Delilah S. Dawson Is Right
But also, she is wrong. On April 13 an author (whom I do not know) named Delilah S. Dawson wrote a post that went viral. It was called
Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.
She even says it only works if you have a time machine (so you know I loved that part). There was one major thing missing from this post, so let’s have a little discussion, shall we? Before we do, let me say, this woman writes an awesome blog post. After you read mine (of course I want you to stay here, I’m no dummy!) go read her. She’s goooood. It’s here. And yes, I’ve already invited her to come on the podcast, via Twitter. Delilah, if you read this, the invitation is still open.
Back in 2012 a woman asked Delilah S. Dawson how she could build her platform and make money with her blog (that’s where the time machine reference came in). The answer that Ms. D supplied was that the woman would only be able to get any traction by building a time machine, going back to 2005, and starting her blog then.
Delilah posits that the market is oversaturated (true), and that the only way to build a following and profit from it is to have been around for a decade or so or to already be famous.
Let’s have a little healthy discourse, shall we? Point by point.
“…publishers want a writer to have a brand, a platform, a blog, a built-in army of fans. But that was 2009, and now it’s 2015, and that doesn’t work anymore.”
Disagree. Yes, book blogs are overrun and social media can be tossing info into the void. However, so what if …
1. Twitter doesn’t sell books.
It’s not about selling books ON Twitter. It’s about community. Reciprocity. Making connections. Besides, Tweets disappear in such a short time, and you don’t want to be building your platform on an outside site anyway.
So what if …
2. Facebook hides posts for blackmail purposes.
Yes, our messages don’t reach all those peeps we worked so hard to friend and get to Like our author pages. Groups work great to get our messages out, but even then, again, one should never rely on an outside site to build one’s platform. I’m going to get to that in a sec.
3. & 4. More about social media not being a place to sell books.
You are correct, Delilah. But that’s not why you’d go there. Again, to me at least, it’s about connection, community, reciprocity, supporting others, and never ever selling a book. It is a stepping stone. Getting to that point.
5. Book review sites aren’t for authors.
THANK YOU. Totally agree. Not a Goodreads fan. Can’t go there. Won’t. Been there, cried there, won’t go there.
6. Because I hate newsletters and hashtag parties too much to inflict them on anyone else.
DING! DING! DING! We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen!
Yes, #6 for Delilah was the big kahuna for me. Soapbox, where are you? Ah, here you are.
(Okay, I like me a good Twitter party, but I’m not addressing that here.) Your newsletter is not the place for you to say BUYMYBOOK! BUYMYBOOK! Oh, for heaven’s sake, just click here to take my free training on how to create your author platform using email and be done with it!
You are not inflicting if you do it right.
You’re not inflicting if you provide great content. And your fans want to know when your next book is coming out. Having an email list will create your platform and it will sell more books.
Creating a platform has nothing to do with self-promotion––or it shouldn’t if you’re doing it right. And you can do it in 2015. No, it’s not instantaneous, and if someone tells you it is, run in the other direction. But it can be done, and you can do it, and you can stand out.
I showed Jackie Reynolds how to build her platform as an author but not be self-promotional in a pushy way. You know what she told me?
“I saw a direct cause and effect impact on my writer business by following Katie’s training! I was so fearful at first, but once Katie got me going, I just followed, step by step and it wasn’t scary any more. And I did it!”
Create your author platform using email.
What if whatever platform you’re using to spread the word about your books goes kablooey? Even your own website? It’s happened to me before!
You gotta think about things blowing up. First of all, if you rely on social media to promote your books, who knows what could happen? What if, for some reason, your fave social media site shuts your page down? Or the platform you were relying on suddenly changed or got unpopular, like MySpace.
Imagine a world without tweets.
Or, what if you’ve built your entire platform on YouTube and suddenly Google announces, “You know what? We are so over YouTube. We’re taking it down.”
I doubt it, but you never know.
You don’t own those platforms. You own your mailing list.
You can build a relationship with your peeps through that list. That’s why your mailing list is the single most valuable thing you can build in your author platform. Let me repeat that: Your mailing list is the single most valuable thing you can build in your author platform.
The point is, if you have a list and your site goes down, you can let your community know. If any platform-ending scenario happens as described above, you can still get hold of your peeps through your list. But more importantly, (and perhaps, realistically), you can build your platform through your list. And that is how you market your books without being pushy. You are creating a community that is getting to know you and like you. Soon, they’re going to trust you.
