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"Author Platform"

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by MG Silverstein, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. MG Silverstein

    MG Silverstein Dreamer

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    For the past few months, I've been working hard on both my writing and my 'platform'.

    So many publishing gurus and successful writers stress the importance of having an author platform. I've set up every social networking site that I possibly can, and I have a website. My question is, how do you successfully build your author platform without spending a ton of money?

    This quote kinda freaks me out: To be a successful author, your combined social platforms need to have at least 5,000 followers. ~ Guy Kawasaki

    How do we do this?
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  2. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    You don't need to invest money, just time. To build an audience, provide content that the kinds of people you want to attract will be interested in. So for a fantasy writer, content on fantasy and writing might be a good idea - that's what I do on my website and I've got about 30 subscribers now, having started my website in October. Okay, it's a slow build up, but I think that for me, it's worth it. I enjoy creating the content and it helps me to think about what I'm doing and what I know about and where I need to do more. I like getting feedback on what I've said and engaging with commenters. And when I've got something to sell, well, maybe some of them will be interested in buying.

    As for how I build my author platform, I have a website, a Goodreads account, a Reddit account where I am subscribed to the writing and fantasy subreddits, and Twitter, as well as posting here on Mythic Scribes. With Twitter, Goodreads, Reddit and here it's about just being part of a community and being visible, so that when, in a year or two when I've got something published, someone comes across my name on a book while browsing the Kindle store they recognise the name and maybe buy. That's not the point of being involved and engaged - it is its own reward and I like doing it - but it is a benefit that enables me to justify spending so much time here. The website is a different matter. That is my main author platform. That's where I provide content to interest potential readers and try to build an audience. There's also engagement - I try to reply to most comments posted and get some rapport going with my subscribers and followers (twitter is also useful for this). Providing content - blog posts, reviews, links and commentaries - is about building an audience. It is about showing that I am worth their time. It is about sharing what I like in the genre and seeing if there are like-minded individuals out there. It is also about growing as a writer by producing content on a regular basis - at least once a week, preferably twice.

    I'm not so sure about the 5,000 followers on social platforms. Where does he get that number from? Experience, possibly - experience I don't have so perhaps I'm not best placed to comment on it. I think it will vary from one author to the next, and depend on how many products you've got out for that audience to buy. 5,000 people buying one book and 2,500 people buying two books each both still get 5,000 sales. And I'm not sure he's got it the right way round. I think that might be a measure of success, rather than a prerequisite. 5,000 people like you work - cool. Not you need to get 5,000 people to be interested in you before you publish.
     
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  3. MG Silverstein

    MG Silverstein Dreamer

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    I've only had my website for 2 months(. I've read that it takes 8 months for a website to really get started in terms of subscribers and traffic. Do you post links to your content places in order to get more traffic? Or do you get traffic organically?

    Most of my traffic comes from reddit fantasy. I have 500 followers on Twitter. They give me zero traffic. Goodreads, Stumbleupon, Tumblr, AbsoluteWrite and Facebook give me a small amount of people that actually read my content. I feel a little lost. I've read so many books on social networking, author platforms, blogging. I'm still reading books on them. And my current Chrome tabs have 7 different links open to information on how to build traffic. Am I being impatient since its only been a few months? Or should I be kicking my own butt a bit more? I am going to blog twice a week, instead of once.

    He most likely gets that number from experience. Guy is a genius. His book APE is pretty amazing.

    How many people do you think should be interested in you before publishing?
     
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    One of the biggest issues in marketing - any kind of marketing - is that it's easy to have no idea what's actually working or not.

    Show me a strategy for turning facebook likes into sales, or there's not going to be much of a correlation between the number of likes and the sales of your book. People who are interested in the writing process are probably pretty picky about the books they read. I think most people are missing that.
     
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I'm pretty happy with the progress of my blog. I started it at the end of August last year, so it's been running almost seven months. I've got 70 followers, over 3000 views, and average in the high 20's for number of views on days when I post new material.

    It's not huge by any means, but I'm reaching people. It's also growing.

    Truthfully, I haven't done much to promote it. Most of my views come from WordPress.

    The biggest advice I can give: be patient and create good content.

    I blog 4 days a week, though, down from five recently.
     
  6. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    While I think that FB is good for at least getting exposure, I think you're right on this. I haven't heard of anyone really saying, "The key to my selling a ton of books was Facebook!"

