Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Author Platform: How Much Is Enough?

All you have to do is scan the Connect page of my website to see I'm into social media. Sure, I could claim I interact on these sites because I'm building a fiction platform. Or I could talk about how being active on Facebook helps sell books. Both are true, but the real reason I'm active on multiple sites is because I believe in doing everything possible to make my name recognizable.

Sometimes I wonder if all the fun I'm having on Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and all the other places I check-in with will have an impact on my future book sales. Yesterday, I found this fabulous blog post (Steve Laube's blog, News You Can Use, provided the link) by Penny at Author Marketing Experts, Inc. titled "Why Your Book Isn't Selling." Catchy title, isn't it? The full article is linked.

Penny urges authors to have seven access points for readers to see their books.

"The rule of seven: You need to be everywhere. A lot." She says that seven different avenues of sharing news about your book is the amount most marketers recommend.

In her words, "Count the ways: How many different ways can a reader access you? Count them. I’m serious. You should have at least seven access points. Maybe you are syndicating articles, maybe you are on YouTube, maybe you are on Facebook, Pinterest, whatever it is it’s an access point. If you don’t have seven of them and aren’t sure where to start, go back to bullets two and three."

Most likely, you're reading this post because you're a believer too. You're probably on at least three sites, possibly twenty. One thing Penny doesn't say is that you have to spend time equally at all seven venues.

If you love Facebook, spend the majority of your time there. Just make sure you post a book trailer on YouTube too. If you aren't comfortable committing to a blog schedule, work hard to guest post at other people's blogs around the time of your book release (of course, provide links on these guest posts to your website and where to buy your book).

Get creative! Regina Jennings's sister recently created a beautiful Pinterest board about Regina's debut book, Sixty Acres and a Bride. Creating a Pinterest board doesn't have to take tons of time, and it can be left up forever.
If you're contemplating sending out a newsletter, look into services. I use MailChimp, which is extremely user friendly and free up until you hit 12,000 subscribers. I'm not in any danger of having to pay!

There are tons of low-time-commitment ways to hit seven access points. Have fun with it!

As always, I love helping writers dip their toes in blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc... If you have any questions, feel free to ask them! You can also leave your e-mail address if you have a detailed question or need help. I enjoy this. I like helping. Don't be shy!

What stresses you out about author platform? Please share. I'd like to write a post addressing your concerns.

5 Easy Questions will return next Wednesday.

Have a fabulous Wednesday!


  1. I actually wrote about this on Monday. I'm exhausted! What stresses me out is not having enough time to ACTUALLY WRITE! lol It's tough to be everywhere at once, but that's the nature of this job nowadays, isn't it!

  2. I don't know about anyone else, but my iPhone had been a big help with social media. I'm notified when I ger a tweet, goodread comment, fb comment/message, and an email. So this helps me keep up with interacting online. And if I don't feel the need to respond ASAP, it can wait--like when I'm getting my hair done! LOL

    I think we need to use the networks that work best for us. I'm on google+ and Linked in, but I never use them. But I do use facebook/twitter/pinterest and goodreads often. Awesome post, Jill, and you are most helpful for sure!

  3. My question is: with all this networking we're supposed to do, when are we supposed to write the books that we hope to sell one day? Right now I focus on blogging and Twitter. Eventually I'll return to Facebook. The main thing I have to consider is where the teens hang out.

  4. I've had to cut back but maybe eventually will get back out there if I ever get an agent or have a book coming out. Right now I enjoy Facebook and do some blogging but needed a break cause life gets too big sometimes!!

  5. Awesome post, Jill. And great quesionts in the comments so far. I totally understand how this seven points of access would work, but I also struggle just to find the time to write.

  6. What stresses me out about author platform? The time commitment.

    I'm a little short of the 7 avenues. Currently, I'm on Facebook, Twitter, My Book Therapy, and I have a blog.

    Susan :)

  7. I was going to say something about the stress of having to connect on so many different platforms not leaving me any time or motivation to write, but I see other commenters beat me to it!

    I strongly suspect there will be a turnaround soon, where authors do start limiting themselves to a few platforms instead of spreading themselves so thin - simply because it is so hard to try to keep up with everything AND have time to write AND be able to live. I agree that in theory it's good to connect in as many ways as possible with as many readers as possible, but in the end, if you're so busy connecting that you don't have the time or energy to write a good story (or even live a good life), it's not going to help. If you can connect all over the place AND still write and live well, then more power to you! That's still a goal well out of my reach, though :-)

  8. Wow! Seven places...hmmm. I've got my blog, Facebook, Facebook writer page, not quite seven, but then again, I don't even have an agent yet, so I don't want to lose focus on my writing quite yet.

    I'm with Jessica iPhone is a miracle! I work full time, but when I get a Tweet, I can sent a quick reply, etc. Same with comments on my blog. Love it!

