Platform Building Workshop, Part 4 by Cassiel Knight

Bet you all thought I forgot about wrapping up the workshop? I know it’s been a while and if you want to get caught up or are new to this, visit these posts to get up-to-speed.

Platform Building Workshop, Part 1
Platform Building Workshop, Part 2
Platform Building Workshop, Part 3

Now, onward and let’s discuss platform avenues, the roads you choose to travel to build your platform.

In all of the discussions I’ve ever heard or many of the studies and tips/tricks I’ve read, the number one thing authors need to have is a website. Would you agree or disagree?

Another thing everyone seems to agree on is that outside of a website, authors should engage in at least ONE platform avenue of their choosing and that you should not do a swan dive into all of them.

Mr. Sambuchino says that while, with platform building more can be good, it’s often not. He belies that more can dilute your channels’ effectiveness and cause complications rather than payoffs. Why do you think that is?

The idea of trying to do everything is, as he puts it, often means skimming the surface of EVERYTHING in an attempt to do it all which usually means that NONE of what you do is done correctly or nothing is properly accomplished or effective. Sure, you can do it all but the idea is that while you may see some bumps in sales, the kitchen sink approach is not as effective as picking one or two things and doing them well. Sort of like the old adage – Jack of all trades; master of none.

Agree or disagree? Why?

And this leads to another jewel we should all keep in mind – NO ONE will agree on the best way to promote. As we’ve learned, some swear by FB and some Twitter. Some only have a website and some blog until they turn blue.

For each of us, something WILL work but just because so and so is successful at blog tours doesn’t mean you will be. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try; just means don’t go in expecting it to work for you as it did for so and so.

As you decide on your platform, also keep in mind Mr. Sambuchino’s advice that “your audience will not respond well to reluctance, aggressive salesmanship, or a general inability to perform a task.”

What does that mean? Well, it means your audience will know you have no real interest or belief in a particular avenue you’ve chosen if YOU don’t believe or have interest.

“There are too many bad blogs, blogs about people’s cats, blogs about the day’s word count, blogs by people who think they need a blog out there already. Don’t add more to the pile. Blogs by a clearly reluctant author are the worst.”

The other part is that we know (me being your audience) when someone’s whole reason for engaging is to sell me their book.

If I’m following someone and all I’m getting is what amounts to buy my book or someone lazy who is just retweeting other’s tweets or just posting links, then I’m done and I don’t care how interesting that person othewise is.

Take the time to properly engage or don’t do it. At all. Find something else you WANT to do.

The book has some great agents answering the question what is the most important platform avenue? Take a guess as to what they say is? And I’m sure you won’t get it wrong.

If you said, it depends, you are absolutely 150% right. Why? Because each author, each book is different so the platform is different. Yes, it does mean, to some extent, you will need to create a platform for your book unless your platform is you as an author.

In March, at EPIC, Jennifer Fusco of Market or Die, did a workshop on promotion and marketing and she talked about brand you (platform you) and that while it is mostly for non-fiction folks, sometimes fiction authors can, and should, be branded as a whole and not their books. This would be for those authors who write across genres so then the platform becomes them, not their books.

But they still need one and the principles to brand/create an author platform apply the same.

So, selection of a platform venue? That is an individual choice and I can’t help you with that. You need to wrestle with the various options out there and decide which one fits within your criteria.

For example, I can give you my criteria for a platform venue. After this, maybe someone else can share how they did.

Easy – not only can I get up to speed on it fast, it’s easy to post and track. This is why I love Twitter. Was so easy, 140 characters and I’m in and out.
Plus, if I want to watch what’s going on, I bring up Tweet Deck and just keep it running and pop in and out as I like. To me, Twitter is the epitome of easy. The worst part of it? Initially learning about what to Tweet and I don’t mean the weather, my personal life as such. I know people care but I will unfollow someone quicker than wind when their posts are nothing but peronsal matters. For me, I want substance related to my profession. Others mileage varies.

Speaking of Twitter – I hear all the time, I don’t know what to say. I hear ya. I was the same but there are loads of resources to give you ideas on what to Tweet. Here are a couple of links but it’s simple to find  wealth of ideas. In your favorite search engine, enter “what to Tweet” + authors and you get a nice selection. Plus, just follow a variety of Tweeps and watch their tweets. You’ll get the hang of it.

Authority Publishing: Social Media for Authors: Tweet on Twitter 
Book Marketing Mavin: What to Tweet About 
A Marketing Expert: 50 Things to Tweet About

Back to how I pick my promotion avenue. Here’s my list:

  • Inexpensive or free
  • I’ll enjoy doing it.
  • I can educate as much as I will learn.

That is all I wanted. And as soon as my life settles, I’ll be back to doing it. <grin>

This means the first thing you should do is sit down and ask yourself what you want from a platform venue then find the venue that fits. Not sure which one will?

Well, this is when seeking help from fellow authors can help. Ask and you’ll get tons of feedback on the things your fellow authors like–and don’t like. But remember, the caveat above – check out the venue as what works for them may not work for you so evaluate each one based on YOUR criteria, not whether it was successful for them.

I had planned five sessions and can easily fill the fifth one but thought I’d ask for input. Based on what I’ve discussed in these last four, is there anything specific you’d like more information on or to discuss?

I hope you’ve found this as enlightening as I have.

Happy Promoting!

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Posted on April 10, 2013, in General and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Yes, I agree website is important first. You have to have a place to showcase all of your work and provide links to buy. Second, pick one media you LIKE and can keep up with. If you find it easy, go ahead and pick another. Third (and maybe this should be first) sell on as many platforms as possible: Nook, Sony, Kobo, Apple and Amazon. AND, if it is a novella or novel, paper too. I’ve been really surprised at the number of books I see that sell only on Amazon. Yes, Amazon is big and probably sells more books than any other venue–maybe it’s even 55% of sales. But why shut off the other 45%? Beyond these three things understand that no matter what you pick, or do, it will take time (like many months or years) to build your platform and to build your readership. Sure there is a chance that you will be the next Amanda Hocking, but don’t bank on it. PLAN for the slow build. Plan for the next book and the next book release.

    I think the reason some authors bombard all media with “buy me, buy me” is that they believe that the first book has to sell well or they don’t have a career. My experience has been that the “buy me, buy me” crowd is ignored because there are too many people saying “buy me” and not enough time to filter it. Second, my experience has been that the more books you have available the more readership you get and the more likely you will begin making enough money to buy a dinner out or maybe take a vacation. I started seeing sales pick up on my fourth book. I think it was for two reasons: 1) It was the second book of a series; and 2) When readers looked up my name they saw I had three other books already published with decent reviews. I’d also been building up an audience over 2-1/2 years. That gave readers confidence that I might actually finish that series and write more books.

    Final word, you are absolutely right. No one knows what promo (if any) works. Do it only if you like it. Otherwise, the best promo is writing the next book and getting it out there.

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