Hey, Sarah: Sending revised pages

Before today's video, I have a little update. I'll be reopening to queries starting on Monday September 1st. Keep in mind that the agency will close to queries for the holidays starting some time around Thanksgiving. So if you plan to query me in 2014, now is the time.

To help, I've got a new interview up as part of First Five Frenzy talking about what I look for in the first five pages (which is what you should send with your query).

Also, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter. This is going to go out some time tonight and will include the checklist from this month's Platform Pick-up. 

And now, on to the video.

Platform Pick-Up: Wrap-up

We made it. After an entire month of elbow grease, you should have a pretty clean platform. That's the good news. The bad news is just like a house with small children, nothing stays clean forever.
If you want to keep your platform running at optimal efficiency, you'll need some regular maintenance.

Create a schedule
Ideally, you should run a clean up of your platform at least twice a year. I would also recommend doing a quick check any time you have a new book release. Try to pick two months in the year that are less hectic for you and pencil in these clean-ups right now. Maybe add them to your calendar or make a reminder in your phone. Whatever you need to do to remember.

It's easy to tell yourself you'll keep your platform organized, but just as easy to let life get in the way and forget. By staying on a regular schedule, you'll find that the process isn't as difficult since many of the steps will just be a confirmation that everything looks good rather than needing to make more changes.

Make a check-list
Of course, you can always refer back to this blog series, but that can be time consuming and decrease the chances you'll actually complete the project. As much as I love it when you join me here, I think you'll be more successful if you keep a separate document that reminds you of all the places you need to check your platform.

In addition to a check list, it's a great idea to keep a change log. Picture this as something like the restroom cleaning logs at truck stops. If you do make a change during one of your clean-ups, or at any time during the year, mark it down. Add a new bio, mark down the date. Change your photo, mark down the date. Add a new social media account, mark down the date. You get the idea. This will be a great way to keep track of the changes you are making. 

I mentioned a few days ago that subscribers to my newsletter will be getting another free download this month. So, now's a good time to tell you that this month's free download will be a PDF checklist of all the steps we covered during this month's Platform pick-up. In addition, I'll include a change log for tracking all your updates. The newsletter will go out Saturday afternoon, so be sure to sign up for my newsletter now so you can get these extra resources free!

What's next?
So that's it for the Platform Pick-Up series. I hope you found it helpful. I really enjoy running these series on the blog and want them to be useful to all of you. If you have ideas for other blog series or anything else you'd like to see here, please let me know. These can be anything regarding writing, publishing, marketing or any other topic you'd like to see covered. I open to all ideas, so please let me know in the comments or shoot me an email at SarahNegovetich(at)Gmail.com. And don't forget to stop by tomorrow for the next Q&A Hey, Sarah video.

Platform Pick-Up: Email pt. 4

If you've followed the clean-up for this week, you should have a squeaky clean inbox. Congratulations! Now it's time to look at how you are using email.

Specifically, are you using the right accounts for the right reasons? In other words, do you have enough email addresses? Before you throw something hard at me, hear me out. I have three accounts each for very different purposes. Instead of making me crazy, keeping these accounts separate keeps me (somewhat) sane.

I have an account that I'm don't share with you guys. It's my personal account. I use it for emails to my mom, online shopping, and keeping up with my college friends. It has nothing to do with publishing and I like it that way. I know that I can go several days without checking that email and the world isn't going to burn down. 

As an added bonus, I use this account when I sign up for anything new (workshops, newsletters, etc.). This is where I test drive them to see if it's something I will want to keep reading. If so, I add them to my blog reader. If not, delete and unsubscribe.

This is my Gmail account SarahNegovetich (at)gmail.com. This is the account I list on the site here. It's where I have all my publishing related accounts linked to. I have my Google alerts set up here, social media notifications and all the emails from places like Publisher's Marketplace. This is where all of my non-agency, but still publishing related emails go. 

This account creates a public place that I am comfortable sharing with the world. I still want to hear from the people who contact me here, but I don't want these emails crowding my agency inbox.

