Author Platforms (To Write and Have Written)

Often the idea of building and maintaining an author platform can be daunting. Let’s talk about the myths of author platforms and what we really do need to focus on (and how we can keep it manageable and fun).

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(After the show, I got my monthly email bill, and it was—are you ready?—$0.31 USD. Not the $80 I would have spent at Mailchimp.

That was for January’s mailings. For December, when I sent more to promote holiday sales and a new release, plus a newsletter for my day job (no need to split accounts!), I spent all of $0.65. So I just wanted to say that yes, Sendy really is cheaper.)

Video (from Twitch and YouTube):

To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
Laura VanArendonk Baugh

<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href=''></a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>


Let’s talk about the scary topic of Author Platforms! /thunder crash/ Bring your questions! – powered by Happy Scribe

How about this, guys?Can anybody hear me out here?

Do I sound slightly lesslike a demonic hamster?

Oh, hey, thanks ShyRedFox for subscribing

and oh, and apparently I do soundless like a demonic hamster.

That’s great.OK, so I just swapped

my sound inputs and OK,so this is gonna work.

Stay right here.

Apparently something happenedto my microphone just as I went live.

To be fair, I worked really hard over theweekend and it may have just given up,

I had a major conference over the weekend.

I was

over here and in this spacefor an ungodly number of hours a day.

And the mic may have just surrendered.I don’t know.

Well, I’ll check on that later.

But in the meantime, hey, welcome back.

It is Tuesday night.

This is To Write And Have Written.

And I’m Laura VanArendonk Baugh.

And we’re going to talk about stuff.


so tonight’s topic

is a bit of a,

it can be a scary topic,because I’ve been around long enough

that I’ve seen it discussed from a lotof different angles

with a lot of misinformation attached andand a lot of drama and angst attached.

So we’re going to try to break it down.

We’re going to tryto make it a manageable topic.

Please bring your questions into this.

I don’t know how long we’ll spend on this,

because I’m hoping to just make itas clear and simple as possible.

But if we need to spend someextra time on it, we can do that.

So. And that is the topic of the author

platform. Thunder roll,Lightning, Lightning!

But yeah, so and the reason is, I mean,

if you’re just coming intothe publishing industry,

you know, within the last year or so,

you’ve definitely heard of an authorplatform and the need for one.

But you may have missed someof the most extreme drama around it.

And I’m going to touch on that as we go.

But I love the, I lovethe reactions in the chat. Aaaarrrghh!

Yes, OK.

I’m still getting some weirddistortion on the sound.

I am sorry.I am, this is, this is what I’ve got.

I could switch to my other headset

and that’s probably gota better sound quality.

Let me do that just because this willeventually end up as a podcast as well.

And it would be great ifpeople could actually hear it.

So give me just a moment

to make sure I’ve gota battery on this one.

The battery is full.That’s fantastic.

And I should have sound nowI’m hoping I’ve got sound.

Well, I hope I have sound OK.

Yeah, first one was audible,just a little crackly.

I got nothing.

I don’t know what’sgoing on with the audio.

It got scared off by the topicof author platforms.

So let’s let’s roll with this.

OK, this one does sound better.Great.

Awesome.We’ll stay here again.


We want this to be intelligiblefor our podcast listeners as well.

OK,so and I’m seeing in the chat a number

of you are saying, yes,author platforms is the thing that you

have wanted to work on, you might needto work on, has been a frightening topic.

All of that is is completely legitimate,

especially a few years ago,there was the common wisdom and in some

cases explicitly stated expectationthat you had to have a certain

platform, a certain reach

that was defined quantitativelyfor a publisher to accept your work.

These numbers were often, and I’m goingto say this in the gentlest way possible,



absolutely insane,you know, and things that I saw floated

around, I actually did a little Googlingyesterday just to kind of make sure that I

wasn’t remembering thingsin an exaggerated form.

And so I went onto the interweband I started pulling up

recommendations andand things for other platforms.

And I was spending a lot of timein the 2014 era, as you do.

I love the time searchfeature on Google anyway.

And I kept seeing things like, you know,

you need 25,000 followers on Twitter beforea publisher will even look at your query.

And one thing from an actual publisher who

was just, “oh, yeah, we really wantsomebody with a lot of reach.”

“Well, what number would that be?”

“I don’t know, like a million.”

Like, you know, like everybodyjust has a million followers.

Like, that’s a thing.OK, so let me start by saying.

Don’t worry about that.

We’ll get to why I think — I have no inside

information, but I think I knowwhere that was coming from.

I’m also going to tell you that that is

not necessary for youto be successful today.

So that was a weird phase we went through.

You can stop worrying about it.

Now, let’s talk about practical aspects.

So I’m

sorry I moved my chat,

which is a little bit sad because I’d loveto be able to see you guys a little bit,

but let me see if I canget this back here.

But the.

Come on.

Yeah, yeah, OK, yes, so Shy

is asking about if the publishersdidn’t want to market as hard.

Yeah, it’s way easier to sell somethingthat already has an audience, right?

I mean, look at Hollywood and, you know,whatever movie Part seven,

as opposed to new material,it’s the same kind of concept.

Yeah.Oh, right.

No big deal.Yeah.

Who doesn’t have a million followers.Jeez.

Come on.We all have that,

that B.S. is your term.That’s fair.

This is family friendly channel so.

Oh I did battle with the newsletter.That’s great.


OK, I think I’ve caught up with the chatso I’m going to try to keep up

seeing you guys a little bit better here.

So everything I did this for thisconference this weekend.

I had I had threedifferent cameras running.

I had

multiple light stands and platformsbecause I was doing, among other things,

Animal Behavior Conferenceand I was doing training demos.

So I’ve got cameras and camerasand cameras and lights and lights

and platforms so that I had differentheights of platforms in different

locations so I could do differentkinds of demos and everything.

