Why Product Is The Most Important Part Of Your Platform
In my last article, I discussed an overview of the four Ps of marketing and how this applies to authors: product, place, promotion, and pricing.
Today, I’m going to focus solely on the most important component: product.
Your book is your product.
You are your product.
Do we brand the book or the author? Always brand the author. However, you must create a spectacular product first!
What came first: the author or the book?
Let’s look at these two components in detail.
BRANDING THE AUTHOR
Do people walk into a bookstore or browse online for the latest release from We’re AllThat Publishing? NO. They look for a specific author they favor, a book they’ve heard about by a specific author, or let’s face it, what’s free or on sale.
1) Authors. You need to own who you are and what you write about as an author, in every way, across every channel. Crucial to branding the author is understanding, yet again, your keywords and using them consistently.
I myself chose my keywords early on based on what interested me and what I write about consistently: men and women, love and loss, relationships and sex and well as social media and author marketing for my business.
This is not a difficult formula to figure out: what do you write about? Start there.
What interests you? What excites you? What are you passionate about? Add that.
Boom. Done, baby.
2) Platform. Once you have that figured out, start sharing blog posts (use #MondayBlogs to share your latest post and retweet others), information, pictures, resources, guest posts, books and posts written by others…whatever – about those topics.
Here’s the main reason you want to brand you and not your book: you will write more books. Many authors write about the same subjects or create a series; however, what if that’s not the case?
Here you’ve created a whole social media, site, blog, etc., platform for a specific book and then, when you release the next one, what then?
No. Save yourself this newbie mistake and brand yourself. Your Twitter name, Facebook page, website (buy the domain!), email newsletter – everywhere – should be consistent.
I’ve pretty much talked ad nauseum about making sure you hire a professional editor, proofreader, formatter, and graphic artist to create the best possible product you can.
Of course, it starts with the writing. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, you must be realistic about your talent and figure out where you need improvement. Because let’s face it: if your work is weak, the cracks will show and you won’t sell.
How do we go about this?
1) Critique Group. Many authors sit in their little bubble and never reach out to others – for fear of criticism. Well. What do you think happens when you release your book and people start reviewing it?
Get over yourself. This is the real world. Truth can hurt but it can also make you a much better writer. Share your stuff with other writers you trust, join a Google or Facebook group of authors in your genre, share excerpts on your blog and ask for honest feedback.
2) Just write. You don’t need an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) to write a book. But I do suggest taking some classes in creative writing if you can (online or live), or at the very least, read some books about it (or participate in a prompt – Scintilla is happening right now! or check out Becky Tsaros Dickson’s weekly prompt) and start practicing the suggested tasks. Start writing every day – no matter if it’s on your book, a blog post, a guest post, for a business site, a story for your kids – whatever!
Why is this helpful? Besides the obvious reasons of ‘practice makes perfect,’ you are learning about your own style, what you’re good at, and developing your own vision and creative process. You will need to know this as you navigate the murky publishing waters when you do publish.
It took me over fifteen years of corporate sales and marketing for me to stop making excuses not to write. I’d always wanted to make a living at it – but all the planning and classes and chatting on Twitter with other authors did not a book make. I didn’t know exactly where to start, so I took classes, did assignments, and learned what I did well — and not so great.
3) Blogging. If blogging is your entre into the writing world, don’t dismiss it. My first book (and thousands of others), started with our blogs. It’s a great exercise in learning what you’re good it – and what you’re not so good at.
And here’s a neat little trick: you can brand yourself now as an author even if your book isn’t out yet. Work with your keywords: write about the topics you know or are passionate about. Brand yourself in social media, on your site, as a blogger. Get your name out there.
If you’re not sure where to start, read more of my blog or others who write about author marketing. I recommend Lori Culwell or Stephanie Chandler. Both are fabulous and have books out about how to market yourself and your book. And they know: they are both successful authors and businesspeople.
Branding works hand in hand with your book or product. No question. That’s one of the basic tenets of author marketing.
There truly is no ‘either/or,’ but a matter of both.