Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Top Five Ways to Build a Platform

Ok, so I'm not an expert on this. I'm just like you, a struggling writer, a nobody, one who's been told, "We can't publish you--you have no platform." We all hate that excuse, "no platform." We hate it because it means we're good writers but we're not famous, or outgoing, or life-changers. "No platform" means I could be a world-change agent, but I have decided to just be a writer. "No platform" means I like to write, but I don't want to engage my audience one on one. "No platform" means no book deal.

So write an ebook and forget about platform. The problem with that line of thinking is that even with an ebook  eventually you will have to market the darn thing and suddenly you must again deal with the elephant in the room. Wait a minute, before we continue trying to deal with that nasty elephant that we call "platform" let's just replace that scary word with something more managable and meaningful: "social passion."

Now think about your manuscript, think about what you like about it: the characters, the message, the genre, or perhaps you like the audience. What ever you like about your manuscript...well, that's your social passion. For instance, if you love the genre of Romance then let your social passion be that...and then expand on it.

1. Start with a website. Be sure to make it professional so you don't trigger Reason #39 on agent Mike Nappa's list, "Your Internet Presence is Shoddy and Unprofessional."

2. Offer a class at your local library (or your church, or college) and teach about your social passion. If you are able to create intense characters offer up some of your time to teach at your local writer's group (that always opens doors to bigger venues). Get some speaking engagements (no matter how small).

3. Get an author picture done. Get a good one and make sure you look professional, but not boring!

4. Get socially connected. It's easy to go overboard with this one since there are so many avenues to follow in this new virtual world. But the basics are still the same: get a Facebook fan page so people can "like" you, get a blog going (think outside the box when it comes to subject matter because there are now a gazillion blogs out there). Get on LinkedIn and connect not with friends but with experts or professionals in your field, get a Twitter account (though I'm not sure if Twitter is getting read as much). Still, Twitter is a great way to approach people in your field. Learn how to use these social avenues and be sure to have fun with them; otherwise, they will seem like just work.

5. Get creative. Spend some serious time thinking about how you want your social passion to show: Do you envision yourself traveling in your own city, speaking with children about books? Do you envision yourself teaching? Are you the energetic, encouraging kind? Are you funny? For myself, I wanted to start a conference. I wanted a place where people could come together to learn, to be encouraged, to have fun. I wanted to meet the people who were leaders in my area, so I went the conference route. My upcoming conference MotherHeart Conference 2013 will be in Richland WA on May 3, 4th. I named my conference after my manuscript The MotherHeart of God: Biblical Evidence for the Femininity of the Holy Spirit. Because of this conference, I have met so many amazing people, and ideas for my social passion are now jumping to mind more and more. You can check out my website here at (you can also buy tickets here...FYI)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reason No. 37 Why Your Book was REJECTED!

I self published my ebook with the high hopes of building a 'platform' as per the advice of agent Michael Larsen author of How to Write a Book Proposal and agent Mike Nappa at Nappaland agency (author of 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected [and how to be sure it won't happen again!]  After all, according to reason #37 of Mentor M's book, an agent might bypass me as a potential client because Amazon readers don't like me or agents might bypass me because of Reason #56: "You Have no Sales History to Speak Of." (This is different from Reason #57 "You Have a Sales History, and it Sucks." Man, writing is a finicky line of work!) Of course, in order to have any Amazon readers (to love or hate me) I first must have a book up on Amazon, which means I must first be published (or self published) before I contact an agent. (This is the main reason I put my memoir up on Amazon--because I am dedicated to following theses guys' advice.) The fact is (as I have learned) agents like to know if people are already reading your stuff, they like to know if you already have a fan base, and they like to know that people actually like what you write. So, having a book out there that elicits some good Amazon reviews--this helps. As agent Mike reminds us in his book, everyone in the biz reads Amazon reviews so we should be working hard to hopefully get some good ones.

However, with all that being said, I am immensely enjoying having my ebook up on amazon--and not for the reason of building a platform in order to attract an agent. I just like being in charge of marketing. I like seeing sales come in, I even like getting the reviews (both good and bad--though I enjoy the good ones much more). I enjoy thinking about what my next step is going to be, I enjoy following the ebook trends and changes, I enjoy keeping my book rights, and I enjoy working on part two of Saving Mary: The Deliverance which I will also release as an ebook. (In fact, I would say that if you want to release an ebook I wouldn't bother at all with a publisher.)  

But (you may be asking yourself) if I enjoy being self-published in this new ebook era why would I still be hoping to bag me an agent? Why do I continue with this blog? The answer is four-fold. First, I see that the ebook market and the hard-copy bookstore market are two completely different markets (one of which requires an agent to succeed in) which means, if I want to be in a bookstore I more than likely need an agent. Second, I am not convinced that non-fiction sells best as ebooks (though I could be wrong). I say this because I just read my first non-fiction ebook on my Kindle: Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life by Jack Levison

I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it, but I wanted so much to make notes inside it and it took me some time to figure out how to do that, then it took me more time to figure out how to find my notes. Through it all, I deeply wished I had bought a hard copy so I could keep the book on hand to look up my notes (I guess I'm still a bit 'old school'). So since my other books are non-fiction I have to take my feelings into consideration: would they sell well as ebooks or would they do better as hard copies? In fact, this article called "Your Ebook is Reading You" talks about some of the issues readers are having with non-fiction in ebook form. Here is an excerpt from the article:

 Barnes & Noble has determined, through analyzing Nook data, that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts, while novels are generally read straight through, and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier.

