” Blogger Book Fair is like a blog hop. It is held every six months and showcases authors and their books. Participating blogs will have giveaways, discounts, and other events you can’t find anywhere else.”
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This event kicked off with a feature for an author I had the good fortune to review ‘The Forever Girl’ for, last year: Rebecca Hamilton. Next up was a feature on Julie Flanders, author of Polar Night. Today Alana Munro, author of Women Behaving Badly, came to my blog where we learned why she wrote about women being bitches!
As well as the author features/spotlights I’m posting here for this meme, I challenged authors to write posts for 1) The Indie Soap Box Files (for all indie authors to rant and share) and 2) Minuscule Morsels of Marvel (flash fiction about Marvel characters, or characters that might be featured in a Marvel comic (I love superheroes). 😀
Building An Author Platform
By D.H. Aire
Many of us write for the joy of it, many of us write because we have no choice – and the story demands we tell it and tell it right.
I am someone who has published my first novel with a small indie press (with the sequel coming out shortly), and, at this stage, is officially an amateur. I don’t earn enough off writing to be considered professional and have not sold to a “professionally” accredited market. You have two professional level sales in order to join the Science Fiction Writers of America or likely any other of the writer’s guilds. There’s a hurdle to achieve if you really wish to succeed as a professional writer (even a not particularly well paid one – remember don’t give up your day job!).
That hurdle is building an audience.
Over ten years ago I read about a couple who wrote mysteries set in Cincinnati. They believed in their books and copyedited and perfected their work, but couldn’t find a traditional publisher interest in them. So, they self-published and approached a local bookstore in Cincinnati, offering to do a signing there. They couldn’t afford cover art, so the book had a black cover with just the title and their names on it. They also sent out review copies to Cincinnati area book reviewers for the good old newspapers. Every glowing quote they added to the back of the second printing’s still cover art-less black cover. Their strategy was to build up a regional audience, which these days is called building a platform, and were finally getting some attention for publishers interested in their next book in the series.
At Balticon two years ago, I attended a book launch for a fantasy novel which had been serialized in audio podcasts through the author’s local writers’ group. Many of the members of the writers’ group served as the books cast of characters. Ultimately ten thousand people followed the story chapter by chapter online. That not only built her audience, but helped her interest the publisher. I also know an author who has been doing podcasts with friends for years and interviews best-selling authors and discussing books in the genre he loves to read, which has helped him, a self-published author, connect with thousand of readers, who in term have bought his first book on the order of 500 copies a month.
Alas, I haven’t invested myself in the ways they have, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t think about ways that might work for me, which led me to, among other approaches, join Writing.com.
I recently celebrated my Writing.com account anniversary. I joined in 2010 with the purpose of trying to build a platform for my novel, Highmage’s Plight, and ultimately my series. I’ve joined a writers’ group in my speculative fiction genre, and honed my stories, which get reviewed by members of the site all the time. I even offer articles on the business of becoming an author to one of the group newsletters.
Each of us is likely in a different place, seeking different goals for where we are as writers at the moment. I set aside sharing my stories for twenty years after receiving a number of rejections and critiques from editors with magazines and publishers. They hurt too much. I took it too personally. But I kept writing, re-writing, and reading (which is an important part of a writers education – which Stephen King stresses in his book, On Writing. My writing got better over time and still is…
Building a platform takes time, perseverance, a lot of luck, and a great deal of networking.
I’ve been to a lot of sci fi/fantasy conventions (where I either participate in workshops, serve on panels, or just ask questions to the panelists looking for ways to build my readership based on their life lessons). It’s hard work trying to build an audience. I’m participating in my third Blogger Book Fair. I have a booth at a book fair which gets thousands of visitors, but where I may only sell a few copies. I blog, tweet, joined Shelfari, Goodreads, Librarything, and am selling quite a few books (my print-on-demand editions) personally through a gift shop, and am still struggling to build my audience. I recently got an email from someone I’ve never met through my website asking me when the next book was coming out and last week got a new review on Amazon that asked the same question. So, I’ve some indication that I’m moving in the right direct… but it’s a slow process.
Getting published in the right place can also bring readers your way.
That’s one reason why traditional publishers have an edge (including marketing budgets) over small presses (which don’t have dollars for and depend on their author’s effort) and the self-published (who likely wish they had a marketing budget, too).
On Writing.com, I serialized my first two novels, which were published by an ezine shortly thereafter. Those publication credits and those of the short stories that followed are building credibility and helping me grow my audience.
I’m trying other avenues to reach out and build my audience, too. I’ve written a Young Adult urban fantasy series, which I’m hoping to get published by a traditional press (in other words it pays an advance and professional rates). So, I have posted sample chapters on Wattpad.com, a free reading site primarily for young adult readers (currently with about 15 million of them as members). Author Corey Doctorow recently posted five stories there to build his already good-size platform and expand further into the YA market. I’m hoping to build my audience there over time, but there’s a lot of competition for “eyeballs.” But this attempt could have a nice payoff if it catches on there, which in turn will make my work more attractive to publishers.
Wherever you are in your writing career, if you one day hope to be a successful writer of speculative fiction or for other genre, think about and plan how you’ll build your audience, your platform. I wish you every success!
About the Author: D.H. Aire
D.H. Aire has walked the ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem and through an escape tunnel of the Crusader fortress that Richard the Lionheart once called home. He’s toured archeological sites from diverse cultures that were hundreds, if not thousands of years old… experiences that have found expression in his writing of his Highmage’s Plight Series.
Highmage’s Plight, the first book in a sci fi/fantasy series that was serialized in the ezine Separate Worlds and published in novel form by Malachite Quills Publishing’s Chimera Tales imprint last year. Highmage’s Plight’s sequel Human Mage was also serialized and is being published later this summer. A collection of his stories appears in Flights of Fantasy, Vol. 1, featuring the short work of both D.H. Aire and Barry Nove. The opening chapters of his planned Young Adult novel, Dare2Believe, basically its Gulliver’s Travels meets Urban Fantasy is available on Wattpad, a free site for YA fiction.
Thanks D.H. Aire!
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