Two Sides of the Same Coin

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When you teach someone else how to do something, you learn a lot yourself.

Teaching has a way of cementing ideas, facts, procedures—all kinds of information—in our brains through the visual and auditory senses, as well as the writing (of the lesson plan, main points on charts or power point and so on).

So, I am going to suggest something you might think is crazy: I’d like you to consider mentoring a beginning writer. 

You may consider yourself a beginner and question just how much help you could be to someone else. But, even if you only stay a step ahead of them, the experience will be invaluable—as you learn TOGETHER.

I remember, as a first year teacher. being assigned to teach two periods of sewing in Home Economics. I had no experience. I didn’t know any of the terms, parts of the machine, not even how to read a pattern.

Each night, I would go home and teach myself what I needed to know in order to get through class the following day. This went on for the entire semester. I stayed, literally, one step ahead of my students. But, by the last day of class, I found myself actually looking forward to the next group of students. I felt increased competence and confidence 

So, the point is: whether you know a lot about the craft of writing, or you consider yourself a beginner, the experience you will gain by mentoring someone else will be invaluable.

It will be time well spent…because learning and teaching are two sides of the same coin.

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Platform Building, Part 2

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Your writer’s platform is basically the group of activities you engage in that get your name and work noticed by the public. It’s marketing, not of a specific work, but of you as the author. It’s everything you do to build your brand.

Nowadays, publishers require that their authors are willing to get out there and market themselves. And, if you’re an indie author, as I am, all the more important for you to learn all you can about marketing.

  1. Aside from making publishers happy, there are a other side benefits to platform building:
  2. You may be able to generate some side-income from teaching and speaking.

You can also build your brand as an expert in your writing niche.

No matter what your goals, fans want to connect with a real person. That means we need to be ourselves, both as writers and individuals. We must show our true faces to the world.

The good news is that the technology of today (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can play a major role in building our platforms, and are based on genuine, personal interactions.

*So, with an online presence on Facebook and Twitter being ESSENTIAL, I will also suggest that you start a website/blog and or weekly newsletter. Weebly and WordPress basic websites are FREE. I got mine (www.brendapoulos.org and www.spiritualsnippets.com and runawaysthelongjourneyhome.wordpress.com) started in practically no time at all. I am not techie, so if I can do it, you can, too! (There are others, such as communit.com, but these are the easiest to get started with and to keep going on a consistent basis.)

You’ll have to be diligent about blogging at least once weekly, adding your bio, announcing new book launches, sharing information on writing and about your life in as specific details as you are comfortable.

*Speaking at writer’s groups, libraries, book clubs, etc. can get you in front of the public. You’ll meet new people (potential followers) and meet other writers.

Although public speaking isn’t for everyone, it’s never a bad idea to get out there and let people see the face of the author behind the words. Take a guest book along with you, asking interested attendees to give you their email address so you can keep in touch with news, offers, etc.

*Teaching the craft of writing is another great avenue to help brand you as an expert. It will also give you something to blog about. Although this is often done as a freebie on an author’s part, you can make some decent side money by teaching either in person or online via podcasts or webinars.

So, decide what your specialty will be. Some websites I’ve seen involve cooking, crafting, scrapbooking, animals, travel—almost anything that is of interest to you will also be of interest to that certain group of others with similar likes, goals, and beliefs.

*Don’t overlook doing book give-a-ways on Goodreads and Amazon and Book Bub. You can also create products, such as pens, mugs, bookmarks, etc. Then, used these to market your brand by using them as give-a-ways at fairs, conventions, etc.

Get creative! I leave my business cards on bulletin boards and in restaurants when I pay my bill. A friend of mine leaves them in the pockets of the clothing she tries on when shopping!

*Support other authors. Join a professional writers groups/organizations. These are great ways to make contacts, lasting friendships, and get in on some great teaching. May I recommend American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the local chapter in your state.

It is important to remember that platform building will be different for every author because it will depend on your target readership, your unique expertise, and the message you want to present to the world.

Platform building is a creative process, just as is your own writing…

Use your imagination.

Begin small and build in increments.

Be persistent.

Don’t give up!

Neglecting your platform in today’s world can be a big mistake. You may have written a best-seller, but no one will know that if you don’t make your presence known!