Finally, I have my agency account. Obviously, this is the email I use to contact my clients and editors. If email from one of these people accidentally gets sent to one of my other emails (it happens occasionally), I forward it to my agency address so I can keep all of these emails in the same place. 

This is an email account I keep open all day, every day. Yes, even on the weekends. I recognize that this kinda makes me crazy, but it works for me.

Each of these emails is set-up so I don't miss emails and they get the attention they each deserve. Maybe one account works best for you. If so, that's great. But if you often find yourself missing crucial emails because they are buried in the avalanche of junk mail, you might want to think about adding a new email.

Platform Pick-Up: Email pt. 3

You've unsubscribed to lists that you don't actually read and moved the others to an organized blog reader. Now it's time to clean up what's left.
Read it
As you go through the rest of your inbox, you'll need to quickly read through your emails and then make a fast decision about what to do with it. Don't over think this step. If you open an email that clearly will take more time, skip it and come back once you're done. The idea is to read through these as quickly as you can and then take an action step.

Delete it
You probably have a ton of emails that are nothing more than a quick notification or filling you in on some information. Once you've read it, you're good to go. If you no longer need the email (for reference or otherwise) delete it. Just do it.

If you have an email that will take 1 minute or less to respond to, go ahead and shoot of a quick answer. No need to hold on to these. Respond appropriately and then delete.

Save it
Sometime I'll get emails with information that needs to be stored. For example, I save all the editor responses to my clients books. I'll reference these later when I pitch their next project to see if they might be interest. The trick here is to make sure you have clearly labeled folders to store this information, otherwise it crowds up your inbox and is impossible to find.

Mark as to-do
You probably have a to do list whether it's a physical list, a note on your phone or a mash of postit notes. If you have an email that gives you an action item, add it to your list no matter what kind of list it is. Once you've got the item on your list, delete the email. You can also organize these in a to-do folder within your email, just make sure to check it regularly.

All Clean
If you've completed these steps then the only emails you have left in your box are those that are longer or more complicated. Ideally, you won't have too many of these, but if you do, make sure to set aside enough time to go through these.

I try to keep my inbox low enough that I don't have to scroll to see the full contents. This doesn't always happen (honest moment: it happens a lot less frequently than I'd like), but when my inbox is clean I feel that I'm able to focus more on the work I have to do.

Platform Pick-Up: Email pt.2

Gah, I'm so late today. Forgive me, but I was working on today's task. We're still working on that email box and hopefully, today's task will make a big difference in both your inbox volume and your ability to read other blogs.
I have tons of blogs that I enjoy reading regularly. Everything from writing and publishing to book reviews and Tumblrs. I can't imagine what my inbox would look like if I sent all of them there. But without another system I would simply forget to check them. And that's where a really good blog reader is a lifesaver. 

What's a blog reader?
Simply stated a blog reader is any website or program that puts all of your subscribed blogs in one place and keeps them there until you read them or delete them. I love Feedly because it's so easy to you and it adds a little icon to my internet task bar so I have a visual reminder to check it.

Why a blog reader?
Well, besides the obvious benefit of keeping your inbox clean, there are a few other great reasons to use a blog reader. For one, you'll quickly get an idea of which blog you are really reading. If I find myself constantly skipping over posts then I know that blog isn't a match for me anymore and I can delete it. 

Also, the format allows me to easily scan headlines and the first paragraph of a post to see if it's something I want to read. Not every blog post on every blog I follow is interesting to me. This lets me quickly skip the ones I don't want to read without worrying about missing the ones I want.

And the organization is a huge advantage. I can easily group my followed blogs by content. This means all my review blogs are in one section. I don't click on it until I'm in the mood for reading reviews. Same goes for writing, marketing, and agents (yes I follow other agents). Also, I have a special group just for my clients so I never miss one.

Now what?
I suggest going back into your inbox and identifying all the blogs that you still want to read. Now sign up for a blog reader and move them over. Once you get them set up in a blog reader, unsubscribe from them with your email so you don't get them in two places. 

Your email is going to start looking really clean, but we're not done yet. Tune in the rest of this week to finish the job.

