Is All This Writers Platform-Building Work Going to Pay Off?

by | Marketing Books, Writing | 10 comments

image by PIRO4D

Have the following statements rung in your ears? “You must have a website, faithfully write blog posts, and be chummy on social media. You should acquire guest-blog invitations, hold launch and Facebook parties, and schedule bookstore signings. Sign up for author-promotion-site activities, buy online ads, and build your email list…”

And the list continues.

Although discerning which activities are the reasons your books sold is difficult, you’ll need to do self-promotion activities. That said, I’ll share the best-advice nuggets I hear repeatedly.

1. Do the activities you enjoy.

by Hans

I prefer the negative on this one. Don’t do activities you hate. For my first book, I manned tables at fairs and festivals. While other authors sold several books relating to the area of the festival, I sold two or three romances. I hated sitting at the fair for hours, trying to engage people in what they weren’t looking for. Now, I attend only book fairs.

I enjoy teaching writing and spiritual workshops. I’m content if I sell only three books, because I had fun and helped others.

After doing uncomfortable activities several times, we learn the ropes and relax. At first, I was uneasy and disliked book signings. Now, I realize it’s not about me and my books so much as it’s about enjoying talking to readers and finding out what they like to read.

2. Write more great books.

If you have one book, you’re most likely still green in platform building, so readers don’t know who you are. When they see your book on Amazon, they may fear they’ll like your book but there’ll be no more to buy. So they look for authors with multiple books.

When you have multiple well-written and edited books, not only will readers buy that first book, they’ll occasionally check to see if you’ve released another book. Best not to disappoint them. So, books sell other books. Do everything you can to learn how to write great books.

For example, after I had two books out, an award winning author, who liked my first book, invited me to write a book for a collection. The collection introduce my book to readers.

image by gate74

3. Strive for a mix of online promotions and face-to-face events.

For me, I prefer online promotions. They allow me more time to write. But I’ll continue to teach workshops and schedule book signings.


4. Have some things from the “should list” going all the time.

Some things going, not everything. Before you know it, people will know who you are.

For example, six years ago before my first book released, I created a blog. I wrote posts on creativity. Nine visitors excited me. When my first book contracted, I purchased a professional website. Because I love learning and teaching, I focused my blog posts on writing. My blog is not a superstar, but every year the average number of visits a day increases. Now, my posts get mentioned on other blogs, and I was encouraged to write a book on writing. A publisher contracted the book and it’ll release this year.

Best advice I’ve received for platform building and its payoff.  Click to tweet.

What advice have you found helpful to you?

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Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond, Virginia. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, star football player and prom king Trigg Alderman, is in Twisty Creek visiting his grandmother who lives next door to Candace’s family home. He doesn’t recognize her at first and remembers little about her. He’s not alone. Candace’s rekindled attraction to Trigg adds unexpected complications to finding her passions. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!

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  1. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D

    Zoe, thanks so much for your words of wisdom and experience. I am trying to build my social media presence and I blog on my Facebook author page, Suddenly Single Tips page (for the unexpectedly unmarried – this is not a dating site, BTW), and my college student success blog twice a week, each. I am slowly building an audience but would love to have things happen faster!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      It sounds like with what you’re doing you’ll make progress. I know it takes patience, but it’all come.

  2. Kathy Bailey

    Zoe, this is good practical advice. I agree with you about the fairs (the ones that aren’t book fairs). I do craft fairs with my daughter, and I’ve cringed over the amount of traffic people selling books DON’T get. It’s a trial-and-error thing. I chat with Pelican authors on their blogs, guest-blog when asked, and hang out in Seekerville to the point where they’ve given me a nickname (“Kaybee”). At this stage of my career (contracted but not yet published), it’s all about making connections and encouraging other writers. My crit partner runs two traveling forums, a Christian Authors Roundtable and a Road to Publication Workshop. I participate in these, I call it the “dog and pony show.” I agree, not everything works for every writer. But we’ve got to get the word out, and thus get the Word out.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Kathy, This post fortunately did not get eaten, so I posted this version with more info. I’m glad you noticed the same thing I do at fairs. Some people do well, but usually because the book has something to do with the area of the fair.

  3. Mary Felkins

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom here. The challenge to spend time wisely is real, whether it means tackling the creation of that next good book or expanding the reach of readers. Like it or not, platform matters in view of the glut of choices out there.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Mary, you voiced the challenge well. We writers are up against a “glut” of choices.

  4. Sally Jo Pitts

    Good information and insight, Zoe,
    since I am just trying to feel my way through first book promotion.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Hi Sally, I remember my first promotion and can identify.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      You’re welcome, Marja. I’m glad you came by.

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