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Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Platform Requires Online Savvy

In General on April 19, 2009 at 12:50 am

Day Six of my interview with Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writer Mama.

 

Q: There has been all kinds of press lately about how the publishing industry is changing, how it’s becoming smaller and more competitive than ever. How do you think platform plays into this new world of publishing? Do writers need to be more online savvy then every before?

 

CK: Definitely. There’s just no question about it. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, it really doesn’t matter if you are aiming for traditional publication or self-publication or, eventually, both. The fact remains that there is a lot more competition in traditional publishing than there was even last year. I suspect the number of print books will continue to go down until the industry finds the sustainable and saleable number.

 

However, the old way wasn’t better. I’m not sure most writers realize how many books were going right into print, failing, and going right out of print. Part of the problem there was the expectation on the writer’s side that the publisher would take care of everything. Then they discovered that the publisher was really only putting marketing muscle behind the “A” list of books they published and the brand new author had to do pretty much everything or suffer a very short shelf life.

 

From the writer’s point-of-view, this was not the ideal entry into authorhood. A better way is to remember 100% responsibility whether you are traditionally published or self-published. Be realistic, if you put your shoulder into selling your book, you will sell it. If you don’t, it might sell or it might not sell at all. The choice really rests with the author, not the publishing house.

 

 

Tomorrow’s question: Where should a writer start in the platform-building business?

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Fiction Writers Need Platform Too

In Business of Writing, Interviews, Profiles on April 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Day Five of my interview with Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writer Mama.

 

 

Q: Is it as necessary for a fiction writer to build platform as a non-fiction writer?

 CK: Why in the world wouldn’t a fiction writer want to build a nonfiction platform alongside her fiction platform? Fact of the matter is: published fiction writers produce a ton of nonfiction. Why not own it? Why not own it starting now? Any traditionally published author (or self-published author, for that matter) is going to be producing a ton of nonfiction material to support her platform. I have a whole chapter in Get Known about how fiction writers can spin off nonfiction topics from their book.

 

Don’t get hung up on being one kind of writer and not another. Fiction is one form. Nonfiction is another. If you write strong fiction, there is a pretty good chance you can write strong nonfiction too. Everyone is a writer today. A huge number of people write fiction. A huge number of people write nonfiction. Be one of the writers who write both and save yourself a lot of headaches. Once you become traditionally published, a huge gush of nonfiction writing comes pouring in at you. I’d suggest embracing the opportunity to write nonfiction and even using it to make some money.

 

 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s question:

 

There has been all kinds of press lately about how the publishing industry is changing, how it’s becoming smaller and more competitive than ever. How do you think platform plays into this new world of publishing? Do writers need to be more online savvy then every before?

 

Overcome Your Platform Roadblocks

In Interviews, Profiles on April 16, 2009 at 10:43 pm

christina_katz_by_mark_benningtonDay Four of my weeklong interview with Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writer Mama.

Q: Most writers I work with express overwhelm or fear or utter ignorance about platform—what advice can you give to help them get past these roadblocks?

 

CK: This kind of response is understandable because there is a lot of pressure out there right now to come at publication via social networking or self-publishing. I believe that there is a much simpler, easier way — not that there is anything wrong with social networking or self-publishing per se. But in my opinion, they should come last, not first.

 

My advice to anyone interested in traditional publication (or self-publication, for that matter) is to first educate yourself about what platform is and isn’t. Determine your specific expertise, choose a topic and a target audience, then pick and choose from the various ways you can flex your expertise and start working it. You will gain confidence by doing, and I mean in the world too, not just online. Finally, build your online presence around all of these keys. That’s what I call establishing and building your identity, not “branding,” because I am so weary of that word.

 

I work with folks aiming for traditional publication and I work with them all the way from beginner to book deal. And there is only one way to get from point “A” to point “B” and that is step-by-step. I find that this kind of grounded progress tends to alleviate much of the anxiety around platform building.

 

 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s question: Is it as necessary for a fiction writer to build platform as a non-fiction writer?

 

Common Platform Mistakes Writers Make

In General on April 15, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Today is day three of my interview with Christina Katz, author of the brand new Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writer Mama (both from Writer’s Digest Books).

 

Q: What do you think is the biggest mistake writers make regarding platform?