Platform Pick-Up: Email pt. 1

Alright, last week of the Platform Pick-Up. To finish we've tackled social media, book centric sites, and your blog. For the finale, let's get your email working for you instead of against you.

I'm not gonna lie. Today's task is kinda brutal, but it will be so worth it when you're done.

Oh, Lord! What do you want me to do?
Today I want you to go through your current inbox (for any and all accounts you have) and unsubscribe from any of the emails you aren't opening anymore. I sign up for all kinds of mailing lists. Sometimes I want to check out a free offering or I've found someone new online I want to check out more. The problem is that my inbox is then flooded with emails. Some of the helpful, others not.

Maybe it's not an email you want anymore, or you could have just outgrown the particular audience of the content creator. Regardless of the reason, if you're like me you probably have tons of emails that you don't even open.

So what's wrong with just deleting them?
Unsubscribing is sometimes a pain so we usually just click delete and ignore these, but they are taking up time and attention that is wasteful to your schedule. I didn't notice it as much until I found myself with three email accounts to manage. I don't get to check all of them every day. Sometime I log in and find pages of unread email newsletters. Not only is this a time suck, but it also makes it more likely that I'll miss an important email.

Just do it.
Take the time today to open these emails, scroll to the bottom (usually) and unsubscribe. You might have to click a few buttons to complete the unsubscribe, but you'll be glad you did once you see how much less email you get over the next few days.

Also, in case you missed it, I posted my first Q&A video on Saturday. Check it out if you want to see me be all kinds of awkward. :)

Hey, Sarah: Query vs. Pitch

Alright, as promised, here is the first Q&A video. This week I am answering the question of Pitch vs. Query.

Things I learned from making my first YouTube video:
1. I say the word "so" way too much
2. I blink and close my eyes at random times
3. I'm not nearly as funny as I sometimes think I am
4. Video editing is hard and has a steep learning curve
5. Apparently it takes a while to upload a video

I promise these will get better. They have to, because I'm pretty sure they can't get worse. Bear with me while I get the hang of this and we'll all learn a little something together.

If you have your own question you'd like for me to answer, fill out the question form and I'll add you to the list.

Platform Pick-Up: Blog pt. 5

Today is the last day we're going to talk about your blog, so it's kind of a big one. Let's talk Press Kits.
I've talked about Press Kits on the blog previously. I also really enjoy this video from Word Nerds about what to include in your press kit. And here's a pretty basic sample press kit. If you don't have a press kit on your blog yet, it's time to get one.

What's it for?
Your press kit has one goal, and one goal only: Make someone's job easy. What someone, you ask. Journalists, bloggers, reviewers, retailers, librarians, event planners and anyone else who wants to promote you or your book. As you work on your press kit, keep in mind that your objective is to make it as easy as possible for all of those people to find out everything they might possibly need to make their job easier. When you keep that objective at the forefront, you'll have a much better perspective on what to include.

What do I include?
Following the goal of above, we are going to include pretty much everything. Here's a handy list to get you started.

1. Bio: Write this in third person and consider having several lengths. For example, a reporter may need only a line or two to include at the end of a write up. A bookseller promoting your signing may want a paragraph or two. Someone else may want several paragraphs. By offering several lengths you eliminate the task for someone else and...make their job easier.

2. Press Release: While you should craft targeted press releases for the various media that you send them to, for your press kit, you'll want a generic press release that anyone can use. Make sure you use standard formatting and include all your contact info, even though you're going to have it listed in another location in your kit. By providing it here you...make their job easier.

3. Book Info: This includes your back cover blurb, ISBN, publication info and purchase links. Is this information already on the book page of your website that we just talked about? Yes, it it. But you're going to include it here as well to...make their job easier.

4. Sample chapter: Some authors leave this out, but I say it doesn't hurt to have it included. It doesn't hurt anything and you might hook in a reader who was just looking for your email address. Be sure to include a cover photo in both color and black and white. Also, include buy links at the end of the section as well. Do we already have them in the book info section? Yes, we do. By now you realize we are going to duplicate all kinds of info in order to...make their job easier.

