The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform – Part 3

Building Your Author Platform

To be a successful author, you need to think differently. Within your gut, an uncontainable passion burns. Your passion is to change the world.

Steve Jobs was a person who changed the world by promoting Apple products. I am typing this blog on my Mac with my I-phone 6 by my side. Watch this marketing video clip where Steve Jobs challenged a company to think differently:

Marketing is about values. In this noisy world, your message is a clarion call of what you stand for. Be clear about who you are and what you are about. Where do you fit in the world? More specifically, where do you fit in your niche?

Rejection is Your Friend

One of our main marketing mistakes is to try to be too general. We fail to touch anyone’s life because we are trying to touch everyone’s life. We “like to be liked.” We don’t want to be rejected.

There is already a beat of the drum that your soul marches to. There are other’s who feel the same way you do. They are your “tribe” and you all march to the beat of a different drum. Before you find your tribe, you will likely find rejection from people who don’t hear what you are hearing or see what you are seeing.

A friend of mine, Tracey Mitchell wrote Downside Up (page 15). She wrote this about rejection:

1. Rejection acts as a personal conductor, carefully arranging who and what qualifies for your future.

2. Rejection is a friend who witholds no secrets, exposes all enemies, and closes every wrong door.

3. Rejection is a golden opportunity to better understand God’s love, human relationships, and gifts of encouragement that lie within you.

Think differently about rejection. The closed door of rejection to your message prevents you from wasting your precious time with people who “don’t get you.” Smile at rejection as your friend.

I had a friendly conversation with a woman representing a publisher at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). I shared with her that my background was pastoral ministry. She then asked what my denomination was. When I said “The Foursquare Church” she quickly said, “I won’t be able to publish your future books.”

I sincerely thanked her for her honesty and then asked, “Why?” She then said, “Our constituents do not believe in women pastors and they are closed to Pentecostal Denominations.”

I was so thankful for her blunt honesty. I knew that this was not a publishing house that I would publish any of my future books with.

Fearless Marketing: Take the Risk and Get the Word Out

Fearlessly market to your tribe. Instead of spending time trying to get people that you already know to be interested in what you are doing, throw your net on the other side of the boat and find those who identify with your voice. Here are a few specific tactics to build your tribe and market your message.

Click the Picture for Instant Access to Free Ebook

1. Free Give Away Write a simple ebook and put it on the front of your website or at the end of your blog. You give it away for “free” when they type in their email address. The secret of the email address is that this person who is on your site may be a tribe member. Follow up with them with future blogs and products. Don’t worry about the perfection of your ebook. Click the picture for an example of one of my free ebooks.

2. Building Partnerships Are you spending time building relationships with others who are influencers? I had the privilege of sharing a meal with Dan Miller and his wife Joanne at a conference. As we built a relationship, Dan asked me to speak at the 48 Days Cruise that he is leading in February 2015. Michael Hyatt and his wife Gail are also speaking as well as other influencers.

Click Picture to Find out More about The Influence Cruise.

You never now where one relationship will lead you. Be intentional about networking. Invest in conferences and events where you will meet and learn from people who are impacting others. In fact, I want to invite you to sail to the Caribbean with me on The Influence Cruise. (Click the picture above to find out more information).The relationships that you build on these type of events can become joint-venture partners in the future.

3.Getting the Message Out Get outside of the box of being a traditional author who waits to be discovered. You have a message, so develop your message in such a way that you have additional products to offer your tribe. If they already love what you stand for, chances are they will appreciate other teaching and resources that you provide.

marketing building your platform

Click to view “Exploring Ephesians” Course

 

Here is an example of an online course that I have developed called “Exploring Ephesians.” As a course set up on Kajabi Next, it continues to be a source of encouragement to everyone who takes it. Sign up today to see the example of what I have done, then develop your own course. I’m sure you can do an even better job!

A Final Opportunity We are all learners. When God first spoke to my heart “to engage” in building a platform for the books He was calling me to write, I needed to take baby steps. Wherever you are on your journey as an author, let’s connect.

Let me know if I can help you in any way. Leave a comment below, or find me on social media. Let’s make Jesus famous as we share His message which will change the world.