 

CK: I have a list. Here are a few common mistakes that writers make when they think about platform:

 

  • They don’t spend time clarifying who they are to others.
  • They don’t zoom in specifically on what they offer.
  • They confuse socializing with platform development.
  • They think about themselves too much and their audience not enough.
  • They don’t precisely articulate all they offer so others get it immediately.
  • They don’t create a plan before they jump online.
  • They undervalue the platform they already have.
  • They are overconfident and think they have a solid platform when they have only made a beginning.
  • They become exhausted from trying to figure out platform as they go.
  • They pay for “insider secrets” instead of trusting their own instincts.
  • They blog like crazy for six months and then look at their bank accounts and abandon the process as going nowhere.

get_known_cover 

I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that many writers promise publishers they have the ability to make readers seek out and purchase their book. But when it comes time to demonstrate this ability, they can’t deliver.

 

My mission is to empower writers to be 100% responsible for their writing career success and to stop looking to others to do their promotional work for them. Get Known shows writers of every stripe how to become the writer who can not only land a book deal, but also influence future readers to plunk down ten or twenty bucks to purchase their book. It all starts with a little preparation and planning. The rest unfolds from there.

 

 Stay tuned for tomorrow’s question:

Most writers I work with express overwhelm or fear or utter ignorance about platform—what advice can you give to help them get past these roadblocks?

Three Steps to Platform Building

In General on April 14, 2009 at 3:23 pm

My interview with Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writer Mama, continues…

 

I have long been in awe of your ability to promote your books, through blogs and newsletters, which are all essential parts of building a strong platform. Did you learn to do this along the way once your book Writer Mama was published, or did you have this kind of natural savvy all along?

 

I learned everything gradually and I do it all myself. This isn’t the path for everyone and certainly there is nothing wrong with teaming up with reputable professionals, who can help you with your website, blog design, or newsletter. But for those of us do-it-yourselfers, we can find most everything we need right at our fingertips online.

 

I started out building websites in HTML about ten years ago. Five years ago, I added on Writers on the Rise. Then, three months before Writer Mama came out, in 2007, I started my first blog. Today, I have three active websites, three monthly e-zines, and four active blogs. Yes, it’s a lot to manage, but supervising my own online presence is great discipline and it helps me appreciate myself, my work, and stay in touch with my readers and students. At one time, I knew everyone who knew me. But now that there are thousands of them and still only one of me, these tools are definitely the way to go.

 

For your readers who are just getting started, I have three suggestions: Purchase your name as a domain name, use Typepad.com for blogging, and start an e-mail list of people interested in following your work. Everything grows from there.

 

Don’t miss tomorrow’s question: What do you think is the biggest mistake writers make regarding platform?

Platform isn’t just for Shoes!

In General on April 13, 2009 at 11:50 pm

christina_katz_by_mark_benningtonThis week I’m featuring a great, informative interview with Christina Katz, whose new book: Get Known Before the Book Deal is crammed with detailed, useful information about how writers can build a platform. Her answers are so meaty I decided that I’ll post one question and answer per day for the next 7 days. Each one is fabulous, so don’t miss them!

Your book Get Known Before the Book Deal is about writers building “platform” — can you demystify this scary term for us?

 

Sure. A platform communicates your expertise to others. It includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership.

 

Basically, your platform is everything you do with your expertise. A platform-strong writer is a writer with influence. Once you establish a platform, it can work for you 24/7, reaching readers even as you sleep. Of course, this kind of reach takes time. If many others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then you likely have an active platform.

 

I find it helpful to define a platform as a promise writers make to not only create something to sell (like a book), but also to promote it to the specific readers who will want to purchase it. This takes both time and effort, not to mention considerable focus.

Stay tuned for the answer to tomorrow’s question: I have long been in awe of your ability to promote your books, through blogs and newsletters, which are all essential parts of building a strong platform. Did you learn to do this along the way once your book Writer Mama was published, or did you have this kind of natural savvy all along?

get_known_cover

 

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books). She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on “Good Morning America.” Christina teaches e-courses on platform development and writing nonfiction for publication. Her students are published in national magazines and land agents and book deals. Christina has been encouraging reluctant platform builders via her e-zines for five years, has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. A popular speaker at writing conferences, writing programs, libraries, and bookstores, she hosts the Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon. She is also the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books).

