Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Twila's Tips for Building Your Platform (Part 3 of 8)

Create warm fuzzies whenever you can.

A warm fuzzy is a good impression or a feeling of comfort or trust, and when we create that in our readers and in our industry relationships, we are remembered in a good way. That strengthens our platform.

Here’s an example: Cec has a habit of writing thank you notes to the hosts and/or producers of each radio and TV interview he has. He prefers to send the note via snail mail, but if that address isn’t available he’ll send it through email. He often hears that he’s the only interviewee who has ever done that. The hosts and producers are impressed with his thoughtfulness and are eager to interview him again.

Another way to generate warm fuzzies is to show a genuine interest in people. When talking with them in person, look them in the eye. Listen. Call them by name. When emailing, using social media, or chatting by phone, be personable and kind.

Also, think about how you can give back and invest in others. Realize that you didn’t get where you are today without someone investing in you. There’s a biblical principal about the more we give, the more we receive, and it works that way in building our platform. Cec often shares his favorite verse that relates to this. It comes from Jubilations 4:4 and says, “Yeah, the Lord shoveleth it in, and I shoveleth out; and behold, the Lord hath the bigger shovel.”

Creating warm fuzzies might not be a normal marketing strategy, but I’ve seen it pay off in big ways.

What are some of your ideas for creating warm fuzzies?

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Twila Belk, aka The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves braggin’ on God. She works full time with best-selling author Cecil Murphey and enjoys teaching at writers conferences across the nation. Twila has written or co-written five books and contributed to several others. For more info, visit www.gottatellsomebody.com.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Twila's Tips for Building Your Platform (Part 2 of 8)

Another simple thing we can do is to create an email alert. (See http://www.google.com/alerts or http://www.talkwalker.com/alerts.)

Alerts help us monitor the Web for interesting content. They make us aware of what’s being said about us or our product. They can keep us up to date on a particular topic or news item, and we can use them to get the latest scoop on a favorite author or celebrity.

When we set up an alert, we enter a search query (a name, title, topic, etc.), how often we want to receive the alert, and our email address.

For example, I set up an alert for Cec so I could keep up on the buzz about him. I put in a search query for Cecil Murphey, and I entered another one for Cecil Murphy (without the “e”) because his name is often misspelled. Many days I receive several alerts. Some I delete immediately because they don’t relate to Cec, but others point me to a blog article or newsworthy piece that refers to him. When I find that someone has mentioned Cec in an article or blog post, I’ll forward that info to him. He follows up by commenting on the blog or sending a nice thank you note. That makes people like Cec. (And I get to keep my job.)

When I worked on a special project for a young adult author, I entered a topic in the search query that pertained to both the author and to the protagonist in his book. I had to weed through a lot of irrelevant alert messages that came in, but I found a few that paid off. Because of one that talked about an upcoming movie on that topic, and because of the similarities in the storyline between the movie’s main character and the young adult author, I connected the two in a news release with a catchy headline. That resulted in interviews and publicity for the author. We were also able to connect the subject of the movie and the author on Facebook, and a relationship developed that led to new speaking opportunities for the author.

Email alerts help us gain new friends and increase our opportunities.

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Twila Belk, aka The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves braggin’ on God. She works full time with best-selling author Cecil Murphey and enjoys teaching at writers conferences across the nation. Twila has written or co-written five books and contributed to several others. For more info, visit www.gottatellsomebody.com.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Twila's Tips for Building Your Platform (Part 1 of 8)

We often focus so much on the bigger, more time-consuming tasks that we neglect the little things that can make a difference. Here are two:

1) An email signature line. If you aren’t currently taking advantage of this, you can easily create one right now by going to your email options. (I use Outlook, and under options I go to “Create or modify signatures for messages.”) Once set up, the signature line will automatically appear on each email you send, unless you choose not to use it.

On your signature line, always include a link(s) where people can find out more about you or follow you (website, blog, social media). You can add your tag line, the title of your book, a quote, or any type of information, and you have the freedom to change it as often as you’d like.

Not every email reader pays attention to the signature line, but some do. I learned the value of mine when my son was sick and I sent an email to his basketball coach. In the coach’s response he said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I went to your website and learned….”

He went to my website because of my signature line! That’s what we want to happen.