 

 

The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform – part 2

Building Your Author Platform

As a Mennonite farm girl growing up in Indiana, I learned the Mennonite philosophy of “being the quiet in the land.”  I was taught that it was important not to stand out or draw attention to myself. I never fit in.

You may not have grown up Mennonite, but likely you have been taught to fit in. In subtle and not so subtle ways you have been told “not to rock the boat.” If you write and market a book that looks like every other book, it won’t sell.

Be a Purple Cow - MarketingBe a Purple Cow 

Seth Godin lauded as a leading marketing expert, describes what it means to find your purple cow and market your message. Watch this interview.

In todays market with so many books, you will not make a lasting impact with an average book written to average people. Marketing today has changed. We have so many choices.

As you are marketing your book, you are really marketing you. You are the “brand.” So as you determine how to market your message as yourself these questions:

1. What is remarkable about you?

What is the 2-3% about your message that makes you unique? Rather than aiming at the giant target to make yourself look like every other author/speaker, aim at the bulls eye of being authentic. What about your message and life makes other people make “remarks.”

When I considered which book to write first, I settled in on the thing that people remarked about me the most: I am the mom of 6 children. I struggled with this decision to enter into this market. You see, I am not a mommy-blogger. I don’t like Pinterest and I don’t have ideas for how to have fun play dates with your children.

I am a mom, who never pictured herself being a mom. My first born daughter and I were rescued from a burning house when she was only 5 weeks old. Although we were saved from the fire, she developed colic and screamed for hours at a time. When I finally got her enrolled in Mother’s Day Out, she was “kicked” out for biting another baby and drawing blood.

Yet, with all of this struggle of imperfect motherhood, I have 6 beautiful children. 2 of my children are special needs boys adopted from Brazil at ages 12 and 8. Just surviving motherhood is remarkable.

What is remarkable about you and your message? What makes you stand out. Tell your story in such a way that your uniqueness stands out.

2. Are you willing to be vulnerable?

Marketing - overcome writer's blockTo be a purple cow that stands out from all the white and black cows you have to be vulnerable. You have to wrestle with the fact that what you are trying to do might not work. You have to overcome all the noise in your head that pushes you to be “normal.” The best way to overcome “writer’s block” is to find the “sweet spot” of your message.

When I first began writing 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Mom, I started using other people’s lives to tell the story. My editor would read it and say, “I want to hear your story.” I was afraid to tell my story. I didn’t want to be rejected for my flaws and I saw myself as ordinary.

When I began writing the second draft, I began exposing all my faults. I exposed my internal thoughts about being the worst mom in the world.

That’s when I hit my “sweet spot” of my niche. I’m not writing to the moms who feel like they have-it-all-together. I’m writing to the moms that are hanging by their fingernails. I found that every mom in the world wants to be the best mom in the world for her child, but often she feels like the worst.

What is the “sweet spot” of your message? Where does your message meet a felt need? That becomes your marketing message.

Find your Tribe of People and they will be begging you for more. When you write, you are writing their thoughts. This is not only true in your book but in every other way that you chose to communicate to get your message out. Such as:

  • blog
  • podcast
  • social media
  • radio interviews
  • tv interviews

Memorize short segments of your material that makes your message memorable. Capitalize on the felt need of your tribe. Validate their personal situation. Become a friend to walk on the path together.

Next week we are going to talk about being a risk taker. We will also talk about more specific marketing ideas that you can employ right away. This week as you go through your day, be willing to be a “purple cow.” Make your message stand out.

The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform – Part 1

With a glazed look on my face, I obediently handed my phone over to “the expert” sitting beside me. As she looked up my twitter account which had an oval egg shape for my picture, I couldn’t help feeling intimidated by the task of building an author platform.

I had spent my entire life serving in pastoral ministry. When social media first came on the scene, I was suspect of the enemy’s evil intent to use the media to entrap our children.

Now here I was, listening to Michael Hyatt talk about the power and necessity of every author building a platform to launch their book. Much of what he was saying went over myplatform head. Yet as I listened for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to guide me, I simply heard this word: engage.

As I engaged in the social media platform beginning that day two years ago, I grew from 4 twitter followers to over 21,000. I joined the social conversation and found a whole new world of influence.

