Search This Blog

Thursday, May 18, 2017

10 Tips for Building Your Platform With Less Pain


Working on a book?

Yes, it’s true. You have to build your platform to catch the eye of a publisher. And, yes, most of us agree it can be a pain in the patootee, when what we really want to be doing is writing.

Here’s the one thing I know about effective platform-building:

When purposing to build a platform, do what works for you.


You’ll be most successful if you invest your energies in a way that’s live-giving for you.

Your platform-building efforts should align with who you are.
 
Pay attention to how you’re wired and situated…
  • Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  • Do you enjoy speaking or dread it?
  • Are you free to travel or chained to your home?
  • Do you have the freedom to post on your blog every day, or once a week? 

To the extent that you’ll be driving this bus, building platform is about you. But to the extent that you’re inviting others into what you’re doing, it’s not about you! Is your writing and speaking meeting the real needs of the audience you’re building? Are you creating content that has value for them? Are you building relationships and promoting the work of others?

Build your audience by creating great content that has value for them.

…but back to you!

Here’s a list of 10 possibilities—among zillions—to stimulate your imagination for building your platform. Do one or two stand out? What has your name on it? What other ideas do these trigger?

1.    Old School Article Writing
Create a list of 20 publications for which you’d like to write and begin pitching! If you have friends who’ve written for these mags, get a good contact name.

2.    Easy Social Media Opps
The hard part was  getting the gig and writing the thoughtful article for the online publication.  The easy part will be posting the link on facebook and Twitter. Remember to capitalize on all that work you put into crafting the article. Tweet it 3 or 4 times over several weeks.

2.    Go Live on Facebook
Got something to say? Start communicating with your audience. (Yeah...this isn't for everyone.)

4.    Ask For Help
Extend a personal invitation to friends to share something you’ve written. Don’t be all mass-email about. Ask personally.

5.    Speak Locally
Volunteer to speak to your local MOPs group, or other gathering that regularly invites speakers. (The venues that don't pay--like MOPs and many churches--are a great place to build your speaking resume!)

6.    Engage Online Communities
Comment on good content you’re reading. Promote the work of others in your field (and make virtual friends!) by sharing valuable links…comment on relevant articles…become strategically involved!

7.    Email Signature Line
Make every email count by linking to your site, blog or product at bottom.

8.    Make Friends (aka “networking”)
When I read something I enjoy, I often do a quick search online for the writer's email to send a note about why I liked their work & “friend” them as well. (Note: these are sincere.)

9.    Piggyback
If I know I’ll be speaking someplace, I might get in touch with a local church or friend or school that might also need a speaker. (And save $ on travel, too!) Also fair game to have an assistant—or a friend who will do this for you!—make these contacts.

10. Vlogging
When I was blogging, I had a quickie question that I’d ask folks, and they’d answer for about 1 minute while I filmed with my pocket-size flipcam.  These got posted to social media and each one meant one more happy day I didn’t have to write a blog post.

These are jumping-off points. What feels life-giving? What feels death-dealing?

Remember why you’re building your platform.

You are building your platform for the privilege of continuing to be able to communicate with audiences.

That big-picture view is what keeps me tweeting. (Rarely…don’t count them.)

Remember, you don’t have to do everything. Just the next thing.

RESOURCES...

2 must-see resources if you’re a writer who’s serious about building platform…

1. Michael Hyatt’s book, aptly named Platform.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Crafting Compelling Titles and Subtitles



Don't judge a book by its cover.

Great advice for human interactions. Less useful for actual books.

Not only do we judge books by their covers, but when we read a book's title we decide in an instant whether the book is for us or not.

As you're crafting a title for your own book, keep in mind this general rule of thumb:

1. The title communicates the book's "premise."

2. The subtitle communicates the book's "promise."

Now that I've put it out there, I'm sure you're scrolling through all your favorite titles that break this rule. Fine, be that way.

What can be learned from the thumb-rule, is that the best titles communicate to a distracted book browser something of what is inside the book.

The title lets the reader know the general premise of the book:




And the subtitle lets the reader know what the book promises they'll get from it:




So as you craft your title, you want to be sure that the reader knows what the book is about (premise) and what's in it for them (promise.)

