3 Blogging Tips to Help You Build Your Platform as a Self-Help Author

dreamstime_m_28913973I work with professionals who are writing self-help books. These are men and women who are at the height of their careers and are ready to share their knowledge—some as a way to further their careers, some to share insights gained through years of experience, some as a way to give back in their respective fields. I tell them all the same thing:

As an author, you are responsible for finding and building your readership. You must build your author platform.

I am an editor, not a social media or marketing specialist … but I spend several hours every day reading blogs and articles by specialists in those areas so I can keep my finger on the pulse of traditional and self-publishing trends and best practices. Not only is this daily self-education important for my editing work, but offering insight into these “foreign territories” has become increasingly important to the authors I work with. Many hire me specifically because I have experience in both the traditional and self-publishing worlds.

But simply writing a book—no matter how good it is—doesn’t guarantee readers will buy it, as many first-time self-publishing authors discover.

This idea comes as a shock to many professionals who are dipping their toes into publishing waters for the first time. But many authors who buy into the concept that platform–building for their writing career is every bit as important as it is for their profession often become overwhelmed quickly by all the options for doing that. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn … the list of social media sites seems unmanageable if you’ve never tackled any of them.

I know I don’t have time to manage 16 different social media accounts while writing, editing, and marketing my business, so I understand how overwhelming platform-building activities feel. When I discuss platform-building with the authors I work with, I suggest focusing on actually writing … and one of the best ways to do that is through blogging.

If Your First Thought Is I don’t know what to write about, Keep Reading

Blogging is not only a terrific way to share your thoughts with the world, but it’s also a great way to test ideas and polish your writing skills. You’re an expert in your field, and you know there’s a market for the type of book you’re writing, but if coming up with ideas for regular blog posts makes you break out in a cold sweat, consider these three tried-and-true ideas:

  • Engage your fans by asking for their help. Posing a question like, “Would you rather read a chapter in my new book about 50 uses for parsley or one about the best uses for 50 different herbs?” will often lead to more engagement in the form of comments and debates from your followers, and your fans will feel as though they were part of the process of writing your book. Engagement is the name of the game in book publishing.
  • Offer content that’s related to your book-in-progress. You are an expert in your field, so share a bit of that knowledge by basing blog posts on concepts from your book. This is also a great way to repurpose some of the deleted text after a revision. Or you can use a fleshed-out chapter to reverse engineer a blog post.
  • Tell a story. Blogs are a perfect venue for storytelling. Remember Maya Angelou’s quote that “People will forget what you said and what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” You’re a writer—you’re a storyteller! Write a blog—or two or ten—about yourself and your writing, and let your fans and followers get to know the real you. What’s the story behind your book? What are some of the crazy things your friends and family have said when you’ve told them you’re writing it? What is your writing process? Where do you do most of your writing, and how do you carve out time to do it?

Whether you’ve already published a book or are thinking about writing one, whether you’ve chosen to follow a traditional publishing path or opt to self-publish, the sooner you begin building your author platform, the better. Blogging allows you to build a community of interested readers, and because your book is also for those readers, you’ll have a built-in audience once you publish. The time to start building your author platform is now.

What about you, scriveners? What do you like to read in blogs? What’s the most creative blog post you’ve read by a self-help author? Please join in the discussion!

 

Candace Johnson 11 400dpi

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Grammar Shaming for Just $0.99

photo courtesy of Apple iTunes Store
photo courtesy of Apple iTunes Store

Whether or not you are part of the Apple world, you’re probably aware by now of the new iOS app called Grammar Snob. Articles about it abound; for a mere $0.99 you can correct errors in your friends’ iMessages like a boss.

When I read the first reports about the app, I had mixed feelings: on one hand, anything that might help writers learn the difference between there, their, and they’re has to be a good thing, right? But on the other hand, Continue reading “Grammar Shaming for Just $0.99”

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Guest Post by Brigitte Nioche

book coverThe self-publishing authors I work with understand that a professional team of editors and designers are needed to create a quality book that can stand out in a competitive marketplace.

But what happens when the cover you choose hurts instead of helps your book? Do you stick with the cover you and your designer worked so hard to create, or do you go back to the drawing board?

Brigitte Nioche, author of Getting Over Growing Older: A Humorous Memoir of Discovering the Challenges of Aging, faced that dilemma several weeks after her book was published. In celebration of the re-release of her book, she’s agreed to share her story with you:

What happens when the cover you choose hurts instead of helps your book? #bookcovers #selfpub #indiepub Click To Tweet

I believe we all judge a book by its cover! Viewing a book’s cover is like getting a first impression when meeting a new person—that first impression tells us if we want to see more or not.

It is the same when we browse in a bookstore, or even when we scan the pages of Amazon. A cover or title either catches our interest, or we pass over that book.

Several weeks after its debut, I decided to change the cover of my recently getting-over-originalpublished book, Getting Over Growing Older. If you saw it on Facebook, Twitter, or on my blog, you will remember that it prominently featured a picture of me.

The Reaction Wasn’t What I Expected

And the reaction I always got was “Oh, that’s a nice photo of you,” but that was not the message I wanted to convey. By putting my picture on the cover I wanted to show readers Continue reading “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Guest Post by Brigitte Nioche”

Four Years of Putting Myself Out There in Cyberspace: Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me!