Since my first book, 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Mom, hit #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Christian Women’s Issues, I regularly have authors seeking my advice on how to build their own platforms.

Let’s Begin at the Beginning

Watch Michael Hyatt’s simple video on Platform Building.

1. Start with a Blog

Begin to build a following. Give people an opportunity to get to know your heart. Use your blog as a spring board to all of your other social media engagement.

If you are an author of a number of books, you are probably your brand. You may write on a number of blogs. A foundational part of your strategy is your own blog where you can share your passion and build a loyal following. I chose to use my own name for my primary blog at SueDetweiler.com.

2. Develop a Social Media Strategy

You are unique. Social media needs to work for you. As you begin to see the power of social media, use these principles as a guide: 12-28-14 Social Media

  • Use Time Management Tools
  • Link Social Media Posts
  • Strategically Post Throughout the Day

The key to social media is to see it as an ongoing conversation with a friend. You are sharing about all the things that you care about. People who read your tweets will know what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to share your personal story and pictures. Provide your tribe with ongoing helpful resources.

3. Be Real

Don’t try to appear to be anyone else than who you truly are. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, one of the ways that people will be drawn to you is when they sense you are transparent. Don’t try to be Barbie or Ken; just be who God made you to be. Let your quirks come through in your social media platform.

Don’t be tripped up by your own perfectionism and fail to launch into a new thing. Allow yourself the freedom to try something new. Stoke the fires of your own adventurous spirit.

4. Use Video

Video can be really simple. The technology on your smart phone will allow you to do video in minutes. As an author, you can use the power of video to sell your book. Here’s a simple book trailer that was created for me on Fiverr.com. Video doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to be effective in telling your story.

I also used simple video introductions of each chapter of my book as an additionalbuilding your author platform resource. At the end of each chapter a simple code invites the readers to watch the video or download a printable of written prayers that enhance each chapter.

5. A Gateway to Traditional Media

As you build your platform as an author, others will become excited about your message and help get the word out about your book. Build relationships with other authors, radio hosts, and television hosts. Two events that I think are helpful to connect authors to traditional media are National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and The International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). There may be other events that your publisher encourages you to attend to build relationships with the media.

Next Week

We are just scratching the surface of things that you can do to build your platform as an author. Join me here at The WordServeWaterCooler for part 2 of The Cheater’s Guide to Building Your Author Platform.

Also connect with me on social media! Let’s start a conversation. Let me know if there is any way I can help you get your message out.

Multiple Author Events – Yes or No?

Smiling Group of ProfessionalsAs a writer, the weight of book promotion falls on my own shoulders. Since that gets tiring, I’m always looking for ways to maximize the results of the events I do: my current goal is to market smarter, not just harder.

So when a writer friend told me about the great attendance and good sales she experienced at a multiple author event at a book store, I decided to give it a whirl with both of my book lines. That meant gathering other authors who’ve written about dogs (so I could promote my girl-meets-dog memoir Saved by Gracie) and collecting another crew of authors who’ve written about birds (to expand the audience for my fictional series, Birder Murder Mysteries).

This is how it played out:

National Dog Day. I broached the idea for a National Dog Day Night to a local independent bookstore, and they jumped at the concept! I offered to recruit authors to attend, and the store agreed to stock the books, set up chairs and a microphone, and do publicity. They even partnered with a local dog rescue group for more publicity and support. Luckily, three well-known writers with dog books live in my area, and they readily agreed to participate. We all thought it was a smokin’ idea…but only five people showed up. What went wrong? Personally, I attributed it to the lovely summer weather; I myself would have chosen to be outside with my own dog, rather than inside with authors.

My big score, though, came from meeting the other authors, one of whom asked for an excerpt from my book to run in her monthly newsletter that goes out to thousands of readers. I made a hot contact even if the event fizzled.

For the Birds Night. I took this idea to a local Barnes & Noble and again, the events manager thought it was a winner. This time, it was a monumental headache for me to pin down the authors – talk about a flighty bunch! Not that any of them are absent-minded – it just took me a while to catch all these bird-chasing authors between their travels and professional obligations, not to mention the multiple email addresses so many of them use. I managed to round up five of the original ten that I contacted, and even then, I had one drop out at the last minute due to health issues, and one drop in who’d forgotten to confirm with me months earlier.