My third reason for still searching for an agent is that there is still a stigma attached to virtual books (that they lack in quality) and since I'd like my non-fiction to be taken seriously, I may need an agent rather than a great editor. And finally, the fourth reason I am still looking for an agent even though I love the ebook market: I am a curious sort of person and so I'd like to experience both markets.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ebook Blog Tours--How do They Help?

I'm just about finished doing four blog tours for my ebook Saving Mary: The Possession.I didn't know what to expect from a tour. I wasn't sure they would boost sales, I wasn't sure they would get me reviews, I wasn't sure if they'd be easy or excruciatingly difficult. Well, they're not easy that's for sure because they do take planning (writing the blog posts takes time and so does answering all the interview questions), but I do think they're worthwhile.

Of course, don't expect them to boost sales, that may not happen. I never saw a spike in sales during the tour period...sales stayed the same and only just recently sales have dropped (I think due to it being the middle of summer). What I benefited from the most was the reviews. So far I have 20 reviews posted on Amazon (my average is 4.2) and that helps immensely. I now know that people are enjoying my creepy little memoir and they're liking it. Check out these great little blurbs that I can use for marketing.

My Name is Sage: As I became wrapped up in the story, I had to stop and remind myself I was reading true events that the author endured. That reality made this book more intense. Diedre’s honest writing allowed me to understand the desperation she felt while she tried to reach out to receive God’s grace. 

Beth Art From the Heart: This was a rivoting memoir of Deidre's younger days.  I didn't want to read it, but I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. 

Read-A-Holicz Review: I give this 4.5/5 feathers. It was a really interesting and odd book. I wanted to know what happened but at the same time it was just so different. I highly recommend this book if you want something different and not the same old genre.

Masqueradecrew: This story was riveting. I couldn't put it down. The beginning chapters dealt with her as a child so she wrote as a child would. She dropped the letter g off the ends of words, used slang and colloquialisms to give me the impression that the child herself was speaking to me from the pages. As she became older in the book, the language became more sophisticated, more adult. It was like I was reading her diary, hearing her voice as she grew up. I felt deep empathy for her, and what she went through. This is a fabulous read. It has all the ear marks of a blockbuster. I would highly recommend it. Unfortunately I haven't read the whole story yet. The sequel, Saving Mary - Deliverance isn't out yet. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Deidre is Back...but did she learn anything?

A big thank you to Chris Wollam for taking care of things while I was busy with ebook touring. Thank you, Chris!

Well, even though it was nice to take a break it's also great to be back. But did I learn anything while I was away doing my ebook tour? Sure, I think I did. But before I dive into all that, let me first answer a question that a few of you have sent in regarding Inkubate. As some of you know Inkubate is a site where writers can post their work in the hopes that agents or publishers will look at it. When Inkubate first started it was said that agents and publishers would pay the author for the privilege of reading their work, but that term seems to have been dropped from the site. (I really didn't think that agents would pay to read yet more queries!)

I've been a member of Inkubate since  December 2011, and at one time, a few months ago, I decided to delete my file. I wanted to delete my file because there was a term that I wasn't quite comfortable with. That being: writers were not to send their work out to agents while it was posted on Inkubate's site. A writer's work was to sit exclusively with Inkubate.

You can imagine what this term would mean for writers. For instance, I had my work posted for a good few months without any bites from agents, and being a writer who likes to make sure my work is being seen by agents it was impossible to just sit and wait for those agents to hopefully drop by Inkubate and hopefully look up my work. So I decided to delete my file in order to submit my work to agents myself. However, when I went to the site to do this, I noticed that the leaders of Inkubate had changed this term. Now writers may submit their work to agents themselves while their work is posted on Inkubate. You need to remove your work only IF it is being considered by an agent or publisher. See here for FAQs

This is a great change because most writers are highly pro-active. We don't like to sit around waiting for agents to find us (even though that kind of scenario would be fantastic!) With that being said, I kept my file posted on Inkubate. Inkubate, however, is still in the development stages, so don't expect your work to get picked up by a publisher or agent anytime soon. I looked for a list of participating agents and publishers on the site but found, at this point, it's hard to tell who (if anyone) uses the site to find talent.

If at some point down the road Inkubate is able to offer agents and publishers a large up-to-date data base filled with professional writers with great works for sale (and so far there doesn't seem to be any measures in place to ensure that quality work is posted--you may post anything you like in any format you like)  then maybe, just maybe, the idea will work. I say maybe because agents already have all the queries they need. Why go to Inkubate for more? But of course I could be wrong. Agents and publishers may like to turn over every rock they can as they scan the world for appropriate or new material.