Monday, October 12, 2015

Cross-Platforming for Dummies (Me!)

I’ve so enjoyed reading this current Teaching Author series on how to make a living doing what you love. And, of course, JoAnn’s timely wisdom about taking a break during the busybusybusy making is especially important.

The internet has changed the nature of business, especially publishing. It has made this business so much more complex. Like it or not, writers now need to take charge of their own promotion. And for some of us Luddites who use pen and paper to write drafts, use notecards to make outlines, and stick purple postnotes on a manuscript to highlight changes, the task of internet promotion is a daunting, downright squirrelly endeavor.

Now I have to cross-platform? What? Do I have to twit now?

Jane Friedman defines cross-platforming as creating visibility, establishing authority and reaching your audience. The strategy involves presenting content across new and different media.

I joined Facebook. But apparently Facebook barely scratches the surface. In fact, as Michael Alvear suggests here, Facebook won’t necessarily help you sell books, at least not directly.

That’s just nuts. What’s a Luddite to do?

I so admire Roxie Munro. She’s the author and illustrator of more than 40 books, including the wonderful Inside/Outside picturebooks. She is also an all-around gizmo-wizard, creating a slew of interactive apps and speaking about how artists can use the internet to their advantage. And, according to Roxie (here) most of us are already disseminating content across media formats, and we don’t even know it!

 Really? Really? Even me?

Every writer has (or should have) a website these days, even those who have yet to find the perfect publisher. What a cracked catch-22: You want to build a presence in order to convince your publisher that you can build a presence, even before your book comes out! Likewise, most every writer is connected to a blog, sometimes an individual blog, a group blog (like Teaching Authors), or several group blogs. Roxie also highlights several online projects that use videoconferencing, connecting authors and illustrators with librarians and schools to talk about their work.

While Facebook may not directly sell books, it does reinforce and can sustain important relationships. And these connections can lead to further opportunities, all of which can influence sales. 

Other social media sites include Goodreads, an amazon company with a base of 20 million members. There’s also Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LibraryThing, Youtube, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and so many more. It’s enough to drive one nutty trying to figure out which site is the best. Natalie Sisson breaks down the demographics (here) to the different social media sites, so you can see which one might suit your needs. However, as she warns, focus only on your top three choices, and create a plan that will help you maintain these connections. If you tackle everything at once, it becomes overwhelming, and then you're up a tree. 

From these connections, writers join teachers, librarians, parents and reviewers (and children's literature enthusiasts in general) to engage in blog tours and scavenger hunts and book giveaways. They share information, classroom activities, resources and ideas,  all the while making even more connections. Some enterprising and clever sorts pool together their internet resources to create marketing co-ops, unfettered by geography. Such co-ops help members build their online presence even as they also help market books. 

Sylvia Liu and Elaine Kiely Kearns highlight here ten top signs that you are building a successful platform.

And look! Look! You're doing it, too!

It seems that you are limited only by your imagination. And writers, as we all know, have great imaginations. 

What do you think?

Bobbi Miller

P.S. No squirrels were harmed in the making of this post. All squirrels courtesy of


Anonymous said...

Great tips and links, thanks, Bobbi!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Here's my Fellow Luddite Hug, Bobbi! () It's very tight.
I love the squirrel analogy - as well as - your amazing links.
It's nice to know just how many social media opportunities I - haven't - availed myself of! :)
p.s. Grammar Aficionado Carol Fisher Saller okayed ending a sentence with a preposition on our local PBS news show Friday night!

Rebecca C said...

Thanks for this! It's hard to know what social media sites to spend time on. I found the link to Natalie Sisson's article on demographics particularly interesting.

Susan B James said...

