Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

03/31/2011

Build Your Platform or Write Your Book? Which is the Chicken and Which is the Egg?


Should I spend time building my online presence or writing my book??

Recently I joined Ditchwalk (Storytelling in the Digital Age), an intelligent, well thought-out and written site…And tonight, it’s content hit me like a ton of sheep shit! It nailed me for the procrastinator-in-denial that I’ve become.

 Mark Barrett is the author of Ditchwalk and, while exploring the question of how much time and energy should be spent on building an author’s online presence as opposed to actual writing and writing production, he philosophizes on using platform building (blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc) as an excuse to procrastinate on actual writing.

He exposed me in my own mind instantly!

I agree with Mark that you do, in fact, need something of an online presence…but, how much and at what time (before or after you write your book).

Mark has an incisive viewpoint on this writers conundrum and I am happy to direct my visitors to his wisdom:

Platform Evolution

Here’s a graph from my Twitter Quitter post:

A basic premise of independent authorship is that authors should establish their own platform in order to reach out to readers and potential customers. I believe in that premise. What constitutes a platform, however, remains undefined.

Implicit in the idea of an author’s platform is the creation of an online presence. Because the internet has become commonplace it’s easy to forget that an independent platform for individual artists would be impossible without it. (Prior to the internet an artist’s platform was limited by geography. Bands were limited not by their music but by their touring range.) While the advantages and opportunities provided by the internet are astounding relative to the pre-internet age, the internet is still a communications medium devised by human beings, with inherent strengths and weaknesses.

Understanding how the internet works in a business context is an ongoing process. Two days ago the New York Times put up a paywall, attempting for the second time to derive revenue from its own online platform. (The first attempt failed.) That one of the most prominent newspapers in the world is still struggling to monetize content despite almost unparalleled visibility and economic muscle is a reminder to everyone that the platform question has not been answered.

Depending on your perspective, the tendency of the human mind to cherry pick information can be seen as either a bug or a feature. In the context of online platforms, it’s easy to see successes like iTunes as indicative of potential and promise when it’s actually the result of a unique set of circumstances. Finding gold in a stream may spark a gold rush, but only a few people will stake claims that literally pan out. The internet is no different. As I noted in a post about the future of publishing:

In return for making distribution almost effortless and almost free, the internet promises nothing. No revenue. No readers. Nothing.

Possibilities are not promises. Possibilities are chances, which is why I always say that writing for profit is gambling — and gambling against terrible odds. Determining what your online platform should be, and how much time you should devote to that platform, is an important part of nudging the odds in your favor.  

Lowering the Bar
Platform-services consultants, like marketing consultants, will always tell you that you can never do enough. Because the time you can devote to your platform is limited, but the time you should devote is infinite, these people will offer to bridge that gap on your behalf, for a fee. Because the internet is driven by technology, and because anything less than a cutting-edge platform means you’re falling short, platform consultants will also offer to sell you myriad apps and solutions, all of which they will teach you about, maintain and upgrade for a fee. (The New York Times was convinced by these same people to spend $40 million dollars on a paywall that can be easily circumvented.)

Approaching your platform as a vehicle of infinite possibility constrained only by your own feeble lack of determination is a recipe for failure. You do not have an infinite amount of time and resources to devote to your platform. Even if you did, there’s no guarantee that such a commitment would equal success. From part IV of my marketing and sales series:

In the real world, if you really did grab a pick and shovel and head out into your backyard to strike it rich, your friends and family would rightly think you a loon, no matter how deeply felt your convictions were. Why? Because it’s common knowledge that gold isn’t plentiful everywhere. Rather, it’s concentrated in veins of rock or in waterways that hold gold from eroded veins of rock.

If you try to dig in the wrong place it doesn’t matter how much time or money you spend, or how cutting-edge your tools are. You’re not going to get any gold even if you have infinite resources. Because the internet obviates geographical limits it seem to negate all limits, but as the NYT’s second attempt at a paywall makes clear that’s not the case. The internet is not an infinite vein of gold waiting to be exploited if only you’re smart enough to pick the right mix of apps, site functionality and marketing techniques.

(This false premise echoes the happiness industry’s determination to blame everyone for their own failings. If you’re not a happy person it’s your own fault: stop whining and try harder. If your platform isn’t racking up clicks and sales it’s your own fault: stop whining and try harder.)