And so I have much of that reassembled,but not all of it.

So I apologize for having to movesome things here on the fly.

OK, so yes, that all wascoming back to publishers.

You know, if they’re looking at, weneed to acquire two new authors.

This one nobody’s ever heard of.

This one has twenty fivethousand people following them.

It seemed to make sense that, you know,

that they would take the personwith the more followers.

But we’ll get back to there.So.

Hey, T.R., thanks for stopping by.

All right.

OK, so here’s let’s start with defining

what a platform is,because it’s one of those words get thrown

around a lot and not everybody,you know, comes with this knowledge

already built in. A platform is basically

your public facing persona,your public facing reach.

It is anything you do that interfaceswith your readers, your public fans,

strangers, whatever,so it can cover a lot of ground.

Typically what you’ll see people think offirst is things like your website,

your mailing list, your social media,OK, it can be more than that.

Speaking engagements wouldbe part of your platform.

But but again, most people tend to focus

on website mailing lists,social media as kind of the core of that.

I’m going to say don’t limit yourself. If

you have an avenue toto reach people in another way,

don’t say, oh, it’s not Twitter.It doesn’t count.

It definitely counts.

It probably counts more than Twitter does.

OK, social mediais kind of a vanity metric.

We’ve talked about that beforein marketing. But anyway,

we’ll get to that.

But what I want you to think of is,the platform is everything you have

that is — sorry, I just saw Kate, “everythingcounts more than Twitter.”

I don’t know, maybe like, you know,Friendster or whatever.

Anyway, whatever.

You think about everything you’re doing

that’s interfacing with the public,any time people can see you and your work

and both of those, you and/or your work,that’s part of your platform.

My strong recommendationis that you assess all of these

pieces of your platform,and I’m going to, just in a way that makes

me happy, describe them astentacles going in all directions.

There’s my Twitter following and here’smy Facebook page and here’s my website.

This is my newsletter.

This is the speaking engagement.

This is my my weekly stream.

You know, all of these things.

And you’re going to have all of thosefunneling back to one central hub.

Yes.Kate, I’m sorry.

You do have to make your work visible.

That is part of having a platform.

It is easier to sell your product ifpeople are aware that there is a product.


So, OK, well, that is a whole otherthing that we can we can go into.


you’re all you want to bring allof these back to one central hub.

People have different hubs that they use.

But my absolute strongest recommendation,

and I’m not going to mention anything else,would be to have a website.

The reason for this is you controlyour website, you own your website.

You can take your website anywhere

if you have done it well.

And we’ll get to this, too.

If you’ve done it well,you can hop to another server,

have that website back upand running again in minutes.

And and it doesn’t matter if the companywho was hosting your website goes down.

It doesn’t matter if you know

what we are living through.

And I’m not going to get terribly

political, but we areliving through a, “Oh, noes,

I hate this social media,

I’m going to move to this other socialmedia where they only turn off the people

I disagree with” and allof this stuff is going on.


putting your eggs in the more volatilebaskets is probably not a great plan.

So the advice has long been to havea website as your hub,

and I think that’s becoming only moreand more important as we go forward.

So.So, yeah, there we go.

So let’s talk aboutthat actually, just for a moment.

The absolute essential part that I want

to use as a hub and whether or not this ismy sole, whether it is my my primary

piece of my platform,or whether it’s just the

organizing center,that’s something that we can work with.

But I really, really wantthat hub to be there and

my strong recommendation is that you build

your website in a way that it isthe most flexible and most portable.

What I mean by that is, my Web site

I build on WordPress, open sourcecontent management software.

And I would do that, you know,there’s others, there are other competing

open, you know,open management content management

software, Joomla is another one, OK,there are others out there,

but I use WordPress and I would recommendWordPress if you’re just getting started.

I used to use Joomla.I switched.

It’s not that, it’s not that Idon’t like other things.

I’m just trying to recommend things that I

think would be the mostuseful for you at this time.

Here’s the thing.If you go with one of those proprietary

website builders, Wix is one,Squarespace is one.

Weebly, something like that.

Those work only on that company’s server.

You can’t export it,

hop over to another hostand put it back up.

You need to start from scratch.

That means you are stuck with them

should their service degradeor their prices increase.

You have a lot more friction to getting

out because you haveto start over if you get out

and if something happens, you know,there’s a,

you know, an attack on one of theirservers or whatever

where they get into trouble legally orwho knows what the case might be.

You’re at the mercy of everything that’s

going on before you can getback up and operational again.

Whereas if you have something that isextremely flexible and can be hosted

anywhere, WordPress isopen source software.

You can put it anywhere.

I can export my WordPress site.

Actually, I probably don’t even haveto because I’m making regular backups.

Right.You’re making regular backups of your

website, just like you wouldbackup your work in progress.

Just say, OK, so but I’ve got that backup.

I set up a new hosting account.

I click import boom.

I’m up again in a couple of minutes, OK?

And so this this particular host,their service is slowing down.

They’re having problems.

They’re increasing their rates.And I don’t like it.

I can move to a new place and be up.So yes, Shy. Backups! Backups!

Kate’s sneaking off to back up her website.Good.

Thank you.All right.

Excellent.My work here is done.

Accomplished a purpose today.

Anyway, all that to say,

if I have a great community on

a particular social media orgreat community on another

community based platform, like we talkedabout World Anvil,

or if you are in a particular fandomand you’re very active there.

Yeah.Whatever the case might be.

But people know they can come back to thishub to find you and everything that you

do,then it doesn’t matter as much if

something else goes wrong because youstill have control over the center part.

So my website has links to where you can

find me and all those other places,but the website is where everything

resides and that’s whereeverything you can find me.

So I recommend that.

The other thing, another reason I recommend WordPress

is it’s incredibly popular.

It’s ridiculously popular.

