Blogging, Book Promotion, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Social Media

Why Bother With A Platform? Hint: It’s Not About You!

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Image via Pixabay

When I first started out in 2007, many of the marketing gurus told writers that a website was optional.  Some of them were telling writers that Facebook or LinkedIn were more than enough for a web presence.  But a lot has happened since then and with social media sites charging for visibility, it’s nearly impossible to reach an audience organically.  Also, there’s the control issue, does a business owner (you) really want a middleman controlling when and if you have access to your readers?  So today the advice is to get people FROM social media on to your newsletter or website.

This doesn’t mean abandon social media completely, what they mean is have other avenues that you can rely on to get your message out there like podcasts, blogs and of course newsletters.  If you can only reach your readers via Facebook then you might want to take things to the next level and start branching out.

I can already hear you all asking: why are we doing all this work?  It’s hard and at times tedious, well I’m glad you asked…

Reason 1:  Information Gathering

I know many authors are blogging and on social media believing they’re there to build a massive platform (whatever that means to them) but that’s not exactly why.  The truth is you’re reaching out to readers because you need to learn from them.  And by the way, social media is a great place to mine data from customers (readers).  As you put your life and thoughts on display, you should be exchanging information with your readers, so try asking them questions (open ended ones) such as:

  1. What authors are you reading?
  2. Name one personal pet peeve you have about modern books?
  3. Who are the most influential authors today?
  4. What kind of stories do we need to see more of?
  5. Which book character deserves closure and why?

Author H.M. Ward once discussed meeting with a New York publisher and when she began talking about her demographic, she was astonished when one of the executives asked her, “How do you know this?”  Well duh, she monitors her social media and newsletter analytics.  By the way, she has over 50,000 subscribers on her email list and over 59,000 Facebook fans.

If you feel like you don’t know what to say, study the indie authors who are good at connecting with their readers people like; Mark Dawson, Bella Andre, Adam Croft and Marie Force.   Look at their social media accounts and subscribe to their newsletters and see what they’re doing right.

Reason 2:  Showing Your Expertise

This is particularly for nonfiction authors who need to show their knowledge of a given subject.  A platform gives you a non-censored channel that you can use to educate or inspire.  It also gives you an opportunity to connect with other thought leaders in your field.

Reason 3:  Promotion… Of Others

It goes without saying that promotion is one of the main reasons authors build a platform.  However your books aren’t the only thing you can promote, you can promote other authors, there are tons of them out there who have little to no support, and a shout-out or friendly word never hurt anyone.  Another good idea is to promote your readers, these are the people who should get regular shout-outs.  Thank them for their positive reviews and support.

Reason 4:  All The Cool Publishers Are Doing It!

Over the past few years, several major publishers like Penguin Random, Guardian Books and even Harlequin have started their own podcasts.  Those same companies also have newsletters and social media sites even though they’re already household names.  Despite what a lot of authors think, they’ve been watching indie authors closely and have been taking notes. This means we indies need to step up our game, and that requires us to learn from each other.

In closing, if you learned anything I hope it was that you can’t depend on anyone to reach and build your audience.  This is your job no matter if you’re a traditionally published author or an indie.  It’s your job to know who your readers are and what they want.  This is what a platform is really about, it’s not about stats or image, it’s about connecting and building relationships, real ones that will endure your entire career.

Book Promotion, Marketing

Podcasts That Feature Indie Authors

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Pic via Pixabay

It’s not easy finding a podcast that will interview a self-published/indie author. Trust me I know, I just spent the past week researching, emailing and tweeting podcasters.  And I was pretty surprised to learn that there are still lots podcasters that won’t touch an indie book.  I was even more stunned to learn that there are podcasters charging fees for an interview.  By the way, it’s unnecessary to pay for an interview, because most podcasts make their money from advertising, not from charging their guests. I’m not saying these businesses are frauds, they do provide a service but there are no stats that say paying for an interview creates anymore buzz than a free one.  It’s kind of like paying for book reviews, often it’s unnecessary and yields no ROI.

In my search, I did manage to find several podcasts that will take a chance on an indie author and won’t charge you a dime.  But before I tell you that, let me explain why you should consider appearing on a podcast.

