Platforms, Business, and Kindles
November 19, 2007 | Written by admin
Linda wrote to ask, "Could you give some action steps for nonfiction writers who want to create a media-ready personae, as your friend mentioned in last week’s post?"
Sure. The basic idea is that you want to be able to show a publisher you have the training and experience to be involved in the media push for your book. So you might start by getting involved in some media training, in order to demonstrate you know how to talk about your book and it’s message. You could create some DVD’s of yourself, speaking to a group. You’ll want to demonstrate that you’re an expert on your topic. Here are some questions to think through…
- What types of places do you speak? Tell me about your audience, your venues, etc.
- Give me a list of places where you have spoken over the past year.
- Give me a list of where you are scheduled to speak in the next year.
- Can you give me a list of radio programs (local and national) that you’ve done?
- Can you give me a list of television programs (local and national) that you’ve done?
- Can you give me a list of articles you have written that touch on your book’s topic?
- Of the various media we’ve explored so far, what do you feel you do best?
- Of the various media we’ve explored so far, where do you feel you are weakest?
- Can you give me a list of articles about you or your books that have been written by others? Also include any television reports that have been done about you.
- As you look back on past books, what has the publisher done that, in your opinion, worked well?
- As you look back on past books, what has the publisher done that, in your opinion, did not work well?
- Describe the internet marketing have you done on yourself and your books.
- What other marketing have you done on yourself and your books (tours, direct marketing, your own publicist, music, product sales, etc)?
Carla wrote to say, "I’m trying to establish a good business foundation for my writing career. could you share some keys as to what I should be trying to accomplish?"
Okay — if you approach your writing career as a business, you’re going to want an overall PLAN. That means you need to think about what you want to do with your writing. What is success? What’s the goal? What are you hoping to achieve? I work on the business side of publishing, so I encourage authors to think in terms of outcomes, which generally translates into dollars. How much money are you hoping to make next year with your writing? What plan do you have in place in order to earn that?
There are a number of other things to think through. From my perspective, you need to have a place to write, a time to write regularly built into your schedule, and a project that you’re writing on. You need to set up a filing system, a "to-do" list, a contacts list, and a writing calendar. Further, I think you should set up 90-day and annual goals, both in terms of "what I’ll write" as well as "what I’ll earn." Finally, I encouarge you to set up the necessary professional relationships — an agent, a critique partner, and strong editorial relationships. All of this, of course, is dependent upon the idea that you have a handle on the craft of writing. If you can’t write, the best business plan in the world isn’t going to help you.
Ashley wrote to ask, "Is it more difficult for a first-time author to break into the market with fiction or non-fiction?"
The truth is, it’s hard to break into the market, period. But from my experience, there are more open doors in non-fiction than there are in fiction. If you come up with a salable non-fiction idea, support it with strong writing, and show that you can help your publisher market it via a growing platform, you stand a good chance of getting published. But even a good idea and strong writing can be a tough sell in the fiction market — we’ve all seen too many great novels die quickly.
A bit of techno-news that’s important: In case you haven’t heard, Kindle is going to be the next big thing in publishing. It’s an electronic book, being released today by Amazon. Similar to a cel phone, you can download up to 200 titles onto it (each title is a relatively cheap $9.95), and you don’t need wi-fi or a special membership to do so. It has a built-in Oxford English Dictionary, by the way. And Jeff Bezos, the head honcho at Amazon, insists that Kindle is going to replace the printed page. Oh, yeah — the cost is $399. Um…I think I’ll wait.