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5 Easy Ways To Market Before Publication

From all of your comments in the last couple of posts, I think we all agree authors can benefit from beginning to build their platforms before publication.

Blogging friend, Patricia Woodside, emailed me an excellent summary of the whole platform building effort: There are stages to being an unpublished writer. Not everything is prudent in the earliest stages, but we don't have to wait until contracted either.

In other words, if we're newer to the writing journey, we may need to put most of our energy and time into learning the craft and improving our stories. But as we move further along, it doesn't hurt us (and may even benefit us) to start laying a foundation for marketing.

I liked how Susan Reinhardt put it: As a pre-pubbed novelist, I look at platform building the way I viewed my hope chest years ago. I'm putting things away in my writing trousseau for future use.

Many of you also said balance is critical for platform building in the early stages. We're easily swept away in the numbers game, whether trying to gain more blog followers or facebook friends. When that happens we end up spending more time networking than writing.

So, my friends, how can we keep platform building in it's proper place?

Here are 5 Easy Ways to Market Before Publication:

1. Build Name Recognition: Getting our names "out there" can be as easy as joining online writing/reading organizations, participating in local writer's chapters, attending conferences (and volunteering to help at them), or writing shorter pieces for magazines. Patricia Woodside gave me the link for this article: How Unpublished Authors Can Build Name Recognition. The article gives several other excellent ideas.

2. Develop A Web Presence: When we think of web presence (read previous post here), most of us think of the blogosphere. While blogging is an important way to connect with others and stretch our internet presence, it's also one of the most time-consuming. I'm finding that I can make just as many, if not more, connections on Facebook and Twitter. Both take less time and are easy ways to keep in contact with friends.

3. Maintain Professionalism: We never know who may stop by our blogs or read our comments/tweets. If we're actively querying and connecting with agents and editors, we need to be prepared for a potential visit. Several agents visited my blog before I was offered representation. Some of you have had agent visits too. Keeping our cyber "homes" tidy and our communication professional are simple but effective ways to showcase ourselves in a positive light.

4. Start Getting Writing Noticed: I'm not advocating that we should post chapters of our books online. I personally don't think that's safe, nor do I think most blog readers want to take the time to critique the work in a blog post. Instead find critique groups, crit partners, or beta readers. Hire an editor. Enter contests. These are all helpful ways to not only make friends and get feedback, but to also possibly gain the attention of published authors or agents/editors.

5. Build Genuine Friendships: This is the best way to begin building a platform. I'm going to absolutely LOVE going into a bookstore, picking one of YOUR published books off the shelf, and taking it to the counter. You know what I'm going to say when I give the cashier my money? "I'm lucky. I KNOW the person who wrote this book." I'll just smile at the cashier's amazement and say, "Yep, she's one of my friends."

Yes, you are my friends. And more important than the marketing are the relationships we form with one another. The sales, the money, and all of the platform in the world cannot compare to the treasure we have in genuine, loving friendships.

Thanks for being one of mine!

Can you think of any other easy ways to market before publication? And which from my list are you already doing?

44 comments:

  1. Great post, Jody. Must check out that link Patricia offered.

    I think I'm in on all of those to do's with varying degrees. I really should get more twitter and facebook savvy. I rarely go on those, guess it's due to my time being used in blog land visiting all these wonderful blogs. You're right, very time consuming.

    The friendship one is the absolute best!! Without it, I don't think I would still be going in blogger land. I'll still write with my crit group marking it all up, but I'd not feel near as connected with the writing world as I do with all you writing buddies. And getting to meet you at conference and even room specifically with you, Jody, really helps to bridge the cyber world with the real world! We are blessed!

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  2. Wonderful quotes and links! Thank you so much. I completely agree that the friendships are the biggest blessing out of all this. I'm trying to do most of what you put up there, but in a laidback kind of way. If I got contracted then I'd probably ramp things up a bit.
    Excellent post Jody. :-)

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  3. Oh gosh, I love anonymity. I'm screwed.

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  4. I've loved these posts this week, Jody! I agree with you so much. The biggest benefit to having a presence online has been the friends I've made. I, for one, cannot wait to walk into a bookstore to buy your book next year.