5. Sample Interview Questions (And answers): Picture if you will the journalist who needs to flesh out a story, but doesn't really have time to call you up, schedule an interview, have the interview, transcribe it, and edit it for print. Now picture that same journalist finding a set of already answered questions that they can pick and choose from to include  in their story. It's a win-win for everyone. You get more coverage and the journalist, you've just...made their job easier.

6. Book Review excerpts: No need to go crazy here. That said, if you don't toot your own horn, no one will. If you've got some really great reviews, include them here. Be sure to clearly state who gave you the review and provide a link to that person or organization's website. Why? It will (all together now)...make their job easier.

7. Contact info: Everything goes here. Seriously...everything. Any way that someone can possibly get in touch with you needs to be included here. Think home, cell phone, email addresses, social media, Amazon author and Goodreads accounts. By keeping it all in one place, you...make their job easier.

8. Photos: This includes your head shot, the cover image and any less formal author photos that you would like to share. Be sure to include these as downloadable images in hi-res, low-res, color and black and white. You can't know what format they need, and if you don't have what they need, they are liable to just not use an image, which is bad. Give them plenty of options to choose from so you can...make their job easier.

In case I didn't drill that home enough, everything here is designed to Make Their Job Easier.

What format should I use?
Upload your press kit as a PDF that way you don't have to worry about someone accidentally messing with it. Also, with so many word processing systems out there, a PDF eliminates the possibility that not all of your information is converted into whatever program the other person is using.

Also, I recommend a click-able table of contents. It lets the person checking you out skip right to the section they want to find and makes it so your kit doesn't become bulky or cumbersome as it grows. 

This is a big task, which is why I saved it for a Friday. If you find yourself in need of a press kit break this weekend, stop back by the blog. I'm hoping (fingers crossed) to post the very first Q&A video on Saturday. You guys sent me a ton of really great questions and it's time to start getting them answered. Just as soon as I can master not completely suck at video editing. So check back tomorrow. I'll have a new post up with a link to the video. 

Have a great weekend!

Platform Pick-Up: Blog pt.4

Yesterday, I mentioned the importance of checking the links on your book page. Obviously you don't want to have bad links and make it hard for readers to buy your books, but that isn't the only place you have links on your blog.

I can't tell you how many links I have on my blog. In addition to the ones that are part of the page, linking to areas like my social media accounts or newsletter, I regularly add links to my posts. Like the one up there in the top linking to yesterday's post. I also link to outside sites, like the one below. Some of them I control; others I don't.

Checking all of those links by hand would be a logistical nightmare. Good think for us, we don't have to. There are plenty of sites out there that will check for you. You can run a quick Google search for "free link checker" and you'll get plenty of results. 

In case you don't want to hit up Google, here is a free link checker I already scouted for you. This one scours your site, finds broken links and the directs you to them so you can fix them. Easy, Peasy!

So here's your task today. Run a link check on your site and fix those broken links.

Platform Pick-Up: Blog pt. 3

Your blog does so many things. Provide a home base for your readers, make you available to others, and...give your books a spotlight.

Yep, you want to make sure that visitors to your site know what books you have out and any that are soon to be released. 

What does that look like?

You need to have a separate page on your blog, just for your books. Include a cover image, a short blurb (on paragraph if you can manage it), and easy to find links for readers to buy. This should include all the major retailers. I would also recommend including a link for readers to leave reviews for your work on Amazon, Goodreads, or both.

You can't forget about Amazon

Speaking of Amazon, remember when I said that they give you a handy personalized URL for your Author Central page. This is where you want to put it. Right up at the top. Something like: Click here for a full listing of all of Sarah's titles in both ebook and paperback. No matter how you feel about the media giant, there's no denying they sell books. While you want to update your book page every time you have a new book, including this link ensures that all your books get in front of reader's eyes, even if you get a little behind.

Check your links

Even if you already have a shiny book page with all this information listed, now is a great time to check all your live links. The internet is wonky sometimes. It just happens. The last thing you want is a reader who's ready to buy your book, but can't find it because the link on your site is broken.

