Tag Archives: author platform

Social Media Tips For Your Author Platform

Laptop

An active author platform can often be the difference between poor sales of your book and making a living with your writing. The main parts of your author platform are your writer’s blog, a newsletter, social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). You will want to write proposals, queries, and manuscripts, do interviews both online and in person, and go to conventions, book fairs and other writing events. All of these activities can be overwhelming to any author, no matter if you are an aspiring author or a pro with many novels on Amazon. It is a fact that maintaining your platform takes constant work.

There is a solution to taming the platform workload. It is called automation, scheduling and following a routine.

No Wasted Ink, as of this writing, has a blog following of around 1800 and a twitter following of 25 thousand. Each and every one of these followers was found one at a time and added organically to my lists over the course of five years. I am doing the same with my new quarterly newsletter and Instagram account. Both are small in subscribers since they are new, but in time both of these new legs to my platform will improve.

I’m often asked how I built my large number of followers. It is mainly by providing consistent and quality content to my readers. No Wasted Ink provides book reviews of classic science fiction and fantasy novels, interviews new up and coming authors, has a list of writer’s articles every Monday that I curate by hand, and original articles and poetry. It is all offered up for free to anyone who wishes to follow. In addition, I have links to my writing, both free stories that are published in online magazines, and content to purchase such as novels, novellas, and anthologies that I am a part of. I consider my writer’s blog to be the cornerstone of my author platform.

I am active on social media. Every post on No Wasted Ink creates a tweet on twitter to inform my followers that there is a new post to read. I also post a link on my Facebook Author Page. This is done automatically by WordPress for me. For key posts, I will often follow up with additional tweets, one a day to my feed for a time span of two weeks. I create these tweets on Hootsuite, a free service that I use to schedule tweets and Facebook posts ahead of time.

Another service that I use to supplement Twitter is a free service called Triberr. I have joined a number of “tribes” there and offer to promote other writer’s posts in exchange for their promoting my posts. By doing this cross promotion I gain two things. An easy way to queue additional posts to my twitter feed so it is not all about me. I select articles from fellow writers that I feel would be of interest to writers or readers of science fiction or fantasy. This fleshes out my twitter feed and makes it more interesting. I also gain access to other author networks for my own posts. On average, all my interviews and guest posts gain around 60 to 80 retweets from my various network connections.

An important thing to remember about Twitter is that you need to cull your follower list from time to time. I do a culling of people that do not follow me back or who have not tweeted anything in at least six months from my follower list a few times a month. I use various third party platforms to locate these tweeps and prune them. This allows me room to add new people that might be more inclined to read my tweets and respond to my messages. By doing this, although my list of followers is large, they are all very active.

Having a Facebook Author Page is important, but I don’t view it as a platform for sending messages to followers. I like being there because most people expect you to have a Facebook presence. It also is a great place to host an online book launch, post your upcoming live events, or do a Facebook Live video. For me, Facebook has been a great place to network with fellow authors, magazine editors, and publishers of anthologies. Most of the places that I publish my short stories and poetry to have been found by networking on Facebook.

I know that all of this can seem to be overwhelming. And sometimes it is! However, it doesn’t need to be. Scheduling your time is the key to handling the social media marketing. I schedule myself two ways. The main way I do my marketing is to do a short session in the morning and in the evening, each no more than 15 minutes. Yes, I sometimes set a timer. In these sessions I will do any of the following:

* Write a blog post
* Draft an email newsletter
* Research articles for my Monday link posts
* Write a Facebook status or Twitter update
* Take an Instagram picture and upload it
* Comment on a blog post on another author’s site
* Share another author’s book, on a social media platform
* Update my website or blog in some way
* Draft a query letter to a magazine on a subject related to your book
* Create an image on Canva with a reviewer’s blurb on it and Tweet it
* Create an image on Canva of a quote from your articles and Tweet it
* Write a thank-you note to a book reviewer, librarian or bookseller
* Load up future tweets to promote new blog posts
* Write up a call for new authors to interview

I also have one other social media work session. It happens once a year in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This is normally a “dead” week for business. All the Christmas shopping is done, people are home with their families and not all that much is going on retail wise. Yet, there is this full week of time available. I schedule this week to do my annual blog scheduling. During this week I will create all the holiday posts for my blog and schedule them for the following year. I find quotes to post on Facebook and schedule them to post for the next year. I finish setting up my editorial calendar for the next year and make sure that all my regular posts are scheduled in my Filofax with a check mark drawn in for when I complete and schedule the post. I tend to work in six to eight-hour shifts during this week, devoting most of my work time to marketing. At the end of the week, I toast the New Year and go back to my usual 15-minute sessions.

