If you attended Cal Dreamin’ you’re probably still playing catch up. I love attending writers conferences. Where else can you be around your people? It’s wonderful being around people who don’t find it strange when you ask how to kill someone, get them pregnant or arrange their marriage. And then there’s the socializing. Writers get a lot of heat about the amount of wine and chocolate we eat. So we indulge a little; it’s research. If we were still in college, our conference would be considered “Spring Break”.
So my spring break was wonderful. And just like Spring Break, I got very little sleep, ate a lot and spent the weekend hanging with my friends.
Now that I’m back in the thick of things, I realize, I’m so behind. Couple that with my birthday on today, I was a little distracted and in need of a post for our new blog. [Thanks Marianne for all of your hard work on the blog].
Thank God for backup posts. I found a post I never published. Considering some of us are still basking in the afterglow of Cal Dreamin’ I thought it might serve as a little refresher. Keep in mind, I wrote this post around the time of publishing my first book.
Now that I have self-published my first book, I am officially a published author. Actually, when I published a couple of short stories awhile back, those made me a published author in theory, but not in marketing.
When I started my writing journey, I was focused on getting an agent and writing another book. I forgot about the other things.
It wasn’t until I went to an ACFW [American Christian Fiction Writers] conference that I realized I needed a presence before I needed a writing contract. [Since then, I’ve opted to go self-publishing. However, the information is still the relevant.]
During the conference, the same word kept popping up, “Platform.” I didn’t have a clue what that meant the first time I heard it. Once I got clarification, I was instantly overwhelmed. Not only did I have to write the book, now I had to market it. I thought that was what the publisher did. SURPRISE for all you newbies, no matter what route you take, ultimately, you’ll be responsible for marketing your book. So now I was faced with another thing to deal with before I finished the first draft. A Platform. Needless to say, a few choice words entered my mind about a platform and where I wanted to put it. And let’s not forget, the major thing I needed to do: define my look. What the !*#&…
Remember this was a few years ago. I went back to my room and immediately tried to figure out who my target audience was and what would attract them. Here’s the funny thing about writers. We can write eighty thousand plus words, but it’s the little things that seem to trip us up. You know what I’m talking about…blurbs, one-liners, platforms, etc. All the things that help sell the book.
I knew I didn’t write traditional Christian fiction or romance, but I really wasn’t sure who my audience was. I forgot; I was my audience. I made a big choice. I don’t write to market per se. I write what I like. Which is why that eye-opening ACFW conference was my last. Please don’t get me wrong. I loved hanging with my ACFW people. The problem was, I was writing for a different reader and needed to learn how to market to them.
I thought I was writing for women but turns out, men are reading my books as well. That’s right, men read romance. But in my defense, some of my books fall into a few categories: contemporary romance, women’s fiction, steamy romance, and chick-lit. This is why I was confused about who I was writing for. I’m definitely not a man. As my old tagline said, “I’m a Christian woman who loves God, cute guys and fashion.” But not all of my audience fit that, so I changed it. My new tagline is very simple and speaks to my platform, “Sophisticated Romance.” Or simply put, I write books for grown people. I know that’s bad English, but it’s the truth.
So what was my platform? Once I realized who I was writing for, my platform came to life. I write books that are faith based with sophisticated themes. So how was I going to show that?
I took cues from my other business [The Pink Duchess…lingerie for curvy figures. Everything is done in black and white with fuchsia accents.] I’m very clear about how I market it. I have two types of business cards [one for vendors and one for clients], an online invoice template and a booklet on how to shop for lingerie I use in all of my marketing. But when it came to writing, like most newbies, I figured the publisher would handle everything.
Surprise! I discovered what I was doing for my business, I also needed to do for my writing. That meant I needed business cards, online invoices [thank God for Paypal], event or direct sale invoices, giveaway items, and inventory.
Here are a few questions I asked myself:
How do I want to present my writing self?
How would my reader expect me to look?
How do I grab the attention of potential readers?
Everything needed to be consistent. I made sure to carry the same theme and colors over to my website, marketing materials, and advertising. [If you did Elena Dillion’s class last month, this makes sense to you. If you didn’t check it out “Visual Content Marketing for the Confused and Terrified Writer”. ] Since it takes between 7 and 10 times to make an impact on someone, it was imperative that I be consistent with my look.
Here’s how I chose to build my professional look:
I found an image I modified in Photoshop.
I opted not to use business cards. Instead, I have bookmarks with my logo and two free downloads on the back.
I use PayPal for direct on-line sales and a simple receipt book for In Person Direct sales.
Notecards and Thank You Notes…
I was fortunate to still have blank white note cards and envelopes with my name in pink on them already plus a few Thank You notes from my other business I wanted to use.
These are either the covers or an image that represents the story with a quote or the book’s one liner.
The hub of my platform. A few days before Cal Dreamin’ I launched my revised website. I wanted my new look to be a little more sophisticated and friendly to both sexes. I carried over my color theme to the site. It’s black and white with hints of fuchsia. I felt this look really said who I was and who my reader is. Contemporary with just enough femininity not to intimidate my male readers.
I have the whole pack…Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and a blog. All of them have the same sophisticated vibe. I still have a few tweaks to make, but I’m making it clear these are books for adults, not children. I found my reader is busy like me, and often in need of a visual break. Another reason why I opted for the black and white theme.
Now when people see my platform, I hope it’s understood who I am and what type of books I write.
Looking back to that conference when I first heard the word “Platform,” seems like a lifetime ago. Now when I meet newbies, I ask, “What’s your platform?” If they don’t know, I share what I’ve learned and hope they don’t freak out like I did.
As I continue to grow as a writer, I know my look will change…for the better. But right now, I’m very happy with the direction my platform is going.
Very informative post breaking down a complicated and terrifying concept. Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hi Geralyn, Thanks for the birthday greeting. I’m glad you liked the post.
Hi Tracy, ‘What’s your platform?’ reminds me of the questions we were all asking way back when, ‘What’s your sign?’ What we are really asking is who are you and what are you all about? Thanks for pointing out the importance of identity as a writer to make ourselves recognizable to our readers. Now I have to find that answer in myself. I look forward to reading your next post.
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