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-   -   Building a platform (http://forums.writersbeat.com/showthread.php?t=55170)

Mike C 11-18-2014 11:14 PM

Building a platform
 
Probably the biggest cliché in writing today.

Sage advice tells us we should 'build a platform' using social media. The experts tell us we should use the 80/20 rule - 80% of our time spent promoting, 20% writing.

I suspect this is a crock of shit. This was reinforced recently by (a) an article in the guardian about the ineffectiveness of social media as a promotional tool, and (b) an interview with Amazon top 100 author Robert Bryndza conducted by Oddville Press managing editor Lorraine Sears (AKA Redlorry).

Robert told Lorraine this:

"...one thing I keep hearing doled out as advice to new authors is that they should spend time building a platform before they publish. I disagree, I think you should get your work out there to be read by people and use that to build your platform. I can’t think of any other business who first build a Twitter or Facebook following before their product is out there."

What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of social media as a marketing tool? Have you built your platform? Did anyone notice?

Seedy M. 11-19-2014 05:13 AM

Agree 100%! I see examples of people pushing their "upcoming" novel. Less than half of them ever publish anything except on Facebook, etc.
Once you have a site to tell them where to get something already published is effective to some degree, but promoting before publication isn't good strategy.
I notice that Amazon etc. are listing "upcoming" books with a release date. Writers had better take a very careful look before falling into that trap! It's another case of Amazon trying to grab control of your rights, for which you get zilch. It will work if you are writing a series and have some published, but I still beat a hasty retreat if anyone wants to hold my rights for any reason where I am not guaranteed a certain amount of return.
When they sign the check, I'll assign rights. I won't advertise an "Upcoming" title. I have had situations where I was halfway or more through a book when I decided it was pure crap and never finished it.

Mike C 11-20-2014 01:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Seedy M. (Post 680292)
I have had situations where I was halfway or more through a book when I decided it was pure crap and never finished it.

I think we've all been there!

Whiskers 11-20-2014 02:12 AM

I didn't build a platform first. I still only have half a social media marketing platform established now, as I don't twitter etc. Nothing works better than word of mouth, so, in mho, it's basically my job to write about books that readers enjoy talking about, then take a backseat.

It's rare I'll get into a converstion about my books, other than to say thank you to readers (even on the likes of facebook). I'll give them a content warning, but generally avoid anything else.

I do socialise, though, and that just means being in a few fb groups where I can relax and be among people who share the same likes and passions.

In context of the 80-20%ratio... hmmm, I'll spend three weeks on or after release (ARCs, interviews, cover reveals, etc), then it's back to writing, with breaks to go and... hideout in my top fb groups.

Each new release will up sales on my previous books, but, again, a lot of that will be down to word of mouth, and word of mouth again comes down to trying to publish work that people want to talk about.

I don't think there's any chicken v egg marketing scenario in this: you need the good work, and to keep that standard up.

calligraphy 02-02-2015 11:37 AM

I did. But only because I take forever. And ever.... ever...


I also think it's important to know what that means. Are you self publishing? Well then you better build SOMETHING.

But meaningful relationships matter most. I find new authors to work with every day but more importantly, I meet readers by the dozens each event.

Readers are kind of important.

Platforming to other authors seems to be what happens with most trying to force the issues. Then they pitch to one another...

It's weird.

Mike C 02-10-2015 02:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by calligraphy (Post 685549)
Then they pitch to one another...

It's weird.

That's the really weird bit. I used to use facebook as a business tool for my web design business and friended every writer I could find. Then you look at their friends, and... they're all writers. What's the point? Surely the idea is to connect to people who might actually buy the book, not a few hundred people hoping you'll buy theirs.

calligraphy 02-12-2015 10:40 AM

I think at first you kinda do that to get support when writing like how we do here.

I have a lot of authors now on there and I'm happy with that because of the evaluations I'm offering, and the blogs I sometimes write about writing.

But there comes a time when you have to connect with READERS. So hard to get people to understand that. I mean literally they blink at you for moments like you have lost your mind.

It's an "out of the box" think method that just has so many stumped if they've never been in marketing or otherwise trained as a professional. Targeting the right group is something you have to learn how to do. And the how to sell you book books make it worse!

Reclusive indies, posting 75 links a day is just...ugh. Where do I even begin?

And readers are complaining. Like more than they did before.

"Crap books being shoved down my throat for free daily! Even at that price they had no editing or are plain boring!"

Scary.

Very scary.

Because eventually Amazon will hear their customers crying about how they can't find what they want so they just buy less.

Ugh.

Then there will be gate keepers once again. Only, they will be so swamped again with all of the new artists (let's be honest everyone is one these days) they too wont be able mitigate reasonably.

I give advice to people getting evals, and my first one is find out where your type of readers are. You've written the book, YAY! Next stop, connecting with people who actually will like it.

When we started our review group (most of them are readers), it opened the door to pockets of readers who have book clubs and so on. I've met up now with people who just love literature like me. And then instead of pitching my crap, I simply treated them like human beings. (novel idea?)

