Rockin’ Robin or Tweet if you Will…..

Someone once said that to Tweet is to hold a lantern of truth into the mire of self-publishing darkness. Actually, no one said that. And if they did, they would be stone crazy as it’s a load of rubbish. Having said that, Twitter and Facebook and MySpace etc do provide a means of trying to create the elusive writer’s platform. A means, I say. It’s not the only way…..stay with me.

I recently went to a few events at the Singapore Writer’s Festival. It was fantastically run with high profile speakers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Romesh Gunesekera and Peter James. I went along to an all day publishing symposium with different events and speakers, one of whom was Stephen Leather who gave a talk on e-publishing and how to do it. Leather is a thriller author who’s sold more than 2 million paperbacks. In 2011 however, The Bookseller Magazine named him as in the top 100 most influential people in publishing – and this is because of the way he has utilised e-publishing to sell his work. Leather used Amazon to great effect at the beginning of his career – initially generating great sales by pricing his books low – 49p, 99p etc. One year, he had the top three bestsellers in the Amazon chart. An amazing feat.

You’d think he’d be a walking advertisement for Twitter as a social media tool but he was actually quite dismissive of it. Yes, great to keep in contact with your “fans,” but the truth is that you following 20,000 people on Twitter and having them (in the main) follow you back, isn’t going to sell any books. Twitter has become saturated with wannabe writers. It’s a veritable nest of authors squeaking and squawking about their new books – it means it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.

Other forms of social media have the same problem. Basically, if you’re getting in to it now, you may be a little bit late – and I speak for myself when I say this. We needed to have been with Leather about five years ago, sounding the trumpet and chucking our books on Amazon for a pittance. Sadly, in my case, I hadn’t written mine then.

But never fear! There are ways to build a platform….I recently met Guy Vincent, based here in Singapore, who has created Publishizer which is a pre-orders platform for books. Guy and the Publishizer team help authors craft and run a pre-orders campaign to help fund publishing costs and a first print run. Authors keep all rights and royalties, and it’s free to run a campaign. Their first campaign, The Backpacker Chef by Jacqui Treagus, sold US$5240 (262 copies) in pre-orders in 30 days with Jacqui achieving newspaper publicity around Australia. The idea is that “patrons” donate money to an author’s platform in order to help them achieve a goal – a print run or a launch party are examples. The patrons then have their name acknowledged in the book or some other form of appreciation. If anyone is interested, check out http://www.publishizer.com.

New concepts and ideas like this are a way for a new author to gain a platform without purely having to rely on Twitter and a black hole of nothing. And if you’re still keen on pursuing a traditional publishing deal, it’s not going to harm your appeal if you already have 100 people who have bought and loved your book.

Plus, if you’re anything like me, I find it hard to be dazzling in 140 characters or less. I need at least 200….

Do get in touch if you have any thoughts on this.

And in the spirit of do as I say and not as I do, you can follow me on Twitter at @teawithconnie!!

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