Platform and The Force

I have all the answers you seek, young Padawan. (Advanced apologies for those of you who don’t like Star Wars)

Platform:

  • You need to speak to as many people as you can (the clone wars come to mind . . . Millions is preferable.)
  • Your website has to have the firepower of the Death Star
  • As wise as Yoda your blog posts must be, but also as pretty as Princess Leia (and all the storm troopers must secretly read it. Your blog hits should hover around one million.)
  • Your books should wield as much power and elegance as a light saber, and they should have enough strength to thwart the forces of evil. (This is hard to put a number on, though).
  • You should create your own hologram which says, “Help me Obiwan Oprah. You’re my only hope . . . For book sales.”
  • Your fan site on Facebook should include every species: ewoks, wookies, jedis, icky darth spikey people, naboo, JarJar binks (don’t know how to spell that), and every creature represented by the bar scene in the original movie. Let’s just hope Harrison Ford is your fan too. That will help.
  • Platform is greatly improved when you dress the part: http://shop.starwars.com/?rid=CPC. Although for me, it would be hard to be Daisy from my next novel, because she’s a missing girl.

And lest you think I’ve lost my midi-chlorians, you can salve all your platform woes as you watch this brilliant piece of cinematography:

Mary Skywalker, Platform Jedi of the First Order

25 Ways to Promote and Stay Sane

Traveling, promotion and marketing always take far more time than you think it will. When I had three books release in one year (which made for a hectic year before in terms of writing), I got very, very tired doing all that promotion (and I did it from France for the most part). But in some ways it was beneficial to be in another country because when I did travel, I got a lot done at one time.

My family is a priority for me, so I try to stagger my time away.

But the best thing you can do now is strategize. Believe me, the marketing/publicity machine will take you by surprise. Having a plan in place beforehand will greatly benefit you. Here are 25 tips:

  1. Decide how many out of state visits you’ll do in a year, then stick to it.
  2. Winnow out non-paying jobs (speaking-wise) to maximize time.
  3. Try to cluster your speaking all at once.
  4. If you’re going somewhere anyway, query local churches and radio stations and bookstores to book several venues.
  5. Consider using part of your advance to hire a publicity person. A good publicist is worth his/her weight in gold (or these days, gas!). They do all the hard work for you—finding media outlets, scheduling appearances and interviews, and garnering reviews and articles. Although I know I COULD do these things, I simply don’t have the time to do them. I do have time for interviews of course, but all the behind the scenes stuff overwhelms me.
  6. Consider hiring a personal assistant part time (5-10 hours a week) to help you with marketing and publicity.
  7. Have an accountability prayer team who keeps you honest about the time you’re spending away from your family.
  8. Each publicity/media opportunity that comes your way, pray that the Lord would use your words to touch many. Don’t think of it as a time to perform or do shameless promotion of your book, but as a chance to further the Kingdom of God.
  9. Enlist the help of your spouse and kids to do promotion (sending out books, database entry, etc.) so they feel ownership in what you do.
  10. Ask your family for permission if you take a far-away opportunity to speak.
  11. In the initial stages of your speaking career (if you have one), you’ll usually say yes a lot to low-paying, far-away venues. But as you improve and charge higher fees, really consider the cost benefit analysis of your time. I can write a sellable article or two in the time it would take me to speak. So I’m more careful of my time, and speak less (more strategically).
  12. Consider paying for a housecleaner (same rationale as above…I can write enough to pay a housekeeper several times over in the time it would take to clean my house). This frees me up to do more writing or promotion.
  13. Try to create a window of time when your book releases where you can solely concentrate on its promotion. It’s hard to do, but will be rewarding. That one-month launch window closes quickly.
  14. Organize your calendar well. Be sure you place family obligations, bills to pay, medical appointments, EVERYTHING, on one master calendar. Otherwise you may book yourself on a day your child is in a school play.
  15. Pray. Ask the Lord to order your days.
  16. Take Sabbath. If you go-go-go, you’ll quickly burn out. Take a day out of the week to rejuvenate.
  17. Remember the tyranny of the urgent. Instead, create goals for your career, including marketing and publicity, and stick to those when the urgent things come up.
  18. And yet, be interruptible.
  19. Consider giving some of your time away as a sacrifice. I write and speak for free on occasion, when I sense the Lord leading me to do so.
  20. Keep a marketing idea file on your desktop. When you find a great idea, copy and paste it there. When your next book comes out, you’ll have a whole arsenal of ideas to promote it.
  21. Remember the power of the web. Right now is the best time if you don’t have a book out to concentrate on creating a strong web presence. Write a monthly newsletter and begin to amass subscribers. Create a blog that gets read.
  22. Keep a list of all your media contacts in a database. When a book comes out, you can send an e-blast to those entities, letting them know you’ve got a new title out.
  23. Network now. Make friends with media professionals, publishers, people in the industry.
  24. Consider introducing yourself whenever you’re in a bookstore as an author or potential author.
  25. If you are building a speaking career, let your circle of friends and family know. Sometimes the coolest speaking opportunities come through relational connections like this. Your network can also help you connect with pertinent media and marketing people.