An Opportunity for Authors

December 28, 2009

Social media guru Chris Brogan blogs today about a book he read during the Christmas holiday and how well the author, Scott Westerfeld, communicates with his readers via the Internet.

Brogan makes the statement, “Fans are no longer silent onlookers in the experience of books. They are participants.” He continues by saying books are “…a user-driven media where readers and sometimes authors congregate.” He points out that books don’t have to be limited to a rectangle of paper. Today there are printed books, audio books, ebooks, Kindle books, etc. The form of books, Brogan writes, or “the media” is just one facet of their essence.

“If a book is a media where readers and sometimes authors congregate – CONGREGATE – it means that authors get the opportunity to build relationships in a whole new way with readers. It means that the stories don’t have to stay linear, that the ideas don’t have to stay on one side of the page, that the experiences don’t have to end at the edge of the page.”

That’s a powerful statement for authors. Brogan continues, “…the opportunity to empower your audience to actually be a community is a huge one, and shouldn’t be shrugged off without consideration. Not only could authors create differently…they have the chance to build relationships of value, that will work in their favor for future projects.”

Stated another way, the opportunity for all authors who write to make a difference in the world no longer ends when the manuscript is complete or the book is printed. Now authors can engage their readers long after they’ve read and absorbed the message between the covers. Now authors – and readers – can dialog about those messages, can expand on messages for even greater change in our world.

How to Extend Your Platform

September 22, 2009

[The following post is rewritten from the blog of Chris Brogan, social media consultant and author of Trust Agents (John Wiley & Sons). Used with permission.]

Today I’m presenting at the Writer’s Digest conference. This is a bit of a dream, because from the moment I thought I was a “serious writer,” Writer’s Digest products were my guides to what I thought I’d have to do to succeed. Now they’ve asked me in to show people the crazy hazy edge. Today they want to know about the book as platform and seeding your future.

I’m going to start with a great quote from Bob Stein, from the O’Reilly Tools of Change event. He defined a book as such: “A book is a user-driven media where readers and sometimes authors congregate.” Do you love that? Is that crazy? I love it.

I extended myself into a platform. People try to ask about this at events, but because they don’t exactly know or see the edges, they don’t ask the question the way I’m framing it for you now. What do I mean? What’s it mean to be a platform?

I am me. I make media. I push the media onto this blog (at the time of this writing), 30,000 or so folks get this via a subscription, and over a month I’ll have 250,000 unique visitors. I have this linked to my Facebook, so another 4750 people get this. If I tweet the link, just short of 100,000 more people get this. I speak at dozens of events a year.

That means my ideas spread pretty darned far. Not TV show far, but not bad, eh?

You can do the same thing. That’s really what I’m going to say to people. I’m going to talk about HOW I set it up, how I built the network, what I did to nurture it, and how I use it to help other people, and finally, what that does to help me.

Do you know how? You’ve been here awhile now, right?

I started by connecting with people in one place and making relationships. I invited those people to my other platforms. I explored their interests. I learned what mattered to them and tried to fuel it. I moved into new platforms. I went everywhere that information could spread easily. I went nowhere that information was penned in. I connected with as many connectors as I could. I put my ideas into forms that other people could take them and run. I reinforced and encouraged others. I thanked others. I asked for very little in return for everything that I gave.

I co-wrote an entire book on how to make information and value move through systems, that most people buy because they they think it’ll teach them the secrets of social media. The secret is that these tools let us build better relationships. That’s it.

That’s platform, friends. You’re great alone, but you’re everything once you figure out platform thinking and how to equip and empower value transactions.

Make sense? What am I missing in my descriptions? What do you want to ask, given what you see above? What would you add, my brilliant friends?

How do you fill that blank blog?

August 19, 2009

We’re writers, you and I. It’s our job to fill endless screens with scintillating text. Words should flow effortlessly from our keyboards, right? Blogging in 500-word bursts should be far easier than writing book-length manuscripts, you think?

Maybe for you, but not always for me. And I’ve been at this more than 40 years.