Now it’s your turn: share in the comments. What are your favorite—or most effective—quick marketing tasks in your author platform?

Marketing SciFi Self-Pubs by Thomas Gondolfi

Galaxy Girl

Marketing a novel starts with, “What does a reader want?” They are after a strong story, engaging characters, no errors, and an eye-catching cover. Ok we’ve all heard this before. But there is one more key thing that most fans want – an author they can identify with. Think about your favorite author. Have you ever wanted to meet her/him? Wanted to find out why they made those choices in their book plot? Ever wanted to know what they do for fun? It’s the same whether its movie stars, political candidates, or authors. The public wants to get to know them, maybe even be their friend. In a sense, we need to sell ourselves as much as our product. This means we must interact directly with the scifi public, not from behind a website.

In one respect we, as scifi authors, are lucky. If you count scifi, gaming, anime, comic, furry, horror, and fantasy conventions you have literally thousands of shows of all sizes, shapes, and genres. We can participate in a different convention every weekend. While they can be draining, they can also give you that surge of positive fan energy to move you on with your next work. Convention success requires getting attention, sharing, helpfulness, measuring success/failure, and repetitiveness.

Conventions are like casinos with all the blinking, flashing lights. It makes getting attention difficult. The key is getting people to talk to you. You have to find a method that works for you. I’ve used any number of gambits here, but the one that works consistently is apparel – t-shirt slogans, costumes, football hats, diaper bags. What do these have to do with writing? Nothing, but they give you an inside track into what interests those potential customers. Use that strike up a conversation. Once you are talking half the battle is over.

As our goal is to sell books, our instinct is to launch immediately into our elevator pitch. In the words of Robin Williams, “Buzz – thanks for playing.” No one wants to be sold to. Sharing takes practice in spending more time listening than talking. Remember the reader wants to be friends. They want to be able to brag to their buddies that they know this great author. In the course of any convention I’ll spend 3/4ths of my time talking about anything but my products.

Karma for the win. Even if you don’t subscribe, remember people run the convention that you are attending. People run the conventions you haven’t found yet. Being helpful, with no attempt for immediate gain (no one likes a brown-nose), does pay off huge in the long run. People share your name as a good vendor. They help you get into other events or with problems you have. Going the other way, it takes no time at all to get a bad reputation and shut out of potential marketing / sales avenues.

Everyone has his or her own niche. A show that works for one person may not work for another. You want to be ruthless about those things that work and don’t work for you. That means measuring and math. Was your net higher at this show? Even with a slight loss, was the convention worth it in exposure or contacts made. You must clamp down on the downside outliers and exploit the upside to be successful.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. If I had one piece of advice, that is it. Again, think about it from a reader’s perspective. The worst thing that could happen is to get a great first book in a series and never hear about that author again. One show and you are noticed as something different but probably not many sales. Two shows and you are interesting – maybe there is something to this author. Your third repeat of a show, with new product each time, and you are someone that isn’t going away. You can be trusted.

Face to face marketing isn’t easy, especially for authors who are introverted as a class, but the payoffs are huge. Yes, online marketing is great, but it has a half-life of about three milliseconds. It doesn’t make that lasting impression that sharing about the time at a major convention a stool collapsed out from under you, signing their purchase with a personal touch about something you’ve talked about, or sharing about their book project can have. These things last in reader’s minds for years. The efforts are worth it and build the strongest fan base. Remember that this business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Author Tom GandolfiA father of three, consummate gamer and loving husband, Thomas Gondolfi claims to be a Renaissance man and certified flirt. Raised as a military brat, he spent the first twenty years of his life moving to a new place every few years giving him a unique perspective on most regions of the United States.

Educated as an electrical engineer and working in high tech for over twenty years, Tom has also worked as a cook, motel manager, most phases of home construction, volunteer firefighter for eight years, and even as the personal caregiver to a quadriplegic.

