Get Known Before the Book Deal: A Platform Development Checklist
October 11, 2009
4:30 – 5:45 p.m.
Location: Oregon Convention Center
Career-building tips for mom writers from the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids.
We’ve kicked off an interesting discussion on what is appropriate for writers when it comes to marketing and self-promotion over at Jane Friedman’s blog:
Come on over and add your two cents!
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
(And now excuse me while I go look up the word “Egregious”…)
A few outstanding strides in targeting best audiences have come to my attention of late. I hope I can remember them all, but it’s unlikely, so if you don’t see your success here and you are a reader or former student, please post yours on the “success” page.
(See it? It’s right up there…see the tabs?)
Tiffani Hill-Patterson is writing on the topics of parenting and hearing loss. Her article “From World of Silence to High-tech Hearing” appeared today in The Huntsville Times. Her blog is http://soundcheckmama.blogspot.com.
Jean Van’t Hul continues to offer a solid-platform blog for “artful parents.” And does she ever! If this blog doesn’t make you want to get crafty, nothing will!
Writer Mama columnist, Abigail Green’s blog just keeps on kickin’ for all your new moms and moms to be. Check out her latest on our the media’s fixation with celebrity bumps. She’ll be teaching a personal essay class in place of Sage Cohen that will start on August 20th. (I still need to update the classes page and will holler when I do.)
A bunch of smart mamas, alright! Go, mamas!
Hiya writer mamas,
Are you dreaming of road-trips and BBQs and your feet sinking into the sand? I know I am!
Here’s where I am on my to dos:
1. Submit feature article 2. Wrap up Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff class
(Sign up for the next one here…it’s filling up!)
3. Wrap up Platform Building Basics for Writers
(This will be offered again in the fall…next up is Pitching Practice: Write Six Queries in Six Weeks, perfect for folks who have taken WPSS and want to go on to mastering the query letter form. More info here.)
4. Catch up on paperwork, paperwork, paperwork (This is not my favorite…) and confirm summer/fall travel (Time to put on my little admin. asst. hat.)
5. Send signed books to Writer’s Digest for contest winners (With pleasure! Winners will be announced in the October issue!)
6. Catch up on e-mails (Haven’t been able to keep up for some time now…sorry!)
7. Send WOTR June segment
(Subscribe to Writers on the Rise here.)
8. Send TWM June segment
(Subscribe to The Writer Mama here.)
9. Write and submit book proposal #2 (Top secret! Not the one with Sharon, another one, stay tuned…)
10. Turn off computer with glee and hit the road! (I love my Macs, but Mommy’s ready to read some novels! Any recommendations…?)
Just a typical day in writer-mama land. Soon to be known as Vacation Land!
Okay, back to biz for a moment. Many have asked if I can/will offer individual coaching. Yes, I can and I will, beginning in July and running until the next session of classes start. I am not able to teach and coach at the same time because that would not be fair to my students.
Here are the weekday periods when I will offer coaching this year (except for major holidays or when I’m on the road):
Coaching sessions must be scheduled and paid-in-full at least one week in advance (please don’t e-mail or call me with urgent can-you-drop-everything-and-help-me-right-now messages). Remember my to-do list at the top of this post…that’s a short one.
Who will get the most out of coaching with me? Here’s a quick list:
Important: I strongly prefer to coach folks who have taken my classes first (that’s hundreds of writers at this point). This way, the formalities are out of the way and we can get right to it. After all, an hour is not a lot of time and I like to be very focused.
As an incentive to take my classes first, I offer coaching rates in a sliding scale:
You can send me an Paypal e-check to email@example.com to reserve your time. We’ll schedule on July 2nd.
If you have not yet taken a class with me, I encourage you to take Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff (WPSS). I teach four sessions of this class a year, so there shouldn’t be a problem finding a session that works with your schedule. 🙂
For folks who send or have sent me general writing career questions, I will do my best to answer them all when I return from vacation, right here in my blog. 🙂
In the meantime, if you have writing career questions for me, go ahead and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will cheerfully add them to my list and answer them all by the end of August. One of the lucky question-askers will win a free, signed copy of Writer Mama! (That goes for past question-askers I haven’t answered yet…)
Okay, back to work! You too!
Well, that was a terrific conference. I started off the day chatting with Jodi Picoult in the green room and she is a delightful person. Very spunky and down-to-earth. We are about the same age, attended rival Ivies at about the same time, and both are dealing with the trials and tribulations of raising puppies. In fact, she and her family live in Hanover, New Hampshire, where I went to college and where my parents lived for years.
Her keynote was interesting, informative, and illustrated her passion for writing and storytelling. And I loved how she just let her tales rip once she was up at the podium.
You might be thinking, yes, but you are not as famous as her. But she never made me feel that way. She was complimentary of my book and very friendly without putting on any of the “I’m a famous author” airs.
And let’s face it, she could, because she is. And I’ve met other authors who either do or are just plain not friendly. But she was and that goes a long way in my book.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet as many of the Writer’s Digest authors as I would have liked to meet. I sat between Keith Flynn, author of The Rhythm Method“> and Jodi at the signing table. He struck me as a very soulful person, which makes sense since he’s a poet and musician. And I also got to meet Peter Selgin and tell him how much I liked his website design.
