No matter what kind of publishing we're pursuing, we all hear the
mantra "build your platform!"
Unfortunately, I think a lot of authors new to the idea of building a
business often mistake blog or twitter followers for a "platform". But
the truth is, the numbers on your page aren't necessarily an accurate
gauge of the reach of your brand.
I've had the opportunity to run my own business in the past - after I
worked for a guru in branding and business development. The following
are three simple mistakes I see a lot of authors making:
1. Two-faced Branding
If your blog URL is www.writerdreams.blogspot.com
, your twitter
account is @snazzywriter and your facebook page is Aurora Beguiling,
you make it a lot harder for people to find you.
I think the common misconception is that if another writer finds you
on twitter they automatically look for your links to your blog and
facebook, etc. But the truth is that people's online habits vary
greatly. Most will happen across your blog and twitter separately. And
if they don't go looking for you on facebook directly they may never
get linked to your account. If they follow your blog, they may link to
it via blogger or Google, so unless you make a marked impression right
out of the gate, they probably won't remember that "Aurora Beguiling"
is the same person as "@snazzywriter".
The good news is, the solution is simple: Choose one name and one
picture and use them across the board. Make your URL, your twitter @
and your facebook name the same. When you use a photograph on one, use
the same or a visibly similar shot on others. Make it easy for people
to recognize you when they find you by accident and they'll start
noticing you more and looking for you.
2. Two-faced Audience
A huge misonception in author circles seems to be that having 15,000
followers on Twitter equates to several thousand books sold. This
couldn't be further from the truth IF you make and take a random
See, most people on Twitter are after the same thing : more followers.
You can hit the airwaves and gain hundreds of followers a week if you
get out there enough. But what good does it do you as an author to
have 5,000 business accounts, 3,000 Gleeks, and 4,000 rabid dog
lovers following you? In terms of books sales I can guarantee you that
following will garner you next to zero dollars in the bank. What you
need as an unestablished author is a lot of book lovers following you
- especially those who are solid fans of your genre.
The solution here is simple, but vastly more time consuming: you've
got to get selective about who you follow and who follows you. The
best way to do that is to choose a theme and stick to it. Only follow
writers, readers and publishing professionals. Then make sure the vast
majority of what you put out there applies to that audience. When
you're following back, only follow those with an interest in writing
or books. Don't clog up your own airwaves with motivational speakers
and fitness fanatics. Stay focussed. Get into conversations with
people who might have an interest innbuying your book one day, and
improve your odds by connecting with people who state that in their
twitter account bios.
As a writer your theme is books, writing, reading, etc. Of course
there's room for personal connection and stories too, but beware of
point number three below. Your goal has to be to make your name
synonymous in followers minds with whatever you're going to want them
to buy in the end. Nothing (and I do mean, nothing) else.
3. Me-faced Themes
Okay, here's the biggie. Please don't shoot the messenger.
Very few people are interested in you (or me) as a person. It sucks,
but its true. Accept it and move on.
Most people will only keep coming back to our blog / twitter /
facebook accounts if they get something out of it FOR THEMSELVES.
People are inherently selfish, especially with their time. If they
don't know you or your work, or if you haven't achieved something they
wish they had, they don't care.
If, however, you can find a way to make your own journey benefit
others you've got a much better chance of repeat business in terms of
blog views, retweets, shares and likes, etc.
The solution here, quite frankly, is to stop assuming others are
interested in your life or feelings. That's not to say you should
never get personal - quite the contrary. Only that you need to find a
way to connect that benefits the other person.
For every blog post, tweet or status update,ask yourself one question:
What's in it for the reader? If the answer is consistently only
"getting to know me better" or "nothing" then you have a problem.
So how do you turn your daily life into social media interest from
potential buyers? I can't answer that for you directly, but I can give
you some clues.
First off, remember: humor is a payoff to just about anyone. If you
can break all the rules in a really funny way, you'll go far. But if
you can't, here are some guidelines.
DON'T: Spend a lot of time tweeting / blogging about how cute your cats are.
DO: Spend a lot of time tweeting / blogging about things you learned
about writing while trying to evade the advances of your overly
amorous cat who's currently in heat.
DON'T: Give a lot of airtime to your rejection letters and why they
were or weren't correct.
DO: Give a lot of airtime to analysing which parts of your query
letter worked (or didn't) in Mr. Snarlies Query Boot Camp.
DON'T: Spend all your tweet replies or blog comments telling other
people why they're wrong.
DO: Encourage other writers in whatever endeavors they are pursuing,
then use your own platform (blog or facebook) to express an opinion
and open dialogue on whatever topic is close to your heart. Invite
other people to tell you what they think. Or in other words, be the
kind of tweeter / blogger you wish everyone else was. Someone who's
Okay, I'm sure that's enough food for thought today. Go ahead and
comment with your thoughts. And yes, I do invite debate and dialogue
here at Seeking the Write Life. So if you disagree, go ahead and break
Don't #3 and tell me why. I am actually interested!