your credentials?
Proven reach: For example the size of your e-mail newsletter list, your website traffic, blog comments, high-profile reviews, testimonials or references for your writing from bestseller authors in your genre.
Visibility: What communities are you a part of? Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? Who do you influence?
Target audience: Being visible to the right audience for the book you are publishing. For example, if you wrote a book how career women can combine work and parenthood, you should have a large target audience of parents, career women, mommy-bloggers, maybe even kindergarten teachers or psychologists.
How Can You Grow Your Platform:
Publishing or distributing quality work online, on blogs, newsletters or websites, or articles in magazines and newspapers, taking part at social networks, producing podcasts, webinars or videos for your target audience. Speaking at and/or attending events where you meet new people and extend your network of contacts and your visibility.
Don’t Give Up – it All Takes Time:
Write content and reach out: Building your author platform belongs to the same project as the book you write. Use your creativity , and again: write lots of content, such as guest posts, blogs and short stories for weblogs, websites, magazines, and newspapers. Reach out to potential fans of your writing – one reader at a time.
Bestselling Author Russel Blake:
“Nobody with a brain goes into business with no money, no research, no plan, and no time or effort. That’s the harsh truth. Book selling is a retail business, and retail businesses are promotions intensive. Promotions are a necessary fact of life in book publishing. You have to generate noise – the product won’t do it by itself. There are millions of books out there. Yours are just more books.”
Have Fun Meeting Your Readers.
Becoming an author-publisher is a long term commitment and requires hundreds of small steps on the path to success! Read more about author platforms, how to establish it and become a successful author, no matter how you publish: