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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Building an Author Platform

article by 
Cindy Vine

Sometimes all we start off with is a dream. A dream to be a published author. In our free time we write, cursing distractions, but determined to get that book out. Unfortunately, having the dream and writing the book is not enough. You are expected to be a marketer as well and do all your own marketing. For many authors this is the challenging part. You are already restricted with time, many holding down a full-time job and writing on the side, the very idea of doing one’s own marketing is almost enough to give up the dream.

Let’s just get one thing straight. Marketing is not door to door selling or parking your car in the parking area of the local mall selling books out of the trunk. Internet marketing is very different and involves creating your author platform. This can be done in the comfort of your own home and will take up an hour or two of your time every day if you want to do it properly.

There are FIVE ways you can build your author platform. There are other ways but these are the most important.

Article writing – join a site like Hubpages.com and write articles about some of your favourite subjects. You can earn a little bit of money on the side, but most importantly you get your writing out there, amass loyal followers and start building yourself a presence on the web.

Social media – whether it’s tweeting on Twitter, status updates on Facebook, pinning pictures on Pininterest, or participating in groups on Linkedin, Goodreads or Shelfari, social media is the way to connect with would-be readers and get your name out there.

Website – it is imperative that you set up an author website or a book website. You don’t have to know much about designing websites to be able to do it. You don’t have to spend a fortune either on hiring a web designer. All you have to do is go to a hosting provider like Go Daddy, buy a domain name, and sign up for Wordpress through Go Daddy. The templates are designed for the technically-challenged, all you have to do is follow the instructions. There are many tutorials available for free on the net if you want to get a little more elaborate, that will explain step-by-step what you need to do.
Blogging – sign up for a blog at Wordpress or Blogger. Try and come up with original content, always include an image, keep your blog posts short about 300-500 words, controversial and humor is good and promote your blog posts through your Social Media. Part of blogging is not just writing your own posts but also commenting on other blogger’s posts. It’s all about making those connections and getting your name out there. She Writes is a great blogging site for women. You can get your blog listed there, join groups and make connections with like-minded people who would probably love to support you by reading your blog.  

Virtual Book/Blog Tour – this is another great way to get your name out there in cyberspace. Writing guest posts for other bloggers, being exposed to a different set of followers, all this helps to build your author platform. You can sign up with different marketers like Virtual Book Café to get them to organize and manage your blog-hopping tour. Or if you have friends with blogs you can arrange it all yourself but that can be a little time-consuming especially if you are already stretched for time.

Your author platform is something you need to get working on as soon as you make the decision to write a book. Don’t try and do everything all at once, you’ll become far to overwhelmed. Start off with baby steps. The blog, the website, social media. But remember to restrict your author platform building to a couple of hours a day otherwise it can take over your life! Good luck!

Contacts:   Website       Blog      Fanpage       Twitter       Hubpages       Email

Buy Now!
Do your kids ever really leave? 

Fenella Fisher and Suki Rabinowitz are middle-aged single mothers whose children have left home and started on their own lives and careers. But Suki’s son Josh is a cocaine-addict who supposedly fathered a baby on a visit to the UK; and Fenella’s daughter Kirsty has just been dumped and is feeling miserable. 

Fenella and Suki decide they need to step in to help their children and hatch a plan to sort out Josh’s mess and find Kirsty a suitable man, with some hilarious consequences. 

After interviewing prospective husbands for Kirsty at Waves Restaurant and Bar, they discover that a good man is hard to find.

 A teacher, writer, mother - Cindy Vine was born in Cape Town, South Africa and has lived and worked in many different countries around the world. 

She currently resides in Tanzania at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. Cindy has three children, two of whom have already left home. 

Writing and reading has been a passion of hers since she was a young girl.

Click to read two sample chapters.

