Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Monday, April 7, 2014

A to Z F is for Form

Form... as in good form, bad form.

Self-publishing has opened a lot of opportunities for writers, along with creating a tough challenge. Back in the day, when the big six called the shots in the publishing world, there was a biggie they took care of--book promotion. And that is one thing that all self-pubbed authors now must do for themselves.

That involves building a platform. A "launch platform". A social media presence. Recognition. Networking. The best platforms are in place before a book is launched. And that seems to make sense. But, even if you're starting to build late, there' still time.

There are a lot of ways to promote a book: a blog, facebook, and twitter to name just a few. But your own platform isn't enough. You need help. And since we don't have big promotion budgets, we need help from friends.There's more to the puzzle, though. Familiarity and recognition alone aren't enough to sell books. Ask yourself, why do you buy a book? Reviews? Word of mouth recommendations? Lots of people talking it up?

Face it. Most of us aren't in the big leagues. So we rely on others to get the word around that our books are good.

To be effective, you should build your platform with some things in mind. It takes repeated viewings of your name, the title of your book, what you write,  before it becomes recognizable, even familiar to those viewing it. One way of getting your name out there is via multiple sites. Another is to have a network of supporters who will share facebook posts, retweet your news--and write tweets of their own promoting your book, do blog posts about you, blog tours, interviews, reviews...etc.

Here is where we come into good form/bad form. And this can be relative to any aspect of anything we do. But for this post, it's about trying to get your book noticed.  In my opinion (which means that you might find no value at all in this) good form goes a long way toward good will and being received well. Acknowledge others. Yes, when someone tweets you, comments on your blog or your facebook wall, reply. Simple, huh? But I see it everyday. The rockstar behavior. Don't do it. It's a turn off. Oh, there's so much more...

Be genuine in your interactions. It's time consuming, but people see past phony. Besides, being genuine makes worthwhile your time spent on platform building. Don't be a complainer or a whiner. Viewers will *click* and you're gone. Don't mess politics with your author pages and accounts. Serious. You're not Hollywood, and will likely turn off way more people than you'll ever sway to your political bent.

Always try to reciprocate a good deed. I can't stress this enough. Use lists on Twitter so you can initiate good deeds with the people who routinely shout out your writing prowess. Offer to read and review for others.

Never, never, never friend someone on goodreads, within a day message them to ask them to review your book, and include the link to the book's Amazon page where they can BUY your book so they can review it. Ha! You ask, why would she include that? :/ Yep. Someone did. I won't name names. But he lost all kinds of credibility with me when he did that. If you are asing for a review, provide a copy.

It's nice to support fellow writers, too. I buy books all the time to read and review. And authors rarely fail to thank me once they notice the review.

And while we're on that train of thought, I'll add, it was a good example of the reason to have a platform and a network of genuine followers/friends online. Sometimes you have to get the tweet out there to let your online friends know what you need help with, But if you have to keep calling attention to your book all by yourself, it's kind of like "Hey!! Look at this! Look at what I wrote! It's good because I think it's good Buy it here! Only .99!"  It's helps when another person says, "I really liked name of book. The author can really pen a fast-paced tale! Five stars!"  See what I mean?

One last thing. The master of platform building on Twitter, Claude Bouchard is the best example I can think of of how well this works.  He has amassed 472,000 twitter followers. And he does use Twitter to promote his books. The thing about Claude that is striking is that he responds to individuals who tweet him and friend request him on facebook. A post about how he grew his followers is here--Coming Clean About my Twitter Success  Being nice has paid off for Claude Bouchard.

Most of it comes to down to what your mama taught you. Use manners. Be kind. Watch talking about religion and politics. And keep plugging away at that building your platform.

Visit other April Blogging from A to Z Challenge by clicking here. 


  1. Such an important message for indie writers. If you don't build a platform selling books gets really hard.

  2. Yep, so true, Sydney! Thanks for visiting. :-)

  3. This is the aspect of writing I dread even more than editing :)

    There's one point that sticks in my mind, though. Someone (can't remember who) questioned the value of the kind of platform building we are most likely to do. They pointed out that most of our networking is likely to reach other writers, when we really need to catch the attention of our average target reader, who is unlikely to be a writer. Any thoughts on that?