If you want to get fancy, you can create a separate page for each book or series. But keep in mind that simplicity is your friend. The more clicks a reader has to go through to find your book, the less likely they will be to keep looking. No matter how you decide to structure your book page, make sure it is easy to find, easy to read, and easy to buy.

Platform Pick-Up: Blog pt. 2

Your blog or website serves many purposes, but one of the most important roles is as a place for readers to find you. The question is, how easy are you making it?

Your blog needs to have a static place for readers, media contacts, reviewers and others to contact you. That means creating a clearly labeled place where folks can find all your contact information. For today's task make sure you have a contact tab/page on your blog with up-to-date information listed.

What to list

* Email - This is the most important contact information to have on your blog. If you have nothing else, make sure that you've got an email address. If you don't have one already, go get an email address that uses your author name. Not only does it look more professional than fairieprincess006@aol.com, an address with your name makes it easier for readers to remember.

* Contact form -  Some readers might be hesitant to email you. For some, they might think they are bothering you to send an email. Others might be concerned that emailing you will make their own email address more public and invite spam. Regardless of the reason, not everyone will be comfortable emailing you. For those readers, a contact form is a great alternative. Google Forms makes it easy to create a free form to add to your blog that auto populates a contact spreadsheet.

* Phone number - Some of you might be a bit squeamish about publishing a phone number, but you shouldn't be. I've had a phone number posted on my blog for over a year now. I have received a grand total of ZERO phone calls. No prank calls, spam texts or authors angry about a query rejection. So, please don't worry about a flood of phone calls. Also, I use a free Google number so that if there ever was a problem, I could simply redirect the number without having to change my actual phone number. So, if no one uses it, why have it. Most for media. If someone needs to write a last minute article and decides to feature your book, they might need to get in touch with you in a hurry. Listing a phone number lets them reach out quickly and shows that you are open to being contacted.

* Address - This is the one time when I would say be careful. I would not list your personal address here. Most folks would never cross the line, but all it takes is one to destroy your security. Instead, consider investing in a PO Box if you would like to have a place for readers and other to send you letters. Another option is to list your agent's address. Just be sure to check with them first.

* Social Media - You'll probably want to have your social media easily visible on the main page of your blog, but it doesn't hurt to include them here as well. Make sure you include links to your actual account and not just a list of where you are. Most readers won't take the time to search on FB or Twitter for you, but they will click on a link where they only have to click on button to follow you.

So that's it. Go update your contact pages and then come back tomorrow for the next task.

Platform Pick-Up: Blog pt. 1

We're halfway through the Platform Pickup! How are you feeling? I hope you at least feel a little more in control of your platform. Hang in there for a few more weeks while we tackle the rest of your platform and picture how accomplished you'll feel at the end of the month.

Today's task is an easy one, so when you're done stop over at the Make Me A Story blog where I have a guest post up on why you need a marketing plan. Also, I'm planning out the August newsletter and there is going to be another free download this month. If you haven't signed up yet, be sure to do that today. In addition to this month's resource, you'll also get my DIY Blog Tour Handbook.

Now, on to today. It's time to start tackling your blog. Up until now, we've been focusing on our accounts tied to social media. Now it's time to take a look at the platform we manage the most.

For today, go through your blog and make sure you are using the same photo, bio, and header/background. If you made a brand sheet earlier this month, double check your colors, fonts, and other visual aspects of your blog to keep your brand consistent.

So that's it, check your blog for brand consistency, sign up for the newsletter, and hop over to my guest post. Oh, and have a great Monday. :)

Platform Pick-Up: Ebook back matter

Let's talk books!
We can't forget that your books are absolutely a part of your platform. Obviously we can't change the actual story, and we wouldn't want to. But what about all the items that come after you type "The End". In the business, we call this back matter and it absolutely matters.

This is where you include your bio, links to your online platform, previews for future books, etc. If you are with a traditional publisher, you will probably be limited in how much this can be updated. They aren't going to go in to edit and reformat your ebook just to add a new line to your bio. If you need changes, you'll need to contact your editor and discuss with them what is possible. However, if you are self-published, you can change this whenever you want. Now, that doesn't mean you should. However, if you have a new book out that you want to promote, adding a sneak preview to the back of your ebook is a great way to keep your fans reading more of your work.

