author platform


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, Shakespeare wrote, but what author name do you want to use for your books? You may not have chosen your birth name, but you do have a choice when it comes to choosing your author name.

As I was reminded of when listening to this excellent podcast on Metadata for Authors over at the IngramSpark website, you want to be consistent in how your author name appears on your books, your websites, your blog pieces, and in any publicity you do as you build your author platform and following. Do you want to use your middle initial or full name? This could be advantageous if you have a common name or if there’s another author who has already established herself as Franchesca Millhouse. Believe me, you might think you have an unusual name, but when you Google it, you might find—well, not so much! Who knew there was more than one Franchesca Millhouse (or whatever your name is) in the universe and she’s all over the Internet and just wrote a book?

Once you have chosen your author name, stick with it. Buy the URL. Secure the dot com of your name and any variations on your name if you can. Dot com is still the preferred website address. It will cost you probably ten or twenty dollars to reserve your name’s URL for a couple of years. Invest in the likelihood that you will use this website address/URL. You don’t have to worry about hosting services or putting up your website—at least, not for the moment.

So whether you are known as John Smith or Franchesca Millhouse, when choosing your author name, do a little research, think about what version of your name would work best for you, and grab that URL.

 

choosing your author name write my book

Choosing your author name? Pick one you will use consistently and that will set you apart from every other person who shares your name.

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author platform


If you have no author platform whatsoever but want to write a book, you face two big challenges. The first is that you will have no feedback from actual fans of your work and ideas as you start to create a book to serve their needs. A book is as much about your audience as you. Get to know who they are by beginning to build an author platform from scratch. And your second challenge? Gathering email addresses of people who are interested in what you have to say and who are likely to buy your book, and even likely to promote it to others online using social media, email, and other means, without you having to pay them. Yes, your fans can help you sell your book. So meet challenge number one and challenge number two and start building an author platform and following now.

 

Many authors begin to set up their public presence with a website and a social media page based on their name. If your name is a common one, this might require some creativity. You have to search the Internet and Amazon.com or BN.com to see if another author or expert has a similar name. You might brand yourself as Dr. Myfirstname (if you actually hold a doctorate), use a middle initial, or use your full name with Author after it—such as www.SallySmithAuthor.com Reserve the URL (website address) and basic hosting services, and work with a website design software you find easy to use or a website designer.

 

Designing Your Site

What design platform should you use for your site? Many designers seem to like WordPress because you can customize it easily, but I find it cumbersome as someone who doesn’t want to build a career in website design. Weebly and Squarespace are other options. Personally, I like Wix, which is very user friendly, but some say it has some issues that affect search engine optimization—that is, how easy it is to find your site using a search engine such as Google. Whatever design platform you use, you will want to set up a website with a homepage, an About page, a blog, and probably at least one more page (Services if you do coaching or speaking engagements, Books for the books you’ll be writing).

Let’s say you go with Sharon McCorcoran dot com and you aren’t yet sure what your book’s title will be. You can always buy the domain name for your book title and have it redirect to your website. In fact, your hosting service might throw in a second URL for free and redirect it to your main site for you. Since you don’t have a firm book title yet, on your Books page you can note that your book is forthcoming and that anyone signing up for email announcements will be informed of its publication (more on email subscribers in a minute). You can do a mock-up jacket if you like, try out a title, or simply say you will be writing a book on your work. Or you can skip the book page for now. If you provide services or do speaking engagements, put some information about all of that on your Services or Speaking page. Many templates allow you to add some endorsements from people who have something positive to say about your coaching, consulting, or workshops, and this social proof can be extremely helpful for building credibility and gaining new clients. If you have no book or service page, then your website is simply an enhanced blog which is okay if you’re just beginning to build your author platform.

Your Website Pages

Next, on your About page, put up a good headshot photograph of yourself, and maybe some other photos that help people understand more about your work, along with the story of who you are and why you do the work you do. On your Blog, write up at least two blog pieces that show how you write and what you want to write about. Make them 600 to 1000 words and give them interesting titles that nevertheless give readers a clear idea of what’s in your blog piece. Use tags and categories: Tags are like keywords and categories are bigger concepts. For instance, on my site, you will find more than one article on Author Platform, so clicking on that category can help the visitor find lots of valuable information on this topic. A blog is very important because if you want to convey to people who you are and what your work and writing is about, visitors will check your biography on your About page, but then they will want to see what valuable information you have to offer them. Your blog could be inspirational, funny, insightful, informative, or all of those things. But if you want to sell a book to people who do not know you, you must convey what you’re all about with a website that has some basic pages and a blog. Be sure your blog allows for comments, and respond to people who post messages and comments to you. By talking to you, they are giving you valuable feedback on your work that can help you conceptualize and shape your book. Set up your blog so you can monitor your comments before they post. You’ll want to disapprove/trash any that are clearly just created by digital programs designed to embed backlinks to a junk site selling fake Gucci watches and the like.

