Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Single Most Important Plank in Your Platform and a FREEBIE

You may have noticed that the holiday season is a good time for us bloggers to share the brilliant ideas of our fellows. Guest posts are little two-way gifts--one to the author doing the sharing and one to the authors doing the reading. They also are a great way for a blogger to avoid getting "blogged down" (yes, a pun!) during a season that's especially busy.  So today Laurel is talking about what I consider the single most important plank in your platform, your contact list.  But she's also offering a holiday gift that not only offers information every author should have, but shows them how a great e-book should look. If I were giving a prize for great e-book design, hers would win!


By Laurel Marshfield

One fairly easy way to build your author platform (a single plank of it, at least) is by systematically collecting the e-mail addresses of people interested in your book, your subject, or both. As your list of e-mails grows, it will become more and more valuable to your promotion efforts. Eventually, you’ll reach many thousands of people with a single online mailing. When that happens, you’ll reap the rewards of promoting your book to thousands of interested readers.

There’s one small problem. How do you convince people (those who know you, those who barely do, and those who don’t) to fork over their names and e-mail addresses? You can do that by offering them a gift--a bribe, actually. And one of the best bribes for an author is a free, downloadable e-book about something that those interested in your subject or your book will be fascinated by. Wow, you want them to think, I have to know what this e-book says. The freebie list-builder e-book bribe isn’t limited to nonfiction authors, either. It works equally well for those who write fiction and memoir, because the steps are essentially the same. Here they are:

~First, Find an Enticing Subject:

If you write self-help nonfiction, focus on the problem your readers want to solve, and write your e-book about one part of the solution. If you write fiction, focus on the world your novel creates, and provide more background information. Or tell the story of how you came to write your novel (locate the most exciting element, and dive into it more deeply). If you’ve written a memoir, provide material not covered in your book --tell stories you left out, or talk about aspects of your journey as an author. In every case, write about the one thing, or several things, your readers really want to know.

~Second, Use Your E-Book Opportunity Well:

Your freebie e-book is a chance to communicate in a more personal way with your readers and fans, to show them you’re worth their loyalty. Apart from intriguing information, offer them a way to cultivate a relationship with you. Encourage them to comment on your blog, or perhaps ask questions via an email address dedicated to that purpose. Be creative about finding the best way of connecting with your audience of readers. But do make yourself available (via the Internet) for reader-author dialogue. This is good for your book, but it’s more than that. Once you publish, you become a spokesperson for your book’s subject (nonfiction), or its world (fiction, memoir), and wise authors seek forums in which to fulfill the spokesperson role.

~Third, Create a Visually Appealing E-Book:

Your e-book should communicate with your readership in a meaningful and memorable way, but words aren’t everything in the effort to do that. The design of your e-book is nearly as important. Hire a professional designer to create something you’re proud of, an e-book your readers will want to print out and read, not just scan quickly online. Use lots of images or photographs to break up blocks of text. Use white space, too, for the same reason (you can buy images from many online sources; one of these is: ).

~Fourth, Provide Additional Resources:

To make your e-book more valuable, dedicate its final section to resources for your readers. If you write nonfiction, list other books; Web sites (include your own Web sites, too); organizations; and professionals in your field--all of whom can offer more insight on your topic. If you write fiction, provide links to your blog, Web site, book trailers, video and audio interviews, print articles, and book reviews. If you’ve written a memoir, list all of the above, depending upon what sort of world your book encompasses.

With a bit of research to find a topic enticing to your readers, a week or so spent writing, and the services of a professional designer, you can create an e-book your readers and fans will eagerly give you their email addresses to get. In return, your mailing list will grow into a useful promotional tool that sells your book and nurtures your career.

Want to see an example of what I’ve been talking about? Pick up a copy of my freebie e-book for authors by signing up for my free, periodically published newsletter at:
The signup form is in the upper right-hand corner. The e-book giveaway is I Need to Be a Bestselling Author -- Is That True? The Five-Destination Roadmap to Authorship.

~Laurel is owner of Blue Horizon Communications,1037 Waverly Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, where she specializes in BOOK MANUSCRIPTS AND PROPOSALS, Consultation, Manuscript Evaluation, Developmental Editing, Collaboration, Co-Writing, Ghostwriting, and Coaching for Authors and Writers. Reach her at  (215) 922-7207, or  She blogs for authors at Follow her on Twitter:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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