Literally a third of the Internetruns on WordPress.

OK, what this means is anything youever want to do has already been done.

Something has been built for it.

And there’s a tutorial on how to do it

so you don’t have to learnstuff from scratch.

And I know I know a lotof those proprietary builders

get people in because they say,

look how easy it is, but that’s a shortterm win for longer term issues.

I would much prefer to take some timeto get that to get started with WordPress

and then have something that Ican keep for the next 50 years.


and yes.

So let me just say that there we go.

And WordPress is incrediblysearch engine friendly.

If you if you know,you’ve heard about search engine

optimization and the importance of that,WordPress is very easy to optimize

and it’s mobile friendly.

You want to make sure you builda site that is mobile friendly.

And the other thing you want to make sureyou do, if you’re really after

getting some traction, is make surethat your website is not static.

So an easy way to dothat is to have a blog.

There’s lots of other things.

You just want to make sure that something

is getting updated on it regularlythat will keep it alive in your search

engine results and people willbe more likely to find you.

So what you would like is when you put in your name,

which is fairly distinctive in my caseand other cases, you might want to put

in your name plus books orauthor or something like that,

but you want to make sure that your

website’s coming up pretty much at the topof that list and that that means anybody

who’s searching for you,you can grab them and now you can pull

them onto your platform and now youcan reach them with your message.

So there’s my there’s my website chatter.


I literally had no idea that was a thing.

What was that the websites or I’m sorry,was that the back ups or something else?

Kate and I, I’m slow on the chat, so Idon’t know how long ago you asked that.

The other

oh, backing up a website.

Yes, I yeah,

and most hosts will do that for youto some degree, but I recommend that you

do it yourself because then you alwaysmake sure again you have the control.

I’m a control freak.OK, this is what this is about.

Control freak.

The other thing that is part of yourplatform core would be your mailing list.

And again, if you’ve beenin the publishing industry,

you’ve definitely heard aboutthe importance of having a mailing list or

a newslettercalled a couple of different things,

basically, again,a way to directly contact your readers.

And again, it goes back to control.

If I’m relying on Facebook to reach people

and we’re watchingFacebook’s organic reach.

It’s approaching zero.It’s not a way of —

and, hey, they’re a business.

They’re allowed to make money.

Like that’s that’s how it works.

But it means that if I want to reach

people, I can’t rely on putting somethingon my Facebook page and expecting

everybody who’s likedmy Facebook page to see it.

Facebook wants me to pay for that.

And then they want me to pay more if I

want more of them to see itand all of that sort of thing.

And then that’s also relying on people

checking in on Facebook that particularday, which isn’t always the case,

or people remembering that theyfollowed me on Facebook.

And now when they’re moving to another

platform because, you know, allthe social media drama that’s going on,

you know, are they still going to beconnected with me in some way?

OK, or do I have to suddenly put myself

on every single socialmedia platform that exists?

The answer to that is no, please don’t.

You know, it’s not good for you.

But anyway, all that to say is you needsome way to contact people directly.

And for most of us, the easiestway to do that is a newsletter.

I’m happy to answer somequestions about newsletters.

I don’t want to spend a ton of time on it.

My purpose here tonight was just to say

it’s important and youshould probably have one.

There are best practiceswith the newsletters that I mentioned.

Just very, very quickly, you absolutelywant to be using a mailing service.

Do not just enter the emails of everybody

into your personal emailaccount and send them.

That is all kinds of problematicand in some cases illegal.

So just just don’t. Get an actualmailing service and do that.

OK, so sorry.

You got some chat coming through.

I want to make sure I get to see.

Bridger asked “doubly self-employedand creativity and behavior and a control

freak? Gasp surprised.”At the behavior conference this weekend,

I was explaining I believe alltrainers are control freaks.

That’s how we get into training.

Yeah, that’s how that is. So OK.

So Pjzoofit says that some of their personal emails

aren’t reaching followers,but MailChimp always gets through.

Here’s the thing.I can go in and tweak stuff

with my mailing service and thisis where you have to go,

this is going to get your hands greasyand you’re going under the hood.

So, you know, if this if thisisn’t your thing, don’t do this.

We start with the easy parts, you get,

you build onto the restof it as you need to.

But I can go in and do some

technical tweaking to makemy mail more deliverable.

And then there’s things that I can process

and watch and and lookfor in a mailing list.

So, yeah.

So that’s just absolutelysomething to to keep in mind.

Mailing list services comeand a wide variety of pricing.

I personally use Sendy.I used to use MailChimp.

I’m not as happy with them anymore.

I use Sendy now.

Sendy is great.

If you have a website and you want to hostSendy yourself, then it’s dirt cheap.

And if you don’t, if you aren’t hostingyour own website,

then you’re probably going to have to payfor a mailing service that’s like

MailChimp or Convert Kit or, you know,there’s a lot of them out there.

So anyway, yeah, I if.

Just have one is the short answer,

there are, as I said, best practices.In the United States,

you have to have an unsubscribe link.

Guys, like it has to bethere or it’s illegal.

You have to have people opt in.

You can’t add them.

If you add them withoutopting in, it’s illegal.

Just just also it’s just reallyrude behavior and nobody likes it.

And annoying peopledoesn’t sell books.

So don’t do that.

“Dirt cheap control freakis speaking my language.”

Yeah.See right there.

OK, I will actually share a Sendy link.

If anybody is interested in that Iwill put that in the show notes.

I do have a referral link so I’llbe happy to, happy to share that.

But it’s something I cananswer some questions about.

I, I’ve been really happy with it and it’s

so much cheaper than if I were payingfor the same thing on MailChimp.

So OK.

And by so much cheaper,

I mean I spend something like twenty,

twenty five cents a month asopposed to eighty dollars a month.

OK, I, I’m so much cheaper.Right.

