Self-Publishing: Is it For You? Part 6: Creating a Platform

During this ongoing series on self-publishing we have discussed a lot of great topics such as your interior, exterior, and marketing of your book. CHECK OUT PART FIVE BY CLICKING HERE. Today I am going to focus on selling your book. In today’s big internet word, you as an author must have an online presence. This presence is referred to big publishers as your platform. There are lots of places you can choose to have your platform but I want to stress that you don’t want to be everywhere IF you can’t handle bein7g everywhere. Social media groups take a lot of time. Time that you should be spending writing your next book. My tip is to focus on one specific area and make that your main platform. Big publishers expect you to have somewhere in the range of 5,000 followers—and you should expect the same as an indie author. That might seem like a huge number, but it’s obtainable with a little effort and determination.

You might be thinking, “Well, I’ll write the book, publish it, and then get a following.” You could do that, but it will take longer and make it harder to sell your book. So start now! Build a following.

9So what are your social media options? You have Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and your Amazon-author-page. Each of these sites has their own way of doing things and their own kind of people using them. Find out which you like most and start there. Obviously you want to like it or you won’t do it. I am very new to Google+ and LinkedIn, so I don’t use them very often. I like Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter, so I spend most of my time there. That’s okay for me. What you want is what is okay for you. I am going to focus on just a few on my personal favorites and the things you can do to help build your platform and sell your book.

First I want to talk about your online presence. You have to be professional. Swear to it right now! If you are an author of children’s books your readers, which will most likely be parents searching you out, don’t want to see naked pictures of yourself, crude comments, rude behavior, or anything else that will be a turn off. BE PROFESSIONAL! Make yourself interesting. Think of your onlin10e self as someone trying to get a date. You need to be interesting, attractive, smart, funny, and desirable. Make sure you have a profile picture of just you—not your kids, grandkids, toys, pets, house, book, boat—YOU. Have it be an up-close image of your face. It can be black and white or color—it doesn’t matter. Readers want to connect with authors but they want to see your face. I attended a writer’s conference and had a bunch of people coming up to me calling me by name, but I had no idea who they were. They weren’t using their own faces as their profile picture. I or your readers will not recognize you by the cover of your book or a picture of your kitten.

Blogs: These are a great way to find a following if you have a specific niche your readers can tap into. If your book is about cooking and staying healthy, start a blog that focuses on those things. Let your book just be a side attraction to what you can offer. You always want to be sharing informati1on that people find useful and informative. Blogs can take a lot of time. For a blog to be successful you should have at least 3 posts a week, if not more. I have several blogs and so a lot of times I get swamped with work and can’t post on all of them. So I try to create a cache of posts that I can schedule ahead of time.

Where can you start a blog? Blogger.com, WordPress.com, Posterous.com, Xanga.com, Tumbler.com, Weebly.com. All of these sites are easy to use and are absolutely FREE.

Why have a blog? There are two main reasons to have a blog: 1: you have a specific niche or target audience. 2: it is also your website. It is important for your readers to have a place to find you. Place your blog address in the back of your book. You can purchase your web domain and link it to your blog at a very affordable price.

Tip: make your blog your name. If you can’t make it your name, make it something that is connected to you in some way.

Tip: have an email form on your site. You want to be able to collect as many emails as you possibly can from the people who visit. Make it worth their while. Tell them they will get an exclusive short story sent to them if they sign up for your mailer. You can set up an emailing system by visiting mailchimp.com. It’s great and FREE to start. Emailing can be a great way to market your next book without being spam.5

Tip: Set up blog tours. These are great ways to get other bloggers involved and get more visitors to your site. Blog tours connect other blogs by each host posting something and then linking to the other blogs. Set a specific date and pick a theme. Then have one blogger start connecting the next blog in line. Readers will then hop from one blog to the next, reading the great content, and hopefully following the ones they like.

Facebook: I am a fan of Facebook. I always have been. I think it’s a fun way to connect with not only family and friends but coworkers, acquaintances, and a great way to meet new people. This blog your reading now came started from a Facebook group: The Authors’ Think Tank. Now you might be thinking, “Oh, I don’t want all my personal stuff seen by hundreds of people.” Guess what? You don’t have too. You can have your normal Facebook page and then create another page just for you as an author. The nice thing about having an author page is you don’t have to accept any friendships, they all just like you. That way you CAN keep your personal stuff to your family and close friends and the rest to your fans. Facebook is easy to use. Try it out if you’re not on it.

Share everything about you and your work—people want to know this stuff. DO NOT BE NEGATIVE—EVER! Nothi4ng will make your fans run faster than you being negative. We have all seen the whiners of Facebook and have hidden them or stopped following them. If you get the cover for your book, post it. If you get bookmarks, take a picture and post it. You get a totally awesome review, post it. But please, don’t just keep posting “BUY MY BOOK!!” That too will lose your followers. If you have a promotion going on, of course post it. I am not saying to keep quiet about your book, just don’t be an ongoing commercial.

WARNING: stay away from all the games. Yes, I know they look fun, but they are a waste of your valuable writing time.

6Twitter: is much like Facebook except everything you say is limited in 140 characters. Here you can follow whomever you wish. The problem is that people will only follow you if they want to. So how do you get followed? Tweet interesting and informative things. People will re-tweet your message and people will follow you. You can also use hashtags (#). Twitter has a little box down on the left side of the screen that has a list of the trending topics. Let’s say the trending topic is #PB&J’s. You can come up with something clever about PB&J’s and Tweet it using the hashtag in your tweet. Make sense? Twitter takes a long time to collect followers. But the more you keep at it, the better you’ll become.

I could go on and on about the different ways to use social media to sell your book. The bottom line is that before you can actually sell your book to anyone online you must first develop a good platform. You need to have an online presence and you need to tell people where to find you. You need to be professional and desirable. But you need to start TODAY! I hope you have found this helpful. Happy Writing! I hope to continue giving tips on this subject in the future including tips on eBook publishing. So check back and keep asking me questions.

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

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