    Have a great weekend!

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  5. I think you covered them. I think they are all important, especially those last two! Hope you have a super duper day!

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  6. Great points, especially the one about making true friendships vs. using social networking a selling venue only. Readers/followers know the difference.

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  7. Jody,

    This is a great post.

    I think that finding ways to serve others is important and it doesn't necessarily mean being online.

    For example, if I were to write a book for homeschooling families, one of the ways I could serve is to volunteer as a speaker at state and regional homeschool conferences and conventions. There are many families that I could help and encourage now, whether my book is successful or not.

    Making a difference for others makes an impact that people don't forget. That's not the main reason, for me, to do it -- but it was a real relief to me when I realized that I could serve others and build a platform at the same time. This graced the whole process with meaning and significance. I want to live a life that is worthy of my time, not just promote myself. Ultimately, that's far more satisfying.

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  8. I think the building of friends is most important. I seriously never thought about that when I started blogging. I didn't have any followers for the longest time - that was just fine with me. Then, slowly (if you build it, they will come), I gained more and more followers. Somewhere along the way, mainly with just a handful, we formed blogsphere friendships that have, in some instances, moved on to Facebook . . . and email as well.

    Like you, I can't wait to go into a bookstore and buy a book buy one of my friends. I look forward to that day.

    S

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  9. I feel the same way about my blogging buddies. I'd be honored to purchase their books. I like how you remind us to keep our cyber house tidy. That's def. something to keep in mind. Thanks for another winner of a post.

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  10. Great post - much to think about! I think the thing from your list that I've struggled with the most is the "tidy" presence of my blog. I'm such a quirky person, and my blog tends to adopt said quirks. Sometimes I've felt like altering the way my blog looks so it appears the way it "should." But I really want to keep it with its quirks, because that's who I am. It's been a fine line for me.

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  11. Thanks for breaking down this aspect for the unpublished writer.

    Professionalism racks pretty high. This is a business. If I want to vent blogging my not be the best venue.

    I can't wait to buy/read all your books!

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  12. I completely agree! How much fun is it to say "I knew [author] before she was published... before she even had an agent!"

    And that's all the more reason to get your name out there early! On the other hand, 2010 is going to be a VERY expensive year for me, as I try to buy all my internet/writing group friends' books!

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  13. I am re-retweeting Elizabeth's retweet of this blog post (confused myself on that one).

    What an example you are to any of us writers. In the end, it's not about our success as novelists. It is about how we served others. Good job, new friend. I'm adding you to my short list of blogs to follow.

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  14. I am getting used to the whole making friends kind of thing. Good suggestions and I am glad to be getting out there and learning from others. :O)

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  15. I've picked up my friends' books in bookstores and waved them around like a maniac! It's such a rush to see that dreams do come true. The proof is right there!

    I'm off to check out those links. Thanks!

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  16. Encourage and uplift others regularly. You do a great job of this. For me, this is a great way to stay humble and connected at the same time.

    Loved your comprehensive list. I hope you have a great weekend and in case you don't go back and read it, I wrote on Rachelle's comments that our dog eats baby wipes, so I feel your pain with yours swiping ponytail holders, etc. :D
    ~ Wendy

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  17. Hey, Jody!

    This is a great list! I feel the same way about friendships. I can't wait to read everyone else's books!

    I really like the analogy Susan used. Thanks for passing it on!

    Have a great weekend!

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  18. Hope you have a productive weekend. Thank you for the posts on platform. As you know the jury's still out for me re the effectiveness of twitter, but I'm hanging in there and giving it a fair chance...even after getting hacked!

    Off to work on content edits myself. :)

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  19. I so agree! I can't wait to walk into a bookstore and buy a friend's book.

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  20. Great post! I love the part about buying a friends book in a book store. My favorite daydream is if and when I get published, having my betas open the book and see themselves in the Acknowledgments section. :)

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  21. I am one of five columnists who writes a monthly parenting column in our local newspaper. I think this has been one way to get my name out there, even if it's a more local presence. Building community within our local communities is, I think, a good place to start. It also allows us to ease out into the world a little more gently when we start at home.