So actually OK, you know what people are

asking me, see if I cangrab it really fast.

We’ll see how fast I can make this happen.

This will be fun

anyway, while that’s going on.

I see people make mistakes with

with mailing lists, where they just startgrabbing. I’ll just tell you a story

I was at an event (this is in the beforetimes when we still had live events)


here we go, get this link and share this.

And I had a book tablenext to another person who

was, we ended up talking about,

you know, events and things wewere doing to market and whatnot.

And he asked if I would be interestedin participating in a thing.

And I said yes.

And so we were chatting backand forth and he asked for my email.

And so I gave him my email becausewe were talking about doing a

you know, sharing some marketinginformation and whatnot.


there’s about a minute later Ipicked up my phone and ping.

There’s an email welcoming me

to his mailing list and asking mefor some information and whatnot.

And I’m looking at it like,

you just took my email and stuckit on your mailing list.

And so

I was like, oh, wow, that, you know,

autoresponder came pretty quickly orsomething, just kind of casually threw

that over my shoulder, and hehe just kind of tensed up.

“I didn’t realize it wouldsend that fast.” Like,

you knew you were doing.

OK, just don’t do that.So there we go.

Yes.Adam, Sendy is self hosted.

I host it.

I run a bunch of websites on one account,so I have a virtual private server.

And so I just throw Sendy on that.

But if you have a shared hosting or any

place that you can put your database,you can run Sendy off of it.

Oh, pjzoofit

excellent question.

“I don’t have enough followersto have to pay for MailChimp.”

So you’ve got probably fewerthan two thousand followers.

I think that’s the MailChimp cutoff.

Sendy you purchase the software which I

think is sixty, sixty fivedollars to purchase the software

that then now you own that softwarelicense, you can buy, you can pay

an amount to upgrade it for major changes,but minor updates are included, like major,

like most software packages and thenyou use Sendy to, to connect to.

And we’re trying to hugelysimplify here guys,

I’m sorry. But Amazon Web Services,SES the simple email service.

So you connect Sendy to that.

Then you can send your bulk email forSES prices, which I’m not kidding.

I will send

I think I can send five thousand emailsfor 14 cents or something like that.

Yeah, so you’re buying

the software up front,but then you’re not paying that monthly

fee thereafter and the purchaseof the software up front is not bad.


yeah.Grace is agreeing,

“look, I gave you my business card.

Does not mean I want to join the list.”

Don’t be that person, ok?

I strongly recommend having a double opt

in, meaning people haveto sign up for your list.

They get an email saying, please confirmthat you want to be on the list.

They have to click that again.

Then you do not get anyaccidental sign ups.

If ever pressed,

you can say, look,they double opted in on this date.

All of that is kept in your softwareand that takes care of a lot of that legal

pressure and recordkeeping and stuff for you.

So anyway, that’s why you want


proper mailing service for this.

Don’t just don’t just throw thingsinto your personal email.

It’s not your best option.

OK, let’s get back on track because I

got a little excited aboutmailing list there, but happy to.

Happy to.

What am I trying to say, happy to answerquestions about that if they still exist.

Kate’s mentioning that she bought stickers

from an author onceand got added to her list.

So that’s one that’s technically legal,but not everybody likes it.


so if you have a business relationship,

you can add somebody to yourbusiness mailing list.

And so if you’ve purchased something,then that is a business relationship.

However, not everybody super thrilledto automatically get added to the list,

and that’s why I stronglyrecommend having a double opt in.

So, oh, Alena is asking, is in a doubleopt in now required legally?

It is in other parts of the world,I think definitely in Europe.

I think that’s the whole GDPR thing.

I think that’s a double opt in required.

It is not required unless it’s changedvery recently in the United States.

So I’m still seeing a lot of liststhat are not double opt in.

And curiously, MailChimp

recently, I think, changed their defaultfrom a double opt in to a single opt in.

They could have changed it back by now,which would be nice actually.

But yeah, it’s definitely one of those

things you want to you wantto double check because,

you know, if you’re in an area whereit’s required legally, please have that.

If you’re an area where it’s not requiredlegally or if your service doesn’t have

that as the default,you want to turn that on.

So, OK.

But yeah, it’s just oneof those best practices things.

OK, so we’ve got our websiteand we’ve got our mailing list.

Those are the core things.

That’s where we’re going to have fullcontrol over our platform and our direct.

We can can reach our people directly

without relying on anybody else’s toolsor anybody else’s audiences.

But those are not are goingto be our only platform.

We’re also going to see things like,like I said, being part of a community,

having social media, speaking engagements,anything, you know,

anything else that’s that’s going to be,you know, interfacing with humans.

That’s also going to bepart of your platform.

I want to talk a little bit about social

media, because I think this iswhere people get bogged down a lot.

And like I said, I did I did some quickGoogling just to make sure I was

remembering things clearly, and where I wasfinding people talking about

being successful with socialmedia as a platform,

you know, they said “now, remember,

in order for this to work,you have to do it all day, every day.”

And I was like, “no, I want to write books.

That’s why I became a writer.

I didn’t become a writerso I could sit on Twitter.”

And this was a person talking about,you know, crafting twenty,

twenty five tweets a day andcultivating followers and and, you know,

choosing how to read tweetfrom maximum follower benefit.

And I’m just like, oh my gosh,no, I got stuff to do, OK.

So yeah that’s.Yeah.

Which is it.That’s nuts.

Yes.Yes it is.

OK, so this is why I wanted to address itand make sure that everybody understands

that you do not have to committo this in order to be successful.

A lot of the advice about you have to have

this many followers and this is the bestway to do that and all of that.

If you actually start looking at when

that advice was coming out,a lot of it’s from 2010, 2012, you know,

range and people either are stillrepeating it for some reason

or you’re looking at a websitethat’s just never updated that.

