Free Webinar: Essential Steps To Find Your Readers And Build Your Author Platform

Are you a writer who wants to find your ideal readers, and engage them in compelling ways? What you need is an author platform – a strategic way to find the exact right audience for your writing and build a strong relationship with them.

In this FREE one-hour webinar, I will share my best advice for building your author platform based on my experience of working with HUNDREDS of writers, including bestselling authors. I review the habits you NEED to develop in order to find success.

I dig into the hard stuff, the nuts and bolts of what it means to be an author who is actively developing your audience. If you want some sounds-to-good-to-be-true snake oil, look elsewhere. If you are a writer serious about moving your career forward, this free webinar is for you.

BONUS: WIN A 5-MINUTE AUTHOR PLATFORM MAKEOVER

When you register, you can choose to submit yourself to be eligible for a 5-minute author platform makeover. If you win, I will do a quick review of your author platform and provide my feedback on the webinar. This can provide useful first steps for where your biggest opportunities lie.

Q&A

After the webinar, I will have a Q&A session where you can ask questions about anything we covered, and even things we didn’t! You can submit questions anytime during the call, and I will answer them at the end.

SPECIAL PREVIEW

During the webinar, I will also be previewing my career-shifting online course for writers: Build Your Author Platform. This is where I work WITH you to develop your author platform and find your readers in six-weeks. No matter where you are in the world, you can take this course with a web connection.

SIGN UP NOW

This is a free webinar, and there are limited spaces available. It takes place on Wednesday May 15th at 2pm ET. You only need your web browser to attend. If you can’t make the live session, I will send you a replay of it if you sign up now. This will be a video recording that you can watch at your convenience.

There are limited spaces for this webinar, to reserve your spot, click here:

Register

Thanks!
– Dan

5 Reasons RELATIONSHIPS Are The Core of Your Author Platform

Authors are drowning in “information” – in advice on what else they need to be doing besides writing. You are likely familiar with this list:

  • Be on Twitter…
  • And be on Facebook, they have billions of users…
  • Get on Pinterest because it’s huge now…
  • And be on Tumblr, all the kids are doing it…
  • Definitely do a blog tour around your book…
  • And create a book trailer, it could just go viral…
  • Blog…
  • And guest blog on other people’s blogs…
  • And try to become a blogger for Huffington Post…
  • And submit excerpts of your work to Wattpad…
  • Obsessively engage with readers on Goodreads…
  • Buy Google ads sending people to your Amazon page…
  • Play around with the pricing of your ebook…
  • Speak at conferences…
  • And speak at libraries…
  • And speak at bookstores, if you can find one…
  • Do a Google Hangout with readers, or a Shindig…
  • Oh, you are on Google+, right? It’s the next Twitter.
  • You vlog, right?

… and of course: write the best book you can.

This is not even mentioning other aspects of publishing: whether you are going the traditional route (creating a book proposal, querying, landing an agent, landing a publisher, publicity, and preparing for launch day), or the self-publishing route (a million other small decisions), and that in all likelihood, you have a family to attend to, perhaps a day job, a home to maintain, hobbies, and you know, you need to sleep. Yes, that is a run-on sentence, and it barely fits in all the things writers are told to concern themselves with nowadays.

The problem here is that these are THINGS; these are tactics. And while each may indeed be instruments to your success as a writer, they are not the point.

The point is your writing, and how it connects with readers.

I work with writers to help address the craft of developing their writing career – how they connect with readers and ensure their books get read, not just published. To me, an author platform is about two things:

  1. Communication – how you connect with a reader in a meaningful way.
  2. Trust – how you find alignment with them – that your purpose for writing directly relates to their needs and passions.

The key to this is relationships. This is not about “selling a book” or “leveraging Twitter,” it is about the experiences we create with each other around your writing. Sometimes these are very direct relationships, other times the are more implicit.

When you develop a relationship around your writing, you are doing several things:

    A Relationship is a renewable resource

  1. A Relationships Is A Renewable Resource that give back again and again. Of course, you must truly invest in a relationship too, giving as much, or more than you receive back.

    But unlike some marketing tactic, a relationship is complex and fuels us on so many levels. Someone you form a relationship with can be a lifelong mentor, they can encourage you in that moment you need it most, they can provide deep insight, or harsh but needed feedback.

    Relationships are also exponential. Inherently, one person connects you with another, then another. A relationship is a gateway drug to more amazing relationships.

    A Relationship is at the heart of how we create meaning and experience

  2. A Relationship Is At the Heart of How We Create Meaning and Experience
    While we strive for accomplishments in life, it is people who add the meaningful context to them. If and when you become successful, it will be because of so many others helping you along the way. Sure, you may receive all the glory, but the reality is that it will be on the shoulders of others.

    This is more than just some kind of mercenary exchange – this is the meaning in life. That you connected with someone on a deeper level; that you helped each other out; that you went through an experience together.