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  22. Hi Jody,
    I love how your documenting your journey to publication. You have such a loving, nurturing spirit. And yes, the relationships we form through all these marketing efforts are quite remarkable. Yours is a perfect example of that.
    Karen

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  23. You are such a lovely person. Glad to know you!

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  24. Thanks for taking time to educate and encourage other writers. That says so much about your character.

    Great tips! I am working on 2-5 but thinking about 1. I do think I need to find a pace that works so I can concentrate on craft too.

    I really enjoy this community and reading others' comments. We are not made to work alone!

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  25. I definitely agree with your list. And the best part of trying to do all these things before you're published is that it takes the pressure off some. You don't feel like you have to FORCE friendships and relationships just to get noticed quickly because your book is coming out in nine months.

    Building a platform before hand in a slow and balanced way makes it more genuine, less stressful and probably, ultimately, a lot more productive.

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  26. What a nice post. Interesting that Facebook and Twitter are working for you. I guess I need to work 'em some more...

    Have a great weekend!

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

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  27. I definitely try to buy the books of people I've come to "know" in the writing community--authors who've offered a word of encouragement, blogging buddies, crit partners, etc.

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jody!

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  28. Hi, I stopped over from Katie's blog. Great post. I'm looking forward to getting to know you through your blog.

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  29. That's a great list. I think I'm doing (or at least, trying to do) most of them. I have both a facebook and twitter account, but the facebook is more personal, and I haven't taken the time to figure out Twitter. I think I need to focus more attention in those areas.

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  30. Great list! A very timely post for me. I like your emphasis on building relationships and friends. Very supportive.

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  31. good tips Jody. Have a great Friday.

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  32. Oh, ditto. Such good thoughts! None come to mind to add.

    Have a great weekend, Jody!

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  33. I like the friendship part of all this writing the best. I also will be thrilled to see a book from a blogger friend and buy it.

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  34. I pretty much do all of what you listed, and have found the friendship part the best. It's always nice to know other people feel the same way or have the same problems.

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  35. Hi Jody -

    Thanks for the link and quoting me. I've developed an entire post from that comment. You have a way of inspiring my creativity. :)

    In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love blogging! Most of all I love the people, who've become friends, mentors, and encouragers.

    Facebook, a private email update, and attending a conference once a year also provide ways to meet people and interact with others.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  36. Another great post, Heather! I'm currently working on all but #4. I need to get plugged in to a writing or critique group! A little intimidating but a step in the write (ha!ha!) direction!

    *Wanted to let you know that the blog award I gave you has been updated. It is the "Inspirational Blog Award" with a new graphic. You can replace the current award with the updated one by visiting my site anytime. Enjoy!

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  37. Great tips, as always. Thanks Jody and have a great weekend!

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  38. I think I'm pretty good at doing everything on your list EXCEPT buckling down and finishing my novel!

    Although lately I have been hearing buzz from some "important" people that I might have a future in something more substantial in the blogosphere in addition to maintaining my own. That would definitely further help me get my name out there.

    And ever since I heard about your book contract, I have been excited to go into a bookstore next Fall and buy YOUR book.

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  39. This was so helpful. Thank you. I really appreciate the calm voice and the balance in it.

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  40. I love #5. And I've done that before--bought a friend's book and been beside myself with glee. :)

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  41. Your points are great ones! I just started twittering and really like how easy and quick it is. I agree that the friendships are the best. It helps me stay connected even when I'm feeling so isolated:)

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  42. Jody,

    I found you through Twitter. Enjoyed your posts about pre-recognition. I think you are especially right about maintaining professionalism on a blog. Good luck with your novel. I follow Rachael Gardner and think you have a wonderful agent.

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  43. I am a published author, always aiming to "grow" my platform, and I do all of your 5 points.
    My favorite of your list is number 5, forming real friendships.
    Some folks I have met online, via blogs and twitter, are now exchanging snail mail notes with me.
    I love holding a paper note in my hands, and we put little gifts in them, like stickers or a book mark.
    Sometimes online friends as a surprise post great reviews of my book on their blog or tweet about it, and that is so sweet.

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