Chapter 10

Fun-loving, creative free-spirited young woman looking for a life partner.  Travel, art and adventure are my middle names.  Conservative is out and not in my repertoire.  Control freak does not feature in my life dictionary.  Cheap and miserly are not welcome in my universe.  If you are intelligent with a sense of humour, a stable job and a six pack, then please contact me so I can get to know you.’
Suki had said short and sweet was better.  Men on dating sites couldn’t be bothered to read long diatribes; they were in too much of a hurry to meet their ideal woman.  So Fenella had complied.  With quite a bit of eye rolling and laughter, the two had bandied about words until they were satisfied.  “Leave it to stew for 24 hours before we check for any bites,” Suki had suggested and Fenella had done just that.  Twenty-four hours had passed.  Throughout the day Fenella had kept looking at the clock on the kitchen wall.  Since the invention of cell phones she had stopped wearing her watch.  In fact, she had no idea where it was or where she’d last seen it.  It had been a gift, she couldn’t even remember who’d given it to her.  It had been about a decade ago for a birthday, she thought.  Suki was late.  Before she left the day before she’d made Fenella promise not to open up Kirsty’s profile page and look at the replies.  She wanted to be a part of the action, which Fenella supposed was only fair seeing that this whole internet dating thing had been her idea.  Where the hell was Suki?  Fenella was just about to succumb to temptation and open up the webpage when the doorbell rang.
“976 replies!  I told you!”  Suki had an excited sparkle in her eyes.  She looked quite animated, Fenella thought, feeling less excited herself.  Well, maybe she was a little excited, but quite a bit apprehensive as well about the whole damn thing.  “So what we need to do first is delete the weirdoes and creeps.”
“I thought you said there weren’t weirdoes, creeps and psychopaths on this website!” exclaimed Fenella feeling rather naïve about that kind of stuff.
“Um, not really, well some but sort of.  They are far less weirdish and freakish on this site than on some of the other sites,” said Suki clicking on links and deleting emails at quite a pace.  “Yuck!  Yugh!  Ugggg!”
Fenella peeped over Suki’s shoulder only to see a picture of an erect penis filling her screen.  “And you were saying?”
“Some creepos still slip through, like that one.  So what we do is reduce these responses to our top few hundred.”
“Few hundred?  Few hundred!”  Fenella was in shock.  There was no way she was interviewing a few hundred young men.  “I’m not sure about this Suki.  I’m not sure if it’s worth it.  These interviews…I don’t think I can do it.”  Falling back onto her chair Fenella began to fan herself.  A panic attack seemed to be developing as the heat started from her head and seemed to spread down to her toes.  It was either that or a hot flush and the start of menopause.
Suki sat upright on the dining table chair glaring at Fenella with her hands on her hips.  “Do you or do you not want Kirsty to give you grandchildren and make you a granny?
For someone who wasn’t that tall Suki could be quite intimidating.  “I…er…do want Kirsty to have children one day.  But Suki, there has to be another way.  I can’t sit through a date with a few hundred men and interview them.  My school holiday doesn’t last forever and I don’t want to use it all up on…this!”  Fenella pointed at the computer screen.  If she didn’t go and fetch herself some ice water from the fridge she was going to self-combust.
Suki folded her arms and scowled.  “You may be right.  Logistically and time-wise to set up a few hundred dates is improbable.  You wouldn’t be giving each applicant the attention they deserve.  And if we do a rush job then we won’t get the best.  Let me think a minute.  We probably need more coffee,” said Suki draining the dregs from her mug.  Fenella had hardly touched hers.  Coffee was the last thing on her mind.  The last thing she felt like doing was pouring more heat into her already overheating body!
“You want that special blend again?”
