It’s been a frustrating week.I’ve tried hard to accomplish many tasks at once, hoping to enhance my “author platform.” This proves elusive as Kafka’s “Castle”– the imposing structure in plain view atop the hillside. But, like Kafka’s character, you can’t get there from here. There’s no tram to the front door. Instead, I’ve found the path filled with bewildering roadblocks and challenges. So, I’d like to share some of the experiences I’ve encountered, hoping you can reach your destination more easily than I’ve been able to — at least this week!
I’m very eager to have my new children’s book, Sunbelievable, readily available in stores and online. Especially since it just won Mom’s Choice Award. But did you know you have to create your own demand for the book before retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon will stock it? Does this mean you have to buy your own books if no one else is? Well, yes! When demand, hopefully from many other buyers as well, kicks in, your book is then “in stock” for store managers and Amazon. It’s not an easy system to navigate while building your author “brand.”
Second, I’m doing too many things at once. Book marketing expert advise authors to take things slowly, to gradually build the identity that readers respect and trust. The castle on the hill is a great metaphor. There’s a structure firmly grounded above the landscape in plain view. Right now, my author platform “identity” seems solid, but is it seen by readers? I don’t have a measure yet to track whether I’m in front of or even accessible to an audience. I’ve blogged almost daily this week about National Picture Book Idea Month (NaBoPiMo), Picture Book Month, and National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). Naturally, I wanted to join in the celebration. But did it advance my author platform? Perhaps–in the sense that while writing my posts, I gave a lot of thought to my Internet “voice” and the type of content others might find useful.
Third, though I know that a hefty social media presence is important, it’s an ever-evolving work in progress. I get excited seeing the number of Twitter followers grow, but what does that mean, exactly? Am I building the trusted relationships and connections that translate to book sales? Is that what it’s all about? I want to be an author who markets. I want to be a marketer who’s an author. It’s challenging to be true to yourself and your writing while being a savvy online entrepreneur.
Fourth, if author platform is intrinsically about being true to yourself, then I have to end with the fact that it’s National Adoption Month. I have 3 adopted daughters. Much of my inspiration comes from them. Two daughters had difficult childhoods in Russia. One recently decided to return to her homeland — possibly forever. It’s part of my story, not a happy one, but true and authentic. It finds its way into my writing along with a good dose of joy, too. Author platform isn’t just about me or you. It’s our collective gestalt that finds common voice and expression.
I hope I’ve been true to my author/marketer self this week, despite some bumps climbing the hilly terrain. Please leave a comment. It’ll help knowing you’re out there…