  9. Good morning!

    Jessica B: You've done an amazing job of getting your name and book (and CD!) out there. I believe we should look at social media seasonally--like a farmer. We need to spend the most time right before and during our book release (harvest). Then, we can purposely pull back, checking in minimally, and focus on our writing (winter). When we're getting closer to another release, we amp it up (spring). And the cycle continues...

    Jessica P: Smart phones make a huge difference. I want one! When you have a book coming out, you can add the information about it on your LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, but you don't have to spend time there. It's just another place to park your cover and book description. I'm a firm believer in spending time where you're happy, and just putting info on the other places.

    Stina: My answer? We can't. We just can't do it all. I used to spend up to 2 hours a day reading blogs. That didn't include the other social media! I do the least time consuming things I can. Twitter, Facebook, posting to my own blog, etc... take less time. Sure, I feel guilty, but I've found a balance I'm happy with.

    Terri: I hear you. And if we're feeling vulnerable, all the positive news around the web can be really depressing. It's good to take a break sometimes!

    Constance: We all do. Posts like this can put a false pressure on writers, and I don't want to contribute to it. However, it's good to know concrete things we can do to help our sales when we have a release.

    Susan: The 7 access points are mainly for when we have a book release date. Aspiring authors like myself can build followings across sites, but it's not necessary to be everywhere at this point. We just want to get our book covers/blurbs out there before our release dates.

    Louise: Right! I get it. I've made rules for myself. I check in with my e-mails, Twitter, Facebook, and my blog twice a day M-F. YouTube I only add a vlog to once a month. Google+ is a quick 3 minute check in the morning. Goodreads is only when I have a book to add. We don't have to spend time everywhere. We just need to have a social media plan in place so we're not starting from scratch and completely overwhelmed when we have a book release. :)

    Lindsay: You're using this time wisely. I do not think it's necessary to be everywhere online before querying. I do think it's necessary to have a web presence before querying, so agents have a place to check you out. As far as having seven access points--that's for a book release. We don't have to have it now!

    Katie: Oh yeah. I know. Time is so precious and fleeting. I'm sure you're feeling it more than ever!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. I think I get stressed about bugging people or seeming to self... you know what I mean? I don't have a problem about time and I'm determined to by cyber-available but there's some stuff I'm not into. Like Pinterest. LOL
    This is a good post. I'm definitely interested in checking out that rule of 7.

  11. This is great, Jill. Seven places, huh...I do love the caveat of not having to spend the same amount of time on each. That feels freeing... :)

    I've got a Goodreads account but um, other than creating the account, I haven't done anything with it...need to look into it and figure out what I'm supposed to do. Hehehe...

    Oh, and I'm totally with Jess and Linz...yay for the organizational prowess of iPhones!

  12. Social networking takes up a lot of time - and head space. I find that I need to close the laptop lid by 8 pm and just give myself that room to breathe.

  13. I was just admitting this on Elana's blog...that there are times I'm intensely in the mood to social network and then there are time I want to chill at home--to retreat and I don't want those at home, quiet moments in my life to negatively impact my platform.

    I don't want to force connection. I guess that's what I'm ultimately saying. Any kind of forced connection won't last.

    I think you handle social media beautifully, Jill!

    ~ Wendy

  14. Jill, I spend at least as much time on social media as I do actually writing, because building the presence/platform was my #1 goal last year. I'm backing off that slightly as I ramp up writing. As for the 7...that was determined by my goals and target audience: Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Google+, blog. Pinterest is next, then YouTube. If I didn't have a strategy I'd go nuts!

  15. Jill, I spend at least as much time on social media as I do actually writing, because building the presence/platform was my #1 goal last year. I'm backing off that slightly as I ramp up writing. As for the 7...that was determined by my goals and target audience: Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Google+, blog. Pinterest is next, then YouTube. If I didn't have a strategy I'd go nuts!

  16. I read that post, too, and was surprised that we're advised to have seven access points. At first I freaked for a minute, but then I realized I'm in at least that many places. It's not hard to be these day, with so many social media sites available.

    What is a challenge is figuring out where to best spend my time. My blog, Facebook, and Twitter are my top three hangouts. I'm working on becoming more active on Goodreads. I'm on Linked In, G+, Shelfari, and YouTube, but I don't do a lot there.

    I'd love to see a post on how one uses MailChimp to set up a newsletter.

  17. This topic has been on my mind lately, particularly since an author friend of mine started a blog and guess what—he's already seeing increased sales. Cool, right??

    I think readers expect to have access to authors nowadays, so having a strong presence is important regardless of profit. I also think such connectedness is important for writers' emotional health. ;)

  18. PS I'd love to learn more about Pinterest, as I've heard mixed reviews from writers... Also, how much time do you think authors should spend on social media?