And yeah, I will say that I thinkthe playing field was a little bit

different in 2010 becauseTwitter was a newer platform.

It wasn’t nearly so crowded.

And I just think things reallydid feel a little bit different then.

Yeah, it’s 2021 now.

We can do things a little bit differently.We can update.

OK, and so I’ve got other stuff to do

other than be on Twitterfor eight hours a day.

So I’m just, the other thing that we do

know about social media is followersdo not translate into sales.

And I looked, I had statistics on this,but I couldn’t find them.

The stats were just from a couple of years

ago and then I couldn’t findthem in time for the show.

So I obviously put themin a very safe place.

But I want to say the number was something

about like three quarters of onepercent or ish of your followers will,

that will be direct sales.

So if you have, you know,

a thousand followers on Twitter,somewhere between one and two of them

are going to buy, you know,based on based on your reach there.

Is that across the board,are there exceptions to that?

Absolutely, but that’s a smallenough return on investment,

that’s not where I’m goingto spend the most of my time.

I’m going to spend more time places where

I can have a much, much betterinteraction like my mailing list.


OK,so I’m just making sure

checking the chat again, OK, pjzoofitsends a welcome newsletter

to ensure it’s coolthat they’re on the list.

Yeah, perfect.

And I strongly recommend thatthe autoresponder to start and even like

a drip sequence to welcome themto the list, your newsletter and then give

them something to thankthem for being there.

Here’s some free stuff. And allof those are great plans.


We can spend lots of timeon a newsletter at some point,


Yes, is the short versionis for social media.

Have fun, do stuff you like,

do stuff that’s working for youand do not feel bad about

“I don’t have a quartermillion followers,” OK?

I don’t have twenty five thousand

followers or five twentyfive hundred followers, ok.

It’s way better to have a small numberthat’s highly engaged than a large number.

That’s nothing.

And I I think I’m justgoing to jump ahead,

I’ll come back in just a second.


I’m going to jump ahead,I think where some of that was coming

from, you know, jump back 10 years agowhen you were hearing all of this about

the minimum number of to getpublished and all of that

traditional publishing was realizingthat social media was becoming a thing

and it was going to be a big deal and theyjust didn’t know what to do with it yet.

And it looked like a nice, easy metric,you know, to pick out what was going to be

saleable because you had youraudience already built in.

So at first glance,it was an easy mistake to make.

But I think, you know,several things happened.

One, they realized, you know,if you look at me and you say, hey,

I like your concept, but you’ve only got Xfollowers and we need a minimum

of whatever, twenty five thousandor whatever, I’m making numbers up.

You know, they realized I can say, OK,and come back tomorrow with twenty five

thousand dollars, having spent30 bucks to acquire them.


Like followers don’tactually mean anything.

And the other thing is they realized

that followers don’t translateinto sales frequently.

People follow somebody because they’re

funny on Twitter, but theydon’t want to buy their book.

Right.Those aren’t necessarily

the same the same audience.


I think we’re seeing a lot lessof that now,

it doesn’t mean you still won’t hear, itdoesn’t mean there might still be some

publishers out there with those numbersstill stuck in their in their

board minutes somewhere because it’supdating quickly is not what traditional

publishing is known for, but that’s notwhere I would spend my time worrying.


any savvy publisher will know that socialmedia is a tiny part of your sales.

They will know that you can reach people

in lots of ways that aren’t justhaving a huge Twitter following.

I’m going to say don’t waste your time.

If you’re on Twitter and youenjoy Twitter, more power to you.

But if you’re spending time trying to getfollowers instead of spending time

writing, you’re not that’s notthe best use of your resources.

So the exception to that is if you are

writing non-fiction, having a platform,having an established platform is still

a valuable tool to to get publishereyes in that way, because nonfiction is

all about having authorityand having credibility.

And it’s way easier to sell somethingto that from somebody that people already

recognize as an expertthan it is to be like, hey,

you’ve never heard of this person, butchange your life based on what she says.

And so it’s there is more of that.

That’s still going to be truefor nonfiction. For fiction,

it’s a lot less truethan you may have heard.

OK, so let me check here.

PJ asks, how do I avoid going downrabbit holes on social media?

Oh, gosh.

Like if we had that, I couldwrite non-fiction and retire.

Yeah.So some of this has to do with

using social media for marketing versus

using social media for your personalleisure time

and your personal leisure time as longas you’re getting your work done.

Have a great time.

The rabbit holes in social media

for marketing.

It’s better if you know what your goals

are and then you can choose how to engagein a way that furthers those goals rather

than just feeling like you have to respondto everything and you have to be

everywhere and you have to do all thethings on all the platforms all the time.

And that’s not true.

And it’s not going to be helpful for you.

If you go in saying, OK,I am going to use this platform for this

purpose and this is how I’m going to tellif it’s working,

that gives you a lot more parametersand then you can make informed decisions.

And as far as the follow up,

is it better to be just on oneplatform or the more the better?

I would say pick two maybe.

As your, you know,this is where I enjoy hanging out.

This is where, this isa platform that I like to use.


and that if you want to do someothers after that is secondary.

OK, maybe.

But it’s again, it goes back toit’s better to have one or two things you

do well than a bunchof things you do poorly.

So I am very technically on Tumblr.

I have a Tumblr accountwith my name on it.

I am terrible at using Tumblr.

I don’t like the format.

I don’t keep up with it.

And I have been seriously considering

deleting my account justso it doesn’t look bad

if somebody finds me on Tumblr and thinksthis is the effort I put in when I

actually have much betterpresentation on other platforms.

So, you know, do not try to be everywhere.

That’s not fair to you.

And, you know, so pick pick a couple ofthings that you enjoy and do those well.

So, um, OK.

Yeah.”So I have started to equate the magic

number to your willingness to exertthe effort to market your book.”

I’m sorry, Shy.You’re allowed to like Tumblr.