We talk books. Other people's books. I'm still an avid reader. (Don't get me started on writers who have no time to read OMG. SO SO many of them tell you this) And then if THEY ask about my book I have a link ready.

What I see too many authors doing is acting diva day one.

Posting comments as if to their "fans". You earn fans. Social networking is for you to ...socialize. Make actual friends. Don't just watch that friend counter rise and then post your wares.

Stop shilling your dang intro level book to us. STAP!

Even famous authors who have a FB, on their actual Timeline and not pages, they are humans sharing their lives. Take notes.

FB is not there to do anything but make connections. It's not there to sell your books.

I repeat FACEBOOK IS NOT THERE TO SELL YOUR BOOKS!

Amazon will sell it for you if you hit algo. But everything has to be stellar. And even then, the book has to be hell-a-good. Which many first novels are not.

No one gets the idea that new artists trying to "make it" have to put in their time. Sometimes they have to give things away, and help out better artists.

Learn the ropes.

And write more than one novel.

Please.

NickFisherman 03-20-2015 12:05 PM

I've been looking for a literary agent. All of them have either sent rejection notices, or just didn't respond at all. Most of the notices were canned responses. One of them, however, sent a detailed..."brochure" if you will, explaining how I should build an audience before they would even consider publishing me. So, that's what I'm doing. I got back into facebook, only for my work. I signed up for critiquing sites. I signed up for forums like this one. Are you telling me all this work is for nothing? Am I just not a good writer? Because it's all I can do. I've written papers on topics I know nothing about, on movies I never saw. If I'm no good at this, I'm screwed. Because I'm not good at anything else.

Seedy M. 03-23-2015 07:36 AM

Anyone who comes to Authonomy or other writers' site to try to sell books are rather naive. The reality is that we are trying to sell books. You have to get away from the idea that you can sell to other writers, though you can get critiques and lessons about improving your craft.
I'm on Facebook to meet others in different lines. The same caveats apply: writers are there to sell, not buy.
You can use the net to sell, but by going to groups with similar interests. You can often mention something like, "I'm so excited! I just had a book published!" and pass on. Someone will ask you about the book, you tell a little about it and pass on. I sell murder mysteries on Orchid forums. I do not mention the orchid culture books until someone asks if I'm the C. D. Molton who wrote ...." Say, "Yes," and pass on. You will then get someone who says they have the book and it's very: good: a piece of crap: informative: or whatever.
You will then sell a few of that book.
The trouble I have in promotion here is that it is a Spanish speaking country. They don't buy my books, except a few who speak English and live here. The Clint Faraday Mysteries are here, real places are mentioned. Some will buy for that.
Pre-promotion is a bad idea, in most cases.

brianpatrick 03-23-2015 08:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Seedy M. (Post 689282)
Anyone who comes to Authonomy or other writers' site to try to sell books are rather naive. The reality is that we are trying to sell books. You have to get away from the idea that you can sell to other writers, though you can get critiques and lessons about improving your craft.
I'm on Facebook to meet others in different lines. The same caveats apply: writers are there to sell, not buy.
You can use the net to sell, but by going to groups with similar interests. You can often mention something like, "I'm so excited! I just had a book published!" and pass on. Someone will ask you about the book, you tell a little about it and pass on. I sell murder mysteries on Orchid forums. I do not mention the orchid culture books until someone asks if I'm the C. D. Molton who wrote ...." Say, "Yes," and pass on. You will then get someone who says they have the book and it's very: good: a piece of crap: informative: or whatever.
You will then sell a few of that book.
The trouble I have in promotion here is that it is a Spanish speaking country. They don't buy my books, except a few who speak English and live here. The Clint Faraday Mysteries are here, real places are mentioned. Some will buy for that.
Pre-promotion is a bad idea, in most cases.


I see what you did there, you clever bastard :-)

Mike C 03-24-2015 08:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NickFisherman (Post 688918)
Are you telling me all this work is for nothing?

Yes. Having a facebook page doesn't build readership. Nor does having a twitter account. They don't build an audience. Words do. If you want to gain readers, write. If you want to tell your prospective agent you have an audience, write a whole bunch of shorts and get them published - credits count, facebook friends don't.

Quote:

Originally Posted by NickFisherman (Post 688918)
Am I just not a good writer?

Not one I can answer. But if you get the right story to the right agent on the right day, they won't give a shit about whether you're on facebook or not.

jimr 03-26-2015 09:25 AM

I find this thread interesting. I won't promote and I use a pen name. I've turned down 3 low grade book deals because they wanted me to be involved with sales in some way. If I wanted to sell books I would be a publisher not a writer. I don't even tell mag editors where I've been published when I submit—I'm convinced that this idiotic approach will ultimately make me write my best. 80/20—that is just so . . . you know. Anyway, the pen name is Chris Dean, just so you know if I hit the big time someday. Good luck to you all.

brianpatrick 03-26-2015 04:50 PM

This topic is also interesting to me. I have a general distaste for marketing and advertising and sales. I realize that if you have a product, even if it's excellent, there is some need to let people know about it. But... employing marketing technics and sales strategies seems only to create artificial demand if you are lucky, or 'good' enough at it. Ultimately, it amounts to nothing.