I also suggest pointing readers to a central location on your website that you can update with listings of your books and new releases. And don't forget about the link to your Author Central account. Since you can tailor an ebook just to Amazon, this is a great way to point existing Kindle users to the rest of your Kindle ready books.

Regardless of how you are published, it's a good idea to give your back matter a check every once in a while to make sure that all the links included are still live and see if you have any major changes that need to be included.

Platform Pick-Up: Amazon pt. 3

We're almost done with Amazon, but we need to check one more thing...

Are all your books listed on your Author Central account? This one sounds simple, but you might be surprised. Amazon doesn't automatically add books to your account (for most authors). After all, lost of authors have the same name so they would be guessing who to add a book to. This means you will probably need to manually add all your books to your account. This is important because when a reader clicks on your name for one of your books you want them to be able to see them all. Plus, adding your account URL to your promotional materials won't do you any good if some of your books are missing.

In helping other authors get this set up, I've noticed that it sometimes takes a while for this to work and you might have to try several times. Also, it can take up to 24 hours for a book to be added, so you'll need to go back and double check the next day to make sure it took. Like most of Amazon's author features, this doesn't always work perfectly. The good news is Amazon has a wonderful support system. If you are having issues, don't be afraid to reach out to customer service. They are great at helping to work through the kinks.

So go log back into your account one more time and check to make sure that all of your books are listed. Also, make sure you have all the formats shown. This might mean contact Amazon to link your print, ebook and audio book versions together.

Platform Pick-Up: Amazon pt.2

Now that you've got an Author Central account, let's make it work for you.

There are a lot of features here and it can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is most of them are feeds of your other accounts so once you set them up, they run without any intervention from you.

So you'll want to make sure you link your Twitter account and blog. Twitter is pretty self-explanatory. For the blog, you probably won't be able to just list your website url. You'll need to do a little digging into the back end of your site and find your feed url. I was able to do this without an issue on my blogger account, but I've had trouble in the past linking accounts for authors on Wordpress. Amazon is a bit finicky so you might have to play around with it.

Next, you'll want to include any events you have planned. Remember that these can be live-events or online events. The purpose is to give your readers a chance to connect with you, so when in doubt, list it. This will require you to update it manually, so you might want to set yourself a reminder to update this monthly.

You can also include videos on your site. This can be a book trailer, interview, or just a collage of shots from some of your past events. Unlike most sites that allow you to link to a video on YouTube, Amazon requires you to upload the actual video file. They also set a limit at ten minutes and have size limitations, so keep this in mind.

The last area is probably overlooked by most authors, but is one of the best features of your Author Central account. This is your author page URL. It points folks directly to your Author Central listing on Amazon. Why is this great? Because your listing shows all your books. It's a perfect link to give folks when you have more than one or two books available. Of course, you'll have them all listed on your own webpage, but then visitors have to click on each individual book to go to a place they can buy it. When you are promoting your newest book, include a link to your Author Central account on any press releases or emails as an easy way for new readers to find all your books in one (easy to purchase) place.

Platform Pick-Up: Amazon pt.1

Your Goodreads account is now in tip-top shape. Time to move over to Amazon.

Not matter what you think about Amazon, there is no denying they are one of the biggest players in book purchasing (if not the biggest). So you need an Author Central account. If you don't have one, today you'll need to create one.

Like with Goodreads, you'll need to have a book available in order to create your Author Central account. If you don't have a book out yet, use this time to get familiar with the lay of the land. Go to Amazon and look up a few of your favorite authors. Check out what they have included and how they have their account set up. That way you'll be ahead of the game when the time comes to set up your own account.

The process to set up the account is pretty basic. If you already have an Amazon account (which you probably do) you can use all the same log-in info. Amazon has a pretty straightforward help center with instructions for creating your Author Central account.

If you already have an account, you're ahead of the game today. Go ahead and check your settings now to make sure you are using the same bio and photo that you are using on your social media sites. 

