Monday, October 1, 2018

Your Ever-changing Author Platform by Rolynn Anderson

Wisdom sharing time, team!

A colleague of mine, Mara Purl, and I are putting on an AUTHOR PLATFORM workshop at the InD’Scribe Conference. We’ve got a good handle on the talking points and I’ve developed a handout for attendees that encourages them to write down their ideas as we talk. We’ll have a wide range of experience in our audience…some of them in the biz as long as you have been.  We could use some tidbits from you!

We think the four ‘legs’ supporting an author platform are: GENRE, BRAND, GOAL, PASSION. The Hope: If an author can clarify for herself what she writes and can consistently articulate those premises to readers, she’ll find her niche…increase her readership.

Mara and I consider this a dynamic process. (Notice the table-top in my picture is quite worn :-) For example, my genre of choice these days is contemporary mystery with romantic elements.  (Used to be contemporary romantic suspense).  By examining my reviews and re-reading my own books objectively, listening to my editor’s comments along with my beta readers', I’ve see themes/patterns in my books I didn’t know where there.  As a result, I redesigned my website and aligned with new authors who were 'like me.' The path to pinpointing genre, brand, goal, and passion is quite a journey of self-discovery.

My questions for you…any one of these five or all:
1.  How much has your genre/brand changed over the years you’ve published?
2.  What do you wish you’d known about these concepts early in your publishing career?
3.  What’s your next step in polishing your author platform?
4.  What’s a author platform strategy that's worked for you?
5.  Critique all the above according to your experience. 

Thanks for your ideas, team.  I’ll be sure to give you feedback about what I learned from InD’Scribe workshops I attend (at InD’Scribe Oct. 4-7)!  Stay tuned for my blog entry on October 10. Cross your fingers for me, too.  BAD LIES is up for a Rone Award in the suspense/thriller the conference.  Hope springs eternally!

Fire is Nice is coming out soon.  Here's the cover:

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Jannine Gallant said...

I think your "legs" are strong points. I began this journey writing historical romance, but that was thirty plus years ago. It wasn't until I wrote a romantic suspense book that I realized that was a better fit for me. After that, I strayed into contemporary, writing novellas for the Wild Rose Press and their multi-author series. I hadn't yet realized you need to focus your attention on one sub-genre to develop a reader base. Readers simply won't cross sub-genres, for the most part. But those experiences honed my skills and led me to author friendships that have been invaluable. Best of luck at the Rone Awards, Rolynn!

Rolynn Anderson said...

This need of readers to see one genre from a writer is a very interesting point, Jannine. Mara and I are both quite focused on particular genres, so we don't have any experience with 'straying,' like you your opinion is very helpful. Thanks for the good wishes!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Sounds like a great workshop, Rolynn. I started writing what I thought was mainstream. I love characterization and I wanted to write people stories. It was actually romance. LOL But I made a conscious choice to broaden my stories and chose murder. They could have a past murder, known or unknown, or a current murder. Basically, it's romantic suspense, not a murder mystery. I find now, I want to expand the suspense angle and find other kinds of suspense that don't require a murder. That's where I'm headed. What do I wish I'd known? I've done a lot of research and reading about writing, but I think even if I'd "known", I wouldn't have been able to fully understand. I think I must be a do it to learn it type. Maybe if I hadn't "known" it, I wouldn't be able to incorporate those concepts. I probably stored it away until I had the experience to use them.

Diane Burton said...

My 1st platform was "out of this world adventures" because I was writing science fiction romance. Then I started writing more mysteries and romantic suspense. When I thought about commonalities in all my books, I came up with "Adventure and this world and beyond." A little long, so I often shorten it to "Adventure and Romance." I think that conveys what all my books are about. As much as I like writing contemporary suspense and mysteries, I almost wish I'd settled on one genre (sfr) and built it up more before venturing out. Since I enjoy all 3 genres, I'll stick with them.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks for making the point: we tend to need to learn the hard way. One best-seller author told me at first...don't come back until you've got 20 books under your belt. I bought/made too much swag in the beginning when I should have been writing. But back then it was kinda fun and I'm more focused and clear about what I need. Sounds like you are too, Brenda. Mush on!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Diane, I can imagine the back and forth thinking going on in your head...and even as you wrote. I really hate the idea of writing for a 'market'...the genre of the year...but I also want a readership. Seems like you have a better chance by writing in three genres!

Alison Henderson said...

This is a great topic, Rolynn--one I've thought about quite a bit over the past few years. I began writing historical romance many, many moons ago because that was what I read. Over the years, the market and my own tastes changed, and I moved to contemporary. I wasn't sure how to categorize Unwritten Rules, so I considered it Romantic Suspense, although it wasn't a perfect fit for the genre. After three books in that series, I've come to realize what I'm writing is more mystery than suspense, and the romance is a little less central to the plot. Oh, and I add a big dollop of humor. So I've decided to call it humorous romantic mystery. I'm not sure that's even a thing, but it does describe my books. To support that platform and brand, I use daily FB posts of interesting trivia and oddball entries from our local newspaper's police log. I'm going for witty--no idea if it actually works. LOL

Rolynn Anderson said...

I definitely see humor coming through in your books as well as your persona on FB. I love the police log bits. You, like I do, enjoy the quirks of's a part of our brand. I write a bit darker than you do, but I still consider my mystery on the light side. Thanks for your input...I'm gaining some cred for my workshop with ROP comments!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Like many of us Roses, my first attempt at writing a novel was historical, since, thirty some years ago, that’s what was popular at the time. Think Kathleen Woodiwiss, my first inspiration. My first published novel was a contemporary, then, like Jannine, I wrote quite a few series novellas for The Wild Rose Press. My next contemporary evolved into a romantic suspense and that’s what I’m doing now. The idea of brand, for me at least, seems to be so limiting, but it is what readers want. My next step in the old author platform is to branch out into doing more advertising, both paid and, when possible, free. Amazingly, this seems to be working. Best of luck both on your presentation, and with the award. Fingers crossed for you.

Leah St. James said...

When I think of "author platform," I think more of the marketing infrastructure than genre, brand or goals. I think of website, social media, email strategies--things like that--all of which should consistently reflect the brand or genre. But I like the way you've used the phrase for this workshop, and I like the four cornerstones (legs) you've identified.

It's unfortunate, to me as a writer, that readers don't like crossing genres with a specific author, because I like writing all sorts of things. I started with romantic suspense, tried paranormal romantic suspense and even contemporary/women's fiction. So I'm struggling with this personally and need to do some analysis like you have to figure it out.

As a reader, however, I'm guilty! I like knowing what I'll get when I pick up a favorite author's newest book. It's tough for a writer to maintain that consistency while coming up with fresh stories and writing.

I think the workshop sounds fantastic. Hope you have a wonderful time. I'm looking forward to hearing your "report" afterward!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Margo, I'm so happy you've found your niche and you're on a roll. To have a strategy and see it working...heaven. We want to grow up to be just like you!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Leah, you are so right. Logically it seems if a reader likes the way an author writes, the reader would enjoy the writer's work across genres. But you're right. If I don't care for geriatric space opera, I won't read it :-) Sorry, I had to pick something that wouldn't offend anyone. I appreciate your kind thoughts about the workshop and the Rone. I definitely will report back!