Tom Gondolfi has been writing fiction for over thirty years and doing it professionally for at least fifteen. Most of his short stories have been commissioned for use in gaming products, such as Babylon 5 Wars and Star Fleet Battles. “Toy Wars,” Tom’s first commercially viable novel, was completed almost 20 years ago with a polish just prior to publication in 2013. “An Eighty Percent Solution” is the premiere novel of his cyberpunk “CorpGov Chronicles”. Tom has completed book two, “Thinking Outside the Box,” and book three, “The Bleeding Edge,” with a total of nine books already plotted out for the series.

Broad Universe Reads at Westercon68

Westercon68
The West Coast Science Fantasy Conference aka Westercon is a regional science fiction and fantasy convention geared toward fans, musicians, writers, and filmmakers of the genre. It is typically a four-day event that is traditionally held during the Independence Day holiday weekend. The location rotates to a new city each year, chosen somewhere in the United States west of the 104th meridian line. The guests of honor are chosen from professionals who live in the Westercon region.

TownCntryResort rosesThis year, Westercon was held in San Diego, CA at the Town and Country Resort in conjunction with two local conventions, Conjecture (a science fiction and fantasy literary convention) and ConChord (a filk singers convention). It is a lovely hotel filled with bright blue swimming pools, blooming roses, and garden settings.

This was my first time at a regional literary convention. The size and scope of it was bigger than I had expected. I was registered as a panelist for the first time and I participated in two events. The first event was a lecture on Author Platform, based on the methods that I use to promote No Wasted Ink. My lecture was well attended and I found the give and take of questions during the lecture to be interesting. I hope that my information was of help to my fellow authors.

Broad Universe Reading at Westercon68 (2015)My second event was a panel that I created to feature the local authors of Broad Universe, a writing guild where I am a member. Broad Universe is an international non-profit writer’s guild that promotes women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative genres. It began as a panel discussion at WisCon back in 2000 and has grown into a large volunteer-run group that attends various conventions and conferences to promote the member’s books. One of the more popular activities of the group are known as “rapid fire readings” which feature group readings by the authors in convention panels or as a salon reading in the evening. Broad Universe also offers access to Net Gallery, occasionally have tables where member’s can sell their books at science fiction conventions and is a great place for authors to network via their email list, Facebook group or Twitter.

Our panel was given a great time in the convention on Friday afternoon. Our Broad Universe readers were Jude-Marie Green, Barbara Clark, Wendy Van Camp, Elizabeth Watasin, and Shauna Roberts. I was surprised by the turnout of listeners, many were women that sat and knitted as they listened to our stories. Having my own handmade jewelry in the art show at Westercon, I was gratified to see the support from fellow artisans. There were also a scattering of men and women who were typical convention attendees that came out of curiosity to experience new authors.

After our hour-long panel, we proceeded downstairs to the dealer room where a pair of tables were set up for authors to autograph their books. It was not set up for our group alone, but all the authors had a place on the schedule, including the big name authors that attended the convention. All of us sold and autographs books that afternoon.

Westercon68 Autographing (2015) Jude-Marie Green, Barbara Clark, Wendy Van Camp.Westercon68 Autographing 2 (2015) Elizabeth Watasin, Shauna Roberts

Authors Top Photo: Jude-Marie Green, Barbara Clark, Wendy Van Camp
Authors Bottom Photo: Elizabeth Watasin, Shauna Roberts

For the writers and fans of science fiction, literary conventions are a great place to learn more about the genre, meet famous authors in person, network with your fellow fans, authors, filmmakers, or to explore your wild side by costuming.

Primer for Building Your Author Platform

author platformAs a writer, it is hard to know where to start when building your author platform. What to include, what numbers to shoot for in traffic, when to start working on it, and how it all connects can be bewildering. Before I started to build my own platform, I went to several lectures by successful authors and asked what they were doing to promote themselves and their books and what sort of numbers they had when they started to have successful sales.

It Starts With Your Blog

First, the time to start working on your author platform is now. Do not wait until you have a finished novel ready to upload onto Amazon. These venues will make your book available to sell, but they will do little to market your novel except to list it in their catalogs. Allow yourself at least a full year before your first work is complete to start getting your platform onto the internet.

The base of your platform is your blog. It is the first item in your platform that you should finish. Consider it your home base on the internet, the one place that you wish to funnel all the other aspects of your marketing to. Your website should contain the following elements: a biography with a photo of yourself, a list of clips that you’ve published or links to where your work can be purchased and finally, articles, story samples and other posts of interest. Whenever possible, give a hotlink to your published work so that potential readers can get an idea of your style of writing.