    When you look back sentimentally on different periods of or accomplishments in your life, what do you remember? Oftentimes, it is the people, the conversations, the deep human connections. You remember moments that perhaps seemed ordinary and insignificant at the time, but became the memories that float through our minds decades later.

    How You Connect With Others Is As Important As Who You Connect With

  3. How You Connect With Others Is As Important As Who You Connect With
    Boy, am I tired of the term “influencers.” This term has become shorthand for “leveraging” other people’s popularity and trust with an audience. It is often done with a smile and a handshake, but there is often a calculation involved. For example, an author determines who to connect with based solely on how many Twitter followers that person has. The idea being that if this person ReTweets them, it increases exposure.

    But the opposite is what often fascinates me: the people who connect based on true alignment, not a calculation of “influence.” People such as Barbara Vey who connect with people who love to read because she loves to read. Or Betsy Bird who connects based on enthusiasm for children’s literature, not based on a person’s CV. Or so many authors I have had the pleasure of knowing who measure how good the connection to someone feels, not what the possible return-on-investment may be.

    This is the choice we have. HOW we connect with others, not just what we do in terms of which social network to use or if we add a “Pin This!” button to our website. The path of publishing is really filled with conversations and relationships, not technology and marketing tactics.

    Word of Mouth Is Not Marketing

  4. Word of Mouth Is Not “Marketing,” But Rather: Communication
    Again and again we hear that despite the way the web has changed things, “word of mouth marketing” is still the biggest way that people hear about books. Goodreads recently released survey data that supported this:

    Goodreads survey

    Word of mouth marketing begins and ends with people, not marketing campaigns or publicity. When someone recommends a book to a friend, it is about trust and communication, not “marketing,” whereby they are targeting people strategically to increase sales of a book.

    Social Media Is People

  5. Social Media Is People!
    One of my favorite movies is Soylent Green, and (spoiler alert), the big reveal at the end is this phrase: “Soylent Green is People!” While less grotesque in it’s meaning, I think we often forget that social media is people.

    We instead focus on the tactical nature of buttons and features. We think that adding a “Tweet this” button to our website or using Tweetadder is how to “win” at social media. We hope to go “viral” as if it is a thing, not an action.

    While social media trends will come and go, the people will remain. Myspace came and went, and yet, the people and relationships remained. The same with Friendster and Digg and so many other (nearly) defunct social networks.

    The people are the constant – and the real meaning – not the technology of the social network itself.

Thanks.
-Dan

Why You Should Keep Blogging

Today I shared a guest post over on Jane Friedman’s blog: 2 Strategic and Compelling Reasons to Keep Blogging—Plus When to Kill a Blog. In the post I talk about the long-term value of blogging on growing your audience and establishing your platform, as well as the importance of controlling the message of your online presence. I also share 11 tips on how to re-energize your blog. Check out the full post over on Jane’s site.

Thanks!
-Dan

Writers: Focus on Reader Discovery, Not Book Discoverability

Find your readers. Understand what motivates them to read books similar to yours. Become their supporter, and in some cases, their friend.

The buzzword of the past year or so has been “book discoverability,” meaning that writers and publishers want to ensure that readers can find books. It is perceived as a problem because there are so many books being published each year (between traditional and self-publishing), and fewer channels by which to find books (eg: no more Borders.)

AUTHORS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

But focusing on book discoverability is a magic pill that will never arrive. Yes, you should optimize your books metadata to ensure it is easier to find in complicated algorithms of Amazon, but beyond that, I think the concept of “book discoverability” focuses on the wrong thing: books instead of readers.

One is a passive action, one is active. One is about talking (e.g., shouting: “LOOK AT MY BOOK!), and the other is about listening (e.g., asking: “So tell me what you love to read.”)

A book is a thing. An object. A file.

A reader is filled with motivations, desires, needs, and complicated ways they align with books to shape their own identity.

AUTHORS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

If you want people to find your book, focus on the latter – the readers, not the books. Focus on this: READER DISCOVERY. Find your readers.

Why? Because this is a constant action that you can take, a process you can develop, and a way of being in the world as an author that constantly connects you to readers.

Recently I was on a panel at the Writer’s Digest Conference East, along with Amazon’s Jon Fine. The first thing I said was that writers need to focus on understanding who their readers are. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Jon nodding his head – his whole body really – in an exaggerated cartoon-like fashion. To me, this indicates that Amazon can only do so much to “shelve” your book along with millions of others, and catalog it according to proper categories and keywords and other relevant cues. Beyond that, know your readers.

AUTHORS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

Eric Ries wrote a book and helped create a movement in the tech startup space with the concept of “The Lean Startup.” The crux of what he focuses on:

Instead of developing your product in secret, optimizing it and trying to make it perfect before a big launch day where you release it to the world, instead focus on developing customers. Understand your target audience, talk to them, learn from them. as you develop your product, constantly put it in front of your ideal audience to gather feedback. Don’t rely on assumptions as to what you think they want, partner with your audience and observe through actions they take what they enjoy and need. Doing so does not just help you develop a better product, but it literally creates a built-in audience as you do so. You develop customers as you develop the product.

