Your Platform or Mine?

Platform diving is like platform building.
Platform diving is like platform building.

Today is June first, a strategic date that marks the halfway point of the 2014 marketing plan I wrote six months ago. It took me a few minutes to find it under the scattered Post-it notes that clutter my desk. It is dusty. The ambitious plan is hand-written in a spiral bound journal that also contains my passwords for all the Internet sites I frequent. I give it a cursory look—and note those items I’ve actually accomplished. My critical nature zeroes in on the goals not achieved, and I’m annoyed with myself. Rather than toss the plan aside and start from scratch, I decide to give myself a break and review it without judgment. Success is not linear, a borrowed quote I use often. Have I accomplished any of the most important goals I established in a blissful haze of naïve optimism?

My eye hones in on Platform Development, and I review the items I specified under it. My blog, the Culture and Cuisine Club, and my Author Eats feature stares me in the face. Great ideas that are a natural fit for my author platform because they are an authentic representation of my interests. Platform must be authentic. I haven’t spent enough time on my own blog. I make a notation to contact more authors to invite them to post their recipes.

As much as I want to chide myself for the lack of attention to these two worthy projects, there is a reason for it. I decided that my blogging time would be better spent at IU. Pooling my efforts with the group of authors who blog here has placed eyes on my writing that I could not hope to achieve on my own boutique blog. I have watched other contributing authors come and go, and I am honestly confused by this. If the opportunity exists, why not do both?

I am not looking to be controversial. I respect the right sidebar on IU that lists the writers who have over the years contributed to this site. My observation is only my opinion, and I am a businesswoman first and foremost. There is no way for me, at present, to replicate the Alexa ranking of this site. Therefore, I need to find a better balance and redouble my efforts on the niche I have created while continuing to write posts here.

I have had great success on Pinterest. I have approximately 1700 followers, and add five to ten every day. I have not converted my personal account to a business one. Pinterest is struggling to figure out how to monetize their site, and they may begin running ads. I am certain that at a point in the near future they will begin to charge those who reserve Pinterest for their Etsy or Ebay store, or those who list themselves as a business. Frankly, the changes on Pinterest annoy me. I will not follow anyone who has all group boards because they will then appear on my page and push my personal boards down a spot. I have to manually move the boards. There are a few so-called Pinterest experts who want to show you how to create pins that will help you market. I am less interested in this than I am in getting an e-mail address for a good majority of my followers. I want to start up my newsletter again, another project that fell by the wayside. To make that even more effective I need more emails. Check out Jim Devitt’s post on newsletters here.

Which brings me back to platform. I would like to set up a vacuum and suck all the contacts from the myriad of social media sites I belong to back to my blog. Why? A book I read recently pointed out the example of MySpace. Facebook is now the dominant force, and all the efforts people put into MySpace had to be repeated on Facebook. This is the danger of spending too much time developing someone else’s platform. You don’t own it. If it fails or is sold you have lost years of work. You have to hedge your bets and use a platform like Facebook but always remember to build your own blog and platform when you can.

There were lots of items on my marketing plan that I accomplished. I applied, presented, and have been accepted into a tightly vetted author program at the Hillsborough County Library. I launched a new murder mystery with a targeted, professional news release, complimented by a creative use of E-vite and all my other social media channels. Check out K.S. Brooks’ post on press releases. I advertised for the first time and sold more books. I have attended a couple of Meet-ups with other writers. This has been a bit tricky. There is a lot of selling going on, it seems, and I am hoping to share what I know in exchange for what another writer knows. For free.

The marketing plan is now tweaked and I’m ready to take on the second half of the year. I need to get my book in front of some local people who will care about a murder mystery situated in the town they live in. I need to convince the two local Indie Book stores to take a chance on my novel, and not simply fill their shelves with traditionally published authors. Doesn’t it make sense that indie bookstores should carry indie books? I need to get on the schedule at the library. A booked event is something I can advertise. I need media attention to keep momentum going. I need to do all this and more.

Most importantly, I need to finish the two projects that are with beta readers. The writing comes easy to me. My head has always been full of stories and releasing them into the world to people who want to read them is a privilege. The books are, without question, the cornerstone of an author’s platform. Producing the highest quality book I can is where it all starts.

Have you tweaked your marketing plan recently? Please share any pearls of wisdom you may have. Good luck.

Author: L. A. Lewandowski

Lois Lewandowski graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Political Science and French Literature. A passion for life lived well is reflected in her novels, Born to Die-The Montauk Murders, A Gourmet Demise, and My Gentleman Vampire, giving readers a glimpse into the world of the beau monde. Lois lives in Tampa, Florida. Learn more at her lifestyle blog, and her Amazon author page.

16 thoughts on “Your Platform or Mine?”

  1. This is definitely an area where I am weak. There is a lot I either don’t understand or don’t care for. I think I need a better plan than the one I have – which is to say no ‘plan’ at all but just some random stabs in the dark.

    1. I agree, Yvonne.
      There are so many aspects to platform building and the marketing that goes along with it. We have to try all sorts of things that stretch us beyond our comfort level. I have found that writing down my ideas has helped to move me toward my goal – more readers for my books.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. What a great post. I have not tweaked my marketing plan. I haven’t even set up a direct marketing plan all in one spot. I have some things I’ve put on my To Do list that are marketing-related. But, I think your post may spur me to come up with an actual plan that I can execute and see what kind of results it offers.