Recently a book publishing colleague at another house suggested several ways to spark your blog writing:

  • Tell personal stories. Be transparent, share your own personal narrative.
  • Describe historical events. Use events from your family, your community, your region of the country to illustrate a point and end by challenging readers to draw their own conclusions.
  • Comment on a news item or an interesting conversation. Establish yourself as a thought leader on a subject you’re passionate about.
  • Write a step-by-step explanation of how to do something, whether it’s home repairs or writing resumes or getting a job. All of us love steps to success.
  • Answer your readers’ questions. What was the feedback on your latest book? How can you clarify or comment on your message?
  • Organize a group. Assuming you wrote a nonfiction work, how can the subject of your book be turned into an ongoing conversation between yourself and your readers. How can they contribute to your next work?
  • Explain how you write. Most people are fascinated with writers, even though we don’t sit around in silk smoking jackets puffing on distinguished-looking pipes. What is your writing process like? Where do you get your ideas? How do you find time to get them written?

The next time you get stuck blogging, try some of these.

4 Ways to Build Your Author’s Platform

July 29, 2009

Just yesterday the largest Christian publisher in the U.S. Twittered about the importance of authors from all genres building their online platforms.

  1. There there were 561,000 new titles published last year, he wrote. That’s a lot of competition for any book, regardless how timely or well-written.
  2. Shelf space in most bookstores remains constant and small bookstores – even chains – are going out of business faster than new stores are being built.
  3. All kinds of media compete for your reader’s attention. From TV to the Internet, from newspapers to magazines, from radio to billboards, everyone has a message to sell.

The publisher put forth 4 ways you can get noticed as an author, your books can get read, your message delivered to your audience:

  1. Write a truly remarkable book. One of our most recent titles, Already Gone, by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, has sold more than 50,000 copies since its release in mid-May 2009. The subject is timely and Ken Ham has an established reputation.
  2. Take responsibility for your own success. We at New Leaf Publishing Group will promote your book as fully as possible, but ongoing, long-term success depends on you.
  3. Don’t rely on traditonal, interruption-based marketing. Media advertising and telemarketing simply aren’t effective without huge budgets behind them. The new direction of marketing is “inbound.”  Hubspot.com is a leader in this approach to selling online and offers several free webinars on how to effectively market via the Internet.
  4. Build a tribe of your own. People who share your passion for the topic of your book – from church attendance to global warming to evangelism – are waiting for authors to give voice to their passions and create means of expressing those passions. Whether you write a blog, communicate via Facebook or Twitter, whether you create videos for GodTube and YouTube, the world is waiting for you to help them communicate about your passion.

When you write great books and deliver dedicated audiences, agents and publishers will be finding you rather than your flooding the U.S. mail with queries and proposals.

10 Years Later, Part 2

July 24, 2009

In 1998 Dr. Jack Cuozzo authored his book, Buried Alive, published by Master Books. Five years later the book was in its 5th printing.

In May of this year Dr. Cuozzo noted a study reported in a 2008 issue of Annals of Human Biology about the age of menarche over the course of 3 generations of Taiwanese women. The article confirmed Dr. Cuozzo’s statement on page 268 in Buried Alive where he wrote, ““Ultimately, it appears as if man is headed for younger ages of maturation. We were truly fearfully and wonderfully made, but the Fall made a major difference. This is exactly the opposite message to evolution where the biological world becomes more complex, not less efficient, less vital.” [See “10 Years Later,” May 18, on this blog.]

Now Dr. Cuozzo reports an article in the July 17, 2009, issue of Science magazine again confirming the validity of his original work.

“Sequencing Neanderthal Mitochondrial Genomes by the Half-Dozen:” On page 252, Elizabeth Pennisi states: “On page 318, a team led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute of Leipzig, Germany, describes a new technique the team used to decipher the entire mitochondrial genomes from five of these extinct humans. These genomes show relatively little genetic diversity among Neanderthals scattered across Europe and Asia.”

