Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Changing Times – Changing Platforms?

by Mary Allen

The publishing world has changed immensely since I first dipped my little toe in fifteen years ago. Back then the rules about platform seemed so rigid as to be exclusive. For someone such as I who didn’t want a writing career that trumped the other areas of my life, it was easy to be intimidated almost to the point of paralysis. Are public visibility and reputation still the holy standard for book promotion and sales? Are professional names backed by pedigrees and great professional connections still book sales requirements? Perhaps not.

While visibility remains important, even imperative, how that happens has changed in a society which has come to rely on the internet for everything from diagnosing medical conditions to tracking library due dates. More and more it seems that to be successful today a writer not only needs to write well, but to interact with prospective readers who are more apt to check out a title or author by clicking to a website.

If the author comes across as someone with personality, offers glimpses into on-going works, video clips of personal life and opinions, then reader interaction is encouraged. From that environment sales are much more likely to grow, according to Alan Rinzler who worked many years for major publishing companies such as Simon and Schuster and Bantam. He claims this is true for traditionally published authors as well as indies.

Establishing a website poses many questions. How should an author balance authentic personality with privacy when creating a public persona? How is content chosen that offers value and relevancy? After these and many more questions are worked out, will a website have staying power? 

I remember the fervor over My Space, then Facebook and LinkedIn and Tweeter and I don’t know what else because it was too overwhelming. I’m the kind of girl that is comfortable chatting over a cup of tea rather than tweeting or even facebook-ing, despite the opportunity the last offers me to connect globally with people I love. #oldfashionedgirl. #writecallvisitme. If I’m going to put in time and money – for me more time than money- to put up a quality website how long will this media outlet last?

A couple years ago I opted to use Facebook over a website as my author page. More and more I wonder if the FB craze is passing. Putting up a website is the logical next step for me. Websites seem to have proven staying power. If I choose one media outlet to focus on, this should be it. 

This time round I’m not going to be anxious or frenzied. It just doesn’t suit me. #slowandeasy. As I do this, perhaps step by step author website how-to is a topic of interest to other HI authors. What say you?  What website building questions burn inside of you?

Mary Allen is a life-long Hoosier who loves Northwest Indiana and the many seasons it offers for reading. You can find her reading in a lawn chair in the summer shade, on the veranda in the fall, by the fire during the winter and listening to books on CD while spring cleaning. La Porte County Poet Laureate Emeritas (2010) with three books of poetry, Mary speaks at Christian women's clubs, blogs on and writes fiction. (Caveat: don't follow the hashtags, I don't tweet.)

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