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Posts Tagged ‘platforms’

building a platform

Guy Kawasaki suggests ten points for writers who want to build a platform. His list is a lot simpler and more straightforward than most such lists I’ve seen:

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/02/guy-kawasakis-10-social-media-tips-for-authors045.html

I’ve got a long way to go with mine, both under this name and under Alice’s. Guess it’s time to start thinking about it. I kind of don’t like the curator model — at least not when it refers to only reposting other stuff without reaction, and as the main content. There are always interesting links, fun photos, and silly memes, but I can’t see making that the majority of posts.

Are any of you guys doing deliberate platform building? What aspects are you emphasizing? What about the mechanics?

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Changes coming

Alice Cole is going to be getting her own blog, persona, and identity soon. When that happens, most of the strictly writing stuff will move over there, and this blog will become more about family, lifestyle, hiking, and all those good things.

I’m not going to try to keep the two personas strictly apart, but I don’t intend to crosspost much, either.

We’ll see how long that works 🙂

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Erin M. Hartshorn
tagged me in a meme that’s going around, The Next Big Thing. The quickmeme entry seems to have been hacked by somebody with a Newt Gingrich fetish, but some googling turned up this as the main question list:

What is the title of your next book?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
What other books of the same genre would you compare yours with?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s geared to writers who are published, with a new book coming out soon, so many of the questions aren’t very relevant to me yet.

I have several projects under way that I’ll begin submitting in the new year.– short stories, a couple of novellas, and a novel titled “Overamped,” about a professional snowboarder dreaming of Olympic gold who gets the woman of his dreams instead. If I took out all Joey’s sex fantasies and all the f-bombs and other modern terminology, the book would shrink significantly, so it’s not a romance 🙂 I’ll probably just bill it as mainstream when I start to market it. I plan to start with conventional publishers, which means finding an agent. Self-publishers have done well in genres, but mainstream is still pretty much the property of, well, the mainstream.

I also have a bunch of ghost story/dark fantasy/somewhat erotic short stories and novellas to go out. I’ll use a different name for those and I’m planning to focus on small online publishers, at least to start.

It doesn’t take me very long to write a first draft. It’s the second and third that take forever. Generally the “first” draft is more of a proof of concept, to make sure the characters are interesting and complex enough to sustain the story, and there’s enough story there. So throwing out an idea after first draft is pretty common for me. Then I’ll expand it in the second draft. Way overexpand it, usually. Then the third draft will be about locating the heart of the story and cutting out non-essential stuff. Usually I wind up combining subplots and characters. For instance, in Overamped, Joey owns a small sporting goods store. In one scene he waits on a customer with a small kid. I was able to combine that woman with the mother of a kid on the snowboard team to turn two “furniture” characters into a bit of emotional trouble for Joey.

I’m not going to tag anybody in particular. If you’re reading this, and it sounds like something you want to blog about, consider yourself tagged.

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If anybody’s into New Adult fiction (fiction for and about characters in their late teens and early twenties), check out the new blog at NA Alley. They’re celebrating the start by giving away books, blog graphics, and critiques — go check it out!

I’m excited to see New Adult finally gaining its niche. I hope that means Overamped can find a home there. Joey and his friends are getting lonely just sitting on my hard drive.

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You know how sometimes when you’re just chatting with various people, the same topic comes up two or three times in the same day? Yesterday, one of my non-writing friends commented on how exciting it must be to have things like a writing website where people could actually talk to the author, and that’s you! And how much fun it must be doing things like author chats and giveaways. (I had to tell her I’m not really at that level yet, but that’s a different topic.) Not five minutes later, another friend was complaining how she spent all day just working on the outline for one story and the edits for another, and she never gets to write any more. This morning another friend said basically the same thing, only she counted the outlining as real writing.

And that got me to thinking about what I consider to be “writing.” It’s not just sitting down to generate new words that never lived anywhere but my head before. For me, editing and rewriting are integral parts of writing, as much a part of the process as the wildest 5K day during NaNoWriMo. I have issues with editing that I don’t usually have with new words, but a day spent polishing Overamped and making it a story that lives and breathes is just as satisfying as a day spent drafting a new idea. Maybe more so, because the draft is always so far from the story in my head.

But there’s also, as my friend who loves author websites pointed out, “writing” as a profession. Back when I was making a living as a freelance technical writer, I found I needed to spend one hour on overhead activity (market research, job listings, maintaining skills, bookkeeping, etc. etc. etc.) for every billable hour. Sometimes that went up to two hours of overhead for every productive hour. Other professionals I’ve talked to have said that’s about their ratio, too. People don’t hire you to write computer manuals if they don’t know about you and the skills you have to offer. [Aside: one of the advantages of working in a corporate environment is that the company assumes much of the overhead.]

The same is true for fiction writing. People won’t buy my fiction if they don’t know I wrote it.

When I think about it that way, the whole cloud of amorphous tasks related to “building a platform” suddenly make a lot more sense. Of course I’m going to have to present a professional image that targets the people I expect to become clients. I’m going to have to network and be involved in shared activities and generally do the same things that any other professional does. And if I don’t find all those activities as enjoyable as the core writing tasks, it’s going to be a difficult slog.

Of course I do have the option of continuing to write as essentially a hobby — finishing a few things and sending them out now and then just for the satisfaction, the way I’ve been doing. I don’t need to earn a living and nothing says I can’t be just an “artist.” But if I’m going to take the other path, I need to look at it more seriously and see what work needs to be done to do it right.

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Has anybody had any experience with Smashwords for self-publishing?

I’d be interested in any comments, experiences, advice, thoughts, etc.

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Interesting post on Nathan Bransford’s blogs about the reasonableness of agent preferences.

He’s correct, of course (except for the bad agents and the scammers, but that’s a different issue), but doesn’t address at least one underlying problem: getting an agent means selling the manuscript, a job that is nothing like writing a novel.  The skill sets are entirely different.

I won’t go so far as to say they’re mutually exclusive, but the introspection and sensitivity that goes into many novels is a liability when you’re trying to convince somebody to put out actual dollars on the gamble that other people will put down actual dollars to buy something you wrote.  They take different perspectives, different knowledge, different approaches.  Some writers are very good at both.  Many if not most aren’t.  Most of us have to learn about building platform, presenting a persona, tying different facets together, and all the other tasks that go to making “author” a brand name in the eyes of the reader.

The task seems less daunting when I think of it as something separate from the writing.  When writer-me thinks about platforms, I want to go hide under the bed.  If I shift mind-set, it’s not so bad.

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