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Ep 079: “Your Author Platform is Important”

Welcome to the 79th episode of The Author Hangout, a podcast designed to help authors, especially self-published and indie authors, with marketing their books and improving their author platform. Authors struggle with various aspects of marketing and we are here to help!

“My favorite way to market my book is to really get in front of somebody else’s already made market.”– Leslie Truex

Your Author Platform is Important

In this episode, we interviewed author and entrepreneur Leslie Truex, who shared great tips on building your author platform, reaching out to readers, and tapping into other people’s platforms to sell more books.

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Intro

She’s an entrepreneur, speaker, trainer and author who helps others create the careers and lifestyles they want while working from home. Besides authoring several books including The Work-at-Home Success Bible and Digital Writer Success, she has a self-published mystery series to her credit in a three-book deal with a traditional publisher in the pipeline. Thanks to her unique insight on topics such as telecommuting, small business, working at home, and freelancing, she has appeared on CNN.com, The Daily Buzz, and a host of other prominent media outlets. Please welcome self-described idea fork writer and the founder of workathomesuccess.com, Leslie Truex.

How did you become an author and publish your first book?

“What’s interesting about my story and different than a lot of people is that I didn’t set out to be a writer and if somebody told me in high school that that’s how I’d be making my living, I probably would have cried because I didn’t feel very good at it. I did well in school but writing was really a struggle for me. We had a writer proficiency essay and I flunked that thing a couple of times so I just did not feel like I had a good grasp on writing. I wanted to work from home, exploring a lot of different ways to do that and the Internet was still, this was 1998, so the Internet was still kind of new but at that time I thought, “I’m going to start this website because I had a program that said I could” and that’s when workathomesuccess.com was started and at that point, writing was the medium for the most part. Maybe a few graphics but mostly it was writing so I got a lot of practice at writing, the website grew and of course that created opportunities for me to write at other places, it opened the door to The Work-at-Home Success Bible.”

What is your most recent book or project?

“Digital Writer Success is basically about writing online and it focuses on blogging, freelance writing, and E-publishing as a way to make money and each of those things can work by themselves, but one of the things I try to look at in the book is how they can all work together to create a really well-rounded writing career, particularly if you’re looking at building a platform, how they can work to do that for you.”

How has blogging worked for you to build your platform?

“In book selling, one of the myths out there, especially if you go into traditional publishing, is “Oh your publisher will do all this stuff for you” and of course they don’t unless you’re like Grisham or Oprah or somebody like that and then they don’t have to do anything because they are names . So you really are responsible and now books can actually stay around longer which is a good thing but it also means you have to market longer as well. For me the first thing was understanding what platform and all that was. I really like Jane Freeman’s definition, which really sort of talked about authority and reach and your target market because those are sort of the key essential things. When you’re looking at building reach and authority, blogging is a really great way to do that because you are talking about what you know and people can learn about that. Blogging is social so it’s shared amongst other people, if you’re writing stuff people want to know about and freelance writing is sort of the same thing, only you can get actually paid to do it in which you can get yourself in front of your market in different places.”

How does social media play a role in this?

“In my mind it always goes back to where is your market? For example, if your market wasn’t on Twitter but they are on Pinterest, then you probably want to focus on Pinterest more than Twitter. So where is your reader? Where do they hangout? You have to know your reader, how old are they? What gender are they? What stuff do they like? What is in your book that is going to attract them? Find out where they are and then you go there and start interacting with them.”

Can you tell us about a time when you really struggled as an author?

“The marketing is actually the hardest part because it’s time consuming, because it’s overwhelming, because the returns on your effort aren’t quick enough to really let you know a lot of times is this working or not working? “Should I continue tweeting or not?” that type of thing because it’s hard to tell sometimes. It isn’t always instantaneous so for me one of the things that has really helped and that I go in look at are the statistics. When is there a bump? What did I do to make that happen? Marketing is sort of a constant thing, it’s not a “set it and forget it”, it’s not a “okay I get now I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing” it’s constantly changing and for me that is a challenge and as a new writer marketing and figuring out how to sell this book was really a challenge, so it’s always been a challenge.”

What one marketing tactic is really working well for you?

“I really like publicity, I use the HARO report for that. Help a Reporter Out is a place where people go when they need guests or experts for their blogs, their podcasts, whatever it is, if they’re a media outlet and they need to talk to people, the HARO Report goes out three times a day, covers all sorts of topics. I got into Redbook, answering, and sometimes you don’t’ know and I don’t care. If they’re going to be in my market, big or small, I can reach people that may not otherwise know about me. My favorite way is to really get in front of somebody else’s already made market and if I do it because I’m interviewing or I’ve written a guest post, I’m sharing my expertise which already increases my credibility because I’m sort of piggybacking on somebody else because they’ve allowed me to be on their show or to be on their blog.”

If you started over today, what 3 things would you tell yourself to help you sell more books?

“I would read about and learn about platform building and start doing it ASAP. I didn’t understand platform even when I first started building platform, so that just goes to show how dense I am. So really marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing would be a big thing because that’s what sells your book. You could have the best book in the world and yes Amazon is awesome, it gets your book in front of millions of people if they find it, but if they can’t find it then it’s nothing. Then of course producing the best work that you can, so it’s professionally edited, it’s got a great cover because the first part of sales is a good title, a great cover and an enticing blurb. Those are all part of marketing as well.”

How can people connect with you?

You can go to http://digitalwritersuccess.com, the book is there, there is a blog there so there are articles and things about freelance writing and blogging and publishing so that’s there. Of course my original website http://www.workathomesuccess.com is still there. Not as many writing stuff but there is marketing stuff there and of course http://leslietruex.com is also a great place. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and everywhere else so if you’re just interested in that which would be totally awesome, that would be great too.

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