Podcasting Is Hot Right Now

Podcasting has gotten so popular that even the New York Big 5 publishers have gotten in on the act. For example, Penguin, and Harlequin, both have podcasts where their editors give submissions tips and discuss upcoming books.

Not to be outdone, Barnes and Noble launched several podcasts via their, Barnes & Noble Studio division. Now before you get excited, be warned, B&N only favors bestselling authors. The same story goes for Apple, and even the U.S. Library of Congress. 😦 But don’t fret, if they want to pretend that we don’t exist, that’s fine, we can build our own networks.

Podcasting Authors

In true indie spirit, some authors have started their own podcasts where they feature other indie/self-published books. In fact, 90% of the podcasts who welcome indie authors, are hosted by indie authors or authors signed at small publishing presses.  If you were wondering, authors at small presses often face the same uphill battle when it comes to marketing their work, so they really do feel our pain.

Two Possible Arrangements

There are two types of book podcasts, one where you submit your book for review and another where you get interviewed about your book or about writing in general. Both are good ways to promote your work.  Now before I go on, I need to be brutally honest with you, this will not make you a bestseller.  In fact, most marketing methods like blogging, radio and yes, even television are ineffective at selling products short term. However, they are very effective at selling books long term.

10 Podcasts to Consider

  1. Write Stream
  2. Red River Radio
  3. Kobo Writing Life
  4. Newbie Writers
  5. The Funky Writer
  6. WebWeaver Books
  7. The Bookcast
  8. Indie Books
  9. Paranormal & The Sacred
  10. Good Reads Mad Reads

Here’s a spreadsheet with more details such as genre, and contact info.

Important Tip: Make sure to read the description of the show and actually take the time to listen in because not all shows will fit well with your personality. If you’re a romance author, maybe a show like Dudes & Books isn’t your style. Trust me, you’re doing everyone a favor by doing your homework.  Also keep in mind, a lot of these podcasts are booked well in advance, and are biweekly or monthly shows.  There is only so much air time to go around, so if they say no, it’s nothing personal.

How To Find Indie Friendly Podcasts Yourself

Most websites like Blog Talk Radio, Podbean, Sticher and iTunes have terrible search engines.  To make matters worse, some podcasters don’t tag or categorize their shows properly making it difficult to find them, so you may have to get creative with your search.

Here are just a few keywords to type in the search engine:

  • author interviews
  • books
  • writers
  • fiction
  • novels
  • authors
  • indie authors
  • self publishing

For a more specific result, try your genre or niche such as; business, health, legal, sci fi, romance, erotica, mystery etc.

Your Job As A Guest

As the guest, there are certain things expected of you such as promoting the show on your social media sites, blog or newsletter.  Not long ago, we had an author write a press release before she appeared on our show.  That was unexpected, but very much appreciated because many authors just show up, promote their book then, leave.  No thank yous, or communication whatsoever.  If you’re having trouble understanding why that’s a bad thing, read my post: How to Approach & Pitch Social Media Influencers.

A word to the wise:  Keep in touch especially, if you plan on writing more books.  That means, if they have a Facebook page, like it.  If they’re on Twitter, follow them and retweet them whenever possible.  It doesn’t take much effort to do these things.  And if Facebook or Twitter feed overwhelms you, create lists and check on those lists often.  Again, it’s all about sowing good Karma.

Did You Know You Can Podcast Your Book?

Several years ago, a few indie authors created audio versions of their books and posted them to PodioBooks where they were able to grow a following.   This in turn, created a demand for the ebook and print editions of their work.  One of those authors ended up getting a publishing deal down the road.

For those of you who’ve never heard of PodioBooks it’s a site that uses a pay what you can business model. That means readers decide how much they want to pay if at all. PB is a sharing site like NoiseTrade, so there’s no real money to be made here.  On the flip side, you can serialize your books and possibly grow an audience.

Well there you go, I hope I helped you figure out with this whole podcasting thing.  I know this was lot to digest, so take your time and decide what’s best for you.  There are a myriad of choices when it comes to marketing, and podcasting can be a path to finding your audience.  So it’s definitely something worth considering.