Friday, 20 November 2015

BUILDING AUTHOR'S PLATFORM

Writers often say that their books are their children. I go one step ahead in madness. I know the gender of my book #iAm16iCan. It’s a girl. She is my daughter! 

Since the time my baby came in this world, I have matured as a person. I had to. I am her Father (more about why I am her father and not mother in next book is the idea discussed in my next book) and I had to make sure that She gets all the care and protection that a child needs during the first few critical months of the life. 

I know I sound insane, which I partly am! 

Nevertheless, here are the 6 most important things that I learnt about creating author’s platform during last 6 months. 


1- Audience:  First and most critical questions an author needs to ask in relation to his books is, who is going to read this book? Who is the audience? 
The answer to this single question is going to be pivotal in figuring out who, where, when, why, what and how to of the entire marketing campaign around the book.  

One thing I did right: 
I knew my audience quite clearly. 
Why? 
It’s because in chapter 12.1, Rudransh Kashyap, the protagonist of the novel while master-minding the campaign I am 16 can I rape? answers the question who is the audience for this book. 
I love my characters; they figure everything out for me. 

One mistake I made: In the beginning, sometimes I used to ask some of the readers to go on reading because I thought; these people need the information presented in the book. I don’t want to go in specifics but there is this person, a business associate of one of my family members. This guy is a real jerk who treats women disrespectfully all the time, for no other reason but because they are females. Misogyny. I wanted him to read the book and I kind of insisted that he should read it to improve his behavior. Now, I never do that. It’s juvenile! 



2- Buzz- Social media is the democratic NEW media. I bless engineers who gave this liberating voice to the creative souls who withered in silence for ages. Dramatics is to add humor! Nevertheless, on a serious note, social media is a great way to build platform. 

One thing I did right: Actually I took 4 proactive actions to spread words about the book- I used Facebook, Facebook Ads, Twitter, and Blogs to create buzz around my book in India. 

One mistake I made: It’s not exactly a mistake, but it’s something I have not done so far but plan to do in near future. I want to make more videos about the conversation and debate discussed in the book. I want to use YouTube and Google+. I also want to use Guest Blogging as a tool to create more buzz about the book. More on Guest Blogging in next article. 


3- Bloggers- Bloggers are mind-blowing people. They are the voice amplifiers of an author’s platform.  And I don’t mean this in an objectifying way, but in most respectful way. When an author reaches to the bloggers, it’s the obligation of the author to be most respectful and courteous to the bloggers. 
A blogger writes about the book because the traffic that comes to her blog makes her money or increases her web visibility. So, ideally, a blogger must never ask an author for upfront money to write review. But what a blogger deserves without asking is the copy of the book. A blogger takes out the time from her schedule to read and review the book; it’s the most basic courtesy on part of the author to give a copy of the book to her. 
Also, author must share the blog a blogger writes about the book. It helps in increasing the traffic to her blog. It’s again 101 law of reciprocation. Someone is doing a good thing to you, you must return the favor. 

One thing I did right: I have connected with brilliant bloggers in past 6 months. Their feedback gave me insight in my work.

One mistake I made: It’s a question only the bloggers can answer, if I bothered them in anyways. 

4- Cross Promotion- Cross promotion is not generosity. 
It is math. 
An average Indian reader reads 20 books of fiction in a year. I am being pessimistic here, or let’s hope I am being pessimist. A writer can write between 1 to 4 books in a year. 

I PLAN TO WRITE ONE BOOK A YEAR. 

It’s my personal limited, which incidentally is also my strength that I follow a very strict method to write my novels which also involves months of research. So, even if I want, I can’t write 4 books a year without letting the quality go down. I chose quality over quantity any day. 
So here is the deal, there are readers who need around 20 books a year to read, but I can provide them only one. 
Indian society breeds a crab mentality which emphasizes competition over cooperation for no reason. 
In the field of writing, there is no competition! Seriously! Every writer is a unique entity. If my reader picks the book of other writers she is not being disloyal to me.
So, this is how cross promotion makes sense for an authorpreneur. I write my book and publicize it, but I also promote around 10 other books by other authors. These are the authors who write in the same genre in which I write. 