Alena is also like really good at Tumblr.

I’m just not good at Tumblr.

OK, there are things I’m good at.

That’s not one of them.It’s on me.

I’ll just acknowledge that.But yeah.

Going back to to PJ’s comment,I think that’s one of the things

publishers were looking at, was, OK,how have you been putting the effort in?

Have you been developing a market,all that sort of thing.

And you do need to bewilling to market your book.

You do need to be willingto put the effort in.

But a big number isnot the best indicator of that.

Again, if you’ve got a thousand followerswho are rabid fans or twenty five thousand

followers who are like, yeah,I read you once in a while, OK,

those thousand are way,way more valuable both in in terms

of engagement and in termsof actual sales figures.

So so yeah.

There we go.

OK, all right.

So look, Grace is also, Tumblr’slow pressure.

You know what, like you guys canhave a little Tumblr enclave.

I’ll visit once in a while.

I’m just not going to be great at it.


All right.

So I want to mention, too,especially since she’s here in the chat.

ShyRedFox ishas been building a really nice piece

of platform on World Anvil,we talked about that.

Oh gosh, was that last week?I have no idea.

Like time has no meaning,especially when at a conference

in the middle. Last week, two weeks ago? Idon’t know, we talked about World Anvil.


so that would be a great example of having

another tendril or tentacle going offin another direction,

getting a lot of attention there, gettingyour developing relationships there.

And I just want to emphasize platform, ifyou think of platform in terms of where am I

developing relationships,everything becomes a lot clearer.


so lots of relationships and interaction

there and that’s valuable stuff,I would say.

OK, great.That’s you know, it’s an awesome front.

And then just make sure that you’re alsogetting those people somewhere where you

can interact with them directlywithout relying on another platform

just because stuff happens.

OK, but something like that,

I want to use that as an example,because that’s a fantastic way where you

can go off, do something that you love,hang out with people you enjoy,

and that counts as marketing, guys.Marketing doesn’t have to be terrible.

You know, you can do something that youreally enjoy and it will work for you.

So I said something about a numberof followers does not translate to sales.

That is largely true.

I want to point out one possible exceptionto that that you might see,

and that is if you are knownin a particular community,

whether that’s World Anvil or Twitter or,you know, pick pick something.

And you’ve been there a long time

and you’ve developed a lotof relationships there.

A lot of times those people will buy yourfirst book sale or something

because they know you, because theylike you and they will support you.

And that’s great.

OK, so what I would say is you takeadvantage of that, you know,

not take advantage of those people,but those people.

Hey, hey, stop.Stop making noise here.

I’m working.

Sorry, Doberman under the desk.

Those people count.

Hey, not take advantage of them,

but those people do countfor your marketing purposes.

But you get one chance to be awesome, OK?

Because they didn’t sign up for your

material so much asthey signed up for you.

So your material needs to hook them if you

want to keep them in yourfan base long term.

So, yeah, there we go.

OK, let’s check the chat here.



Alena is pointing out that sheruns eleven Tumblr blogs.

OK, I said she was good at it.All right.

Would you like to run mine?How about twelve?

Do you like twelve?OK,

really enjoy, pjzoofit says, really

enjoy doing videos and podcastsbut starting a podcast is terrifying.

Yeah I know! This is,this is why I’m still getting–

I had no idea I was goingto be streaming, but here I am.

Sometimes we just experiment with stuff.

And you know, here’s the thing.

If you find out it’s workingfor you and you enjoy it, great.

If you find out that it’s not working

for you and you don’t enjoy it,that’s information, too.

If you find out it’s not working for you,but you do enjoy it,

hey, find out if that countsas leisure time, OK?

You know, just don’t count it as marketing. Call it good, right?

OK, so I’ll come back to that in just

a second, but Bridger ischanting for the dog cam.


you’re all right.

Let’s get you in real fast.

Sorry, she’s just there.

She is right there.

And I don’t know if I can get the dog cam

up because I got camerasflying everywhere.


So let’s.

Oh, look, see, you canbuy followers right now.

Yeah.Like that.

This is why followers don’t,this is why follower counts

don’t matter, because I could spenda couple of bucks and have more.

All right.Let’s get this up.


ShyRedFox asked if she should be,you know, moving something,

moving her author platform.I would say you’ve got a huge,

huge advantage in those relationshipsthat you’ve developed in World Anvil

and the reach that you’vedeveloped in World Anvil.

But I would be afraid to

to use World Anvil as my hub, just becauseI don’t have control of World Anvil

in the same way that I would have controlof my newsletter or have control of my


And if you look back a few years,you know, some years ago,

not that long ago, but I meanforever in Internet years.

But it was only a few years ago people

were saying, oh, don’tworry about a website.

You can just have a Facebook page.

Then you don’t haveto learn how to manage it.

And it’ll always be there.

And you can do what — no!

Because you can’t reach anybodywith just a Facebook page.

Right.Like your organic reach is minimal.

And I think eight percent isthe high number right now.


So I just want to make sure that I have

something that’s future proofedthat I can always get to.

So but go ahead.

And anything that, any time you aregetting people to engage with you

and they like you and theylike what you’re doing,

that’s fantastic.

That’s part of, that is platformand that’s part of it.

Just make sure that then you alsohave a way to reach them directly.

Yeah.So thank you, random spammer,

for giving us that illustration ofof how that worked.

So awesome.

OK, everybody likes the dog cam.Awesome.

I can get back to my notes here.

I understand why you’re here.

OK, like I’m a nice secondary feature,but we know how this works.

All right.

It’s a bit OK.

The other thing and I’m going to movequickly so we can wrap up here.

The other thing is wherever you are

on your platform, whatever piece of thisit is, be yourself, just be you.

It is way, way easier toto feel like an authentic

person that people want to relate with ifyou are being an authentic person.


