This is part of the Bittersweet Book Launch case study, where Dan Blank and Miranda Beverly-Whittemore share the yearlong process of launching her novel. You can view all posts here.
By Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
One of the things that I’ve loved best about working with Dan this past 7 months is that he’s been a slow and steady encourager of change and expansion. I find my natural authorial state is to be curled up like a little chipmunk, quietly dreaming of my next book idea. Even though that’s an important part of my job, I have another, visible, part of my job that I knew I had to get better at even before I sold Bittersweet. It’s the part of me that must interact with the world- from dressing a little nicer when I’m even working in the neighborhood (because- yes, my publisher lives in my neighborhood, and yes, I’ve run into her on more than one occasion and breathed a sigh of relief I’d remembered to pluck my eyebrows that week), to cultivating my social media presence more thoughtfully.
But this change didn’t come about overnight. It’s been a slow and steady journey, one that involves a lot of iteration, and takes into perspective my learning curve and anxieties and the fact that I have a lot of other work on my plate too!
Here’s the truth about my internet savvy: when I met Dan in the fall of 2012, I had a website I hadn’t revised since 2007 (and didn’t actually have any idea how to revise), and a personal Facebook account. That was it.
I took Dan’s Building Your Author Platform course beginning that September, and, in addition to thinking about many of these ideas in a more holistic way, I started a Twitter feed (but I was terrified of it).
In the summer of 2013, when Dan and I decided to work together on the Bittersweet book launch, we made (what seemed to me to be) an overwhelming list of what we wanted to accomplish online, all of which was meant to be spreading the word about me, and Bittersweet. And you know what? I think we’re getting there! I can’t believe it, but I’m starting to see the fruits of our labors:
– My newsletter, which I just started last week, is a weekly roundup on Fridays of what’s been going on with me, from the work I’ve been engaged in to what I’ve been making in my role as Brooklyn mom (so far, that’s been an indoor treehouse for my son’s fifth birthday present, and a loaf of homemade bread). You can sign up here.
– This blog, the Bittersweet Book Launch, which we wanted to start to talk to writers about the efforts we were putting into getting Bittersweet off the ground in the year before publication, has started to attract people I don’t actually know! This feels like a huge accomplishment, capped off by the warm response I’ve gotten recently for the Failure post I wrote last week, and the Likability post I wrote this week (and I think a lot of this response ended up coming from Twitter- more of that below).
– FriendStories.com, which sprang organically from the central friendship between Mabel and Ev in Bittersweet, is officially launching on Monday! This web project- which has attracted dozens of submissions and I believe will attract many more- was only an idea when Dan and I started this project.
– MirandaBW.com didn’t exist last summer either! MirandaBeverly-Whittemore.com was what I had, and believed I was stuck with. But Dan convinced me that my name didn’t have to be an albatross, that my website could align to my Twitter handle, that I could have a website whose content I could manage myself, that it could have a personal, warm tone, and that it could be pretty.
– My Facebook Page– I was very resistant to creating a Page in addition to my personal Facebook profile, but the Crown marketing folks convinced us this was a tool worth having in place, especially once Bittersweet is in the world. Already it’s proving to be a great way to get the word out about my book to folks I don’t know! It was especially helpful to have some author friends of mine encourage their friends to follow this page, which means my reach is extending beyond just my personal friends on this page.
– Goodreads– I’ve had a Goodreads profile since 2007 but I had no personal content on there. Between linking it to this blog, to making my bio more personal, to the giveaway of twenty ARC’s that Crown ran in December, I now have over seven hundred people on there who’ve said they want to read Bittersweet.
– Amazon Author Page – I was resistant to this one too. But it makes sense to take advantage of a free author platform on the website where most Americans buy their books, doesn’t it?
More than all of those signposts, I’ve tried to be more socially engaged on social media, treating it like a dinner party where I get to engage with fascinating, good people. That makes it a lot less scary. And a lot more fun.