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Author Platforms: Not Just to Rest Your Laptop and Coffee On.

Author Platform. Not simply somewhere to rest your laptop, iPod and coffee!
Author Platform. Not simply somewhere to rest your laptop, iPod and coffee!

I’m pretty new to the world of Indie writing, publishing and marketing and am amazed by the number of posts I see on my Twitter feed and writer related websites about having an author platform.

Having read a lot about them, and paying particular attention to advice given by Joanna Penn at thecreativepenn.com and other websites, I set about building one. It is an easy enough process to achieve, but not so easy to maintain.

Very quickly, it dawned on me that my Author Platform is not just somewhere to rest my laptop, iPod and coffee cup.

social media icons - 32pxDepending on which site I looked at for advice about some of the social media aspects I might consider using, here is the list of just some of the accounts a writer may need and those I took up.

Blog. Check.
Mailing List Account. Check. Got one already through other work.
Twitter Account. Check.
Facebook Page. Check, two of. One for Me the author, and the other for the book.
Google+ Page. Check, one of.
Goodreads Account. Check.
YouTube Account. Check, already had one from a different job.
Pintrest. No. Not yet. Good for attracting female readers apparently. Maybe later. Very visual. Need to learn more.
Tumblr. No. Too visual I think. Need to learn more.

Wow! I thought. So much to do, and so little time! Thankfully, in another guise of work, I do a lot of media stuff and am quite adept at using social media for my other work, and that of clients. However, I am still a little green on the effective use of Twitter.

I won’t go into setting up each of these accounts because this post will become incredibly boring.

Social Media

facebookFacebook
The next thing to do would be to attract an audience of potential readers. The best place to do that is through my friends on Facebook. I created two FB pages. One for the book (which you can see and ‘Like’ here) and the other one for M. Saban-Smith the author. The latter being separate from my personal account.

The first page I set up was the one for the book. (whoops!) I posted a ‘Like’ link to the book page on my personal FB account and invited my friends to like it. And they did. Not all of them, but that’s fine. I’m sure more of them will when I send another invite out to them.

But now I find there is a problem. Certainly it’s good that people are starting to ‘Like’ the book FB page, but what about Me the author page? Surely it must be better to keep a list of ‘Likers’ on a generic page for an author, and not just a book page? A FB page for a book will die off not long after publication and will be almost no use to anyone whereas a page for the author will continue to grow and attract more ‘Likers’ because the author will keep adding to the page with updates on WIPs etc. I think I am going to have to annoy my audience and ask them to ‘Like’ my author page and not just the one about the book. I’ll keep them both going though and examine the performance of both as time goes by.

‘Sharing’ rather than ‘Liking’ a page is more important for businesses. If you ‘Like’ something, it only appears in your timeline, not that of your friends but a ‘Share’ adds it to the timeline of your friends too, and they can share it etc etc, therefore spreading the word and perhaps attracting more likes for your page.

twitterTwitter
Now Twitter is a whole other animal compared to Facebook, and I have a couple of problems with it. But I’ll come onto those in a different post.

I started a Twitter account on 26th September (last week) and am pleased to say that I have gathered 162 followers so far and I have tweeted 175 times. This is nothing compared to some of the people I am following on Twitter. Some of them have a following of thousands or tens of thousands of people, and that is great for them as they know one tweet could lead to lots more book sales or clicks to a website. But at the same time, they are following thousands of people which can’t be so great, can it? Their feeds of new tweets must build at such a stupidly fast pace that they must be missing a lot of good stuff. Surely if you use Twitter, you should be using it to find useful information and not just follow any Tom, Dick and Harry just so they follow you back.

I could be very wrong here, and will freely admit it and eat my hat if I am, but I’m a little more choosy about whom I follow on Twitter. I check every profile of everyone I follow and read their last thirty to fifty tweets. If they look interesting, I will follow them, if not, I won’t.  I cannot see the point in following someone I am not interested in. But more about that in another post.

youtubeYouTube
Yep, I’ve got a YouTube account that I use for some AV work I do for clients as well as some personal stuff. I can only see, that at the moment I will only use it for a trailer for my book or the occasional vlog. I haven’t got the time to be filming and editing when I should be writing my book! It will come one day though, I am sure.