And the other thing is like

I’m not going spend a ton of time on thisbecause we’ve talked about it before

in the marketing “who am I?”talks and those kinds of things.

But a huge part of marketing is filtering

out the people who arenot your audience.

So if you are trying to beall things to all people,

and then you’re going to bring thosepeople in and then you’re going to try

to sell them something, you’re goingto have problems with engagement.

You’re going to have problems with sales.

You’re gonna have problemswith dissatisfied customers because they

were not your demographic,they were not your audience.

Filter them out by being who you are.

Then the people who stay with you are

interested in that and they’reinterested in your work.

So it’s also just way easier because, oh,

man, facades are hard. SoI can make it easy.

So OK.

And then along with that,I’ll just touch on this briefly because

it’s 2021 and we’ve beenspending a horrible few years in politics.

And one thing that I hear people talk

about a lot is, you know,should I share opinions, should I share

politics, should I revealwhat I think about things?

And there’s a lot of people I knowwho play it safe and I see a lot of people

advise to play it safe and justonly talk about your favorite flavors

of cookies, don’t talk aboutpolitics, you know, whatever.

And it’s hard to argue with that.

It really is, like, you canavoid a lot of angst that way.

So that is a perfectly valid opinion.

I tend to be a little more honest

just because, again,I go back to authentic marketing.

And so there’s two parts to this one.

I’m actually a prettycentrist person politically.

It’s not to say that my, you know,

some of the right wing peoplethink I’m hugely left wing.

Some of the left wing people think I’m

hugely right, but I’mactually really centrist

and I tend to argue against concepts

rather than against parties or peopleas a general rule.

So in a typical election year,

I might vote for four different partiesand I might call out several different

things that I’m for oragainst or whatever.

But I’m not approaching itin a particularly volatile way.

The other thing — so I feelthat a little bit safer.

It doesn’t mean I don’t get drama.

OK, but I’m also not a personality type

that’s like, oh no,that person disagreed with me.

Now my week is ruined.

You know,that’s one of those things where you just

have to kind of know whatyou what you like to do.

And I don’t like to.

And I’m not into a slapfight just for a slap fight.


The other thing, and this is where I’m

coming from on this,and again, there’s lots

of other people who do it another

way, so know what you’regoing to be happiest doing.

But I go back to the marketingand the authenticity thing.

If you see me on social media and youdon’t like my opinions, that, you know,

women are real humans and bullyingis bad and science is cool.

And,you know, I have a Judeo-Christian

worldview about wrongdoing and mercyand redemption and serving people.

And if you don’t like all of those

things, then you’re notgoing to like my books.

So why am I trying to keep you with me?

Because all of that stuffis going to be in my books.

So for me, it goes back to I’m marketingmy brand and marketing my content and I’m

filtering out the people who arenot going to like that stuff.

So for me, that is part of my marketing.

On the other hand, again,

I know I’m a personality type that ifsomebody says, oh, my gosh,

I can’t believe that you didn’t support X,therefore I’m going to unfollow you

and I’m going to tellyou why I’m unfollowing you.

Be like, OK. You know, it’sit’s America, you can do that. Bye.

But if that’s something that is

going to hurt you, then don’tset yourself up for that.

So this comes back to knowing,you know, do what you enjoy?


Like first rule,if you hate it, you won’t do it.

So it won’t be good marketing.

OK, so yeah.

“i don’t actively discuss politics,

but dear God, it’s beennearly impossible this year.”


That’s why I wanted to just makesure that I mentioned that.

So yeah.

And ShyRedFox is saying, “personalsocial media do a tiny bit of politics.

My author pen name doesn’t touch it.”Right.

And if you’ve got a pen name,it’s way easier to keep those

separate or if you have totallyseparate social media accounts.

My personal Twitter accountis my author Twitter account.

OK, so you know,

and again, I don’t particularly goon a lot of rants on Twitter, but,

you know, but you could probablyfigure out where I sit on some issues.

And again, I just lookat that as, that’s part of me being me.


All right.Thanks, guys.

All right.So

so the sum up on this is your platform.

The easiest way to think about yourplatform is developing relationships.

And I know we say this a lot, but

marketing is way more aboutrelationships than it is about sales.

Sales is one small part of marketing.

And if that is wholly unfamiliar to you,jump back to previous episodes,

because we spent well, I spent a lotof time on that talking about marketing.

Oh, gosh.

I think in the fall,I think there’s the marketing

episodes there that wouldbe very much more relevant to that.

But if you’re worried about

trying to have a platform whereyou’re trying to push a lot of sales,

you’re making your lifeharder than it needs to be.

Think about where am I developing

relationships, where am Iinteracting with people?

And again, in ways that you enjoy,

because if you hate it,you’re not going to do it.

And if you’re not going to do it,it’s not going to be useful.

OK, so stick to a few areasthat you enjoy and do well.

And then if you pick up anythingelse on the side, great.

But at least you have that core.

So have some place you can reach peopledirectly and have some things that you can

interact with people in waysthat you and they both enjoy.


That’s most of what I had tonight.

It might be all of what I had tonight.

Let me check.


all right.So Shyredfox was remembering when she did

say some things on Twitterand we’ve all been there.

OK, who among us has not.


So anyway,

are there any questionsabout this? This timed out

better than I was thinkingthat I would on this.


probably because I got on a rollabout mailing lists or something.

So any questions on this or if not,we will wrap up and hop over

and raid Alena,who I know has some very pretty things

tonight because I saw whatshe’s going to work on.

Hey, thank you very much.

P.J. says this is awesome.

Hey, I try to be helpful.

I feel like

I’ve spent way too long beating my headagainst stuff to not make

that into something usefulby saving somebody else’s time.


Shy asks what are my favorite,more unusual parts of my author platform?

Hey, I’m doing one right now!