“Yeah, that East African one again.  I love the taste, the aroma.  Can’t believe you never brought me back a bag!”  The truth was that Fenella had spent ages dithering about what to buy Suki.  It was so hard to buy a gift for a woman who had everything and was fussy to boot.  She often criticised Fenella’s style choices, although to be honest, baggy t-shirts and track pants were probably on the unflattering side.  After wandering around browsing for what seemed like hours, she’d settled for an ornately carved wooden box similar to the Swahili carved wooden doorways she’d fallen in love with.  It was always risky buying Suki jewellery as she tended to only wear pieces completely out of Fenella’s price range.  So a box it had been but in retrospect coffee would have been better.  Fenella hadn’t even thought about coffee as a gift.
With the coffee brewing and the machine making its happy sounds, Fenella joined Suki in front of her laptop at the dining room table.  “Any bright ideas yet?  Or should we just delete this profile?”
Glaring at Fenella Suki leaned forward to hug the keyboard protectively.  “No don’t touch!  No deleting, I have an idea as surprising as it may sound.”
Fenella gave an eye roll.  “Seriously Suki, covering up my keyboard like that.  How old are you?”
“Never trust a woman who tells you her age,” Suki countered.  “I know what we are going to do.  It’s perfect.  In fact so perfect, I think I should patent the idea.”
Fenella groaned.  This wasn’t sounding good.  It was building up to one of Suki’s hare-brained schemes she could tell.  “Okay, stop keeping me hanging in suspense.  What’s the idea?”
Suki gave a little shake of her shoulders and sat up straight.  “We,” she paused dramatically for effect, “Are going to set up a mass date.”
Groaning out loud Fenella held her head in her hands.  “Don’t tell me you are suggesting what I think you are suggesting.”
“We email our top few hundred, say something witty, hook them further.  A little saucy repartee.  Not all will reply, but many will and then we suggest a meeting.  We give all our short list the same date and time to be at a venue we pick.”
“A few hundred doesn’t sound like a short list to me!”
“Oh stop being negative,” Suki pouted.  “Then we casually wander among them and check them out.  We can take a notebook and make notes.  We might even strike up some idle chit-chat with some of them.”
“Are we going to introduce ourselves and tell them why they’re there?  Some of them might be pissed to find they’re part of a mass date.  I’m not sure about this.”  Fenella chewed on her lip.  Suki’s plan sounded very flawed to her ears.
“No silly of course not!  We’re not asking for trouble.  We check them out like we just coincidentally happened to be there at the same time.  They’ll think their date stood them up.  We can make up some excuse when we email the ones we liked later.  Do you think we might need a checklist for our prospects?”
Suki was on a roll and Fenella knew she would not be deterred.  This plan would go ahead even though Fenella had grave reservations about it.  “So where will we meet them?”
Suki threw her arms around Fenella, giving her a suffocating hug.  “I knew you’d come on board!  I was thinking that new restaurant/bar on the beachfront we’ve been going to.  Waves.  It’s quite big inside and should accommodate all our prospectives.  We should get the owner to give us commission as we’ll be increasing his business on a normally quiet week night.  Don’t look at me like that I’m just joking.  About the commission part, that is.” 
Fenella gave a thin smile.  She felt quite drained.  This reminded her of why she hated dating and was content to remain single.  It was just too much hard work and unnecessary stress.  No wonder people elected to stay in bad relationships.  “Let me pour that coffee.  You sure this will work?”  Suki nodded, grinning and humming to herself as she turned back to scroll through the responses to the ad on the dating site.  In a way Fenella was glad that finding Kirsty a man had made Suki’s other problem with that woman in Cornwall, take a back seat.  She felt bad keeping Kirsty’s news about Josh a secret from her friend.  But then again, she was sure that Suki had kept secrets from her about Kirsty she’d heard over the years.  Lying by omission.  It was something everybody did to protect those they cared about.