Goodreads
I’ve got about as far as setting up the account and accepting a couple of random friend requests. It looks a bit complex to me. I think it could be simplified. A lot. This is one account I know is very important as there are plenty of readers there who may actually spend a little money on my book. I ought to be spending some time getting ingrained there, get some friends, some fans and interact with them.

google-plus

Google+
The most recent social media page set up was my Google+ page and is currently less than 24 hours old. I have very little idea on how to use it properly or effectively and will have to learn as I go along with it. As far as I can see, it is Google’s attempt at Facebook with some differences.

But What to Post?

Having been around blogging for a while and done a bit of research on it over the past couple of years, I come across the same old words. ‘Content is King’. I have to agree that it is. For any website to be liked and followed by anyone, the content has to be good. But socially, this is a slightly different story. The idea of social media is not just to relentlessly push your own products onto your followers, but an interaction with them. Share something of yourself with them. Show them you are human. Share your thoughts, what you like (that will be of interest to themon the internet, your own blog posts. Show them that you care.

But! That should not mean spending all day retweeting all the tweets in your feed or liking or sharing everything that crops up on your FB timeline. No. What you post should be what you think your followers and friends may be interested in. They in turn may retweet it or share it around, leading people back to your site or someone else’s (remember not to just share your content).

Ask your audience for comments too. Let them tell you how they feel about the article you posted, or the extract of your book. And reply to those comments too! Show the audience that you care. Imagine if an author you really liked replied to a comment you left on his or her blog . . . you would feel pretty good, wouldn’t you?

SoundCloud_Extract007

Being so new to this, there is not a lot I can post at the moment. I’ve started at the bottom rung of the ladder so to speak, and am beginning to build my content (you’re reading some now!) and my information sources to share with followers on my blogs, FB and Twitter.

For the time being though, I am mostly posting extracts of my book as I write it. Not ideal I know, but that is pretty much all I have at the moment. As this site gets older though, I will be adding to my post-count which I can share on FB and Twitter time and again.

It is my intention to share as many of the ups and downs of finding my way round the indie literary world and bits about me personally too. I like to know a bit about whose work I’m reading. It makes me feel a little more connected somehow. It also shows me the author is human and not just a printed name on a book cover.

The extracts I choose are from parts of my book where none of the most important plots points are mentioned. They vary in length and are always from the first draft. It could be a risky thing to do, but if I get good comments from first draft extracts, then the revised draft should get even more positive comments. I post them in audio too as I am interested in learning what people think of me as a book performer as it is something I am interested in getting into (more about audio in a future post). I use SoundCloud to host the audio, and here is the seventh extract for you.

Am I Worried Copyright Theft?

In a word. No. If someone is going to copy something, they are going to copy it. Copyright exists to protect the rights of the author of an original piece of work, be it written, painted, photographed or whatever. Plus, copyright law is only worth the paper it is written on it if you are prepared to prosecute anyone who breaches it.

Whenever anything is published on the internet, somebody somewhere owns the copyright to it, unless they publish under the Creative Commons License thingumybob that I don’t fully understand, and then anyone can use it for non-commerical purposes, or something like that.

I think about it this way: If we all keep our work under wraps until it is time to publish, then we wouldn’t send it out to beta-readers, proof readers or editors They are in the prime position to steal ideas, copy text or audio or things like that. But let it be known, that I do not doubt for one minute that they would!

I take copyright laws very seriously, and here in the UK, cases of copyright theft are dealt with very severely indeed and I will not hesitate in prosecuting anyone who steals my work from me!

By keeping everything you write a secret, yes, you protect the possibility of copyright theft as much as possible. But! By letting bits of your WIP out into the world, you can engage audience’s attention and keep them gagging on for more as you give them tantalising glimpses of what lies ahead in your next book.

A friend of mine who runs a couple of magazines said this to me once:

Publishing. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t! 

 So…

My author platform is not only a place where I promote myself from, but primarily it is where my audience and I can share a cup of coffee, a chat and get to know one another.

What are your thoughts on this post? Please leave a comment and let me know!