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

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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.

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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!

Deadlines, Platform, Life Commitments, Oh My!

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Have you ever felt so frazzled, you couldn’t find the panic button?

You may even ask, “How could this happen? I’m an organized person.”

Last week as I shuffled through my Writer’s Digest magazines, I spotted the February 2017 issue’s article, “Map Your Writing Time” by Sage Cohen. I gauged Ms. Cohen’s suggestions with how I use them.

Ms. Cohen’s Suggestions

1. Articulate your destination. I prioritize my writing and personal goals every week. I divvy up tasks then enter them on my scheduling template, which already displays regular tasks. I put an * next to writing, platform, speaking, and marketing tasks. On the side, l record future tasks to schedule. If I can, I include some padding. Then I report my goals with an * to my accountability partners.

2.  Make one goal inform another to “allocate your time in a way that delivers the greatest value.” I often use the projects I’m working on as subjects of my blogs. For example, when I did a book signing for my first book, I wrote a blog post from my research and experience. Reviewing that post while I write this one, reminded me of tasks I need for the bookstore signing I’m doing this Saturday.

3.  Set timers so you don’t spend too much time on nonwriting tasks. No problem. I have two devices in my office, but I’ll now use the timers more on nonwriting tasks.

4,  Use nonwriting commitments to service your writing. I always mull writing ideas during long drives to scheduled obligations. I’ll brainstorm my protagonist’s goals on my half-hour drive to my writers’ group tomorrow.

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5.  If you’re repeatedly drawn toward a project that’s not a top priority, consider moving it there. Although I scheduled work on my new novel, my non-fiction kept calling me to finish it ahead of deadline and send it. After reading this suggestion, I’m doing that.

6.  Don’t waste perfectly good slivers of time. I’m writing now while my husband attends an evening meeting.

7. Rise an hour earlier when it’s quiet. I get up at 5:30, but I’m considering 5:00 for a short duration while I’m under two deadlines and know galleys are coming soon for a third book.

8.  Leave notes where you stop working. I suppose I should expand on “STOPPED HERE.”

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9.  Track your time on tasks and learn how much time you need so you’ll know better what tasks and projects you can take on. Good idea, but I don’t have time. :0)

10.  Stop panicking and appreciate the time you have and the progress you’re making in that time. I’ll appreciate my time and progress more. I’m already thankful for a husband who takes over housework so I can write. He’s also taken over some marketing tasks.

Reading Ms. Cohen’s suggestions showed me I do many of the right activities. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I need to forget the pileup and just do what I’ve scheduled.

Writers, are you so panicked you can’t find the panic button? Click to tweet.

What do you do to make your writing, platform, and life commitments mesh?

When Opportunity Knocks, Are You Locking the Door?

“He that tries to seize an opportunity after it has passed him by is like one who sees it approach but will not go to meet it.” — Kahlil Gibran

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An opportunity rises from an email, a blog, a phone call, a visit, or another source. Our minds whirl with the possibilities and then dart to the failure probabilities. Aren’t our second reactions the voice of reason? We delete the email, close the blog, excuse ourselves from the phone call, or change the subject.

Later we wished we’d taken a third look.

Here are things to consider before you reject an opportunity.

The Third Look

blueprintConsideration 1. Are you set on the direction you want your life to take, and the new prospect fails to fit in your plan? If you’ve spent much time on mapping your goals, perhaps the opportunity would lead you off course. Still, take a third look:

  • With a brainstorming and open mind, ask: How might this opportunity fit into my plans?

ClockConsideration 2. Is it a good fit but with your current focus and workload, it’s the wrong time to take advantage of the offer? Take a third look.

  • If the offer is an ongoing need or is valid for a long period, capture all the details, including contact information. Store this in a physical or virtual folder. Things happen, and the right time might be tomorrow.

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Stack of Files and PapersConsideration 3. On the second look, did you envision mounds of work? Take a third look.

  • All good opportunities take time, energy, and work. You want to make sure the opportunity is the right thing to do, but don’t reject it because it requires effort. See 4 Choices That Improve Your Perseverance to help you decide whether to take on the work.

Image courtesy of Patou at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Patou at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Consideration 4. Does the thought of pursuing it scare you? You’ve stepped out in the past and failed? Take a third look.

  • The anxiety could be good. It means the opportunity will be a growing experience. Previous failures prepare you for THE opportunity. This may be THE one.

 

Example

I’m going to the American Christian Writers Conference in the fall. It’s a setting for much learning, a time to network, and an opportunity to pitch books to editors. Already feeling intimidated, I chose to pass on volunteering this time.

Then a call arrived by email for reporters to cover the conference sessions for the ACFW Conference Ezine in return for some publicity.

At the last ACFW conference I attended, my second look at reporting brought on tremors of failure. An introvert, I could barely handle volunteering in the bookstore.

This year reporting failed to fit into my plan. I planned to fill my conference time learning, networking, and pitching. Reporting would be too much work during the conference—and after, when I might be preparing a proposal for an interested editor.

Before I hit the delete key, my mind opened and I saw a perfect opportunity to help out with the ezine while adding an activity to my platform-building plan. Now that I’d blogged for a while, I felt less fearful. And the work would be worth the benefits.

This year was the right time, and I could fit this opportunity into my plans. I sent my information to the coordinator and will be a 2013 ACFW Conference Ezine reporter.

For me, I can use KNOCK for accepting opportunities.

Knees: I will drop to my knees and pray for God’s guidance.

Never: I will never fear what God puts before me.

Obediently: I will obediently pursue it.

Call: I will call on God to equip me.

Know I will know running the race gets the prize.

Will you share a time when you took a third look at an opportunity and succeeded in your decision?

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