It was so great to finally meet Michelle Ehrhard, one of the editors of Writer Mama, in person. I can’t wait to have coffee with her in the morning because I miss corresponding with her as much as we used to when we were working on WM.
I also got to meet Greg Hatfield, the publicity and trade show manager for F&W, the parent company of Writer’s Digest Books and lots of other folks from F&W, I might not have ever gotten to meet. It was especially nice to meet and chat with the guys in sales, who made me feel pretty darn good about how Writer Mama is doing so far. I was so glad to have a chance to meet the sales people for F&W in person and brainstorm with them a bit. In fact, one of them, Philip Sexton is the author of A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words.
My presentation went well. A few more people showed up than I expected and they were very complimentary afterwards and throughout the rest of the conference. I wrangled with the microphone a bit and my laptop kept “going to sleep.” But, of course, in the pressure of the moment, I couldn’t remember how to turn the darn sleep feature off. Oh well, nothing’s perfect and I think folks left feeling inspired to get out there and work on their platforms and that was really the point.
I connected with several writer mamas, a couple in particular (shout-outs to Angela and Lisa!). And I wish them well with their future books. I attended some educational sessions, including one by Rita Rosenkranz, who is such a thoughtful and knowledgeable gem of an agent. And a true friend to writers.
And, one last thing. Some folks from Writer’s Digest did a little skit where they acted out what it’s like when an editor brings an idea to sales meeting and the editor has to then sell a table full of sales and marketing people on a book’s worth in the marketplace. This was such a great idea, I thought, since we writers will never get to experience this kind of meeting (editors go in our behalf) and since sales and marketing are so key to a book’s success, though writers can feel so far removed in degrees of separation.
Watching the skit brought this otherwise esoteric aspect of the book-publication process to life. So I thought it was a stroke of genius to put it on. I’d love to see more writing conferences do something similar for a variety of houses.
Wish I had done it before Writer Mama came out. Might have even been worth a trip to Cincinnatti. Food for thought for your soon-to-be authors.
I’ll share more about my trip tomorrow…
I bet you’ve already got one foot out the door for the long weekend. Yahoo!
However, before you turn your thoughts turn completely to sunshine, barbeques and the beach, you might want to get a jump on registration for Writers on the Rise fall classes.
Why? Well, for one thing, our e-mail classes are the best value for the best price on the Web. Seriously, if you can find another class that offers as much for as little I will eat my eMac.
This fall is your last chance to take advantage of these classes at these prices. Effective January 2008, the price for all WOTR classes will go up to $199.00 (except for first-time classes).
Check out this awesome line up and then don’t drive off into the sunset without saving your place. I feel quite certain that every class will fill (as has been the case regularly).
2007 WOTR Classes:
Poetry For The People
An E-mail Class with WOTR Managing Editor Sage Cohen
October 3 – November 14, 2007
Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff
August 15 – September 26, 2007
October 3 – November 14, 2007
Platform Building Basics for Writers
October 3 – November 14, 2007
Pitching Practice: Send Six Queries in Six Weeks
(Prior query experience suggested)
August 15 – September 26, 2007
For more information and to sign up, visit:
This session, I have had ten amazing women in my Platform Building Basics for Writers class. It’s truly exciting to hold a space where writers have time to reflect on what is meaningful to them in a broader context. Thanks to the Internet, once you know what topics you are truly passionate about, it doesn’t take very long until you are putting them out there and generating a platform that can sustain, not only a book, but a whole slew of offerings for your niche audience like classes, speaking opportunities, and consulting.
What a pleasant discovery for me to find this work so exciting! My enthusiasm only confirms that I am on the right track in my own niche, which has actually broken into two audiences over the years—freelance writers in general and writer mamas.
In 2001, I became clear that I wanted to not only write, but to work with other writers. At the time, I was barely using the Internet, but I started teaching writing classes at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington. After my family moved to Wilsonville, Oregon I was able to use the e-newsletter that I’d started there to stay in touch with my students, no matter how many miles between us.
I just got an e-mail from one of those folks saying that she’s been highly recommended to one of the top editors at one of the biggest publishing houses around. This kind of message just makes my day. Because every writer who works hard on their craft and sales skills deserves recognition and success. I firmly believe that. And I also firmly believe that success will come to every writer who perseveres and continue to nurture her career. That’s what happens when you stay with it and don’t give up.
There are no longer any hard and fast “rules” about how publishing success happens. But you’d better believe that your online presence matters. My former student was recommended to a publishing executive (who is on the marketing side of the biz!) by an independent bookseller who reads her blog (one she just started this year)! Talk about finding a side door nobody knows about! But these kinds of stories are cropping up every day.
And the beat goes on, because platform development is an integral part of being an author today. And the way I teach platform, it’s about connecting with something essential in yourself that can carry on as long as you like. The way I teach platform development offers a writer ownership of her unique talents while maintaining an awareness of the needs of others.
I want every writer to develop a platform or platforms and own his or her power as a professional communicator. And really get that when you partner with an agent or publisher, you are meeting them on equal ground. I don’t think the folks on the publishing side expect anything less from writers anyway.
Every aspiring author today is expected to be a self-starter.
Are you a self-starter? Are you taking your writing career into your own hands?
Let the answer motivate you to higher expectations of yourself, so that others will want to partner with you.