At the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference last month I talked to both new and experienced writers about building author platforms. I expected to be asked why author platforms were necessary, but to my surprise the most frequent question I heard was: Where should I start? Writers young and old wanted to know the benefits of Facebook and blogs versus getting on Twitter. What was the most important place for them to be?
We are at a fascinating, hopeful moment for writers. Many people with highly successful platforms have shared their methods in detail. And yet, the greater truth is that the most effective platform strategies are ones that haven’t even been dreamed up yet. For anyone getting started now, mixing creativity with long-term strategy will have huge results.
There is no one way to build a platform. Yet there are some very strong opening moves that will serve you well no matter which direction you decide to go. Here are my top three suggestions for anyone who wants to take their first steps today: Continue reading What’s the Best First Step in Platform Building?
As I prepare to teach next week at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, I was asked to think about the worst writing advice I’ve ever been given. My friend Suzanna remembered hers right away: “use semicolons.” What came up for me was a memory of third grade.
Our teacher, Mrs. Cox, told us one day that one of the words we should never use in our writing was “cannot.” My mind immediately flipped to several books I had read that used the word “cannot” in seemingly legitimate ways. My reverie ended right as Mrs. Cox finished her lesson and said, “Raise your hand if you still think you should use ‘cannot.'” I was the only one to raise my hand, and was now mortally embarrassed as well as confused.
The withering gaze of Mrs. Cox was enough to teach me that in her class at least, I would not use “cannot” in a sentence. To this day I have no idea what her reasoning was, but it probably had something to do with training eight-year-olds that “can” and “not” were two different words. For students just beginning to read and write English that was probably passable advice. But I was a precocious reader, and to me the advice was not just nonsensical but demonstrably false. Continue reading Writing Advice at the Wrong Time
To be successful, every business needs a compelling message. Call it a tagline, a slogan, or even an argument, your message is what gets people’s attention and keeps them listening to what you have to say.
In a message, every word counts. Unlike mission statements which tend to be long, circuitous sentences that try to say too much, a message has to be on point. Rather than describing what you do, it communicates what you stand for.
But a message is not just words, it is also who you are. This is the critical piece for those of us with wisdom to share: if you don’t embody that wisdom somehow in your physical presence, your work will never truly have the impact you seek. So messages are a two-part process: finding the right words, and then bringing those words into alignment with your actions. Continue reading M is for Message
It’s easy to feel excited about creating your author platform—just as easy as it is to feel completely overwhelmed. The two emotions often accompany each other in quick succession, and it’s my job to help people find a middle way between the two.
The key is to have a sustainable strategy. Because most indie authors and publishers have more time than money, staying in the game is 90% of what it takes to become visible and successful. You don’t have to have a lot of resources to begin with (though money does make some things easier!) if you can keep at it over the long haul.
Social media has changed publishing, and it has also changed the relationship between authors and readers. Authors who had been speaking to large crowds may be taken aback when those crowds expect to speak back in a two-way conversation. This shift is good news for those in the “long tail” who learn the principle of conversation and use it to build their platform. Continue reading Create an Author Platform That’s Built to Last
They say that the internet is all about commerce, but if you’re an independent author your sales options are limited. Selling books on Amazon.com is easy to do, but what if you want to offer sales links to several online retailers? Or sell ebooks directly to your customers, in every format, readable on all their devices—without having to deal with customer service? Continue reading How to Sell Ebooks Directly from Your Site