Sunday, July 27, 2014

Marketing: Developing an Author's Platform

By: Stephanie Burkhart

I'm not much of a fisherman. What little I've gleaned about fishing, I learned from my husband and my son who is in boy scouts. I do know this: you need a worm (or a fancy lure) to catch a fish. So when you put that worm on your hook and flick it in the water, how visible is it to the fish?

That worm is your platform. Simply, your author's platform is your visibility as an author. Think of it like this: your platform is your ability to sell your book RIGHT NOW.

So, how murky is the water? Can the fish (reader) see you? What do you do to make yourself a presence on the Internet that readers can find?

Keep in mind, even big name publishing houses are relying on you to build your platform. The basics include:

Establishing a website
Writing a blog
Having an active Facebook page
Having an active Twitter account

Remember it takes a while to build the basics. It's taken me 3 years to get over 2,000 twitter followers and 700 Facebook Fan Page likes. It might come sooner if you are able to dedicate more time a day to marketing and platform construction. As a new author, realize that this takes time and you need patience. Also, you must find a way to balance your platform building with your need to write.

Idea: Pick two social networks to focus on. I focus on Facebook and Twitter.

Once you have a FAT worm on your hook, starting fishing. Consider:

Booking blog tours with reputable blog companies.
Using newsletters. I publish mine quarterly.
Using contests.
Joining Yahoo Groups that focus on your genres.
Joining Facebook groups that focus on your genres.
Blog 2-3 times a week.
Use Triberr to amplify your twitter outreach.
Join Goodreads.
Create video book trailers to place on You Tube.

Remember: Your author's platform is your ability to sell books right now. You are responsible for building your platform. You might get some help in a couple of area from your publishing company, (it depends on their resources) but don't depend or expect them to build your platform for you.

Question: What do you do to build your platform (fattening your worm) What works for you? How much time do you dedicate to building your author presence? I'd love to hear your thoughts and share your ideas.

Reference for this blog: "Questions and Quandaries; What is Platform?" Writer's Digest Magazine, SEP 2014, pg 17. 

Author's Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She loves coffee, adores chocolate, and will be participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer's in Santa Clarita, CA in SEP 2014. She lives in Castaic, CA. Her stories, "The Giving Meadow" and "First Flag of New Hampshire" are published with 4RV Publishing.







Friday, July 25, 2014

The beginning of a story in verse

My fellow poetic muselings and I are engaged in a challenge to see who can write the most poems between now and September, and recently I wrote a couple of poems that begin the story of two men, one who leaves home and one who stays.  My idea is to alternate poems, one from each of the men as they continue, one at home and one on the road. 

 Cold Stone
Dirt and stone beneath my feet,
clouds and mist above me,
in my ears, the sheep's high bleat.
Dear, I know you love me.

As I wander down the road
I leave you behind me,
standing in the field I hoed.
Shafts of sunlight blind me.

My way is long and dark, alone.
I won't be returning.
Will our child remember, grown,
a father's love so burning?

Yet I must this journey make
else my soul be fettered.
Your love you gave and I did take,
but it left me tethered.


Wanderer, wanderer where do you go,
all alone on the road when the wild winds blow?
Where did you come from and why did you leave,
who are the loved ones you left home to grieve?

Hunched in your cloak with your pack on your back,
bent almost double by the weather's attack,
you pass by my hovel. I stare out at you.
When will I ever bid loved ones adieu?

Held to a life of hard labor and toil,
grubbing for greens as I turn over soil,
I dream of far shores and adventures galore,
yet never will I set a foot out my door.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Viral Social Media, Dissected

Viral Social Media, Dissected

By Suzanne Cordatos

The Singing Salutatorian
How well do you remember commencement speeches? With 24,000 high schools in the USA, I’d guess 48,000 valedictorian and salutatorian speeches this year were highly forgettable, no matter how well they were received in the moment. In under a week, however, Wethersfield High School’s Greg Corning has garnered 29,000 hits--and counting--on YouTube with his salutatorian speech.

Mouse-squeaks of jealousy vie for attention in my brain with admiration over his cleverness at going viral. How did he do it? What did he say? What did he eat for breakfast? Can I have some, too?

Which way to the readers?
I've been brainstorming ways to "trap" new readers and "train" them to want my upcoming books. It sounds manipulative, but it is simply a matter of locating my potential audience and figuring out how to provide them the opportunity to read a book I think they will love. I’ve got time, about a year—plenty of time to dissect the success of other writers. 

Choosing popular songs from each of his four years of high school, Greg Corning sang his speech, changing the words of hit songs to be meaningful to his classmates. Apparently, WHS endured heavy renovations this past year, because his take on Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball got a big reaction.

Viral-ness isn’t necessarily our goal as writers, but book promotion? Absolutely. Sweeping the globe with my best ideas between book covers? Sign me up! Like the recently viral (but now ancient) Gangnam-style dance, it’s impossible to predict what wacky idea will gain a huge following next, but let’s pick apart this WHS speech like an unfortunate subject of a high school Biology lesson to see what scratches its way into our memories. Perhaps we can add one or more of these ideas to our next book promotion to boost its popularity and success. The Salutatorian's speech hit all of these hot buttons:

Popularwithin seconds, the audience recognized the songs and could hum along to every note.

Familiarlike blue jeans, people like what is comfortable. The songs were familiar, and his words told stories everyone already knew about their shared experience.

Surprisingnobody expected a song in place of a speech. The matserial was familiar but fresh. Like editors say, there is no new story under the sun, just different ways of telling it.

Range of emotion from funny to sentimental, practical to emotional to inspirational, the range of emotions in his lyrics kept the audience awake and interested, poised for what’s next.