AAAAARRRRRGH! I have two blogs - Pen and Ink for children's books and Susan B James for Romance, two twitter accounts. Three facebook pages -One for my book on earthquakes. When do I write?
I know I need to do more, but I am already going to the squirrels.
Last week on the 2 Broke Girls set, I learned another media thing. Periscope. Live action videos you then post to twitter. I posted one of breakfast on the set, just to see if I could do it.I did but it only sticks around for a few seconds.
I think part of my problem is too many lives - all of which want me to use social media.

Andrea Page said...

Lots to think about when starting out as a new author! Thanks for a great post and links to more resources.

Bobbi Miller said...

Esther: Returning a Luddite hug, virtually speaking! And you have earned the right to end the sentence with whatever you want to end it --with!

Marcia: Thank you for your kind words, and for stopping by!

Rebecca: I really appreciated Natalie's article, too. She effectively decoded all of these social media sites. I still think it's confusing, and I'm not convinced as yet that I can swim deeper into the muck. But it's a start for me!

Bobbi Miller said...

Hi Susan, and AAARRGH is right! Another site, Periscope? It's such a nutty catch 22-- you need to establish a presence, but you also need to create a product that makes the social presence relevant! It's a struggle to find that balance, one secret I have yet to discover. By the way, I love Pen and Ink! Thank you for stopping by!

Andrea:Thank you for stopping by. I'm so grateful you found the information useful. This topic is so confusing to me, but writing this article helped clarify some of the process. (But I still find it overwhelming!)

Carmela Martino said...

>>While Facebook may not directly sell books, it does reinforce and can sustain important relationships. And these connections can lead to further opportunities, all of which can influence sales. <<
GREAT point, Bobbi. In fact, I've used Facebook to connect with fellow authors I've wanted to interview for articles--and they've always said YES! I'm sorely tempted to get active on Twitter, but have resisted so far. I REALLY need to focus on writing (and teaching) at the moment.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you for reassuring me that I'm not alone! I can certainly identify with that squirrel! Looking forward to checking out your links!

jan godown annino said...

A key topic, Bobbi & creatively presented.
Enjoyed the scamper with the squirrels!

The demographics article link & the Submit Six link were good reads.

Hope it's cricket (& not squirrely) to mention here that with regular TA writers/readers/commentors, I would enjoy connections TA at these locales

pinterest JGA
twitter JGA @BkSeedStudio
facebook Jan Godown Annino
Google+ Jan Godown Annino

This doesn't mean I'm doing a good job at these places! But... trying.

mary ann rodman said...

Thank you for the post, Bobbi. I discovered that FB was more than a way of keeping up with your cousins in Pittsburgh. In the past year, I have made more writer's connections than I have in a decade of conferences. You have given me some platforms to consider (although I can't imagine who would want me to Twitter them...)

Yvonne Ventresca said...

The great thing about social media is the connections and friendships we can make around the world!

PS -- Love the squirrel pics.

Bobbi Miller said...

Marti and JoAnn: We are not alone! That's the one lesson I have learned from all these experiences and connections on Facebook. When used wisely, it really can reinforce, and sometimes strengthen, connections. I've met some amazing people via FB, people whom I know would be my best mate if we were neighbors. Not to mention my connection to TAs!

As far as Twitter goes, I watch as friends have now mastered it, and use it to achieve great results. But I admit, while I am considering it, I remain cautious only because the technology continues to overwhelm me. But soon, I may crack that nut, too!

Bobbi Miller said...

Yvonne: You are an excellent example of one who seems to have mastered all that technology has to offer: Facebook, blogs, twitters, Goodreads. I remain in awe, and continue to learn from you!

Bobbi Miller said...

Jan: Thank you so much for dropping by, and I am glad we connected!

Bobbi Miller said...

Mary Ann: I absolutely agree with everything you said! (As I mentioned to Marti and JoAnn, too).

Laurie J. Edwards said...

Great srticle, Bobbi. Trying to keep up with all the social media stuff can be daunting. I especially appreciated the link to see where time should be spent. I do find making connections with friends who help market is a big key to making my online time more effective.