Tag s | Platform

Author Platforms 201 – Part Two – Consistency

Starting last Tuesday and continuing today and next week I will be exploring the issue of author platforms and how to get one.  At the conclusion of this series of blog posts, The Steve Laube Agency will offer a downloadable document that will include the three posts plus additional information and resources.

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Last week, I talked a little about the need to develop a “message platform”, which must be in place before you get a website, Facebook page or start any social media effort.

Today I am still not going to talk at all about how to use Twitter or Instagram or any specific social media. Media is the vehicle to communicate. Maybe at one time “the media is the message”, but in the 21st century, with ubiquitous media, “the message is the message” and that is where it belongs.

Today we will continue to explore how to determine what your message platform is and what you need to begin implementing it.

Most people have heard the term “branding” or “brand management” as it relates to consumer products like breakfast cereal and cars. Simply defined (so even I can understand it), effective branding limits creative expression within certain boundaries. If you are a label designer for Campbell’s Soup, there is a template you use to maintain the Campbell’s brand so anyone can recognize a product at a glance.  An artist who desires to express herself creatively would view that job as a start, but probably not last long in that highly controlled environment.

Authors are brands as well. When anyone, from an agent to a reader looks at an author some immediate thoughts will come to mind, whether positive, negative, clear or confusing. Of course, you desire to project a positive and clear image, but often times, the way we operate is contrary to that.

I am not talking hypocrisy or sinful behaviors or walking the talk. I am referring to having a consistent message, delivered creatively, one that attracts readers and followers and meets the expectations they have for you.

Toe-stepping alert#1: Many less-than-interesting messages from authors have been posted in various media because “I need to post something today, but I can’t think of anything right now.” Until you become truly a rock star and people really want to know what kind of shampoo you use, don’t lose focus and talk about things that lack connection to your message. (Unless your message platform is about hair care, then shampoo is fine)

Whether you recognize it or not, you have a theme to what you write.

  • A novelist might have an approach that shows how characters can learn from mistakes.
  • A non-fiction author might use extensive research to undergird whatever they write and is known for attention to detail.
  • Another novelist shows how people go about their lives unaware of the spiritual world in the background.
  • A writer of Bible reference works desires to make the Bible understandable to everyone.
  • A writer of children’s books might want parents and children to interact about important things.

None of the above are necessarily the topic of a book…they are an author’s approach to their writing. That is their message platform, which is the first step for developing the author platform we hear so much about.

Toe-stepping alert #2: Most authors have no idea what their message platform is until someone else tells them.  If you try to figure it out yourself, you are engaging in a form of self-deception. We never see ourselves as others see us. Ask someone who will be honest. Don’t ask close friends or family. They will be nice and usually agree with whatever you say.  “Of course, you are smartest person in the world”. Thanks mom.

Bloggers, columnists, talk-show hosts, comedians, teachers, pastors and others who are responsible to deliver regular presentations make it a habit to always be on the lookout for illustrations and content. In many cases, they carry a small notebook with them everywhere they go, ready to capture a thought. Of course, these days, a number of people use a notes app or voice memo function on a smart phone. Use whatever you want, but do it.

Eyes and ears open, antennae up.

Look for stories to support your message platform everywhere. Let’s say your message platform is to highlight the good things people do for one another every day. That’s an easy one. You look for people doing things for one another.

Toe-stepping alert #3: If you don’t write or record the idea immediately, you will forget it. I don’t care how smart you are or how much you can memorize, the first time your phone rings you’ll forget what you were thinking about and the thought will be gone like a coin dropped on the couch.

Suppose your core message is harder to define. This is where asking multiple people is extremely important. Tell people to be straight with you. Anything else will not be helpful or at best, will send you off on a rabbit trail.

Finally, the framework for all message platforms is a commonly used item. A calendar. There are dates that mean something, like MLK Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, your grandmother’s 100th birthday, the anniversary of the day you got your driver’s license, etc.

By mapping out your message framework with a calendar, you will have a much easier time acquiring a specific message than if you try to figure out something without it. An idea from this afternoon might be great for next Spring or two years from now.

