Excerpt from Writing Speech: Author Platform & Cover Art, Post 6
This is an ongoing topic — it is the 6th and final excerpt from my writing speech:
Remember, these are just my opinions and suggestions. Nothing is set in stone. Other writers could answer quite differently and argue with me over my answers. What works for one person may not work for another.
OK…next topic…I mentioned an author platform earlier which goes along with the question about social networking. YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST CREATE AN AUTHOR PLATFORM even if your book isn’t completed!!! Now I’ll amend that statement: Ask yourself WHY are you writing a book? Are you writing it for the joy and passion of writing, as a fun, creative hobby and are NOT that concerned with whether it ever gets published? OR do you plan on publishing it to earn a few bucks, or a lot of bucks, plus the joy of writing? If you want your book to be PUBLISHED AND FOR READERS TO KNOW THAT YOU AND YOUR BOOK EXIST AND YOU WANT IT TO BE BOUGHT AND READ AND TALKED ABOUT then you MUST CREATE AN AUTHOR PLATFORM! The author platform in general is used to impress agents and publishers. Portions of it are also used to interact with readers and draw attention to yourself. The platform includes any previous type of writing you’ve done: books; articles or stories in newspapers, magazines, anything to do with writing, editing, publishing, copyrighting, marketing in this field. And a ton of your author platform involves the internet: articles & online content you’ve written, actively blogging on specific sites, maintaining your own blog, having your own author website that you keep updated, possibly a bulletin board, newsletters. Your author platform involves building fans or friends or simply having a good number of decent contacts on: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Goodreads, and maybe LinkedIn. (UPDATE: And now we have Google+ !)It’s advantageous if you have a blog where you consistently write enticing, informative content and can start to build a base of followers. But you also want to come across as a real, live person with other interests in life besides just trying to chat about your book. If you don’t throw in other off-topic comments a little here and there, people will be turned off by the constant advertising of your books in their face. WHY, you ask, is it so important to have an author platform? Because, as I stressed earlier, if your goal is to SELL your books, people have to know you and your book EXIST! That’s especially critical if you’re with a small publishing house and they are limited on how much they market your book. Of course, your book needs to be entertaining and well-written, but FEW people will know about it until you build a base of contacts and friends you can CHAT with or post to about your book & your writing endeavors. That’s assuming you want people to BUY your book! Hopefully some WILL get excited about your book, purchase it, love it and then tell others about it – word of mouth advertising!! An author platform shows people – which could be your prospective agent, publisher or current and future fans of your books –it shows off your books and projects, credentials, talents, references, interests, your influence, your involvement in the writing field, your quantity and quality of contacts and efforts made to increase your contacts and that you are serious about networking to aid in your endeavor to succeed as an author.
The internet is your friend and enemy. The points I just covered explain how it is your friend. The internet can become your enemy easily, as it is a gargantuan time suck. Occasionally I’ll set timers to ring so I don’t play around on the internet too long. And even they don’t always work – because I ignore them.
So, don’t be afraid to set up accounts on the main social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and get a blog going at Blogger.com. Your blog, if set up properly, can even serve as your author’s website! Track down people you already know and Friend or Like or Follow them…Start looking for other authors to connect with. Find blogs that discuss the genre you write in or cover a subject you write about. Post comments. Make friends. Invite them to your blog or Facebook page, etc.
The last topic is cover art. Many different situations or agreements or contracts could affect how cover art is dealt with. In MY situation, with my publisher, I was able to choose my own cover art for my book. I also had an option to use their artist for free to create the book’s cover. I really like photo images, though. At least for what I felt I wanted the cover of my book to portray. And honestly, I did work with two, young, local artists who drew covers for me. Both were drawings that didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted the cover to look. The second artist explained that what I was seeking would probably have to be done with paints. And she didn’t do that. And I was staring at a deadline of one day left to submit my chosen book cover to the publisher. She suggested using a photo from an online site that sells images. I purchased photos from that particular site and that’s where my covers for my books came from! Both photos were tweaked for the covers to get the right look. From what I understand, many publishers assume the responsibility of creating the cover art for you and send it to you for approval. A lot of authors are at a complete loss for what to do about covers, which is why publishers handle that for them. I’m sure in many cases, though, the authors who DO have ideas for their own cover make suggestions and go from there. Their ideas could be shot down or happily embraced by the publisher.
So, cover art is something that may not be determined until you decide if you’re going with an agent/publisher and if THEY’LL choose the book cover or if you’ll have any input in design, like I did with mine. It doesn’t hurt to have ideas, sketches, or photos set aside of what you like. That way you know in advance how you want the cover to look, maybe some feature that you specifically really want on it…Just don’t spend days and days dwelling over it, though, and then later discover your publisher has complete control on that issue and makes their own decision, possibly with no input from you.
Of course, if you’re self-publishing, it’s all up to you, baby! You’re in control!
Note: I do NOT know everything there is to know about publishing. These are simply my experiences and opinions. This is the last segment/posting of my writing speech.