    It seems like those who are experiencing success seem mostly to rely on exposure on blogs (run by others more so than their own). That's going to be my primary strategy; try to get mentioned on as many blogs as I can - interviews, guest posts, reviews, etc.
     
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I didn't have a lot of time with my previous post, but that's one of the things I was getting at.

    There are strategies for turning Facebook likes into book sales, and this is one of them - the one I've been advocating, in fact. Use your social media platforms to make connections with others on the web who can help promote or review your book. You could turn one like into 50 sales if that one person posts a glowing review or hosts your guest article on a website.

    Another strategy, which would mean a lot more work, is to load your social media pages with written, story-related content so that they appeal to readers, and not just other writers. You can use your facebook as a direct hook for your stories. However, you'd have to be very prolific to do that successfully, and you'd need to basically build your fantasy setting with this strategy in mind in order to support that much content.

    Lastly, the strategy I really mean to advocate - and I'm still surprised that nobody here is really trying this - is to partner with other writers of about the same caliber and work on the platform together. That way each person could focus on higher quality content, appeal to a wider range of people, and stand out as a group.
     
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  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I'd be willing to participate in something like this, though not to organize it since FB just isn't my forte.

    I tend to view FB as a way to get a quick message to people who are already interested. Sure, it can draw in more people who see their likes or whatever, but I just don't plan to use it as a key cog in my marketing strategy.

    This, I've found, is the primary benefit of my blog. I am now in contact with a ton of indie bloggers. I'm hoping to translate that contact into relationships and the relationships into help with promoting.

    I've heard this strategy for blogs as well. I just couldn't figure out a way to do it. It didn't feel "natural" to me.

    I think that Ankari is much better at this than I am.

    Some of marketing (especially the social media based ones), imo, is personality based. If you try to do something you suck at, even if that method may be "better," you're not necessarily going to get the better results.

    Thanks for this post. It's a nice presentation of three distinct strategies. Very helpful.

    Brian

    EDIT: It's not with FB, but your idea, in general, is kinda what we're trying to do with our Jobe concept.
     
  9. Sean Cunningham

    Sean Cunningham Dreamer

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    I downloaded the sample when it first came out and read a couple of interviews he gave. My perception was that the book was slanted towards non-fiction writing. Did you find that to be the case, or did you find it highly relevant to fiction writers as well?
     
  10. MG Silverstein

    MG Silverstein Dreamer

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    H.P. Mallory is a self published Kindle millionaire who attributes most of her sales to Facebook. She got more than likes, she created a community.
     
  11. MG Silverstein

    MG Silverstein Dreamer

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    Sorry about reposting, I'm trying to get used to this setup.

    H.P. Mallory is a self published Kindle millionaire who attributes most of her sales to Facebook. She got more than likes, she created a community.


    70 followers is fantastic! I only have 3. My issue is making my blog sticky. I get at around 100-200 views per new post (I only post once a week, but I'm trying to change that), the post before my last got 300. I've been around for a little more than 2 months. But I want to average at 1000 per month, organically.

    If I don't post links to my website on Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr etc. I get almost no views at all. Of course the amount of views also has to do with content. When I write about high fantasy, I get a lot of views, when I write about my favorite genre urban fantasy, I don't get as many. I don't know how to reach my specific audience.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  12. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    I only get views above 20 a day when I link the post on Reddit, or someone else does. Best of that was some 110. Total views is a little above 1500, for the last 6 months. I've never had a single follow on a day when I've posted something to Reddit, just a lot of views, so I'm not sure it's that useful for building an audience with my current level of engagement in discussions on Reddit.
     
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Do you know anything about how she went about creating a community?
     
  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I still haven't tried making a post to Reddit yet.

    As far as I can tell, posting, "My blog post today is..." is frowned upon. If I read your earlier post correctly, it's okay to mention it in a thread where there is relevancy. I'm not sure if it's worth the effort to spend time on Reddit finding those kinds of threads or not.
     
  15. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    A couple of times I just posted my blog post in the relevant subreddit without comment and let people discuss it. Usually got anything from 30 to 110 views from it, never got called out on it being my own thing I was posting but then you'd have to look to find "Chilari" (also my Reddit username) on my website and nobody ever did, so maybe they just didn't consider the connection. Actually, the best visits I've had are when I've posted reviews, and the author of the book I was reviewing took a fancy to it and posted it everywhere. I fact I've got two follows today alone from my review of Black Dragon's book. In other words, posting reviews means someone else out there becomes willing to do marketing for me.