 

build an author platform online website blog

Start to build your author platform online with a website.

 

Your Website’s Look

What should your website look like? Find websites for authors in your genre that appeal to you. How are they set up? How do they use the real estate? When you scroll down to view them on your phone (the most common way to look at websites), what’s that experience like? Is there a sense of movement, through how the background pictures and the text interact as you scroll, or through videos in the background? Do you see a book jacket and if so, is it flat or angled? Where do you find a short summary of what their work is all about? Look at websites on a desktop or tablet, too. How is the experience different? What’s the first message you get? What impression does the site make? Now, using your website design software, work with both types of layouts—desktop and vertically held mobile phone—to make the website showcase what you most want to say. Where does your message and brand meet your visitor’s needs? If I go to Sue’s website, do I immediately see her in casual, natural color clothing hugging a dog, some nature images (such as clouds or water), and the message “Natural Healing for Fur Babies”? Really take your time with this process and ask visually gifted friends to help you, and verbally gifted friends, too. (I would tend to see problems with wording, and typos, because I’m more verbal than visual. My visually gifted friends would more quickly notice that the background color doesn’t work very well with the colors of the images.)

 

Social Media Links

Next, you’re going to want to put on your website icons (symbols) for any social media accounts you have that tie in to your work. These would not necessarily be the accounts you use to share photos of your kids with Grandpa or your in-laws, but social media accounts where you know you’ll want to focus on getting strangers to appreciate your work and message. I like Facebook and YouTube for building community, and Facebook is very easy to set up right away if you want to just post photos and words and some rough videos made on your phone. You can start building a following with the ideas in my eBook 25 Powerful Ways to Get Engagement on Facebook. Social media followers who give you feedback can help you conceptualize and shape your work just like your blog followers can, so treat them like gold and always respond to them. Also, consider adding social media icons to your blog make it super easy for visitors to share your blog pieces on social media.

 

Email Subscription Box for a Newsletter and Announcements

Finally, you will want to set up an email subscription option so you can begin capturing emails of your followers. You’ll want to do a newsletter to them that will help them know about new content from you, such as blog pieces, and learn about your services, your book (when it becomes available), any other books or services or online courses you recommend, and more. Newsletters should be a mix of quality content and advertising for what you are selling or giving away (such as a free teleseminar or free eBook or audio). It is easy to set up an email subscription option with services like Constant Contact or Mailchimp. I know Wix makes it very easy and can answer all your questions for free. Typically, you can get up to 2,000 subscribers you can send newsletters to more than once a month, without paying for each newsletter blast. Be sure that when you connect your website to an email service, you set up an autoresponder email that says, “Thank you for subscribing.” I personally like having an email subscriber box on the right-hand side on a desktop view because it catches the eye. Also, I generally favor red boxes, which research shows can be much more effective at getting people to click on them. And if you use a pop up box, you should set it up to only show after people have been on your site for several minutes, or are about to leave your site. Otherwise, they’ll just close it right away so they can read what they want to read, and leave, having forgotten all about that pop up.

Want to know more about building your audience and conceptualizing and writing your book? I have many useful articles on my website and blog at www.NancyPeske.com. Or, just book a 30-min. call with me and I’ll give you custom advice (write me at info@nancypeske.com)

Questions? Comments? Talk to me!

author platform


 

If you want to be seen as an expert on the topic of your book, you need to start thinking about how you will build your author platform with speaking engagements that help brand you even as you’re working out your ideas publicly and getting known.

 

Which came first, the speaking engagement or the book? Either, depending on what your expertise is. What are you an expert on, and how would you pitch yourself to someone who books speakers at a local public library, your community’s recreation department, a wellness center, a church, a school, a store, a YMCA or similar community center, or elsewhere? You might speak about how to effectively parent middle schoolers—maybe you are a therapist who specializes in treating kids of this age. You might speak about being a survivor of a particular type of trauma and what helped you to move past that experience. Begin to tell your story or give your presentation locally, and ask a good friend or two to attend and give you feedback. Criticism can be very tough when you’re starting out, so be sure to ask your friend to offer you three positive observations, even if it’s just comments like, “I liked the outfit you wore” or “Your PowerPoint presentation had some nice slides” or “You clearly are passionate about your topic.” Then ask for one piece of constructive criticism—and after that, be brave and ask for one more! Keep working at building your presentation skills and soliciting feedback. You can also ask your attendees to voluntarily fill out a form telling you what two things they found most enjoyable, valuable, or beneficial and one or two pieces of advice that might help you in the future. John Gray, author of the mega-bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, said that when he spoke about his topic (men and women’s different behaviors and perceptions within relationships), he paid attention to his audience members’ body language. If they leaned forward with interest, he knew that what he was saying was intriguing them and resonating for them. If they crossed their arms or sat back or frowned, something wasn’t working. All that valuable feedback helped him work out his ideas that ended up in his book.

