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The title of this post came to me last weekend. At the Fault Zone reading at Florey’s Books, I was discussing the topic of an author’s “platform” with a fellow author who told me you can only change the name of your Facebook page if the page has fewer than 100 Likes.

Oh no, I thought. I’m screwed. 

Extensive scaffolding on a building in downtow...

Extensive scaffolding on a building in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia). I think of an author's platform kind of like scaffolding... something you need to build something else, but not necessarily the central focus.

After its launch, my “Dance of Souls” Facebook page hovered around 20 Likes for a long time. One of the goals on my marketing plan was to “increase Facebook Likes to 100.” (Whether or not that is a worthy goal is a subject for another post.) When I discovered Novel Publicity’s Author Karma, I was thrilled to see the Likes climbing and climbing over the weeks (154 as of this writing).

Then I began to think more about my platform and realized my big fat platform mistake.

I intend to be a more-than-one-book author.

This means that I need to brand myself, not my book. Having a Facebook page called “Dance of Souls,” devoted to a single title, is not the smartest marketing move. Kind of like Starbucks creating a page for its Mocha Frappuchino. Well, in fairness, that might work for Starbucks—or it might work for a bestselling author to have a page devoted to a single book—but for a new author with limited resources to invest in brand development, the smart thing to do is to brand me.

Hence, my sinking stomach when I heard that if I wanted to start an “Audrey Kalman-Author” page, I would have to create it from scratch and lose all the Likes and good will I have already generated through the “Dance of Souls” page.

Except the information I received was incorrect. I discovered that, according to Facebook, you can change the name of your Facebook page before the page reaches 200 likes.

Dodged a bullet there. I’m on it this week.

Chickens, Eggs, and Other Conundrums

With other projectiles, I haven’t been so lucky. The nine months since I first put “Dance of Souls” into the world has been nothing but one long, steep learning curve.

In my harsher moments, I think, “I shouldn’t have rushed into releasing the novel.” Never mind that it didn’t feel like rushing after I had spent seven years writing it and six months editing it. What I should have done first was create something I wasn’t even aware of at the time. I should have started to build my platform.

When I step back and practice forgiveness, I remember that this would have been impossible, given what I knew at the time. During those fevered months last spring of finishing up the editing and proofreading and then attending my first California Writers Club meeting, which inspired me to take the route of self-publishing, I couldn’t have built a platform because I was paralyzed by the old chicken-egg conundrum.

How could I begin to market a “product” that didn’t yet exist?

Brown chicken eggs

Brown chicken eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, of course, I realize that the “product” is me, and I certainly could have started my blog before publishing my book. Live and learn. I had to pick something to be my egg, and I picked my novel, not my platform.

In doing so, I managed to avoid at least one of the mistakes highlighted by Marcie Brock in her guest post for Indie Author Counsel titled “Top Marketing Mistakes Indie Authors Make.” It’s #8: “Never getting started.”

If you are waiting around the hen house wondering whether to lay a novel or a platform, here are a few good places to go for platform advice.

  • Indie Author CounselParts One and Two of Building Your Author Platform. Already implemented #1 from Part 1… great tip!
  • Jane FriedmanShould you focus on your writing or on your platform? As always, sage advice, characterized by this line: “But the truth is a little different for each of us, and that’s why it’s next to impossible to give general advice on platform.”
  • Kristen Lamb – Understanding Author Platform Part One. Beautiful discussion of why understanding your passion is the first (and perhaps most important) step in “building your platform.” In Part Two, you learn why writers should be more like The Dixie Chicks.

ROW80 Update

3,750 words this week. Unfortunately, I skipped two days of writing, one due to an all-day conference (not writing-related) and another because I attended Ellen Sussman’s Best American Short Stories Seminar (definitely writing-related). Goal for this week: Write every day, rain or shine, or, as my mother would have said, “Come hell or high water.”

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