We writers hear it all the time. I just heard it at least five times at the San Francisco Writers Conference this past weekend from at least five different publishing and PR experts.
To become a published author–and to produce a successful book (one that sells to lots of readers) you need more than a good idea and good writing. You need an author’s platform.
Here’s the hitch. It takes time to build platform–time away from writing your book. And that’s why most writers don’t want to build a platform or don’t bother.
Eighty-one percent of the American public says they have a book inside of them waiting to get out, but most of them never get it written. No wonder those who are writing don’t want to take on promotion on top of all the other things they are already doing.
There are ways, however, to write a book and to build platform and to get the support you need for doing both necessary activities.
Mari Smith, the author of The New Relationship Marketing: How to Build a Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using the Social Web and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day, knows what it takes to get a book written and how to market and promote it. She’s done it. And she’s familiar with building platform on the internet. Indeed, Fast Company described her as “a veritable engine of personal branding, a relationship marketing whiz and the Pied Piper of the Online World” and Dun and Bradstreet named her one of the Top Ten Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter. Mari specializes in relationship marketing and Facebook mastery. With her popular blog at MariSmith.com and her huge large, loyal following on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+, Mari is considered one of the top resources and thought leaders in the world of new media marketing.
When I had a chance to interview her at BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2011 in Los Angeles, CA, last November, I couldn’t resist asking her what she though of the idea of blogging a book. After all, I think blogging a book is the fastest and easiest way to write a book and promote it at the same time. By that I mean build platform for the book and the author while writing it. Mari seemed the perfect person to give me feedback on this premise.
I told her about my forthcoming book, How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time, and I waited anxiously to hear what she had to say. “I think the idea is brilliant,” she began.
Mari’s follow-up comments about how to get a book written, the writing process and the bigger job–marketing–are below. And don’t forget to read the previous two posts based on my interview with Mari:
Mari Smith on How Writers Can Use Social Networking Effectively
Mari Smith on Why Writers Need to Use Relationship Marketing
Knowing that you didn’t blog your book, you wrote it in the traditional fashion, what advice would you give to someone blogging or Writing a book?
If anybody has any desire whatsoever to have their message get out there, then they should work with someone like you. I’m saying that playfully, but I do actually mean it seriously. The place people get stopped with anything, any skill, is lack of knowledge. So, the advice I’d offer is to get professional training, find the people that have gone before you and find out what works. You can always tailor and customize something that works for you. Join a support group or reach out, and, if you can afford it, pay for professional services—a writing coach, even an accountability buddy. People end up taking five or ten years to write a book that’s been nagging at them forever because they didn’t have any systems of accountability in place—a deadline or something. I’ve worked with coaches over the years.
A public declaration is a wonderful form of accountability. You tell people, ‘I’m writing or blogging a book, and here’s what my target date is to have it complete.’ You basically share the whole journey with people through the blog and the tweets and everything.
I think people’s fears probably will come up doing this, but if you have a dream in your heart, it was put there for a reason. God did not put a dream in your heart that you can’t bring to fruition . If you’ve got this idea, even if you’re going smack up against your fear, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve now got fifty readers to my blog, I have this sense of obligation to keep writing and posting,’ that’s okay.
What was your experience writing your own book, The New Relationship Marketing?
I went through quite a journey with this book. I was like, ‘Oh, my God. So many edits and changes and the cover and everything.’ It was a struggle. It was a love-hate relationship for nine months. Then finally it was in print, and I thought, ‘Okay, phew, done!’ No, you’re not done. Now it’s time to market the book. Then the work starts! Thought I was done! Not really. I like to market, though. I like to write, but I really like to market.”
I’m preparing to market and promote How to Blog a Book now–two months prior to its release (and I began doing so two months ago). I suggest you read Mari’s book, The New Relationship Marketing, which offers tons of useful advice on how to market a book online using social networks. In fact, it offers information on the business skills you need online and features nine invaluable steps for relationship marketing that will help you create a readership—buyers—for your book.
Then take Mari’s advice: Get an accountability partner of some sort so you get your book written. Blog it, if that works for you. And start building platform long before the release date. Lay the first board when the idea for the book pops into your head. Then marketing and promoting the book upon its release will be just a bit easier.
If you want more information on blogging a book, check out www.howtoblogabook.com.
CPY for blogs
I am in the VERY beginning stages of trying to write a book. But I am also very interested in and considering starting a blog. I tentatively plan on my blog being about my experiences/struggles with spiritual issues and depression/anxiety whereas my book would be a fiction novel in the fantasy/science fiction genre. I will be using alot of the same themes/ideas in my book that I would probably be putting in my blog although obviously in a different format. I guess my fear or concern is that if I start pouring all these thoughts into a blog that I will run out of juice so to speak when it comes to writing an actual book. What is your opinion? Thanks.
Nina Amir says
Great question, Ariele. If you are writing a novel (saying a fiction novel is redundant, by the way), you can use your blog to promote that work by writing about all the things you mentioned in your comment–the themes and ideas in that book. I suggest fiction writers make a list of all the places, people, themes, subjects, animals, issues, etc., in their stories and use these as topics for many blog posts. You can even tie into the news when these topics come up. Write about how you write, how you flesh out your characters, how you research your book, if you went to Spain to study the culture and food for your book, how you love dogs and that’s why there are so many dogs featured prominently in your novel, etc. You shouldn’t run out of juice. You should simply have plenty to talk about, especially if you intersperse this with some personal posts about your writing process and life so readers get to know you. And the other posts will be filled with keywords related to your book and the title of your book so it will drive potential book buyers to your blog. Hope that helps! Nina