Toe-stepping alert#4: If you do not consistently plan your platform messages, then you will have regular moments of brain-freeze and you will shelve your carefully crafted platform for something less-than-important. The more you waste the time of your devoted followers who expect something from your core message platform, the less devoted they will become. (Unless you are super-famous, then we want to know what flavor of hummus you like best)

Next week, I’ll close this series of blog posts with a specific approach you can view the way you conduct your author marketing.

But if I forget what to write, anyone want to know how I feel about buying food from vending machines at rest stops along interstate highways?

Author Platforms – Part One

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Mr. Ed Is a Backseat Driver

There are few things more frustrating to aspiring authors than the requirement they have a significant national following and robust “author platform” before their book is considered by an agent or publisher. After all, isn’t the book supposed to help create that? It is like needing extensive work experience to …

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It’s Not Who You Know

From the third season of the 90’s sitcom Seinfeld, this classic interchange: Car Rental Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.  Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation? Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars. Jerry: But …

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Myths of The Author Platform

There are three myths about “Author Platform” that I want to address today.  Since I started my publishing career in marketing, I’ve seen the issue from a number of different angles and hopefully today’s post will be helpful. Myth #1 Author platform is a new issue in the last few …

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G is for Great

by Steve Laube

“There are a lot of good manuscripts out there. What we want are those which are great.” I’ve said this may times but thought I should elaborate. Please note the following applies mostly to non-fiction projects.

When it comes to the non-fiction books that attract the major publishers I believe the author must have at least two of three “great” things:

Great Concept
Great Writing
Great Platform

Let’s look at the various combinations to see how this plays out.

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Blogging Success

Last week, I had a lot of fun reading the responses to my post on men versus women getting ready for travel. I appreciate my husband’s sense of humor in not minding that I posted it, and in reality, I give him credit for taking care of our little family all the time.

In response to that post, I received a private email asking how we built our successful blog. Obviously, ours is only one of many popular blogs written by agents, but this is a great question so I’ll share a few tips I have learned from writing for this blog, reading other blogs, and reading articles about blogs.

1.) Focus. What is your blog about? As readers know, ours is about publishing and we rarely veer off topic. I follow other blogs on publishing, of course, along with theology, Christian living, uncluttering, organization, and other topics of interest to me. I know that each post will relate to the promised topic. Does that mean each and every article is of intense interest, helpfulness, and importance to my life? No. But I appreciate that each blog stays on topic.

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News You Can Use – June 25, 2013

Elevator Pitches: If You Build it, They Will Come. – Excellent post from Susan Spann! Do the exercise on your own pitch.

Christian Stores See 8.5% Overall Gain in 2012 – Looks like the growth came from non-book items. That is good news in that it means traffic in the stores has increased and reversed recent trends.

101 Things to Do to Build Your Writing Platform –  My advice? Don’t try all of them at once, your blood pressure can’t handle it. But pick ten and see what you can do with them by the end of Summer.

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

“Writing and the Brain” infographic. – You tell me. Does this help you understand how you think as a writer?

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News You Can Use – June 4, 2013

Special Days in June to Market You Book – Edie Melson does it again! Did you know this week is “Fishing Week”?

Publishers Should Invest In Authors, Not Just In Books – from Forbes magazine online. What do you think of what she is saying?

The Seven Deadly Myths of Digital Publishing – I found myself nodding in agreement while reading this article by Bill McCoy the executive director of the International Digital Publishing Forum.

Are You Ready to Contact an Agent? Take This Short Quiz and Find Out – A clever way to ask yourself some key questions in your pursuit.

 – This is an ongoing debate within the publishing community. What is the value of a book? $2.99? $5.99? $0.00? $9.99? The implication have enormous economic consequences.
Note how one self-published author uses Pulsing and Pacing in her ebook pricing strategy.

21 Platform Building Insights from Authors and Experts Who Excel at It – Wow.Far too much good advice to absorb in one sitting!

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Build it Before They Come

If you want to be a published writer, realize that someone will look for you on the web. Agents will Google your name. I guarantee that editors and marketing folks will visit your web site to find out more about you.

Thus your web site needs to be both professional and effective. It is a bit like putting on your “Sunday Best” before going to an interview. That first impression is critical.

Allow me to share unscientific, subjective thoughts regarding a few elements I especially enjoy as an agent learning about writers through their web sites:

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