    1. Hi RJ,
      It is key to have a plan so you can see your successes as well as those areas that need more work. For me, the plan is a reminder to do those things outside my comfort zone, like sending that e-mail asking for the opportunity to speak at a local businesswoman’s club.
      You seem to do a lot of good marketing already, and a formal plan can only help you to reach more readers.
      Thanks for your comment and good luck on your plan.

  3. Love the post, and thank you for the reminder. I started the plan last December by mapping out when I’d run promotions and when I’d put out new releases for 2014, but I realize that I’m falling down on the blogging, as well. I’m deadline-oriented, and I found that if I don’t write it on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. So I’ll be adding more things to the calendar: social media posts, posting book excerpts, and, of course, the blogging. Leaving enough flexibility to try new things that my colleagues have recommended.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      I am deadline oriented, too. 🙂
      Also, I’ve found that if I don’t write an idea down when I think of it, be it marketing or story related, I lose it. Hence the Post-it notes that are scattered across my desk. The discipline comes in transferring those brainstorms to an organized plan. When all the action items are together I feel I move closer to my goals. Building an author platform takes time and dedication.
      Thanks for sharing your plans for the second half of 2014.

  4. I tweek my plan on a regular basis. Things change in the world around us so I try to keep everything up to date with my life as well as everything else.

    The hardest challenge sometimes comes when learning something new. Or finding something that you didn’t realize you wanted to bring on board. Sometimes you find a gem that makes perfect sense and you have to wonder why you weren’t already there.

    1. Hi Jon,
      I’m impressed that you review your plan frequently. To my mind, a successful business plan that involves technology, as ours does, requires constant research and the ability to adjust seamlessly. We have to accept change, or at least understand it. I am focusing right now on getting in front of people in my community, and not necessarily writers. The indie movement is just as interesting to a group of business people, particularly entrepreneurs, as it is to those of us in the trenches.
      Thanks for your comments.

  5. L.A., I credit you for having a plan. My input is not a pearl of wisdom.
    However, I sense you are beating yourself up for things that are not as critical in the plan.

    You said it, “Most importantly, I need to finish the two projects that are with beta readers.” In my opinion, writing is the most important thing authors can do. If you were to scale the importance of the other things, they do not have the value of what you have actually accomplished. You have done great things already this year.

    Somewhere I read that there is a 10% rule, basically don’t go for the end result all at once, just accomplish a steady progression (10% each time period). And give yourself credit for the positive results/direction.

    My marketing plan is to do as many things as I can to get my name, and products in front of readers.

    As you also said, share with other authors what you have learned for free. That is your/our contribution to the IU site. Nobody has all the answers and collectively we are still learning. We share successes, and we share what doesn’t work as expected. Hopefully, authors and readers will respect you for your input, and maybe even seek out your books.

    As far as the local bookstores – my suggestion is to have your friends go in and ask if they have your book(s). You’re not wasting your time, and if they are smart they will see money to be made. Give them the first inventory and let them set up a display…replenishment is their responsibility.

    I should have taken this offline, but maybe others are feeling the pain of being discovered. KEEP WRITING!! THANKS for your post.

    1. Thank you so much for pointing out that the writing is key, and that I have accomplished the most important thing so far this year – publishing another murder mystery. Writing in this genre is tricky, and the book required more research than the first of the series. I am pleased with it.
      My two “projects” are novellas, 25k or less, and I am particularly anxious to push the vamps along.
      I hope my posts add to the incredible body of work that exists on IU. I have recently discovered how much I enjoy the flash fiction contests, and I know you excel in that area. I am very competitive and welcome the weekly challenge.
      I hope visitors to this site check out my posts and eventually my books. A woman I have just connected with tweeted my last post on pseudonyms, and it has been picked up by another follower. So, I guess someone is reading my stuff. 😉
      I am hard on myself, and I appreciate your kind words of support. The formal marketing plan reminded me of my accomplishments as well as the opportunities for improvement.

  6. I want to be like you when I grow up. You are so organized. I write things down and then lose what I wrote them on. Thank you for setting such a great example. I will try harder – but it probably won’t do any good. 😉

  7. Kat, you juggle more projects than anyone I know. Running this site with the EM is a full-time job, and it has grown into a valuable writer resource.
    Should I send you some of my Post-it notes? Purple, yellow, or pink. You let me know.
    Thank you for all you do. Honestly, a marketing expert who visits this site should offer to assist you in formulating a plan for free. The amount of “free” you provide is mind-boggling. You embody the phrase “pay it forward.”

    1. You are so very kind, Classy Lady. I feel like I could be doing more or at least better – if I were more organized. I love what you do with Pinterest – I think it’s brilliant – and I’ve set up a secret board for my next novel – hopefully I’ll make some writing progress this summer. 🙂

  8. You’re light-years ahead of me in strategic planning, Lois. I wrote a list of goals at the beginning of the year and I intend to review them this weekend. One of the things that’s not on that list, though, is a promotional calendar. I think it was Martin Crosbie who said that he runs one big promo of his books per month. I want to do the same thing. I just need to sit down with the calendar and figure out what I want to do each month.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants. 🙂

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