The event itself, though, was a big hit! We had over 20 people attend, a lively discussion ensued, and every author was signing several books by the end of the evening. Our B&N hostess invited us back for a spring event, and said her district manager had expressed interest in us taking our event to other stores.

After organizing two group events, my conclusion is that it’s worth the effort in terms of both book promotion and author networking. Upfront sales might be disappointing, but as one more tool in your marketing toolbox, I highly recommend giving it a try.

And keep some aspirin handy.

Have you participated in multiple author events? What was your experience?

Facebook: Friend or Enemy?

Facebook. So what IS it about marketing on Facebook that makes us all cringe? I know I’m not the only one who wants to forget about it and get to work writing my next book!

But after a couple of valuable appointments with marketing gurus at the ACFW conference in September, and after reading last month’s post by Casey Herringshaw, I started looking at Facebook a little differently. It is part of our lives, and it can be a valuable asset to our writing careers.

Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Treat both your author page and your personal page the same. Both of them are seen by your readers and potential readers. Once you’re a published author, you don’t have a private life on the internet. If you aren’t published yet, act as if you are!
  • Stick to your brand. I write historical romance books. Most of them are Amish, with a foray into a western being published by Love Inspired next year. On my sepia horse and buggyFacebook author page, I share Amish tidbits plus a fun picture of cowboys once in a while. That’s what my readers expect, and I try not to disappoint them! And yes, when I have news about one of my books, I’ll post about that, too. But that kind of post is rare.
  • Post regularly. Some authors use a service like Hootsuite to schedule their Facebook posts, but I’ve found that I like to fly by the seat of my pants when posting on my author page. I try to post at least once a day, only because that drives up traffic. Regularity is a key to reaching larger numbers of my readers.
  • Understand that even if you aren’t a public figure now, you will be. (At least 040that’s the goal, right?) As you’re sharing all about your dogs, grandchildren or passion for hang-gliding, don’t forget to insert a layer of protection between you and your reading public. Certain things need to be kept private. You can give your readers quite a bit of information about your life – and let them feel like they know you – without divulging every detail.
  • Be friendly. Whether on your personal Facebook page or your professional one, the personal distance you need to maintain shouldn’t keep you from giving your readers9780373282777_p0_v1_s260x420 a genuine smile of welcome when they drop by. Let your voice shine through. Be inviting. Make them want to spend time with you in your books.
  • Be professional. Facebook is not the place to air dirty laundry, complain about or celebrate political events, or argue theological differences. Never, ever complain about your spouse, children, in-laws, bosses, or co-workers. And never, never, never (can’t say enough nevers!) complain about or divulge information about editors, agents, or anyone else in the writing business. What appears on the internet has a horribly tenacious way of sticking around.
  • Be a good neighbor. Don’t you love when your peers share your latest status with all of their friends? Especially when you’re trying to pull readers to your latest blog post or publicize the sale price on one of your books? Do the same for them.

Sometimes I think of Facebook as a necessary evil, one of the many things we need to negotiate in order to be successful in this modern life. It won’t last forever, but as long as it’s around, we should use it to our advantage. And meanwhile, enjoy it!

Tips for Managing Time as a Writer

You’ve heard the age-old story: Creative individual decides to write a book. They sit down with paper and pen or keyboard, and painstakingly write that heart story. Sometimes it takes months. Sometimes it takes years. When talking with their friends, you often hear them say, “Something came up. It isn’t quite right yet. I just haven’t had the time.”

It’s pretty clear that time is precious. In fact, outside of my loved ones, my time is my most treasured possession. Since signing my first contract in January 2013, I have learned an important writing tip, probably the most important tip.

There is NEVER time, unless you choose to make it.

In fact, I’ve noticed one common trait among the published: They make time to finish. Once you sign that dotted line and make a commitment, “I didn’t have time” doesn’t fly with the publisher. Neither does “it’s just not ready yet.” You better make time and make it ready fast or risk losing your credibility.

After signing that contract, time to market becomes important. And time to edit. And time to promote. And time to interact with readers. Lots of time. So it’s important to figure out how to manage it.