    Regardless, can't fault the importance of good manners.

    1. Excellent point, Ian. And I should have included that in this post. I follow all kinds of people with various #hashtags, There's no way to insure that it'll work, but short of paying for advertizing, it's the best way possible to get your book in front of people. Word of mouth has to start somewhere.

      I run across a lot of books while perusing sites of other writers, and while reading tweets. And, often I buy them and read them. And I talk about the books I read, here in the real world. I have friends who are prolific readers, and family as well who read book after book. I'm doing a lot of word of mouth if I like a book I've read. It always makes me smile when I see a review go up on Amazon or on Goodreads.

      Yep, it's the part I least look forward to, the promotion. I think that's probably the way with most writers. But since it's a necessary evil, we may as well plan for it to be the least painful possible. :-)

      Thanks for visiting :-)

  4. Good advice for bloggers too.Networking with other writers, while I imagine supportive, isn't really going to improve sales unless they are much bigger and generously feature you on their blog etc...then again lots of writer and bloogers are serious readers.
    I love how indy publishing has opened up the whole market...some fantastic new books coming daily, great. :)
    On the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

    1. Hi Maggie, I guess we hope for a ripple effect when we network with other writers, no matter the media. I agree-- I doubt that blog tours reach much beyond other writers. But, like I mentioned in my comment to Ian, word of mouth has to start somewhere. And a book buried in the oblivion of Amazon's digital shelves isn't much of a starting place. :-)

      Indy publishing...yes. I think we live in the most incredible time in the publishing Industry. I don't think anything has wreaked such havoc and change with the status quo since the Gutenberg Press. :-)

      Thanks for visiting! :-)

    2. Never have writers had more chance to succeed...but also to fail! You can't neglect the PR or as you rightly say"you'll be buried in the oblivion (great word) of Amazon"
      On the A to Z Challenge Maggie@expatbrazil.

  5. I think part of it is following people with similar likes as you, and not just about books. I follow gardeners, history buffs, etc and interact. Lots of different people read.

    And I don't understand google+ at all, although I'm in it because that box pops up every time to share a new blog post. :) I can't figure out where the list of blogs I follow is. I'm still not great with twitter. Some of it I don't get. Are you supposed to respond to reviews or not? Like say thank you or no? There are mixed messages on what an author should respond to. (Oh and thank you Teresa for retweeting my #8Sunday's. I need to remember we have a list for that like you were talking about.)

    I think another thing is not to shoot yourself in the foot by responding to a bad review. Not everyone is going to like your book, I'm ready for that. I mean after all, there are books I don't like. Odds are some people aren't going to like mine.

    History Sleuth's Writings - Blogging A-Z

    1. Hi Cindy, Google+ still baffles me, although I do have an account, and I add people back to my circles if I'm notified of a new add. Google does some bothersome things. The machine is so big it's nearly out of control. But it does some good things, too. I always use Google search. It' just intimidating to me that their tentacles are spread so far and wide ~ as she comments on a Goggle Blogger blog~. :-)

      Good point about who you follow. I follow nearly everyone, from Angel Investors (wonderful retweeter in fact) to zen masters. Facebook--perhaps unwise, but I've mixed my personal page with writing and other writers.It does force me to use lists to keep some family posts and photos private.

      The reviews? I agree about never responding to a bad review, for several reasons, the most worrisome of which is the anonymity of Amazon reviewers. Can I say "multiple accounts" and then "sullying the reputation of a good writer"?

      You're welcome for the retweets, Cindy. It might seem sick, but I enjoy my rare time on Twitter, far too much!

      Thanks for visiting. :-)

  6. your post is such a good reminder for all the writers :) wonderful piece of advice.

  7. You weren't here when I came by yesterday. I hope I have good form and yes, the Goodreads people are very strict about what not to do.