 

 

 

Dis…connection

In General on April 11, 2009 at 12:58 am

Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by social networking–I have a twitter account but I only tweet once in a great while. I don’t know which streams to follow and doubt that every one of my followers actually reads me.  I know I’ve already talked about this. Linkedin. Myspace. Blogs and newsfeeds overwhelm me. Facebook is the only site I really use and it’s actually worked to connect me locally with other mothers as well as being a great way to keep up with faraway friends.

Yet yesterday, an act of sabotage of fiberoptic cables in the county where I live, disrupted access to phones (cell and home) and internet for the entire day. Just one day, but I was going out of my mind. I couldn’t email an editor to let her know that I hadn’t made progress on tracking down a photo she needed. I couldn’t call my mortgage broker or email him to find out if he had all the paperwork he needed for our home loan. I couldn’t email assignments that were due. Worse, were there a true emergency, I couldn’t even call 911 (and neither could hundreds of thousands of others). ATMs were down. Most businesses were accepting only cash and checks, and so many people couldn’t even get gas in their cars. It was alarming how cut off we felt.

So, while I can’t maintain all the networking and connections that are available to me, I admit I am still thoroughly dependent upon my technology, and this doesn’t seem like a good thing.

How to Buy a Love of Reading

In General on April 5, 2009 at 6:23 pm

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tanya Egan Gibson, author of the novel How to Buy a Love of Reading, in the current issue of Writer’s Digest magazine for my column, First Impressions, which features debut authors. Not only is Tanya a lovely person, but her book is clever, funny and also a serious love letter, in my opinion, to reading.

Watch the very cool book trailer here (sorry I haven’t figured out how to embed):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrQ_o7FmwKo

And then pop on over to Tanya’s website: http://www.tanyaegangibson.com/ and read the stories about how reading saved people’s lives. You can then email Tanya a story of your own!

Synopsis of How to Buy a Love of Reading:

To Carley Wells, words are the enemy. Her tutor’s innumerable SAT flashcards. Her personal trainer’s “fifty-seven pounds overweight” assessment. And the endless reading assignments from her English teacher, Mr. Nagel. When Nagel reports to her parents that she has answered “What is your favorite book” with “Never met one I liked,” they decide to fix what he calls her “intellectual impoverishment.” They will commission a book to be written just for her—one she’ll have to love—that will impress her teacher and the whole town of Fox Glen with their family’s devotion to the arts. They will be patrons— the Medicis of Long Island. They will buy their daughter The Love Of Reading.

Impossible though it is for Carley to imagine loving books, she is in love with a young bibliophile who cares about them more than anything. Anything, that is, but a good bottle of scotch. Hunter Cay, Carley’s best friend and Fox Glen’s resident golden boy, is becoming a stranger to her lately as he drowns himself in F. Scott Fitzgerald, booze, and Vicodin.

When the Wellses move writer Bree McEnroy—author of a failed meta-novel about Odysseus’ failed journey home through the Internet—into their mansion to write Carley’s book, Carley’s sole interest in the project is to distract Hunter from drinking and give them something to share. But as Hunter’s behavior becomes erratic and dangerous, she finds herself increasingly drawn into the fictional world Bree has created, and begins to understand for the first time the power of stories—those we read, those we want to believe in, and most of all, those we tell ourselves about ourselves. Stories powerful enough to destroy a person. Or save her.

Thrive!

In General on April 3, 2009 at 3:04 pm

No, this isn’t an advertisement for Kaiser Permanente–my cousin in the South end of the American continent (and soul sister) Patricia Schiavone has launched a magnificent ebook, Thriving Together: A ‘Magic’ Way to Attract the Life of our Dreams. The first 628 people to buy the book will get it for only $6.95, and there are other fantastic incentives at her site. The book teaches you how to engage in a group visualization to help you and your friends attract what you seek. I am a big fan of meditation/visualization and the law of attraction, and I’ve also had the experience of doing a group visualization with Patricia–with fantastic results.

Click here to visit Patricia Schiavone’s website!  Buy it now!! It’s money very well spent.

Please check it out, and do so before the price goes up to its real value of $14!