Through the blog, the readers get to know you as a writer and person, creating a better connection between you. On my blog, I write articles about the craft of writing, book reviews of science fiction, fantasy and classic novels that have inspired me as a writer and do short essays about subjects I enjoy commentating upon. Since I’m a science fiction, fantasy and historical fiction writer, I interview other authors in these genre. By coming to read about an author with similar work to mine, it gets my blog in their mind, and it tends to interest the readers to stick around for other posts. Hopefully, that interest will extend toward purchasing one of my stories on Amazon.

This is the base. This is the one basic thing that every writer should have. Not a static author page. Not a simple online portfolio, but a WordPress blog where you can interact with your readership and showcase your work. I recommend WordPress over other blog platforms because it is free to use and free to host when you first start. The only option you should pay for is your domain name and attach it to your blog. Later on, when you are more established, you can move your WordPress blog to a hosted account and acquire more bells and whistles for you platform, but when you are in the first year, your traffic will be low enough that it will not warrant the expenditure.

Reach Out and Touch Your Readers

Once your blog is in place, you need to reach out and market it. To do so, you need the following: A Facebook page devoted to you as a writer, a twitter account, and a google+ account. All of these accounts should be focused on you as a writer. You are building your name as your brand, attempting to make it recognizable, not selling a single book or story.

First open up your Facebook page. Mine is called No Wasted Ink on Facebook, the same as my website. WordPress can be set to automatically post a link to any blog post I create to this page, so promoting my blog on Facebook is no additional work on my part. However, do not use your Facebook page as a place for your links alone, you need to make it interesting for your potential book customers to learn more about you as an author. I like to make small posts about what I am doing as a writer on mine. I write about the writing gatherings I attend, seminars that I go to or simply quotes from famous people that I like. I keep the subject focused on writing. I recommend using a Facebook page to make your reader contacts over having them as Facebook friends. You are limited to 5000 friends on your personal Facebook account, but you can have unlimited numbers of followers on a page.

Second, open up a twitter account that you will devote to your writing career. It should not be an account to make personal comments on. Keep all interactions on this account about writing, either answering tweets from followers or passing on tweets about writing that you find interesting. If you write in a specific genre, tweets related to that genre are also appropriate. Link your Facebook page so that all your Facebook posts are tweeted to your twitter account. It is also possible to set your WordPress blog to tweet each of your posts directly to twitter. Set up a chain so that both services are tweeted automatically.

Third, join Google+. This network is growing larger every day and the more people that are in your circles the better. WordPress will automatically post a link to your blog posts there and I recommend you take advantage of this feature. Just as you did on your Facebook page, leave comments about writing, related genre commentary and other posts related to your writing.

What Numbers Should I Have Before My First Novel Goes On Sale?

You should have the following base numbers in each area before you consider putting your first book on sale:

Facebook Page: 500 followers
Twitter: 10,000 followers
Wordpress: 500 followers
Google+: 500 followers

As you see, building your author platform takes a great deal of work. Writing and maintaining your blog is a part-time job. You will be marketing your work almost every day. Try to not let it overwhelm you. I check my blog, Facebook, google+ and twitter twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening.

Is all the work worth it?

I feel that putting your name as an author out is important, even if you do not have a book to offer yet. The readers will see your writing samples on your blog and get to know you. When your first book comes out, you might not be swamped with readers wanting to buy your book, but I suspect you will have far more than had you done nothing.

When I launched my first ebook The Curate’s Brother: A Jane Austen Variation of Persuasion, I did not have a marketing plan in place for my first ebook. I published a blog post announcing its launch and asked a few of my writing friends if they would be kind enough to interview me on their blogs. I also asked if I could join in a live reading series in my area and was accepted. I was astonished by the number of sales I had in the first three months after my book launch. It was not a blockbuster, but it was far more of a return than if I had published the story in an anthology or magazine. I credit these sales to my budding author platform and consistent blogging.

These steps are only the beginning in creating your author platform. However, before you publish your first ebook, this is enough to get started and to become comfortable with promoting yourself as a writer. Once you publish, there are more things that you can do to get the word out about your writing, but as they say, that is story for another time.