    But while I like reviewing stuff and it does get some good returns, I don't see that as being the core of what I'm about. They're one facet of attracting an audience, and a significant one at that, because the people reading them are like as not readers of fantasy, but I want a broader base than reviews because I want to demonstrate my interest in fantasy, my writing ability, and that I have something interesting to say, so I also post about fantasy movies good and bad (which are sort of reviewy but not quite), look at elements of fantasy and elements of writing (because writers are readers).

    The single post that I have had consistent view on - about 1.8 a day on average across the last 6 weeks - is my article Merlin Season 5 finale: a retrospect, in which I look at why the ending of the BBC TV series failed. I've had a lot of search terms along the lines of "merlin season 5 finale review". And I think that comes from it being something with a wide appeal, a large audience - and from the fact that it's still airing at various locations around the world (the benefit of reviewing British-made stuff - I get to see it before everyone else). But that's not really my core audience. As in, it's fantasy fans, sure, but it's live action fantasy fans not written word fantasy fans; the same goes for my articles on fantasy films. Interesting to me, fairly popular, and with some significant overlap with the people I really want to attract, but also not the right circle in the Venn diagram.

    But my blog is still new; as of today, I've got 40 posts and it's been going just over 6 months. I'm still finding my direction for it, and I don't think I'm quite there yet. I've got ideas for where I want it to go, and objectives for how to get there, but I'm still feeling my way and I've not quite got the tone right yet; I think I'm a bit too formal, not quite relaxed enough; I'm treating posts as articles rather than as blog posts and I want to make it more friendly, so I think I'll be taking it that way some more in future. A bit more personal, a bit more relaxed, but covering the same sort of stuff.

    What was I talking about? Oh yes: building an author platform is quite a personal thing. You can look at the way others have done it and emulate them up to a certain point, but you've got to let your own voice come through and your own goals drive the ship, and that means discovering what your own voice and your own goals actually are along the way and altering course as necessary. What you produce depends on your experiences, the time you have available to produce content, your goals and a lot more. So while looking at the very successful author platforms of other authors can be inspiring and useful (not to mention interesting), there's a limit to how much of it you can apply to your own author platform.
     
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  16. MG Silverstein

    MG Silverstein Dreamer

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    I read her book Quit Your Day Job which goes into how she became a successful self published author. She gets into social networking, pricing e-books, marketing etc. But I don't recall how much detail she got into.


    Its great.

    Absolutely. But I only post once a week, and I also post other things and try to continuously contribute to conversations and other topics. I post in the fantasy reddit, since thats where people post articles about the fantasy genre. I post articles other than mine, but I have a problem with almost posting things that are already posted. It seems we all read the same fantasy articles or something. When I blog more than once a week, I will still only post on reddit once a week, if not less than that. I know my next article isn't going to really contribute to the fantasy section, so I won't post it. If something does contribute, it will get a lot of traffic.
     
  17. MG Silverstein

    MG Silverstein Dreamer

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    Its great to hear how successful reviewing has been for you. I'm about to start reviewing live action fantasy. I'm interested in a more general fantasy audience, live action and book readers. I read somewhere that successful authors make the most money off of people who don't consider themselves readers. For example, J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. I think more than 80% of their audience don't consider themselves readers, and haven't read much for than there work. But they get the big bucks.

    I agree with that, to a certain point. It is personal to some extent. As in, some people excel at Tweeting, others at Tumbling or Pinterest. But I think over-personalizing the process could be used as an excuse to not be as successful as you could be. (Speaking frankly. I may be wrong, but thats what those kind of generalizations sound like to me) People follow formulas in basically every profession. These vary to some extent, but an authors platform is about connecting with an audience and branding yourself. There are only so many ways to do this. There are only so many social networking sites. (There are sadly too many personal websites, but regardless...) I'm not actually disagreeing with you. It is personal, and I know that I can't follow H.P. Mallory's path to success because I don't have her resources, or her Facebooking skills. And I don't have the balls to follow Holly Blacks way of only using Tumblr to connect to her audience. But an authors platform isn't some mystical magical thing. There is a formula to it, and there are some parts of the formula that I haven't invested myself in fully and others that I still need to learn. I'm just here asking what more can I learn.
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >Where does he get that number from?

    It's Guy Kawasaki. The man has a Lifetime Overachievement Award. Don't let him intimidate you.

    How many followers do you have now? Zero? Okay, aim for ten! Then see if you can beat your record [Simpsons ref].
     
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