Chapter 11

Fenella was so nervous that it affected her driving.  She forgot to stop at a pedestrian crossing and nearly knocked over an old woman in a tweed skirt with a walking frame.  Before she could shout an apology out of the window the woman gave her the middle finger.  “Oh dear God I don’t think I can do this,” she said to her reflection in her car mirror as she watched the old woman make her way slowly across the road. 
Conversely, Suki was in a state of euphoria, overflowing with excitement and had been driving Fenella crazy by calling her every five minutes throughout the day.  They had agreed not to meet for their usual lunch date.  Suki had the password and username and had been chatting to some of the prospects on email throughout the day.  She’d even set up a fake Hotmail account and emailed the details to Fenella in case she wanted to add to the conversations.  meltingmoments@hotmail.com.  Fenella had to be honest - the choice of name did bother her, and when she’d plucked up the courage to check out some of the emails, they had given her a reason to be bothered.  Some of the men were quite lewd and quite explicit with their descriptions of what they planned to do to Kirsty when they met her.  It made Fenella very uneasy indeed which was made worse by the fact that Suki was actively flirting with these men and egging them on, encouraging them.  Fenella was anything but a prude, but some of those things some men were saying nearly made her blush.
 “Am definitely feeling all of my fifty years tonight,” Fenella mumbled as she pulled her car into a parking spot in front of Waves Restaurant and Bar.  “And if Suki doesn’t turn up, I’ll…I’ll…I’ll frigging kill her!”
There were only three other cars in the car park.  Fenella and Suki had planned to arrive early at 5.30pm and have a few cocktails before eating the fabulous grilled calamari for dinner; the male prospects would only be arriving at 8pm.  Fenella wasn’t sure her nerves would hold the length of time of the wait.  She hated waiting for anything; it was her pet hate, and the anticipation for the arrival of these men was definitely going to kill her.  She could hear her heart beating in her ears and she was sure she was going to have a panic attack.  A car pulled into the vacant spot next to her and Fenella was relieved to see the comforting figure of Suki behind the wheel.
Suki was dressed to kill.  Stiletto’s so high she looked like she had the Petronas Towers tied to the soles of her shoes, which made her shapely legs look even longer and slimmer than normal.  Her short bright orange dress which showed off her fabulous tan fluttered in the sea breeze making her look youthful, at least twenty years younger much to Fenella’s disgust.  Her long dark hair had been professionally styled; she looked amazing.  Fenella in comparison felt like an old frump.  She’d gone for a pair of what her kids called ‘mommy-jeans’ because they had an elastic waist, Ugg boots, a white shirt and a short black jacket.  Silver hoop earrings completed her ensemble.  “Fenella!” shouted Suki as she tottered towards her.
“Thank God you came,” said Fenella with such a feeling of relief it made her almost light-headed.
“What do you mean, ‘Thank God you came’?  Of course I came!  I helped set this all up and wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Come along, time for some drinky-poos!”  Fenella shook her head as Suki tried to walk across the gravel on those heels.  They should be sold with a ‘hazardous to your health’ sticker on them.  Definitely a dangerous pair of shoes.  Fenella wondered if you would be able to stab someone through the heart with a heel.  Maybe the shoes would come in useful if they needed to defend themselves against too-amorous men.
“Hold on!  Give me your arm and let me support you before you break a leg or something.”  Fenella couldn’t believe how Suki had changed since her husband had died.  The years of forced demureness and conservatism when she’d been an Orthodox wife had been dumped faster than Hollywood actors dumped girlfriends.  This was the Suki she’d known as a teenager, the dowdy Suki had been a stranger inhabiting her body.  This Suki had reclaimed her youth.
“Oh Fenella, you are not going to believe some of the emails I got today,” said Suki as she stumbled onto her chair at the table on the balcony overlooking the beach the waiter had shown them to.  “Did you manage to log in and read any of them?”
“I read a couple, but some of them are just too creepy for my liking.  All they want is sex.”
“Well, they are men after all you know.  Hunters, gatherers, procreators.  You know, little bundles of hormones.  Oops, here comes little Mister Macho himself,” as an obviously testosterone-challenged waiter minced his way over to take their drinks order in his painted on black jeans.
“Your usual?” Fenella asked Suki.  They both ordered Screwdrivers without fail every time they went for cocktails.
“No,” said Suki staring out at the waves breaking on the beach, “Sex on the Beach for me please.  It’s good to try something new and expand your comfort zone,” she added when she saw Fenella look at her with a raised brow.
“Whatever.”  Fenella still had an uneasy feeling about the evening.  “So tell me about some of the guys coming.”
“Well, 357 replied to my initial response to their response to Kirsty’s profile ad.  I’ve been chatting with about 180 or so of them all day.  It’s draining, I tell you.  I got clever though, typed up a couple of standard responses which I just copied and pasted and tweaked a bit.  Most of them ask the same things, so it was easy to come up with a standard template.”  Suki rolled her eyes.  “I have to say this is definitely using up my limited computer skills.”
Fenella looked at Suki in horror.  “There are going to be 180 men arriving here tonight?  Are you frigging crazy?  How are they all going to fit in here and not know something is going on?”
