So, with the Burkelings (my kids) both in school full-time, it’s time to focus some more on my writing. Providing endless snacks for my son Eoin was great, but time consuming, so it’s time to step up my author game and make a real go of this. First thing on my agenda is to build my author platform. “What the hell is an author platform?” you ask. Consider it your outlet to the real world (something we authors don’t always attune to. After some quick internet searching (not “Googling”, I use another search engine), I came across A Writer’s Life and decided to base it on that (due to not having to buy anything). The good people there (or Brooke Warner in this case), suggest a seven-step approach. Using these parameters, here are my plans for world domination:
Expertise: Write an “I am fabulous” statement
I am a writer. Easy to say, I’ve been doing it for years. I’ve published a book, so I’m also an author. I’m not really into blowing my own trumpet, but I am awesome, so that’s all the bases covered. Next, please.
Contacts: Put together a “big mouth list”
Okay, I’ve got some “peeps” out there who actively retweet every occasion of my book being promoted. Thanks to signing up to the right sites for a minimal cash outlay, my book gets retweeted a few times a day. I’ve noticed some spikes in UK sales every once in a while, but what this really equates to is beyond me, but it looks good.
Social media: Pick two social channels
Okay, in 2017 there are about 18 million social media outlets (mild exaggeration). If you’re a writer, you can narrow it down to two – Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is actually great. You can set up a separate author profile (I have a “page,” but I’m planning on changing that) and control who’s in it; talk to your beta & ARC readers; chat with your real fans; and there’s even excellent groups for fans of various genres and writing groups. What’s even better is they’re controlled by moderators to keep out pornbots, trolls and other web sociopaths. Then there’s Twitter. Twitter can really spread the word, but it’s like trying to take down a rhinoceros with a blowgun – you can do it, but your timing has to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T. Your precious tweet could get swept away in a hurry. You could trot out the same “buy my book” tweet every hour, but others will just get bored/annoyed. On a side note, I love Google+ (weird, right?), but I like it for following tech (where the real nerds hang out). It has such awesome potential, but it came too late to the party.
Previous media and books: Publish an ebook
Did I mention I had done this? If you’re new here (from that the time I took down the Twitter rhino), you can find details here – Al’s Books.
Personality: Figure out your persona
Oooh – sarcastic anti-social optimist-realist hybrid. Sound good? Sounds a but like a typical writer stereotype, so it might actually work. I’m 45 and I gave up on the whole “fitting in” lark in my late 20s, so I’m not changing back now. It’s funny that we now live in a world where an author personality can affect his sales. I wonder how it would have been fifty years ago – “Ooh, that Hemingway’s a dick, there’s no way his books are classics.”
I am who I am, and I am not a salesperson. Love me or leave me…
Existing readership: Create a sign-up form on your website
Okay, I’ve written one book and a handful of blog posts (and possibly a couple of thousand articles in my other life), but I’m not sure if I’m ready for Mail-Chimp and e-newsletters yet. It’s on my to-do list, but it’s just more stuff to get done that detracts from the actual writing of books. Watch this space.
Ability to execute: Stick to a schedule
Okay, save my weak spot for last. I’m pretty flaky around getting stuff down with schedules and the like (ask my wife). Give me a set-in-stone deadline and Chuck Norris and The 300 couldn’t stop me powering through. Say “write a couple of hours a day,” and I’m out to lunch. If you’re a writer who sells well but isn’t Stephen King or Diana Gabaldon, your publisher is going to demand that you meet deadlines and so forth in order to stay with them. I probably could’ve written my novel in a week with a deadline looming. I’m nowhere near that stage and, much as I like my publisher (love you BTP), they’re relatively new and have plenty of other non-flaky authors to worry about (seriously though, if you write speculative fiction, check out Zombie Cupcake Press).
So, that’s it – the Seven Deadly Sins of Author Platforms. Can I come up with the goods? Time will tell, but expect to see some short stories in the near future.
Rock and Roll!