Platform Pick-Up: Goodreads pt. 4

I've got an easy Monday morning task for you...

All we've got on the docket today is double checking your Goodreads account.

Log in and make sure your author account has linked up to your personal account. Check all the fields and fill out as much information as you can. Does your bio and head shot match the rest of your platform? If not, update them now.

Then I suggest you check out this great article from Goodreads. It's all about maximizing your Author account and getting the most of your profile.

One last task for this easy, breezy Monday. Join one reader group. There are groups for certain books, genres, topics and all kinds of options. Pick one and join in the conversation. Remember that this isn't about promoting your book. It's about connecting with your readers (and future readers), sharing in your love of books and being present in the book community.

Platform Pick-Up: Goodreads pt. 3

One more for the road...

Before we leave Goodreads alone, the last step is to update your events listing.

What should go in there? Basically, everything.

Any time you are going to be appearing (in-person or virtually) as an author, you should list this in your events. This would include any workshops, guest lectures, book signings, etc. Even if the event is closed, such as speaking with a local book club, you should include it. Why? It lets others know that you're available for events like that.

I would also include any events that you are planning to attend as a reader. For one, it's just good karma to promote the events of other authors. Two, chances are some of your own readers will be there and it gives you a chance to connect and bond over a love of books.

If you don't have any events to list, then it's time to get busy. If you are actively promoting a book, there's no reason not to have an event listed for every month. Remember, these don't have to be headliner book fairs. Start local with your library, schools, civic groups, etc. Pair up with other authors in your area to host a book signing. Join up with other authors in your genre to hold a virtual event or host a Google Hangout. There are tons of low or no cost events you can plan to keep you present.

Hint: Authors will a full schedule appear more in-demand and are then invited to attend more events. This can and should be you.

Platform Pick-Up: Goodreads pt. 2

We're not done with Goodreads yet...
Now that all of your accounts are linked together, you want to make sure to update all your profile information and be certain that all of your books are linking up correctly. If you have any problems with this, Twitter is packed with Goodreads Librarians. These friendly folks are super helpful in providing guidance and updating areas behind the scenes when needed.

Once your profile is filled out, you'll want to link up your blog or website feed. Really, this is a no-brainer. You've already spent the time creating a blog and creating content for it. Why wouldn't  you want to share that content with more of your readers and keep them updated on your latest projects.

Of course, this means updating your blog content on a semi-regular basis, but you were going to do that anyway, right.

Today's task is to link up your blog or website to your Goodreads account. As a bonus, write a post that encourages your blog readers to follow you on Goodreads, add your books to their shelve and join any discussion groups you are a part of.

Platform Pick-Up: Goodreads pt.1

Ah, Goodreads. It's the social media site that is full of readers. You better believe we want to make sure we've got a great platform image there.

First things first, if you don't have a Goodreads user account, go get one. Seriously, I cannot think of a single reason why you shouldn't have one. Not a one, if you don't have a book out yet, now is a great time to get familiar with the lay of the land. Then you'll be ahead of the curve once you have a book to list.

Next, you want an author account. Now, to get one, you need a book. If you are going the traditional route, you can create your account and list your book the minute your deal is official. You don't need to have a cover yet. If you are self-publishing, you can do all of this as soon as you are ready to announce the book. So, to be clear, you do not have to wait until your book is released to have an author account.

Once you have both of these, you'll need to link them together by joining the Author Program. This is a fairly simple process that only requires the click of a few buttons. Simple directions are right on the Goodreads site. You want to do this for two reasons.

1. The fewer accounts to manage the better, and
2. Linking the accounts lets people you interact with as a reader know that you are also an author.

This is what we call a win-win.

So, if you haven't done so yet, get set up with your Goodreads accounts and make sure they are merged. Easy Peasy.

Platform Pick-Up: Background

In case you didn't guess, today we're talking about backgrounds.
In the grand scheme of things, your background image is relatively unimportant. I'll admit that updating your background image isn't going to sell more books. But let's keep in mind that your platform isn't necessarily about selling more books. It's about putting your brand out in the market. And your brand absolutely works better when it's uniform.

