You started blogging to build a platform and land a traditional publishing deal. But you’ve got a problem. You’ve been blogging for while—a year or more—and you still don’t have a lot of readers.
You’ve been sharing posts on social media sites, blogging often and in a focused manner, but your efforts just haven’t paid off.
Yet, you are convinced you have a market. However, you can’t prove it by showing an agent or acquisitions editor your blog stats. And that means you won’t get traditionally published.
So, what’s a traditional-publishing holdout to do? After all, you need a platform to attract a literary agent or a publisher to your blog or blogged book, right?
Right, but you can attract readers to your blog in many ways you might not have tried.
Think Outside the Box
There are many ways to build a platform and elements that an agent or acquisitions editor might see as your unique way to attract readers to your book.
For example, Dorothy Hearst, the author of the Wolf Chronicles novels and an acquiring editor at Sounds True, said a publisher might look at the endorsements you can get for your book and determine that these well-known names are enough to attract readers to your book. After all, your connection to influencers who provides you with testimonials could mean promotion of the book to their audiences. That’s a big boost in your visibility, reach, and influence.
A foreword from a well-known person also can help you get traditionally publshed, especially if that person is willing to promote your book to his audience.
If you teach or speak on your topic, this also can be a convincing platform element. If you do so often and to large audiences, all the better. But Hearst said that even a small teaching or speaking platform could look like the start of something bigger to a publisher—and provide enough evidence that you will be able to help sell your book upon release.
Hearst explained that when an aspiring author has a small platform, the ability to show potential to build readerships in a market can be enough to land a deal.
She pointed to her own novels, Wolf Chronicles. She was able to draw on the wolf community—groups and organizations involved with or interested in wolves—as platform. Therefore, it’s important to consider what special interest groups might provide a target for your platform-building and promotion efforts.
And don’t forget traditional media. If you publish even a few articles or essays in magazines or newspapers that target your audience, these becomes effective platform elements. During a Nonfiction Writers’ University event, Rachel Randall, the editorial director of Writer’s Digest Books, said article writing is an attractive platform elements—one of the top ones editors and agents look for when examining a writer’s platform.
Of course, you can also do speak and get involved in a community or market with podcast and radio appearances if your target audience listens to the shows.
Work Your Networks
Don’t forget about your social networks when it comes to building platform. The number of followers you have on each network plays a huge part in your platform, and acquiring editors and agents pay a lot of attention to your online following and image.
Of course, you should be sharing your posts on social media sites regularly…and on as many as possible. But there’s more you can do.
For example, you can start a Facebook, Google Plus, or LinkedIn group related to your subject. One successful group can be enough to prove to an agent or acquisitions editor that you have a platform to help sell books.
Additionally, if you have a large number of fans or followers on one particular site, this could be a big enough platform to land a traditional publishing contract.
Running a Twitter chat can prove powerful as well. If your chat becomes popular in your target market, this could prove an adequate platform, too.
If you aren’t getting readers or traffic to your blog, the problem might be that your posts aren’t getting noticed. Consider ways to get your work more attention.
I asked Joel Friedlander of thebookdesigner.com what he would do to get some readers fast. He offered these four suggestions:
- Pick a (friendly) fight with someone in your niche.
- Write a controversial blog post.
- Interview someone famous on your site.
- Have a contest with real prizes.
With Friedlander’s first two points—pick a fight or write a controversial post, the idea is to attract attention to yourself and your site via your opinion. An opinion that challenges that of another authority in your target market can be a good thing. It showcases your authority on a topic and lets the audience of that expert know you exist—and have something important to say. They then will want to know more and visit your site.
If you can get some engagement from the other expert, fabulous. In addition to commenting on their blog post, tag them on Twitter or Facebook when you talk about their recent blog post. They then have the opportunity to respond. A dialogue with differing opinions is always interesting—and drives the other expert’s audience to your site to check you out.
If you interview someone with a platform larger than yours and post it on your blog, their audience will show up at your site to read what the expert said. This powerful tactic works even better if the expert shares the post or interview on social media sites, which most will do.
If you can get an influencer to write a guest post for you, this works equally well. Feature it on your blog, ask them to share it with their audience, and tag them when you share. Those who click through to read the guest post might stick around to read your work, too.
Guest posting for well-trafficked sites in your target market builds platform and blog readership, too. It puts your work and name in front of another experts audience—one that, hopefully, is larger than yours. They follow the links you provide in your post back to your blog.
People will do almost anything for a prize, claims Friedlander—even a $10 Amazon gift certificate. When you promote a giveaway or contest taking place on your blog to your followers on social networks, you drive those who want to participate to your site. Again, some will stick around after the contest is over.
As you pursue other platform-building possibilities, don’t stop blogging. Your additional efforts will drive readers to your site. In response, your readership will grow giving you a platform on your blog, which will help you become traditionally published.
But even if this doesn’t happen, you’ll have created one or more platform elements that could get you that traditional publishing deal you seek.
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