Dr. Cuozzo notes, “It seems that the genetic make-up of Neaderthals was just established for mitochondrial DNA…that part of the cell which is the “battery,” so to speak, of the cell. More importantly, it was found that this mtDNA that is only passed on by females to children, male and female, was much more homgeneous for this ancient population of people. Making our ancient relatives about 1/3 as diverse as us.  I now quote from page 102 of Buried Alive: “Noah’s family of Shem , Ham, and Japheth and their wives were capable of giving rise to all of mankind because they carried the genes of us all. All that their progeny needed was physical separation, so as not to maintain a homogeneous population.” In other words, they were not as diverse as us.

Now page 180 of the book: “Therefore, because of all the aforementioned data, it seems justified to use Le Moustier as the baseline for adult growth changes. Now we can move forward to the Neanderthal adults from the same area of Southern France, staying within the homogeneity of the group.

In other words, they were not as diverse as us.

In her review on page 252 of Science, Pennisi cites members of the Paabo team, especially the lead authors of his team, A. Briggs and J. Good, as finding 20 differences in the mitochondrial DNA between any two Neanderthals, but 60 differences between any two modern humans. When you think that these Neanderthals were far away in time from Adam and Eve, with only 20 differences, how much more homogeneous were Adam and Eve created?

Twitter or Fritter?

July 24, 2009

There have been a number of posts on this blog about the value of Twitter for building author platforms. Today Twitter itself issued the most clear and comprehensive guide to using the microblogging service I’ve seen and I highly recommend your checking it out.

http://business.twitter.com/twitter101/starting

“Twitter 101: A Special Guide” is written for businesses wanting to share information, as well as garner customer feedback. For authors, Twitter is an excellent communications tool for updating readers on the status of your latest books. It’s also very useful for sharing links to first chapters posted on your blog or website. The Guide explains why it works, how it works and ways businesses use and benefit from Twitter.

You can follow New Leaf Publishing Group on Twitter at @newleafpress.

Would You Give Away Your Books Free?

July 22, 2009

There’s a lot of discussion these days about the value of “free” via the Internet. Certainly, social networking succeeds because people help people by writing blogs that give away useful information or posting links to timely articles. All free. All in the name of building community and sharing with others as those who have gone before shared with you.

But would you, as an author, give away your books for free?

“Free” is the new medium of exchange, one social networking guru posits. Of course, what he and others Read the rest of this entry »

Why Should Authors Twitter?

July 7, 2009

There are lots of knowledgeable people who highly recommend Twittering as a means of both building your own online platform/presence/following, as well as researching what the online world is talking about. At New Leaf Publishing, we Twitter for a lot of the reasons listed below:

  1. Helps you listen to your industry or profession, whether it’s writing, publishing or the subject matter of your books
  2. Condenses your thoughts into 140 characters, including spaces, helps make you a better writer Read the rest of this entry »

To Twitter or Not to Twitter?

July 1, 2009

We’ve presented the case for generating online visibility as a means of getting published. We’ve written about how to increase your platform. We’ve posed the conundrum of best-selling versus best-writing. We’ve quoted a multi-pubbed author about using Facebook and Twitter together. We’ve explained inbound versus outbound marketing. We’ve given tips for targeting one’s blog.

Today we’re eschewing the benefits of the now-mainstream social media phenomen known as “Twitter.”

Fellow author and founder of Writing White Papers, Mike Stelzner offers the following advice for those Read the rest of this entry »

5 Tips for Targeting Your Blog

June 24, 2009

Writing stuff people actually care about is what we authors do. Right?

Trouble is, that’s sometimes incredibly difficult. Here are 5 specific steps to blogging that make targeting our messages considerably easier than crafting 50,000- or 100,000-word books.

  1. Test. Blogs let you discover what kind of content your public wants to read. What makes them subscribe to your blog, eagerly searching their email or RSS notifications for the latest wisdom from your keyboard? Write a few blogs and watch the “views per day” statistics. This same blog you’re now Read the rest of this entry »

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