Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Navigating Platform as an Unpublished Author - Part 1: Where to Start?

Platform. This word alone has recently given unpublished authors a sick feeling in their stomach every time they hear it. Recently, it seems as though this has been given even more emphasis than writing a solid book. But how can unpublished authors establish a social media presence -- even before they’re published?

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This is one of the questions I received in an email last week from an aspiring author. She said that she recently received interest from a publisher on her book series, however the publisher rejected her due to small social media numbers.

This is a question I’ve heard over and over at writing conferences, too. I’ve written other posts about platform in the past -- such as what the purpose of a platform is and how you can reach your readers on social media. But in this series, I’d like to discuss how an unpublished author specifically can navigate social media to build a readership -- even before their book is contracted.

First of all -- is it possible?

Yes, it is possible. But the most important thing to remember, while building a platform, is that you don’t want to build a miscellaneous audience. Platform numbers will only be helpful if your followers consist of readers within your genre. Potential buyers of your books.

Here’s how you can do this in three steps…

1. Be present where your target readers are present. 

What is the target age group of your readership? For example, if you write young adult fiction, then you might want to consider being mostly present on Instagram because that’s where most teens hangout. Sure, you can create a Twitter and Facebook account too -- but it’s wise to invest the majority of your time on Instagram, because that’s where you’ll find the majority of your readers.

2. Post content that will appeal to your target reader and reflect your brand

What appeals to your target audience? You may want to take time analyzing accounts of other authors, writers, and readers of your genre. How do they interact and engage with the community within this genre? Then, try to brainstorm ways you can contribute to the conversation. What can you post that will be unique and valuable to this community?

Consider book-related posts and behind-the-scene posts on your writing/research process. You don’t have to be published to offer potential readers a sneak peek at your writing journey!

(TIP: Be sure to take advantage of hashtags! Research hashtags that are popular for writers and readers of your genre. Include them within your posts, and be sure to interact on other posts within these hashtags!)

3. Interact and build relationships. 

This is the easiest and best way to build a platform before becoming a published author. We don’t build a platform in effort to show off how amazingly talented we are, nor should we do it in hopes of being put on a pedestal. We build a platform because it gives us an opportunity to make relationships within our community. 

Just think: You can become friends with the future readers of your book even before it’s published! Then, when your book is out in the world, these friends that you’ve made will be enthusiastic and excited to help support your new release. This is what platform is all about.

If you want to do this effectively, I’d advise reaching out to other people on social media. Comment and like their posts often. Be authentic. Offer helpful content and giveaways to your followers. Spark conversation within your posts. Follow those who post in your genre’s hashtags. Social media should be about engagement and relationships, not numbers. Focus on this first, then you’ll soon discover that your platform is being built in the process -- even before your book is contracted.

In the next post, I’ll walk you through the process of creating a newsletter in hopes of creating a platform. In the meantime, feel free to check out my previous posts on platform and branding by clicking here!

Question for you…

Do you have any tips for establishing a social media presence as an unpublished author? What’s the most difficult aspect of building a platform for you?


Navigating Platform as an Unpublished Author - Part 1: Where to Start? #amblogging #writerslife @TessaEmilyHall

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

How to Create a Brand that Reaches Your Audience - Guest Post by Caroline George

Chances are, if you visit an art museum, you will be able to differentiate paintings by Claude Monet from those belonging to Pablo Picasso. Artists have their own styles, aesthetics and subject matter—they have personal brands that set them apart from other creatives.

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In the same way, your personal brand gives you a unique edge, helps you cater to your target audience and boosts your overall recognition.

How does one build a personal brand?

Is it possible to develop a brand even if one isn’t media savvy?

Before we explore the benefits and process of personal branding, let me preface by saying not everyone is designed to be media superstars. In fact, personal branding is less about exposure and more about recognition, loyal following and longevity.

For five years, I worked to pinpoint my personal brand. I tried different color schemes on my social media, struggled to find my own media voice and failed to create a lasting brand over-and-over again. After many bouts of frustration, I concluded: Personal branding is all about knowing myself and knowing my niche—it’s not an acting gig where I get to try on different personas.

Before you can solidify your personal brand, you must first:

-        Know yourself
-        And know your niche.

Who are you? What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? Who would be interested in your content? What do they want and need? How can you reach them?

Getting to know yourself takes years of trial-and-error. However, once you answer the questions above, you’re ready to begin the personal branding journey.

Social media is a labyrinth of algorithms, influencers and excessive content. Attempting to develop a personal brand and audience through platforms like Instagram and Facebook may seem daunting.

Things to remember:

-        It is better to have a small, loyal audience that engages with your content than a large following that steers clear of your posts.
-        Social media fame doesn’t happen overnight. To gain followers, you must be consistent.
-        There is room for you in the social media world.
Things to keep in mind while constructing your social media:
-        Unity needs to be your number one priority. Unless your content is unified by your message, voice and color scheme, your personal brand will be indistinct.
-        Know your voice, then include it in your posts. Pinpoint the “most you” way of writing and use that style in your captions.
-        Choose a color scheme and stick with it. Your social media pages should have similar aesthetic.
-        Content is king. Be sure to offer your followers valuable information, pictures, etc. that encourage them to return to your pages. If the content aligns with your message and style, it will strengthen your personal brand,

Lastly, give yourself grace to grow. No one was born a social media guru. Those who seem to have a knack for personal branding perfected their skills over time. When you fail, try again. Always look for ways to better understand yourself and your audience.

If your brand succeeds, so will your personal business.

About the Author:

Caroline George commits her time and energy to telling stories in their many forms. As a 2017 Belmont University graduate with a double-major in publishing and public relations, Caroline aims to pursue a career committed to helping authors, publishers and organizations project their stories to their publics. She spends her time blogging, writing for various magazines, leading a local small group and authoring young adult fiction books (her current publications include “The Prime Way Trilogy” and “The Vestige”). She considers herself a not-so-southern Georgia peach, coffee-junkie, bona fide goofball and delights in being best known for writing the phrase, “Coffee first. Save the world later.”

Question for you:
What are your greatest struggles when it comes to personal branding?


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How to Effectively Sell Your Book to an Agent: What to Do, What to Avoid

I recently stopped by a virtual writer's conference, Inkling to Write, and shared insight on how to effectively sell your book to an agent. If you want to hear my tips and tricks -- secrets I've shared at conferences across the country -- feel free to check the post out by clicking here! (And yes, this virtual conference is free to attend.) ;)