I've always believed that good shit floats, and bad shit sinks. This is why we must all eat our veggies.😄

I write. I already have a good job, so I don't need to make a living at it. I'm more interested in quality than money.

If you have to 'sell' it, it's probably not worth buying. The same is true for almost everything. The world is so overrun with lies and deceptive 'slogans' that it's impossible for the average human to know anything.

I have a head full of useless information, and you probably do too. They say people these days learn more in a day than a man 100 years ago learned in a year.

Do we? Really!?!?

I know about five things that really matter. That's enough.

Agatha Christie 03-27-2015 11:24 PM

I thought Goodreads was supposed to be the main site for readers, not writers, with millions of readers coming on every day.
I've just posted a novel up there, in its entirety, to be read for free, and I've not had one single reader or comment.

How come? Which is the main site for READERS (not writers). Any thoughts?

Devon 03-28-2015 01:28 AM

Quote:

I've just posted a novel up there, in its entirety, to be read for free, and I've not had one single reader or comment.
When did you post it up there, and how have you tried to spread the word about it?

Agatha Christie 03-28-2015 01:46 AM

Posted it up about two weeks ago. filled in all the bits about 'me' etc as suggested. I have no idea how to raise the profile of the novel (not raise my profile!) The novel is listed under 'Romance' as it is a rather quirky love story, so it can be found by anyone wanting that genre. It's the novel I want to get out there and read and commented on. I am not interested in spending hours chatting to other authors but I am quite happy to chat with interested/potential readers. Forums generally give authors a chance to chat,so I am not interested in that. There are loads of author forums already.

Mike C 03-31-2015 05:09 AM

where do we find the novel, Agatha?

Agatha Christie 03-31-2015 05:14 AM

The book is here:



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...yal-heart?ac=1

Or go to Goodreads and look for LOYAL HEART by Julia Patten

SonicTremor 04-07-2015 08:00 PM

Building a Platform
 
I did exactly this, albeit by accident. I'm a new member here, so if you'll permit a somewhat lengthy post, I'll tell you how it worked for me.

In 2003, I started a project to document ghost towns through photos. My partner and I were both poor and we didn't have any way to share our work but through a blog, which was eventually joined by Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, and other social media.

By 2013, we had hundreds of thousands of website visitors every year and 35,000 fans on a Facebook page that we started in 2009.

Then we found out about Kickstarter. We did a $12,000 crowdfunding campaign to fund our first book.

Because we built a platform first, we had fans ready to fund our campaign, and buy the book too. The book sold out in the first sixty days.

We have now put out three books, we have two more coming this year, and I left my job to do this full-time. We have over 125-thousand fans now. We did six figures last year. Now that I find myself doing this full-time, I have time to pay attention to my writing, too, and not just my coffee table books.

The key to the success of the whole operation was, we had a ready-made platform of fans to sell our product to once it was ready.

It is a LOT of work, but it doesn't have to take you ten years like it did for us.

Agatha Christie 04-07-2015 10:04 PM

Thanks a lot for your info. You have done very well.

calligraphy 07-31-2015 12:46 AM

Agatha, a free book can go onto Smashwords, and Wattpad. Way more readership, like millions.

Goodreads is for reviewers and people who want to shop books by looking at what their friends read.

Also there is Amazon scout. Submit your book and readers can vote on it.

I mean...you got a free book?

I can point you in 57 directions.

calligraphy 07-31-2015 12:51 AM

Platforms are nice. Especially if you want an agent.

But Mike said it above. The right agent doesn't care about that if the book is great. What's really crummy though, is getting agents on a good day, who care about what you are writing. It's really a tough climate. Your book needs to not be too original and so on. They are eating new writers for breakfast who don't "know" someone.


This gives you a couple options. Indie? But only if you know how to get SOME readers to get you stared. Netgalley co-ops for reviewers to take a bite out of you...*warning*---if you use netgalley bring your A-game. That place is REAL reviewers. If they one star you they will also have about 200 people liking their bad review on all platforms, making your terrible mocking review the first one.

The other option is doing loads of free days on amazon/KU and hoping you have a nice cover and blurb.

If you are a "do it yourselfer" get on wattpad. That might get you going, I know a USA Best Seller had 5 mil views on wattpad for free book number one in a series, and sold the other two for a few gazillion.

And lastly, you can do all of the above like the rest of schmucks ;)

EFFI 03-28-2016 10:11 AM

Writing is certainly more important than promoting, but once you have several books out it will pay off to spend a fair amount of time on promotion or your books will simply not be visible and disappear. Making the first book in a series free or discounting it to 99c is one strategy that works quite well.


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