Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Platforms—Standing Out from the Crowd

The Charge--Andre DevambezSelling is usually not the favorite thing for writers to do. Writers like to write.

But, as we all know, selling is a big part of the job now in 21st century publishing.

What is new about selling is the indirect approach, or building a social media platform.

The basic idea, as I see it, of platforms, is to have a large enough social media presence so when a new release comes out, you’re able to promote it in a way that can impact sales. For pre-published writers, a platform gives industry professionals some insight into how much influence you have in the media…and how that might impact sales when they sign you as a writer.

It’s more than that, though, which is where some writers get off-track. They toot their own horn too much—and everyone will just tune that out.

The idea is to develop friendships, network, and provide something of value to the community. And then, to use that platform as a way to promote—indirectly and without overdoing it.

You’d think that once you get published that things would get easier---but there are just so many books out there. I walked into both Borders and Barnes and Noble (no independent stores are near me) yesterday and the number of books on their shelves was amazing. I made sure mine were in stock (they were) and signed…but what makes mine stand out from the probably 150-200 other cozy mysteries on the shelves near it?

Nothing—unless the reader happens to be someone who might have heard of me or seen me on Facebook or Twitter or on my blog or around the blogosphere as I guest post. The book covers or my name might seem a little familiar.

Really, though, that’s still statistically not likely. But it’s more likely that when I have a release, I might get some clicks online to a website to buy my book—from people in my online circles.

This sales approach is really indirect. REALLY indirect. But I did nearly earn out my advance…before the book even released, just on preorders. And who knew about this book? Mostly people I knew online. Besides, of course, the folks who order every cozy mystery that comes out each month (bless them!)

The latest issue of Mystery Scene magazine has a really generous review of Delicious and Suspicious in it. But it did tickle me when they wrote: “Riley Adams—the pseudonym of veteran author Elizabeth Spann Craig…” It made me sound grizzled! And I haven’t been around nearly as long as a lot of writers—but I think the difference is that I’ve been around online enough to give that impression.

So, summing up? Building platforms--I’m afraid we have to do it. But there are ways to do it where we’re not in people’s faces all the time or blasting out promo stuff so that potential readers unfollow and unfriend us. And best of all? It does seem to work…both for sales and for networking with folks in the industry.

This is a pretty big area right now, so I thought I’d link to a few helpful articles if anyone wants to look into this a little farther:

How To Discover and Build Your Author Brand What Platform Means for Writers Building Your Author Platform More than an Author? How to Become a Household Name–Branding 101 Your Author Platform – Branding

What kinds of things are you doing to get your name or your book’s name out there?