  19. You read my mind with this post. Since I've signed the contract, I've been sweating social media and marketing the book. There are so many places TO BE. What are the most effective? Do I need to be everywhere? Where do I focus my time?

    I do think the blogging will help, although I'm trying to figure out how to increase traffic to my Thursday posts. And I know all the Twitter/FB interaction is good. But I wonder about places like Goodreads, SheWrites, etc. Do I need to be there? What do I DO on there? Just chat?

    I do think Pinterest can be a great place. Are you worried at all about the copyright talk that's come up as of late?

  20. Great post, Jill.

    You have helped me tremendously when I started blogging and tweeting. Thank you for the means more than you know.

    I haven't joined Pinterest yet. I am also worried about the copyright gossip going on.

  21. Jessica N: We can't sweat everything! I spend very little time on Pinterest, but I think it's a worthy addition to my platform. You're really good with blogging and Facebook--pat yourself on the back!

    Melissa: Goodreads isn't essential until you have a contract. I use it to build followers and to write reviews of all the books I read. It's fun!

    Talli: Limits are essential!! I rarely go online at night. It's a personal thing. :)

    Wendy: It's good to honor our feelings. Sometimes I force myself to check in with sites but don't force myself to post anything. I think being consistent is the most important thing.

    Victoria: Yeah, platform does take time! You're so smart to have a strategy. My goals change as my life changes, and I'm really comfortable with my routine right now. That might not be true in a year. :)

    Keli: Oh, you have seven access points! Not to worry! The thing is, some of the access points are one-time-only types of things. Put your book cover, release date, and a blurb on your Google+ profile page. Add a book trailer on YouTube. Add book info on your LinkedIn page. None of these have to be done over and over. And I will definitely write a post on Mailchimp!

    August: Yes, readers buy books from authors they like. So let's get them to like us, right? How do we do that? By engaging with them on social media sites, by attending events where we can meet them, by hosting giveaways of books on Goodreads. :) Pinterest is great if your audience consists mostly of women. You can appeal to women who might like your book by creating inspiration boards. You can also put your book covers up there. It's just one more spot someone can connect with you.

    Stacy: I would suggest spending a big chunk of time studying how Goodreads can help you as an author. Google blog posts on the topic. They offer the opportunity to give free copies of your book away and I've read authors who have seen a marked increase in their Goodreads followers from this. Goodreads is where the readers are at--it makes sense to spend time there.

    **Pinterest opinion alert!!**

    I'm not concerned with the copyright issues at Pinterest right now and this is why. Pinterest links back to the original source when someone pins a photo. When I am adding a pin (not re-pinning), I only add personal photos or ones I can legally share with proper attribution. Also, I follow many magazines who post their own pins and encourage others to repin them. I'm sure some of the photos I re-pin weren't originally pinned by someone following protocol, but since Pinterest links back to the original source, I'm not very concerned.

    Loree: Oh, thanks! I'm glad you found some of my posts helpful. I figure if I take the time to learn something, why make other people waste time when I can share it?

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  22. Jill

    Thanks for the response. I'll take your Goodreads advice.

    RE: Pinterest. What if I Google pictures and I'm the first to pin them? Is that all right?

  23. Everything stresses me out about author platform! For real. But I'm so grateful to have you to come to if I have questions :) Seven access points is kind of intimidating. I've pretty much topped out at three, but now it's three that I'm comfortable with and I think I can move onto more. I think it helps to ease into all of it if you're not sure, and build from there. Thanks for this post!

  24. Stacy: I wouldn't unless you're sure they have an open license, like pictures from Flickr's Creative Commons, or Morguefile, or any photography site that clearly allows you to use the pictures. Also, some sites (Flickr's Creative Commons) require attribution and a link back. Pinterest automatically links back, so I just type in the name of the contributor in the Pinterest Comments when I pin one.

    Cindy: I don't think we need to be daily contributing to seven different access points. For instance, if you had a book trailer made, you would put that on YouTube. That doesn't mean you have to keep going back to YouTube. Or if you created a Pinterest board with images appropriate for your book, and included your cover, that too is a one-time stop. Some of the access points keep giving whether we tend to them or not. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  25. Seven is my lucky number!

    This post was informative and I didn't feel stressed or anxious after reading it. Awesome! It's nice to know we don't have to be everywhere all the time.

  26. Glad I found your blog--enjoyed this post! Initially I could care less about author platform, until I realized what a huge pond we're swimming in here (the aspiring writer pond--more like an ocean!).

    The biggest drawback for me is the amount of time I have to spend, dropping in to check media and watching for important emails. But it's truly necessary. Gone are the days of the reclusive author. You have to get out there and push your stuff--sell it like you mean it! Grin.

    Tweeting this post!


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