Of course there will be those bestsellers that no one can account for, like Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, but it's more likely that you'll serve your readers and your book if a reader who's scrolling through titles on Amazon, or flipping through pages at Barnes & Noble, can know--in an instant--that your book is for her or him.

I learned this rule about titles and subtitles from my savvy friend Jonathan Merritt a few years ago...after I'd published a bunch of books.

Here are my titles (excluding collaborations/ghost writing). If the title is a win, credit goes to the publisher. If it's a fail, probably mine. So judge me...


Which of my titles communicates what you'll find inside and meets a need readers actually have? Too late to change 'em, so hit me with your best shot...


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Four Things Every Publisher Must See



I used to say there were 3 things publishers look for: project, market, and person (author).

Those things haven't changed.

But, in addition to a compelling project and a strong market, there are really two important things that publishers need to see from authors.

1. PROJECT

A publisher is looking for a book with a unique and compelling concept. The best books serve readers by presenting a timeless truth with a vibrant fresh angle. When publishers read these proposals, they say, "Hmmm...I haven't heard it put quite this way before."

2. MARKET

An author needs to demonstrate that there is an audience with a felt need for this book. This book meets readers' felt needs, offering valuable takeaway. These readers can't not buy this book.

3. PERSON: COMMUNICATOR WHO IS BUILDING A PLATFORM

Author is building a solid platform and is already reaching audiences.

This might be reflected in social media numbers. It might mean the writer is reaching thousands of individuals annually as a speaker. He or she might have a wildly popular podcast or is a growing an audience on youtube. She might have a popular column in an online magazine.

Although there is no magic formula, the author does need to be reaching readers.

4. PERSON: COMMUNICATOR WHO WRITES WELL

Author captures reader's attention by engaging readers with beautiful writing.


Could missing one of these four be a deal breaker for a publisher? Unfortunately, yes. In fact, absolutely. While a publisher will occasionally take a chance on a brilliant writer with very little platform, that happens infrequently.

If your proposal has all four of these elements, it will be hard for a publisher to say no.

If your proposal lacks one or more of these, it will be hard for a publisher to say yes.


*Download FREE RESOURCES that will help your book proposal be as strong as it can be!





Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"I Want to Write a Book..."



Occasionally I’ll connect with someone who’s itchy to write. Maybe he wants to start a blog. Maybe she wants to write a book. And this potential writer is itchy to take the right next-steps to do this. 

Maybe you’re that potential writer.

Without yet knowing you or your story, here’s what’s in my heart for you and other eager potential writers…


Write


Start. Begin. String words together. Gather your sentences into a meaningful whole.

It’s estimated that 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them and should write it. I don’t know the stat for people who go on to actually write them. I feel fairly confident guessing it’s not 81%.
So by sitting down at your laptop and writing, you’re well on your way.

The thing that makes any legit is…writing.


Work at Your Craft


The best writers work at their craft. There are a number of good ways to do that:
  • Attend a writer’s conference.Writer’s conferences offer great workshops to help you improve your writing. And they often offer opps to network with writers, editors, publishers, and agents. (Here’s a good listing of Christian writer’s conferences, if that’s your bag.) I’m not a conference junkie, but I do believe that there are a host of rich resources available at most writers’ conferences.
  • Join a writer’s group. Gather with writers in your area. Meet face to face to share and critique one another’s work. Or, find an online critique group. Others’ feedback—noticing strengths and offering areas for improvement—is extremely valuable in growing as a writer.

Before You Publish...Publish


If you’re anything like me, you may secretly hope and believe that the first draft of the book that’s in your heart will become a New York Times bestseller.
Psychological professionals call this “magical thinking.”
If you’re serious about writing, begin to develop an audience.
  • Guest post on a friend’s blog.
  • Start your own blog.
  • Pitch articles to online magazines.
  • Enter a contest.
Though it can be tempting to want to dazzle audiences with that first book, either traditionally published or self-published, there’s a lot to be learned on the journey. Good writing is worth the wait.


Don’t rush.


But do start.


  
 If you've had a book in your heart for awhile, what's kept you from launching?

Sign up to receive wordmelon posts via email!