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The 100K Platform

I’ve geared up my social media activities in the hope of selling my books. A friend asked if I could share what I’ve learned so far, so here it goes…

If you’re self-publishing don’t let anyone discourage you. Where would these self-published authors be if they let a put-down here and there get to them: Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, T.S. Elliot, Carl Sandberg, Gertrude Stein, Upton Sinclair, D.H. Lawrence, George Bernard Shaw, e.e. cummings, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Tom Clancy, Beatrix Potter, etc. Try and remember you’re in good company.

However, if you want your books to sell, you’re going to have to do something about it yourself.[1] You can do what Walt Whitman did and set up a table on the town green. I kid you not. I gave it a try, and I’m pretty damn shy. Last weekend the small community I live in had a big garage sale. Everyone who wanted to set up in their driveways and I, along with four other items from the house, put out a stack of my book The Woman in White Marble. My wife, Roberta, printed a sign: Local Author above my picture. She also printed a sheet of reviews. We actually sold some books and a few people went to my Amazon Author’s Page and ended up buying a couple of my other books. The Local Author tag was the big draw. And I had fun. However, the town common and garage sales aside, there are two basic ways to sell you books.

First, make an appointment with the manager of your local bookstore to ask if he or she might want to buy some copies from your publisher, but be aware, your book must have returnability. Returnability protects the bookstore owner and the author. It means if she buys ten of your books but only sells two, she can return the eight to the publisher for a refund. She is protected. You as author are also protected. You earn royalties on the ten books she purchased, which you keep regardless if she returns eight, or even all ten books. Returnability is crucial, but in self-publishing must be earned or paid for. For example, The Woman in White Marble was awarded Editor’s Choice and Rising Star by the publisher. With those honors came returnability.

The second way to sell you books is, of course, through social media. Facebook is a good place to start, but I personally move cautiously among my Facebook friends. Primarily, Facebook a place of “friendship” and not business. Your friends don’t want you forever flogging you books on Facebook any more than they’d appreciate you giving them the hard sell every time you meet at the pub or café. I do mention my books when their being launched and I pushed them in a light-hearted way at Christmas. However, you can set up a specific Facebook Page for the purpose of pushing your books. I have a Facebook Page for my writing  where I share thoughts about writing, publishing, my books and website. People who “Like” the Page know it is dedicated to all my writing projects. What you post on your Page only appears to those who “Like” the Page. Your Facebook friends who do not “Like” your page will not see those postings.

Twitter is another beast entirely. Twitter is many things to many people but is certainly a place of business. I opened my Twitter account in January 2011 but just played around the edge until a few weeks ago when I worked with a consultant on how to use Twitter to my advantage. The first thing she did was delete the link between my Facebook and Twitter accounts so my Facebook friends would not be inundated with my tweets about my books. We worked through the basics and then she explained to me that if you want to use Twitter for business, it’s all about the numbers.

Each time you tweet about 1% of your Followers are online, and goodness knows how many of that 1% actually read your tweet. So if you have 100 followers the best you can hope for is ten of them seeing your tweet. If you want to sell, you need a pretty big platform from which to work.

I downloaded I book entitled How to Gain 100,000 Twitter Followers by M LeMont.[2] I recommend the book. It’s easy to read, not too long, and gives a lot of practical advise on how to gain Followers, that is, how to build a platform. Equally important, however, is an offer in the book. With proof of purchase, the author will consult with you one on one for up to an hour. I don’t know how long this offer lasts, but if you are interested in building a Twitter platform you could do a lot worse than to take M LeMont up on the offer. One of the first things he asked me was if I wanted to use Twitter for leisure or business. I told him I wanted to sell my books. To which he replied, then you need a huge platform. It’s not just about numbers, it’s about colossal numbers.

I have been following the books advise and thus far have been gaining about 250 Followers a day. I started with 83 and as I write this am up to 3002. 3000 is a long way off 100,000, but already I have a sense of what the Twitter universe is like. Some observations that might help you:

  • If you want to use Twitter for both leisure/personal interests and business open two separate accounts. As 250 new Followers joined my world, my original Followings were overwhelmed and lost in the crowd.
  • Don’t pick and choose. Add as many Followings as you can each day and then unfollow those who do not follow you back – give them 48 hours to respond. The point is to build your platform. Getting personal comes later, or as LeMont told me, after you have your 100,000 Followers you can then find your tribe within the crowd.
  • Don’t be overly sensitive. Some people will unfollow you each day. Don’t even look to see who they are. It doesn’t matter.
  • Don’t be offended. While Facebook has considerable difficulty with nudity, and particularly female nipples, Twitter does not. Many of the people you Follow follow you back and send you a direct message. I got a direct message from one man thanking me for following him with a picture of his erect penis. There is explicit pornography on Twitter. However, it is easily ignored or, if you like blocked. Don’t let it get in your way (unless, of course, you really like porn).
  • Concentrate on Notifications. It is there that I have found people with similar interests – writing and selling their books – and others who what to help us do that. Already I’ve linked up with web based outfits that promote books in various ways. As you build your platform you also begin to make connections and get your books out there.  

I hear you asking if all this is having any impact on my sales. Well, the honest answer is, I don’t yet know. If my books have gone viral I don’t know about it yet! However, I am now checking my sales and royalties so I can track any change. But the bottom line is, I probably won’t sell many books without engaging in social media.

So, I’m keeping my Facebook Page, Writer, active and continue to gain “Likes”. I’m publicizing my website The Back Road Café on Facebook and Twitter. I’m building my Twitter platform, goal being 100,000 followers in a year. I’m enjoying seeing my books being advertised through numerous tweets from the organizations I’ve signed up with (and paid!) and that the number of retweets of my tweets is increasing. I’m “meeting” some people who share my interests in writing. And, I’m having fun. For now that’s good enough.

Copyright © 2015 Dale Rominger

[1] Self-marketing is a requirement of self-publishing but is also becoming more common in traditional publishing as well. Indeed, a friend published with a traditional publisher as was told she would have to market the book. Much of the advice given to her was the same I have received from my self-publishing publisher.

[2] Apparently, the identity of M LeMont is somewhat if a mystery. When I arranged for my private consultation we met through Twitter direct messaging. The Twitter tag that appeared was for Bobbie Dixon with a picture of a woman. I’m assuming the author is male, for various reasons, and that whoever Dixon and LeMont are, they are the same person. I could be wrong, however.

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