This is why I feel the concept of author platform is so important. Author platform is how you develop the craft of connecting with readers. It is a skill that you develop, just as you develop the skill of writing. Few authors start out as extroverts able to chat with fans easily. They learn as they go, just as you can.

AUTHORS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

Let’s consider an example of how the reader discovery process works. This year, Hugh Howey became the case study as to how an empowered writer can find their audience, and make an amazing living at writing, publishing and selling their stories. When Hugh published his breakout story Wool, he didn’t know that this would be THE story out of everything he wrote that would take off. He learned this by publishing, sharing, and connecting with readers.

Yes, of course, the first step is to take the craft of writing seriously, create good work, and focus on constant improvement. But Hugh not only connects with his audience, but learns from them. No, he doesn’t write TO an audience, he does learn about them.

AUTHORS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

Knowing who your audience is shouldn’t change your work away from your core vision, but it can help you ensure that your stories reach an audience that cares.

The web and social media offers you amazing tools to learn who your audience is and what engages them. Just as Hugh learns by publishing shorter fiction and then connecting with readers, nonfiction writers learn what engages people simply by blogging. Gretchen Rubin began blogging about happiness three years before The Happiness Project came out. Do you think that three years of engaging with readers helped her understand how to better grow her audience? Yes, that is a rhetorical question. By the time her book came out, she was immediately on the Today Show, Oprah, and hit the New York Times Bestseller list soon after.

Book discoverability is not the problem writers should focus on. Rather, discover who your ideal readers are – this will provide the information you need to grow your platform and audience, and establish meaningful connections with people who love your writing.

Thanks.
-Dan

Hugh Howey on Why Writers Need an Author Platform

Hugh Howey on the value of educating yourself in not only the publishing process, but connecting with readers and developing an author platform:

“But I only want to write,” you might say. “I don’t want to be a publisher.” Well, good luck. Even if you land with a major publishing house, the success of your work will depend on you knowing this business and embracing all the challenges that a self-published author faces.”

“There are only a handful of authors in the world who can make a living writing and passing along those words to someone else and not doing a single other thing. Most people who attempt this method teach creative writing for a living, and not because they want to.”

“Promotion will be up to you. Your publisher will want to see your social media presence before they offer you a book deal. Learning the ins and outs of self-publishing before signing with a major house is the best training imaginable. Not doing so would be like a hopeful race car driver not caring what’s under the hood. I’ve been shocked to discover, having worked with major publishers, that many of my self-published friends know more about the current publishing landscape than industry veterans with decades of experience. The more you learn and the more you keep an open mind, the better your chances for success.”

So I want to parse this out based on my own experience with hundreds of authors, some who are self-published, and some who are traditionally published…

THE BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING
Hugh mentions the idea of “knowing this business,” which makes a point many skip over: writing is craft, but publishing as many define it, is a business. Even if you as a writer are more concerned with the impact of your work, and your own personal validation, your partners in the publishing process need to meet business goals.

AUTHORS ARE ENTREPRENEURS

As more and more independent authors find ways to earn revenue, and turn what was once a hobby into a full-time profession that supports their families, financially, the more important it is to not pretend there is a magic button for success.

Understanding the business of publishing is meant to demystify the process. When you understand how things work, you can leverage them to reach your goals, instead of relying on convincing “gatekeepers” to give you a chance. Or to use a phrase I hear often nowadays: you are an empowered author.

And of course, if you do want to earn revenue through your writing, learn the process, and the triggers to make that happen. Understand publishing as a business, and find the opportunity that others miss.

WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR READERS, YOU KNOW HOW TO BEST REACH THEM
Too often, I hear writers complain about having to “market” their work. But what I often feel they are missing is that connecting with readers is about understanding and learning, not publicity. That when you better understand who your ideal audience is, where they are, what else they love, what engages them, the more likely you will find ways you align with them. And more often than not, this is the good stuff, the meaning that is created between a writer and a reader.

Don't market to readers, align with them.

SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT YOUR BOOK IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
Publishers will likely judge the platform you have built already, even before they sign you. Why? Because they want a partner. Because they are publishing a lot of books, and nothing beats having an engaged core audience of readers who have a trusting relationship with the author.

Time and time again, we find that word of mouth marketing is what sells books. And that starts with you, often well before the book is published.

Word of mouth marketing starts with you

YES, THIS IS HARD WORK
If you want to “just” create art, do that. If you write “merely” to write, to express feelings in a creative way, then no, you do not need to concern yourself with the business of publishing.

But if you want to develop an audience, and create a sustainable career as a writer, then develop your platform. Understand how to connect with readers. Take the business side of publishing seriously.

Your platform is not what you say, but how you listen.

What I love about Hugh’s story is the mixture of smart decisions, good habits, and finding ways to engage with readers as a human being. Many writers work hard to put limits on what it means to be a writer, that they shouldn’t have to do x, y, or z. But Hugh is present in the lives of his audience, and that is his platform.

Thanks.
-Dan