And this is something I never thought I

would be doing.My first time ever on Twitch,

like on the website at all,was in May of last year, not even as a

not as a streamer, but as seeinga stream for the first time.

I’d known Twitch existed for a long time,but I just had no reason to be here.

Right.So yeah.

Hi.Pandemic surprise.


Alena says she’s not ready.OK, good.

I got to fill three minutes here,

but but yes, I’ve actually reallyenjoyed setting up this weekly thing.

I was thinking about writing a book onbusiness for authors because a lot

of writers come into writing without,you know, an entrepreneurial background,

which is what selfpublishing really has to be.

It’s an entrepreneur thing.


so that kind of, I was writing that bookand it kind of morphed into a stream.

And so I don’t know, maybe I shouldstill put the book out there yet.


Yeah, but yeah, I thinkI’m having a good time.

This is something,this is something fun.

The other thing that,

again, speaking is again,

don’t just think of it as social media,which is what everybody thinks of first

when we hear the word platform, but anytime you’re interacting with people.

And so, like I just was speaking

at a conference this weekend,that’s part of my platform.

All right.So, you know, and I love teaching people.

I love doing workshops.

Those are so much fun.

And that’s a really effective wayto platform, because those are people

who are by nature of theof the venue far more personally engaged

than somebody who sees a tweetfrom Random Laura go by.

So, yeah, OK.

OK, so Bridger asks about jugglingmultiple branches of the platform

on the same platform,like training you versus writing you.

So yeah.

So on Twitter I have Laura VAB,which is my personal Twitter and my author

Twitter and I have Canines In Action,which is my animal behavior Twitter.

I have considered combining them

simply because I think itwould be easier for me.

Occasionally I re-tweetfrom the wrong account.

Fortunately nothing…

So does anybody else remember — how oldis everybody in the chat?

It’s a very… Remember when theRed Cross guy accidentally tweeted about

getting slizzered and it became a thing?Because it was talking about, you know,

passing out drunk on the Red Cross account.And they turned it into a good thing.

They handled it well.But anyway.

Yeah, so I haven’t done anythingthat embarrassing.

But you do have to doa little more planning.

I have multiple Facebook pages.

Alena has 11, 12,

I don’t know how many Tumblr blogs.

See, there is a little more planning

involved and it’s up to you howdistinct you want those to be.

You know,

does everybody know that you have multipleTwitter accounts and it’s all the one

person and but you with multiple accountsjust for different topics or you trying

to keep them totally separate becauseyou’re writing both sweet romance

and erotica and you don’twant those crossing over.

So just,

you know, just a lot of it is setting up

your goals and expectations and thenmaking choices to support that,

which is sounds really sensible,but it’s actually amazing how often we try

to make decisions to reachgoals that we haven’t defined.

It’s something we humans do a lot.

So, OK,

and pjzoofithas put a site in the chat

Creative Academy for Writers Dot com,you can check that out.

Shy asks, is a great jumpingoff point for that book?

I’ve got a lot of the businessfor authors book written.

I just kind of stopped because pandemicis a thing.


Grace is pointing out something that’sincredibly accurate,

which is she’s getting the impressionthat the choice of platform is less

important than the frequentappearance of cute animals.

Kittens do rule the Internet.

If you can put kittens and cute

cats and whatever into your stream, you’regoing to automatically pick people up.

Then you have to filter out which people

are not not appropriatefor your for your readership.

But I’m not even kidding.Use your animals.

Why do you think I have a dog cam?

Guys, I know you’re not here for me.You’re here for the dog.

Oh, by the way, she sankbelow there and now we go.

There’s cute Doberman.There we go.


yeah.Bridger I hope I answered your question

about multiple names on the samemedia venue.

If I didn’t make that clear,throw something else into the chat and

i’ll follow up.

Yeah.Grace is combining author and editor

because those are close and it’seasier than splitting. Absolutely fair.

And I’m debating like, right now I’ve beenputting all of this information,

which is specifically for writersand creative people,

also out on my author platform,which is supposed to be for readers.

It probably would be good if I want

to grow this, to split that off so Ican target those demographics more.

But that’s also a fair amount of work.

And I’m not making, you know,bank off this right?

This is something I do for fun

and because it’s useful to people,not because it pays.


that said, thank you very much,ShyRedFox, for your subscription.

I do appreciate that.

Um, so.So, yeah.

Oh, and Kate has thrownthe Red Cross story into the

the chat, so there’s a linkthere so you can read how that went.


And OK, awesome.


Great, that is, there we go,that’s platform in a nutshell.

I have no idea what we’re doing next week.What are we doing next week?

Next week is critique.

Next week we are.

We talked last monthabout receiving critique.

Next week, we’re going to talk about

giving critique in a useful,valid and behaviorally

appropriate way, because there’s so muchterrible information out there on how

to give critique, and it offendsme as a behavior professional.

So we’re going to fix it.All right.

And then after that,we have me coming back to talk about

historical fiber arts, which isgoing to be awesome and all of that.

So that means we are ready to hop over

to raid Alena, who’s got some reallypretty stuff to show off tonight.

Let me see if I can type her name.

Hey, thank you for following.I appreciate it.


“Will that includean anti-sandwich method rant?”

I felt so validated this weekend because I

was attending at this behaviorconference and I was attending a

behavior conference.It’s not just animal behavior.

Attending a fantastic session withChirag Patel on modifying human behavior.

And he, I’m going to violate myG-rating rule here for a second.

But he was like, “guys,we cannot do this shit sandwich thing,

where here,like, that was good.

This was really bad.

But that was good.”Like that.

The everybody talks about the sandwich

method as being a goodway to offer critique.

But everything we know about psychology is

this is one of the worstways we can do it.

It teaches people to ignore the positivefeedback that we’re giving.

So, yeah, more on that later.

OK, we’re going to head over to Alena.

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