 

Put yourself in the shoes of someone in your audience.  What would make them take time out of their busy lives to see you speak—and what title for your speech would make them think, “Oh, I should check that out!”? Think about what urgent problem they might have that you could help solve (middle schoolers and their moodiness, for example!). Think about how you can inspire them with practical ideas for what allowed you to overcome trauma and create a better life for yourself.

Next, imagine you could speak on three specific topics related to your expertise. What would they be? How would you describe them in a paragraph? For example, I can speaking on Parenting with Sensory Smarts, Sensory Smarts at School, and Practical Tips for Helping Kids with Sensory Issues at Home, at School, and Away. The first and third topics are appropriate for an audience of parents, while the second would appeal to parents, educators, and school administrators. If I wanted to speak to parents, I would start looking for where parents gather and listen to lectures or attend short workshops. Is there a series through a Y or a church, for example?

Identifying what you can speak about, writing your speech, and planning to present it to an audience at a specific venue can help you start identifying your core areas of expertise that you want to get across in the book you will write. Then aim to book a speaking engagement, just one, to get started. And be sure to get out the word about your speaking engagement using social media.

 

Questions? Comments? Let me know, because I hope my advice helps you to build your author platform and brand yourself with a book.

 

 

book speaking engagements branding

Build your author platform with speaking engagements.

author platform


Wrapping up a book project is always bittersweet for me. As a developmental editor, I’m like a book’s “midwife”: I’m happy to see the baby born into the world, but sad that my role in helping the author go from a book idea to a book is over. After a book is completed, I try to take some time to revel in the pleasure of having helped yet another author get that book written and ready for publication. Then, I take some time to ponder what I learned from the experience. One of my most recent projects yielded the following testimonial, which hints at five keys to making your self-help book a huge success:

 

“I have longed dreamed of the day when writing a book wouldn’t be so difficult. When I discovered Nancy, that dream became a reality. She is a treasure whose organizational, research, and editorial skills are unmatched. Plus she’s fun!!” Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Well-Being 

 

What a marvelous endorsement! I’m deeply grateful to Dr. Christiane Northrup for her enthusiastic words. She’s always been a cultural innovator and knows how to connect her message with a book-buying audience.

 

So what are the five keys to making YOUR self-help book a huge success?

 

1. Have fun. Seriously, have fun. Don’t believe all those quotations by writers who talk about the agony of writing. If writing is agony for you, you need to look at why you’re doing it and what you need to heal in yourself to make the process a joy. Does your inner critic need to pipe down? Maybe you need to say, “Thank you for your concern, but I’m an excellent writer, and I need you to go away right now.” (Do a little “goblin work,” as Colette Baron-Reid describes in her book The Map, and see if that inner critic that intimidates you can be tamed!)

2. Don’t be afraid to break with your brand if your followers have given you clear signals they’re with you. Dr. Northrup was willing to take the risk of making her latest book incorporate more spirituality and metaphysics. She is in touch with her loyal followers on a daily basis through social media (she’s very active on Facebook) and tries out ideas to see how her followers react. She notices what resonates for them. That’s what gave her the courage to shift her brand in a new direction. Yes, it’s a risk, but it’s a risk based on her knowing her “peeps”!

 

self-help books developmental editor

Writing a self-help book? Don’t skip the research and outlining! Hire a developmental editor & make the process pleasant and FUN!

3. Be in touch with your followers and treat them like treasured friends. Yes, it’s time consuming to post on social media and interact with those who contact you, and heaven knows Facebook can be a time suck! But if your followers are willing to spread the word about your work, share announcements, and enthusiastically endorse you, take the time to acknowledge them when they contact you. You don’t have to respond to every single comment, but you do have to INTERACT with your fans. On Facebook, even big bestselling authors like Dr. Northrup and Marianne Williamson will reply to their followers. Do the same and when your book comes out, your fans will be eager to spread the word.

4. Do your research. It’s easier than ever to do research thanks to the internet. Check the original source of any quote by using Google Books and Amazon’s “search inside this book” feature. Use Google Scholar to locate original studies (and use ScienceDaily.com to get a sense of what’s out there and read a layman’s version of the research findings). If you want to check a fact or quote and find that the excerpts online are too short to allow you to see the context, order the book from your library using their website. Don’t just rely on your memory about something you “read somewhere.” Check your facts and see if there’s new research, too.

5. Organize and structure your book before you get too far into writing it. I can’t emphasize this enough: Don’t just write and write and then try to figure out how to structure what you’ve written. Get clear on your chapter outline first. Know what goes within each chapter. Work off outlines for each chapter. Writing an expanded chapter outline for a book proposal, even if you end up self-publishing the book, is a great way to start organizing and structuring your material.

 

Are you inspired to get help with structuring and conceptualizing your book? Are you ready for a vision plan call with me?