Audience-focusedaudience members could feel as if parts had been written expressly for them alone.

Heart-filledpresented with sincerity, nobody doubted that the speaker cared for the audience and was fully committed to his idea. No hesitation, no apologies for the unconventional method. Simple and heart-felt.

QUESTION: Have you discovered any other hot buttons that work to attract attention? Have you used any of the above tactics to achieve a desired result in your own promotions?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

4 Basic Website Questions Every Landing Page Must Answer and Answer Quickly

By Karen Cioffi

The internet is teeming with information on everything you can possibly think of. This includes information on your business platform. But, with all this information available, there are still many who aren’t aware of the basics, the dos and don’ts of an online platform.

I recently came across a website on ‘article submissions.’ Finding it on Twitter and being interested, I clicked on the link and it brought me to a site with articles on unrelated topics. There wasn’t an About page, or any information on what the site was about. And, there wasn’t a Contact or Services page. This marketer/business owner was leading people back to his site, apparently for the purpose of selling something, but the site was completely ineffective. It was one of the most puzzling sites I’ve ever seen.

So, the question to ask is: If someone lands on your website, by accident, through a search, or through a social link, is it effective? Is it ‘visitor optimized?’

To answer these questions, you first need to know the fundamentals of a business website. And, a business website could be an author’s site, a home business site, or a small business site. The basics are the same for all websites that are trying to sell something.

To guide you in the right direction to creating a ‘visitor optimized’ website, let’s go over the very basics.

Online marketing 101 is to create a website that works, a website that converts visitors into clients/customer or a subscriber. This is the foundation of your online empire. And, an effective website needs to answer these four basic questions:

1. Who are you?
2. What are you offering?
3. Why is what you’re offering worthy of the visitor’s time, money, or email address?
4. Is the path to what you’re offering, the path to the YES, simple? (The YES is the potential customer’s positive action, whether it’s opting into your mailing list or buying what you’re offering, or other call-to-action)

Here are the four elements:

1. Who You Are

Make sure your website has an About Me page. In addition, your landing page should make it clear who you are. Don’t let the visitor have to hunt you down – don’t let her have to search through your site, just to find some information on you.

Tip: Keep the About Me content conversational, like you’re talking to a friend.

2. What You Have to Offer

Your landing page needs to quickly convey what you have to offer. To do this, you can use an image with content or a video. Video is highly effective – it is proven to increase conversion.

Tip: Keep the ‘key’ information above the fold. This means it must be visible upon landing on the page. The visitor shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to find it.

3. Why What You’re Offering is Worthy of the Visitor’s Time/Money/Email

Let the visitor know the value of what you have to offer. And, if possible, make it seem exclusive. Figure out a way to make the visitor think he can’t get what you’re offering anywhere else.

Tip: The visitor must perceive the value of your offer as higher than its cost.

4. Is the Path to What You’re Offering (the Path to the YES) Simple?
Marketers use the acronym KISS (Keep it Simple Silly) to emphasis the importance of simplicity. Your website should be easy to navigate, focused and clear, have a simple design, and it should have an easy path to saying YES.

Tip: To keep it simple, have only one or two steps to opt-in or to take some other call-to-action.

To further cement the ‘tell it all and tell it quickly’ website strategy, explains that you have only seven seconds to do what’s needed. That’s the length of time you have to grab the visitor, let him know who you are and what you have to offer.

Ready, set, go!

Original article source: 


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Friday, July 4, 2014

Plan, Prepare, Promote, Prosper

     Published or soon-to-be published authors, do you have a plan for promotion?

You must  plan, prepare, and promote to prosper.

     Plan Goal-setting is important for any endeavor. A writing career qualifies. Without a goal, we might, as my mother always told me, “Throw a lot of dirt on the wall, and some of it will stick.” Yes, it might, but an author will sell more books and be more efficient with a goal.


     Your goal should be 1)specific 2)written, and 3)forgivable.


Specific  Not, I want to sell a lot of books in the first few months

          But, I want to sell 500 books in three months


Written   No, it’s not enough to keep it in your head.

          Write down: pre-order – exact goal

                      1st 3 months -exact goal

                      1st year

                      In 5 years, where do you want to be?

                      In 10 years, how many books do you want to have published?


Forgivable Shoot for the limits of outer space

           But, forgive yourself if you only hit earth’s moon



****After setting that goal, break it down into small chunks of how to do what you planned.



If I want to sell 100 books in the first three months, what do you have to do?


     Schedule in-person events?

     Get up a website?

     Arrange a blog tour?

     Send out press releases?


Decide what you’re prepared to do to make your goal. Do you need to revise the goal? Decision time.




Prepare Get down to the nitty-gritty


The dreaded to-do list

1.     Make a list of blogging friends that would do a promo post for you.

2.     Contact the librarian in a nearby small town.

3.     Contact the Friends of the Library group in a city.

4.     Go talk with a book store manager.

5.     Set up and schedule tweets about your book launch.

6.     Fix a promo page to send to media.

7.     Make a list of radio stations or newspapers to contact.


Whatever your to-do list consists of, keep in mind your goal and what you are prepared to actually do.


Start marking things off of your to-do list. When you think of a new avenue or you’re asked to do something such as speak for a book club, add that to your to-do list, and keep on working.




Planning and preparation mean nothing unless you put action to the goal. Take a deep breath, swallow your fear, and expose you and your book to possible rejection.

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll


The first e-mail you get thanking you for a good book will make it worth all you’ve done. I guarantee it.


In honor of July 4, I wish to express my appreciation to all those who have served and fought to keep our country free.

America, the land of the brave and the home of the free.


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