My friends hear me say that I’m overwhelmed more than anything else. But I’m learning how to carve out time, discipline myself to finish, and not miss out on the world around me. We aren’t only writers. We are marketers, publicists, graphic designers, speakers, and more. So I’ve learned a few tricks to maximize my time in every area of this writing journey.

Kariss Lynch - timeCreate margin.

I am a night owl and can write and create relevant marketing content easier when my checklist for the day is accomplished. It clears my mind to be creative. Determine your best time of day to write or create, and maximize those short windows.

Set a timer.

Write every day. Set the timer on your phone for an hour, then put your phone on silent and put it on the other side of the room. Clear your mind and write. I found when I did this, I could easily write close to two thousand words if not more in an hour! When the timer goes off, I feel accomplished, satisfied, and ready to write even more.

Carve out marketing time for social media.

I work full time as a writer for my company, so in the middle of the day I am tired of writing. I’ve started taking thirty minutes of my lunch break or fifteen minutes in the morning or afternoon to create social media graphics that I then pre-schedule so I don’t have to think about them. Think about content that is relevant to your brand, then have fun with those designs.

Strategize for online interaction.

The internet is a wonderful tool, but managing our online interaction can eat our time if not handled correctly. Block out thirty minutes every few days to catch up on emails. Take a few minutes to respond to every person who comments on social media (within reason of course). Know your brand, what you are passionate about, and have character and author interviews on hand for guest blog posts. Don’t overthink. Just do.

Know your audience and limits for speaking engagements.

My favorite interviews and speaking engagements are via Skype since it helps me conserve my time, but I’ve also enjoyed those in person speaking engagements with small groups or crowds. Determine your price (if you have one), the size of the group you are willing to speak for, if it is wise to travel or Skype in (this is great for book clubs and classes that may not be close). Bottom line, know your options and then plan accordingly. Don’t forget you still need to write and market and live life, so carefully plan the weekends you will be gone.

Managing time is as much mental as it is physical. At the end of the day, be satisfied with what you accomplished and leave the rest for tomorrow. What tips have you found effective in managing your time?

Making It Real

Hoh River Cascading Through RainforestWhen I first started writing my Birder Murder Mystery series, I wanted readers to feel like they were actually walking in the footsteps of my protagonist, so it was a logical choice for me to use real locations for book settings. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much readers enjoy books that take place in areas they know and how much those real places can shape what I write. Once I figured out that my real locations were one of the more powerful means of attracting readers, I began using real places as much as possible, not only for marketing later, but to provide me with inspiration for other pieces of my story.

As a result, I now take detailed notes of places I visit in the course of my book research. Fat Daddy's BBQ in WeslacoFor instance, last January, I was researching McAllen, Texas, for my next murder mystery. Since friends had recommended I try the barbeque at Fat Daddy’s, I made sure I had lunch there one day. As I ate, I observed that large groups of National Guardsmen sat at many of the tables, which I also noted in my daily travel journal, along with descriptions of the patriotic posters and flags adorning the walls. When I developed my plot, I found that the soldiers I’d seen could play into my story in a critical juncture, so I wrote them in – something I never would have come up with if I hadn’t personally visited Fat Daddy’s. Now, when anyone from the area reads the book, they’ll immediately be able to say, “this author really was here!” and it gives me the instant credibility which every fiction writer craves to lure readers into the story.

diner open signAnother big benefit of writing real places into your books is that some readers identify so much with a favorite place, they tend to talk about your book simply because of the setting. In one of my books, I used a small diner where one of my daughters waitressed years ago. Not only did it give the story a strong local connection, but once it was published, the diner owners prominently displayed the book, which delighted all their customers, who then told their friends that their favorite diner was in a book. By using the diner as a piece of my story, I also didn’t have to think twice about what that setting would look like, because all I had to do was describe what I saw.

Perhaps the best guideline I can provide about using real places in your fiction is the rule my publisher gave me: If you say nice things about a place, use the real name; if you want to be negative, make up a place. That should give you more readers and happier business owners (who will become your friends if they aren’t already!), and much less chance of getting sued.

Who knows? You might even get a sandwich named after you…