Suki held up a hand.  “Calm down and stop sounding hysterical.  I said I was chatting to 180, I didn’t say they were all coming.”  Fenella sunk back in her chair, feeling only slightly relieved.  “Only about thirty or so confirmed they were actually coming.  Some tried to change it to a lunch meeting.  My guess is those ones are married and trying to arrange a matinee performance so that their wife doesn’t find out.  A few others had other arrangements, busy little boys that they are.  And the others never bothered to reply to the invitation.”
“Maybe they hadn’t checked their emails yet.”  Fenella found Suki’s nonchalant attitude quite disconcerting.
“Their loss.  The time, date and name of the restaurant was quite clear.  I didn’t give directions.  I figured that would be a part of the test.  If they wanted to meet Kirsty badly enough, they’d Google it and find out how to get here.  It would be a sign of creative ingenuity.”
“So how many did you actually send the invitation email to?”  Fenella had a horrible gut feeling she knew the answer, but hoped and prayed that she was wrong.
“The 357.”
“What!”  Fenella stood up so quickly she knocked her chair over, causing the waiter to hurry over in his skin-tight black jeans.
“Sit down and stop causing a scene,” Suki commanded.  “We’ll be lucky if ten arrive.  Men are all talk, you know that.  I thought it’s a bit like cold-calling when you do sales and marketing.  You have to call 80 people to get one sale.’
Fenella couldn’t help but speak through gritted teeth.  “That is selling vacuum cleaners, Suki.  From those flirtatious emails you sent this is selling sex.  You’ll get far more bites at the cherry selling sex than vacuum cleaners you idiot!”  Fenella covered her eyes with her hand.  Maybe if she tried hard enough, she could will a migraine to develop so that she could leave and go home sick.  “Why did I ever listen to you?  Why, why, why!” Fenella uncovered her eyes and banged her fist on the table.
“It’ll be okay; stop panicking.  Seriously, this is going to be the funnest evening of your life.”
“There’s no such word as funnest,” Fenella said dryly.
“I know that you moron.  God, where’s you sense of humour?  Funnest sounds cute.”  Suki made her mouth go down at the corners in a mock sulk.
“Cute is for babies, toddlers and puppies.  Not for old women of fifty!  Waiter!  Can I please have a double vodka and orange juice?  Actually, bring me two.  I’m suddenly feeling in need of a couple of stiff drinks.”
“Fenella,” Suki called in a stage whisper, “Don’t make it obvious and turn around, but one of our prospects has just arrived and is sitting about five tables behind you.  I recognise him from the photo he sent.  Hmm, he’s early; must have decided to have dinner first like us.”
“How can I look at him without turning if he’s behind me, you fool!” Fenella hissed.
“Those two at the bar, could be as well.  Oo, this is getting exciting.”  Suki took her sip of her drink.  Fenella thought Suki was definitely enjoying this way too much.
“So run it by me again,” said Fenella as the waiter placed two drinks in front of her, “How exactly is this going to work?”
“They all think that they are going to be meeting Kirsty.  They know what she looks like because they’ve seen the photo.  They all think they are the only one she’s meeting.  I didn’t let on it’s going to be a mass date.  I said she’d be wearing a white mini dress, so they’ll be looking for a woman wearing that.”
“Kirsty would never wear a white mini dress!  Her skin is much too fair”
“But Kirsty isn’t really going to be here in that dress now, is she?”
“How are we supposed to suss them out and find the perfect one without letting on who we are?”  Suki’s plan was starting to sound more and more flawed by the minute.  What they were doing was crazy.
“Another one has arrived.  They all seem to be coming early!”  Suki was not being discreet about checking the men out at all.
“Suki, I have a feeling we might have a lot more than ten.  I think we need to order our food quickly, eat and then get the hell out of here.”  Fenella signalled the waiter.
“You might be right,” whispered Suki.  “Look outside.”  Men seemed to be appearing from everywhere.  Standing casually on the beach looking at the waves, parking their cars, walking along the beachfront; and the bar was starting to fill up as well.
“You didn’t think the men would get annoyed when Kirsty never turned up?”  Fenella’s stomach constricted when she glanced up to see a beautiful blonde girl with a dark tan and a white mini dress walk up to the bar.  “Oh shit!  I don’t believe it!”
“What?  What?”  Suki craned her neck to see what had alerted Fenella.  “Oh God, no!”  Suki gave a giggle.  “Of all the rotten luck!”
“This is not funny Suki!  That poor girl is going to be harassed by hordes of men.”
Suki gave another giggle, “It is funny Fenella, you have to admit it’s hilarious.”
Fenella chuckled, “A dark haired girl in a white sun dress has just arrived.  Actually, it is quite funny.  The best laid plans of mice and men eh?  Ah waiter.  Can you bring us our bill please?  We won’t be having dinner here after all.”
“KFC or Macdonalds drive-thru?” suggested Suki downing her drink in one swallow. “And then come to my house for a night cap and we can discuss our next plan of action.”

“This plan didn’t work at all.”  Fenella was tempted to say ‘I told you so.’
“You’re right, but at least we know that now.  We wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t try it.  Haha these guys are going to be so pissed.  How many can you count?”
“At least thirty and it’s only six thirty!  Far too much testosterone and naked aggression in this room; we need to leave now.”  Fenella stood up and swung her bag over her shoulder.  “We can settle the bill as we go out.  Some guy has just made a move on the blonde.” 
As they walked to their respective cars, they noted men just milling about, some staring at the sea and others looking up at Waves Restaurant and Bar.  Definitely more than the ten Suki had anticipated had actually turned up!


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