So where do you start? With a service.
There are various services you can use, like Mailchimp, constant contact and they all work similarly. personally, I love AWeber.
Now, You might be thinking, “But these services are web based, too, Katie, and you just went over all those examples of sites that could crash and burn!” but you own your mailing list. You have control – you can’t back up your YouTube channel, but you can back up your mailing list. You can download the files. You can transfer your list at any time.
If you don’t understand all this don’t worry – just relax, something is coming that’ll help with that…
I will tell you this, my mail service is the best bill I pay every month…I’d give up chocolate before I’d give up my mailing list!
Recently, I spoke to two New York Times bestselling authors with six figure followings on Twitter and Facebook and their blogs, neither of whom have mailing lists. I thought my ears were going to start bleeding. All those peeps loving them and they have no list! What happens when their next book comes out? They can’t contact their fans! And those fans want that information! Each of those authors had different reasons for why he or she has no list, but to me, there is no excuse.
It’s not pushy. It’s actually the opposite of that. It’s considerate. You’ve created fans and at the very least those fans want to know when your next book is coming out. So if someone signs up for your list they are asking for your information. You aren’t pushing it on them. No one is forcing them to sign up.
Your most loyal fans will be on your mailing list! These are the ones who have taken the time to fill out the form on your site, and they’ve trusted you with their email address.
As you create content to send to them you’re going to make sure you’re doing your part to be worthy of space in their inbox. And don’t worry – we’ll get to what to send them!
People who subscribe to your email list have made an effort to get to know you and your brand. They already expressed that they like you by signing up. They are the most likely people to buy your books. Treat them like the gold that they are.
You want a mailing list to create a relationship with your subscribers, not just to sell to them. On Facebook it’s harder to really grow that relationship. But with your list, If you’re sending them valuable content then when you do send an announcement that you have a new book out, you’ve set up this relationship already, and your peeps are more likely to open that important announcement.
You can set up emails to go out automatically with great resources, links or useful tips and that will be like a newsletter. If they aren’t tied to a specific, date-related event, then they are ever-green and won’t go OUT of date.
There are also one-time messages that announce events and promotions. Those have a specific date so they only go out once.
As long as you send really great content, your list will grow and your emails will get opened. Here are a bunch of ideas for you:
- Behind-the-scenes reports of your experience with the publishing process
- Your first time going to a book signing: dos and don’ts
- Your first time going to a writing conference (or what others should expect when they go)
- Your creative process
- Back matter on your book
- Character outlines and backgrounds
- Writing and publishing tips
Here are more ideas:
- Anything related to the content of your books or anything that you, as an author, are expert on
- Exclusive content — recipes, photos, personal information
- Stories or poems
- Breaking news about your subject matter
- Interviews with other authors in your genre
- Book recommendations/reviews
Newsletters are great because
• You can receive feedback directly from your audience – they will hit reply and tell you what they think.
• You will get more speaking engagements because your newsletter reminds people you’re available and have great things to share.
• it will boost book sales, especially when a new book releases. You can put a subtle link at the bottom for any back listed book, or a product, too.
You can sit down and write them sporadically when you have news, created fresh each time, or do them all at once and automate them. I recommend a combination – and I’ll get to that in a second. As I said before, a newsletter can be set up to go out automatically when someone signs up and will continue to go out based on when that person signed up. Here is how it works:
Say Jane signs up for my list on April 6th at 10:00am. At 10:03-ish Jane would receive an automatic response from me, welcoming her to my newsletter. The next week she’d get my 5 top podcast for writers newsletter. Then, say Tom signs up on June 23rd. He would get the same on June 23rd. He would get the same welcome email because I’ve pre-written it. A week later, tom would receive my 5 top podcast for writers newsletter. As long as it’s evergreen, you don’t need to keep writing a new newsletter every time.
When you have a time-sensitive event like a book signing or new book coming out, you can create a broadcast, or “blast” which will go out just that one time to everyone, because it’s not evergreen. There’s only a certain period of time the information is good for.
Provide good content and valuable information and your email list will grow and your peeps will start to know, like, and trust you!
I go over this all in my free training and then I talk about how to get your list to grow so you can get your books into the hands of more readers. You’re going to learn how getting people to sign up for your list is the opposite of pushy!