When I promote their book I am doing 2 things right:
1- Helping my readers discover good books. My readers are MOST important people to me as a writer. I like when I can help them. 
2- I create a joined platform with say 10 other authors. If each one of us has say, 1000 loyal readers and that readers introduced to other authors, with very little effort on the part of each of us, now we have a platform with 10000 readers. 
As simple as that!

One thing I did right: I heavily cross promote the work of other writers. I have a Facebook community Bestseller Story which is essentially a platform where members share their Indie writing experience and cross promote each other’s work to give greater visibility to all the worthy novels. 

  • I also arrange give-away for other authors. 
  • I conduct interviews of other authors. 

It’s a game in which either everyone loses or everyone wins! I prefer winning over losing. 

One mistake I made: None! This is a place where I will pat my back. I give myself 10/10 for promoting other people’s work. It’s not possible that I come across something good and I don’t share. 
Sharing is caring! Honest? 
Nope. 
Sharing is math. 


5- Science of Giving- What I said about cross promotion applies also giving to the community without putting the price tag on everything. 
In the book The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - Al Ries and Jack Trout writes- Don’t buy what you can give for free. 
There are lot of PR and other companies that give a guarantee to the writer that they can build his/her platform. 
My question is, 
Didn’t the writer wanted to communicate with his reader to begin with? 
I can’t delegate the best part of my work life to others. 

In the spirit of honestly, let me share a paragraph from the book #IAm16ICan. 
“Do I have a teacher’s genes? I don’t know. Sociality perceives teaching as a noble profession but it is a profession that attracts narcissists. Counter intuitive, yes. Teachers pretend that they have come in the profession because of noble reasons, but at the heart of the choice is a simple fact. Teaching gives them an opportunity to have attention, something they can’t muster in their non-professional life.  
What is my motivation of teaching? I want attention.”
~ Aarush Kashyap. 
Chapter 7.5

Do I enjoy telling others what I learn on the road to trials? 
I enjoy it immensely. I call it Kaizen Teaching. It’s a self coined term.
Kaizen Teaching: When the teacher teaches the students something that he is learning. Teaching is the best way to learn things. 
Write articles, blogs, podcast, interviews… 
There are lot of creative ways of sharing with others what author is learning while trying to horn his craft. Share magnanimously. 

One thing I did right: I am a Methodist. I make detailed excel sheets of everything around my work. So, I have very precise data of lot of interesting facts about my work life. There are people who need this information. So, I happily share. It gives me the satisfaction of giving. And it helps other people grow. 
I will repeat myself- the rule of the game is- everyone got to win! 

One mistake I made: I didn’t start building my platform earlier. I have thousands of pages of data about writing the book, about all the research I have done and other things. I should have started putting that on different social media platform WHILE I was writing the book. 

6- Write the Next Book- When I started writing #IAm16ICan, it was not part of any book series. As a matter of fact, there was no second book till I reached the last chapter. 
In first draft there was a scene in chapter 12.5, which Payal Desai Chopra, my most trusted beta reader strictly objected to the scene. She told me that the scene will kill the dramatic thrust of the book. 
I cried. No dramatics. I actually cried with real tears for three days. I loved that scene. I knew that this is what Aarush has done. And yet it was not organic part of the book. How? Why? 
And then Payal took pity on me. She told me, “If you are so keen about this scene, why don’t you write another book starting it with this scene.” 
No kidding! That is how the second book started. 
As I was completely in the fictional world of first novel, I could write the second book in the same gush of writing. 
It took me two years to write the first book, it took me three months to write the second book. 
So, this is what I will advise to the writers. 
You became writer for a very specific reason- YOU LIKE WRITING! 
Don’t forget that. 

One thing I did right: I wrote the second book. I am working on the third book. I call the series, Yin Yang series. 

One mistake I made: I can’t call it mistake, but due to some circumstance I had to take a break before starting the third book. I also plan to take more time to write third book because it needs more research than what I had to do for second book. 


Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and mutlicultural psychological thriller #iAm16iCan. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam  
Learn more about publishing industry with her @DVInida_

2 comments:

  1. Thank you Kirtida for this wonderful article. Must read for all writers/authors, especially aspiring and neo authors.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Piyush. I hope you find my article helpful.

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