2) A business card. Business cards don’t have to be elaborate or expensive, and today you can order them easily online. Have your business card with you wherever you go and be ready to give it out when the opportunity arises. Again, along with your pertinent information, always include a link where people can find out more about you. And don’t forget to have a stack of business cards with you when you attend writers conferences. (Just trust me on that.)

When building my platform, 
I will not underestimate the value of simple things.

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Twila Belk, aka The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves braggin’ on God. She works full time with best-selling author Cecil Murphey and enjoys teaching at writers conferences across the nation. Twila has written or co-written five books and contributed to several others. For more info, visit www.gottatellsomebody.com

Friday, April 4, 2014

Building Your Platform (Part 10 of 10)

"Anyone can market," they tell me. Maybe so, but I haven't done very well at marketing myself. My virtual assistant, Twila Belk, has done far more for my visibility than any of my endeavors. (For that reason, she will continue this series.)

Some experts say that marketing or promotion isn't self-promotion or calling attention to yourself. "It's not about you," they insist.

Really? Then who is it about? I hear this especially from the religious/Christian community and I disagree. If it's not about you, don't do it. You might want to think of yourself as a divine instrument. Isn't it about building your platform? If that's true, then who is it about?

You have to sell yourself because you and your product go together with consumers. The more people know who you are (and especially if they like you), the more readily they buy your books.

Not everyone can market, but that doesn't excuse you. These days, marketing yourself and your books are your built-in responsibility. If you can't sell your products, you may need to get help from people who can.

1. What can I do to build my expertise?

2. How do I build my name recognition, so potential readers will identify my product with me?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Building Your Platform (Part 9 of 10)

"What are you doing right now to reach your target audience?"

You can answer that question in several ways. For instance, you can show that you're speaking on the topic to various organizations.

If you're not already a public speaker, get training. Toastmasters International is the most commonly mentioned group to help potential writers learn to speak in front of an audience.

Have you volunteered to speak at civic organizations, libraries, senior-citizens groups, and support groups? You probably won't receive money, but you'll gain invaluable experience. And you'll extend your influence.

Know your target and aim several topics around them. Once involved with them, you can also learn more about their common areas of interest. Don't overlook the fact that individuals in those groups can also become advocates for your book.

1. What am I doing to reach my target audience?

2. Do I need to get training so I can make oral presentations?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Building a Platform (Part 8 of 10)

If you don't know the already-published books in your genre, find out. Now. That's part of what agents and editors expect you to know. And this applies to fiction as well. Good fiction carries a theme—recovery after the loss of a loved one, forgiving someone who has wronged another, or solving a particular crime.

Not only do you need to know who would buy your book, but that group needs to be sufficiently large to merit a company to publish your book.

In 1988, when I first spoke with an editor about a book for people with dementia, he said the audience was too small. I disagreed. I wasn't writing for those with memory impairment, but for their families and friends. I pointed out from my research that 5.5 million people every year are diagnosed with Alzheimer's and my estimated audience would be four times that number. Every year, more than 5 million new people face dementia, and that circle grows larger and larger.

That publisher passed on the book, but another company bought When Someone You Love No Longer Remembers and the book has become one of those evergreen books. That is, it doesn't have huge annual sales, but it sells a few thousand every year. That book has been in print for four years. It will probably stay on the publisher's backlist for a decade.

I persisted with selling that book because I knew my audience and believed it would attract a large enough group to merit the publication.

     1. What are the other titles on this topic?

     2. Is my target audience large enough to merit a publisher's investment?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Building Your Platform (Part 7 of 10)

"Who would buy your book?" If you can answer, you have begun to identify your target audience. The best titles make that clear. For example, I have an e-book called Devotions for Runners. My target audience is obvious. When a Man You Love Was Abused doesn't leave much doubt about the obvious target.

You don't have to express your target audience in the title, but you need a title that speaks to the people who will buy your book.

For example, a publisher asked me to write a book about the time-for-all-things passage from the book of Ecclesiastes. They released it as Hope and Comfort for Every Season. The book didn't do well and was out of print within a year. The title didn't define the audience—too generic. Even publishers goof.

Once you identify your audience, and you know what other books are available and who would read your book, you also need to express how you will slant your manuscript. The two questions below will help you know how to slant it.

     1. Who will buy my book?

     2. Why would they buy my book and not someone else's?