Flop sweat erupts on foreheads. Faces go pale and bloodless. Hands tremor. Eyes widen in terror. These are all symptoms suffered by writers when I tell them that they have to engage in social media. They moan, they groan, I’ve even seen grown men cry. Many are still living under the misguided fantasy that they can sit out in their cabin by the lake and write their magnificent opus, send it off to him Mr. Harper and Mr. Collins, get a book deal, then wait for Oprah to call, and watch the checks roll in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten queries from writers that actually say, “I’d be willing to go on Oprah.” Who wouldn’t be WILLING to go on Opra? Apart from Jonathan Franzen of course. The question is: how are YOU going to get YOURSELF on Oprah? Just the other day, I sent a proposal for a beautiful, moving, touching, well-written memoir to fantastic, cutting edge, alternative independent press. The editor said she wouldn’t even read the proposal because the author didn’t have a Platform. Platform, for those who don’t know, is the new publishing buzzword. It means the method you are going to use to connect with the tribe of people who are passionate enough about you and your ideas to buy your book. I often say that the greatest pitch you could give for a book is in this day and age: “I have 1 million Twitter followers and they all want to buy my book.” It doesn’t matter what your book is. Agents, editors and publishers will line up around the cyber block to be in business with you. But for many authors who don’t have a website, aren’t up on Twitter, and only have a Facebook page where they can post pictures of their kids and/or grandkids, the idea of building a platform, tweeting every day, friending people they don’t know, and spending hours and hours and hours of their one precious life networking socially on the Internet sounds as appealing as getting a root canal from a Nazi without Novocain. That’s why I devised the 7 Minute Rule of Social Media. Every day, spend 7 minutes connecting with your tribe. It’s like brushing your teeth. Washing your face. Make it part of your daily routine. Make it a habit. Habits are incredibly powerful. Bad ones and good ones. If you need to, set the timer on your smart phone for 7 minutes. It’s not much out of your day. Out of your life. But the trick is, you have to do it every day. EVERY DAY. Like a habit. So, how do you get started? The first thing to do is research. Check out the various platforms available to you. The obvious ones are Twitter and Facebook, but as you dig deeper, you’ll find cool sites for writers like Redroomhttp://redroom.com/, Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/, Writers Digest Forumhttp://forum.writersdigest.
1) Befriend a Child Mentor
2) Figure out which Key Words best describe you and your project.
3) Find the online platforms that suit you best.
4) Connect with members of this community. Categorize them by geographic location and interest.
5) Become an active and generous member of that community.
6) Build your own home on your favorite website
7) Connect your website with your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
8) Get other people to put your website up on their website in their resource section.
9) Make sure you have a very good profile picture which shows us her face. Please, don’t put up a baby picture of yourself.
10) Be consistent with the way you describe yourself. Make sure your name is always the same wherever you put it up. And write a great description of your mission statement as a human being and as a writer.
11) Give, give, give, give, give. Giveaway stuff on your website. Spread your time and love all over the cyber world.
12) Only after you’ve given till it hurts should you should you ask gently and politely and persistently for what you need
David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, activist, and book doctor. His new book Chicken Self:-Portrait of a Man for Rent, 10 Year Anniversary Edition, has been translated into 10 languages. He’s also written Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money and Sex, which appeared on the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. He is a finalist for the Henry Miller Award. He has appeared on, acted with, written for, been employed as, worked and/or presented at: Will Smith, a marriage counselor, Disney screenwriter, Stanford University, National Public Radio, Milton Berle, Huffington Post, a sodajerk, Michael Caine, the Taco Bell chihuahua, Penthouse, the London Times, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a human guinea pig and Zippy the Chimp. He can be found at www.davidhenrysterry.com.
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