Read and learn more

12/12/2009

Easy Way For Writers To Enter Affiliate Marketing For Free

Filed under: book marketing,book marketing on Twitter — gator1965 @ 10:41 am

Today we are going to speak of “other life stuff” but with a bent toward writers.

Just as in the past, there are many starving writers in the world today (if not actually starving then poor as hell due to the present economy). But today, with the internet and new technology, writers can take advantage of some programs that won’t take too much time away from their writing and can put some extra change in their pockets to sustain them between sales of their work. And can involve a little creative writing to boot!

I am trying a free program that is a whitelisted application to Twitter called Twivert that is working for me. It’s a little slow to start but should grow if it’s promise and premise materialize. I will post about my progress from time to time in the future.

This free program involves posting ads on your Twitter account (and you can approve the ads if you wish). When someone clicks on the ad you get paid! This is called CPC (cost per click) and is known as Affiliate Marketing. If you don’t want to spend time on this, you can automate the system and have four ads per day posted for you by Twivert in any time frame you pre-set in the settings. Twivert doesn’t believe in spamming and restricts the number of ads per day you can post.

For more info to be a twitterer on this Twivert program go to http://www.twivert.com/o/2z1

If you are a writer with a book, website or any other product to promote you can also be an advertiser on Twivert at dirt cheap prices and get your promotions in front of thousands & thousands of targeted tweeters!

For more info on advertising on Twivert go to http://www.twivert.com/o/3z1

08/05/2009

Twitter Connections For Writers, Authors And Publishers


The Book Publicity Blog at http://alturl.com/8229 is one of my favorite sources for up-to-date info on the publishing and book industry. Today The Book Publicity Blog had a great post about Twitter, and since I am also on Twitter (as well as Facebook and Myspace) learning “social media” and how I might use these type sites for book marketing, I am extracting it below for my readers info. WARNING: This post has great contacts and connections to experts in the
writing and publishing field!

“Twitter is possibly the most robust network to link readers and the publishing community since Gutenberg built his printing press. I realize Twitter doesn’t work for everybody and I’m not suggesting that everyone use it — there are days when even I don’t have the time (or simply can’t be bothered) to type even 140-character status updates — but what must be recognized is that Twitter is no longer the latest fad among tweens; it has since evolved into an incredibly powerful communications tool (and it can be fun, too). I realize I’m pretty much preaching to the choir with this post, but please feel free to share the following with colleagues/authors.”
***
Most people now know the Twitter basics: you have a 140 characters to update your status and you have a list of people whose status updates you follow and a list of people who follow your status updates. But for all practical purposes, what does that mean? Why should authors and people in the publishing industry use Twitter? Here are some reasons why:
– Networking: Although most publishing houses, literary agencies and book publicity firms are in New York — which means many of us see each other in person — many are not. And of course, media exist all over, as do readers. Twitter is how we meet. Publisher @artepublico uses Twitter to connect authors with the media. @calli526, a book publicist, uses it to connect with the media.
– Promotion: Twitter can be used to talk up a book, blog, event, author, giveaway or pretty much anything else.
– Feedback: For example, @benrubinstein polls his followers for ideas and suggestions.
And here are some specific examples of how Twitter works:
#followreader is a weekly publishing discussion conducted on Twitter on Thursdays at 4 p.m. ET and moderated by @charabbott and @katmeyerwho also blog at Follow the Reader. (Summaries of the discussions are posted on the blog for people who miss the Twitter conversation.)
@RustyShelton and his colleagues at Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicity developed a Tweet the Author service.
– Author Anastasia Ashman posts about how she uses Twitter.
@meredithkessler points out that Robert Olen Butler’s @TweetsFromHell was picked up by @LATimesbooks and followed by major critics and Butler fans.
– Literary agent @janet_reid found a panelist for a publishing conference via Twitter and has also used it to fact check some locations/spellings/customs.
– When I write a blog post, I try to tweet about it (and include a link to the post). That means my post could potentially be seen by the 1,267 people who follow me. Realistically, a tweet won’t be seen by all of one’s followers, but even if only a fraction of those people see an update and click through to the link, that still amounts to a lot of eyeballs. (And certainly a lot more eyeballs than if you’re not using Twitter.) Similarly, some authors will tweet about upcoming events to let readers know where and when they will be speaking or about reviews and interviews.
– And lastly, how do you think I found the examples for this post? Yup, you guessed it.

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