Background images are used for most social media sites now such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Each site will have different dimensions or rules so make sure you read the guidelines and follow them. Facebook is probably the pickiest, so if you meet their guidelines, you should be safe with the others.

When it comes to picking the right image, I would stay away from one that is centered on one of your books. I think something like this can be fine for a temporary period when you are promoting a new book. That said, if you're constantly changing your background to match your newest book, you lose the value of consistency.

You should pick something that conveys who you are as an author and appeals to your target audience. Don't stress about this too much. Like I said, it's hardly the most important part of your platform. They key here is to use the same image across all your real estate. You got it, everywhere you included that great head shot and bio should have the same background image (where you can).

This is also a great time to start thinking about creating a brand sheet. This details the exact colors (Their RGB number, not name), fonts, sizes and spacing that you use as part of your platform. This creates a handy reference whenever you need to have something new put together. Bookmarks, business cards, or anything with your name on it. Using a consistent style gives uniformity to your work. This is especially important if you have a somewhat common name (one of the few benefits of Negovetich). Also, designers will love you if you can tell them exactly what you need instead of "Can you make it purple with a swirly font?".

So, today's task is to update your background and header images to be consistent across all your social media accounts. If you have time, get started on a brand sheet. If not, definitely put it on your to-do list.

Platform Pick-Up: Bio

Let's talk about your bio!

Now that you have a good head shot plastered all over the internet, you'll need an equally good bio to match it. The question, of course, is what makes a good bio.

In my opinion, there's only one crucial element to a good bio: Memorable.

If a reader or potential reader forgets anything about your bio the minute they click to another page, your bio has failed its basic purpose. A bio should convince a reader that they want to know more about you, including the books you've written.

Memorable can be achieved a lot of different ways. You can be funny, sarcastic, personal, goofy, endearing, etc. Whichever direction you decide to go in when it comes to the tone of your bio, it should match the tone of the rest of your platform and be true to who you are.

Here are a couple of sites with tips for writing the right bio for you.

Ten tips from the Huffington Post
Nine tips from Litreactor
Dos and Don'ts from FirstSecond books
Five bio fixes from Beth Jusino

Now write up your awesome bio and make sure you use it consistently everywhere you already shared your great head shot.

Platform Pick-Up: Head Shot

Welcome to the Platform Pick-Up!

So, before we jump right into it, let's take a minute to talk about platform. It's a bit of a dirty word among authors. Too many authors get hung up on what platform is. Don't worry about it.There's not a quiz.

Your platform is the sum total of how you present yourself to the public and your readers. Basically, it's everything you do in the public eye. Your website, social media presence, press releases, conference speeches, all of it. Your platform is how you present your brand as an author. For this project, we're going to focus on your social media and website to make sure you have those areas in tip top shape.

Today, we're going to talk about your head shot  You are using a head shot, right?

First things first, you need a head shot. Not an icon or a cover picture or anything else. You could argue if you write comic books or picture books that you could use a cartoon drawing of yourself in the same style as your books, but that is a rare exception. Readers like to know who the author is. It's why there's usually a photo on the back cover or at the end of the book.

Now, I can already hear some of you with personal exceptions. Obviously, I can't tell you what to do for your own situation. I will tell you this. I know an erotica author who has to hide her identity because she is a teacher. She still uses her picture. It's done with a dramatic side shot, a hairstyle she doesn't normally wear, and a hat so her picture doesn't look anything like her during her real life. It can be done.

If you need tips here's some great advice from Joanna Pen on prepping for your head shot. I realize that not everyone can afford to get a professional photo taken. My husband took mine out in our backyard. So if you can't pay for one now, get a family member or friend to take a nice picture and use it. You should keep it framed in on your face and avoid adding props or other people. Your kids might be cute, but they don't belong in your head shot.

Once you have a head shot, you need to be consistent with it. That means using the same picture on all your social media accounts. Today's task is to go check out everywhere you hang out online and make sure you are using the same head shot. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram. Don't forget any social boards, blog comments or chat rooms you visit frequently. If you go online and have a picture associated with your words, it should be using the same picture.