If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, you’ve received this notification:

blogging anniversary

In my case, it’s been four years since I began sharing on WordPress. Like many bloggers, I had great intentions and planned to blog frequently … and those great intentions often went out the window when life got in the way. For some people, blogging slows down because they run out of things to write about. Anyone who has worked with me and has received one of my epistles will tell you that finding something to write about isn’t usually a problem for me. 😉 Continue reading “Four Years of Putting Myself Out There in Cyberspace: Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me!”

Self-Published Book Beats the Odds by Making the New York Times Bestseller List

Several years ago I was lucky enough to work with Eva Lesko Natiello, who self-published book NY Times bestsellerhired me to help her polish her debut novel, The Memory Box, for submission. We were both disappointed when she wasn’t offered a publishing contract, but Eva isn’t one to let rejection stand in her way. Quite the contrary: she set out to learn the business of editing, and she did an amazing job. Her perseverance not only brought her legions of fans (check out her 90+ Amazon reviews!), but also a spot on the USA Today Bestseller list and now a spot on the New York Times Bestseller list! I couldn’t be happier for this amazing writer, and I invite you to read her amazing story:

*****

When I self-published my book, admittedly, it was the last resort. It was the backup plan if I had failed to sell it to a trade publisher. I promised myself that if I could…

When I self-published my book, admittedly, it was the last resort. #selfpub #pubtip #authors #amwriting Click To Tweet

Read more at Self-Published Book Beats the Odds by Making the New York Times Bestseller List

Eva Lesko Natiello is the author of NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestseller, THE MEMORY BOX, a psychological thriller about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember.

*****

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

 

When DIY Doesn’t Work: Guest Post by Anne Uemura, PhD

Does “DIY publishing” mean you do everything yourself? Anne Uemera thought it did—until she learned that publishing a book takes a team:

In August 2015, I started to write a book that I eventually published a year later. The project gained momentum in June 2016 when Jim Britt and Jim Lutes, who were creating the international bestselling series The Change, invited me to write a chapter for The Change: Insights into Self Empowerment. While focusing on and creating the content of the chapter with the inspired title Listen to the Cries of Your Heart, I realized I had a whole book to write.

Unlike many authors, I never had dreams of writing a book, and I knew little about how to do it. I didn’t know what an immense project it would be nor the time and effort it would take, and naively jumped in. My lifelong strategies of independence and self-reliance never allowed for any thought of doing it other than DIY, from writing to publishing.

Looking for Help on a Budget

My assumptions that I could do it myself were wrong. Continue reading “When DIY Doesn’t Work: Guest Post by Anne Uemura, PhD”

2 Guaranteed Ways to Know You Need a New Computer

Most writers and editors live on their computers, tablets, and smartphones. Even those who prefer to write or edit longhand often transfer their work to an electronic medium at some point in the process. When things go wrong with electronics, we writers and editors are not happy campers.

As a freelance editor, I probably do 95 percent of my work on screen. It’s faster than editing longhand, and it has the added bonus of saving a tree (printing out a full-length book requires 300–400 pieces of paper). There’s also the instant gratification of working via tracked changes, which allows both the writer and the editor to see suggested edits and then decide which to accept and which to reject. (For more about tracked changes, check out The Shock: How to Survive Your First Round of Editing.)

So with my dependence on computers firmly established, I’d like to share two surefire ways to know when it’s time to replace your current computer.  Continue reading “2 Guaranteed Ways to Know You Need a New Computer”

Have You Ever Met a Rock Star?

meeting Julie Christine JohnsonIf you’ve ever met someone you’ve long admired, you have an idea about how thrilled I was last week to meet author Julie Christine Johnson, author of In Another Life.

All week I felt like a teenager anticipating a first date as I waited for Julie’s presentation at Annie Bloom’s Books, an indie bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Although Julie and I met online in April of 2014, and although she had trusted me (a total stranger at the time) with the words of what would become her debut novel, I didn’t know what to expect. Would she be as charming and gracious in person as she is online? Continue reading “Have You Ever Met a Rock Star?”

Closing Out a Series: Guest Post by Kristen Otte

closing out a book series

Today’s guest post is by Kristen Otte, the author of the Adventures of Zelda series about a tenacious pug. If you haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, you are missing a treat! Not only are they ideal earlier readers for children, but you’ll enjoy them just as much as your children or grandchildren do! As she publishes book five of the series, Kristen explains how she feels about ending the series and why she made the decision.


The release of The Adventures of Zelda: The One and Only Pug is a sad and exciting milestone for me. This release marks the fifth book in the Zelda series, but it also is the final book in the Zelda series. I know this may be a disappointment for many of the young fans (and parents of those fans) of the series, but I know it was the right decision.

The Adventures of Zelda were never “supposed” to be anything more than a few funny short stories that I wrote to practice my craft. But, after writing a few stories based loosely on the antics of my real life Zelda, I couldn’t stop writing. The stories flowed through my fingers on to the keyboard. Soon after, The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale was published.

The early reader response was better than expected. I kept writing, and by book three, it was clear that young readers enjoyed reading about a stubborn, adventurous pug.

The titular pug and her book. ©Kristen Otte
The titular pug and her book. ©Kristen Otte

The momentum for the series has continued to build over the past year, and I published the fourth book in the series in the summer of 2015. So why stop at book five? Continue reading “Closing Out a Series: Guest Post by Kristen Otte”