I am hungry for knowledge – any kind really – but mostly about writing because next to reading its what I enjoy most. So, I attend writing conferences, lectures, buy books about writing (such as the latest writing how-to by experts Natalie Goldberg and Phillip Lopate), and participate in groups online and off where I hear the same questions repeatedly: Why do I need an author platform, and how did I create one?
Today I’m writing from the book reviewer’s point of view. When I’m reviewing your book I want to find you via social media, ask you questions and ensure that my readers can find you, too. That’s why you need a platform (website, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, et al). When people can find you, they will discover — and hopefully — buy your book.
Relationship Building is Circular
Everyone who writes about or sells social media services says that it is all about relationship building, and it truly is. One person leads to another, and in the end we want to support (and by that I mean help them generate sales through increased exposure) the people we are connected to.
That’s how I met Nina, who is so lovely to allow me to guest post here today. I was working with Rochelle Melander, The Write Now! Coach, and Nina guest posted on her blog. I enjoyed the post and connected online with Nina whose, How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time had just come out. I ordered the book from Amazon, read it and bought a few copies for friends.
This wasn’t the end of the story. A few days later, I saw the book on display in my local Barnes & Noble, took a photo and sent it to Nina while standing there. We both posted about it on FB and elsewhere. (Stay with me here.) Nina then created a course as a companion to her upcoming book, The Author’s Training Manual. I signed up for the course, Author Training 101, and learned the business of becoming a published author, including her lessons on building author platform. One big circle completed, adding two published authors to my list of mentors and a new understanding of what it takes to author a book.
Platform is About Connecting with Readers
In 2010, the totally rocking publicity team at Algonquin Books (Emma Boyer is a “goddess” according to Caroline Leavitt ,and I agree) sent me Caroline’s new novel, Pictures of You. I gobbled up the novel, reviewed it and went in search of Caroline online. We connected on Facebook, and I follow her on Twitter. She posts often throughout the day, and I so admire how she supports her fellow authors by linking to their books and reviews — generous, funny, and willing to share herself online. That’s my kind of person.
Early this morning I sent a message through Facebook to Caroline asking her why she finds it important to make the time to maintain an author’s platform and connect with readers this way. Within minutes, I had an answer from this gracious and prolific author who has penned nine novels to date. Here’s what Caroline wrote back.
“I think ultimately readers yearn to have a connection with the authors of the books they love. They want to talk about the books — and not just with friends— and to be able to connect with an author is important for both author and reader. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than the conversations I’ve had online with readers that morph from talking about my book to talking about movies or food or even what the best sunblock is. It’s community and it’s fabulous!”
Authors who make themselves available in the social media realm ensure that reviewers and readers will discover them amidst the clutter. As a reviewer I read a Mt. Everest of book-related news including BookForum, the book review sections of the NY Times, LA Times, SF Chronicle, the WSJ and online news from Publishers Weekly, subscribe to indie and major publisher’s feeds – will you get the idea. After all this reading, it is a tweet or post from someone I trust that gives me that added push to explore a new book or new author.
Make it Easy for Readers to Find You
Case in point, last week Heidi Julavits tweeted about Christa Parravani’s new memoir, her (yes, that’s the correct book title in lowercase). The last name rang a bell. I was scouring the April/May issue of BookForum and found Heidi’s review of her and felt I had to read this memoir and connect to Parravani — if I could find her online. I went to Facebook, where I am “friends” with Heidi, who is also “friends” with Christa. What luck. I sent a friend request and a direct message to Christa who accepted, and then she asked me to “like” her page for her on Facebook, which led me to her website, Twitter and so forth. The memoir is spectacular. Yes, I paid for and downloaded a copy to my iPad instead of waiting for the publisher to send me a free review copy, and now I am reading away and so happy to have discovered a new voice.
And, don’t forget Goodreads, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Not all authors use all the various social media options; most are choosey. And Goodreads and Tumblr are gaining in popularity.
So, that’s the why of having an author’s platform. And as any good social media “friend” will do, I will link to this post, share it, Tweet it, and so forth because one good turn deserves another.
If you enjoyed this post and want me to put my publicists’ hat on and give you the how to’s of creating and maintaining an author platform, let Nina know.
About the Author
Freelance writer and book reviewer, Dindy Yokel specializes in luxury travel, food and wine, culture, fine arts and literature. Yokel is an expert in marketing, public relations, and advertising and is a contributing writer for National Geographic en Español, Arts & Opinion, and National Geographic Traveler en Español. Connect with her on Twitter @dindy or via LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/dindyyokel.
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